Monday, September 17, 2018

Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys

Stowe Family Robinson 

Stowe Away 

In 2010, artist/long distance sailor Reid Stowe completed history's longest non-stop, self-supported sea voyage - 1,152 days at sea. He began the trip with a girlfriend in April 2007, then ended solo as Soanya Ahmed returned home on day 306 due to sea sickness, which turned out to be morning sickness. Their child, a son named Darshen, was born five months later as Stowe remained at sea to complete his project (see EN, February 2010).

Today, Stowe, Ahmed and Darshen live in Greensboro, N.C., where they are caring for his father suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The 70-ft. gaff-rigged Anne sits in disrepair 130 miles away on the Cape Fear River. When the time comes, Stowe hopes to refurbish the boat.

He writes EN, "We were on an adventure up the rivers of Guyana, repairing the schooner when my mom died. I immediately knew we had to go care for my dad. It would have been the end of him if he had to go into an old folks home. Now he is happy and healthy and I feel connected to the endless cycle of life and death and the importance of caring for our elders as they did us."
"Darshen is 10 years old in fifth grade and the joy of our lives."

He recently signed with Rediscovered Masters which identifies and markets artists who have not as yet received the full recognition they deserve.

Stowe adds, "Yes, I am sure we will sail again. At the moment we have things to accomplish. We will see what visions and opportunities arise."

Learn about his record-breaking voyage at:

See Stowe's artwork at:

Preston Sowell 

What's New Pussycat?  

Using an array of camera traps placed at altitudes greater than 5,000m/16,400-ft., May and August 2018 expeditions led by Preston Sowell successfully documented the presence of the endangered Andean mountain cat (Leopardus jacobita) in the Sibinacocha watershed of Peru's Cordillera Vilcanota mountains (see EN, March 2017).

The Andean mountain cat is the most threatened cat in the Americas and one of the five most endangered cats in the world, according to Sowell. Preferring habitats greater than 4,000m/13,000-ft. in its northern range (i.e. Peru), it is so rare and secretive that prior to 1996, a few museum specimens and observations were the only basis for its description.

Here kitty: the camera-shy Andean mountain cat.

Sowell's team consisted of fellow Sibinacocha Watershed Project member and mammalogist Kate Doyle (U. Massachusetts), Peruvian biologist Dina Flores with the Asociación para la Conservación y Estudio de Montañas Andinas - Amazónicas (ACEMAA), and Enrique Ramos, a Peruvian biologist with the Denver Zoo's conservation program. 

The three instances in which the cat was photographed by Sowell's camera traps are believed to be among fewer than 10 ever captured in Peru. The work was primarily funded through a Denver Zoo Field Conservation grant.

Learn more about Sowell's work at:


Call for Entries 

The New York WILD Film Festival 2019 has issued a call for entries. Filmmakers from around the world are invited to submit their work to the 6th annual New York WILD Film Festival hosted at The Explorers Club HQ in New York, February 21-24, 2019. Organizers are seeking movies about exploration, adventure, wildlife, conservation and the environment.

For more information:  


"All life in the wilderness is so pleasant that the temptation is to consider each particular variety, while one is enjoying it, as better than any other. A canoe trip through the great forests, a trip with a pack-train among the mountains, a trip on snowshoes through the silent, mysterious fairyland of the woods in winter - each has its particular charm."

-  Theodore Roosevelt (1858-19190, Outdoor Pastime of an American Hunter(1905). Reprinted in Theodore Roosevelt for Nature Lovers edited by Mark Dawidziak (LP, 2017)

Humpback whale bones await assembly.

Whale Articulator Pieces Cetaceans Back Together

When a dead whale washes up on beaches, who you gonna call? In British Columbia you call a whale articulator, one of the few in North America. During a recent visit to Salt Spring Island, near Victoria, BC, EN visited the workshop of Michael deRoos of the family-run Cetacea Contracting Ltd.

Positioned on the floor and work tables is a two to three-year-old juvenile humpback whale skeleton found on North Vancouver Island that deRoos was preparing for display at a museum. "The government has to deal with dead whales that wash up on their beaches ASAP, especially in front of resort hotels," he says.

The flesh is removed using a layer cake of bones and fresh manure. Time and temperature then go to work - as much as six months buried in soil temperatures of as high as 140 degrees F. It's a stinky, but highly effective process.

