Expedition News
September 2010 – Volume Seventeen, Number Nine

EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 17th 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.


A group of explorers headquartered in Boston are planning to search for George Mallory's partner, Andrew "Sandy" Irvine, and the Vest Pocket Kodak he's said to have been carrying when he disappeared on Mt. Everest in 1924. They hope the photos will answer the still burning question: Did either man reach the summit before both perished on Everest's desolate slopes?

The Andrew Irvine Search Committee is seeking $250,000 by December to fund a recovery expedition next year to the Tibetan side of Mt. Everest, and take video footage of what they hope will be a major historic discovery. After years of patient detective work, they say aerial photography indicates the body of Andrew Irvine is lying in a rock cleft at 27,641-ft. (8425 m) within the Yellow Band strata of the mountain's North face.

The small, tight expedition of highly experienced climbers hope to ascend to Irvine's location, film his lie, attempt (from his injuries) to determine his cause of death, and give him an Anglican interment. Kodak scientists have assured the Committee that if the camera remained light tight, "printable images" could be obtained with developing techniques especially created for this film. If the film shows they reached the summit, history would be rewritten, believes expedition founder Tom Holzel, a semi-retired market positioning executive from Boston.

In any case, the discovery of Irvine and his Kodak camera would reveal the last three days of these pioneers of Everest, and so finally close the book on this great 86-year-old mystery.

Holzel tells EN, "Our creation of huge photographic route maps (Scale 1:270), coupled with hours of searching the aerial film under a microscope, eventually led to an 'eureka moment' of recognition–the faint image of a frozen corpse which by its odd location could only be that of Andrew Irvine." Holzel says an attempt to reach the body in May 2010 was made by at least three climbers, but all returned empty-handed. (For more information: Tom Holzel,,, (+1) 617-293-1958)


Final Leg of "Save the Poles"

Polar explorer Eric Larsen, 39, departed last month on his quest to summit Mt. Everest, the final leg of his "Save the Poles" expedition, a first-ever journey to the South Pole, North Pole and summit of Mt. Everest in a continuous 365-day period (see EN, February 2010). In January 2010, Larsen and his team completed a 750-mile, 48-day ski traverse to the Geographic South Pole. Larsen, from Boulder, Colo., and Grand Marais, Minn., and a separate team reached the Geographic North Pole on April 22, Earth Day, after a 51-day, 500 mile push that included snowshoeing and skiing across shifting sea ice and sometimes even swimming across open water sections of the Arctic Ocean.

His purpose for the expedition is to connect people to the Polar Regions and the environmental issues that are impacting them.

For the Everest leg of the expedition, Larsen will include video updates from the mountain, as well as a more interactive approach to conversing and answering questions via Twitter and Facebook.

The Save the Poles expedition is sponsored by Bing and Terramar with major support from Goal0, Sierra Designs, MSR, Scream Agency, Stanley, Therm-a-Rest, webExpeditions and Optic Nerve.??? (For more

Around-n-Over Keeps Going and Going

The human powered circumnavigation project by Erden Eruc, 49, which began in July 2007 at Bodega Bay on the shores of California, is currently in the Indian Ocean. Erden will return to Bodega Bay to conclude his journey sometime in 2012. By then he will have also reached the summits of Denali, Kosciuszko, Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua in his quest to reach the highest points on six different continents by human power.

Founded by Erden, the mission of the nonprofit Around-n-Over is to educate and inspire children based on the lessons learned during human powered journeys, and to raise funds for charitable projects focusing on education. During the circumnavigation journey so far, Around-n-Over has been able to commit over $78,000 toward charitable projects.

After 51 days at sea, Erden was over 1,750 nautical miles from Carnarvon, his departure point in Western Australia on July 13. He is expected to be at sea another two months before landfall at a confidential location he prefers not announce at this time as a precaution against pirates. His title sponsor is Aktas Group.

Erden is in an ocean rowboat, a first generation ARR Class (Atlantic Rowing Race Class) boat 23 ft. long, constructed from a marine plywood kit in 2001 by two British rowers. It is the standard two person boat which the race participants used until ocean rowboats with molded composite hulls were introduced in 2004.

