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EXPEDITION NEWS, founded in 1994, 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.


November 2014 - Volume Twenty-One, Number Eleven

Celebrating Our 20th Year!                                         




Tough Week for the American Space Program

The space program was reeling in late October from two separate accidents: the destruction of an Antares rocket bringing supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), and the crash of Virgin Galactics' SpaceShipTwo (see related story below).

Stacey Severn, social media coordinator for Neil deGrasse Tyson's StarTalk Radio, and her son Elliott, a photographer, witnessed the destruction of the Antares rocket from their vantage point in the press area 1.7 miles from the Wallops, Va., launch site. "It was terrifying to witness and be caught up in it," she tells EN. "Thankfully, NASA and Orbital were very well-choreographed in emergency procedures and nobody was hurt."

She continues, "Our instructions were to immediately run for shelter inside the bus in the event of a mishap. It was all very fast and scary, and the shockwave was something that is hard to explain."

Elliott was rolling video at the time. You can see them run for safety:\ 

A newly-built spacecraft, dubbed SpaceShipTwoSerial No. 2, could resume test flights as early as next summer if the manufacturer can finish building a replacement craft. It replaces the one that was destroyed after its feathering system that controls descent deployed prematurely; aerodynamic forces ripped it apart, killing the co-pilot and seriously injuring the pilot.

SpaceShipTwo is carried aloft on the underside of a jet-powered mother ship. It then drops from that ship and fires its own rocket to head higher. Only when it reaches at least Mach 1.4, or more than 1,000 mph, are the feathers supposed to engage.

Time will tell, of course, but the SpaceShipTwoaccident is not expected to dim the enthusiasm of space tourists. At press time, only 20 out of 700 ticketholders reportedly asked for refunds, according to the New York Post. Explorers Club board member Jim Clash, an adventure journalist, tells the L.A. Times (Oct. 31), "I expected there to be accidents," he said. "It's rocket science. It's dangerous, it's risky, it's complicated. Most of us who bought tickets know that."

Clash reserved a ticket about four years ago paying a 10% deposit on the $200,000 ticket -- a "bargain price," he said. It has since been bumped up to $250,000.

Clash is among more than 700 people who have purchased or reserved tickets from Virgin Galactic, the commercial space venture founded by British billionaire Richard Branson. High-profile customers include Hollywood A-listers Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, singer Justin Bieber and former reality TV star Paris Hilton, according to the L.A. Times story by Shan Li.

"There will probably be some doomsayers saying the program is dead, but only time will tell," Clash said. "You can't hold back technology," he tells the newspaper.

Read the entire interview here: 

Space Travelers Talk About Fear

Prior to the two space-related accidents last month, some of the speakers at the Explorers Club's Space Stories conference on Oct. 25 talked about fear. Apollo 7 Lunar Module pilot Walt Cunningham, America's second civilian astronaut, said, "In those days, I was just too stupid to be afraid. Being aware of fear, recognizing it intellectually is an important step," he told moderator Jim Clash.

"I don't remember (back then) ever feeling afraid." Later he added, "Astronauts got the glory because we were sitting on the head of the spear," but it was (NASA) management that had the nerve to make decisions."

He believes the Space Shuttle was the greatest flying machine made by man, and that NASA made a big mistake cancelling it.

He went on to joke, "I'm the only guy I know who went around the world 163 times before I ever got to see Europe."


Brian Binnie addresses The Explorers Club shortly before the SpaceShipTwo accident. (Photo courtesy of Elliot Severn)   

Brian Binnie, who pilotedSpaceShipOne to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize, said, "To be a test pilot, it's not about courage. Fear doesn't come into play." He then explained the Test Pilot Prayer, credited to Alan Shepherd: "Please, dear god, don't let me F-up" (although in the original version, he didn't use a hypen). SpaceShipOne was the prototype for Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo which crashed last month (see related story).

Apollo 16 astronaut Gen. Charles Dukewas the 10th (out of only 12) men to walk on the moon. He told the audience, "Fear is not a bad emotion if you handle it right. It gets the adrenaline going. You have to respond with training."


Astronaut Cady Coleman likes to return from missions to be part of the view. (Photo courtesy Elliot Severn)  

Chemist Catherine "Cady" Colemanentered the space program in 1992 and is today the most senior active astronaut scheduled to return to the International Space Station. In the early days, astronauts only had portholes, but today the ISS has the Cupola, anESA-built observatory module with seven windows used to conduct experiments, dockings and observations of Earth. It provides a 360-degree view; one 31-in. window is the largest ever used in space.

"It gives you a feeling of being more humanely present," said the western Massachusetts resident. "There's so much important work to do up there and so little time."

As memorable as space was, she continued, "it was nice to come home and be part of the view."    

