An interesting piece on the BBC today about what adventures are actually left.
Here are a few snippets.
Genuine firsts in exploration are getting hard to find. The world’s greatest peaks have all been climbed.
The earth has been circumnavigated many times by plane, foot, bicycle and balloon, among other means of conveyance. Many of the major rivers, lakes and seas have been swum or canoed.
There are few genuine unknowns. Satellite navigation technology allows mankind to see almost every river, copse and hill.
Machines can do the lifting and keep adventurers connected.
Exploration today is a dying art. The new feats are often about endurance as much as discovery. Firsts are ever more specialist and technically defined – first successful scuba dive at the north pole (Michael Wolff), first person to jetpack across the English Channel (Yves Rossy), oldest woman to climb Everest (Tamae Watanabe).
So is there anything left to do? Something combining that potent mix of danger, novelty and a clearly defined natural barrier to overcome.
Here is a good example of how the ‘firsts’ become ever more convoluted as time passes.
- First to reach south pole: Norway’s Roald Amundsen in 1911 (pictured)
- First solo expedition: Norway’s Erling Kagge, 1993
- Fastest kite-assisted journey: Norway’s Borge Ousland, 1996
- First balloon flight: Austria’s Ivan Andre Trifonov, 2000
- Oldest person: UK’s Simon Murray, aged 63 years and 309 days, 2004
- First woman to ski alone across Antarctica: UK’s Felicity Aston, 2012
- First to ride a bike: UK TV presenter Helen Skelton, 2012
Not for the first time, I agree with Benedict Allen’s opinion:
“exposure and vulnerability is incredibly valuable.”
And for that it does not matter particularly if you are the first or the fifty-first person to do it. Nor does it matter if you are pushing your limits in Bhutan or in Berkshire.
So I do not believe that adventure is dead, and I certainly am not disheartened that I was not born 200 years ago. I can still seek adventure, plus I can share the stories in more colour, more detail and to a wider audience than at any previous time in history.
What do you think? Have your say in the comments below.