"Maggots work, but microorganisms in the manure also do a fine job and horse manure is pretty available around here," he tells us. "It's too expensive to create replicas, so we work with real bones."

Michael deRoos

He carefully reassembles the bones using x-rays of bone structures of similar whales found in the area. Missing bones are often 3-D printed. Vertebrae are drilled, cables attached and steel is used for support. The result is a fully articulated whale skeleton that can fascinate schoolchildren, and adults, for generations.

"For us, our skeletons are not just about building scientific and artistic collections, these projects are about creating an emotional experience, fostering awareness and providing an opportunity to experience the amazing form and function abundant in our natural world.

"Mother Nature is the artist," he continues. "I'm just the facilitator putting her pieces back together," de Roos says as he begins to make plans to take his family to Perth, Australia, for a six-month project for the Western Australian Museum.

It promises to be a whale of an exhibit.

Learn more at:


High-stakes Charity Fundraising

Over the past five years, mainstream charity fundraisers have taken a turn for the extreme. A big-city marathon used to be the benchmark for commitment to a cause. Now it's a desert marathon or a jungle course. Nonprofits might ask you to step into a boxing ring, climb a mountain or walk over hot coals, according to a Wall Street Journal (Aug. 13) story by Hilary Potkewitz.

Studies show that the more difficult the challenge and the more suffering the volunteer is expected to endure, the more money their friends give. Chris Olivola, professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business, identified the so-called martyrdom effect in 2011 while studying the growing popularity of charity marathons.

He predicted that at some point, marathons would no longer be seen as extreme enough, and charities would have to step up a notch to stand out.

David Hessekiel, president of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum, a trade organization for fundraising managers, says, "People are looking for experiences that are more unique, so charities are being challenged to come up with something that will capture people's attention. It has to be difficult, maybe a little dangerous. Those types of events are increasing in popularity."

Read the story here:

The Dawn Wall Documentary Begins International Tour -
"Like Stepping off the Edge of the Earth"

In January 2015, American rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson captivated the world with their effort to climb The Dawn Wall, a seemingly impossible 3,000-foot rock face in Yosemite National Park, Calif. The pair lived on the sheer vertical cliff for weeks, igniting a frenzy of global media attention. Blurring the line between dedication and obsession, Caldwell and his partner Jorgeson spend six years meticulously plotting and practicing their route. 
The documentary, by Sender Films, producers of the Reel Rock Film Tour, has begun an international run. 
View the trailer here:

Visit to find a show near you.   

For a behind-the-scenes look at the immense publicity surrounding the effort, coordinated by CGPR Public Relations, see the below link. At one point the network morning shows were fighting over themselves to get at the story: 

"Unnecessary Rescues" Soar in Nepal on Profits From Insurance Payouts

The latest negative news to come out of Nepal is a story by Agence France-Presse (July 2) that claims tourists hiking in Nepal's Himalayan mountains are being pressured into costly helicopter evacuations at the first sight of trouble by guides linked to powerful brokers who are making a fortune on "unnecessary rescues." 

Dodgy operators are scamming tens of thousands of dollars from insurance companies by making multiple claims for a single chopper ride or pushing trekkers to accept airlifts for minor illnesses, an investigation by AFP has revealed. In other cases, trekking guides, promised commission if they get tourists to return by chopper, are offering helicopter rides to tired hikers as a quick way home, but billing them as rescues to insurance companies.

The practice is so rampant helicopter pilots are reporting "rescuing" tourists who appear in perfectly fine health. "It's a racket that's tantamount to fraud, and it's happening on a large scale throughout Nepal," says Jonathan Bancroft of UK-based Traveller Assist, which carries out medical evacuations in Nepal on behalf of global travel insurance companies.

AFP's Annabel Symington reports Traveller Assist says 2017 was the most expensive year on record for travel insurance companies covering tourists in Nepal due to a startling number of helicopter rescues - though this year is on track to beat it.

Australian trekker Jessica Reeves was urged by her guide to be evacuated by helicopter from near Everest base camp in October 2017 when she complained of a common cold. "He kept telling me to get a helicopter," Reeves recalls. 

"They said if I keep going it would be really risky so it was better to leave now instead of risking it."

The majority of rescues in the Himalayas are related to "acute mountain sickness" caused by low oxygen levels at high altitude. The symptoms are vague - headaches, nausea, loss of appetite - and the only treatment is to descend. But once the patient is at lower altitudes the symptoms disappear, making it impossible to tell if the evacuation was medically necessary.

