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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.

December 2019 - Volume Twenty-Five, Number Twelve   

Celebrating 25 Years!                                


Members of the 1990 International Polar Expedition met with Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa (center) and the city's environmental minister, Takeshi Shimotsuma (far right) to discuss the city's role in developing the IPCC Kyoto Guidelines to support and implement the Paris Agreement. The expedition team urged the Mayor to continue his leadership role, and he congratulated them on their accomplishments on and off the ice. Team members from left to right: Geoff Somers, Great Britain; Will Steger, USA; Jean-Louis Etienne, France; Keizo Funatsu, Japan; Victor Boyarsky, Russia; and Cathy de Moll, expedition manager.
1989-1990 Trans-Antarctica Team Celebrates 30th With New Climate Declaration
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the historic 1989-1990 Trans-Antarctica Expedition across Antarctica, the six expedition team members reunited in Japan recently to share their concern for the continent's future, and their commitment to the world's young people who will be most affected by the climate change that is now occurring.
The 1990 International Trans-Antarctica Expedition was the first-ever non-mechanized crossing of Antarctica and the longest-ever traverse (nearly 4,000 miles). The international team of six included Will Steger (USA), Jean-Louis Etienne (France), Victor Boyarsky (Russia/Soviet Union), Qin Dahe (China), Geoff Somers (Great Britain) and Keizo Funatsu (Japan), plus three sleds and 40 sled dogs. The expedition's purpose was to bring world attention to the international cooperation that managed this continent of science, and to lobby the world's leaders to ban mineral exploration and continue uninterrupted the international Antarctic Treaty.
1990 Trans-Antarctica team member Will Steger (USA), left, speaks to a crowd on November 10 at the Tokyo International Forum about the vital importance of international cooperation in stemming the precipitous melting of Antarctica's ice shelf and in addressing a growing global climate crisis. Also pictured: Victor Boyarsky, Qin Dahe, and Geoff Somers.
In November's appearances in Hokkaido, Kyoto, and Tokyo, Japan, the team issued a mission statement updated from the one they read on December 11, 1989, at the South Pole, noting that their expedition would no longer be possible due to the melting of the Antarctic ice shelf, and emphasizing the ever-increasing urgency for international research and cooperative action to address the growing crisis. The team also met with Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa, an international leader in climate action.
The Trans-Antarctica anniversary events in Japan were sponsored by the DAC Group, North Face Japan, and Gore-Tex Japan. A similar celebration is scheduled in Lanzhou, China, in March, 2020 on the 30th anniversary of the expedition's completion, March 3, 1990.
The full transcript of the expedition's 2019 mission statement can be found at:  
Read the Antarctic Treaty here:

Scripps professor Jeff Severinghaus (Photo courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography)
Search Begins for World's Oldest Ice 
A group of local scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego are in Antarctica to search for the world's oldest ice. The reason? To understand more about Earth's climate history by looking at ice caps, according to Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The research team will be seeking an entire ice sheet, about two miles thick, to use as a sample, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The problem? A standard drill could take five years to dig deep enough to find the necessary ice sheet sample, according to researchers with Scripps Institution of Oceanography. That's where San Diego's team of researchers come in.

Paleoclimatolgist Jeff Severinghaus believes he has a faster way to find the ice sheet - a drill that could take just 48 hours, instead of five years. Severinghaus is working with a geologist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, John Goodge, to design a drill, according to Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

This month, the team will use the drill in Antarctica, in hopes of learning more about Antarctica's history from ice sheets, according to Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Severinghaus will return from San Diego in the spring with his discoveries, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Learn more here:


