March 2013 – Volume Twenty, Number Three
EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 20th 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.
U.S. EYE TEAM BRINGS GIFT OF SIGHT TO 1,000 NEPALESE
Blindness is a severe public health problem in Nepal, especially in the relatively inaccessible areas. From May 15-29, 2013, an expedition of ophthalmologists and eye care professionals sponsored by Dooley Intermed International, will provide free eye examinations, eyeglasses and cataract surgeries to villagers in the remote Mustang region of Nepal.
The 2013 Gift of Sight Expedition team will examine and treat an estimated 1,000 villagers in urgent need of eye care, including comprehensive eye screening, refraction, prescription eyeglasses, cataract and ophthalmic surgeries.
Free eye screening camps will be held in three major village areas: Tukuche, Kagbeni and Marpha, followed by a two-day field surgery clinic with skilled surgeons providing cataract operations and related ophthalmic treatment.
Dooley Intermed International is a New York-based not-for-profit dedicated to providing crucial assistance to those who lie beyond the reach of traditional healthcare. It has been aiding the people of Nepal for 50 years.
The expedition team includes six members from the Himalaya Eye Hospital (www.heh.org.np) in Pokhara, Nepal, including a skilled surgeon, ophthalmic technicians and assistants, three camp staff and assistants, three U.S. team members from Dooley Intermed International, plus two from ISMS-Operation Restore Vision.
Also joining are 16 monks and senior students from the local Pema Ts’al Sakya Monastic Institute who have volunteered to serve as “advance team” assistants and tri-lingual translators.
In addition to Dooley Intermed, the expedition is supported by Sherpa Adventure Gear. As official clothing supplier, the company will provide Nepal-manufactured outdoor apparel for the team. Keeler Instruments is providing assistance with ophthalmic equipment.
The need for this medical mission is great, according to expedition leader Scott Hamilton, a Dooley Intermed director and vice president of Asian Programs.
“It is estimated that 80% of blindness in Nepal is avoidable or curable. The rural and highly dispersed population of Mustang is severely disadvantaged and underserved. Over 85% of the people belong to social groups classified by the Nepalese government as marginalized, disadvantaged, endangered, or Dalit (‘Untouchable’).”
There are also many, young and old, suffering from uncorrected refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism) that can be easily and inexpensively corrected with eyeglasses, according to Hamilton who has organized biomedical research and humanitarian and eye projects in Nepal over the past two decades.
Dooley Intermed’s 2011 Gift of Sight Expedition to a different region of Mustang was featured in a documentary titled Visions of Mustang (2012), by director Daniel Byers and produced by Skyship Films.
Visions of Mustang Trailer from Skyship Films on Vimeo.
The expedition will be issuing daily blogs on Facebook and Twitter. Expedition News will join the team to assist in communications for this worthy cause. Sponsorship support is being sought. For more information, contact Scott Hamilton, (+1) 646-753-0020, firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEAM STUDIES EFFECT OF TSUNAMIS ON ALASKAN BEACHES
In June 2013, Ken Campbell and Steve Weileman will embark on the next phase of the Ikkatsu Project to the volcanic island of Augustine in south-central Alaska. Campbell and Weileman will complete systematic beach surveys in an effort to assess marine debris concentrations as a result of tsunamis.
The first Ikkatsu Expedition traveled the Olympic shoreline of Washington in 2012. While the expedition originally focused on debris reaching the North American coast from the March 2011 tsunami, expedition members soon realized that the problem was due to much more than the remains from the tragedy in Japan.
The Ikkatsu team will circle Augustine Island, conducting surveys of the beaches and once again turn over their collected data to NOAA and other scientific organizations. In addition, Ikkatsu will be working with Oikonos (an environmental non-profit that focuses on sea birds), to develop protocol for remote study of plastic ingestion by waterfowl.
