Himalaya 2011 climbing season, Karakoram and Himalaya wrap-up /4/ – Week in Review.

It has been an unexpectedly action-packed week at ExplorersWeb. The winter summit of GII made waves with a very 45 degrees below, raging wind, jet-plane altitudes and slippery walls: last we left off, Gasherbrum II had a historic first winter ascent but all other attempts since have been in naught. GI and Broad Peak climbers ended their final pushes in the past 24 hours, at the eve of the Karakoram winter.

The upcoming Supermoon had no effect on the Japan disaster but could make drop off interesting for Ben Saunders at the edge of the Arctic sea ice. Overall, the North Pole season has had a dramatic start (and end) with all other expedition teams from Canada aborting.

Berserk is much criticized but it’s still unclear why the yacht vanished at Antarctica.

And last we left off Egypt had kicked out their dictator but things have not gone as smooth for the Libyan freedom fighters. Khadaffi’s sat phone jam also affected climbers in Africa.

More tech news: next gen solar Feather have arrived, slashing previous size in half. HET will buy back your old panels when you upgrade. Here go the headlines:

Karakoram winter climbs Shattered camps, deep freeze, pitches taking too long. “The mountain was stronger,” Gerfried’s home team reported yesterday about their last push on G1. On Broad Peak Robert Szymczak and Ali Sadpara fought it out until 7,800 meters before turning back today. Simone Moro commented on the climbs and discussed his and Denis/Cory’s upcoming plans at ExplorersWeb.

(Almost) all ski teams abort expeditions from Canada to Geographic North Pole (90°N) The Irish, RAF and Italian teams, delayed too long in Resolute Bay for their ski/walk/swim/row expedition drop off from Canada to the Geographic North Pole – decided to abort their 2011 attempts due to financial implications and too snug pick-up date.

North Pole skiing – Supermoon and Three is a Charm? Ben Saunders is out on his third solo attempt to ski from Canada to the North Pole, reportedly feeling more confident and better prepared than ever. Hoping to make it under 46 days, Ben’s next drop off is scheduled for March 19, when the moon is at its closest to Earth in 18 years and also at its fullest. A full moon is infamous among Arctic skiers for breaking up the ice due to the rising tide.

ExWeb Interview with Michele Pontrandolfo, “So many times I said to myself, perhaps only the devil goes here.” Last year the ice from Ward Hunt was a slaughterhouse with rubble he said to ExWeb. This time the Italian polar adventurer planned to leave from Cape Discovery. ExWeb caught up with Michele Pontrandolfo in Resolute Bay as he prepared to start his second attempt to the Geographic North Pole.

ExWeb interview with Jules Weekes, “Our formal military training teaches us self resilience and the ability to think clearly” Before their planned unassisted ski expedition from Cape Discovery to 90 deg North, Jules (with Royal Air Force teammate Matt Stowers) spoke to ExWeb about the challenges and RAF/NP training. Following the busted drop off deadline, the RAF team decided to go for the Magnetic North Pole instead but that attempt was shot due to frostbite.

Norwegian sailing yacht vanished in Antarctica Traveling off season outside the Scott base area as support ship to an under-the-radar Antarctica expedition, Norwegian yacht Berserk went missing with three people aboard when hurricane winds swept the area. Only Berserk’s beat up and empty life raft was found. Racing towards the coast in two ATV’s, Berserk’s leader/skipper Jarle Andhøy and an 18 year old crew/team member were eventually airlifted from the ice. Andhøy had not applied for permits and received massive criticism from polar scientists in New Zealand, while the Sunday Star Times called his expedition foolhardy self proclaimed Vikings. Former round the world sailor Skip Novak said he had turned down Andhøy and that the Ross Sea is unsafe at any time of the year for small yachts. Not so fast, some explorers kicked back, opening new territory (such as the Scott/Amundsen South Pole) is what we do and it is unknown what sank the ship.

Thuraya heads-up: Gaddafi/Khadaffi jam bugging Kili climbers Gaddafi’s jamming of the Thuraya network was affecting users as far away as Mount Kilimanjaro. HumanEdgeTech ran a report on the tech used by the dictator and other details.

Christine Feret and Artur Testov: Denali retreat from hell They were stuck in a snow cave at 14000 ft for a week before deciding on retreat. “It was hell,” Christine wrapped the terrifying descent lasting several days in blowing snow, hurricane winds and thick whiteout over the crevasse riddled glacier.

Elbrus closed for security reasons A bomb destroyed a Goldola lift at an Elbrus ski resort, three skiers were shot dead and two more were injured in a machine-gun attack while traveling on a bus. “In the context of the current strained situation in Kabardino-Balkaria region, it was decided to close all the ski courses on the slopes of Mount Elbrus: Alpine skiing is stopped; and all tourist groups are prohibited to enter the route,” reported the Caucasian Knot.

Human power circumnavigation: Dimitri Kieffer and Karl Busby in Far Eastern Russia Four years ago the guys crossed the frozen Bering Strait together. Now Dimitri has started the latest section of his journey through S-E Russia, to sledge-haul 423miles/ 680km on tundra during his 90-days visa. Karl’s start point is in N-E Russia.

Ben Thackwray and Ian Couch The two Brits will be heading out to high altitude mountains, three ice fields, a dry desert and an ocean in the next 12 -18 months. Starting off with Everest in April, some of these expeditions will be speed attempts and will lead them to their planned Antarctica ski crossing.

Greenland – Ellesmere update George Sichelschmidt and Ondrej Kotas started their sledge-haul expedition from Qaanaaq, skiing north on sea ice in temps below minus 30 deg Celsius. Broken ice and too wide open water forced them up a glacier, relaying their food, and travel on land.

World’s lightest expedition solar panels Next gen Feather solar panels have arrived, slashing previous size in half. This means twice the watts on your back – or half to lug around – your choice. What to do with your outdated panels? HET will buy them back! Check out the Q&A.

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