Photograph courtesy Born to Explore/ABC
Some people seem to have exploration hard coded into their DNA. This is true for Richard Wiese, whose globetrotting parents took him to some of the world's most far flung places starting at an early age—including climbing Kilimanjaro at age 11. We spoke to Wiese, former president of the Explorers Club and a lifelong adventurer and field scientist, about his new TV show, Born to Explore (Saturdays on ABC, check local listings). Once admittedly fueled by testosterone, Wiese is now a family man, and it shows. Here he explains his shift away from adrenaline to a slower, more deliberate approach to experiencing the Earth's amazing places, cultures, and creatures. Tune in this week to see Australia's rugged Northern Territory (see a preview below).
Adventure: By the time we publish this interview you’ll be Iceland. What’s going on there?
Richard Wiese: We're shooting episodes of Born to Explore about volcanoes and looking into Viking ancestry. Iceland is very interesting because the Mid-Atlantic Ridge goes right through Iceland, so y ou have the North American plates and the European plates colliding or spreading apart from there. So everything in Iceland is predicated on volcanoes. In fact, the term "geyser" comes from Icelandic.
A: You’re kind of a volcano hunter, aren’t you?
RW: I actually studied geology at Brown; I've done quite a few projects with volcanoes—and quite a few active ones: Cotopaxi in Mexico when it was erupting; Etna in Sicily, Italy; Soufriere Hills in Montserrat; Kilauea in Hawaii. Volcanoes seem to chase me around ... or the other way around.
A: Which volcano would you recommend for a first-time lava trek?
RW: Kilauea in Hawaii is probably the most active and the safest one to go up to. But Etna is interesting, too, because you are in Sicily. There are more complex volcanoes out there, but they are beyond the Volcano 101 trip.