Expedition News
August 2006 – Volume Thirteen, Number Eight

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 August 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

UN Supports Two-year Global Warming Expedition

The United Nations is supporting a two-year scientific mission to the Arctic at a time when the world’s polar regions are playing on a global scale the role of a canary in a coal mine – providing early warnings on human-induced climate change, the thinning of the ozone layer and the impact of persistent chemical pollution. “They are helping relay the message that what happens at the poles should be of utmost concern to us all,” UN Environment Programme (UNEP) executive director Achim Steiner said of the Tara Expeditions and the Arctic Drift project known as Tara Arctic 2007-2008.

As part of the International Polar Year that begins in March 2007, the polar schooner Tara left Lorient, France last month for the Arctic where it will be locked in the ice and drift across the region, providing an unprecedented platform for scientific observations and research on how the Arctic environment is changing.

Two years ago, the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), an unprecedented four-year scientific study by an international team of 300 scientists, provided clear evidence that the Arctic climate is warming rapidly and, of even greater concern, that much larger changes are projected for the future.

ACIA predicted that Arctic vegetation zones and animal species will be affected. Retreating sea ice is expected to reduce the habitat for polar bears, walrus, ice-inhabiting seals, and marine birds, threatening some species with extinction. Such changes will also affect many indigenous communities who depend on such animals, not only for food, but also as the basis for cultural and social identity, UNEP noted. And, beyond the region, as the Arctic glaciers melt and the permafrost thaws, it will be developing countries, with limited means to adapt to environmental change, that suffer most. (Tara’s progress can be followed on the UNEP web site: Unep.org)


Lewis and Clark Met with a Yawn – "Clark on the Yellowstone," a four-day event at Montana’s Pompeys Pillar celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition, ended late last month with Peyton "Bud" Clark re-enacting his great-great-great-grandfather's signing of the monument (See EN, September 2002). Capt. William Clark etched his name on the rock on July 25, 1806. The graffito is the only remaining evidence of the explorers’ journey. Spectators attending the re-enactment responded with a standing ovation, which is more than can be said for the rest of the country.

According to the Wall Street Journal (July 19), “… as the three-year celebration enters its homestretch, participating communities are still waiting for the Lewis and Clark gravy train to leave the station.”

Washington state, which expected 10 million to attend a number of events, reports fewer than one million showed up. St. Charles, Mo., where the explorers began their journey, welcomed about 50,000 visitors for a 10-day festival, about one-tenth of what was expected. What’s more, the fact that Native Americans have protested the bicentennial didn’t create any warm fuzzy feelings for L & C among vacationers.

The explorers traveled more than 8,000 miles by land and river from Missouri to Oregon between 1804 and 1806, opening the Louisiana Purchase to Army exploration and settlement.

Beckey Climbs in China Fred Beckey and his team have returned safely from China after attempting unclimbed Ja-Ra Peak in Sichuan Province (See EN, March 2006). Beckey journeyed to China with a team from Through a Child’s Eyes Productions, which is making a film about the great American climber’s life; the film is being funded in part through a matching grant from Yvon Chouinard, Beckey’s old partner, with matching donations made to the American Alpine Club.

The team was able to climb to the lower north summit of the mountain despite deep snow, tricky climbing conditions, and a streak of bad weather. Only 500 feet shy of the true summit, conditions deteriorated rapidly and forced them to descend. Beckey led the team from advanced base camp at over 13,200 feet and provided invaluable insight into route finding and logistics; the octogenarian climber hopes to return to the region when the mountains are in better shape. (For more information: ThroughaChildsEyesProductions.com)

Longest Wilderness Traverse Returns Home

On July 4, a team of long distance trekkers completed the first and longest-ever unsupported trekking traverse of America's most remote, roadless, uninhabited wilderness, a distance of 1,000 km (621-mi.) across Alaska's western Arctic region from the Chukchi Sea to the Alaskan Pipeline (See EN, June 2006).??

The group became the first to visit the most remote location in the U.S by fair means - carrying all of their gear, food, and supplies for the entirety of the trek in their backpacks and traveling entirely on foot.??

“We crested the final hill, and there it was: the remotest place in America, situated in the mouth of a shallow draw, with a gravel band above, and a cluster of pretty mountains behind it, and a 100-foot cliff bank below it. It was a beautiful scene," said expedition member Roman Dial, professor of Biology and Mathematics at Alaska Pacific University. The expedition defines “remote” by its distance from the nearest roads or habitations. Title sponsor was Backpacking Light Magazine (BackpackingLight.com), which covers ultralight backpacking technique, gear, and style.

