March 2008 – Volume Fifteen, Number Three
EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 14th year, 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.
WAVE HELLO TO THE EARTH EXPEDITION
Mix 11 languages, 18,000 miles, seven years, three continents, 17 times zones, 14 countries, 36 million steps, one man, a backpack and a dream and you get The Earth Expedition. It's one man's dream to walk the world's continents on nothing but two feet. Since 2006, Daren Wendell, 26, of Massillon, Ohio, has been planning, saving, reading, researching, and training for The Earth Expedition - a dream he has committed many years to accomplish. (See EN, May 2007)
At press time, the expedition was scheduled to take its first step from Dahlegona, Ga. Of particular interest is the instant tracking system that will allow friends and sponsors to follow along. The GPS Tracker provided by Sky Shield USA uses Google Earth and represents the latest in expedition technology. Now his fans don't have to wait for an e-mail or for him to call in. He carries a tracker that sends a ping every three hours. They just log onto http://skyshield.positionlogic.com/Login.aspx
For security reasons, the user name and password is limited to his followers and other interested folks. However, it's available to readers of EN who e-mail Wendell. Once you log on, it's so realistic you feel as if you can wave to Wendell as he goes by (click HYBRID and his name at the left).
Wendell is single. In fact, he admits, "I haven't dated for about a year because of the expedition." With a motto of "Life to the Fullest," he hopes to raise awareness for the water crisis and AIDS pandemic in Africa. (see BloodWaterMission.com)
A 2003 graduate of Kentucky Christian University, at age 23 he planned and executed a similar endurance challenge when he rode his touring bicycle from Astoria on the coast of Oregon across the United States to Virginia Beach. For the past year he has taken part-time jobs to eliminate debt, but has also been seeking corporate sponsorship. Gear sponsors include Feetures, Kelty, LEKI, Merrell and Swiss Army. (For more information: (+1) 309-531-3889, sponsorships director: Sue Powers, e-mail Sue Powers, TheEarthExpedition.com)
Hutchinson Center Cancer Climb Selects Unnamed Peak – An unclimbed mountain near Mount Abbe in the northern reaches of Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park will be the focus of the inaugural Big Expedition for Cancer Research, a quest sponsored by Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to raise national awareness of cancer research. (See EN, August 2005)
This June, a team of four professional climbers from across North America will scale the unnamed peak, more than 8,000 feet high, to kick-off the project.
The announcement of the mountain was made last month in Seattle after months of discussions with the four mountaineers and members of the Hutchinson Center's Mountaineering Advisory Committee.
On hand for the announcement were expedition members Matt Farmer, Seattle; Dawn Glanc, Bellingham; and Bayard Russell, North Conway, N.H. The fourth expedition member, Kevin Mahoney, of Madison, N.H., was unable to attend. Also at the event were Mountaineering Advisory Committee members, including renowned mountaineer and experienced Alaska climber Jim Wickwire, the first American to scale K2; and Phil and Susan Ershler, the first couple to climb the world's Seven Summits. (For more information: fhcrc.org/about/bigexpedition)
Ecoboat Readies for Another Attempt – The Earthrace Ecoboat - the 78-ft. wave-piercing trimaran that runs exclusively on biodiesel - is in Sagunto, Spain in the shipyard of its patron Vulkan, preparing for its second record attempt at circling the globe (See EN, October 2006). Its first attempt ended in May 2007, and was plagued by both mechanical and structural issues, and an accidental collision with a fishing vessel off the coast of Guatemala that left one fisherman lost, presumed drowned, and a second with serious internal injuries. In pursing this record, and by running exclusively on 100% renewable biodiesel fuel that has a net zero carbon footprint, this not-for-profit project aims to demonstrate how performance and endurance are not sacrificed by using environmentally sound resources.
The futuristic craft's 24,000 nautical mile trip around the globe will start and finish in Sagunto. The project, beginning this month, will attempt to beat the current record of 74 days 23 hours and 52 minutes that was set in 1998 by the British craft Cable & Wireless. The curious looking craft, designed by Craig Loomes at a cost of 1.3 million Euros is part plane, part boat, and part submarine, weighs 20 tons and can resist 20 feet of water when submerged. Its maximum speed is 40 knots and it can travel 2,300 miles without having to refuel. (For more information: EarthRace.net)
Mind Camp Mentality – Attesting to the continued allure of Mount Everest among the general public, 120 people turned up at the New Canaan (Conn.) Library on Feb. 24 to hear climber and journalist Michael Kodas, author of High Crimes - The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed, rail against what he calls a "mining camp mentality" at Everest Base Camp. The presentation and book signing was billed as an expose of Everest's "dark side," an "underworld spreading in the shadows of Mount Everest." Korda tells of drugs and prostitution, con men selling faulty oxygen tanks, and climbers stealing rather than buying their supplies.
