EXPEDITION NEWS, founded in 1994, is the monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online to media representatives, corporate sponsors, educators, research librarians, explorers, environmentalists, and outdoor enthusiasts. This forum on exploration covers projects that stimulate, motivate and educate.
June 2017 - Volume Twenty-Four, Number Six
Celebrating Our 23rd Year!
Apollo Engines Land at Seattle's Museum of Flight
Almost 50 years after they were fired up, rocket engines that sent NASA's Apollo crews on the first leg of their trips to the moon have reached their final destination at last, in the spotlight at the Museum of Flight's Apollo exhibit in Seattle. (See EN, August 2015).
During a press preview on May 18, the museum showed off the mangled components from the Saturn V first-stage engines for two Apollo moon missions, alongside an intact 18-foot-high F-1 rocket engine on loan from NASA.
David Concannon (Photo courtesy Kim Frank)
Comments David Concannon, 51, who put together a team to find components from the F-1 rocket engines that sent NASA astronauts on their way to the moon, "It was the culmination of seven years of hard work by an amazing team of friends and professionals. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos knocked it out of the park, answering questions and inspiring the next generation of explorers. I could not have been happier."
F-1 Engine Components (Photo courtesy Kim Frank)
Concannon, a resident of Sun Valley, Idaho, has been involved as an explorer in Titanic expeditions, and as a lawyer in 2004's prize-winning flights of the privately funded SpaceShipOne rocket plane. Those were thrilling experiences, but in Concannon's opinion, finding and recovering the F-1 engines is on an entirely different level, writes GeekWire's Alan Boyle.
"I didn't see this until two hours ago, and I was overwhelmed," Concannon told GeekWire. "I still am. ... It's a really sad moment. I'm proud of what we and Jeff did, but it's kinda like sending your son off to college."
Bezos was five years old when Apollo 11 lifted off. Decades later, he said the Apollo experience "was a big contributor to my passions for science, engineering and exploration," eventually leading him to create Amazon as well as his Blue Origin space venture.
Concannon adds, "These engines tell a magnificent story of a time in America when everybody came together, pulled together to do something magnificent. When President Kennedy said, 'We choose to go to the moon,' it wasn't actually possible, because the technology didn't exist.
"If it weren't for tens of thousands of people pulling together to make that possible, we never would have achieved it. To me, that's the story that these beat-up, burned-up artifacts tell," Concannon says.
Other components from Apollo 11's F-1 rocket engines will go on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., under an arrangement worked out by NASA, Bezos and the museums. And Concannon said he and his colleagues identified six additional sites on the Atlantic Ocean floor where Apollo engine parts are still lying.
Read more at:
It's somewhat anticlimactic to report about the Mount Everest climbing season, now that Alex Honnhold has stunned the climbing world with his free solo ascent of El Capitan (see related story). Honnhold's feat notwithstanding, Everest is about the only other time that mountaineering is covered in the news. Still, we think would-be Hillarys need to create a new Bucket List.
More than 5,000 climbers have set foot on the summit of Everest from the Nepal side since Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa first summitted in 1953. This spring season, which ended on May 31, saw the fourth highest number of successes with 445 climbers making it to the top, the Nepali Tourism Department said. Including these 445, the total number of Everesters has reached 5,324, according to the Kathmandu Post (June 9).
Everest saw a record number of climbers this season due to a backlog resulting from the 2014 and 2015 avalanches.
Giving a breakdown of the summiteers, Khem Raj Aryal, an official at the department that issues climbing permits, said there were 190 foreigners, 32 fee-paying Nepalis and 223 high-altitude climbing guides.
Six people died on the mountain this season, according to published reports, including American Dr. Roland Yearwood, 50, from Georgiana, Alabama, Swiss climber Ueli Steck (see EN, May 2017), and former Gurkha Min Bahadur Sherchan who became the world's oldest person to reach Everest's summit in 2008 at the age of 76. The Nepali died at age 85 attempting to recapture his title after his record was eclipsed in 2013 by 80-year-old Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura.
The government issued a record 375 climbing permits this season. An Everest climbing permit costs $11,000 for foreigners.