He emails EN, "If I succeed, this will be the first ever complete crossing of this ocean by human power, mainland to mainland. Australia nonstop from California. Now the complete Indian Ocean... Each phase is noteworthy in itself and I enjoy the thought of that."

Now about those antipodes – A self-imposed requirement of Erden's human powered circumnavigation is to include a pair of antipodal points on his route. Antipodes are pairs of points on the earth's surface which are located diametrically opposite of each other, like the North Pole and the South Pole. Every point has its antipode. Erden's circumnavigation track is mirrored on the opposite side of the globe by its antipodal track. When these two tracks cross each other, the antipodal requirement of a true circumnavigation will have been achieved. This ensures that the journey has gone as far beyond the horizon as possible to the far ends of the globe and then back. The natural results of this requirement are that the journey will have crossed the Equator at least twice and will have traveled at least the length of the Equator. (see EN, August 2007)

Clearly, when you're burning thousands of calories day in and day out, you need to do these circumnavigations right. (Track the expedition at


Die With Your Boots On

Given a choice in the matter, when it's time for that final belay, we'd like to die like William Holland – with our boots on. Late last month, two men hiking in the Canadian Rockies have found the frozen remains of Holland, an American climber who vanished more than two decades ago.

"I've been speechless," said Holland's wife, Anne Holland Bateman, of Walla Walla, Wash. "It has been 21 years. I never thought we would know what happened."

The hikers discovered Holland's remains on Aug. 15 in Jasper National Park in Alberta, officials said. Holland disappeared in 1989. The men were walking near the base of Dome Glacier when they noticed a yellow object that seemed out of place in the snow-covered landscape. Upon closer inspection they discovered, much to their shock, the object was a yellow jacket and it was still attached to Holland's perfectly preserved remains.

"He was fully intact," said Garth Lemke, a public safety specialist with Parks Canada. "He still had his pack on. His clothes were tattered but in reasonable condition."

Holland, a 39-year-old geologist from Gorham, Maine, climbed the summit of the Snow Dome Mountain in April 1989. While battling blowing snow and whiteout conditions, Holland glanced over the edge of a cliff face, in an effort to locate a route of descent.

The drift broke free and he fell about 1,500 feet to his death. (Read more about the discovery)

Pea-Sized Frog Found in Borneo

The smallest frog in the Old World (Asia, Africa and Europe) and one of the world's tiniest was discovered inside and around pitcher plants in the heath forests of the Southeast Asian island of Borneo. The pea-sized amphibian is a species of microhylid, which, as the name suggests, is composed of miniature frogs under 15 mm (about one-half inch).

The discovery published in the taxonomy journal Zootaxa was made by Drs. Indraneil Das and Alexander Haas of the Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation at the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, and Biozentrum Grindel und Zoologisches Museum of Hamburg, respectively, with support from the Volkswagen Foundation. Dr. Das is also leading one of the scientific teams that is searching for the world's lost amphibians, a campaign organized by Conservation International and IUCN's Amphibians Specialist Group.

The mini frogs (Microhyla nepenthicola) were found on the edge of a road leading to the summit of the Gunung Serapi mountain, which lies within Kubah National Park. The new species was named after the plant on which it depends, the Nepenthes ampullaria, one of many species of pitcher plants in Borneo, which has a globular pitcher and grows in damp, shady forests. The frogs deposit their eggs on the sides of the pitcher, and tadpoles grow in the liquid accumulated inside the plant.

Because they are so tiny, finding them proved to be a challenge. The frogs were tracked by their call, and then made to jump onto a piece of white cloth to be examined closer.

Amphibians are the most threatened group of animals, with a third of them in danger of extinction. They provide important services to humans such as controlling insects that spread disease and damage crops and helping to maintain healthy freshwater systems.

Teams of scientists from Conservation International and IUCN's Amphibian Specialist Group around the world have recently launched an unprecedented search in the hope of rediscovering 100 species of "lost" amphibians - animals considered potentially extinct but that may be holding on in a few remote places.

There's a full description published in the journal Zootaxa

Barefoot Wonders

Those of us at EN don't even like walking around the kitchen in bare feet, much less the open trail. So imagine our amazement that there's a growing barefoot hikers movement, including one in our home state.

