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

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

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Exploring the "Twilight Zone," Forget About the Moon, Bright Stamp From the Snailmail Folks


A large multidisciplinary team of scientists, equipped with advanced underwater robotics and an array of analytical instrumentation, will set sail for the northeastern Pacific Ocean next month. The team's mission for NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) is to study the life and death of the small organisms that play a critical role in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and in the ocean's carbon cycle.

More than 100 scientists and crew from more than 20 research institutions will embark from Seattle for NASA's Export Processes in the Ocean from Remote Sensing (EXPORTS) oceanographic campaign. EXPORTS is the first coordinated multidisciplinary science campaign of its kind to study the fates and carbon cycle impacts of microscopic plankton using two research vessels and several underwater robotic platforms. 
The Pacific Ocean teems with phytoplankton along the West Coast of the United States, as captured by the MODIS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite. Satellites can track phytoplankton blooms, which occur when these plant-like organisms receive optimal amounts of sunlight and nutrients. Phytoplankton play an important role in removing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Photo courtesy of NASA. 

The research vessels, the R/V Revelle and R/V Sally Ride, operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, will sail west 200 miles into the open ocean. From these seaborne laboratories, researchers will explore the plankton, as well as the chemical and physical properties of the ocean from the surface to one half-mile below into the twilight zone, a region with little or no sunlight where the carbon from the plankton can be sequestered, or kept out of the atmosphere, for periods ranging from decades to thousands of years.

"The carbon humans are putting into the atmosphere is warming Earth," says Mike Sieracki, program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Ocean Sciences. "Much of that carbon eventually finds its way into the ocean and is transported to the deep ocean, where it is sequestered and will not return to the atmosphere for a long time. This project will help us understand the biological and chemical processes that remove the carbon, and establish a foundation for monitoring these processes as the climate changes."

Learn more here:

Bright Stamps from the Folks Who Brought You Snailmail
Bioluminescent Life Forever stamps introduced earlier this year celebrate life-forms that create their own light and perform a variety of functions, including support for medical research. The 50-cent stamps, 10 examples of Bioluminescent Life on sheets of 20 stamps, include glowing marine species, a firefly and a cluster of mushrooms captured on the surface.

The shimmering stamps were created so that they reflect light to mimic the effect of bioluminescence. Fairly rare among species on land, bioluminescence reigns supreme in the darkness of the deep ocean. Fishes, squids, jellyfish, worms and many other ocean organisms make varied use of their ability to glow. Their light can lure food, attract a mate or fend off a predator.

Through improved deep-sea exploration and advances in photography, scientists have identified thousands of bioluminescent species. Yet many mysteries of bioluminescence remain unsolved, and many benefits of research await discovery.

Order them at


"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you - beyond that next turning of the canyon walls."

- Edward Abbey (1927-1989), American author


Erik Weihenmayer tests the BrainPort device at his local gym in Golden, Colorado. With BrainPort, electrical impulses are sent to the brain by way of nerves in the tongue instead of the optic nerve in the eye. File photo by Scott Lederer originally appeared in the 
NIH Record, March 20, 2009.  

AI Tools Help Blind Adventurer Tackle Everyday Tasks

A host of products promise to radically change the lives of the visually impaired, including one noted adventurer, according to Chris Kornelis, writing in the May 28 Wall Street Journal.

"Since losing his vision at age 13, Erik Weihenmayer has summited Mount Everest, white-water rafted and climbed frozen waterfalls. But making soup in his kitchen presented a unique challenge. On a frozen waterfall he could tap his ax against the ice to get a feel for its density, but in the kitchen, he had no way to differentiate between cans of tomato and chicken noodle," Kornelis writes.

"Mr. Weihenmayer, 49 years old, found a solution in Microsoft Corp.'s Seeing AI, a free app for the visually impaired. Among other things, the app can recognize faces, identify money, read handwriting and scan bar codes to differentiate between cans of soup."

Seeing AI is one of the artificial-intelligence-powered products that are helping blind and vision-impaired people live more independently. Microsoft says it has no plans to monetize the app, which launched in 2017, calling it part of the company's efforts to empower all people, including those with disabilities.

Weihenmayer, for example, uses Comcast 's voice remote to find TV shows, Apple's Siri to send texts and Amazon's Alexa to cue up his favorite music, according to the story. He also uses a product called Aira, which employs glasses with a camera, sensors and network connectivity to connect the visually impaired to human agents, who act as visual interpreters. The reps can describe users' surroundings and assist them with tasks such as online searches.

"I think this technology gives people the confidence to go out and explore unknown areas where you just might be a little bit hesitant to go out as a blind person," says   Weihenmayer, a co-founder of No Barriers, a nonprofit that supports and advocates for people with disabilities.

Read the story here:

Should We Return to the Moon?
The famous 'Earthrise' photo from Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon. The crew entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts held a live broadcast, showing pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from their spacecraft. (Photo courtesy NASA)

As the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8's historic lunar orbit approaches later this year, NASA is planning to repeat the feat with an unmanned mission in 2019. Costco Connection, the monthly magazine sent to 12 million Costco members, debated the merits of returning to the moon in its May 2018 issue.  

