Expedition News
November 2013 – Volume Twenty, Number Eleven

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.


Explorers Complete Titicaca Circumnavigation

Two explorers, Belgian explorer Louis-Philippe Loncke and Peruvian guide Gadiel Sanchez Rivera, completed an epic journey on Lake Titicaca, the largest lake of South America (see EN, Sept. 2013).

On Aug. 17, they left Puno in Peru and returned 38 days later after paddling nearly 684-miles/1100 km. The main objective was to explore the lake like never before by paddling close to land to create a geotagged photographic inventory of the shoreline.

Despite record cold temperatures, their study will now be used to compare future coastal evolution, in a manner similar to the study of retreating glaciers, according to Loncke, 36, an IT project manager from Brussels.
Read their blog


Kiteboarders Hope to Cross Atlantic

Later this month, six kiteboarders will soar from the port of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands embarking on reportedly the first-ever, non-stop crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. They will be bound for the Blue Haven Resort and Marina in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean.

Kiteboarding is a kite-powered means of transportation on snow, ice or water. It combines aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, and gymnastics into one extreme sport.

Following a South Atlantic route, their arrival – two to three weeks later – is estimated between Dec. 7 and Dec. 15.

During the crossing – which will feature daily social media posts with photos of all six participants - the adventurers will take over from one another every two hours during the 3,728-mi./6,000-km long journey, surfing both day and night.

In this extreme long distance "downwinder" they will be supported by a 50-foot catamaran and its professional crew.A TV crew will also be on board documenting the crossing.

The Atlantic Kite Challenge is the brainchild of Netherlands-based Filippo van Hellenberg Hubar, founder of the Enable Passion Foundation. Filippo will be one of the six kiteboarders partaking in the Challenge along with Max Blom, also from the Netherlands.

The team also includes: Camilla Ringvold of Norway, Bruno Sroka of France and Francisco Lufinha of Portugal. American Eric Pequeno was chosen as the sixth kiteboarder through a social media competition on Facebook.

Sponsors include: Blue Haven Resort and Marina, Mystic, Urge, Slingshot and GoPro.

The Enable Passion Foundation is a non-profit foundation that strives to inspire people in realizing their passions, by organizing and carrying out extraordinary and pioneering projects.
For more information

Rickshaw Adventurers Promote Education

Two U.K. teachers are driving a tuk tuk around the world to promote education. So far two 28-year-olds, Nick Gough and Richard Sears, have dragged the three-wheeled machine through Europe, down Africa and across Asia and at press time find themselves in Ecuador, the 36th country visited.

Driving a motorized version of the traditional pulled rickshaw or cycle rickshaw, they have tackled deserts and jungles, pushing the tuk tuk for hundreds of miles through deep sand and thick mud.

They survived close encounters with elephants in Uganda and Botswana, and an accident in Malaysia when a truck plowed into the back of them. The greatest toll on the tuk tuk has been the mountain ranges lying in their path, including the Alps, the Himalayas and the Andes.

Some 1,200-miles from now, Nick and Rich's expedition, titled Tuk Tuk Travels, will have surpassed the current world record for "the longest distance traveled in an auto-rickshaw."

Their primary goal has been to increase the awareness of the importance of quality global education while highlighting different inspirational, grassroots education projects that can be supported through their charity, The Tuk Tuk Educational Trust.

Sponsors include Cardiff University, DSV and Macmillan Education. For more information



"You Don't Have to Be a Rocket Scientist"

Richard Branson realizes his visions can sound grandiose. "I'll often talk ahead of myself," he says. And it will be at least 20 years before he knows whether his fantasy went too far. "But by talking ahead of yourself, you then get the team to work hard to catch up," he says. "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to be able to run a spaceship company."

Alexandra Wolfe's profile of Branson, 63, in the Nov. 1 Wall Street Journal reveals that 650 people have bought tickets to take flight on Branson's commercial spacecraft as early as 2014. After launching from New Mexico, each spaceship will take six passengers on a two- and three-hour journey just over 62 miles from Earth.

Today he thinks space travel is where aviation was in the 1920s. The price for air travel then, adjusted for inflation is comparable to the $250,000 he is charging for his spaceflights, he says.

"My guess is 30 years from now...if enough spaceships will be built, enormous quantities of people will have a chance to go to space."

"Climbing and Guiding is My Life"

In an Oct. 13 interview, Pemba Gyalje Sherpa tells the New York Times, "... climbing and guiding is my life, I will never stop." He was among a group of climbers who, in early August 2008, suffered the loss of 11 climbers on K2 in the heart of the Karakoram Range in northern Pakistan.

Mr. Sherpa rescued two of the climbers who were trapped above 26,000 feet. The Summit, a documentary released last month in the U.S., retells the story of the disaster and the rescue effort.

