June 2021 – Volume Twenty-Seven, Number Six
Celebrating our 26th year.
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.
Jeff Allen has departed to study the legacy of Gino Watkins.

This month, Kokatat ambassador Jeff Allen set sail for East Greenland from Falmouth, England, on the coast of Cornwall, following the course of Gino Watkins’ 1932 expedition. Watkins was a rising and acclaimed polar explorer who didn’t return from a seal hunting trip in Tuttlik Fjord in East Greenland that same year.

“Many expeditions have flown to Greenland and explored the area where Watkins was lost, but we believe we may be the first to follow Watkins’ route starting from the UK under sail and combining kayaks,” said Allen, 59, a kayak guide and coach from Falmouth, Cornwall, GB. “For me the adventure of sailing as Watkins did adds another level of mystique and authenticity to the expedition.”

Allen is underway now, sailing to Greenland via the Faroe Islands to Iceland and then on to East Greenland on his 39-foot yacht Wild Rover. Along the way he will explore many of the inlets and islands he encounters via folding skinned kayaks, similar in design to what Watkins used. In East Greenland, Allen will explore the area by kayak and retrace Watkins final paddle.
Watkins was born in 1907 and by his early twenties was being hailed as the natural successor to Scott and Shackleton for polar explorations. In 1932 Watkins made an epic open boat journey around the King Frederick VI coast in Southern Greenland that won him the Royal Geographical Society Founders Medal and international acclaim.
Gino Watkins
On August 20, 1932, while conducting further research of a 1930 expedition that he led to the east coast of Greenland to observe the weather for a proposed trans-Atlantic air route to connect Europe and North America, he was lost while trying to provide food for his team. His empty kayak was recovered later that day, as were his trousers and kayak apron on an ice flow about one kilometer away. However, his body was never found. Gino Watkins’ kayak and gear are now stored within the Royal Geographical Society in London.

Allen plans to arrive in Greenland in late July where he will remain until the middle of August.

Allen will post updates on his trip as connectivity and time allows on his Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/Xpedpaddler and on his Instagram account - @jeffallenkayaker

Weihenmayer was featured on the cover of Time magazine, June 18, 2001
Weihenmayer Looks Back 20 Years to First Everest Summit by a Blind Climber           

In 1903 Helen Keller wrote, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” This saying could not have been more true for athlete and climber Erik Weihenmayer, 52, who recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of his summit of Everest, the first by a blind person. (See EN, June 2001).

“No one gave up on our dream. Our expedition was an act of optimism and that same spirit lives on through our legacy: No Barriers USA.”
The non-profit No Barriers USA, through its many programs, teaches how to break through challenges and live a driven, purposeful life.

Weihenmeyer says his newest goal is fundraising to help No Barriers raise $29,032 (the height of Everest) to build the first-ever accessible ropes course west of Fort Collins in Northern Colorado. 
Learn more here:

Boulder Commemorates Life of Scott Carpenter with a Space-Themed Pool

Mask mandates have been lifted and Boulder, Colorado’s Scott Carpenter Pool is back to its pre-pandemic popularity. This season, the recreation facility’s space theme has been enhanced thanks to the five-year-long Scott Carpenter Pool Enhancement project.
The pool, originally opened in 1962, honors Boulder hometown hero, original Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter, a fifth-generation Coloradan, who passed away in 2013 at the age of 88.

It was dedicated on May 30, 1963, by Carpenter himself. After his dedication speech, Carpenter was thrown into the pool, fully clothed, by the Boulder mayor.

The space theme is reinforced with a playground rocket ship that’s 60 years old, plus new features such as a world globe, and a replica of Carpenter’s Aurora 7 spacecraft. It all adds up to a fun way to get kids interested in space exploration. Grown-ups as well.
If this chamber pot from the Carpathia could talk, what a story it would tell.
Carpathia Chamber Pot Fetches $2,813
In 1918, the RMS Carpathia, the ship that six years earlier had rescued 705 Titanic survivors, was sunk by three German torpedoes. At a recent sale by Ahlers & Ogletree Auction Gallery in Atlanta, a piece of ordinary, everyday coal recovered by technical divers fetched $438, according to Kovels, publishers of well-known antique books, price guides and newsletters. A porthole with some of its wood attached went for $16,250.
Even a lowly, damaged chamber pot with the Cunard logo, likely from First Class, sold for $2,813. Carl Spencer, the British technical diver who retrieved the bowl, also explored the wreck of the Titanic. He said in an interview that “the role of the Carpathia is often forgotten in the Titanic story, so if we can help provide a new angle to the story, that would be great.” Spencer, 37, died in 2009 of the bends in a diving accident while making a film about the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic.


