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.
May 2016 - Volume Twenty-Three, Number Five
Celebrating Our 21st Year!
All hands on deck (Photo credit: Peder Jacobsson)
World's Largest Viking Ship Heads to New World
Last month, the world's largest Viking ship, Draken Harald Hårfagre, set sail from her homeport of Haugesund, Norway, to cross the North Atlantic in the wake of the original Vikings 1,000 years before, give or take a few decades. The route takes her from Norway to Iceland, Greenland, Canada and finally the U.S. The final stop of Expedition America 2016 will be in New York in mid-September.
At presstime, the ship was off the western coast of Iceland.
Draken Harald Hårfagre is a recreation of what the Vikings would call a "Great Ship," built with the archaeological knowledge of found ships, using old boatbuilding traditions and the legends of Viking ships from the Norse sagas.
The 115-ft. ship is crewed by 35 sailors, chosen from over 4,000 applicants, hailing from Norway, U.S., Canada, Sweden, Estonia, Russia, France and Great Britain.
For real-time tracking of the ship's position log onto www.drakenexpeditionamerica.com
The Bold Horizon is Ready to Deal.
Need a Research Vessel?
Eclipse Group, Inc., based in Annapolis, Md., is offering expeditions, nonprofits and documentary filmmakers a reduced charter rate for its 170-ft. research vessel R/V Bold Horizon.
Based in San Diego, the ship is capable of sustained, full-ocean marine operations. The vessel was originally commissioned by Scripps Institution of Oceanography and had been in continuous use by the organization since construction.
Eclipse maintains preferential access to strategic shipping yards as well as direct access to Remotely Operated/Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (ROV/AUV) as well as survey, navigation, cable installation and heavy lift equipment. It's a powerful, flexible platform for everything from sonar survey and specimen collection to air crash investigation.
For more information: 410 533 3041, firstname.lastname@example.org
Seminar by Chris Nicola helped explorers bone up on spelunking. (Photo by Steven Duncan; copyright Chris Nicola 2005)
How is This Still a Thing?
Earlier this month, noted speleologist Chris Nicola conducted a seminar at The Explorers Club in New York on cave exploration based on his over 40 years of caving and leading more than 40 international expeditions. Spelunking is obviously not for everyone. He covered environments that can range from narrow cold, wet crawlways with low air space requiring submersion in water for extended periods of time, and large dry cavernous rooms requiring either climbing high bare walls, or rappelling in deep pits on the order of several hundred feet.
According to his presentation, caves can contain rare fragile artifacts, snakes looking for cooler temperatures, one-of-a-kind cave-adapted organisms, toxic air pockets, or thousands of bats.
Floors and walls can be solid, or teetering on collapse with just the slightest of wrong moves. You might be just 40 feet below an ambulance but as much as 360 miles to the entrance giving access to that same ambulance.
High humidity, airborne particulates of guano, and fatigue can lead to hypothermia, histoplasmosis, and injuries, some life threatening in nature.
Learn about Nicola's work and see The History Channel's study guide for the documentary No Place on Earth here: www.noplaceonearthfilm.com
Alex Lowe Remembered
The remains of Alex Lowe and David Bridges were found April 27 on Shishapangma, in Tibet. Ueli Steck and David Goettler discovered them while acclimatizing for an ascent of the mountain's South Face. The news promoted us to recall comments (see EN, November 2009) by Lowe's widow, author and artist Jennifer Lowe-Anker, during The Explorers Club's "Mountain Stories" event on Oct. 17, 2009.
She said, "We're all just visitors on this planet and if we don't pursue our dreams, what are we here for?"
"Life is plenty of challenges. Getting out to wild places restores our spirit and helps us meet those challenges."
She added, "We all have to die someday. You can choose to live in fear or live your life."
Lowe, who died in October 1999 at the age of 40, was attempting to ski the mountain as part of the 1999 American Shishapangma Ski Expedition. He was killed along with Bridges, a high-altitude cameraman from Aspen, Colo., who was 29 at the time.
Read about the discovery of Lowe's remains here:
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"Successful exploration in human history - that's how it's been accomplished. You take what you can with you, but you have to make things and be self-sustaining."
