/ NEWS: Explorersweb Scooping Up The Dirt on K2
The weird world of Explorersweb reporting.
Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/older.html?month=08&year=2008#n45256
The book mentioned in this report is:
High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed
by Michael Kodas
Whilst amusing at times (and often correct), I feel the line between fact and downright defamation is often a blurred one on ExWeb.
I get the impression that some leading climbers only submit reports to ensure they remain on the right side of them. Those that don't invariably appear the ones most likely to be singled out for 'the ExWeb treatment'.
What really irritates me about ExWeb though is the clear hypocrisy of those that run it. They believe themselves to be the 'prophets of purism' and decy all forms of commercial activity and 'unadventurous behaviour'. This is despite ExWeb relying on such climbers for business and ExWeb being ran by the very climbers they like to decy...
They like to question all statistics and climbers claims (usually with a serious hint of bias one must add). Someone should ask them to list theirs. Top climbers?, the 'prophets of purism'?, I suspect not... Everest 'yak-trail'/ fixed rope monkeys, I suspect more likely...
In reply to Garbh Coire:
Occasionally, yes. But I think overall as a percentage such articles are rare, at least in past years. The site has changed a little in the last 9-12 months or so.
> I get the impression that some leading climbers only submit reports to ensure they remain on the right side of them. Those that don't invariably appear the ones most likely to be singled out for 'the ExWeb treatment'.
> What really irritates me about ExWeb though is the clear hypocrisy of those that run it. They believe themselves to be the 'prophets of purism' and decy all forms of commercial activity and 'unadventurous behaviour'. This is despite ExWeb relying on such climbers for business and ExWeb being ran by the very climbers they like to decy...
I don't know about 'prophets', maybe 'messengers', or 'conduits' with the actual message originating from others (Babanov, Gjeldnes etc). Yes, there has certainly been some hypocrisy over the years as you say. But notice they no longer cover the non-Everest Seven Summits unless it's for a particular reason (bad storm on Vinson etc). They're no fan of the 7S. I agree there is a certain amount of hypocrisy in promoting one level but regularly covering another ("lower") level of activity, but this is reality and they want regular content. So they try to cover the mass of stuff in a general way, highlight the best stuff as examples, and attack someone if they feel that person is being deceptive (Strang, NPole swimmer) or inhumane (climbers ignoring Nangpa La murder).
> They like to question all statistics and climbers claims (usually with a serious hint of bias one must add). Someone should ask them to list theirs. Top climbers?, the 'prophets of purism'?, I suspect not... Everest 'yak-trail'/ fixed rope monkeys, I suspect more likely...
Actually I don't think they question enough. They make far too many mistakes on a regular basis, which is threatening any semblance of accuracy.
What bias exactly? I can list a minor one or two. But what are your examples?
They've NEVER claimed to be top climbers. In fact when I knew them they didn't even claim to really be climbers at all. They called themselves 'travellers'.
The site is run by Tom and Tina Sjogren, Swedes who now live in NYC. They first attempted Everest in 1996 on Henry Todd's permit, had a bad experience with faulty O2 and did not summit, but they experienced first-hand the 'Into Thin Air' debacle. They attempted it again in 97 & 98, failing both times, though on one occasion one could have summited but retreated to be with the other. In 99 they both summited, having organised their whole expedition themselves and hired the Sherpas to fix the icefall, having become disillusioned at the mess of different expeditions badly organised. On none of these trips were they guided by western 'guides' like so many are now. They used Sherpas and O2 on all occasions. They deliberately supported Babu Chhiri in his stunt of sleeping on the summit, which he used to his own, and his village's benefit. All this info is in the public domain, on the web and in at least one book.
In 2000-01 they attempted to ski to the South Pole unsupported from Hercules Inlet. No guides, no airdrops. They fell short, in part weighed down by the tech gear that would become Contact3 that so many teams now use (in a much improved form). They are genuine pioneers in this area.
They returned in 01-02 and skiied unsupported to the Pole. They flew from Antarctica via Chile and Sweden and on to a North Pole attempt. During April/May 2002 they skiied unsupported from Ward Hunt to the North Pole, pushing on in hard conditions, paddling across huge open leads. No guides, no airdrops. Tina became the first woman to do the two Poles back to back. Going unsupported to the North Pole, from either side, is seriously hard and most people fail (Fiennes, Messner).
There's a lot they don't know about traditional hardcore alpinism. They make a lot of mistakes. They have some wacky ideas I don't agree with. I've had raging arguments with them and they don't talk to me anymore. Which is fine with me.
But for those of you out there hunched over your keyboards and talking tough about people you don't know, go summit Everest unguided then ski both Poles back to back unsupported and then tell them they have no experience, tell them they're monkeys.
