June 1998 - Volume Five, Number Six

EXPEDITION NEWS is a monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online and by mail to media representatives, corporate sponsors, educators, research librarians, explorers, environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts. This forum on exploration covers projects that stimulate, motivate and educate. Here are Highlights from our June 1998 issue.


The destruction of tropical rain forests has created a sense of urgency among researchers who hope to study nature in its prehistoric condition. In the headwaters region of the Essequibo River in southern Guyana lies one of the earth's last great wilderness areas, one with a tremendous diversity of plant and animal life. Starting high in the Acarai mountains on the border of Guyana and Brazil (and the headwaters of the Amazon), the Essequibo flows northward over several hundred miles to the Atlantic.

"After 250 years of botanical exploration, there are still large areas in the region that are poorly known floristically," said Eldon Gemmill, expedition team leader of the four-week Essequibo Headwaters Expedition. "The lowland flora are extremely diverse and very poorly sampled. One can only guess at the cures for diseases that must exist in this living pharmacy," he told EN. From Sept 15 through Oct 15, Gemmill and six other team members hope to navigate and explore by river and overland an undocumented 234- mi. route.


A retired lieutenant colonel in the Indian Army plans an unsupported and solo Trans-Antarctica Ski Expedition across the South Pole, from Berkner Island on the Ronne Ice Shelf, to McMurdo base on Ross Island. The project by Harish Chander Kohli, 44, starts in October 1999 and benefits the Asian Geographic Trust, a non-profit organization for the advancement and "diffusion" of geographic knowledge.


Earth Science Expeditions (ESE), a non-profit research organization based in Grand Junction, Colo., is conducting a first descent of a roadless section of the Litang River in western Sichuan, China in September, 1999. "We will work with our Chinese hosts, the Center for International Scientific Exchange (CISE) of the Academy of Sciences, to field check geological maps prepared by Chinese geologists from aerial photographs," said Pete Winn, science director and expedition leader of the Reconnaissance Expedition of the Litang River Canyon Expedition.



Four Die as Climbers Swarm Everest Summit - Everest has become, to coin a phrase used in Rock & Ice magazine, the "junkyard dog" of high mountains. It has been kicked, swarmed over, and too often taken for granted. Not a smart move. The mountain has been known to snap back with ferocious efficiency, as it did again last month with the death of American climber Sergei Arsentiev, 39, and his wife, Francis Arsentiev-Distefano, 38, reportedly the first American woman to summit Everest from the North side without supplemental oxygen. (The identities of two other fatalities on the North side were unavailable at press time).
Everest expeditions have become almost commonplace these days - over 40 summited since March 1 - but the mountain still succeeds in capturing enormous publicity for itself. Among the more noteworthy successes last month:

* Nepalese resident Appa Sherpa, 39, racked up a remarkable accomplishment, becoming only the second person ever to reach the summit of Mount Everest nine times. His hero and neighbor, Ang Rita Sherpa, 50, holds the record, with 10 ascents.

* Arizona college professor Tom Whittaker, 49, of Prescott, became the first- ever amputee to summit.

* Everest Environmental Expedition climber Wally Berg, 43, of Copper Mountain, Colo., installed scientific equipment in bedrock near the summit to measure Everest's growth, monitor weather patterns and predict earthquakes in the region (See EN, March 1999).

* The Everest Extreme Expedition was a telemedicine study that linked the body functions of climbers to medical staff in the U.S.



An Evening with Beck Weathers
- Celebrating the Indomitable Human Spirit

Everest 1996 survivor Beck Weathers looks like he was in an automobile accident. But what he's endured is much worse. His face is scared, the tip of his nose is reattached, his right hand is a prosthetic, and his left fingers are fused into a flipper-like hand. He walks out onto the stage with a slight limp. Yet that's the way he wants to remain.

"When doctors asked whether we should buff these scars out, I said, 'No. I want to get up every day for the rest of my life. I want to look into that mirror and be reminded of the lessons I have learned.'"

Learn what Weathers had to say. For a free sample issue of Expedition News, send a self-addressed, long stamped envelope (32 cents US postage ) to the below address.



Mauduit Dies - France's best-known woman climber, French mountaineer Chantal Mauduit, 34, was found dead on the slopes of Nepal's Mount Dhaulagiri I, the world's seventh highest peak (8,167 m / 26,795-ft.).


Dying to Climb
- When British climber Alison Hargreaves, the mother of two, perished on K2 in 1995, a controversial double standard raged over whether a mother belongs on dangerous mountaineering expeditions. In its June 1999 issue, Conde Nast Women's Sports & Fitness, asks whether a woman, once she has a baby, must forgo adventure.

Heidi Learns Marketing Ropes - Heidi Howkins' search for sponsorship funding to become the first American woman to summit K2 was profiled in the May 6 issue of USA Today.

Howkins told EN she and two other K2 '98 Expedition team members will depart June 15, taking along an online community of armchair adventurers through GreatOutdoors.com - http://www.greatoutdoors.com/k298. Another new expedition sponsor is priceline.com, the consumer buying service that enables airline travelers to name their own price for airline tickets. Priceline.com provided the K2 '98 team with roundtrip airfare from Portland, Ore. to Islamabad, Pakistan, gateway to K2 and the Himalayas.



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Himalayan Explorers Club
- The Himalayan Explorers Club is the Himalayan connection. HEC members use our Kathmandu and Islamabad Clubhouses to store luggage, live with local families, browse through trip reports, receive mail and e-mail, and teach English in Sherpa villages. Contact us for a free sample of our newsletter at 303-494-9656; himexp@aol.com.

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EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 28 Center Street, Darien, CT 06820 USA. Tel. 203-656-3300, fax 203-655-7710, e-mail editor@expeditionnews.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Copyright © 1999 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. Subscriptions: US$36/yr.; international postal rate US$46/yr. Highlights from Expedition News are also located at www.mountainzone.com/news/expedition where you can order a subscription to the full edition with your credit card.

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