February 2007 – Volume Fourteen, Number Two
EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 13th 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.
PAYBACK TIME FOR EVEREST SHERPAS
Apa Sherpa, the man who has stood on the top of the world a record 16 times, and Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa, who has summitted Mount Everest in the record time of 10 hours, 56 minutes, and 46 seconds, have announced that they are joining together to make a summit attempt this spring via the traditional southern route. Joining the summit team will be four other Nepali support members. Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa has summitted 11 times in addition to his world record setting ascent. This would be his 13th summit.
“What we're doing is to bring to light the untold story of the Sherpas,” Super Sherpas Expedition organizer and philanthropist Roger Kehr told EN during the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake last month. “Westerners will be assisting Sherpas during this expedition - it's payback time.”
The climb will highlight the role of the Sherpas and the Nepali people since the historic summit of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953. Expedition organizers point out that guides and porters, who do the lion's share of the work, are rarely publicized_ or appreciated. Their pay ranges from $500 to $5,000 depending upon their skills. Non-Nepali guides and team leaders' pay can range from $15,000 to over $100,000.
Interestingly, Apa and Lhakpa do not require the usual acclimatization period of six weeks for non-Nepali climbers. Both Apa and Lhakpa are capable of a straight ascent from Base Camp to the summit of Everest.
Other members of the Super Sherpas team are Jerry Mika and Roger Kehr of Salt Lake, long time friends of the two Sherpas. Kehr and his wife have been involved with Apa in a medical training program for Sherpas in the Khumbu. Mika and Kehr will support the expedition from Base Camp and both have formed their own company for the purpose of bringing world enlightenment about, and monetary benefit to, the Nepali people.
In conjunction with this expedition a book and documentary are in development and sponsorship is being sought in the $5,000 to $250,000 range. At least 25 percent of the net proceeds will be donated to Nepali schools, hospitals, and other deserving entities. (For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org, SuperSherpas.com)
ARCTIC “DREAM TEAM” TO EXPLORE BAFFIN ISLAND
If ever there was an Arctic “dream team,” this has got to be it. Will Steger, 62, arguably the most experienced polar explorer alive today, will team with mountaineer Ed Viesturs, the only American to climb the world's 14 peaks above 8000 meters, on the Global Warming 101 Expedition which begins this month on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic.
They will be joined by educators and explorers John Stetson, Outward Bound instructors Elizabeth Andre and Abby Fenton, plus Theo Ikummaq, Lukie Airut and Simon Qamaniq on a 1,200-mile, four-month-long dogsled expedition across the remote island. The expedition will be traveling over traditional hunting paths, up frozen rivers, through steep-sided fjords, over glaciers and ice caps, and across the sea ice to reach some of the most remote Inuit villages in the world.
Viesturs, 47, will join the team for the leg of their journey that involves crossing Baffin Island from the East Coast to the West Coast over the Barnes Icecap. “The journey will be a contrast of styles as we camp in tents with modern day equipment and the Inuit will utilize traditional means such as Igloos and handmade clothing,” he writes in an e-mail to supporters.
Each day, the team will use innovative technologies to post video, images, sounds and text to GlobalWarming101.com, and communicate with online participants around the world. Students and teachers will integrate the educational curriculum components developed by the team into their course work and will participate in the expedition through research and forum discussion. During the weeklong visits to each Inuit village, the team will listen to and document the Inuit's experience with climate change. The focus will on the elders, to hear their stories of the past and their concerns for the future.
These collected images, sounds and stories will illustrate the dramatic climate-related changes happening in the Arctic: starving polar bears, retreating pack ice, melting glaciers, disrupted hunting and traveling, and the unraveling of a traditional way of life.
The expedition will depart Iqaluit, Baffin Island, the capital of Nunavut, this month. Following the frozen McKeand River over the Hall Peninsula, the expedition will cross Cumberland Sound to the community of Pangnirtung. Leaving Pangnirtung, the expedition will cross the mountain passes of the Baffin Island National Park.
Once across the mountains, they will proceed on the sea ice along the eastern side of Baffin Island. Here they will visit Broughton Island and Clyde River, two of the most remote communities in North America. These villages rely on the sea ice to obtain food, and the dramatic shortening of the winter season is having a profound effect on their way of life. Leaving Clyde River, the journey continues over the remnants of the Barnes Ice Cap to Iglulik on the mainland, where the expedition concludes in late May 2007.
