Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tough Week for the American Space Program


Tough Week for the American Space Program

The space program was reeling in late October from two separate accidents: the destruction of an Antares rocket bringing supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), and the crash of Virgin Galactics' SpaceShipTwo (see related story below).

Stacey Severn, social media coordinator for Neil deGrasse Tyson's StarTalk Radio, and her son Elliott, a photographer, witnessed the destruction of the Antares rocket from their vantage point in the press area 1.7 miles from the Wallops, Va., launch site. "It was terrifying to witness and be caught up in it," she tells EN. "Thankfully, NASA and Orbital were very well-choreographed in emergency procedures and nobody was hurt."

She continues, "Our instructions were to immediately run for shelter inside the bus in the event of a mishap. It was all very fast and scary, and the shockwave was something that is hard to explain."

Elliott was rolling video at the time. You can see them run for safety:


A newly-built spacecraft, dubbed SpaceShipTwo Serial No. 2, could resume test flights as early as next summer if the manufacturer can finish building a replacement craft. It replaces the one that was destroyed after its feathering system that controls descent deployed prematurely; aerodynamic forces ripped it apart, killing the co-pilot and seriously injuring the pilot.

SpaceShipTwo is carried aloft on the underside of a jet-powered mother ship. It then drops from that ship and fires its own rocket to head higher. Only when it reaches at least Mach 1.4, or more than 1,000 mph, are the feathers supposed to engage.

Time will tell, of course, but the SpaceShipTwo accident is not expected to dim the enthusiasm of space tourists. At press time, only 20 out of 700 ticketholders reportedly asked for refunds, according to the New York Post. Explorers Club board member Jim Clash, an adventure journalist, tells the L.A. Times (Oct. 31), "I expected there to be accidents," he said. "It's rocket science. It's dangerous, it's risky, it's complicated. Most of us who bought tickets know that."

Clash reserved a ticket about four years ago paying a 10% deposit on the $200,000 ticket -- a "bargain price," he said. It has since been bumped up to $250,000.

Clash is among more than 700 people who have purchased or reserved tickets from Virgin Galactic, the commercial space venture founded by British billionaire Richard Branson. High-profile customers include Hollywood A-listers Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, singer Justin Bieber and former reality TV star Paris Hilton, according to the L.A. Times story by Shan Li.

"There will probably be some doomsayers saying the program is dead, but only time will tell," Clash said. "You can't hold back technology," he tells the newspaper.

Read the entire interview here:


Space Travelers Talk About Fear

Prior to the two space-related accidents last month, some of the speakers at the Explorers Club's Space Stories conference on Oct. 25 talked about fear. Apollo 7 Lunar Module pilot Walt Cunningham, America's second civilian astronaut, said, "In those days, I was just too stupid to be afraid. Being aware of fear, recognizing it intellectually is an important step," he told moderator Jim Clash.

"I don't remember (back then) ever feeling afraid." Later he added, "Astronauts got the glory because we were sitting on the head of the spear," but it was (NASA) management that had the nerve to make decisions."

He believes the Space Shuttle was the greatest flying machine made by man, and that NASA made a big mistake cancelling it.

He went on to joke, "I'm the only guy I know who went around the world 163 times before I ever got to see Europe."

Brian Binnie addresses The Explorers Club shortly before the SpaceShipTwo accident. (Photo courtesy of Elliot Severn)

Brian Binnie, who piloted SpaceShipOne to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize, said, "To be a test pilot, it's not about courage. Fear doesn't come into play." He then explained the Test Pilot Prayer, credited to Alan Shepherd: "Please, dear god, don't let me F-up" (although in the original version, he didn't use a hypen). SpaceShipOne was the prototype for Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo which crashed last month (see related story).

Apollo 16 astronaut Gen. Charles Duke was the 10th (out of only 12) men to walk on the moon. He told the audience, "Fear is not a bad emotion if you handle it right. It gets the adrenaline going. You have to respond with training."

Astronaut Cady Coleman likes to return from missions to be part of the view. (Photo courtesy Elliot Severn)

Chemist Catherine "Cady" Coleman entered the space program in 1992 and is today the most senior active astronaut scheduled to return to the International Space Station. In the early days, astronauts only had portholes, but today the ISS has the Cupola, an ESA-built observatory module with seven windows used to conduct experiments, dockings and observations of Earth. It provides a 360-degree view; one 31-in. window is the largest ever used in space.

