Showing posts with label History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History. Show all posts

Everest Climbing Gear - Then and Now

National Geographic has another interesting article and photo gallery up today, this time taking a look at the past and present gear used on Everest. The slideshow contains a number of fantastic images, and each one focuses on a particular topic, such as "communications" and "insulation layers," with information what was used when Hillary and Norgay completed the first ascent, versus the gear that the rank and file mountaineers are using now.

Today's climbers are outfitted with highly technical apparel, a host of gadgets, and gear that offers an amazing weight-to-performance ratio. Everything from the boots they wear to the tents they stay in have improved dramatically over the past 60+ years. With all of the advanced fabrics and space-age materials at our disposal, it is easier to climb lighter, faster, and more comfortably than ever before, which is part of the reason so many more people are making the attempt.

So just how different was it back in 1953? In the Nat Geo article we learn that Hillary and Norgay couldn't use wireless communications higher up on the mountain, so they communicated by laying out their sleeping bags in a particular pattern that could be seen below. Today, walkie-talkies, sat phones, satellite messengers, and even cell phones can be used to communicate from any point on Everest, including the summit.

Similarly, the tents used on the first ascent where heavy and bulky. Those shelters were made from cotton, and were often crowded, uncomfortable, and very heavy. In contrast, today's tents are surprisingly strong, lightweight, and warm, even at higher altitudes. Every aspect and component of a tent has been upgraded, making them easier to carry and assemble, even when the weather turns bad.

The story is a fun one and well worth a read for Everest fans and gear junkies alike. Lots of good information here comparing climbing now to then. You're likely to come away with even more respect for those early Everest climbers.

Video: This Amazing Video of a Viking Voyage is Made Entirely Out of Paper

The title of this post pretty much says it all. This incredible video tells the story of a wild Viking voyage, which is cool enough in and of itself. But, even more impressive is the fact that the entire clip is made from paper. You'll have to remind yourself of that throughout the short film, which is just a lot of fun from start to finish. Enjoy!

Have Scientists Discovered Evidence of a Lost Continent?

We received further proof this week that we don't really know as much about our own planet as we like to think we do. That somber reminder came when scientists announced that they had discovered evidence of a previously unknown continental crust located under the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, indicating that there was once a landmass – which is now being called Mauritia – in that area that hadn't been accounted for before.

This revelation came about when researchers discovered zircon crystals in rocks on Mauritius. Those crystals are believed to be over 2 billion years old, while the island itself is a mere 9 million, which in geological terms is practically a newborn.

At the moment, scientists don't know much about Mauritia or what may have happened to it. But, the report indicates that the crystals are about the same age as those found on the island of Madagascar, leading some to speculate that it was once a part of this lost continent as well. If you know anything about Madagascar, you probably already know that it is a bit of an anomaly itself, with plant and animal life found nowhere else on the planet, and unique geological structures that are all of its own.

Chances are, we may never know what this lost continent was like or how it was destroyed, but knowledge of its existence fundamentally changes the way we view our planet. It also tells us that there are forces at work that we don't know about, even here on Earth. We have a lot to learn, that much is certain. But these kinds of discoveries are always fascinating.

2016 Was The Hottest Year on Record

Stop me if you've heard this one before...

According to NASA and NOAA, 2016 was the hottest year on record, breaking the previous mark for the third consecutive year. And if that wasn't sobering enough news, the latest report on climate change also indicates that 16 of the 17 hottest years ever have taken place since 2000.

Studies indicate that the average temperature across the planet increased by 1.1ºC (1.98ºF) last year, which may not sound like much but it is enough to have a dramatic impact on large sections of the globe – especially in the polar regions. It also means that we're already well on our way towards surpassing the 1.5ºC goal set by the Paris Climate Agreement from 2015.

The cause for the increased temperature remains the same as it has for the past two decades, or longer. The burning of fossil fuels increases carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, and the continued deforestation of rainforests – often referred to as the "lungs" of our planet. These harmful processes seem to be continuing to accelerate, despite efforts to reverse their effects.