I just wish the world was twice as big and half of it was still unexplored.”

– David Attenborough, 95, English broadcaster and natural historian.

Throwing Shade on the Himalaya

In a New Yorker story (Jan. 18), “Top of the World: How Not to See the Himalaya,” Akash Kapur writes that the history of the high-altitude landscape is more complicated, and more turbulent than adventure tales can capture. 

Kapur laments, “The unfolding ecological catastrophe on what is often called the planet’s third pole receives considerably less attention than similar disasters playing out on the other two poles.”

Further on, throwing shade on the obsession to “conquer” Everest, Kapur writes, “Himalayan myths endure, but old tropes about self-cultivation through adventure have been repackaged and commodified, marketed to eager consumers desperate for a taste of authenticity. The snow-capped peaks and dramatic glaciers have been reduced to props in a great big human reality show: backdrops for a thousand selfies and boastful social-media feeds – destinations, as the author Jamaica Kincaid puts it, for “people from rich countries in the process of experiencing the world as spectacle.”

Read the New Yorker review here:

Margaret O’Leary Amsler remembers being surrounded by a dense school of krill.
Four EC50 Recipients Relive Their Favorite Travel Memories
When the Explorers Club announced its inaugural Explorers Club 50 list in February, it gave new visibility to a diverse group of field scientists whose trailblazing work may change the way we all see the world, writes Chris Rovzar and Nikki Ekstein in Bloomberg BusinessWeek (May 26). Four EC50 winners were interviewed, all reminding readers why it’s important to travel.
Margaret O’Leary Amsler, the marine biologist and krill researcher who has gone on 30 expeditions to Antarctica and conducted more than 500 frigid scuba dives, remembers exploring Antarctica via submersible 1,300 feet below the sea. “There, we were engulfed in a dense school of krill. Their thick swarm created a blizzard with zero visibility beyond our plexiglass bubble.” 
Conservationist Callie Broaddus led activists under age 26 to create the world’s first fully youth-funded nature reserve, in Ecuador’s Chocó Cloud Forest. She was most excited photographing a plant. “It was a variety of cycad, which coexisted with dinosaurs—and this was the last individual of its species. Hundreds of millions of years had tapered down to one single organism, wedged in the crevice of a remote cliff wall.” 
K. David Harrison, a linguist and anthropologist, records the last speakers of the world’s most endangered languages. He tells Bloomberg BusinessWeek, “Living with nomads in the high Altai Mountains of far-western Mongolia, I was treated like family, which meant I had to make myself useful in return. Each day, I collected yak manure to burn in the fire, used to prepare tea and mutton stew.” 
Filmmaker John Houston, a Yale graduate from Nova Scotia, uses his childhood fluency in Inuktitut to document Inuit culture, resulting in six award-winning films about indigenous communities. He says of one of his most memorable experiences, “I was trying to interview 102-year-old Neeveeovak Marqniq, one of the last Inuit women to be facially tattooed in the old way. I had prepared about 17 questions, which I offered her in Inuktitut. She was unimpressed. Grumpy, even. I suppose when you reach 102, you don’t suffer fools.
Read the Bloomberg BusinessWeek story here:

The Explorers Club 50 was established to not only reflect the great diversity of exploration, but to give a voice to those trailblazing explorers, scientists, and activists achieving incredible work. Download a description of the award program and a profile of each winner here:

(Full disclosure: EN editor Jeff Blumenfeld was a member of the EC50 selection committee.)
Isaac Wright just wants to climb.
Urban Explorer Breaks the Law, Again and Again

Veteran Army paratrooper Isaac Wright, 25, is an urban explorer who finds an escape from PTSD by scaling buildings. Trouble is, his climbing passion has placed him in hot water, according to a New York Times (June 6) story by Dave Philips. The vistas from the top of bridges and tall buildings are inspiring to the Cincinnati resident. It was better, he said, than any therapy he had ever tried.

