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Estonia does not have any high mountains.  Munamagi, the highest point in the Baltic countries, reaches only 318 meters.  While many famous sea captains from Estonia are well known for exploring the distant shores, it is less known that the first ascent of Mt. Ararat (5,165 m) was made by Friedrich Parrot in 1829, a professor of physics in Tartu University.  More recently Estonians have done numerous major climbs in Caucasus, Himalaya and in the Alps.  Estonians have also explored remote wilderness areas, including crossing Tierra del Fuego without any outside support, Taymyr Peninsula that forms the most northern part of mainland Asia, and others.   There is a small group of “välis-eestlasi” in America, Olaf and Gitta Sööt, Rein Grabbi and Juri Tint, have organized many expeditions  to remote wilderness areas and climbed major peaks that border the Pacific Shores of the Americas from Alaska to Patagonia.  Their story is told in Olaf’s book, “Alpine Americas” in pictures and words.       Olaf Sööt is a Fellow Emeritus of the Explorers club and has lectured there for years.  His recent audiovisual presentation “The Mystery Mountain” in the Club was also attended by several Estonians, including Ambas-sador Margus Kolga, Perma-nent Represtatative of Estonia in the United Nations. This audiovisual lecture was about Mt. Waddington, a remote, difficult and intricate peak that has been reluctant to give up its secrets.  Spotted in 1925 and not climbed until 1936, it is the highest peak in Canada’s British Columbia.  Rising near the Pacific coast, it is protected by all kinds of defenses, starting with steep walls of fjords, crevassed glaciers, tangled vegetation and malevolent oceanic weather.  But, when the skies are clear, it is one of the most beautiful mountains on our planet.    Mt. Waddington is another of the world’s major peaks that sees few suitors and even fewer successes.  It remains one of the grand prizes in mountaineering.  Only for the lucky the weather breaks for a spell and opens the way to the apex of British Columbia.  This audio‐visual presentation took us there and is a celebration of the western world’s majestic high places. But even more, as a flashback, this presentation also took the audience from Alaska to Patagonia and showed familiar Estonian faces.  Images of Gitta and Mark Sööt, Rein Grabbi and Juri Tint accompanied this long journey. His cameralens has also captured few others who have had the pleasure of joining some of Olaf’s pursuits. Olaf Sööt is an engineer, explorer, and photographer, who has spent a lifetime unveiling the patterns of the natural world. The joy of unraveling the secrets of nature has characterized his career, both in his gift with the camera and in his grasp of technical concepts. Finding a way through a wilderness to an unexplored summit, for Olaf, is much like solving an engineering problem or designing something new. Both require vision, knowledge and care. Olaf Sööt’s unique engineering designs can be seen in the Metropolitan Opera in New York, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, and in the magic behind the Cirque du Soleil’s “O” show at the Bellagio, Las Vegas. His innovations range from solving serious problems in the fields of energy, transportation, and handicapped access, to designing unique rides and attractions for the major theme parks for Walt Disney and Universal Studios in the US and overseas. Olaf and his wife Gitta have explored rivers, lands, and mountains on four continents. They have chronicled their journeys on film, including a 10,000 mile odyssey along the mountains of the Western Hemisphere from Alaska to Patagonia. Their classic movies Alps of Wyoming and Zero Zero Romeo, celebrating both climbing mountains and soaring above them, have won prestigious international awards. Travel and natural history journals have published Olaf’s stills, which also hang in the collections of American corporations. His award‐winning photographic books Adirondacks Alive and Alpine Americas, published in 2006 and 2008, take the readers to the New York State wilderness and through the western mountains from Arctic Ocean to Cape Horn.   About The Explores Club  The Explorers Club is an international multidisciplinary professional society, dedica-ted to advancement of field research and the ideal that is vital to preserve the instinct to explore.  Founded in New York City in 1904, The Explo-rers Club promotes world-wide scientific expedition on land, sea, air and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences.  Its headquarters is located in “Lowell Thomas building”, 46 East 70th Street in New York City.  Its members have been responsible for many famous firsts.  First to North and South Poles, to the summit of Everest, to the deepest point in the ocean and to the surface of the moon.        Aime Andra Factual information obtained from Olaf Sööt.  


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