Photographer/Filmmaker. Thru-Hiker. Naturekeeper.
Native Coloradan Pete McBride has spent two decades studying the world through a camera lens with the heart of a poet and a crystal clear conservation aim. A self-taught photographer, filmmaker, writer, and narrator, he is a Sony Artisan of Imagery and has traveled on assignment to over 75 countries for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Google, The Nature Conservancy, and others. He has also spoken on some of the world’s most prestigious stages, including The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, USAID, and countless concert halls worldwide.
After a decade documenting remote expeditions from Everest to Antarctica, Pete decided to focus his lens on a subject closer to his heart—his backyard river, the mighty Colorado. Four years and 1,500 river-miles later, Pete told the story of a river that no longer makes its way from its source, high in the Rockies, to the Gulf of California, in Mexico, thanks to climate change and too many municipal and agricultural straws poked into it along the way. Pete channeled this work into an acclaimed book, three award-winning documentaries and a PBS TV program, which he co-hosted. This powerful work led to further exploration, including a “Source to Sea'' traverse of India’s sacred Ganges River, starting high in the Western Himalayas, and winding its way down through Bangladesh, to the Bay of Bengal. Along the way, Pete documented the many cultural uses and the environmental health of the river that plays an integral part in religion, agriculture, and transport. Upon completing the journey, the National Geographic Society named Pete its first-ever “Freshwater Hero.”
His latest project replaced rafting with walking—a lot of walking! Over the course of a year, McBride hiked the entire length of Grand Canyon National—not rim to rim, as is popular with adventurers, but end to end—over 750 miles following the goat path, between river and rim, through countless slot canyons, rappelling down for water and back up to make tracks, since there is no trail along this route and fewer people have traversed it than have stood on the surface of the Moon. Pete and his fellow expedition partner, writer Kevin Fedarko, tackled the outrageous journey to highlight the many challenges facing this iconic landscape today, from over development, to encroaching pollution from nearby uranium mining. After completing the journey, National Geographic named Pete and Kevin “Adventurers of the Year.” McBride has since released a book, Grand Canyon; Between River and Rim (Rizzoli, 2018) that won the trifecta of Outdoor Book awards. He accompanied the book with a feature-length documentary, Into the Grand Canyon, which has won countless festival awards, including Grand Prize at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (2020) and Best Feature at the Banff Mountain Film Festival (Insignia Films, 2019), and is currently streaming on Disney+.
Into the Grand Canyon: Exploring a National Treasure
This ultimate buddy expedition had multiple goals, largely, to check-in with and document the environmental health of one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon. Hiking over 750 miles on foot, over 100 days, spread throughout all four seasons, Pete McBride and writer Kevin Fedarko traversed high above the River and along its shores, winding through slot canyons, cactus gardens, freezing snow, blinding sun, and a blanket of stars to witness the majesty and the pressures that make up the Grand Canyon experience today. One part sufferfest, one part glorious trek, and everything imaginable in between, their trek shed new light on the health and future of this national treasure. On stage, Pete shares the hardships, missteps and glories of this once in a lifetime journey with great heart and humor.
Photos: courtesy Pete McBride