ExplorersWeb has been awarded best of adventure by National Geographic and best of the web by Forbes magazine. What is then the Best of ExplorersWeb?
We have covered hundreds of expeditions in 2004. 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.
Theirs have been stories of dreams, frustration, hope, disaster and - sometimes - victory in the eye of the impossible. At times it has been a pain in the butt (why do you all have to go on summit pushes over the weekend?!) but most often a sheer joy to follow the brave explorers of our time.
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 the year of 2004.
By their performace, 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 4:
Special mention: Edurne Pasaban and Juanito Oiarzabal
Juanito Oiarzabal and Edurne Pasaban are back home, recovering from the severe frostbite they suffered during their summit bid on the Abruzzi Spur route on K2. Edurne became the only woman alive to climb the savage mountain and Juanito summited his 21st 8000+ top.
After their tough climb, the guys offered very frank and down to earth debriefs: I am great, really. I'll only lose two toes - and those two are not so important; the second toe on each foot," Edurne told us. "Oh, come on, Edurne! We crossed every limit and every rule an alpinist is supposed to maintain! True that we are experienced, but we took more risks than is acceptable," said Juan Oiarzabal. Edurne and Juanito stays in our memory for their courage and honesty.
Special mention: Henk De Velde
September 3 disaster struck the Campina: "Ice floes clashed against each other constantly with a power enough to crack my ship. Around 4 hours before darkness fell, the ice berg that we had been anchored to broke. We maneuvered Campina to a larger ice berg, between the floating ice. Then the flow twisted and a heavy iceberg pressed the boat against the wall of ice. We were crooked 10 degrees. The iceberg pressed the boat onto underwater ice. I heard an enormous cracking. We tied her up with long lines to the ice. We (Henk had the company of ice lots Boris, 72 years) had to climb around the ice blocks to fix lines in the right directions. I had to make sure that I would always be able to return to the boat and not get stranded on an ice island. My ship was stuck in the ice wall of the Laptev sea."
The Northwest passage proved impossible, but Henk De Velde stays in our memory for his battle to the bitter end.
Special mention: Pavel Rezvoy
At 65 years old, Pavel Rezvoy, a geologist from Ukraine, is the oldest rower in the history of ocean rowing. When he, after 62 days, crossed the finish line in Barbados, he arrived as number two of the solo class in ORSARR 2004, only 2,5 days after the 23 years old winner. But then grandpa refused to go home: -"There is nothing to do in Ukraine for senior citizens", he said; left Barbados and rowed to Cuba.
Pavel stays in our memory for his power of will and refusal to retire.
Special mention: Nawang Sherpa
On May 16 2004, the Friendship Beyond Borders expedition accomplished its goal when Nawang Sherpa reached the summit of Mt. Everest. Nawang is the first trans-tibial amputee to ever climb an 8000 meter peak. A motorcycle wreck in summer 2000 left Nawang Sherpa, an aspiring high-altitude guide in Nepal, an amputee. He got a new "climbing leg" in 2002 thanks to the High Exposure foundation, a nonprofit launched by Ed Hommer, who lost his own legs on Denali and hoped to scale Everest one day together with Nawang. Ed's own Everest dream however ended in tragedy a few months later when a rock struck and killed him on Mount Rainier Sep 23, 2003. This year Tom McMillan, a California climber, stepped in to make Nawang's dream to scale Mount Everest a reality.
Nawang stays in our memory for his determination and ground-breaking performance.
Images top to bottom:
1. Pavel Rezvoy bidding farewell before his historic ocean row.
2. Henk de Velde's Campina moored to an ice chunk
3. Juanito led back to K2 BC and Edurne Pasaban before her historic climb
4. Nawang Sherpa on his ground-breaking Everest ascent.
Visit our new website