Working on horseback seems a rare pleasure, but turns out it's the only way to navigate some parts of the wilderness we want to survey. These mountains are to steep for cars, and on foot we can't bring enough gear for speleology and photography.
As we're wrapping up our two week long expedition to Tien Shan and the valleys of Naryn, we're tallying up our findings of small caves and potential ones. We've made advances - mapping and 3D-scanning multiple findings - but in many ways just scratched the surface.
Me and @katjaado (who took this photo) are following a group of international speleologists and scientists looking for caves in remote Kyrgyzstan. This is me and Cecilio, a speleologist from Spain, guiding the drone to a cave opening 2 kilometers in the distance.
We're with the expedition to follow their work on the ground, hoping to document their findings and lending a hand with drone surveys, 3D-scanning and mapping. And to me, it's all about telling their story.
With basecamp in the remote Tien Shan mountains, on the border to China, we spend our days exploring limestone canyons and valleys full of holes - some of which might lead to caves never before explored by man.
A sister teaching her 6 year old brother how to ride on the grassland plateaus of the Tien Shan.
We're settling in basecamp #1 of our expedition in Kyrgyzstan. We're here together with the Kyrgyzstan Speleological Association to look for caves and map out parts of the region that has been left pretty much unsurveyed since the Soviet era.
This was our first impression of the place, as these young nomad siblings came riding through our survey area. Can't wait to explore more.
Learning to navigate rivers and rapids is a whole new science to me, and we're taking our first trembling steps. Just like with climbing or any other sport everything seems impossible at first, as you tremble at the thought of trusting yourself to do something that is one notch harder than what you've already done.
You stand there, at the edge of your ability, and have to decide if you can pull it off. Often held back by fear: a fear that seldomly stems from a life-or-death scenario (hopefully) but rather a fear of failure.
Getting into one of the great rapids in the Kvenna river system in Hardangervidda National Park, me and @katjaado came out safely. One notch further up the ladder.
I often wonder when the first person thought to build a cairn, marking a trail over the mountains. That person has helped me so many times.
I'm usually quite the gadget guy on the trail, using a GPS-watch and both trail and satellite maps synced to my phone(s). We have a satellite device for emergencies, that can also give us coordinates.
But on those trips when my brick of a USB-battery gets totally discharged, when my phone has cracked and when a GPS device fails for no apparent reason (it happens), I'm very glad that some person who's most probably dead by now decided to put a few stones on top of each other to create a visible path through the wilderness.
It's such a rudimentary system, but it's brilliant. Because it just works (always bring a paper map, though)
Photo by @katjaado, as we're out getting that last bit of summer recharge in the great north.
Me and @ivarsthlm are soon gearing up for our busiest season yet - with everything from 3D-scanning caves in Kyrgyzstan to making a film and VR story about waste management in the Everest region of Nepal. So it's a much needed time-out before the storm.
Hadibu, capital of Socotra and home to about 9000 people (of about 45 000 total living in the archipelago). This is the center of town, and the main mosque towering above the rest of the low buildings. Electricity is mainly provided by diesel generators, so while you can hear the loud minaret calls bounce over the mountaintops five times a day there is always a constant humming from generators drowning out the sounds of anything else.
Almost all the stories I'm currently working on seem to bleed into the problem with waste and plastic. Even while working through the still photography edits of my work on Socotra (which is a story about war, heritage and climate change) waste is an undeniable theme stretching through the modern day problems of this little island: the Jewel of the Arabian Sea. This jewel hasn't ever had a solid waste management system in place, and with the war in Yemen currently raging the mainland all kinds of previous infrastructure takes a turn for the worse.
These kids of Socotra are basically swimming everyday at the mouth of a local river, polluted by sewage and plastic alike.
You know that feeling when looking back at something, wondering if it really happened?
This is a Dragon's Blood Tree on the Diksum Plateau in Socotra, Yemen - with the sharp granite peaks of the Haggier mountains in the background. It's been a few months since me, @littlemsfossil, @leonmccarron and @rhystj came back from this expedition - but we're only now digging deep into the footage with each other and our editors.
And I just can't shake that feeling, looking at these magical trees on this little jewel of an island in the middle of an ocean. Was I really there?
Cloudberries have that rare quality that justifies people becoming obsessed with them. These berries only grow on altitude and in terrain with the right mix of sunlight and rain (often marshlands and moors). Just as with any other rarity - like free time, silence or gold - you have to seize the moment once it presents itself.
So when me and @katjaado stumbled over a veritable gold-mine in the mountains, we simply had it for dinner.
Having access to a vibrant community of committed individuals is important in every trade, be it journalism, the creative space or river rafting. I'm often blown away by the power and kindness of people - when we suddenly realize we have a problem and reach out into our network to get help.
That's what happened on one of our recent trips - where a missing part almost scratched our plans completely. So we reached out to some of the community in Norway, and instantly got all the help we needed - and more.
Not only helping us find the spare parts needed, @thefeyling from @packrafting_com took us out for our first surf on our @alpacka_raft boats, an introduction that opened the door to bigger waters. Without people like him, our sports and professions would be lacking that sense of community that truly makes a difference.
Seeing what a bird sees, you can truly appreciate how clear the river water is. While packrafting through Hardangervidda and the Kvenna river system, we simply used a cup on the side of the raft to drink.
I enjoy it, for sure - but always come back to wondering if one day our kids will be able to do the same?