December 2022 – Volume Twenty-Eight, Number Twelve
Celebrating our 28th 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.

Photo of Audrey Mestre, 28, taken the day of her death, Oct. 12, 2002.

No Limit Film is Thinly Veiled Account of Death of Freediver Audrey Mestre

The storyline: When Roxana Aubrey meets world champion freediver, Pascal Gauthier, she falls head over heels in love. She becomes both lover and student as Pascal initiates her into an extreme sport that's as enthralling as it is death defying. Moving from one competition to the next, in dive locations across the world, Roxana begins to push limit after limit, wholly consumed in the throws of this passionate affair... but where will it end?

Well, we'll tell you: it doesn't end well in this dramatization of the October 2002 death of freediver Audrey Mestre which we covered in these pages (EN, November 2002).

The film, playing now on Netflix, is "inspired by real events," and includes an "In Memory Of" slide at the end with a photo of Mestre.  
No Limit, made it to the Top Ten in 89 countries and Number 1 in Argentina, Chile, Greece, Indonesia, Paraguay, France and Spain, among others. A Brazilian website about movies wrote that it is, "A true-story based on the controversial book by sportsman Carlos Serra, The Last Attempt (Xlibris Corp., 2006)."

Trouble is, Serra, an artist and author based in Miami Beach, was never approached for the film rights. He tells EN, "As for the characters, they portrayed the reality quite well; a psychologically feeble Roxanne Aubrey who fell madly infatuated for a dominating, abusive and egomaniacal individual, for whom the entire world spins around him."

Serra continues, "In terms of the story, I think they went over the top with the sex scenes. I found them sordid and unnecessary. However, I admit having a biased opinion on the matter as I knew the two main real-life characters, and somebody else's sex life is beyond my interest, especially with people close to me.
"The storyline is very much accurate, but I guess that's because it is mostly based on my book, The Last Attempt. Except for changing names and locations, the movie is an exact depiction of my book."

Serra is undecided about taking legal action against the filmmaker. "Audrey's passing is one of the most painful episodes in my life. Having to relive those moments is something I don't look forward to. So, I'm simply evaluating my options."

Mestre, 28, died in a freediving accident on Oct. 12, 2002, approximately 2-1/2 miles off the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic. A member of The Explorers Club, she was attempting to officially break the world freediving record with a dive of 557.7 feet (170 m), a depth she achieved unofficially during a practice dive three days before.

Mestre was competing in the "No Limits" category, which involves riding a weighted sled down the length of a vinyl-coated stainless steel cable. Suspicions linger to this day why her lift bag was insufficiently filled with air.

Watch the No Limit teaser here:


"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go."
– T.S. Eliot (1888 – 1965), poet, essayist, publisher, playwright, literary critic and editor.
Zodiac excursions are daily highlights of many Antarctica cruises.
Antarctica Claims Three Tourists

As much as the cruise industry attracts polar visitors with scenes of luxury afloat, travel to the Antarctic can still be fraught with risk.

Two passengers on a tourist excursion to Antarctica died after the Zodiac boat they were riding in overturned, according to a mid-November statement from Quark Expeditions, the Seattle-based adventure travel company chartering the trip. 

"A Zodiac boat carrying six passengers and two expedition staff overturned near shore, tragically resulting in two fatalities," the statement reads. "The weather conditions were light winds and smooth sea state, and indications are the accident was caused by a breaking wave."

The accident occurred near Cape Lookout on Elephant Island in the South Shetland Islands. 

One American passenger survived because she was in an air bubble, only to be rescued to find that her husband did not make it.

Freelance writer, editor, photographer Michelle Theall of Boulder, Colorado, was in a following Zodiac and witnessed the accident. She posted to Facebook on Nov. 16, "We reached Elephant Island and went out on Zodiacs to explore. One of the Zodiacs ahead of us capsized from the waves and flipped upside down, trapping six passengers and two guides. Two passengers died.

"We have ended the trip, and are on our return across the Drake Passage to South America. Everyone aboard is sad and shaken, as well as disappointed. It's hard to sort through the emotions. Prayers for the families who lost loved ones."

Zodiacs are the workhorses of Polar expeditions. Separate air compartments retain a large reserve of buoyancy even if these sturdy boats are damaged. Their flat bottom design permits the craft to land directly onto the cobble and ice-strewn beaches commonly found in polar travel.  

Then in early December, an American woman died and four other passengers were injured when a "rogue wave" hit a Viking cruise ship sailing near the southernmost tip of South America on another Antarctic cruise. The unidentified 62-year-old woman was hit by broken glass when the wave broke cabin windows on the Viking Polaris ship during a storm, Argentine authorities said. The ship suffered limited damage and arrived in Ushuaia, 1,926 miles south of Buenos Aires, the next day.

