All posts by Luke M.

I was born and raised in the prairies of Sioux Falls, SD. I succumbed to the creative lure of Austin, TX when I was 18, attending countless live music performances, as well as the University of Texas. I did not know it at the time, but that southern launchpad of many indie filmmakers had an impact on more than my musical side. While I spent much of my time over the following 14 years chasing day jobs in fields ranging from nuclear engineering to tuning up people’s pacemakers, I passionately poured my free hours into making music, photography, and now film. I recently shifted my time toward photography and filmmaking full-time, and wonder why it took so long. Nature plays the central role in my creative inspiration. As a student of science and avid outdoor enthusiast, I am constantly striving to show how we interact with our environment on an intimate and personal level. When I am not hiking up a trail or skiing down a mountain, you can probably catch me in Seattle, my current home base, planning my next photography adventure at one of my favorite pubs.

Luke ~ Coming up for air

Christen has had a flurry of activity lately on the blog. While I have been bouncing from one shoot to the next in Kathmandu valley, she has been working non-stop to update you all on how the trek unfolded for the teams shooting the Karma Documentary and participating in the trek.

We just said a momentary goodbye this evening to Christen; she has boarded her flight back to Seattle. Since I have a minor break in the production schedule, I wanted to begin to share some of the photos and thoughts I had along the trek. I thought I would start out with a photo essay about our late arrival (and very brief layover) in Kathmandu, our landing in Lukla, and our immediate launch onto the trail.

I will be continuing to film in Nepal over the next several weeks to round out the stories of many of the wonderful people who make tourism a reality in this country. Stay tuned. More to come!


After a lengthy journey (with the bonus of a surprise extended lay-over in China), we were welcomed to the Kathmandu international airport by this sunset.


Even though it was the Nepali (Hindu) New Year, the streets of Kathmandu were practically deserted by the time we finished our final gear check at about 1:00 in the morning. This rickshaw driver is having a break after a very busy night.


Lukla is the launching point for many treks in the Everest region, including ours to Mera Peak and the popular Everest Base Camp trek. It is a small bustling town sitting atop a ridge hosting one of the worlds most dangerous landing spots – Tenzing-Hillary Airport. We were only here long enough for breakfast, yet it was obvious that tourism has fueled the vast majority of this community’s economy as it has grown over the last 15 years.


Many farmers from rural surrounding areas wait outside the gate of the airstrip, hoping to be hired a porter for a trek. Prime season is only a few months in the spring and fall, and the competition for work is high.


After breakfast in Lukla, we hit the trail. We were quickly schooled on the concept of “Sherpa flat”. If your day starts and ends at relatively the same elevation, the trail is said to be flat. However, you will still likely climb up and down ridges that can be up to 3000 ft throughout the day. From this vantage, you can see our rocky trail on the right. Lukla is the village on the ridge halfway up the distant mountain, between the trees. Our lunch spot was at the bottom of the valley by the river… Sherpa flat.


Christen and Karma were enjoying the sun on the trail earlier in the first day.

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The children along the trail were very excited to see us. Our trekking route took us through areas seldom visited by foreign tourists.


Karma was always making sure Christen and I were bringing up the back of the trekking party safely. We liked to think we were the slowest members because of needing to stop to film, but the others possessed far more trekking and mountaineering prowess. Here, Karma is radioing ahead to Glen that we are learning how to walk in the mountains properly – small steps.


After a first day that seemingly lasted for weeks (including all of our international travel mishaps), we finally reached our first lodge in the Himalaya. The sunset gave us a mystical glimpse into the typical weather patterns we would see most days. Clear mornings would suddenly cloud up in the afternoons.







Luke ~ Meet the Staff

When people come home from trekking in the Himalaya, there are always many praises sung about the strength, friendliness, dedication, and overall super-human feats accomplished by the porters, guides, and cooks. It is said again and again that visiting this breath-taking part of the world would not be possible without their undying support. Our trip was no exception.

Not only was our staff exceptional in every way, they all welcomed us in (sometimes to their own homes) as family. I wanted to take a brief moment to introduce our wonderful team.

One thing I would also like to note: many porters working in the mountainous regions of Nepal work for companies who do not properly outfit them with suitable clothing, do not pay them a fair wage, and frequently ask them to carry loads far in excess of the legal limit of 35 kg.

Karma is trying to change these norms. Karma strives to ensure that his staff are properly clothed, fed, paid, and insured. He understands that taking care of his staff means that his guests will be well taken care of too. He does not allow his porters to carry loads above the limit. In fact, he tries to limit their loads to 25 kg or less. It may mean that a trek could cost slightly more with his company, but a trek with his company means that more local people are employed. It also means that they will be employed in a safe and fair way.

