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.
April 2018 - Volume Twenty-Four, Number Four
Celebrating Our 24th Year!
Allison Hargreaves (1962 - 1995) receives her due.
New York Times Finally Runs Allison Hargreaves Obit
While the death of British climber Allison Hargreaves was noted in the September 1995 issue of EN, that's not quite the same as an obituary in the New York Times. Now, 23 years later, she receives her due in a new Times Obituaries section feature called "Overlooked."
On Mar. 14, the Gray Lady posted an obit by Maya Salam recognizing her feat of becoming the first woman in history to summit Everest alone and without bottled oxygen. Only the Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner had ascended Everest in a similar manner before.
Exactly three months after Everest, in the late afternoon of Aug. 13, 1995, Hargreaves reached the summit of K2 in Pakistan, the world's second-highest peak. Just hours later, she and five others died when they were engulfed by a storm with fierce winds that rose up the mountain. She was 33.
"After her death, a backlash - fueled by a media frenzy around her death - began to mount. Some called her selfish and criticized the choice to leave behind young children to put herself in harm's way. Similar denunciations were not leveled so harshly against the fathers who died on the mountain alongside her," writes Salam.
When asked if a female climber needed to be tougher than a man, Hargreaves said, "I think that women in general have to work harder in a man's world to achieve recognition."
See the belated obituary at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/14/obituaries/overlooked-alison-hargreaves.html
Black Swallowtail by Zac Velarde
Butterfies Are Free
Last month we wrote about Adventure Scientists. Early this month the citizen-scientist organization based in Bozeman, Montana, announced it was recruiting for its Conserving Biodiversity: Pollinators project.
The mission is simple: get into the backcountry and photograph butterflies and the plants they use during butterfly season 2018 (May to October). They have one project focused on Arizona, California, Utah, Montana, and Washington, and a slightly different global project open to people anywhere. Photos of the butterflies and their host plants are then uploaded to the iNaturalist mobile app.
Why butterflies? Glad you asked. They are considered indicators of biodiversity. Although backcountry areas can be biodiversity hotspots, AS says researchers are lacking data on butterflies in these remote areas. They need help to collect data on their abundance, diversity, and distribution in the wild. These data will be used by land managers to inform conservation decisions on public lands.
Butterflies comprise approximately 20,000 species globally. They serve as important biodiversity indicators for ecosystem health and provide food for many organisms such as migrating birds.
For more information: http://www.adventurescientists.org
It Happened One Night: ECAD Moves to Times Square,
Attracts 1,000 Explorers Club Members and Guests
While the Marriott Marquis Times Square lacked the same panache as the Waldorf-Astoria, until recently home of the Explorers Club Annual Dinner for over 100 years, and while the touristy hotel was somewhat soulless - akin to holding an event in an airport terminal - at least the 1,030 members and guests at the 114th ECAD could see the stage and hear the speakers. Plus the food was pretty good, not counting the ants, cockroaches and iguana which we're always too, uh, chicken to sample.
In terms of funds raised, Club officials say it was one of the most successful dinners ever, as well it should be with tickets starting at $500 per plate.
One woman was wearing a 70.37 ct. natural emerald pendant surrounded by 1.10 cts. of diamonds valued at $141,000 that she didn't dare leave it in her hotel room, she told me.
Guests attended in kilts, in a kalpak, the traditional Kyrgyz hat from Kyrgyzstan (which, truth be told, we had to Google to spell correctly), and plain vanilla black tie. There was a run on chocolate mousse covered in Colombian ants known for their large "arses," millworms on chocolate cake pops, lizard flesh, and rambutan fruit from Southeast Asia. Once opened, it has a sweet, rich creamy flowery taste, but the Club's exotic-foods specialist, Gene Rurka, had to intervene when some guests put the entire golfball-sized spiky, prickly fruit in their mouths. (Who knew?)
Big arse ant lollipops
This ain't candy, man.
But this was more than a gathering of old-timers regaling over their past explorations and slapping each other on their back. Here are the dinner highlights that impressed us most:
* Bezos is the Pointy End - Amazon chief Jeff Bezos was recipient of the Buzz Aldrin Space Exploration Award given once every four years for pioneering achievements in space exploration. He was recognized as founder of the aerospace company Blue Origin, which is working to lower the cost and increase the safety of spaceflight.
Bezos, who tops Forbes' annual World Billionaires list with a $130 billion net worth, said, "you don't pick your passions, they pick you. ... I'm passionate about space. There's nothing I can do - I'm in love with it. The problem is it's too hard to get to, but we need to be there."
Bezos believes that for the sake of the earth, mankind needs to go into space.
