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Nyima Under the Sun

 

Two years ago I embarked on a journey into the Himalayan mountains of Nepal that would profoundly shake my personal beliefs and represent the beginning of a beautiful cross-culture family relationship. Accompanied by a small group of filmmakers, close friends and Nepali mountain guides, we spent a month in the country interviewing, documenting and setting the foundation for the film you see above. Over the past couple years, many trips have been made back to Nepal by parts of our original expedition crew of Scott Rogers, Cody Tuttle, Cherise Tuttle, David Porter, Suresh Nepali, Tenjing Sherpa, Phuri Sherpa and myself to make this film a reality.

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Samagaun

Nyima is a modern day story of a low-caste Dalit family struggling to survive in the isolated Himalayan village of Samagaun. It examines the shifting cultural dynamics of a developing young girl, Nyima, who lives in a raw and unforgiving mountain environment. Pushed to the outskirts of her remote village, this intimate narrative is told through the curious mind of a young protagonist searching for answers about her identity as a human and Untouchable outcast member of society. The viewer will go on a beautiful cinematic journey examining the responsibilities and struggles of daily life for this unique Untouchable family, which lives in stark contrast to the first world experience. This film offers breathtaking scenery with a rich cultural lens focused on the greater social problems of the caste system in Nepal.

While every Dalit person is born into the social caste system with limited choice or chance toward radical self improvement, there exist a growing number of developing Nepalese communities whom are breaking free from the confines of their social oppression. As a younger generation gains better access toward greater social equality and more educational resources, many outdated cultural taboos and oppressive ideas of identity are shifting. The implications of these progressive younger communities are becoming the catalyst for a new Nepal shifting toward a brighter and more educated future.

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Mission Statement
As a group of adventure filmmakers, we want to continue our exploration of Nepal’s beautifully diverse culture and continue to produce impactful media on the subject. By studying the different ethnic groups affected by the institutionalized caste system we hope to draw greater global awareness to it and be a catalyst for social change. From the pristine mountains of the Himalayas, to the busy street life of Kathmandu, caste discrimination is an obvious part of the country’s rigid social hierarchy. Through access to better education for Untouchables and giving the silently oppressed populace a platform to speak, our media and fundraising efforts provoke powerful cultural reflection alongside real human support. We are personally invested in helping the wonderfully generous and authentic people who so kindly have shared their intimate stories, lives and strife with us.

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Vision Statement
Human rights; to see the change that is teetering on the edge of society come into fruition. We want to see each child, no matter their social standing have the opportunity to receive education so they can become influential and an integral part of their society.

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Humanitarian Effort
Proceeds from this film will go towards creating a scholarship fund for Nyima, her siblings and other Untouchables in a similar situation who are unable to afford the costs of education. Your donated dollars will directly help cover the costs for post secondary education and living expenses. In the very remote regions of Nepal, there typically only exist primary schools as the height of organized education facilities. If children are fortunate enough to be presented with the opportunity and resources to further their education, they must typically move out of their home villages and into a city environment, such as Kathmandu or Pokhara. All living expenses and educational fees then rest on their shoulders, which severely limits the reality of low-caste young adults to continue any sort of reliable education and avenue toward a better future. Read more

“Global Gladiators” New Reality TV Show, African Adventures and a Space Net-Rope Swing Challenge

The e-mails volleyed back and forth for a couple of weeks. Digital communication across separate continents discussing the details of a new German television series in the making. Think American Ninja Warrior meets Survivor. The premise being that two teams of German celebrities will explore the vast wilderness of Southern Africa, competing in a series of outdoor obstacle courses over water, land and air. The competitors will travel over 2,500 miles distance through rugged environments in a windowless freight container, stopping only to compete against one another in a succession of impressive outdoor challenges across some of Namibia’s most breathtaking sceneries. They’ll jump from helicopters into water, rope swing out of one of our patented space nets and free fall hundreds of feet above the ground, among many other exciting physical and mental tests.

