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 2018 - Volume Twenty-Four, Number Six
Celebrating Our 24th Year!
Bill Steele and Hemirrhagus billsteelei, the spider named in his honor.
What's Cooking, Spider-Man?
Last time we wrote about world-renowned speleologist Bill Steele, he helped launch the National Eagle Scout Association's World Explorers Program dedicated to conducting national competitions to select young Eagle Scouts to experience life-changing opportunities in numerous fields.
Steele, an Eagle Scout himself, spends a lot of his time inside caves in Mexico, also home to a newly discovered species of spider. Scientists recently named it Hemirrhagus billsteelei, in honor of Steele's contribution to the collection of cave-dwelling tarantulas and other arachnids in Mexico's Huautla Cave System.
Without Steele, some of these spiders might never have been found.
Steele retired in 2014 after a 34-year career with the BSA. His last role was as national director for alumni relations and the National Eagle Scout Association. Today he leads Proyecto Espeleológico Sistema Huautla, or PESH, an annual underground expedition into the deepest cave system in the Western Hemisphere.
The new species can grow six to eight inches long. We hear some Explorers Club members can't wait to sink their teeth into Billsteelei at the next annual dinner.
Read more at:
The Everest climbing season experienced unusually stable weather during the spring climbing season, but had its usual mix of both success and tragedy. Here's a quick round-up of results this year.
The jet stream hit the Himalaya on May 7. Everest expeditions were forced to wait at lower elevations, and the Icefall Doctors had to wait until May 10 to continue fixing ropes to the summit. Nevertheless, by May 14 they had completed the set lines on both the Nepalese and Tibetan sides of the mountain. From May 13 till May 24, the weather on Everest remained relatively calm, leading to a highly unusual 11 straight summit days, and likely a new record for Everest summits in one season, according to ExplorersWeb.
Exact statistics are still being compiled by the Himalayan Database, but this season will likely be the busiest ever. Everest saw at least 700 successful summits, substantially more than the current record of 667 set in 2013.
* Death Count Drops, Slightly - Five deaths have been reported on Everest for the season, two fewer than in 2017. "The use of more supplemental oxygen, improved weather forecasting, staying on known routes and an increase of Sherpa support for foreigners, all have helped make Everest safer today than ever," writes noted climber, coach and professional speaker Alan Arnette on AlanArnette.com, based in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Of those fatalities, three were Sherpa: Damai Sarki fell into a crevasse near Camp 2 on the Nepal side; Pasang Norbu, 41, died near to the summit after suffering a stroke; and Lam Babu died in unclear circumstances on the way down from the summit while supporting a cryptocurrency stunt (see below). Two international climbers perished: Macedonian Gjeorgi Petkov, 63, from a heart attack on the Nepalese side, and the Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki, 36, who was found dead in his tent while trying to descend from Camp 3.
* Almost a Triple Crown - In an attempt to bag Lhotse, Everest and Nuptse in a single season, Singaporean hedge-fund manager and ultra-marathon runner Leow Kah Shin hired a private team from Adventure Consultants, led by Guy Cotter. He and Cotter didn't quite make the Triple Crown, but managed two out of three - a fair haul. They climbed Lhotse and Everest in just over 24 hours, beginning on May 16. Earlier, they had abandoned their Nuptse push due to high winds and heavy snow.
Xia Boyu climbed with the Imagine Treks and Expeditions team, led by super Sherpa Mingma Gyalje. Photo: AFP
* Double Amputee Returns 43 Years Later - In one of the most inspiring stories of the season, 70-year-old double amputee Xia Boyu managed to summit Everest, 43-years after his tragic first attempt. On that early expedition, the Chinese climber suffered severe frostbite, ultimately losing both his legs.
