February 2011 – Volume Eighteen, Number Two
EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 18th 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.
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A Polar First for an African-American Woman
New Yorker Barbara Hillary, a lung cancer survivor and former professional nurse who retired over 17 years ago at the age of 62, has become the first African-American woman on record to reach both the North and South Poles (see EN, March 2009). She is 79.
On January 31, after being delayed for days in Punta Arenas, Chile, by a local protest against heating gas prices, she was guided on a visit to the South Pole and the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. En route, she reported to her followers by satellite telephone, "I thought Antarctica was one sheet of ice and snow. But we're sitting here surrounded by a mountain range exquisite in its beauty. The air is so clear you can drink it."
To reach the North Pole a short distance 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 North Pole. After much research, there is still no record of any other African-American woman standing on the North Pole. Thus, with this latest trip, she becomes the first African-American woman to reach both poles by any means. (For more information: www.barbarahillary.com)
Exploration World Gathers in Salt Lake City
Last month, the giant Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2011 was ostensively where specialty outdoor retailers such as EMS, Paragon, and REI decided what to buy for their stores for fall-winter 2011-12. Manufacturers create massive booths, over 840 in all, some two stories high, to present their lines to an estimated attendance this year of 19,000, up 13 percent from Winter Market 2010.
For those of us in the expedition community, the OR Show is where we go to cement sponsor relationships, review the latest "kit" to take on trips, and give thanks to past corporate benefactors. Some notable highlights:
Retailers attended a screening of the Everest documentary by Virgil Films which shows American climber Conrad Anker, haunted by the disappearance of George Mallory on the mountain in 1924, attempting the treacherous Second Step without ladders, just the way Mallory and Irvine would likely have climbed the North Col route in 1924. After the screening, Anker said it was possible Mallory made the summit, but improbable given the difficulty of the Second Step. In fact, Anker himself could be seen falling in one spot during what was eventually his second summit of the mountain.
"But that's my opinion and opinions are like toothbrushes, everyone has their own," he said.
Nonetheless, Anker believes Mallory lived his life to the fullest, calling him a "visionary" for mapping out the best path to the summit, a north side route that's still the most popular route to the top. Anker later said, "When you decide to climb, you make peace with death. It's a very dangerous sport. You realize how precious life is."
As for that lost Kodak Vest Pocket camera that everyone is looking for, Anker said it probably wouldn't show much if found. "There was a storm that day. If they summited they were inside a milk bottle. Finding the camera wouldn't necessarily prove they summited."
The film comes out in DVD and Blu-Ray this March.
Seeing climbing legend Reinhold Messner is like, well, like seeing Babe Ruth talk about his baseball career. You'd be hard-pressed to name a more respected member of the climbing community. During a presentation sponsored by adidas Outdoor, retailers were awed by his climbing resume which includes first to climb all 14 of the world's 8000 m (26,247-ft.) peaks without supplemental oxygen. Messner, 66, a native of a narrow German-speaking valley in Italy's South Tyrol, has authored more than five dozen inspirational books, mostly about climbing, and has established five museums to celebrate alpine adventure.
You have to listen carefully when he speaks, his accent is that strong. But he came out with a few gems and kept the audience laughing.
"Everest wasn't too steep," he admitted, "but it was really hard because I had to do it myself.
"I am full of dreams still now," he said, explaining that he currently climbs smaller mountains, a bit slower and not as powerfully.
Earlier he told Therese Iknoian of the Outdoor Retailer Daily, "Climbing mountains is the 'crusade of the useless,' and it should remain a wild activity in archaic places."
Messner adds, "The crux of every adventure isn't reaching the summit or some other goal; rather, it is the return to humanity from an inhuman and hostile environment."
Helen Crittenden and her husband, Paul Crittenden, were looking a bit bewildered as they entered the Salt Palace. In the midst of a largely self-funded quest to drive around the world, their beloved Land Rover Defender 110, essential to the success of their Going Overland Transglobal Expedition, was burglarized just a few days before the convention.
