December 2007 – Volume Fourteen, Number Twelve
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.
RECOVERING THE REMAINS OF BYRD'S AIRMEN
Families of three U.S. World War II Naval air crewmen left in a 60-year-old temporary grave during Admiral Byrd's fourth and the largest-ever exploration of Antarctica announced last month that the U.S. Navy is considering a formal plan to finally bring their loved ones home thanks to efforts of the George One Recovery Operation.
The crew and their photoreconnaissance Mariner Patrol Bomber, codenamed "George One," remain buried in up to 150 feet below the accumulating snows of Thurston Island on the continent's notoriously foul-weathered Phantom Coast.
The recovery effort, set for November 2008, will utilize state-of-the-art recovery equipment and the highly skilled personnel of the Greenland Expedition Society (GES) that recovered the WWII P-38 Lightning "Glacier Girl" from 268 feet below the Greenland ice sheet. The George One/Operation Highjump Crew Recovery Team, led by former GES team member, Lou Sapienza of Seattle, will enable more than 40 surviving family members and an entire nation to honor the three young naval veterans by laying them to rest under U.S. soil.
Following the crash and explosion of their PB5 Mariner aircraft in December of 1946, Ensign Maxwell A. Lopez, Newport, R.I.; Frederick W. Williams, Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class, Huntingdon, Tenn., and Wendell K. Hendersin, Aviation Radioman 1st Class, Sparta, Wisc., were buried by six survivors of the flight beneath a specific and well-marked area under the starboard leading edge of the large seaplane's wing. Until now, the Navy lacked known existing technology to feasibly and safely recover these WWII airmen.
Comprised of veteran Greenland Expedition Society members, The George One/Operation Highjump Recovery Team will execute two separate expeditions. If all goes as planned, this month, in weather conditions of 0 to 10 degrees F., a six-man site survey team will conduct an 8-day intensive ground penetration radar (GPR) site survey to precisely locate and map the crash debris field in the wake of a 2004 aerial GPR survey by an Orion P-3 Sub Hunter that located the crash site to within a half-kilometer square. A 12-person team will conduct an intensive 45-day recovery effort late next year.
At press time, the group was awaiting a decision from the Navy whether the government would support the expedition. Otherwise they will turn to corporate sponsorship for assistance and will have to postpone the survey and excavation until late 2008.
The George One Recovery expeditions will be timed to take full advantage of favorable austral summer weather conditions. A U.S. Army Central Identification Lab (CILHI) cold weather anthropologist will, with assistance from the George One Team, recover the remains for transport to the Hawaii-based CILHI for full identification. A nephew of Fred Williams, Lt Colonel James Beebe, has applied to be the official military honor guard on the return of these three sailors from the Antarctic to CILHI. (For more information: Lou Sapienza, (+1) 206-240-9869, email@example.com, George1Recovery.org)
Fossett's Widow: "Declare Him Dead"
The wife of missing adventurer Steve Fossett has asked a court to declare him legally dead three months after he disappeared while flying over the Nevada desert (See EN, October 2007).
"As anyone can imagine, this is a difficult day for our family," said Peggy Fossett in a statement.
"We will continue to grieve and heal, but after nearly three months, we feel now that we must accept that Steve did not survive." Mrs. Fossett filed her petition in a court in Chicago. It asks that a judge begin the process of distributing her husband's assets according to his will. "(Steve) Fossett's wealth is vast, surpassing eight figures in liquid assets, various entities and real estate," the court petition said.
The 63-year-old world record setter, who amassed his fortune as a commodities trader in Chicago, was reported missing on Sept. 3. Fossett was on a pleasure flight and not looking for a dry lake to use as a surface on which to set the world land speed record, as earlier reported. The adventurer was carrying only one bottle of water with him at the time and had no parachute.
Mrs. Fossett said she and others contributed more than $1.2 million to the search, which was scaled back in mid-September and suspended in early October although volunteer efforts continue. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded in a preliminary report that the plane was destroyed in a fatal accident.
"None of Steve's wealth was transferred out or withdrawn in any manner that would suggest a planned disappearance," her statement said. "Steve has not accessed any of his assets since his disappearance. Steve had no debt and life insurance."
