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2009 Archive News/Blog & Recent Events - George Kourounis

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Dec. 31 2009 - Goodbye 2009 - I'm back at my home base in Toronto right now, reflecting back on the past year, and what a year it has been! Scroll down the page to see what's been going on the past 12 months. I want to thank everyone who I've met on my journeys this year and I want to mention how grateful I am for all the help and support I've received.
 
Here comes 2010, and I expect lots of great adventures and new opportunities in the coming year. I know things will certainly be interesting and I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead.
 
I've been meaning to post photos of the Christmas/Boxing Day ice storm in Quebec I photographed and I finally got around to it. It seems that almost every time I go to visit family for the holidays, I encounter freezing rain. This year was no exception, when the Ottawa Valley got glazed by a thick layer of ice, making for a beautiful, but slippery scene.
 
I hope you had a good 2009 and I hope you have an incredible, prosperous, adventurous 2010.

Gatineau, Quebec - Freezing Rain



Dec. 20 2009 - Grand Cayman - I'm just wrapping up filming here in Grand Cayman. Over the past few days we've filmed numerous SCUBA dives on the reefs and spent 2 days documenting the Atlantis submarine. This passenger sub can seat 48 people plus 3 crew members and typically operates at a depth of around 100 feet. We did several daytime and night time dives on the submarine and were treated to a wide variety of sea life including: sea turtles, sting rays, nurse sharks, barracuda and a spotted eagle ray.
 
The hull of the submarine absorbs the force of the water pressure, allowing the people inside to be under the same amount of pressure as being at sea level. There is no risk of decompression sickness or any other pressure related illnesses. What a great ride to be able to see these amazing coral reefs while remaining completely dry.

Atlantis Submarine

Dec. 14 2009 - Off to the Cayman Islands -What a contrast. I just finished documenting one of the worst lake effect snow squall events in the history of the Great Lakes and tomorrow, I'm heading off to the Cayman Islands, home of sunshine and sandy beaches.
 
We're filming a few segments for an upcoming episode of Angry Planet which will feature some SCUBA diving and a day filming from a submarine. I know, it's a tough job but somebody has to do it.
 
Of course, I'll be visiting the famous "Sting Ray City" where divers can interact and even hand feed groups of sting rays. This trip will be 5 days in total, wrapping up just in time for Christmas.

Cayman Islands

Dec. 13 2009 - Back Into The Snow Chaos - After several days of lake effect snow squalls. The snow has finally stopped coming down in the Muskoka region of Ontario. I finally was able to make it up into the hardest hit areas and the amount of snow there is staggering! Even with several days of the snow compacting down, it is still the wildest lake effect event I've ever witnessed. This was truly an epic snowfall. Estimates of 4 to 6 FEET of snow were reported in some areas. We may never know for sure exactly how much came down, but it was unreal.
 
I waited a day for the plow crews to clear the roads, so that I could actually get into these towns. Starting in the small town of MacTier, I then continued on to Bracebridge, then Minden. These were the areas where the snow squalls seemed to lock into place and dump massive amounts of snow for several days in a row.
 
Cars were completely buried, snowbanks reached to the roofs of houses and sidewalks were non-existent in a lot of these communities.

Ubersqualls

Ubersqualls

Dec. 12 2009 - Snow Emergency - For the past several days, I've been criss-crossing the Great Lakes region, trying to get into the best spots to document the recent, epic lake effect snowfall, but it hasn't been easy. 2 days ago, I was in Gravenhurst as the snow was coming down but daylight was fading and I had to give it up for the night, plus the squalls hadn't been too severe up to that point.
 
Overnight that changed and all Hell broke loose. There have been reports of 60 to 100cm of snow in some places so I headed back out but because the conditions were SO BAD, the Provincial Police shut down all the northbound highways and I found myself trapped on the road with several hundred other motorists for more than 2 hours. Having no choice, I surrendered for the day and returned home. I love it when the weather is really bad, but this time it was too much, I couldn't even get to the weather!
 
The snow is now finally letting up and my plan is to let the road crews do their thing and get plowing so that I can return to the region tomorrow and inspect the hardest hit areas. This could be a record breaking storm and I'm very curious to see how bad it was in some places.
 
More pictures to come...

Ubersqualls

Dec. 08 2009 - Getting Ready For the Big Blizzard - Here it comes... The much anticipated winter storm has begun. Blizzard warnings are already in place for much of the central United States and whiteout conditions are being reported in pasts of Nebraska and Iowa.
 
The deep low pressure system that is causing this mayhem is strengthening and heading right for the Great Lakes region. It will bring tremendous snowfall amounts combined with blowing and drifting snow which will make for dangerous driving conditions throughout Ontario. This storm has the potential to drop plenty of snow on its own, but what makes this event more potent is the inevitable, massive lake effect snow squalls that will settle in once the cold air blasts across the open water of the Great Lakes. There's potential for crippling amounts of snow, power outages, closed roads and general chaos.
 
Of course I will be out documenting it, and over the next few days, I'll be positioning myself to capture images of the worst hit areas. I anticipate a combination of wet snow and rain for the greater Toronto area, but to the north, closer to Lake Huron is where the worst of it will be. I may start off on the Lake Erie shores to see if the forecast 45 knot winds and 5 meter waves cause localized flooding, then I'll shift my attention to the classic snow belt areas. Throughout the event I'll be doing updates via my Twitter Site.
 
I fully expect this to become a multi-day intercept.

Winter Storm Impact

Snow Squalls

Dec. 05 2009 - Arabian Peninsula Expedition Postponed - Talk about a last minute flip-flop. A day before I was supposed to fly off to Abu Dhabi, I got the call that the trip has been moved to January. It's a long story but in the end, it'll all work out fine. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and be flexible.
 
Well, since it looks like I'm going to be remaining in Canada for December, I'm shifting my short term focus to winter weather. It looks like the first major winter storm of the season might hit the Great Lakes region by mid-week. It's too early to say how bad it might be, but I'm looking forward to the chance to get out there and document the first big snow event of the season. And here I thought I was going to be able to miss out on much the cold temperatures this winter.

Dec. 01 2009 - Update - There is plenty going on right now so here is the latest update:
 
- This Wednesday I have the great honor of being the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremonies for Trebas Institute. Trebas is a school that specializes in training people for the music and television industry.
 
- Hurricane season is now officially over. Yesterday marked the last "official" day of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season, but it really seemed to be over before it even began. The el Nino this year made for poor conditions for hurricane development in the Atlantic by increasing the amount of wind shear which tends to inhibit hurricane development and rips apart existing storms. The only tropical system I chased this year was hurricane Bill in Nova Scotia, and even it was a weak storm.
 
