For the last six years, the Overture Center hosted National Geographic Live events for the Madison community. National Geographic Live is an event hosted throughout North America in which National Geographic explorers, scientists and photographers/filmmakers tell their stories live to the audience.
Audience members can ask questions and meet the speaker in person. Furthermore, the audience sometimes gets the added benefit to hear what the presenter is working on for a future issue of National Geographic Magazine.
This season, writer and climber Mark Synnott will be the first National Geographic Live speaker. He’s set to speak Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Overture Center.
Synnott said his passion for climbing began when his father took him to the Cathedral Ledge cliff in New Hampshire. From that point on, he knew climbing was his calling.
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Synnott’s first big venture noticed by the world was climbing Baffin Island’s east coast located in Arctic Canada —
a climb no else had done before.
“That was a climb that got recognition and it was a first time that was a world standard,” Synnott explained. “And just by coincidence National Geographic was putting a documentary team to cover Baffin Island.”
Since then, Synnott has traveled extensively throughout the world writing articles for National Geographic. He wrote stories ranging from “The Last Honey Hunter,” about the honey hunters in Nepal and the amazing climbing methods to reach this honey, to “The Impossible Rock,” in which he discusses climbing 3,000-foot cliffs in Oman and interacting with a tribal group called the Kumzari whose language combines Arabic, Farsi, Hindi, French, Italian, Spanish and English.
Synnott’s most recent story is “The Deep Climb into Uzbekistan’s Dark Star Cave,” the world’s deepest underground cave. In Dark Star, the challenges were different than traditional climbing.
“Caving prompts the primal fear of claustrophobia … and its’ really, really hard to adapt to as a non-caver,” Synnott said.
Despite these obstacles, Synnott said caving Dark Star was epic and created an awesome story. He explained these stories are “the essential stuff that I find most interesting by using climbing and adventure as an excuse to go and tell those stories.”
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Today, Synnott is expanding his repertoire to sailing and is planning to write a story that combines his love of climbing, storytelling and sailing. His current plan is to sail in the Arctic to explore the region’s fjords and cliffs.
As he prepares his talk in Madison, Synnott said he hopes his storytelling will help to explain to the audience “why it is so important to explore the world, because the more we explore the world, the better we can get to know it — and the better that we know about the world, the more we love it.”
Synnott’s talk will be at the Overture Center this Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. To buy tickets, go to the Overture’s website.