EKU professor talks Himalayas, Tibet for Far Away Places

Kae Holloway

David Zurick discovered a love of climbing when he was a young boy, growing up in Michigan and playing on silos on his grandfather’s farm. 

From there, Zurick, a geography professor at Eastern Kentucky University, would follow his passion to mountain ranges across the world, trekking and scaling vast wildernesses and becoming one of many to explore the Himalayas in Asia.

“He took a year off and did an overland trek from England to the Himalaya, that’s what got him hooked on the area,” Brian Coutts, head of the department of Library Public Services, said.

Zurick’s travels to the Himalayas and Tibet inspired his eighth book, “Land of Pure Vision: The Sacred Geography of Tibet and the Himalaya.” 

“It’s kind of looking at religious pilgrimages around these high mountain areas, not only Tibet, but Nepal, India and China,” Coutts said. “It just sounds fascinating.” 

The book will be the subject of Zurick’s upcoming lecture for the WKU Libraries Far Away Places lecture series on Thursday night.

“There’s some interest in the region,” Coutts said. “We have some students from Nepal… Professor All, John All, got all of that publicity… when he was climbing the Himalayas and injured in the crevasse.”

All, a geography professor, has traveled the area as well and reviewed Zurick’s book.

“It was a really good book. It was a pleasure to do it,” he said. “He really studied (the area).”

All said the book touched on many of the themes classic to the Himalayan region. 

“The landscape forces you to think beyond daily life because it’s so vast,” he said.

Coutts said the lecture has broad appeal for people interested in the area, as Zurick’s book focuses on the land, but also the sacred places in the area.

His travels that inspired the book will also be turned into a documentary. Video and images were gathered during his trip to the Himalayas last summer. There’s no specific date set for the release.

Zurick’s lecture will be the last one, until the series picks up again in the spring semester. It will start at 7 p.m. at Barnes and Noble and will be followed by a question-and-answer session.