The changing light illuminates the undulations of the Dakota badlands in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Photo: Michele Falzone/Alamy.

Re-map the Landscape
of Discovery

NOW ACCEPTING PROPOSALS FOR 2025!

Storytellers, filmmakers, documentarians, and explorers! Want to win an $18,000 grant to fund your dream expedition and share it with the world?

Applications for the 2025 Pathfinder Prize are officially open! Read and download the proposal guidelines here.

The Pathfinder Prize is an annual grant to fund a global expedition of the modern age — an age where discovery is about understanding instead of conquering. Our Pathfinders are multimedia storytellers who bring our community behind the scenes in digital dispatches, and share their expedition through magazine features and a short documentary film.

Pathfinder hopefuls, submit before 11:59 p.m. PT on August 15, 2024. Two finalist teams will pitch their expeditions in October. Members of Hidden Compass: The Alliance will vote to decide the winner.

Our 2024 Pathfinder team, “Beyond the False Summit: A Matterhorn Expedition to Unearth the Queer Pioneers of Alpinism,” departs for their expedition in July! Hidden Compass Allies, log in to your dashboards for behind-the-scenes dispatches.

Scroll to learn more about your 2024 Pathfinders (and the runners up) …

Pathfinder Prize Winner

Beyond the False Summit: A Matterhorn Expedition to Unearth the Queer Pioneers of Alpinism

 

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Pathfinder Finalists

Beyond the False Summit: A Matterhorn Expedition to Unearth the Queer Pioneers of Alpinism

A climbing expedition to explore the following questions: How did queer climbers live when society told them only certain people could achieve great things? How do we document the history of queer people, when that very documentation has been, and can continue to be, a threat to their survival? By shining a light on this hidden part of history, can we write a more truthful narrative to reach a peak beyond the false summit of exclusion?

Watch Pitch
About the Expedition

Beyond the False Summit: A Matterhorn Expedition to Unearth the Queer Pioneers of Alpinism

Lance Garland

Charlotte Austin

Jordan Cannon

Ben Tibbetts

View the full proposal here.

In the 1920’s – the formative years of modern alpinism – three famous mountaineers climbed extensively in the European Alps. George Mallory, Geoffrey Winthrop Young, and Richard Halliburton are documented as questioning, bisexual, and gay respectively — but their histories and sexualities have only been shared in fragments.

We’ll travel across continents and back through time, exploring this untold story of perseverance and pride, and the ability of humans to withstand societal pressures to move beyond the boundaries of their time. As contemporary adventurers, we will help re-write the Western narrative of imperialism and human domination of nature into a history that is more inclusive, diverse, and — ultimately — more true.

Visible queer explorers aren’t easily found. We want to change that.

About the Expedition

In July 2024, our team will travel to the European Alps to climb one of the world’s most iconic mountains: the Matterhorn. Our four-member crew — expedition lead Lance Garland, adventure writer Charlotte Austin, expedition photographer Ian Finch, and professional climber Jordan Cannon — will search for answers to these important questions:

How did queer climbers and adventurers live when society told them only certain types of people could accomplish the world’s greatest achievements?

How do we document the history of queer people, when that very documentation has been, and can continue to be, a threat to their survival?

And, by shining a light on this hidden part of history, can we rewrite the narrative to make it more truthful, and reach a peak beyond the false summit of exclusion?

About the Team

About the Expected Outcomes

  1. To climb around the Alps region, on the Matterhorn, and to camp in backcountry locales. This shows two openly gay men, a trailblazing woman, and a straight man – a multinational, multi-sexuality crew – as diverse representations of the contemporary climbing community. It also provides a narrative setting that mirrors the historical stories we will be telling of queer climbers from the past.
  2. To provide historical research with stories from our subjects, and to share this academic knowledge in a riveting and action-packed way. The biographical subject matter will be presented in present-tense and will reflect the tone of contemporary adventure writing.
  3. To connect with community before, during, and after the expedition, to garner exposure not only for the expedition itself, but for queer adventurers and explorers, accomplished via social media takeovers and other public outreach strategies.

Storytelling deliverables include a pre-expedition conversation at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA), a post-expedition photo exhibit and readings at BIMA, a photo collection by Ian Finch, and essays by expeditioners Lance Garland and Charlotte Austin.

Attend our virtual pitch event on November 1, 2023 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. PT. The event is free, but registration is required. Register here!
*A recording of the team’s pitch will appear here following the event.

The Music of Care

A musical expedition to follow classically trained veena player, music PhD student, and medical doctor Tara Rajendran to explore the following questions: What is the historical relationship between music and medicine in India? Can Dr. Rajendran’s interests in music and palliative care contribute to a future that combines the two? As music is a fundamental element of all major moments in Indian life, how could it be better incorporated into someone’s last moments?

Watch Pitch
About the Expedition

The Music of Care

Jodi Cash

Gresham Cash

Dr. Tara Rajendran

View the full proposal here.

Using a lush cinematic approach, enriched by an original score composed in collaboration between Tara and Gresham, The Music of Care will explore Dr. Tara Rajendran’s interest in music and medicine and her vision to incorporate the two into end of life cancer care.

This project is unique and essential in the same ways that Dr. Rajendran’s work is. She’s dedicated her life to bringing together music and medicine, making music an integral part of end of life care in India — not just for those patients who are in their last days, but also for the people caring for them.

We’ll explore the genesis of her idea, the importance of music — particularly classical veena music — to Indian culture, the state of palliative care in India, and what an idea like this could mean if properly facilitated in her country (and beyond).

