Majka Burhardt’s book More: Life on the Edge of Adventure and Motherhood is framed as letters to the author’s children, a chronicle of their first few years. But it’s really about hard-earned lessons, deep longing, and the components of self-identity in all of their complexities.

There’s a bit of climbing mixed in as well.

You’ve probably seen Burhardt in Patagonia product images, or perhaps doing the Tabu Route up Cathedral Ledge. The pro rock climber and guide has lived in New Hampshire for more than 10 years, tackling the toughest pitches the Granite State offers as warm-ups to scaling some of the most challenging vertical slabs around the world.

Burhardt had to rebalance her climbing when she became pregnant about five years ago, and this book is her journey through that period. The journal format spares the reader nothing: short chapters glimpse her psyche as motherhood roils her once single-minded focus on ascents. At times she descends into a stew of mostly painful memories, trying to square her current reality with her past. It’s a brutally honest exploration of the raw, wrenching, and complex turns her life takes as she navigates a new path for herself as a mother and for her marriage to Peter Doucette, also a pro climber and guide.

We shouldn’t neglect to mention she was, at the same time, in the midst of creating a multinational conservation organization called Legado, based in Africa. As if dealing with two small children weren’t enough, Burhardt kept her professional career alive not by dressing up and going to an office but by sneaking away to a spare bedroom to inch her nonprofit forward.

When she did leave the house she always took her breast pump (including when ice climbing hundreds of feet above I-93 on Cannon Mountain). Thus she kept her promise to continue that vital connection to her children as long as possible.

Holding Burhardt’s identity, sanity, and family life together is the thread of deep love she feels for her twins as they grow and develop individual personalities.

Many of her conflicts are familiar to women trying to hold together family, identity, and career. For instance, she says “I’m angry that I have found myself here—that I am an educated, world-wise, divorced, therapied woman who is working full-time while also doing the lion’s share of the housework, the mental work, and the childcare. This alternative lifestyle we have kidded ourselves that we are creating? There is nothing alternative about this division of labor. Perhaps it’s so shocking because I’d prided myself on being different—living by and making different rules, building a straw-bale house and having a non-traditional career of climbing and writing and traveling. But our current domestic scene feels so damn normal it pisses me off.”

At times Burhardt’s over-extension of herself leaves the reader wondering if she’ll make it, finding a route for her family through the challenge of their lives. She admits she’s been surrounded by other female mothers/athletes who could be role models but whose skills and struggles she never recognized until she was facing the same obstacles.

Fortunately, Burhardt is open about seeking counseling with Doucette, and about attempts to engage her mother in conversations to better understand her own upbringing. She explores the realization that even women with nontraditional paths in life find ourselves in traditional roles and overstretched with family responsibilities. Yet she doesn’t offer herself as a guide or role model. Perhaps there’s some solace for women with average lives that even high achieving competitive athletes struggle?

If you read More to learn how Burhardt juggles her many responsibilities, this may be the author’s gem of understanding to take away: “Maybe balance is not achieved or felt as bliss. Maybe balance is achieved with heartbreak and yearning at the margins. Yearning to be with you when I am gone, yearning to go climbing when I am not, yearning to feel more satisfied in the moment. But I am the only one who can create that.”

Hopefully Burhardt’s soul-baring epistle makes more of us aware of and sympathetic to what others are going through.

“More” is out today— for details on the book tour and additional reviews/information, visit

About the Author

Majka Burhardt is a professional climber, certified climbing guide, conservation entrepreneur, author, and filmmaker; she is also the founder and executive director of the international conservation and development organization Legado and the author of Vertical Ethiopia, which was short-listed in 2008 for the Banff Book Award. Her work and projects have been featured in The New York Times, The Economist, Outside Magazine, The Weather Channel, NPR and more, and her articles have appeared in publications including Afar, Men’s Health, Skiing, Backpacker, Patagonia, Alpinist, Women’s Adventure, The Explorers Journal, and Climbing. Majka currently lives with her twins and her husband, the internationally certified mountain guide Peter Doucette, in Jackson, New Hampshire.