(AdventureStats) You have called for it so here it is: Adventure stats has been updated for the poles!
Some interesting points that could be telling beyond the stats:
Hard challenge on decline
The trend on Himalayan 8000ers is increasing traffic with guides and supplementary oxygen. New route attempts are almost non-existent.
Similarly in the polar areas, we actually have less and less people making the "difficult" North Pole without help - only 4 people in the past 5 years. Compare that to Antarctica where 39 people have skied to the South Pole in the past 5 years unassisted and unsupplied.
The North Pole has been skied to from land without any help at all (unassisted unsupplied) by 45 people. While 22 people made it in the five years between 1992-97; in the following twelve years (1998 to 2010) only another 23 were successful.
Don't ask, don't tell
The poles are still gender biased: Out of the North Pole unsupported unsupplied expeditions by 45 people, three were women (one Swedish, one Norwegian, one British). The South Pole has 93 people in unsupported unsupplied expeditions, 14 by women.
The holy grail of the polar caps - traverse from edge to edge - has been accomplished by a meager two unsupported/unsupplied men on the Arctic. Even if you include wind support; only 8 have managed to traverse Antarctica (one woman).
Check all the statistics here!
The trend of decreasing ambition spans everywhere including our final frontier: NASA no longer travels to Space. Why is that?
Is it that we forgot the preparation needed for success?
This summer, two Kazakh climbers (in a team of four mountaineers) made a very rare ascent of K2 north side. The victory was no chance.
Similarly, American speed skater Apolo Ohno became an Olympic record holder last year only by dogged determination he said, ("every day!") and four (!) daily 2-hours training sessions.
Or is hard performance put on the back burner in favor of more crowd-pleasing aesthetics and style?
In an Editorial: International Mugs Stump for 8000ers, anyone? ExplorersWeb noted figure skating master Yevgeny Plushenko's complaint that figure skaters are skipping the quad these days due to the high risk.
"In the 80s there were doubles, then skaters were jumping triples, triple axels and then the quadruple," said the Russian. But then something happened. Now it's all about presentation, Plushenko said adding, "without the quad it's not men's figure skating."
Or is it that true accomplishment doesn't get acclaim anymore in the noise of reality shows and entertainment?
Few world top athletes get noticed in the wild these days. Apolo Ohno told how he was approached in the airport by a lady pulling at his arm exclaiming: weren't you in "Dancing with the Stars?" The serial gold winning speed skater said, "And I was like - sure, btw - do you watch the Olympics?"
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