Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The BBC Asks What Adventures Remain?

Following yesterday's announcement that Sir Ranulph Fiennes would be attempting an Antarctic journey to the South Pole in the dead of winter, the BBC today asks what other adventures remain undone? The article laments the fact that satellite imaging and communications technology have taken some of the mystery out of exploration and that in the 21st century most of the remote places of our planet have been visited. Still, they do manage to come up with a list of adventures that have yet to be accomplished.

Some of the suggestions include a climb up Gangkhar Puensum in Bhutan. That 7570 meter (24,835 ft) peak holds the distinction of being the tallest unclimbed mountain in the world. The problem is, climbing ins forbidden on that mountain as the people of Bhutan see it as sacred. The BBC does suggest looking for unclimbed peaks in western China and Tibet however, where plenty of first ascents can still be made. They also note that K2, Makalu and Kangchenjunga have never been skied, although I'd say climbing K2 in winter should sit high on the list of big adventures yet to be done.

The BBC suggests that no one has gone to the North Pole in the dead of winter, but to that I'd say they are wrong. Back in 2006, Mike Horn and Borge Ousland made that journey on foot and without support. It is my belief (as well as that of some polar explorers that I've spoken to) that a trek to the North Pole will become increasingly rare in the years ahead as climate changes makes that journey a more difficult proposition.

According to the article, there are a number of "firsts" that can still be accomplished for the adventurous swimmer. For example, no one has completed a swim across the Pacific, although Ben Lecomte is planning on giving it a try. They also list the Straits of Hormuz, Gulf of Aqaba and Le Perouse Strait as all looking for their first swim as well. Perhaps the ocean depths are the next big area for exploration, as much of those areas have yet to be mapped. That requires a great deal of preparation, technology and planning and is not unlike traveling into space.

I thought this was an interesting article although I am of the mind that there are still plenty of adventurous things to do out int his wide world that we live on. The problem is, there is a perception amongst many that unless you're taking on the tallest or largest target, it really isn't that impressive. With that I definitely disagree. Besides, adventure is a very personal thing and it means something different to all of us. Finding our own adventures are what really matters.

3 comments:

Luke Beveridge said...

The September 2012 National Geographic has an interesting article along these lines called 'Marine Mountains'. I found it particularly interesting following a recent hike to the summit of Mauna Loa, Hawai'i (which is about 17,000m from its true base).

Keep up the great work!

adventurelisa said...

There's a good podcast - The Infinite Monkey Cage (physics-themed series)from 18 June 2012 on 'Oceans'. They too equate ocean exploration with space exploration.

Available free through iTunes or listen online on the BBC website. http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/timc

Louis-Philippe LONCKE said...

Article fails in giving an explanation or attempt to it to the readers to explain the difference between adventure and exploration.
Not the same and of course compatible.

in terms of adventure, it's about being creative, in those terms i believe there's more to do than has been done in the past! of this must take into account the variations of the same journey done differently for instance supported vs. completely unsupported.
Same for being first, but there sometimes we reach things a little silly to me: I understand the first Colombian on Everest but nor really the first father and son, because going into that direction we'd soon have first father, son, grandpa or where the son is called Junior.

I do believe doing a real breakthrough genuine first is harder but hey look at Ed Stafford. Many people had walked or going down the Amazon. Ed caught the eye of the planet (also easier when you are from the UK or do have English as main language as it's THE language of exploration for the biggest market = UK+US+CA+AU)

In terms of exploration, I read for the past 2 years everyone telling "oh you have all the Oceans bottoms + other planets to discover". Indeed. But please, on the firm ground there is a lot to see, some examples:
* very hard to access regions (deserts, jungles, hard mountainous terrain, glacier). I have no idea how much of Patagonia or Siberia has been seen but I won't be wondered it's less than half of the surface of these areas.

Then, each time there's an article like this, the authors are English speaking (perhaps their only language they master): What about the 3 other main langages of countries where exploration is deep in the culture/roots: The Russian, the Polish, the French.

** thanks for the article to mention Philippe Croizon but having his handicap, well he was certainly noticed also because he crossed the Channel (UK geographic feature and iconic stretch of water to cross)

For real scientif exploration, well there's also a lot to see

and finally, let's take the example of Iceland: the landscape is changing every year. Recently I had to discuss with a German about 2 lakes he didn't see in real but these lakes were on his maps. He was asking me how I crossed them. Simple, melting glacier in 2010 (due to the memorable eruption) caused a major melt down so the glacier couldn't trap wayer in a cuvette, so it became instead a large river. The lake died.
I mean by this that places that have been explored can be explored again and we might even find new artifacts from previous civilisations that the earth is showing us like it didn't do before.

So, luckily there's a lot of adventures left, a lot to explore but indeed now it's hard to do something very hard. Technology allows us slowly to solve problems of progression. See Ran, he's going in the winter with a heavy logistic.