Expedition News
April 2013 – Volume Twenty, Number Four

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.


In summer 2013, the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge will conduct three research expeditions involving amputee servicemen. Their goal is to improve and further orthotics and prosthetic limb development.

The projects are: Alaska Mountaineering Training Challenge (with glacier traverse); Grand Canyon Challenge; and SCUBA Coral Reef Transplant Challenge in Key West, Fla..

The research includes monitoring the rate of core temperature and skin surface temperature changes in amputees vs. able-bodied participants.

In February 2013, the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge team returned from an expedition to Mt. Kilimanjaro where the team exceeded expectations related to data capture and research studies. It was the first-ever concentrated study at altitude concerning the effects of elevation, decreased atmospheric pressure and O2 Saturation on Traumatic Brain Injury.
For more information: David Olson, director, (+1) 727-743-7192,


No Place on Earth Tells Story of Jews Who Became Record-Breaking Cavers

It's one of the least known survival stories of World War II. In 1942, 38 Jews ages two to 76 sought refuge from Nazi persecution in a vast unexplored cave in the western Ukraine.

As the women and children remained underground continuously for 511 days, the men would sneak out at night to steal food. A small underground pond provided a reliable source of fresh water. Now the story we wrote about in EN in August 2008 has become a documentary called, No Place on Earth.

In 1993, an American climber named Christos Nicola, now 61, of New York, was one of the first Americans to explore a large cave system named Priest's Grotto about five miles from Korolowka. During his descent he stumbled across names written on the walls and medicine bottles, shoes, mugs, buttons, burnt wood, and railroad spikes, all seemingly abandoned years ago.

At 77-plus miles, Priest's Grotto is one of the longest caves in the world.

Jump ahead to April 4, 2013, and there was Nicola in a New York theater receiving star treatment during a screening and discussion with Professor Richard Brown of NYU's Cinema Studies Department.

We learn through the film that the women and children never left their two caves. Only the men went out to steal food. A glass of water, collected by cave drippings, was for a single family for a day.

In an engaging, often funny conversation, Nicola shared his amazement at the fortitude of the 38 survivors who remained underground for 511 days: “They turned themselves into world-class cavers,” he said.

Said one survivor who returned to the cave with Nicola almost 70 years later, “We beat the odds. They didn’t get us.”

Nicola also shared the caver’s credo: “Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.”

Prof. Brown called the film, “A significant contribution to history. … This film ends up haunting you, which is what every great film does.”

For more information:;

Incidentally, in case you were wondering, when a movie, ends it’s rude to walk out when the credits roll. Says Prof. Brown, “You must sit through a movie’s credits. To do otherwise – leaving too soon – is disrespectful to filmmakers.” Oops.

Nicola made us laugh when he privately advised the budding cavers on our staff, “Always make sure the fat guy is in front of you, not behind.”

The Coldest Journey Lives Up to Its Name

Sir Ranulph Fiennes returned to the U.K. last month after having to pull out of his latest Antarctic expedition. The decision was not taken lightly and was a huge disappointment to Fiennes and his colleagues, according to a statement by the Seeing Is Believing – Trans-Antarctic Winter Expedition.

Sir Fiennes was severely frostbitten when he briefly removed a glove to adjust a ski binding during his training.

In a video interview shown on Sky News, he was quoted as saying, "There's no point crying over spilt milk or split fingers but it's extremely frustrating." (See EN, November 2012)

He continues, "I've been working on this expedition and nothing else for five years."

The veteran explorer may require additional surgery on his hands which were already frostbitten from a previous trip. The Coldest Journey will continue without Fiennes in hopes of achieving the first winter vehicle traverse of the continent.
For more information


Exploring Legends at the Waldorf

The 109th Explorers Club Annual Dinner (ECAD) on Mar. 16 was a heady evening for any fan of exploration. The Waldorf dinner, the Exotics – hors d’oeuvres of sustainable, non-endangered, but otherwise gag-inducing foods – combined with a series of “Exploring Legends” interviews during that weekend, made this one of the best ECAD weekends in recent memory. Certainly, for those of us who grew up during the Mercury space program, it was a thrill to hear from the two remaining members of the original seven Mercury astronauts, called “the best of the best” by dinner presenter Col. Joe Kittinger.

In a taped broadcast from the International Space Station, Canadian astronaut Chris Hatfield, said of Sen. John Glenn and Scott Carpenter, “we absolutely stand on your shoulders.”

The weekend received unprecedented media coverage, too numerous to list here when a simple Google search will yield over a dozen stories ranging from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, to StarTalk Radio.

Some notable moments follow below:

Young Explorers Beg eBay: Save the Nautilus

University of Washington researchers and two 12-year-olds recently returned from an expedition that may give new insight into the genetics and population of the chambered nautilus, a cephalopod mollusk found in the Pacific and Eastern Indian oceans.

