Expedition News
September 2006 – Volume Thirteen, Number Nine

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.


Guided by moonlight and headlamps to the crater rim of Mount Kilimanjaro, two Air Force men, both pilots, worked their way around the 19,300-foot rocky summit. As they reached the summit marker July 16, the sun finally cracked the horizon, treating them to a spectacular view of Africa coming to life.

Eight others, led by the pilots’ enthusiasm, passion and experience, successfully climbed to the mountain's peak as well. "Climbers on Mount Kilimanjaro only have a 50 percent success rate, so getting all 10 of us up there was quite a feat," said Capt. Rob Marshall, a 67th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) pilot and one of the two who led the group. Once they reached the summit, the group finally got to fulfill its goal when they flew the Air Force and American flags on top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

The other leader is 1st Lt. Mark Uberuaga, a 21st SOS pilot. Both are on a mission to carry the Air Force and American flags to the highest peaks in each of the world's seven continents as part of their Seven Summits Challenge.

The two are also using the challenge as a way to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation which provides college tuition money for children of fallen special operations troops.

Mount Kilimanjaro is the second peak to be checked off their list. The two climbed Russia's Mount Elbrus by themselves a year ago. (For more information: Gerry Proctor, Air Force News Agency, (+1) 210-925-9733, gerry.proctor@afnews.af.mil, www.af.mil)


The Raivavae Archaeological Project is dedicated to studying, excavating and preserving the ancient archaeological treasures of prehistoric Polynesia, with a particular focus on the relatively unknown island of Raivavae located in the Austral Islands south of Tahiti on the Tropic of Capricorn.

To accomplish its goals, an international team of world-class archaeologists, ethnographers and volunteers has been assembled. Several of these researchers have extensive experience in the archaeological exploration and excavation of the Pacific Islands of Polynesia, including significant research on Easter Island, as well as the Austral, Marquesas and Society Islands.

According to the project’s blog, last June the expedition uncovered three significant new archeological sites. In May 2007, the group will return with a small group of paying volunteers. “We hope to accurately locate many of the sites using GPS, do some restoration work of significant sites and share the known historical information with the local people, thru presentations, photos and film,” Lynn Danaher of Archipelago Consulting and Properties tells EN. (For more information: Lynn Danaher, (+1) 360-378-6692, islandlynx@aol.com, Raivavae.net).

Expedition to repair Mawson's Huts

Preparations are underway for an expedition to carry out urgent repair work aimed at preserving Australia's only heritage-listed link to the golden age of Antarctic exploration. The historic Mawson's Huts at Cape Denison, 2,600 km south of Hobart, have largely withstood the test of time and the extreme Antarctic elements in what is considered to be the windiest place on earth at sea level.

Renowned explorer Sir Douglas Mawson set up camp at Cape Denison during the 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition and the huts are listed as a national heritage site. However, conservationists fear that without urgent attention, the wooden buildings could eventually be blown away by the strong gusts that regularly buffet the cape – Australia's remotest Antarctic site.

While Australia maintains three other scientific stations within the Antarctic Circle, Cape Denison is the only site representing Australian achievements from the heroic era of Antarctic exploration. The huts were only meant to be temporary and they've been there now for almost 100 years. The expedition leaves Hobart in October and the six-member field team will spend seven weeks in Antarctica carrying out essential structural repairs and documenting the site and the surrounding environment.


Everest Peace Project Overshadowed – While most of the Everest coverage this past season focused on death, the 10-person Everest Peace Project team quietly placed one of the most diverse Everest teams on the mountain, including Palestinian and Israeli men. (See EN, April 2004). There’s a gallery of images posted to their Web site, including an image of Israeli David “Dudu” Yifrah holding a joint (sewn together) Israeli and Palestinian flag. Pneumonia ended Ali Bushnaq's quest to be the first Palestinian up the mountain. But his teammates, including Yifrah and one other Israeli, made it all the way. The photo that team leader Lance Trumbull says, “should have been shown all across the world,” can be seen at EverestPeaceProject.org/photo_gallery.php. The site also includes an interesting promotion video.

Luck of the Irish – A group of six swimmers who set off from Carrickfinn Beach almost two months ago have become the first people ever to swim around the entire coastline of Ireland. The Round Ireland Swim Team has taken almost a month more than originally planned to finish the 830-mile trip. The team led by Donegal man Henry O'Donnell, arrived back at Carrickfinn on Aug. 25. (See EN, July 2005)


New Route Blazed Up Moffit’s 4,000-ft. Wall – American Alpine Club members Jed Brown and Colin Haley have climbed an enormous new route on the Eiger-like north face of 13,020-ft. Mt. Moffit in the Hayes Range of Alaska. Moffit’s nearly 8,000-ft. northern escarpment features a 4,000-ft. rock wall leading to alpine snow and ice slopes.

