Expedition News
November 2006 – Volume Thirteen, Number Eleven

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.

Note: Readers have a choice of two formats now. While EN continues to be sent inside an e-mail message, we’ve added a new fully formatted PDF attachment. Pick which format works best for you.


In 2007, a small group of London Business School students, alumni and friends will attempt to climb Mount Everest. As successful businessmen, women and full-time MBA students, the team believes that it can effectively leverage its climbing and expedition experiences alongside its business skills to achieve a world-class expedition. In doing so the team will raise funds for the Prince's Trust, the U.K.'s leading youth charity whose president is His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

The London Business School Team is planning to undertake the grueling 72-day assault on Everest's South Face in May 2007. In doing so, they aim to put the first Egyptian and first Welsh woman on the roof of the world. A rigorous training regime is in place under the careful supervision of Dr. Justin Roberts, a leading expert in applied nutrition and physiology, as well as psychological preparation, specializing in extreme expedition and ultra-endurance events.

The team has just returned from its training expedition to Cho Oyu (8201 m) the sixth highest mountain in the world. (For more information: enquiry@everest2007.net   www.everest2007.net   www.princes-trust.org.uk)


Adventure’s “Energizer Bunny” Keeps Going and Going

Back in May 1995, when EN was just a mere fax, we wrote about Jason Lewis and his Pedal for the Planet effort to circumnavigate the globe using only human power. His project has since morphed into Expedition 360 and this Energizer Bunny of explorers has recently arrived in Kathmandu, the latest milestone in his 13-year attempt to circumnavigate the world using only human power.

Lewis, a 38-year-old Briton, is currently en route to Mumbai (Bombay), from Singapore. The current leg through Southeast Asia entails 7,000 miles of bicycling of which Lewis has so far completed nearly 5,000 miles through Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, China, Tibet and Nepal and India. He has completed 35,000 miles under his own steam since departing London over 11 years ago. A third of this distance has been completed using a pedal-powered boat to cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Along the way he has fended off the attentions of whales and crocodiles, caught malaria twice and been run over – almost losing both legs in the process. On this latest leg to Kathmandu, Lewis caught Malaria in Laos and a near fatal case of altitude sickness (AMS) in Tibet. The strict “no ride zone” enforced by the Chinese police in eastern Tibet also meant Lewis had to pedal over 994 miles (1600 km) from Yunnan, China, to Lhasa with the threat of being caught, arrested and turned back at any time. Much of this stretch he had to complete under cover of darkness to avoid detection.

He has mainly worked to support himself during his project, from cattle driving in Colorado to working in a funeral parlor in Australia, although on this current leg the expedition has acquired sponsorship backing from Aberdeen Asset Management, a Singapore-based investment portfolio company with interests throughout Southeast Asia.

The expedition is expected to be completed by summer next year. The final leg will be a 2,200-mi. crossing of the Indian Ocean to Djibouti on the horn of Africa. The effort will then continue through Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, the Middle East and finally Europe to finish at the Greenwich Meridian in London, where it all began in July 1994.

During the Asian leg, Lewis is inviting young people from each major city to create short 5-10 minute films about who they are and where they live in the world. These living video blogs, or “vlogs” are then uploaded to the expedition Web site that’s accessible to students around the world. The aim of these educational activities is to use the expedition as a vehicle to promote qualities of international understanding, awareness and tolerance amongst people of different cultures. (For more information: www.Expedition360.com)

ANWR: Then and Now

This month, Alaskan Joe Henderson leaves on the second leg of an unprecedented three-year solo dogsled expedition commemorating the 100th anniversary of groundbreaking geologic mapping conducted in arctic Alaska by the “forgotten explorer,” Ernest deKoven Leffingwell (See EN, July 2006)

During the Project Leffingwell Expedition, Henderson will re-shoot the same geologic/geographic photos as Leffingwell, providing a unique opportunity for a “then-and-now” comparison of features throughout the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Henderson, accompanied by 22 Alaskan Malamutes, will be reporting back to his Project Leffingwell Newsletter published bi-weekly at www.KavikCamp.com