The nautilus has remained nearly unchanged for almost 500 million years, but little research has been done on the creature, often referred to as a “living fossil.” Peter Ward, a UW paleontologist, spent five weeks in Fiji and Samoa researching the nautilus population.

Ward’s team is currently conducting genetic research on samples taken from the expedition. If the Samoan nautilus is determined to be of a different species, Ward said it would mean that every region has a distinct species of nautilus.

Ricky Dooley, one of three graduate students that joined Ward on the expedition, said preserving the nautilus is important for understanding the history of evolution because the creature was around nearly 260 million years before dinosaurs.

Two young boys from Maine joined Ward on the expedition because they also believe that the nautilus should be preserved. Josiah Utsch and Ridgely Kelly read about Ward’s work in the New York Times and learned that more than 500,000 nautilus shells were imported to the U.S. between 2005 and 2008, according to a story by Amy Busch in the UW newspaper The Daily (Mar. 31, 2013).

Utsch emailed Ward about fund-raising for protection of the nautilus, and after Ward confirmed there were no websites focused on the plight of the nautilus, Utsch and Kelly started a site of their own, raising $9,000 to buy a camera and light that would document the nautilus population in Fiji and Samoa.
Read the entire story here

Read the pre-teens’ petition to encourage eBay to stop selling the nautilus here:

Bezos Team Retrieves Rocket Engines

A recovery team funded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has retrieved two rocket engines from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean that were used to send astronauts to the moon more than 40 years ago.

Bezos Expeditions found and retrieved two Saturn 5 first-stage engines from a depth of three miles.

"We've seen an underwater wonderland – an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program," Bezos wrote on his website.

"Each piece we bring on deck conjures for me the thousands of engineers who worked together back then to do what for all time had been thought surely impossible," he added.

NASA sent seven missions to the moon, six of which successfully carried astronauts to the lunar surface. Bezos said because the serial numbers on the retrieved engines are missing or partially missing, identifying which mission they were used for will be difficult.

"We might see more during restoration. The objects themselves are gorgeous," he added.

The engines, which were retrieved with the help of ROV’s, remain the property of the U.S. government, and will be restored and put on public display.

Bezos also is founder and chief executive of a small privately owned startup space company called Blue Origin, based in Kent, Wash., which is working on developing low-cost, reusable suborbital and orbital spaceships to carry people and experiments. (For more information:

Team Explores Western Hemisphere’s Deepest Cave

Emily Zuber began expeditionary caving in 2007. Since then, she has walked, crawled and climbed in places that no human has ever been.

This month, the caver is joining an international caving expedition in southern Mexico. While participating on the Huautla Cave Diving Expedition 2013, a British-led expedition in Oaxaca, Mexico, she will be conducting interviews and documenting experiences, anecdotes and stories.

The team of cavers and cave divers began work in February 2013 – almost 20 years after the last push on Sistema Huautla – to explore remaining leads in a cave that is considered one of the most remote points yet reached inside the Earth. At a depth of minus 5,107-ft./1,555 m, Sistema Huautla is the deepest cave in the Western Hemisphere and eighth deepest cave in the world.

Bill Steele, a world-renowned caver and one of the fathers of Huautla caving, will be on the expedition. Steele, author of Huautla: 30 Years in One of the World’s Deepest Caves, (Cave Books, 2009) has witnessed the progression of exploration over the last thirty years.
Learn more about the current Sistema Huautla project

Facebook for Wildlife

Word comes of a milestone in tropical forest ecosystem conservation – the one-millionth camera trap photo taken by the TEAM (Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring) Network.

This partnership, between Conservation International, Missouri Botanical Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Wildlife Conservation Society and over 80 local partner institutions, works in 16 sites throughout the Americas, Africa and Asia. It acts like an early warning system for nature, monitoring changes in tropical ecosystems and report shifts in biomass, rainfall, and biodiversity density.

The data these camera traps collect not only gives an important perspective of tropical forest ecosystem health; they have produced a stunning scrapbook of wild animals in their natural habitats. It’s a sort of Facebook for wildlife. The question to resolve remains: what are these images and animals telling us about the health of Earth's dwindling tropical forests.

TEAM Network: Badru's Story from Benjamin Drummond / Sara Steele on Vimeo




Endurance athlete Kilian Jornet Burgada, 25, has begun what he calls the Summits of My Life project, a four-year effort to set speed records climbing and descending some of the world’s most well known peaks, from the Matterhorn this summer to Mount Everest in 2015, according to a profile by Christopher Solomon in the Mar. 24 New York Times Magazine.

Jornet has won dozens of mountain footraces up to 100 miles in length and six world titles in Skyrunning, a series of races of varying distances held on billy-goat terrain. He is the most visible figure in the growing “fastest known times” movement, in which runners measure how long it takes to complete geographic challenges. Among his records: a 7-hour 14-min. ascent of 19,341-ft. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Read the story here


Legendary moonwalker Buzz Aldrin was given a number of new products to review in the New York Times Magazine (Mar. 24).