"It is with great sadness that we confirmed a guest passed away following the incident," Viking said in a statement. "We have notified the guest's family and shared our deepest sympathies."
The Viking Polaris, a vessel that has luxury facilities and was built in 2022, has a capacity for 378 passengers and 256 crew members.
Warns the International Association Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) in its online FAQ, "Remember that the Antarctic environment is inhospitable, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous."

Divers discover wreckage of the space shuttle Challenger.
Challenger Wreck Discovered
A documentary crew searching for World War II-era aircraft wreckage recently discovered historical artifacts of a more modern variety. After reviewing the footage, NASA has confirmed that underwater wreckage filmed off the Florida coast is from the disastrous final flight of the space shuttle Challenger, in which seven people were killed, according to the Yahoo Finance story by William Shanklin (Nov. 10).
Divers working on the documentary noticed "a large human-made object covered partially by sand on the seafloor." It had a modern construction, including eight-inch square tiles, commonly used in shuttles' thermal protection systems. That tipped off the crewmembers that the wreckage may be NASA-related, and they contacted the space agency, which looked over the footage and confirmed its origin. NASA says it is considering what additional actions to take regarding the debris.
Read the story here:
Bertrand Piccard arrived at JFK Airport in 2016 in the solar-powered
?Solar Impulse 2, the latest leg of its globe-circling voyage.
No Mermaids

The New Yorker ran one of its huge profiles on serial explorer, psychiatrist and clean technology pioneer Bertrand Piccard in its Oct. 3 issue. Written by Ben Taub, the story focuses on the explorer's grandfather who traveled higher than anyone; his father went deeper. Now it was his turn to make a mark. It's an inspiring story about the first family of exploration.

It seems that in 1933, Bertrand's grandfather Swiss physicist and inventor Auguste Piccard (1884-1962) went to America, where he dined with various luminaries of exploration. Seated next to Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh, he pulled out his slide rule in order to convert kilometers into miles.
Also present was William Beebe, who, in a tethered submarine capsule, had descended in the ocean to a depth of three thousand feet. Beebe asked Piccard what he'd seen "up there."
"No angels," Piccard replied. "What did you see?"
"No mermaids."
In 1931, Auguste Piccard and his assistant, a twenty-five-year-old physicist named Paul Kipfer, ascended in a balloon to fifty-one thousand two hundred feet. "They had breached the stratosphere, going higher than anyone before. Staring out the porthole, Piccard and Kipfer became the first humans to see the curvature of the Earth," Taub writes.
Read the story here:
2022 National Outdoor Book Award Winners Announced

A woman's obsession with the kingfisher, a thriller about climbing the world's eighth highest peak, a Viet Nam veteran's fascination with grizzly bears, a life amongst caribou in the Northwest Arctic. All of these and more are the themes of winning books in the 2022 National Outdoor Book Awards. 

A total of 19 books were chosen as winners or silver medalists in this year's contest which is celebrating its 26th year. Sponsors of the program include the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Idaho State University and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education. 

Awards were presented in ten categories which range from Natural History Literature to Biography to Journeys.

The winning book in the Journeys category is Halcyon Journey: In Search of the Belted Kingfisher. It's about Marina Richie, a mom and budding citizen scientist who attempts to find and observe a nesting pair of kingfishers. 

One work of fiction was among this year's winners. Taking top honors in the Outdoor Literature category is Breathless, a spine-tingling novel transporting readers to the icy slopes of Manaslu, the world's eighth-highest peak. 

Written by Amy McCulloch, it combines the dangers of high-altitude climbing with a sociopathic murderer among one of the teams.
Learn about all the 2022 winners at:
Exposure Film Documents Felicity Aston-led North Pole Expedition

Against all odds and polar advice, a Muslim chaplain, a French biologist, a Qatari princess and eight other women from the Arab World and the West attempt to ski across the melting Arctic sea ice to the North Pole in 2018.

Director Holly Morris and her crew capture the struggle of these boundary-breaking adventurers who, led by veteran polar explorer Felicity Aston, navigate everything from frostbite and polar bear threats, to sexism and self-doubt in an intimate story of resilience, survival and global citizenry.

The expedition team represented the nations of Slovenia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, France, and the U.K., working through profound differences in language, religion, communication and culture to achieve a singular, common goal. In the end, four team members became the first ever from their nations to ski to the North Pole.

It's currently making the rounds of the film festivals. Says the Chicago Tribune: "No dogs. No snowmobiles. No support. No men. It is a triumph for all involved, a delight and joy for viewers, a chilling revelation."

