Expedition News
February 2013 – Volume Twenty, Number Two

EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 20th 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.


We were amateur radio operators once at EN. Truth be told, we're still fluent in Morse code, although it doesn't come up much in day-to-day conversation. As so-called "ham" radio celebrates its 100th anniversary as a hobby, you can find hams RVing, studying astronomy, hiking and backpacking, sailing, weather spotting, and preparing to handle emergency communications - situations where shortwave radio is often the only means of communications.

Thus, it gladdens our solder-stained fingers to learn of an expedition – actually a DXpedition (DX being shorthand for distance), leaving San Diego this month for the remote uninhabited atoll of Clipperton. The island is located 621-mi./1,000 km southwest of Mexico in the Pacific Ocean and is considered to be an important living lab to understand the ecology and impact of human activities in the Pacific.

The Explorers Club-flagged project will be led by Dr. Robert W. Schmieder, director of Cordell Expeditions, a nonprofit scientific organization based in Walnut Creek, Calif. The team hopes to conduct amateur radio conversations (or QSO's) with up to 100,000 radio amateurs worldwide using the callsign TX5K.

Once on Clipperton, the 30-member international team will also monitor, collect and remove plastic and other debris that beaches on the island; and search for alien species (the nasty big-headed ant, algae, and insects) as they study the equilibrium of the wildlife found there. Exotic species like invasive rats were introduced by a recent shipwreck. How do they compete with local animals is one question they hope to answer. They will also develop and attempt to fly the longest kite, potentially setting a new world record, according to Belgian Louis-Philippe Loncke who will explore the island, film and remove the plastic.

Moving all the equipment on and off the support ship is a risky challenge as the coral reef cannot be damaged and the team will have to deal with powerful surf. The island has no water – the inland lake is acid – and the sun, heat, rats and large crabs will be a constant threat. But for the 100,000 hams around the world who compete with one another for the most countries contacted, it will be a thrill to add this remote territory to their logbooks.
For more information


To inspire youth of color – and particularly African-American youth – to get outside, get active and connect with nature, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) is planning an expedition with African-American participants to summit Denali in June 2013.

The longest and most strenuous day on Denali will be the summit day, a five-mile trip up and back to High Camp. Five miles is roughly equal to 10,000 steps, thus the origin of a rallying cry for partner organization to encourage families to hike their own "10,000 Steps to Denali" in outdoor spaces near their home.

Afterwards, team members will tour public and charter schools, outdoor outreach organizations, and church groups to serve as role models, inspiring youth of color to connect with America's wild places, according to Bruce A. Palmer, director of admission and marketing.

"Certainly not everyone wants to climb Denali, but we do think this expedition will open young people of color to opportunities for enjoying an outdoor lifestyle."

The budget for the project is $260,000 according to the sponsorship proposal. Supporters include REI, The North Face Deuter USA, and Optic Nerve.
For more information


Arctic Explorer Abandons Attempt to Solo Summit Denali

After 19 days on North America's tallest mountain, Arctic explorer and Minnesota climber Lonnie Dupre has abandoned his third attempt to become the first person to summit Mount McKinley (also known as Denali) alone in the month of January (see EN, January 2013).

As he did during his first attempt to summit Denali in 2011, Dupre reached high camp at 17,200 feet. He had hoped that after a 12-hour climb from the 14,200-ft. camp, he could make the final push to the summit. However, extremely hard snow made it impossible to build a safe snow cave and instead of getting much needed rest, he spent the night trying to keep the cave – and himself – warm. When he called his base camp at 4 a.m. on January 27, it was -35° F. in the snow cave.

It was virtually a life-or-death decision for Dupre, his staff said in a statement to the press. Even if he had made the summit, which would have meant a 12-hour or more travel day between 17,200 feet and the summit and back, he knew he would lack the energy or means to survive back at the 17,200-ft. camp.

Although disappointed that his third consecutive try at a solo summit in January was not successful, Dupre does not consider his expedition a failure. During the expedition, he conducted research and gathered microbe samples for the Biosphere 2 project run by Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (see related story)The data will provide a better understanding of how climate change affects the production of living matter in extreme environments.