- I'm also in the process of getting ready for my next expedition. This time I'm off to the Middle East to explore the Empty Quarter which is a huge, almost completely uninhabited desert wasteland that stretches across 4 countries - Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. The Empty Quarter (also known as the Rub' al Khali) is one of the most harsh places on Earth filled with huge sand dunes and not much else. This desert is larger than the Netherlands, Belgium and France combined!!
 
My journey will begin in Abu Dhabi and then I'll be taking a four wheel drive vehicle out into the vast emptiness. This should get interesting...

Empty Quarter Map

Nov. 24 2009 - Deep Dive Chamber DRDC, Toronto - I had the great privilege of being allowed into the deep sea dive chamber which is used by the Canadian Armed Forces for diver training and dive table research purposes. This was the first time that a TV crew had ever been allowed to film inside the chamber while it was pressurized.
 
The chamber enables the divers to simulate the conditions found at deep depths. There is a dry side and wet side to the chamber and each can be controlled separately. My dive was in the dry side and it was brought down to the equivalent of 45 meters depth (about 150 feet). The chamber is capable of going down to an incredible 1700 meters (5577 feet) depth while unmanned. In order to be allowed inside, I had to be subjected to several days of medical testing beforehand including eyesight & hearing tests, blood & urine tests, a full physical exam, lung capacity tests, an ECG, and a chest X-ray.
 
Of course, since we were in a dry chamber and not under water, the dive was unlike an SCUBA dive that I had ever been on before. We had to wear special anti-static, fireproof clothes due to the increased risk of fire in a higher partial pressure of oxygen environment. Once the pressurization began, I immediately had to begin equalizing the pressure on my ears and due to the increased gas pressure, the air inside heated up to 45 degrees C (113 F).
 
Once "on the bottom" we had just under 20 minutes there before coming back up. One strange phenomenon is the high pitched "sucking on helium" voice that you get due to the increased air density and effects of pressure on the vocal chords. It is hilarious on its own, but add to that the effects of nitrogen narcosis and laughing becomes totally contagious. At these depths, the normally inert nitrogen in our air becomes a narcotic and was acting on my body like the equivalent of about 3 dry martinis on an empty stomach. This impairment could be fatal if you were under water and had to perform critical tasks.
 
On the way back up, as the gas expanded, the temperature dropped to around the freezing point and the moisture in the air condensed into thick fog inside the chamber and we had to stop at 9 meters (30 feet) to decompress. We waited there for 16 minutes while breathing pure oxygen. This allows most of the nitrogen that has built up in our body tissues to slowly dissipate, preventing the painful and sometimes deadly decompression sickness "The Bends"
 
After the dive, They performed a doppler scan of my blood to see if I had any residual gas bubbles in my blood, and even though there were nitrogen bubbles in it, I did not get sick. Nevertheless, I was still put on 24 hour "bends watch" just in case I developed any symptoms.

Deep Dive Chamber DRDC, Toronto

Deep Dive Chamber DRDC, Toronto

Nov. 17 2009 - Update - It has been a while since my last blog posting and I really do try to keep this as up to date as possible but it is not always easy with so much going on right now.
 
Gemini Awards - I was in Calgary for the Gemini Awards this past weekend. The Geminis celebrate the best in Canadian Television (it's our version of the Emmy Awards). Usually they are held in Toronto, but this year they were held out west in Alberta. There were numerous parties, both before and after the awards and an extravagant, nationally televised ceremony. This was the second time that I've been nominated for hosting "Angry Planet" but the competition in this category was stiff.
 
Unfortunately, I did not take home the hardware this year. George Strombolopoulous from CBC's "The Hour" took the prize. There's always next year! At least it was a Greek George who won the award.
 
Also, This week will be interesting since I'll be undertaking several days of medical testing to see if I'll be allowed to do something rather unique. The DRDC (Defense Research and Development Canada) has granted us permission to film inside their deep ocean simulator, which is a dive chamber, capable of recreating the effects of extreme pressures of deep dives.
 
There are several steps to complete before we will be allowed inside. First I have to pass an extensive series of medical exams, then my dive experience has to be approved, then all our filming equipment needs to be approved... This will not be simple, but if we get the green light, we'll be the first crew to ever film inside the chamber.
 
More information on the DRDC chamber can be found here.

Gemini Awards - Calgary

Nov. 01 2009 - Back from Venezuela - Okay, I'm back from my 2 week adventure through some of the wilder parts of Venezuela and since I had no internet connection in the jungle, I wasn't able to do any blog updates. Now that I am back, I'll be posting some amazing photos from the trip as soon as I can.
 
Venezuela was amazing with intense lightning, incredible water falls and I even had the chance to wrangle a 5 meter Anaconda and swim in a pond packed FULL of piranhas! I still have all my fingers & toes so all went well (despite also being thrown off a galloping horse that decided to run through some tree branches...
 
Update:
 
Okay, I now have numerous photos pages up.
 
Catatumbo Lightning Phenomenon - 3 nights of lightning in a place that gets about 160 nights of lightning every year. The lightning is so regular here that boat captains can use it a a navigational "lighthouse" over 100 miles away!
 
 
Wrestling with 5 meter long Anaconda - The largest snake species in the world. It was my job to be the first one to go in and grab it by the neck. It took 5 of us to carry it
 
 
Fishing for (and swimming with) Piranhas - We'd throw a piece of raw chicken into the water and the fish would attack with such ferocity that the water seemed to be boiling. I found a relatively safe spot and went in for a swim with them.
 
 
Angel Falls, The highest waterfall in the world - A long journey into a very remote part of the jungle to see how the water pours over the side of one of the Tepuis (table top mountains).
 
 
Canyoning in the Venezuelan Andes - rappelling down waterfalls and jumping into white water near the town of Merida.

Catatumbo Lightning

Anaconda

Piranhas

Angel Falls

Oct. 15 2009 - New Expedition: Venezuela - In a couple of days, I'm off on my next exploration of Earth's extremes. This time it's the natural forces of Venezuela. There will be three main things that I'll be documenting while I'm there:
 
1) The Catatumbo everlasting lightning storm - On Lake Maracaibo, there is a strange natural phenomenon that occurs on up to 160 nights each year, a semi-permanent lightning storm that sits stationary and can produce 10 hours of lightning each night. The lightning from these storms can be seen from hundreds of miles away and is even used as a navigational aid for boats on the lake. There are many theories that try to explain this strange event and I'm going to investigate them. The lightning from the Catatumbo storms are also considered to be the largest single generator of atmospheric ozone in the world.
 
2) Angel Falls - The highest waterfall in the world. It tumbles down 979 meters (3.212 feet) and is classified as a Unesco world heritage site. The waterfall is so high, that the water never even gets the chance to reach the ground like most waterfalls do. The swirling winds atomize the water into mist well before it gets to the bottom. This mist can be felt a mile away.
 
3) Wildlife - The Venezuelan jungle is full of interesting, and dangerous creatures. While there I'll be searching out encounters with some of the indigenous species including caiman, anacondas and piranha.

