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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.

October 2019 - Volume Twenty-Five, Number Ten

Our 25th Anniversary Issue!                                  



Nina Williams appears in In The High Road (Photo by Brett Lowell)

REEL ROCK 14 Begins Film Tour

REEL ROCK Film Tour, featuring exceptional climbing films for the past 14 years, returns this fall with a new collection of world premiere films. 

Founded in 2005 by filmmakers Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer, REEL ROCK has grown into the premier global platform for award-winning climbing films that weave bold action, humor, heart, and soul into larger-than-life human stories for a wide audience, from the core climber to the armchair mountaineer.

This year, the films include:

*            In The High Road, the powerful and bold Nina Williams tests herself on some of the highest, most difficult boulder problems ever climbed.

*             United States of Joe's - Climbers collide with a conservative coal mining community in rural Utah, to surprising results.

*            The Nose Speed Record - Climbing legends Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold battle Yosemite dirtbags Jim Reynolds and Brad Gobright in a high stakes race for greatness.

Attend the tour in dozens of U.S. cities this fall, as well as Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Switzerland, and elsewhere.

View the trailer here:

For more information:

Filmmakers: Enter The Explorers Club Polar Film Festival

Entries are now being accepted for the Polar Film Festival, scheduled for Jan. 24-25, 2020, at The Explorers Club headquarters in New York.

The event will showcase a diverse collection of feature films, documentaries and shorts about the Arctic and Antarctica. The films explore the history and grandeur of Earth's polar regions as well as the environmental challenges they are facing.

Attendees will have an opportunity to rub elbows with polar explorers, filmmakers and special guests who will share their stories and imagery. Entry deadline is Nov. 1, 2019.

To enter:

"You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore."
- Andre Gide (1869-1951), French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1947).

Expedition News Celebrates 25 Years of Exploration and Adventure Storytelling

By Jeff Blumenfeld, editor and publisher

It was October 1994, 25 years ago to be exact. It was the birth of Expedition News, a monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures.
Today, 300 issues and an estimated 1.2 million words later, we're still at it, having never missed a single month. Still at it celebrating the field of exploration and adventure, with an emphasis on those projects you might not read in National Geographic or anywhere else for that matter.

