Adventure in 60 Seconds: This Week in Exploration
Nepal Annapurna trek, photograph by Jeremiah Cunningham, My Shot
This week in adventure, the mountains are taller, the controversy fiercer, the waves bigger, and the oil slicker. Thankfully, the beasts are tamer and the expeditions are sending back some pictures that you have to see to believe.—Tetsuhiko Endo
Mount Everest saw its first summits of 2010 this week, as reported by explorersweb.com. As usual, it was the sherpa who, as part of their nine to five, topped out while fixing ropes to aid everyone else. Although most teams are waiting for the weather to clear next week, a few on the Peak Freaks team have pushed ahead and touched the rooftop of the world. (explorersweb.com)
At lower climbs, a controversy is slowly brewing surrounding the death of Spanish climber Tolo Calafat, who perished on Annapurna on April 29th. Some of his companions allege that a Korean team cut the ropes that Calafat and his crew had fixed in order to aid their descent and then refused to send their sherpa to help him, despite being offered money by Spaniard Juanito Oiarzabal. Although the Koreans have given plausible, if difficult to verify excuses, the incident, combined with the controversy surrounding Oh Eun-Sun's disputed title as the first woman to climb all 8,000m peaks, has created a lot of bad blood between the two mountain-loving nations. (explorersweb.com)
Moving away from the always argumentative world of climbing, no one is questioning the success of a new artificial surfing reef in a rather unexpected locale: India. Artificial reefs have long been the pet projects of sea-going optimists hoping to slow erosion while bringing tourism to coastal towns. To date, there is Prattes Reef in California; Boscombe Reef in Bournemouth, England; and the Tauranga Reef in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand. The only thing all of these sandbag creations have in common is that they are considered expensive failures by many. If early video from the reef off the coast of Kovalam, located on the southern coast of India, is any indication, the trend has been reversed. Youtube video shows a reeling left-breaking wave of roughly six feet peeling perfectly down the beach. while it's still too early to call it a success or a failure, hopes are high. Check out the video at surfermag.com.
If only the outlook were as optimistic in the Gulf of Mexico, where the coastal residents of many Gulf states are preparing for the worst from the slowly approaching oil released from the April 20th collapse of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon. One city in particular, New Orleans, is once again facing economic ruin due to the fact that its economy is based on tourism and seafood, both of which are expected to suffer greatly as the spill finally makes landfall. The devastating story can be read in the New York Times.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
With all of this sea-going danger, you will be happy to learn that scientists have theorised that one of the monsters of the deep is really not so monstrous after all. The collosal squid–the largest invertebrate in the world–is not a fiersome predator like its relative, the slightly smaller giant squid. Instead, it is rather slow moving beast that requires very little food to survive, says a report on the BBC website. Jules Verne in rolling over in his grave.
Australian Jessica Watson, 16, who is on course to break the record for
the youngest solo, non-stop circumnavigation, is predicted to complete
her voyage on May 18. Hopefully she can hold on to the title for a while, though with so many teens taking to the high seas these days, she's sure to face some competition soon.
And if tales of the Kraken fail to excite you, new pictures from our solar system should do the trick. The Cassini spacecraft is on its sixth year of what was originally planned to be a four year mission to photograph Saturn. As you can tell from the photos in the New York Times, it has been doing such a good job that NASA is reticent to end the mission.