Some financial records, souvenirs and about $7 were stolen – nothing of much monetary value. Just a major inconvenience for the two Brits from Kent, England, who left eight months ago on their quest to achieve an unbroken true overland circumnavigation; they had already traveled through the first antipode on their route and covered approximately two-fifths of the journey's distance when they were victims of the smash and grab (the window was later replaced gratis by a local Land Rover dealer).
They registered as writers for Land Rover Monthly, received their trade show credentials, and set off to find $30,000 in sponsorship funding by August so that they can continue their journey. They received some underwear from ExOfficio and an adjustable bungee from NightIze, but no fat sponsorship check.
Their hope is to draw attention to child poverty, destruction of rainforests, and the lack of access to clean water and sanitation. Next stop: Mexico in April, then Ushuaia on the tip of South America. (For more information: email@example.com; GoingOverland.com)
What makes blind hiker Trevor Thomas, 41, of Charlotte, N.C. think he can thru-hike the Continental Divide Trail? Here's one good reason: in 2008 he thru-hiked the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail, solo. He was reportedly the first person to do so blind and unassisted. Then just last year, he completed the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail mostly unassisted, except in deep snow and through poorly marked portions.
"The AT was an incredibly liberating experience," he told us. "The route is a well used trail. I listened to my surroundings and could feel the trail with my feet. I only got lost once."
Thomas, whose trail name is Zero/Zero, lost his sight to a rare disease in 2005.
We ran into him at the Outdoor Retailer show during an appearance for his sponsor, Ahnu boots; he recently announced that LEKI, the trekking pole manufacturer had also signed on. Since much of the 3,100-mile CDT is not as well marked as the AT, Thomas will attempt to take on the Continental Divide, from Canada south to Mexico, with a three-person sighted team starting in June.
"My teammates' job is not to help me hike the trail. I intend to hike it, as would any sighted hiker. I do know, however, that there are some sections that I will need my partners' assistance to get through. I am planning to hike solo for much of the trail as I did on the PCT," he tells EN. His main goal? "Increase societal awareness of blindness. It's not a disability to keep you down."
The Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail form the Triple Crown of long distance hiking in the U.S. (For more information: TeamFarSight.org)
Naval Hero Oliver Perry's Ship Found 200 Years Later
A team of divers say they've discovered the remains of the USS Revenge, a ship commanded by U.S. Navy hero Oliver Hazard Perry and wrecked off Rhode Island in 1811. Perry is known for defeating the British in the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie off the shores of Ohio, Michigan and Ontario in the War of 1812 and for the line "I have met the enemy and they are ours." His battle flag bore the phrase "Don't give up the ship," and to this day is a symbol of the Navy.
The divers, Charles Buffum, a brewery owner from Stonington, Conn., and Craig Harger, a carbon dioxide salesman from Colchester, Conn., say the wreck changed the course of history because Perry likely would not have been sent to Lake Erie otherwise.
Buffum said he's been interested in finding the remains of the Revenge ever since his mother several years ago gave him the book Shipwrecks on the Shores of Westerly. The book includes Perry's account of the wreck, which happened when it hit a reef in a storm in heavy fog off Watch Hill in Westerly as Perry was bringing the ship from Newport to New London, Conn.
Buffum and Harger say items recovered fit into the time period that the Revenge sank, the anchor appears to be the main one that is known to have been cut loose from the ship, and that no other military ships with cannons have been recorded as sinking in the area. They have not discovered a ship's bell or anything else that identifies it as the Revenge, and all the wood has disappeared, which is not unusual for a wreck that old, they said.
The Navy has a right to salvage its shipwrecks, and the two say they've contacted the Naval History and Heritage Command, which oversees such operations, in hopes the Navy will salvage the remains. If the Navy does not, they said they hope to raise the money for a salvage operation so the artifacts can be displayed at a historical society.
One Tough Dude
A climber who plunged 1,000 feet (305 meters) from one of Britain's highest mountains – and walked away – is promising to climb Mount Everest later this year. Adam Potter, of Glasgow, went home earlier this month just days after he slipped on an icy patch off the summit of the 3,589 foot (1,094 meters) Sgurr Choinnich Mor in Scotland.
