Expedition News
December 2005 – Volume Twelve, Number Twelve

EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 11th year, is the monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online 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 December 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


Jerry Friedman, 58, a commercial photographer from New Milford, Conn., is searching for the oldest people on earth. People like Damchaagiin Gendendarjaa, a 110-year-old Tibetan Buddhist lama he met in Mongolia who earned a doctorate in theology at age 106. He had all his teeth. He had never seen a doctor in his life, yet mild arthritis in his lower back was his only ailment.

The lama was one of more than 50 "supercentenarians" – people at least 110 years old – whom Friedman interviewed and photographed for a book, Earth's Elders: The Wisdom of the World's Oldest People.

Friedman closed his studio so he could travel the world to track down his elderly subjects, verify their ages as accurately as possible and document their life stories. "We as a culture have found a way to move them (the elderly) out of the mainstream and box them in," he tells the Associated Press. "They are people we can learn from. They are just sitting there, waiting to give us this extraordinary information. You just have to listen."

Next year, Friedman plans to depart for the Amazon, Lapland, Siberia, and Finland to study how, in this age of technology, the elderly continue to pass along their knowledge orally to younger generations, especially in the northern Amazon where 40 is considered old. While he photographs his subjects, he’ll use a videosat phone connected to a skilled interviewer in the U.S. who will record the elders’ oral histories.

Friedman doesn’t exactly rely on The Today Show’s Willard Scott for leads. People contact him all the time with extreme elder sightings, like the 109-year-old part-time gardener in Swampscott, Mass., that he plans to visit shortly.

Before Friedman embarked on his globetrotting search last year, he relied on a "compass" to find the world's oldest people. He found one in Robert Young, an Atlanta-based investigator for the Gerontology Research Group, which keeps a global database of supercentenarians.

As of Oct. 31, the group's database listed the names, ages and hometowns of 65 women and nine men who are at least 110 years old, but that's only the number the group's researchers have been able to validate. Young said there are an estimated 300 to 450 living supercentenarians worldwide, with around 60 in the U.S.

Friedman has invested a chunk of his life savings in the project, but he said all the proceeds from the book's sale goes to the Earth's Elders Foundation, a nonprofit he founded. For the 2006 expeditions, he’s seeking at least $150,000 in sponsorship support. (For more information: (+1) 860-354-3494, jsf@earthselders.org, www.EarthsElders.org).


Fiona Whitehead, 35, from Aberdovey, and Matt Milloy, 30, from Swindon, U.K., are planning to paddle sea kayaks in an 850-mile circumnavigation around the island of Sri Lanka.

Leaving this month, they will have to paddle 10 hours a day for 30 days to finish the journey in time. While in Sri Lanka, the two will have to avoid crashing surf, snake infested jungles and beaches littered with land mines. They will paddle through plush coastal resorts and Buddhist temples before entering the tsunami-wrecked villages of eastern Sri Lanka and the war-torn north sector, controlled by the LTTE – the Tamil Tigers. Fiona is being filmed from start to finish by Milloy who runs his own film documentary company, Angry Bear Productions.


Monaco's Prince Albert II is set to go on an expedition to the North Pole to focus world attention on environmental issues. The Prince plans to travel by dogsled to the Pole, following in the footsteps of his great-great-grandfather. The seven-day, 100-mile trip will take place in April – setting off from a meteorological base in Russia.

His announcement comes a few months after taking the throne of the tiny Mediterranean principality, following his father's death in April. As the son of Prince Rainier III and actress Grace Kelly, Albert, 47, is expected to be widely covered in the media next spring.


Human Circumnavigation ContinuesColin Angus is still out there attempting a human-powered circumnavigation of the globe (See EN, April 2004). Angus is perhaps best known for making the first source-to-sea descent of the Amazon River by raft in 1999, followed in 2001 by a descent of the world’s fifth-longest river from Mongolia to the Arctic Ocean (See EN, April 2001).