EN editor and publisher Jeff Blumenfeld celebrates 25 years of exploration and adventure storytelling.
For a quarter century, we've been fascinated by projects that stimulate, motivate and educate. We've been inspired, as well, by the steadfast determination of people such as Norman D. Vaughan, determined to climb a mountain in Antarctica named after himself. Or by Reid Stowe, an artist and sailor who completed history's longest non-stop, self-sufficient sea voyage - 1,152 days without once coming ashore.
To avoid taking ourselves too seriously, we've written about the quirky side of this business of always trying to discover what's over the next hill, to see the unseen. We've gently covered Sir Edmund Hillary's spectacularly bad haircuts; Andy Warhol's phallic image left on the moon by Apollo 12; and peak baggers upset that Rhode Island's 812-ft. highpoint is on private property.
We wrote about an adventurer who hit 510 golf balls 1,319 miles across Mongola (a par 11,880); a Polar Capsule, once thought lost, that floated from the North Pole to the northern coast of Ireland three years later; an adventurer in a pedal boat who achieved the fastest human-powered west-to-east crossing of the Atlantic (40 days); and the environmentalist who drove from London to Athens on nothing more than cooking oil that he begged from restaurant French fryers and schnitzel shops along the way.
Were these significant expeditions, which I define as trips with a nobility of purpose? Hardly. But Expedition News nonetheless honored their persistence and dedication to fulfill a personal dream.
We've been profoundly saddened right down to our very core by the untimely demise of explorers and adventurers we've met and have come to admire. Japanese adventurer Naomi Uemura, British mountaineer Alison Hargreaves, American alpinist Jeff Lowe, and freediver Audrey Mestre who tragically died before our eyes at a competition in 2002.
After meeting polar explorer and environmental educator Will Steger in 1985, who four years later agreed to be my Explorers Club co-sponsor, it occurred to me that the hundreds of excellent expedition proposals I used to review as a public relations representative for The Du Pont Company, needed to continue circulating once the textile giant took a pass.
In our business plan, I wrote that Expedition News would shine a light on well-developed sponsorship proposals and provide credit for sponsors who find value in demonstrating product performance of their expedition gear and apparel in extreme conditions.
So it was that Expedition News began as a modest fax, then became a printed edition mailed each month. An early form of e-mail called MCI Mail was also used to communicate with subscribers.
Today, through direct e-mail distribution, a website, blog, Twitter account, and excerpts in The Explorers Club Explorers Journal, we reach an estimated 10,000 explorers, adventurers and corporate sponsor each month.
While not particularly remunerative, publishing Expedition News for so long did lead to book deals with Skyhorse Publishing in 2008, and Rowman & Littlefield in 2019. It also resulted in three separate invitations to serve as a guest speaker on cruises to the Mediterranean, Western Caribbean, and Canary Islands. It was an opportunity to take over the main stage on three Celebrity cruise ships, sharing the success and failures of numerous explorers and adventurers with hundreds of passengers.
Had the talks not conflicted with bingo games, or handbag sales, there would have been hundreds more cruisers in the audience. But still, being a cruise ship lecturer was a great gig.
Lessons Learned
So what have I learned these past 25 years?
*            Fully Embrace Social Media - Every project needs to fully embrace social media, if for no other reason than to provide maximum exposure for sponsors. Typically, an expedition leader is entering into a marketing agreement with a sponsor. You want funding? Your benefactors will want to receive credit and assistance in selling their product or service.
*            Everest is an Annual Train Wreck - It's the mountain the media loves to cover. Much as I try to avoid writing about it every spring, to paraphrase the character played by Al Pacino in The Godfather: Part 3, just as I thought I was done writing about it, the mountain pulls me back in.
Want to impress someone? Tell them you climbed the world's second tallest mountain. We admire mountaineers such as Vanessa O'Brien who became the first American and first British woman to climb K2 (as a result of her dual nationality). Everest has been summited over 5,300 times, according to National Geographic. K2 and dozens more challenging peaks, not so much.
*            There's Never a Shortage of Expedition News - Our initial concern that we would be struggling for material has proven unfounded. There are always more projects than we can jumar into each issue. There are new firsts to cover; historic mysteries to solve such as the disappearance of Amelia Earhart or loss of Mallory and Irvine's Vest Pocket Kodak (VPK) camera on Everest; and an entire category called cryptozoology that relies on exploration techniques to solve unexplained phenomena (yes, we're looking at you Bigfoot).
*            The So What? Rule Still Applies - A tourist comes back and tells you about all the countries he or she bagged; an explorer will mention countries, but more importantly, will explain why those visits mattered.
When it comes to seeking sponsorship, there needs to be a reason for the trip. A news hook, perhaps. Or a charitable tie-in. Or legitimate scientific study. Otherwise, sponsors ask why they should sponsor your vacation.
*            Firsts Still Count - Scoff though you may that the list of firsts is being sliced thin. However, stories of fighting adversity to become the first to summit blind or disabled or as a transgender, still matters to the millions who are blind, disabled or undergoing a change in their sexual orientation. Summiting a mountain continues to be a metaphor for overcoming adversity.
*            The Expedition Isn't Over Until the Last Powerpoint - Unless you were self-funded, or the project was funded through donations with no payback expected, explorers and adventurers have a duty to tell the rest of us, those who didn't get to go, how they overcame adversity and why the project mattered.
Climbing that peak, crossing Antarctica, or descending the Amazon was the hard part; captivating the audience with your unique perspective of that part of the world should be the most rewarding, especially as it relates to inspiring future explorers.
Thus has it always been. Whether through magic lanterns, Kodak slide carousels, or Powerpoints, the public still loves a great adventure story well told.
Hopefully, our storytelling journey will continue for the next 25 years.

TIGHAR Inspires National Geographic Oct. 20 TV Special About Earhart Search

If there is one thing about the Earhart mystery that everyone can agree on it's that it will take a conclusively identifiable piece of the plane to close the case. This past August, evidence uncovered in more than 30 years of science-based investigation by TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) convinced Dr. Robert Ballard to try for that goal in the waters off Nikumaroro Island in Kiribati (See EN, September 2019).

The expedition, sponsored by National Geographic Partners, concluded in late August without finding the plane. A two-hour National Geographic TV special to air October 20 will chronicle his search and the TIGHAR discoveries that inspired it.

According to Richard Gillespie, executive director, TIGHAR's plans for further operations at Nikumaroro await a thorough review of the data collected by Ballard. Meanwhile, TIGHAR continues to research the possibility that a conclusively identifiable piece of the plane has already been found, a 24 by 18 inch section of aluminum aircraft skin, that washed up on the island in 1991.