First the Expedition, Now the Speaking Tour

On May 20th 2006, after 720 days, Colin Angus and Julie Wafaei completed Expedition Canada – a human-powered circumnavigation of the planet. Colin traveled 26,700-mi. (43,000 km) by rowboat, bicycle, canoe, ski, and foot – a journey that voyaged across 3 continents, 2 oceans and 17 countries. Julie traveled with him for most of the expedition, including rowing 6,214 miles (10,000 km) unsupported across the Atlantic Ocean, making her the first woman to row across the Atlantic from mainland to mainland and the first Canadian woman to row across any ocean.

The team used zero-emissions travel to highlight issues with global warming and to inspire others to use non-motorized transportation. During the past summer, they struggled to condense 100 hours of filming from the two-year journey into 55 minutes of highlights. Now, they are leaving their home in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island to travel across Canada in a speaking tour that will also premiere this documentary, “Beyond the Horizon.” 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).

The Expedition Canada tour is supported by host organizations throughout Canada, and is presented by Helly Hansen with the assistance of Norco Performance Bikes, Mountain Equipment Co-op and Truestar Health. (For more information: www.expeditioncanada.com).


First Woman to Ski Seven Summits – The North Face athletes Kit DesLauriers and Jimmy Chin, both from Jackson, Wyo., successfully summitted Mount Everest via the Southeast Ridge on Oct. 18. This summit marks the first successful autumn attempt in four years and designates Kit DesLauriers as the first person to successfully ski from all of the Seven Summits, the highest peak on each of the seven continents. She also reportedly becomes the first American and first woman to ski from the Everest summit.

After skiing down from the Everest summit, DesLauriers arrived at the top of the Hillary Step, a nearly vertical, 40-foot drop-off where she changed out from skis to crampons. The following day, DesLauriers skied down the Lhotse Face, a 3,700-foot wall of glacial blue ice, on her return to Basecamp. She later wrote in an email, “We all agreed that it was the most serious ski descent of our lives.”

This was DesLauriers’ first Everest summit, and Chin’s third. They were accompanied on the expedition by: Rob DesLauriers, Kit’s husband; Everest veteran Dave Hahn; and a team led by Wally Berg of Berg Adventures. The team arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal, in late August and spent several weeks trekking to Everest Basecamp, establishing routes, and acclimatizing before the successful summit day. (For more information: www.BergAdventures.com)

One Small Step for Accuracy – That's one small word for astronaut Neil Armstrong, one giant revision for grammar sticklers everywhere. In a graphical representation of the famous phrase, an Australian computer programmer said he found evidence that the missing "a" was spoken by Armstrong and transmitted to NASA. The programmer says he found the missing "a" from Armstrong's famous first words from the moon in 1969, when the world heard the phrase, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Some historians and critics have dogged Armstrong for not saying the more dramatic and grammatically correct, "One small step for a man ..." in the version he transmitted to NASA's Mission Control. Without the missing "a," Armstrong essentially said, "One small step for mankind, one giant leap for mankind."

Armstrong has maintained he intended to say it properly and believes he did. Thanks to some high-tech sound-editing software, computer programmer Peter Shann Ford might have proved Armstrong right.

Ford said he downloaded the audio recording of Armstrong's words from a NASA Web site and analyzed the statement with software that allows disabled people to communicate through computers using their nerve impulses. In a graphical representation of the famous phrase, Ford said he found evidence that the missing "a" was spoken and transmitted to NASA.

"I have reviewed the data and Peter Ford's analysis of it, and I find the technology interesting and useful," Armstrong said in a statement. "I also find his conclusion persuasive. Persuasive is the appropriate word."

Rocket Racing Finds a Home – Those of us who grew up risking fingers and eyesight flying Estes model rockets will be heartened to know that the thrill of blowing things up and watching them soar skyward isn’t lost. In fact, rocketry has a league of its own.