Read the story here:

Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys

This is one scene you won't see in First Man, the new Ryan Gossling movie about the Apollo 11 moon landing. 

The internet is raising a stink, as only the internet can do, about an obvious omission in the upcoming Neil Armstrong biopic First Man.

The movie screened at Venice Film Festival last week and has been criticized for not featuring a scene depicting the American flag being planted into the moon.

Following outrage online, U.S. astronaut Edwin E. 'Buzz' Aldrin, Jr., Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 11, tweeted a photo of himself and Armstrong on the moon, alongside the hashtags "proud to be an American," "freedom," "honor." "one nation," and "road to Apollo 50."  

Damien Chazelle - who previously directed La La Land and Whiplash - has explained that the decision to omit the iconic moment was not a political gesture, according to The Independent (Sept. 2).  

"In First Man I show the American flag standing on the lunar surface, but the flag being physically planted into the surface is one of several moments of the Apollo 11 lunar EVA that I chose not to focus upon," he said.

"To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is no. My goal with this movie was to share with audiences the unseen, unknown aspects of America's mission to the moon - particularly Neil Armstrong's personal saga and what he may have been thinking and feeling during those famous few hours."

James R. Hansen, the author of the biography on which the movie is based, along with Armstrong's sons, Rick and Mark, have defended the adaptation. Like Chazelle, they explain that the story focuses on the personal struggles Armstrong went through, rather than moments the world has already seen.
First Man has received rave reviews from critics and is being touted as an early Oscars contender. 

Read the story here:

See the trailer here:


Giving it His All

John All plans his escape from a Nepal crevasse. 

What's it like to be facing death inside of a crevasse? At a recent Explorers Club seminar on Salt Spring Island, B.C., many of us learned first-hand from John All, JD, Ph.D., founding director of the Bellingham, Wash., Western Washington University Mountain Environments Research Institute. 

A global explorer and geoscientist specializing in climate change research in remote locations, All was climbing alone on Nepal's Himlung Mountain in May 2014 when he fell. As he struggled to climb seven stories back up to the surface with a severely dislocated shoulder, internal bleeding, a battered face covered in blood, and 15 broken bones - including six cracked vertebrae, he recorded the ordeal on his Sony travel zoom digital camera.

When asked how he managed to find the composure to videotape himself, All tells EN, "As a scientist I take photos of everything. It was a way for me to calm down and think things through. The camera helped me talk myself through it.

"Also, I wanted proof to show my friends that the crevasse was really that deep."

If anyone had the right to drop multiple F-bombs in a video selfie, it was All.

All recounts his potentially career-ending fall in the book Icefall: Adventures at the Wild Edges of Our Dangerous, Changing Planet (PublicAffairs, 2017).

Watch his horrifying video here:


Climbing World Mourns Passing of Jeff Lowe

In 1991, Jeff Lowe conquered a new route up the north face of the Eiger, doing so without bolts, a route he named Metanoia, a Greek word for spiritual transformation. Jeff Lowe: beloved climber who challenged the world's tallest peaks and trickiest ascents as one of the most renowned climbers of his generation, until illness in the last few years made climbing impossible, died on Aug. 24 at a care facility in Fort Collins, Colo. He was 67. His daughter, Sonja Lowe, said the causes were pneumonia and a degenerative disease similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. 

Jeff Lowe  

In August 2016, EN wrote about Lowe's virtual time capsule of 1991 climbing gear literally dug out of the ice on the 13,020-ft./3,970-m Eiger in the Swiss Bernese Alps. Lowe was relieved when it was found - discarding the pack was contrary to his alpine-style aesthetic, of doing more with less and leaving nothing behind. When the pack was opened - it took eight days to thaw - the contents were covered in a gritty, sand like material determined to be oxidized aluminum. 

Lowe helped improve climbing technology and apparel by designing and testing new gear for Lowe Alpine Systems, a company founded by his brothers, Greg and Mike, who are also mountain climbers.

Lowe's former companion and caregiver, Connie Self, produced the film Metanoia, which features narration by the climber and writer Jon Krakauer.

See the trailer here:

Read his obituary by Daniel E. Slotnik in the New York Times (Sept. 11): 

Friday Harbor Film Festival, San Juan Island, Wash., Oct. 26-28, 2018

Each year, the Friday Harbor Film Festival invites dedicated and talented filmmakers to showcase their documentary films' unique ability to entertain audiences through the art of compelling storytelling; inspire audience members, as well as filmmakers to be a force for positive change; enlighten all participants by conveying relevant information, creating awareness and expanding appreciation of our fragile planet, diverse cultures and those daring to explore new frontiers; and encourage students to participate in the Young Filmmakers Project to learn the art of storytelling thru film.

