Friday, January 2, 2009

'Three Cups of Tea' author finds new mountains to climb (01/02/09)


WASHINGTON — Globe-trotting humanitarian Greg Mortenson, co-author of the best-selling memoir Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time, keeps a reminder pasted to his bathroom mirror back home in Bozeman, Mont.: "When your heart speaks, take good notes."

Mortenson's own heart started hollering 15 years ago, when the exhausted mountaineer lost his way in northeastern Pakistan's untrammeled Karakoram Range. After stumbling nearly 60 miles down a glacier to the Muslim hamlet of Korphe — where he was welcomed as the first foreigner the 400 villagers had encountered — he watched local children substitute mud-coated sticks for pencils in an apricot orchard that served as their only classroom.

Inspired by his parents' work to start a hospital and school on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, and by fellow climber Edmund Hillary's charitable work in the Nepalese Himalayas, Mortenson promised he would return to Korphe to build a school.

But unlike most well-meaning tourists touched by encounters with Third World poverty, Mortenson delivered on his pledge.

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