Women Explorers Have Their Say

Wings WorldQuestheld a one-day Women of Discovery forum at the Explorers Club in New York on October 17, featuring 19 of the world's top women explorers. The New York-based non-profit traces its roots to the establishment of the Wings Trust in 1993 dedicated to preserving the discoveries and accomplishments of women explorers and promote women working in the field sciences.Milbry Post, executive director and co-founder, kicked off the seminar by saying, "Humanity faces so many challenges. Explorers are out on the edge trying to find answers by looking at the world in different ways."  


Actress Uma Thurman (center) emceed the Wings WorldQuest gala on Oct. 16. Among the honorees were (l-r)  

Felicity Aston, Helen Thayer, Daphne Soares, and Arita Baaijens. (Sherry Sutton Photography) 

Highlights from the forum follow:

*            Arita Baaijens, a Dutch biologist, explorer, photographer and author said, "If you want to understand another culture, you can't come with preconceived concepts. You have to be open minded." She considers herself a storyteller at heart, "Stories can drive change. When you tell stories, you touch peoples' hearts."

*            American marine biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer Sylvia Earle applauded the idea behind the conference dedicated, as she put it, to "half the world's population." A video presentation on her career included archival footage from the 1970s when she and four other female divers were called "real life mermaids." A newspaper headline shared amazement that the five were spending time in an underwater lab, "with only one hair dryer." (Lots of groans from the audience on that one).

Earle believes "Explorers and scientists are still little kids who never grew up. They keep asking, 'who, why, what?'" Growing up with the Gulf of Mexico in her backyard, she said she became hooked on critters, as most kids are. "I became a marine biologist because the oceans are where most of the action is."

She is passionate about igniting public support to take care of the oceans, "the blue heart of the planet." Later, she warned "Don't any of your ever eat tuna fish again. We're too good at killing them. We need to save our sharks and our tunas to save ourselves."

Shortly afterwards the conference adjourned for a catered lunch that included - oops - tuna fish sandwiches.

*            Polar explorer Felicity Aston recounted her solo crossing of Antarctica in November 2011. "Human beings are social animals that like to be surrounded by our own tribe." She recalled the moment when she was dropped off  by plane on the frozen continent, "This was a whole new league of aloneness - no birds, no wildlife, no seals. There is no life whatsoever in this landscape but me.

"My hands were shaking - I realized this is what it feels like to be petrified - a degree of isolation I never experienced before. I sat down and cried."

To pass time she listened to Agatha Christie murder mysteries on her mp3 player which scrambled the chapters. "I learned who the murderer was immediately," she joked.

*            Anna Cummins, executive director and co-founder of 5 Gyres Institute, is dedicated to ending plastic pollution. She talked about exploring what she calls, "our synthetic sea." She said over 663 species during one study were affected by plastic debris through ingestion or entanglement. She passed around a jar full of plastic debris found in the ocean that was so disgusting and nauseating, we could begin to taste our tuna fish sandwich from lunch.

"We need nature more than she needs us," Cummins said.

The Mostly Old, White Guys in this Club are Real Rascals

Weaned as we were on the vintage Saturday morning children's TV show, Little Rascals, we can't help but be reminded of Spanky's "He-Man Woman-Haters Club" when we learned this month that The Adventurers' Club of Los Angeles decided to continue to restrict women members. Recently, they held a vote and ruled 32-30 to keep it men only.

The Club, whose members include Buzz Aldrin and director James Cameron, attracts those interested in racing, mountaineering, "travel to remote areas of the world not readily accessible by guided tour," "survival gear field hunting," extreme skiing," "extended balloon or glider trips," and exploring the final frontier.

"Basically, if you enjoy activities where you might die of exposure, ancient curse or adrenaline overdose, you're a candidate as long as you're also a man," writes Juliet Bennett Rylah on

You can read her story here: 

Don't expect to see these lads at a Wings WorldQuest gala anytime soon.

Presentations are the Last Leg of a Journey

Daryl Hawk, 57, an explorer and photographer from Wilton, Conn., considers his post-trip public talks to be the "last leg of the journey." During an Oct. 16 presentation about his spring 2013 photographic guided journey through northern India's Buddhist kingdom of Ladakh, he says he considers himself an "unconventional traveler." "By traveling alone with local guides and drivers, I wait for things to happen. When you engage people with a smiling face, it leads to extraordinary opportunities. The universal language around the world is smiling."


Daryl Hawk smiles as he spends Hump Day with a fellow traveler. (Photo courtesy 

He later told the audience at the Consulate General of India building in New York, "I want to tell the story of the world through my eyes."