Captain Paul Watson has been chosen as this year's recipient of the FHFF Andrew V. McLaglen Lifetime Achievement Award. This annual award honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions to raising the general public's awareness of important issues, either through activism or as a filmmaker. Watson is one of the original founding members of Greenpeace. He also founded Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and was more recently featured on seven seasons of Animal Planet's Whale Wars TV series. 

For more information:


Climb Mount Howe - Join Seven Summits record-breaking mountain guide Vern Tejas to the "Last Place on Earth"! Our select team of mountaineers is now accepting applications for climbing Mount Howe...the Southernmost mountain on the planet. Extremely remote at 87'22 S, it's logistically one of the most challenging mountains to access. Mount Howe harbours the southernmost known indigenous life. Afterwards, explore the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station. Early December 2019. Contact:

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: 

Coming in Spring 2019: Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism(Rowman & Littlefield) by Jeff Blumenfeld

Advertise in Expedition News - For more information:

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 1877 Broadway, Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80302 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2018 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through (made payable to  Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Eye Docs Return to Nepal, OR Show's Weirdest Products, Rolex Expands Explorers Club Support

Members of the December 2017 Gift of Sight Expedition to Nepal (shown above) will return to the country in October to provide quality eye care, including cataract surgeries. (Photo courtesy

Gift of Sight Expedition Returns to Nepal
Some expeditions, of course, attempt to set new records. Others focus on scientific discovery. But those that serve to directly benefit the impoverished, the underprivileged and the desperately ill deserve special recognition. 

Dooley Intermed International, the New York-based non-profit that delivers quality medical care "at the end of the road and beyond," will once again travel to Nepal in October with a team of leading ophthalmologists. Their destination is Western Nepal - the Gumghadi, Mugu District, on the border of Tibet. It's considered the most remote region in Nepal, and among the least developed.

The team, assembled by Scott Hamilton, president of Dooley Intermed, and Dr. Ronald C. Gentile of Operation Restore Sight, will depart in early October on a two-week mission involving members of the elite Operation Restore Sight team.

This latest medical expedition to cure blindness represents Dooley Intermed's sixth sight restoration medical mission to Nepal in eight years, according to Hamilton. (See EN, January 2018).

An advance team from Himalaya Eye Hospital and the Pema Ts'al Sakya Monastic Institute will depart from Pokhara, Nepal (about 130 miles west of Kathmandu), on a multi-day four-wheel-drive journey into the Himalaya to reach the Mugu District. Tri-lingual monks from the monastery have volunteered their services as translators and eye camp assistants.

The Dooley-Operation Restore Sight surgical team will then travel via chartered Twin Otter aircraft to the remote 1,500-ft. Talcha airstrip located at an elevation of 9,000 feet. From there the eye doctors will journey along a mountain trail to Gumghadi village, meet up with the advance team, then begin the multi-day eye camp, providing comprehensive eye examinations, refractions, eyeglasses, medical care and sight-restoring surgeries.

"All medical care, eyeglasses, medicines and surgeries will be provided completely free of cost to everyone in need," says Dr. Gentile. Cataract surgery is one of the most cost-effective and gratifying surgical procedures in medicine since patients are "cured" overnight, often with full restoration of their eyesight.

In 2013 and 2017 members of the same team restored sight to more than 150 villagers in Nepal's remote Mustang and Gorkha regions while providing quality eye care and refractive services to over 1,500 patients. The Dooley Intermed - Operation Restore Sight team also participated in the construction of a new Eye Hospital in the Kavre District of Nepal, a region that suffered massive damage in the 2015 Nepal Earthquake.

Learn more about Dooley Intermed - Operation Restore Sight at:

See the Skyship Films documentary of the team's 2013 mission here:


Just One Word: "Plastics"

In a famous scene from The Graduate (1967), "Benjamin Braddock," played by Dustin Hoffman, receives some career advice at a party. "There's a great future in plastics," he's told. 

That may be the case, but plastics, particularly microplastics, have become the scourge of the marine environment worldwide. One group has been marshalling outdoor explorers and adventurers to study the problem in great depth. 

