Down The Gambia Part One

April 14, 2013

By Will Grant Originally posted on November 10, 2012. In a remote corner of West Africa, the River Gambia remains one of the last major undammed rivers on the continent. Flowing from a small rivulet in the Guinean highlands, known as the Fouta Djallon, the river runs northwest and west for 733 miles to its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean—a six-mile-wide estuary of mangroves, sand bars, and braided streams. In what may be the first source-to-sea descent of the river,...

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The Joburg to Juba Juggernaut

December 31, 2012

By Will Grant Photographs courtesy Tim Freccia Delivering anything to South Sudan is not easy. Especially not five truckloads of military equipment that has to cover the breadth of equatorial Africa to get there. Even if the end user is the United Nations. But that’s exactly what a Nairobi-based expatriate from New Hampshire and his crew of five drivers are doing: running a convoy containing 14 pieces of over-sized heavy equipment 5,500 kilometers from Johannesburg, South Africa to Juba, South...

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Inside Burma’s Dirty War, Part II

December 29, 2012

by Robert Young Pelton I ask Doug, the Father of the White Monkey, why he calls his operation “Free Burma Rangers.” Like many of Doug’s decisions, it is intuitive and simple. “I made up the name when I climbed Mt. McKinley, and I had to write down a name. Kind of like the Texas Rangers or the Army Rangers.”  He started in 1997 with one local media team and now trains five-man teams from volunteers. They are trained in security,...

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Running Death Valley

December 23, 2012

By Will Grant Death Valley is the largest National Park in the United States.  It’s also the hottest (average temperature: 77 degrees Fahrenheit), the driest (average precipitation: about two inches), and the lowest (282 feet below sea level). It’s an austere desert landscape not suitable for most plants or animals, humans included. To some, the harshness of the environment presents a challenge. For a lot of those people, the only way to tackle the valley is on two feet, one...

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Inside Burma’s Dirty War, Part I

December 22, 2012

By Robert Young Pelton Kawthoolie – The distant sound of steady mortar fire didn’t seem to bother Lt Col Nerdah. Nerdah is the 41-year-old commander of the 6th Brigade and the son of the late Karen supreme commander Bo Mya. The commander had changed out of his dress uniform and was now relaxing by candlelight wearing a black t-shirt and beret. Nerdah had just concluded a busy day of peace celebrations between the DKBA (the Myanmar government-backed Buddhist faction of the...

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Famed French Mountaineer Dies at 93

December 17, 2012

Maurice Herzog, a Frenchman who was the first Westerner to summit an 8,000-meter peak, died Friday at the age of 93. In 1950, he climbed Annapurna I (26,545 ft) and shortly thereafter became a household name as an alpinist and adventurer. Herzog was a pioneer. A man undeterred by extreme physical hardship.On the Annapurna climb, he lost everyone of his fingers and toes to frostbite. His book “Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000-Meter Peak” is considered by many to...

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Survival School in Snowy California

December 15, 2012

By Will Grant I met up with the West Coast Survival School in November last year outside Wrightwood, California. The nearby ski area was open, and a light snow had fallen the day and night before I arrived. The three-day school was being held on the east slope of the San Gabriel Mountains, in a dry valley of oaks, firs and pines. The two instructors, Reuben Bolieu and Reza Allah-Bakhshi, had just opened their West Coast school as a branch...

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The Photography of a Soldier at War

December 15, 2012

For the duration of his 15-month US Army tour in Afghanistan, Jeremiah Ridgeway carried a digital camera and scrap of torn paper with guidelines for submitting photos to National Geographic magazine. When he returned to American soil in 2007 with more than 8,000 images, the magazine liked what it saw. In March 2008, National Geographic published his photo of an Afghan National Army solider crouched in front of a wall in the snow. For having no formal training as a...

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Quadrotor Tactics

December 15, 2012

By Will Grant A swarm of nano quadrotors has a menacing presence. The video embedded below is from the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception Laboratory.   The flying robots are the work of professor Vijay Kumar and two graduate students. Kumar gave a lecture at this year’s Technology, Entertainment, and Design Conference in Long Beach, California, about how the robots work. “This gets a little challenging,” he says in the lecture, “because the dynamics of the...

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Neil Laughton Interview with the UK’s Telegraph

December 14, 2012

Neil Laughton has lived the sort of dramatic, adventurous life that many of us wish we could live. He survived the 1996 disaster on Mount Everest, which Jon Krakauer wrote about in Into Thin Air; he rode a jet ski around the British Isles; he drove/flew a flying car from London to Timbuktu; he’s completed the Explorers Grand Slam; and he’s hung out with Bear Grylls. Laughton, a former Royal Marine Commando and SAS officer,  is also an entrepreneur. He...

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Python Challenge Opens in January

December 12, 2012

If you’ve ever wanted to kill a python, your chance has come. Florida has declared a one-month blitz on Burmese pythons in the Everglades area from January 12 to February 10, and wildlife officials want you to kill as many of the snakes as you can. It’s called the Python Challenge, and it’s akin to crowd-sourcing wildlife management. Whoever kills the most pythons wins $1,500. Whoever kills the longest wins $1,000. Officials are calling it an ‘incentive-based model’ for addressing...

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Come Back Alive: Crime

December 10, 2012

An excerpt from Come Back Alive By Robert Young Pelton The first major lesson in surviving crime is to expect it. Not just in bad neighborhoods or late at night but anytime, anywhere. In the pinball-like confluence of criminals and victims the chances are good that you won’t run into criminals today, but with enough time and travel you will. In general, you can safely assume that there is crime in bad neighborhoods when the bars close on Friday nights,...

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