There was an article in the January 2 issue of The Economist that really stimulated my thinking. Called “A new age of discovery”, it was about how much of our world is still unexplored. We tend to think of this planet as too trod upon, but as the article reports, “…vast unknown chunks of the world still tempt the purely adventurous.”
Mountains. Everest has been climbed more than 7,000 times, but thousands of impressive peaks in South America, Asia, etc. remain unconquered. Only 200 of Nepal’s mountains higher than roughly 19,700 feet have had people reach their summits. There are, therefore, 2,600 left to be climbed. The tallest unscaled mountain in the world is in Bhutan, probably The Earth’s most closed culture. Gangkhar Puensum, which is near Bhutan’s border with China, has been unavailable. However, it’s possible to get permission to climb Pakistan’s unconquered Muchu Chhish. The most recent disappointed assailers were on a British team that didn’t make it to the summit in 2014.
Caves. Half of the world’s caves, according to this thought-provoking article, remain uncharted. The largest cave by area in the world is on the island of Borneo. It wasn’t explored until 1981.
Oceans and seas. The largest unknown frontiers of all are seabeds. Experts say that less than 1% of Earth’s watery depths have been trod on. Only 3 humans have been to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the ocean’s deepest point. One of them is James Cameron, movie maker–Titanic, The Terminator, Avatar, etc. At the end of 2015 Great Britain’s John Beeden became the first person to row across the Pacific Ocean. Alone, he paddled from San Francisco, California, to Cairns, Australia.
Humans. This is hard to believe, but there are an estimated 80 isolated human communities that have had no contact with the wired world the rest of us live in. They are mostly in the Amazon Basin and New Guinea. One of the problems is that they speak unknown languages.
Unexplored territory. Antarctica is the continent that humans know the least about. Part of it remains 1 of only 2 still unclaimed areas in the entire world. Carrying only what he needed to accomplish this feat 10 years ago, an adventurous Norwegian, Rune Gjeldnes, became the first person to ski across Antarctica. One of the things that makes Australia’s Kimberley region so fascinating to me that I’ve written a book about it is that parts of it still have not known human footprints.