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Highlights from EXPEDITION NEWS

February 1999 - Volume Six, Number Two

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.


Canada's Ellesmere Island, and its mountainous and uninhabited next-door neighbor, Axel Heiberg Island, are extreme places that have always "drawn extreme people, harbored extreme animals, nurtured extreme plants, and showcased extreme phenomena," according to Jerry Kobalenko, a 41-year-old journalist and photographer from Toronto, who this spring hopes to accomplish the first circumnavigation of Axel Heiberg since 1932.

Kobalenko's partner for this 60-day, 600-mile expedition is Wojtek Moskal, 41, a Polish marine biologist who went unsupported to the North Pole with Marek Kaminski in 1995, an adventure the two media-savvy explorers called, "Poles to the Pole." Kobalenko and Moskal will ski and haul 300 lbs. of supplies on catamaran sleds which perform better in a variety of snow conditions than commercial flat-bottomed sleds.


"Balloonitics" Deflated - Australia's outback weather thwarted efforts last month to launch the Team RE/MAX balloon and gondola. (See EN, December 1999). American real estate magnate Dave Liniger said he had no regrets but would try again next December. His co-pilot was John Wallington, an Australian ballooning champion. The pair had hoped to become the first balloonists to circle the globe at an altitude of 24 miles - a daring strategy designed to avoid weather problems that have plagued other, low-altitude attempts.

Dubbed the "balloonitics" by skeptical onlookers, they planned to wear Russian space suits to brave a near vacuum and temperatures expected to plunge well below freezing.


A Fine Time - A Swedish explorer had such a fine time in December skiing solo to the South Pole, he spent an extra night out alone even when the Amundsen-Scott base was in sight. Ola Skinnarmo, 26, felt let down when he first saw the Scott Base on Dec. 20 after a 47-day, 750-mile journey pulling a 260 lbs. sled from the coast of Antarctica. "I had such a good time out there - it's powerful to be alone for so long a time. You can really think about life."

Mars in the Arctic - A remote, barren island in the Canadian Arctic will become a place Marvin the Martian could call home. The Mars Society, an international group of space enthusiasts, plan to build a mock Martian base on uninhabited Devon Island, north of the Arctic Circle.

Up Close and Personal - The new generation of compact digital camcorders permit an unprecedented view of big wall climbing, says San Francisco filmmaker Howard Shack, 31. Equipment such as SONY's DSR - PD100, weighing only 2.2 lbs. with battery and tape, will be used by Shack to record this summer's Charakusa Expedition to the unclimbed "Husband and Wife" granite spires known as Parhat Brakk (18,250-ft.) and Fathi Brakk (18,345-ft), which rise 3,800-ft. above the floor of the Charakusa Valley in the Karakoram Himalaya in Pakistan.

Armored Packs - It's a common concern of explorers trekking through crime- ridden areas: they put their pack down, turn their heads, and the next thing they know, it's gone. Outpac Designs Ltd. of Seattle came up with a solution so ingenious, it won a Backpacker Magazine "Editors' Choice" Award on Jan. 30 at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show in Salt Lake City. The PacSafe is a 1.3 lbs. steel mesh that encircles a backpack, cinches closed with a tug on a steel cable, and locks with a small brass padlock to the nearest stationary object.

Hope for Avalanche Victims - Black Diamond Equipment Ltd. of Salt Lake City is conducting tests on a prototype device which may allow rock and ice climbers, mountaineers and alpinists survive burial in an avalanche. The lightweight AvaLung is built into an outerwear vest which has successfully allowed buried victims to breath air contained in the surrounding dense snowpack for up to an hour. Black Diamond hopes to bring a standard version of the AvaLung to market as soon as fall 1999 for $198.


A Thousand Years - Watch for the special Millennium issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine of June 6. The supplement has been tentatively titled "1,000 Years of Human Daring" and is a mixture of historical stories on past adventures.


Zegrahm Expeditions - They are remote and exotic, spectacular and visually compelling. The world's untamed lands are the focus of our 1999 expeditions, starting with the SEYCHELLES & MADAGASCAR in March, the tropical islands of MICRONESIA in April and May. Venture to the land of fire and ice - the KURIL ISLANDS, KAMCHATKA & ALEUTIANS - during May and June. And finally, ANTARCTICA for the Millennium - the Peninsula, South Georgia, Falklands, even a "first light" voyage from New Zealand. Small groups, expert leaders, intriguing destinations. For reservations and more information: Zegrahm Expeditions, 1414 Dexter Avenue N. #327, Seattle, WA 98109 U.S.A. Phone: 800-628-8747, 206-285-4000; Fax: 206-285-5037; or Web site and E-mail. Ask about bold new adventures offered by Zegrahm DeepSea Voyages and Space Voyages.

EXPEDITION NEWS. is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 28 Center Street, Darien, CT 06820 USA. USA. Tel. 203 855 9400, fax 203 855 9433, 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 where you can order a subscription to the full edition with your credit card.

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