Adventure Travel Via the Internet
Mountainzone.com is a web site dedicated to every aspect of the mountains, climbing, hiking, biking and, in this instance, an interactive broadcast with Rob Deslauries and Scott Schmidt, skiers known for skiing extreme and treacherous terrain.
Politely answering questions e-mailed to them during the broadcast, provides the immediacy and intimacy the Internet is famous for. Virtually speaking, the skiers are visiting your living room. Mountainzone.com was started four years ago by climber and writer Peter Potterfield to be a clearinghouse for mountain related information.
Combining a sophisticated one pound telephone with the Internet has been an explosive mix for mountainzone.com. Now, visitors to the website can track travelers on their adventures, seeing, hearing, and responding to daily audio and video reports and watching slide shows. Even when the transmissions are sketchy, as they often were during climber Alex Lowe's assault of Pakistan's great Trango Tower, the at-home viewer is constantly privy to blow-by-blow details from accomplished climbers like Lowe.
On average, mounainzone.com receives about 500,000 visits a month. The success of the San Francisco-based Web Company has spawned competitors. New from Seattle, Washington is www.quokka.com, which provides virtual coverage of traditional sports and extreme adventure. Quokka's executive producer, Michael Goff, says the joy, tension and disappointment viewers at home express through their e-mail has made him understand they're no less engaged in the adventures than the adventurers themselves.
Because adventure travel is often solitary and remote, being wired into an audience has taken some getting used to for world renowned climber Ed Veestus. At first, he resisted the idea of sharing his experiences with the world. Now he says he's delighted that his quest to summit the world's 14 highest peaks is being tracked on mountainzone.com.
Adventurer Sedge Thompson is relying on quokka viewers to keep his spirits and courage afloat as he heads to Antarctica to spend a month surfing its giant and frigid waves. Reached by telephone en route, Thompson says for him and all those who'll join him via the Interne, the allure is the same as its always been for any explorer: the mystery of far off places and new lands.
The sights and sounds will be posted on quokka. Thompson's job will be to describe more intangible things, like scent and the severe seasickness he anticipates. Although they're considering interactive trips to more benign destinations, both quokka and mountainzone are hustling to expand their high-risk missions. Whatever it takes, they say, to satisfy all those adventurers who'd rather stay home.
I'm Pippin Ross for the Savvy Traveler.
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