“Sometimes you take a trip, and sometimes a trip takes you, shakes you, remakes you and how you see the world.” – Kate Harris
In February/March 2015, Dr. Alison Criscitiello (a post-doctoral fellow and glaciologist at the University of Calgary, who kicks butt in Ironman competitions in her spare time, and holds the first PhD in Glaciology ever conferred by MIT), Rebecca Haspel (a geologist, ski mountaineering and rock/apline climbing badass), and Kate Harris (a writer and wilderness conservation advocate who studied geobiology at MIT and was named one of Canada’s top 10 adventurers), set out on Borderski, a six-week, all-woman ski traverse of Central Asia’s Pamir mountains, the range lies at the nexus of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Their goal was to document the impact of border fences on migratory wildlife, especially Marco Polo sheep—and have an epic adventure in the process.
Filmmaker Lindsay Marie Stewart produced a documentary about their unforgettable expedition, and together they hope it inspires others to dream, think, and act beyond borders… whatever shape they take.
What Else You Should Know About Ali, Rebecca, and Kate (aka The Fanny Pack):
As wide-eyed undergraduate students, each of us studied glaciology and the art of not showering for weeks with the Juneau Icefield Research Program (also known as JIRP). Over nearly two months we skied with a crew of professors and researchers across the icefield from Juneau, Alaska to Atlin, BC, digging snow pits, lugging backpacks, and subsisting on pilot biscuits the whole way. After such intense bliss there was no going back to a normal life: Ali went on to become a glaciologist; Rebecca turned into a near-bionic alpinist; and Kate vowed to someday move to Atlin.
A few years after JIRP, Kate and Ali both ended up at MIT for grad school, where they promptly began dreaming about icy expeditions. Although Rebecca was living in Calgary at the time, we roped her into our schemes from afar. The three of us eventually flew to India to follow in the footsteps of explorer and suffragette Fanny Bullock Workman. In the early 1900s, Fanny set the women’s world altitude record on Pinnacle Peak, also known as Lingsarmo, a 6955-metre mountain in the Nun Kun Massif of northern India. A century later, we became the first self-supported, all-woman team to summit that same peak (Fanny brought a lot of dudes on her expedition, including porters and a husband). And so the Fanny Pack was born.
A few years later, in 2015, Kate had moved to Atlin and the Fanny Pack reunited for another grand adventure—this time on the wild edges of the notorious ‘Stans… Borderski!