Later he commented, "This planet is a finite resource. Do we want to go out into space or have a life of stasis, which would be dull.
"We've sent robotic probes to every planet in the solar system. Believe me, this is the best one. ... We have to go into space to protect this plant."
Bezos is a proponent of space vehicles with "true operable reusability, like a commercial airliner." My tablemates in the back of the room commented that Bezos probably always travels in first class, in the pointy end of the plane. Another jokes, "Bezos? He is the pointy end."
Amazon bwana eats an iguana.Amusingly, the biggest news to come out of the dinner was this photo of the multibillionaire sampling an iguana.
* Our Flag - Trevor Wallace, winner of The New Explorer Award along with Gino Caspari, Ph.D., said of the Explorers Club flag: "Our flag represents a radically different view of the world; our flag represents our collective quest for knowledge; our flag represents boundless curiosity; our flag represents our protection of the land and the advancement of scientific research; our flag transcends politics and brings unity between people and cultures.
"I am creating a film to prove to the naysayers who say there is nothing left to explore that they are very wrong. There is much more to be discovered and explored, especially when you extend the dimension of time, our past is full of mysteries and parts of the human story still waiting to be uncovered. As explorers we do not fear the new and different, the unknown, we thrive on it," Wallace said.
"The world will always need explorers, and we will never cease to explore."
* "This is What I Learned" - David Concannon, the former Flags & Honors vice president, summed up the definition of an explorer versus an adventurer. "An adventurer goes from here to there and comes back and says 'this is what I did.' An explorer goes from here to there and comes back and says 'this is what I learned and this is the knowledge I want to impart to you.'"
* Camera Shy - Edith A. Widder, Ph.D., winner of the Citation of Merit, said, "The key to preservation of the ocean lies in exploration. Explorers are optimists who see beyond the limits and come up with solutions despite the odds." Her fascinating talk described work with an "E-Jelly," a plastic sphere containing LEDs engineered to flash in a fashion similar to some bioluminescent deep-sea jellyfish. It's considered the key to luring a camera shy Giant Squid close enough to be filmed.
Read about this innovative technique here:
* To Infinity and Beyond - U.S. Navy Captain James A. Lovell (Ret.) was recipient of the Explorers Club Medal, the highest honor that can be bestowed by the Club. In less than two decades he participated in four groundbreaking space flights: Gemini 7, Gemini 12, Apollo 8, and the ill-fated Apollo 13; Tom Hanks portrayed Lovell in the 1995 American space docudrama of the same name.
"I went 240,000 miles in Apollo 8 to explore the moon and instead, I discovered the earth," Lovell said as he explained he could cover the entire planet with his thumb as he gazed out the spacecraft's window. "Looking back at earth, my world expanded to infinity ... God has given mankind a stage on which to perform. How the play turns out is up to us."
Read more about the dinner here:
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"Adventure and excitement are the two things missing from civilization. Danger keeps you on your toes."
- Climber Jim Bridwell. Source: Palm Springs Life magazine, December 2015. Bridwell died Feb. 16 in Palm Springs, Calif., at the age of 73 of kidney failure and hepatitis C believed to have been caused from the tattoo he received from a headhunter during his cross navigation of Borneo in the 80's. The story of Bridwell's declining health is chronicled by his son, Layton, on a GoFundMe site that raised $42,081 out of a $50,000 goal, from 632 donors.
Field Report: Re-Photographic Mission in Mongolia Chases Roy Chapman Andrews Across the Gobi 100 Years Later
By J.K. Cluer, Reno, Nevada
Special to Expedition News
Like most good ideas in Mongolia, the concept of re-photographing the extensive image collection generated by the early 20th century Central Asiatic Expedition, led by Roy Chapman Andrews, sprang up over dinner with my long-time cohort Dr. Saandar in an Irish pub in Ulaanbaatar, sometime in 2011-2012. Saandar, land surveyor and map maker, and I, an economic geologist, have been working together in Mongolia since 1997, sometimes with the aim to explore and discover to make a little money, sometimes to just spend money and have a little fun; we always wonder if wisely. Time will tell, but the fun of exploring is never in doubt, nor never disappoints.
The thought occurred to us to re-photograph the Central Asiatic Expedition's (CAE) amazing 1910s and 1920s views of Gobi landscapes and Urga cityscapes (now Ulaanbaatar, today's thriving capital city). For us this was a very attractive project because we both love history, exploration, photography, and Mongolia. And the centennial of the expeditions was just around the corner.