Venezuela Map

Oct. 08 2009 - Toronto - Today I did a live interview on CBC Newsworld, it was on the Pacific typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis that have been plaguing the area over the past 2 weeks. That part of the world certainly has been active with typhoons affecting the Philippines, Japan & Vietnam, Earthquakes in Samoa, Sumatra & Vanuatu, and Tsunamis in Samoa and Tonga.
 
I think I need to relocate to the Pacific rim somewhere.
 
Also, Environment Canada has updated its official tornado count from the August 20th outbreak to 18. This is a new one day record for tornadoes in Canada and that number may continue to go up as more damage surveys are conducted.
 
AWCN11 CWTO 081450
Weather summary for all of Southern Ontario and The national Capital region
Issued by Environment Canada Toronto at 10:49 AM EDT Thursday 8 October 2009.
The August 20th outbreak has now yielded 18 tornadoes. This is a record for the most tornadoes to occur in Ontario and in Canada on one day. The previous record was 17 tornadoes which occurred in Ontario on August 2nd 2006.
 
The total number of tornadoes for this season now stands at 28. In an average year Ontario has 11 tornadoes. The greatest number of tornado events in one year in Ontario is 29 which occurred in 2006. The summer severe weather season normally begins in late April and continues until early October.
 
Environment Canada continues to investigate reports concerning the events of August 20th. Future storm summaries will be issued as required over the course of the coming weeks.

CBC News

Environment Canada

Sept. 28 2009 - Crystal Beach, Ontario - What a crazy day it was. I knew things were going to get interesting in the Great Lakes, but I was not expecting what ended up happening.
 
Strong winds gusting to 105 km/h and 4 meter waves lashed the eastern end of Lake Erie, making for dangerous water conditions that were irresistible to local surfers and a few storm chasers. I chased this event with chase partner Mark Robinson, but it didn't turn out so well for him... He was hit by a large wave and slammed down to the rocks & ended up breaking his foot. I brought him to a local hospital and after he was released, we went back out and chased the storm system some more.
 
A tribute to our dedication and modern pain killers.
 
He's doing OK, but has to see an orthopedic surgeon to see if he needs to have surgery. No matter what, he's going to be out of storm chasing mode for a while...
 
At least this chase wasn't a "bust"... Uh, oh wait, I guess it was.

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2009_09_28_15

Sept. 24 2009 - Toronto - Summer is over and the brief Canadian autumn is upon us which will quickly become winter. Although it is sad to see the summer go, there are always opportunities to encounter interesting weather, whatever the season. Soon I'll be tracking down lake effect snow squalls, but I'm hoping for at least one more hurricane chase before the season is completely over.
 
- Environment Canada has recently updated its tornado count from the severe weather outbreak of Aug. 20th. The total now stands at 17 confirmed tornadoes with several other possible tornadoes still under investigation. This ties the record number of tornadoes in one day, matching the Aug 2nd 2006 outbreak. It was a wild day, we typically get about a dozen tornadoes in Southern Ontario each year and this was 17 in the span of a few HOURS!
 
- Last night I went to the Gemini Awards Nominees party in Toronto. This is a get together for all the people who are nominated in every category. The Geminis celebrate the best in Canadian television and I am nominated for the second year in a row for hosting Angry Planet. The awards ceremony is going to be held in Calgary on Nov 14th.

Sept. 19 2009 - New Broadcaster - Angry Planet can now be seen weekends on all the City TV networks in Canada. Check your local listings to see what time the show airs in your area. Click here to see a full list of the Angry Planet broadcasters worldwide.
 
Are you interested in coming storm chasing and trying out a storm chasing tour company for yourself? Confused about which one might be right for you. Well look no further. Christoffer Björkwall from Sweden has taken the time to compile all the details from practically all the storm chase tour companies and assembled them onto one page.
 
www.stormchasingusa.com breaks it all down for you.
 
For the past 6 years I have been guiding for Cloud 9 Tours so of course I am biased, but go check out the comparison site for yourself.

City TV

www.stormchasingusa.com

Sept. 16 2009 - What's Going On - Well, as much as I would love to be out in the Pacific Ocean right now, chasing typhoon Choi-Wan, I chose to not pursue this one. The worst of the storm is going to pass very close to Iwo To (Iwo Jima) as a very powerful typhoon and it is currently at category 5 strength with insane wind speeds of 160 mph!
 
The expense and high probability of missing the storm due to such a small target island have weighed against any attempted intercept on the outer Japanese islands so instead, I'll be tracking this one from home. The season is still young and although there is no activity hurricane activity in the Atlantic, I am still expecting some more tropical action before the snow flies.
 
There is still plenty of Angry Planet filming to be done this year and although I can't go into details at this time about what we are planning, expect plenty of photos from new adventures. Season three has been outstanding and I can't wait until they start airing in the new year. As a reminder, season one box set is available from Amazon.com


Sept. 11 2009 - Spaceweather.com - For the third day in a row, photos of my Crystal Cave adventure have been featured on the front page of Spaceweather.com. It is amazing how many hits I've been getting due to the overwhelming response. Thank you so much to everyone who has been sending me emails about the photos. It truly was an incredible experience.
 
For those of you who would like the opportunity to visit such an incredible place...
 
Although it is not open to the public, There might be a chance of me returning and putting together an organized trip. Right now I want to see how much interest there is in such a thing. It would not be cheap, but if you think that this kind of thing is for you, send me an email and I can keep you "in the loop."

Spaceweather.com

Send E-Mail To George Kourounis

Sept. 09 2009 - Toronto - I am back from Mexico and I must say that even with all my journeys to every corner of the globe, and with all I've seen, I can still be blown away by the marvels of Nature.
 
The Crystal Cave was one of the most incredible experiences. I still have a hard time believing that it was real! The incredible heat, the humidity, the sheer size of the crystals all make the place seem like an alien planet.
 
I have created a new page with additional photos and descriptions of what it was like.
 
I use the term "Inner Space Terranauts" to describe the exploration, since it is more akin to going into space than almost anything else on Earth. What makes it even more special is that the cave will not be around forever, future generations may not even get the opportunity to see it with their own eyes. The cave is located about 170 Meters below the water table and the Naica mine pumps out tens of thousands of gallons of water every day to keep the mine working. Once the mine has exhausted the mineral supply in the area, the pumps will be shut off and the cave will once again disappear from sight... Possibly forever.
 
When will this happen? Nobody knows, so our opportunity to study the cave and learn its secrets is limited.
 
It was also an honour to carry the Explorers Club flag down into the cave. This was a first!

Filming in the Cave

Carrying the Explorers Club Flag

Sept. 04 2009 - Naica Crystal Cave, Mexico - Just a quick update for now... I'm too exhausted to write much. The cave was incredible! we were set up just outside the iron door that protects it and even there the heat was oppressive. There was a whole crew looking after us with a paramedic, a cooling technician and several other helpers.
 