Korda was a member of the 2004 Connecticut Everest Expedition which he later quit when a teammate threatened his life. He says the mountain has changed radically since Jon Krakauer wrote about it after the 1996 tragedy. "There's an enormous amount of commerce there which has lead to an entirely different culture than what mountaineers are used to," Korda said. "It's more a mining town than mountaineering camp." He says hard core pornography and centerfolds on tent walls made Base Camp hostile to women team members.
Korda continues, "Everest climbers are now business people, politicians, and athletes from other sports who just want to put Everest on the resumes. They're not really mountaineers, they have a different paradigm. Ask them where else they want to climb and they'd be hard-pressed to name any other peaks."
Korda warns about climbing agencies that will sell cut-rate trips with just enough gear to get you killed. "For anyone considering it (an Everest climb), diligently investigate all aspects of the trip including the guides and Sherpas you plan to hire and how the climb is being organized. Otherwise you are putting yourself at risk."
Gimps on Ice – We're a fan of expeditions with catchy names. We like it even more when participants have a sense of humor. Such is the case with the inaugural gathering of Gimps On Ice in Ouray, Colo. in early March.
Over one weekend, 10 disabled athletes descended on the Uncompahgre Gorge to face the mile of vertical ice in the gorge, where they learned about the specialized equipment and techniques needed climb vertical waterfalls. Men and women who are missing limbs or eyes or the use of their legs gathered to challenge themselves physically and mentally, especially to challenge the common perception that an amputee is handicapped or that a paraplegic must, by default, lead a second-rate life.
The Ouray Ice Park was opened in 1995 as the world's first park devoted exclusively to the sport of ice climbing. A small band of local volunteers and business owners developed the Park utilizing a unique asset found perhaps only in Ouray: a 100-ft. deep, mile-long gorge that descends right into town. Over the past 14 years the park has grown to become the largest ice climbing park in the world and attracts climbers from all over the world.
Gimps On Ice is made possible by the support of the Ouray Victorian Inn, San Juan Mountain Guides, the Outlaw Restaurant and Ouray Mountain Sports. (For more information: ParadoxSports.org)
Labrador Expedition Seeks Team Members – Participants are being sought for an unguided expedition to Labrador being planned later this month to explore a wilderness group of subarctic mountains in winter conditions from a shared base camp. These are low, rocky and icy peaks well off the grid in eastern Canada that are in the last formal stages of conversion to a wilderness national park. A trans-provincial highway is scheduled to open next year, and will pass within 20 miles of these mountains, threatening the current wilderness character.
According to the best available sources, the higher mountains have never been visited in snow season, even by the native Innu who are among the originators of snowshoes. Expected activities include first winter ascent climbs, ski and snowshoe treks, gully climbs, first descents (for skiers and boarders), water ice/mixed climbs, photography, etc. Applicants must be experienced and self-sufficient in winter tent camping, wilderness navigation, snow safety and winter mountain travel. Cost is approximately $2,200. (For more information: e-mail Michael Lederer)
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"I think I found fear a very stimulating factor. I'm sure the feeling of fear, as long as you can take advantage of it and not be rendered useless by it, can make you extend yourself beyond what you would regard as your capacity. If you're afraid, the blood seems to flow freely through the veins and you really do feel a sense of stimulation. If you can summon up your determination and motivation to overcome the fear, you seem to have more energy to tackle the problem and overcome it." - Sir Edmund Percival Hillary, KG, ONZ, KBE (1919-2008), interviewed by LIFE Books editorial director Robert Sullivan.
Virtual Antarctica – Scientists have unveiled a new, high definition, interactive map of Antarctica. In support of the International Polar Year (IPY 2007-2008), the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica (LIMA) brings the coldest continent on Earth alive in greater detail than ever before through this virtually cloudless, seamless, and high resolution satellite view of Antarctica.
Researchers and the general public can download LIMA and all of the component Landsat scenes at no charge by visiting lima.usgs.gov or lima.nasa.gov
Iceman Cometh – Think Steger had it rough in Antarctica and the North Pole? Take a look at Dutchman Wim "Iceman" Hof, 48, who was packed in 1,500 lbs. of ice for 72 minutes last January. This beat the world record for full body ice contact endurance which Hof set in 2004, when he immersed himself in ice for one hour and eight minutes. Hof says he survives by controlling his body temperature with the tantric practice of tumo.