According to the story, in pursuit of an urban climbing high, he trespassed at night, jumped fences, edged across girders, scrambled up skyscrapers, stadiums, bridges and construction cranes, joining a fringe community of like-minded adventurers who call themselves urban explorers.

Philips reports, “But what Mr. Wright saw as transformative was also extremely dangerous, and a crime. The police in his hometown, Cincinnati, put out a nationwide warrant for his arrest after he climbed a skyscraper there.

“Though he had no criminal record and owned no guns, the warrant warned that he had special military training and PTSD, and should be considered armed and dangerous.”

There is growing evidence that intense physical pursuits can be powerful tools for treating depression and traumatic stress.

Awaiting trial, Wright says, “I don’t understand why they (police) are treating me like an animal.

Read his story here:

Nichelle Nichols, then and now.
A Star’s Real-Life Mission
In its way, Woman in Motion on Paramount+ is one more leg of the mission that actress Nichelle Nichols, 88, has been on since the late ’70s, convincing all Americans that there’s room for them in space. Best known for the role of Lieutenant Uhura of the U.S.S. Enterprise – the mothership of the original Star Trek TV series – Ms. Nichols is credited with opening the eyes of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to the idea that “the right stuff” was not the exclusive purview of white male test pilots, while helping to convince women and minorities of the same thing.

It’s a remarkable story, aspects of which have been told before, but not with the scope or depth that director Todd Thompson delivers, according to a review of the program by John Anderson in the Wall Street Journal (June 1).

The central story is the one in which Nichols launched both an astronaut-recruiting company (Women in Motion) and a campaign aimed at diversifying recruitment at NASA. As a high profile though fictional space traveler, she was able to convince NASA that if it wanted more support from the American public, it needed to better represent that public. 

Read the story here:

Watch the trailer at:

In a related story, Nichols is raising money on GoFundMe for ongoing legal fees to defend her and ensure the continuing conservatorship by her son, Kyle. The fund has raised over $140,000 to date.

John Glenn and President John F. Kennedy inspect Friendship 7, the Mercury capsule that carried Glenn into orbit, February 1962.
Purpose of U.S. Program is Again Questioned
John F. Kennedy had not even taken the oath of office when the battle began. In December 1960, with the inauguration a month away, the U.S. Air Force launched the first strike – not against a foreign enemy but against NASA, the civilian space agency. In a letter to commanders, the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force expressed confidence that the president-elect understood the imperative of “military supremacy in space” and would, therefore, grant the Air Force the primary role. 
At stake was the very purpose of the U.S. space program. Would the nation stay committed to “space for peace,” the policy of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the outgoing president? Or would the new administration see space as the Air Force did: an arena of the Cold War, a battlefront on which armed conflict might be inevitable?

The decision was (John F.) Kennedy’s to make—though it would come to depend, as events unfolded, on an astronaut named John Glenn, writes Jeff Shesol, in an essay adapted from his new book, Mercury Rising: John Glenn, John Kennedy, and the New Battleground of the Cold War, published this month by W.W. Norton.
“To the Air Force top brass, the existence of NASA was an affront. The Space Act of 1958, which created NASA and gave it control over human spaceflight, was a rebuke to every military planner with fantasies of orbital fighter planes or space stations teeming with missiles,” Shesol writes.
“Pressure was building for a show of strength in space.
Shesol continues, “The Air Force misjudged its audience. For all his martial rhetoric, Kennedy was no more willing to militarize space than Eisenhower had been. Kennedy wanted to surpass the Russians in space, but on the basis of engineering, not armaments.” 
As “the hour of maximum danger” drew near, in Kennedy’s phrase, his hopes came to rest on the fate of John Glenn – who, as a Marine pilot in World War II and Korea, had brought the self-effacing values of small-town Ohio to the fiercest kinds of air combat. Glenn’s easy, sunny manner made him the most admired of the Mercury astronauts, and in late 1961 he was given its most critical mission yet: the first orbital flight “campaign to win a larger role in space and to modify the ‘space for peace’ policy came to an end, at least temporarily,” according to Shesol.
Today, six decades later, a new space race is underway, wrenching open old questions about the purpose of the U.S. program. 
Read the story here:
The Litle Spacecraft That Could – New Horizons’ Amazing Journey to Pluto and Arrokoth by Joyce Lapin (Sterling Children's Books, 2021)

