Ice climbing and mountain guiding require endurance, organization, ambition and a high tolerance for physical discomfort. Founding an international conservation organization requires similar talents, with an emphasis on logistics and fundraising. Professional climber and conservation activist Majka Burhardt has been successful in both endeavors, developing a skill set that should have helped when she became a mother to twins. As she recounts in her emotionally raw memoir, however, Burhardt found that motherhood is far more psychologically and physically demanding than the hardest climb.

In More: Life on the Edge of Adventure and Motherhood, Burhardt wrestles with the impossible task of balancing the call of adventure and the necessity of work with the whirlwind of pregnancy and childcare. Written in the present tense as a series of letters to her beloved twins, More sets out to tell the visceral truth of early parenthood, from pumping milk at a belay station on an ice climb to ugly sobbing in the car. Like urgent dispatches from risky terrain, these entries are brutally (painfully!) honest about how motherhood changes everything—especially Burhardt’s feeling about her husband and mother. Burhardt’s frank assessment of resentment and ambivalence in these otherwise loving relationships rings so very, very true. 

Mountaineering literature is filled with tales of men having adventures, sometimes fatal ones, and the women and children who are left behind. Only recently have female climbers begun to write about the risks and rewards of climbing as a woman or a mother—about a passion for mountains as strong as the primal bond with a child. Burhardt wants it all, mountains and motherhood, but the pressure to hold it all together is intense and unrelenting. Her boldly candid memoir charts a path into a new territory in adventure writing, with motherhood as the ultimate journey.

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