Expedition News
February 2014 – Volume Twenty-One, 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.


When Deb Walters, 62, of Troy, Maine, first met the families living in the Guatemala City garbage dump community, her life changed. Listening to the mothers describe how they make their living by sorting through the rubbish, she was touched by their dreams of a better life for their children.

Inspired by the grit and perseverance of the mothers and children, Walters decided to push herself by leveraging her years of experience with solo kayak expeditions in the Arctic and elsewhere to kayak more than 2,500 miles from Maine to Guatemala. She leaves July 11 for the approximately one year trip.

Walters is a retired scientist and university leader, Rotarian, and kayaking adventurer. Her previous solo kayaking expeditions were in the Arctic, along the Atlantic coasts in the Northeast and the Maritimes, and through tropical waters in Mexico. After retiring as a neuroscientist and university senior vice president in 2004, she began volunteering with Safe Passage, a non-profit organization registered in Maine and based in Guatemala that works with the families to break the cycle of poverty through education.

In addition to daily updates on social media, she will stop frequently to share the stories of the childrens' and mothers' success at Safe Passage. For youth both in the dump and along the route, there will be an interactive art project that explores "perseverance" in their own lives.

Walters, who is married and has four grandchildren ages 3 to 7, is seeking a major sponsor looking for a naming opportunity in cause-related marketing. Network TV affiliates such as an NBC station in Maine are committing to ongoing coverage. Chesapeake Light Craft, Epic Kayaks, Talon Woodworks, Four Sigma Foods, Paddlers Supply, Etienne Perret and Rockfish Gap Outfitters are providing equipment; donations are being sought from other outdoor companies.
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Explorer Ripley Davenport, best known for his camel assisted and man hauling desert expeditions in Mongolia, will attempt an 850-mile ultra expedition swim around Ireland in 2014. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, it will be an enormous challenge as he battles cold, monotony, fatigue, storms, jellyfish, hunger and isolation. If successful, he will reportedly be the first person to have swum the entire distance around Ireland.

Shadowed by yacht and a support kayak, Davenport, 44, from Norfolk, England, will swim in sea temperatures between 50 to 63 degrees F. up to 12 hours per day. The yacht crew will note the GPS position of exit and entry and also account for drift, thereby ensuring the entire distance of the intended route is completed. An interactive tracker will update his position in real time at:

The magnitude of this swim has many elements that reach beyond anything that Davenport has ever attempted and is an indisputable test of human endurance. He hopes that though his Round Ireland Ultra Adventure Swim he will inspire all those who have been faced with adversity. He says of the project, "we can achieve a dream that transcends all our personal boundaries."

Davenport will be fundraising for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland; sponsors include Power Traveller, RailRiders, and Termo Original Base Layers.


Explorers Honor Scott By (Finally) Completing His Expedition

It is known as one of the most intrepid polar expeditions in history, and cost five men their lives. But over 100 years after Captain Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated trek to the South Pole and back, two men have become the first people in history to complete the iconic almost 1,800-mile route.

Early this month, Ben Saunders, 36, from Britain, and former rugby player Tarka L'Herpiniere, 32, from France, completed the epic Terra Nova trek by walking for 1,795 miles across the inhospitable landscape of Antarctica. (See EN, October 2013).

It has taken them 105 days in total and pushed the limits of their mental and physical strength, as each men pulled sleds with over 441 lbs./200 kg of equipment and walked on average 17 miles daily in wind chill as low as minus 50 degrees F. (minus 46 degrees C.) wind chill. The entire trek was equivalent to 69 back-to-back marathons.

Saunders said, "It is almost impossible to comprehend what we have achieved. Completing Scott's Terra Nova Expedition has been a life-long dream and I'm overcome to be standing here at the finish."

He continued, "... both Tarka and I feel a combination of awe and profound respect for the endurance, tenacity and fortitude of Captain Scott and his team a century ago."

Captain Scott and his men died having covered almost 1,600 miles of the route in their bid to become the first men to reach the South Pole.
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Jakk in the Pack

If the words "get a life" immediately come to mind, you don't know Jakk. The Highpointers Club, a group of hikers and climbers crazed about peak bagging, traces its founding to Jack "Jakk" Longacre of Arcadia, Mo. His real first name was Jack, but the "c" key was broken on his typewriter, and instead of getting it repaired, he just changed his name in club correspondence. The "Jakk" nickname stuck (See EN, April 2008).

Jakk passed away and went to that really tall highpoint in the sky in 2002, just shy of his 65th birthday. As a fitting tribute, 700 volunteer highpointers spread his ashes on every HP in the union. But for a group whose motto is "Keep Klimbin'" (back to that broken typewriter again), that wasn't enough. By the time Jack's ashes were fertilizing all 50 state highpoints, members began a quest to "escort Jakk" to the highpoints of other countries. And so it began. At Club HQ there are three large ring binders chronicling Jakk's adventures around the world.

