Adventure in 60 Seconds: This Week in Exploration
"Come hither! come hither! my little daughtèr,
And do not tremble so;
For I can weather the roughest gale
That ever wind did blow."
Those words were written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1842, and although they were inspired by a storm off the East Coast of the United States in 1839, they sum up perfectly the situation in the Himalaya for the last two weeks. Climbers are hunkered in high camps on Makalu, Dhaulagiri, Everest, and a host of other mountains waiting for the wind to ease. Three Chinese climbers who chose to brave the gales lost their lives on Dhauligiri, while their companions were saved by the brave efforts of Fishtail Air and Air Zermatt. As this goes live, explorersweb reports that the winds are scheduled to drop on the 21st, opening the window to a tidal wave of summits, especially on Everest. But it won't necessarily be smooth sailing next week. The seasonal monsoons, which bring an end to the Everest climbing season every year, look to be making an early appearance, perhaps as soon as the 27th. If this is the case, summitting is going to come down to the buzzer.—By Tetsuhiko Endo
Not all mountaineers were foiled this week, though. One who weathered the winds and lived to tell the spectacular tail was the Basque wonderwoman Edurne Pasaban, who summitted Shisha Pangma and completed her goal of climbing all 14 8,000ers. In doing so, she became either the first or second woman to do it in history, depending on whether or not you believe the claim of Korean climber Oh Eun Sun, whose record is still officially labeled as "disputed." Regardless of who did it first, both women have proven themselves second to none in the world of mountain climbing.
And speaking of controversy, one climber who is catching more press than the rest Is 13-year-old Jordan Romero, the American trying to become the next in a long line of minors to be the youngest person to climb Everest. He is attempting the technically challenging North face, simply because it is legally part of Tibet and has no minimum climbing age, as opposed to the Nepalese controlled South face. If he summits Everest, he will have only the Vinson Massif in Antarctica left to climb in order to become the youngest Seven Summiter ever. Unless people start carrying kids up mountains, it should be a pretty enduring record. However, his success has been followed by a fair bit of eyebrow raising from the climbing community as well as mainstream media. Read about the possible psychological pitfalls for young climbers in the New York Times.
There is no doubt that climbing is a dangerous hobby, but you don't need to be on a mountain to tempt fate. This week, the L.A. Times published a list of the most dangerous places in the world. Among them are the shark-infested waters of Gansbaai, South Africa, the earthquake prone streets of Memphis, Tennessee, and the entire country of Australia. Check out the whole list at the web site and hope that your address doesn't appear.
One place that didn't make the list but easily could have is the Pitcairn Islands–those notorious South Pacific rocks inhabited by the ancestors of Fletcher Christian and the other protagonists of Mutiny on the Bounty. While many are familiar with Christian's settlement, few remember that the captain of the Bounty, William Bligh made an extraordinary journey of his own after being set adrift in an overloaded boat with very little in the way of provisions. As Christian and his men sailed off into history, Bligh began a trip that would take him 3,700 nautical miles to safety. Now an Australian sailor named Dan McIntyre is trying to re-create Bligh's journey using the same boat, no charts, and very little food and water. So far, so good. But then, if you believe the L.A. Times, McIntyre is from one of the most dangerous places in the world, so a bit of South Pacific sailing should be no sweat. Follow his progress on the expedition blog.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
One group of people who is just a little more worried is the team of international volunteers preparing to begin a 520-day simulated mission to Mars. During the simulation, they will be confined to a the cramped quarters of a mock space shuttle with no other company but each other, their e-books, and a Nintendo Wii. ABC reports that the men are worried both about their small living spaces and the lack of sex.
Finally, Chile kicked off the Southern Hemisphere big-wave season with a bang by hosting the Quiksilver Ceremonial Punta De Lobos in gigantic waves. First prize went to local wild man Christian Merello, who now leads the rankings in the 2010/2011 Big Wave World Tour. Check out the action at surfline.com.