August 2021 – Volume Twenty-Seven, Number Eight
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.
Bertrand Piccard takes flight in the all-electric Bristell Energic, a zero-emission aircraft.

Solar Impulse’s Legacy Taken One Step Further
When they achieved the first solar electric flight around the world in Solar Impulse 2, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg had to take turns in the single-seater cockpit for weight considerations. To celebrate the fifth anniversary of their historic round-the-world voyage, Solar Impulse’s co-founders and pilots recently - for the first time - shared the cockpit of an electric airplane built for commercial applications. (See EN, June 2016).  
The pilots took off from Sion, Switzerland, aboard the Bristell Energic, a zero-emission airplane whose propulsion and battery management systems have been developed by H55. H55 is the technological spin-off of the Solar Impulse project, established by André Borschberg and two colleagues following the round-the-world voyage. It will be commercially available in late 2022. H55’s highly clean and efficient technology is part of the first 1,000 solutions that Bertrand Piccard and his Solar Impulse Foundation have certified for combining environmental protection with economic profitability.
Bertrand Piccard said: “H55 is the perfect proof that clean and efficient technologies allow us to do so much better for the environment and all fields of the industry… this low-carbon flight reminded me how great it is to fly without noise! A fantastic experience.”
Learn more about the Solar Impulse Foundation:
George and the world’s largest coprolite excreted by a carnivore, as certified by Guinness World Records. It’s said to look like a big Florida-shaped pan of brownies.
George Frandsen’s Poo Collection is a Path to Paleontology
Since we first wrote about Jacksonville, Florida’s George Frandsen and his world record collection of coprolites (a.k.a. fossilized dinosaur excrement), he has taped a segment of the ABC show To Tell The Truth which airs within the next few months. His collection is also being featured by the Orlando Science Center. (See EN, July 2020).
“He has traveled the world to collect these coprolites, and coprolites, quite simply, are fossilized feces,” says Jeff Stanford, vice president of marketing for the science center.
“What is always striking to me is these dino dumps are little time capsules. So, you can dig in and learn about the animal diet and their behaviors, and their size, where they lived,” he tells the Orlando Sentinel (Aug. 5).
Frandsen “wants people to be excited about dinosaurs, about science … so he leverages this weird factor to use the poo as a portal to discuss paleontology,” Stanford says. Pieces of the collection are encased, but there’s no odor. And there’s no squish factor; they’re hard as, well, rocks.
Read the story here:
Come Fly With Me, Let's Fly, Let's Fly Away
Virgin Galactic has reopened ticket sales for its space flights at a starting price of $450,000 a seat. (See EN, July 2021.)
It comes after the company, led by billionaire Richard Branson, completed its first fully crewed flight to the edge of space in July. The firm hopes to start commercial flights next year after completing several more test missions, according to Daniel Thomas writing for BBC (Aug. 6).
Virgin Galactic had previously sold tickets at $250,000 apiece but stopped in 2014 after a fatal accident. In a statement, boss Michael Colglazier said last month's successful test mission had renewed public interest in the firm's offer.
"Leveraging the surge in consumer interest following the Unity 22 flight, we are excited to announce the reopening of sales effective today," he said.
"As we endeavour to bring the wonder of space to a broad global population, we are delighted to open the door to an entirely new industry and consumer experience."

Read the full story and see an expanded video of Branson and friends in weightlessness:

