Simone, Shaheen, the BC crew and a small group of porters breaking trail along the fresh snow-covered glacier towards Concordia last winter (click to enlarge). This year, it seems that there will be no less than three Italian attempts for Himalayan 8000+ winter climbs! Image courtesy of Simone Moro.

ExplorersWeb Week in Review

Posted: Dec 10, 2007 04:06 am EST
Christmas is around the corner and it will be a cold one for...Italians! Word is more such are headed to Himalaya for winter climbs this season; the latest bunch teaming up with Kazakhs.

On Antarctica, a skier is charging for a world speed record after his guide (!) was airlifted out Friday. Check in for those developing stories on Monday. In other news; Shisha was in focus, but also some cool story specials including from the Oceans.

France: First woman President for Mountain Guides UnionLast weekend, Françoise Gendarme was elected the first woman president of the SNGM (French Mountain Guides Union), reported. The SNGM counts only 15 women for 1500 guides. The first woman guide in France was Martine Rolland in 1983.

New faces at Antarctica: Pou brothers' last wall, Everest speed climber Chris Stangl, IMAX Sumiyo Tsuzuki and more Antarctica is so busy this year it's hard to keep up with all the action down there. The Pou brothers will sail to the continent to finish their big wall project. Japanese Sumiyo Tsuzuki from the Everest IMAX movie is skiing to the pole. Camilo Lopez will spend 3 months in Patagonia, trying to climb 5 of the spires including Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. Everest speed climber Austrian Chris Stangl aims to finish his 7-summits speed project - climbing the 7 summits in a minimum time limit for each of the summits. Thomas Arnold - aka Tomsky - joins the expedition for the Vinson climb after which the two will not fly back but ski the Ellsworths Mountain Range from Vinson BC to PH.

ExWeb interview with Danielle Fisher, "it just seemed logical to bypass the rocky route" Danielle, Lakpa and Nima climbed higher on Shisha's normal route than any other mountaineers this fall and ExWeb caught up with Dani for an interview.

Danielle Fisher update: Shisha Pangma Central (not main) summit it is Soon after the interview went on air - emails began to arrive from all over stating that Danielle's summit image in fact showed the central summit on Shisha Pangma. Danielle double checked with her team and sure enough, central summit it was. "Maybe Ill go back and climb it again someday," she said.

More Shisha Pangma: Fall summits - through the British route Turned out, Shisha Pangma has been summited this fall after all. On October 4th two Argentine climbers, Alfredo Cevallos and Federico Sacchi reportedly summited Shisha repeating the 1982 British route (Scott, Macintyre and Baxter-Jones). Also Basque and Korean climbers climbed via Shisha's south face this fall, more details are still expected on them.

Rock climbing, bouldering, big walls in Europe? A heads-up arrived from French about several new galleries posted with tons of rock climbing pictures from Europe in addition to new topos and abc of rock climbing in South France, new pictures and information about climbing in Sisteron, summits of Matterhorn and Monte Cervino, the Italian route/Lion Ridge from Cervinia and so forth.

Always Christmas - 5*, 8000ers in 11 months "A Christmas card: such was our life in high camps. Our tents, the yak huts and the porters reminding of Santa's sleigh caravan." Everything has already been done on the 8000ers some say - much like the professor who told Einstein a century ago that everything in Physics had already been discovered. Not true! One of the boldest attempts to climb them all in one year ended in 5, 8000ers summited in eleven months (or actually 4 as one of the summits turned out the fore summit afterwards). ExWeb ran a special on the expedition.

Kampire Dior - A road less traveled "In the evening we met with 'the transporter' thats how we later called the owner of a transportation company. What we found out was that our agreement via e-mail concerning the price on hiring jeeps is 'no longer active'." Kampire Dior is so isolated that some cartographers in the past doubted the peak actually existed. It offers a large number of 7,000+meter peaks, including high difficulty routes, both to access and to climb. This past summer, a Polish team got a true adventure there; and a climb beyond what they had bargained for. Check the debrief at ExplorersWeb.