People have real jobs and time goes on, but we never let the idea slip out of our sights. We knew that we'd need to partner with the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) because being the original expedition sponsor they hold all of the images and documents in their archives. Happily upon our first meetings at AMNH in March 2015, Michael Novacek and Mark Norell (the original chasers of Roy Chapman Andrews across the Gobi) were most supportive of the idea, and subsequently made available their dedicated staff in the AMNH library.
We spent a couple days in the archive rifling through beige colored steel filing cabinets, a little mini exploration where we experienced the thrill of finding unpublished photos from the previous century and actually handling them. We knew then and there that the deal was sealed - there was sufficient high-quality material to work with, and if the re-photography was successful would eventually help to reveal dramatic changes during those intervening 100 years in Mongolia.
It is interesting to note that the original expedition paid very serious attention to photography and even cinematography, not only to document the mission, but also to produce promotional material for fundraising campaigns. When reading Roy Chapman Andrews' Under a Lucky Star (Speath Press) I learned that he had taken his adventure story to the University Club in New York to seek funding. Another odd connection - I had visited the University Club in 2009 seeking funds for gold and copper exploration missions in the far west of Mongolia, and considering the seniority of the audience I wonder if I pitched some of the same people.
Roy Chapman Andrews (1884-1960) was a leading scientist/adventurer in his day, the prototype "Indiana Jones," president of the Explorers Club from 1931 to 1934, and eventually ascended to director of the AMNH. The major contributors to the CAE photo archive were: James B. Shackelford, a Hollywood cinematographer and AMNH director who made some of the first motion pictures in and of Mongolia; Walter Grainger, the lead paleontologist for the expedition, who not only made far-reaching scientific discoveries including the first dinosaur eggs (this was at the Flaming Cliffs), but was also a keen photographer; and Yvette Borup Andrews, Roy's first wife, whose efforts produced a collection of Ulaanbaatar scenes. Seemingly, without Yvette on the mission, there would have been almost no still photos of Ulaanbaatar - history shows her to be a key player in photo documentation.
Once we had scanned photos in hand from the AMNH, the next challenge was to determine exactly what the subject was, and from where it was shot. While there was some information in the files, in general the context was vague enough that another layer of exploration was required. Early 20th century place names had to be translated to their modern equivalents, and placed in the context of the expedition route maps. This is where Saandar's expertise in Mongolia geographic history, topography and high-precision mapping rose to the occasion. His admirable work has identified three main locations of the Mongolian photographic record: Ulaanbaatar, Flaming Cliffs, and Tsagaan Nuur ("White Lake").
In October 2017, we mounted a preliminary expedition to the Flaming Cliffs and camped there several nights under cold and windy skies. We used UAV videography when air conditions allowed to quickly scan the expansive cliff front looking for specific landforms featured in the CAE's photos. We managed to get in two good days of identifying subjects, approximating views, and obtaining high resolution images. In a few instances we even felt like we must be standing on exactly the same ground the expedition photographer did, and this was indeed a satisfying sensation.
Preliminary results from some of the Gobi locations show dramatic landscape changes in the form of cliff retreat that apparently occurs at the rate of three to four meters per century. Another way to visualize the cliff retreat is about the width of your smart phone every two years - any way you describe it, it's rapid change. Our early ideas are that intense wind blasts, freeze/thaw action, and seismicity combine to undermine the cliffs and eventually topple them over. There is also a human element of erosion as the area is a very popular tourist destination and is virtually unregulated. We will be further documenting and quantifying the rapid changes and possible implications in subsequent missions.
J.K. Cluer is the current president of the Geological Society of Nevada, and for the past several years has been working with Mongolian colleagues and the American Museum of Natural History on a mission to rephotograph the images obtained by the Roy Chapman Andrews Central Asiatic Expeditions to Mongolia in the early 20th century. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org Learn more about Roy Chapman Andrews at https://roychapmanandrewssociety.org/
A classic view of Flaming Cliffs with a Dodge car at the base taken by Walter Grainger in 1923. This photo appeared as Plate LXII of the The New Conquest of Central Asia issued as Volume I of Natural History of Central Asia by AMNH in 1932 with the caption "Grainger removing a nest of dinosaur eggs at the Flaming Cliffs, 1925."
Cluer and his teammates crawled out on that precipice in 2017 but didn't see any evidence of fossils or egg shells. Was the 1923 photo staged, with clever product placement? Note the clear evidence of cliff retreat.
In a June 26, 1928 file photo, American aviatrix Amelia Earhart poses with flowers as she arrives in Southampton, England, after her transatlantic flight on the Friendship from Burry Point, Wales.
No Bones About It
Occasionally we like to check in with the folks at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), the Oxford, Pa., organization closest to solving the mystery of the famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart in 1937.
