May 2024 – Volume Thirty, Number Five

Celebrating our 30th 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.


Andrew Irvine (left) and George Mallory in 1924. (Photo: Chester Chronicle)

Remembering Mallory and Irvine 100 Years Later


On the morning of June 6, 1924, George Mallory – one of the world’s greatest mountaineers – set off with his companion, Sandy Irvine, from a camp on the slopes of Mount Everest and headed for its summit.


A veteran of three British Everest expeditions, Mallory knew the world’s highest mountain better than any other climber at the time. He had come close to death there on three occasions, according to The Guardian (April 28).


Two days later, the pair were seen by fellow climber Noel Odell as two small black dots moving up a ridge thousands of feet above him and near the top of Everest. Then the mist rolled in. Mallory and Irvine were never seen alive again.


Britain had hoped to celebrate the success of the Everest expedition but was instead consumed with grief when news of the deaths reached home. National mourning culminated in a memorial service at St Paul’s attended by King George V. It was the first and only time in British history that mountaineers had been so honored, says Wade Davis in his majestic account of the 1924 expedition, Into the Silence (Vintage, 2012).


Recent news:


•           To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the disappearance in early June, the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) will include an exhibition of photographs and artifacts from the expedition, an anniversary lecture, and the publication of a book, Everest 24: New Views on the 1924 Mount Everest Expedition. (See

The bulk of the collection is made up of letters written between Mallory and his wife Ruth from the time of their engagement in 1914 until his death on Everest in 1924.

•           Letters written by Mallory have been made available to a global audience for the first time, in the centenary year of his fatal attempt to scale Everest, according to archivists at Mallory’s alma mater, Magdalene College Cambridge.


The bulk of the collection is made up of letters written between Mallory and his wife Ruth from the time of their engagement in 1914 until his death on Everest in 1924. Among them are the very last letter he wrote before his final Everest summit attempt and three letters that were retrieved from his body in 1999. These letters survived 75 years in his jacket pocket before his body was discovered, according to archivists.


The letters are free to view on the Magdalene College Archive website:


•           There’s talk of erecting a life-sized bronze statue of Mallory and Irvine in Mallory’s birthplace of Mobberley, Cheshire. Plus a plaque on Hobcroft House (circa 1890), Mallory’s childhood home, as well as information boards around the village.

Not so easy in this day and age.


“In recent years, we have seen many colonial-era statues hauled off of their plinths in the UK and U.S. by social activists. And in some cases, rightly so, given the links of these individuals to past injustices such as slavery,” writes Ash Routen in Explorersweb (April 2).


With Mallory and Irvine, some argue that equal attention should go to the Sherpas who assisted Mallory across several attempts on Everest. Several Sherpas lost their lives in the process.


Mallory and Irvine have inspired millions, from kings to presidents. Wherever you happen to be on June 8, lift a glass in honor of these two indefatigable pioneering climbers.



Lights! Camera! Super 8 Action!


If you fondly associate Super 8 movies with Uncle Charlie’s backyard barbecues, summers at the lake, and the 1964-65 World’s Fair, good news: these iconic home movie cameras are back. For explorers looking to recreate expeditions of the 1950-1980s, these new versions of the classic Super 8 can provide a unique perspective, but it’ll cost you.


The new Kodak Super 8 Camera, with 4-in. LCD viewfinder, light meter controls, Extended Gate, and Interchangeable C-Mount Lens goes for a cool $5,495 sug. ret.

Then there’s the cost of the film: Super 8 cartridges can capture 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 minutes for $68 to $288 for film and processing per cartridge.


Watch the sizzle reel here:


Low rez never looked so good.

Borge Ousland Builds High Arctic Norwegian Resort


Explorers are a hardy bunch, accustomed to hanging on the side of mountains in portaledges, or sleeping in bivvy bags in below-zero F. weather.

Norwegian explorer, writer, and photographer Borge Ousland is no stranger to hardship. Among his notable achievements is becoming the first to complete an unsupported kite-assisted solo crossing of the Antarctic (1996-1997) – 1,864 miles from the edge of the Ronne Ice Shelf to the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf.


Thus it was gratifying to see he can also appreciate the softer side of life. After purchasing 55-acre Manshausen Island above the Arctic Circle in northern Norway, to serve as a basecamp for various activities such as kayaking, fishing, diving, skiing, and exploring mountainous terrain, he worked with an architect to create a sustainable and climate-neutral resort using predominantly wood in the construction and solar panels.