The cooling suits are basically ice pack vests underneath protective coveralls that help to keep your core temperature down for longer entries into the cave. The backpack respirators. pump air over ice and up to a mouthpiece like a fighter pilot would wear.
 
Even with all this protection, it was completely unbearable after only 15 minutes or so. Your body basically starts dying as soon as you enter the cave and the heat forces every cell in your body to scream "Get Out"
 
The beauty of the cave made it worth it. It is unlike anything else on Earth.
 
I will post a full summary with more photos when I get home from Mexico.

Naica_03

Naica_01

Sept. 03 2009 - Naica Crystal Cave, Mexico - I can't believe I made it here!
 
I've been up since 3 AM and I've already been through 3 countries today but all the travel was worth it. I've arrived in Naica and I got the chance to go into the mine and down to the crystal cave. Most of our time today was spent in the antechamber, just outside the cave where it is a "cool" 41 degrees Celsius. We were allowed a brief entry to the cave to experience what real heat is like without wearing cooling suits. As soon as you step inside, it is overwhelming. The heat and humidity are instantly oppressive and we were only able to remain inside for 12 minutes. Any more would have been too dangerous.
 
I can safely say that the cave is the most spectacular wonder of nature I have ever laid eyes upon. It is so stunning that you almost forget how dangerous it really is in there. The beauty is beyond comparison and the fact that it is so difficult to be inside the cave, makes me appreciate it that much more. Tomorrow we'll be spending the whole day in and out of the cave with the protective cooling suits and our cameras are currently warming up inside overnight so that they will not fog up.

Aug. 31 2009 - Upcoming Expedition - Crystal Cave of Giants - For almost 2 years, I have been trying to get into the Crystal Cave of Giants in Naica, Mexico and it looks like persistence has paid off. I depart for the cave later this week.
 
The Crystal Cave is known for 2 reasons -
 
1) It is home to the largest crystals in the world. The biggest ones measure a whopping 11 meters and weigh 55 tons. They are made of selenite, which is crystallized gypsum. These formations have taken about a half a million years to form and only under the most unique of conditions.
 
2) The cave is SO HOT, that it is impossible to survive inside for more than about 15 minutes before overheating, passing out and dying. The air temperature is 45C with a relative humidity of 95%. which makes for a humidex reading of 90C !!! The heat comes from a nearby magma chamber, deep below the surface. I will be wearing a special cooling suit which incorporates chill packs and a special breathing apparatus that will allow me to breath chilled air. Even with this technology, I will will only be able to remain inside for no more than 45 minutes at a time.
 
This is probably one of the most extreme places on Earth and it was only discovered in the year 2000 when silver miners accidentally broke through and discovered this hidden treasure.
 
The extreme conditions inside the cave make it very difficult to use camera equipment so we are in for a unique challenge as we attempt to film a brand new episode of Angry Planet. More details can be found here.

Naica Crystal Cave

Mexico

Aug. 27 2009 - High G Centrifuge Testing - I had the great opportunity to go for a spin in the DRDC (Defense Research and Development Canada) human centrifuge.
 
Although I have been in a centrifuge before, this one brought me up 5 G's in the Z axis head to toe), previously, I had done about 3.5 G's. To keep from blacking out and experiencing G-Loc, I had to learn very specific and strenuous muscle flexing and breathing techniques that help to keep the blood flowing to my brain and heart. Assisting me with these efforts was a Canadian designed G-suit which is basically a pair of pants with air bladders that are hooked into a compressed air system and automatically inflate at high G. This helps to squeeze your legs and push the blood back up where you need it the most.
 
The experience was very intense and I can't imagine how a fighter pilot could actually operate a jet under those extreme conditions. I was hoping to try for higher G forces but the base doctor was worried about my retinas detaching.

DRDC Centrifuge

Aug. 26 2009 - Back From Bill - I finally got home last night after what ended up being a marathon chase from Toronto to Nova Scotia and back in under 5 days. In total, I put over 4200 km onto the chase vehicle.
 
I have now added photos and more details from the Hurricane Bill chase here and it looks like the Atlantic is still active. Tropical storm Danny has formed and you guessed it, it's headed right for the Nova Scotia area... I just got home! Mother Nature seems to be pulling a prank on me it seems. I don't expect Danny to become a major hurricane and right now, a chase is unlikely, but if there is one, it will be this weekend.
 
In other news:
 
- Today I was in Pickering, Ontario filming some new material for Angry Planet. This time it was hang gliding. I was out for a tandem hang glide a few weeks ago and loved it so much, we are incorporating it into one of the episodes. It was a clear day with great visibility and I was up at an altitude of over 1600 feet.
 
- Tomorrow it's something completely different. I'll be up at the Defense research And Development facility in Toronto where I'm going for another spin in centrifuge. This time, I'll be wearing a G-Suit which will help me withstand extremely high g-forces. The last time I was in a centrifuge, I was subjected to 6 g's.
 
- I am very proud to announce that I have been nominated for a 2009 Gemini Awards. These are the Canadian equivalent to the Emmy Awards and they celebrate the best in Canadian broadcasting. I am nominated in the "Best Host or Interviewer in a General/Human Interest or Talk Program or Series" Category. The awards will be held this year on November 14th in Calgary, Alberta.
 
- Angry Planet now has a U.S. Broadcaster! - I am pleased to welcome Halogen TV to the Angry Planet family. I'm not sure when they will begin airing episodes but I will pass on more information when it becomes available. Angry Planet is now seen in over 35 countries, worldwide.

Hurricane Bill - Nova Scotia

Gemini Awards

Halogen TV

Aug. 23 2009 - Hurricane Bill, Nova Scotia Coastline -
 
Most of today was spent along the Nova Scotia southern coast, finding interesting spots to film the storm. Bill came in as a category one hurricane with plenty of rain, gusty winds and some large, dangerous waves. We tracked northeast of Halifax, all the way up to Sherbrooke. The storm was not as damaging as many had feared, but it still packed a punch, especially when the waves slammed me in the leg with a piece of wood with nails sticking out of it that used to be part of a staircase. Luckily, the nails were on either side of my leg when it hit me...
 
I will post some photos and more details when I return to Toronto.

Hurricane Bill

Aug. 22 2009 - Montreal, Heading Towards Hurricane Bill-
 
Just a quick update while on the road. Yesterday was a crazy day. After the Ontario tornado outbreak, the media was very interested in having me comment on what happened and to get my perspective on the situation. Well, It got so crazy that my phone started ringing at 5 A.M. and never stopped all day. I did 5 TV interviews and I lost count of all the radio interviews.
 
All this took the entire day, then it was time to depart for Nova Scotia to meet up with Hurricane Bill. As of last night, the team (consisting of myself, Mark Robinson and Florida storm researcher, Tim Millar who flew to Toronto to meet us) made it as far as Montreal before packing it in for the night.
 