* Record 22 Ascents; New Woman's Record - Kami Rita Sherpa, 48, made yet another trip to the top of the world, summiting Everest a record 22nd time. His goal is 25 summits before retiring. Meanwhile, 44-year-old Lhakpa Sherpa, from Connecticut, bested her own record for successful female ascents. Already the woman's record holder with eight Everest summits, she reached her ninth on May 16 from the North Col on the Tibetan side of the mountain.
* Become a VVIP - Fancy yourself an Everest climber? One guide service, Seven Summits Treks and Expeditions based in Kathmandu, will take you there for a cool $130,000, all inclusive (except for airfare, your personal gear, and tips). Ask for their VVIP Everest Expedition Service via what they call the southeast ridge normal route, as if anything on Everest was actually "normal." The 36-day trip says nothing about the need to train before you arrive in Kathmandu, other than arriving with "a certain level of fitness."
In fact, money is more important.
The website reads, "If you want to experience what it feels like to be on the highest point on the planet and have strong economic background to compensate for your old age, weak physical condition or your fear of risks, you can sign up for the VVIP Mount Everest Expedition Service offered by Seven Summit Treks and Expeditions."
No thanks, we're good.
* Publicity Stunt Goes Very, Very Wrong - One group held "the world's highest dinner party" at base camp. They had champagne, wore evening gowns and tuxedos, and raised over $135,000 for Community Action Nepal - a charity that supports Nepalis, according to Arnette's blog.
Fair enough. But when an ASKfm cryptocurrency promotional stunt, designed to draw attention to a cryptocurrency Initial Coin Offering, resulted in the death of one Sherpa, experienced Everest hands just shook their heads.
It was a stunt designed to play on one of cryptocurrencies most resilient memes: "to the moon" - the idea that prices will skyrocket, leaving currency holders rich in the process. But it was a stunt that left one Sherpa presumed dead on Everest, according to Mark Serrels, writing on CNET.com (June 4).
ASKfm, one of the world's top 10 social media networks, is set up in a question and answer format that is very popular with teens and tweens. It was about to release a brand new Initial Coin Offering (ICO), giving early investors the chance to pre-buy some of its cryptocurrency before its launch. To promote the ICO, ASKfm sent four "crypto enthusiasts" to Everest. The plan: bury $50,000 worth of ASKT, ASKfm's cryptocurrency, in a nano ledger at the top of the mountain.
See their promotional video here:
Askfm ledger wallets left on Everest.
The team of four made it to the top on May 14, and returned safely.
According to extensive media reports on the tragedy, Lam Babu Sherpa, a man who helped the ASKfm's four-man team summit, was left behind during the descent and is now presumed dead. Lam Babu Sherpa was a veteran of three Mount Everest summits.
Maxim Tsaryk, CEO of ASKfm, tells FinanceMagnates.com (May 31), "We sponsored an event like many other big companies do, although it didn't go well, and we are saddened and horrified by the outcome."
He continues, "Companies that choose to sponsor extreme sports and events are always taking a risk, as these events are, well, extremely risky. We can argue about if this was a good marketing ploy, but we can't argue about the fact that anyone's life being taken is horrible, even if it's someone who is working daily in a high-risk environment or choosing an extreme profession."
As of earlier this month, the buried Nano Ledger containing ASKfm's cryptocurrency is still on the mountain. Tsaryk says, "We weren't pushing for anyone to actually go and find this ledger, this was more of an entertainment kind of thing."
For more details about spring 2018 on Everest, visit:
Pringles Fuels Greenland Ice Cap Expedition
Many explorers we've covered on expeditions report deep cravings for chocolate. Or sticks of butter. Or pemmican, a nasty mix of animal fat and protein. Or a few nips of brandy at night. Now comes word of a rather unusual exploration fuel: Pringles.
Yes Pringles. While traditional potato chip manufacturers shave off slices of potato and deep fry them, Pringles are much different. The creation process begins with a slurry of wheat, rice, corn, and potato flakes that are pressed into form. The resulting dough is then laid out like a sheet of ultra-thin cookie dough and mechanically cut into shape. The chips then move forward on a conveyor belt until they are ultimately pressed into molds, giving it the famous Pringles shape, according to NaturalSociety.com.