It’s located near Nordskot and accessible only by boat.


“Presently, we've constructed seven Seacabins and two distinct Towers, as we call them. Additionally, we've refurbished the old main house and made it into a restaurant, emphasizing locally sourced ingredients and attentive service. The main house also includes an upstairs library with a collection of expedition and travel literature,” he tells EN.


Sample pricing: Two people, five nights, June 12-17, 2024, all meals – NOK 44,500 (approx. U.S. $4,013)


Learn more here:



“I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”


­–           George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), known at his insistence as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist.



Photo taken of the leader, matamu (not his name but his title) in 1974 and appearing in Van Arsdale’s book: Encounters: 50 Fascinating Strangers 

from My Life on the Road (Amity Bridge, 2022)

"First Contact: Like People You See in a Dream"

Special 50th Anniversary Report


By Peter Van Arsdale, Ph.D., FN ‘79

Affiliate Faculty

Master of Development Practice

Regis University, Denver


From a historical exploration perspective, spanning the so-called Age of Discovery, first contacts with previously unknown people have proven fascinating, mystifying, and controversial. At times those discovered have been described as "the Other," "savages," or "aliens." At other times, they've been described as "giants" or "superhumans."

The evocative phrase "Like People You See in a Dream" borrows from the first-contact writings about New Guinea of Edward Schieffelin.


While completing my doctoral fieldwork in Indonesian New Guinea 50 years ago, I heard rumors of previously uncontacted bands living in upper river drainages, some 100 miles inland from the s.w. coast and Arafura Sea. I mounted an expedition with five colleagues in March 1974, using a 20-foot diesel-powered launch that took us up the Sirets, Catalina, Vriendschap, Kolff, and Upper Eilanden rivers. 


At several junctures, clues but no previously uncontacted people. Then, on March 17, at the last upstream Eilanden bend before the boat bottomed out, six men were spotted hiding in riverbank bushes. Several hours passed patiently waiting, shouting, cajoling, when at last our team carefully moved the boat to shore and the warriors – armed with bows, arrows, and bone knives – crept forward. First contact!  


In the two days spent with these six and later 24 others, presumably the complete band of initiated men, it became clear that we were the first outsiders they had met. They had no items, not even a simple metal knife or piece of cloth, that would have indicated previous contact. They seemingly knew none of the words used by a neighboring tribe we were familiar with. 


During these two days, our team exchanged goods (e.g., a drinking cup for an arrow), learned how they built fires, and derived a word list. The first word:  fini - hair, the second yur - dog, and the third yisamuk - fire. Their leader, called matamu, made sure relations proceeded smoothly. 


However, when we gestured that we would like to meet the women and children, the warriors disappeared like ghosts. We did not reveal their location once we returned. This band and others nearby now are known as Citak.

Peter Van Arsdale is author, Encounters: 50 Fascinating Strangers from My Life on the Road (Amity Bridge, 2022), where you can learn more about this first contact. His current projects primarily are focused on East Africa and deal with water resources, community development, and human rights. He can be reached at:

Editor’s Note Van Arsdale will be speaking on June 4, 2024 at the Fjallraven retail store in Denver at 6 p.m.

Researchers of the BASE Millennium Institute (Biodiversity of Antarctic and Subantarctic Ecosystems) from Chile are interested in the evolutionary history of seabirds such as penguins. By knowing the sea range of the penguins, they can determine where they’re foraging and thus where they need protection. Here scientists are taking field samples (such as blood, soil sediment, and others) that will later be analyzed in the laboratory. (Photo by Christian Clauwers)

1 month, 17 scientists in Antarctica, Ross Sea, Amundsen Sea, Bellingshausen Sea

Special Report


By Christian Clauwers

Ocean and polar explorer, photographer, and environmental reporter  

Antwerp, Belgium


Expedition ships are increasingly combining luxury cruises with scientific research. With the innovative icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot, PONANT raises the bar. It is the world's first passenger ship equipped with a Polar Class 2 (PC2) hull, which offers the possibility of navigating in thick ice and reaching the most remote areas of our planet. It can navigate in areas where traditional ships are forced to stay in open water.