Historical records of temperatures have been kept as far back as the 1880's, which means we have more than 130 years of data to compare the current trends to. It is also becoming increasingly more difficult to deny the impact of humans on the environment. As part of the report, Michael Mann, the director of the Earth Science Center at Pennsylvania State University,  said "The effect of human activity on our climate is no longer subtle. It's plain as day, as are the impacts -- in the form of record floods, droughts, superstorms and wildfires -- that it is having on us and our planet."

To make matters worse, the Arctic seems to be warming at a faster rate than the rest of the planet, with temperatures now climbing to 3ºC (5.4ºF) higher than they were a decade ago. That means an increased rate of melting of the ice caps, which in turn leads to raising sea levels around the world. That will have a big impact on coastlines, eventually putting areas that are now inhabited potentially under water.

But, there is cause for some hope. Scientists believe that 2017 won't be warmer than the previous years thanks to El Nino keeping things a bit cooler. This is probably a temporary state of affairs however, even if it does buy us a brief respite.

How anyone can continue to deny climate change is beyond me. Whether or not humans are having an impact doesn't matter any longer. It's happening, and we need to do whatever we can to halt it. It's not too late, but time is running out.

Video: 15 Things You (Probably) Never Knew About Antarctica

Here's a fun and informative little video that I thought many of you would like. It is a "list" of sorts, counting down 15 things you might not have known about Antarctica, the most remote and unexplored continent on our planet. Of course, I know a lot of the readers of this blog follow the continual exploration of the frozen continent, and some of you have even been there yourselves, but all that said, you'll probably still learn a few things about the place that you didn't know before simply by watching this short clip. I know I did, and I write about the Antarctic on a regular basis.

Russians Uncover Secret Nazi Base in the Arctic

File this story under "News of the Weird."

Russian researchers have discovered a hidden Nazi base in the Arctic. Yep, you read that right, and no this isn't one of those weird conspiracy stories that you'll find elsewhere on the Internet. Apparently the base, which is named “Schatzgraber” or “Treasure Hunter,”  was built back in 1942 under order from Adolf Hitler himself. It is believed to have been in operation until June of 1944, when it was abandoned following a series of mishaps.

Located on the remote island of Alexander Land, the base was believed to have been a weather station. After it was constructed, teams of Nazi soldiers lived there throughout 1943, a year after the Germans invaded Russia during World War II. But, running low on supplies the men that lived there were later forced to eat raw polar bear meat, which caused some of the soldier to become ill and even die. The remaining staff members departed the station just as the tide was beginning to turn against Hitler back home. 

After that, the base became a forgotten structure from a bygone era. There were rumors of its existence, but no one was able to confirm that the Nazi's had indeed constructed the weather station above the Arctic Circle, although others had previously searched for it in vain. But the Russian team that discovered Schatgraber say they found more than 500 relics from the WWII era that were left behind by the previous tenants. They found a number of German bunkers, fuel barrels, and even old paperwork that was left behind when the soldiers left. Most of it is well preserved in the harsh, cold conditions, which should make for some interesting historical discoveries amongst the remains of the base. 

Up until now, the base had only been mentioned in old Nazi reference material and German supply records, but since it had never been found, Schatgraber was believed to be a myth. There are many such stories of hidden Nazi bases – including some in the Antarctic too. Most of those probably are just legends, but this discovery will certainly add fuel to the fire. 

The researchers the discovered the station say they'll take all of the artifacts that they've found back to Russia with them for examination. Perhaps they'll find even more interesting things about what the Nazi's were doing there in the Arctic from the paperwork they discovered. 

Check out some images from the base in the news video below. The dialog is in Russian, but you'll at least get a sense of what the site looks like now. 


Video: Expedition to the Valley of the Dinosaurs

The Badlands of North Dakota are the site for this video, which takes us on a dinosaur hunting expedition with Tyler Lyson, a man who seems to have a knack for finding fossils hidden in the Earth. In this short documentary, Tyler is attempting to recover a rare, intact skull from a triceratops with the help of a group of amateur fossil hunters that he has invited along for the ride. While working on that discovery, he comes across another one that is equally astounding. Enjoy.

Valley of the Last Dinosaurs from MEL Films on Vimeo.

Video: What Was the Last Place on Earth to be Discovered?