It looks like Bill is going to probably make landfall east of Halifax and not stay out to sea. The wind, rain and waves should be wild but I need to get there first and I have a 14 hour day of driving to get there by tonight... Time to run.

Aug. 20 2009 - Tornadoes in Ontario!- What an unexpected turn of events today.
 
Whew, What a day.
 
I was chasing in Brampton and saw the wall cloud on the storm that would go on to produce the tornado in Vaughan. I tried following it but traffic was nightmarish. I HATE urban chasing in the GTA. By the time I got to Vaughan, the damage had already been done. I surveyed the area and there were MANY roofs ripped off & destroyed, and I couldn't even got to the worst hit area due to roadblocks.
 
While en route, I was overtaken on the 401 by one of the nastiest, green rain cores, I've ever seen in Ontario and I from the looks of the cloud motion, I was hoping that I wasn't about to drive into a rain wrapped tornado. Cars were stopped everywhere, visibility was almost nil and the lightning was intense.
 
After doing a bunch of interviews, I'm finally home and tomorrow, I head out to Nova Scotia for hurricane Bill, which I have not even checked the latest forecast for since I've been running around due to all the tornado warnings.
 
I'll upload some pictures to my site when time permits and I'll put together a full page with more details as well.
 
This was only one of numerous tornado reports across Ontario including a very damaging one in the town of Durham where there has been at least one fatality reported. There were even reports of a possible tornado in downtown Toronto.
 
Tomorrow morning, I'll be making 2 more TV appearances, first on the CBC news, then on CTV's Canada AM. Only then can I begin the long drive to Nova Scotia for Hurricane Bill.
 
I'm exhausted so I'm off to bed.
 

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2009_08_20_Vaughan_02

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Aug. 20 2009 - Watching Hurricane Bill- Hurricane Bill has grown into a very powerful and dangerous category 4 storm and for the time being it is no threat to any land mass, but that could change. It is forecast to continue strengthening as it passes just west of Bermuda, then begin weakening as it continues towards the Atlantic provinces of Canada.
 
Right now, Bill is looking very good on satellite with a well defined eye and extremely cold cloud tops. It has sustained winds speeds of over 210 km/h with higher gusts.
 
If it can hold itself together and keeps on track towards Nova Scotia, then an intercept is likely. It might curve out to sea or veer towards Newfoundland, so I will be keeping a very close eye on the situation.
 
One thing is for certain, Bill will not stay at this intensity level as it approaches Canada, but the question is... How strong will it remain?
 
Check back for all the latest on a possible maritime storm chase.
 
UPDATE: It now looks like I WILL be chasing Hurricane Bill in Nova Scotia. Even if Bill does not make a direct hit, I believe that this will still be a significant event for the maritime provinces. I will likely depart on Friday, the 21st.

Bill_Sat_Aug_19

Bill_Track_Aug_19

Aug. 18 2009 - The Canadian Military to Get Angry Planet- It is my great pleasure to announce that OLN and CFRT (Canadian Forces Radio and Television) will be partnering to bring the Men and Women of the Armed forces, stationed on Canadian bases around the globe programming including seasons one and two of Angry Planet.

We are proud and excited to be able to offer programming to make our troops feel closer to home.
 
Also tonight I am a guest on The World Tonight radio show on CHQR in Calgary. I'll be talking about hurricane Bill and how I got into storm chasing.

CFRT (Canadian Forces Radio and Television)

CHQR Calgary

Aug. 17 2009 - The Tropics Heat Up- After a slow start, the 2009 Atlantic hurricane is finally getting started.
 
Tropical Storm Claudette came ashore near Pensacola, Florida bringing heavy rain and wind.
 
Tropical Depression Ana is has weakened from a tropical storm and is working its way through the Caribbean and is poised to hit Hispaniola.
 
Hurricane Bill is steadily gaining strength and is expected to eventually become a major hurricane, but its track will probably keep it north of the Caribbean islands before it curves north, missing the U.S. A strike on Bermuda is possible and I am monitoring the situation closely for a possible intercept. Bermuda is a very small target so flying there would be quite a gamble.

Atlantic_Aug_17

Aug. 12 2009 - CP24 Interviews- This week, I was invited twice to come in to be interviewed live on the CP24 24 hour news station. The first time was for the lunchtime show, where we mainly talked about storm chasing in general and the intense line of thunderstorms that plowed through Toronto the night before.
 
A few days later, I was on again, this time in the evening, to comment on the conditions that led to 3 people being struck by lightning in a park.

CP24

Aug. 09 2009 - Tornado Warning for Ontario - I ended up hooking up with Mark Robinson, Dave Sills, Bob Berry & Dave Patrick for what turned out to be an interesting chase. We got onto the tornado warned storm between Clifford and Fordwich. It was struggling to get better organized and it looked like it had tornado potential, with several good lowerings and plenty of motion in the base, but what it lacked in tornado production, it more than made for in lightning.
 
I don't think I've ever experienced such an electric storm in Ontario. It was spitting out an unbelievable number of CG's in rapid succession. One hit RIGHT behind us as we were parked. Maybe two power poles away, then a few seconds later, yet another one hit in the same area. My ears were ringing.
 
As we kept chasing the storm, I experienced an odd thunder effect I've never heard before. A relatively close CG struck, and a second or two later, the loud thunder clap came, but then it immediately cut off, as if some sound editor had clipped off the end of the audio. There was no decay at all. It just struck, then choked off a half second later. In all my years of chasing and with over 10 years of working as a sound engineer in the pro audio field, I've never heard anything quite like this "truncated" thunder.

2009_08_09_Storm

Aug. 06 2009 - Discovery Channel - A brand new series "Raging Planet" is about to premiere on the Discovery Channel. Not to be confused with my own series "Angry Planet" which is currently in its third season of production.
 
I was involved with the production of this new series. Last year I helped guide one of the film crews to the Quinter, Kansas tornado on May 23rd. We were in an excellent position to document the tornado as it approached the highway where we were. The crew were able to gather excellent, high definition images of the tornado.
 
The tornado episode will be airing on August 9th. Several of my friends and colleagues will also be featured throughout this series.
 
In other news, The planet is angry right now.
 
-Wildfires are still burning out of control across much of British Columbia.
 
-Hurricane Felicia is currently at Cat 4 strength and is headed towards Hawaii, although I expect it to weaken dramatically over cold water as it gets closer to the islands.
 
-Typhoon Morakot is making its way towards Taiwan right now and is expected to make landfall in about 36 hours. It's too late for me to attempt an intercept from my current location in Canada.

Raging Planet

Aug. 04 2009 - New York City - I've just returned from a one day whirlwind trip to New York City where I visited the headquarters of The Explorers Club to pick up one of their expedition flags. They periodically loan out the flags to explorers who are embarking on unique journeys. There are flags that have been to the North & South Poles, to the tops of mountains, to the bottom of the ocean. Several have even been to outer space and the surface of the Moon!
 