"It gives you a feeling of being more humanely present," said the western Massachusetts resident. "There's so much important work to do up there and so little time."

As memorable as space was, she continued, "it was nice to come home and be part of the view."

Women Explorers Have Their Say

Wings WorldQuestheld a one-day Women of Discovery forum at the Explorers Club in New York on October 17, featuring 19 of the world's top women explorers. The New York-based non-profit traces its roots to the establishment of the Wings Trust in 1993 dedicated to preserving the discoveries and accomplishments of women explorers and promote women working in the field sciences. Milbry Post, executive director and co-founder, kicked off the seminar by saying, "Humanity faces so many challenges. Explorers are out on the edge trying to find answers by looking at the world in different ways."

Actress Uma Thurman (center) emceed the Wings WorldQuest gala on Oct. 16. Among the honorees were (l-r) Felicity Aston, Helen Thayer, Daphne Soares, and Arita Baaijens. (Sherry Sutton Photography)

Highlights from the forum follow:

* Arita Baaijens, a Dutch biologist, explorer, photographer and author said, "If you want to understand another culture, you can't come with preconceived concepts. You have to be open minded." She considers herself a storyteller at heart, "Stories can drive change. When you tell stories, you touch peoples' hearts."

* American marine biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer Sylvia Earle applauded the idea behind the conference dedicated, as she put it, to "half the world's population." A video presentation on her career included archival footage from the 1970s when she and four other female divers were called "real life mermaids." A newspaper headline shared amazement that the five were spending time in an underwater lab, "with only one hair dryer." (Lots of groans from the audience on that one).

Earle believes "Explorers and scientists are still little kids who never grew up. They keep asking, 'who, why, what?'" Growing up with the Gulf of Mexico in her backyard, she said she became hooked on critters, as most kids are. "I became a marine biologist because the oceans are where most of the action is."

She is passionate about igniting public support to take care of the oceans, "the blue heart of the planet." Later, she warned "Don't any of your ever eat tuna fish again. We're too good at killing them. We need to save our sharks and our tunas to save ourselves."

Shortly afterwards the conference adjourned for a catered lunch that included - oops - tuna fish sandwiches.

* Polar explorer Felicity Aston recounted her solo crossing of Antarctica in November 2011. "Human beings are social animals that like to be surrounded by our own tribe." She recalled the moment when she was dropped off by plane on the frozen continent, "This was a whole new league of aloneness - no birds, no wildlife, no seals. There is no life whatsoever in this landscape but me.

"My hands were shaking - I realized this is what it feels like to be petrified - a degree of isolation I never experienced before. I sat down and cried."

To pass time she listened to Agatha Christie murder mysteries on her mp3 player which scrambled the chapters. "I learned who the murderer was immediately," she joked.

* Anna Cummins, executive director and co-founder of 5 Gyres Institute, is dedicated to ending plastic pollution. She talked about exploring what she calls, "our synthetic sea." She said over 663 species during one study were affected by plastic debris through ingestion or entanglement. She passed around a jar full of plastic debris found in the ocean that was so disgusting and nauseating, we could begin to taste our tuna fish sandwich from lunch.

"We need nature more than she needs us," Cummins said.

The Mostly Old, White Guys in this Club are Real Rascals

Weaned as we were on the vintage Saturday morning children's TV show, Little Rascals, we can't help but be reminded of Spanky's "He-Man Woman-Haters Club" when we learned this month that The Adventurers' Club of Los Angeles decided to continue to restrict women members. Recently, they held a vote and ruled 32-30 to keep it men only.

The Club, whose members include Buzz Aldrin and director James Cameron, attracts those interested in racing, mountaineering, "travel to remote areas of the world not readily accessible by guided tour," "survival gear field hunting," extreme skiing," "extended balloon or glider trips," and exploring the final frontier.

"Basically, if you enjoy activities where you might die of exposure, ancient curse or adrenaline overdose, you're a candidate as long as you're also a man," writes Juliet Bennett Rylah on Laist.com.

You can read her story here:


Don't expect to see these lads at a Wings WorldQuest gala anytime soon.