Polar Bear Greets Team at Top of World

On May 1, 2006, polar explorers Lonnie Dupre, 45, and Eric Larsen, 35, embarked on their unprecedented four-month One World Expedition (OWE) to the North Pole and back (See EN, December 2005). The expedition team pulled and paddled specially modified 225 lbs. canoe-sleds across nearly 1,000 miles of shifting sea ice and open ocean to complete the first-ever summer expedition to the North Pole on July 1. Upon arrival they experienced a close encounter with a polar bear. “We find it difficult to not draw a deep significance from this encounter,” they wrote in a newsletter recounting the incident.

After achieving a portion of their goal by reaching the North Pole, the two were forced to call off the remainder of their journey due to deteriorating ice conditions. In a July 5 announcement, Dupre, who injured his back early in the expedition, decided dangerous ice conditions would force the project to abandon its planned conclusion in Greenland. OWE partnered with Greenpeace to help save the polar bear, stop global warming and promote clean energy. (For more information: OneWorldExpedition.com)

EXPEDITION NOTES Eiger Losing Face – A huge slice of rock fell last month from the Eiger in the Swiss Alps in a spectacular collapse that came after days of warnings from scientists. The rock - loosened by melting glacial ice – crashed down blanketing the Bernese Oberland resort of Grindelwald in a cloud of dust for hours. Rescue chief Kurt Amacher of the Swiss Alpine Club said about 400,000 cubic meters of stone fell, about 20 percent of the endangered rock mass. The rock broke off in sections and thundered down hundreds of meters below onto the Lower Grindelwald glacier. Grindelwald itself was never in danger from the fall, no one was injured and no buildings were hit. The amount of fallen rock is estimated to be equal to one-half the volume of the Empire State Building. The mountain is world renown thanks to its co-starring role in the Clint Eastwood movie, The Eiger Sanction.

Explorers Club Turns to Encapsulating Explorabilia – Back in the Stone Ages, when dinosaurs were roaming the earth, the editorial staff at EN used to laminate their baseball card collection between two sheets of hot plastic. It turned out to be a really bad idea, even well before eBay came along to help unlock shoebox treasures. The cards were ruined.

Today’s professional archivists, keepers of cherished items whose value or structure prohibits the use of invasive conservation techniques, have a better idea: encapsulation. Encapsulation involves the sealing of individual sheets of paper between sheets of clear polyester. It is the standard treatment for maps, manuscript material, prints, and fragile or brittle single sheets.

Thus, imagine the glee at the Explorers Club when they installed a $25,000 Minter Ultrasonic Welder for Polyester Encapsulation, custom built by William Minter Bookbinding, Woodbury, Pa. Archival polyester film (like Mylar) is used to create a protective but reversible support for fragile maps and flat documents. The advantages of “minting” are that the polyester film places very little pressure on the artifact's surface and the artifact is protected from light and dust. Also, the structure is fairly rigid, no extraneous materials such as adhesives contact the artifact and the housing units are quick and inexpensive to make. Use of the new device will be under the direction of Clare Flemming, M.S., C.A., the Club’s Curator of Research Collections.

PLB Leads to PDQ Land Rescue – The Personal Location Beacon (PLB), once a fixture of at-sea rescues, is now racking up impressive “saves” on land. A PLB has played a significant role in the location and rescue of an outdoors enthusiast – a novice woman climber near the Brian Head ski resort in southern Utah. ??The rescued party was a 47-year-old New Jersey woman, who fell and sustained serious head injuries while hiking and climbing with her family on June 3. Her brother, an experienced climber and a local physician from St. George, Utah, was carrying an ACR Electronic TerraFix 406 GPS Personal Locator Beacon, which, when activated, put into motion a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation that eventually led to her being evacuated by helicopter.

While the satellite call for help was acquired and processed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), two forest rangers were located who called 911 on their cell phone. The local police received notification and GPS coordinates, then dispatched a SAR team.

PLB rescues on land only became available since an FCC waiver ruling went into effect July 2003 approving the sale and use of PLBs for land use in the U.S. The beacons must be registered with NOAA.

EC Film Festival Seeks Entries – The fifth annual Explorers Club Documentary Film Festival, presented by Land Rover, will be held on Jan. 19-20, 2007. The Film Festival will honor filmmakers who share the Club’s vision for, and commitment to, exploration in the 21st century. Open to the general public, the event invites filmmakers to submit works on the subject of Adventure, Conservation & Environment, People & Culture, Scientific Exploration, and Wildlife. Deadline: Sept. 16, 2006. (For more information: filmfestival@explorers.org)


“You're going to voyage through a land of wonders. Stunned amazement will probably be your habitual state of mind.” – Captain Nemo in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.