“This expedition is an attempt to understand how we are connected – one society with another – and how no matter how distant and unconnected something may seem at first glance, we are all riding on the same planet. The vast expanse of the oceans doesn’t keep us apart; it is what joins us together,” Weileman said.
Kokatat is providing the Ikkatsu Expedition team with gear including dry suits, shells, Polartec liners and PFD’s.
For more information
MARQUESAS ROCK ART EXPEDITION DEPARTS FOR POLYNESIA
During the early 1900s, American archaeologists from the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, explored the Marquesas, 700 miles northeast of Tahiti, and recorded the major archaeological sites in the inhabited valleys on each island.
Starting in 1985, an archaeological team from the Department of Archaeology of French Polynesia, Tahiti, led by archaeologist Edmundo Edwards, surveyed many sites, recording close to 1,000 structures, such as house sites, temples, shrines, dancing platforms, burial and refuge caves, agricultural terraces, tuff (volcanic stone) and red scoria quarries used in manufacturing slabs, statues, and other decorations, and basalt quarries used in tool and adze manufacture.
From 1986, great emphasis was placed on surveying its rock art. Edwards, in collaboration with archaeologists Sidsel Millerstrom from Norway and Heidy Baumgartner from Switzerland, recorded 91 stone statues together with approximately 7,000 petroglyphs in the archipelago.
Whole valleys that were densely occupied in the past remain unsurveyed and only a few structures have been excavated. On May 4 to 17, 2013, a 10-person expedition organized by the Pacific Islands Research Institute in Friday Harbor, Wash., will explore and photograph recently found petroglyphs and statues and record the Eiaone Valley pictographs, according to Capt. Lynn Danaher, president of the non-profit. Volunteers are needed for their 2014 expedition to the Marquesas, and Raivavae in the Austral Islands.
For more information
ASC Volunteers Discover New Species
Adventurers & Scientists for Conservation (ASC) volunteers have collected samples of rare diatoms that are new to science. The diatoms were collected by volunteers working with Dr. Loren Bahls, curator of the Montana Diatom Collection. Diatoms are single-celled organisms that live in nearly every aquatic environment and are indicators of climate change. (See EN, February 2013)
The new species were discovered in samples collected by Ryan Davis and Beverly Boynton, two hikers who contacted ASC because they wanted to do more with their time outside. Dr. Bahls honored their efforts by naming the new species after them: Cavinula davisiae (named after Davis) was found in a lake in the North Cascades, and Stauroneis boyntoniae (named after Boynton) was found in the Wind River Range in Wyoming.
Dr. Bahls believes there are a lot more discoveries to be made in the Northwest.
“This project gave us reasons to visit new places, and to contribute to something good while also enjoying ourselves. It's just icing on the cake that the samples I found actually brought a new species to public attention,” said Davis.
For more information
Climbing Couple Targets 50 Classic Climbs
Since 2010, Mark Smiley and Janelle Smiley, a married couple from Crested Butte, Colo., both ages 31, have climbed 40 of the 50 routes made famous by Allen Steck’s and Steve Roper’s iconic 1979 book, Fifty Classic Climbs of North America.
In 2013 they will attempt seven more big routes. Four of them are expedition-style climbs including: Carpe Ridge on Mt. Fairweather, Abruzzi Ridge on Mt. St Elias, West Ridge on Mooses Tooth, and Cassin Ridge on Denali.
They will also try three smaller rock climbs: South Face on Petit Grepon, Sierra Route on Shiprock, and North Face on Mt. Edith Cavell.
Their Kickstarter campaign in 2012 raised a respectable $25,016 from 163 backers.
They plan to produce HD video footage along the way. “These films are made from capturing real alpine climbing, un-altered, in real time, while the climb is happening. Nothing is staged, no scripts, just pure mountain climbing,” Mark Smiley tells EN.
For more information
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"The essence of the explorer’s peculiar profession is becoming lost, severing contact with home folks, living for a time beyond the ken of kin, and returning with news of what does and does not lie beyond the boundary of the known."