Here's an intriguing question. What do you think was the last place on Earth to actually be discovered by man? Most researchers now believe that human life on our planet can be traced back to Africa, with man spreading out across the planet from there. Over thousands of years we migrated across the planet, settling in various places along the way. But have you ever stopped to think what part of the planet was the last to actually be found by humans?

That is exactly the subject of this video, which uses an animated map to show you exactly when certain destinations were discovered, with the timeline for many of them actually being quite surprising. For instance, who would have thought that North America was reached before Portugal for instance? There are plenty of other interesting little tidbits like that to be learned along the way too, with some remote places obviously taking longer to find than others.

So just what was the last place found by humans? I won't spoil the answer, but I will say that it will be quite logical once you learn where it is. There is definitely a lot of interesting things to learn here.

Researchers Discover Two Hidden Chambers Inside Egypt's Great Pyramid

It seems the discoveries just keep coming in Egypt, a civilization thousands of years old with plenty of monuments to prove it. Researchers in Cairo now say that they have discovered "cavities" inside one of the most well known and iconic structures on Earth – the Great Pyramid itself.

The discovery was made using imaging technology called muography. This technique uses special equipment to analyze radioactive particles known as muons. Analysts can detect where the particles are most dense or least dense to help create an image of the interior of spaces. In this way, it works much like ground penetrating radar, providing a map of the interior of the pyramid itself. 

According to reports, the team conducting the study says that they are "now able to confirm the existence of a ‘void’ hidden behind the North Face, that could have the form of at least one corridor going inside the Great Pyramid.” The team added that “The precise shape, size, and exact position of this void is now under further investigation. It should be done with the help of 12 new Muon Emulsion plates that are installed in the descending corridor, and will be collected by the end of October 2016.”

The same researchers say that they have also located a second "void" in the structure that is located behind the descending corridor inside the pyramid as well. This corridor is the one that leads directly down into the structure to the tomb of the pharaoh Khufu, who had the pyramid constructed as his burial chamber some 4500 years ago. 

What does all of this mean? We'll just have to wait for further information to know for sure, but it could confirm the existence of hidden chambers inside the Great Pyramid. What those chambers could contain would be open to speculation of course, but anyone who has ever been inside these structures can tell you that they are unimpressive other than from an architectural/construction sense. Unlike the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Queens, the walls are not covered in hieroglyphs or painted in ornamental styles. Instead, they are bare, smooth, and colorless. The corridor and chambers are relatively small, and even a bit claustrophobic. But, it is possible that important items for Khufu were stashed in these spaces to prevent them from being looted by thieves.

Of course, it is also hard to get too excited about these "discoveries" considering the hype that was made last year about possibly finding the tomb of Nefertiti hidden inside that of the boy-king Tut. Those claims later seemed to have been proved false, although archaeologists continue to research the findings. Will this be a similar story? If these chambers inside the Pyramid are real, will they hold anything of value? Or are they just part of how the structure was made? It will likely be months before we know for sure, but it is definitely intriguing to think about. 

Meet the First Men to Fly Over Everest

If you've seen the big Hollywood film Everest that came out last year, you probably heard one of the characters deliver a line about how the team would be climbing at the same altitude as a commercial jetliner. Today, aircraft fly over or around the mountain on a regular basis, and no one thinks twice about it, but back in 1933 that still seemed like an impossible height to take an aircraft, particularly in an age when pressurized cabins were not necessarily the norm just yet. But two daring pilots made that flight, and lived to tell the tale. And they did so in a biplane that is down right ancient when compared to modern aircraft.

Mashable recently posted a story and some great  photos from that epic adventure that was called the Houston Everest Expedition because it was sponsored by a wealthy British philanthropist known as Lady Houston. She put up the money that allowed RAF pilot Douglas Douglas-Hamilton (aka Lord Clydesdale) and Colonel Stewart Blacker to attempt to fly a Westland PV-3 biplane over the top of the world's highest mountain, something that seemed incredibly dangerous at the time.

The two men took off from an airstrip near Purnea, India on the morning of April 3, 1933. They were accompanied by a second aircraft flown by Flight Lieutenant David McIntyre and a photographer named S.R. Bonnett. The second plane was there to record the event for posterity and get some fantastic images of this daring flight. The photographer did not disappoint.

