Expedition News

June 2002 - Volume Nine, Number Six

EXPEDITION NEWS is the 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.


A Ph.D. candidate at the University of Nevada in Reno, is backpacking to remote regions of the American West to study the army cutworm moth (ACM) in an effort to assist threatened grizzly bears.

"The availability of ACM's to grizzly bears is important to grizzly bear conservation," says Hillary Robison, 30, who leaves this September for a two-week field expedition in Wyoming's Absaroka Mountains. "Little information is known about the ACM's migration ecology and population genetics. My research focuses on determining ACM origins through the use of molecular genetic markers and population genetic models. Weather patterns, pesticide use and habitat change in the insect's origins may affect the abundance and availability of ACM's to grizzly bears in remote high elevation areas," she said.


While Northern Alaska has become a lightning rod for environmental activism in recent years, not much is known about the current health of the region's largest river, the Yukon. An expedition team sponsored by WaterWatch International and Old Town Canoe, will paddle the route of the 1,900-mi. Klondike Gold Rush. The five-person expedition departs Bennett, B.C., early this month, and will then travel through the varied ecosystems of the Yukon Territory and Alaska as the Yukon flows to Norton Sound and the Bering Sea.


There are tougher mountains in the world and more remote mountains. There are even larger mountains when you consider volume rather than elevation - Mauna Loa consumes half the area of the Island of Hawaii. But none seem to fascinate the way Everest does. Everestmania peaks in May and last month was one of the mountain's most popular ever. The official mountaineering season ends May 31, when the climbers must be back to base camp, as monsoon rains make climbing too difficult and dangerous. Here's a brief look at May on the mountain:

A Record Day - Sixty-one climbers and their Sherpa guides reached the summit on May 16 breaking at least five records, including the largest group to conquer the peak in a single day. A break in bad weather allowed a quick rush for the summit.

Sons to the Summit - Peter Hillary, 47, Sir Edmund's son, reached the summit of Everest on May 25 with American climbers Pete Athans and Brent Bishop, and Nepali Sherpa guides Nima Tashi, Dawa Nuru, Da Sonan and Kami. The climbers spent about 40 minutes on the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) summit before turning back. This marked Hillary's second successful ascent of Mount Everest; he first summited in 1990.

Accompanying the team was a film crew from the National Geographic Channel that is making a documentary to be broadcast next year to mark the 50th anniversary of the first successful climb of Everest. Pete Athans set a new record for non-Sherpa climbers by reaching the summit for the seventh time. Brent Bishop, completed his second Everest summit ascent while commemorating his late father's role on the first American team to summit the mountain (1963).

Oldest Woman - A 63-year-old retired Japanese office worker last month became the oldest woman to climb Mt. Everest, breaking the record set by a 50-year-old Polish woman in 2000. Tamae Watanabe, from Yamanashi Prefecture, scaled Everest with a Swiss expedition.

Oldest Man - A 66-year-old Italian man last month became the oldest person to climb the peak. Mario Curnis, whose hometown was not known, reached the summit with another Italian climber, Simone Morro, and Nepali Sherpa guide Ang Mingma.

Curnis' feat breaks the record set by Japanese climber Tomiyasu Ishikawa, of Nagoya, who scaled the peak just a week before at the age of 65 years and five months.


Bunks in the Gunks

Ralph Erenzo, the Manhattan climbing promoter whose ExtraVertical has been producing climbing events across the U.S. since 1989, has uprooted his business 80 miles north of New York City to Gardiner, about three miles from the entrance to the Mohonk Preserve in the Shawangunk mountains. (See EN, November 1999). "The Gunks" are the largest and most popular area in the Eastern U.S., and one of the two most visited by European climbers coming to the U.S.

On a bucolic 35-acre spread called Tuthilltown, he's created "Bunks in the Gunks," a climber's Brigadoon with an historic gristmill, a country store, and a dormitory offering $35-$45/night beds. These days, Erenzo is the very model of a hands-on manager. "I always tell people, 'You can tell the owner right away, he's the guy cleaning the toilets and taking out the garbage.'"

But there's trouble brewing in paradise. Since July 2001, Erenzo has been embroiled in a struggle with 10 neighbors organized to prevent the development of the facility on the grounds that "transients" would make the neighborhood unsafe; that the neighborhood is "residential" in character and non-commercial (it has been an operating industrial mill site for over 200 years); the character of the market Erenzo wants to serve - climbers, mountain bikers, and other outdoors types - are not the kind of people they prefer to have across the river from their homes; that this kind of facility would present some environmental hazard to the adjacent Shawangunk Kill river, and other unsubstantiated rumors.

The American Alpine Club is encouraging a letter-writing campaign in support of Erenzo, a former board member. Erenzo, meanwhile, is seeking financial backing for his venture to the tune of approximately $650,000 - $700,000. (For more information: Ralph Erenzo, 845 255 1527, ralph@tuthilltown.com, www.Tuthilltown.com).


Take it to the Max - Itronix, makers of rugged laptops, is looking for expeditions willing to test its GoBook Max ultra-rugged notebook computer in extreme conditions.

The 6-lb. "ruggedized" GoBook MAX comes with a 700 MHz Pentium III processor and full wireless capability built within an intrinsically safe, waterproof design. It resists shock, vibration, extreme operating temperature, water, condensing humidity, dust, and salt fog. Its die-cast magnesium case is said to resist direct exposure to four inches of blowing rain per hour, a level equivalent to that found in typhoons. Operating temperatures for the GoBook MAX range from minus 22°F to 140°F. (For more information: Jubi Nawras, JGC-PR, UK 07970 958027; jubi@nawras.fsnet.co.uk; www.GoBookMax.com).


Expedition Public Relations - Alex Foley & Associates specializes in expedition PR. Alex Foley is honorary secretary of the Explorers Club British Chapter and has executed PR programs for many ventures including the 1996 Titanic Expedition and recently, Ice Challenger, the Bering Strait expedition flying Explorers Club Flag 176A this March. (www.icechallenger.com). Contact: Alex Foley & Associates Ltd. (London, UK), alexfoley@btinternet.com Tel: (+44) 207 352 3144; Mobile: (+44) 797 671 3478.

Absolute Adventure Himalaya Climbing Expeditions with Daniel Mazur Announcing new lowered prices due to recent events.

These are full service expeditions, including Sherpa and all costs inside Nepal: Amadablam 2002-05, $3,950; Kangchenjunga 2002, $6,950; Manaslu 2003, $6,950; Dhaulagiri 2004, $6,950; Pumori 2002-05, $3,950. We now offer our new low-budget expeditions: Mustagh-Ata 2002-05, $1,450; Cho-Oyu 2002-05, $4,650; Everest 2002-05, $6,000. Everything for the novice, intermediate and expert since 1987. 206-329-4107, summitclimb@earthlink.net www.summitclimb.com

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 28 Center Street, Darien, CT 06820 USA. Tel. 203 855 9400, fax 203 855 9433, blumassoc@aol.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jessica Brown. ©2002 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr.; international postal rate US$46/yr. Credit card payments accepted through www.paypal.com. Highlights from EXPEDITION NEWS can be found at www.expeditionnews.com and www.webexpeditions.net. Layout and design by Nextwave Design, Seattle.

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