Perhaps the only thing natural is the can's paper cardboard, but that's just us talking.
Now comes word that Pringles were considered a daily award during a grueling expedition to the Greenland ice cab by polar explorer and guide Eric Larsen, of Boulder, and his three clients.
For the love of Pringles. Photo taken during a previous Eric Larsen polar training trip. Nice lips.Larsen blogs on May 29, "To ski across the Greenland ice cap, we are pulling everything in lightweight sleds - 26 days of food, fuel and gear. Obviously, we want things to be as light as possible - especially our food. But we also need enough calories to sustain our daily efforts (for this trip around 5,000). Freeze dried meals, super charged oatmeal, Skratch energy bars, chocolate, salami, cheese, soup... we eat basically the same thing every day (and enjoy it).
"But the highlight has to be the salty snack of Pringles when we get in the tent each night. On polar expeditions, I choose Pringles because they stay fairly intact in the sled (surprisingly and somehow) and you can find them all over the world. Not a lot of nutritional value of course, but for crunch power and tasty satisfaction, they're worth it."
"... it takes a bit of self control to not chow through an entire tube each night," Larsen writes.
We're thinking it might taste better if they actually used potatoes.
Read the entire post here:
Nominate Your Favorite Outdoor Book
Nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 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 2018 National Outdoor Book Awards, nominated books must have been released (date of first shipment of books) after June 1, 2017 and before September 1, 2018, 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:
The deadline for applications is August 23, 2018.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). Source: Richard Wiese, newly-elected president of The Explorers Club, speaking on June 7 at the "Explorations in Investing" annual meeting of Jumar Management and Piton Debt Holdings in Boulder, Colorado.
Wiese would later say, "The best explorers see the dark cloud and know when to come to shore." When bad things happen, his father, an airline pilot credited with the first truly solo flight across the Pacific Ocean (1959), from the U.S. to Australia, would advise, "put yourself in a bubble of calm," to figure your way out.
In his introduction, Bo Parfet, author of Die Trying: One Man's Quest to Conquer the Seven Summits (AMACOM, 2009), said, "Explorers survive because they think ahead and relentlessly prepare."
His financial management firm uses exploration as a metaphor for investing.
El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California.
Honnold, Caldwell Break Climbing's "Four Minute Mile"
Two of the world's best rock climbers coped with frightening falls and the deaths of two fellow climbers on the same rock in a month-long quest to shatter a mythical record in Yosemite National Park. Tenacity paid off June 6 as Alex Honnold, 32, and Tommy Caldwell, 39, reached the top of El Capitan, the most celebrated slab of granite on Earth, in less than two hours, breaking a barrier compared to the four-minute mile, according to an Associated Press story by Brian Melley (June 7).
The blistering time of 1 hour, 58 minutes and seven seconds capped weeks of practice and a few stumbles on the so-called Nose route that runs up the middle of the 3,000-foot (914 meters) sheer monolith.
Hans Florine, who has held the record on and off between 1990 and 2012 - the last time with Honnold - said the mark is equivalent to the ongoing quest to break the two-hour marathon or Roger Bannister's 1954 achievement in the mile.
"We were pushing the five-hour barrier before and then the four-hour barrier and then the three-hour barrier. So which one of those is the four-minute mile?" Florine said before the mark was broken. "I think it is getting close," he tells AP.
On June 3, two U.S. climbers in their forties perished on El Cap's Freeblast route horrifying spectators in the valley below who had been hoping to see Honnold and Caldwell. Honnold and Caldwell were not climbing that day and they canceled plans to go for the record and instead conducted a training run.
Honnold is the only person to have climbed El Cap solo without a rope or any protection, a perilous feat that earned him both admiration and criticism for being reckless. (See EN, June 2017).