The ship is a luxurious five-star floating hotel with a restaurant by Alain Ducasse (with 21 Michelin stars, the most of any living chef) and balconies in every cabin and suite. At the same time, she is also committed to scientific research, with infrastructure and instruments for various scientific disciplines, a conscious choice by PONANT.


It reaches remote sites that are virtually unknown and for which little data is available, so-called “scientific blind spots” – places for which scientific institutions and governments have no (financial) resources to reach. This is precisely where observations and scientific data are crucial for understanding current climate change.


Navigating in such pristine and fragile areas is a skill that requires expertise and respect for ecosystems. The ship is therefore attuned to minimizing its ecological footprint. At the same time, PONANT focuses on making passengers aware of the need to protect ecosystems and commit to more responsible shipping.

PONANT icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot (Photo by Christian Clauwers)

I documented the work of 17 internationally renowned scientists from nine different countries, who together conducted four research projects in different locations during the expedition. Read the article about it in Arab News (Feb. 23):


Learn more about my mission to document the relationship and ever-increasing tension between man and nature:


Christian Clauwers is an ocean and polar explorer, photographer, and environmental reporter based in Antwerp, Belgium. He focuses on marine sciences and currently provides outreach and dissemination for the Belgian research vessel R/V Belgica. In the past, he also collaborated with the French, Italian, U.S., and Dutch oceanographic institutes. He was a delegate of Belgium at the UN COP25, COP26, COP27, and COP28. Learn more about his work at

We Went to the Space Symposium and Got The Pen

By Jeff Blumenfeld, editor


The global space community gathered in Colorado Springs last month – more than 12,000 space professionals from 40-plus countries. Attendees included business leaders, space media, and one newsletter editor looking for stories.


The Space Symposium showcased 230-plus innovators such as Airbus, BAE Systems, Boeing, Honeywell Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. My 12-year-old self who grew up with Project Mercury and built Revell models of the X-15, Mercury, and Gemini capsules, would have been gobsmacked. 


The space business is booming. According to the Space Foundation 2024 annual report, 91 nations are operating in space; the global space economy in 2022 was estimated at $546 billion; and U.S. space employment in 2022 was 201,009, up 1% year over year. What’s more, by 2023, 644 humans will have crossed the Karman line.

Revell never made a model like this.

Yet, truth be told, the conference was a lot more technical than I thought, especially for someone whose knowledge of space consists mainly of gluing Part A to Part B. But the one exhibit that resonated most with me, and one I could readily understand, was the Fisher Space Pen.

Are they still around? Indeed.


A common misconception states that faced with the fact that ball-point pens would not write in zero-gravity, the Fisher Space Pen was devised as the result of millions of dollars of unnecessary spending on NASA's part when the Soviet Union took the simpler and cheaper route of just using pencils, making the pen an example of overengineering.


In reality, the space pen was independently developed by Paul C. Fisher, founder of the Fisher Pen Company, with $1 million of his funds. NASA tested and approved the pen for space use, especially since they were less flammable than pencils, then purchased 400 pens at $6 per pen. The Soviet Union subsequently also purchased the space pen for its Soyuz spaceflights. (Source: Wikipedia)


Sales coordinator Brandi Sevilla, based in Boulder City, Nevada, tells me, “People are excited to see us. It brings back childhood nostalgia for them.” First developed in 1948 using an ink cartridge of hermetically sealed thixotropic ink pressurized with nitrogen to make it anti-gravity, it’s now sold online and in thousands of retail outlets worldwide for $15 - $200 sug, ret.


It’s been on all manned spaceflight since the Apollo 7 Mission in 1968; used by all branches of the military (in a matte black non-reflective version); and is said to have a 100-year shelf life, according to Sevilla.


She proudly informs me that this could be the only writing instrument with its own episode on Seinfeld, titled “The Pen” (Season 3 Episode 3). (View excerpts at:


It’s my favorite conference souvenir, certainly better than Post-It notes, stress balls, and rubber rockets.


Now the key question remains: what is it I desperately need to write underwater and upside down?


For more information:



Let’s Try That Again: Billionaire Plans to Build Titanic Replica


For more than a decade, Australian billionaire Clive Palmer has been the driving force behind plans to build Titanic II – a replica of the ill-fated ship that sank in 1912 with more than 2,200 people on board, according to CNN  (Mar. 13).