Dupre, a resident of Grand Marais, Minn., has 25 years of polar expedition experience, and is best known as the first to circumnavigate Greenland via non-motorized means, and two expeditions to the North Pole.
For more information

Shackleton's Stash Returned to Antarctic

Three bottles of rare, 19th century Scotch found beneath the floor boards of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton's abandoned expedition base were recently returned to the polar continent after a distiller flew them to Scotland to recreate the long-lost recipe, according to the Associated Press (see EN, December 2011)

Unopened bottles of the Mackinlay's whisky will be transferred by March from Ross Island to Shackleton's desolate hut at Cape Royds and returned beneath the restored hut. It's part of a program to protect the legacy of the so-called heroic era of Antarctic exploration from 1898 to 1915.

Bottled in 1898 after the blend was aged 15 years, the Mackinlay bottles were among three crates of Scotch and two of brandy buried beneath a basic hut Shackleton had used during his dramatic 1907 Nimrod excursion to the Antarctic. The expedition failed to reach the South Pole but set a record at the time for reaching the farthest southern latitude.

Shackleton's stash was discovered frozen in ice by conservationists in 2010. The crates were frozen solid after more than a century beneath the Antarctic surface. But the bottles within were found intact - and researchers could hear the whisky sloshing around inside. Antarctica's minus 22 degrees F. (-30 degrees C.) temperature was not enough to freeze the liquor. Distiller Whyte & Mackay, which now owns the Mackinlay brand, chartered a private jet to take the bottles from the Antarctic operations headquarters in the New Zealand city of Christchurch to Scotland for analysis in 2011.

The recipe for the whisky had been lost. But Whyte & Mackay recreated a limited edition of 50,000 bottles from a sample drawn with a syringe through a cork of one of the bottles. The conservation work of the Antarctic Heritage Trust receives five British pounds for every bottle sold.


Shackleton's Epic Voyage Re-created

It took Adelaide, South Australia, adventurer Tim Jarvis and his five-person crew 12 days to make the 800 nautical mile sea voyage from Elephant Island, an icy chunk of Antarctica's South Shetlands archipelago, to South Georgia Island in a bid to re-create Sir Ernest Shackleton's epic journey to rescue his crew in 1916. Shackleton and crew endured 14 days to cover the same distance.

The recent voyage was made in a 22-1/2-ft. replica of Shackleton's James Caird lifeboat. The next step will be for Jarvis, mountaineer Barry Gray and cameraman Ed Wardle to traverse the mountainous interior of South Georgia Island to reach the whaling station at Stromness in a journey which should take two days. At press time, they were waiting for the weather to clear.

Wardle, who has twice reached the summit of Mt Everest, said of the sea voyage, "it was the hardest thing I have ever done."

Don't Forget to Write

A Dutch company called Mars One has announced plans to create the first human settlement on the Red Planet in just 10 years.

Mars One plans to pick travelers to submit to a full-time training program that will conclude with a one-way ticket to Mars, where a prepared colony will be waiting.

Prospective colonists must be at least 18 years old, and the Mars One team says qualities such as resiliency, adaptability, creativity, resourcefulness and curiosity will be given high priority. All necessary skills for Mars survival will be taught to the colonists over the next decade as they prepare full time to blast into space - and history.

Mars One founders Bas Landsorp and Arno Wielders, entrepreneurs with ties to technology and space industries, said they plan to send probes and rovers as early as 2016 to prepare the planet for human habitation.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Space X founder Elon Musk is also eyeing plans to populate Mars, offering aspiring Martians a berth for half a million dollars.

Moon is "Awesomely Beautiful Place"

Forty years ago, at the age of 36, General Charles Duke was the youngest man to walk on the moon, and third to last. On Jan. 11 he was in The Explorers Club's Clark Room – an intimate setting indeed for an SRO crowd of members, guests and media including C-SPAN, which will broadcast his interview this spring.

Besides Apollo 16, Duke is known for telling Apollo 11 astronauts, as they almost had to abort their lunar landing in 1969, "You've had a bunch of us guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again."

