Mountain-hiking adventurer turns hand to new venture

Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:20am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Australian adventurer and documentary maker Sorrel Wilby blames her passion for the unusual, which has taken her through much of Asia on a bicycle, across Tibet, and through the Himalayas, on magazines she read when she was young.

Now she hopes to share that passion with the children of today, who she sees as far too urbanized and tied to computers, through the eventual creation of a virtual world that will give them a taste for the natural environment she loves.

"I think from a really early age, when I was 12 and first saw a National Geographic magazine, I just wanted to explore the world and experience it first hand," she said in a recent phone interview from her home on Norfolk Island, a remote island in the Pacific.

"The adventure then was the thing that became essential to my life, the actual experiences."

Determined at first to become a writer and photographer for the magazine that had inspired her, Wilby set out -- without any special preparation -- for an extended cycling tour of Japan in her early 20s. This led her to Tibet and her epic walk across it, immortalized in a book and photographs that did, in fact, make it into National Geographic.

"Walking across Tibet was just the most extraordinarily difficult, left-of-field out there things I ever did in my life. Every minute of that trip was cursed," she said.

"It was really, really, really challenging but I think it made me who I am."

One adventure followed another, including the world's first complete traverse of the Himalayas and multiple trips to the mountainous kingdom of Bhutan, one of her favorite places.   Continued...