NG Weekend Show #1248 - Air Date: November 25

This week on National Geographic Weekend, join host Boyd Matson as we make a third attempt at a winter ascent of Denali, rip down the slopes with one of the world's best para-snowboarders, ride around Australia in an 18-foot Zodiac, dive in Cuba's Bay of Pigs, play with the biggest bones in history, solve a mystery surrounding Sherlock Holmes, celebrate mountain gorillas, and raise a leopard in our living room.

HOUR 1

  • People often say the third time is the charm; Lonnie Dupre certainly hopes so. The adventurer has pulled sleds 650 miles through minus 56°F temperatures to the North Pole, dog sledded and kayaked around Greenland's perimeter, and twice hunkered down in snow caves of Mount McKinley until weather forced him to descend. This January he again tries to become the first to conquer Denali solo in that month.
  • After a long offseason, many skiers and snowboarders have a period of adjustment before they reach the skill level at which they rode the previous winter. Amy Purdy knows about second-guessing herself and her equipment on the slopes, but she has a better excuse than most people. A world championship gold medalist in adaptive snowboarding, Purdy lost her legs below the knees as a teenager after she contracted a form of bacterial meningitis. She tells Boyd that she is now as skilled a snowboarder as she was before she lost her legs.
  • When he was a fisherman, Robert Pennicott took to the waters to pull fish out. Now as an award-winning ecotourism company founder and head of a coastal conservation fund, he brings his clients to witness the wilderness he's helping save. Last year, he spent three months riding around Australia and Tasmania in one of his custom-made yellow dinghies, raising money for conservation. On his trip, he had a few encounters with crocodiles and sharks, and survived some very high seas, but as one of National Geographic Traveler's first ever Travelers of the Year, he rode through unscathed.
  • For most Americans, the Bay of Pigs is a page in a history textbook. For Cubans, it's a source of pride that they survived an American-backed attempt to topple Fidel Castro's grip on the country. But for grantee Clare Fieseler, the bay is a place to take the pulse of Cuba's sea life. Because the Castro regime controls the national seafood catch, illegally harvesting grouper and lobster is a primary source of income and nourishment. She tells Boyd that since the catch is unregulated, it's hard to really know how healthy the sea life around Cuba is.
  • David Braun, editor of National Geographic Daily News, tells Boyd that our brain evolution may have been given a jolt with the habitual consumption of crocodile meat. The story appears in his new book, National Geographic Tales of the Weird: Unbelievable True Stories.

HOUR 2

  • Ever see four construction workers standing around a hole supervising, while one worker with a shovel appears to be doing all the work, and wonder what they're doing? It's possible that they've dug up 45 skeletons and they're not sure what to do. In the case of a construction company in Chile's Atacama Desert, they called in National Geographic grantee and Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals at the Smithsonian Institute Nick Pyenson. He explains that what is now the world's driest desert was once seafloor and is home to a mass grave of extinct sea life, which he compares to a two- to seven-million-year-old "murder mystery."
  • Sherlock Holmes was a figure created in the mind of moderately successful doctor Arthur Conan Doyle in the late 1800s. When Doyle was working his way through medical school, he joined a whaling ship as their surgeon and, like any good budding author, diligently kept a journal detailing his adventures of falling into the ocean and fighting a crewmember. Nearly a century later, that journal made its way to Daniel Stashower, who edited and compiled Doyle's journal into the new book Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure.
  • Many charismatic animal species are on the decline across Africa. But a bright spot can be found in mountain gorilla conservation. WWF's Matt Lewis tells Boyd that of the nine African great apes, the mountain gorillas are the only species that are increasing, adding approximately 150 new individuals over the past five years. They are still under threat due to deforestation for charcoal production, but people in equatorial Africa are beginning to understand that gorillas are much more valuable alive than dead for ecotourism.
  • In another dispatch from the road, Boyd visits Naankuse Animal Sanctuary in Namibia, where Marlice van Vuuren helps raise wild predators who have been injured or lost parents due to encounters with angry ranchers. At Naankuse, Marlice has helped release 59 cheetahs and leopards back into the wild after raising them inside her house, along with her two children.
  • In this week's Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd laments that, despite his years of traveling professionally, he packs at the last minute and finds ways to make getting through an airport as difficult as possible.

