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International rock climber, author to speak in Vail

Daily Staff Report
Special to the Daily Sam Lightner Jr. set off with his buddy Volker into the perilous jungles of Borneo to climb a mountain that he'd only seen a photo of in an old French Atlas. He will talk about his adventure 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday at the Donovan Park Pavilion.
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VAIL – “In 1999, when mankind had successfully mapped the surface of the Moon, Venus and Mars, there were still sections of Borneo that man had nothing to say about other than ‘all elevations unknown.'” In 1999, Sam Lightner Jr. set off with his buddy Volker into the perilous jungles of Borneo to climb a mountain that he’d only seen a photo of in an old French Atlas. The spire did not appear in any maps which merely labeled large gray-shaded areas “all elevations unknown.” What they did carry was an obscure memoir titled “World Within,” penned by British officer Tom Harrisson, who had parachuted into Borneo in 1945 to gather intelligence on Japanese invaders. Critical to Harrisson’s mission was giving the Allied pilots a geographic reference: This was the peak known locally as Batu Lawi.

Lightner’s team spent days hiking dark, soggy trails rife with leeches, sweat bees, lethal spitting cobras, poisonous bamboo vipers, wild boar – and headhunters. They survived, found the elusive Batu Lawi and scaled it. Lightner chronicled their adventure in “All Elevations Unknown: An Adventure in the Heart of Borneo (2002).”Lightner is an international-renowned rock climber who has appeared on the cover of Outside magazine. His ascent of Batu Lawi was the subject of a documentary.Lightner will speak at Donovan Park Pavilion from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday as part of the Vail Symposium and Vail Library’s Unlimited Adventure Series. Admission is Free.A non-profit, grass roots, organization, the Vail Symposium was originally created in 1971 as a once-yearly weekend “think tank” for the early residents of Vail. As the community grew, so too did the symposium, offering more than 60 programs year-round while staying true to its mission of offering educational and cultural programming for the community that is thought-provoking, diverse and affordable. For more information, call 476-0954 or visit http://www.vailsymposium.org.

Elevations unknownDiscussion with rock climber Sam Lightner Jr.

5:30-7 p.m. ThursdayDonovan Park PavilionCost is free

For more information, call 476-0954 Vail, Colorado


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