How will this be different for than what Viesturs faced on Everest? He tells EN, “Similar yet different. Similar in that it will be cold, there will be snow and ice, and we will work as a team to traverse the island, camping along the way, living in tents as we do on Everest.”
Viesturs continues, “Different in that we will use dog sleds to haul our gear and ski alongside of them. There won't be much of an altitude problem either. There will also be more capacity for rescue via aircraft should any problems occur. This trip is exciting for me since I'll be learning something completely new, rather than doing something like climbing which I've been doing for 30 years. I get to be the apprentice and learn from not only a master such as Steger, but also the local Inuit,” Viesturs says.
Viesturs, who resides in Bainbridge Island, Wash., is being supported by sponsors Grandoe Gloves, LEKI, McNett, Mountain Hardwear, Petzl, Rolex, Smartwool, Sole Custom Footbeds, and Timberland Footwear. Steger, who has lived on his homestead outside Ely, Minn., for decades, moved a little over a year ago to a houseboat on the Mississippi River in St. Paul to be closer to the center of his mission.
The upcoming expedition is not Steger's first attempt to publicize global warming via expedition. In 2004, he and a team went to Nunavut for a dog sled journey, sending back updates to Steger's Web site about the issue and developing school curriculum so students around the world could share the experience. Steger cut that expedition short because pack ice, melting early, made conditions unsafe to continue.
In 2008, Steger and others plan an expedition to record how the Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica has declined, and a 2009 expedition is scheduled to traverse Greenland in an 1,800-mile journey to document how global warming has affected the ice sheet and to discuss global warming threats and solutions.
COLEMAN LAUNCHES 2007 EVEREST 5.5 CHALLENGE
Faced with the growing number of children who spend more time indoors with electronic devices than they do exploring the outdoor world, coupled with the depressing rates of childhood obesity due to poor eating and exercise habits, The Coleman Company, Inc., makers of outdoor recreation gear, will sponsor a spring 2007 expedition to Mount Everest designed to motivate kids to get outside and recreate more.
The 2007 Coleman Everest 5.5 Challenge will be a major focus of the expedition by Denver schoolteacher and veteran mountaineer Mike Haugen, 30, and will be directed toward American schoolchildren facing the problem of “nature deficit.” Haugen, who also represents Coleman Exponent gear as a field tester and ambassador to the outdoor community, will depart Colorado in March for a summit attempt in May.
During training, on the approach, at Everest Base Camp and then higher up the mountain, he will transmit a series of educational e-mails, blogs and videos, posting them to a specially developed Web site - ColemanEverest.com. Visitors to the site will be able to sign up for regular e-mail updates from Mike, and kids will be invited to submit questions for him to answer.
Schoolchildren nationwide and others who are interested will be able to access the Web site to track Haugen's progress and learn about the mountain environment and the sport of climbing. Included will be a series of physical activities for kids that will revolve around the 5.5 Challenge theme - corresponding to the exact height of Everest in miles.
Haugen will climb Everest as part of a trip organized by International Mountain Guides of Washington state, the organization that answered one of climbing's greatest mysteries when in 1999 Conrad Anker located the body of George Leigh Mallory, lost on Everest in 1924.
Mike Haugen has been rock climbing and mountaineering since his teenage years and has climbed in many parts of the world. He is a full-time eighth grade science teacher in an inner city Denver school, and holds a master's degree in evolutionary physiology from Ohio State University.
His climbing resume includes more than 50 ascents of Mount Rainier; four expeditions to Mount McKinley; an expedition to Aconcagua, Argentina (highest peak in the Americas); a trip to Vinson-Massif, Antarctica; two expeditions to Mexico's Pico de Orizaba volcano; and an expedition to Ecuador, where he climbed Cotopaxi and Tungurahua.
CROSSING THE DITCH
James Castrission and Justin Jones have launched an expedition to kayak unsupported across the Tasman Sea. The project, called Crossing the Ditch, will reportedly be the longest trans-oceanic expedition ever attempted with two people in a double kayak, covering over 1,367-mi. (2200 km) of open water. They left Sydney Harbor, Australia, on January 6 and headed in a custom-made kayak, laden with supplies, safety equipment, and communication systems, headed for the Bay of Auckland, New Zealand. The estimated length of this journey is 45-55 days. One sponsor is Kokatat, makers of the Kokatat Expedition Dry Suit, which is deemed essential to their safety.