With our usual morbid sense of humor, we wondered whether there was any Jakk left to spread around. We consulted with Dave Covill, Highpointers lead director, at the recent Outdoor Retailer Show Winter Market in Salt Lake, to learn that - whew! - there were still six film canisters of Jakk remaining (film canisters, like Jakk, being a dying breed).

In fact, Jakk was just recently sprinkled on the third highest peak in Mexico. "He's a patient guy," jokes Covill, 56, a petroleum engineer from Evergreen, Colo. "We'll find other places to leave him. He's the most widely traveled dead guy I know."

To date, 249 members have tagged the highpoints in all 50 states. A total of 463, by last count, bagged the HP's in the lower 48. Covill himself is also attempting to reach the highest point in all 3,141 counties in the U.S. He has notched about 520 so far. Too much time on Covill's hands, you wonder? At least it gets him outdoors.

Is peak bagging, er, your bag? Learn more

Himalayan Stove Project Nominated for 2014 Outdoor Inspiration Awards

The Himalayan Stove Project earned a top nomination for the prestigious Outdoor Inspiration Awards on January 25, 2014, at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake.

HSP is a volunteer-run humanitarian organization that donates and distributes free, clean-burning, fuel-efficient cook stoves to protect the lives and environment of the people of the High Himalayas from deadly and damaging Household Air Pollution. (See EN, January 2012)

Created by adidas Outdoor, the Outdoor Inspiration Awards recognize individuals, groups and companies whose efforts are breaking new ground and encouraging others to participate in outdoor activities. The Himalayan Stove Project received runner-up acknowledgment in the Group category, while the 2014 award winners were Timbuk2 (Company), NOLS: Expedition Denali (Group), and Timmy O'Neil(Individual).

The Himalayan Stove Project is dedicated to neutralizing excessive fuel use, a critical threat to the health of the people living in the trans-Himalayan region and to the natural beauty of the Himalayan environment, according to George Basch, "Chief Cook" at the Himalayan Stove Project.

Basch, with the support of key corporate sponsors such as Eddie Bauer, adidas, Kahtoola, MSR, 1% for the Planet, and Rotary International, founded the Himalayan Stove Project to address the issue of Household Air Pollution (HAP), the "silent killer" that is responsible for four million global deaths each year (more than the mortalities caused by malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, combined).

Beginning in early 2011, the Himalayan Stove Project and its Himalayan partners have installed 1,400 clean-burning, efficient stoves to impoverished homes across remote mountainous regions of Nepal, with an additional 1,500 stoves in-transit for delivery in February 2014. Vastly improving fuel efficiency, the stoves reduce the amount of bio-mass fuel (such as wood or dung) needed for cooking by 80 percent.

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Explorers Club Announces Annual Award Winners

The Explorers Club announced its 2014 medalists and award winners late last month. Each will be honored at the organization's annual dinner on March 15, 2014, at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. These seven individuals and organizations have all furthered the field of exploration through the innovative use of technology.

  • Explorers Medal – Professor Walter H. Munk, widely recognized as the world's greatest living oceanographer and the father of modern oceanography.

  • Buzz Aldrin Quadrennial Space Award – Franklin Chang Diaz, former Director of NASA Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center and credited with the invention and patent of the "Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket" (VASIMR), an ion engine that may enable human travel to Mars in just 39 days. Planetary researcher Maria Zuber, recognized for the development of innovative mapping techniques used to study surfaces and interiors of the Earth and solid planets. She is also credited with the discovery of a small metal core in the moon.

    * Citation of Merit – The Apollo F-1 Search and Recovery Team, credited with using deep-sea survey and recovery technology to locate and retrieve - from 14,000 feet of water off the Florida coast - the center F-1 engine from the Saturn S-IC rocket used to launch the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969.

    * Sweeney Medal – Goes to internationally acclaimed photographers Pat and Rosemarie Keough who are focused on capturing subject matter in locations around the world that include Canada, Africa, Asia and the Polar Regions.

    * The Presidents Medal for Exploration and Technology – Hailed as a visionary innovator, Elon Musk is recognized for his development of cutting-edge technology revolutionizing both space exploration and sustainable transportation through his companies SpaceX and Tesla Motors.
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    Most Beloved Hill in the U.K.

    There's a sort of beauty pageant for walks in the U.K. Bennachie, a range of hills in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, has been chosen by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) as, "The most loved hill in Britain."

    The honor recognizes the local and regional significance of this iconic landmark whose maximum height is a modest 1,733-ft. Though small in comparison with the nearby Cairngorms, Bennachie stands out from the surrounding landscape and holds plenty of geographical secrets.