This new book published last month is so cute we can hardly stand it. Young readers can ride along with the New Horizons spacecraft as she rockets three billion miles to Pluto. Then watch her take the first close-up photos of Pluto, then journey another billion miles to mini-world Arrokoth. Readers will whiz through space at more than 10 miles per second; learn how giant planet Jupiter helped the little spacecraft reach Pluto; and discover the astonishing surface feature that made the world fall in love with Pluto.

Illustrated by Simona Ceccarelli, Little Spacecraft was written by Joyce Lapin of Simsbury, Connecticut, who has enjoyed reading and learning about astronomy since childhood. A former advertising copywriter, apparently she's happy to have found a kinder, gentler life writing books. 

In case anyone asks, according to the well-written book, planetary scientists are adamant: “If it’s round, massive enough, and orbits a star, it’s a planet.”

The colorful book is great for kids who have an interest in space exploration, which, from where we sit, is second only to dinosaurs in popularity. For the adults on our staff, it’s fascinating to personally know someone depicted in storybook cartoons: Dr. Alan Stern, principal investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission.

For more information:

Madhouse at the End of the Earth – The Belgica’s Journey Into the Dark Antarctic Night (Crown, 2021) by Julian Sanction

In her fascinating New York Times Book Review (June 6) critique of a new book of a 1897-99 expedition to Antarctica, Nicole Cliffe writes of the team’s advanced scurvy, aggressively poor planning, bad luck, prolonged light deprivation and (potentially) cyanide poisoning that tormented the surviving members of the expedition led by Adrien de Gerlache de Gomery to the point of complete collapse.

Famed explorer Frederick Cook was the ship’s doctor, and Roald Amundsen was the first mate, pre-dating their later polar exploits (and Cook’s conviction for mail fraud which landed him in prison for seven years).

Cook was quoted upon the return of the expedition, “Our skins were rough, like nutmeg-graters; and our hair was long, stubborn and liberally lined by bunches of gray, though the eldest among us was less than 35 years of age.”

Little known fact: at the turn of the century, several midtown Manhattan establishments started serving the “Cook Cocktail” – gin, lemon juice, egg white, maraschino, and plenty of ice.

John Glenn: pretty safe to assume he was an astronaut.

You’d think by now we’d know the definition of “astronaut,” but according to Marcia Dunn writing in the Associated Press (May 26), the actual meaning is somewhat squishy. As more companies start selling tickets to space, who gets to call themselves an astronaut? Should they be called amateur astronauts? Space tourists? Space sightseers? Rocket riders? Or as the Russians have said for decades: spaceflight participants?

Jeff Bezos’ rocket company Blue Origin is already calling its future clients “astronauts.” Retired NASA astronaut Mike Mullane says it doesn’t matter if you buy a ride or you’re assigned a ride, until you strap into a rocket and reach a certain altitude, “you’re not an astronaut.”

The next question is when does space begin? The FAA says the minimum altitude is 50 miles; others say it’s 62 miles. Then consider the Astronauts Memorial Foundation that honors all those who sacrificed their lives for the U.S. space program even if they never reached space, like Challenger schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe.

The debate will continue as hundreds, if not thousands reach space.

Read the Associated Press story here:

The carvings on aspen trees and other softwoods were a way that Basque sheepherders would leave their mark in the west.

You may known what this means, but in a poll of EN staffers, the term elicited blank stares. Arborglyphs, or carvings into the bark of living trees, provide records of a past way of life. In an effort to preserve the fast-disappearing images, the Ah Haa School for the Arts and the Telluride, Colorado Historical Museum are developing an app to locate and record area arborglyphs, which were carved by Hispanic and Basque sheepherders in the 1900s and include images that range from horses to poem and political statements.

The app, due to launch later in 2021, will have participants upload photos of the arborglyphs they find. (Source: Telluride.com)

Learn more here:

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.

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. ©2021 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
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