The Rocket Racing League (RRL) is an aerospace entertainment organization which combines the competition of racing with the excitement of rocketry. RRL is dedicated to providing safe and thrilling experiences for families through live events, television broadcasts and interactive technologies. But it’s not all fun and games. Co-founded by Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, founder of the X PRIZE, and Granger Whitelaw, two-time Indianapolis 500 champion team partner, the league’s mission is to serve as a technology accelerator in the areas of airframe, propulsion and spacecraft design, and reach for the future to inspire the next generation of spaceflight enthusiasts.

Over 170 acres in Las Cruces, N.M., will be used to develop the Rocket Racing League “industry cluster” made up of businesses directly related to rocket racing and the League. The planned RRL Aerospace Business Park surrounds the site south of the Las Cruces International Airport where the RRL is building a 50,000-sq. ft. global headquarters and the League’s flight operations center, commonly referred to as “RRL Gasoline Alley.”

“We are now positioned to attract some of the top manufacturers, designers and other personnel not only for the rocket racing industry, but for aviation and the emerging space industry as well,” says Granger Whitelaw, the RRL’s president and CEO. (For more information: www.RocketRacingLeague.com)

Avalanche Expert Jill Fredston Addresses Telluride Conference – Increasingly, avalanches claim lives around the world, averaging 30 victims each year in the U.S. alone. The growing popularity of winter sports in the mountain backcountry lure more and more outdoor enthusiasts into ever more unforgiving terrain, where potential snow instability presents hazards that too often are not recognized, not understood, or simply ignored. Of avalanches that catch people at play in the mountains, 95 percent are initiated by the victims themselves, or one of their party.

It is human nature to want to complete that climb, or to carve first ski tracks in powder, or to drive a snowmobile higher than others on a tempting slope, but that desire can cloud one’s judgment, with deadly repercussions.

Jill Fredston knows avalanches. She’s one of North America’s leading avalanche experts, and lives in the Chugach Mountains above Anchorage, where she co-directs the Alaska Mountain Safety Center. Working in prevention, education, rescue, and search and recovery, she has spent the last 25 years trying to keep people and avalanches apart. Her new book, Snowstruck: In the Grip of Avalanches (Harcourt; 2005), places readers directly in the path of an avalanche as it tears through houses; into the mind of a skier making the final decision of his life; and into the boots of a discouraged rescuer during a blizzard. Fredston also shares her experience in dealing with the hearts and minds of the families left behind.

During an early October presentation at the International Snow Science Workshop in Telluride, Colo., Fredston explained that avalanches most often kill by suffocation, although broken necks and other forms of fatal trauma have become increasingly common.

“Poisoned by their own carbon dioxide emissions, most victims begin to lose consciousness within four minutes, which is a good thing, as they will use air at a slower rate,” she writes in her book. “Brain damage may set in after eight minutes.”

She explains in Snowstruck, “With time as the enemy, a buried victim has the greatest hope of survival if his partners stay on-site and search rather than leaving to seek help. Summoned rescuers have about as much chance of changing the final score as third-string basketball players sent in to play the final minutes of a game that their team is badly losing.”

(For more information on avalanches, see the oldest, largest and most established avalanche resource on the Internet: www.Avalanche-Center.org)


“In avalanche country, knowing the rules of engagement isn’t enough. To stay alive, you have to play by them. Staying alive requires no less than thinking like an avalanche.” – Jill Fredston, author, Snowstruck: In the Grip of Avalanches (Harcourt; 2005).


What Are the New Seven Wonders of the World?

It Depends Upon Who You Ask

In the second century B.C., Greek poet and writer Antipater of Sidon wrote about seven of the most spectacular man-made wonders of the world. Historians believe that his list – the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World – which was formalized in the Middle Ages, was intended as a guidebook for "tourists" traveling to see the great monuments of the time.