Voting a resounding "yes," is Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society. "Astronauts should be explorers of new worlds. The moment is at hand to open the final frontier. America should seize it," he writes.

Taking an opposing view is Amitai Etzioni, the author of The Moon-Doggle (Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964). He writes, "Explorations of the moon (and other deep-space ventures) have shown that they yield relatively little compared with near-space enterprises, which include communications satellites ... Claims that exploring the moon will allow us to come closer to understanding the origins of the universe or of life, or help us solve the mysteries of existence, are rhetorical flourishes."

Read the debate here:

Mike O'Rourke, a Ph.D. candidate in archeology at the University of Toronto, examines the remains of a large Inuvialuit house on the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula in 2016. All traces of the house have now been completely washed away into the Beaufort Sea. (Photo by Max Friesen)

Experts Say Loss of Arctic Archeological Sites a "Catastrophe"

For thousands of years, the Arctic has functioned as a time capsule where evidence of past cultures and environments has remained remarkably well preserved. But archeologists are discovering that much of that evidence has been destroyed in less than a generation, owing to the accelerating effects of climate change, writes Ivan Semeniuk, science reporter of the Globe and Mail (June 27).

"Unless a concerted effort is made to rescue what is left, they say, a vast treasury of knowledge about the humanity's presence at the world's northern extremes will be wiped from existence."

"It's a catastrophe. A majority of sites, including many of the most important ones, are already gone," said Max Friesen, an Arctic archeologist at the University of Toronto and a member of an international team that has been taking stock of the damage.

The group's findings, published last month in the research journal Antiquity, suggest the situation is desperate, with far more sites set to vanish than scientists have the time or resources to document.
Erosion is a major threat, Friesen said, because so many northern archeological sites occur along coastlines where people lived off fish and other marine resources. 

As sites disappear, Friesen added, they also take with them an irreplaceable record of the plants and animals that were present and used by people who lived in a particular place and time.

Read the story here:

Can You Crowdfund an Expedition?

Crowdfunding could be one of the most difficult techniques for expedition fundraising. That's the opinion of visitors to the British climbing forum,, as posted July 9 by Cathy O'Dowd on Reasons given include:

People actively dislike funding what appears to be a vacation.

People tend to mostly fund only people they know.

You'll have more luck if a product is involved, such as a book or film.

Funding increases if there's a charity involved.

It can create more costs and more work, especially if you need to create expedition-related imprinted items to reward donors.

You may need to top off the funds - sometimes if an explorer or adventurer doesn't put in their own funds, they won't reach the target and thus will receive nothing. One advantage to doing so is that donors are more inclined if the individual/team were putting in a sizable chunk of the money themselves.

Read the entire post here:

A tool of the people.

Leatherman Launches Grant Program

In 1983, after eight years of perseverance, Tim Leatherman created the world's first multi-tool, and it became an icon. Over the last 35 years, Leatherman multi-tools have prepared people around the world to tackle challenges, and in some cases have even saved lives. Now, the creator of the original multi-tool wants to inspire and support the next generation of doers who may someday save the day and change the world.

The inaugural Leatherman Grant Program will donate $100,000 to support non-profit organizations that aim to inspire, prepare, and develop the next generation of problem solvers.  

"We created this grant program to provide funds for fresh innovative ideas that have the potential to make a big impact. We hope we can enable someone to make their mark and make a difference," said Leatherman, co-founder and chairman of the board.

Grant applications will be accepted through August 31, 2018. All 501(c)3 organizations or the global equivalent are eligible to apply for funding ranging from $5,000 to $15,000. A team of Leatherman employees including Tim Leatherman will choose 10 to 15 grantees by October 2018. Application deadline is August 31, 2018.

For more information: 

Princess Yachts Supports eXXpedition North Pacific 2018

Princess Yachts have lent their support to all-female environmental voyage eXXpedition, which aims to shed light on the impact of plastic on the environment and human health.

eXXpedition North Pacific 2018 is an all-female sailing expedition and scientific research mission that will study the crisis of plastics in the oceans.

The crew will be sailing the North Pacific Gyre in Sea Dragon, a 72-ft. scientific exploration vessel (owned by Pangaea Exploration), from Oahu to Vancouver (through July 14), and then from Vancouver to Seattle (July 21 - July 28, 2018) where the journey will end. The project is led by British skipper and ocean advocate Emily Penn, according to the story in Yachting & Boating World (Mar. 16, 2018).

The eXXpedition crew is made up of 24 female scientists, students, artists, filmmakers, business women, psychologists, actors, ocean activists and sustainability professionals, and novice as well as experienced sailors, traveling 3,000 nautical miles. 

The expedition aims to raise awareness of the impact of single-use plastic and toxics in the world's oceans; celebrate women in science, leadership and adventure; create a community of female change-makers and inspiring global ambassadors to tackle the environmental and health impacts of plastic pollution; and champion and contribute to innovative scientific research to tackle the crisis. 

During the month-long voyage, the crew will make daily trawls for plastics and pollutants, and collect data for a variety of global datasets and scientific research studies. 