- NASA deputy administrator Dava Newman, referring to the movie The Martian. Growing potatoes as Matt Damon did in the film is not that far-fetched. "Astronauts have dined on lettuce and peppers grown aboard the space station," she says. Source: Smithsonian magazine, May 2016.
Read the story here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/inside-nasa-plan-send-humans-mars-180958787/?no-ist
79-Year-Old Businessman is Clearing the Air in Nepal
In September 2015, ski mountaineer Kit Deslauriers, was on an expedition to climb Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world, when she became ill with high altitude cerebral edema (HACE). As she recovered, a local Nepali family shared their meals with her despite having little food for themselves.
Deslauriers was shocked by the amount of indoor smoke due to cooking on an open fire pit on the dirt floor, a method little changed for centuries.
"The smoky air inside the Nepali homes and tea houses I've visited is in stark contrast to the mental imagery evoked for most of us when we think about the otherwise majestic high altitude mountains," Deslauriers posts to The North Face NeverStopExploring.com blog.
"The smoke made my eyes burn and permeated the taste of the tea graciously offered to me throughout the day, even when I'd escape to the cleaner air of my tent between meals."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls cook stoves and the indoor air pollution they produce "the world's leading source of environmental death." Household Air Pollution (HAP) from cooking fires kills more than malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis combined. It fuels deaths from lower respiratory infection, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.
Adds Dr. Maria Neira, head of public health and the environment for the World Health Organization (WHO), "We have 3.7 million people dying a year from outdoor air pollution, and 4.3 million from household pollution. Almost half the world is still cooking like in the stone age."
When smoke eventually disperses outside the home, it causes still further problems for air quality and climate change.
George Basch hopes to clear the air.
It's a cause that has consumed 79-year-old Taos, N.M., businessman George Basch for six years. His non-profit Himalayan Stove Project (HSP) has shipped over 3,000 environmentally friendly clean-burning cook stoves to Nepal, with another 577 currently on a container ship in Calcutta awaiting clearance from the Nepal government, to be delivered to homes in the rural communities of Nepal.
HSP's partners in Nepal include The Himalayan Trust founded by Sir Edmund Hillary in the 1960's when he began his philanthropic work to help the Sherpa people in the Mount Everest region.
For $150, each properly vented stove has been shown to reduce indoor air pollution by up to 90 percent, using 75 percent less fuel which helps decrease deforestation due to more efficient use of wood.
The lightweight 20 lbs. stoves and chimney systems, manufactured by Envirofit, a non-profit in Fort Collins, Colo., are sold to Nepalis for a few dollars to give them a vested interest in maintaining the stoves. Revenue is then earmarked for other projects in their communities.
In his own small way, Basch is helping alleviate what continues to be a humanitarian crisis after the April 2015 magnitude 7.8 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks that killed approximately 9,000 Nepalis.
Happiness is a clean cook stove.
According to Basch, the larger, institutional-sized Envirofit stove, which has a 100 liter pot, is ideal for cooking dal bhat, a highly nutritious lentil soup served over rice. Where it can, HSP distributes them in pairs - one for dal and one for bhat - so that mass-feeding programs can be supported.
Basch, has circled the globe as an adventurer, explorer, photographer and an entrepreneur. Born in Vienna, he immigrated to the U.S. as a small child, ahead of Hitler's hordes, and holds dual U.S. and EU citizenship. He grew up in Chicago and graduated from MIT in 1959 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, and earned an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management in 1961.
He is currently president of Property Tax Relief Specialists, a Phoenix-based property tax consultancy he founded in 1987, and is the principal of Basch Photography, which creates adventure films.
Between his irrepressible travels around the world, Basch, who is single and is an avid skier and hiker, currently divides his time between Phoenix and Taos. He's often seen at trade shows and Rotary meetings wearing his signature white chef's toque imprinted with "Chief Cook."
While companies including Adidas, Clothing Arts, Eddie Bauer, Global Rescue, Kahtoola and MSR have supported the Himalayan Stove Project, the need continues to outstrip the availability of stoves. By one count, around two million survivors of the 2015 earthquake are still huddled miserably under tin sheets and tarpaulins, fearfully awaiting the onset of monsoon season. Studies by the Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves and the World Health Organization have identified needs for more than seven million improved cook stoves in Nepal.