Skurka Wins NGA Award
National Geographic Adventure magazine has chosen Andrew Skurka, 26, as 2007 Adventurer of the Year for his epic seven-month, 6,875-mile hike through the American West to call attention to its magnificent landscape and the environmental and ecological threats affecting it. (EN, August 2005)
His first-of-its-kind journey took him through five major mountain ranges, 12 national parks and 75 wilderness areas. The 2006 Adventurers of the Year, Colin Angus and Julie Wafaei, who completed a two-year, human-powered circumnavigation of the world, presented the 2007 award to Skurka.
Skurka's expedition was made possible by GoLite, the outdoor gear manufacturer attracted to the project because of its athletic focus, its efforts to increase people's interest in the outdoors, and its motive to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change on America's backcountry. He traveled day-in and day-out with a mere 12.7 pounds on his back.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"When you see the Earth from the moon, you realize how fragile it is and just how limited the resources are. We're all astronauts on this spaceship Earth - about six or seven billion of us - and we have to work and live together." - Apollo 8 Capt. Jim Lovell, who will turn 80 in 2008.
Lovell joined William Anders and Frank Borman in the first manned orbit of the moon (1968). He tells Tom Brokaw in a story appearing in Time Magazine (Nov. 19), that when Apollo 8 returned safely to Earth three days later, the crew was inundated with messages from people around the world saying, "Thank you for saving 1968."
Picture Perfect: 10 Tips to Take Better Expedition Photos
by Jake Norton
It's happened to all of us. You go on the trip of a lifetime - Mount Rainier, Peru, the Himalaya - and take loads of images. You get home, look at those images, and the mystery, the magic of the place, is missing. What went wrong? Where did all those great vistas, enthralling clouds, and stunning sunsets go? These ten simple tips will help you take your expedition images to the next level.
The Rule of Thirds – Divide your frame into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, and place your main subject where those lines intersect rather than in the middle. This helps create energy and movement in the image and a dynamic and engaging composition.
Leapfrog!! – Let's face it - butt shots just don't work. As long as it's safe, leapfrog your climbing partners, or shoot the rope team behind - getting their faces - rather than the behinds of the team ahead.
More Isn't Always Better – Use a zoom lens to pull an interesting subject more fully into the frame... or, use that old tried and true tool - your legs. Yup, that's right, if your lens can't do it, move closer, compose and shoot. It's all in the perspective.
P A N O R A M A – Shoot multiple frames of a dramatic vista, overlapping the edges of each image by at least 25%. Later on, use a panorama stitching program (like Adobe Photoshop's built-in Photomerge function) to put the images together - works like a charm!
Have Camera...Will Get Shot – Sounds simple, but you'd be amazed by how often people either leave their camera behind - and of course miss images - or have it tucked so far out of reach that it is too tough (or too dangerous) to get it out when that perfect moment arises. Keep it on you and keep it handy.
Stop It Down – High contrast scenes - like mountainscapes - tend to trick even modern cameras, resulting in loss of detail in the highlights. The solution is to manually under-expose the image by 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop. Lock in this setting on your camera and shoot in any shooting mode and your photos will come out with details in the highlights (snow) while still being good in the darker areas.
Fill 'Er Up – Dark subject on a bright background? Use a little bit of fill-flash, stopped down to -0.7 to -1.0 (2/3 to one full stop), and sometimes even more depending on the situation.
Sun Star – Make the sun pop by setting your aperture to f16 or above. Then set the exposure 1/2 to 11/2 stops under-exposed. Shoot a frame and make sure the sun is as starred as you want it to be and that the rest of your image has proper exposure as well.
Zoom in or Pull Back – As I mentioned earlier, perspective is everything. So, try different perspective both by using your legs to move around and by using different lenses to change the view. Zoom in close or go super-wide to bring everything in. Lie down on the ground and shoot skyward, or climb up a bit higher and shoot a bird's eye view.
Try Some of Everything – Although equipment today is amazing, the best photographs require a combination of equipment and personal vision. Rarely does a simple point-and-shoot image make the cover of National Geographic. So, try a little bit of everything on your next outing or expedition. Have fun, play around. Figure out what the story is you want to tell, and then decide what images will best tell that story. The best shot is sometimes the one you decided not to take.