    Starting and finishing at the Bennachie Centre, near Chapel of Garioch, the six-mile route passes through forested lower slopes, out onto heather moorland and up to several of the hill's granite tors.

    Michael Palin, immediate past president of the society, and former member of the comedy group Monty Python says: "All too often we forget that travel doesn't have to include trains and boats and planes.

    "As Discovering Britain shows, some of the world's most varied, spectacular and accessible landscapes are only a strong pair of boots away. Discovering Britain brings our country to life, beneath your feet."
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    Lessons from the Great Polar Pitchman

    Reprinted from Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers, and Would-Be World Travelers (Skyhorse Publishing, 2014)

    By Jeff Blumenfeld, editor,

    The process of soliciting funding can be daunting, even if your name is Shackleton. In fact, especially if your name is Shackleton.

    Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922), the British polar explorer, wasn't the Shackleton we all know today when he started out, hat in hand, pitching sponsors. It would take years before he gained renown as the GreatPolar Pitchman.

    Shackleton was considered by biographer Roland Huntford, "an eloquent, brooding, magnetic, half-poet, half-buccaneer, possessed by romantic visions and intense ambition."

    He hungered for the South Pole, "the last spot of the world," as he put it, "that counts as worth the striving for though ungilded by aught but adventure." Little did he realize his polar quest would lead to a historic rescue mission that was a triumph of the human spirit over great adversity.

    Shackleton served under Commander Robert F. Scott on the Discovery Expedition (1901-1903), then led his own British Antarctic Expedition in 1907-1909, reaching within a then record 97 miles of the South Pole and discovering the South Magnetic Pole.

    Shackleton was feted as a national hero and knighted by King Edward VII. Still, he was constantly dogged by financial difficulties. While achieving worldwide acclaim for traveling "furthest south," he still faced the daunting task of paying off his debts and raising funds for his next expedition. Shackleton believed Antarctica held promise as the path to fame and fortune.

    Among explorers, he was the only one who openly promoted his expeditions as a commercial venture, according to Huntford's book, Shackleton (Atheneum, 1986). Funding would result, he was sure, from telling the story in books, lectures, newspapers, and cinematographs (movies).

    To raise money, he lured investors with the promise of another Klondike-a source of minerals and precious stones. By granting advertising rights, he received a free motorcar to reach the South Pole, despite the fact that the automobile was notoriously unreliable even in the best of conditions.

    He auctioned off news and and picture rights to London newspapers, even earned money by writing jokes for a Fleet Street publication. He turned his expedition ship, the Nimrod, into a museum and charged admission, according to Huntford. Special postage stamps were sold with a cancellation mark from the Antarctic. A handsome, charismatic speaker,

    Shackleton went on a 20,000-mile lecture tour reading poetry and recounting his exploits using fragile glass lantern slides and a film, the first shot in Antarctica.

    An Antarctic mountain was named after London Daily Express journalist and Punch humorist Sir Henry Lucy to curry favorable publicity. Shackleton was also believed to be the first polar explorer to produce a phonograph record. Not surprisingly, he landed a book deal, wrote about his previous expedition, and no doubt was thrilled when it was published in nine languages.

    Shackleton's skills as a fund-raiser eventually allowed him to depart Plymouth, England, on August 8, 1914, aboard the Endurance for the Trans-Antarctic Expedition, the first-ever attempt to cross the Antarctic continent. When his ship was trapped by ice, it turned into one of the greatest rescues in history.

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    On March 30, 1909, Shackleton recorded an Edison Amberol cylinder entitled, "My South Polar Expedition."


    In Praise of the New Explorers Museum

    Writing in praise of the new Explorers Museum in Charleville Castle, Tullamore, Ireland, about a 90-minute drive from Dublin, is Jamie Bunchuk of

    "It's a slightly sad fact about the world we've come to inhabit today that the most grueling tales or most fantastical physical accomplishments are only flicked through briefly on the web browser; one eye on the photography, the other haphazardly skimming the text," he says.

    "As soon as you're finished, or even before, we click off, onto emails or pictures of cats or whatever. The greatest achievements of adventuring become transient at best, disappearing like a stone to the bottom of the dark depths of our virtually-decimated attention span, with barely a ripple to show they were ever there in the first place."

    He commends the new facility's "expressed aim to celebrate the very process of exploration itself, in all its forms, both historically and in the modern day."

    Bunchuk continues, "It will also offer a permanency somewhat lacking in the paper-castles of knowledge built on our backlit screens."

    Visit the new museum

    Booty Call

    The new pirate series Black Sails, appearing on Starz, held a launch party at The Explorers Club on Jan. 14 featuring real pieces of eight and other pirate booty collected by explorer Barry Clifford, considered one of the foremost pirate experts in the world. It was Clifford's team who located the Whydah off Cape Cod in 1984, the first authenticated pirate ship ever found.