In a related story, the Himalayan Times reported on June 8 that the Chinese government has officially closed Mount Everest and other mountains from climbing in the upcoming autumn season from the Tibetan side, claiming the mountaineering sector witnessed a series of problems including an illegal north-south traverse by a Polish climber.
Chinese officials were dismayed that some climbers posted on Facebook that they stood atop Everest with photos of Dalai Lama and free Tibet flags. China considers possessing such Tibetan flags an illegal act in Tibet, according to the Himalayan Times story.
The fall 2017 closure also applies to Cho-Oyu and Shishapangma.
Read the story and see the controversial Facebook post here:
* Kilian Jornet Beats His Own Time Up Everest
On May 27, Spanish ski mountaineer Kilian Jornet, 29, climbed in a single 17-hour push the north face of Everest for the second time in one week using neither supplemental oxygen nor fixed ropes. Jornet had already reached the summit on May 22, but stomach cramps had prevented him from completing the route as planned.
On that previous climb he reached the summit in 26 hours, leaving from Base Camp at Rongbuk monastery at 5100 m.
The two ascents are part of Jornet's Summits of My Life project, in which he traveled to some of the most emblematic mountains across the globe, setting records for fastest known ascents. He began in the Mont Blanc range in 2012 and has since climbed in Europe (Mont Blanc and Matterhorn), in North America (Denali) and in South America (Aconcagua).
Read Jornet's personal account here:
* Hillary Step Has Collapsed; Dump the Bucket List
There is confirmation that the rocky outcrop called the Hillary Step was destroyed, presumably during the Nepal earthquake of 2015. The near-vertical 12m (39-ft.) rocky outcrop stood on the mountain's southeast ridge, and was the last great challenge before the top.
Logjam at the Hillary Step
Philip Hoare in The Guardian frets this will now make it easier to climb Everest - and thus open it up to new "depredations."
Some even wonder if it is time to impose severe limits - or even a ban - on expeditions that are becoming too popular, and too invasive, affecting the very qualities which define the place, he writes.
"There may now be a good case for declaring Everest and other over-popular peaks as reservations - perhaps even in the way that visitors to Uluru (once known as Ayers Rock) in Australia's Northern Territory have been asked not to climb a site sacred to the Anangu people," Hoare writes.
"It is human curiosity to see stairs, a tree, a hill, and the atavistic instinct is to climb up, to get a better view. As if we will be vouchsafed some new vision, some new path, some new direction.
"We need to reinstate our awe and dump the bucket list. We do not own these places, no matter how many names we give them. The fact that someone (usually a man) has stuck a flag at the top of a peak has no greater meaning than that fact."
Hoare continues, "We pit our puny humanness at the scale of things, as if at the desperate knowledge that ultimately, we won't mean anything. When humans are over, and have become just another geological stratum, the entirety of our existence will be represented by a layer no thicker than a cigarette paper. Now I find that rather beautifully humbling."
Read his opinion piece here:
Confirmation of the destruction of the Hilary Step can be found here:
* Stolen Oxygen
So much for the brotherhood of the rope. The Washington Post (May 27) reported instances of stolen oxygen on the mountain.
"It is becoming a serious issue up there," mountain guide Nima Tenji Sherpa told the BBC last month.
"I kept on hearing from expedition groups that their oxygen bottles had disappeared and that could be life-threatening - particularly when they have used up what they are carrying on their way up and they are still not on the summit yet, or they plan to use the stocked bottles on their way back," added Tenji Sherpa, who had just returned from Everest.
The first group of climbers summitted the mountain on May 15 and it didn't take long for reports of the suspected thefts to come in.
"Another 7 bottles of Os have gone missing from our supply - this time from the South Col," Everest Expedition leader Tim Mosedale wrote on Facebook, referring to the location of one of Everest's final camps before the summit.
"I'd never normally wish ill on anyone but if these thieving bastards don't summit, or get frostbite in the process, then that's karma," he posted to Facebook.
At press time, no one has been caught stealing the bottles, nor do there appear to be any suspects, according to authorities.
Read more at:
Faceless Fish Found
A recent expedition uncovered a faceless fish that won't be winning any auditions in a Disney cartoon. It was found while exploring the depths of a massive abyss off the coast of Australia last month.The brownish white fish was unrecognizable, without eyes or anything that resembled gills.
