Mark Jenkins is a critically acclaimed author, internationally recognized adventurer and the monthly columnist for Outside magazine .
For the past six years, Jenkins' column, The Hard Way , has explored the meaning and joy of the physical, outdoor life. From clandestine journeys across Tibet to mountaineering in Bolivia, sea kayaking around Turkey's Gallipoli peninsula to canyoneering in Australia, Jenkins covers the globe in search of adventure, history and human understanding. Jenkins' story about his secret journeys into Burma, “Ghost Road,” was selected by Pico Iyer for inclusion in The Best American Travel Writing of 2003. ( Outside magazine, circulation 700,000, readership 2.2 milllion, is the only magazine in history to win three consecutive National Magazine Awards for General Excellence.)
Jenkins is the author of three award-winning books: The Hard Way , To Timbuktu and Off the Map.
The Hard Way (Simon and Schuster, 2002) is the first volume of Jenkins' collected short works. Albert Chen in Sports Illustrated states, “These rich, well-rendered stories succeed because as Jenkins paddles against the current or rappels through a storm, his writer's eye is working all the while.” Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle , Paul McHugh describes the prose in The Hard Way as “lucid, creative and economical” and says “Jenkins provides clear insight into the physical, mental and emotional conditions that should infuse bold ventures.” In a full-page review in the L.A. Times , Robin U. Russin writes: “Brought to life by a poetic and muscular style, Jenkins' writing is a brew of history, philosophy and raw emotion. His journeys are as intellectual and spiritual as they are physical, and we are by his side, in his head.” The Hard Way was published by Simon & Schuster in paperback in 2003.
To Timbuktu (William Morrow, 1997) binds together three powerful stories: a journey through North Africa the author made as a very young man, the first descent of the Niger River headwaters the author accomplished in 1993 and the history of the search for Timbuktu, the fabled city of the Sahara. Writing in the New York Times , critic Richard Bernstein said, "The best feature of To Timbuktu consists in Mr. Jenkins delight in the small and not-so-small elements of the African spectacle, which he treats with distanced, unsentimental, often aesthetic appreciation. Mr. Jenkins transforms a common sight into a moment of pure magic." Said critic Bill Berkeley, in a full-page review in the L.A. Times Book Review , "Here is a lust for rigorous adventure ... Jenkins displays a Whitman-esque openness to experience. He has the descriptive and narrative skills to bring off a vivid and gritty portrait of a little-explored corner of the world." Critic Amanda Heller, writing for the Boston Globe, summed it up: "Blessed with a rare combination of physical and intellectual grace, Jenkins weaves a compelling narrative of muscular beauty and emotional honesty. He makes us understand what pushes the man who pushes the envelope." To Timbuktu was excerpted in Conde Naste Traveler , the Utne Reader, Penthouse and Salon , was translated into Dutch, German and Spanish and published in paperback by Quill. In 1998 To Timbuktu was chosen by the L.A. Times Book Review as one of the Best 100 Books of 1997.
Off the Map (William Morrow, 1992), details the first coast-to-coast crossing of Siberia by bicycle, a 5-month, 7500-mile journey that put Jenkins into the Guinness Book of Sports Records . Off the Map was described by Kirkus Review as a "feisty, sometimes brilliant first book with a leaping, impulsive prose." USA Today called Off the Map "a literary epic" and Newsweek critic Malcolm Jones Jr. declared "the ornery, observant Jenkins good company on every page." Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance , wrote: "Jenkins is a master of the fundamental writer's talent: an ability to see things in new ways, as no one has ever seen them before." Off the Map was excerpted in Reader's Digest (ten foreign language editions) Bicycling, Summit and Great Expeditions, was translated into Dutch, German and Japanese and published in paperback by HarperPerennial.
In 2003, Jenkins won the American Alpine Club Literary Award for excellence in alpine literature. In the spring of 2002 Jenkins was awarded the McGaw/Hull Endowed Chair in Literature at the University of Wyoming. Jenkins has twice won the W.A.C. Literature Fellowship (1986, 1989) as well as the Polartec Explorers Award (1990, 1998). His agent is Kris Dahl at ICM in New York.
Prior to his position with Outside, Jenkins was the adventure/investigative editor for Men's Health ; rocky mountain editor for Backpacker; managing editor of Adventure Travel and Cross Country Skier ; and a freelance journalist working in Africa for Time, Reuters, VOA and Deutsch Press Agency . Jenkins' writing and photography have appeared in dozens of national and international publications, including Bicycling, Conde Naste Traveler, GQ, Playboy, Reader's Digest, Sierra, Sports Afield, the Utne Reader, The Washington Post and World. He has been interviewed by Good Morning America, The Crier Report, CNN, PBS, BBC and NPR, as well as spoken on countless radio programs. Jenkins holds a B.A. in philosophy and an M.S. in geography, both with honors, from the University of Wyoming.
Jenkins' writing has been widely anthologized, appearing in Far From Home: Father-Daughter Travel Adventures; Outside 25: Classic Tales and New Voices From The Frontiers of Adventure, Deep West: A Literary Guide To Wyoming; Rescue: Stories of Survival From Land And Sea ; Traveler's Tales: Tibet; Adrenaline 2000: The Year's Best Stories of Adventure and Survival; Writing is Critical Action; 30 Years of Climbing Magazine and many others.
A resident of Wyoming since the age of seven, Jenkins does expeditions into the world's last remote regions. Hallmarks include the 2nd American ascent of Mt. Xixabangma, Tibet (1984), the U.S. Everest North Face Expedition (1986), the 1st ascent of the highest peaks in the Arctic Circle (1988), the 1st coast-to-coast crossing of the former Soviet Union by bicycle (1989), the 1st descent of the Niger River headwaters, West Africa (1991), the 1st ascent of the Peak Rawu, Tibet (1993), first ascent of the South Face of Mt. Waddington, Canada (1995) and the first ascent of the West Face Direct of Margherita, the highest peak in the Rwenzori Mountains of Uganda.
Mark Jenkins lives in Laramie, Wyoming with his wife, Sue Ibarra, and two daughters, Addi and Teal.