Read more about the El Cap speed record here:
Bolivian National Park Found to be World's Most Diverse
A two-and-a-half year expedition in a remote part of Bolivia has uncovered a treasure trove of data on what has proven to be the world's most biodiverse national park, according to LoneleyPlanet.com.
Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) discovered more than 120 potentially new species of plant, butterfly, and vertebrate during their epic trek. As a result of the work, Madidi National Park is now considered the most biologically diverse protected area on the planet.
A giant cowbird snacks on the ticks of a lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris) in the Madidi river. Photo by: Milieniusz Spanowicz/Wildlife Conservation Society.
In terms of species, it is home to 265 mammals, 1,018 birds, 105 reptiles, 109 amphibians, at least 314 fish, 5,515 plants with 1,544 butterfly species and sub-species also confirmed within the park.
Dr. Robert Wallace of the WCS said: "The massive amounts of images and data collected will provide us with the baseline information needed to protect this natural wonder for future generations of Bolivians and the world." Of all the species recorded in the Madidi landscape, 200 of them were newly discovered in Bolivia while 124 are considered as "candidate new species."
Read the story and view the video here:
Ulyana Nadia Horodyskyj
Explorer Conducts Science in the Wild
Ulyana Nadia Horodyskyj was last covered in EN in April 2016, for her study of the difference between satellite images of Baffin Island glaciers, and the so-called "ground truth" research they gather by direct observation at the same sites seen from space.
Recently she was profiled in Rock & Ice magazine (April 26). Horodyskyj's Ph.D. work in glaciology had taken her to the Himalaya to study the effects of climate change on glacial lakes and villages high in the Nepalese mountains. She had participated in and even led alpine expeditions before, participating in climbs up Mount Ranier, Argentina's Aconcagua and Lobuche in eastern Nepal, according to the story by Zoe Rom.
She and her boyfriend and climbing partner, expedition guide and musician Ricardo Pena, are constantly training for ambitious climbs. For now, their exploration wish list includes the Seven Summits, the 50 state high points and the Colorado centennial peaks. On each summit, Horodyskyj will make a short video about science, and Pena will sing a song.
"The pull of mountains even taller than the Rockies drew Horodyskyj to Nepal, where she began researching the effects of climate change on glacial lakes, studying how steadily warming glaciers endangered Nepalese villages near flooding lakes. Leaning on traditional knowledge and collaborating with Sherpa scientists in the mountains was a dream come true for Horodyskyj," Rom writes.
"When my scientific work has application and can be used to help people, it holds a lot more meaning for me."
Horodyskyj runs Science in the Wild (www.scienceinthewild.com), a Boulder, Colorado, company that takes clients on immersive adventure science expeditions.
Read the story here:
Scientists and Archaeologists Locate WWII Plane Where 11 Lost Their Lives
A B-24 D-1 bomber plane transporting 11 American servicemen was shot down over the South Pacific on March 11, 1944. For more than 70 years, the final resting place of the aircraft nicknamed Heaven Can Wait and the men it carried remained a mystery. Now, through the efforts of Project Recover, it has finally been identified.
Project Recover is an organization dedicated to locating the remains of U.S. aircraft that crashed into the ocean during World War II. To find the wreckage of this particular plane, a team of marine scientists, archaeologists, and historians worked together to trace its final flight, according to the story by Michele Debczak on MentalFloss.com. (May 28).
Before heading off to Papua New Guinea to survey the area, Project Recover compiled data on the crash from military reports, diary entries from airmen on associated planes, and extended family members.
With that information in hand, the team traveled to the suspected crash site and searched a 10-square-mile patch of sea floor with sonar, divers, and aerial and aquatic robots. It took them 11 days to locate the wreckage of Heaven Can Wait in Hansa Bay, 213 feet beneath the ocean's surface.
