The Last Wild Race

Katherine Panek and Jason Blair share how Esri maps were used in the Patagonian Expedition Race.

Jul 23rd, 2012

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00:01Every February, teams from around the globe travel to Chilean Patagonia to participate in an adventure at the end of the world.

00:08My name is Katherine Panek...

00:10...and I'm Jason Blair...

00:11...and last year we had the pleasure of working with NOMADAS International Group, alias NIGSA... create a set of maps for the Patagonian Expedition Race, often referred to as the Last Wild Race.

00:23Over the course of 10 days, teams of four from 20 different countries relied on map and compass in order to survive an expedition...

00:30...traveling south from the ancient port town of Punta Arenas across the Strait of Magellan through the endless peat bogs... forest, and unexplored mountain ranges of Tierra del Fuego, and finally to the legendary Beagle Channel...

00:43...where racers kayaked to the base of the imposing Pio Glacier.

00:46The harsh beauty of this land and the spirit of the race serve as driving forces to conserve Patagonia.

00:52The 2012 race was special for two reasons; one, because it was the race's tenth anniversary...

00:57...and two, because Esri partnered with NIGSA, becoming the event's official map and GIS provider.

01:04This partnership greatly increased our access to quality mapping products, allowing us to move beyond maps...

01:09...originally created from satellite imagery to the topographically accurate maps used in this year's race.

01:16However, even with Arc 10, creating the maps in the Patagonia proved a difficult task due to the remarkably limited...

01:22...or nonexistent regional data.

01:24Patagonia's backcountry is notorious for its lack of topographic maps, few of which exist at a scale larger than 1 to 100,000...

01:31...and data is traded from hand to hand rather than easily accessible in an online database.

01:36Something a university professor always reiterated to me is that understanding precedes action.

01:42We only conserve what we love, we only love what we understand, and we only understand what we know.

01:50In this vein, allowing the global community to explore Patagonia is a key way to gain more support for its conservation.

01:58Developing new and more accurate maps allows more people to experience remote areas and feel inspired to protect them...

02:05...and also effectively opens up access for ecotourism and sustainable development.

02:10Coinciding with the efforts of organizing an international event, NIGSA took on a conservation and trail-building project... the newly opened, 1,000-square-mile Karukinka Natural Park in Tierra del Fuego.

02:22This project was carried out by NIGSA volunteers on behalf of the Wildlife Conservation Society...

02:27...and opens up the first trekking section of the park for research and ecotourism.

02:32Here, you see an overview map of the conservation project.

02:36In the absence of commonly accepted names for many of the features in this area, major values are simply labeled numerically... order for the trail-building team to communicate their position and track progress with the main office via satellite telephone.

02:49These remain the first and only topographic maps existing at a navigational scale for this region.

02:54As the trail system in the park expands, they will be updated, allowing increased access to ecotourists, recreational enthusiasts...

03:00...and environmental scientists.

03:02Currently, the Chilean military is in the process of constructing a road that will closely follow a section of the Patagonian Expedition Race...

03:10...that passed through the Cordillera Darwin, seen in this map behind us.

03:14While many conservationists oppose this idea, maps of the area, including ours, and the expertise of leaders such as NIGSA founder...

03:22...and Patagonia guru Stjepan Pavicic, can help decision makers minimize the impacts of construction projects...

03:29...on ecologically sensitive areas.

03:33It's difficult to sum up the impact of the Patagonian Expedition Race on all those involved... we can really only speak for ourselves.

03:39Recently out of university, we found ourselves responsible for cartography that must safely lead racers, staff members...

03:45...and press attendees through remote and uncharted territory.

03:49In a place where poor maps could have serious consequences, this seemed an enormous responsibility.

03:54Working hard to meet the expectations and needs of the NIGSA crew, we spent hours on what we dubbed the Cartography Cave.

04:00There, we used what we had, created what we could, and came up with creative solutions to meet the difference.

04:08Holding the finished maps in our hands, hearing the calls of the first team to arrive at a race checkpoint...

04:14...the high spirit of the staff, seeing the sky alight with stars above a glacial mountain lake, these things are our Patagonia.

04:25We are grateful for the opportunity to develop the maps for such a remarkable event...

04:30...and proud to witness the ability of our passion for GIS to promote the conservation of the last wild places on earth.

04:38May they exist for a long time to come. Thank you. Thank you.

Copyright 2016 Esri
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