Hawk, who is selling his photographs to magazines and is using video from the trip to help pitch a travelogue TV show, said he doesn't give away money to children he meets. Instead he gives away sports trading cards to break the ice. One humorous road sign along Khardung La, one of the world's highest motorized passes (17,582-ft.), warns, "Driving risky after whisky."

How true.

Learn more about Hawks' work at 


"Space is hard, and today was a tough day ...The future rests in many ways on hard, hard days like this, but we believe we owe it to the folks who were flying these vehicles as well as the folks who have been working so hard on them to understand this and to move forward, which is what we'll do."

- Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides after the crash of SpaceShipTwo (see related story)


Nat Geo Strives to Remain Relevant


Change is in the air at the venerable National Geographic magazine. There's a mandate to revitalize the yellow-frame magazine and its digital operations to court new and younger readers who are not going to wait for a month to find out the latest in science and discovery, according to a Nov. 3 story in USA Today by Roger Yu.

The magazine's subscription base is shrinking as few now bother to collect and stack old issues in their basements, and kids increasingly turn to their iPads for maps. Its domestic circulation totals about 4 million (international editions bring this up to 6.8 million), down from 10.8 million at its peak in 1989. It's still the eighth-largest magazine in the U.S., according to Alliance for Audited Media.

The magazine's production schedule was tightened up so that longer feature stories, which used to be planned months in advance, can be swapped out for newsier developments.

What else is in store for the magazine and website? Read the interview with Nat Geo's first female editor here: 

First Ascent of New York's Freedom Tower

Ueli Steck, 38, knows about risk. In a New Yorker profile (Nov. 17), writer Nick Paumgarten explains that Steck's record-breaking 28-hour solo climb of Annapurna's South Face was perhaps the most treacherous test in the Himalayas. "I took too much risk," he said this month. "I was accepting to die up there." He'd climbed through the night, switching his right mitten from hand to hand (an avalanche had swept the left one away).

Steck's subsequent vow to cool it a bit (he ended his Explorers Club talk with the self-admonition "Slow down and stay alive") has not deterred him from devising ambitious excursions, what he calls "projects." During his New York visit he also succeeded in what might possibly be the first ascent of One World Trade Center - the Freedom Tower - an ascent with fixed handrails and established foot placements i.e. the stairwell. He reached the 104th floor in 32 min. 19 sec.

Read the entire story here: 

Antarctica Featured in a Book Like No Other

Antarctica has never been depicted so elegantly. Pat and Rosemarie Keough's Antarctica is a handcrafted book which has been compared to the refined elegance and luxury of a Patek Philippe watch; described as "a covetable work of art, a shrine even to the frozen continent"; and shares the tradition of John James Audubon. Published in a limited run of 950 and sold online for $5,000, it is considered among the world's finest books.   


Antarctica sells for a cool $5,000. The stand is extra. (Photo courtesy


In celebration of the 15th anniversary of Students on Ice (SOI), HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, honorary chair and enthusiastic patron of SOI, together with Geoff Green, founder and president of SOI, will present Antarctica to educational institutions in 50 countries. In all, 50 copies are committed with the aim to further the mission of SOI, an award-winning organization engaging youth, educators, elders, artists and scientists on inspiring educational expeditions to the Arctic and the Antarctic.

Antarctica is hand-bound with the elegance of the classic European style of fine binding together with durability and ruggedness of split-board construction - binding traditions that date to 15th century; and enhanced with archival materials including fine-grained morocco leather, Dutch and Irish linen, and French flocked velvet. Antarcticacombines exquisite photography with centuries old binding techniques and state-of-the-art printing. The volume weighs 27 pounds in its linen presentation box and features 345 Keough images. 

For more information:,

Enjoy Microadventures

The book, Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes (HarperCollins 2014), written by U.K. author Alastair Humphreys, and an accompanying blog, list 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. adventures anyone can do.

Humphreys spoke at TEDx Oxbridge, wearing a t-shirt that said "time not cash" and encouraged the audience to take microadventures, according to a story in theBoulder (Colo.) Weekly by Cassie Moore (Oct. 2).

"I'm sure most people have no desire to cycle around the world," said Humphreys, who did cycle around the world. "But I think adventure is vital for everyone. They don't need to be big adventures. They can be tiny little adventures. Adventure is about doing something you have never done, doing it with enthusiasm and curiosity. You can have an adventure anywhere."

Humphreys spent a year doing only microadventures in the U.K. The 16 hours between the end of a workday and the start of the next, he says, is time enough for him to do things like run up a tall hill in the town where he lives, jump in the lake, sleep in a tent and then run back down to make it to work by 9 a.m. the next day.

Read the story here: 


Nat Geo "Expedition Granted" to 21-Year-Old U. of Michigan College Student

Northfield, Ill. native Charles Engelman was selected as the winner in a national contest sponsored by National Geographic, in which he will receive a $50,000 grant to launch his "dream expedition."

