Text by Tetsuhiko Endo
Here at Adventure, we have the tendency to focus our climbing expedition coverage on the largest and most dangerous mountains. In doing so, it is easy to forget that, besides Everest and K2, there are 13 other 8,000-meter peaks that can often be just as challenging to climb.
The Polish team of Artur Hajzer and Robert Szymczack kicked off the summer Pakistan climbing season this week with the summit of just such a mountain, Nanga Parbat. At 8,126 meters, the ninth highest peak in the world, whose name translates to the "Naked Mountain" in Hindi/Urdu has one of the richest climbing histories of all the 8,000ers.
Before its first ascent in 1953 by Hermann Buhl (solo, and without supplementary O2, no less) it had acquired the name of the "Killer Mountain" for the number of men who died attempting to find a way up its notoriously steep and exposed faces. Buhl's herculean feat marked only the third ascent of an 8.000er (after Annapurna and Everest) and remains the only solo first ascent of an 8,000er. One man who attempted the mountain but never saw the summit was Heinrich Harrer, whose subsequent internment in India and escape provided the material for his book Seven Years in Tibet. Hajzer and Szymczack summitted by following the Kinshofer route of the Diamir face, which currently sees the most traffic due to its reputation as the easiest and safest route. Still it is not a mountain to be taken lightly. Last year it claimed the life of one of the women hoping to climb all 14 8,000ers, Korean Go Mi-Sun. This week, it took 24 hours of sustained climbing for the Polish duo to reached the safety of Camp 4. (Read more at explorersweb.com)
Restrepo, a documentary of the war in Afghanistan co-produced and directed by Sebastian Junger, premieres today. It follows the lives of a group of American soldiers during a 14-month tour of duty through the Korangal Valley—a location that was, at the time, of strategic importance to the war effort and also considered an extremely deadly place to work. Since it's hard to be partial to the work of a longtime Adventure magazine contributor, I refer you to the review of the movie by the New York Times' A. O. Scott:
"…as the war in Afghanistan returns to the front pages and the national debate, we owe the men in Restrepo at the very least, 90 minutes or so of our attention. If nothing else, this film, in showing how much they care about one another, demands the same of us."
Go check it out and tell us what you think.
In what is undoubtedly bad news for whales everywhere, the attempt to draw up an accord between whaling and non-whaling nations at the annual conference of the International
Whaling Commission has come to an impasse. The BBC reports that there were admirable efforts on both sides to compromise, with Japan even agreeing to reduce their whale quota from 935 to 200 in ten years time. However, inside sources say that the main stumbling block came when non-whaling countries insisted that whaling programs had to completely cease within a set time frame.
- Nat Geo Expeditions