Expedition News
October 2004 – Volume Eleven, Number Ten –

EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 10th year, is the monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online and via snail 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.

The following are highlights of our 10th anniversary issue., but this is only part of the story. Click here to subscribe to the full edition. or e-mail us for a free sample copy at editor@ExpeditionNews.com


Nearly 60 years after Thor Heyerdahl sailed across the Pacific Ocean aboard the balsa raft Kon-Tiki, a team that includes his grandson hopes to repeat the feat next year – with a 21st-Century twist.

The new team, backed by Norway's Environment Ministry and endorsed by the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo, said last month that they hope to follow the route of the epic voyage aboard a balsa raft named for Tangaroa, the Polynesian god of the ocean.

Although the Tangaroa will be primitive, expedition member Inge Meloey said it will showcase modern technology. The cabin roof will have solar panels to generate electricity, he said, and the raft will have satellite navigation and communications, and transmit Internet updates throughout the voyage, set to start April 2005.


"Save the Glacier" – Restoring Adm. Byrd’s Icebreaker

During its prime, the USS Glacier, once the free world’s largest and most powerful icebreaker, was capable of penetrating ice 20 feet thick in places where no man had gone before. The "Mighty G," serving at the time with the U.S. Navy, made Antarctic history by becoming the first ship to penetrate the Bellinghausen Sea to make landfall on Thurston Island. The Glacier also rescued the beset Danish ship, Kista Dan, which was carrying veteran explorer Sir Vivian Fuchs in 1960. One Danish crewmember would later recall of the incident, "The situation was very critical, and our vessel was turned around by the drifting ice. Soon all the ice around was red from the paint of our vessel, and our hull was starting to give in."

The USS Glacier served as Adm. Richard E. Byrd’s flagship during Operation Deep Freeze (1955-56), and routinely broke through 20 miles of channel permitting cargo vessels to bring supplies to the American base at McMurdo Sound. In all it amassed over 32 years of expeditions to the North and South Poles.

Today, while it lies in mothballs at the Maritime Administration’s Defense Reserve Fleet Facility, hundreds of volunteers from across America have been gathering in Suisan Bay, Calif., in an ambitious program to restore the 310-ft. Glacier which was decommissioned in 1987.

The non-profit Glacier Society, based in Stratford, Conn., is restoring and preserving the ship as an operational oceanographic platform for marine and medical science, environmental education and the preservation of 250 years of polar history. It hopes to serve as a living museum for uniting polar interest around the globe.


Lightweight Gear Guru Champions Alpine-Style Thru-Hiking

Demetri "Coup" Coupounas, a 38-year-old Boston native and co-founder and president of GoLite, a Colorado-based lightweight outdoor gear manufacturer, became the first known person to hike Vermont's 273-mi. Long Trail entirely un-resupplied when he reached the southern terminus of the Long Trail on Aug. 31. His total hike of 280 un-resupplied miles, including approach trails at either end, consumed a total elapsed time of 12 days, 19 hours, 53 minutes. When thru-hiked, the trail is normally completed in 20 to 30 days with several resupplies.


Stephanie Powers Among Lowell Thomas Honorees

Actress Stephanie Powers is one of the honorees at The Explorers Club 2004 Lowell Thomas Awards dinner, Oct. 22 in New York. The Lowell Thomas Award is presented by the president of the Club and Rolex Watch USA to groups of explorers who have distinguished themselves in a distinct way.


Where are they now?

Ten years ago this month, Expedition News started as a simple idea: create a forum for explorers to post their projects so that sponsors, the media, and other explorers could participate. At the time, e-mail was still in its relative infancy; most copies of EN were either mailed or sent by fax (remember fax machines?). Today, between the ExpeditionNews.com Web site, e-mail and snail mail subscriptions, and quarterly excerpts in the Explorers Club Explorers Journal, approximately 10,000 people each month read about projects that "stimulate, motivate and educate."

Once you’ve been on an expedition, the experience gets in your blood. It can be the most challenging days of your life, filled with hardship, sensory depravation, and periods of, well, rather poor personal hygiene. Yet it seems explorers start planning their next expeditions even before their current projects end. So we thought it would be enlightening to dig out our first October 1994 issue to see whether that spirit is still alive 10 years later. Here is a look at a few of our favorite Expedition News stories.

  • Helen and Bill Thayer of Snohomish, Wash. had just returned from a 1,200 mile kayaking and trekking expedition through a little-explored region of the Amazon when we first covered them 10 years ago.

    The Amazon expedition included the first known kayak passage of two rivers in the region, and photography of three species of insects at that time unknown to science. The Thayers also gathered information about medicinal plants and the Indians' reliance upon the jungle environment.