Peter Blaikie - to the South Pole at 70 "At 70, I am far too old to be doing this. At 1m 90 and 100 kg, I am far too big to be doing this. That being said, its now or never." If you follow Peter's example, 50 is not a time to slow down but a great age to take up just about anything as you'll have at least 20 years to practice! If you are a 40+ reader, Peter's story might inspire you to reconsider some of your plans for the next 30 years.

Antarctic wrap-up: Checking in on the scientists The traverse folks have drilled a core that is 1000 years old and the Fuchs teachers found the mother load of all lichens before lugging their gear up a mountain top for more.

Tara update: Breaking free in the footsteps of Fram On her 458th day out, the Arctic Ocean is releasing its grip and Tara's main focus now is return to sea. Tara and her crew will experience a crucial moment by drifting in the Fram strait to exit the Arctic Ocean. Nansens Fram lived through it more than 115 years ago. "The tales of the Fram Strait descent are very rare, nearly non existent, so we are in the phase of the drift the least well known," the crew reports. "The ice drifts at great speed in this region, the energy is colossal and is expressed by the rapid formation of ice heaps or sudden openings. If one adds to this the icebergs of several thousand tons generated by the Greenland ice peak, one gets an explosive cocktail." Tara risks to exit at mid-point between Longyearbyen and Island in a raging sea with many storms at this time of the year. Meanwhile, Samuel and Grant drilled a hole in the ice and dove under the boat for an evaluation of the propellers.

Antarctic wrap-up: White ocean and crevasses Last weeks wrap-up was courtesy of Correnè Erasmus-Coetzer from South Africa - who skied to the South Pole last season. Several new teams have started their treks to the Pole - such as Doug Stoup and Eric Larsen from the Ronne Ice Shelf.

Expedition Amazonas update: Passage through the Red Zone Last we left off Nathan Welch, Mark Kalch and Philip Swart had reached the isolated, jungle town of San Francisco in Peru. This town marked the end of the whitewater section for the expedition and the beginning of the flatwater that runs to the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil, an area where formerly the Sendero Luminoso or Shining Path guerillas reigned terror. It is also the main area of coca and therefore cocaine production in the country. Having already been shot at once, the team was wary of the next 2 weeks of river travel. In the latest report, the guys said the passage to Atalaya took only 5 days, instead of the 10 day they had anticipated. "We had a pretty sweet run which we are super grateful for. Just in the newspaper this morning was a main news story telling the tale of how narco terrorists ambushed & killed 5 police officers in an area very close to where we had just paddled through. Again, all your prayers has seen the river gods look favourably upon us thank-you! All things coming together with the raft & frame we should be outa here in the next day or so next stop Pucallpathe fastest growing jungle city in Peru."

Tomek and Wacek 'wrong-way' voyage update: The sapphire abyss Polish Tomasz Lewandowski lost it all, moved to America and gained it back fishing for clams and setting up a construction business in Seattle. This sailor is a tough as they come. After almost 270 days of his east to west single-handed, non-stop, around the world battle and closing in on the Horn with an iffy engine, end last week the Captain dove down into the ocean to scrape the bottom of his boat, Luka. "The scrapes flew down like great pieces of snow," Tomek reported, "watching them fall into the sapphire abyss, I wondered how deep it was here - perhaps a few kilometers of water, I felt uneasy..." Mission accomplished; the Captain celebrated basking in the sun on deck, sipping hot tea "mixed with alcohol." Except for the mechanics, so far, all is good onboard.

Erden Erduc update: Trapped Since Ralph Tuijn was towed to Fiji; Erden is once again alone on the Pacific Ocean. Currently trapped in one spot by the weather currents and already 142 days out - Erden's patience is tried. Erden has rowed hard to change his course for several days, to no avail. Swells and currents push him around and there's little he can do about it. "The counter current keeps me from going west, and the winds on either side, NE on the north and SE on the south close the trap, keeping me on the counter current," he reported a few days ago. "I am tired of the rain. The tropical rain fall is enhanced by the effects of the convergence zone. I am living wet. It is affecting my mood, it is starting to grate on me," Erden added.

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