Engelman, 21, who studies ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan, said his dream expedition will include trips to spots around the U.S. Once his travel is completed, he will produce 20 to 30 educational and nature videos that will be posted on YouTube.

According to the National Geographic website, the contest - "Expedition Granted" - involved a nationwide search to find "the next generation of explorers and to grant one person's dream expedition for $50,000. It is a contest designed to show that we are all explorers in our own unique way, regardless of how we choose to push boundaries and forge new paths."

There were more than 700 entries, which were pared down to 10, including Engelman's, which was themed, "Get Pumped About Nature!" Over a two-week period last summer, the 10 finalists were posted for an online public vote in which more than 400,000 cast ballots. Engelman learned on Sept. 29 that he was the winner.

Regarding his videos, Engelman tells Brian L. Cox, writing for the Chicago Tribune (Oct. 26), "It's supposed to be fun and entertaining, something that kids can watch and get really excited about nature and learn science at the same time. It's also something teachers and professors can use in class."

See his award-winning entry at


Kiss Me Quick - My God There Goes My Upper Lip 

Backpacker Magazine has issued an amusing, but ever-so-helpful guide to eating your hiking partner. Fans of the Donner Party and Greely Expedition are told to "make sure your partner is dead, but not dead too long." Suggestions include a profusion of easy meat in the belly area, and how to harvest meat from the back as well.

Excuse us while we go talk to Ralph on the big white telephone.

Watch this on an empty stomach: 


Fighting Words

Ex-fighter pilot Stan Usinowicz from Arizona points out that the AT-6 "Texan" plane being sought in Arizona's Lake Havasu was a trainer, not a fighter. "It carried no armament. It had no hard points nor a gun," he tells us. The plane has yet to be discovered despite a cursory search last month.


Hubble @25 on USS Intrepid Through September 2015

It is said that the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope aboard space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990, marks the most significant advancement in astronomy since Galileo built the first telescope that observed the sky more than 400 years ago.

The new Hubble @25 exhibition at the Space Shuttle Pavilion at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York Harbor, has opened and runs through September 2015. It celebrates Hubble's technological feats and years of unparalleled scientific achievements against a backdrop of some magnificent astronomical images.

For more information: 

Explorers Club "Discovers" New Annual Dinner Location:

American Museum of Natural History, Mar. 21, 2015

Nothing lasts forever, not even the venue for a 67-year-old annual dinner. Last month the Explorers Club announced it would embark on a new road rarely traveled but there all the time. After almost seven decades at the famous Waldorf=Astoria Hotel, the 2015 Explorers Club Annual Dinner will be held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, "a venue indigenous to The Explorers Club mission, a venue that surrounds all of us with the very essence of discovery, innovation, and the magnificent history of exploration," said Club president Alan Nichols.

Next year's theme is "The Spirit of Exploration From Dinosaurs to the Stars." Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is among the awardees.

The expense of hosting the dinner at the hotel was getting prohibitive according to sources at the Club.

We'll miss many memorable moments at the Waldorf. However, the Club's Sweeney Medal winner, Jack Reilly, might not feel the same way. He is star of an infamousYouTube video showing him falling off a horse from the Waldorf stage when he was dinner chairman in 2004.

This was one ride Jack Reilly (left with former Explorers Club president Richard Wiese) will never forget.   

Reilly remembers: "Bertrand Piccard assisted Jim Fowler in getting me up. Then Jim said 'raise your arm to show everyone you are okay.'"

Be one of the 1,800-plus people to view "The Man Who Fell" at: 


Help Needed for Borneo Expedition - Trevor Wallace is currently organizing a journey across the jungles of Sarawak, Borneo, to investigate how the overlapping effects of palm oil, hydro-dams, and logging are effecting orangutans and various Dayak indigenous groups. He's looking for individuals with one or more of the following skills: GIS cartography, Malay Language, grant writing, fund raising, and connections to non-profits working in the Sarawak.

Any interested parties who would like to partake or support this expedition are encouraged to contact him at

Get Sponsored! - Hundreds of explorers and adventurers raise money each month to travel on world class expeditions to Mt. Everest, Nepal, Antarctica and elsewhere. Now the techniques they use to pay for their journeys are available to anyone who has a dream adventure project in mind, according to the new book from Skyhorse Publishing called: Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers.

Author Jeff Blumenfeld, an adventure marketing specialist who has represented 3M, Coleman, Du Pont, Lands' End and Orvis, among others, shares techniques for securing sponsors for expeditions and adventures.

Buy it here: 

Advertise in Expedition News - For more information: 





EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 1281 East Main Street - Box 10, Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Tel. 203 655 1600, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jamie Gribbon. Research editor: Lee Kovel. 2014 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