I should add that nowadays most of the copy on ExWeb is not written by the Sjogrens, but by other writers and some of these are not very good - not that this necessarily exonerates TnT, as they are the owners and thus ultimately responsible. Some articles are overly sensational, many just poorly written.
Some articles that Tina has written are excellent, including one overview years ago titled 'The Rules of Adventure'.
adventurestats.com is a great service to the outdoor world that magazines, publishers and everyone else was too lazy or stupid to do but are happy to copy from.
But some people just can't see the park for the dogshit.
> The site is run by Tom and Tina Sjogren, Swedes who now live in NYC. They first attempted Everest in 1996 on Henry Todd's permit, had a bad experience with faulty O2 and did not summit, but they experienced first-hand the 'Into Thin Air' debacle.
That would explain their vendetta against Henry Todd. I do find it a very odd mix. They do seem to personalise things to a greater degree than is necessary - their online crucifixion of Fredrik Strang seemed a touch OTT to me. They could provide a useful service without half the sensationalism they seem to bring to so much of their reporting. In particular, they seem very quick to attempt to apportion blame when they only have partial accounts of events, and they often seem to insist that someone must be to blame when things go wrong - the notion of events (such as weather and avalanches) being outside the control of climbers seems to be beyond them.
> That would explain their vendetta against Henry Todd.
Partly, yes. Not totally. He's had other troubles.
>They do seem to personalise things to a greater degree than is necessary
Yes, sometimes. But sometimes in doing that they are indicating that they have some personal experience of the situation. As opposed to everestnews.com which is run as an ad site by an Ohio businessman whose main game is Classifieds and who couldn't climb a ladder. It's establishing a point of difference, and hopefully a point of expertise.
>They could provide a useful service without half the sensationalism they seem to bring to so much of their reporting.
>In particular, they seem very quick to attempt to apportion blame when they only have partial accounts of events ...
Media? On the internet? Good lord no!
> Media? On the internet? Good lord no!
I know, they're by no means unique in that respect. However, they're often the first filter of information, and they seem to take a very black-and-white approach the their reporting, when in fact there must be many shades of grey, particularly with respect to anything to do with high altitude, when it seems to me that logic and reason are often left behind through no fault of anyone.
They have little credibility. Perhaps some gossip interest from climbers who work in the everest type game. I imagine the thing that keeps them going is the promotion they generate for humanedegetech, their ropey looking mountaineering comunications technology business.
Explorersweb is a sham, it exploits misfortunes of others. Run by people who attempted Everest four times? What a waste of time and resoures. Idiots.
> They have little credibility. >
> Explorersweb is a sham, it exploits misfortunes of others. Run by people who attempted Everest four times? What a waste of time and resoures. Idiots.
At least they put their name to it. Who are you?
Personally, I DON'T think this could in any shape or form be classed as "NEWS". Could the mods please pull this thread?
I can speak from a bit of experience on this issue. I have worked with and been mentioned on ExplorersWeb a few times, and as well, have had my discussions with Tina over the years.
1) I believe they do a reasonably good job with covering what they do.
2) Anybody who has ever reported anything from The Himalayas, The Poles, etc. will understand just how hard it is to get most of this information that they present. There is not another source out there that gets as much information as ExWeb. A lot of that has to do with them having the technology and equipment that many of the expeditions use.
3) I have questioned their political stance with certain subjects in the past, but I also know that they have good intentions with what they present.
4) Many of the people 'called out' on ExWeb have already had previous questions raised about their ethics..Brice..with David Sharp and now the K2 business.
5) I don't support everything they do, yet, I also know that if ExWeb weren't around to cover some of this stuff-many of us would never see some of these stories as they unfold. The Media gets much of their information from two sources..ExWeb and EverestNews.
6) If you look deeper into what they are doing, you will notice that hey have never compromised what they set out to do--show these things as they really are and disparage unruly ethics when it comes to climbing.
7) With ExWeb there are definitely two factions..those who love them and those who hate them, either way--most of us have heard of them and read them on a daily basis.
8) If there are those of you that feel like they are a bit 'over-the-top' and report things in a sensationalist way, then obviously you have never reported on these events yourself. Most of this stuff is happening and ExWeb's mission has always been to call it like they see it. Key word there is 'they'.
9) Regarding factual reporting--I have yet to come across one 'fact' that they have ill-reported. Before calling someone out, they do email the person and give them an opportunity to speak and explain themselves. By climbers not doing so, or refusing to speak, in a sense, they are setting their own paths of unreliable credibility.
10)ExWeb generates publicity for many climbers that are not readily known throughout the world and let's us see another side to the American way of climbing.