Colin O'Brady

Celebrity Adventurer and Neophyte Rower Leads Drake Attempt  
The Drake Passage is one mother of a body of water, named for Sir Francis Drake who in the sixteenth century called it ". . . the most mad seas." When the cold air of the Antarctic ice cap collides with the warmer maritime air over the ocean surrounding the continent, the result is a vicious storm belt of blizzards and dense fog spanning 600 miles from the southern tip of South America to the South Shetland Islands.  
On the best of days the ocean is turbulent and, on the worst of days, impassable in smaller vessels. Mariners have long called this region the "Roaring Forties," "Furious Fifties," and "Screaming Sixties," referring not to decades, but lines of latitude.
In March 1988, the late American Ned Gillette, then 43, and his team set out against the currents to row the Drake assisted by a small sail and fueled by 6,000 calories per day of energy bars and shakes. For fourteen days, the four-man team muscled their hardy heavy-gauge aluminum Sea Tomato 684 miles from Cape Horn to Nelson Island in the South Shetlands, just off the Antarctica peninsula.   
This month, celebrity adventurer Colin O'Brady, 34, an American professional endurance athlete, motivational speaker, adventurer and former professional triathlete, and his five teammates, will embark on The Impossible Row, an attempt to complete the world's first completely human-powered crossing of the Drake.
Main sponsor The Discovery Channel said the crew will not use any motors or sails and must work around the clock to complete their mission.
Home away from home for six extreme endurance rowers.  
O'Brady, from Portland, Oregon, tells his 11,400 Twitter followers on Nov. 17, "Up until I started training just a few months ago, I'd never rowed a boat before. But I've been strengthening the most important muscle for years; my mind. Mindset is the key for any of us to fully unlock our potential and make the impossible possible."
O'Brady was on The Tonight Show to talk with Jimmy Fallon about his partnership with the Discovery Channel.  
"Get this," he said to Fallon. "I've never rowed a boat anywhere in my life."
Watch his Nov. 16 appearance here:

In 2018, the neophyte rower completed a 930-mile expedition on foot across the Antarctic continent in a controversial 54-day journey (see EN, January 2019). The then 33-year-old documented his journey - which he called The Impossible First - on his Instagram page.
For more information: www.Discovery.com/theimpossiblerow 

"Our earth is a raft in the sea of the universe. The more we learn, the more we realize how fragile it is. We need to engage everyone in preserving the wonders of our raft."
-  Milbry Polk, Explorers Club Sweeney Medal recipient, awarded at the 115th annual dinner in New York on March 16, 2019. Learn more about her work here: www.milbrypolk.com

Bombardier Blood
A new documentary focuses on mountaineer and severe hemophiliac Chris Bombardier's attempt to climb the Seven Summits. Bombardier Blood follows his summit of Everest where he and his medical team overcome frozen veins, fatigue, and the omnipresent fear of life-threatening bleeds - to raise awareness and critical funds for the global hemophilia community.
Chris Bombardier is a mountaineer and outdoorsman with severe hemophilia B living in Salem, Mass. The documentary is an inspiring and heart-warming adventure film that cinematically highlights both what is and is not possible when living with this rare disease. It is available for community screenings.
Watch the trailer here:

Barry Clifford  
Ten Questions for Barry Clifford, Underwater Archaeological Explorer

In May 2014, Barry Clifford, now 74, one of the world's most renowned underwater archaeological explorers, reported he found the wreck of the Santa Maria, flagship of Christopher Columbus, off the coast of Haiti. Over 90 people crowded into the historic Clark Room of The Explorers Club for the announcement. The news was carried worldwide.
The newest adventure for Clifford is the 12,000 sq. ft. Whydah Pirate Museum on Cape Cod that houses a full-scale replica of Samuel Bellamy's Whydah Gally, a pirate ship that sank in 1717 off Wellfleet, Mass.  
Clifford discovered the wreck and its accompanying treasure in 1984, helped in part by family friend John F. Kennedy, Jr., who was part of his dive team. To this day, the Whydah remains the only fully authenticated pirate ship ever found. At the heart of Clifford's museum is an interactive lab where visitors can watch archaeologists work their way through recovered pirate artifacts piece by piece.  
We caught up with him recently in Boston, across Massachusetts Bay from his home in Provincetown.

EN:             How can you be sure you discovered the wreck of the Santa Maria off Cap Haitian?