He admitted to Club member James Clash, who interviewed him as part of the "Exploring Legends" series, that he fell on his backpack while attempting a "Lunar Olympics" high jump on the lunar soil.

"Were you afraid?" Clash asked him.

"Fear is all right if you respond with training," he responded. Later Duke commented, "We were overwhelmed by the beauty of the moon. This is the most awesomely beautiful place I've ever seen." He says the iPhone on his hip has 2,000 times the memory of his Apollo 16 computer in 1972.

"I tell folks that we didn't spend a dime going to the moon. The money was spent employing the hundreds of thousands of people across America."

Duke continued, "Going to the moon was a tremendously rewarding human experience for me. It's been 40 years and I still get excited talking about it."

Report From the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake

What the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) is to Las Vegas, that's how important the bi-annual Outdoor Retailer Show is to Salt Lake when over 20,000 outdoor industry representatives come to the city.

Outdoor Retailer brings together 950 brands and thousands of retailers, industry advocates and media to conduct the business of outdoor recreation through booth displays, product demos, award programs, guest speakers, and networking events such as an indoor floor hockey competition.

For those in the expedition field, this is where you go to score either cash or in-kind sponsorship from companies such as The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, or Sierra Designs.

While the manufacturers are primarily concerned about convincing outdoor specialty retailers to buy their products, they will often lend an ear to an appropriate expedition sponsorship pitch.

Here are some highlights from this year's trade show:



Lost Navy Submarine Found off Key West

The R-12 in operation. Photo from the National Archives.

The husband-wife team of Christine Dennison and Tim Taylor were profiled in the New York Times on Jan. 10 about their success in locating a previously lost Navy submarine, the R-12, that sank and was missing for nearly 70 years.

According to the story by Nate Schweber, the R-12 was built in Quincy, Mass., during World War I and launched just two months after the Treaty of Versailles was signed. It patrolled Pearl Harbor in the 1920s and the Panama Canal in the early 1940s. Tragically, it sank somewhere off the coast of Key West, Fla., on June 12, 1943.

The R-12 went down in just 15 seconds, taking 42 men with it. It was just the sixth U.S. submarine (out of 52 lost) from WWII to be found and the second in U.S. waters.

In October 2010, Taylor, an underwater explorer, searched 11 miles off the coast of Key West using a remote-controlled submarine outfitted with sonar. It generated an image of something 600 feet below the surface, about 200 feet long, shaped like a mangled rocket. The couple plan to hold a memorial in Key West in June to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the R-12's sinking, and have advocated for the submarine's final resting spot to be included inside the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.


Dark Snow Project Turns to Crowdfunding

There is already much excitement in the arts, media and beyond about the potential of crowdfunding – via sites such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo – to finance projects that might otherwise have remained an unfulfilled dream. To date, though, few scientific expeditions have successfully utilized this new online tool.

The Dark Snow Project expects to change this. Jason Box, a climatologist based at the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University, is hoping to raise $150,000 over the coming months to pay for an expedition this summer to the "ice dome" of Greenland to gather samples of snow.

Dark Snow is a field and lab project to measure the impact of changing wildfire and industrial soot on snow and ice reflectivity. Soot darkens snow and ice, increasing solar energy absorption, hastening the melt of the cryosphere (portions of the Earth's surface where water is in solid form)

At press time, Box had already raised more than $60,000, but was turning to crowdfunding to secure the remaining amount. Roughly two-thirds of this money, he says, will be spent on renting a plane to transport the team onto the ice sheet.

Box has also invited Peter Sinclair along as a team-member, who, as "Greenman3610", is probably best known for his YouTube videos on climate change (

This collaboration will ensure that anyone who has made a donation will be kept up-to-date with the researchers' progress. It will also mean the wider world will gain better insight into not just the science being conducted, but also the environmental implications of soot settling on the Arctic snow and ice.
For more information

Polartec Challenge Grants Awarded

Last month, Polartec announced the recipients of its 22nd annual Polartec Challenge Grant, an international grant program encouraging the spirit and practice of human-powered outdoor adventure. Four adventures will receive funding and support from Polartec for 2013:

For more information


That's One Giant Schlep

To promote a new line of products called Apollo, Unilever will send 22 consumers into space. Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, hired as a spokesperson, announced the contest in New York last month.

