Adventure in 60 Seconds: Last Week in Exploration

Text by Tetsuhiko Endo

SPACE

The astronauts on the International Space Station are welcoming three more members to their crew, the BBC reports. The Soyuz TMA-15 capsule carrying three Russian astronauts docked with the space station Friday morning and discharged its crew, effectively doubling the number of men on board. Sound cramped? Well, one of the primary objectives of the mission is to see how well these men–one American, one Japanese, and four Russians–live together in a confined space. This sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. (Read more at BBC.com.)

MOUNTAINS

A few miles below them, no one is laughing on Everest. Apa Sherpa, the man who holds the record number of Everest summits at a staggering 19, told Reuters that climate change has melted glaciers on the mountain exposing rocks and making it harder to climb (read more). Apa Sherpa is also involved in the project to clean accumulated trash off the mountain and reports that his team has picked up more than five tons of garbage. That includes old tents, ropes, different kinds of plastic, oxygen tanks, parts of an Italian helicopter that crashed in 1973, and, of course, plenty of human waste. This year, Apa Sherpa topped out with a metal vase containing 400 sacred Buddhist offerings in hopes of restoring some sanctity to the mountain. It appears Everest, or Sagarmatha, as it is know to the Sherpa, is going to need every one of those offerings.

Climbers all over the Himalaya were looking for a bit of divine help last week as they scampered down to lower altitudes with bad weather nipping at their heals. Everest is all but deserted except for a few optimistic souls still hoping to get a shot at the North Side, reports Explorersweb. The final week of climbing was one of the worst of the season, claiming the life of Kazakh climber Sergei Samoilov, who was attempting the Lhotse-Everest Traverse, and almost killing Norwegian Jarle Traa, who had to be rescued and driven to a hospital in Kathmandu where he is currently in stable condition (read more at mounteverest.net).

Although we must depart from the dizzying heights of Tibet, we can skip right over to Pakistan, wherer the climbing season is just beginning. Check back later this week for all the action from Broad Peak and K2.

OCEANS

If things were hard in the mountains, they were equally difficult for anyone tough/crazy enough to be rowing through the Indian Ocean this week. Brit Sarah Outen turned 24 on the 27th, and celebrated by sitting in her cabin and being battered by high seas. Despite the negative drift, she is approaching Mauritius and is in good spirits (read more).  A team of Irish researchers have just completed tests on a new unmanned submersible that they are promising will be better and cheaper to use than any of its predecessors (read more on the bbc.com). One of it’s main envisioned uses? Defining continental perimeters so nations can make legitimate claims to mineral rights. Just don’t mention it to the astronauts on the International Space Station, they have enough to deal with at the moment.