April 27, 2014: Tragedy on Everest, Rowing Across the Pacific, Wrestling Mongolians and More

Mount Everest’s climbers often say that the two deadliest days on the mountain are the first day and summit day. The recent tragedy on Everest reminds us that climbing the mountain is not without great risk. (Photo by Barry Bishop/National Geographic)

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 on radio, or listen below!

Hour 1
– Mount Everest’s climbers often say that the two deadliest days on the mountain are the first day and summit day. The first day is so treacherous because climbers are forced to walk through the treacherous and deadly Khumbu Icefall, where an avalanche killed 16 working Sherpas last week. Peter Athans, who has successfully climbed Everest seven times, explains that Sherpas often find themselves working in the mountain’s deadly conditions because that’s what their families have done for generations. But Athans says that when a Sherpa dies on the mountain, his family can be left in dire financial circumstances. Listen here.
– Between cycling through Russia and rowing solo across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands , Sarah Outen says both were exhausting and fraught with their own difficulties. But the British adventurer points out that being surrounded by cars on Russia’s highways is actually more dangerous than being alone in the Pacific Ocean. Her next challenge is to kayak from the westernmost tip of the Aleutian Islands into the Alaskan mainland before her cross-continent bike ride brings her to the Atlantic Ocean. Listen here.
– The march of time and cotton poly blend fabrics find people dressing more comfortably and influenced by modern popular Western culture in France’s Brittany region. But for at least two nonagenarians, their style of dress remains faithful to an earlier age that included ornate lace headdresses, or coiffes. Amanda Fiegl, who wrote the article “Legacy in Lace” in the April 2014 issue of National Geographic magazine, says that for younger generations, this sense of style is a nod to the region’s bygone culture that are revived in traditional clothing and dance competitions. Listen here.
– Food is a visceral part of experiencing another culture, and few people know that better than Chris Bashinelli. He’s eaten a buffalo liver on the South Dakota plains and a pig’s eye to win a bet on Long Island, but to Bashinelli travel is more than just eating weird foods. The National Geographic Young Explorer hosts Bridge The Gap, a series focused on presenting different cultures to viewers to foster empathy and understanding among different groups. He tells Boyd that it’s impossible to escape Mongolia without first wrestling a local, but that it can be done while only sustaining mild injuries. Listen here.
– On our This Weekend in History segment, National Geographic research librarian Maggie Turqman shares dispatches from the past that happened on April 26 and 27: the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the birth of the earthquake-measuring Richter scale’s creator, New York’s first license plates, and Boyd Matson’s birthday. Listen here.
Hour 2
– When the Khmer Rouge was finally dissolved in Cambodia in the late 1990’s, the country had been littered with land mines over four decades of near-constant bloody conflict. Now, Belgian cartographer Stéphane De Greef is tapping into local people’s collective memory-banks to try to piece together which fields are full of mines and which are safe for the locals to venture back into without incurring injuries. The hangover from the 20th Century conflicts still has painful ramifications: in the early 2000’s, as many as 1,000 people were dying each year from leftover mines. Listen here.
– The opportunity to travel can be a mixed blessing for pet owners. The stress of leaving their furry family members behind in a kennel can leave vacationers torn. But Kelly E. Carter says that people no longer need to choose; we can now vacation with our pets. The author of National Geographic’s The Dog Lover’s Guide To Travel says that hotels and even restaurants the world around cater to travelers and their four-legged companions. She and her dog Lucy joined Boyd in the studio to share pet travel tips. Listen here.

– The drug trade causes so much harm to people all over the world, but particularly in the areas that are shipment routes between drug producers and their consumers. As drugs move northward from South America toward the United States, the collateral damage is also extended to Central America’s forests and the plants and animals that live there. Kendra McSweeney says that drug traffickers now use remote forest Honduras and Guatemala as a way to launder their money: they bribe local officials to buy and clear large swaths of pristine jungle. The traffickers then sell the cleared land to plantation owners who might be looking for extra land to grow their crops, lending their wealth a veil of legitimacy. Listen here.

 – In the farthest reaching corners of space, time and distance blend into the one that, up until this time, was invisible to our best technology. But now, ALMA, a collection of satellites and antennas in Chile’s Atacama Desert are able to peer into the past, witnessing the birth of galaxies and planets that happened billions of years ago. Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, who wrote “Cosmic Dawn” in the April 2014 tells Boyd what scientists have been able to learn about the history of the universe from what we’ve seen so far. Listen here.
– In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd reflects on the tragic Everest avalanche, and how the world’s tallest mountains have a way of reminding climbers that no matter how many times they might summit a particular peak, the whims of the mountain will always get the final say. He also pointed out that Sherpas often climb for financial reasons, other than the desire for adventure that brings their clients to the mountain. Listen here.

Human Journey

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.