Jake Norton is a professional climber, photographer, and motivational speaker. Read this complete story with photos illustrating each point on Jake's blog: MountainWorld.typepad.com
See his other images and read about his adventures online at MountainWorldProductions.com
Missing Wonders – With as many as 1,500 active satellites orbiting the Earth and the human population approaching seven billion, you'd think that everything of value on the planet would have been discovered by now. Not so, says Jennifer Saranow in the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 9). Her 1-1/2 page story provides an update on searches for the tomb of Nefertiti, the Holy Grail, Genghis Khan's tomb, Amelia Earhart, and others.
"... technology is opening up the field," she writes. "Using the Global Positioning System, searchers can better pinpoint where to look. Wireless communications allow searchers to share and analyze information from remote spots. Satellite photography can suggest likely ancient sites and trade routes, while increasingly sensitive and affordable devices use radar signals, magnetic sensors and electrical pulses to detect foundation and metal objects."
Saranow continues, "At the same time, deep-diving devices that use magnetometers and sonar detection have enabled searchers to see things underwater that weren't visible even five years ago. Many such techniques are accessible to 'pretty much anybody these days,' says W. Frederick Limp, director of the University of Arkansas's Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies."
Kayak Adventurer Participates in Icy Rescue – Explorer Jon Bowermaster, 53, was on the scene when rescuers saved 154 crew and passengers from the ill-fated Explorer, fondly known as the "little red ship," that sank last month off the Antarctic peninsula. Bowermaster tells the New York Times (Nov. 24), "There was a long line of black rubber Zodiac boats and a handful of orange lifeboats strung out, and it was very surreal because it was a very beautiful morning with the sun glistening off the relatively calm sea."
Bowermaster, who was scouting for his Larsen Ice Shelf Expedition set to begin in January (JonBowermaster.com), was aboard the rescue ship, National Geographic Endeavour, and was interviewed via satellite phone. Another ship, the Nordnorge ended up taking all the Explorer's refugees, each paying $7,000 to $16,000 for what undoubtedly became the adventure of their lives.
Of all the people that may have been truly affected by hearing of the recent sinking of G.A.P. Expeditions' M/S Explorer, surely Sven Lindblad must have felt more emotion than just about anyone else.
The Explorer once also existed as an integral part of his father's company for many years as the Lindblad Explorer. While his father sold the ship in 1982 and has had nothing to do with it since, this plucky little vessel pioneered expedition travel and made it possible for the thousands that now travel to Antarctica every season.
Sven Lindblad recently posted some personal memories and thoughts about the ship on his company's Web site: (Expeditions.com)
Sven Lindblad also relates an excerpt from his father's book, Passport to Anywhere, that describes the time when the Lindblad Explorer ran aground in 1972 and had to evacuate passengers.
Sven writes, "I began to wonder if we were mad, running expeditions here. But, at the end of the day, it was the sheer and unabashed excitement and appreciation of our guests that answered the question unequivocally."
He later writes, "I'm not too sad about the ship itself because I know that in conceiving her and exploring with her, an idea so powerful, so meaningful took hold - our need and right to explore our planet."
Everest Peace Project Film Premieres – Just released is a new DVD of the nine-person Everest Peace Project - one of the most diverse Everest expeditions ever - which included Palestinian and Israeli men. (See EN, April 2004 and September 2006). Narrated by Orlando Bloom and hailed as a "tremendous achievement" by the Dalai Lama, Everest: A Climb for Peace is a socially relevant documentary about peace, war, and the human spirit - an inspirational film, which also has spectacular Everest footage, including a dramatic rescue from near the summit.
Filmed on location in Nepal, Tibet, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, U.A.E, and the United States, the film chronicles the journey of nine "peace climbers" from different faiths and cultures as they climb to the summit. The focus is on Palestinian Ali Bushnaq and Israeli's Dudu Yifrah and Micha Yaniv. They come together and set aside their differences to forge a path of teamwork and cooperation. Directed and co-produced by Lance Trumbull. (For more information: EverestPeaceProject.org).
UCTV Goes to the Moon – The legendary British climber Ben Moon has signed an exclusive video-licensing deal with the climbing-video site UCTV (ucmag.tv). UCTV is a division of Skram Media - publisher of Climbing and Urban Climber magazines. Under the terms of a new agreement, Moon has agreed to provide UCTV with unprecedented access to his video library, which includes more than 100 video clips of Moon's first ascents, training footage from the infamous "School Room," in Sheffield, U.K., and footage of other world-renowned British climbers, including Rich Simpson and the young Brit-American phenomenon Tyler Landman.