BC:            We spent several years surveying the Bay of Cap Haitian, eliminating over 560 anomalies before discovering the eight and ninth 15th century lombards (cannons), ever discovered in the Western Hemisphere.
Coincidentally, it was the exact distance (1.5 leagues) as described in the Columbus Dario (diary) from the wreckage of the Santa Maria to Fort Navidad, the fort Columbus built, in part, from the wreckage of his beloved flagship.
Most recently, even more compelling evidence came to light when fellow explorer Dr. Charles D. Beeker, director of Indiana University's Center for Underwater Science and Academic Diving Program, discovered evidence that the "Columbus Anchor" uncovered in the 1960's, which Columbus purportedly used in an attempt to kedge (winch) off the sand bar on which they had "silently" grounded, was located within anchoring distance of the wreck we had discovered.

EN:            Not everyone believed this discovery, did they?           
BC:            Sadly, both lombards, and a variety of compelling artifacts were looted from the site after UNESCO rejected our discovery without consulting our archaeologists, or, examining a word of our research.
UNESCO still disputes the findings. But I take comfort in that the same people who said I didn't find the Santa Maria also didn't believe that we found the Whydah in 1984..... until our team pulled up a ship's bell upon which was cast in block letters THE WHYDAH GALLY 1716.

The bell inscribed THE WHYDAH GALLY 1716
EN:             Do you have plans to return to Haiti to conduct conclusive research?
BC:             We'd love to, but it depends upon the government of Haiti. Right now, it's one of the most dangerous countries on earth and we've yet to receive permission to return. 

EN:             Historical revisionism in the modern era has made Columbus somewhat of a controversial figure. Instead of Columbus Day, some states celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day. Why the on-going effort to conclusively prove the location of the wreck?

BC:            Right or wrong, this ship and the Columbus expedition changed the course of human history. He was an explorer who followed his dream and I have great admiration for him.

EN:            Where's the money coming from to continue this quest for the Santa Maria?

BC:            I received some funding from various television shows, lectures, and early funding, but otherwise it's all been funded by myself and a dear friend. I've yet to sell any recovered artifacts from a career of underwater exploration.
EN:            Why not? especially if the proceeds will support more exploration?

BC:            I started out exploring for treasure, but when I realized these recovered artifacts came from slave ships and some were used to pay for people, I decided I could never wear that around my neck or sell it.

EN:             How did JFK, Jr. become involved in the search for the Whydah?

BC:            I knew Caroline Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. from skiing in Aspen, and agreed to add JFK, Jr. when he asked to join our Whydah search in 1982. He was an important member of the team and a terrific young man, then about age 22. Around that time, his diving compass was snagged and broke off. We later found it in 2007 and it's now on display in our Cape Cod museum.

JFK, JR.'s compass lost in 1984, recovered in 2007. Note initials in the upper right corner.
EN:             You're somewhat of an expert on pirates. When did pirates start saying things like "aye matey" and "arghhhh?"

BC:            Those are Hollywood inventions. But if you're curious about why men and women went under the skull and bones, watch Poldark, the PBS Masterpiece show streaming on Amazon Prime.

EN:             So what you're saying is that pirates have been much maligned?

BC:            Pirate society was an early exercise in democracy where former slaves were experimenting in democracy with Europeans, often being elected as officers, and sharing equally in the plunder. Crew members were elected to higher positions based upon what they contributed to the brotherhood and well-being of the ship. It wasn't about skin color.

EN:            What's next for you?

BC:            I'm working on a book of short stories, planning additional tours for our museum tour of pirate artifacts, and hoping to expand our Cape Cod museum. I have no plans to retire until I'm 92 to correspond to the year Columbus "sailed the ocean blue."

Learn more about the Whydah Pirate Museum here:


It's our favorite time of the year, a time for us to share with you some, ahem, quirky gifts to give to the explorer in your life. After all, soap on a rope won't do for this group of alpha males and females. They'll be looking for gifts with some gravitas. We respectfully submit our top five for the holiday season, a time when we all know, money is no object. Whoop whoop.