Basch hopes his efforts to bring clean cook stoves to Nepal are taking a bite out of a critical issue facing a country so beloved by the world's explorers and adventurers.
Says Dave Hahn, a professional mountain guide, who has summitted Mount Everest 15 times, the most for a non-Sherpa climber, "We all want to change the world... most of us are kind enough, but not quite creative enough to figure out how to make a difference for people living in challenging circumstances."
Hahn, who carried an HSP banner to the top of Everest in 2012, continues, "The Himalayan Stove Project is a tangible, smart, common sense approach."
For more information: www.himalayanstoveproject.org
Nepal Hopes for Uneventful Climbing Season
Last year, for the first time since 1974, not a single climber reached the summit of Everest. Climbing agencies have taken an upbeat tone this year, noting that numbers typically rebound after major disasters, according to a New York Times story by Kai Schultz. But in Namche Bazaar, the drop in demand is appreciable, with around 290 climbers attempting Everest's south side ascent so far this spring, down from 357 in the same time period in 2015, according to Nepal's Department of Tourism.
"The Sherpas who often serve as high-altitude guides complain of fewer tourists, fewer jobs and fewer choices," Schultz writes.
"Many lodges, once chronically crammed, now run under capacity. Western climbing agencies, typically well represented on Everest, have struggled to fill teams. Some have offered discounts for returning climbers, while others have canceled teams entirely."
Read the full story here:
So Much for RSS Boaty McBoatface
We're not sure why this amuses us so, but it does. When the British National Environment Research Council asked the online community to come up with a name for its new 410-ft. polar research vessel, the overwhelming choice was Boaty McBoatface, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times (May 10) by Mary Forgione.That was the hands-down favorite among 124,000 voters.
Alas, they were overruled by a more, er, respectable name for the $288 million vessel, the RSS David Attenborough, named for the 90-year-old British naturalist and broadcaster. It was certainly better than another favorite among the online community: Big Metal Floaty Thingy-thing.
Said the spoilsports at the NERC, the new name "captures the ship's scientific mission and celebrates the broadcaster's contribution to natural science."
The research ship is under construction in Merseyside and is expected to sail in 2019.
Read the story here: http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-britain-boaty-mcboatface-polar-vessel-20160506-snap-story.html
Antarctica visitation is expected to reach record levels.
Antarctica Gets Hot for Another Reason: Tourists
While the threat of its ice sheet melting away occupies climatologists, wealthy travelers are scrambling to get to Antarctica before the party's over, according to a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (May 2) by Justin Bachman of Bloomberg.
The number of people landing on Antarctica is poised to surpass its annual record of 46,000, stimulated in part by new travel options and a surge of Chinese adventurers. On average, 35,000 to 40,000 people visit each summer (90 percent by ship) which in Antarctica lasts from November to February. The peak came in the 2007-08 season, before the financial crisis.
"No other spot holds the same allure of geographical isolation, exoticism, and, naturally, bragging rights. What's more, many travelers have been almost everywhere else," says Bachman.
Officially, anyone visiting Antarctica is permitted to have "no more than a minor or transitory impact" on the environment. Industry insiders say the current regulations suffice to protect Antarctica because every company is mindful of the continent's unique and fragile nature. A new "polar code" adopted by the International Maritime Organization takes effect in January 2017, and some polar tour experts contend that the rule could hinder some travel to the area.
Read the story here: http://www.ajc.com/news/travel/antarctica-gets-hot-for-another-reason-tourists/nrDp5/
Is Social Media Screwing Explorers?
"Young, tech-savvy adventurers are taking sponsors and funding away from grizzled, old-school explorers who aren't strong on Facebook and Twitter. But they don't always pull off the awesome feats they say they will," writes Devon O'Neilon OutsideOnline.com (April 20).
"Authenticity and ambition used to go hand in hand on professional expeditions. Now, some wonder whether authenticity has been usurped by accessibility - the need to invite the world aboard, or risk being left at home," O'Neill writes.
Predictably, this created a shitstorm of comment on Facebook Explorer group sites.