Under the Ben Moon deal, UCTV will post his video catalog to the site, and allow UCTV to compile the videos along with others in different themed and branded channels.
QuikClot Sport Blood Clotting Product Seeks to Support Expeditions
Serious bleeding far from medical help can quickly become life threatening. QuikClot Sport brand hemostatic agent puts a critical new tool in the expedition first aid kit - the ability to rapidly stop bleeding right at the scene of an injury. Manufacturer Z-Medica Corp. is interested in contributing this breakthrough product to wilderness expeditions. The mineral-based QuikClot Sport is non-allergenic and cleared by the FDA for over-the-counter use.
Earlier versions of QuikClot have been proven effective by all branches of the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan and by first responders and security agencies across the United States and in 36 countries. More than one million units have been deployed worldwide since it was introduced in 2002. Z-Medica will provide 25-gm packages of QuikClot Sport to a number of qualified expeditions for a limited time at no charge, but requests that expeditions provide details of any product usage. (For more information: Ted Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org)
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
Who was the First American to Ski to the North Pole?
Some vigorous e-mails flew back and forth following our report of Doug Stoup's current expedition along the Antarctica route Sir Ernest Shackleton would have taken in 1915 had things gone better. One explorer believes Stoup's claim to be "first American male to ski to the South Pole" was not entirely accurate.
Professional mountain guide Jim Williams of EXPLORADUS in Jackson, Wyo., writes, "I along with Jerry Corr, Ron Milnarik, and Joe Murphy skied to the South Pole in 1989. We reached the South Pole 17 January 1989. Prior to us reaching the pole on skis only 11 others had reached the pole and none were Americans. We were part of a larger team of 11 skiers from around the world."
When it comes to exploration claims, one of the best arbitrators out there is AdventureStats.com. The site's Tom Sjogren of ExplorersWeb, responded to an EN inquiry as follows:
"The first Americans to travel to the South Pole was a team with snowcats in 1961.
"A second team with six Americans, including Jim Williams, conducted a skiing expedition accompanied by Skidoos (with resupplies) in 1988-89.
"The first American to reach the SP without motorized help, but by using dogs (and resupplies) was Will Steger in 1989.
"The first American to ski to the South Pole by human power alone (but with resupplies) was Doug Stoup.
"The first American to ski to the South Pole by human power alone and without resupplies was Matty McNair in 2004.
"In regards to Williams claim, it's a matter of interpretation," Sjogren writes. "If the Skidoo expedition with Jim Williams only used Skidoos coming out with resupplies it would not be classified as 'motorized.' If the Skidoos were traveling WITH the expedition, even though the members were skiing, it is correctly described as a 'motorized' expedition."
Says Stoup, "It is a completely different expedition when you have snowmobile support and the guides (referring to Jim Williams and his teammates) are is on a snowmobile."
Williams disagrees, saying snowmobiles were only used in the rear for support and that he (Williams) did not ride a snow machine, as Stoup suggests.
Nonetheless, Williams graciously conceded, "Although I do not agree, I do acknowledge that based on the criteria for such adventures that Doug was the first American male to ski to the South Pole. I would add unsupported but then that is not part of the definition. I will continue to research this but for now Doug's claim stands."
Williams then fires one parting shot in his e-mail to EN, "I personally find the efforts to leapfrog one another by narrowing the criteria a bit distasteful. I respect all those who have undertaken trips to the Pole and I am proud to have been involved in early exploration on the Antarctic continent."
EN HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
We're sure the explorer on your gift lift already has the basics: a hot-forged ice axe, waterproof/breathable boots, a GPS, sat phone, and all the rest. But this is the holiday season - time to lighten up with some more, er, unusual gifts that are sure to brighten the aspiring Hillarys on your list. The staff of EN, fresh from its 4 a.m. Black Friday bivvy in front of the local Wal-Mart, offers these gift-giving suggestions:
Smoke Gets in Your Eye? – If your explorer friend or loved one hasn't gotten the memo and still insists upon smoking tobacco treats, Suck Smoking Mittens have a metal eyelet which holds a cigarette. This allows fiends to nail another coffin into the lid without getting cold fingers (about $30, suck.uk.com)
Underwater Crackberry – For that next dive expedition, here's a gift to warm the hearts of any diving Crackberry addict. Throw away the grease board. Forget the hand signals. Cancel the second mortgage application for the voice communications system. Professional and casual divers alike can now communicate clearly and effortlessly up to 1,000 meters away with the UTC Underwater Digital Interface (UDI), reportedly the first device for undersea text messaging and emergency communications.