— Eric Leed writing in Shores of Discovery: How Expeditionaries Have Constructed the World (Basic Books, 1998)
Swan Plans Antarctic Expedition Using Renewable Energy
Antarctica Polar explorer Robert Swan has told the U.K.’s Sky News he plans to mount a new Antarctic expedition, in which he and his team – including his now 18-year-old son – will rely solely on renewable energy to survive.
Swan, who was the first man in history to walk unassisted to both the South and North poles, will launch his new mission in 2015.
It is the latest project to come under the banner of Swan's 2041 campaign – an effort to raise awareness of the date from which global leaders can begin to reassess the international treaty that currently protects Antarctica from drilling and mining for gas and minerals.
It is expected the walk will take around two months to complete. Along the way the team will use solar and wind power to charge batteries for headlamps, cooking equipment, GPS systems and communications devices.
The Call of Everest
In 1963, a National Geographic Society-supported expedition reached the peak of Mount Everest – the first group of Americans to successfully summit. In 2012, a team of climbers sponsored by the NGS and The North Face and led by acclaimed mountaineer Conrad Anker attempted a Legacy Climb in honor of the expedition’s 50th anniversary.
The Legacy Expedition had two goals: to repeat the challenging 1963 West Ridge climb by a small team, and to undertake a scientific, educational project by a second team ascending the standard Southeast Ridge to the summit and doing medical, geological and geographical research along the way. Due to adverse conditions, the West Ridge team had to abandon its climb via that route.
This spring, the National Geographic Society will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition and detail the 2012 Legacy Climb in a new book, The Call of Everest: The History, Science, and Future of the World’s Tallest Peak (National Geographic Books, 2013). A June 2013 National Geographic magazine article by Mark Jenkins will focus on problems that have developed on the mountain and how to address them.
Calling all Adventurers and Explorers
National Geographic is searching for the most incredible expeditions of 2013 to film and feature in a new blue chip series. If you’re planning to break records, conquer the impossible and redefine the limits of human potential, they want to hear from you.
Tell them about yourself, your upcoming mission and how far along you are in the planning stage. Make sure to include your name, contact information and photos and/or videolinks.
Submissions without photos and/or video will not be considered. Expeditions that combine adventure and science are especially wanted. Contact them at NGExpedition@gmail.com.
Explorers Club Mentioned in L. Ron Hubbard Story in Newsweek/The Daily Beast
Former Club member L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, was the focus of an investigative story that ran Jan. 28 in the digital version of Newsweek and The Daily Beast.
Some complimentary words were written about the Club ("the preeminent society of adventurer-scholars") in an otherwise negative story about Hubbard.
Read it here
Yeti Robot Warns of Crevasses
An autonomous robot dubbed "Yeti" could help explorers in the Arctic and Antarctica avoid deadly crevasses hidden in ice-covered landscapes, researchers say.
Researchers funded by the National Science Foundation have successfully tested a self-guided robot that uses ground-penetrating radar to map hidden crevasses, an NSF release reported.
Such unseen fissures buried beneath ice and snow could potentially claim human lives and expensive equipment during scientific and exploratory expeditions, the researchers said.
CLIMBING FOR DOLLARS
Copp-Dash Award Names Five
The Copp-Dash Inspire Award, sponsored in part by Black Diamond Equipment, La Sportiva, Mountain Hardwear and Patagonia, announced the 2013 winners of the climbing grant established in memory of American climbers Jonny Copp and Micah Dash who were killed along with filmmaker Wade Johnson in an avalanche in China in May, 2009.
In addition to providing financial support to perspective expedition teams, the goal of the Copp-Dash Inspire Award is to provide mentoring before and after the expedition to help the climbers bring back and share inspiring multimedia stories of their adventures.
The 2013 Copp-Dash Inspire Award winners and their objectives are:
- Michael Wejchert with Bayard Russell and Elliot Gaddy. Unclimbed 4,500-foot south face of Mount Deborah (12,339 ft.) in Alaska’s Hayes Range.