A group of 40 scientists from Museums Victoria and the Australian government's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), who were traveling on a research vessel for a month-long journey that began on May 15, caught the creature in the Jervis Bay Commonwealth Marine Reserve off New South Wales some 13,000 feet below the surface. The temperature of the water was barely above freezing.
Don't call us. We'll call you.
The 17-in. long fish, which scientists dubbed the "Faceless Cusk," has not been spotted in the area for more than a century.
Dr. Tim O'Hara, chief scientist and expedition leader for CSIRO, said, "This little fish looks amazing because the mouth is actually situated at the bottom of the animal so, when you look side-on, you can't see any eyes, you can't see any nose or gills or mouth.
"It looks like two rear-ends on a fish, really," O'Hara told The Guardian.
The faceless fish went viral on Facebook and Twitter - with thousands of people sharing photos of the unusual sea creature.
"If he only knew how famous he'd become, imagine the look on his face! Oh...wait," CSIRO joked on Twitter.
Read more here:
"It Was a Dark and Stormy Night":
Nominations Open for National Outdoor Book Award
Nominations are now being accepted for the 2017 National Outdoor Book Awards. The program recognizes the work of outstanding writers and publishers of outdoor books.
Books may be nominated for awards in one of nine categories including: History/Biography, Outdoor Literature, Instructional Texts, Outdoor Adventure Guides, Nature Guides, Children's Books, Design/Artistic Merit, Nature and the Environment, and Natural History Literature.
Additionally, a special award, the Outdoor Classic Award, is given annually to books which over a period of time have proven to be exceptionally valuable works in the outdoor field.
To be eligible for the 2017 National Outdoor Book Awards, nominated books must have been released (date of first shipment of books) after June 1, 2016 and before September 1, 2017, except for those titles which have been nominated for the Outdoor Classic Award.
Application forms and eligibility requirements are available on the National Outdoor Book Awards website (http://www.noba-web.org). The deadline for applications is August 24, 2017.
The Whole Tooth
Eugene Buchanan gives a toothy smile for the camera.
Steamboat Springs, Colo., author Eugene Buchanan proved last month that a book talk could be both entertaining and informative. During a Boulder Bookstore stop on his promotion tour for, Comrades on the Colca: A Race for Adventure and Incan Treasure in One of the World's Last Unexplored Canyons (Conundrum Press, 2016), he entertained an audience of 80 people about his experiences on a previous expedition, this one to the Siberian Bashkaus river. That adventure was the subject of a previous book, Brothers on the Bashkaus: A Siberian Paddling Adventure (Fulcrum Publishing, 2007).
When traveling on a Russian train, team members tried to appear Russian, but were soon exposed. Said one local, a nurse, "You can't pass for Russian - you smile too much and your teeth are too good."
He tells of purchasing grain alcohol for barter, and eating sugar cubes and pork rinds with their Russian teammates, passing time by singing three universally-known songs: Don McLean's American Pie, The Beatles' Rocky Raccoon, and Simon & Garfunkel's The Sound of Silence.
"Luckily, they were within my repertoire," he joked.
Everest? What's That?
Climbing World Stunned by Honnold's "Moonshot" Ascent of El Capitan
When a climbing story makes it into that straphanger favorite, the New York Daily News, and no one has died in the story, nor has the "E" word been uttered, well that's truly extraordinary for mainstream media (or as Trump likes to tweet: MSM).
Honnold, 31, shocked the sport of climbing by free soloing (no ropes, harnesses or other protective equipment) El Capitan, climbing 3,000 feet - ascending one of the world's largest monoliths - in less than four hours with little gear other than a bag of chalk.
Famed climber, adventurer and author Mark M. Synnott calls it the greatest pure feat of rock climbing in history.
Alex Honnold on June 3 after scaling El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Honnold became the first person to climb alone to the top of the massive granite wall without ropes or safety gear. (Photo: Jimmy Chin)
"So stoked to realize a life dream today," Honnold wrote on Facebook immediately afterwards. National Geographic is basing a new documentary on the historic climb.
