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I’ve been speaking to large audiences ever since I became president of the UCSB Mountaineering Association in 1977. Since then I’ve presented hundreds of lectures and films on diverse outdoor adventures. These talks have taken me to dozens of states and nearly a dozen countries, and have let me share my stories with schoolchildren as well as adults in corporate conferences, film festivals, outdoor clubs, Imax theaters, and outdoor retail stores.

Please write me at john [at] johnharlin [dot] com or call me at 541-490-9055 to discuss booking a show.

Depending on timing, a custom presentation is possible, but I’m currently promoting two talks in particular. The text is presented here in the third-person so that it can be lifted for press releases:

John Harlin’s Swiss Borders Adventure:

In June 2010, author and adventurer John Harlin set out on a three-month journey to follow the entire Swiss border under his own power, a 1,200-mile odyssey along the ragged spine of the Alps—but disaster struck early. Eleven days in, he broke both of his feet during a 50-foot climbing fall.

Three months later, his bones partly healed, Harlin resumed his adventures. In October, he paddled the Rhine and biked the crest of the Jura Mountains as the snows set in, thus completing the relatively flat northern borders.

In summer 2011, Harlin returned to the high Alps, this time traveling clockwise from eastern Switzerland until he completed his journey near the site of his accident, Mont Dolent, where the borders of Italy, France, and Switzerland all come together.

Along the way John ascended and descended over 700,000 vertical feet--roughly the equivalent of climbing Everest from the sea and returning to salt water a dozen times in a row. There were plenty of close calls and hard days, but what stands out to John and his audiences is the surprising complexity of the border country, where history and beauty far outweigh one man’s adventures. 

John Harlin’s Eiger Obsession:

Climbing the Mountain That Killed my Father

In his book, The Eiger Obsession, John Harlin III writes, “When I was a kid it always bothered me that Dad hadn’t been able to survive most of his 4,000-foot fall. He would have wanted to savor the event: his ‘ultimate experience,’ the one he had been looking forward to, even though he wanted it to come later.”

Forty years after, at the age of 49, John III finally climbed Switzerland’s most notorious peak, the Eiger—the mountain that killed his father—while his own nine-year-old daughter watched through a telescope, and an Imax-theater movie crew filmed. The final drama is captured in The Alps, in giant-screen theaters worldwide. But the full story is the approach and avoidance, fear and resolve, family and responsibility that spanned the years between John III’s childhood in the Swiss Alps and the eventual ascent that lifted him out of his legendary “hardman”-father’s shadow.

The Eiger Obsession has inspired audiences in six countries, sometimes to standing ovations. One woman commented afterward, “That’s not a climbing story, it’s a love story.” But it’s a love story that uses exciting adventure photos and film clips that span mountain ranges, continents, and generations. When John finally challenges the mountain that frightened him above all others, his audiences are left to understand that they, too, can slay their demons, and that they, too, can fulfill their dreams with the support of the people they love.