Of the Alexander Wang leather eye mask ($95), he said quite frankly, “The very handsome leather mask that I received was too tight. I’m not sure why one would buy a personal item like this rather than take one of the free ones that you’re given on an airplane.”


The 2013 Outside Adventure Grant

Outside magazine is once again offering $10,000 to fund a bold expedition. Editors will pick finalists and then readers will select the winner. Deadline for submissions is June 1.
For more information

Metolius Sponsors Youth Climbing League

Rock climbing gear maker Metolius has announced sponsorship of the Northern California Youth Climbing League (YCL).

Bringing young climbers together throughout Northern California, the YCL’s goal is to get youth excited about climbing. Metolius will provide the YCL with support and equipment to foster growth in the next generation of climbers.

With five participating gyms and multiple competitions in Northern California, the YCL offers youth a unique opportunity to compete against peers in a fun and relaxed format. With a successful 2013 youth league season just wrapping up, the YCL looks forward to growing the program for next season.

The league is presented by Metolius and Evolv, and receives support from a list of other sponsors including Clif Bar, Sanuk, Climbing Magazine and Yo! Basecamp Rock Climbing Camp. YCL participants are given support and gear from these sponsors, making participation in the season and competitions possible.
For more information

McNeill-Nott 2013 Award Winners Announced

The American Alpine Club (AAC) announced this year’s McNeill-Nott Award recipients. Out of 16 applicants, three grant-recipient teams will focus their talents on objectives in Canada, Nepal, and Pakistan:

Helly Hansen Supports Walking with the Wounded Expedition

Helly Hansen announced it will be the official clothing partner for Walking With The Wounded’s (WWTW) Allied South Pole 2013 Challenge in November 2013.

Walking With The Wounded, a U.K.-based charity that funds the re-training and re-education of wounded servicemen and women, stages extreme expeditions to illustrate the determination and courage of injured soldiers.

The 2013 expedition will see three teams of wounded servicemen from the U.K., U.S. and Commonwealth (Australia and Canada), head to Antarctica to race against each other in an attempt to reach the Geographic South Pole.

The wounded servicemen and women are expected to cover 208-mi./335 km over 16 days, encountering temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees F.
For more information

The Explorers Club – Eddie Bauer Grants Awarded

Working in conjunction with The Explorers Club, Eddie Bauer is funding two significant grants for research and exploration. The Explorers Club-Eddie Bauer Grants seek to support cutting edge discovery and field research programs. This year’s recipients are:


Guests Invited to Explorers Club Members Dinner, May 22

The Club’s New York headquarters will host Gregg Treinish, founder and executive director of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, at their Members Dinner on May 22. Treinish will discuss the goals and recent projects of his organization as well as share his 7,800-mi., 22-month trek of the entire Andes Mountain Range.

He was recognized the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2008 for this accomplishment. Non-members of the Explorers Club can attend as the guest of Members Dinners Chairman Daryl Hawk.
For more information

Peaks Foundation Women’s Leadership and Adventure Summit, Golden, Colo., July 26-28, 2013

Michelle Theall will open the Summit with a motivational talk about her experiences living with MS, taking risks and founding Women’s Adventure Magazine while balancing work, life and play.

This intimate three-day Summit will provide opportunities for attendees to interact with outstanding speakers, corporate professionals and world-class athletes. Attendees will push themselves to their highest potential through alpine adventures including rock climbing, stand-up paddle boarding and trekking with professional guides.
For more information


Expeditionary Caving

The highly organized and sustained effort to discover, explore and document caves and cave systems.

Expeditionary caving is all encompassing and includes all the hard sciences: geology, biology, hydrology, the list goes on. But expeditionary caving is also a passion, an extreme sport, a religious experience, a disease, and an obsession. It is an art and a science.

Emily Zuber (see related story)

Yats Esool

Don’t try to Google this one. Early references are hard to find. The term is “stay loose” spelled backwards – another way Mercury 7 astronauts reminded their colleagues to remain calm. (Source: Astronaut Scott Carpenter speaking at The Explorers Club Annual Dinner).


Project HimalayaReal treks and expeditions in Nepal and Northern India.

We still go exploring and are opening up the Nepal Great Himalaya Trail and alternative trekking peaks in Ladakh, as well as offering a unique range of treks.

We are a small operation and really care about every detail, and offer the best in class treks.

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.

Advertise in Expedition News - For just 50 cents a word, you can reach an estimated 10,000 readers of America's only monthly newsletter celebrating the world of expeditions on land, in space, and beneath the sea. Join us as we take a sometimes irreverent look at the people and projects making Expedition News. Frequency discounts are available.(For more information

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

EN Homepage | EN Archives | EN Photo Album | About Blumenfeld and Assoc. | Expedition News Blog

If you have any questions regarding this server, please e-mail

Copyright ©2013 Expedition News