Five months ago, Angus and Julie Wafaei left Moscow on the second half of their circumnavigation expedition. After 49 days of cycling, they navigated the road systems of nine countries to reach Lisbon. They then prepared their ocean rowboat, Ondine, for an unsupported 9,000 km journey to Miami, attempting what is reportedly the first rowboat crossing of the Atlantic from Europe to North America.


Kayakers Circle South Georgia – A team of kayakers from New Zealand has completed the first successful circumnavigation of the South Atlantic Island of South Georgia – getting the jump on British rivals. The trio – Graham Charles and Marcus Waters from Christchurch and Mark Jones from Auckland – paddled to shore at King Edward Point at 4:30 p.m. (local time) on Oct. 30 to drink champagne, and play the New Zealand national anthem on a saxophone.

Quote of the Month

"I believe it is in our nature to explore. To reach out into the unknown. The only true failure would be not to explore at all." – Actor Kenneth Branagh who portrays Sir Ernest Shackleton in the A & E documentary Shackleton (2002).


Trip Report: Run Don’t Walk Couloir

By Stephen Koch

Stephen Koch of Jackson, Wyo., is a professional speaker, climber, snowboarder and mountain guide and is a pioneer in the field of snowboard mountaineering, a term he coined. His list of alpine ascents and descents include some of the most notable firsts anywhere in the world, most of which have never been repeated. He is the first and only person to snowboard on all Seven Summits, the highest peak on each continent. His particularly colorful report is available to subscribers, but for a free sample issue, send an e-mail to editor@ExpeditionNews.com


Tough Love – As Antarctica becomes a hot destination, scientists caution that the rising number of tourists could disrupt or harm its delicate wildlife, and environmental groups are asking the countries overseeing Antarctica to limit the number of visits.

According to a story in the Nov. 13 New York Times by Charles Choi, the number of tourists visiting the continent has tripled in the last 10 years, surpassing government and industry estimates. About 28,000 visited in 2004-05 on 29 ships. The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators has drawn up guidelines that call for a maximum passenger ship size of 500, and a limit of 100 passengers on shore at any one time.

"Tour operators know that unless they have a pristine pure penguin colony to look at, business goes into the tank," said Ron Naveen, president of the nonprofit research foundation Oceanites, Chevy Chase, Md.


Get Your E Tickets Ready – Disney, joined by Conservation International (CI) and Discovery Networks, have formed Expedition Everest: Mission Himalayas – a search for new species and exploration of ancient legends. Another goal is to ballyhoo Disney’s new theme park ride Expedition Everest, opening this April. A collection of experiences and artifacts were offered at DisneyAuctions.com with proceeds going to the work of Conservation International to study the world's biodiversity hotspots.

WEB WATCH Slide ShowAvalancheMapping.org is one of the most comprehensive sites we’ve seen with avalanche mapping information. It contains avalanche atlas maps with useful information that can be carried as field reference guides and used in course instruction. Perhaps their best avalanche advice is: "Do Not Get In One." Especially sobering are maps of slide zones around favorite ski areas in Utah and Colorado.


Powering Your Expedition – Electrical power for Scientific, Video and Film operations. Custom and modular systems. Easily portable. Choose from disposable (lightest) to Solar (ongoing supply for base camps) fuel cells and rechargeable systems. Expedition Battery used worldwide for extreme conditions.

Stuart Cody
1-800-472-2248 or (+1) 617-787-4313

Backpacking Light Magazine – Offers online and print subscriptions, unique ultralight hiking / backpacking / mountain gear, clothing, and accessories, and the most critical reviews of outdoor gear available anywhere. More: www.BackpackingLight.com

New Book – Lightweight Backpacking & Camping, a Field Guide to Wilderness Equipment, Technique, and Style, $24.95. Early production (pre-distribution) copies available only at www.BackpackingLight.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. 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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