- Lizzy Scully with Quinn Brett. Torssukatak Fjord, Cape Farewell, Greenland. First ascents of unclimbed, unnamed big walls and ridges.
- Mick Follari with Dylan Thomas. First ascent of central buttress of Kohe Pamir (20,735-ft.) in northeastern Afghanistan’s Wahkan Corridor.
- Daniel Harro with Colin Haley and John Frieh. First ascent of 5,000-foot west face of Middle Peak, St. Elias Range, Alaska.
- Pete Dronkers with Jonathan Crabtree. South Pillar of Lowell Peak (11,909-ft.), St. Elias Range, Canada.
For more information
USA Climbing Signs Official Shoe
Footwear manufacturer Evolv Sports, Buena Park, Calif., announced it would become the official climbing shoe of USA Climbing.
The program for the 2013 USA Climbing competitions includes the American Bouldering Series Championships this winter, and the Sport Climbing Series Championships and Collegiate Climbing Series Nationals, both in April.
Evolv will be the official climbing shoe of all three of the series and will also be headlining Team Championship components in the American Bouldering Series, Collegiate Climbing Series, and Sport Climbing Series.
Evolv produces a signature line of shoes developed by climbing icon Chris Sharma.
For more information
Costa Expands Support of Shark Tagging Effort
Costa, makers of performance sunglasses, announced the expansion of its partnership with OCEARCH, the leading scientific ocean research initiative charged with gathering never-before-seen data about one of the world’s most misunderstood predators, the great white shark.
The OCEARCH crew, aboard the 126-foot M/V OCEARCH vessel equipped with a custom 55,000-pound hydraulic lift and research platform, will depart the coast of Jacksonville, Fla. this spring to satellite tag as many great whites as possible. (See EN, October 2012).
As part of the mission, Costa will be on board gathering video, photographs and interview content from the expedition, providing real-time, daily video journal updates available at www.ocearch.org. In addition, Costa will follow the OCEARCH shark tagging expeditions over the next three years, compiling content into original webisodes that will begin airing online in fall 2013.
With its unique at-sea laboratory and cadre of oceanic scientists and expert anglers, OCEARCH fieldwork involves attracting, catching, tagging, and bio-sampling sharks before they are released.
Follow the OCEARCH Shark Tracker
"Rocket Man" Collaborates on Heavenly Song
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and Barenaked Ladies' frontman Ed Robertson premiered a song, I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing), on CBCMusic.ca. It’s the result of a unique collaboration between the two, floating guitar pick and all.
The song was written by Hadfield and Robertson and commissioned by CBCMusic.ca and The Coalition for Music Education in partnership with The Canadian Space Agency.
It's the official song for Music Monday 2013, the first Monday in May, to promote and celebrate music education in schools across Canada.
The song was recorded on earth and in space – with Robertson and the Wexford Gleeks – – the glee choir of Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts, Scarborough, Ontario – and Hadfield – performing in orbit from the International Space Station (ISS).
"Chris and I were able to write a song together while he was training in Russia for the mission that he's currently on and then we were able to record the song with him in space. It's really incredible when you think about it," Robertson told CBC News.
"When I started this band, I didn't have a cell phone and nobody had really heard of the Internet. And now I can work with a man who's in space and (we can) make a music track together!"
Hadfield is a veteran of two space shuttle missions, and will soon take over command of the International Space Station – the first Canadian to do so.
It’s an extraordinary video. Hadfield can be seen singing from within the cupola, the observatory module of the ISS. Its seven windows are used to conduct experiments, dockings and observations of Earth. At 31 inches, one window is the largest ever used in space.
Hear the song here
All Time 10 Expeditions
Wonder on MSN counts down the top 10 expeditions of all time. It’s a great presentation, especially for the budding explorer in your family.
See it here
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