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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.

September 2018 - Volume Twenty-Four, Number Nine

Celebrating Our 24th Year!                                   


Stowe Family Robinson 

Stowe Away 

In 2010, artist/long distance sailor Reid Stowe completed history's longest non-stop, self-supported sea voyage - 1,152 days at sea. He began the trip with a girlfriend in April 2007, then ended solo as Soanya Ahmed returned home on day 306 due to sea sickness, which turned out to be morning sickness. Their child, a son named Darshen, was born five months later as Stowe remained at sea to complete his project (see EN, February 2010).

Today, Stowe, Ahmed and Darshen live in Greensboro, N.C., where they are caring for his father suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The 70-ft. gaff-rigged Anne sits in disrepair 130 miles away on the Cape Fear River. When the time comes, Stowe hopes to refurbish the boat.

He writes EN, "We were on an adventure up the rivers of Guyana, repairing the schooner when my mom died. I immediately knew we had to go care for my dad. It would have been the end of him if he had to go into an old folks home. Now he is happy and healthy and I feel connected to the endless cycle of life and death and the importance of caring for our elders as they did us."
"Darshen is 10 years old in fifth grade and the joy of our lives."

He recently signed with Rediscovered Masters which identifies and markets artists who have not as yet received the full recognition they deserve.

Stowe adds, "Yes, I am sure we will sail again. At the moment we have things to accomplish. We will see what visions and opportunities arise."

Learn about his record-breaking voyage at: http://beyond1000days.com

See Stowe's artwork at:

Preston Sowell

What's New Pussycat?  

Using an array of camera traps placed at altitudes greater than 5,000m/16,400-ft., May and August 2018 expeditions led by Preston Sowell successfully documented the presence of the endangered Andean mountain cat (Leopardus jacobita) in the Sibinacocha watershed of Peru's Cordillera Vilcanota mountains (see EN, March 2017).

The Andean mountain cat is the most threatened cat in the Americas and one of the five most endangered cats in the world, according to Sowell. Preferring habitats greater than 4,000m/13,000-ft. in its northern range (i.e. Peru), it is so rare and secretive that prior to 1996, a few museum specimens and observations were the only basis for its description.

Here kitty: the camera-shy Andean mountain cat.

Sowell's team consisted of fellow Sibinacocha Watershed Project member and mammalogist Kate Doyle (U. Massachusetts), Peruvian biologist Dina Flores with the Asociación para la Conservación y Estudio de Montañas Andinas - Amazónicas (ACEMAA), and Enrique Ramos, a Peruvian biologist with the Denver Zoo's conservation program. 

The three instances in which the cat was photographed by Sowell's camera traps are believed to be among fewer than 10 ever captured in Peru. The work was primarily funded through a Denver Zoo Field Conservation grant.

Learn more about Sowell's work at:


Call for Entries 

The New York WILD Film Festival 2019 has issued a call for entries. Filmmakers from around the world are invited to submit their work to the 6th annual New York WILD Film Festival hosted at The Explorers Club HQ in New York, February 21-24, 2019. Organizers are seeking movies about exploration, adventure, wildlife, conservation and the environment.

For more information:  https://lnkd.in/dnxerCQ  

"All life in the wilderness is so pleasant that the temptation is to consider each particular variety, while one is enjoying it, as better than any other. A canoe trip through the great forests, a trip with a pack-train among the mountains, a trip on snowshoes through the silent, mysterious fairyland of the woods in winter - each has its particular charm."
-  Theodore Roosevelt (1858-19190, Outdoor Pastime of an American Hunter (1905). Reprinted in Theodore Roosevelt for Nature Lovers edited by Mark Dawidziak (LP, 2017)

Humpback whale bones await assembly.

Whale Articulator Pieces Cetaceans Back Together

When a dead whale washes up on beaches, who you gonna call? In British Columbia you call a whale articulator, one of the few in North America. During a recent visit to Salt Spring Island, near Victoria, BC, EN visited the workshop of Michael deRoos of the family-run Cetacea Contracting Ltd.

Positioned on the floor and work tables is a two to three-year-old juvenile humpback whale skeleton found on North Vancouver Island that deRoos was preparing for display at a museum. "The government has to deal with dead whales that wash up on their beaches ASAP, especially in front of resort hotels," he says.

The flesh is removed using a layer cake of bones and fresh manure. Time and temperature then go to work - as much as six months buried in soil temperatures of as high as 140 degrees F. It's a stinky, but highly effective process.

"Maggots work, but microorganisms in the manure also do a fine job and horse manure is pretty available around here," he tells us. "It's too expensive to create replicas, so we work with real bones."

Michael deRoos

He carefully reassembles the bones using x-rays of bone structures of similar whales found in the area. Missing bones are often 3-D printed. Vertebrae are drilled, cables attached and steel is used for support. The result is a fully articulated whale skeleton that can fascinate schoolchildren, and adults, for generations.

"For us, our skeletons are not just about building scientific and artistic collections, these projects are about creating an emotional experience, fostering awareness and providing an opportunity to experience the amazing form and function abundant in our natural world.