As it turns out, the mission was a test for both pilots and aircraft, as there was indeed no pressurized cabins. The four men who were aboard the two planes had to rely on oxygen masks to keep their wits about them and help them breathe at such an altitude. On top of that, it was rare for any airplane to fly at such heights at that point in history, and the small biplane struggled in the thin air just as much as her crew.

When the two planes approached Everest, high winds caused even more problems, forcing the planes to drop 1500 feet (457 meters). But in the end, they were able to climb back up to 29,029 feet (8848 meters) and pass over the top of the summit for the very first time. All four men were given high accolades with Lord Clydesdale earning the Air Force Cross for his leadership. Bonnett's photos and video footage were also used to create an Academy Award winning film called Wings Over Everest as well. You can watch that film below.

The story of this expedition is an amazing one. Today we take it for granted that we fly at such a height, but back in 1933 it was almost as if they were trying to go to the moon. Fortunately, they proved that aircraft are sturdier than was believed and that man can go to higher heights that was previously believed. It would be 20 years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay would actually climb to the summit, but this intrepid crew helped lead the way.


Roald Amundsen's Ship Recovered From the Arctic Ocean

After resting at the bottom of the ocean for more then 85 years, Roald Amundsen's ship the Maud has been brought back to the surface, and is preparing to return to Norway. The ship, which was discovered off the coast of Cambridge Bay in Canada, helped to chart the Northeast Passage from 1918-1920, sunk in those waters back in 1930 after a short, but distinguished career in exploration.

A recovery team has spent the past six years working to bring the ship up from its watery grave. This past July, their efforts finally paid off, as the ship returned to the surface for the first time in more than eight decades. The crew first had to place a series of inflatable ballasts around the hull of the vessel, then slowly add air to them. Eventually this allowed them to place it on a barge and float it into harbor. Over the past two months, they have been been cleaning up the interior of the vessel in preparation for weathering the winter in the Arctic.

The recovery team says that the winter weather will actually help the ship, allowing its wooden hull to dry. This will help to reduce the ship's current weight, and will take some of the pressure off of the hull. That will help to stabilize it for the long journey back home to Norway, which is likely to take place next summer.

According to reports, the ship is in surprisingly good shape. The hull remains solid and strong, despite being at the bottom of the ocean for so long. The vessel was originally built back in 1917, and commissioned by Amundsen to accompany him on his exploration of the icy waters north of Russia. Amundsen is well know for is exploits in the cold places of our planet. He was the first person to reach the South Pole back in 1911, and was instrumental in exploring the Arctic as well, becoming the first person to full pass through the Northwest Passage.

The Maud was sold off in 1925, five years before she sank. But, she is considered an important piece of exploration history, and back home in Norway she'll be preserved for posterity. In that country, Amundsen is incredibly famous, and any relic left over from his expeditions is a valuable commodity.

This is quite a cool story. I'm glad this team was able to locate and recover the ship. Hopefully it makes it through the winter in one piece, and returns home next year as planned.

Video: Climbing Downpatrick Head Sea Stack in Ireland

Located just 80 meters off the coast of Ireland, the Dún Briste sea stack is an indelible part of one of that country's most iconic landscapes – Downpatrick Head, where St. Patrick himself is said to have built a church centuries ago. While certainly an enticing challenge, the sea stack is seldom climbed, but last month that's exactly what Iain Miller and Paulina Kaniszewska did. In this short video, you'll see them paddle out to the rock face, make their ascent, and take in the views at the top, which include the remains of an old lookout post from World War II.

You can find out more about their experience by reading their account of the climb here. It looks like it was quite a fun adventure. Thanks for sharing Iian!

168 Years After Sinking in the Arctic the HMS Terror has Been Found

After years of searching in the Arctic, the missing ship of explorer Sir John Franklin has been found at long last. Earlier this week it was announced that the HMS Terror, a vessel that Franklin was using to explore the icy waters of the Northwest Passage, had been found after 168 years.

Franklin and his crew had been exploring the Arctic Ocean north of Canada back in 1848 when they ran into thick pack ice that prevented them from continuing their voyage. Both the Terror and its sister-ship, the HMS Erebus became trapped, forcing everyone onboard to abandon the two vessels. Eventually, all 129 members of the crew perished in the Arctic, and what became of the ships remained a mystery.

