BIRDSVILLE, Australia, Sept. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- On August 29th, at 1730h (AEST), adventurer Sebastian Copeland and partner Mark George walked into the Birdsville's pub in the middle of the Australian outback after completing the longest West-East crossing of the Simpson desert, over 650 km in 26 days. Often referred to as 'the dead heart of Australia", the Simpson is one the world's harshest environments. As the longest parallel sand dune desert on Earth, it is home to over 900 dunes running longitudinally, and held in place by vegetation.
Pulling carts weighing over 400 pounds each at the start (mostly water), the men set off on August 4th from the Old Andado homestead and headed North/East onto the Madigan Line. So named after Cecil Madigan who led the first scientific expedition of the area in 1939, the line runs latitudinally across the Simpson's steep dunes. The soft red sand makes them especially difficult to cross with a heavy cart. The team reached the Colson Line eight days later, so named after Ted Colson, the first man to cross the Simpson in 1937. Copeland and George headed south towards the French line, reaching it nine days later and turned east. After eleven days and more than 900 dunes crossings, they finally reached Birdsville, but not without first ascending "Big Red", the Simpson's highest dune and its symbolic demarcation. Their total verifiable travelled distance is 651.1 kilometers completed in 26 days. This route was a world first, never before travelled on foot and unsupported. Given the dunes' north/south alignment, a latitudinal (west/east) crossing is exponentially harder to complete than its north/south counterpart.
Confronted with conditions ranging from 35C degree heat to pouring rain and frosty nights, Copeland and George encountered scorpions and deadly snakes (the Simpson is host to over 90 species), and unexpectedly struggled with muddy conditions along the way. Their final push was further challenged by a shortage of both water and food for a photo finish at the end of day 26. While completely self reliant—the mission was unsupported, meaning the team was not allowed to receive anything or help from anyone—a camera team from Brian Catalina Entertainment trailed the duo, chronicling the expedition for Red Bull TV. The Simpson crossing is one installment in a mini series that will follow the two adventurers from the desert to the ice, in anticipation of their North Pole crossing in 2017. Titled "The Last Great March" (www.lastgreatmarch.com), the program blends extreme adventure with a strong climate message spanning environmental water issues to melting ice.
The expeditions are carbon neutral: their emissions will be offset thanks to the support of Climate Partner and its tree planting and solar programs.
Sponsors include Napapijri, The North Face, Hilleberg tents, Herbalife, Organic Food bars, Nemo, Oakley, MSR and Seal Line. The Last Great March is patronized by the environmental NGO Global Green USA.
ABOUT SEBASTIAN COPELAND
Sebastian Copeland is an award-winning photographer, author, lecturer and environmental activist. He has made the fight for the protection of the environment his life's work. His photographic studies of the polar regions, assembled in books such as Antarctica: The Global Warning (Palace Press 2007) or Arctica: The Vanishing North (2015) won him prestigious awards including the IPA's 2007 Photographer of the Year. In 2015, Men's Journal named Copeland one of the world's top 50 adventurers. With over 8,000 kilometers under his skis, Copeland has crossed the largest bodies of ice on the planet. He has reached the North and South poles on foot, and traveled the length of Greenland, setting various records including the longest distance travelled by kite ski over one twenty-four hour period (with 595 km). Copeland has directed two feature documentaries on his expeditions. The award winning Into the Cold: A Journey of the Soul premiered at the Tribeca film festival in 2010. His second film, Across The Ice, was released by Red Bull Media House in 2015.
A board member and tireless advocate for Global Green USA (the international NGO founded by President Gorbachev), Copeland's mission is to raise awareness on the systemic changes stemming from climate change and their geopolitical consequences.
As an international speaker on climate crisis for over a decade, Copeland has addressed audiences at the United Nations, the World Affairs Council, and many colleges and museums as well as many Fortune 500 companies such as HP, Google, Apple amongst others. He has appeared on Larry King Live, NBC, NPR, Air America, and Al Gore's Current TV, as a champion of environmental causes. You can follow Sebastian on Twitter at @sebcopeland, become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SCopelandAdventures and visit the official site at www.sebastiancopelandadventures.com.
ABOUT MARK GEORGE
Mark George runs a successful business as a financial adviser. He has climbed extensively in Nepal (Everest 2005& 2008) Tibet (Cho Oyu); the European Alps, Alaska, the Andes, Africa, Antarctica, New Zealand and Australia. In doing so he has scaled the seven summits- the tallest peaks of each continent. In 2012 he was the first Australian to reach the South Pole Solo and Unsupported on skis from the Antarctic coast, a distance of 1130 km. In 2004 he had a taste of skiing part way to the North Pole with a last degree (60 nautical miles), however The Last Great March would fulfill Mark's ambition to complete the full journey from Canada to the Pole. If successful, climbing the 7 summits and completing full distance unsupported journeys from land to both poles would be a first for any Australian.
ABOUT RED BULL TV
Red Bull TV is a global digital entertainment destination that features programming that is beyond the ordinary and that is available anytime, anywhere. Combining live events, an extensive On Demand library, and a 'best of ' stream showing selected highlights that span all programming genres, including live original sports, exclusive music festivals, original series, feature length original films, documentaries and adventure, Red Bull TV offers an engaging viewing experience available anytime anywhere online at Redbull.TV, as an app, or via your Smart TV.
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SOURCE Sebastian Copeland