Of these four ocean floor scans, the top two panels clearly show shipwrecks, but the shipwrecks in the bottom two panels, marked by red arrows, could easily be mistaken for natural features. Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Scanning for Shipwrecks From the Air and Surface of the Sea
In collaboration with the United States Navy’s Underwater Archaeology Branch, Leila Character, a Doctoral student in Geography, The University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts, taught a computer how to recognize shipwrecks on the ocean floor from scans taken by aircraft and ships on the surface. The computer model her team created is 92% accurate in finding known shipwrecks. The project focused on the coasts of the mainland U.S. and Puerto Rico. It is now ready to be used to find unknown or unmapped shipwrecks.
“Finding shipwrecks is important for understanding the human past – think trade, migration, war – but underwater archaeology is expensive and dangerous. A model that automatically maps all shipwrecks over a large area can reduce the time and cost needed to look for wrecks, either with underwater drones or human divers,” Character says in her research brief.
The Navy’s Underwater Archaeology Branch is interested in this work because it could help the unit find unmapped or unknown naval shipwrecks. More broadly, this is a new method in the field of underwater archaeology that can be expanded to look for various types of submerged archaeological features, including buildings, statues and airplanes.
Could you use this to find Amelia Earhart’s lost plane? “You would need to teach the computer what an aircraft wreck in shallow water looks like. Sounds like you need lots of examples,” says Richard Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (, which has been searching for the historic aviatrix for 33 years.
Learn more:
The Telluride Via Ferrata
Telluride Via Ferrata Claims Life of 53-year-old Woman
Via ferratas have been promoted as an exciting way to enjoy a mountain holiday. The Italian term translates as “iron path” or “iron road” and can be found around the world – metal rungs, ladders or permanently fixed safety wire as a means of crossing otherwise tricky and steep rocky terrain. 
Though quite popular throughout the European Alps, the sport is just starting to gain notice here in America. Originally developed during the first World War to aid the progress of troops through the mountains, Via ferrata are now widely recognized as inspired tourist attractions on mountain features that would otherwise be inaccessible. According to, at its most intense, you’re suspended on a small iron foothold by a harness at 500 feet.
The legal climbing route is technical, breathtaking and exposed on the East end and South-facing wall of Telluride’s boxed canyon.

As sport climbing received enormous exposure in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, it was thought that these attractions would gain an enormous following. Now, maybe not so much.
Anissa Laverne Larson, 53, of Tucson died after falling 200 feet from the Telluride via ferrata route on Aug. 4. The San Miguel County Sheriff's Office says a climber behind Larson on the same ridge heard something alarming, turned and saw the woman below. He immediately called 911. A team of rescuers climbed 700 feet up into the wilderness to recover Larson's remains using a technical rope system. 
According to the San Miguel County Sheriff's Office, there were no hardware failures of the safety equipment built into the cliff face and there were no gear malfunctions. The victim instead took an unwitnessed fall while fully unclipped. The accident occurred to the west of the well-known “Main Event” feature of the route, which is known for being very exposed. reports she was climbing the route with a friend at the time, though the winding nature of the route can make it difficult to see far in either direction.
While via ferrata routes are known for offering safe passage on difficult terrain due to a redundant clipping system that allows travelers to always be connected to the wall by at least one point of contact, the via ferrata route in Telluride features safety lines and rungs only on the technically difficult sections. This leaves some non-technical portions of the route that resemble a hiking trail without any protection amid exposure that could be deadly with a trip or slip.
In 2015, Fodor’s Travel considered Telluride Via Ferrata one of the top 10 in the world:
Cool Gear From the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market
Covid be damned. This month we grabbed a mask and attended the annual Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, our first trip from Boulder to Denver in about seven months. Canceled in summer 2020, the normally massive trade show that filled the Colorado Convention Center in pre-panemic years was a shell of its former self. Major brands decided to sit this one out, providing prime booth space on the main floor for smaller innovative companies usually relegated to the hallways and other normally dead exhibition space.
Still, exhibitors didn’t let us down. There were plenty of rather odd outdoor products. Here are the craziest.
• The Hot Seat
What polar explorer wouldn’t want this on an expedition? Built on an ultra-durable steel frame, the Gobi Heat heated camping chair allows intrepid explorers to set their ideal temperature with three heat settings as high as 131 degrees F. Uses cutting-edge conductive-thread technology sewn into a durable polyester fabric. Powered by a 7.4V 6,500 lithium polymer battery which doubles as a phone charging port, it will stay warm for 4.5 to 9 hours depending on the setting. Drive up in your Tesla, pull it out of your trunk and chat all day long. ($199,
Why yes, it’s the watertight ice bag.
• Ice Ice Baby
File this under, “why didn’t I think of this before?”
It’s a bag of ice with a spigot. When the ice melts after keeping your cooler chilled, you have fresh drinking water. Ice Lock was invented by an avid camper who got tired of contaminated coolers floating with ruined food. He spent four years developing the ultimate re-usable ice pack for coolers that uses store-bought ice to keep your ice chest cold and dry. When your ice melts, you can drink it.
This green innovation saves the equivalent of eight 16-ounce plastic bottles worth of drinking water in each reusable bag. Watch the video here:
($25.95 sug. ret. for two; each bag holds five lbs. of ice,
• Internet of Things Comes to a Water Bottle Thing