"Speechless," wrote the American Alpine Journal in its response to the news that Honnold had tackled the imposing granite wall in a free solo ascent.
Honnold raced up the wall in 3 hours and 56 minutes, prompting Alpinist magazine to say, "This is indisputably the greatest free solo of all time. Congratulations, Alex!"
Honnold tells NationalGeographic.com, "I didn't have much of a backpack, and the climbing just felt amazing. Not dragging 60 meters of rope behind you for the whole mountain, I felt so much more energetic and fresh."
Writes Daniel Duane in the New York Times (June 9), "The world's finest climbers have long mused about the possibility of a ropeless free solo ascent of El Capitan in much the same spirit that science fiction buffs muse about faster-than-light-speed travel - as a daydream safely beyond human possibility."
Duane goes on to write, "I believe that it should also be celebrated as one of the great athletic feats of any kind, ever."
See the New York Times story here:
View the Daily News coverage here:
Read the interview in NationalGeographic.com:
Oru Kayak Attempts Solo KayakPassage from Cuba to Key West
Oru Kayak, makers of the origami-inspired folding kayak, is leading an attempt at completing a solo kayak passage from Cuba to Key West. In July, a small crew of solo kayakers led by Oru Kayak will set out from Havana, Cuba, with compasses set for Key West. The 103-mile ocean passage is infamous for strong currents, sharks, unpredictable weather, and as a hazardous journey often made by Cuban refugees seeking political asylum in the U.S.
Due to recently renewed diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S., the ocean passage has been the subject of much interest. In recent years the passage between the neighbor countries has been swum, paddle boarded, and completed by a tandem kayak team, however, a solo kayak passage (e.g. a kayak powered by just one-person) has reportedly yet to be completed.
While completing a solo kayak passage remains a significant test of human strength, endurance, and perseverance - and will likely require 30 to 40 hours of non-stop kayaking - the ability to make a safe and legal journey from Cuba to the U.S. is arguably the most remarkable feat of all.
Andy Cochrane, Oru's director of marketing who is organizing and leading the expedition, commented, "Kayaking from Cuba to the USA is a dream opportunity for any kayaker. But more important than our success, is the fact that we can do this safely and with the blessing of both the U.S. and Cuban government - and what that means for people in both countries."
Oru Kayak will use a fleet of the company's newly updated COAST XT expedition kayaks to complete the 103-mile journey. The expedition touring model was updated in 2017 to increase the durability of the boat in high surf and wind.
More information about the COAST XT and live streaming video from the attempt can be found at: www.orukayak.com
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands."
- Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890), the English explorer, geographer, translator, and writer.
Want to Join an Expedition? Become a Jack-of-All-Trades
Mike Pizzio, 55, is a former Special Agent for the FBI who served three rotations in Iraq and seems to have no problem getting invited on expeditions.
He's a certified Dive Instructor Trainer, 100 ton Master U.S. Coast Guard captain, and has blown bubbles within a few feet of the most iconic shipwrecks in history, including the Civil War-era Monitor, the Andrea Doria and Britannic. A single father of two grown children, he has led dives to find a missing WWII WASP, Gertrude "Tommy" Tompkins, and her P-51D Mustang lost in 1944 off what is now LAX.
Pizzio is also a licensed private investigator, working with plaintiff attorneys on cases that include diving liability, and a former member of numerous diving expeditions for the History Channel, National Geographic, and Learning Channel.
Mike Pizzio is a Jack-of-all-trades
Yet, besides those dive and law enforcement skills, which admittedly are pretty impressive by themselves, the Port St. Lucie, Fla., explorer admits he's really not an expert in anything else. But he knows a little bit about a lot of things.
He's not licensed to fly an airplane, but has been in the right seat enough times to take a stab at landing safely in an emergency.
His advice for getting invited on an expedition: "Learn as much as you can about everything to make yourself as valuable as you can."
Pizzio is the kind of team member you want by your side - a MacGuyver who can rely upon his 26 years of FBI training to get almost any job done. Eat lunch with him and he insists on sitting facing the door - that's after he's scanned the room for exits.
"I don't want to be anywhere I'm absolutely worthless," he says.