“The risk management research undertaken is critical in ensuring safety and the overall success of the expedition,” said team member James Castrission. Before they departed, James and Justin spent over a year creating a 40-page “Risk Management Proposal” which examined the major issues pertinent to the success of this expedition. Beneficiary of the expedition is Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick.
In 2001, the two were part of the first successful expedition to kayak the entire length of Australia's Murray River (1,591-mi./2560 km). This expedition, which benefited the Starlight Children's Foundation, began at the source of the Murray River, near Thredbo in the high country, and was completed at its mouth at Goolwa, near Adelaide. (For more information: CrossingTheditch.com.au)
SKURKA PLANS GREAT WESTERN LOOP
After receiving accolades for being the first person to hike the Sea-to-Sea Transcontinental Trail across North America (7,770 miles), long distance hiker Andrew Skurka, 25, of Seekonk, Mass., now plans another long endurance trek. The numbers tell half the story: 7,000 miles, 7 months, 12 national parks, 75+ designated wilderness areas, five existing long-distance trails, two desert traverses, and zero attempts or completions to date. He plans to follow the Great Western Loop (GWL), a giant circle route that encompasses much of the entire western part of the U.S. from Colorado to the Pacific Ocean.
The other half other half of the story is less quantifiable: the GWL connects many of the most prized wild lands in America's West, and as such reflects the health of and dangers to these places. “It is a shared and tangible entity among them that beholds value in excess of the sum of its parts, like the chain of a pearl necklace,” Skurka tells EN.
His trip begins in early April at a location and direction that will depend on this winter's snow pack. The experience will be shared over the Web and through Podcasts. “With this enhanced trip interactivity, I'm hoping to help others develop a stronger connection with the outdoors, which I think is a key component in a much-needed, more eco-friendly lifestyle that emphasizes doing more with less and minimizing one's impact on our planet,” he says. (For more information: email@example.com, AndrewSkurka.com)
Blind Thru-Hike of AT Planned – E. Trevor Thomas, 37, a recently graduated law student from Charlotte, N.C., plans to be only the second blind person to through-hike the Appalachian Trail (AT). He is scheduled to begin in April and continue straight through for the next six months or so.
Thomas is a graduate of the University of Colorado where he double majored in Economics and International Finance. In 2005 he graduated from the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and accepted a commission with the U.S. Navy JAG Corps, but this fell through when it was revealed he was going blind from incurable atypical central serous choroidopathy.
The AT trek is entitled “Finding My Way: A Walk in Darkness.” As is customary with AT hikers, he has a trail name: Zero/Zero, which relates to the extent of his eyesight. Thomas is working with Matt Long, an experienced through hiker and manager of Jessie Brown's Outdoors (Charlotte, N.C.), who is helping him evaluate the most appropriate gear and clothing for the project, and will accompany him on the hike. “I want to show others, whether blind or otherwise disabled, that nothing can stop you unless you let it,” Thomas tells EN.
Each year, many prospective 2,000-milers start at Springer Mountain in Georgia, only to quit at the first town 20 miles up the Trail, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). Up to 10 percent quit in the first week, but approximately 25 percent make it the whole way. They give up for all kinds of reasons. Starting too early, heavy rains or snow, a schedule that is too ambitious and leads to injury, unexpectedly rugged terrain, overspending a meager budget, poor physical shape, ill-fitting boots and equipment, or no sense of humor-all contribute to an ill-fated expedition.
More than 9,000 people have informed the ATC that they have hiked the entire Trail. This includes hikers who have completed the Trail over many years as well as those finishing in one trip. Motivational speaker Bill Irwin (BillIrwin.com) of Sebec, Maine, was the first blind person to complete the AT (1990).
Thomas, who is single and has a seven-year-old daughter, has been trekking approximately 10-12 miles a day in preparation. He is seeking cash and in-kind support. (For more information: (+1) 704-365-0369, firstname.lastname@example.org)
It's a Good Thing – Martha Stewart, homemaking expert and popular television personality, chatted with the crew of the International Space Station's Expedition 14 mission last month, a discussion that aired on NASA TV and her own MARTHA! syndicated TV show. Stewart asked the Expedition crew about their experiments on the station, the view of Earth from their vantage point, and life in their orbital home away from home.
Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Sunita Williams showed off her green thumb with a sample of bean sprouts she had been growing as part of a horticulture experiment for long-term living in space. Pickles and shrimp cocktail were the crewmembers' top choices when asked of their favorite foods in space.
After giving a glimpse of their personalized sleeping areas, Williams and Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria told Stewart they were open to any home decorating or cooking tips for their home in space.
"You are helping us learn so much about space travel," Stewart said. "Just seeing you enjoying yourselves while you're doing such fantastic research is really wonderful."
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“Never measure the height of a mountain, until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was.” - Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961), Swedish Statesman, Secretary-general of U.N.
Explorers Club Archivist Confirms Freuchen Legend
For years, a larger than life painting of Danish explorer, writer and traveler Peter Freuchen (1886-1957) has gazed down upon Explorers Club members and guests who visit the renowned Trophy Room on the Club's sixth floor in New York. The full-length portrait by Robert Brackman was designed to show off the explorer's wooden leg amputated in 1926 after a bout of frostbite.
For visitors of the Club, the story of Freuchen is almost as memorable as the nearby whale phallus display (a sight that prompts some cheeky Club members to sniff, “seems a bit small to me”).
According to legend, Freuchen escaped entrapment in a frozen tent on Baffin Island by fashioning what one might indelicately call a “shit knife.” Club archivist and Curator of Research Collections Clare Flemming confirms that Freuchen did, in fact, fashion a knife out of his own feces, then, once it froze, used it to escape from what would have otherwise been an icy tomb.
“Reading from Peter Freuchen's Adventures in the Arctic (1960), written by him and edited by his wife and published posthumously, he created a partial hole in the snow/ice with a bearskin, but it was not big enough for him to climb through,” Flemming reports. “He tried and his beard stuck to the sled runner and froze to it. He yanked his head back, his beard stuck and it ripped skin off his face. Soft snow then filled the hole. He stayed trapped in his snow tomb, then remembered that sled dog excrement froze solid as a rock.”
Freuchen himself writes, “Would not the cold have the same effect on human discharge? Repulsive as the thought was, I decided to try the experiment. I moved my bowels and from the excrement I managed to fashion a chesellike instrument which I left to freeze. This time I was patient, I did not want to risk breaking my new tool by using it too soon… At last I decided to try my chisel, and it worked! Very gently and slowly I worked on the hole….”
Thus, an Explorers Club legend doth become fact.
Adrenaline Hunters – “Whether they're bribing terrorists in Chechnya for permission to go skiing or exploring unclimbed granite walls in Madagascar, Colorado's adventure filmmakers have done it all-and brought home the footage to prove it. For those with the right mix of skills and cojones, it's a dream job come true,” writes Dougald MacDonald in the December issue of Denver's 5280 Magazine.
“Colorado is a hotspot for adventure filmmakers, and it's a golden age for the profession: demand is high thanks to the proliferation of cable television channels, DVD sales, in-flight programming, and other outlets; and digital technology has slashed the cost of producing films,” MacDonald writes.
Says Frank Pickell of Boulder-based RattleCan Films, “For the price of a used car, you can have your own moviemaking system.”
Climbing and Urban Climber Magazines Rope Up – Skram Media LLC, a company led by Mark Crowther, the publisher of Urban Climber Magazine and UCTV, announced last month that it has completed the purchase of Climbing Magazine and climbing.com from PRIMEDIA, Inc. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Climbing Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Thesenga will continue to serve in his role from the current location in Carbondale, Colo.
Can't Tell the Mountains Without a Scorecard – Royal Nepal Airlines has apologized to Peru after mistakenly using a photo of the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu to promote tourism in Nepal. Peru's foreign ministry said last month that the flagship carrier of the Himalayan kingdom, about half way around the world from the Andean country, had put the picture of Peru's tourism icon, Machu Picchu, on a poster under a slogan "Have you seen Nepal?"
Peruvian mountaineer Ernesto Malaga, who was visiting India last month, noticed the blunder on a poster hanging on a wall in the airline's office in New Delhi. Peruvian authorities requested explanations from the airline via the embassy.