Behind every successful explorer is a substantial amount of coffee.  
Rocket Fuel

For the rocket man (or woman) in your life, the one who dreams of joining the space program, consider these rocket fuel ceramic mugs. Coffee doesn't ask silly questions. Coffee understands. ($19.99, https://shop.amnh.org/rocket-fuel-ceramic-mug.html).

The Vermonter Therma-Phone is made of Johnson Woolen Mills outer fabric.

Smartphone Cozies

Therma-Phone's Mobile Phone Survival Kits are perfect for explorers who can't survive without constantly posting from the trail.  They're like cozies, but instead of your favorite THC-infused brew, they protect those addictive pocket brains we all carry. The phone protector is an engineered heat-reflective, insulated soft case that retains and reflects heat back to the phone to keep it warm, thus extending battery life five to 10 hours, or so they claim. ($39.95, www.therma-phone.com)

The Moki is a Step Up  
A Step Up  
Yes, there is a way to stand on a tire to reach a rooftop rack, but it's a lot more convenient using a Moki Door Step that attaches to those U- and D-shaped door latches found in most every SUV. The rubber coated hook withstands 400 lbs., although we suspect a 400 lb. explorer or adventurer will be tall enough to reach the rack regardless. ($44.95, www.rightlinegear.com)
The motorized wiener machine.
To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
When the weather warms up, it's the perfect season for cooking hot dogs on a camp grill. But after a hard day digging up dinosaur bones, the last thing a hungry explorer wants to do is stand there manually turning his foot long sausage meat. That's why the Rotisserie Kit just had to be invented. It attaches to any portable drill and is perfect for roasting pigs in a blanket, assuming you can dial back on the drill speed. (Coming soon, price TBD, www.imaginecamping.com)

The BMW NIGHT SKY, a feasibility study by BMW Individual.
It Came From Another World

For the love of all things holy, there's no better way to shower your largess on a friend or loved one than gifting a luxury car with meteorites embedded in the dashboard. The BMW Individual M850i NIGHT SKY was created as a feasibility study by the experts of BMW Individual in a manual process lasting several weeks.

They quilted cosmic patterns into the merino leather seats and roof lining, created starry constellations in the central console, and applied a series of mosaics - from the 4.5 billion-year-old material of a genuine meteorite. The small mosaics cut from an iron meteorite are only 0.35 mm thick. Starting price is an astronomical $111,900. Your recipient can hop into this bad boy the next time he or she drives to the Fortress of Solitude. 

For more gift ideas, check out TheExploreStore.com for a host of clever products based on an exploration theme. Among its many items are books including EN's Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would-Be World Travelers (hint, hint).
Barbara Hillary was the first African-American woman on record to reach the North Pole, and first to reach both the North and South Poles.
Barbara Hillary (1931-2019)
Barbara Hillary, an African-American woman with a deeply ingrained sense of adventure, passed away in Far Rockaway, New York, on Nov. 23 at the age of 88. It's said that her body lived hard, and it simply wore out.
Many people know the major storyline of Barbara's expeditions to the North and South Poles in her 70s - feats of pure grit and determination. Barbara made one final, epic expedition, to Mongolia, earlier this year. She accomplished that trip, too, against the odds, and with tremendous support from friends, guides, sponsors, journalists, and the hospitable people in Mongolia.
Back when we knew her, she would like to say, "Wouldn't it be better to die doing something interesting than to drop dead in an office and the last thing you see is someone you don't like?"

Her friend Deborah Bogosian writes, "Everything about her was fascinating, convention-breaking, and confounding. Her record-setting treks, her defeat over cancer, her arduous fight to get her house back after Hurricane Sandy. Her years as a nurse, her gigs as a taxi driver and in sundry other jobs that gave her more than a few stories to tell. Her appreciation for archery, guns and knives, big trucks and big dogs. The roses and miraculous tomatoes she grew."
Learn more about her life and read her New York Times (Nov. 27) obituary at:

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 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: 

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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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