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Listen to National Geographic Weekend

Episode 1248 - Air Date: November 25, 2012

  • 00:11:00 Lonnie Dupre

    People often say the third time is the charm; Lonnie Dupre certainly hopes so. The adventurer has pulled sleds 650 miles through minus 56°F temperatures to the North Pole, dog sledded and kayaked around Greenland's perimeter, and twice hunkered down in snow caves of Mount McKinley until weather forced him to descend. This January he again tries to become the first to conquer Denali solo in that month.

  • 00:09:00 Amy Purdy

    After a long offseason, many skiers and snowboarders have a period of adjustment before they reach the skill level at which they rode the previous winter. Amy Purdy knows about second-guessing herself and her equipment on the slopes, but she has a better excuse than most people. A world championship gold medalist in adaptive snowboarding, Purdy lost her legs below the knees as a teenager after she contracted a form of bacterial meningitis. She tells Boyd that she is now as skilled a snowboarder as she was before she lost her legs.

  • 00:06:00 Robert Pennicott

    When he was a fisherman, Robert Pennicott took to the waters to pull fish out. Now as an award-winning ecotourism company founder and head of a coastal conservation fund, he brings his clients to witness the wilderness he's helping save. Last year, he spent three months riding around Australia and Tasmania in one of his custom-made yellow dinghies, raising money for conservation. On his trip, he had a few encounters with crocodiles and sharks, and survived some very high seas, but as one of National Geographic Traveler's first ever Traveler of the Year, he rode through unscathed.

  • 00:08:00 Clare Fieseler
    For most Americans, the Bay of Pigs is a page in a history textbook. For Cubans, it's a source of pride that they survived an American-backed attempt to topple Fidel Castro's grip on the country. But for grantee Clare Fieseler, the bay is a place to take the pulse of Cuba's sea life. Because the Castro regime controls the national seafood catch, illegally harvesting grouper and lobster is a primary source of income and nourishment. She tells Boyd that since the catch is unregulated, it's hard to really know how healthy the sea life around Cuba is.
    • David Braun, editor of National Geographic Daily News, tells Boyd that our brain evolution may have been given a jolt with the habitual consumption of crocodile meat. The story appears in his new book, National Geographic Tales of the Weird: Unbelievable True Stories.

    • 00:11:00 Nick Pyenson

      Ever see four construction workers standing around a hole supervising, while one worker with a shovel appears to be doing all the work, and wonder what they're doing? It's possible that they've dug up 45 skeletons and they're not sure what to do. In the case of a construction company in Chile's Atacama Desert, they called in National Geographic grantee and Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals at the Smithsonian Institute Nick Pyenson. He explains that what is now the world's driest desert was once seafloor and is home to a mass grave of extinct sea life, which he compares to a two- to seven-million-year-old "murder mystery."

    • 00:09:00 Daniel Stashower

      Sherlock Holmes was a figure created in the mind of moderately successful doctor Arthur Conan Doyle in the late 1800s. When Doyle was working his way through medical school, he joined a whaling ship as their surgeon and, like any good budding author, diligently kept a journal detailing his adventures of falling into the ocean and fighting a crewmember. Nearly a century later, that journal made its way to Daniel Stashower, who edited and compiled Doyle's journal into the new book Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure.

    • 00:06:00 Matt Lewis

      Many charismatic animal species are on the decline across Africa. But a bright spot can be found in mountain gorilla conservation. WWF's Matt Lewis tells Boyd that of the nine African great apes, the mountain gorillas are the only species that are increasing, adding approximately 150 new individuals over the past five years. They are still under threat due to deforestation for charcoal production, but people in equatorial Africa are beginning to understand that gorillas are much more valuable alive than dead for ecotourism.

    • In another dispatch from the road, Boyd visits Naankuse Animal Sanctuary in Namibia, where Marlice van Vuuren helps raise wild predators who have been injured or lost parents due to encounters with angry ranchers. At Naankuse, Marlice has helped release 59 cheetahs and leopards back into the wild after raising them inside her house, along with her two children.

    • In this week's Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd laments that, despite his years of traveling professionally, he packs at the last minute and finds ways to make getting through an airport as difficult as possible.