Presentations are the Last Leg of a Journey

Daryl Hawk, 57, an explorer and photographer from Wilton, Conn., considers his post-trip public talks to be the "last leg of the journey." During an Oct. 16 presentation about his spring 2013 photographic guided journey through northern India's Buddhist kingdom of Ladakh, he says he considers himself an "unconventional traveler." "By traveling alone with local guides and drivers, I wait for things to happen. When you engage people with a smiling face, it leads to extraordinary opportunities. The universal language around the world is smiling."

Daryl Hawk smiles as he spends Hump Day with a fellow traveler. (Photo courtesy DarylHawk.com)

He later told the audience at the Consulate General of India building in New York, "I want to tell the story of the world through my eyes."

Hawk, who is selling his photographs to magazines and is using video from the trip to help pitch a travelogue TV show, said he doesn't give away money to children he meets. Instead he gives away sports trading cards to break the ice. One humorous road sign along Khardung La, one of the world's highest motorized passes (17,582-ft.), warns, "Driving risky after whisky."

How true.

Learn more about Hawks' work at www.darylhawk.com


"Space is hard, and today was a tough day ...The future rests in many ways on hard, hard days like this, but we believe we owe it to the folks who were flying these vehicles as well as the folks who have been working so hard on them to understand this and to move forward, which is what we'll do."

- Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides after the crash of SpaceShipTwo (see related story)


Nat Geo Strives to Remain Relevant

Change is in the air at the venerable National Geographic magazine. There's a mandate to revitalize the yellow-frame magazine and its digital operations to court new and younger readers who are not going to wait for a month to find out the latest in science and discovery, according to a Nov. 3 story in USA Today by Roger Yu.

The magazine's subscription base is shrinking as few now bother to collect and stack old issues in their basements, and kids increasingly turn to their iPads for maps. Its domestic circulation totals about 4 million (international editions bring this up to 6.8 million), down from 10.8 million at its peak in 1989. It's still the eighth-largest magazine in the U.S., according to Alliance for Audited Media.

The magazine's production schedule was tightened up so that longer feature stories, which used to be planned months in advance, can be swapped out for newsier developments.

What else is in store for the magazine and website? Read the interview with Nat Geo's first female editor here:


First Ascent of New York's Freedom Tower

Ueli Steck, 38, knows about risk. In a New Yorker profile (Nov. 17), writer Nick Paumgarten explains that Steck's record-breaking 28-hour solo climb of Annapurna's South Face was perhaps the most treacherous test in the Himalayas. "I took too much risk," he said this month. "I was accepting to die up there." He'd climbed through the night, switching his right mitten from hand to hand (an avalanche had swept the left one away).

Steck's subsequent vow to cool it a bit (he ended his Explorers Club talk with the self-admonition "Slow down and stay alive") has not deterred him from devising ambitious excursions, what he calls "projects." During his New York visit he also succeeded in what might possibly be the first ascent of One World Trade Center - the Freedom Tower - an ascent with fixed handrails and established foot placements i.e. the stairwell. He reached the 104th floor in 32 min. 19 sec.

Read the entire story here:


Antarctica Featured in a Book Like No Other

Antarctica has never been depicted so elegantly. Pat and Rosemarie Keough's Antarctica is a handcrafted book which has been compared to the refined elegance and luxury of a Patek Philippe watch; described as "a covetable work of art, a shrine even to the frozen continent"; and shares the tradition of John James Audubon. Published in a limited run of 950 and sold online for $5,000, it is considered among the world's finest books.

Antarctica sells for a cool $5,000. The stand is extra. (Photo courtesy www.keough-art.com)

In celebration of the 15th anniversary of Students on Ice (SOI), HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, honorary chair and enthusiastic patron of SOI, together with Geoff Green, founder and president of SOI, will present Antarctica to educational institutions in 50 countries. In all, 50 copies are committed with the aim to further the mission of SOI, an award-winning organization engaging youth, educators, elders, artists and scientists on inspiring educational expeditions to the Arctic and the Antarctic.