From 2013-2017, Adventure Scientists, based in Bozeman, Montana, mobilized thousands of trained volunteers to help identify the extent of microplastic pollution in marine and freshwater systems around the world. Results have revealed microplastics in the vast majority of marine samples collected, from places including Maine, Alaska, Argentina, Thailand, and Antarctica.  

Pollutants including pesticides and manufacturing chemicals can adhere to microplastic particles and bioaccumulate in aquatic life. Microplastics have been shown to affect feeding behavior and predator avoidance, and can interact with other pollutants to affect cell function in fish. They're also able to move from the digestive tract of organisms into the bloodstream, according to Adventure Scientists. 

Adventure Scientists works with outdoor adventurers to collect high quality data. (Photo credit: Louise Johns) 

The Global Microplastics Initiative utilized a network of trained volunteers to collect water samples across the world's oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams. Approximately 1,000 volunteer-led expeditions collected 2,677 water samples over four years and spanning each continent and every ocean. It has resulted in the most diverse and the largest known dataset documenting microplastic pollution on a global scale. 

The news is not good. On average, global water samples contained 11.8 pieces of microplastic per liter. Open ocean samples contained on average higher concentrations of the pollutant than did coastal samples, with polar regions containing the highest averages. Across studies, microfibers, as opposed to other types of microplastics, were dominant: microfibers composed 91% of marine particles, and 92% of freshwater particles. Through partnerships and targeted outreach, data are being used by governments, organizations, and industry to address the environmental issue of plastic and microplastic pollution. 

See the initial findings here: 



Kick Scooters for Charity. That's Bex on the left. 

We Get a Kick Out of This

Londoners Bex Band and Gil Drori just completed a 1,750-mi. journey traveling the full length of the western U.S. using kick scooters - stand-up non-motorized scooters that are powered by leg muscles alone. The expedition, named "Kicking the States" began on May 17 in Vancouver, Canada and recently ended in Tijuana, Mexico. Their goal was to raise money to help build a school in Tanzania. They averaged 30 miles a day carrying gear on their scooters.

On Aug. 7, KUSI-TV in San Diego covered their journey:

Learn more about the project here:


"Wilderness is a ferocious intoxication that sweeps over your senses. It is an untouched place that leaves you elated, awed, and changed. It is an aphrodisiac, a place of furious, ripe fullness."
- Jay Griffiths writing in UTNE Reader, January/February 2003. Griffiths' writing has appeared in the London Review of Books, The Guardian, The Observer, The Ecologist, and Resurgence, of which she served as associate editor.


Outdoor Retail Summer Market's Most Unusual Products 

While thousands of outdoor retailers converge on Denver for the annual Outdoor Retail Summer Market looking for products that will enhance their profitability, we attend for other reasons, and not just for the free water bottles and ballpoint pens. We attend to search of the more unusual products. Some are perfect for expeditions, others not so much. 

"Consumers are all about multi-sport now. And gear is following suit: versatility rules and hybrid products are increasingly designed with multi-purpose functionality," writes Aaron Bible in Outdoor Insight magazine (August 2018). 

This year's show didn't disappoint us. Here's what caught our eye:

The Bivystick (lower right).

*            Bivystick - Turn your cell phone into a satellite communication device. You can send and receive text messages, share your location, track your path, send an SOS message, recharge your phone battery, and access detailed weather forecasts, with or without cell service. It's all integrated with the Bivy app where you have access to over 45,000 trails, climbing routes, and waterways across the U.S. Basic service starts at $17.99. 

See it on Kickstarter:


Hike and paddle on the same trip. Photo credit: @linkedringphotography

*            Kokopelli Packraft - Brilliant idea. An inflatable 5 lb. raft you can take into the outdoors in your backpack or onto your bike. Then paddle across a lake; fish from it; enjoy a remote backcountry paddle; float in with your gear to hard-to-reach climbing routes. Starts at $595.


The FireEscape - just don't bet your life on it.

*            Fire Escape Carabiner
- More than a few exhibitors were showing carabiners that were similar in one important detail - they were lousy for climbing. But if you want to use your 'biner as a wrench, seatbelt cutter, window breaker, or bottle opener, you're covered. Especially with this gizmo from Outdoor Element. Pricing not set yet.

Squeezing the simplicity out of a camp lantern.

