Archive for March 4th, 2009

Where are those Panamerican Peaks?

A few weeks ago I played with Microsoft Live Earth. This is a great app. If you like Google Earth, you’ll love this one, too. This free app allows you to locate pretty much any area and fly to it via a 3D animation. You can even record such flights. I created a video “hopping” from peak to peak, starting with Denali and Logan in the North, and then proceeding down to Central America, followed by the South American peaks in reverse order (from the bottom-up), as that’s going to be my ride-&-climb schedule.

YouTube video of simulated Live Earth flight from peak to peak

YouTube video of simulated Live Earth flight from peak to peak

The video is about 7 mins long and gives you an idea of where the peaks are and how far apart they are. My only complaint here is that on many peaks the video “dives” right into the ground and stay there for a few seconds before proceeding the flight to the next one. I imagine this has to do with Live Earth’s lack of proper altitude information and I don’t know of a way to compensate. So if you can tolerate this annoyance, here is the video:

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Preparation is a full-time job

I knew this would be a logistical challenge: Getting all the gear for the bike and the climbs, researching routes, flights, bus and ferry schedules, expeditions, visa, health preparations, insurances, technical gadgets, testing everything ahead of time etc. This is by far the biggest adventure project I have ever done!

To get a feel for trip logistics, here is how I set up the first two expeditions up North:
– May-7: Flight from Florida to Whitehorse via Air Canada
– May-9 to Jun-1: Mt. Logan expedition with Canada West Mountain School
– Jun-3: Bus Transfer to Anchorage with Alaska Direct Buslines (Whitehorse – Tok – Anchorage)
– Jun 7-27: Denali expedition with American Alpine Institute
– Jun-28: Bus Transfer to Fairbanks with Alaska Direct Buslines (Anchorage – Tok – Fairbanks)
– Jun-30: Bus transfer to Prudhoe Bay with Dalton Highway Express
– Jul-1: Start bike ride …

I thought I had some equipment and it was only a matter of updating a few items here and there… Not exactly! At least there is no shortage of good information online. For example, the expedition outfitters provide detailed equipment lists, such as the Mt. Logan gear list from Canada West Mountain School and the Denali gear list from American Alpine Institute. I realized that most of my own equipment is either too old – most of my mountaineering was done when I still lived in Germany some 20 years ago – or it was no match for the conditions on Logan and Denali, considered among the coldest on Earth.

As for the bike and regular camping, I have the basics. However, one of the big changes here is my desire to ride on a recumbent, which I have never owned. (I’ll blog about that separately.) A good equipment list for the bike part of my trip has been compiled by Dani Grab and can be found here. Dani has done this bike trip in 2005/2006, so he knows what he’s talking about!

So for the last couple of weeks I have been gear shopping and ordering from many online stores such as REI or It is a lot of fun when you get all this brandnew equipment and try it on – anticipation is half the fun! How I’m going to fit all this into the 2 bags allowed on the Air Canada flight to Whitehorse on May-7 – now that’s a different question…

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