A new scientific study claims that bones found in 1940 on the Pacific Island of Nikumaroro belong to Earhart, despite a forensic analysis of the remains conducted in 1941 that linked the bones to a male. The bones, revisited in the study "Amelia Earhart and the Nikumaroro Bones" by University of Tennessee professor Richard Jantz, were discarded. For decades they have remained an enigma, as some have speculated that Earhart died a castaway on the island after her plane crashed.
The bones were uncovered by a British expedition exploring the island for settlement after they came upon a human skull, according to the study. The expedition's officer ordered a more thorough search of the area, which resulted in the discovery of several other bones and part of what appeared to be a woman's shoe. Other items found included a box made to hold a Brandis Navy Surveying Sextant that had been manufactured around 1918 and a bottle of Benedictine, an herbal liqueur.
In attempting to compare the lost bones with Earhart's bones, Richard L. Jantz, writing for Forensic Anthropology magazine,co-developed a computer program that estimated sex and ancestry using skeletal measurements. The program, Fordisc, is commonly used by forensic anthropologists across the globe.
Could these be the bones of Amelia Earhart, originally found in 1940?
Read the Mar. 7 story by Marwa Eltagouri of The Washington Post:
The original Jantz study can be seen here, including an analysis of Earhart's weight and body shape:
In a related story, Barbie has 17 new dolls modeled after a diverse group of women who made huge strides in sports, science, art and society. The famous doll brand, owned by Mattel, announced its new "Inspiring Women" series members in time for International Women's Day on March 8. They include Mexican artist Frida Kahlo; and mathematician Katherine Johnson, who worked at NASA to help send the first Americans into space, and Earhart.
Amelia is a real doll.
According to the company, Barbie designed the new dolls after taking an international survey of thousands of moms with daughters who expressed worry about the kinds of role models their kids were exposed to. The dolls are still in the pre-order phase.
Aleksander Doba kayaked across the Atlantic at age 70, often naked
Naked Kayaker Tackles Atlantic Ocean
Only one person had ever crossed the Atlantic in a kayak using solely muscle power, and he traveled island to island, from Newfoundland to Ireland. The goal of Polish extreme kayaker Aleksander Doba was to go continent to continent between the mainlands, from Senegal to Brazil, unsupported.
His skin broke out in salt-induced rashes, including blisters in his armpits and groin. His eyes blew up with conjunctivitis. His fingernails and toenails just about peeled off. His clothes, permeated with salt, refused to dry. The fabric smelled horrendous and aggravated his skin, so he abandoned clothes, according to Elizabeth Weil writing in the New York Times (Mar. 22).
Read all the gory details here:
Time to Ban Westerners - and Their Egos - From Mount Everest?
Spring in the Himalayas brings with it the start of the brief Everest climbing season - and for the next six to eight weeks, a thousand or so foreigners will descend on Nepal in a bid to scale the highest mountain on the planet. The weary climbers who make it to the top will join an exclusive club of roughly 8,500 people who've summited since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's first successful ascent on May 29, 1953.
But after almost a century of Everest expeditions, 288 deaths and several tons of festering rubbish left behind, can we finally call time on these Western vanity projects? asks travel writer Simon Parker in the UK's The Telegraph (Apr. 4).
When one considers the dozens-deep queues to the summit, thousands of empty gas canisters, scuffles between climbers, and frozen corpses, Parker wonders whether an ascent "provides anything more than a massaging of my white, middle class ego?"
Parker continues, "Nepal certainly needs tourism and there are dozens of alternative treks to keep the adventurous dosed-up with adrenaline. But just 'because it's there' doesn't mean it has to be Everest."
Read the story here:
Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon (Picador, 2018)
On July 14, 2015, more than 3 billion miles from Earth, a small NASA spacecraft called New Horizons screamed past Pluto at more than 32,000 miles per hour, focusing its instruments on the long mysterious icy worlds of the Pluto system, and then, just as quickly, continued on its journey out into the beyond.
At a time when so many think that our most historic achievements are in the past, the most distant planetary exploration ever attempted not only succeeded in 2015 but made history and captured the world's imagination.
Chasing New Horizons is the story of the men and women behind this amazing mission: of their decades-long commitment and persistence; of the political fights within and outside of NASA; of the sheer human ingenuity it took to design, build, and fly the mission; and of the plans for New Horizons' next encounter, one billion miles past Pluto in 2019.
In a recent email, Stern tells EN, "The New Horizons mission has set the record for the most distant exploration of worlds in history. We also set records for how many people watched - more than two billion people visited our web site during the flyby of Pluto - showing once again that raw exploration is deeply engaging to people all around the world."
For more information:
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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