"Mother Nature is the artist," he continues. "I'm just the facilitator putting her pieces back together," de Roos says as he begins to make plans to take his family to Perth, Australia, for a six-month project for the Western Australian Museum.

It promises to be a whale of an exhibit.

Learn more at: www.cetacea.ca

High-stakes Charity Fundraising

Over the past five years, mainstream charity fundraisers have taken a turn for the extreme. A big-city marathon used to be the benchmark for commitment to a cause. Now it's a desert marathon or a jungle course. Nonprofits might ask you to step into a boxing ring, climb a mountain or walk over hot coals, according to a Wall Street Journal (Aug. 13) story by Hilary Potkewitz.

Studies show that the more difficult the challenge and the more suffering the volunteer is expected to endure, the more money their friends give. Chris Olivola, professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business, identified the so-called martyrdom effect in 2011 while studying the growing popularity of charity marathons.

He predicted that at some point, marathons would no longer be seen as extreme enough, and charities would have to step up a notch to stand out.

David Hessekiel, president of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum, a trade organization for fundraising managers, says, "People are looking for experiences that are more unique, so charities are being challenged to come up with something that will capture people's attention. It has to be difficult, maybe a little dangerous. Those types of events are increasing in popularity."

Read the story here:

The Dawn Wall Documentary Begins International Tour -
"Like Stepping off the Edge of the Earth"
In January 2015, American rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson captivated the world with their effort to climb The Dawn Wall, a seemingly impossible 3,000-foot rock face in Yosemite National Park, Calif. The pair lived on the sheer vertical cliff for weeks, igniting a frenzy of global media attention. Blurring the line between dedication and obsession, Caldwell and his partner Jorgeson spend six years meticulously plotting and practicing their route.
The documentary, by Sender Films, producers of the Reel Rock Film Tour, has begun an international run.
View the trailer here:

Visit www.dawnwallfilm.com to find a show near you.  

For a behind-the-scenes look at the immense publicity surrounding the effort, coordinated by CGPR Public Relations, see the below link. At one point the network morning shows were fighting over themselves to get at the story: 

"Unnecessary Rescues" Soar in Nepal on Profits From Insurance Payouts

The latest negative news to come out of Nepal is a story by Agence France-Presse (July 2) that claims tourists hiking in Nepal's Himalayan mountains are being pressured into costly helicopter evacuations at the first sight of trouble by guides linked to powerful brokers who are making a fortune on "unnecessary rescues." 

Dodgy operators are scamming tens of thousands of dollars from insurance companies by making multiple claims for a single chopper ride or pushing trekkers to accept airlifts for minor illnesses, an investigation by AFP has revealed. In other cases, trekking guides, promised commission if they get tourists to return by chopper, are offering helicopter rides to tired hikers as a quick way home, but billing them as rescues to insurance companies.

The practice is so rampant helicopter pilots are reporting "rescuing" tourists who appear in perfectly fine health. "It's a racket that's tantamount to fraud, and it's happening on a large scale throughout Nepal," says Jonathan Bancroft of UK-based Traveller Assist, which carries out medical evacuations in Nepal on behalf of global travel insurance companies.

AFP's Annabel Symington reports Traveller Assist says 2017 was the most expensive year on record for travel insurance companies covering tourists in Nepal due to a startling number of helicopter rescues - though this year is on track to beat it.

Australian trekker Jessica Reeves was urged by her guide to be evacuated by helicopter from near Everest base camp in October 2017 when she complained of a common cold. "He kept telling me to get a helicopter," Reeves recalls. 

"They said if I keep going it would be really risky so it was better to leave now instead of risking it."

The majority of rescues in the Himalayas are related to "acute mountain sickness" caused by low oxygen levels at high altitude. The symptoms are vague - headaches, nausea, loss of appetite - and the only treatment is to descend. But once the patient is at lower altitudes the symptoms disappear, making it impossible to tell if the evacuation was medically necessary.

Read the story here:

Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys

This is one scene you won't see in First Man, the new Ryan Gossling movie about the Apollo 11 moon landing.

The internet is raising a stink, as only the internet can do, about an obvious omission in the upcoming Neil Armstrong biopic First Man.

The movie screened at Venice Film Festival last week and has been criticized for not featuring a scene depicting the American flag being planted into the moon.

Following outrage online, U.S. astronaut Edwin E. 'Buzz' Aldrin, Jr., Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 11, tweeted a photo of himself and Armstrong on the moon, alongside the hashtags "proud to be an American," "freedom," "honor." "one nation," and "road to Apollo 50."  

Damien Chazelle - who previously directed La La Land and Whiplash - has explained that the decision to omit the iconic moment was not a political gesture, according to The Independent (Sept. 2).  

"In First Man I show the American flag standing on the lunar surface, but the flag being physically planted into the surface is one of several moments of the Apollo 11 lunar EVA that I chose not to focus upon," he said.

