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Vertical Ethiopia Tour runs thru early 09 with SCARPA co-sponsorship

SCARPA co-sponsors Vertical Ethiopia Tour with guide and writer Majka Burhardt.

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BOULDER, Colo. – What do you get when you cross rock climbing with eastern African culture, politics and religion, and then throw in a dash of unbridled enthusiasm? The Vertical Ethiopia Tour, of course.

Sponsored in part by SCARPA North America, the Vertical Ethiopia Tour chronicles a trip led by writer, climber and guide Majka Burhardt in March 2007 to northern Ethiopia to climb virgin sandstone towers in a region of the world known primarily for its history of drought, famine, and war. Four women participated in the trip. The tour – and a coffee table book by Burhardt of the same name – chronicles their adventures as well as the people, politics and potential of Ethiopia. The book and tour feature the images of outdoor photographer Gabe Rogel, showing what it means to climb, travel and explore.

Already partway through Burhardt’s tour dates, which have included venues as diverse as Miami, Seattle, Boston and Banff, the tour will continue through February 2009 with more than 20 confirmed dates, and new ones being added at the rate of one per week.

“The Vertical Ethiopia Tour is about presenting a wider view of Ethiopia through adventure,” Burhardt said. “With SCARPA’s support, I’m able to bring an evolving story of history, politics and environment in the Horn of Africa to communities throughout North America. It’s a presentation about risk, opportunity and understanding, and the drive to find the connections between all of these elements via climbing.”

SCARPA’s support of the tour grew out of the fact that SCARPA already sponsors Burhardt as an athlete, said Chris Clark, director of marketing and new product development for SCARPA North America.

“We sponsor Majka first and foremost because of what she’s accomplished on the rock – she’s a first-rate climber and guide, and a great ambassador for us because she’s always stoked and sharing that enthusiasm with others,” Clark said. “Beyond that, Vertical Ethiopia was intriguing to us because it goes beyond the traditional climbing narrative and incorporates a wider view of all the things climbing can encompass, and thus it reaches out to a broader audience. Not to mention, it’s a stunning and inspiring show.”

The impetus behind the tour, the Vertical Ethiopia book project was a unique collaboration with an Ethiopian publishing company, Shama, which is committed to presenting Africa and Ethiopia, a once war-torn country, in a more positive and realistic light. Unlike its neighbor Kenya, Ethiopia has been relatively untouched by adventure tourism. Most people have never heard of the adventure potential there and few are aware of its geological, botanical and zoological wonders.

Along with being a professional climber and AMGA-certified rock guide since 1998, Burhardt is an accomplished writer who holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers, a regular columnist for Climbing Magazine, and recipient of a degree from Princeton University in Anthropology. She merges these backgrounds with her passion for the outdoors and adventure in her writing.

For more information about the Vertical Ethiopia Tour and upcoming tour dates, visit

For more information about SCARPA, visit

About SCARPA and SCARPA North America

Founded in 1938, SCARPA builds performance footwear for climbing, hiking, skiing, mountaineering, trail running and other outdoor pursuits from its headquarters in Asolo, Italy. SCARPA has been owned and operated by the Parisotto family since 1956. In 2005, SCARPA opened its North American headquarters in Boulder, Colo., staffed and directed by veterans of the North American outdoor industry, to oversee sales and marketing in the U.S. and Canada.

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