National Geographic will host a "Evening of Exploration" event tonight to honor two famous explores that have gone to the opposite ends of the Earth. The organization will posthumously present it's highest honor, the Hubbard Medal, to Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard and name Austrian mountaineer Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner its Explorer of the Year.
Piccard, who died in 2008, is best known for diving into the depths of the Mariana Trench, along with Don Walsh, back in 1960. The duo were the first to travel seven miles below the surface of the ocean, into the Challenger Deep, to explore the floor of the Pacific. That feat wouldn't be repeated for another 52 years, when James Cameron did it a few months back. Cameron and Walsh, who received the medal in 2010, will join Nat Geo CEO John Fahey in presenting the award to Piccard's family.
Kaltenbrunner, who is no stranger to readers of this blog, is being honored for her climbing efforts on the world's tallest peaks. Last year she became the first woman to summit all fourteen 8000 meter peaks without supplemental oxygen when she topped out on K2. It took her 13 years to accomplish this feat and along the way she has been a great role model for other climbers, men and women. She'll receive the Explorer of the Year award from last year's winner, Kenny Broad, along with a specially engraved Rolex Explorer timepiece. Rolex is the sponsor for evening's festivities.
Congratulations to the family of Jacques Piccard and to Gerlinde on these much deserved honors. For more information about Piccard, Gerlinde and the Evening of Exploration click here.