August 2013 – Volume Twenty, Number Eight
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.
IS THIS THE WORLD'S TOUGHEST EXPEDITION?
That's the claim being made by Nick Cienski, 47, mountaineer and designer for Under Armour for his planned attempt to climb all 14 of the world's 8,000 m peaks within two years. Tough? Yes. Toughest? We have our doubts, certainly compared to dogsledding across Antarctica for seven months, 3,400 miles, in minus 20 to 30 degrees F. - a feat Will Steger and his team achieved in 1989-90.
Nonetheless, the $5.7 million Mission 14 project promises to be an extraordinary adventure, all in the name of calling attention to human trafficking. Cienski's nonprofit will partner with other anti-slavery organizations to raise funds for the cause.
For each climb, one Sherpa will guide Cienski, and a core 65-member Sherpa crew will haul gear and run ahead of the duo to set up ropes and base camps, so Cienski can travel with as minimal weight as possible. Helicopters will be used where necessary to accomplish in two years what usually takes seven years or more.
"I will attempt to break multiple world records on the most daring high altitude expedition in history," he boasts on his website.
To protect his body from the elements, he designed a 14-piece clothing line that uses Cocona fabric that blends polyester with burned carbon and other naturally derived particles.
"Mission 14 is fundamentally about changing lives," Cienski writes. "We are not climbing mountains to be famous. We are climbing because we believe there are ways to release children from poverty that haven't been done yet."
Additional sponsors are Asolo, GoalZero, and Under Armour.
For more information
SOURCE TO SEA PROJECT DOCUMENTS GANGES RIVER
In August, Jake Norton, Pete McBride, and David Morton will begin a journey to tell the story of the Ganges River, one of the world's most polluted major waterways. They'll begin on an unclimbed peak at the headwaters of the river, and then follow its course from the high Himalaya to the Sundarban Delta.
Along the way they'll tell the river's story through the eyes of those who love it and hate it, protect it and pollute it, revere it and revile it. The project will be documented on film, in still imagery, and written word. Throughout, team members will be blogging, updating social media, and sharing the story of the Ganges from source to sea.
Norton, an Evergreen, Colorado, photographer and videographer, tells us, "Hindus believe the Ganges is a sacred river - a divine, all-purifying entity. To bathe in the Ganges, to be cremated on its banks, are among life's greatest honors."
The project begins with an unguided, alpine ascent of 22,589-ft./6885 m Chaukhumba IV at the head of the Gangotri Glacier, the source of the Ganges River.
Sponsors include Eddie Bauer and the Microsoft Surface Pro, who Norton initially contacted through LinkedIn.
"For me to transition from just bagging yet another peak to actually doing something good is especially gratifying - we can tell a bigger story," Norton says.
For more information
ESPN Documentary, Book Says Pipin Imperiled His Wife
On Oct. 12, 2002, freediver Audrey Mestre, then 28, died in a freediving accident approximately 2-1/2 miles off the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic.
She was attempting to officially break the record in the "No Limits" category, which involves riding a weighted sled down the length of a vinyl-coated stainless steel cable to a depth of 557.7 feet (170 m). It was a depth she achieved unofficially during a practice dive three days before.
A new ESPN documentary, directed by Alison Ellwood and based in part on the book The Last Attempt by Carlos Serra, concludes Mestre's husband, freediver Francisco "Pipin" Ferreras, placed her life in danger so that he could rescue her at the last minute.
The Mestre tragedy is chillingly detailed in No Limits, an ESPN Films and espnW Nine for IX documentary that revisits her story and how she died. Her death left Francisco "Pipin" Ferreras – her mentor and fellow world record freediver 13 years her senior – accused of everything from abject carelessness to runaway egotism to suspicions of sabotage, even speculation about whether it was outright murder.
Serra speculates that Ferreras might have deliberately left the tank that was supposed to bring Mestre to the surface empty so he could have been the hero who rescued her before she surpassed him. The official cause of her death was ruled as "drowning."
Expedition News witnessed the tragedy; the video footage, which we had never seen before, remains a horrifying reminder of a day that still haunts us.
Watch the documentary here
Susie Patterson Checks In
Last month we wrote about the death of American adventurer, mountain climber, sailor, skier, photographer, journalist and author, Ned Gillette, of Sun Valley, Idaho, who was killed in Pakistan in 1998.
Edward "Ned" Gillette, then 53, was shot to death in his tent in an apparent botched robbery attempt. His wife, Susie Patterson, then 42, was injured in the attack and recovered. Two suspects were taken into custody and charged with murder and assault.
Recently we heard from Patterson who is single and lives in Sun Valley, traveling whenever possible, and running a photography business called Gillette Photography.
Ned's name lives on through a well-endowed scholarship fund with the Holderness School in Plymouth, N.H.
