Expedition News
September 2005 – Volume Twelve, Number Nine

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 September 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


Father-son climbers John and Jess Roskelley of Spokane have been awarded a permit from the Tibetan Mountaineering Association to solve one of the Himalaya's last remaining technical “problems,” the Northeast Face of Gaurishankar. As the third father-son team to summit Mt. Everest (2003), the two are poised to make it into the record books once again. Gaurishankar, on the Nepal-Tibet border, is considered one of the last great problems left in the Himalayas. With 6,000 feet of never climbed ice and rock, there are few other unclimbed faces of such difficulty, size, and remoteness left in the world.


Polartec Explorers Return Safely – The Polartec Challenge, the international adventure grant program, announced the safe return of all three sponsored expeditions for 2005. Polartec Challenge winners were Nils Larsen for his expedition to the Chinese Altai Mountains; Ryan Nelson for his alpine climbing Project Bazooka Tooth; and Lindsay Yaw for her Lapland Ski Traverse.


Explorers Trek to Outdoor Retailer Show – The Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, held last month in Salt Lake, is the largest outdoor gear trade show in the world, and the largest trade convention in Utah. In fact, the Salt Palace Convention Center is being expanded, yet again, to accommodate a show that has grown to 926 exhibitors and an attendance of 19,000 industry professionals.

OR (pronounced “oh-are”) is where outdoor specialty retailers decide what to stock in their stores a full 8-10 months away. The packs, parkas, hiking boots and kayaks at Summer Market will start appearing in stores nationwide in spring 2006. Since OR is home to the leading outdoor manufacturers in the world, the event also attracts explorers seeking funding, and those just returning to report back to sponsors. Most notable:

The Dirtbag Adventurer

  • Michael Fay, National Geographic conservationist-in-residence, spoke during the Aug. 13 membership meeting of The Conservation Alliance (www.ConservationAlliance.com). Fay, introduced as a quintessential dirtbag adventurer who explores wearing little more than Patagonia baggies and Teva sandals, is an ecologist famous for completing a “megatransect” of large swaths of equatorial Africa.

    His 2,000-mi. walking expedition documented one of the last pristine places on earth. With a team of Africans, Fay trekked for 15 months through the heart of Africa's jungle documenting habitat for gorillas, chimpanzees and forest elephants. Fay reports coming across chimpanzees that had never seen humans before. “They would gather in a group of ten or more to gawk, instead of run away.” Fay and his team followed elephant trails so wide they would travel for 30 km without a leaf touching their arms.

    Fay believes, “We showed that one person can make a difference in conservation.” As a result of Fay's efforts, the president of Gabon agreed to protect 10 percent of his country for a system of 13 national parks.

    Nature Deficit Disorder
  • Where will the next generation of explorers come from if today's youth suffer from “nature deficit disorder?” According to author and San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Richard Louv, speaking at the Outdoor Industry Association breakfast, American youth are being alienated from nature. He notes that homework and other time pressures, and lack of access to natural areas, is keeping kids indoors. “Fear plays a large part of this - fear of traffic, of crime, of 'stranger-danger' and of nature itself. The boundaries of children's lives are growing ever tighter. Kids are under virtual house arrest, spending 44 hours a week with some electronic device,” he said. “It's real tough to have a sense of wonder playing Grand Theft Auto.”

    During his talk, Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods (2005, Algonquin Books), reports a fourth-grader said “I like to play indoors better 'cause that's where all the electrical outlets are.” Louv continues, “Never before in history have children been so plugged in - and so out of touch with the natural world.”

    Kayakers Use Their Heads
  • As more kayakers take to the water, close calls with powerboats in the boat channels of harbors and rivers have increased. Some local lobstermen off the Connecticut shore refer to kayaks as “speed bumps.” Such near-collisions worry officials at the Coast Guard, Departments of Environmental Protection, ferry services and others in the boating community.

    A chief concern of kayakers is the low-slung crafts' visibility. On radar, kayaks are virtually invisible. Cross Sound Ferry in New London, Conn., worried about kayakers, upgraded their two high-speed ferries with thermal-imaging cameras, according to the New York Times (June 12).

    Jon Bowermaster, leader of the Oceans 8 Expedition, which is kayaking the oceans of the world, tells EN he visited the captain of one ferry serving Homer, Alaska. “What do you see out there?” he asked. The captain replied, “Nothing. A kayak looks like a white cap to me.”

