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.
April 2015 - Volume Twenty-Two, Number Four
Celebrating Our 20th Year!
This inaugural event will see five teams, led by famed polar explorers, race the last degree to the North Pole (approximately
69 miles). Team captains include David Hempleman-Adams who leads an all-British team consisting of wounded servicemen, French explorers Francois Bernard, Christian de Marliave and Jean Gabriel, and an all-woman team led by Denmark's Bettina Aller. They are joined by competitors from Sweden, Italy, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and the U.S. in an international celebration of polar exploration.
Christine Dennison, 45, from New York City will represent the U.S. She is co-founder of the adventure exploration company Mad Dog Expeditions, Inc., and is part of the team that discovered a sunken Navy submarine, the R-12, in which 42 sailors drowned off Key West, Fla., more than 60 years ago (www.r12sub.com). Dennison will blog about the race here: www.maddogexpeditions.com
Golfer Goes "Fore" a Seven Summits Record
After 21 years reporting about expeditions - both serious, historic, and well, some not so historic - no project surprises us anymore. In Get Sponsored (Skyhorse, 2014) we write about an adventurer and avid golfer named Andre Tolme who in the summers of 2003 and 2004 hit golf balls across Mongolia. To reach the first "tee," Tolme took a train north from Beijing to Ulan Bator, then bused to the eastern city of Choybalsan. From there, he spent five months, hitting 510 golf balls 2.322 million yards (1,319 miles) - a par 11,880 - until he reached the western city of Khovd. Not an expedition by any means, but certainly a fun adventure.
Daryl Franck on Kilimanjaro
Now comes word that a PGA professional wants to up the ante by hitting golf balls off the Seven Summits. Oh brother.
But lay down your pitchforks when you read about Daryl Franck. A resident of Austria and Lake Wales, Fla., the 47-year-old pro golfer is passionate about this and has already driven balls off Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus and Carstensz Pyramid. He was weathered off of Denali and Aconcagua and needs to return to both.
(Editor's note: Although Dick Bass climbed Australia's Kosciuszko as the last of his Seven Summit quest, Reinhold Messner postulated another list - the Messner or Carstensz list - replacing Mount Kosciuszko with Indonesia's Puncak Jaya, or Carstensz Pyramid).
Franck is ready to roll will all the gear and doesn't anticipate he'll need to beg for equipment. In anticipation of criticism that he'll be littering the continental high points with Titleist golf balls, he'll be using NatureSX, 100 percent biodegradable balls from Biogolf in The Netherlands which are supposed to play like regular balls (who knew?). The tees will be biodegradable as well.
Before starting the "Golf Seven Summits Project," Franck summitted Mont Blanc twice and hit balls off its summit. He also ascended the Matterhorn and Eiger (Mittellegi Ridge) and has climbed in Bolivia, Nepal and Alaska. His next goal is to travel with a golf club to Antarctica for a guided ascent of Mount Vinson in late 2015 and then attempt Aconcagua again in early 2016. He's seeking funding of $125,000 plus airfareand plans to tee off Everest last after the other summits have been "played" and he's logged more mountaineering experience.
See Franck on the top of Kilimanjaro here: https://youtu.be/SzE7Yt3CTcg
What's next? Bowling the Seven Summits? One never knows. After all, there's already an adventure sport called "Extreme Ironing" (go ahead, Google it).
At an attendance of 1,000 including guests, the Explorers Club Annual Dinner (ECAD) on Mar. 21 was reportedly the largest gathering of explorers in the world. When these mostly alpha males get together at a sold-out dinner, strange things are bound to happen. This was not your standard rubber chicken fund-raiser. This was, as director and explorer James Cameron famously said when he attended the dinner in 2013, "The Academy Awards of exploration."
A whale of a time. (Photo: Craig Chesek ©The Explorers Club)
Surrounded by stuffed gorillas and African elephants in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals, there was no more appropriate venue than this for sharing field exploits while snacking on cockroach canapés, grasshopper kabobs, mole crickets, waxworm quesadillas, and centipede bites.
An explosive hairstyle
Baron Ambrosia, a long-distance swimmer who calls himself the culinary ambassador to the Bronx, was there wearing curlers made of shotgun shells. (Makes us wonder why this isn't more of a fashion statement. Answer: because they're shotgun shells).
Theodore Roosevelt joined the club in 1915; at this year's dinner, there was a look-alike named John Foote in safari gear who we believe really did think he was TR himself.
A panel discussion about the Shackleton Expedition was held within the UN Economic & Social Council Chamber. Each seat carried the name of an explorer - over 400 in all. We found our mind wandering at times, thinking about a similar scene in the same room during a classic Twilight Zone episode called, "To Serve Man."
"To Serve Man" with Richard Kiel as an alien Kanamit.