AAC Mountain Fellowship Awards Granted – The AAC has awarded Mountain Fellowship grants to eight young climbers around the U.S. The Mountain Fellowship Fund encourages American climbers, age 25 years and under, to seek out climbs that might otherwise be out of reach. This spring’s grant cycle awarded $5,400 to worthy applicants:


Becks, You’re No Captain Oates – The sight of the UK’s David Beckham weeping over the result of a soccer match was noted by Quentin Letts in the July 6 Wall Street Journal. Letts, a parliamentary sketch-writer for the Daily Mail of London, said tears rolled down “Becks” cheeks like “autumn raindrops. His eyes spouted like a garden sprinkler.”

Letts continues, “What on earth was happening to the country which bred Captain Oates? Frostbitten Lawrence Oates was the polar explorer who in 1912, not wishing to delay his comrades, stepped out of his tent to certain death with the words: ‘I am just going outside and may be some time.’ Now that was manly. That, once, was the English way. It seems hard to believe that just 94 years later an English ‘hero’ such as Mr. Beckham could behave so drippily about the result of a ball game.”

The High Performance Hour – A radio show that airs on the Radio Sport network throughout New Zealand is looking for explorers to interview. According to the guest list at www.hph.co.nz, hosts Andrew Dewhurst and Jon Ackland have previously profiled Colonel Joseph Kittinger, General Chuck Yeager, Sir Edmund Hillary, Sir Rannulph Fiennes, and Buzz Aldrin. (For more information: kandadewhurst@xtra.co.nz)


Because It’s Hardware – Why do manufacturers sponsor expeditions? One reason is to demonstrate product performance in dire conditions. It’s what marketers call the “halo” effect – if it can work in the Himalaya, the reasoning goes, it’s sure to work during your next business trip to Cleveland.

Seagate, the hard disc drive manufacturer, is bragging about their equipment on a Cho Oyu (26,906-ft./8201m) expedition. Dusty, bone-rattling mountain roads, freezing weather and cloud-skimming altitudes couldn't stop the company’s hard drives, according to their breathless press release. A team from Friendship Beyond Borders, an organization that works to build awareness of the achievements of amputees, tackled the Tibetan mountain in April, equipped with several Seagate-donated storage products to assist in their efforts.

Seagate donated two 40GB 2.5-inch EE25 Series hard drives, which are designed for systems that need to function in extreme environmental conditions, including automobiles and rugged notebooks favored by the military. In addition, Seagate contributed a 5GB Pocket Hard Drive and an 8GB CompactFlash Photo Hard Drive.

Although unusually bad weather prevented a summit attempt, the team brought the Seagate hard drives as high as 18,600 feet, surpassing the 17,500-foot mark achieved last year by a Seagate-supported expedition that tried to scale Mt. Everest. The Cho Oyu team included Nepalese climber and amputee Nawang Sherpa, who had reached the summit of Mt. Everest in 2004 with fellow team member Tom McMillan, who founded Friendship Beyond Borders with his wife Linda McMillan.

“We were very impressed that Seagate's hard drives worked perfectly at all altitudes and weather conditions,” said Linda McMillan. “We'd heard that other expeditions had trouble with hard drive failures, and some people had to rely on PDAs using chips instead of computers with hard drives."

The team's notebook computer, which featured an EE25 Series hard drive, endured hundreds of miles of jostling on torturous dirt roads from the ancient Tibetan city of Lhasa to the base of Cho Oyu. From there, the notebook traveled in a duffle bag strapped to a yak. The team used the Seagate-enabled computer to check and send e-mail, search the Internet for vital weather forecasts and to update its Web site and expedition blog.

"For Seagate, the field data obtained from the Cho Oyu expedition, like that from last year's Everest team, will help the company further increase the high quality and reliability of its products," said Rob Pait, the company's director of global consumer-electronics marketing. (For more information: Seagate.com, FriendshipBeyondBorders.com)

Climbing Clean and Green – Under a new program announced by the American Alpine Institute (AAI), climbers can get discounts on treks and guided ascents in the Washington Cascades and California Sierra – as well as on expeditions from Mt. McKinley to Mt. Everest – by committing to the use of clean energy at home. ??The international guide service's president Dunham Gooding says, "The new program is designed to make it easy for trekkers and climbers to help reduce CO2 emissions and America's dependency on fossil fuels."