Global Gladiators Space Net

The new rigging assignment was to build a space net that would be suspended somewhere in the desert of Namibia, as part of a new adventure reality television show called Global Gladiators. Our objective was to prepare a new net that would have a rope swing component out of it, something we’ve only prepared in the home comforts of Moab. The game plot was designed so that the contestants would cross a long horizontal rope (tyrollean-traverse) hung in the middle of a canyon to access our suspended net, scramble around on the large hammock surface to find a hidden hand-held bocci ball, free fall out of the net into a large pendulum rope swing and attempt to throw their ball at a fixed target below. Basically a very extreme game show version of bocci ball. Easy enough, right? Well, from a rigging stand point Scott Rogers, Tiffany Junge and I knew this was going be an extremely technical rigging task in a very harsh desert environment. We naturally smiled at the new challenge and began devising a plan. With no time to waste we started brainstorming innovative ideas together, drawing up design diagrams and making important calculations.

Space Net Build

Before knowing all the details of the job ahead we needed to first do a reconnaissance trip to Southern Africa. Global Gladiators sent Scott Rogers out to Fish River Canyon, which happens to be the largest canyon system on the continent of Africa, located in southern Namibia, to find the perfect space for our proposed rigging challenge. Upon returning to Moab, he reported that the most promising gap he could find was 400 feet across, at its smallest span, and the rock quality ranged from very bad to pretty solid. A geological mixture of optimism with a hint of spiciness. We knew this big budget project was going to be full of new obstacles and the scouting trip confirmed this to be true. Amenities, available gear and human support, we were told ahead of time, were going to be scarce so our pre-expedition logistical planning would have to be extremely precise for everything to be executed flawlessly. In addition to our homework, we were given a second assignment to create another challenge for the show that would take place at a totally different location in Swakopmund, immediately following our de-rig schedule. The expedition was shaping up to be jam packed with lots of excitement and hundreds of miles to be traveled across vast parts of the African desert, in the midst of their hot summer season. This was a job that would require military precision, effective team communication and impressive rigging expertise. With next to no shade available in the canyons, temperatures were forecasted to be hovering around 115 degrees fahrenheit and we would only have access to a very small rigging team at our side. Considering all the facts on the table, we smiled once again, realizing that our decades of accumulative rigging experience, desert acclimatization in Moab and unique climbing/rigging skills made us the most qualified and only professional team in the world capable of completing such a task, with crew safety always at the forefront of our minds.

Space Net Build

Fast forwarding a month, after a mirage of logistical planning and flying half way around the world to a new desert environment, we all found ourselves gathered in a small studio apartment in Windhoek, Namibia with extreme jet lag. We unloaded our massive coils of ropes, metal bolts, steel carabiners and remaining gear on the floor to begin prepping. The following days would consist of meeting parts of the Global Gladiator’s production team, sourcing more ropes and materials in town and then eventually heading out across the desert expanse to confront a multitude of rigging tests ahead.

Space Net Rigging

The design of the space net to rope swing challenge (titled “Spidernet-Boule”) was that each contestant would manually pull themselves across 400 foot long horizontal ropes (tyrollean-traverse) to the center of the canyon, while hanging 120 feet above the rocky ground from a climbing harness. Once positioned above the suspended space net we would lower them into our colorful net, attach them to a new leash system and they would begin scrambling about the perimeter of the webbing, searching through a series of dangling black bags to find a specific colored hand-held bocci ball. Once found, I would attach them to a separate 100 foot long rope swing, already secured to the edge of the net, so that they would plummet toward the ground at high speeds and attempt to toss their bocci ball at a tree target below at the apex of their swing. To conclude the game, we would lower them carefully to the ground from the swing ropes and they would be judged based on their ball accuracy to the target and time taken during the challenge. Depending on how close the ball landed to this target determined how many points they would accumulate as a team and as individual competitors. At the end of the game, the losing team would be forced to pick a team member to leave the television program and thus no longer be in the running for winning money or being crowned the Global Gladiators champion.

SPIDERNET-BOULE VIDEO LINK (chapter 4, part 2)

Working 16-20 hour days to prepare this stunt, 5 consecutive days in a row with no more than 4 hours of rest per night, we accomplished our rigging goal and provided an extremely adventurous experience for the German contestants. Despite the long hours of work in very harsh desert conditions, temperatures hovering around 114 degrees most of the day, we kept each other safe and focused as a team. Our effective ability to take care of one another in the high stress environment, while maintaining safety as our primary objective throughout the experience, was noted by the production crew and they left with a tremendous amount of respect for our professional rigging abilities. What we created and coordinated as a cohesive team unit was nothing short of world-class rigging with an awe inspiring outcome for the Global Gladiators television program.