The one that I picked up has a long history of expeditions including The Amazon, Greenland, whale research trips, and it was even on board a ship that was being pursued by Nazis during World War Two.
 
What will I be doing with this flag you might ask? That will become clear towards the first week of September...All I can say right now is that it is going to a place that is almost too strange to be real. It is a great honour and privilege to be allowed to carry one of these flags.

New York

July. 27 2009 - Zero Gravity Footage Added - I've added a video clip from my recent zero gravity flight in California. It looks a bit chaotic... Because it was, but the feeling of being weightless is so strange that it takes a while to get used to it.
 
The video begins with a few examples of Mars and Moon gravity, then the rest is all completely without gravity at all.
 
If the video does not display at right, try this direct link to the video clip.
 
In other news, I'm currently in Toronto, waiting for the Atlantic hurricane season to start getting active. We're off to a bit of a slow start but it's only July and there are several months left so I'm sure I'll get the opportunity to intercept at least one or two good hurricanes.


July. 21 2009 - Hang Gliding - High Perspective is a company near Pickering, Ontario, just east of Toronto that offers tandem hang glides. Since I had never tried hang gliding before, I thought I'd give it a go. What an amazing experience, gliding with the wind, well over a thousand feet up. If you've ever wanted to experience what it's like to soar like a bird, then I suggest giving this a try.
 
The glider was towed up using a special winch and after a few maneuvers to gain altitude, we disconnected the cable and away we went.

Hang Gliding

July. 17 2009 - Toronto - I have now included links to my Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages. Please feel free to take a peek, watch some videos or sign up for the latest updates.
 
It is nice to have a stretch of home time. It gives me the chance to get caught up, plan some new ideas and get ready for the upcoming explorations, and believe me, there are some interesting adventures coming up later this year.

George Kourournis on Facebook

George Kourounis on Twitter

George Kourounis on YouTube

July. 15 2009 - Zero Gravity Photos Uploaded - As promised, I've just added photos from my recent weightlessness flight aboard G-Force One. The modified jet that creates zero gravity by performing a series of parabolic dives. Photos are here.
 
It's hard to describe what it is like to float and fly through the air. It was exhilarating, disorienting, fantastic and unique. Everyone should try this at least once in their life.

Zero Gravity

July. 11 2009 - San Jose, California - This past weekend I had the opportunity to do one of the most amazing things a person can do - Experience weightlessness just like an orbiting astronaut.
 
I took a flight on G-Force One, a modified Boeing 727 which flies parabolic flights to give the passengers the experience of zero gravity. The company that operates the plane, Zero-G, is the only private company in the U.S. licensed by the FAA to perform these types of flights.
 
The plane climbs to 32,000 feet, then dives down to 24,000 feet and as you crest the top of the arc, you free fall inside the plane. The interesting part is that without the wind whizzing past you, you just float as if you were in space. Each weightless period last for about 20 seconds and at the bottom of each parabola, you experience a force of 1.8 g's as the plane climbs for the next dive.
 
Actually experiencing this is incredible. You can fly like Superman, or just float in the air. You can catch candies in your mouth as they float past, or climb up the walls, across the ceiling and back down again. What a unique experience. I was even tossed around like a beach ball at one point.
 
I may never get to travel to space, but now I know what it feels like, at least a little bit.
 
More photos to come soon...

http://www.gozerog.com/

G_Force_One

June. 26 2009 - Vancouver, British Columbia - I'm in Vancouver for a few days, filming material for an upcoming episode which involves deep sea submersibles. Most of today was spent with Phil Nuytten, an undersea explorer and submarine designer who is one of the world's leading underwater technologists.
 
His workshop looks like what I'd expect Captain Nemo's garage sale to look like. Every corner is packed with undersea equipment ranging from antique hard-helmet dive gear to the latest, state of the art experimental diving suits.
 
I even got the opportunity to slip into the :"Exosuit" which will allow a diver to be able to descend, untethered to a depth of 1000 feet and work there for hours at a time, while constantly remaining at the same pressure as sea level. This allows the diver to surface at any time and at any speed without suffering from the bends or having to go through a lengthy decompression. The finished version of the suit is expected to be finished in about a year or so.
 
I want one.

Nuytco

June. 24 2009 - Toronto - My chase vehicle is more or less back in tip top shape and ready for the next storm.
 
The windshield has been replaced and the roof is now repaired and is sporting an armor plating of Line-X. This stuff is the material that they spray on the bed of pickup trucks to protect them from rocks etc. It is so tough that it is even used as bomb proofing material in some military and government applications. I think I should be more than protected from the next big hail storm. Now if they could only make an invisible version of Line-X that I could spray on my windows!
 
Also:
No rest here. The next location beckons. Tomorrow, I leave for Vancouver, British Columbia to do some filming with deep sea ocean researchers. More updates to come from the West Coast this weekend.

Roof

June. 21 2009 - Waterloo, Ontario - Fighter Jet Flight - While filming segments for an Angry Planet episode on space travel, I got the chance to go up in an L-39 fighter jet to experience high g-forces in a real world environment. This jet, made in the mid-70's in Czechoslovakia was originally used by the Ukrainian military. These L-39's are a commonly used trainer jet and many are still in active duty in air forces around the world.
 
On my flight, pilot and jet owner Steve Miligan, took me out for some high G maneuvers including rolls, sharp banking turns and some upside-down flying. What a rush! That was, until my stomach started to protest. We eventually smoothed out the flight and sat back to enjoy the view. It's not every day you get to fly in such an amazing aircraft.
 
More photos here.

L39_Jet_05

June. 19 2009 - Odds & Ends - After only being home for a couple of days, I'm now on to the next adventure. There is a "Space" episode of Angry Planet that we're working on that will involve me experiencing a lot of the training and sensations that real astronauts would go through in the preparation for a space launch. I've already been through g-force testing in a centrifuge and the next phase of this is coming up this weekend when I go for a spin in an L-39 fighter jet.
 
This Czechoslovakian made jet is commonly used for training pilots for the Russian military as well as other nations' air forces. Many space shuttle pilots have a background in military flight so this should give me a good idea of what it feels like to be a "Top gun for a day". I'll file a full report when I return on Sunday.
 
Also - Congratulations to my chase partners Mark Robinson, Dave Lewison and Scott McPartland for their great intercept of the tornado near Aurora, Nebraska the other day. The large, dusty tornado, which was rated EF-2 by the National Weather Service, actually chased THEM down highway 34. I can't wait to see the video they shot.

243

June. 16 2009 - Tornado Chase 2009 Complete - My 6 week journey across the American Great Plains has come to an end. This year, Mother Nature did not give up her secrets so easily but we were still able to capture some incredible images of lightning, huge hail storms and even a long track tornado in Wyoming.
 