Analysis by the National Transportation Safety Board laboratory confirmed the physical material was right, but attempts to match the artifact's complex combination of features to a Lockheed Electra, or any other aircraft, invariably ended at best in close-but-no-cigar.

"It was only when we began testing the hypothesis that the artifact is a fragment of the one part of Earhart's Electra that was absolutely unique did we make real progress," Gillespie says. (See EN, March 2019, for more information about the patch).

Is the patch the sole surviving part of Earhart's plane?

Gillespie tells EN, "Such a claim would be extraordinary and, as astronomer Carl Sagan was fond of saying, 'Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.' Our investigation of the artifact must, therefore, be extraordinarily rigorous." 

Learn more at tighar.org

A pair of archival images from the mid-1940s that showed off a new invention of the day: a "pressurized suit for airmen of tomorrow," which, by allowing pilots to fly safely to altitudes of up to 62,000 feet, literally helped human beings attain new heights in travel.  (Photo: U.S. Department of Defense)

We Go to Extremes

"Humans can hardly survive anywhere. It is both terrifying and comical, how vulnerable we are. We live comfortably, sort of, under exactly one condition: in the temperate patches of a very thin crust on a relatively small planet in a tiny corner of the known universe," writes Sam Anderson in the New York Times Magazine (Sept. 29).
"Transport us anywhere else, and we will basically instantly die. Other planets will choke us; black holes will crush us. Even our own modest planet's oceans will drown us, and its poles will freeze us, and its deserts will dry us into leathery husks.
"And yet: We still want to go everywhere," Anderson writes.
"... a real voyage, by most definitions, requires our actual bodies. And if the destination is sufficiently extreme, we may find ourselves making use of one of the most venerable technologies in the history of human innovation: the big, clunky suit. I'm talking about B-movie, Frankenstein's monster, stumbling and bumbling, aggressively inelegant, vaguely humanoid Bubble Wrap. Clunky suits are the modern version of knight's armor: artificial shells designed to ferry us through alien zones."
See more images of the clunky suits that enable exploration here:
Can Climbing Everest Help Sell a Handbag?

Top luxury brands have been compelled to look beyond traditional advertising - driven in part by consumers' desire for companies with a sense of mission. Premium marketers are looking to the ends of the earth, from the depths of the South Pacific to the peak of Mount Everest, to set them apart, according to a story in WSJ Magazine (Sept. 2019).

Cleanup Crew - A Bally-sponsored effort this May helped rid Mount Everest of litter as part of its Peak Outlook initiative. (Photo: Samir Jung Thapa) 
Last spring, the Swiss fashion house Bally sponsored a mission to remove garbage from the slopes of Mount Everest, even in the so-called Death Zone above 26,000 feet. In September, Italian watch manufacturer Panerai will take about 15 customers diving off the island of Moorea in French Polynesia, hoping to catch sight of whales. 

And from August through December, the Swiss watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen will underwrite a round-the-world flight for a restored Spitfire airplane that first went into production in 1943.

"Premium marketers have been compelled to look beyond traditional advertising, driven in part by consumers' desire for brands with a sense of mission," writes Nat Ives.

"Rarefied land, air and sea environments fit luxury marketers' ambition to project an aura of exclusivity. None of these brands are cleaning up Times Square, after all, or crossing the country in an Amtrak train." 

Read the story here:

Ulyana N. Horodyskyj, Ph.D.  
Adventure Scientist Featured in Cannabis Beer Video
Ulyana N. Horodyskyj, Ph.D., mountaineer, scientist and founder of Science in the Wild based in Broomfield, Colorado, was recently honored as a Colorado taste maker, featured in an original video series for CERIA, the state's first THC-infused beer. An online contest also features a guided Rocky Mountain hike by Horodyskyj up one of Colorado's 58 14ers (peaks over 14,000 feet).
CERIA Brewing, based in Arvada, Colorado, was co-founded by Keith Villa, Ph.D., creator/brewmaster of Blue Moon craft beer before he retired from MillerCoors in early 2018 after 32 years.
See the Horodyskyj video here:

Juko's Doodle

On Sept. 22, the Google Doodle celebrated the 80th birthday of the late Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei, the first woman to summit Mount Everest. She was also the first woman to climb the Seven Summits. She passed away in 2016 at the age of 77. 