Watch the trailer here:



Enthusiasts of the Titanic who pay $250,000 per person to visit the fabled shipwreck. Some mortgage their homes to afford the descent, others save up for 30 years, to travel on OceanGate's specially-designed submersible vehicle. It's equipped with 4K video cameras to record the remains of the luxury liner 13,000 feet beneath the North Atlantic. – Source: Stockton Rush, OceanGate CEO, in a segment on CBS Sunday Morning, Nov. 27, 2022.

Watch it here:

Jackson Wallace of Tampa, age 6, never met a squid he didn't like. His t-shirt reads: "Warning. May spontaneously talk about squid."
The Squid Kid

Dear Expedition News:

This is my nephew Jackson Wallace, age 6, from Tampa, Florida. With the help of his parents, he became the 64th backer of Matt Mulrennan's multi-year expedition to film a colossal squid in the deep sea for the first time off Antarctica to learn about its basic biology/behavior. (See EN, November 2022).

When asked... What do you want to be when you grow up? His response was, "At first I wanted to be a Ghostbuster, but now I think a marine biologist is better. I really, really, really, want to see a real-life squid so that's why I want to be a marine biologist."

He also says, "I love squids more than anyone in the city, I love them because they live deep in the ocean and people don't know much about them."

George Frandsen
Curator, Poozeum
Jacksonville, Florida
The author holds the Guinness World Record for the world's largest coprolite and the largest coprolite collection a.k.a. dinosaur poop.
Remember the old Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogs? They usually had a fantasy gift in the back that was unattainable except by the very rich. Think one-man submarine. His and her Shar-Pei puppies. Custom suit of armor. Camels. Black Angus Steer. Mummy cases. All droolworthy gifts for sure.
For the rest of us, there's EN's annual holiday gift guide wherein we scour the internet for more economical gifts that would look good under any tree. Perfect for the explorer or adventurer in your life.
Take a Load Off

We all know how difficult it is to explore the poles, and climb Everest, what with crevasses, high winds and freezing temperatures. That's where the Terrain Heated Camping Chair from Gobi Heat can save the day. Built on an ultra-durable steel frame, this heated camping chair has three heat setting powered by a 7.4V 6500 lithium polymer battery that doubles as a phone charging port. Stays warm for up to nine hours on low. Suggest that your gift recipient drag this bad boy up to Everest Base Camp along with a Williams Sonoma espresso coffee machine. They'll be glad they did. (, $199)
Nansen (left) and Amundsen (right) are photobombed by Borge Ousland (far right).
Ski with the Bros

It could be disconcerting looking down on these fellows all day during a backcountry trek through the pow, but your gift recipient will love these inspiring boards. 

Norwegian ski maker Asnes has a line of backcountry skis emblazoned with images of polar explorers. Roald Amundsen (1872–1928), the first man to reach both the South and North Poles, was a polar explorer, discoverer, researcher and flight pioneer. Fritjof Nansen (1861–1930) was a polar explorer, scientist, diplomat and humanist. His expedition of 1888, made on skis, was the first documented crossing of Greenland. But of course, as an avid reader of EN, you already knew that. (, $399 - $429)
The Apollo 11 Flight Plan: Limited Collector's Edition

Apollo: To the Moon and Back is a collector's edition reproduction of the original Apollo 11 Flight Plan – the document that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins, as well as the entire mission control team in Houston, used to plan and execute the first lunar landing. It's a literal how-to guide to flying to the moon.

The Apollo 11 Flight Plan meticulously lays out every step of the 8-day, 3-hour, 18-minute and 35-second mission that resulted in the first human exploration of the lunar surface. A piece of timeless art, this is a limited edition of only 500 for a cool, but astronomical $2,950. Forget Lorna Doones, we'd fly to the moon for one of these keepsakes. (, $2,950)
"Adopt" one of three remaining Saturn V moon rockets as seen at the
U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama. (USSRC)
Adopt the Saturn V

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center Education Foundation has launched an "Adopt an Artifact" program to give the public a chance to "acquire" one or more historic vehicles to aid in their preservation.

Located near NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, opened in 1970 to display hundreds of artifacts, including the Apollo 16 command module Casper, a Saturn V moon rocket and Pathfinder, a full-scale mockup of the space shuttle.

