March 2009 – Volume Sixteen, Number Three
EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 15th 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.
PEARY FOLLOWERS COMMEMORATE 100th ANNIVERSARY
It depends upon who you speak to. Most historians credit Admiral Robert E. Peary as first to hammer "The Big Nail," the term Greenland Eskimos used to describe the North Pole. But speak to members of the Frederick A. Cook Society, and they'll send you a 64- page annual journal defending their man as first to the Pole by about one year. Of course, Cook's credibility wasn't much enhanced by his conviction for mail fraud in 1923, followed by seven years in Leavenworth Federal Prison.
It's generally believed that nearly 100 years ago, Peary and Matthew A. Henson, along with a team of Inuit, became the first men to reach the North Pole. Peary and his entourage of 23 men and 133 dogs set off from Ellesmere Island on a bitterly cold March 1, 1909. As they traveled north, they lightened their loads and reduced the size of their party. Only six men, Peary, Henson, and four Polar Inuit, Oatah, Egingwah, Seegloo, and Ookeah, were left to set foot on the Pole on April 6, 1909. For 80 years, skeptics disputed the claim, and although the Navigation Foundation upheld it in 1989, the controversy remains.
Regardless of what Cook's stalwart followers maintain about the veracity of their man's claims, a number of commemorative events next month will honor Peary's accomplishment. They include:
The Peary Centennial North Pole Expedition hopes to encourage and engage governmental policy for the foundation of an International Arctic Treaty. Another goal is to create awareness for the "Cool - Not Cool" campaign, illustrating the link between global warming, excesses in the lifestyles of developed countries, and poor energy policies. The expedition is sponsored by PrimaLoft insulation. (For more information: PearyCentennial.com and www.PolarExplorers.com)
The museum celebrates the centennial with its exhibition, "Northward Over the Great Ice: Robert E. Peary and the Quest for the North Pole," which brings together nearly 300 rare objects and photographs - many never before publicly shown. The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center is named for Arctic explorers and Bowdoin College graduates Robert E. Peary (Class of 1877) and Donald B. MacMillan (Class of 1898). The museum collections include Arctic exploration gear, natural history specimens, and art and anthropological material produced primarily by the Inuit cultures of Labrador and Greenland. (For more information: Bowdoin.edu)
NEW YORK WOMAN DREAMS OF THE SOUTH POLE
A woman living in one of the outer boroughs of New York - near the end of the subway line in Arverne - dreams of cross-country skiing about a day's distance to the South Pole. At the age of 77 she lives on a fixed income, doesn't hobnob with adventure royalty, yet has launched a sponsorship effort to gain the estimated $50,000 she'll need.
Why should any company sponsor Barbara Hillary? Consider this: in 2007 through the sheer force of her will and determination she raised $22,000 in sponsorship support, then combined it with an equal amount of her own savings, to travel to the Arctic and ski for about a day to the North Pole. In so doing she reportedly became the first African- American woman to accomplish this feat.
Since then, she's entertained thousands in presentations to Rotary Clubs, presented to the National Organization for Women, various colleges, last month's Polar Weekend at the American Museum of Natural History, and recently spoke to an employee group at Colgate-Palmolive where she drew laughs by assuring them, "I still have all my own teeth."
Later she would say, "Enter a senior citizen center? That's not for me. It's a form of accelerated death." Hillary adds, "I'm not a little old lady, but I am an older adventurer, a free spirit able to set and define my own goals."
To reach the North Pole on skis in April 2007, she signed on with a private expedition guide service based at Camp Barneo, the floating Russian ice camp located about 60 miles from the pole. From there she helicoptered to within a day's cross-country ski journey to the top of the world. Working from her home, she convinced a number of manufacturers to donate the necessary cash and gear. Indeed, her North Pole parka is festooned with patches from Northern Outfitters, Buck knives, Kuhl, Sporthill and Smartwool.
