The rookies who out-charged the veterans. A balloon flight that could have been penned by Jules Verne. A base jump from the edge of Gondwanaland and an Amazon walker who polarized the adventure commentators. Plus some special climbs.
ExplorersWeb 2010 Awards countdown begins tomorrow, but starts already today with a special mention to Dan Darley and Amelia Russell; Ed Stafford; Valery Rozov; and Jean-Louis Etienne.
Best of ExplorersWeb 2010 Awards - Special mention
We have covered hundreds of expeditions in 2010. It's difficult to choose the best, as they all contributed in their own way, sharing their story - their very soul in fact - with us and the world.
And yet, there are those who continue to linger in our minds long after their final debrief. We have chosen 8 expeditions who have contributed in an extraordinary way to the Spirit of Adventure in 2010.
By their performance, these expeditions have proved themselves outstanding in all or most of the following:
- Self reliance
- Respect towards competition
Out of the hundreds of expeditions, the countdown of the most exceptional begins tomorrow, but starts already today with a special mention to an additional few:
Dan Darley and Amelia Russell (UK) - North Pole unsupported
Fist out, after a sleepless night the two Britons, Dan Darley and Amelia Russell were dropped at Cape Discovery on February 26. Among all the veteran skiers shooting for the pole this year, the Banker and his MD girlfriend were decidedly the rookies.
Dan had previously rowed the Atlantic and had heard about various polar trips there. Their first proper cold weather training trip came late 2008 in Norway. It was followed up on Greenland and in northern Canada and folded with a couple of weeks in Resolute Bay. Still, there was something about the two. "They actually have a shot," pondered North Pole skier Tom Sjogren after going over the tech with them. "They are really serious with their preparations."
Explained D&A; to Correne in an interview: "Its not just the physical and organizational side of things thats important though, and weve had personality typing done (MBTI and FIRO-B tools) and discussed coping strategies for when the going gets tough which turned out to be very interesting and useful!"
A hard travel ensued. The all-British team who set off from Resolute Bay on April 3 to the 1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole was evacuated on April 10. On April 15 Australian Tom Smitheringale activated his emergency evacuation device after he fell through the ice. The expeditions only the last in an unusually long line of polar teams plucked from the ice this difficult Arctic season. Soon, Dan and Amelia were the only unassisted, unsupported skiers enroute to the North Pole.
With only 23nm to go, Dan and Amelia set off to the pole in bad visibility. Scouting an open water lead to cross, they went in opposite directions to find a suitable crossing point. "I found one very quickly and started to move the pulks there waiting for Amelia to return," Dan dispatched. When she didn't, Dan headed off following her tracks - suddenly finding her by the lead, soaking wet. Slipping into the water Amelia had dislocated her shoulder. Planning a final 'final' push to the pole, the two had only 39hrs remaining until the dealine to be picked up by the Barneo Ice Base for the last flight to Svalbard.
"The final two nautical miles were horrendous and seemed unduly punishing," concluded Dan Darley and Amelia Russell about reaching the NP on April 25 - as the only unassisted team this season - and Amelia only the third woman in the world to achieve this.
Reassured about their relationship from the experience and preparative typing tests, Dan and Amelia finally were decided: this summer the two got married.
Valery Rozov (Rus) - Antarctica BASE jump
Check in on the Best of Awards at ExplorersWeb in the past years and chances are you'll find him there. The now famous Russian BASE jumper did it again this year: Valery Rozov became the first person to climb the 2931 meter high Mount Ulvetanna at Antarctica and BASE jump off.
Although the freezing temperatures were new to him, BASE jumps were not.
Previously, Valery climbed and jumped from the Big Sail peak in Baffin Island (2002), Mt. Nalumasortoq in Greenland (2003), Karakorums Amin Brakk (2004), the Alps' Grandes Jorasses (2006), after experts said the huge wall lacked a single spot safe enough to launch a free-fall jump, the 1400-m face of Torres del Paine in Patagonia (2007). According to sponsoring Red Bull Valery has done well over 8000 BASE jumps and sky dives before plunging 700m into the record books.
Jean-Louis Etienne (Fra): North Pole crossing in a rozière balloon
French explorer Jean-Louis Etienne took off on a 3500 km voyage from Longyearbyen on Svalbard to Alaska via the North Pole during the early morning of April 5 onboard a hot air and helium balloon.
He passed close over the North Pole on April 7 in a snowstorm, sailing at only 150m from the ground in violent winds, upcurrents and columns of sinking air.
Two days later Dr. Etienne fell asleep in his balloon and woke up with altitude sickness having hallucinations. He knew he needed oxygen and that his body was tested. But on April 10 Jean-Louis Etienne touched down in Sakha in Siberia after flying alone in his rozière balloon across the Arctic Ocean for 121h and 30 minutes.
Landing is always a fall back to Earth, said the French explorer from the ground. Where he was exactly also became clear by the Russian Secret Service asking for the first interview.
Ed Stafford (and "Cho" Gadiel Snachez Rivera) - Amazon from source to sea
"Truly extraordinary....in the top league of Expeditions in past and present," said Ranulph Fiennes about Ed Stafford´s Expedition. "He suffered like only the British can, and Cho got way too little media," said an editor at ExplorersWeb.
Still, Ed was the one who dreamed up, organized and walked the whole thing: the length of the Amazon River in South America, from the source to the sea. A transient team of teammates and indigenous guides would accompany him.
Said Ed about "Cho" to ExplorersWeb: "He kindly offered to walk with me through the lower part of the Red Zone (the drugs trafficking area) when no one else would. He was a devout Christian and, although I am not religious myself, he brought with him a confidence that was contagious and he helped me lift myself out of being wrapped up in self worry. Cho would sing Christian songs in Spanish at the top of his voice whilst we walked. I found it bloody annoying actually but it did mean I wasn't focusing on getting killed!"
Ed's expedition kicked off 2nd April 2008 and finished on 9th August of 2010. It took 860 days.
The season offered a number of noteworthy climbs but the ones we remember most (not just for the technical specs) were Denis Urubko's "my way" on Lhotse, the Basque traverse on Broad Peak, the Ukraine new route Makalu, Ralf and Gerlinde's battle on Everest North Face, Eric Larsen's unexpected fall summit on Everest south side, and "The Medicine Buddha" on Aconcagua's wild south face, carved by American speed climber Chad Kellogg in forty-two hours, pure alpine style and no one around.
One last thought must also go to Joe Puryear and David Gottlieb, the small climbing team who bagged the virgin summit of Nepal's Lunag Ri (Jobo Ringjang) last year, and compiled a useful list of surrounding peaks for future climbers. This year, Joe and David were busy as ever in Rolwaling valley exploring frozen waterfalls and preparing for a first ascent of the 6,771-meter (22,215-foot) Takargo peak. Wherever he was, Joe always found time to send a kind note to ExplorersWeb. He broke our hearts October 27 on Labuche Kang when a cornice broke off and Joe fell to his death.
#Mountaineering #Polar #Trek #topstory
Visit our new website