The brand refers to the effort as the Axe Apollo Space Academy, or AASA, to rhyme with NASA. Trips will be on a suborbital space plane, the Lynx, in 2014. The value of each ticket is priced at $100,000 and will depart from Curacao. The theme for the campaign is: "Nothing beats an astronaut. Ever."

Says Aldrin in an online video, "Now you can become part of this privileged group and experience everything that I have."
For more information


Public Invited to John Glenn Interview, Mar. 16, 2013, New York

The public is invited to a major Explorers Club event on Mar. 16 featuring a live interview with Senator John Glenn at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The interview will be conducted by Club member Jim Clash as part of the Club's new "Exploring Legends" lecture series.

Glenn, along with fellow Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter, will receive the "President's Legends Medal" at the 109th Explorers Club Annual Dinner later that evening, also at the Waldorf.

An Honorary Member of the 108-year-old Club, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth on Feb. 20, 1962, as part of the Mercury program. After leaving NASA, he won a senate seat and served for over 30 years as a democrat from Ohio. When he was 77, Glenn flew again, aboard the Shuttle Discovery, and still holds the record for oldest man in space.

Limited seating at $100 per ticket is available to the general public by contacting (+1) 212-628-8383 or


Extreme Bliss

What's the best definition of extreme bliss? We're not quite sure, but we suspect this comes close: Swedish adventurer Aleksander Gamme took this video during a long roundtrip trek to the South Pole in 2011-12. Along the way he buried excess items in snowdrifts to keep his backpack light. The video was taken on day 86 when he discovered just what he left behind. No translation is necessary.


Here's What We Meant to Say

We forgot an important word in our e-mail subject line last month. In the story about Denali climber Lonnie Dupre, we should have asked whether Denali can ever be soloed in January, not just winter. The story was correct – if Dupre had been successful climbing last month, he would have become the first person to complete a solo ascent of the iconic peak in January (see related story) We have explorer Eric Larsen to thank for this correction. The first solo winter ascent with safe return was made by Vern Tejas in 1988.


Discover Peru with an Explorer – Unique occasion this year to visit Peru with Yurek Majcherczyk, Fellow of the Explorers Club - author, original explorer of the Colca Canyon - the world's deepest.

Three different trips available by level of activities, from regular sightseeing trips to multi-day trekking/backpacking expeditions to the Amazon source via Colca Canyon. Continuation to Titicaca Lake, Cuzco and Machu Picchu.

Many educational lectures will be offered to the participants as well as signed copies of Yurek's The Conquest of Rio Colca. More information will be sent on request by writing to or calling (+1) 973-473-1249. Also visit:

Yosemite Housing – Stay at Hans Florine's home in Yosemite: Mention you saw the listing in the Expedition News and receive 10% off.

New York-area Housesitter Available – New Yorker Maura Kinney is looking for an explorer’s apartment or home to house sit or sublet while the owner is away on an expedition.

She’s available in New York and southern Connecticut. A travel marketing expert working in Manhattan, Kinney is also an avid equestrian.

Reach her at or (+1) 917-488-4755

Ripped From the Pages of EN – Read the book that was spawned by Expedition News. Autographed copies of You Want to Go Where? – How to Get Someone to Pay for the Trip of Your Dreams (Skyhorse Publishing) – is available to readers for the discounted price of $14.99 plus $2.89 s & h
(international orders add $9.95 s & h)

If you have a project that is bigger than yourself – a trip with a purpose – learn how it's possible to generate cash or in-kind (gear) support.

Written by EN editor Jeff Blumenfeld, it is based upon three decades helping sponsors select the right exploration projects to support.

Payable by PayPal to, or by check to Expedition News, 1281 East Main Street – Box 10, Stamford, CT 06902 USA.

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EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 1281 East Main Street – Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Tel. (+1) 203-655-1600, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jamie Gribbon. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2013 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at

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