Says Steve Nagiewicz, author of Hidden History of Maritime New Jersey (Arcadia Publishing, 2016), "Ill-prepared expeditions happened all thru time, success or failure as much luck or preparation or the will of their leader and there is always someone who creates a new angle to fame.
"I think media has such a pervasive presence now as to be unavoidable and in fact necessary to raise money and awareness for explorers. Times have changed and while hardy old-school explorers still have more or actual field experience, they will nonetheless compete with media savvy ones. Time to change!"
Adds Taylor Zajonc, author, speaker and maritime historian, "Yes, there are always going to self-aggrandizing idiots who try and grab the spotlight with drummed-up claims using this tool. (They used to use newspapers. Same message, different medium.) It's up to us to call out the irresponsible and put pressure on their sponsors - for example, the charity CureDuchenne and their baffling efforts to put a 12 year old atop Mount Everest."
Read the story on OutsideOnline.com
Gore-Tex Shipton-Tilman Grant Program Awards $20,000
The Shipton-Tilman Grant program, sponsored by Gore-Tex, is named after Eric Shipton (b. 1907) and Bill Tilman (b. 1897), who nearly 90 years ago changed the history of mountaineering with a lightweight, low-impact climbing philosophy that still inspires today's adventurers. Now in its 26th year, this year's winning teams have proven that they share an appreciation for uncharted areas and the preservation of the natural landscape, planning expeditions that will leave minimal traces on the peaks they will explore.
The following five teams will receive grant funding in 2016:
* Chaukhamba Alpine Style
The team, comprised of Tad McCrea and Jason Kruk, will prioritize style and ethic, leaving a minimal trace of passage as they attempt to ascend the great south/southeast wall of the 7000 m Chaukhamba peaks. Awarded $5,000.
* British Karakorum 2016 Expedition
Climbing fast and light in true alpine style, the team of Emily Ward (team lead), Matthew Burdekin, Suzana El Massri and Harry Mcghie, will traverse and summit yet unexplored, unnamed peaks up to 6600 m around a remote glacier in the Snow Lake region of the Hispar Muztagh, Karakorum, Pakistan. Awarded $4,000.
* Hiding in Plain Sight: Unclimbed Summits in the Karakorum
This team of highly accomplished climbers includes Nancy Hansen, the only person to have climbed 46 of the Fifty Classic Climbs of North America, and Ralf Dujmovits, an accomplished high-altitude climber who was the 16th person and only German to climb all peaks over 8000 m, all but one of which he ascended without bottled oxygen. Their goal is to attempt two unclimbed peaks in the Karakorum mountain region of Pakistan - Gasherbrum VI (aka Chochordin Peak, 6979 m - 7004 m), which has been attempted at least four times, and Praqpa Ri (7134 m - 7156 m), for which no attempts have been recorded. Awarded $4,000.
* The Great Walls of China
The goal of the team of Szu-ting Yi and David Anderson is to explore an unvisited and unnamed valley in the remote Kokshaal-Too Mountains of Xinjiang Province, China, near the border of Kyrgyzstan. Specifically, the team hopes to summit the unclimbed Great Walls of China (5400 m), including an unexplored section of the wall that faces south and is located in a sheltered side valley (approx. 2,000 ft.). While several climbing expeditions have visited this area, Yi reports that none have successfully reached the top of the steep granite walls or the summit of the formation. Awarded $4,000.
* Neacola Multimodal Expedition
The experienced climbing and backcountry team of Craig Muderlak (team leader), David Fay and Drew Thayer, hope to complete a human-powered expedition in Alaska that includes a first ascent in the remote Neacola region (the remote, northernmost subrange of the Aleutian Range). They will then ski, hike, and pack raft float 75 miles west out of the mountains down the Glacier Fork of the Tlikakila River and the North Fork of the Big River to Cook Inlet. Their primary climbing objective is to establish a new route up the 3,000-ft. granite faces of what Muderlak refers to as the "Neacola Bells." Awarded $3,000.