HidrateSpark exhibited its new HidrateSpark TAP, a so-called smart water bottle with rechargeable Tap To Track Technology. Tap your phone to the Bluetooth-enabled water bottle to track your daily water intake using the free HidrateSpark app. But wait, wait, there’s more. It also glows with pulsating lights. Works with Apple Health, Apple Watch, Fitbit, and more fitness trackers to get the most out of your hydration tracking. (24 oz. $19.99; 32 oz. $21.99,

Now if it was combined with an app identifying the nearest loo, that would be something.
The Shower Toga - As Seen on TV
• Toga. Toga. Toga.
This was a Shark Tank winner and is now a Mark Cuban Company, so that should have been our first clue that this “As Seen on TV” product was one of the craziest at the show. Some may call it a plastic bag, but actually, it’s a “unisex, reusable, and high quality showering and changing garment.” It’s now possible to undress in public, shower in public, and get dressed in public if those activities interest you. Its breathless flyer promises you can “go from filthy to fabulous in five minutes.” It also doubles as a bag for dirty, sandy gear. Of course it does. ($46.95,

“There are few treasures of more lasting worth than the experience of a way of life that is in itself wholly satisfying. Such, after all, are the only possessions of which no fate, no cosmic catastrophe can deprive us; nothing can alter the fact if for one moment in eternity we have really lived.”
– Eric Earle Shipton (1907 - 1977), English Himalayan mountaineer. Once while climbing in Africa, Shipton and climbing partner H.W. Tilman were tentbound on the mountain by vile weather. Bookless, they read and re-read the inside of the Ryvita crispbread packaging in German, Spanish and Italian, interspersed with singing to each other their small stock of songs, according to Peter Steele's Shipton biography, Everest and Beyond (1998, The Mountaineers).
In case you get stuck on a mountainside, read this.
Check your attic for memorabilia.

Antiques Roadshow Values “Staggering” Antarctic Expedition Collection 
If you were lucky enough to go on an expedition, save everything.
One of the joys of watching PBS Antiques Roadshow is the discovery factor: you never know what oddity some viewer drags in from the attic. The show’s UK version recently aired a segment featuring a collection of items from an Antarctic expedition that caught the eye of antiques expert John Foster. He gave the owner a surprise when he revealed the collection could be worth £20,000 (US $27,700).
“If you turn the menu over you’ll find it’s signed on the back by the crew and just around there you’ve got Shackleton’s signature as well,” Foster explains. Other items in the collection included a photo album full of pictures from the Nimrod expedition to the Antarctic.
“It just shows life and how hard it is. I mean they would have spent a lot of their time just de-icing the ship,” says Foster.
The surprised owner of the memorabilia says, “I’m pleasantly surprised at the valuation. It’s the family history, really it should be in a museum rather than drawers, cardboard boxes and attics.”
Watch the episode here:
The Children of Apollo
They are the names written in history books: Armstrong, Aldrin, Lovell, Chaffee, Bean, Cernan, Anders, Griffin, Carr. Their stories of NASA's Apollo program in the 1960s and '70s are the stuff of legend and lore.
The telling has mostly come from the astronauts themselves, or members of Mission Control, occasionally from the astronauts' spouses.
But there was another group who had a front-row seat to history: the most wide-eyed observers – the children of those pioneer Americans who first went into space.

?CNN recently posted the second of a two-part story on the history of the space race as seen by 11 children of Apollo astronauts and flight directors. 
Little known fact: The night before Neil Armstrong left for Cape Kennedy, he called his sons, 12-year-old Rick and 6-year-old Mark, to the dinner table. When the kids saw both parents sitting there, "We thought we were in trouble," Rick, now 64, said.

"Basically, (dad) said he was very confident in the flight and that they were coming back OK, but that there was some risk. He also said he thought they had about a 50/50 chance of a successful landing."
Read part two of the web documentary here:
Miss part one? Catch up by reading it here:
Relive that historic mission in 1969 with footage send by 650 million earthlings during that memorable summer of 1969 (footage runs after the ad).
Little-know Solo Alpinist Featured in New Documentary
Marc-André Leclerc climbs alone, far from the limelight. On remote alpine faces, the free-spirited 23-year-old Canadian makes some of the boldest solo ascents in history. Yet, he draws scant attention. With no cameras, no rope, and no margin for error, Leclerc's approach is the essence of solo adventure.
Nomadic and publicity shy, he doesn’t own a phone or car, and is reluctant to let a film crew in on his pure vision of climbing. In The Alpinist, veteran filmmaker Peter Mortimer (The Dawn Wall), sets out to make a film about Leclerc but struggles to keep up with his elusive subject. Then, Leclerc embarks on a historic adventure in Patagonia that will redefine what is possible in solo climbing.
Co-produced with Red Bull Media House and released by Universal Pictures Content Group, The Alpinist is over four years in the making. 
Says one interviewee: “He is pushing things that are pretty much unknown.” Another says of his feats, “… it’s a razor’s edge between genius and madness. That’s a sharp hard edge to ride.”
Coming to theaters this fall. Watch the trailer here:


Life Lived Wild: Adventures at the Edge of the Map
by Rick Ridgeway
At the beginning of his memoir Life Lived Wild, Adventures at the Edge of the Map, Rick Ridgeway, 72, estimates if you add up all his many expeditions, he’s spent over five years of his life sleeping in tents: “And most of that in small tents pitched in the world’s most remote regions.” Whether at elevation or raising a family back at sea level, those years taught him, he writes, “to distinguish matters of consequence from matters of inconsequence.”
Some of his travels made, and remain, news: the first American ascent of K2; the first direct coast-to-coast traverse of Borneo; the first crossing on foot of a 300-mile corner of Tibet so remote no outsider had ever seen it. 
He writes: “If business didn’t define us, then how we used business skills to advance wildland and wildlife conservation did. In turn, our business skills were informed directly by the skills we acquired doing outdoor sports. In outdoor sports, as in business, we learned from our mistakes, but in outdoor sports, we knew if a mistake was too egregious, we wouldn’t get the chance to learn from it because we would be dead. In mountaineering – and in business – it’s not about taking risks but managing risks.”
Elsewhere in the book: “Twenty feet below the summit there was a flat rock bench, and we descended to it to rest. The rock was warm, and I lay back and my breathing slowed and I closed my eyes and drifted into half consciousness. I opened my eyes and said to myself again, ‘Remember where I am, the second-highest point on Earth. I must remember this.’”
Published by Patagonia, pre-orders are now being taken; it launches Oct. 26, 2021. Buy it from an independent bookstore here:

Everest: the Graphic Novel Opera
The 1996 Everest disaster was turned into a book, more than one movie, a documentary and even an opera. Now it’s the focus of a so-called graphic novel opera.
Everest, an opera by Joby Talbot and Gene Scheer, made a powerful impression at its Dallas Opera world premiere in 2015. A taut, absorbing depiction of a real, ill-fated expedition to the summit of Mount Everest in 1996, the piece zeroes in on three climbers – Rob Hall (the expedition’s leader), Doug Hansen and Beck Weathers – and Jan Arnold, Hall’s pregnant wife back home. It explores their connections but mostly their profound isolation in the face of the raging blizzard that will cost Rob and Doug their lives.
Opera Parallèle, the home company of conductor Nicole Paiement, who led the premiere, has remounted the piece as a digital graphic novel, which is now available on demand from the Dallas Opera’s new streaming channel (rental $19.99; no subscription required; available through Jan. 16, 2022). This ingenious production focuses the action even further on that isolation, as well as on the hubris that prompts humans to challenge the unforgiving natural world, and the porous border between life and death.
For more background and video content on the making of Everest – A Graphic Novel Opera visit

The latest attraction in the land of fire and ice.
RGS Hosts Lecture About Iceland Volcano, Sept. 8, 2021
After months of heightened seismic activity in southwest Iceland, a new fissure eruption began in March 2021 at Geldingadalir which sits within the Fagradalsfjall volcanic system. This was the first eruption in this area for 800 years and may herald a new era of volcanism for Iceland.
The Royal Geographical Society will host an online lecture on Sept. 8 by Dr. Oliver Lamb from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Iceland. Dr. Lamb will give an overview of how the eruption developed over time, highlighting some of the interesting and unprecedented observations gathered during the activity. This includes geochemical measurements of some of the deepest magma ever observed in Iceland, and seismic and acoustic data from the spectacular fire fountains that defined the peak of activity (at the time of writing).
Furthermore, the proximity of major population centers and an international airport has resulted in a huge challenge for the authorities to manage the large numbers of visitors to the area. Experts say it could be years or even decades until the eruption is over. If it does indeed last for decades, lava could reach the nearby town of Grindavík as well as the Svartsengi power station.
View the lecture from the safety of your own home:
What’s the volcano doing right now? Check in with its live webcam 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: @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:
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