May 26, 2013: Staying Safe Going Up Mountains, Injuries Flying Down Cliffs and More

Angela Proudfoot's x-ray after sustaining a base jumping injury. Doctors put 19 screws and two plates to repair her foot that had been broken in 30 places. (photo courtesy of Angela Proudfoot)
Angela Proudfoot’s x-ray after sustaining a base jumping injury. Doctors put 19 screws and two plates to repair her foot that had been broken in 30 places. (photo courtesy of Angela Proudfoot)

Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend.

Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend, or pick your favorite segments and listen now below!

Episode: 1321 – Air Date: May 26


Climbing the world’s tallest mountain is certainly a dangerous feat. Even this year, eight climbers have already died in pursuit of the opportunity to stand on Everest’s summit. So who better than Everest legend Conrad Anker to discuss the mountain’s constant appeal. In the new book from National Geographic, The Call of Everest, Anker writes a chapter in the volume that tells the mountain’s history, geology, as well as what it does to the human body. He tells Boyd that Nepal, one of the governments that controls access to the mountain, needs to raise standards of those who wish to climb for the safety of everybody on the mountain. Listen here.

Barring the sudden appearance of E.T. in a sleepy suburb, the confirmation of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe will be left to the astronomers whose satellites constantly monitor the heavens. The Kepler observatory studies the skies in search of planets who could theoretically support life as we understand it. Analysis Lead for NASA’s Kepler mission Jon Jenkins tells Boyd that this process is merely the first step of finding intelligent life in the universe, but thinks that we could possibly find intelligent life in a generation or two. Listen here.

A remote island off of Siberia’s northern coast seems like an unlikely spot for vacation, but those searching for the most pristine wilderness and close encounters with polar bears could flock to the island. Hampton Sides profiles Wrangel Island in “Russian Refuge,” in the May, 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine, which he describes as “Siberia’s Siberia,” for its remoteness and difficulty to reach. But it may be one of the best places to see arctic fox, polar bear, and lemmings. Listen here.

Gregg Treinish thrives where science and adventure meet. In fact, the 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer who founded Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, recently completed a 23-day ski expedition to Mongolia, in search of wolverines. He tells Boyd that they found a lot of signs of the animal in Mongolia’s outer reaches, where their supplies were transported by reindeer. Listen here.

David Braun, editor of National Geographic’s Daily News, says that re-training dogs that formerly searched for marijuana may be difficult, and could possibly lead to “illegal” searches where the dogs detected pot, rather than another controlled substance. Listen here.


Adrenaline highs can be reached by many stimuli. And Angela Proudfoot may be an expert in the various pursuits that yield the hormone. She tells Boyd about the appeals of base jumping and wingsuit flying and how it feels to have to decide which part of your body you’re going to break as you approach a boulder on a collision course. Listen here.

Lion-human conflict in Africa primarily comes when humans attack lions. National Geographic Big Cats Initiative grantee Laly Lichtenfeld helps save lions from their own wild instincts by preventing them from attacking the livestock of their human neighbors. Lichtenfeld also tells Boyd that she once was charged by a lion. She roared back at the cat that day, and she gives Boyd a roaring lesson today. Listen here.

We check back in with Angela Proudfoot who shares with Boyd the full extent of her injuries and how she pursues her adrenaline fix after being told by a doctor that she would never base jump again. (Hint: it rhymes with “sky diving”.) Listen here.

The hardest part of a democracy might be commissioning large public works projects, where everybody may not agree that expensive, and dangerous, endeavor is necessary. Lucky for China, democracy wasn’t an issue 1,400 years ago, when they constructed their Grand Canal, which is still in use today. Ian Johnson writes about the canal in the May, 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine. Listen here.

In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd dries out after a recent trip to Macedonia where he learned about rakija, and he asks himself the question: “Is there such thing as being too welcoming?” Listen here.


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Meet the Author
Justin O'Neill produces the weekly radio program National Geographic Weekend with host Boyd Matson. Check it out on on SiriusXM satellite radio (XM channel 133 Sundays at noon), subscribe to the iTunes podcast, or stream it directly to your smartphone with Stitcher Radio.