The 35-year-old tumbled down the steep slopes, flying off cliffs. Rescuers found tattered bits of his clothing and equipment on outcrops stretching from the top to the bottom of the mountain. Potter was located standing up reading a map when rescuers arrived; at first they couldn't believe he was the victim. Though he had broken his back in three places, Potter is still able to walk and was discharged from a Glasgow hospital shortly afterwards.
Potter had been climbing in the Scottish Highlands with his three friends and his dog in preparation for an Everest trek later this year. He had just reached the summit, when he lost his footing and fell down the steep and craggy eastern slope of the mountain. His survival was "purely a matter of luck," said David Gibson of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland. "I don't know how he managed to survive, because there has been a case where somebody had fallen just 30 feet (nine meters) in that area and died," Gibson said.
Leader of Phoenician Ship Expedition Starts Foundation
Philip Beale, creator and leader of The Phoenician Ship Expedition, announced plans to launch The Phoenicia Foundation this year. The Foundation will continue the spirit of the two-year (2008-2010) Phoenicia Ship Expedition which successfully recreated the first circumnavigation of Africa in a purpose built replica of a 600 B.C. Phoenician ship. The expedition was launched in June 2008 by Syria's First Lady Asma Assad in Arwad, Syria, where the ship was built using ancient Phoenician construction techniques.
The purpose of the 20,000-mile expedition was to prove that ships constructed by the Phoenicians were capable of undertaking a voyage around Africa in treacherous conditions – and to engage, educate and inspire young people in the Middle East through the voyage. The goal of the foundation is to carry on the work of the expedition by using the Phoenicia to educate and inspire youth in Syria and Lebanon.
The Phoenician Ship Expedition received extensive media coverage in the Middle East, U.S. and U.K. and was featured in the BBC documentary Ancient Worlds. (For more information: www.phoenicia.org.uk)
The Explorers Club Crows About Lorie Karnath; Matt Williams Becomes Executive Director
At its January Board meeting, the Directors of The Explorers Club re-elected Lorie M.L. Karnath, M.B.A., Ph.D. (Hon.), FI `89 to her third one-year term as President of the international 107-year-old nonprofit scientific institution based in New York City. During the meeting, the Board received a detailed assessment of continuing progress on the restoration of the Clubhouse, successful fundraising efforts, student grants/research projects, Flag expeditions, and plans for the upcoming 107th Explorers Club Annual Dinner (ECAD), March 19 in New York.
In a second announcement, one that oddly doesn't surprise us coming from the sometimes quirky Explorers Club, Karnath was likened to a gamecock, a breed of rooster. She was given the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology's "America's Oldest Cockspur" award from South Carolina State Archaeologist Dr. Jonathan Leader.
Said he, "Gamecocks are considered to possess great tenacity and focus of purpose, perseverance in the face of adversity, grace, fierce loyalty, and the ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Dr. Lorie Karnath, as the 37th President of the Explorers Club, philanthropist, author, scientist, researcher and explorer, has embodied these traits and more throughout her career."
Separately, following an extensive search for a full-time Executive Director for the Club, the EC Board elevated acting Executive Director Matt Williams to the position, effective immediately. No word on what animal they compared him to.
Some 3,300 Explorers Club members worldwide represent every continent and more than 60 countries. (www.explorers.org)
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"I believe in this. This is not a just a bunch of rich people going into space for fun."
– PJ King, a 41-year-old Irish businessman, and one of hundreds of travelers who've signed up and trained to be among the first paying passengers of Virgin Galactic's trips to suborbital space – 62 miles above the Earth – slated to start within two years. "One of the reasons I'm doing this is precisely because I want these things to be ordinary," King said. "Part of the problem with space travel is that it is special."
King believes the $200,000 he and other passengers pay for a seat on a Virgin Galactic spacecraft will help create a new future when "flights like this are happening every week, when lots of people go, and the cost has been massively reduced due to the economics of scale." King says he knows people who've taken out mortgages to buy their spacecraft tickets. New Mexico's Spaceport America, where Virgin Galactic plans to permanently base its space flights, recently completed a nearly 2-mile spacecraft runway.