According to the Barefoot Hikers of Connecticut (who knew?) there is nothing more natural than hiking through nature barefoot. "The soles of your feet and toes are wonderful sensory organs and the myriad of feelings from earth, grass, moss, pine-needles, and mud are wonderful," their website breathlessly explains. "Many could not see hiking any other way."

Think about the plus side: virtually no trail erosion since a bare foot makes much less of an imprint than a booted foot. To which we would add, no blisters, no shoelaces coming loose, no expensive hiking boots to purchase. Aside from some pesky LACERATIONS! it's a wonder more people don't hike this way.

"I'm guessing that barefoot hiking is not a great way to pick up girls," sniffed one outdoor boot manufacturer who requested anonymity in case a few of these tenderfoots decide to one day lace up.

Peter Sachs of Lowa Boots in Stamford, Conn., takes a more serious tact when we asked him to weigh in on boots versus bare feet:

"As a boot manufacturer we are always striving for saving weight, making less impact on the trail and other similar benefits. However, we always remind ourselves that sturdy footwear is there to support and protect the feet and ankles in uneven terrain, over long distances, carrying loads and in various types of weather.

"As we build shoes we can certainly take inspiration from those who try new things and try to incorporate those features into our footwear, but in the end, we can't sacrifice what we know works and does what the most important piece of outdoor gear is supposed to do – make your adventure positively memorable," Sachs said.

Learn more about barefoot hiking here:

Why do we have the sinking feeling we're about to get a pitch for the First Barefoot Summit of Everest?

We'll Drink to This

Morse Code Wine

Finally, all those ham radio DXpeditions become a little more bearable thanks to a new Australian wine we picked up at Stew Leonard's diary store in Norwalk, Conn. It's called Morse Code Padthaway and the dits and dahs on the label read, naturally, SHIRAZ.

The wine, from Henry's Drive Vignerons commemorates the craft of postal "telegraphists" whose Morse signals, delivered across Australia's great telegraph line, connected the country with the world and helped save countless lives.

Many people buy wine based upon pretty labels, but Morse code? If those code messages are a bit slurred on the 20- or 40-meter bands, we'll know why.

Learn more about the vintner here: Quintessential Wines


"Climbing Everest – you get all these high powered plastic surgeons and CEO's. You know, they pay $80,000 and have Sherpas who put all these ladders in place and 8,000 feet of fixed rope. You get to a camp and you don't even have to lay out your sleeping bag. It's already laid out with a chocolate mint on top.

"The whole purpose of climbing Everest is to affect some spiritual and physical gain but if you compromise the process, you're an asshole when you start out and you're an asshole when you get back." – Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard speaking in the engaging documentary, 180 Degrees South – Conquerors of the Useless from Woodshed Films (see the trailer)


Travels Without Charley: Retracing John Steinbeck

Not every expedition involves feats of superhuman courage and strength. From time to time, we celebrate those little-known adventurers who are undertaking the trip of their dreams. Bill Steigerwald is an ex-newspaperman from Pittsburgh who will begin this month retracing the road trip around the U.S. that John Steinbeck made in the fall of 1960 and turned into his beloved book, Travels With Charley.

Steinbeck and his poodle Charley left Long Island in a specially designed GMC pickup truck/camper combo on Sept. 23, 1960.

Avoiding cities and major highways, they went north to Maine, traced the top of the country from New York to Seattle and then drove down to San Francisco and the Monterey Peninsula (Steinbeck Country) before going on to Texas, New Orleans and sprinting home to New York City after 11 weeks, 34 states and 10,000 highway miles. Steinbeck's 1962 book about his solo journey became an instant bestseller, a cultural icon that still sells today.

Steinbeck said he embarked on his circumnavigation of America because he felt, correctly, that he needed to get back in touch with his country and his countrymen after 20 years of living in Manhattan and traveling in Europe.

Steigerwald, 62 (four years older than Steinbeck), described what he's going to do as "an extreme act of entrepreneurial journalism." Using Travels With Charley as his guide, map and timeline, the former writer and columnist at the L.A. Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review said he'll do the kind of drive-by journalism Steinbeck deliberately chose not to do.

And Steigerwald said he isn't trying to repeat Steinbeck's unrepeatable road trek. He's not taking a dog. And unlike the great Steinbeck, he's not going to camp out in the Badlands, carry a cargo of rifles and booze or spend Thanksgiving week on a big ranch in Texas.

