BETHEL – Gould Academy will host a slide show by world-renowned climber Mark Synnott at 7 p.m. Friday, April 2, in the Trustee’s Auditorium of McLaughlin Science Center.

Last year, in March and April, Synnott and Jared Ogden, accompanied by a National Geographic Film Crew, established a first ascent on the “Prow” of Roraima, a remote sandstone rock tower in Guyana. The tower is the remnant of a sandstone plateau that once covered an area of roughly 200,000 square miles in the Amazon. Over millions of years, erosion wore down the plateau and left approximately 100 table-topped rock spires sticking out of the jungle.

The sheer cliffs ringing them range in size from 1,000 to 3,000 feet high and extend in some places for five miles or more. These giant cliffs have isolated much of the plant and animal life on their summits from the surrounding jungle. For scientists, the area is a treasure with countless new species waiting to be discovered. For climbers, the towers represent some of the biggest – yet least explored – rock walls on the planet.

Together with biologist Jesus Rivas, National Geographic correspondent Mareya Mayor, and a core group of Amer-Indian “joggers,” Synnott and the team spent close to two weeks just to reach the base of the cliff. On the cliff, scientists took flora and fauna samples while Synnott and Ogden established a ground-up, free climb up the overhanging 1,500-foot, tiger-striped wall.

The team spent five nights in Portaledges on the wall, battling tarantulas, scorpions and monsoon rains. Synnott, who has climbed all over the world, calls the first ascent of the Scorpion Wall “my all-time best adventure.”

The program is free. Seating is available on a first-come first-serve basis.


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