Expedition 1000 Update: Atacama Whike Crossing Complete!

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The latest leg of Dave Cornthwaite’s Expedition 1000 project is complete. You may recall, Dave, and his two traveling companions,  Ned Aufenhast, and Jamie Fulbrook, set out from Santiago, Chile a few weeks back with the intention of crossing the Atacama Desert using a Whike – a specially designed bicycle that uses both the wind and pedals to propel itself along.

As with all previous legs of Expedition 1000, the crossing of the Atacama was completed using only non-motorized transportation, and covered a minimum of 1000 miles. It took Dave and company 19 days to wrap up the expedition, climbing more than 18,000 meters (59,055 feet) in the process.

According to Dave’s Facebook page, they averaged 6.2 mph over the course of their journey, which may not sound like a lot, but when you consider how mountainous Chile can be, that is a fairly steady pace over a 19 day period. Their top speed was 39.3 mph, no doubt on the downside of one of the aforementioned mountains. Their longest climb in a single day was from sea level up to 2087 meters (6847 feet), which is an awful lot for the body to compensate for if you’re not prepared for altitude. Over the course of the journey, they averaged nearly 9 hours per day on their Whikes.

The Atacama Desert is well known for being the driest place on Earth. Trapped between the Chile’s Pacific Mountain Range on the west, and the Andes on the east, it falls into a rain shadow that is very difficult for storms to pass over. As a result, there are actually places in the Atacama that have not seen rainfall in recorded history. But the place has a stark beauty to it that can be breathtaking. It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite places that I have ever visited.

The boys will now rest for a few days before they launch the next leg of Expedition 1000. That journey will get underway on April 28, but what exactly it will be remains a mystery. Stay tuned for more!

Kraig Becker

1 thought on “Expedition 1000 Update: Atacama Whike Crossing Complete!”

  1. Bike and Sail? Maybe I should have written a report on our 1966 crossing of the Spray Lakes, returning from a winter ascent of Mt. Assiniboine in the Canadian Rockies, tying a bivouac sack to skis and packsacks between two skiers to speed the process. May we could call this technique a "whisk"?

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