Some believe it was John Krakauer’s accounts of trash heaps littering Mount Everest in his 1997 bestseller Into Thin Air that opened the eyes of the mountaineering community to its negative effects. However, this focus on minimizing the impact a team has on the planet was at the heart of Eric Shipton and Bill Tilman’s philosophy eighty years earlier.
These two men, arguably the greatest adventurers of this past century, believed in traveling in small, compact teams, unburdened by porters and excessive bulk to minimize their impact of local populations and ecosystems. The six teams receiving grants through the 2011 GORE-TEX® brand Shipton-Tilman Grant Program, funded by W. L. Gore & Associates share this same “less is more” spirit. They embody a more sustainable approach to meeting one’s goal.
“The winning teams all share the belief that the best way to explore and observe is to be part of the environment, not a negative force upon it. Shipton and Tilman would be proud of the initiative shown by these teams,” said Yvonne Erickson, Gore Fabrics Marketing Leader. “Gore’s respect for the environment is a natural outgrowth of our legacy of responsible innovation and focus on outdoor, active pursuits.”
The following six teams are receiving grants in 2011:
W. L. Gore & Associates, inventors of GORE-TEX® fabric for comfort and protection, is once again proud to support global exploration by awarding grants totaling $25,000. The annual program was established by Gore in 1990 as a tribute to the spirit of adventure embodied by legendary explorers Eric Shipton (b. 1907) and Bill Tilman (b. 1897). The program provides funds to be divided among expeditions that are most in harmony with Shipton and Tilman’s philosophies.
Applications are accepted from small, unencumbered teams of friends with daring and imaginative goals. The expedition team must plan to accomplish their feat in a self-propelled, environmentally sound and cost-effective way.
Northeast Ridge Mount Moffit, awarded $1,000 Lifelong Alaskan Samuel Johnson and his partner Clint Helander will attempt the first ascent of the 2600m Northeast Ridge of Mount Moffit in the Hayes Range of Alaska. The ridge has been attempted many times but details of those attempts are held tight by the Fairbanks climbing community. The route up the Northeast Ridge remains one of the last challenges in the Hayes Range of Alaska.
Muchu Chhish Expedition awarded $3,000 Muchu Chhish is one of the highest unclimbed peaks in the world. Team leader Peter Thompson has made several first ascents from this same valley in Pakistan and looks to add the 7453m Muchu Chhish to that list. Joining Thompson will be Sean James, Adam Marcinowizc and Phillip De-Beger. The only previous attempt was made in 1999 by a Spanish expedition that abandoned the climb well before the summit.
First Ascent of the Southwest Pillar of K7 West, awarded $5,000 K7 is one of the most complex peaks anywhere in the world, with three distinct summits and incredible vertical reliefs encircling its base. The 6200mm Southwest Pillar remains unclimbed and will be the objective for the team of Matt McCormick, Pat Goodman and Will Meinen. In the summer of 2010, McCormick attempted to reach the peak but was thwarted multiple times during one of the worst monsoon seasons in the history of Pakistan.
Ski Mountaineering in the Hindu Kush, awarded $5,000 Driven by a desire for true adventure, Dylan Taylor and Danny Uhlmann will travel to a part of Afghanistan where Americans are as rare as electricity. They will explore the remote 5000m and 6000m peaks of the Hindu Kush. They plan to make multiple first ascents and descents, performing the first ski mountaineering in the region. Taylor and Uhlmann will also interact with the local Wakhi and Tajik people, seeking to become both patrons and documenters of these amazing people.
Kyrgz Djangart First Ascents, awarded $5,000
The Tien Shan region of Kyrgyzstan is slowly becoming an essential destination for the climbing community. Once closed to foreign teams, the region is more open and features multiple virgin peaks. Alex Brighton and Richard Tremellem, both from England, will attempt to summit a number of those peaks including the unclimbed Point 5312m. There are ten additional 5000m+ peaks in the area. Some of those may be attempted if conditions allow.
The Australian Women’s Greenland Expedition awarded $6,000 The two-woman team of Gemma Woldendorp and Natasha Sebire will travel to the rarely visited North Liverpool Land region of Greenland. On this eastern peninsula in the Greenland Sea, the team will traverse by dog sled and skis in search of virgin climbing opportunities. Once routes have been identified, the women will climb and paraglide, soaring among the peaks that have seen their footprints and no others.