    Sailboats can carry reflectors on their masts, far above the water level. But placing a mastlike pole on a kayak would destroy its navigability. Now comes word that a Coast Guard study conducted in cooperation with Maine Sea Grant and the Maine Association of Sea Kayak Guide and Instructors, showed positive results when kayakers wore radar reflectors on their heads. A homemade tin foil hat generated stronger radar returns than smooth radar-reflective surfaces such as deck bags, flags or vests.

    “Wear a radar reflector on my head?” Bowermaster asks. “I'd try it, but first I'll be sure to stay out of the way of ferries.” (For more information: Maine Sea Grant – Radar Reflectors & Sea Kayak Visibility).

    Das Boot
  • Underwater explorer and videographer Dan Crowell, adventure writer and diving author, Kevin McMurray, and documentary producer, Vinnie Kralyevich have been leading diving expeditions to capture images of underwater WWII wrecks. They plan to videotape in high definition many of the U-boats sunk by the allied forces that now rest in American waters, and the shipwrecks along the East Coast that those U-boats sent to the bottom. The goal of the New Jersey-based dive operator is to graphically present the evidence that proves how close to U.S. shores these historic series of events occurred.


    Giving Thanks
  • For Sponsors, a Simple “Thank You” Goes a Long Way

    It seems so Golden Rule. So Emily Post. The simple act of saying “thank you.” Yet many explorers, regrettably, seem to forget their sponsors upon returning from an expedition. Oh sure, they may send a wrap-up report, but try to get them on the telephone, or answer an e-mail in a timely manner, much less secure images that actually are clear, in focus, and show the sponsor's product in use.

    The late Ned Gillette was a master of the “thank you.” In a whirlwind of sponsor visits at the Outdoor Retailer show in the late 80's to mid-90's, he would explain his next project and recap one just past. With his trademark Cheshire cat grin and deep raccoon tan, he would present sponsors with lengthy trip reports and conduct slide shows for one project or another, whether it was “Row to Antarctica,” the crossing of the Drake Passage from South America to Antarctica in a specially-made 28-ft. rowboat called the “Sea Tomato” (1988); or trekking along Marco Polo's 6,000-mi. Silk Road route from China to the Mediterranean (1994).

    Now in the spirit of Gillette, comes Rob Chang. Inspired by the death of his sister Marie in 2001, Chang, 36, from Santa Clara, Calif., launched a nonprofit organization called Climbing for a Cure to raise awareness and money for cancer research and prevention efforts.

    Chang summited Mt. Everest on May 31 with a team that included Apa Sherpa, 48, the Nepalese climber who holds a world record for the most summits (15). Of most interest to New York-based Wacoal Sports Science Corp. was that Chang was wearing its new CW-X Insulator and Pro Tights base layer garments throughout the project. Wacoal supported the climb and couldn't have been more thrilled by the experience.

    “Rob was the ultimate professional,” says Wacoal's John L.A. Wilson, executive vice president. “The man knows the importance of staying in touch with sponsors. He sent us frequent updates by e-mail, provided digital images of our product on Everest, and even created a DVD.”

    The DVD, sent by e-mail, and later on disk, showed Chang at 24,000 feet on Everest in what he called, “the world's highest altitude fashion show.” Chang did a Seventh Avenue runway twirl in the company's Insulator tights, and with labored breath extolled its virtues. The DVD was later shown at a CW-X sales meeting. Wacoal further communicated the success of its support of Chang in its company newsletter and on its CW-X.com Web site.

    Chang distributed digital images, and issued an Expedition Thank You Card via e-mail showing appreciation for 28 sponsors and numerous contributors. Chang also credits sponsors through public speaking engagements and has spoken before audiences at Cisco Systems, Arthur Andersen, Gateway Computers, Salesforce.com and the U.S. Marine Corps.

    The Everest climb marks the beginning of what Chang hopes will be the fulfillment of an ambitious goal: climbing the tallest peaks on all seven continents in just 18 months. In the next few months he will climb either Mount Elbrus in Russia or Aconcagua in the Andes of South America. An important part of his team will be the many sponsors that have come to appreciate Chang's common courtesy. (For more information: www.ClimbingForaCure.org, www.RobChangInspires.com, www.cw-x.com).


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    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 ©2005 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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