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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.

June 2020 - Volume Twenty-Six, Number Six          

Celebrating 25 Years!                                



Kathryn D. Sullivan is a record-setter. She's seen holding the Explorers Club flag which was awarded by TEC's Flag & Honors Committee, to be presented back to the Club at a later date.  

First in Space, First Under the Sea  

Explorers Club honorary chairperson Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, 68, has become the first woman to dive the Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench - at 35,810-ft., the deepest point in the ocean, about 200 miles southwest of Guam. Sullivan is also the first American woman to walk in space (1984), making her the first person to both walk in space, and descend to the deepest point in the ocean.

Her co-pilot aboard the DSV Limiting Factor was fellow Explorers Club Medal winner Victor L. Vescovo, as part of Caladan Oceanic's ongoing "Ring of Fire Expedition."

Read about the feat in the New York Times:


In a related story, on January 23, 1960, U.S. Navy lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard set a record for the deepest descent below the ocean's surface. Their submarine, a 150-ton steel bathyscaph called Trieste, descended at a fast clip, four feet per second, taking five hours to complete the journey. The Trieste ultimately reached a record-setting depth over 35,800 feet in the seabed of the Mariana Trench.

In honor of the 60th anniversary, The Explorers Club is selling a limited-edition, Mariana Trench Commemorative Coin for $100 available at:


Polar explorer Matthew Henson speaking to Explorers Club members in this picture from the 1947 Ebony Magazine article about Henson. The article was written to highlight the achievements of Henson and his contribution to the discovery of the North Pole. This coincided with the release of Henson's biography, Dark Companion, co-authored by Bradley Robinson (National Travel Club, 1947).

Explorers Club Addresses Diversity and Inclusion

As systemic, oppressive institutional racism has rocked the nation at all levels of society, The Explorers Club on June 9 issued a statement that addresses the 115-year-old organization's stance on diversity and inclusion.   

In a letter to members, Club president Richard Wiese points out that TEC was among the
first to recognize Matthew Henson, an African American, for his historic accomplishment in reaching the North Pole in 1909. For years the honor had been given to Robert Peary alone.

"But simply having a bust of Matthew Henson is not enough," Wiese writes. "We must continuously work at making our Club more inclusive to those who may not feel it is welcoming or affordable, more diverse and more representative of different nationalities and cultures."

Wiese reports the board has created a "diversity fund" (working title) that can help recruit qualified candidates from around the world and throughout the U.S. who also reflect the diversity of the world's - and our country's - population.

"The fund will also help us offset costs that may be prohibitive for communities that have been historically under-represented in science and/or disadvantaged by systemic socio-economic issues."
Wiese also reports Discovery, the Club's new sponsor, has agreed to provide a $100,000 grant to better help qualified individuals of color, indigenous people, and those residents of developing countries who could not otherwise afford it, become members of The Explorers Club.

"As explorers, we need to lead this Diversity and Inclusion Initiative with the same determination of effort that we put into venturing into new frontiers. We know better than most that the world is woven together in a delicate balance, and that the fabric that binds it are the cultures and the diversity of its inhabitants," Wiese says.

Writes Alexander Bailey Martin on the Explorers Club's Next Generation Explorers Network (NGEN) Facebook page: "... the world of exploration has a moral debt to pay that is compounding daily ... the Club has a key role to play in the world, and that world is being remade - right now. We risk fading into irrelevance if we don't state an actively anti-racist stance and then act, every day, to live up to it."

Definitely cringeworthy is voice over work by famed broadcaster and Club Explorers Medal recipient Lowell Thomas, for a 1931 film called Blonde Captive which can still be seen on YouTube. The documentary takes place in Australia among the Aboriginal tribe people. When viewed through 21st Century goggles, it's embarrassing to say the least.

It played a few years ago at Sydney, Australia's Kings Cinema - Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in an exhibit called "Evidence." The narration was so offensive, they were asked to turn the sound off.

The current national discussion about racism, and the changes already seen within the exploration and adventure community, will hopefully increase participation by communities of color.  

Read the Club announcement here:


Cruising in space

Ground Control to Major Tom

Actor Tom Cruise and Elon Musk's Space X are working on a project with NASA that would be the first narrative feature film - an action adventure - to be shot in outer space. It's not a Mission: Impossible film and no studio is in the mix at this stage. Cruise is expected to reach the International Space Station (ISS) for the project within the next two years.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed the plans to go all Hollywood, "We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make @NASA's ambitious plans a reality."

Predictably, Twitter almost lost its mind over the news.

One anonymous writer posts, "Tom Cruise is the last true movie star. Who else would even think to do this? He actually has all the qualities that are poured into the fictional characters we all love... Ethan Hunt, James Bond, Indiana Jones, Han Solo... Tom Cruise is that guy in real life. Gotta love and respect it."

