Showing posts with label Seven Summits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Seven Summits. Show all posts

Antarctica 2016: Sir Ranulph Fiennes Summits Mt. Vinson

We have a few updates from the Antarctic today as we round out our adventure news heading into the weekend. For the most part, the South Pole skiers continue to press on, but we have updates on two legendary explorers who have Antarctic ambitions this year.

First, we have news that Sir Ranulph Fiennes has summited Mt. Vinson, the tallest peak on the Antarctic continent at 16,050 feet (4892 meters). At 72 years of age, Fiennes is making a return trip to the polar region that he has visited several times in the past. On his summit push he faced -40ºC/F temperatures and high winds, as he topped out in demanding conditions. The climb is part of the explorer's Global Reach Challenge, in which he is hoping to summit the remaining Seven Summits by May of next year. He has already knocked off Everest, Elbrus, and Kilimanjaro in that pursuit. He'll now face Aconcagua, Denali, and Carstensz Pyramid in the next few months. His goal is to raise  funds for the Marie Curie Foundation.

Sir Ran wasn't the only one to summit Vinson in the past few days. The RMI team, led by Dave Hahn, also topped out, putting every one of the group's five clients on the summit. They reported calm conditions on their summit day, going up and down safely from High Camp. They have since descended back down the mountain and caught a flight back to Union Glacier, so it looks like the squad will be headed back to Chile soon with their mission accomplished.

Meanwhile, Swiss explorer Mike Horn has now reached the Antarctic continent. He and his crew have been sailing across the Southern Ocean for the past couple of weeks in preparation for Horn's attempt to traverse the continent via the South Pole as part of his Pole 2 Pole expedition. Mike hasn't made landfall on the ice yet, but should be preparing to set off in the next few days. He'll then ski to 90ºS before proceeding back to the coast, where his ship – the Pangea – will be waiting to pick him up. From there, he'll continue the journey, eventually heading north to attempt a similar crossing of the Arctic.

ExWeb is reporting that solo skier Risto Hallikainen, who intends to travel to the South Pole and back, suffered snow blindness earlier in the week. This painful ailment is caused by sunburnt corneas on the eyes and causes temporary loss of vision. This slowed his progress for a few days, but he seems to be back on track. Risto has also lightened his load some by leaving a supply depot with food and fuel behind. He'll pick that cache back up again on his return trip.

Finally, the six-man British Military team skiing to the South Pole have now reached the halfway point of their journey. They've crossed the 85th degree and are now making good time towards their end point. Spirits seem high, and conditions have been warmer than expected so far, so all is good.

We'll have more updates from the Antarctic next week. Stay tuned.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes Attempting New Adventure Record

Famed British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes is about to embark on yet another mission. This time the many who has been called "the greatest living explorer" hopes to become the first person to cross both polar ice caps and climb the Seven Summits. And thanks to his already long history of undertaking major expeditions, he is already well on his way to accomplishing this goal.

Thanks to previous adventures, Fiennes has already skied across both the Arctic and Antarctic. He has also climbed Everest, Kilimanjaro, and Mt. Elbrus as well. That leaves him with Carstensz Pyramid in New Guinea (Australasia), Mount Vinson in Antarctica, Aconcagua in Argentina (South America), and Denali in North America to complete the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents. He hopes to wrap up each of those mountains within the next year, giving him the distinction of being the only person to accomplish all of these feats.

The 72-year old explorer is undertaking this mission as part of the Global Reach Challenge, an endeavor he has undertaken in an attempt to raise funds for Marie Curie, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting those living with a terminal illness as well as their families. To date, Fiennes' efforts have raised more than £300,000 ($393,000).

First up on the hit list will be Carstensz Pyramid, with that expedition getting underway soon. He'll have to wait until December of this year to attempt Mt. Vinson however, as the austral winter will prevent that climb from happening any sooner. As the highest mountain outside of the Himalaya, Aconcagua will pose a serious challenge, but the ultimate test will likely come on Denali sometime early next summer. Considering Fiennes has already successfully climbed Everest, he shouldn't find Denali to be particularly daunting, but the combination of unpredictable weather and unique technical hurdles still makes it a difficult proposition.

Reaching the North and South Pole and also climbing the Seven Summits is often referred to as the Adventure Grand Slam or Explorer's Grand Slam. Obviously, this has been done by a number of people in the past, but no one has skied across the entire Arctic and Antarctic, via the North and South Poles, before. That will give the British adventurer a leg up on the competition, and set his achievement apart from most others. It should be interesting to follow along with his journey and watch his progress unfold.