Steigerwald plans a 2012 book about his solo trip down the Steinbeck Highway. "It'll be part road book, part survey of contemporary American society, part detective story, part socioeconomic history," he said. "Think Blue Highways meets Holidays in Hell with Steinbeck's ghost in the front seat." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will run his articles and blogs on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, as his Sept. 23 departure date nears, Steigerwald is busy studying old maps, erecting his website, (currently under construction), and learning how to Twitter without taking his eyes off the road. Sponsorship, both in-kind and cash, is being sought. (For more information: (+1) 412-606-3654,


Climbing is No Longer a Calling

In a review of the International Mountain Museum in Pokhara, Nepal, Wall Street Journal "extreme sports correspondent" Michael J. Ybarra praises the institution for exploring the different dimensions of mountains – physical, cultural and athletic. He writes in the July 17-18 edition, "Climbing used to be a calling. Now it's often a business. A guide friend of mine has a client who had never climbed a mountain in his life but decided he wanted to do the Seven Summits – the highest peak on each continent, which in recent years has become almost as trendy as triathlons or 'adventure' races. The would-be Edmund Hillary walked into a mountaineering shop in Washington, asked what equipment he would need for the seven summits, and slapped down enough cash to buy an SUV."

Ybarra continues, "This commercialization has led to the trashing of the mountains. The museum has a dismaying display of the detritus that expeditions have left on Everest: discarded oxygen bottles, empty fuel cans, enough old ropes to circle the earth."

Controversial Titanic Salvor to Aid Scientists

In the 23 years since divers first reached the wreckage of the Titanic, commercial efforts to salvage artifacts from the doomed ocean liner have aroused as much scientific dispute as public curiosity.

Many archaeologists and others – including Robert D. Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who led an American-French team that discovered the remains 25 years ago – wanted the site left untouched as a memorial. Some of them compared salvage efforts to grave robbing, according to a story by Ian Austen in the New York Times (Aug. 22).

Now, R.M.S. Titanic, the American company that has removed about 4,650 artifacts from the Titanic, will try to mend fences with the scientific community by sponsoring two voyages, the first of which sailed last month from St. John's, Newfoundland. Instead of stripping the wreckage, these trips will include archeologists who will carefully document and map the site for the first time as a step toward creating a long-term archaeological management plan for it.

Advances in digital photography, sonar and computer imaging software over the last two decades will obviously aid the documentation. But P. H. Nargeolet, director of Underwater Research for R.M.S. Titanic, said that improvements in robotic submarines would be the single most important factor, according to the Times story.

The voyage this summer was prompted by a change of management at R.M.S. Titanic, which has been arguing in court for 17 years to be granted ownership of the artifacts it collected after 1987 or to be compensated for salvaging them. Rather than battle the archaeologists, the company's new management met with a group of them over a year ago and learned that carefully mapping the wreckage site was the scientific community's priority. Fate of Sir John Franklin Continues to Elude Searchers

Canadian scientists announced last month that they failed to find the final resting place of British naval hero Sir John Franklin, thus deepening one of the most enduring mysteries of the Arctic, according to an August 31 story in the Wall Street Journal by Alistair Macdonald.

In May 1845, Franklin set sail from England with 134 men aboard two ships, the Terror and Erebus, to search for the fabled Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic to the Pacific Ocean. Five sailors left the ship in Greenland. The rest were never heard from again.

Last month, a six-man government survey team, supported by the Canadian Coast Guard vessel the Sir Wilfrid Laurier and its near 50-man crew, surveyed hundreds of square miles of frigid sea floor hoping to succeed where some 100 other expeditions failed to discover the fate of the ships and a crew whose demise has been attributed to factors from lead poisoning to cannibalism.

For Canadians, the disappearance is "a Victorian gothic horror story that played out across the Arctic," said Ryan Harris, a government archeologist who lead this summer's search. Their government believes that locating the expedition's resting place will bolster its sovereignty over the sea lane Franklin sought. Though the Franklin expedition was British, London has signed over caretaker rights to Canada.