The media has taken a shine to this warm, engaging woman. Stories have appeared in the Associated Press, Boston Globe, The New Yorker, San Francisco Chronicle, Women's Adventure magazine, and on Good Morning America to name a few just in the U.S. alone. Additional coverage appeared in countries including China, France, Germany, India, and Russia. "Fear makes you more careful," she tells an interviewer at CNN.com. She explains to the Associated Press, "Older people have no excuse to be bored, and no excuse to be b-o-r-i-n-g."
Hillary, a lung cancer survivor and former professional nurse who retired at the age of 62, is about to begin training for her South Pole adventure, planned for January 2010 - training combined with an endless round of telephone calls, e-mails, and meetings with potential benefactors.
Hillary was raised in Harlem and credits her determination to her mother who taught her at an early age, "If you want something, get up off your ass and work for it." Using colorful language and a frankness that's refreshing, she told the Colgate group last month that they should, "Ignore negative people. They are deadly. They will suck the lifeblood out of you." (For more information: (+1) 718-318-2031, BarbaraHillary.com)
Stowe Away – Congratulations to peripatetic sailing adventurer Reid Stowe who last month broke the 657-day record for the longest continuous sea voyage, in the process experiencing a knockdown from a rogue wave. The accident occurred near Cape Horn. Stowe, sailing solo now that his girlfriend was taken off the boat due to her pregnancy, was slightly hurt, a sail was lost and water flooded the cabin. Yet undeterred, he continues on his longest non-stop sea voyage in history. His goal: 1,000 days at sea, and a berth in the record books. So far, so good. In early March he blogged:
"This is surrender to the sea and the universe and trust that my plan of adaptation and harmony will keep working. I have no way of really knowing. I dig through my plastic wrapped boxes of food, find a few things I need and take stock. It seems I have more than enough. I have plenty of dried Mahi Mahi to eat. I am feeling very healthy. My hands and arms are sore from the work of sailing this big old fashioned gaff-rigged schooner and maintaining all the systems, especially the sails." (Read more at: 1000days.net)
Save the Poles Expedition Spreads the Word – Students from around the country will experience the last great frozen places on Earth because of Eric Larsen's Save the Poles Expedition to the North Pole, South Pole and summit of Mt. Everest in 365 days (see EN, January 2009). The expedition is partnering with the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center and the Protect Our Winters Foundation to produce 12 hours of climate change curricula to provide teachers with the tools needed to prepare the next generation of students for what will be the defining issues of their time.
The course will be available on the expedition's Web site, www.savethepoles.com. Teachers and administrators will be able to access background information, lesson plans, worksheets, a phenology tracking program and multimedia introduction videos.
The Save the Poles Expedition will journey to the top, bottom and roof of the world to create awareness of global warming, advocate strategies for reducing carbon emissions and collect relevant scientific data for scientists to study the need for change. This feat has never been completed in one year. Reportedly, only 15 people in history (no Americans) have been to all three "poles."
Save the Poles sponsors include ACR Electronics, Atwater Carey, ClifBar, Cocona, Genuine Guide Gear, Granite Gear, Karhu, LEKI, MSR, Neve Designs, Optic Nerve, Outdoor Research, Potable Aqua, Princeton Tec, Scream Agency, Sierra Designs, Stanley, Therm-A-Rest, Tim Harincar Internet Engineering, Wigwam and Wintergreen Northern Wear.
Ken Burns National Park Doc Stands Corrected – Something bothered us about the preview for Ken Burns' new documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea. In the film clip shown at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in January (See EN, February 2009), narrator Peter Coyote credits Death Valley as being the lowest point of land in the hemisphere. EN staffers know from coverage of the Death Valley Badwater Race that the 135-mile race starts at 282 feet below sea level, the lowest point in North America, not the Western hemisphere. Despite all the erroneous listings on Google, that distinction belongs to Patagonia's Laguna del Carbon at minus 344 feet.
Ken Burns' colleague, Dayton Duncan of Florentine Films in Walpole, N.H., thanked us for noting the error. He writes, "In calling it the lowest location in the hemisphere we were relying on references claiming that, though on deeper digging found that they were hanging their hat on calling it the "lowest dry land" in the hemisphere. In that, I guess, they were distinguishing it from Laguna del Carbon, which is a marsh.