    Since then, they have walked 1,500 miles through Death Valley, Mojave and the American and Mexican Sonoran Deserts (1995); walked across the Sahara Desert following an ancient camel trade route of 2,400 miles (1996); and Helen soloed 550 miles in Antarctica, pulling her own 260-pound sled (1997). Helen walked alone 1,200 miles through New Zealand north to south to study the Moari culture (1999); and together the Thayers trekked on foot across the entire 1,500-mi. length of the Mongolian Gobi Desert west to east (2001).

    Today, Helen, 66, and Bill, 77, have hardly slowed. Helen tells EN, "We are still heavily involved with our expeditions and Adventure Classroom in which we take the four corners of the world into classrooms throughout the country with in-school lectures, slide programs and books. Schools worldwide receive the information via www.HelenThayer.com. For instance, Chinese high schools now use my first book, Polar Dream in English study programs."

    Helen continues, "My latest book, Three Among the Wolves – A Year of Friendship with Wolves in the Wild, was published this spring and is the result of a unique year-long study of three packs of wild wolves in the Canadian Yukon wilderness and polar ice cap."

  • Laura Evans (1949-2000) – Back in our first issue we wrote about a coming attempt on Aconcagua by mountaineering guide Peter Whittaker and Laura Evans, who at the time was recovering from breast cancer.

    In January 1995, Evans and Whittaker led a team of 17 breast cancer survivors to the top of Aconcagua, raising awareness, research funds, and hope for a cure to breast cancer.

    With the triumph of Aconcagua, Laura and her team were able to send a powerful message about the determination of women everywhere to fight what is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in America. Through this initial effort, there have been several successful expeditions, various hikes, special events, speeches and fund raising activities across the U.S.

    In 1996, the inspiring story of her recovery, The Climb Of My Life, was published by Harper Collins and became a cherished survival handbook for countless women battling breast cancer.

    Laura continued to lead the Expedition Inspiration Fund for Breast Cancer Research (www.ExpeditionInspiration.org) until her death from a brain tumor in 2000. But Expedition Inspiration keeps going. This past summer the group organized a climb of Thompson Peak in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains. It was part of "Five Peaks in Five Years" - an effort to summit the tallest mountains in Idaho.

  • Dan Buettner – Buettner’s MayaQuest was an early example of distance education. He lead an interactive bicycling expedition through Central America in January 1995 using laptop computers and satellite equipment to link the cycling explorers to schools and homes. At the time they used Prodigy as their Internet Service Provider (now there’s a brand from the past).

    Buettner is still getting it done, this time with the LifeQuest Expedition, a series of expeditions to longevity hotspots to collect data about healthy aging. Starting next spring in Nova Scotia, Buettner’s 8-person team will identify common threads in the lifestyles, diet, outlook, and stress-coping mechanisms of the world’s oldest and healthiest peoples. They will examine Sardinia, the tiny region in Italy that’s home to 20 times the number of centenarians than the average in the developed world.

    Another stop will be the Caribbean island of Dominica, whose population is largely of African descent, with a 66 percent higher proportion of centenarians than the U.S. A companion BRIDGE study will empower children to identify healthy agers in their families and communities. (For more information: www.TheQuestNetwork.com).


    Expedition Public Relations – Alex Foley & Associates specializes in international public relations for explorers, expeditions and adventure challenges creating maximum value for title sponsors.

    Alexandra Foley is a dual British-American citizen, Honorary Secretary of the British Chapter of the Explorers Club and a Fellow of The Royal Geographical Society. Her firm has executed PR programmes for numerous expeditions including the Titanic 1996 Expedition, The Ice Challenger Bering Strait Expedition, Will Cross’s Novolog Ultimate Trek to Cure Diabetes, David Hempleman Adams’s Chase de Vere, Bank of Ireland and Uniq Atlantic Balloon Challenges, and his solo and unsupported trek to the Geomagnetic North Pole, and Rosie Stancer’s Snickers South Pole Solo Challenge.

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

    Himalaya with Daniel Mazur

    Full-service: Sherpas and all expenses.
    Everest 2004 $19,500; Amadablam 2003-06, $3,950; Manaslu 2004, $7,950; Pumori 2004-06, $4,450.
    Low-budget: Mustagh-Ata 2004-06, $1,600; Cho-Oyu 2004-06, $5,200; Everest 2004-06, $6,550.
    Novices, experts. Treks, video/slide shows!

    Tel: (+1) 360-570-0715

    EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 28 Center Street, Darien, CT 06820. Tel. (+1) 203-655-1600, fax (+1) 203-655-1622, blumassoc@aol.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jamie Gribbon ©2004 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr.; international postal rate US$46/yr. Click here to subscribe to the full edition.. 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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