Read more at:

Learn more on the project's website:

Sterling Rope Kicks off 25th Anniversary Treasure Hunt

Climbing rope brand Sterling wants all climbers, explorers and adventurers to think about their brand when they head to the hills. They recently announced an international treasure hunt and Instagram contest to celebrate its 25th anniversary. From June to November, Sterling will be partnering with Access Fund (@AccessFund) and the American Alpine Club (@AmericanAlpine) to place wooden #Sterling25 markers at 25 different crags across the US and Canada - anywhere from the trailhead to the top of a climb - and clues will be posted by @SterlingRope each week to help hunters find them.

Every Friday through November 16 @SterlingRope will post a photo and factual clue from its Instagram page. The first person to discover the #Sterling25 marker and post a photo with it tagging #Sterling25, @SterlingRope, @AccessFund, @AmericanAlpine will win a new Sterling rope. The next 25 people to post with the same marker will receive additional Sterling swag. 

Each day the marker goes unfound, another clue will be released to help treasure hunters win.

There will be 25 different markers in locations ranging from Alaska to Alberta, Washington to West Virginia, and Michigan to Maine, giving hunters around the country 650 chances to win.

Learn more here:


VR Transports Landlocked Students to the Sea

Yet another use for virtual reality is to expose students to experiences they might not otherwise get to see, as in the case of these landlocked students from Red Hawk ElementarySchool in Erie, Colorado. The Instagram video posted by Ocean First Institute shows the kids had a busy afternoon, first "diving" in protected waters of Indonesia, then off to a shipwreck in the British Virgin Islands.

Their reactions are priceless. See the video at:

Ocean First Institute, based in Boulder, Colorado, is a non-profit dedicated to creating impassioned, young ocean stewards by way of education and experience.

The organization connects youth with the wonders of the ocean and the importance of hands-on conservation through programming that highlights scientific exploration. Its in-person and virtual education programs have inspired over 100,000 students across the world to take action in their local communities, while its field-based research expeditions have exposed students to the rigors of the scientific process and how it contributes to the real-world value of conservation.


Space Scurvy

Exposure to microgravity has caused eye problems in 76% of astronauts deployed on prolonged space missions. NASA calls it "Spaceflight Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome." Astronauts call it "Space Scurvy."

Source: Christopher Teng, Yale School of Medicine Ophthalmology Professor, who was part of a NASA team using parabolic flights to test the effects of low gravity conditions on human physiology. Employing a special contact lens embedded with a sensor, Teng measured changes in the curvature of the cornea, which correspond to fluctuations in eye pressure. It measured real-time changes in intraocular pressure during parabolic flight. 

Last month, NASA's "Gravitational Dose and Multi-System Physiologic Response" team gathered aboard a parabolic flight aircraft in Bordeaux, France, and were joined by eight life science experiments from Germany, Netherlands, UK, France, and USA. On-board gravity ranged from nearly double that of Earth's, down to one-quarter gravity, which is less than the gravity on Mars, but much more than the Moon's.

Read more:


Everest Icefall Doctors Operate Lower Down

In the June issue of EN we referred to "icefall doctors" fixing lines to the summit. The original information was sourced to That was not entirely correct, as pointed out by one eagle-eyed reader.  

Dear Expedition News:

Something I think you may want to know: the "Icefall Doctors" are a team of Nepali climbers (usually Sherpa) whose job is to fix the lines across the Khumbu Icefall between base camp and camp 1 and I believe they fix the ropes to camp 2 as well. That's their specific job and unlike what many people think they are not necessarily expert climbers at all. Sometimes they do a good job at fixing anchors and sometimes they don't. I think in general their work seems to be improving. The ropes above that (to camp 3, 4 and the summit) are not fixed by the icefall doctors but by the Sherpas of the guiding companies. So I don't think it's correct to say that the icefall doctors fixed lines to the summit.  

Ricardo Peña
Boulder, Colorado

Rowan White of ExplorersWeb responds:

"Ricardo is entirely correct. We erred.

"We've changed the copy accordingly so that readers referring back to that (Everest) round-up will not be misled, and we've added an editorial note at the end pointing out the belated correction.
"Thanks for letting us know. As every publisher knows, errors inevitably creep in from time to time, but we'll continue to do our best to minimize them."

Best regards,

Rowan, Owner & Operator of ExplorersWeb 

For an up close and personal look at the life of Sherpas, including the dangers Icefall Doctors face every climbing season, watch Sherpa on Netflix. Beginning as an account of a 2014 expedition up Mount Everest from the perspective of the unheralded Sherpas who make such climbs possible, this riveting 2015 documentary shifts focus when tragedy intervenes, killing 16 of the Himalayan guides.


Explore Weekend at the Royal Geographic Society with IBG, Nov. 9-11, 2018, London

It's not too soon to plan to attend Explore 2018, the Royal Geographic Society's annual expedition and field research seminar held each November at its London headquarters. With over 90 leading field scientists and explorers, the Explore weekend will provide inspiration, advice and contacts for your own field research project or expedition. The emphasis is on small projects with a research component but anyone planning overseas expeditions or fieldwork is welcome - regardless of age or experience. 

Learn more:


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 Fall 2018: 

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