Today, more than 2,000 years later, the only surviving wonder from the original list is the Great Pyramid at Giza, but people have continually been fascinated by the concept of comparing and cataloguing the stunning achievements of both man and nature.

Now two separate efforts are underway to identify the new seven wonders. One is backed by an American TV network and newspaper. The other, based in Zurich, will reply upon the people of the world to make the decision. Here’s a look at both projects:

American Effort Identifies Seven New Wonders of the World

To create a new list for the 21st century, ABC-TV’s Good Morning America and USA Today joined forces to choose their own "Seven New Wonders of the World." Beginning on Nov. 9, the new list will be revealed on seven consecutive weekdays live on GMA and in USA Today.

To pick the Seven New Wonders, a panel of international experts convened last summer at The Explorers Club in New York to submit their nominations for wonders that had been recently revealed, discovered, or seen in a new light. The panelists were oceanographer, explorer and author Sylvia Earle; The New York Times best-selling author Bruce Feiler; journalist and travel writer Pico Iyer; co-founder of Adventure Divas Holly Morris; high-altitude archaeologist Johan Reinhard; and astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson.

The discussion, which quickly turned to a heated debate, began with the task of defining what constitutes a wonder and whether the new list should be limited to just human-made creations like the original list. Early in the discussion, Sylvia Earle asserted that humans unfairly had assigned more value to human-made inventions.

"We are so self-centered that, of course, what we create is more valuable, considered works of art as compared to natural things like trees that we can't create, we can't buy. Try to make a tuna fish. Give me all the money in the world. Nobody can do that," Earle said.

Eventually the panel agreed to include both human-made and naturally occurring marvels. Creating a new vocabulary word for the discussion ­– "wondrosity" – Neil Degrasse Tyson said, "For something to be wondrous it shouldn't matter whether it's made by humans or made by nature. If it's wondrous, it's wondrous. So we should let the wondrosity of the thing reveal itself and let the cards fall where they do."

With this issue decided, the panel focused on narrowing down the diverse list of nominations that included the Hoover Dam, deep-sea vents, the Vatican, and the Hong Kong airport.

One point of contention was whether human-made inventions that were accepted as phenomenal feats of engineering or construction should be included if they had a negative effect on their natural surroundings.

"A human-made wonder that does great destruction to nature ought to disqualify it right here," said Pico Iyer. Bruce Feiler added, "I think we have to be very cognizant of the story behind the thing that we're picking, and I think that we have to be cognizant of the message that the thing itself conveys."

The intense discussion continued, interspersed with moments of intellectual consensus and even some laughter. When the weary panelists departed The Explorers Club, the "Seven New Wonders of the World" had finally been chosen. They will be revealed beginning Nov. 9. For seven consecutive weekdays, USA Today will run stories and GMA will broadcast live from the scene of the Seven New Wonders of the World. (For more information: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/)

Global Vote to Determine New 7 Wonders

Just as Pierre de Coubertin revived the Olympic Games in 1896 with his modern version of the sports competition, New 7 Wonders founder Bernard Weber, a Swiss-born filmmaker, museum curator, aviator, and explorer, is seeking to revive the “wonders” concept with an ambitious global campaign: the New 7 Wonders of the World. The key difference compared to the American effort, is its international scope – wonders will be chosen by millions of people worldwide (“the biggest global vote ever to have taken place”).

The new wonders will be drawn from the earliest time that humankind walked upon the earth up through the year 2000. Last January, the New 7 Wonders panel of leading architectural experts, chaired by the former head of UNESCO, Prof. Dr. Federico Mayor, short-listed those nominations with the most votes received by the end of 2005. The top 77 choices have been narrowed down to just 21 finalists, which will become the focus for the final year of voting. Finalists include the Eiffel Tower, Great Wall of China, and Taj Mahal. The sole U.S. candidate is the Statue of Liberty.