“Music therapy is effective, low-cost, nonpharmacologic, and sustainable; if used scientifically in accompaniment of other treatment options, it may significantly elevate the quality of cancer care worldwide.” — Dr. Rajendran

About the Expedition

“The Music of Care” will follow classically trained veena player, music PhD student, and medical doctor Tara Rajendran on an exploration of the historical relationship between music and medicine in India. Guided by Tara’s personal narrative, the project will travel from her past into the future, presenting the origin of her quest to combine music and palliative care.

We’ll seek to answer this question: As music is such a fundamental element of all major moments in India, how could it be better incorporated into its citizens’ last moments? This question is essential as India sustains more cancer deaths annually than any other country in the world. Its populace and medical system are severely under-resourced to deal with the disease in its final stages. We’ll explore Dr. Rajendran’s vision for bringing music to medical care in India.

About the Team

  • Jodi Cash will be the lead journalist, filmmaker, and expedition leader.
  • Gresham Cash will be the expedition producer, musician, composer, and writer.
  • Dr. Tara Rajendran will be the expedition producer, medical expert, and veena musician.

About the Expected Outcomes

  1. Generate awareness of what music offers for end of life cancer care in India. We’ll investigate what’s possible in a country with one of the richest musical legacies in the world.
  2. Promote Dr. Rajendran’s work as a music therapy advocate. She has been widely recognized for her work and her extraordinarily promising future as one of the brightest, most creative young minds in medicine. We want to tell her story.
  3. Deepen our understanding of the challenges facing the Indian medical system and meet those working to improve available care. Although Dr. Rajendran’s work has garnered significant attention, she is quick to humbly emphasize that what matters to her is providing an accessible solution for Indian patients and caregivers. That solution is what this project will investigate.

Storytelling deliverables include a short film, a four-song EP of Dr. Rajendran’s music, produced by Gresham Cash, an essay written by Dr. Rajendran and photographed by Jodi and Gresham Cash.

Attend our virtual pitch event on November 1, 2023 from 6-7 p.m. PT. The event is free, but registration is required. Register here!
*A recording of the team’s pitch will appear here following the event.

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As an Ally, you decide the winner — and follow them to the frontiers of exploration.

Meet the Advisory Panel

VIEW BIO

Lance Garland

Expedition Leader, 2024 Pathfinder Team

VIEW BIO

Sivani Babu

Co-founder / CEO

VIEW BIO

Sabine K. Bergmann

Co-founder / COO

Sivani Babu

Co-founder/Co-CEO

Sivani Babu is the co-founder, co-CEO, and creative director of Hidden Compass. She is an award-winning journalist and nature photographer who has contributed to BBC Travel, CNN, Backpacker, Outdoor Photographer, Iron Horse Literary Review,and numerous other publications. Her work has been recognized in the Best American Travel Writing series and has appeared in exhibits from San Diego to the Sorbonne. Sivani graduated from the University of Chicago with three majors — economics, public policy studies, and political science — and one Lazarused newspaper, the Chicago Weekly News. At the University of Pennsylvania Law School, she taught high schoolers about their constitutional rights. As a Teach for America corps member, she taught eighth graders about the tangency of math and literacy. After working on a Supreme Court case and occasionally using unicorn metaphors to explain the realities of sentencing to hundreds of indigent criminal defendants, Sivani left her career as a federal public defender to sail across the most brutal sea on earth. Since then, she has chased storms through Tornado Alley, searched for polar bears in the Arctic Circle, and survived a broken neck and a concussion while sailing through a lightning storm in the Bermuda Triangle. Sivani is working on her first book, Saving the Night: Shedding Light on the Importance of Darkness.

Buckaroo Portrait, Photo by: Kim F. Stone

Find your story.

Choose a Theme to Explore
Journey alongside characters in pursuit of elusive truths. Travel through extreme landscapes, to the far reaches of the planet, and into the unknown.
Get to know extraordinary characters from around the world — individuals, cultures, places, creatures, and even objects.
Investigate the relationship between humankind and the planet. Come face-to-face with Nature as an unpredictable danger, a wise teacher, and a precarious organism.
Delve into the dark and difficult aspects of a place, even when the darkness exists only in the narrator. Investigative pieces, historical exposés, and tales of narrators immersed in danger.
Inhabit the past, present, and future of a place. Unearth layers of ancient legends and traditions; probe the transient nature of the current moment; and venture out into prediction, peril, and possibility.

Photo: Dr. Gilad Fiskus

Photo: Sivani Babu

Photo: Kim F. Stone

Photo: Sivani Babu

Photo: Sugato Mukherjee

Photo: Geraint Rowland

Find your story.

Choose a Theme to Explore

Photo: Sivani Babu

01

Quest

Journey alongside characters in pursuit of elusive truths. Travel through extreme landscapes, to the far reaches of the planet, and into the unknown.

Photo: Sivani Babu

Buckaroo Portrait, Photo by: Kim F. Stone

Get to know extraordinary characters from around the world — individuals, cultures, places, creatures, and even objects.

Photo: Kim F. Stone

Investigate the relationship between humankind and the planet. Come face-to-face with Nature as an unpredictable danger, a wise teacher, and a precarious organism.

Photo: Sivani Babu

Delve into the dark and difficult aspects of a place, even when the darkness exists only in the narrator. Investigative pieces, historical exposés, and tales of narrators immersed in danger.

Photo: Sugato Mukherjee

Inhabit the past, present, and future of a place. Unearth layers of ancient legends and traditions; probe the transient nature of the current moment; and venture out into prediction, peril, and possibility.

Photo: Geraint Rowland