Antarctica is hand-bound with the elegance of the classic European style of fine binding together with durability and ruggedness of split-board construction - binding traditions that date to 15th century; and enhanced with archival materials including fine-grained morocco leather, Dutch and Irish linen, and French flocked velvet. Antarctica combines exquisite photography with centuries old binding techniques and state-of-the-art printing. The volume weighs 27 pounds in its linen presentation box and features 345 Keough images.

For more information: www.keough-art.com www.studentsonice.com.

Enjoy Microadventures

The book, Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes (HarperCollins 2014), written by U.K. author Alastair Humphreys, and an accompanying blog, list 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. adventures anyone can do.

Humphreys spoke at TEDx Oxbridge, wearing a t-shirt that said "time not cash" and encouraged the audience to take microadventures, according to a story in the Boulder (Colo.) Weekly by Cassie Moore (Oct. 2).

"I'm sure most people have no desire to cycle around the world," said Humphreys, who did cycle around the world. "But I think adventure is vital for everyone. They don't need to be big adventures. They can be tiny little adventures. Adventure is about doing something you have never done, doing it with enthusiasm and curiosity. You can have an adventure anywhere."

Humphreys spent a year doing only microadventures in the U.K. The 16 hours between the end of a workday and the start of the next, he says, is time enough for him to do things like run up a tall hill in the town where he lives, jump in the lake, sleep in a tent and then run back down to make it to work by 9 a.m. the next day.

Read the story here: http://www.boulderweekly.com/article-13444-the-travelerrss-mindset.html


Nat Geo "Expedition Granted" to 21-Year-Old U. of Michigan College Student

Northfield, Ill. native Charles Engelman was selected as the winner in a national contest sponsored by National Geographic, in which he will receive a $50,000 grant to launch his "dream expedition."

Engelman, 21, who studies ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan, said his dream expedition will include trips to spots around the U.S. Once his travel is completed, he will produce 20 to 30 educational and nature videos that will be posted on YouTube.

According to the National Geographic website, the contest - "Expedition Granted" - involved a nationwide search to find "the next generation of explorers and to grant one person's dream expedition for $50,000. It is a contest designed to show that we are all explorers in our own unique way, regardless of how we choose to push boundaries and forge new paths."

There were more than 700 entries, which were pared down to 10, including Engelman's, which was themed, "Get Pumped About Nature!" Over a two-week period last summer, the 10 finalists were posted for an online public vote in which more than 400,000 cast ballots. Engelman learned on Sept. 29 that he was the winner.

Regarding his videos, Engelman tells Brian L. Cox, writing for the Chicago Tribune (Oct. 26), "It's supposed to be fun and entertaining, something that kids can watch and get really excited about nature and learn science at the same time. It's also something teachers and professors can use in class."

See his award-winning entry at www.expeditiongranted.nationalgeographic.com.


Kiss Me Quick - My God There Goes My Upper Lip

Backpacker Magazine has issued an amusing, but ever-so-helpful guide to eating your hiking partner. Fans of the Donner Party and Greely Expedition are told to "make sure your partner is dead, but not dead too long." Suggestions include a profusion of easy meat in the belly area, and how to harvest meat from the back as well.

Excuse us while we go talk to Ralph on the big white telephone.

Watch this on an empty stomach:



Fighting Words

Ex-fighter pilot Stan Usinowicz from Arizona points out that the AT-6 "Texan" plane being sought in Arizona's Lake Havasu was a trainer, not a fighter. "It carried no armament. It had no hard points nor a gun," he tells us. The plane has yet to be discovered despite a cursory search last month.


Hubble @25 on USS Intrepid Through September 2015

It is said that the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope aboard space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990, marks the most significant advancement in astronomy since Galileo built the first telescope that observed the sky more than 400 years ago.

The new Hubble @25 exhibition at the Space Shuttle Pavilion at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York Harbor, has opened and runs through September 2015. It celebrates Hubble's technological feats and years of unparalleled scientific achievements against a backdrop of some magnificent astronomical images.

For more information: http://www.intrepidmuseum.org/shuttle/home.aspx

Explorers Club "Discovers" New Annual Dinner Location:
American Museum of Natural History, Mar. 21, 2015

Nothing lasts forever, not even the venue for a 67-year-old annual dinner. Last month the Explorers Club announced it would embark on a new road rarely traveled but there all the time. After almost seven decades at the famous Waldorf=Astoria Hotel, the 2015 Explorers Club Annual Dinner will be held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, "a venue indigenous to The Explorers Club mission, a venue that surrounds all of us with the very essence of discovery, innovation, and the magnificent history of exploration," said Club president Alan Nichols.