Only about 700 survived, making it the world’s most disastrous voyage.

More than a century after the Titanic went down, the world remains drawn to its story.


Palmer, who made his fortune from mining, remains undaunted by Titanic’s calamitous streak. He first launched plans for Titanic II in 2012, and again in 2018, but plans were sidelined during the Covid epidemic.


Palmer’s Blue Star is soliciting proposals and plans to confirm a shipbuilder by the end of the year, to begin work in the first quarter of 2025.


The ship itself will be 269 meters (833 feet) long and 32.2 meters (105 feet) wide — slightly wider than the original and 50 feet shorter. Capacity will be 2,345 passengers spread across nine decks with 835 cabins. Almost half of those will be reserved for first-class passengers.


“It’s a lot more fun to do the Titanic than it is to sit at home and count my money,” Palmer reportedly told local media.


Read the complete story here:



The human extremophile at "Doorway To Hell,” Darvaza, Turkmenistan

The Human Extremophile


The word extremophile describes a microorganism that loves extreme conditions. Depending on their genetic structure, extremophiles can thrive in different environments and there are generally four types: thermophiles, psychrophiles, halophiles, and acidophiles. Put “human” in front of it and you get the nickname for Toronto’s George Kourounis, 53.


He’s an explorer, science communicator, TV presenter, and for good measure, a storm chaser.


In 2006 he and his wife Michelle were married on the crater’s edge of the erupting Mount Yasur volcano on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu. The ceremony was documented for his television series Angry Planet. On November 6, 2013, he was the first person to enter the Darvanza Crater in Turkmenistan (a burning natural gas field known as the "Gates of Hell").


(Source: J. Mark Fowler, son of Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom co-star, the late Jim Fowler. Heard at The Explorers Club Annual Dinner Weekend last month in New York).


Learn more:




Dear Editor:


In the April issue of EN there’s a 1957 clip of Richard E. Byrd being interviewed on the Longines Chronoscope TV show wherein he says, “No woman ever stepped foot on the Antarctic continent and it’s the most peaceful place in the world.” (laughter). 


Oh really?


Surely he must have known about Jackie Ronne (1919-2009), who not only avoided the spotlight but willingly stayed in the shadow of her husband, Finn, during the Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition (1946 -1948). She openly stated on many occasions her efforts to keep from drawing attention away from her husband to the

Today she’s generally recognized as the first woman in the world to be a working member of an Antarctic expedition.

Pioneering explorer Jackie Ronne

Jackie Ronne graciously guided her husband, quietly compiled scientific data and wrote all the reports wired back to the world – describing the team members and valuable work being accomplished.


She finally shared her memoirs in 2004 in the book Antarctica’s First Lady (Clifton Steamboat Museum). In 2022, explorer and author Joanna Kafarowski gave Ronne further recognition in Antarctic Pioneer: The Trailblazing Life of Jackie Ronne (Dundurn Press).


In this later book, Kafarowski noted several times that Byrd snubbed both Jackie Ronne and her husband. They both were friends with and worked for Byrd, but he didn't like it when Ronne's husband set out to form his own expeditions.


Ronne never wasted energy comparing herself to men. She just did what was required to obtain her goals. It still makes headlines when women accomplish feats regularly accomplished by men, especially in the expedition community, as if being a woman were a deficit to overcome. Culturally, and personally, we have a ways to go, but fortunately, we have explorers like Jackie Ronne to pave the way.




West Hansen

Chair, Texas chapter

The Explorers Club




World Oceans Week, The Explorers Club, New York, June 2-8, 2024


The concept of a dedicated day to honor the world's oceans was first proposed by the Canadian government during the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. The Explorers Club has embraced this commemoration of all things ocean at its HQ with a series of events starting with a kick-off that Sunday. Presentations include a seaside chat by Sylvia Earle about speaking to whales (Project CETI); an examination of marine safe alternatives to plastic: responsible sourcing of seafood; frontiers in deep ocean exploration; and NYC’s Billion Oyster Project.


Classrooms from throughout New York City will participate in a practicum in experiential learning in partnership with Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants (

Purchase tickets:

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:

Advertise in Expedition News – For more information:


EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 290 Laramie Blvd., Boulder, CO 80304 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2024 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments are accepted through Read EXPEDITION NEWS at

Website hosted by