It was all a stunt for the New York Rubin Museum of Art exhibition called Brainwave, an examination of how art, music and meditation affect the brain. The show runs through June 2008.
Viesturs: Ignorance Causes Most Avalanche Deaths – Seattle climber Ed Viesturs, 48, tells the Salt Lake Tribune (Feb. 7) that the combination of heavy storms and more people exploring the backcountry contributed to some of the avalanche accidents reported so far this season.
"Part of it is ignorance," he tells reporter Tom Wharton. "People don't know what they are getting into." Viesturs also lives by what he describes as "listening to the mountain."
"You have to know what to look for and how to evaluate the situation," he said. "That goes with any kind of wilderness. You have to go with the flow. You can't beat the mountains into submission. They kind of allow you to climb them. You have to be humble and respectful of the power of nature." Viesturs recently signed an endorsement contract with Adventure Medical Kits.
Monastery is Ready for its Close-up – Screenwriter Justin Zackham admits to the Los Angeles Times (Jan. 2) that he put a bit of his own travel ambition in The Bucket List, the Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman film which opened last Christmas.
Both characters play cancer patients who become buddies and undertake "the road trip of a lifetime." Locations include the pyramids, the Taj Mahal, and the Great Wall of China. One additional stop is Tengboche Monastery in Nepal, the beacon of high spirituality where Mount Everest climbers typically stop for a blessing on the way to Base Camp.
Thar She Blows – Meteorologists trot out overblown wind chill numbers to put an exclamation point on the banality of winter. "Wind chill readings make excitement out of mere inconvenience; they imbue a miserable day with the air of epic calamity," writes Daniel Engber in the February/March issue of the National Ski Areas Association Journal.
"The weatherman's favorite alarmist statistic has been around for more than 60 years. Its ignoble history began with a pair of Antarctic explorers named Paul Siple and Charles Passel. In 1945, the two men left plastic bottles of water outside in the wind and observed the rate at which they froze," writes Engber. "The equation they worked out used the wind speed and air temperature to describe the rate at which the bottles gave off heat, expressed in watts per square meter."
In the 1970s, the Canadian weather service started reporting the numbers, although it wasn't until around 2000 that others realized the adapted Siple-Passel equations grossly overestimated rates of heat loss. By 2001, a new system was developed that toned down wind chill readings. Conditions that were once said to feel like minus 40 now "felt like" minus 19, according to the NSAA article. Engber continues, "rather than trying to patch up wind chill's inconsistencies, we should just dump it altogether ... there's something absurd in the notion that the weatherman can tell us how we feel."
Journey to the Center of the Earth – The exploration community is tickled that the first live action digital 3D movie ever will focus this summer on the classic Jules Verne novel Journey to the Center of the Earth.
This remake of the 1959 film starring James Mason and Pat Boone, features Brendan Fraser (Crash, The Mummy) as a science professor whose untraditional hypotheses have made him the laughing stock of the academic community. But on an expedition in Iceland, he and his nephew stumble upon a major discovery that launches them on a journey deep beneath the Earth's surface, where they travel through never-before-seen worlds and encounter a variety of unusual creatures. Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D is directed by Academy Award-winning visual effects veteran Eric Brevig (Total Recall, Pearl Harbor). (See the trailer at: TrailerAddict.com)
Gas Analyser Crows About Arctic Sponsorship - Not every expedition sponsor wants to reach the general public. For some, sponsorship can help generate business-to-business exposure. Such is the case of the Gow-Mac Instrument Co. from Bethlehem, Pa., which has been named a supplier to the Total Pole Airship Expedition, an airship project by Jean-Louis Etienne to measure the thickness of pack ice while crossing the Arctic Ocean from March to June 2008.
Gow-Mac will provide the Model 20-600 portable binary gas analyser for helium purity measurements. The frozen expanse is seriously threatened by global warming. The expedition will explore the pack ice in an airship, considered the ideal vehicle to carry the special measuring apparatus and to cover the vast area to be surveyed. A six-man crew will float across the ice pack using a helium-filled Russian AU30 airship.
Wind Energy? You Betcha - To promote the wind energy potential of North Dakota, Mortenson Construction, based in Minneapolis, last month sponsored the 2008 To Cross the Moon Expedition (2XtM). For 18 days, three extreme athletes snowkited more than 390 miles across North Dakota's moon-like landscape. The expedition kicked off in early February at the Canadian border near Crosby, N.D., and ended in Keldron, S.D.
The expedition, presented by Northern Great Plains Inc. and YogaSlackers, was completely self-supported with three athletes hauling all food, equipment and supplies needed to survive the extreme winter weather conditions.