"To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is no. My goal with this movie was to share with audiences the unseen, unknown aspects of America's mission to the moon - particularly Neil Armstrong's personal saga and what he may have been thinking and feeling during those famous few hours."

James R. Hansen, the author of the biography on which the movie is based, along with Armstrong's sons, Rick and Mark, have defended the adaptation. Like Chazelle, they explain that the story focuses on the personal struggles Armstrong went through, rather than moments the world has already seen.
First Man has received rave reviews from critics and is being touted as an early Oscars contender. 

Read the story here:

See the trailer here:

Giving it His All

John All plans his escape from a Nepal crevasse.

What's it like to be facing death inside of a crevasse? At a recent Explorers Club seminar on Salt Spring Island, B.C., many of us learned first-hand from John All, JD, Ph.D., founding director of the Bellingham, Wash., Western Washington University Mountain Environments Research Institute. 

A global explorer and geoscientist specializing in climate change research in remote locations, All was climbing alone on Nepal's Himlung Mountain in May 2014 when he fell. As he struggled to climb seven stories back up to the surface with a severely dislocated shoulder, internal bleeding, a battered face covered in blood, and 15 broken bones - including six cracked vertebrae, he recorded the ordeal on his Sony travel zoom digital camera.

When asked how he managed to find the composure to videotape himself, All tells EN, "As a scientist I take photos of everything. It was a way for me to calm down and think things through. The camera helped me talk myself through it.

"Also, I wanted proof to show my friends that the crevasse was really that deep."

If anyone had the right to drop multiple F-bombs in a video selfie, it was All.

All recounts his potentially career-ending fall in the book Icefall: Adventures at the Wild Edges of Our Dangerous, Changing Planet (PublicAffairs, 2017).

Watch his horrifying video here:

Climbing World Mourns Passing of Jeff Lowe

In 1991, Jeff Lowe conquered a new route up the north face of the Eiger, doing so without bolts, a route he named Metanoia, a Greek word for spiritual transformation. Jeff Lowe: beloved climber who challenged the world's tallest peaks and trickiest ascents as one of the most renowned climbers of his generation, until illness in the last few years made climbing impossible, died on Aug. 24 at a care facility in Fort Collins, Colo. He was 67. His daughter, Sonja Lowe, said the causes were pneumonia and a degenerative disease similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Jeff Lowe  

In August 2016, EN wrote about Lowe's virtual time capsule of 1991 climbing gear literally dug out of the ice on the 13,020-ft./3,970-m Eiger in the Swiss Bernese Alps. Lowe was relieved when it was found - discarding the pack was contrary to his alpine-style aesthetic, of doing more with less and leaving nothing behind. When the pack was opened - it took eight days to thaw - the contents were covered in a gritty, sand like material determined to be oxidized aluminum. 

Lowe helped improve climbing technology and apparel by designing and testing new gear for Lowe Alpine Systems, a company founded by his brothers, Greg and Mike, who are also mountain climbers.

Lowe's former companion and caregiver, Connie Self, produced the film Metanoia, which features narration by the climber and writer Jon Krakauer.

See the trailer here:

Read his obituary by Daniel E. Slotnik in the New York Times (Sept. 11):


Friday Harbor Film Festival, San Juan Island, Wash., Oct. 26-28, 2018
Each year, the Friday Harbor Film Festival invites dedicated and talented filmmakers to showcase their documentary films' unique ability to entertain audiences through the art of compelling storytelling; inspire audience members, as well as filmmakers to be a force for positive change; enlighten all participants by conveying relevant information, creating awareness and expanding appreciation of our fragile planet, diverse cultures and those daring to explore new frontiers; and encourage students to participate in the Young Filmmakers Project to learn the art of storytelling thru film.
Captain Paul Watson has been chosen as this year's recipient of the FHFF Andrew V. McLaglen Lifetime Achievement Award. This annual award honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions to raising the general public's awareness of important issues, either through activism or as a filmmaker. Watson is one of the original founding members of Greenpeace. He also founded Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and was more recently featured on seven seasons of Animal Planet's Whale Wars TV series.
For more information: www.fhff.org
Climb Mount Howe - Join Seven Summits record-breaking mountain guide Vern Tejas to the "Last Place on Earth"! Our select team of mountaineers is now accepting applications for climbing Mount Howe...the Southernmost mountain on the planet. Extremely remote at 87'22 S, it's logistically one of the most challenging mountains to access. Mount Howe harbours the southernmost known indigenous life. Afterwards, explore the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station. Early December 2019. Contact: vern@verntejas.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 pay for 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: 


Coming in Spring 2019: Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism (Rowman & Littlefield) by Jeff Blumenfeld
Advertise in Expedition News - For more information: blumassoc@aol.com.

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 1877 Broadway, Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80302 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, editor@expeditionnews.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2018 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through www.paypal.com (made payable to blumassoc@aol.com).  Read EXPEDITION NEWS at www.expeditionnews.com. Enjoy the EN blog at www.expeditionnews.blogspot.com





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