Organizers have a blimp and hot-air balloon that will tour the 21 sites, and there’s even an on-line gift shop offering souvenir golf shirts, t-shirts, tote bags, coffee mugs, and messenger bags. The final tally will be announced in Lisbon on July 7, 2007 (07/07/07). Half of all net revenues raised by the New7Wonders campaign will be earmarked for restoration efforts worldwide.

Organizers believe that through film, television, the Internet and books, people will be alerted to the destruction of nature and the decay of our man-made heritage. The effort hopes that monuments in jeopardy, perhaps in a dangerous state of decay, can be saved by publicizing their beauty and highlighting their plight to the international community. (For more information: www.new7wonders.com)


No Love Lost for Love Boat – Yachting magazine is lamenting the coming arrival of a 3,800-passenger cruise ship to Antarctica. According to the November issue, early next year, Princess Cruises’ Golden Princess will embark on its first voyage to the icy landmass. “Antarctica already draws about 30,000 visitors a year, and the arrival of big cruise lines has prompted concerns about the environmental and marine risks,” the magazine writes. Earlier this summer, British activists lobbied to prohibit such cruises, saying that if one of the ships were to sink or run aground, it would create “an unthinkable disaster,” given the reputation of the Southern Ocean and lack of rescue capability.


Mike Horn Pitches Panerai Watches – South African adventurer Mike Horn, who has paraglided the Peruvian Andes, bodyboarded from the Mont Blanc Glacier to the French Riviera, and riverboarded the length of the Amazon, is featured in an Oct. 15 New York Times advertising supplement pitching Panerai timepieces. “A watch is one of the most important instruments that I take, because I use it for navigation and direction,” he says. “I never take my watch off. … As my watch is used as a navigational instrument in very cold environments, most watches stop altogether or lose time because the oil freezes.” Praising his specially made Panerai, Horn continues, “If my watch is off by 15 minutes, I can lose four or five degrees in the direction I’m going. Time is something that must not be wasted. When you are busy, time flies and when you open up your eyes, your life is over. Time makes me want to live.”

Baby Jogger Adapted for Cross-Country Endurance Run – Explorers might soon be outfitting themselves at neighborhood garage sales based upon the success of one endurance runner who souped up baby stroller. The tale of a dedicated athlete, his trusty three-wheeled running companion and their 15-state, 120-day trek across the U.S. came to an emotional close on Oct. 20 just outside of Lewes, Dela. The journey, called Promoting Active Children Everywhere (P.A.C.E.) Run 2006, was the result of a promise Paul Staso made to elementary school students in his hometown of Missoula, Mont.: if they could together meet the challenge of virtually running and walking across the country throughout the school year, Staso agreed to run the entire distance solo – with the exception of “BOB,” his running partner and gear storage unit, an Ironman running stroller manufactured by BOB Trailers, Inc., of Boise, Idaho.

The “BOB” (Beast of Burden) stroller proved to be much more than a baby carrier throughout the 120-day, 3,260-mi. journey – rounding the Rockies with ease, keeping its cool in sweltering summer temperatures, and most importantly, keeping all of Staso’s 45 pounds of gear protected and dry – even during torrential rain storms and frequent “ditch dives” off the road’s shoulder. Dubbed “the ultimate running stroller,” the BOB Ironman kept a promise of its own: withstanding the toughest of terrain and conditions and keeping pace with Paul for up to 48 miles a day. Paul has described the stroller as “a truly impressive piece of equipment” and admitted that without “BOB,” he “could never run solo across the U.S.”

Staso’s stroller was rigged with all the essentials, such as a tent, sleeping bag, clothing, shoes, food/water, and more. The stroller was equipped with a small, waterproof Brunton Solar Panel that has a maximum output of 9 watts (15.4 volts). It was used to power his electronic gadgets (GPS, cell and satellite phones, iPod). Staso’s satellite phone and service was donated by Spirit Wireless in Portland, Ore. It was a Globalstar GSP-1600 Handheld Tri-Mode Satellite Phone and ensured that he had communication at all locations along his cross-country route. (For more information: www.pacerun.com, www.bobgear.com).