After wrapping up production with the 8 German celebrities and spending the following morning de-rigging the net, we barely had enough time to breath or celebrate before setting off on a 14 hour drive to our next set location of Swakopmund. Read more

Across the Sky

Have you ever wondered how long your focus could last while walking on top of a one-inch-wide piece of slackline webbing? Theoretically, if a line continued in distance for as long as the eye could see, at what point would you fall off? At what point would the world’s best balanced athletes fall off? The discipline of “longlining” attempts to answer this question and the numbers continue to exponentially grow as webbing technology advances as so does the skill level of slackliners worldwide. This question of length then becomes the main focus and adversary for “longliners” who naturally take this challenge to great heights as well.

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Antony Newton making giant strides across 1,617 feet of webbing.

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In the world there exists a very small niche community of highly trained slackliners who devote their balanced practices to pushing distance and height. In my experience of being surrounded by these talented individuals, the majority of them aren’t doing this to stroke their own personal egos or for any real claim to fame. After all, walking across a slackline is a very arbitrary and personal accomplishment all things considered. Instead,what I’ve noticed is that their deepest motivations and desires to push the limits of body and mind stem from a profound need to be the best version of themselves. To explore their outer limits and see what is humanly possible when strict rules and definitions are ignored. During this Fall season, those limits were pushed longer and higher than they ever had been before. Read more

Rhythms of Rimba Rainforest Celebration

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I’ve just gotten back from the humid jungles of Borneo, where myself and other members of the Moab Monkey crew installed a new custom space net in celebration of preserving biodiversity. We spent the past week enjoying the sights and sounds of Sandakan, Borneo, rigging a colorful “Jungle Nest” above a beautiful lake at the Rainforest Discovery Centre. This was all coordinated as part of an amazing annual festival to celebrate, preserve and teach about the immediate need to protect our rapidly disappearing jungle environments. Over a two day period, hundreds of professional artists, educators and musicians gathered at the 2015 Rhythms of Rimba celebration to share their thoughts, concerns and plans to slow the destruction of their surrounding jungle. During the event it was our duty to facilitate over 200 people from the general public, getting in and out of the suspended net (with a huge amount of help from local Bornean climbers), to enjoy a new perspective of the canopy life around them. Although our role may not have been as educational as the professional lectures given, it offered attendees the opportunity to push themselves past comfort levels in their beautiful home and see new perspectives along the way. We also took advantage of this time to rig several slacklines in the area to teach the general public how to walk again. This gave them a greater appreciation for their own personal balance and mind power, which empowers humans for life.

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 One of the biggest steps in preserving the rapidly disappearing jungles, due to expanding palm oil plantations and other forms of corporate exploitation, is the simple act of educating people on the importance of protecting biodiversity as a whole. If you don’t understand the fragility of your own home or wildlife, you’re less likely to take a stand against its destruction. Similarly, if you don’t value its natural presence then you won’t see the absolute need for its existence. This is why the festival was created, to make a positive impact on the surrounding communities and take a stand against the decimation of our own biodiversity.

By deforesting our rainforests in the name of human greed we simultaneously destroy all fragile ecosystems, plants and animals that require them to live, including ourselves. Borneo supports over 15,000 different plant species alone, which rivals that of the entire African continent, and may well represent the highest level of over all plant diversity on planet Earth. A lot of this vegetation remains endemic to the unique island of Borneo, so when rampant deforestation and wildfires takes place, as a direct result of the growing palm oil industry, this precious life disappears forever. When you take into account that many endangered species are already struggling to live on this large island (the thirds largest in the world after Greenland and New Guinea), such as the colugo flying squirrels, pygmy elephants, Sumatran rhinos, orangutans, clouded leopards, gibbons and sun bears, you realize many changes need to be made in regard to our human behaviors and priorities for this biodiversity to continue existing. If drastic changes aren’t made more life will be lost and our future generations will be deprived of a more diverse world to live in.

