To help teams explore once off-limits portions of the planet, W.L. Gore and Associates is once again awarding $30,000 worth of grants to help finance far reaching expeditions. The annual Shipton-Tilman Grant program was established by Gore as a tribute to the spirit of adventure embodied by Eric Shipton (b. 1907) and Bill Tilman (b. 1897). The annual program provides funds to be divided among three to six expeditions that are most in harmony with Shipton and Tilman's philosophies. They believed in traveling in small, compact teams, unburdened by porters and excessive bulk. Gore said this spirit is alive in the 2005 award winners as they reach into newly opened sections of China, India and other regions. This year, five projects were chosen to receive financial contributions.
British Kajaqiao 2005, awarded $5,000: Mick Fowler, an adventure climber from Britain with a reputation for technical and adventurous climbs in remote situations, leads a team on the first ascent of Kajaqiao (21,151 feet) in the Nyainquentaglia East Range of Tibet. Because the range has been closed to western exploration and are almost completely unexplored, there are no reliable maps of the area. With team members Adam Thomas, Phil Amos and Chris Watts, Fowler is planning to explore the surrounding area to the north and west of Kajaqiao that has never been visited by westerners. Â
Exploration of the Xiashe Massif, awarded $6,500: Climbers Karen McNeill and Patricia Deavoll are taking advantage of recently lifted restrictions in China to enter one of its most inaccessible provinces. The team aims to travel nearly 500 miles from the capital of Chengdu, to the remote Cuopu Valley and make the first ascent to the striking Xiashe Mountain (19,137 feet). They will also explore the nearby valleys and climb additional unclimbed peaks as long as the climate, both political and natural, allows. The unexplored region presents long approaches and unclimbed mountains in a country that has only recently opened its borders to foreign climbers.
Glacier to Gobi, awarded $6,000: Once part of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan is now open to western explorers and team members Middy Tilghman, Andrew McEwan and Simon Beardmore plan to enter the country and explore the entire length of the Inylchek Glacier and Sarydzhaz/Ku-mu-a-li-k'o Rivers and in doing so demonstrate a method for extending the reach of self-contained whitewater expeditions into isolated and remote areas. Using kayaks as gear sleds, they will be at the glacial head of the Inylchek River with enough provisions to descend the entire 80 miles to the Gobi desert. These gorges have never been run before and allow the team to demonstrate new methods for extending the range of self-contained whitewater expeditions in remote areas.
Takpa Shiri, awarded $7,500: The team of Dave Anderson, Mary Loomis, and Andrew Tyson are using their planned ascent of Takpa Shiri to help raise awareness of India's program to promote ecotourism. This unclimbed (21,833 feet) peak sits in the Arunachal Pradesh area of India near the border with China. It is just one of dozens of unclimbed 20,000-foot peaks in the region because the area has only been opened recently to foreign climbers and the extremely wet climate makes reaching the base of the mountains difficult.
Year of the Cock, awarded $5,000: Climber Mike Libecki is attempting the first solo ascent of the Virgin Walls, Towers and Spires of Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. Living on the icecap completely alone, Libecki will have access to the most remote, largest and unexplored walls on the planet -- more than 2,000 miles from the nearest city. He will be striving for man-powered self-support travel to and from the destination. A panel of independent judges meets annually in March to review all applications and looks for projects that exemplify the Shipton-Tilman philosophy.