    Set in the years before Treasure Island, the series features some of the fictional characters made famous by Robert Louis Stevenson, plus a handful based on historical pirates who operated out of the Bahamas and the Caribbean in the first decades of the 18th century. It's said to be an authentic take on the era. Nancy deWolf Smith writes in the Wall Street Journal (Jan. 31), "The dirt, the sweat, the squalor and the danger of living among thieves in a world of criminals, they all seem grittily real."

    Attending the dinner was undersea explorer Fabien Cousteau, grandson of Jacques, who commented, "I've always dreamed of being a pirate - who hasn't? Wherever there's water there will always be pirates. They've always existed in some fashion."

    Adds Clifford, "These people were looking for freedom, looking for an equal share of the pie. This bit of history has been misunderstood until now."
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    How to Crowdsource Your Next Expedition

    "Until recently, adventurers trying to fund big expeditions took a few select paths: empty a bank account, max out a credit line, or get a corporate sponsor," writes Zand Martin in the March 2014 issue of Canoe & Kayak magazine. "Today, web-based crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have added a powerful new option ..."

    He reports success by the paddling community using this technique. The Nobody's River Expedition raised $32,295. The Trans-Territorial Canoe Expedition garnered $4,658, and Paddle to the Ocean, a route from Ottawa to Halifax, raised $4,268. But crowdsourcing isn't failsafe. He reports Kickstarter has a success rate of 44 percent, and Indie GoGo's is closer to nine percent. Both also charge four to five percent of funds raised.

    Martin, who paddled Russia last summer funded in part by IndieGoGo and a Polartec Challenge Grant, advises that the four ingredients to a winning pitch are concept, communication, personal touch, and marketing.
    You can purchase the story here


    Copp-Dash Award Recipients Announced

    The Copp-Dash Inspire Award is designed to support small teams with big goals in the high mountains and empower them to bring their adventures back and share their stories of inspiration.

    The climbing grant was established in memory of American climbers Jonny Copp and Micah Dash who were killed in an avalanche in China in May 2009, along with filmmaker Wade Johnson.

    The 2014 Copp-Dash Inspire Award winners and their objectives are:

  • Austin Siadak with Chris Kalman, Matthew Van Biene and Tad McCrea. Ground-up first ascent on 3,000-foot east face of Cerro Catedral in Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Patagonia.

  • Jessa Goebel with Pat Goodman. Free climbing first ascents on the 1,500- to 1,800-foot walls of North Moraine Hill Glacier in the Ragged Range of Canada's Northwest Territories.

  • Erik Bonnett with Max Fisher. First ascent of 2,100-foot spire that forms the southern summit of Kooshdakhaa in the eastern Alaska/northern Yukon Coast Mountains.

  • Graham Zimmerman with Clint Helander and Jens Holsten. First ascent of the central buttress of Titanic Peak's 3,600-foot northwest face in the Revelation Mountains of Alaska.

    The awards are sponsored by Black Diamond Equipment, La Sportiva, Mountain Hardwear and Patagonia (with in-kind support from Adventure Film Festival, the American Alpine Club, Jonny Copp Foundation and Sender Films).

    In addition to providing financial support to expedition teams, the goal of the Copp-Dash Inspire Award is to provide mentoring before and after the expedition to help the climbers bring back and share inspiring multimedia stories of their adventures.
    More information on the Copp-Dash Inspire Award


    Visions of Mustang Screening in Stamford, Conn., Mar. 27

    A humanitarian mission by ophthalmologists to Nepal's remote "Forbidden Kingdom" of Mustang in 2011is the subject of a documentary by Skyship Films that is making the rounds of the film festivals. The film focuses on an expedition of 18 monks, 33 ponies and a rough and tumble medical team traversing the Himalayas to restore eyesight in Nepal's "Forbidden Kingdom" of Mustang.

    It was a finalist in the Banff Mountain Film Festival, the Eugene International Film Festival, the International Buddhist Film Festival, an official selection of the Mountain Film Festival in Poland, official selection next month at the Festival International du Film de Sante, in Belgium, and it recently won First Place and Best Overall Film in the Reel Health Film Festival in Australia.

    Expedition leader Scott Hamilton will host a free screening on March 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, Conn. Later this month, Hamilton heads to Santiago de Los Caballos, Dominican Republic, with Ronald Gentile, M.D., head of Operation Restore Vision, and a team of ophthalmologists from the New York Eye & Ear Infirmary, to perform free sight-restoring surgeries at ILAC (Institute For Latin American Concerns) and conduct genetic research on an extremely rare eye and joint disease (spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia) in a village near the border of Haiti.


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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 Twitter: @expeditionnews 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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