From a distance, some mountain temples in the Himalayas could be mistaken for Incan ruins, which also cling to steep slopes. Nepal is actively promoting tourism in the hope that foreigners will return in big numbers to visit its snow-capped mountains and ancient temples after a long Maoist revolt.
Built in the 1460s and abandoned for three centuries after the Spanish conquest, Machu Picchu, or "Old Peak" in the Quechua language, was rediscovered by U.S. archeologist Hiram Bingham in 1911.
Bradford Washburn (1910 to 2007)
The climbing world mourns the passing of Bradford Washburn, pioneer mountaineer, photographer and cartographer. The founding director of the Boston Museum of Science, he died Jan. 10 in Lexington, Mass., at age 96.
As an explorer, he led expeditions to unmapped areas of Alaska; he pioneered the use of aerial photography and ski-equipped aircraft to climb untrodden peaks, and discovered the West Buttress route on Denali, which has become that mountain's standard route of ascent. He was a relative youth when he forged a solid relationship, based on remarkable accomplishments, with the National Geographic Society. In later years, he used his knowledge and enthusiasm to encourage younger mountaineers to seek out new routes on challenging mountains.
As a photographer, he captured on film dramatic images of the White Mountains, of the Alps, of peaks in Alaska, and other locales. His work combined scientific purpose and artistic sensitivity; his photographs have been likened to those of Ansel Adams. As a cartographer, he mapped such places as Denali, Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, and Mount Washington (N.H.).
He transformed the stuffy little New England Museum of Natural History into today's Boston Museum of Science, a world-class science center. He is survived by his widow Barbara who, with Brad's guidance and her own grit and gumption, became the first woman to climb Denali.
According to Washburn biographer Mike Sfraga, "He was very much the entrepreneur, gaining multiple funding from many agencies and he was the consummate showman. He could hold an audience for hours giving a lecture on Everest or Denali. And he was a wonderful public relations machine with beautiful photos, and well-placed partnerships with National Geographic. He was one of the first mountaineers to make a living at it by lecturing."
Said Peter Crane, director of programs at Mount Washington Observatory, “Rest assured that, for generations hence, many will benefit from Brad's great work in many fields.” The MWO was bequeathed original negatives from Washburn's 1937 photographic flight over the White Mountains, specifically to help the organization produce revenue to sustain its activities.
ON THE HORIZON
AAC Annual Meeting – Ever wanted to climb with Lynn Hill? Steve House? Chris Sharma? Josh Wharton? Tommy Caldwell? During the 2007 AAC Mountain Fest and Annual Meeting, March 30-April 1, in Bend, Ore., these famous climbers and seven others will be offering free clinics to registered Mountain Fest guests at Smith Rock. The Mountain Fest also will feature presentations by House and Caldwell, a symposium on climate change in the mountains, the popular Women's Base Camp Breakfast, and all the usual camaraderie. (For more information: AmericanAlpineClub.org)
No Barriers – No Barriers USA announced that its Festival 2007, a five-day event, will be held in Squaw Valley, Calif., June 28 - July 2, 2007. The goal of this one-of-a-kind festival is to share the cutting-edge techniques and technologies which enable people with challenges to live as actively as possible and break through their own personal barriers. (For more information: http://www.nobarriersusa.org/festival-2007.html)
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
Film Shows Mallory's Ascent, But Not Complete Climb
The 16mm film Bill Warren found at a Las Vegas swap meet and hopes to sell for $50,000 is not “a complete production of George Mallory's climb to the summit of Everest in 1924,” as we erroneously wrote in January.
Instead, the approximately 12-min. film shows a group of men standing with Mallory and his partner in front of a tent and shows their ascent up the mountain. Near the end of the film there's a diagram of where the climbers went and their last known position before not being seen again.
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Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad – LEKI, the world's largest ski, trekking and Nordic Walking pole company, Buffalo, N.Y., introduces three new P2 Grip/Strap Trekking Poles for 2007. Lengthen and shorten the pole strap with the one touch locking tab on top. Grips are vented to reduce weight.
Tights, Tops and Sport Support Bras for Athletes – CW-X Conditioning Wear is specifically tuned to provide total support to the key muscle groups and joints of the lower limbs and upper body. Tights and Tops, and the company's new Sports Support Bras, are made for a wide variety of high-energy activities, including running, fitness walking, hiking, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, track and field, and other fitness activities. It has been worn to the summit of Everest on at least two occasions.
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