With all of this being said, I still don't believe in all the politics they throw in. Tina is aware of this. Focusing on China's plight against it's own people during this last season on Everest was a big example. Also, calling on climbers to protest China by taking photos of Free-Tibet flags etc, when the country's rules in Nepal specifically stated that climbers would be banned from the region, including and up to their whole expedition--simply seemed like ExWeb was trying to bite the hand that feeds them.
I still believe they do a good job at what they do. They spark interest, controversy, and discussions, that help push what we currently think and know about these regions. On more than one occasion they have dropped my mouth in awe, in the same token they have also pissed me off. Their coverage of the rescue attempt and eventual death of Inaki Ochoa was amazing...on K2, they seemed to have been a bit behind, or were withholding information.
This one goes out to both ExWeb and EverstNews--my biggest problem--they resort to mediocre jabs at each other when something big is taking place. Rather than try to work together and come up with the facts, they rather poke jabs at what the other is doing wrong. Both are well aware that most people read both sites, and perhaps this is an attempt to drive traffic, but it doesn't help with the reporting.
Jason A. Hendricks
Skinny Moose Media
U.S. Outdoors Today
Good post, thanks. I'd agree with pretty much all that, though:
8) they can be a bit sensationalist, though it's a small percentage of their stories. I was personally involved in one that what they reported was just silly compared to the actual events. They were just manufacturing controversy, though in that particular situation it was harmless.
9) re: mistakes. They make plenty, I used to email them every couple of days with corrections but eventually gave up, it just got too much. They do correct them very fast once told though, one of the advantages of the web over magazines. You'll see right now on there they admit a factual error re: Kagge/Ho. I've noticed probably two a day every day the last couple of weeks, just off the top of my head. But perhaps you meant 'facts' in the sense of differing stories inside a controversy?
Here is a perfect example of how they are too black and white about things, it is was written just after the north side of Everest was closed this year (I know its not written by the Sjogrens but it's on their website) :
The climber in question is saying that people should boycott Everest north side next year, and of those who won't boycott, he says:
"People that make excuses about why they won't, can't & shouldn't are heartless bastards. The money loss to the Dictatorship would be felt and the point made. Standing by allowing these events and turning a blind eye is just as bad as pulling the trigger on a pre-teen nun. (refering to the Nangpa La shootings)"
I agree completely with Luis Benitez's actions. I do not like the Chinese government, I think what they are doing in Tibet is wrong. All okay so far. But as someone who was due to attempt the north side I still wanted to climb, and somehow that makes me scum according to them (luckily I managed to switch to the south side). If I hadn't been able to switch sides though, then I would have wanted to go to the north side next year.
How would boycotting the north side have any effect at all on China's Tibet policy? Obviously the monetary loss would not be felt by China, otherwise why have they just closed the north side for 2009? Why isn't it possible to be pro - Tibet and still want to climb on the north side? Climbing on the north side is not 'turning a blind eye', it is unrelated to your opinions on the Tibet issue.
They alienate people with their ridiculous, uncompromising "you're either with me or against me" attitude. I basically agree with them on whats happening in Tibet but I am really offended to be told I'm as bad as some nun - murderer just because I don't think boycotting Everest is a good idea.
I have also noticed the slide towards more tabloidy stories in the last 6 months or so. The worst recent one was the public crucifixtion of Frederik Strang as pointed out by Tony. That was not 'news', it was the internet equivalent of a lynching. They say so many negative things about him, and then say that he has told
"heroic tales of himself saving at least ten people single handed, carrying bodies, dead and alive on his back - apparently in record time since a descent from 8000 meters to BC normally requires a day in itself - and that is if you run"
Obviously designed to make him seem like a dick, but they don't give a source for these 'heroic tales' and I very much doubt Frederik has claimed to have saved 10 people single handed or carried someone from 8000m down to BC as its obviously not possible. Maybe if they had given a source then they would have more of a case to call him out on this kind of stuff. As it is though, it seems they have just made up these ridiculous tales and attributed them to Frederik so that they can criticise him for them.
Regarding Strang, I can fill you in a bit. In his early interviews with the Press, just as the k2 tragedy was getting some speed in the media, Strang was stating that he had been busy scurrying up and down k2 helping with the rescue efforts. Much of this is coming from, if I remember right, the Spanish press. I don 't remember a number.
You did mention that things have changed over the last 6 months in regards to their sensationalistic reporting--Strang isn't the first one to be called out. Things haven't changed, it has always been there---how many times have they trashed on Russell Brice? To my knowledge, in two years of following ExWeb, they have never reported a good thing to do with Brice or HIMEX. They hold a grudge for Nangpa La and the David Sharp ordeal. The recent polar swimmer is another very good example. They have also called out Bear Grylls and Conrad Anker on occasion...it has always been there, you have just taken more offense to this occasion because maybe you agreed on the others-
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