According to the AAC’s E-News, the two climbed the route in a four-day round trip from camp on July 10-13. The 33-pitch rock wall required three days and was highlighted by a 10-ft. horizontal roof. They called the face the Entropy Wall (VI 5.9 A2 WI4+) and descended via the northwest ridge, after first heading down the wrong ridge because of whiteout conditions at the summit. (See action photos at www.59a2.org)

“I am just going outside and may be some time” – The rich are different from you and me. Now they get to go on spacewalks. Space Adventures, Ltd., Vienna, Va., announced last month that orbital spaceflight clients can now participate in a spacewalk during their stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Also known as an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), those clients interested in the spacewalk option have the availability to spend up to 1.5 hours outside of the space station.

Spacewalk candidates are required to participate in approximately a month of EVA simulations and other specialized training sessions, in addition to meeting the medical and physical requirements, familiarizing themselves with the Russian Soyuz TMA spacecraft and learning how to live aboard the ISS.

The current duration of a Space Adventures’ orbital spaceflight mission is 10 days. Past orbital clients have paid $20 million for their spaceflight which includes six months of cosmonaut training. The addition of a spacewalk would lengthen the mission approximately six to eight days and the price for this option is $15 million (USD).

Space Adventures has previously sent three private explorers to space. In 2001, American Dennis Tito fulfilled his dream of space travel, and in 2002, the “First African in Space,” Mark Shuttleworth, launched and, last October, American Greg Olsen, took flight. Japanese entrepreneur, Daisuke Enomoto, is training for his spaceflight currently scheduled for September.

Anker Weighs in With Advice to Outdoor Industry – “Humans have a deep connection to mountains. Climbers have the same tie to conservation,” said renowned climber Conrad Anker during an Aug. 11 Conservation Alliance presentation during the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake. He urged the outdoor industry to take action to protect the world’s wilderness areas.

During the past year he has made trips to Nepal and Tibet. On the first, Anker spent time aiding patients at an eye surgery camp. In Tibet, he was part of a team studying the Chiru, a member of the antelope family. “Part of being a good environmentalist is being a good human,” he believes. “As climbers, we have goals, we set them and we do them.” In 1999, Anker summitted Mt. Everest and discovered the body of George Mallory. He also pioneered new routes on Latok II in Pakistan, and Vinson Massif in Antarctica.

Everest IMAX 10 Years Later – “Filmmakers climb 20 percent more than the climbers they’re shooting,” said filmmaker David Breashears during an Aug. 11 Outdoor Retailer breakfast hosted by W.L. Gore & Associates.

During his retelling of the events of May 1996 on Mt. Everest, he explained how he recorded the “money shot” for the wildly successful IMAX film about the mountain – the scene looking down from a shaky aluminum ladder across the Icefall. “It was difficult. I like to be attached to things that don’t move, especially with a 42 lb. camera in my hands.” Breashears told how engineers reduced the weight of his IMAX camera down from an original 85 lbs., but he still needed a 40 lb. rock to keep the camera steady. Later he said, “You can’t climb Everest on your own schedule. It’s too big and powerful for that. You need to slip in and out depending upon the weather … what you need to get to the top is to have the wind go away.”

Score One for the Arctic – The Alaska Coalition, nearly 1,000 conservation, sporting, religious and labor groups working together to protect public lands in Alaska, has launched Athletes for the Arctic. The idea for this program grew out of recent trips to professional outdoor sporting events where the group was impressed by the level of interest in Alaska conservation issues.

The Coalition is now seeking professional athletes to use their status and influence to help protect Alaska’s last wild places. Athletes are asked to wear Athletes for the Arctic i.d. on helmets and race bibs; publicize Alaskan lands during interviews; and help out in other ways as well. (For more information: Shoren Brown, national outreach director, shoren@AlaskaCoalition.org; AlaskaCoalition.org)

Diving for Cancer – Seven divers swam the English Channel in an underwater relay in early August. They left Dover at 6 a.m. and arrived at Calais, France, 12 hours and 34 km later. On each leg, the six men and one woman spent about 30-90 minutes in the sea at a depth of about 13 feet before they exhausted their air and they handed over their baton – a surface marker buoy – to another team member and surfaced. Organizer Colin Osbourne, 44, from Hainault in East London said the team had “no problems whatsoever” crossing the channel.

“It was perfect weather,” he said. “There was hardly any wind so there was hardly any swell on the sea. We feel relief.” They used the feat to raise nearly $100,000 for research into the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of testicular, prostate and penile cancer.


“There is something deeply magnetic, even hypnotic, about the top of the world, and it is not just the force that tugs compass needles. There is something in human nature that seems to crave the edges of things, the places where the known, and the safe, ends.” – Andrew C. Revkin, The North Pole Was Here: Puzzles and Perils at the Top of the World (2006, Kingfisher).