Meet the Porters

Left to right: Dawa Ungle Sherpa, Ang Rita Sherpa, Pasang Sherpa, Sonam Sherpa, Sila Rai, Chongba Sherpa, Sagar Garung, Kami Sherpa, Surya Rai, Karma Sherpa

Donate to the film. Any and all contributions make a difference.


***You can donate through the GoFundMe campaign, as well as share the link and encourage others to donate:


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Luke Mislinski Photography

14821 SE 181st Street
Renton, WA 98058

Luke ~ Meet the Trekkers

Now that the team has just finished their trek through Karma Sherpa’s home region in the Himalaya, we wanted to introduce everyone to you.


Karma – Sirdar (Head Guide). Karma is a co-founder of the Karma Project. He was always quick to offer a warm smile, sudden dance move, and velvety “Good morning, breakfast is ready.” that drew even the most weary trekker out of their cozy sleeping bag. He was also the most ticklish member of the trekking party.


Glen – American mountaineering guide. Glen is Karma’s good friend and a co-founder of the Karma Project. Sure to be future host of “Poop Talk with Glen”, he made certain to assess each team member’s health status during evening meals by ascertaining the nature of their bathroom visits.


Luke – Producer/Director. He is a long time photographer, first time filmmaker. Luke is as graceful as a gunslinger with a tripod, but clumsy as a toddler on his feet. Luke hopes that if “Poop Talk with Glen” does not flush out, he can convince our fearless North American leader to recreate the 70’s TV show “Guy on a Buffalo” as “Glen on a Yak”.


Christen – Art Director. Christen thrives on meeting new and diverse people. She discovered the psychic nature of her tummy on the trek, which always lead her accurately to each day’s destination. One would be quick to say she is the reincarnation of Pooh Bear, had Jack Kerouac not already designated Pooh Bear as God.


Matt – Matt is a Canadian who actually does not play hockey. His back country and mountaineering prowess is matched only by his infectious smile and affinity for living as far away as he can from the 9-5 grind. He also knows how to properly use the letter “O”. He is a man who braved the coleslaw and lived to tell about it, consequences be damned.


Andrew – Andrew is the Yin to Matt’s Yang. He is a machine on the trail and atop the glacier. His graphic stick figure art would be right at home on many of the racier temples in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square. Just when you begin to suspect he does not speak, he stuns your funny bone with a one-liner uppercut.


Rose – Rose is the Buddha of French Canadians. The only thing more impressive than her wisdom beyond her youthful appearance is her incomparable toughness. She can warm your heart, open your mind, and out trek anyone, even while suffering from days of traveller’s sickness. She is a purveyor of the wit and wisdom found on the pages of the literary masterpiece, “The Ascent of Rum Doodle.”


Becky – Becky possesses a potent combination of a deep and loving respect for geology with a keen set of wilderness skills. Her dry sense of humor and laser like focus provided a counter balance to the group’s generally silly antics. She is perfectly suited to high altitude trekking. As elevation was gained, so was her strength and humor.

Luke ~ It is all uphill from here

The whirlwind of organizing gear and packing is over. The two-week cluster of stress bombs is fading. I can now wonder, “Am I really going to survive this?”

When I told Glen I would join the trip in November I had no real idea how complicated preparing for a trip like this would be. Sure, I have done my share of backpacking, hiking, camping, and back-country adventuring. The thing is, I have never done it while also shooting a documentary.

Like I usually do, I dove right into this project with abandon. I like to figure things out as I go along. I thought I would share some thoughts and little nuggets of wisdom I picked up during the last few weeks:

Local stores always beat the big box. Forget about the mega-sales. Christen and I had great service at Second Ascent, a mountaineering shop in my neighborhood. They love the idea of the Karma Project and the film. With every piece of necessary gear, our sales person, Trent, first tried the used items and then closeout items before going to the latest and greatest expensive item. Then, when something was not on sale, he gave us a discount anyway. Contrast that with an unnamed big-box office supply store. I purchased 12 hard drives to take on the trek for all the footage. When I asked if they price matched, they said they would only do it for one of them. What a deal!

– Camera gear is HEAVY! It is one thing to carry your new Digital Rebel with you on your hike in a state park. It is a whole different thing to have multiple lenses, camera bodies, solar panels, batteries (10), hard drives (HEAVY), chargers, adapters, tripod, monopod, steadicam…. This is on top of having to pack normal trekking gear like an ice axe, lots of clothes, boots, etc. One thing is for sure. I will lose weight on this trip.