A few years back the Erebus was discovered by a search crew, but the location of the Terror remained a mystery. Now, thanks to a tip from a local Inuit tribesman, that mystery has been solved. The Terror  was found in – of all places – Terror Bay, where its mast was spotted sticking out of the ice by passing hunters a few years back. That tip led to an archeological team going to the site to check out the area, only to discover the very vessel they had been searching for.

According to early reports, it seems that the ship is in relatively good condition, and may contain most of the things that were left onboard when it was abandoned by Franklin and his crew. In comparison, the Erebus has suffered hull damage, and Arctic currents had spread out its contents over a wide area. It'll be some time before salvage crews can truly get a look at the Terror however, so just what might be on the ship remains a mystery.

As for Franklin and his men, it seems that after they abandoned their ships, they began a long and perilous march across the Arctic with the hopes of reaching the Hudson Bay Company – a fur trading outpost far to the south. None of the men made it to the safety of that place however, vanishing in desolate white expanse of the north. Inuit oral histories talk about the foreigners passing through their area, but their ultimate fate has never been fully told.

The disaster that beset the Franklin crew is one of the worst in British naval history. It was quite a blow to that country, which ruled the seas and was pushing the boundaries of exploration at the time. Now, after more than a century and a half, at least part of the mystery has been solved.

Did Amelia Earhart Survive Her Crash in the Pacific?

One of the most compelling missing person's stories of the 20th century may have just gotten even more interesting. A member of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) now claims that aviator Amelia Earhart not only survived her crash in South Pacific back in 1937, but she lived for days on a remote island, where she continuously called for help from her aircraft's radio, with those calls being picked up by amateur radio operators all over the world at the time. 

In recent years, TIGHAR has put considerable effort into searching for the remains of Earhart, her navigator Fred Noonan, and their aircraft. The group has made several expeditions to islands in the Pacific searching for evidence of what may have happened to her. They have found some compelling clues, but nothing that definitively says whether or not she or Noonan survived the crash, or even made it to one of the sites they have examined at all. 

But according to Ric Gillespie, a member of TIGHAR, Earhart's calls for help were heard by a woman in Melbourne, Australia; a housewife in Texas who claims to have recognized her voice, and perhaps most intriguing of all – a teenager in Florida. 

What makes the Florida teen's story so fascinating is that she scribbled notes based on what she was hearing, transcribing what was allegedly Earhart's broadcast. The teen wrote several times "New York, New York," seemingly referencing the city. But Gillespie believes that Earhart was actually saying "SS Norwich City," which was a ship that was abandoned on Nikumaroro island in 1929, the place that  TIGHAR believes the aviator set down. 

Today, we take flying around the world for granted, as thousands of aircraft take off from airports all over the globe each day. But back in 1937, it was still difficult to imagine circumnavigating the globe in a small aircraft. That was exactly what Earhart and Noonan were trying to do when they went missing. The pilot and navigator had set out from Lae Airfield in New Guinea the plan was to fly to Howland Island. But somewhere along the way they got off track, and couldn't find their destination. 

Eventually they ran out of fuel and crashed somewhere int he Pacific, but exactly where has long been a mystery. After examining the flight plan, listening to radio broadcasts, and plotting potential courses, TIGHAR has come to believe that Earhart and Noonan landed in a shallow bay off the shore of Nikumaroro, which has been the subject of their searches in recent years. So far, they've come up with nothing, but they hope to return next July – the 80th anniversary of Earhart's disappearance – to look for her Electra aircraft. The group believes that the tide has carried it out to sea, and that they'll be able to find it using a submersible.
Over the years, here at The Adventure Blog we've followed various attempts to locate the missing aircraft that Earhart was flying when she went missing. So far, it has remained elusive, as finding an 80 year old aircraft in the middle of the Pacific is not going to be easy. But, I have to admit TIGHAR has made some interesting finds over the years, including a piece of scrap metal that has been positively linked to the aircraft she was flying. Will they be able to finally substantiate their claims? We'll just have to wait until next summer to find out. 

