UKC

/ Damien Gildea

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Annoying Twit - on 04 Jan 2018
The wikipedia page for Damo doesn't have many references. As a biography of a living person, it needs more or someone may try to have it deleted. Newspaper articles about Damo would be useful. Does anyone have any good references?
Doug on 05 Jan 2018
In reply to Annoying Twit:

Think there was an article about him in Vertical a few years ago, about the time his book on Antarctica was published
Annoying Twit - on 05 Jan 2018
In reply to Doug:

Thanks.

Vertical doesn't appear to be online. The magazine that is called Vertical that is online is a helicopter magazine. However, it's probably more trouble than it's worth to track down a print edition so that the reference can be used.

By searching, I've found a number of references, so the article should be safe now.
Tyler - on 05 Jan 2018
In reply to Annoying Twit:

Are you talking about Damo that posts on here?
Rob Parsons on 05 Jan 2018
In reply to Tyler:

Yes he is.
Doug on 05 Jan 2018
In reply to Annoying Twit:

I probably have a copy at home (although it'll be the French edition)
Annoying Twit - on 05 Jan 2018
In reply to Doug:

If you could tell me what parts of the wikipedia page are supported by the article, and give me the author/title/date, I could use that reference on wikipedia.
Tyler - on 05 Jan 2018
In reply to Annoying Twit:

Can't you just ask Damo via these forums?
Annoying Twit - on 05 Jan 2018
In reply to Tyler:

Some people like to maintain a distance between themselves and their Wikipedia pages. Particularly since editing your own Wikipedia page is a no-no. Some people are just disinterested in Wikipedia. I thought that if I ask a general question, that Damo then has the choice to post information (e.g. from his scrapbook if any) or to just leave it up to others.
Tyler - on 05 Jan 2018
In reply to Annoying Twit:

Fair enough
Damo on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Annoying Twit:

> Some people like to maintain a distance between themselves and their Wikipedia pages. Particularly since editing your own Wikipedia page is a no-no.

Yes, on both counts.

I'm a little embarrassed at your interest, but also flattered of course, so, thanks for the effort. I hesitated to comment but had been thinking I should probably should, if only to explain a few pertinent things.

When I first found that I had a Wikipedia page I was very surprised, and it wasn't initially clear who had made it. But with a little research it became clear.

'My' page, like hundreds of others, is the product of a particular person at the Antarctic Place Names Committee of Bulgaria (or whatever their exact name is). While that may seem flattering, it is in fact part of a broader campaign by them to dominate the internet, and eventually the real world, with their Antarctic ambitions. I have protested at this, and to put it mildly, they don't appreciate me doing that. So 'my' Wikipedia page was actually made by someone who hates me )

I first noticed it on Google Earth some years ago, when the impressively steep, stormy and remote Smith Island (HW Tilman's eventual destination in 1977 before he died en route) in the South Shetland Islands suddenly had dozens and dozens of feature names on it - a place almost no one has ever set foot on, let alone explored and surveyed. Even the (few) peak names were almost unknown and the highest peak was only summited in the 1990s (after a few British military attempts). Not only were the names on Google Earth, but also matching on Wikipedia, and eventually in other similar databases. It became clear the Bulgarian government had done this.

Now, the Bulgarians have had a base on nearby Livingston Island for some years, and they have done some minor (some may say token) scientific work and exploring around that island. In 2003 me and team mates made the second ascent of the highest mountain, Mt Friesland (1700m) and GPS surveyed it, as its height had previously been very unclear. We made a nice new topo map of the island, using a (freely provided) Spanish satellite image, a general Antarctic DEM (Digital Elevation Model) and our own few GPS points.

Everybody loved this map, and in line with the tenets of the Omega Foundation, my sponsors from 2001-2008, we gave them away for free. The Bulgarians loved it in particular, so much so that not only did they show it to the Pope when he visited nearby King George Island, after I had sent them 50 free copies, that they then upped and made their own copy, using the same image - but put dozens of new Bulgarian names all over it!

Basically, SCAR guidelines are pretty general on naming, but there is a recognised system, and the names are meant to have some Antarctic connection, not commercial nowadays, and preferably scientific - but they can obviously also be descriptive, or in keeping with some existing theme. The Bulgarians, from the get-go, seemed to think it was fine to name 'their' Antarctic features after saints, priests, churches, Bulgarian places and other irrelevant things. This is craven Antarctic nationalism. Yes, all countries have done it, but mostly in the past AND always in areas where they have done actual scientific work or significant exploration. The Bulgarians have done so such thing on Smith Island, or really anywhere, in real terms, but you could excuse them doing a bit of that around their (minimal, summer-only) base on Livingston Island.