For more information: www.gore-tex.com
iPhone lens helps ophthalmologists in Nepal (Photo courtesy Olloclip.com)
Mobile Phone Lens Praised by Nepal Expedition
Faithful readers of EN know that companies sponsor expeditions either with cash or VIK (value in kind) to demonstrate product performance in extreme conditions. If a parka, for instance, works on Everest, that creates a "halo effect" that translates well to the consumer, even if he or she is traveling to no tougher location than a Costco parking lot in winter (don't laugh; a relative of ours broke her leg in the Costco lot in Norwalk, Conn.)
Another pay-off is publicity, as is evident in this BBC News (April 25) story about Olloclip Photo Lens, a patented quick-connect lens system for the iPhone featuring fisheye, wide-angle and macro lenses. Today, Olloclip has shipped over one million lenses to mobile photographers.
In 2013, Olloclips were sent with Dooley Intermed ophthalmologists to Nepal to help them diagnose and treat eye conditions. The doctors used Olloclip macro lenses to take magnified pictures of villagers' eyes, in areas where they could not get heavy diagnostic equipment.
Using the Olloclip, the doctors in the field were able to send images back to colleagues in the U.S. to get second opinions in tough cases, according to the BBC News story by Zoe Thomas.
"The expedition did not have access to a strong Internet connection either, but they did have a mobile phone signal allowing them to send their Olloclip pictures back with a text message right away," writes Thomas.
Says founder and chief design officer Patrick O'Neill, "My pet project is to find other uses for Olloclips."
Explorers and adventurers take note.
Read the entire story here: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35974538
For more information: www.olloclip.com
ON THE HORIZON
Telluride Mountainfilm Festival, May 27-30, 2016, Telluride, Colo.
This year's Telluride Mountainfilm Festival is highlighted by two particularly notable trends: the preponderance of remarkably good short documentaries and a record number of world premieres. Two of those premieres are feature-length: Almost Sunrise about a pair of veterans from Iraq who walk across America to heal themselves after their harrowing service, and Sea Gypsies, a nautical documentary about a rambunctious crew of wanderers who sail through some of the most challenging waters on the planet.
Mountainfilm will also screen several films that won big prizes at other festivals, including The Great Alone (Banff) that follows the Iditarod winner Lance Mackey, Jim (Sundance), about the journalist James Foley, Do Not Resist (Tribeca) that exposes the frightening militarization of America's police force, and Life, Animated (multiple festivals), which tells the story of a remarkable family that used Disney films to communicate with their autistic son.
For more information: www.mountainfilm.org/festival
New York Climbing Competition Supports Nepal, May 29, 2016
The U.S. Nepal Climbers Association is hosting a sport-climbing competition called Everest Day on May 29, 2016, at The Cliffs, Long Island City, N.Y., to raise money for Nepalese families who have lost loved ones to climbing tragedies.
The event, scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m., is open to adult men and women as well as to youth ages 8 to 15. Thousands of dollars in prizes, from cash to climbing gear,
will be awarded. Adult fees are $48.24 and youth fees are $21.99.
To register log onto:
All proceeds support U.S. Nepal Climbers Association, a 501(c)3 charity whose mission extends to advancing safe and ethical mountain practices, and promoting responsible access to culture and environmental protection.
Everest Day refers to May 29, 1953, when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing
Norgay became the first pair to reach the summit of Mt. Everest in Nepal after eight previous failed attempts by different expeditions.
Julian Monroe Fisher
Explorers Club Dinner Honors Explorer Julian Monroe Fisher, June 2, 2016
Spanning three decades of exploration around the globe, explorer and anthropologist Julian Monroe Fisher has focused his attention in the last few years on Africa where he conducted six Explorers Club Flag expeditions.
On June 2 at an Explorers Club dinner in his honor, Fisher will speak about his career, including the Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail, a 500-mile hiking trail established by Fisher during his 2012-2016 Great African Expedition. Since its inauguration in 2014, Fisher's Baker Trail has been highlighted in publications such as National Geographic, CNN Online and Red Bull magazine.
Club Headquarters, 46 East 70th Street, New York, 6 p.m. Non-members are welcome to reserve a seat as the nominal guest of Daryl Hawk, organizer of the Presidential Dinner. Reservations: 212 628 8383, email@example.com
Learn more about Fisher at: www.julianmonroefisher.com
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 fund their journeys are available to anyone who has a dream adventure project in mind, according to the 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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