Adoptions begin at $25, which includes a personalized certificate and both a photograph and history card describing the artifact. For $75, adopters also receive a sticker of their artifact and a three-month trial membership in the center's Space Camp Explorers Club. Certainly, it's a lot more tangible than naming a star after a loved one.
Learn more about this gift here:
No Bones About It

Forget about Batman or Spider-Man. We all know the little ones in your life aspire to be paleontologists. Plan ahead for Halloween 2023 by gifting this paleontologist costume.
The top and shorts are both trimmed in a reptilian print faux leather to hint at real dinosaurs. The shirt has dinosaur patches that say, "Dinosaur City Marshal" and a T-Rex skull. The look is finished off with a hat with a reptile print sash so they'll be ready for those hot days in the sun. (, $49.99)
Pit Wits Against the World's Greatest Explorers
Stuck in a tent during a four-day blizzard? Or is your gift recipient tired of playing Jeopardy on Alexa? No matter, the Royal Geographical Society Puzzle Book is comprised of 50 explorer profiles and expeditions retold through a set of increasingly difficult questions.
Readers are challenged to solve conundrums on the complex nature of exploring and understanding our world. Featuring Sir Ernest Shackleton, David Livingstone, Charles Darwin, Ellen MacArthur, Felicity Aston, Levison Wood and a host of others, the puzzle book will test geographical skills, explore hidden routes, decipher geographical details, and uncover amazing facts from across over a century of exploration. ( £ 16.99)

The man who fell to earth.
Colonel Joseph "Joe" Kittinger, II (1928-2022) –
His Office Was the Sky
The exploration world mourns the passing of legendary aerospace pioneer, fighter and test pilot Colonel Joseph "Joe" Kittinger, II, who passed away Dec. 9, 2022, at the age of 94.

Joe Kittinger, a retired Air Force Colonel, and Command Pilot, achieved in August 1960, what no human had done before – he proved that astronauts and fighter pilots could eject from high altitudes and still survive. He rose in a helium-filled balloon to 102,800 feet, outfitted in a spacesuit, then jumped into the void of space – eclipsing 600 mph during a free-fall, finally releasing his parachute at 15,000 feet, floating to earth in the New Mexican desert, and proving that survival from extraordinarily high altitudes was a reality, an important component in the advancement of space exploration.

The feat landed him on the cover of LIFE Magazine:

Looking back at that cover, correspondent Ben Cosgrove writes, "One thinks, inevitably, of Icarus' fall through an ancient sky while celebrating Kittinger's far happier fate. That a man had the will to step from that gondola, so many miles above the Earth, with a hope, but absolutely no promise, of having it all end well suggests that as a species we're perhaps braver than we sometimes give ourselves credit for."

The record was broken in 2012 when Felix Baumgartner jumped from a helium balloon 24 miles in the air. Kittinger helped Baumgartner beat that record.
"Joe will be greatly missed, but his achievements and legacy will long be admired and remembered by explorers throughout the world," said Explorers Club president Richard Garriott de Cayeux in an email to members.

The EN staff is proud to call Colonel Joe both a friend dating back to the 1990s, and avid reader, who would often email us his thoughts about what we've written. 

Another friend of Kittinger's was author and adventurer Jim Clash. Read his story here:

9th Annual New York WILD Film Festival
March 2 – 5, 2023, The Explorers Club, New York
New York WILD is the first annual documentary film festival in New York to showcase a spectrum of topics, from exploration and adventure to wildlife, conservation and the environment, bringing all things WILD to one of the most urban cities in the world.

For more information and to watch the festival's exceptional 2022 trailer, view:


Give Your Exploration Gear a Second Life
By Jeff Blumenfeld, editor and publisher, Expedition News           

My routine is the same every morning: check to make sure the world hasn't exploded, check stocks to determine whether or not I'll be eating much cat food upon retirement, then log onto my account at Boulder Sports Recycler (BSR), the used outdoor gear consignment store here in town. These days I get distinct pleasure out of seeing what bits of flotsam and jetsam from my life outdoors have recently sold.

It's here, in a nondescript industrial warehouse building in North Boulder, that gently used or new outdoor gear lives on. We're talking just about everything but used socks. Team sports gear, not so much either.

Traditional retailers – think Patagonia, Fjallraven or REI – don't seem to mind.

"They will never put us out of business," Mick Tresemer, 36, tells me. He's an artist-turned-businessman from Norman, Oklahoma, who purchased the then 20-year-old business from its original owners in the mid-2010s.

If there's one thing every EN reader has it's lots of gear.

Find a local consignment shop and give your outdoor gear a second chance at adventure while you declutter your home with a good conscience and keep stuff out of landfill.

Now if they'd only take my Boy Scouts external pack frame from the 1960s (which they won't), I'd be much happier.
Season's Greetings to all our readers.

Safe Travels!

- The Expedition News staff
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Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism (Rowman & Littlefield) by Jeff Blumenfeld – Travel has come roaring back and so has voluntourism. Be ready to lend a hand wherever you go. How to travel and make a difference while you see the world? Read excerpts and "Look Inside" at:
Get Sponsored! – Need money for your next project? Read about proven techniques that will help you find both cash and in-kind sponsors. If the trip is bigger than you, and is designed to help others, well, that's half the game right there. Read Jeff Blumenfeld's "Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers." (Skyhorse Publishing).
Buy it here:

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