Space Suits Tested in Arctic

The Planetary Society joined forces last month with a consortium of scientists led by the Carnegie Institution, Washington, D.C., to test how well spacesuits can protect both the astronauts who wear them and the distant worlds they may explore.

Every August for the past several years, researchers have trekked to the island of Spitsbergen (part of the Svalbard archipelago), approximately 600 miles south of the North Pole. The Planetary Society is cosponsoring this year's Arctic Mars Analogue Svalbard Expedition (AMASE), enabling the testing of a spacesuit designed for the Moon and Mars. Researchers conducted a number of experiments with a modified Mark III spacesuit replica.

"Astronauts wear spacesuits to protect them from alien environments," said Bruce Betts, The Planetary Society's Director of Projects. "But can we protect alien environments from the bacterial hitch hikers carried by every human being?"

While testing the spacesuit, researchers tried out new tools for communication and data logging, such as a wearable computer, throat microphone, and digital display. The team also tested their ability to manipulate sterile sample containers without contaminating them – an essential procedure for one day searching for life on Mars.

Other expedition activities included tests by Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers of an agile rover designed to safely maneuver cliff faces as well as engineering models of instruments headed for Mars on the planned Mars Science Laboratory mission.

Svalbard, meaning "cold coast," is an archipelago composed of four main islands and about 150 smaller ones. It's a Norwegian territory located about halfway between Tromso in Norway and the North Pole. (For more information: Planetary.org)


Extreme Blogging Takes Off – Today's adventurers no longer have to wait months to tell their stories. Now blogs recount every step of their journey as it happens, writes Fran Molloy of Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald (Aug. 24). “Thanks to the growing number of expeditioners who are using blogs to chronicle their adventures, now the bravery, hardship and extreme challenges are just a click away,” she reports. “But first they must master the vagaries of blogging equipment in environments so treacherous that sometimes even breathing is difficult.”

NASA has dedicated enormous resources to ensuring its astronauts get plenty of airtime. The first International Space Station crew took up residence in 2000, and logs by Commander Bill Shepherd were later posted online. U.S. astronaut Don Pettit's chronicles of life aboard the station in 2002 were also posted later (http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/station/crew/exp6/spacechronicles.html). “Space has a definite smell,” he writes. “The best description I can come up with is metallic; a rather pleasant sweet metallic sensation. It reminded me of pleasant sweet-smelling welding fumes.”

Molloy’s story continues, “But blogging doesn't need the high-level resources of NASA or Berkeley, argues communications expert Nick Grainger from Swinburne University, ‘With the technology that is available now, you can blog directly to an Internet site with a PDA device of some sort and a satellite phone and just a little know-how,’ he says.”

Grainger, did his Ph.D. on expedition communication and the Internet. He cites the blogs written during the recent Mount Everest expedition by Melbourne couple Paul and Fiona Adler as one of the best examples of expedition blogging (adlers.com.au). The Adlers used solar power to run an iPAQ 2210 PDA and a Thuraya satellite phone on their journey, and could even respond to some messages sent by well-wishers.

“People love to log in each day and check on the progress of a voyage,” Grainger tells the Sydney newspaper. "They don't know what they're going to read and what will happen next."

Writing something less than flattering in the stress of the moment can cause huge problems later, he says. "It's typical of expeditions because you're tired all the time and tempers fray. It's good to vent your feelings in a journal, but when that journal is online it might be great for the audience to read, but it can be disastrous for the expedition.”

Grainger says, "Now all members of an expedition can potentially become bloggers. And what do they write about? Often it's each other. It can become a bit like Big Brother. It can be quite nasty reading about yourself through somebody else's eyes when you're quite literally relying on that person with your life.”


Warm-Up – What’s the anecdote for a North Pole expedition that braved unstable broken sea ice, 24-hour sunlight, cold-water submersion, a polar bear, and hypothermia for 62 days and 550 miles? One World Expedition’s Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen will warm-up this December at their sponsor’s lodge in Costa Rica. While at Costa Rica Nature Adventures’ Pacuare Jungle Lodge, Dupre and Larsen will share the grueling details and pictures of the excursion that resulted in the first ever summer crossing of the Arctic to the North Pole. Travelers can meet the team by booking a two-day, one-night stay at the eco-lodge for the starting price of $260 per person, which will be donated in part to Greenpeace. (For more information: CostaricaNatureAdventures.com)

Knee Doc Brags About Patient’s Everest Attempt – You don’t have to be The North Face or Mountain Hardwear to take advantage of an Everest expedition sponsorship. One Florida doctor is trying to create some buzz about double knee surgery on Orlando resident and former Atlanta Falcons linebacker Ken Mitchell, 57, who recently attempted Mount Everest four years after his left knee was replaced by Richard M. Konsens, M.D. of the Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic in Winter Park, Fla. His right knee was replaced in 2000.

