Adventure in 60 Seconds: Last Week in Exploration

Text by Tetsuhiko Endo

In times past, “adventure” was the unexpected and rarely welcomed side effect of exploration. With much of the world’s nooks and crannies now thoroughly treaded, mapped, and photographed, the more intrepid souls of the 21st century have to create their own adventure. That might explain why Brit Ed Stafford has decided to cross South American on foot from Camana on the Peruvian coast via the Amazon River to it’s mouth on the Atlantic coast of Brazil. This all sounds fine until you consider that one nickname for the Amazon is the “Green Hell." He has already lost one teammate due to “significant differences” and another, one Sam Dyson, just returned to the expedition after having such bad foot rot he had to take a breather. Luckily, Ed is also accompanied by the knowledgeable and apparently unflappable Gadiel “Cho” Sanchez Rivera, a Peruvian who is acting as his guide. The expedition began on April 2, and if all goes according to plan they will be done next May. You can check out their blog every Thursday on their website.

Speaking of trying to keep your head above water, Sarah Outen has had a mostly splendid week in the Indian Ocean with fair winds, calm seas, and only a bit of loneliness tugging at her. Pop over to her website and send her a quick message while she rows.

A whole different type of race started this past week on a whole different ocean. Big wave surfer/fitness guru extraordinaire Laird Hamilton, up to his old tricks, embarked with an all-star team on the infamously grueling cycling competition Race Across America. The route will take them from Malibu, California, to the Statue of Liberty in New York City. His teammates include Don Wildman, the founder of Bally Total Fitness, Jason Winn, a former Texas Tech quarterback and, of course, Tim Commerford, the bassist for popular rock band Rage Against the Machine. Follow their progress here.

Of course, it wasn’t all adventure for adventure’s sake last week. The BBC reports that NASA reminded us there is still much unknown when it launched two Lunar probes this week. They will gather data to eventually facilitate the return of U.S. astronauts to the moon (news.bbc.co.uk). One of the probes will orbit the big hunk of cheese and help map the terrain while another will crash land and analyze the resulting dust cloud for ice traces. Thankless work, but that’s the beauty of robots isn’t it?

In other thankless jobs, the expedition organizers for the Pakistani climbing season were pulling their hair out this past week with neither the weather nor the Taliban cooperating with plans. The same bad weather that has been aborting summit attempts for the last couple of weeks also cancelled those daily Skardu flights that were allowing climbers to avoid the somewhat risky Karakorum Highway (KKH). Explorersweb.com reports that many have chosen to take their chances with the cannonball run and all have gotten through okay with the help of the occasional police escort. Now all they have to worry about is the snow.

It wasn’t all bad news for climbers this week. In slightly belated fashion, climbing magazine reported that paraplegic Phil Packer–a Major in the British army who lost the use of his legs in a rocket attack– jumarred his way up El Capitan on June 10th. The feat is equivalent to doing 4, 254 pullups. (climbing.com)