100 Years Ago Shackleton's Men Were Rescued From the Ice

Yesterday marked an auspicious day in the annals of exploration. It was exactly 100 years to the day since Ernest Shackleton's men were rescued from the ice in the Antarctic after a months-long ordeal that would eventually go down as one of the greatest tales of survival ever. The rescue brought and end to their struggles on that particular expedition, but returned them to a world gone mad by war.

Shackleton's tale is a well known one at this point. In August of 1914, he and his men set sail from London for the Antarctic where he and several of his men had hoped to launch an attempt to cross the frozen continent. As they left Europe behind, the first shots of what would become World War I were just taking place on that continent as well.

In December of 1914, Shackleton's ship – the aptly named Endurance – departed South Georgia Island for the Weddell Sea off the coast of Antarctica. Once there, the crew discovered more ice than they had expected, and by January 19, 1915 the ship was fully enveloped in ice, not allowing it to move forward or backward. For months, the Endurance and her crew were stuck in place, until the ship finally succumbed to the pressures being applied to its hull and sunk beneath the waters on November 21, 1915.

But the ordeal for Shackleton and is men were far from over. For weeks they camped on an ice floe before it cracked and broke up, forcing them into the Endurance's lifeboats in a desperate attempt to reach Elephant Island. They reached that point and stepped foot on solid ground for the first time in 497 days.


Knowing that he and his men couldn't hold out forever, Shackleton came up with a desperate plan to make an open water crossing to reach South Georgia again. On April 24, 1916 he and a few hand-picked men set out once again, surviving high seas, storms, and frigid conditions to reach their destination on May 8. They then made a harrowing trip across the island on foot to reach a whaling station on the other side where they could begin mounting a rescue operation at long last.

But once again the conditions in the Southern Ocean thwarted their plans and poor weather prevented them from going back to Elephant Island. On two separate occasions rescue missions were forced to abandon their attempts, although Shackleton persisted in his efforts to save his men. It took until August 30, 1916 to complete the rescue operation, retrieving 22 men who had remained in that desolate place for five more months. But in the end, not a single man perished on that expedition, which remains a remarkable feat to this day.

It took until May of 1917 for Shackleton to return to England, but but that point the war was at its most brutal. A small conflict that was breaking out when he and his men left for the Antarctic had turned into the bloodiest and most costly war that the world had ever seen. Millions had lost their lives since the Endurance had set sail, and hundreds of thousands more would perish before it was through. Some of them were men who had survived all those months on the ice.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The story of Shackleton and his crew is one of the greatest stories of adventure and survival that we've ever seen. It is a testament to his leadership skills that they managed to stay alive at all, and I can't even imagine what it was like to be stranded under those conditions for so long.

Major thanks goes out to the Adventure Journal for reminding me of this important date in history.

Video: Nat Geo Shares Earliest Archival Footage

Want to see the earliest archival video footage from National Geographic's extensive vault of films? The video below provides a glimpse of just that as it gives viewers a look at the 1903 Ziegler North Pole Expedition. The explorers that made up that team set out from Norway with plans to reach the North Pole. But, their ship got trapped in the ice and the group ended up stranded for a year. This video gives us a look at a bygone era in exploration and a sense of what it was like for that team as they set off into the unknown. Interesting stuff to be sure.

Video: Morocco - Gateway to Africa

With this video we travel to Morocco to get a good look at the people, culture, history, and landscapes that exist there. Located in North Africa, the country has been at the crossroads of that continent for centuries, and that lasting influence can be seen in many places found there. This short documentary film takes us to the bustling streets of its most famous cities, to the top of the High Atlas Mountains, to the Sahara Desert, and beyond. If you're in need for a travel escape today, this film will help satiate your wanderlust. Enjoy.

Morocco: Gateway to Africa from Freeze Tag Media on Vimeo.

The 50 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time

One of the true traditions of going on an outdoor adventure is crawling into your sleeping bag at night and curing up with a good book to ready by the light of your headlamp. If you're looking for some new additions to your library for the next time you're in need of something to read, you're in luck. Men's Journal has published its list of the 50 greatest adventure books of all time, and as you'd expect, there are some great options.

