April 2006 – Volume Thirteen, Four
EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 12th 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 April 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
POLE TO POLE BEGINS INTERNATIONAL SEARCH FOR TEAM
Expedition leader and founder of the Pole to Pole Leadership Institute, Martyn Williams, is soliciting applicants for an international team of 18 - 28 year olds for Pole to Pole 2006 - an 18-month human-powered expedition from the South Pole to the North Pole traveling through Africa and Europe. Reportedly, this journey has never before been attempted along this route or under human power.
The teams will be trained in British Columbia, and in the fall of 2006 will all launch when the first Expedition Team of 12 hits the ice in Antarctica. The second expedition team will take over the journey at Mount Kilimanjaro in August 2007. The Pole to Pole Expedition will be completed at the North Pole in late spring 2008.
DOGSLEDDING THE WORLD’S LARGEST NATIONAL PARK
John Hoelscher of Australia is planning a dogsled expedition of the rarely traveled fjord systems in the National Park in North and East Greenland, the largest in the world. It was laid out in 1974, and then extended westwards in 1988. The southernmost point of the Park is located north of the Polar Circle in the Scoresby Sound fjord complex at 71 degrees north latitude, its northernmost tip at 84 degrees north on an island named after Odaaq, a Polar Eskimo. The Park extends 1,400 km as the crow flies and borders on traditional hunting communities: Scoresby Sound in East Greenland and Thule in Northwest Greenland.
“I’ve been told by sea captains and the local people this area is beautiful, with narrow fjords, high mountains and lots of wildlife and heritage listed huts from the trapping era,” he tells EN. Hoelscher, 41, is planning a 42-day, 1,100 km (660-mi.) journey in spring 2007 with four dog teams and eight people, of whom three will be local guides.
DON’T FORGET TO WRITE
23 Western Hemisphere Countries in Under Three Years
A New York journalist and her photographer husband are planning the Trans-Americas Journey, a two to three year, 70,000+ mile overland exploration of the 23 countries in the Western Hemisphere. The two 40-year-olds will focus on the more than 850 national parks, preserves and wildlife sanctuaries, 136 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and a number of state, provincial and regional parks and reserves in North, Central and South America.
Pair Trek to North Pole in Darkness – After 60 days of walking, skiing, climbing, and swimming across ice openings and dodging polar bears, a Norwegian and South African have reached the North Pole on foot in the darkness of Arctic winter.
Mike Horn, 39, of South Africa, and Borge Ousland, 43, set off from Cape Artichesky in northern Russia in January, on their 620-mile trek without outside supplies or help from dog sleds or machines. They had been aiming to arrive by Mar. 21, when the sun started to rise over the Arctic for the first time after the polar winter. In fact, they arrived Mar. 23, and at times had to swim between floes in special suits.
The professional adventurers pulled everything they needed in sleds that started off weighing about 300 pounds.
"This journey has been so tough that I think it will be a very long time until someone tries to repeat our expedition," said Ousland, who previously skied across the Antarctic. According to the team, no one had attempted to cross the ice and snow-covered wasteland on foot during the six-month Arctic winter.
Ousland is the first person to have made unassisted solo crossings of the Arctic and Antarctic. Horn had accomplished a solo 20,000 km (12,430-mile) circumnavigation of the Arctic Circle, and a similar trip around the hotter climes of the equator.
“What’s Left to Explore?” Asks 2006 Explorers Club Annual Dinner
Ask this question of a roomful of Explorers Club members and their guests, and you’re in for a long evening. The three-tiered Waldorf-Astoria ballroom was stacked to nosebleed levels as the Club celebrated its 102nd annual dinner on Mar. 18, reportedly the oldest, continuously held fundraising dinner in New York. (We’re not sure how they verified this, but at over a century of eating bugs and other weird hors d’oeuvres, if it isn’t true, it certainly should be). A sell-out affair, it raised over $300,000.
As the white spots on the map fill in, one might be excused for thinking the age of exploration is over. “Not so,” attested a procession of dinner speakers who rose to the occasion, in defense of the search for what’s just over the next hill.
This was a dinner for the birds, specifically, presentations by Tim Gallagher, Bobby Harrison, and Gene Sparling on the search of the ivory-billed woodpecker, and a special award given to Luc Jacquet for his documentary, March of the Penguins.
Some notable comments from a memorable evening:
Here’s a tip: if you happen to see the rare ivory bill woodpecker, don’t yell out “ivory bill!” Tim Gallagher said that’s exactly what they did and managed to scare it away. “But it was there, it was real,” he said. Bobby Harrison thanked the ivory bill, “… for its tenacity to cling to life when humans have done everything we could to destroy it.”
J. Michael Fay, a conservationist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, who traveled 460 days across rainforests in the Congo and Gabon, warned, “The world has become a smaller place. Bird flu and other global factors are taking over. Today we have to think about what’s happening to the plant. As explorers, we must ask, ‘What do we need to do?’”
He continued, “If we hope to survive as a species and hope that the next century will unfold without catastrophe, we have to think about the power of individuals.” Speaking to 1,200 dinner guests, he said, “Every individual in this room needs to think what they can do to move us forward. If you all do something, this planet will have a bright future.”
Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, profoundly hit home through an interpreter, “Only when you are high in space can you understand how small the differences are between us and how huge are the similarities which unite us.” Much was made of the fact that Tereshkova orbited the earth 48 times in 1963 and spent more time in orbit than all the Mercury astronauts combined.
Buzz Aldrin answered the evening’s main topic directly, “What’s left to explore? How about the south pole of the moon, the surface of Mars? To carry that out, we need all explorers to inspire Congress to support us.”
The dinner honored the 25th anniversary of the admission of women to the Club. On the dais were representatives of the Class of 1981, oceanographer Sylvia A. Earle, and Kathy Sullivan, the first U.S. woman in space.
Dr. Earle warned of the looming environmental crisis, citing fishing boats off Newfoundland that once came to a dead stop in the water due to the abundant density of cod. “The capacity to forget, the fluidity of memory is a disturbing aspect of the human species,” she said. On finally being allowed to join the Club, she declared to much applause, ”Most of the wildlife on earth is in the oceans and half of it is female.”
Andrew Skurka, the first person to complete the 7,778-mile transcontinental Sea-to-Sea Route, said, “Human beings are capable of walking long distances just as you have walked to your seats tonight – one step at a time.” He predicts a handful of extreme backpackers will one day push the envelope and up the ante, pioneering new trails, heading out in winter, and perhaps, “even hiking the 2,167-mile Appalachian Trail without resupply.” He says lighter gear is allowing hikers to stray further, go faster, and penetrate the wilderness. “The ultimate limits of human potential and endurance have yet to be discovered.”
Ed Viesturs, hailing from “that great mountaineering state of Illinois,” explained why he likes to climb without oxygen: “I felt putting myself behind a mask isolated myself from a great experience. It was more important how I did it rather than if I did it.”
Dr. Edmund O. Wilson, the biological theorist and Emeritus and Honorary Curator in Entomology at Harvard University, scored the ultimate gross-out moment. A video showed him thrusting his hand into a nest of angry fire ants to show “how stinking mad they come out of a disturbed nest.” He declared, “How well do we understand this planet? Proportionately very little. We have no idea how many frogs and salamanders we have on the planet. Four our of every five animals on earth are nematode worms – over 15,000 species are known to science.”
Wilson continued, “We have knowledge of only 10 percent of the organisms on earth. But we do know they are disappearing at a rapid rate.” Wilson then got personal: “Over 700 bacteria species exist in the human mouth. Your mouth is a continent. The bacteria climb the mountain and ridges of your teeth and float on oceans of saliva.” Buzz Aldrin later quipped, “I’m going to start a toothbrush concession tonight.”
“What’s Left to Explore? Simply everything,” summed up Richard Wiese, outgoing president of the Club. Succeeding Wiese is Dan Bennett, 53, of San Antonio, founder and CEO of Sunbelt Sportswear and DAB Real Estate, Ltd. A participant of six flag expeditions, he becomes the Club’s 36th president.
Regarding those aforementioned representatives of the world of entomology, it continues to amaze us how buffet tables of mealworms on toastettes, North American crickets with pepper jelly cream cheese, and honey laden Madagascar hissing cockroaches could be picked clean within an hour. It was as if a swarm of, er, locusts had descended. Call us wimps if you may, but the EN staff stuck to the Bok Choy, boring plantains, and harmless rosebuds because of their lack of, well, legs and antennae.
Go Granny, Go – Oldest on Everest. Youngest on Everest. First Lithuanian woman with diabetes. Yeah, yeah. We’ve heard it all before. So has Swiss mountain sports manufacturer Mammut which launched a spoof marketing campaign that had a few people going there for a while. In a masterful stroke of viral Internet marketing aimed at creating positive “buzz,” the Mammut campaign features Mary Woodbridge of Great Britain and her pet dachshund, Daisy, training for an ascent of Everest, cane firmly in hand.
“I’m not a big fan of camping,” she says in one of her on-line videos, “so we’re climbing right to the top.” In another scene you can see her training by hoisting Daisy in a basket, climbing to the top of a nearby knoll, and ascending the stairs of her home.
The story has been making headlines around the world in newspapers, internet chat rooms, on radio and via news portals. In the ad spots, Mammut warns mountain sports and climbing fanatics of the dangers of using its equipment, which, it cautions, is so good that it can cause loss of common sense. Case in point: 85-year-old Mary, who bought a Mammut jacket and suddenly found herself wanting to conquer Mount Everest.
Does she have the chops to “knock the bastard off?” See for yourself at Mary-Woodbridge.co.uk The comments posted on the forums from around the world are amusing and show that the target audience has taken Woodbridge’s dottiness to its collective heart. In fact, one of the more than 500 posts asks whether she plans to climb K2 the next morning.
"We chose this approach in order to reach the hardcore climbing and mountaineering scene, which is hard to get at using conventional advertising," explaing "mockumentary" sponsor and Mammut Chief Marketing Officer, Michael Gyssler.
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