– Friends and family are like nothing else. Through the last two weeks, Jenn, my wife, has dropped everything to help me reach the finish (or should I say starting) line. I could not have done this trip or film without her invaluable help. In fact, every time I have needed a little helping hand, she has been there for me. Jenn has been an amazing partner throughout this very stressful time. Not only is she completely supportive of me taking the physical risks on, she has given me the courage and confidence to know I can complete the trek and tell a meaningful story. It has not been easy. We have had a few battles when the stress met a boiling point. Jenn is a natural planner; I fly by the seat of my procrastinating pants. Through it all, Jenn has had the patience and wisdom to guide me through what is a complete redefinition of my self, and for that I will always be grateful for her.

Luke and Jenn (1)

My friends have been absolutely amazing, as well! From those who are offering encouraging messages, calls, or texts, to those who have contributed to the film with either their effort or money, I have been overwhelmed by the help I have received. Thank you to all of my friends and family!

Pictures are my thing, so I thought I would show you what (almost all) of the photography and filming equipment I will be schlepping from 9800 ft to 21,000 ft looks like. For reference, all of the items are laid out on my futon, which was folded out into a full-sized bed at the time.

Gear (1)

Christen and I will be catching our connecting flight from Vancouver to Asia very soon. While we will very likely be on ‘radio silence’ for the next three weeks, we have your wishes and words with us to help us along the way. Stay tuned. It is all starting! Footage and photos will start to appear on soon!






If you would like to donate to the film project, you can do that here:

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You can also send a check payable to Luke Mislinski Photography at
14821 SE 181st Street
Renton, WA 98058

Why Luke? Why Christen?

Luke and Christen

Brunch. It is the time when we all come together; it is the time when everyone can speak their mind. Most of all, it is the time that we let our guard down and tell each other how we really feel. Join Christen, Luke, and some of our friends as we philosophize about how to spend time in another geography in our shared world.

Food for Thought from Luke Mislinski on Vimeo.


Donate to the film. Any and all contributions make a difference.

***You can donate through the GoFundMe campaign, as well as share the link and encourage others to donate:

***You can donate through PayPal here:

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***You can send a check to:

Luke Mislinski Photography

3563 US Highway 26
Dubois, WY

Luke ~ Making a Difference is not Easy.

I am asking for your help; I am asking you join me on a journey.

Many of you know that I have been working full-time as a professional photographer for some time. I am now launching a film-making venture. It is a project that will not succeed without your help and support.

I am producing and directing a film that will take you to a distant, harsh, and demanding land where you will be welcomed by some of the warmest, kindest, and most hospitable people on the planet. In just two weeks, I will be walking to remote villages in Nepal with my old friend, Christen, whom I have known since childhood, and my new friend, Glen, whom I met a couple year ago while taking an avalanche safety class.

We are making a documentary to show you the friendships and connections that form across cultural and economic boundaries between Westerners and local Sherpa villagers.

The story-line will highlight an incredible friendship and partnership between Glen, an American mountaineering guide, and Karma, a Sherpa guide from a remote village in the Everest region. Karma recently asked Glen to help his village find means to provide education and basic medical care. The need is stark: when Karma was four his father died of a simple infection. More recently, several women have died from complications during child-birth while trying to reach the nearest clinic (a four-day trek on foot over mountainous terrain). Most village children only get a 3rd grade education.

Glen is helping Karma launch a locally owned and operated sustainable tourism business to raise the money for education and basic medical services his village desperately needs.

Throughout the film, you will journey with me, Christen, and several other Westerners on the first official trip for Karma’s tourism company – Higher Path Treks and Expeditions. You will follow us for three weeks as we “rough it” on-foot through the Everest region, forging friendships with the local villagers along the way. You will be helping to uncover and spread the stories of these truly wonderful people. You will see that connections across culture can be strong, but you will also see the reality of giving. Helping to make a difference is not easy, yet we are all in this together.

I cannot ask you to don a pack and hit the trail with me, but I ask you to join me through your contributions and moral support. To make this film a reality, we have set a goal to raise $25,000 through this fundraiser to help cover travel, trek, and pre-production costs. Contribute here. We greatly appreciate any help you can give!

Under the Rainbow

Luke ~ Meet the Crew

Check out this video to meet some of the people who will be featured in the documentary!


Karma Documentary Crew from Luke Mislinski on Vimeo.

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Donate to the film. Any and all contributions make a difference. Sincerely, no amount is too small, and every dollar counts.


***You can donate through the GoFundMe campaign, as well as share the link and encourage others to donate:


***You can donate through PayPal here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards


***You can send a check to:

Luke Mislinski Photography

14821 SE 181st Street
Renton, WA 98058