(Source: CNN story by Thom Patterson, Oct. 25, 2010. Read the entire story)
Exploring Heroic Expeditions From the Comfort of Your Home;
Retired Du Pont Executive Amasses Impressive Adventure Library
By Mike Tyler
During the first decade of the twentieth century I spent many bone chilling, dark and dismal winters in Greenland. I trudged through waste deep snow in the Arctic with Peter Freuchen and swam naked with my belongings and clothing atop my head from an ebbing ice floe to the safety of arctic soil. I even sailed with Peter and Knud Rasmussen. Although my travels began in the Arctic with Freuchen, my most thrilling exploration adventures took me south to the loneliest, coldest, windiest, most ruthless and mysterious white continent, Antarctica.
Most of my frozen journeys have been with two men who never gave up, who were driven beyond rational explanation to explore: Capt. Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton. I have kept their memories alive with photographic accounts by Frank Hurley and Herbert George Ponting and have savored every word of Apsley Cherry-Garrard's The Worst Journey in the World.
By now you've discovered that my explorations and adventures were made in the comfort of my own home. Books, a seemingly endless resource of exploration accounts, have for 30 years taken me on frigid journeys I never imagined existed or ever realized that so many courageous men even made.
Shackleton's tale infected me with a fever and a deep thirst to learn more about Sir Ernest. I embarked on an Antarctic adventure of my own: to learn and read all I could about this white wasteland and about these hardy explorers whose knowledge of where they were going or what each voyage or step would reveal, or for that matter even why they would take on such exploration, would test their survival skills beyond imagination.
My latest acquisitions were beyond my wildest dreams of collecting books on Antarctica. I recently won an on-line auction for a two-volume first edition set of The South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition in the Fram 1910-1912 Vols. I and II by Roald Amundsen (1913). These original volumes are in top condition and somewhat rare. A signed version is worth upwards of $11,000 (see below link).
During many years of reading and searching for books on Antarctica and the poles, I've collected and read some 75 historic and contemporary accounts on the white continent and the northern polar regions – Greenland, Alaska and the North Pole. Also I have a few photos, collectible postcards and even a bottle of "Endurance" label beer.
You don't have to travel to the icy regions of the south to become an Antarctic explorer. If you want to travel with Shackleton or Scott or many early and contemporary explorers, you can visit your local library, scan the shelves of your neighborhood thrift stores or take in a library used book sale. Start your book collecting today and who knows what adventures they will take you on. Beyond the riches gained in sharing and learning about polar regions, also consider the value when you find a book that is worth way more than its original price.
Mike Tyler, 68, is a retired Du Pont executive who was involved in the sponsorship of various polar expeditions. He also collects old cameras, Edison and Victor phonographs and cylinder phonograph records dating back to the turn of the century.
Editor's note: To see a list of Mike Tyler's favorite adventure books in his collection, log onto ExpeditionNews.BlogSpot.com
To see how lucrative collecting historic polar adventures can be, start your search for this autographed Amundsen book
The Last Lions Opens Feb. 18
The Last Lions, the latest wildlife adventure from award-winning filmmakers, conservationists and National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Beverly and Dereck Joubert, opens in theaters Feb. 18.
From the lush wetlands of Botswana's Okavango Delta comes the suspense-filled tale of a determined lioness ready to try anything – and willing to risk everything – to keep her family alive. The film follows the epic journey of a lioness named Ma di Tau ("Mother of Lions") as she battles to protect her cubs against a daunting onslaught of enemies in order to ensure their survival.
The gripping real-life saga of Ma di Tau and her cubs unfolds inside a stark reality: Lions are vanishing from the wild. In the last 50 years, lion populations have plummeted from 450,000 to as few as 20,000.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Director Werner Herzog, his quirky Bavarian accent fully intact, gains exclusive access to film inside the Chauvet caves of Southern France, capturing the oldest known pictorial creations of humankind in their astonishing natural setting. Since Chauvet's discovery in 1994, access has been extremely restricted due to concerns that overexposure, even to human breath, could damage the priceless drawings. Only a small number of researchers have ever seen the art in person. Herzog gained extraordinary permission to film the caves using lights that emit no heat. This latest film is one to see, if his wondrously strange documentaries such as Grizzly Man and Encounters at the End of the World are any indication.