Good luck Ran!

11-Year Old Climber Summits Elbrus in Quest for Seven Summits

Last week I posted a story about Tyler Armstrong, the 11-year old mountaineer who has designs on climbing Everest next spring. In that article I questioned whether or not such a young climber should be attempting to climb the world's tallest peak which is dangerous enough for full-grown adults. But while I was busy pontificating about Tyler's ambitions to become the youngest to accomplish such a feat, he was in Russia adding another mountain to his resume. The young man – climbing with his father – successfully summited Mt. Elbrus, the tallest mountain in Europe.

Tyler's expedition took five days to complete, culminating with a successful summit day on August 9. This was the third of the Seven Summits that he has climbed, with Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua already under his belt. The 5642 meter (18,510 ft) peak was seen as a bit of a warm-up for Everest next spring, as it gave Tyler the opportunity to work on more technical aspects of mountaineering, including rope skills and walking with crampons.

In order to climb Everest in 2016 Armstrong will need to get special permission from the Nepali or Tibetan governments. Both countries instituted minimum age requirements back in 2010 when Jordan Romero became the youngest person to climb Everest at 13 years old. Before Tyler can even start to climb the mountain, he'll need to plead his case just to get a permit. It will be interesting to see how officials from either country react to the petition.

Regardless of whether or not he gets to climb Everest, you do have to respect and admire Tyler's drive. While he is of course hoping to climb all of the Seven Summits at some point, he isn't doing it just to selfishly try to reach that goal at a young age. The young man is using these climbs to raise funds to fight muscular dystrophy, and he hopes to eventually reach a goal of $1 million for the Cure Duchenne organization.

Incidentally, yesterday I wrote a story about how Jon Krakauer admitted that climbing Everest was the "biggest mistake" of his life. In that post I wrote that Krakauer's reveal came after he received a question about climbing Everest from a young climber. It turns out that climber was Tyler, who was inquiring about Krakauer's experiences on the mountain back in 1996. I'm guessing he wasn't expecting the response that he got from the best selling author, who did just about everything he could to dissuade the 11-year old from climbing the mountain. We'll see if those words had any impact on Tyler, or his ambitions to climb in the Himalaya next year.

Seven Summits Mountaineer Richard Bass Passes Away at the Age of 85

Richard Bass, the first man to climb the Seven Summits, has passed away at the age of 85. He, along with his friend Frank Wells, came up with the idea of climbing the highest peak on each of the seven continents back in the early 80's, and both men set out achieve that feat. Bass did so in April, 1985 when he nabbed the final peak on his list by summiting Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia.

A Texas oilman, Bass is also the founder of the famous Snowbird ski resort in Utah. His efforts to climb the Seven Summit made that pursuit a popular one with mountaineers across the globe, and helped to commercialize climbing on some of those mountains. At the time that he completed his quest, the list of mountains included Everest (Asia), Elbrus (Europe), Denali (North America), Aconcagua (South America), Kilimanjaro (Africa), Vinson (Antarctica), and Kosciusko. The list has since been amended to include Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia, as some climbers have expanded the Australian continent to include more of the Pacific region.

Long time friend and documentary filmmaker David Breashears made the announcement of Bass' passing on his Facebook page. The note simply said:
“It is with great sadness that I convey the news of the passing of Richard D. Bass late in the evening of July 26. Dick passed away peacefully in the company of friends and family; he was eighty-five-years old.”
Dick Bass wasn't as well known as climbers like Reinhold Messner or Ed Viesturs of course, but he certainly left an indelible mark on the mountaineering community. Even today, there are hundreds of people attempting the Seven Summits at any given moment, and his achievement is still considered an impressive accomplishment for any adventurer.

Bass' tale of his endeavor, simply called Seven Summits, was one of the first mountaineering books that I ever read. It left quite an impression on me when I started thinking about my own adventures, and for that I am eternally grateful.

My condolences to Dick's friends and family. He will be missed.

Video: Sean Disney & Vaughan de La Harpe Talk Mountaineering Adventures at FEAT Jo'burg

A few weeks back, the annual FEAT event took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. FEAT stands for Fascinating Expedition & Adventure Talks, and it is features a number of very interesting men and women who have just seven minutes to share a tale from their adventures. In the video below, climbing partners Sean Disney and Vaughan de la Harpe take to the FEAT stage to introduce some of the interesting people that they have met on their expeditions to climb the Seven Summits, most notably Everest. Their seven-minute presentation is particularly humorous, as they introduce us to a number of unique individuals that they have encountered along the way. There are definitely more than a few laughs to be had over the course of their talk.