Expedition News
June 2003 – Volume Ten, 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.

Were WWII Airmen Enslaved?

There is a legend among the people of Sichuan, China, that during WWII American pilots were captured by a slave owning tribe known as the Black Lolos, and lived out their lives as slaves in the villages of the Cool Mountains.

The tale has pervaded the oral histories of both the Lolos and the American pilots who served in the China-Burma-India Theater since that time. While this legend may be as specious as the purported existence of the Yeti, it makes an interesting premise for an expedition, an expedition such as that planned by producer/writer Ann Marie Lynch, a former soap opera actor from New York and Los Angeles.


Everest did little to cooperate last month as more than 1,000 people from a record 22 expeditions flocked to its flanks to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first summit. Last month, fierce winds of up to 120 mph destroyed many high camps, thousands of dollars in gear were blown away or swept into crevasses, and climbers were sent scurrying back to base camps on both sides of the mountain. Adding to the agony: a helicopter crashed while en route to Everest on May 28, leaving three Nepalese dead.

Predictably, some Everest summiteers are decrying the tourist “circus” on the mountain. Japan's Junko Tabei, who in 1975 became the first woman to reach the summit, told Reuters, "It's rather regrettable that the value of climbing Mount Everest has diminished. The huge number of climbers has made climbing Mount Everest more dangerous and has also made the mountain less sacred."

Said Ed Viesturs, an American mountain guide from Seattle, "The 'circus' is more due to the fact that people seem to be trying to outdo each other to gain sponsors and/or gain notoriety. For example, The Fastest, The Youngest, The Oldest.

"The crowds have changed the mystique. But that's the way it is. There are more people everywhere - Grand Canyon, Yosemite, The Alps, etc."

Sir Edmund Hillary himself was advocating as early as 1989 that the mountain be closed for five years. That never happened, but the Nepalese government did begin to pay more attention to overcrowding.

  • Youngest AmericanJohn Roskelley, 54, and his son, Jess Roskelley, 20, a mountain guide and University of Montana student, reported their successful summit from the northern side in a satellite telephone call to Dan McConnell, a Seattle spokesman for their climb. "Being able to do it together was a dream for both of them," McConnell said of the Spokane, Wash. team. Staying healthy was their biggest challenge. “If you’re sick as you ascend, the worse your sickness gets,” said the elder Roskelley.

    Nepalese mountaineering officials can recall no American younger than 20 reaching the summit, though they do not keep official records. Government regulations prohibit attempts on Mount Everest and other peaks by anyone aged less than 16, which has protected the record set by Temba Chheri, who scaled Everest from the Tibetan route at the age of 15 years 18 days in 2001.

    The Roskelleys were members of the Generations on Everest Expedition. Team members Dick Bass, 73, the Dallas businessman who conceived the Seven Summits concept, and Seattle attorney Jim Wickwire, 62, had to abandon their attempts because of physical difficulties. Bass e-mailed friends that he injured his back on Mar. 31 diving into a low two-man tent, “like a playful little boy.” He wrote with exceptional candor, “Frankly, I was tearful with pain, swearing at myself for having such mock heroic, vainglorious, and extremely unrealistic expectations by being here … On this climb I've been feeling like a 100-year-old in a 73-year-old body with all the frailties that entails.”

  • The Everest Box Score – Around 175 people have lost their lives trying to scale Everest, according to record-keeper Elizabeth Hawley in Kathmandu. Some 1,300 people have summited so far. Hawley predicts the next truly historic climb of Everest lies in the future.” It has been thought of but no one has ever tried it: a traverse not just of Everest but also of two mountains, Lhotse and Nuptse, that adjoin it to form a horseshoe,” she writes.


    Stranded at the Pole – British explorer Pen Hadow, 41, got himself into a bit of trouble last month when he was stranded at the North Pole for a week. After completing his trek on May 19, he was drifting in a tent on an ice floe with his rations running low and no direct communication with his base team. Two earlier attempts to pick up Hadow by plane failed when broken ice and thick clouds prevented the aircraft from landing at a refueling stop. The third attempt, by Kenn Borek Airlines, was successful.

    Hadow began his 64-day, 478-mile trek on March 17 from Ward Hunt Island in northern Canada, completing the journey to become the first person to reach the North Pole alone and unaided from Canada.

    Amex Expedition Credits Sir John Franklin – After 18 days and over 170 miles of sled hauling, the American Express Franklin Memorial Expedition successfully commemorated one of Britain’s most significant, but little known polar explorers, Sir John Franklin. The expedition retraced his last steps and those of his men in an attempt to resolve some of the mysteries surrounding his final expedition.

    Golf Mongolia – If this is an expedition, sign us up: an American adventurer named Andre Tolme, 33, is golfing his way on foot from east to west across Mongolia this month. To reach the first “tee,” Tolme trained north from Beijing to Ulan Bataar, then bused to the eastern city of Choybalsan. From there, it’s five months, 500 golf balls, 18 holes and 2.3 million yards (1,319 miles) until he reaches the western city of Dund-Us.


    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, Ice Challenger across the Bering Strait, and David Hempleman-Adams' Atlantic balloon crossings and first solo and unsupported expedition to the Geomagnetic North Pole.

    Alex Foley & Associates Ltd.
    London, UK
    Tel: (+44) 207-352-3144
    Mobile: (+44) 797-671-3478.

    Everybody on Foot Uses the Expedition Battery – A disposable battery that whips the competition hands down in cold weather, weight and shelf life – extreme for worldwide extremes – cordless electricity. A silent, automatic supply of power to run your video, your sat phone, your whatever. Nobody shoots for long without one — miniDV to IMAX, 350g to 1 kg; 60 to 200 watt-hours per. Call me. I’ll assure you of satisfaction.

    Stuart Cody
    Tel: (+1) 617-787-4313
    Fax: (+1) 617-787-4438
    Automated Media Systems
    8 Holton Street
    Allston, MA 02134

    Climbing: Expedition Planning, by Clyde Soles and Phil Powers – new from Mountaineers Books. This is the only reference on planning, organizing, and leading climbing expeditions, large or small. Receive a free catalog including more than 500 outdoor titles from The Mountaineers Books, online or by phone.

    The Mountaineers Books

    EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 28 Center Street, Darien, CT 06820 USA. Tel. (+1) 203-855-9400, fax (+1) 203-855-9433, blumassoc@aol.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jamie Gribbon, Research editor: Ruth Burton. ©2003 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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