EXPEDITION NEWS is a monthly review of significant expeditions, research
projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online and by mail to
media representatives, corporate sponsors, educators, research librarians,
explorers, environmentalists, and outdoor enthusiasts. This forum on
exploration covers projects that stimulate, motivate and educate.
Here are highlights from this month’s issue:
For more than a half century, families of airmen declared Missing In Action
(MIA) during World War II have lived with a painful lack of closure, not
knowing exactly how or even where their loved ones died. A team of explorers
believes having such knowledge, while not the pain of loss, might ease the
emptiness and silence the nightmares.
A small, loosely knit group of friends, historians, aviators and scuba divers based in the San Francisco Bay Area and calling themselves the Bent Prop Team, will depart in early November for the Republic of Palau in the western Pacific to continue its search for American aircraft and airmen missing in action since WWII. The month-long project is called P-MAN III (for Palau-Marines+ Army Air Force+ Navy).
A British explorer is about to recreate one of the most famous camel-borne
crossings of the Sahara. John Hare, an environmentalist and campaigner for
the preservation of the wild Bactrian camel, will lead a
British-Chinese-Kenyan expedition which will re-explore by camel the route
taken by Hanns Vischer in his trans-Sahara journey of l906.
Hare's expedition, which sets out later this month, has a double purpose: to assess changes that have affected the Sahara since then, and to draw world attention to the plight of the wild camel - an endangered species that lives in the Lop Nur area of the Chinese Gobi and is more at risk than the giant panda.
From tighter airport security, to a struggling economy, to cutbacks in
travel, the world is a different place following the unprecedented Sept. 11
tragedy. Members of the outdoors community responded to the attack on New
York and Washington in different ways.
• Outdoor Industry Joins Relief Effort - Within days of the attack, outdoor industry manufacturers – the companies that make the gear used on expeditions – shipped an astounding array of product to aid in the relief. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, which represents backpacking, climbing, canoeing and other outdoor groups, donations included: 250,000 energy bars, 5,000 boots and shoes, 1,900 flashlights and headlamps, 4,000 waterproof jackets, 2,000 waterproof pants, 500 tents and tarps, 4,000 water bottle/hydration systems, and $200,000 in cash.
"Usually these groups furnish products to outdoor enthusiasts who experience the majesty of our public lands, but in this tragic time, they've come together to donate thousands of items desperately needed by disaster victims and recovery workers," said Interior Secretary Gale Norton in a statement praising the industry.
Most of the gear was supplied to AmeriCares, the international disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization. EN staff volunteered to accompany a supply-run to the WTC on Sept. 27. Round-the-clock news coverage of the past few weeks can’t begin to describe 12-15 city blocks of devastation – the 110 story buildings now mostly smashed into the six stories of shops, parking lots, and train stations that were beneath the surface.
For us, we’ll remember not so much the destruction, but the little things: the words “God Bless America” written on a deserted store window by a finger dipped in ash. The smell in the air – like a campfire recently doused. The portable cell tow ers erected to coax life out of buried cellphones undoubtedly low on power, if not crushed outright. And we’ll remember the dirty, gray ash that still covered building facades and awnings, as if a horrific volcanic eruption occurred nearby.
• AAC Mountaineers Offer to Help - Members of the New York chapter of the American Alpine Club, which held its 22nd annual dinner in New York on Sept. 29, have suggested that the organization provide technical support to a possible military response to the recent attacks. In a series of e-mails, some have suggested that since the region around Afghanistan is known to AAC mountaineers, proficient technical climbers would be useful for certain covert operations.
“Our organization offers a wealth of knowledge and talent that could potentially be useful,” writes David Ryon, M.D., of New Paltz, N.Y. “I am not suggesting that we call for an enlistment of AAC members, but we have the potential to contribute, as primary resources familiar with the terrain, to alpine and technical instruction, and perhaps as specific talent.”
The idea is not as far-fetched as it may seem: the AAC helped form and staff the elite WWII 10th Mountain Division, which distinguished itself in 1945 by capturing 2,300-ft. Riva Ridge, a German stronghold in the mountains of Italy. As well, the late Barry Bishop, an AAC member, was involved in covert operations for the CIA along the India-China border some years ago.
Much thought was given to possibly canceling the AAC dinner, scheduled just 18 days after the attack and only a few miles away. AAC section chairman Philip Erard explained to the sold-out crowd at the Union Club, “Climbing is an affirmation of life. As someone said, ‘we don’t climb to die. We climb to live.’” A silent auction that evening raised $3,400 for the disaster relief fund.
• SAR Dogs Play Important Role – Many of the search and rescue (SAR) dogs that have been assisting with the rescue and recovery efforts in New York have come from the wilderness community, according to Charley Shimanski, director of the Mountain Rescue Association Education. “And while the dogs represent an incredibly valuable resource, they are subject to many of the same physical and emotional hardships as their dog handlers.”
Shimanski continues, “At ground zero, a special veterinary clinic has been established for the SAR canines, many of whom suffered from cut feet (from the splinters of glass and steel), dehydration, and respiratory difficulties. Eye irrigation was needed as well for many of the dogs.
“When faced with decreasing odds of finding survivors, search and rescue dogs suffer many of the same emotional hardships as their two-legged counterparts. SAR dogs struggle with their lack of success at finding survivors, and can often get depressed by the high number of deceased subjects.” Shimanski tells EN, “As a result, it becomes difficult to motivate the dogs when they don’t feel rewarded for their efforts. To address this issue, many dog handlers are playing games of ‘hide and seek’ with their dogs, both at ground-zero and at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York - where they are being housed.”
• Everest Balloon Flight Cancelled – In a related story, China has declined to give permission to a British adventurer who planned to launch from Tibet in a hot air balloon for a solo flight over Mount Everest. Beijing refused to let David Hempleman-Adams fly alone from Tibet in an open-basket balloon over the world's highest peak into Nepal, a feat which has never been done before. No reason for the Chinese decision was given, but organizers said there were increased security considerations in the wake of the terrorist attacks.
Hempleman-Adams, 44, had hoped to take off from the Rongbok Monastery in Tibet, which is at an altitude of 4,870 m (15,978 feet), and fly as high as 10,670 m (35,000 feet) across the Everest summit into Nepal.
Adventure Diving: Tourism and
Oceanography Join Forces
By Dr. Don Walsh
It is an unlikely partnership, tourism and marine scientific research, yet it has been happening at sea over the past four years. While this new addition to global efforts in oceanography is small indeed, it does make a useful contribution. And it is an activity that is increasing each year.
For a free copy of the October issue containing this story, and a subscription order form, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Expedition News at 137 Rowayton Ave., 210, Rowayton, CT 06853 USA.
Going Deep – Undersea explorer Sylvia Earle tells Popular Science magazine (October 2001) she recently descended 1,800 feet in the Deep Worker diving suit leased by the National Geographic Society for the Sustainable Seas Expeditions, a five-year mission of exploration and research along the continental shelf of the U.S., Mexico, Belize, and Canada.
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A Himalaya, Africa, Aconcagua Inexpensive Climb - With Daniel Mazur, Amadablam, Kangchenjunga, 7000m snowpeaks, EVEREST, Cho-oyu, Manaslu, KILIMANJARO-TREK, Kenya rockclimb, 206-329-4107, www.summitclimb.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 28 Center Street, Darien, CT 06820 USA. Tel. 203-855-9400, fax 203-855-9433, email@example.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. ©2001 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr.; international postal rate US$46/yr. Highlights from EXPEDITION NEWS can be found at www.expeditionnews.com. Layout and design by Nextwave Design, Seattle.