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Elevated Acroyoga Atop Desert Towers

 

Yoga has always been a part of my daily life of stretching and being outside. The constant search to find inner stillness, better breathe and greater flexibility in my movement has always been a joyful meditation, but I’ve always been more drawn to sharing the experience through more playful forms of balance such as slacklining, climbing and acrobatic yoga. Instead of focusing on individual static poses and personal progression, combining the finesse and flowing movement of two people together has continued to be a more relaxed and playful practice for me. I was first introduced to acroyoga a couple years ago while living in Oregon and I was immediately intrigued by the focus and flexibility required of two people to find balance together in a very simple yet beautifully complex form of choreographed motion. The creative flows are infinite, the mood always light and the natural settings where we practice are continuously shifting. In drawing on my skills and experience with wrestling and mixed martial arts, where the goal is to counterbalance your opponent and dominate their body position, I found that transforming combative dance into its opposite focus, where cultivating a mutual balance was the goal, has brought me a new sense of mutual accomplishment.

Last winter I was approached by my good friends Scott Rogers and Dallin Smith with a  project idea that would join our combined skills of acroyoga, desert climbing and extensive ropes rigging in a new form of adventurous and artistic expression. To take these three disciplines and combine them into a single project, where the natural beauty of Moab’s desert towers could be displayed alongside the flowing balance of humans, became the new focus to pursue. Being the desert wanderers that we are here in Moab, Utah, Scott and I started to brainstorm some interesting environments where acroyoga could be practiced in new exposed ways. After deliberating on a number of different desert towers in the local area; which we had previously climbed, established highlines atop and BASE jumped from, we concluded that this concept of tower yoga could be achieved realistically in our own backyard. Very quickly Trimr water bottles was excited by the idea and the project was set in motion. Over a cold three day period, Scott and I climbed a couple towers, fixed ropes to their summits and began planning the logistics of getting the other yogis out to these remotely exposed locations.

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A New Era of Aerial Space Net Rigging

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Every year during the Fall season in Moab, there’s been a growing number of adventure sport athletes who converge in this incredible desert landscape to enjoy the elevated views and exciting new ways to get blood pumping through our veins. Amongst the two main adventure groups who gather here are the BASE jumpers and highliners, who come from all around the world for the annual Turkey BASE Boogie (ongoing for more than 15 years) and G.G.B.Y. highline gathering (with its 8th annual celebration). Both communities come to the same desert playground to celebrate life together and push themselves in new innovative ways with their respective sports, but often we’re spread out across the vast red cliffs having different adventures with land and air. The highliners spend long periods of time honing their focus walking across long one-inch wide pieces of webbing in space while the jumpers gather in masses across cliff edges to throw themselves into the abyss for a wild and fast paced flight to the canyon floor below. Both activities attract different crowds with varying dangerous interests, but the fact remains that we all love this shared desert paradise for the same reasons of its undeniable beauty, solitude and freedom. Despite our differing focuses, we all love being immersed in nature and spending time with our friends in a quiet environment.

Pentagon Space Net

This year’s gathering, however, felt noticeably different than all others in the past for one main reason… The “Mothership Space Net Penthouse” was born and both groups found themselves working together as a team to rig and share the same pentagon shaped hammock, which was suspended 400′ above the rocky desert floor. Highliners attempted to walk across the five different legs of the net, varying in lengths up to 80 meters long (262 feet), BASE jumpers leapt daily from the human sized hole in the middle of the net and paragliders made several flybys while dropping wingsuit pilots from above to buzz by groups of friends hanging out in the net. This upgrade of size to the space net concept was a massive scale up from the 2012 three sided “Space Thong” design, which was also shared by both groups but with less cohesiveness. A big undertaking during its time but clearly just the first steps toward bigger goals and dreams.

This all would not have been made possible with out the huge communal effort it took to hand weave this new space net by more than 50 different BASE jumpers, highliners and friendly volunteers over a 3 day period prior to its one day installation between the canyon. This was without a doubt one of the most unique Thanksgiving gatherings we’ve had out here in the Moab desert, where not one athlete was injured during the duration of such dangerous stunts. In the end, everyone was very thankful for the new relationships and community that came together because it represented something bigger than any one person.

~Brian Mosbaugh

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