He explains that before Western explorers, Sherpa didn't climb mountains as sport. "We trekked and herded cattle, but didn't climb." He explains that his climbing gear includes brands Black Diamond, Petzl and Beal. For jackets, undergarments and sleeping bags he recommends Feathered Friends, Sherpa Adventure Gear, North Face, and Mountain Hardware.

He suggests that someone interested in high altitude climbing keep hiking, trekking and climbing in a high altitude environment in the Himalayas or Andes Mountains. "Some technical training on snow, ice, rock and mixed terrain is also important."

Mountaineering is a Peak Experience

The "glories" of mountaineering are the focus of an Oct. 28 Wall Street Journal story by Glenn K. Beaton. He writes, "Many people are trying their hand at guided climbing in later life, and with good reason. The scenery is stunning; the goals are challenging but achievable; and the rewards – physical, emotional and spiritual – are hard to top."

Beaton continues, "The bonus: Because climbers never go faster than three miles an hour, at least not on purpose, guided climbing is safer than most people think."

He suggests seeking guides who are good climbers with whom you have a personal relationship. They cost several hundreds dollars a day, plus at least 10 percent or more in tips. For guide recommendations, he suggests the American Mountain Guides Association.

Local Hometown Climber Makes News

When local amateur climbers summit Everest, it often makes big news in hometown newspapers. Such was the case when reporter Katy Savage interviewed Killington, Vermont, native Scott Smith for her Oct. 10 story in the Vermont Standard, based in Woodstock, Vt. Smith tells of having to step over dead bodies en route to the summit of Everest.

"It was pitch dark, windy. It's cold, I had diarrhea. I was thirsty and then I came upon this freshly dead corpse from the night before and I just thought to myself this is really, really serious.

"Encountering some of the dead bodies really makes you think of your goal and whether it's really worth it. You start thinking of your family and your children," Smith says.

Even with an oxygen mask, Smith remembers taking one step and then having to stop to take 10 deep breaths. "It's almost like someone's choking you," he said. "You're literally on the edge mentally and physically."

He made the summit on May 23, 2013 with the help of Oxycodone to relieve the pain from kidney stones, which he eventually passed. (Too much information? Blame the Vermont Standard).

The Grand Rescue

The Grand Rescue is a story of a rescue that became legend. On the North Face of the Grand Teton (13,770-ft.) in 1967, seven rescuers risked their lives to save a severely injured climber and his companion.

This month a documentary film of the same name by director/producer Jenny Wilson, the daughter of rescue team member Ted Wilson, premiered in Salt Lake City.

The rescue took three harrowing days and pushed the team to new abilities. Remarkably, the injured climber criticized those who risked their lives to save his.

As the rescuers toiled through each phase of the rescue, Gaylord Campbell repeatedly questioned their procedures and techniques. He felt the rescue was inefficiently managed and that someone else might get hurt.

He questioned the use of equipment, procedures, and leadership decisions. He complained about the time it took to get off of the mountain. More than 40 years later, Campbell continued to question the choices made, according to Jenny Wilson.

A Fancy Feast

Yvon Chouinard, the 74-year-old conservationist, athlete and craftsman who founded Patagonia, recalled the company's start in a story in The Vertical, the apparel and gear manufacturer's newspaper distributed in its iconic stores.

When asked about his habit of eating canned cat food in the early days to get through a summer on a budget, he replies, "Yeah, I ate a lot of it. It wasn't very good. But it was better than dog food."

Later, he comments on the origin of the company name, "We put Patagonia on the map, now everybody knows where it is, everybody goes down there.

"The name Patagonia has been really good because it can be pronounced in every language. I mean, try and get the Japanese to pronounce Lululemon," Chouinard laughs.

Genghis Khan Book Captures Grand Prize at Banff Festival

Last month, the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in Banff, Alberta, announced the winners of its book competition:

  • Grand PrizeOn the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads, Tim Cope, Bloomsbury (USA, 2013)

  • Mountain Fiction and PoetryNothing Gold Can Stay, Ron Rash, HarperCollins Publishers (USA, 2013)

  • Mountain & Wilderness Literature – Non-Fiction - Everest -The First Ascent: How a Champion of Science Helped to Conquer the Mountain, Harriet Tuckey, Lyons Press (U.S., 2013)

  • Mountain ImagePamir: Forgotten on the Roof of the World, Matthieu and Mariele Paley, Editions de la Martiničre (France, 2012)

  • Mountaineering HistoryJames Monroe Thorington Award - The Conquest of Everest, George Lowe and Huw Lewis-Jones, Thames & Hudson (U.K., 2013)

  • GuidebooksPatagonia Vertical, Rolando Garibotti and Dörte Pietron, (Sidarta Guides, Slovenia, 2012)
    Learn more


    Who Needs Sponsors Anyway?

    No matter how good your idea, sponsorship comes with time and a good track record, says Swedish explorer Mikael Strandberg in a newly posted blog entry.