According to Deadline.com, there has never been a leading man (Jackie Chan might dispute this) who puts himself at risk as often as does Cruise, in the name of the most realistic action sequences possible. If he is successful shooting a project in Musk's space ship, he will be alone in the Hollywood record books.  

Currently, the ticket price to travel to the ISS for a week, which includes 15 weeks of training, is $55 million, according to the Associated Press.


"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."

- John Burroughs (1837-1921), American naturalist and nature essayist, active in the U.S. conservation movement.


Sailors need to keep it clean when mom is on board.

Bombs Away
When The New Yorker in its May 18 issue launched into a 13,000-word essay by Ben Taub on the Five Deeps Expedition, a historic journey around the world and to both poles, to reach the deepest point in each ocean, it was the F-bombs that struck us the most.

We counted 19 references to the well-known - but rarely uttered in polite society - sexual activity. Including this gem attributed to Alan Jamieson, the expedition's chief scientist. Referencing referencing the early days of Mother Earth, he's quoted, "...billions of years ago, when the earth was 'one giant, f*cked-up, steaming geological mass, being bombarded with meteorites.'"

There was a time when four-letter words were shunned in mainstream media. Ah, but these are harsh, challenging times and apparently, the generally accepted prohibition against the use of curse words in print is a thing of the past, including a salty one attributed to President Trump when referencing Third World countries.

The New Yorker's Taub joined the expedition last summer, after meeting Victor Vescovo, who financed the trip and piloted its submarine, at the Global Exploration Summit, in Lisbon, Portugal.
Of his epic reporting assignment, Taub delves into the backstory, "For several weeks, in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, my primary objective was to win the trust of the crew, so that I could learn not only how they did what they did but also everything that had happened before I came on board. Sometimes this meant coiling ropes, jumping in and out of a Zodiac boat, and hauling equipment on the aft deck.

"At other times it meant poring through submarine dive logs and learning the names and functions of each major component that made up the machine. Most nights it meant drinking with sailors on the top deck, and waking up roiled by rough seas.

"By the end of the trip, I had interviewed every crew member, and those who kept a diary had let me photograph each page."

This got us to wondering. Sailors are known for swearing. Remember Popeye and his famous, albeit tame, catchphrases: "Well blow me down," "Shiver me timbers!" and "Oh my gorshk!"

But explorers have always been a more gentile bunch.

What happens when you combine the two, sailors and explorers? In the case of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' 2013 expedition to recover the Apollo 11 Saturn V F-1 rocket engines, the entire team was on their best behavior, according to expedition leader and attorney David Concannon, 54, of Sun Valley, Idaho.

"Sailors, who normally would think nothing of referring to 'friggin' in the riggin,' and worse, behaved themselves because Jeff Bezos' mother was on board," Concannon tells EN.  

"So let's keep it clean out there, especially when sponsors and media are around."

Read The New Yorker story, F-bombs and all, here:



A telegraph straight key like this Marconi type 48200 was thought to be used on the Titanic, but according to a detailed paper by Douglas A. Kerr (December 2019), there's no way to tell for sure. Only one grainy, double-exposed photo of the telegraph room is known to exist and is not particularly helpful.

CQD: Judge Approves Plan to Retrieve Titanic Telegraph Key

It was history's most famous distress call: CQD (pronounced in Morse code: dahditdahdit dahdahditdah dahditdit).
A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that a salvage firm can retrieve the Marconi wireless radio that broadcast distress calls from the sinking Titanic. The order is a big win for RMS Titanic, the court-recognized salvor, or steward, of artifacts from the doomed ocean liner.

Photo courtesy University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, Illinois

RMS Titanic, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, has said it plans to exhibit the telegraph key with stories of the men who tapped out distress calls to nearby ships, "until seawater was literally lapping at their feet.

"The brief transmissions sent among those ships' wireless operators, staccato bursts of information and emotion, tell the story of Titanic's desperate fate that night: the confusion, chaos, panic, futility and fear," the company wrote in court filings.

The radio transmitter could unlock some of the secrets about a missed warning message and distress calls sent from the ship, said the company, which obtained the salvage rights to the wreckage in the 1980s.

The radio is believed to still sit in a deck house near the doomed ocean liner's grand staircase.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which represents the public's interest in the wreck site, fiercely opposes the mission. It argued in court documents the telegraph is likely to be surrounded "by the mortal remains of more than 1,500 people," and should be left alone.

The telegraph key is different than the docking bridge telegraph recovered from the wreckage of the Titanic and is displayed at the Nauticus National Maritime Center in Norfolk, Virginia.  

While the commonly known SOS distress signal preceded CQD in 1908, Marconi operators rarely used it. It became standard only after the sinking of the Titanic. A 14-year-old boy from Cape Race, Newfoundland, was first to receive the Titanic's distress signal.