Next year's theme is "The Spirit of Exploration From Dinosaurs to the Stars." Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is among the awardees.

The expense of hosting the dinner at the hotel was getting prohibitive according to sources at the Club.

We'll miss many memorable moments at the Waldorf. However, the Club's Sweeney Medal winner, Jack Reilly, might not feel the same way. He is star of an infamous YouTube video showing him falling off a horse from the Waldorf stage when he was dinner chairman in 2004.

This was one ride Jack Reilly (left with former Explorers Club president Richard Wiese) will never forget.

Reilly remembers: "Bertrand Piccard assisted Jim Fowler in getting me up. Then Jim said 'raise your arm to show everyone you are okay.'"

Be one of the 1,800-plus people to view "The Man Who Fell" at:



Help Needed for Borneo Expedition
- Trevor Wallace is currently organizing a journey across the jungles of Sarawak, Borneo, to investigate how the overlapping effects of palm oil, hydro-dams, and logging are effecting orangutans and various Dayak indigenous groups. He's looking for individuals with one or more of the following skills: GIS cartography, Malay Language, grant writing, fund raising, and connections to non-profits working in the Sarawak.

Any interested parties who would like to partake or support this expedition are encouraged to contact him at twallace2@bostonpublicschools.org.

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 new 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: http://www.amazon.com/Get-Sponsored-Explorers-Adventurers-Travelers-ebook/dp/B00H12FLH2

Advertise in Expedition News - For more information: blumassoc@aol.com

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 1281 East Main Street - Box 10, Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Tel. 203 655 1600, editor@expeditionnews.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jamie Gribbon. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2014 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through www.paypal.com. Read EXPEDITION NEWS at www.expeditionnews.com. Enjoy the EN blog at www.expeditionnews.blogspot.com.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

On the Shoulders of Shackleton

October 2014 – Volume Twenty-One, Number Ten
Celebrating our 20th Anniversary!

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.


A six-week expedition by Pax Arctica has departed this month to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on polar regions and to gather scientific data, pictures and films about Antarctica. The project is in collaboration with the National Centre for Scientific Research/Pierre and Marie Curie University (CNRS/UMPC), Laboratoire LOCEAN and Green Cross International (GCI).

Luc Hardy will lead a Franco-British team of nine professional adventurers, polar guides, scientists and sportsmen/women on this expedition retracing the 800-mile journey of celebrated explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton between ice-covered Elephant Island and the island of South Georgia in the Antarctic region. They will travel in a sailboat called the Australis, then plan to cross South Georgia on skis with pulkas (sleds) to trace Shackleton’s overland trek in 1916. They expect to return to Stanley, Falkland Islands by mid-November.

Luc Hardy, expedition leader

Luc Hardy, based in Cos Cob, Conn., founded the Pax Arctica expedition platform and is the vice president of Green Cross France et Territoires, part of the GCI network, a non-governmental organization addressing the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty and environmental degradation.

During the expedition data will be collected for oceanographic research including measurements of salinity, atmospheric dust and CO2 concentrations in ocean waters and currents to gain a better understanding of changes occurring in the oceans due to climate change.

The corporate partners include SOPRA and La Française, among others.

For more information: www.paxarctica.org/

See the project video here: http://ow.ly/BIAnc

Speaking of the explorer affectionately known as “the Boss,” the Royal Geographical Society in London is planning an exhibition and series of events in 2015-16 to celebrate the centenary of Sir Ernest’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Featured will be 68 unique photographic glass plates from photographer Frank Hurley documenting the journey, each to be digitally mastered for 21st century use. The Society’s Picture Library offers numerous Shackleton images for sale, which are fascinating to browse through.

View them here: http://images.rgs.org/search_.aspx?personInPhotoID=9


UNESCO Questions Columbus Ship Discovery

Explorer Barry Clifford’s claim to have found the long-lost Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus' flagship from his first voyage to the Americas, has been dismissed by a group of U.N. experts (see EN, June 2014). A team from the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO said in a report earlier this month that bronze or copper fasteners found at the site point to shipbuilding techniques of the late 17th or 18th centuries, when ships were covered in copper. Before that, fasteners were made only of wood or iron, it said.