    He presents three tips for landing the sponsor that can mean the difference between going or staying home. First, ask yourself: do you really need sponsors.

    "If you have the funds, it is a better choice to avoid sponsors: less work, less stress and you run everything the way you want," he advises.

    Second, consider what can you offer sponsors, which all the other explorers cannot.

    Finally, target only those sponsors that fit your vision. "If your expedition has an ecological theme - most have today, since this sells and looks good - why sign up with a sponsor who has a poor record on these issues and is purely commercial?"

    Strandberg has some astounding expeditions on his c.v., including winter travel in Siberia with reindeer and sleds in minus 76 degrees F., and, in 1989-1992, he bicycled from Norway to South Africa - a distance of 20,505-miles/33,000 km, passing through the Sahara Desert. It took three months to push the bike through the desert, with the help of only a manual compass.
    Read his post

    Big City Mountaineers Launches 10th Annual Summit for Someone Series

    Big City Mountaineers (BCM) announced the launch of its 10th anniversary season of the Summit for Someone (SFS) fundraising climb series, which is one of the top mountaineering fundraisers in the country.

    Funds raised through SFS support BCM's mission to instill critical life skills in under-resourced youth through transformative wilderness mentoring expeditions.

    Since its inception, 1,740 climbers have raised over $5 million through SFS to help under-resourced youth participate in powerful one-on-one wilderness mentoring programs.

    In 2014, high altitude mountaineer and BCM board member Ed Viesturs plans to climb Mt. Hood and Mont Blanc to raise $200,000 for BCM youth.

    SFS participants are given the opportunity to travel, climb the world's premier mountains, and positively impact the lives of urban youth.Climbers choose from 33 separate climbs on 20 classic peaks including the Grand Teton, Mt. Rainier and Mt. Kilimanjaro, or they can create their own challenge.

    Sponsors of the program include Backpacker Magazine, JanSport and Black Diamond. For more information


    Prince Harry's South Pole Expedition: We'll Drink to That

    Glenfiddich has launched a national advertising campaign in the U.K. as part of its sponsorship of the 208-mile/335 km Walking With The Wounded (WWTW) South Pole Expedition.

    The 16-day project, departing later this month, involves three teams of wounded servicemen and women on one of the most high profile expeditions of modern times, racing across 3 degrees to the Geographic South Pole, arriving approximately Dec. 17.

    The purpose is to show the world the courage and determination of the men and women who have been wounded while serving their countries, and to encourage the publics' further support.

    This is the whiskey brand's second sponsorship of the WWTW Expedition, having supported the team racing to the top of Everest last year.

    Ahead of the 2013 challenge, it has launched an approximately $1 million campaign with the tagline, "No Ordinary Race, No Ordinary Team." The ads feature all four members of the U.K. team - including right leg amputee Guy Disney, left leg amputee Kate Philp, double leg amputee Duncan Slater, and arm amputee Ibrar Ali – taking on the race to the South Pole.

    The U.K. team, led by Prince Harry, will compete against other, ex-soldier teams from the U.S. and Commonwealth, in a race to the South Pole.

    For more information


    Mallory and Irvine Captured on 1924 Film

    A few months ago Huntley Film Archives posted a fascinating 10-min. film about a 1924 attempt on Mount Everest featuring eight expedition members (including George Mallory and Sandy Irvine), a line or 20 or so porters and Sherpa, mules, yaks, the Great Ice Cliff at 23,000 feet, the works.

    Less than 300 people have viewed this archival footage on YouTube, so we like to think this is a rare glimpse into mountaineering's past.

    The last title slide ends rather poignantly that Everest remains: UNCONQUERED.

    You can view the film here:


    Explorers Club Polar Film Festival, Nov. 22-23, 2013, New York

    The Explorers Club HQ in New York will host its second annual Polar Film Festival. The festival will showcase a diverse collection of feature films, documentaries and shorts about and from the Arctic and Antarctica.

    Festival films explore the history and grandeur of Earth's polar regions as well as the environmental challenges they are facing. Public tickets are $25 to $35.

    "Gift of Sight" Expedition Hosts Public Lecture, 6 p.m., Nov. 25, 2013, The Explorers Club, New York

    The public is invited to a presentation by the Dooley Intermed Foundation about the 2013 "Gift of Sight" Expedition to remote Lower Mustang in Nepal.

    As part of this humanitarian effort, over 700 impoverished Nepali villagers received quality eyecare from Operation Restore Vision and the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary (See EN, June 2013).

    The evening features talks by expedition leader Scott Hamilton and the ophthalmologists who traveled to Nepal on this important mission.

    This will be one of the first public showings of a nine-minute documentary of the expedition produced by Skyship Films. Admission is $20; students with valid i.d. $5. Location is 46 East 70th Street on the Upper East Side.


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