"Anyway, it's a distinction we'd just as soon not make. Luckily, your note arrived just in time before the film was put to bed, and we have been able to change the narration to refer to DV as the "lowest, driest and hottest location in the country," Duncan e-mails.
Expedition News has been accused of sweating the small stuff, but when it comes to accuracy and you write an expedition newsletter, Web site and blog, it's all small stuff.
Memorial Planned for Mt. Blanc Victims – James Hooper, 21, whose human-powered circumnavigation partner Rob Gauntlett was killed in a climbing accident on Mt. Blanc in January, visited with us last month in Darien with Gauntlett's former girlfriend, 21-year-old Lucinda Hutchins. As reported here in February, the two plan to set up a Rob Gauntlett Trust to award grants to young people with big ambitions and little money. Last November, National Geographic Adventure magazine declared Gauntlett and Hooper "adventurers of the year" for their 26,000-mile journey from one of the earth's magnetic poles to the other using only skis, sleds, sails and bicycles.
Hooper tells us, "The recognition by the magazine was hugely gratifying. I'm glad Rob was able to enjoy the honor before he died."
Both will attend a Mar. 21 memorial service for Gauntlett and James Atkinson, the other victim of the Jan. 9 accident, at the U.K.'s Christ's Hospital School. (For more information: 180degrees.com)
Never Too Old for Adventure – The 93-year-old daughter of a survivor of an ill-fated 1912 voyage to the South Pole died last month while retracing her father's voyage to Antarctica.
Barbara Johns, daughter of biologist Edward Nelson, was only days from reaching her father's Antarctic field laboratory when she died of head injuries after falling aboard a ship during a storm, said Rodney Russ, the leader of the expedition.
Nelson was a member of Robert Falcon Scott's expedition to Antarctica aboard the Terra Nova in 1912. Scott led a party of five explorers who reached the South Pole in January 1912, only to find that Norwegian Roald Amundsen had preceded them. Scott and his four comrades perished on the return journey from the pole. Nelson was among Scott's support team and did not make the trek to the pole.
Johns, an Englishwoman living in Spain, was aboard the New Zealand tour ship Spirit of Enderby and was about 190 miles from Antarctica when the accident happened, Russ said.
Johns, who was traveling with her 65-year-old son Andrew Hay, was treated by the ship's doctor, receiving instructions from Christchurch Hospital in New Zealand. "Treatment was provided but, sadly, Barbara never regained consciousness and died," Russ said.
He added that Johns was an inspirational woman who was very excited about visiting her father's laboratory. Those of us at EN are in awe of Johns' spunk. When we turn age 93 we'll consider ourselves lucky if we're still standing upright and eating solid food, much less visiting Antarctica.
"Her Deepness" Wins $100,000 TED Award – Sylvia Earle, called "Her Deepness" by the New Yorker and the New York Times, "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress, and "Hero for the Planet" by Time, is an oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer with a deep commitment to research through personal exploration. Another accolade came Earle's way last month when she won a $100,000 TED Award.
The TED Prize is designed to grant a "wish" to selected individuals by tapping into the TED community to assist with everything from financial support to office space and marketing expertise. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design and was established in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds.
Earle's winning wish was, "I wish you would use all means at your disposal - films! expeditions! the web! more! - to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet." (For more information: TedPrize.org)
Picture This – Thousands of rare and fragile images spanning more than 150 years of polar exploration have been painstakingly restored for the digital age by Cambridge University. The Freeze Frame project has seen more than 20,000 images from the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) archive digitized and made freely available to people across the world.
Featuring the expeditions of Sir John Franklin, Captain Scott, Sir Ernest Shackleton and their modern counterparts, the digital archive provides fascinating insight into the beauty and privations of life at the Poles; from the "heroic age" of exploration to Sir Ranulph Fiennes' Transglobe Expedition of the 1980s.
Included in the collection are images from photographer Herbert George Ponting (1870-1935), a pioneer in the use of photography as an art form. Robert F. Scott appointed him "camera artist" to the Terra Nova expedition. As such, Ponting became the first professional photographer to visit Antarctica.