So, I discussed this with various relevant people, most of whom agreed it was wrong and a worrying trend, but were not concerned enough to act. It's hardly African famines or nuclear war we're talking here - I realise that. Bulgaria is a member of SCAR, and for diplomatic reasons, if a member nation proposes a name and puts it in their own database, it now automatically goes into the main SCAR database and becomes 'official'. I should note at this point that their activity had come to the attention of others in SCAR simply because of its excessive volume and rate of input, regardless of quality of provenance.

In my 2010 book 'Mountaineering In Antarctica: Climbing In The Frozen South' I specifically wrote some paragraphs about this issue, on p.183. That section was edited with input from an ex-President of SCAR, so it's not some personal ego rant. I didn't name the Bulgarians, but it soon became clear that they'd read it and recognised who I was talking about. And they were not happy.

Within months they started putting their names on peaks and features in the Sentinel Range - the highest peaks of Antarctica where I had done most of my climbing and GPS surveying, for our new map - in areas they had never even laid eyes on, let alone been to, let alone done anything in. But put it on Wikipedia, Google and other bits of the www and it becomes true.

They targeted specific peaks I had deliberately left unnamed (being insignificant) and features right next to other things I had visited. They have continued this to some extent - actually a lot, over 30 new names - and protesting documentation has been formally submitted to SCAR and other relevant authorities. It's quite ridiculous, and actually pretty sad. I've mostly tried to ignore it in recent years.

So, the only times I have touched 'my' Wikipedia page (as you can probably see in the History) is to correct mistakes that have been made - mistakes made because they have no idea of the place, because they've never been there.

Out of a mixture of ambition and impotence, they just want to cyber-colonise Antarctica, without doing the work so many other nations, organisations and individuals have done to such great cooperative effect for over half a century.

Annoying Twit - on 08 Jan 2018
I was only planning to add references to your article so that it won't get 'disappeared'. I've just created 'stub' pages for Dolf Reist, Ernst Schmied, and Pasang Dawa Lama. All of whom have had pages in the past that have been deleted. There is a shortage of online material for all of these online, which makes it difficult to establish 'notability'. I note that there isn't a page for the whole 1956 Swiss Everest/Lhotse expedition, though there should be given what was achieved.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't have your book yet. I'll get one now so that I have that as a reference. That'll allow me to put some more content into the article. Not huge chunks of course, but some details.

If Wikipedia editors notice that you've been editing your own page, then that might be problematic. The more the page is edited after your last contributions, the less likely it is that someone will just delete it.
Damo on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Annoying Twit:

> I was only planning to add references to your article so that it won't get 'disappeared'.

Some days I wish that would happen...

Similar to the Vertical profile, the Australian online climbing mag did a profile on me in Issue #2:
http://www.verticallifemag.com.au/magazines/

Annoying Twit - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Damo:

Thanks. I've applied to VerticalLife for my free copy, but haven't received my download link

I can see the issue with the Bulgarians claiming names of mountains, but I don't think there's anything I can do about it. If names are unofficial or contentious, then they can be removed. However, if they are going onto an official database, then that's the problem. I see that you have launched a protest, and if you could tell me if anything comes from this, then I could delete unofficial names
Annoying Twit - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Damo:

Got the magazine with the interview of you. I can't edit my previous message.
Tyler - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Damo:
Interesting stuff, why are the Bulgarians in particular interested in this and why are other countries not stopping them? Also, if they've been on this island for a few years and only done token surveys etc, what have they been doing and who funds themselves?
Post edited at 11:48
Damo on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to Tyler:

I guess they don't have much else and this is something they can do, in terms of projecting outside their borders. Bulgaria's not exactly setting the world on fire in commerce, technology, the arts or sport these days...

I guess they get a little bit of money from their government, and they rely on the logistics of other governments, particularly Chile, maybe Russia and Uruguay, for access and resupply. I don't know the details of their science programs, whether it's more than a token effort to be a member of the Antarctic Treaty System, but in more recent years they've been relatively active taking a GPS to various summits.

The ATS has long been called little more than a 'gentlemen's agreement' in that it has few political teeth for any kind of enforcement of its already pretty general rules. Much of it relies on goodwill and the benefits of mutual cooperation.

Just to be clear, I have no issue with Bulgaria having an Antarctic program, nor a base on Livingston Island, that's certainly not up to me and all countries have a right to apply and participate. It's only the way in which they have chosen to go about trying to boost their presence.
Tyler - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to Damo:
Thank you

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