The Ned Gillette Spirit Award is awarded annually to the graduating senior whose career at Holderness best reflects Gillette's genuine leadership, competitive attitude, and spirit of adventure.
Patterson e-mails, "I am biased of course, but Ned was extraordinary in his approach to expeditions. Yes, he was a pioneer, trying to retain the integrity of the expedition, unselfishly bringing something back and remaining as true as possible to those (ideals) of the old explorers."
She continues, "For me, he drew out something I really didn't know I had inside of me. I guess we both trusted one another and had no need to outdo one another. We were partners. The life became me. I learned and lived so much thanks to this travel into the remote places westerners had never been or perhaps will never go again."
"Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road"
Travel writer and blogger Charles Scott, 45, the so-called "Family Adventure Guy," was profiled in EN's November 2010 issue for his bike trip across Japan with his son.
After circumnavigating Iceland by bike in 2011, he's now in the midst of cycling 1,703 miles of the Lewis & Clark trail and testing the limits of quality family time. With him is his son, Sho, 12, and daughter Saya, 6. At press time they were in Montana, with miles to go before reaching the Pacific Ocean.
Another goal is to raise $15,000 for a self-published book, a video documentary, and a speaking tour once they're done. At press time they were over halfway towards raising the money on Kickstarter.
Working with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, based in Bozeman, Mont., they are collecting roadkill data in an effort to reduce the impact of roads on wildlife. When they find a dead animal along the roadside, information is sent to Professor Fraser Schilling at the UC Davis Road Ecology Center, who is posting their data on a tracking site.
Gregg Treinish, founder of ASC, tells EN, "This is an adventure with a purpose. Charles and his children are mapping where we need to apply mitigation techniques.
"We're learning about animal movement across highways. His kids, and the kids who follow their blog, learn about something they'll never study in school because of the gross factor."
Read their blog
The Kickstarter campaign (already fully funded)
Nepal To Keep Closer Eye on Everest Expeditions
No more Mr. Nice Guy. Nepalese officials say that for the first time, starting next year, a government team will be located at Everest base camp to monitor and help expedition teams, coordinate rescues and protect the environment.
The move follows embarrassing incidents on the mountain, including a fight between Sherpas and mountaineers.
Starting with next year's spring climbing season, the team at base camp will represent the government's administration on the ground. Observers say it was getting difficult to regulate mountaineering activities from the capital, Kathmandu.
Current rules require each climbing team to have a government employee as a liaison officer during expeditions. But there has been widespread criticism that designated liaison officers often do not even leave Kathmandu and there is no one to regulate expedition teams on the mountain.
Officials and mountaineering experts also said the new regulations would constrain what they described as a growing competition to set bizarre records. They said climbers would be required to announce beforehand if they planned to set any record.
"We have had many examples in the past when climbers did not share their plan to set a record beforehand and they made the record claims only after they reached the summit," said Ang Tshering Sherpa, the immediate past president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association – a professional body of expedition operators.
"These days we see people trying to make bizarre records like, for instance, standing on their head or taking off their clothes while on the summit.
"These behaviors don't bode well for the dignity of Everest, which is a global icon," said Tshering, who is also a member of the committee that has recommended the new rules.
Everest Technology Brings New Meaning to "Dropped" Calls
Huawei announced earlier this month partnering with China Mobile on the successful deployment of 4G coverage some 17,060-ft./5,200 m above sea level on Mount Everest.
This is about 3,000 meters short of the actual summit, but as hikers wait to finish their climb, at least they'll have Netflix and Twitter to pass the time. Unless of course the call is dropped.
The coverage was deployed in June when China Mobile demonstrated a series of new 4G technologies, including live HD video streaming from Everest base camp.
In 2010, Nepali telecom company Ncell launched the first 3G services at base camp and made the first successful call from an altitude of 5,200 meters. Two years later, Huawei and China Mobile worked together to create Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) coverage for the 2008 Olympic Games torch relay leg that went part way up the mountain.
In addition to excellent PR for the two companies, the GSM and 4G coverage is intended to improve climber safety on the increasingly crowded mountain.
Solar Energy? That's So 00's
You've got to love a trade show that not only allows dogs but issues them credentials in the form of neck badges.
At the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake last month, there's even doggie daycare, called Camp Bark-a-Lot.
The big news this year was in gizmos that charge cellphones and other gadgets using fuel cells. MyFC PowerTrekk from Industrial Revolution, Inc., is a portable fuel-cell charger for USB-compatible electronic devices.
Each $4 puck provides 1-1/2 iPhone charges. Just fill it with a few drops of water or, if you're short on water, it'll run on urine, of which, presumably, you'll have plenty to spare. It's considered ideal for emergencies or when solar is less than optimal. $229.99 msrp.
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