The UDI allows up to 56 divers at a time to remain in constant contact with their ships and each other, simply by sending text messages using the arm-mounted wireless device, making undersea communications as easy as pointing and pressing. Divers can send text messages to each other across a wider area than ever before: up to 10 football fields away, while underwater. Ok then. Can you spell S-H-A-R-K! ($1,500, utc-digital.com)
The Finger Bowl – Thumb wrestling is passZ. What your favorite climber really needs to build digital strength is the Grimper Game from Asana. It's a tabletop tug-of-war game for climbers that builds crimp strength. Choose big slopers or tiny crimps to pull a competitor's line across the center mark. ($29.95, AsanaClimbing.com)
You Just Put Your Lips Together and Blow – Cell phone, schmellphone. When it comes right down to it, nothing beats a good whistle when you're lost on the trail. (Ok, maybe a few signal flares would be nice, too). But no explorer on your list should be without the 125 db JetScream Whistle from Ultimate Survival Technologies. It also works along those dark alleys in Kathmandu or canyons of Manhattan. This nifty little pea-less device focuses man-made air streams through harmonically tuned chambers to create a piercing shriek that out-screams any other noise. It comes with a loop so your gift recipient can wear it with that colorful plastic lariat he or she wove in summer camp. ($6.95, UltimateSurvival.com)
Shack's Brew – If Sir Ernest Shackleton was a drinking man, and we bet he was considering some tense moments down there, we bet he'd drink Endurance Pale Ale, a microbrew based in the northeast. It's named in honor of the Legendary 1914 Endurance Expedition to Antarctica. The image on the label is that of Tom Crean, the second officer of the expedition and Sir Ernest Shackleton's right hand man.
Crean was widely regarded as being virtually indestructible. He was single handedly responsible for saving countless lives through several expeditions and never once sought recognition. We'll drink to that. And the proper way to drink Endurance beer is in official Endurance Brewing Company glassware. That's Crean with his pipe and weather-beaten face on the front of a set of 12 Endurance Pale Ale Pint Glasses for $36. (EnduranceBrewing.com)
Too Much Gear is Never Enough – If your friend or loved one goes on expeditions and never discovers anything, well, maybe they just don't have enough gear along. That's where Scottevest SeV Gear Management Clothing comes in with its 29 strategically located pockets and compartments.
It features creative gear storage solutions and integrated wire management to handle those really tough trips. Your hapless adventurer now can take along his cell phone, iPhone, iPod, digital camera, Leatherman, water bottle, car keys, credit cards, pen, sunglasses, GPS and Glock with "versatile go-anywhere styling." ($140, scottevest.com)
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New LEKI Antishock System – LEKI, the leading international manufacturer of trekking poles, has introduced a Soft Antishock-Lite (SAS-L) System that provides much more comfort along the trail.
The impact energy is absorbed directly into the lower shaft. The perfect combination of steel spring and elastomer provides precise synchronization between spring strength and compression - making trekking with a pole more comfortable than ever, reducing stress on the joints, muscles and ligaments.
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.
Costa Del Mar Sunglasses – The leader in high performance polarized sunglasses is interested in sponsoring expeditions. Help us "See what's out there™."
See Costa Del Mar's online video network dedicated to water sports and angling adventures (costachannelc.com). Submit film footage of "you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it" extreme water sports and fishing expeditions.
Contact Laurie Driggs at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Learn more about our commitment to exploration and adventure travel at: CostaDelMar.com/adventures/
EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 28 Center Street, Darien, CT 06820 USA. Tel. (+1) 203-655-1600, fax (+1) 203-655-1622, email@example.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jamie Gribbon. ©2007 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through PayPal. Read EXPEDITION NEWS at ExpeditionNews.com. Layout and design by Nextwave Design, Seattle.
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