Ponting's work on Scott's 1910-12 expedition is arguably considered, quite simply, the finest photographs ever made of an expedition. Surely the stills and motion picture film footage, which immortalized Scott's final expedition, must have been in their day the equivalent of taking an IMAX camera to the top of Everest. They are among the most enduring images of polar exploration.
Visitors to FreezeFrame.ac.uk can view thousands of rarely seen images, including glass plate negatives from the 1910-13 British Antarctic Expedition. These are now so fragile they will never be publicly displayed. Web site visitors can also read extracts from diaries, expedition reports, letters and personal papers of expedition members. The earliest photos in the SPRI collection were, fittingly, the last to be digitized to reach the project's 20,000-image target. Featuring photographs of Sir John Franklin's doomed "lost expedition" in 1845, the only known portraits of Franklin and his crew provide a moving tribute to the heroism of their endeavors.
Alistair Dunning, digitization manager at the Joint Information Systems Committee, which funded the project, says, "Freeze Frame will provide an unparalleled record of the living conditions and scientific findings of the explorers which can be used by students today studying everything from photography and nutrition to global warming and glaciology."
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"We were the only pulsating creatures in a dead world of ice." - Dr. Frederick A. Cook, April 21, 1908. Some believe neither Cook nor Robert E. Peary made it to the North Pole, the expeditionary Holy Grail of the early 20th century, although the likelihood is that both got close against hazardous odds.
Trip Report – East Africa High Altitude Research Expedition Mt. Kilimanjaro
A 24-member biomedical research project, the East Africa High Altitude Research Expedition, recently returned from Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro. The team conducted high altitude physiology research in a joint project with The Explorers Club, the Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM), and Massachusetts General Hospital. The project was organized by Scott Hamilton of The Explorers Club, who also served as the expedition leader and study coordinator. Principal investigators were Stephen Muza Ph.D. and Robert Kenefick Ph.D. of USARIEM, and Stuart Harris M.D., director of Wilderness Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Kenneth Kamler M.D. served as the expedition physician.
USARIEM Research activities included a field study of altitude acclimatization, acute mountain sickness (AMS), a detailed study of hydration and sweat loss under field conditions and gathering data for a prototype predictive model for assessing individual altitude acclimatization status and susceptibility to AMS. Dr. Harris conducted a study involving ultrasound imaging of the optic nerve sheath for evidence of intracranial swelling. Hamilton and Muza had collaborated on a previous successful joint altitude research project on Mt. Everest in 2007.
The research team members gathered important "continuous data" by wearing a series of miniaturized bio-monitoring devices that included actigraphs (mini accelerometers) to measure energy expenditure, and pulse oximeters which were worn every night while sleeping to record blood oxygenation saturation and heart rate. Supplementary data on ambient temperature, solar radiation and barometric pressure was also collected. After a seven-day ascent to the summit via the Western Lemosho route, the entire team camped in the Kilimanjaro crater at 18,700 feet before descending the mountain via the Mweka route. All 24 team members reached the summit. Research data is currently being analyzed at USARIEM and Massachusetts General and is expected to be reported in several academic publications.
Pixels for Charity – Beginning this May on Mt. McKinley, Brian Dickinson, a 34-year-old systems engineer from Seattle, will begin an attempt to climb the Seven Summits. However his estimated five-year goal does not stop at hiking mountains. In the process, Brian and his social worker wife, JoAnna Dickinson, 33, are raising money to give back to needy families and charities through their Web site.
In an innovative fund-raising campaign, the top 10 sponsors per summit that purchase the most pixels on their Web site will be represented on the expedition. Buying pixel advertisements is simple and achieved automatically through the individual summit pages. Potential sponsors visit the grid page, click a summit picture and simply click on the unoccupied cells that they would like to purchase at a cost of 10 cents each in minimum blocks of 100 (10x10 pixels). Payment is accepted through PayPal.com. The pixel real estate purchased on the site can then click through to the sponsor's own home page.
The Dickinsons also run a program called Extreme Adventures, a Church on the Ridge affiliated group that provides outreach services to youth seeking guidance, direction and self-confidence.