"It will be an extreme challenge," said expedition leader Sam Salwei before departure, "but our goal is to make North Dakota the 'state of extremes' by demonstrating the state's wind energy potential in a tangible way."
North Dakota has been called the "Saudi Arabia of Wind." The U.S. Department of Energy ranks North Dakota the number one state in wind energy potential. Theoretically speaking, North Dakota alone is capable of producing enough wind-generated power to meet more than one-fourth of U.S. electricity demand, according to DOE estimates. Mortenson Construction is the leading wind power contractor in North America.
Accompanying the athletes on the traverse, the 2XtM community outreach crew roughly followed the expedition route and gave educational presentations to increase awareness of wind energy and climate change in local schools and at community forums. (For more information: 2XtM.com)
Designer Sponsors Trapped Boat – Paris fashion designer Agnes B. was among thousands who massed in Lorient, France, late last month to give a hero's welcome to a sailboat that deliberately remained trapped in Arctic pack ice for almost a year and a half to research global warming. Known as a stickler for socially responsible clothes-making, Agnes B. - real name Agnes Trouble and wife of late Paris publisher Christian Bourgois - was the main financial backer of the Tara, a sailboat re-designed to endure months drifting in northern pack ice.
Tara's team of sailors and scientists from seven countries were part of a European scientific mission called Damocles, studying climate variations in Arctic waters, ice and atmosphere as part of International Polar Year in 2007-2008. (For more information: damocles-eu.org or TaraExpeditions.org)
Exploration is a Dirty Business – What better way to promote a hand sanitizer than search for young explorers who like to get their hands dirty? National Geographic Kids magazine and Purell are searching for America's next generation of explorers and the teachers who inspire them.
Fifteen young explorers and two teachers will be selected as members of the 2008 National Geographic Kids Hands-On Explorer Challenge Expedition Team (try putting that on a t-shirt) and will win the field trip of a lifetime - an 11-day expedition, courtesy of Tourism Australia. The expedition will explore the natural wonders of Australia, including Queensland's Great Barrier Reef and prehistoric Daintree Rainforest, and Tasmania, where the explorers will search for the Tasmanian devil - with National Geographic and local experts as their guides.
Promoting hands-on exploration among America's youth, the third annual National Geographic Kids Hands-On Explorer Challenge is a national essay and photo competition for students ages nine to 14, sponsored by National Geographic Kids magazine and the marketers of Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer.
"Whether they're discovering the wonders of Australia or the marvels of their own backyard, not everything these hands-on explorers may touch is clean. For those times when soap and water are not available, there is Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer. Purell kills 99.99% of most common germs that may cause illness," plugs Erik Falck, the brand's product director. The Australia expedition is scheduled for July 16-28, 2008. (For more information: kids.nationalgeographic.com)
CLIMBING FOR DOLLARS
Annapurna Expedition to Raise Awareness of Ovarian Cancer
Tonya Riggs, 44, director of business development for Stonewear Designs, and high altitude filmmaker Brad Clement, 36, both of Boulder, Colo., will lead an expedition to Annapurna in the Nepal Himalaya starting Sept. 10. Their Dare to Dream Expedition hopes to raise awareness of ovarian cancer in association with the HERA Women's Cancer Foundation.
Clement and Riggs recently summitted Mt. Everest, an event that made Riggs one of less than 30 U.S. women to accomplish such a feat. The 10th highest mountain on earth, Annapurna (26,545-ft.) is considered to be the most complex and challenging of the world's high altitude peaks.
"The odds of reaching the top of Everest and returning alive are far greater than the odds of surviving ovarian cancer," says Riggs, whose close friend Sean Patrick founded the HERA Women's Cancer Foundation. "Mt. Everest may be the highest mountain in the world, but watching Sean confront ovarian cancer I realize there are far greater challenges," she says.
Clement will produce a documentary of the climb in high definition (HD) video. As owner of Colorado's Spindrift Films, Clement's footage and photographs have been part of corporate marketing campaigns as well as broadcast on major networks, The Travel Channel, CNN, PBS, NBC, The Outdoor Channel and a six-hour Discovery Channel series, Ultimate Survival, Mt. Everest.
The expedition is offering a side trek to Annapurna's north side Base Camp for $4,900 per person. Financial sponsorship is being sought; Marmot is supplying gear. (For more information: DareToDream2008.com)
Summit For Salmon
A fifth annual Summit for Salmon climb of Mt. Rainier is planned to help restore abundant, harvestable wild salmon to the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Funds raised through the climb will be donated to Save Our Wild Salmon, a nationwide coalition of conservation organizations, commercial and sport fishing associations, businesses, river groups and taxpayer advocates.