Nowhere is Safe From E-mail and Texting Any Longer
New hand-held devices from Spot, a subsidiary of Globalstar, allow people in the wild to compose and beam short, original text messages via satellite and even send e-mail, Twitter feeds and Facebook updates, according to a story in the New York Times by Anne Eisenberg (Jan. 30). These new satellite devices pick up the slack when cell phones fail in the backcountry. They work just about anywhere so long as you have a clear line of sight to the sky, says Jason Stevenson of Lancaster, Pa., author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Backpacking and Hiking." However, he warns, "The mechanics of using a satellite-connected device in the woods are not as simple as whipping out your cell phone and calling."
Spot is planning an iPhone app shortly. If instant text and e-mail is still too lame, you can purchase an Iridium 9555 sat phone for $1,268 plus a $39/month service plan and $1.39 per minute talk time.
ON THE HORIZON
Hunting Shipwrecks: Techniques and Technologies for Locating Shipwrecks
March 5, 2011, Boston Sea Rovers Conference, Crowne Plaza, Boston North Shore
Speaking of shipwrecks, the Boston Sea Rovers are hosting a three-hour workshop designed to jump-start your knowledge of how to find shipwrecks. Sport divers and amateur underwater archaeologists alike will get an in-depth overview on how to successfully locate shipwrecks using side scan sonar, magnetometers, and the Hummingbird sonar.
Marine technology expert Vince Capone of Black Laser Learning explains in detail how to use your equipment and how to coordinate with professionals to conduct effective search operations for shipwrecks and sunken aircraft. Tuition of $30 includes a copy of Black Laser Learning's sonar and magnetometer training DVD.
(For more information: Vince Capone, (+1) 302-352-1800, Vince@blacklaserlearning.com, BlackLaserLearning.com, BostonSeaRovers.com)
2011 WINGS WorldQuest Women of Discovery Awards
New York, April 15, 2011
With their cutting-edge science, spirit of adventure, and capacity to transport attendees to realms seldom seen, the Women of Discovery Awards have become a highly anticipated annual event. Among this year's awardees who will be honored at a gala dinner on April 15, 2011 are pioneering researchers in human/environmental conflict, atmospheric chemistry, marine conservation, and Arctic survival. Awardees are:
Sea Award: Anna Cummins, a specialist in marine conservation
Courage Award: Kate Jackson, Canadian herpetologist
Humanity Award: Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, founder, Conservation Through Public Health
Earth Award: Catherine Powers, who has studied mass extinction events back in Earth's history
Fellows: Gretel Ehrlich, considered one of the great environmental writers of our time
Katey Walter-Anthony, who studied methane bubbling out of thermokarst lakes in the Arctic; and Polly Wiessner, an anthropologist who has spent three decades studying social networks and survival among the Kalahari Bushmen of southern Africa.
The event will be held Friday, April 15, 2011, 6 p.m., at Donna Karan's Urban Zen, 711 Greenwich Street, New York. (For more information: WingsWorldQuest.org)
You Want to Go Where? - How to Get Someone to Pay for the Trip of Your Dreams - The only book that not only takes you behind-the-scenes of some of the most historic and modern-day adventures and expeditions, but also provides advice on how individuals can fund and arrange their own trips.
Written by Jeff Blumenfeld, editor of Expedition News, it retells the story of explorers familiar to EN readers, including Anker, Schurke, Shackleton, Steger, Vaughan, and many others. It includes tips on communications technology, photography, writing contracts, and developing a proposal that will impress potential sponsors. Available through Amazon.com (also Kindle Edition), BarnesandNoble.com and Borders.com (Skyhorse Publishing, 2009)
Advertise in Expedition News - For just 50 cents a word, you can reach an estimated 10,000 readers of America's only monthly newsletter celebrating the world of expeditions on land, in space, and beneath the sea. Join us as we take a sometimes irreverent look at the people and projects making Expedition News. Frequency discounts are available. (For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org)
EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 28 Center Street, Darien, CT 06820 USA. Tel. (+1) 203-655-1600, fax (+1) 203-655-1622, email@example.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jamie Gribbon. ©2010 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through paypal.com. Read EXPEDITION NEWS at expeditionnews.com. Enjoy the EN blog at ExpeditionNews.blogspot.com. Layout and design by Nextwave Design, Seattle.
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