National Geographic Live speaker series begins in Breckenridge Wednesday |

National Geographic Live speaker series begins in Breckenridge Wednesday

The National Geographic Live speaker series begins Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge with climbing photographers and explorers Corey Richards and Mike Libecki and their presentation, “Untamed Antarctica.”
Cory Richards / National Geographic |


What: National Geographic Live speaking series

When: Sept. 16, Oct. 14, Nov. 18; 7:30 p.m. for all dates

Where: Riverwalk Center, 150 West Adams Ave., Breckenridge

Cost: $25-$45 per event. Season series ticket holders save 15 percent off each event with purchase of all three. To buy tickets, go to

Series Schedule

Wednesday, Sept. 16: Corey Richards and Mike Libecki, “Untamed Antarctica”

Wednesday, Oct. 14: Bryan Smith, “The Lens of Adventure”

Wednesday, Nov. 18: David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes, “Coral Kingdoms and Empires of Ice”

Sometimes, when viewing a breathtaking photo or video, what can be forgotten is the equally enthralling story behind the lens. What obstacles did the photographer overcome to capture that moment? How did they get to this location? And, almost most importantly, how does this photo speak to them?

Answering these questions can often tell a story even more vivid than the imagery itself. This fall, Breckenridge Creative Arts is offering an opportunity to step into these stories, with their National Geographic Live speaker series at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge.

“We believe in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to change the world,” said Andy van Duym, vice president of National Geographic Live. “People in Breckenridge love nature and outdoors. And I’m so sure that the entertaining stories that National Geographic’s explorers share through the series will be a hit with the community.”

Kicking off the series Wednesday, Sept. 16, at 7:30 p.m. will be climbing photographers and explorers Cory Richards and Mike Libecki, with their presentation, “Untamed Antarctica.”

The pair will take their audience on a journey to the frigid South Pole, where they performed a first ascent on the peak, Bertha’s Tower. Despite fighting relentlessly cold temperatures, extreme wind chill and less-than-ideal weather, the two and their team still managed to conquer the icy spire, which was also one of the most remote, big-wall rock climbing ascents that has ever been performed.

“When you go to a place where rescue is almost impossible … It took everything we had to get to the summit safely,” Libecki said. “This is not a mountain that you can hike up or — in any way, shape or form — easily go to the top of. This is a vertical, 2,000-foot tower, that comes out of the ice caps like a giant spearhead. This is the most difficult kind of climbing on the planet.”

The entire climb featured 100 percent vertical, to sometimes even overhanging climbing, on a crumbly-rock face. After around 30 days of frostbite-inducing winds, exhausting climbing and many near-death experiences, Richards and Libecki’s team reached the top — but they had only completed half the journey — as an equally difficult down-climb still remained. Thankfully, this wasn’t the first go-around for either.

Richards, a world-class photographer and filmmaker, has found himself in many extreme climbing scenarios before. In 2012, he climbed the historic Pakistani peak Gasherbrum II during the middle of winter, which he documented in his film, “Cold.” For this performance, he was awarded 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the year. Libecki, also well-versed in extreme climbing, has tackled first ascents on five continents, plus Oceania.

“A lot of people think that exploration is dead, with Google Earth, and technology, and satellite imagery, and communications … but that is absolutely not even close to the truth. I just completed my 67th expedition; I have 22 more expeditions planned right now to untouched, unknown Earth.”

Through pictures and film, the duo will take their audience behind the scenes of their harrowing voyage. National Geographic supported their journey and already published an article on the trip, but Richards said that a presentation like the speaker series is much more engaging.

“Speaking events give the people the opportunity to be close and have that experience in front of you. It’s one thing to read it in a magazine, but it’s another to see it onstage and have it brought to you. It’s so special to have the opportunity to translate … and bring this to people,” he said.

“It’s a duty of mine,” Libecki said. “… to share this experience with the planet, to get people excited about the magic and power of our planet, to get people excited to want to protect our planet, to get people outdoors, to inspire them to go on their own expedition. It really has to do with experiencing the time of now … to share that with as many people around the world as we can and it is quite the honor to be working with National Geographic to do that on a world stage.”

* * *

Bryan Smith will present the second installation of the speaking series on Wednesday, Oct. 14, with “Lens of Adventure.” Smith, an avid kayaker and extreme filmmaker, has paddled some of the most remote waters in the world and knows no limits in pursuit of the most creative and technical shots. He recently filmed and directed “The Man Who Can Fly,” a National Geographic special documenting experiments in human-powered flight.

Then, Nov. 18, the series will continue with “Coral Kingdoms and Empires of Ice,” presented by David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes. The husband and wife are renowned underwater photographers, having explored three unique marine environments for National Geographic. They have experience plunging in watery depths all throughout the world; from Papua New Guinea to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and will provide a background as to what went into capturing their spellbinding images.

The Nat Geo speakers will provide the excitement of climbing, kayaking remote-tropical islands and deep-sea diving, without the effort and difficulty of performing these acts oneself.

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