The first 4 weeks were spent guiding/driving with Cloud 9 Tours and the last 2 weeks I was filming a new episode for Angry Planet. This episode, "Highway to Hail" focuses on hailstorms so we spent a lot of time driving into the parts of the storms that I typically try to stay away from. It made for some dramatic video but "core punching" can be dangerous, not just because of the risk of huge hail, but because you run the risk of driving right into a rain wrapped tornado that you might never even see until it was too late.
 
Luckily, this did not happen to us and we came back with plenty of stories, photos, video and more than a few new dents in the hood of my truck. My next stop will be at the local glass repair shop to replace my poor, beat up windshield.
 
My daily blog reports from this year's chase can be found Here

2009_06_05B

2009_06_11C

April. 23 2009 - Preparing For Tornado Chase 2009 - I have created a specific blog page for my daily updates during the upcoming 2009 tornado chase season. I'll be out on the chase for 6 weeks beginning April 29th.

Tornado Chase 2009 Blog

April. 17 2009 - NASTAR Facility, Pennsylvania - I just completed my sub-orbital space flight training at the NASTAR facility (National Aerospace Training and Research). I did simulations in their centrifuge that mimic the launch and re-entry of Space Ship One, the winner of the X-Prize for private space travel. I was able to withstand 6 G`s of force, which feels like an elephant sitting on your chest.
It was a total rush and you really get the feeling of actually blasting off into space. It is incredibly realistic feeling because the flight profile of the actual space vessel has been re-created in the centrifuge. Talk about ``out of this world``

NASTAR

April. 15 2009 - Back in Toronto - I have too much going on right now for a detailed blog entry!!
 
The New Zealand and Tonga adventure was a great success and I'll be posting details and photos soon. For the time being I'm heading back out after being home for less than one day. This time, I'm headed to NASTAR in Pennsylvania to do 2 days of space flight simulations in a giant centrifuge!!

April. 13 2009 - Nuku'alofa, Tonga - Well I made it back in one piece. The trip out to the volcanic island of Hunga Ha'apai was an incredible adventure in the spirit of true exploration. The entire drama of the landing can be found here.
 
Getting there was probably more risky than actually setting foot on the newly formed volcanic island itself! I'm glad to be back on dry land again and I've solidified a long standing opinion of mine: Boats and I DO NOT get along well.

Hunga Ha'apai Volcanic Island

April. 08 2009 - New Zealand's North Island - The New Zealand adventure has been going extremely well. There is so much to see and do here that it is almost overwhelming. I need to come back here and spend several months exploring this incredible country. Some of the areas I've visited include:
 
The Waitomo Glow Worm caves.
The hydrothermal areas around Rotorua.
White Island Volcano
and
Tongariro National Park including Mount Ruapehu.
 
Rotorua has some of the most spectacular geysers and hot springs that I've ever seen. All colours of the rainbow can be found in the volcanic mineral deposits there.
 
I also did some white water rafting while in NZ and conquered my first ever class 5 rapid - A 7 meter waterfall that is the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world!
 
Next target: Tonga.

Rotorua

White Island Volcano

March. 28 2009 - Off to New Zealand and Tonga! - Tomorrow I fly out, destination: New Zealand. I'll be exploring the natural forces of the North Island including some of its volcanoes. In addition to that, I'll be diving on the sunken wreck of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior which was sabotaged by French divers who planted several mines on its hull back in 1985. The ship went down claiming one of the passengers on board.
 
I'll also be doing some black water rafting... What is that you might ask? Well, imagine white water rafting but in underground caves! I think I'll be bringing my helmet for that one.
 
After my stint in New Zealand I'll be heading over to the tiny island nation of Tonga in the South Pacific where recently, an undersea volcanic eruption has been breaking the surface. I'm hoping to get as close as possible to this new eruption to see if there has been a new island formed and if so, perhaps ever become one of the first people to set foot on it.
 
This will be tricky due to the unpredictable nature of the eruptions, the possible hazards from unstable ground plus swift currents & waves. Wish me luck, this will be a tough one.

Map - New Zealand & Tonga

March. 26 2009 - Explorers Club - I am very proud to announce that I have now been accepted as a member of the Canadian chapter of the Explorers Club.
 
The Explorers Club is an international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore. Since its inception in 1904, the club has served as a meeting point and unifying force for explorers and scientists worldwide.
 
 
Also, Odyssey science magazine for students has published several of my photos of the sinking of Venice as part of an article on the MOSE construction project. MOSE is an ambitious project to build hinged dams to block high water from flooding the Venice lagoon during storm surges and very high tides.
 
In other news, I`m just now thawed out from my recent Arctic adventure and yet the next exploration is just around the corner. On Sunday, I depart for New Zealand to document the wide variety of natural forces at work on the North Island including the volcanoes, hot springs and even some underground explorations. I will post more details about the trip soon, as well as details on a possible diversion that we might take while in the South Pacific... Stay tuned!

Odyssey Magazine

March. 21 2009 - Arctic Survival Training Complete! - The Baffin Island Arctic expedition is now complete. It consisted of 2 main parts:
- Pulling heavy pulks (sleds) on skis across shifting, rugged sea ice near Iqaluit for 3 days
and
- Dog sledding up the fiord and across the riverbed in Auyuittuq National Park.
 
In total, we spent 5 nights camped out either on the sea ice or in the park. The travel was very physically demanding, trying to maneuver 1000 pound dog sleds around an obstacle course consisting of slippery glare ice and gigantic boulders (Some of them larger than my house). The frigid temperatures of -20 to -30 complicated things, making travel difficult and wreaking havoc with our camera equipment.
 
Despite the hardships, the scenery was incredible and the northern lights displays were out of this world!
 
For the most part, the weather was clear and cold but on our last night, a vicious wind storm swept in to Summit Lake and my tent began to shred and it eventually blew in at 4:30 in the morning, creating more of a wind tunnel than a shelter. We were forced to scramble to gather up whatever we could carry and hike up in the storm to a nearby emergency shelter.
 
Sometime I have to be careful of what I wish for. Mother Nature can throw you a curve ball at any time. When we went to bed, the sky was clear and calm. I guess she just wanted to prove to me exactly who is in charge out there.

Polar Expedition Survival Training - Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic

Polar Expedition Survival Training - Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic

March. 10 2009 - Departing for the Arctic Circle! - The latest expedition is now underway. I'll be flying up to Iqaluit which lies on Baffin Island in the Northern Canadian territory of Nunavut. From there I fly further north to Pangnirtung and from there it will an overland journey into Auyuittuq National Park. The trip consists of several days of training, including sleeping outside in minus 30 degree temperatures and then 3 nights skiing up a frozen river, crossing the Arctic Circle, and continuing past Mount Asgard and Mount Thor. Other skills that I'll be learning include advanced polar survival techniques and sled dog handling in extreme cold.
 