In the last four years Summit for Salmon climbers have raised more than $80,000. Each climber is required to raise a minimum of $2,500. Experienced guides from Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. will lead the climb scheduled for Aug. 22-25, 2008. (For more information: e-mail Wild Salmon or visit WildSalmon.org)
Ecopsychology – Treatment for those with an acute unease about the future of the planet. It encourages patients to develop a relationship with nature, to spend more time outdoors and explore how their upbringing and family background influence their approach to the natural world. One graduate student studying ecopsychology at Lewis & Clark says she now likes to meditate by the low, wide trunk of an old black walnut tree on campus. She sits there for several minutes: no iPod, no cellphone, no laptop. She rubs her hand over the bark, and sniffs the empty shells left behind by squirrels. (Obviously, this is someone who needs to get out more.) (Source: New York Times, Feb. 16)
Gigantism – Some of the animals deep under the sea grow to unusually large sizes, a phenomenon called gigantism that scientists still do not fully understand. "Gigantism is very common in Antarctic waters," said Martin Riddle, the Australian Antarctic Division scientist who led an expedition to take a census of marine life in the ocean at the far south of the world. "We have collected huge worms, giant crustaceans and sea spiders the size of dinner plates." (Source: Associated Press)
Adventure is Not a Race
"In regards to Chris Kostman's question why Andy Politz and his team would consider their attempt to bicycle across the eastern lobe of Lake Huron, to be "anything new" (See EN, February 2008), first off, Mr. Politz, as quoted in EN, said specifically 'We are not trying to do any first here.'
"Secondly, event organizer Mr. Kostman's supporting evidence that 'There's a whole slew of races of 100 to 1,200 miles in length held in Alaska, Yukon, Minnesota, and elsewhere each winter for mountain bikes (etc.)' conveniently ignores the fact that most winter bike races follow specially-packed snowmobile tracks, not cross-country terrain.
"Really, one is about paid entry, course-set competitions. The other is about crossing wilderness terrain that's not pre-prepared. The difference seems obvious to me. Jealousy in adventure sports can get decidedly weird, especially when it's combined with self-promotion, and this is a classic case.
"As Politz said, 'This is a training run that will allow us to explore the bicycle as a winter vehicle. We are only hoping to gain insight for the potential of bigger trips ... I am convinced adventurers (need to) have a fresh perspective, an essential toolbox of skills, a functional management style concerning risk and the unknown. If they stay in their arena, they are slick, sexy, faultless, bold, untouchable.'
"By contrast, Mr. Kostman cites his having completed four winter bike ultramarathons, complete with a link to his event Web site and National Geographic TV coverage of his arena events.
"While competing in extreme environment ultramarathons clearly involves a ton of fitness, it is not exploration, or adventure. Never was. Never will be. You want an adventure? Don't register for one; set off on one. As Helly Hansen used to say in their promotions 'adventure is not a race.'"
Good luck to Mr. Politz.
Rocky Mountain Editor
Editor's Note: Chris Kostman stands by his original letter and adds, "To say there was no adventure in any of those races I did is pure idiocy and envy. To refer to human-powered races on the Iditarod Trail as 'arena events' is so laughable as to not merit a reply."
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Expedition Public Relations – Alex Foley & Associates specializes in Expedition PR. The London-based firm has executed PR programs for many international expeditions, often to maximise value for the title sponsors, including the 1996 Titanic Expedition, Ice Challenger, Snickers South Pole and recently Expedition 360.
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Tel: (+44) (0) 20-7352-3144
Costa Del Mar Sunglasses – The leader in high performance polarized sunglasses is interested in sponsoring expeditions. Help us "See what's out there™."
See Costa Del Mar's online video network dedicated to water sports and angling adventures (costachannelc.com) Submit film footage of "you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it" extreme water sports and fishing expeditions.
Contact Laurie Driggs at email@example.com for information.
Learn more about our commitment to exploration and adventure travel at: CostaDelMar.com/adventures/
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New LEKI Antishock System – LEKI, the leading international manufacturer of trekking poles, has introduced a Soft Antishock-Lite (SAS-L) System that provides much more comfort along the trail.
The impact energy is absorbed directly into the lower shaft. The perfect combination of steel spring and elastomer provides precise synchronization between spring strength and compression - making trekking with a pole more comfortable than ever, reducing stress on the joints, muscles and ligaments.
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Tights and Tops, and the company's new Sports Support Bras, are made for a wide variety of high-energy activities, including running, fitness walking, hiking, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, track and field, and other fitness activities.
It has been worn to the summit of Everest on at least two occasions.
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