*            Hydra-Light - How do you take a simple product like a flashlight or camp lantern and make it way more complicated? Here's an idea: create a water-activated HydraCell-powered light. Just dip it in water for hundreds of hours of light and power. When hydrated with water, they instantly produce a steady flow of electric current. Go ahead if you want to be cutting edge out on the trail, but we'll stick with boring Duracells ourselves. $29.95 As Seen on TV.


Cold hands or dead phone. You decide.

*            Zippo Rechargeable Handwarmer ­- What do you do when you make cigarette lighters and the world turns against you? Naturally, you make rechargeable handwarmers that can also charge your sorry dead iPhone. It will heat for 120 degrees F. for six hours. Or charge your USB compatible devices. Except not at the same time. So the choice is yours: cold hands or no phone. Silly question. $44.95,


Love it. Want it. 'Nuff said. 

*            Tailgater Tire Table - Definitely drool worthy. No fancy brand names here. Simple directions. No cutting edge technology or anything fancy like that. This one speaks to us.
We need it. We want it. Even their URL is self-explanatory. $139.95,

Chamonix Honors Its Climbing History

During a recent hiking trip to the French resort of Chamonix, the EN staff was happy to see how well the city embraces its climbing history. Site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924, this picturesque town of 8,900 is located in a valley on the north side of the summit of Mont Blanc, at 4808.7 m/15,777-ft. it's the highest European mountain west of Russia. Nearby is one of the highest cable cars in the world, which links the town to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi at 3842 m/12,605-ft.

French resort city honors its famed guides and mountaineers.

There are free telescopes in town pointed at the high point, and signs honoring the first ascension on Aug. 8, 1786 by Jacques Balmat (1762-1834) and Doctor Michael-Gabriel Paccard (1757-1827). Best of all is a huge fresco devoted to the "Mountain Guides of Chamonix" located on the entire end wall of a property on the Rue du Docteur Paccard, close to the center of Chamonix.

Michel Payot (1840-1922)

Gaston Rebuffat (1921-1985)

Created in July 2010, the mural features 20 of the outstanding pioneering guides and mountaineers associated with Chamonix and Mont Blanc. It's a trompe l'oeil on a grand scale.

Go for the hiking, go for the French cuisine, and go for a look at the early days of climbing almost as old as the United States itself. 

For a closer view, dust off your sixth grade French and click here:


Caving is "Pure Exploration"

Bill Steele, the cave explorer we've covered in past issues of EN, provided his thoughts about the Thai soccer team, ages 11 to 16, and their coach trapped inside a cave in Mae Sai, northern Thailand. He writes in the July 6 Washington Post just prior to their successful rescue on July 9-10, "What I have learned, since I started exploring caves as a 13-year-old Boy Scout 55 years ago, is that caving absolutely requires you to adhere to the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.

Rescue scene from Royal Thai Navy Facebook page.

"The Thai boys and their coach obviously were not prepared with supplies in case of an emergency. They were not prepared with proper gear such as helmets, each person with a dependable light (or three, like we carry), boots and so on. They did not heed a warning sign at the entrance about the cave being prone to flooding during a rainy-season downpour." 
Steele continues, "Caving means taking a calculated risk. I also drive. I've been hurt worse in traffic accidents than in caves. I still drive, and I still go in caves."

He calls caving, "an exhilarating opportunity to pursue pure exploration on the planet Earth, which isn't so easy to do these days."

Read his WashPo op-ed here:

Steele also commented about cave safety in a blog for Boy Scouts of America adults leaders you can access here:

Ted Radio Hour Reruns Ken Kamler Interview on Crises 

Moments of crisis can upend our lives, but can also help define them, according to NPR.TED speakers, including 1996 Everest doctor Ken Kamler, explore how a quick, compassionate or unexpected response can turn crisis into opportunity. It's a rerun hosted by Guy Raz on Aug. 3 of an earlier interview with Kamler.

Listen to it at:


Apply for the Bob Swanson Memorial Exploration Grant

Big Agnes, the Colorado gear manufacturer whose designers take their inspiration from "sleeping in the dirt," invites applicants to apply for the company's Bob Swanson Memorial Grant. It's named in honor of Bob "The Tent Guy" Swanson who co-founded Sierra Designs, founded Walrus tents, then sold that to REI and followed it up by working for REI for several years before going out on his own as a consultant for Big Agnes.

Applicants, age 18 and up, must describe how their proposed adventure will push new boundaries in some way, use creative problem solving to overcome unique challenges and help them grow as an individual.