Tabei is celebrated for breaking stereotypes about women, both in her culture and internationally.

The whimsical animation is a high honor indeed. In 1998, Google's co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, were on their way to Burning Man and wanted to message their trip to the world. So they took Google's signature logo, which greets visitors to the company's homepage, and replaced the second "o" with an image of the festival's icon. They considered their "out-of-office" message a public inside joke.

This is how Google Doodles began - and the company, only a few months old, wasn't even incorporated yet. 

Now, 21 years and several thousand Doodles later, the daily sketches are the quirky face of one of the world's most powerful companies, seen as part of five billion searches per day.  

See the Doodle here:

Don't look down 

The Scariest Bus Ride EVER? 

A Himalayan bus route that shows terrified tourists peering down into a valley three miles below has always amused us. We've been on some scary Nepal highways, but none this vertiginous. Since we first saw this post in 2014, it has been seen over 11 million times.
The Alwas-Killar Road bus route in India's remote Pangi Valley could well be one of the most dangerous, and certainly terrifying bus rides ever - as this video shows. The road has been nicknamed by some wags the "Almost Killer Road."

As a busload of scared travelers traverse the rocky mountainsides at an altitude of 14,500 feet, one of them records the experience as he keeps up a priceless running commentary and shrieks of terror and nervous laughter are heard in the background.

It's a good time waster to view while you're sitting there at work. 

See it here:


Low-Head Dams 
When Kenneth R. Wright, P.E., an Explorers Club member from Boulder, won an award from the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) for his work in low-head dam safety, it made us wonder what makes these structures such drowning machines - so far in 2019, over 37 deaths have occurred nationwide, according to the association. 
We've seen low-head dams all over the world on various expeditions.

A low-head head dam is a structure that generally spans from one side of a riverbank to the other, partially blocking the waterway and creating a back-up of water behind the dam. As water reaches the wall, it flows over the drop off, which can be anywhere from 6 inches to 25 feet.

The low-head dam is the most dangerous type of dam - they may not be easily spotted because the top can be several feet below the water's surface. Because of their small size and drop, low-head dams do not appear to be dangerous. However, water going over a low-head dam creates a strong recirculating current or backroller (sometimes referred to as the "boil") at the base of the dam. Even on small rivers, the force of the backroller can trap your canoe or kayak against the face of the dam and pull you under the water - even while wearing a personal flotation device.  

We've seen these all over the country and parts of the world, and thanks to Ken Wright, who often testifies as a dam safety engineering expert in drowning-related lawsuits, we will be treating them with lots more respect.

Learn more and see safety videos at:

David L. Mearns
Sea Stories Returns to The Explorers Club, Nov. 9, 2019
On Saturday, November 9, 2019, The Explorers Club located at 46 E. 70th Street in New York, will host its annual Sea Stories, a day focused on ocean exploration, scuba diving and marine life at its headquarters in Manhattan. Speakers include:
Choy Aming - "Secrets of the Tiger Shark Highway"

Randall Arauz - "From Science to Policy: Changing the Tide for Endangered Marine Species in the Eastern Tropical Pacific."

David L. Mearns - "The Golden Age of Shipwreck Hunting"

Beth Neale - "Breathless Exploration - Discovering Your Inner Freediver."

Robbie Schmittner - "Sac Actun: Exploring the World's Largest Cave."

Admission $70; must be purchased in advanced. For more information:

Travel With Purpose: A Field Guide to Voluntourism (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2019) by Jeff Blumenfeld - How to travel and make a difference while you see the world? These are stories of inspiration from everyday voluntourists, all of whom have advice about the best way to approach that first volunteer vacation, from Las Vegas to Nepal, lending a hand in nonprofits ranging from health care facilities, animal shelters and orphanages to impoverished schools. Case studies are ripped from the pages of Expedition News, including the volunteer work of Dooley Intermed, Himalayan Stove Project, and even a volunteer dinosaur dig in New Jersey.

Read a review here:


Available now on Amazon. Read excerpts and "Look Inside" 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 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: blumassoc@aol.com
EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 290 Laramie Blvd.,  Boulder, CO 80304 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, editor@expeditionnews.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. 2019 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. Read EXPEDITION NEWS at www.expeditionnews.com. Enjoy the EN blog at www.expeditionnews.blogspot.com

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