Amazon Expert Needed

A TV producer, who prefers to remain anonymous, is looking for an expert who has studied changes in the Amazon River and/or can speak to the recent water piracy that's been in the news. Any expertise on Amazon culture, animals, climate change, water, or plant life is welcome, especially if you are currently conducting a study in the region and would agree to appear on a television docuseries on a national cable channel. (Contact:


Come Up and Get Me (an Autobiography of Colonel Joe Kittinger)
By Joe Kittinger and Craig Ryan
University of New Mexico Press, 2010
Reviewed by James M. Clash

If the foreword by Neil Armstrong (who normally doesn't grant interviews, let alone write book blurbs) doesn't signal the significance of Joseph Kittinger's autobiography, consider what the man did.

As part of the United States Air Force's Project Excelsior, 50 years ago he rode a helium balloon to 102,800 feet then, with full pressure suit, stepped into the blackness of space. He free fell for over four minutes, approaching the speed of sound.

At 18,000 feet, his parachute opened and he glided safely back to the floor of the New Mexico desert. The jump wasn't a stunt–it proved that future astronauts like Armstrong could eject from harsh, space-like environments and survive to tell the tale.

While most aviation enthusiasts know Kittinger for this "giant step," beautifully detailed in the book, there's a lot more to the man's remarkable life. We see Kittinger testing experimental aircraft in the Chuck Yeager-era of hot shot pilots, pulling three duty tours over Vietnam (and, after being shot down in 1972, serving 11 months as a POW) and, in 1984, becoming the first person to solo the Atlantic in a balloon.

His tone throughout the book is straightforward and self-deprecating, testament to a man of many details who doesn't take himself too seriously.

Armstrong's foreword title, "The 100,000 Foot Club," is quite fitting, by the way – not only as a physical description of Kittinger's signature achievement, but of the stature of heroes like Kittinger who routinely risk their lives not to get rich, bloviate or self-aggrandize, but for their country (Distinguished Flying Cross), science (Aviation Hall of Fame) and exploration (The Explorers Medal).

The Kittinger book is especially relevant now as dare-devil Felix Baumgartner, with the backing of Red Bull, is planning a jump later this year from 120,000 feet in an attempt to break Kittinger's record. Kittinger, who for a half century had resisted helping other jumpers try the dangerous leap, is a consultant to the project.

James M. Clash, an Explorers Club Fellow and Director, is author of Forbes to the Limits (Wiley, 2003). He is currently at work on his next book, Great Icons: What Were They Thinking? (For more information:


The Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Annual Awards Dinner Explores Extinction
Oct. 23, 2010, New York Headquarters

The Explorers Club announced the roster of awardees for this year's annual Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner on "Exploring Extinction, Is It Forever?" The ten awardees who hail from North America, Europe, and Africa were chosen for their discovery and/or preservation work relating to either species or cultures. The Oct. 23 event, at Club headquarters in New York, will consider why certain flora and fauna species have floundered whereas others have flourished.

Individuals to be honored at this event are renowned photographers Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher; researchers and advocates for ocean life Curt and Nicole Jenner; explorer and Bactrian Camel supporter John Hare; cultural art preservationist and curator Peter Keller; Cheetah advocate Laurie Marker; MIT geologist Linda Elkins-Tanton; author, photographer and filmmaker Ian Mackenzie; and anthropologist Nancy Sullivan. (For information and tickets:; for full event description and awardee biographies visit

Hamptons Conservation & Wildlife Film Festival
Sept. 24-26, Sag Harbor, N.Y.

This international traveling film event features some of the world's finest conservation, natural history and wildlife films. It will be held the weekend of September 24-26 at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, N.Y. An opening reception takes place on Friday evening with keynote speaker Fabien Cousteau; films will be screened both Saturday and Sunday. (For more information:



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You Want to Go Where? – How to Get Someone to Pay for the Trip of Your Dreams – The only book that not only takes you behind-the-scenes of some of the most historic and modern-day adventures and expeditions, but also provides advice on how individuals can fund and arrange their own trips.

Written by Jeff Blumenfeld, editor of Expedition News, it retells the story of explorers familiar to EN readers, including Anker, Schurke, Shackleton, Steger, Vaughan, and many others. It includes tips on communications technology, photography, writing contracts, and developing a proposal that will impress potential sponsors. Available through (also Kindle Edition), and (Skyhorse Publishing, 2009)

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