Scene from the UN Economic & Social Council Chamber. Notice even the slat wall is the same, although there were no aliens in this photo (that we know of).
Harsh Words for the Brits
During the Polar Panel on Mar. 20, polar explorer Eric Larsen said, "Picking a favorite expedition that I'm proudest about is like picking a favorite child. The journey is really the destination for me. Just getting to the starting line is a huge accomplishment... I have a fire in me that drives me to places I want to go."
He took a jab at the U.K.'s love affair with exploration: "If you're British, just put on a red snowsuit and someone will give you ten grand."
Another jab: "The British take easy things and make them look hard. The Norwegians take hard things and make them look easy."
Later Larsen continued, "We need to stop focusing about whether climate change exists or not. You either believe in science or you don't. The conversation needs to switch to mitigation."
British explorer and balloon pilot David Hempleman-Adams, honored with the Finn Ronne Memorial Award, said wistfully, "The world has gotten very small. Years ago explorers said goodbye to their wives for two years; some never returned. Now I can fly anywhere in a day or so. Recently the only delay I experienced on an expedition was flying back to Heathrow."
Hempleman-Adams went on to say, "The bucket list for explorers is never ending. You do one and add another two at the bottom."
Respect for The Boss
Environmental scientist, adventurer and author Tim Jarvis joined the Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, the granddaughter of Sir Ernest,to recount his re-creation of the famed expedition leader's 800-mile rescue mission from Elephant Island to a remote whaling station on South Georgia Island. Jarvis said his five team members - all "pragmatic optimists" - were cramped inside a replica of the James Caird, which weighed three tons due mostly to ballast and batteries. The Jarvis team used the same materials, clothing, food and a Thomas Mercer chronometer as in the original voyage. The tiny cabin was also the same dimension, about the size of a kitchen table and only four feet high.
Jarvis explained there was only 15 inches of freeboard - the distance between the waterline and the top of the deck. "We came out with an even great sense of respect for Sir Ernest than we did coming in."
It Takes Confidence
Col. Joseph Kittinger, who for over 50 years held the record for a skydive from space (102,800 feet set in August 1960), commented on what it takes to set records like his. "It takes complete confidence in your team. Confidence in your equipment, and confidence in yourself."
Alan Eustace and America's most advanced pressure suit
Kittinger was part of the panel discussion featuring Google executive Alan Eustace who now holds the space skydive record of 135,889 feet set on Oct. 24, 2014,when he was 57 years-old.
"We've opened up the stratosphere for future exploration," Eustace said.
His project was self-funded: "We didn't have to make it a media thing in order to fund it." When asked about the budget for the Paragon StratEx Space Dive, which involved a support team of over 50, he admitted, "It cost more than we thought it would, but cost a lot cheaper than if NASA did it."
Eustace explained they eliminated many of the dangers people had seen before. "The suit was the highest pressure suit America has ever built .... I felt 100 percent safe but it was hard to convince my wife of that."
He continued, "My wife has banned me from anything extremely dangerous in the future. Now we're negotiating what's 'extremely dangerous.'"
Tastes Like Chicken - When Bug Chef David George Gordon serves you the perennial kid's favorite, "ants on a log," be forewarned. The same goes for the teriyaki grasshopper kabobs. Dial back on your gag reflex because instead of raisins, they're real ants and real grasshoppers. When keynote speaker Neil deGrasse Tyson (above) munched on a deep-fried tarantula, the scene was Tweeted, Facebooked, and Instagrammed so much it's a wonder his snack didn't break the Internet.
Carole Zimmer blogged about his reaction on NPR:http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/03/23/394890500/even-neil-degrasse-tyson-is-now-munching-on-bug-cuisine
Seeking a Place in a GPS World
In a major feature story about the Club, New York Times reporter Daniel Engber ponders in the Mar. 30 edition, "These days, many of our most thrilling expeditions are made remotely, using robot arms and sensors, and in place of legendary ship captains and mountaineers - think of Ernest Shackleton and Sir Edmund Hillary - we have expansive teams of scientists and engineers.
"It's hard to say if these men and women are explorers in the classic sense," he writes.
Read the story at:
Long for Exploration
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, in accepting the Explorers Club Medal, said, "They don't teach you to explore. You teach a person to long for exploration."
Purest Form of Exploration
Cave explorer Bill Steele, who received the Club's Citation of Merit, said, "Caves are by their very nature out of sight and out of mind. But they are the purest form of exploration. You don't know unless you go."
He continued, "Let's spark the youth of today to be the next generation of explorers."
As part of ECAD Weekend, the Club board selected Theodore P. Janulis, 56, also known as Ted, to succeed Alan Nichols as Club president. Janulis has been chief executive officer of CRT Greenwich LLC since 2014. Prior to that, Janulis served as chief executive officer of Aurora Bank FSB. Before Aurora, he spent 23 years at Lehman Brothers in various senior management roles.