For that reason, he travels with three forms of communications: EPIRB, Iridium Extreme sat phone, and a SPOT Messenger to provide access to three communications satellites.
As they say in the military, when it comes to redundancy, "Two is one, one is none."
When he was sidelined for four months by an abdominal condition, what did he do? He took a 160-hour EMT course and passed at the top of his class.
"I want to be the guy people turn to. Am I an expert in emergency medicine? Maybe not. But I know a lot more than the average guy who can only use a Band-Aid."
How does he pay for his expedition work?
"I'm not a rich guy. I live on a retired government employee salary. Sometimes my expenses are paid, as in the case of the cable network projects. Other times, I pay. The importance is to know up front what the trip will cost. No surprises."
He suggests the best way to receive an invitation to join an expedition is to expand your skill base. "You want to have as many skills and abilities as you can," he says.
"Look, at my age I'll never be an accomplished rock climber. I don't have the physical capability or years of experience. But I've learned basic climbing skills so that I can be of value if I need to ever belay someone.
Want to receive invitations to join an expedition? Heed Pizzio's advice:
* Keep taking courses and instruction to build your proficiency in outdoor skills. Add to your list of certifications.
* Learn as much as you can from expedition teammates.
* Build your adventure resume by volunteering for expeditions and paying your own way if necessary.
"Whenever I can, I try to add a new skill to my toolkit. By becoming the Swiss Army Knife of team members, the expedition leader won't have as many mouths to feed.
"Become a Jack-of-all-trades even if it means you'll be the master of none."
Mike says he's standing by for your invitation. Reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why We Explore
Kudos to NASA for summarizing in a just few short paragraphs, why humans are such a nomadic tribe. We read on their website a rationale for spending billions on space exploration:
"Humanity's interest in the heavens has been universal and enduring. Humans are driven to explore the unknown, discover new worlds, push the boundaries of our scientific and technical limits, and then push further. The intangible desire to explore and challenge the boundaries of what we know and where we have been has provided benefits to our society for centuries."
The huge, 363-feet tall Apollo 11 space vehicle is launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center (KSC), at 9:32 a.m. (EDT), July 16, 1969. Apollo 11 was the United States' first lunar landing mission. Its rocket engines were recovered in the ocean and recently placed on display in Seattle (see related story). (Photo courtesy NASA).
The NASA website continues, "Human space exploration helps to address fundamental questions about our place in the Universe and the history of our solar system. Through addressing the challenges related to human space exploration we expand technology, create new industries, and help to foster a peaceful connection with other nations.
"Curiosity and exploration are vital to the human spirit and accepting the challenge of going deeper into space will invite the citizens of the world today and the generations of tomorrow to join NASA on this exciting journey."
Read the rest of the post titled, "Beyond Earth - Expanding Human Presence Into the Solar System":
Eric Mohl patiently waits (Photo courtesy: Eric Mohl)
What else would you call border agents who hassle explorers and adventurers, in fact, every traveler? Source: Trans-Americas Expedition which has crossed 58 borders so far, traveling full-time on a Trans-Americas road trip through the Americas for more than 10 years.
"While 90% of the border officials we've come across have been pros, the other 10% have been, as we say in the travel business, border dicks," writes the team of photographer Eric Mohl and journalist Karen Catchpole.
Catchpole tells EN, "Our Border Dicks post was not necessarily saying that border agents hassle overlanders more than other types of travelers. For example, on the Argentina border where we had to unload the truck .... all other drivers had to do the same. The post was meant to convey a sort of satire or levity that we've developed about border officials after so many border crossings. After all, if you can't laugh then you'll cry."
For examples of dickish behavior, see:
Get Sponsored! - Hundreds of explorers and adventurers raise money each month to travel on world class expeditions to Mt. Everest, Nepal, Antarctica and elsewhere. Now the techniques they use to pay for their journeys are available to anyone who has a dream adventure project in mind, according to the book from Skyhorse Publishing called: Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers.
Author Jeff Blumenfeld, an adventure marketing specialist who has represented 3M, Coleman, Du Pont, Lands' End and Orvis, among others, shares techniques for securing sponsors for expeditions and adventures.
Buy it here:
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