This promises to be one of the tougher, more rugged adventures for me and if all goes well, perhaps I'll make a dash for one of the poles this year... But I don't want to get ahead of myself yet. Let's see how things go with this trip. Of course, this Arctic adventure will be filmed and will become an episode of Angry Planet season three.
 
I will be completely out of touch for the next week and a half.

Feb 28 200 - Heading for the Arctic - It has been really nice to have the opportunity to spend some time at home, getting caught up, seeing my wife and relaxing a bit but the rest will be short lived. Of course, I've got yet another crazy adventure coming up and this one is going to be a real challenge. I'll be heading up to the Canadian Arctic to take part in some polar expedition survival training and then a ski & dog sled traverse in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island in Nunavut. This is the same place where they filmed the opening scene of the James Bond Movie "The spy who loved me" where Bond skis off a huge cliff and free falls forever before his parachute opens.
 
Here are a few quotes from the pre-trip planning guide supplied by Parks Canada:
 
Skiers should take note that when air cools above the Penny Ice Cap it becomes denser and drains to the valleys below as tremendous winds. These "katabatic winds" are often associated with glaciers. In Auyuittuq National Park they can blow up to 175 km/hr, creating severe storm conditions in Akshayuk Pass even when the glaciers above are relatively calm and sunny.
 
Even experienced mountaineers may not have encountered Auyuittuq's hazards before. Please consider the following carefully in the light of your own experience and preferred comfort levels. Some mountaineers believe that travelling in the cold and wind of Auyuittuq in the springtime is similar to travelling at 10,000 feet or higher elevation in the Canadian Rockies in the dead of winter. Are you ready for this?
 
Wind, combined with temperatures that often drop well below freezing can create a wind-chill temperature that is beyond measurement.
 
Polar bears may be encountered at any time of the year, anywhere in Auyuittuq National Park, even on glaciers. Do not camp or linger on the coast.
 
Consider that the only first aid that can reach you quickly is that of your own group. It is advisable to have some knowledge of emergency medical techniques and a full first-aid kit.
 
Auyuittuq National Park lies within the area of compass unreliability. GPS receivers are your best bet for navigation.
 
You are responsible for your own safety! You must be capable of and experienced in assessing avalanche hazard for yourself. You must be capable of and experienced in safe glacier travel techniques and crevasse self-rescue.
 
March:
Average High -15.5 C
Average Low -31.5 C

Nunavut Map

Auyuittuq Map

Feb. 07 200 - Back From Antarctica (Again)-For the second time in just a few weeks, I made the journey across the Drake Passage to the frozen continent of Antarctica. Words cannot fully describe the beauty of this place. This recent adventure included more sea kayaking but we also slept out in a snow cave and did a lot of ice climbing on the sides of glaciers as well. What a great challenge!
 
Another highlight was actually attending a wedding down there. Many congratulations to Margaret and Peer who managed to pull off a fantastic wedding in the most unlikely place. The weather was perfect with mild temperatures and sunshine. Everyone aboard the Professor Multanovskiy came ashore and even the Russian captain of the ship performed the ceremony. Most of the people on board this time were Australian and wow, do those Aussies know how to party!
 
I highly recommend that anyone who has ever thought about the possibility of going to Antarctica should really make the effort. The wildlife, the scenery, the icebergs, they all make it seem like you've truly left Earth and stepped into another world.
 
Many thanks and sincere gratitude go out to my friends Peter Bland and Nik Halik at Adventure Odyssey. What a joy it was to spend time with such inspirational, world class adventurers.

Antarctica 2

Antarctica_2

Jan. 20 2009 - Ushuaia, Argentina - It took a while but I have now uploaded more photos from my recent Antarctica voyage. I've divided them into 4 categories:
 
Sea Kayaking
 
Antarctic Wildlife
 
Icebergs & Glaciers
 
Deception Island
 
It was tough sorting through the hundreds of photographs, Antarctica is so incredible. So sit back, flip through the pictures and enjoy. I'll bet that after looking through them, you start thinking about the possibility of going there yourself. I have a few more days here in Ushuaia before I head back down for a second Antarctic expedition. For the time being, I'm enjoying the warm temperatures and snow-capped mountain scenery as I prepare for the next adventure.
 
I hope to get the opportunity to do some more kayaking in Antarctica. It is so quiet there, the only sound is the gentle scrape of the kayak through the ice with the occasional squawk of a penguin, or crash of a calving glacier. The place is pure magic.
 
Can you tell I like the place? I keep going on and on. I think you get the idea, time to sign off for now.

Antarctic Wildlife
Sea Kayaking

Jan. 16 2009 - Back From Antarctica! - My first journey to Antarctica is now complete! What an amazing place. The peninsula contains some of the most breathtaking scenery I've ever encountered and it is teeming with wildlife including numerous species of penguins and seals. I spent a great deal of my time sea kayaking amongst the icebergs and at one point I had a 50 foot Humpback whale swim directly underneath my kayak. It was so close that I was worried that it might accidentally smack me with its tail! What a thrill!
 
I also had the opportunity to camp out on the snow for a night, well "night" is a relative term since that far south, the sun never actually sets this time of year. This journey marks the completion of a long term goal of mine to visit all seven continents, and what a way to do it! Getting down there has its own set of challenges though, mainly crossing the Drake Passage, which is notorious for its huge waves, rough seas and strong wind & currents. It takes almost three days to plow through this passage but once you put it behind you, all the discomfort is quickly forgotten.
 
I'm currently back in Ushuaia, Argentina, the most southern city in the world. I remain here for another week or so then I climb aboard another Russian ship and head south across the Drake again for yet another Antarctic adventure!
 
In the coming days, many more pictures will be posted.

Kayak_01

Dec. 29 2008 - Heading to Antarctica! - The time has come for me to reveal the latest news.... The Angry Planet production team is heading to Antarctica in early January. I've been wanting to visit the frozen continent for many years now and it only seems natural to film an episode of Angry Planet there since it is the coldest, driest, windiest and least hospitable continent of them all. Actually, once I set foot there, I will have completed a life goal of visiting all 7 continents before the age of 40.
 
The jumping off point for this adventure will be the city of Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Argentina. I've been there before, when I sailed around Cape Horn in 2006 but this time, the journey (by ship) will continue across the Drake passage and to Antarctica itself. The Drake is notorious for its rough seas and terrible weather and it will take several days for us to cross it.
 
After spending almost a week in Antarctica, I'll then return to Ushuaia where I will bid farewell to my cameraman. I`ll remain in Ushuaia a while longer before meeting up with fellow extreme adventurer Nik Halik, for yet another voyage south to Antarctica. Nik just finished his cosmonaut training in Russia and has his sights set on a mission to the International Space Station!! Compared to space, this will be a simple journey for him.

Antarctica

An Archive of Previous Year's News Items Can Be Found Here

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2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

 

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