He serves on the Boards of the Lehman Brothers Foundation, Ronald McDonald House and the International Center for Photography. Janulis holds an MBA from Columbia University and holds an AB from Harvard College.
New App Helps Explorers Create Mini-Movies
Magisto is a new app being used by explorers to document their expeditions with a smartphone. Once videos and photos are uploaded, Magisto turns them into edited movies, complete with music and effects, in minutes.
The new technology was used to record ECAD and can be seen here:
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"I have come to surmise, in the culinary universe, that anytime someone feels compelled to wrap something in bacon, it probably doesn't taste very good."
- Neil deGrasse Tyson with a Cambodian cricket rumaki canape, wrapped in bacon, at ECAD 2015. Tyson is the director of the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium and host of the TV program, Cosmos: A Space Odyssey.
Robin Wright Joins Everest Movie Cast
Sam Worthington and Netflix House of Cards star Robin Wright have joined the high-wattage cast of Everest, the true-life adventure movie being made by Universal, Working Title and Cross Creek.
According to The Hollywood Reporter(Mar. 24), Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes and Jake Gyllenhaal are already on board the project, which follows two different expeditions trying to reach the summit who both get walloped by storms.
Wright will play the wife of Brolin's character, a doctor who braves the elements over an arduous night. Worthington will play Guy Cotter, a scaling expert from New Zealand.
Universal is releasing the movie Sept. 18, 2015. Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns, Contraband) is directing.
The film is currently shooting on location in Nepal and will also shoot in the Italian Dolomites and at Cinecitta Studios in Rome and Pinewood Studios in the U.K.
Alex Knows What Alex Can Do
Alex Honnold, 29, is one of the two or three best rock climbers on earth, according to Daniel Duane of theNew York Times (Mar. 12). Honnold has free-soloed (no ropes or aids) the longest, most challenging climbs ever, including the 2,500-foot northwest face of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley, where some of the handholds are so small that no average climber could cling for an instant, roped or otherwise.
Duane writes, "One generation aid-climbs a route, the next climbs it in record time, the next free-climbs it, then it's time for someone to climb it without ropes. But free-soloing is so much more dangerous and frightening, even to highly experienced climbers, that a vast majority want no part of it."
Honnold's mother was asked how she tolerated her son's climbing life. She tells Duane that at some point she realized that she couldn't live with worrying all the time. "Alex is the only one on the planet who knows what Alex can do, and I've had to learn to just trust that."
Not everyone is impressed. One reader doubts the accomplishments donate to any greater good. Steve L. of New Paltz, N.Y. posts on the Times website, "I don't know why anyone struggling to raise children, keep a job, service a car, find love, stay alive in the real world would care about such patently arbitrary goals."
Read the complete story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/11/magazine/the-heart-stopping-climbs-of-alex-honnold.html
In Praise of Microadventures
British author, blogger and motivational speakerAlastair Humphreys, 38, earned the title of a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2012. Since then, Humphreys, author of Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes(HarperCollins Publishers, 2014), has been preaching the gospel of short, perspective-shifting bursts of travel closer to home, inspiring followers to pitch a tent in nearby woods, explore their city by moonlight, or hold a family slumber party in the backyard.
"My original idea," he tells Diane Daniel of theNew York Times (Mar. 17),"Was to try to do the most epic things I possibly could without going far, but I found that 'epic' limited people from participating in the idea. The key is getting beyond the excuses. If you can't climb a mountain, climb a hill."
Humphreys continues, "A lot of people use working from 9 to 5 as an obstacle. But instead, look at the opportunity. After 5 p.m., you have 16 hours that are all yours. So you can ride your bike or take the train out of town, sleep outside somewhere and come back to work maybe a bit rumpled but feeling great."
Read the story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/22/travel/the-virtues-of-microadventures.html?_r=0
Is Anybody Home?
Speaking of the Twilight Zone, and fictional accounts of space aliens who come to earth "to serve man," Seth Shostak, director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute, responds in the New York Times (Mar. 29) to critics of active SETI - proactively sending messages out into space.
"Why has the sending of dispatches to worlds many trillions of miles distant suddenly become a hot-button issue? The simple answer is that there's now a perception that advertising our existence could be a mortal threat to the planet," he writes.
"... to believe that only Earth has spawned intelligence is to insist that our world is the site of a miracle. That point of view rarely appeals to scientists."
He continues, "But we know nothing of the aliens' possible motives or behavior. Therefore, it's conceivable that betraying our existence might prompt aggressive action from space."