Rainforest Researchers Awarded New Laptops – Lenovo announced last month that it has partnered with The Explorers Club to equip five distinguished environmentalists with ThinkPad X60s ultraportable notebooks, supporting their research in rainforest canopies throughout the world. The project builds on ThinkPad's history of computing in unforgiving environments, including space exploration and mountain expeditions.

Lenovo partnered with recipients of the Club’s Lowell Thomas Awards, each recognizing world-renowned projects to preserve rich biodiversity found in forest treetops. Receiving the notebook PC’s were scientists:

Lenovo officials believe advancements in the design of personal technology can have a significant impact in the way field research is conducted. The rugged design of the ThinkPad X60s is considered an ideal solution for these world-renowned scientists who require durable yet lightweight notebooks, giving them the ability to analyze data, edit photographs and video, consult reference materials and log information in the rainforest.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X60s weighs three pounds and includes a shock-mounted hard drive, an airbag-like Active Protection System, and Rescue and Recovery features that protect carefully collected data.?? (For more information: www.Lenovo.com)


American 1953 K-2 Expedition Honored – There has been a disturbing change in the ethics of alpinism recently with news of summit-obsessed climbers apparently refusing to assist a dying climber on Everest. Thus, there is perhaps no better time to consider the sacrifice of team members of the American 1953 Expedition to K-2. On Nov. 11, expedition leader Charles S. Houston, M.D., is the featured speaker of the 27th annual dinner of the New York section of the American Alpine Club in New York.

Hudson is expected to explain how high up, and dangerously exposed, the team refused to abandon a fatally stricken Art Gilkey. In the rescue, all would have fallen to their death except for the miraculous, ice-axe belay of Pete Schoening which single-handedly saved five lives. The episode and the life-long friendship and loyalty of the team, has made that expedition perhaps the most celebrated in the annals of American mountaineering. (For more information: Phil Erard, philiperard@nysalpineclub.org, 212 763 0379).


Todd Skinner Dies in Fatal Yosemite Fall

Renowned rock climber and author Todd Skinner had pioneered new routes before, claiming first ascents in Pakistan, Mali, Kenya and Greenland. Thus, his proven skill and years of experience have left friends wondering how harness failure, the apparent cause of a fatal 500-ft. fall on Oct. 23 in Yosemite National Park, could have happened to one so experienced.

"It's really affecting the climbing community because harness failure is pretty unusual – it is not supposed to happen," Ken Yager, president and founder of Yosemite Climbing Association, tells the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's gotten people thinking about their old harnesses now. I know I'm going to go out and buy a new one."

The part that broke, called the belay loop, is designed to be the strongest part of the climbing harness, but his climbing partner at the time, Jim Hewett, 34, of Fairfax, Calif., said Skinner's harness was old.

"It was actually very worn," Hewett said. "I'd noted it a few days before, and he was aware it was something to be concerned about." Friends of Skinner said he had ordered several new harnesses but they hadn't yet arrived in the mail. On the fatal climb, Hewitt said the belay loop snapped while Skinner was hanging in midair underneath an overhanging ledge.

Skinner, 47, of Lander, Wyo., is credited with more than 300 first ascents in 26 countries, and his adventures have been documented on film and in magazines in 12 languages. Skinner was known for using a technique called free climbing, in which climbers ascend upward using no artificial aid to climb — only a rope to protect against falls.

Skinner, who wrote Beyond the Summit, also was the first to climb a now-famous route on El Capitan, Yosemite's famed granite monolith, without artificial aid, according to his Web site. At the time of his death, Skinner was blazing a new route up 1,200-ft. ''Leaning Tower,'' near the famous Bridalveil Fall that greets visitors entering Yosemite Valley by car. Skinner is survived by his wife and three children. A memorial fund has been established. (For more information: www.ToddSkinner.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 ©2006 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 ExpeditionNews.com and WebExpeditions.net. Layout and design by Nextwave Design, Seattle.
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