As you would expect, the books on this list are incredibly diverse. Some are biographies, others are first-hand account memoirs, and some are complete works of fiction. The stories span the globe, taking us to just about every corner of the planet, from the frozen expanses of Poles, to tropical destinations closer to the equator. These books introduce us to some of the most interesting people to ever walk the Earth, and some that are completely made-up but are incredibly interesting none the less.

With such a long list, it would be impossible for me to ruin it completely. But some of the famous books that earned a nod include Melville's Moby Dick, Alfred Lansing's Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, and The Mountain: My Time on Everest by Ed Viesturs. This is just a small taste of the great books that made this list, but no matter what your definition of adventure is, I think it is safe to say that there is something here for everyone.

On top of that, unless you're an incredibly fast reader, this list will take some time to get through completely. That would be an adventure in and of itself.

Nefertiti's Tomb Not Found in King Tut's Tomb After All

One of the more fascinating stories that we've been following over the past year was the possibility of hidden chambers inside King Tut's tomb in Egypt. The story first broke when an archeologist by the name of Nicholas Reeves proposed the theory that such hidden rooms might exist after making laser scans of Tut's burial chambers. He then postulated that those hidden areas could belong to the lost queen of Nefertiti, who was Tut's step mother and may have ruled Egypt before him.

Fuel was added to the fire last fall when it was announced that ground penetrating radar has been used at the ancient site, and those scans had revealed that there indeed blank spaces hidden behind Tut's walls. This seemed to show that Reeve's theories were proving accurate, and that archaeologists were on the verge of making a major discovery.

But now it has been revealed that those scans may not have been accurate at all, and that there really isn't anything hidden in Tut's tomb as first thought. A second scan of the tomb, funded by National Geographic earlier this year, reportedly found no evidence of hidden chambers. Furthermore, there are Egyptologists who are claiming that the Egyptian government is suppressing the news as long as they can in order to maintain the illusion that a discovery may be imminent for as long as possible. The idea of finding Nefertiti's remains was seen as a major find, and could potentially be a boost to the country's flagging tourism sector.


Apparently, Nat Geo's second scanning operation is wrapped up in non-disclosure agreement, which means no one can officially confirm the story at this time. We'll have to wait for the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities to make a statement before we know for sure, but those close to the story say that Egyptian officials are in a bit of a panic over the lack of a new discovery and are looking for alternate opinions and evidence before proceeding.

This story made headlines just a few months ago, but now seems to be completely without merit. That's a bit depressing considering how much hype surrounded the potential discovery. Hopefully we'll get the real story soon so we can either move ahead with learning more about what's in Tut's tomb, or put in behind us altogether.

Did Canadian Teen Really Discover a Lost Mayan City?

We have an update today on that fascinating story that I posted yesterday about a 15-year old Canadian boy who claimed to have discovered a lost Mayan city in the Yucatan Peninsula. It seems that experts are poking holes in the young man's theories, saying that he didn't find a missing city at all, but instead spotted an overgrown agricultural field instead.

The original story was that school boy William Gadoury noticed that Mayan cities were located on a map in the same shape as several constellations in the sky. Looking at old star maps, the then overlaid the constellations on terrestrial maps and noticed that there were locations where cities should have lined up with the stars, but there were no known settlements there. So, William broke out Google Earth and started pouring over the images in search of manmade structures, discovering what looked like the remnants of a prior civilization.

Naturally, the story has struck a chord with the public, many of whom have been fascinated by this narrative, while also wondering why no one else had noticed this placement of Mayan cities in the past. Well, it turns out that there may be some basic issues with the teenager's general premise, as National Geographic explains, and the structures that he spotted in the satellite images may not be as old as he suspects or possibly not even man-made at all.

Archaeologist Ivan Šprajc says that the square shape spotted on the map is really an abandoned field that probably isn't any more than 20 or 30 years old. He also says that other potential structures are most likely natural shapes, and include a clearing in the jungle, which probably doesn't have anything to do with a lost Mayan city. 

As I mentioned in my original story yesterday, the only real way to confirm the existence of a lost city is to send a team of archaeologists out to examine the site. Considering the skepticism that is being raised from others in the field, it seems unlikely that that will happen soon. Of course, there are some who believe that trained archaeologists have also been caught with egg on their face by being upstaged by a teenager, so they have reason to cast doubt on his findings. Only time will tell at this point.