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Best of ExplorersWeb 2011 Awards - Special mention

Posted: Dec 26, 2011 04:50 am EST

(ExplorersWeb) Skiing down or speed climbing an 8000er, rowing the Indian Ocean from mainland to mainland, putting India in mountaineering record books at last, shattering a polar record, surviving months (without a camera entourage) in the harshest of wilderness: ExplorersWeb 2011 Awards countdown begins tomorrow, but starts already today with the following special mentions.

Adrian Ballinger: Manaslu ski descent

Adrian Ballinger made a platform just below the summit cornice and started down 55 degress almost ice slope. Backed with a rope, he joined client Serguey Baranov on the false summit below, where all past skis of the mountain have begun.

The two skied all the technical sections (summit pyramid, C4-C3 and C2-C1). Only a slab-avalanche at 6,100 meters invalidated the "complete" tag. But it was the first descent from the very top of Manaslu.

Special mention also to Perth-born American Robert Kay who skied from false summit 2 hours later, with descent from Camp 4 to Camp 2 in the dark.

Erden Eruc: Indian Ocean row finish

Turkish born American resident Erden Eruc is a staple in ExWeb awards. Like few others Erden has demonstrated persistence, self reliance and courage on his human-powered world circumnavigation. But only like the greatest Erden has time and again lived up to the ideals of sportsmanship.

On the island of Madagascar, Erden became second only to Peter Bird to have spent the longest time out at sea in a rowing boat. Where other rowers have called it a done deal on this spot; Erden said not so fast. To really row the Indian Ocean, he returned to the island mid March and on April 21th successfully reached mainland Africa.

Kid climber Arjun Vajpai: youngest on Lhotse and Manaslu

Although India has a big chunk of the Himalayan range, "there are no Indians in the Mountaineering Record Books at an international level," noticed Arjun Vajpai and decided to disrupt state of events.

At age 16, he started by summiting Everest south side last year. So did Jordan Romero, 13, and Arjun's feat passed by without much notice.

This year, Arjun made clear he wasn't stepping down. Amid heli rescues and various drama on May 20 Arjun topped out Lhotse. Then he went straight for Manaslu. October 4, a stoked mail was sent out by his mom. "He called home at 11:40am," Priya Vajpai wrote. "He sounded vaaaaaaaary tired."

At only age 18, Arjun put India in mountaineering record books by becoming the youngest climber to summit Manaslu, the youngest to climb Lhotse, and the youngest climber to summit Everest south side. (Ed note: Jordan et al climbed Everest north).

Sarah and Eric McNair-Landry: kiting the NW passage

In 2004/05 at ages 18 and 20 respectively, Sarah and Eric became the youngest South Pole skiers. The siblings skied with their mother and 2 friends, unassisted, unsupported, and kited back.

The brother and sister adventurers have since skied Greenland, buggy-kited the Gobi Desert and kayaked Mongolia-Russia together. This summer time came for their biggest dream yet: to kite-ski and sledge-haul 3000 km of the historical Northwest Passage route first sailed in 1906 by Roald Amundsen.

On March 18 at their starting point in the far north of Canada’s Northwest Territories, the two pitched tent just outside of the Tuktoyaktuk settlement. So the expedition commenced, with the siblings flying behind their kites, swept downwind, watching terrain fly by across challenging hills.

Late May they (along with the occasional polar bear) were forced to detour rough ice and open water in the Gulf of Boothia. In a race against the spring melt, they kited south to Repulse Bay. In a last 24-hour run, they covered 400 km. After 85 days of travel across 3300 km on June 11 the young adventurers finally reached Pond Inlet.

Erik Boomer & Jon Turk, around Ellesmere Island

In the same spirit, Erik Boomer & Jon Turk ski-kayaked 2400 km (1485 miles) in 104 days on bad ice around Ellesmere Island. Knowing that this was his last big expedition, he needed to savor every last moment of the rigor and intensity, 65-year-old Jon Turk told ExplorersWeb.

During the last week they were targeted by polar bears; one bit through the tent while 5 looked on. Being attacked by a walrus was much scarier than that though Boomer, 26, notified ExplorersWeb.

Irena Mrak and Mojca Svajger, Nanga Parbat Diamir face

After everyone had fled, Irena Mrak and Mojca Svajger went up Nanga's icy Diamir face in alpine style, via a bold combination of routes, and few aware they were there.

Loose rock and a thin layer of powdered snow omitted passage over the rock barrier that would enable them to continue to the main summit at 8125 meters.

The climb went without the use of supplementary oxygen, with no help of high altitude porters and with the goal to leave little trace except for a remarkable week spent to ascend the face to 7590 meters and a 150 meter fall on descent.

Christian Eide, South Pole Speed Record

The goal was simple: strip the American of his speed record, the sooner the better, for not setting it "in an elegant polar way." The preparations were as fascinating as the run and the strategy unexpected. It was centered around rest, said coach Lars Ebbesen.

How it went? Pretty darn well.

It looked easy but it was anything but. In his last 24 hours, Christian Eide nearly fell asleep on his skis as he almost skied 90 km.

His solo, unassisted, unsupported time of 24 days, 1 hour, 13 minutes over the 1130 km set on January 13, 2011 was 15 days, 6 hours and 36 minutes faster than the solo record by Todd Carmichael set December 21, 2008 and 9 days 22 hours and 42 minutes faster than record set by the Canadian team in 2009.

Eide shattered the previous records not by hours, or even a day or two. The difference was over a fortnight.

Ueli Steck - Shishapangma speed climb

Don Bowie didn't even get to unpack his toothbrush when during a recon climb Ueli Steck speed climbed Shishapangma in 20 hours tent to tent.

We have covered hundreds of expeditions in 2011. It's difficult to choose the best, as they all contributed in their own way, sharing their story - their very soul in fact - with us and the world.

And yet, there are those who continue to linger in our minds long after their final debrief. We have chosen 6 expeditions who have contributed in an extraordinary way to the Spirit of Adventure in 2011.

By their performance, these expeditions have proved themselves outstanding in all or most of the following:

- Courage
- Determination
- Persistence
- Self reliance
- Ingenuity
- Pioneering
- Idealism
- Comradeship
- Compassion
- Respect towards competition
- Honesty

#Stats #topstory #choice

Adrian and Sergey ready to ski down Makalu in 2011.
courtesy Adrian Ballinger/Alpenglow Expeditions, SOURCE
In addition to records, Erden Eruc lives up to the ideals of sportsmanship.
courtesy Erden Eruc, SOURCE
At only age 18, Arjun put India in mountaineering record books.
Image by Unknown courtesy Priya Vajpai
Unroped. "I simply prefer more deserted areas and faces."
courtesy Irena Mrak, SOURCE
On their own. The McNair-Landry sibblings kited the NW passage.
courtesy Sarah & Eric McNair - Pittarak expeditions, SOURCE
Erik Boomer & Jon Turk traveled 1485 miles in 104 days on bad ice around Ellesmere Island.
courtesy © Jon Turk and Eric Boomer
Don Bowie didn't even get to unpack his toothbrush. Ueli Steck speed climbed Shishapangma in 20 hours tent to tent.
Image by donbowie.com courtesy donbowie.com, SOURCE
Eide shattered the previous South Pole records not by hours, or even a day or two.
Image by Christian Eide courtesy Latitude Expeditions (live over Contact 5), SOURCE