Read the story here:


What kind of telegraph key was actually used that fateful night? Hard to tell. Read what researcher Douglas A. Kerr has to say:



Carlos Buhler is on the mend

Help Carlos Get Back on His Feet

Renowned alpinist Carlos Buhler, 65, recently suffered a serious mountain biking accident near his home in Canmore, Alberta. Buhler was in a hospital in Calgary where he was being treated for multiple head, neck, and spinal injuries that was a consequence of his crash. He's currently back in Canmore; ongoing physical therapy and support is planned over the next few months.

Buhler is one of America's leading high altitude mountaineers. Buhler's specialty is high-standard mountaineering characterized by small teams, no oxygen, minimal gear and equipment, and relatively low amounts of funding - yielding first ascents of difficult routes in challenging conditions, such as the Himalayan winter season. He has been keynote speaker and juror at leading mountain and wilderness film festivals, and won numerous Mugs Stump Awards.

Support his GoFundMe campaign here:



Tips on Returning From Isolation

by Rachael Robertson, author, Leading on the Edge: Extraordinary Stories and Leadership Insights from the World's Most Extreme Workplace (Wiley, 2013)

Australian Rachael Robertson, 51, from Williamstown, Victoria, was the youngest and only second female expedition leader at Davis Station, Antarctica. Her comments about coming out of weeks of social distancing and isolation in November 2005 are illustrative today as a lockdowned society begins to slowly open up.

She writes in Leading on the Edge: Extraordinary Stories and Leadership Insights from the World's Most Extreme Workplace (Wiley, 2013) about having to adjust to a new normal and not seeing her family and friends for months to having to live in very close quarters with people you can't take a break from and having to lead in an extreme work environment.

What she wrote then, is just as relevant now in a COVID-19 world:  

"I've been in extended isolation before.  A year of freezing temperatures, blizzards, months of darkness and you can't get in or out. The lack of privacy, the mundane nature of the days and the interpersonal pressure of living with 17 other people was extraordinary. Antarctica is a brutal workplace, but I was well prepared for most of it.

"What I wasn't prepared for however, was coming home. I truly believed we'd slip right back into normal mode.... Things I had not planned for included:

Sensory overload - After spending extended periods indoors the noise and smells outside are really strong. The simple noise of a city was a huge cacophony for me - car horns, sirens, trains.

Choice - When you've had considerable time in a personal world that's shrunk, things become simpler because you have limited choice. But suddenly the doors of choice are thrown open and it's startling. I recall on my return, standing in the breakfast cereal aisle of a supermarket overwhelmed with choice.

Expectations - In total we were away from home for 18 months, and to some extent I was thrilled to be back and over the moon to see my family and friends. Today, people will have different expectations about how we respond on the other side - some will be thrilled to be back to a new normal, others will be scared, some will be ambivalent. There will be a spectrum of responses.

Physical contact - A year without so much as a hug is difficult, but you do get used to it. For many people we have faced a similar challenge now. For single people living alone, and not being able to visit family and friends, it may be months without even a handshake.

Overwhelm -One tool I used which held me in good stead when I returned to Australia was No Triangles - which simply means, I don't speak to you, about him. You don't speak to me, about her. We already have enough to deal with, the last thing you need is to listen to someone complaining about someone else.

Rachael Robertson has delivered over 1,500 keynote presentations, remotely and in person, around the world on the topics of leadership and teamwork. Her latest book, Respect Trumps Harmony, is out now. For more information: www.rachaelrobertson.com.au.


Take a Virtual Tour of Grand Central Terminal's Ceiling  

We're thinking you've streamed most of what you want to see on Netflix and Hulu by now. Time to go back to the plain old internet. Here's an idea: take a tour of Grand Central's soaring celestial ceiling depicting a section of the heavens as seen during October through March, or from Aquarius to Cancer. Learn about its seven constellations or what the two bands of gold symbolize, and how a wire stabilizing a rocket in 1957 left a hole in Grand Central's ceiling.

Then there's the mysterious dark patch in the northwest corner left there by restorers when the ceiling was meticulously scrubbed of two inches of grime and dust. It remains an homage to the 1996-98 restoration.

Take a virtual tour at:



Discounted Face Masks

Snowsports insole maker Masterfit Enterprises, Briarcliff Manor, New York, has added protective face masks to its product line during the pandemic. Readers of Expedition News receive a 10% discount on the company's triple-ply surgical style protective face masks and KN95 respirator masks. Use the below link and coupon code FOMCOVID1910 when checking out. These are already in the U.S. and ship within 24 hours of receipt of the order. Credit cards accepted. Limited to 100 surgical style masks.   

Go to: https://masterfitinc.com/personal-protection-equipment/ref/19
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 excerpts and "Look Inside" at: tinyurl.com/voluntourismbook @purpose_book
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. 2020 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 payable to Blumassoc@aol.com.

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