Approximately two to three months of returning from the project, all grant recipients will be required to submit a trip report. Successful applicants receive Big Agnes, Honey Stinger and/or Helinox products. Application period is Oct. 20 through Dec. 17, 2018.


The Explorer II, Explorer, and Submariner will be a part of the Expedition Watch Program. We'll take two. 

Rolex Partners With The Explorers Club for Expedition Watch Program

Rolex is offering up three watches to be taken on expeditions and put in harm's way. But there's a catch: you have to be an Explorers Club member, according to an Aug. 7 story in Hodinkee, the website for watch geeks. 

Jason Heaton writes, "Rolex has been a supporting partner of The Explorers Club for decades and, in addition to financial support through event underwriting and grants, has provided three watches to be worn on expeditions: an Explorer (duh!), an Explorer II, and a Submariner. These watches are the subject of what is being called the 'Rolex Expedition Watch Program' and will piggyback on existing flag expeditions."

Watches will be awarded to worthy expeditions, based on detailed applications submitted to a selection committee.

Heaton continues, "As part of the Expedition Watch Program, each selected expedition leader will wear the chosen Rolex for the duration of their mission, capturing photographic evidence of it for posterity and then returning the watch to the Club. Rolex will engrave the back of the watch to commemorate each expedition, a plaque will keep a running history of each watch's use, and then the given watch will remain at the Explorers Club until the next assigned expedition. Like the flags, each watch will eventually be retired after a number of expeditions to be left on permanent display at The Explorers Club."

In a robust comment section beneath Heaton's original story, journe1304 writes:

"I get the sense that many of us feel it's corny to admit that we're inspired by stories of adventure. But I think it's magical to allow oneself to imagine walking on the moon with Buzz Aldrin while staring at their Speedmaster (editor's note: an Omega product), or be inspired to get scuba certified after reading one of Mr. Heaton's watch reviews (particularly the one with Sylvia Earle). This is part of the 'emotion' of watches that people keep talking about-I, for one, am inspired to go out and feel it for myself."

Read the full story here:

Alex Martin, 18, is putting Gearlab paddles to the test. 

Teen Circumnavigates Lake Winnipeg 

Winnipeg kayaker Alex Martin, 18, is on a first of its kind solo expedition to circumnavigate Lake Winnipeg, 34 miles north of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The goal during the 1,750 km (1,087-mi.) sea kayak journey is to raise awareness about the critical need for sustainable watershed management in the region. 

The adventure kicked off June 27. At press time in early August, Martin was about to complete his journey. 

Along the way, Alex sopped in communities around the lake to share stories, promote the campaign, and photograph the lake along the coast.

Lake Winnipeg is the largest lake within southern Canada's borders, and is part of the most undeveloped large watershed of southern Canada. The lake is 416 km (258 mi.) from north to south, with remote sandy beaches, large limestone cliffs, and many bat caves.  The lake's east side has pristine boreal forests and rivers that are being promoted as a potential United Nations World Heritage Park

Sponsors include Gearlab, makers of the Nukilik, modern Greenland-style carbon fiber paddles with exchangeable tips. Greenland paddles are said to allow kayakers to travel farther with greater efficiency and precision, while reducing injury and fatigue. Martin has been feeding the Taiwanese company product reviews along the way (

While Lake Winnipeg was circumnavigated by a duo of adventurers in 1983, Alex's solo trip is reportedly the first known solo expedition. His trip is being tracked via Garmin inReach.

For updates on the trip visit:


Lowell Thomas Award Dinner, October 27, 2018, Boston Museum of Science 

Winners of The Explorers Club's prestigious Lowell Thomas Awards this year are Harvard Professor of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology Peter Girguis; Aerospace biomedical engineer and space suit designer Dava Newman; groundbreaking Egyptologist Sarah Parcak; Principal Investigator of NASA's New Horizons Pluto Mission Alan Stern; and Nobel prize-winning physicist Rainer Weiss. The 2018 theme is "Engineering Exploration." According to the Club, all have demonstrated the skills necessary to engineer groundbreaking expeditions and expeditionary science.
The Lowell Thomas Awards were first presented on the occasion of The Explorers Club's 75th anniversary, October 17, 1980, to a group of outstanding explorers including Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Sylvia Earle, and Lowell Thomas himself.  

For more information: 


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: 

Coming in Spring 2019: 

Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism (Rowman & Littlefield) by Jeff Blumenfeld

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