Most touching moment: a memorial service for all 11 servicemen held aboard the research vessel. The documentary concludes with these words:
"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them."
- Excerpt from "For The Fallen," by Laurence Binyon (1914)
Read the story and watch the video here:
AUV Helps Scientists Find "Holy Grail of Shipwrecks" and Up to $17 Billion in Treasure
Here's another example of how technology is answering some of the oceans' deepest secrets: The Spanish galleon San José, which went down off the coast of Colombia in 1708, is the so-called "holy grail of shipwrecks."
The doomed vessel was discovered in 2015 after more than three centuries lying in wait at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea, and late last month, researchers revealed how they made their famous find, according to a story by Peter Dockrill on ScienceAlert.com (May 23).
The perfect Father's Day gift for the treasure hunter in your life.
Marine scientists from the Woods Hole (Mass.) Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) say the San José - whose sunken riches are estimated to be worth as much as $17 billion in today's currency - was discovered by a 13-foot autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) called REMUS 6000, during a survey off Colombia's Barú Peninsula. It has a maximum depth of 19,685 feet (6000 m, hence the model number).
Who gets their pieces of eight remains locked in controversy.
Some contend that since much of the wealth aboard the vessel resulted from the conquest of the Americas, it ought not leave Colombia - while others say other nations still may be entitled to a share of the treasure, based on historical arguments that much Spanish cargo in the late 17th century rightfully belonged to Holland, France, or England.
With the history of these sorts of disputes in mind, the United Nations called on Colombia last month to not commercially exploit the discovered wreck and the cultural heritage it represents.
Read the full story here:
Want your own REMUS 6000? Who wouldn't? Read the sales brochure here:
BLUE Film Examines a Marine World in Jeopardy
BLUE, directed, written and produced by Karina Holden, is a new documentary focusing on people defending marine habitats, campaigning for smarter fishing, combating marine pollution and fighting for the protection of keystone species. Among its numerous awards is "Best Impact Film," from the New York Wild Film Festival 2018.
The way the ocean operates is different to how we thought of it 100 years ago. The film believes we can no longer think of it as a place of limitless resources, a dumping ground, immune to change or decline. Lest watching this makes you, well, blue, the doc shows there is a way forward and the time to act is now.
Watch the trailer here:
Learn about U.S. screenings at:
"Good Evening Everybody"
There's a game we like to play when showing visitors around the headquarters of The Explorers Club in New York. There on the landing is a bust of a distinguished looking gentleman; cover the nameplate and few visitors recognize the man who at one time was the most famous broadcaster in America. In fact, the Club's building is named in his honor, as is an annual award.
Globetrotting writer and broadcaster Lowell Thomas (1892-1981) is the subject of a new documentary by filmmaker Rick Moulton, narrated by Robert Siegel. If you watch a news video today, listen to a newscast or download a podcast, then you are benefiting from the work of Lowell Thomas. As Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, Dalai Lama and many others explain in this lively film about a dynamo of a man, Lowell Thomas invented what is now often celebrated or disparaged as "traditional journalism."
And he was a great adventurer. In a primetime special after his death, Walter Cronkite concluded that Thomas had "crammed a couple of centuries worth of living into" his 89 years. He returned from Arabia in 1919 with film of "Lawrence of Arabia," a legend he also more or less invented through a multi-media show. After riding a mule caravan up into forbidden Tibet in 1949, just before the Chinese invaded, Thomas returned with his leg broken in eight places but also with precious film of the young Dalai Lama.
See the trailer at:
An experience close to home, cheap, simple, short and 100% guaranteed to refresh your life. A microadventure takes the spirit of a big adventure and squeezes it into a day or even a few hours. Source: Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes (William Collins, 2014) by Alastair Humphreys, British adventurer, author, blogger, filmmaker and photographer.
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:
Coming in Fall 2018: Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism by Jeff Blumenfeld (Rowman & Littlefield)
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