The Institute will offer discounts of $50, $100, and $200 for treks, guided climbs, climbing courses, and expeditions in six states and 16 countries to climbers who participate in a Green Tag or similar renewable energy program. ??Green Tags are units of renewable energy that replace a specific amount of non-renewable energy, and climbers and other consumers can choose how many to buy each month. They are purchased through energy companies which use the money either to buy energy produced from earth-friendly sources or to further develop clean energy production processes. (For more information: AAI.cc, GreenTagUSA.org)

Become a Squid Explorer – “Tired of Diving the Same Resort Spots? Become an Explorer!” That’s the promise of Sea Wolves Unlimited, a diving and video production company based in San Diego, that is filming the legendary giant Humboldt squid. According to Scott Cassell, team leader, “The Humboldt Squid Project is based on the desire to learn about (in my opinion) one of the most fascinating animals in the sea, the Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas). You can’t truly appreciate an animal you don’t know about, nor can you protect it if it needs to be. Our goal is to discover and display facts, and provide observations.

“This includes publishing data on our Web site, efforts to produce documentaries, and providing access to the squid by other divers, photojournalists and filmmakers in an effort to expand awareness,” Cassell tells EN.

This September, divers are invited to the Sea of Cortez for $2,200 per person to join Sea Wolves as they go on an expedition for the History Channel to perform bite pressure tests, deploy critter cams, and film squid deep at night using low light cameras to document how they use bioluminescence to hunt.

The Sea Wolves package doesn’t mince words: “With legendary ferocity, the Humboldt squid are armed with huge sucker disks lined with over 60,000 teeth that can shred a wet suit, and a knife-edged beak capable of gouging out orange sized chunks of flesh every three seconds,” warns its Web site.

“With all this plus their high intelligence, keeping an upper hand on these animals is a challenge. These magnificent cephalopods feed on nearly every animal they encounter including sharks, pelagic fish, krill, mammals, other squid (they are fierce cannibals) and even man.” (For more information: (+1) 562-221-1274, Sea-Wolves.com).


Flashpacking – Backpackers who load their packs with digital cameras, power adapters, blank CD-RW discs, cables, cords, cell phone, laptop, USB memory stick, rechargeable batteries, MP3 players, and more. The traditional journal and pen have been replaced by battery-powered gizmos. (Source: Associated Press)

Space Elevator – A proposed counterweight in space that is connected to an anchor point on Earth via a thin, ribbonlike tether. The rotation of the earth throws the counterweight outwards, keeping the 3-5 ft. wide, 62,000-mile ribbon taut. Robotic cars would then ride up and down the ribbon, powered by a light beam. Michael Laine, the CEO of LiftPort, a commercial advocate of space elevators based in Bremerton, Wash. (Liftport.com), hopes to anchor one in the Pacific Ocean near the equator by 2018. (Source: American Way Magazine, Feb. 15, 2006).

Symmes Holes – Hollow earth believers theorized that if they could travel to the Arctic or Antarctic, they would find portals leading to the planet’s inner void. Symmes Holes are named after hollow-earth obsessive John Cleves Symmes, an Army veteran from the War of 1812, who believed centrifugal forces drew material away from the Earth’s vacant core, with the heaviest substances protruding the farthest into the crust, creating hills and mountains.

Hollow-earth aficionados eventually went the way of flat-earth fanatics, although they stoked the imagination of Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and perhaps the TV screenwriter who scripted an episode called “The Unknown People” for George Reeves’ 1950’s series, Superman, featuring little “mole men.” (Source: Hollow Earth by David Standish, Da Capo, 2006).


Amateurs Post Everest Videos to YouTube.com

Some of us have a little too much time on our hands. Those with an enormous amount of time on their hands shoot video and then post them to YouTube.com, the wildly popular video sharing Web site. But when it comes to scenes of Everest, we’re glad they did. At last look, there were 211 videos with Everest in the title. Be sure to see “The Story of Everest,” a classic TV comedy sketch. Another upload is of the entire Expedition Everest Disney ride that now saves us the trouble of going ourselves.

New Forbes Webcast Features Life on the Edge

“The Adventurer with Jim Clash” debuted on the Forbes.com Video Network this spring and runs every other Tuesday morning on the Forbes home page. The 7-minute Q&A format features Clash bantering with well known adventurers and explorers. Guests include astronaut Greg Olsen, who paid $20-million to visit the International Space Station via a Soyuz rocket; and past Explorers Club Presidents Alfred S. McLaren and Richard Wiese. “In keeping with my Forbes magazine Adventurer column, I’m looking for people and experiences that really push the limits,” says Clash. Adventurers interested in appearing on the show, filmed in New York at Forbes studios, should contact Clash at: jclash@forbes.com


TV Producer – Seeks explorers for interviews, stories and photographs. Contact: HawkPhotography.net, hawkfoto@optonline.net

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