Dickinson's past life as a U.S. Navy helicopter rescue swimmer helped him prepare physically and mentally to overcome tough obstacles. He is training for his summit attempts by climbing in the Pacific Northwest mountain ranges. His recent climbs include Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Mt. Baker, and the Olympic Range. He is seeking $250,000 and hopes to complete the Seven Summits by 2014. Support has already been received by ClifBar, GU, Pacific Outdoor Equipment, Tec Labs and Universal Giving. (For more information: sponsor7summits.com)
Viesturs Teams with Eddie Bauer for Everest Attempt – Climber Ed Viesturs of Seattle, the first American to summit all fourteen 8,000 meter peaks, will attempt to reach the summit of Everest for the seventh time this spring. He will join a seasoned climbing team representing Eddie Bauer as the company launches a technical outerwear and equipment line called First Ascent. The First Ascent Guide Team is led by Peter Whittaker, son of acclaimed mountaineer Lou Whittaker and nephew of Jim Whittaker, who wore Eddie Bauer gear on his historic first American ascent of Everest.
Also part of the team is Dave Hahn, who has summited Everest ten times, more than any non-Sherpa. Joining Peter, Ed, and Dave are three accomplished guides from Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (RMI): Melissa Arnot, Seth Waterfall, and Chad Peele. Beginning in April, all RMI guides will be outfitted in First Ascent gear, along with many of their clients. This will be Viesturs 11th expedition to Everest. They depart the U.S. on March 25 and hope to be making a summit bid sometime in May. (For more information: EdViesturs.com)
Climbing: Training for Peak Performance (2nd Edition)
by Clyde Soles (Mountaineers Books, 2008)
Reviewed by Robert F. Wells
So, you want to "climb every mountain... ford every ice field"? You could simply strap on your crampons and head for the hills. But you're nuts if you do without first getting ready. If innovation is 99% perspiration, successful climbing is at least 99% preparation. As Soles says, "There is a world of difference between training harder and training smarter."
Whether you're a weekend warrior or a seasoned iceman, this book is a virtual bible packed with useful information to help get you to the top of just about anything. Food facts. Mental training. Conditioning. Dealing with altitude. Strength. Exercises to improve flexibility/balance. And ways to simply "put everything together."
Soles debunks myths about aging. Takes a whack at vegans. Then takes off on organic foods. Who knew that "psyching-up" enables you to achieve 8% more peak force? How do different genders deal with fear? Soles dissects each major form of aerobic activity - laying out the pros and cons of each. Complex medical and nutritional insights are served up to readers in very digestible bites. If you're not sure what gear and techniques to use when training, a good half of the book is devoted to exercises and everything you should consider when building up strength - maintaining, stretching, rehabilitating, and cross training. If you thought you needed a personal trainer, this book quite possibly will be the best one you could employ.
About the only thing the author avoids dealing with is the advisability of sex before and after climbing. But I suspect any reader religiously adopting a sampling of Soles' exercise routines will probably make them pretty good in the sack. Seriously, if you want to prepare yourself to hit the Himalayas or that pesky crag out back, before you hit the wall, bring this book along with you.
Robert F. Wells is a member of The Explorers Club since 1991, a resident of Darien, Conn., and a retired executive of the Young & Rubicam ad agency. Bob is the director of a steel band and in 1989, at the age of 45, traveled south by road bike from Canada to Long Island Sound in a single 19-hr., 28-min. push.
What Slowdown? - Our friends at ExplorersWeb report the list of 2009 spring Everest expeditions include two traverses, one sleep-over, close to 40 expeditions on the south side and at least eight on the north side. Add to these some 26 expeditions so far on the surrounding 8000ers. In spite of the slow economy and shaky politics, they say the upcoming spring season is as packed as ever with close to 100 expeditions. (For more information: MountEverest.net)
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
How Many Days Was That? – Oops. In our story last month about the International Marine Arctic Complex Expedition (IMACE) we meant to say it would spend 48 days in the field starting in July, not during the month of July, searching for evidence of early Arctic pioneers. We have Angela Schuster, editor of the Explorers Journal, to thank for noticing this error.
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