Currently an asset manager for Primerica Financial Services and a father of nine, Mitchell, age 57, had enjoyed a lifetime of athletic pursuits that took a toll on his body, especially his knees. According to Dr. Konsens’ announcement, in this, Mitchell’s first attempt, he scaled 24,000 feet on the northern or Tibetan side of the mountain over the course of several weeks in April and May to reach Camp Four. Severe weather conditions kept him from continuing to the 29,035-foot summit, but he plans to return in two years to summit.

“As hard as it was, my knees worked great. I can honestly say that I have never seen or felt anything so beautiful. I will continue to train and can’t wait to go back and stand atop the peak.” We Hate When That Happens – Knees are not the only body part climbers fret over. Consider this testimonial from Dwight Worker, senior lecturer in the Information Systems Department of the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. It appears in a newspaper ad for The Eye Center of Southern Indiana:

“An event happened to me that forced my decision to have LASIK. I was coming down a 20,000+-foot mountain, Huano Potosi in Bolivia, when I dropped my glasses. It was near sunset and I couldn’t see a thing! The guide had to lead me down by hand."

“Since Dr. Fornefeld performed my surgery,” Worker’s testimonial continues, “I have had near perfect vision for nine years. I drive, play sport, and have a normal life without glasses. Truly, this has been the greatest elective surgery in my life.”

Solar Airplane Project Attracts Omega – Although still at least two years away, Omega watch is touting its involvement with SolarImpulse, a planned 2008 attempt to fly around the globe, powered day and night by nothing but solar energy. The venture is expected to make a significant contribution to the scientific and ecological development of alternative means of sustainable energy for the future.

The pilots include noted balloonist Bertrand Piccard, president and founder of the project. Biggest challenge: the energy gathered during the day will have to serve not only to propel the plane, but also to recharge the batteries to ensure flying by night. Pilots will need to approach each night with full batteries and economize available energy to the maximum, to be able to stay in the air until the next sunrise. (For more information: Solar-Impulse.com)

Feet Hurt on Last Expedition? – Your feet carry you pretty much everywhere outdoors so their comfort and stability are crucial to most successful expeditions. Masterfit Enterprises, a company specializing in athletic boot and shoe fitting, is looking to supply explorers and adventurers with custom fitting services and the company’s Zapz custom insole in exchange for testimonials and product feedback. Contact: Steve Cohen at scohen@masterfitenterprises.com, (+1) 914-944-9038


Happy Winfly – The return of daylight to Antarctica has brought a period known as “Winfly,” with the first flights since the beginning of winter arriving on a new ice runway. That’s the word from Sarah Clayton, Nicola Dunn and Ainslie Greiner writing for the UK’s Natural History Museum. Their blog, updated twice weekly, tells what it's like spending the winter in Antarctica conserving artifacts from the explorer's hut left behind by Ernest Shackleton in 1908. Things are heating up down south at: http://piclib.nhm.ac.uk/antarctica/).

Viva Concha! – If you ask us, you can’t have too many musicals about explorers, even those over 200 years old. Viva Concha! Rose of the Presidio by Candace Forest is based on a true story of the 1806 love affair between San Francisco's Concha (Concepción) Arguello and Russian explorer, Nikolai Rezanov. The staged musical, which was showcased in San Francisco last May, featured an international cast and commemorated the 200th anniversary of the celebrated lovers, who have been immortalized in anthologies and school textbooks for more than a century. Music and video from the performance lives on at: VivaConcha.com


Reel Rock – Big Up Productions and Sender Films have teamed with W.L. Gore and Associates’ Windstopper to produce a major international climbing film tour. The Reel Rock Film Tour features two groundbreaking new climbing films: Dosage Volume IV by Josh Lowell, and First Ascent by Peter Mortimer. Events will be held in September and October 2006 at roughly 60 venues of all sizes across the U.S., with additional tours in Canada and Europe. (For more information: ReelRockTour.com)

Explore 2006 – Planning an expedition or field research? Then this two-day conference on Nov. 24-26 at the prestigious Royal Geographical Society in London is the place for inspiration, contacts and practical advice. Lectures, workshops and exhibits throughout the weekend provide guidance on planning scientific and adventurous projects. (For more information: www.rgs.org)


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

Documentary Producer – Looking for stories for a national PBS series where scientists and explorers are revisiting great events in history, using modern tools to draw new conclusions about how these events unfolded. Think big – like the 1918 flu pandemic, the fall of ancient Rome, Noah's Ark, etc. Got something? if so, please e-mail: jswimmer@earthlink.net

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