Shostak adds, "Broadcasting is likened to 'shouting in the jungle' - not a good idea when you don't know what's out there. The British physicist Stephen Hawking alluded to this danger by noting that on Earth, when less advanced societies drew the attention of those more advanced, the consequences for the former were seldom agreeable."
Nonetheless, he concludes, "the universe beckons, and we can do better than to declare that future generations should endlessly tremble at the sight of the stars."
Read the story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/28/opinion/sunday/messaging-the-stars.html
Captain Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and the husband of retired Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, has joined NBC News and MSNBC as a Space and Aviation Contributor. In his new role, he will cover space and aviation issues and events across on-air and digital platforms. Kelly's first news story for the networks covered the start of his twin brother Scott Kelly's historic year-long mission to the International Space Station.
Scott Kelly's twin fooled NASA personnel just prior to April Fool's Day when he showed up to his brother's launch sans his signature facial hair.
Mark Kelly shaved off his mustache - for many, a distinguishing feature between the two twins - to trick NASA honchos into thinking he was Scott, according to theAssociated Press.
Scott Kelly, at the time, was in Kazakhstan prepping to blast off with Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka on a one-year International Space Station mission.
"He fooled all of us," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told the AP when he first saw Mark Kelly, thinking he was Scott, who should have been on the launch pad. "(The mustache was) the only way I can tell you two apart."
Scott and Mark Kelly are part of NASA's historic Twins Study, which will examine the effects of space on Scott Kelly vs. Mark Kelly on Earth for a one-year period. The study is widely seen as a precursor for a manned mission to Mars.
Follow Mark Kelly on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/Capt.MarkKelly
Shack's American Team Member's Daughter Praises Exploration
A recent presentation at the Peter White Public Library in Marquette, Mich., commemorated the 100-year anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton's incredible tale of survival (see related story). Elizabeth Bakewell Rajala, daughter of the only American on board, shared a copy of the IMAX film, Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure, and commented, "It's good for people to look back and see what was done in history because we didn't just get where we are today without the development of various instruments and various people exploring different parts of our world."
She wrote a book based on the journal her father, William L. Bakewell (1888-1969), kept during his adventure.
See the local TV interview here:
Live Like the World's Healthiest People
National Geographic fellow and author Dan Buettner (The Blue Zones, 2008) is back with a well-organized game plan for a long and well-lived life in The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World's Healthiest People (National Geographic, 2015).
Taking what he's learned from over a decade of studying the so-called Blue Zones - five hot spots across the globe where people enjoy optimal health and vitality well into their 90s, and as centenarians - Buettner and his colleagues tested whether Blue Zones could be willfully created, targeting communities in California, Iowa, and Minnesota.
Buettner neatly distills the enriching lifestyles, environments, and diets found in each area into small changes anyone can adopt. He also offers intriguing glimpses into other projects in progress and shares more than 80 pages of life-extending recipes designed to be cooked in the average American kitchen.
Buettner's National Geographic cover story on longevity, "The Secrets of Living Longer" was one of their top-selling issues in history and made him a finalist for a National Magazine Award. He holds three Guinness World Records for cycling six continents.
For more information: http://www.amazon.com/The-Blue-Zones-Solution-Healthiest/dp/1426211929
The Polar Sea 360
This new VR (virtual reality) app offers a complete tour of the Arctic area between Canada and Greenland, starting from a satellite view of the earth then continuing to a helicopter and boat ride over the planet's coldest water and icebergs. Interviews with scientists, hunters and sailors round out the experience. The immersive experience is considered by its creators the future of movie making. For more information: www.polarsea360.com).
Captains who have attained the necessary experience navigating polar waters. An icemaster is not only familiar with the unique wind, weather and current dynamics in polar waters, he or she is also intimately familiar with all the forms of ice and the unique challenges each form presents. (Source: Lindblad Expeditions)
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
Young for His Age
Nick Cienski, a veteran mountaineer and outerwear designer for Under Armour, who we explained in our March issue will be embarking on an expedition to summit six of the world's highest peaks in one year, is 48, not 28 as originally reported. We thought he looked young for his age.
Adventure Photographer Seeks Speaking Opportunities
International documentary photographer Daryl Hawk has spent the past 25 years adventuring alone in some of the most remote places on earth. Using his own compelling photographs as examples and his powerful storytelling, he offers dynamic presentations that inspire his audiences to see the world with new eyes. Contact Daryl at email@example.com, www.darylhawk.com, 203 834 9595.
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 new book from Skyhorse Publishing called:Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers.
EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 1281 East Main Street - Box 10, Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Tel. 203 655 1600, firstname.lastname@example.org. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jamie Gribbon. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2015 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through www.paypal.com. Read EXPEDITION NEWS at www.expeditionnews.com. Enjoy the EN blog at www.expeditionnews.blogspot.com.