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Is a summit worth more than human rights?

December 9, 2008

ExplorersWeb Week in Review - NY,USA
Dec 07, 2008
Among hundreds, he was one of a mere handful - but this past spring, American free-lance writer, film-maker and former professional firefighter Michael Scott Mortensen flew his support for a Free Tibet from the very top of the world - braving not only the usual conditions, but also dictators' orders.
Is a summit worth more than human rights? Are money worth more than people? Scott gave ExWeb some answers - and one of the best interviews this year.
With Himalaya gearing up to winter climbing; last week was also all about the brutal conditions awaiting the mountaineers.
ExWeb interview with Scott Mortensen: taking a stand on Everest's summit This past spring, American free-lance writer, film-maker and former professional firefighter Michael Scott Mortensen did something very unusual on Everest summit. As the mountain shut down and soldiers took over BC, Scott did his best to understand the situation by talking to Sherpas, LO officers, fellow climbers, guides, and Tibetan refugees. Then he made his mind up. “We’ve got to do something – and so we did,” Scott and French team mate Dominique Gilbert decided. Against dictators' orders and with snipers below; the two mountaineers flew their support for a Free Tibet from the very roof of the world.
Read all about how Scott and Dominique came to their decision, and what the general feeling on the mountain was as Lhasa was locked down to the world and mass executions were reported. Read about rumors on the mountain when an American was expelled and Scott's general take on the silence and curbed freedom of speech.
Reader's comment to ExWeb interview: we changed our ways because we are a democracy In his interview; Scott attempted to see both sides, even pointing out past errors of his native US. A reader however didn't buy the comparison. "The citizens and the government of the United States changed the treatment of minorities without outside protest or pressure," wrote David. "We did it ourselves because we are a democracy."
No change in sight in China China invaded Tibet 50 years ago and a quarter of the population was slaughtered. Latest is that China plans to build six more railways lines to Tibet. Tibetans have not agreed to this and fear, according to Phayul, that it will further accelerate the Han migration into their Himalayan territory, dilute their population, “Sinicize” the Himalayan region and exploit its rich untamed natural resources. In 1995 China admitted to dumping nuclear waste in Tibet.
Himalaya: let the winter games begin! Jagged Globe summited Ama Dablam on Monday and with that the fall Himalayan season has come to an end. FTA reached the central summit of Lobuche (6,000+ m). Lhakpa Sherpa scouted the route beyond to the true summit, finding unstable conditions. "In fact, Lhakpa Sherpa has climbed Lobuche 16 times and never reached [true summit] before," reported FTA.
Winter Manaslu: Czechs ready to go “Sherpas are on the way to Sama village and to BC - we hope,” the Czech team reported. “We can now pack our equipment and go to the airport. Everything is arranged. If we have forgotten anything – perhaps it’s because we didn’t really need it.”
Popular rerun: ExWeb winter Himalaya series - The BAD chart During deep winter, Himalaya and Karakoram 8000ers represent hell on earth. The coldest temperature of the year lands on December 21 at an average of -37C (-35F) on Everest summit. From that day until Feb 28 the summit temperature never rises above -33C (-27F). Late autumn until end January there is almost constant hurricane force winds (more than 3 out of 4 days) at the summit of Everest, peaking at times well above the 156 miles/hour threshold for a Category 5 Hurricane.
The Wind Chill Temperature Index gives a winter average frostbite time of 30 minutes in BC and less than 5 minutes close to the summit. This makes Everest summit (and other Himalayan peaks) during winter not only the tallest, but also possibly the coldest places on earth to humans. Find all the details, charts and background in last week's Adventureweather Himalaya winter series rerun.
Antarctica wrap-up Two Messner Start skiers from two different teams were evacuated last week. True to the polar rules; the Norwegian "Happy feet" team started over to keep their unsupported status. Also Armin and Dieter made a final decision not to carry on in the windless conditions. Tom Milne, the Remote Medical representative at Critical Skill, is in Antarctica climbing Vinson with clients. American Todd Carmichael, chasing UK Hannah McKeand's fastest time from Hercules Inlet, is less then a day behind Hannah's schedule.
Anne Quemere kite-riding the Doldrums This fall, an Everest kite-skiing attempt was aborted while Antarctica teams have been using kites for years. We kite-ride mountain slopes, deserts and polar caps - so why not the oceans. Following two previous rows and latest in 2006 a wind assisted crossing of the North Atlantic; French ocean rower Anne Quemere is over a month out on her new challenge: kite-crossing the Pacific in a tiny "kite-vessel" of sorts.
Tommy's icebreaker: it's over Tommy has run out of money and time to continue his voyage to Antarctica. The icebreaker is on dry land and will be stored in Rawson - until next time. "Although I'm pretty bummed right now, I have no other choice than to look ahead until I can come back with renewed resources and strength to continue my voyage," writes Tommy, who hopes to return in 3 years.
Erden Eruc update: back in the saddle! Erden's non-stop 310 day Pacific record row ended in June between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Now, Erden is back to resume the "last bit" of the journey - a distance longer than an Atlantic crossing. Erden will be towed back out to the exact spot where he last left off. The winds, currents and topo of the area is such that Erden's is still unsure how to get out once he is back at sea.
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