The Santa Maria

When reached by EN, Clifford said he stands by his discovery. He told us the UNESCO finding was politically motivated. He confirmed the accuracy of the UK’s Independent newspaper, which identified a number of flaws in the UNESCO study.

Said Clifford, “Having spent more than ten years investigating the shipwreck in question, surveying over 550 lineal miles within the Bay of Cap Haitian, and identifying and eliminating over 430 magnetic anomalies, I completely endorse Professor Charles D. Beeker, Ph.D., assessment of the ‘Lombard Wreck site’ as being the best candidate to date for the Santa Maria.

“To this end, it is essential that UNESCO investigate the entire area where the lombards were discovered, photographed and drawn in situ.

“I would be delighted to assist UNESCO and look forward to them getting in touch with me to review our photographs, drawings and survey records.

“The lombards are the smoking guns and, in my view, the most important pieces of evidence in the search for the Santa Maria.”

The story, written by David Keys, the Independent’s archaeological correspondent, can be seen here:


Much Better Than a Lawsuit

The Explorers Club and Diageo, owner of the disputed Johnnie Walker Explorers’ Club Scotch Whisky brand have settled in what appears to be the most amicable manner. In a letter to members, Club president Alan Nichols announced a sponsorship and licensing agreement which settles ongoing litigation (see EN, August 2014).

Under the agreement, Diageo will license The Explorers Club trademark for use in the Johnnie Walker Explorers’ Club Collection. The Explorers Club will be directly incorporated into the promotion of the product line, providing a unique global opportunity to raise awareness of the legacy and mission of the Club and its members.

“This agreement ensures the continued protection of the history, tradition, and strength of The Explorers Club name and trademarks, and the sponsorship serves as an extraordinary new platform for The Explorers Club as the World Center for Exploration,” said Nichols.

Under the settlement agreement, the specific terms of the license and sponsorship are confidential.

“The Explorers Club logo will be placed on each bottle, along with information about the Club and its mission,” executive director Will Roseman tells EN.


Blind Courage

Now that EN has turned 20, we can say that few explorers or adventurers we’ve ever covered have the courage and fortitude of Erik Weihenmeyer, arguably the best blind adventurer in the U.S., perhaps the world. Most know him for his outdoor exploits like climbing the Seven Summits (including Everest in 2001), or mountain biking the Leadville 100. He also wrote a book, Touch the Top of the World (Plume, 2002), and runs a non-profit organization called No Barriers that encourages soldiers, others with physical limitations, and, basically, everyone else to get out and live beyond their physical or mental limitations.

In September, the 46-year-old father of two put his own philosophy to the test again, when he kayaked – in a solo boat – 227 miles of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, according to Tracy Ross covering his adventure for Colorado Public Radio.

On Sept. 7, Weihenmayer began his three-week No Barriers Grand Canyon trip with a support team and another blind boater, Navy vet Lonnie Bedwell.

Along the way, says Weihenmayer, they encountered all of the “mythic-sized waves” the Grand Canyon is known for. For 178 miles, Weihenmayer paddled with little incident. But at mile 179.2 sits the terrifying Lava Falls where he flipped. He survived to paddle it successfully the next morning, according to Ross, listening to directions from his guide through his Bluetooth headset.

The Weihenmayer-Bedwell team included professional filmmakers and photographers, as well as a film crew from HBO Sports. They captured both blind men doing something most people would never dare.

Ross continues, “They did it, they say, to show others that no matter what their physical, mental, or psychological limitations may be, they can dream big, follow through, and exceed their own expectations.”

See video from the adventure here: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/blind-adventurer-kayaks-harrowing-colorado-river-rapid

Reinhold Messner, 70, Conducts Pre-Event Interview

Reinhold Messner, the great mountaineer, turned 70 last month. To celebrate the milestone, adventure writer Jim Clash and mountaineer/photographer Robert Anderson visited him at his FirmianMessnerMountainMuseum castle complex in Bolzano, Italy, for a series of articles in Forbes, AskMen and other publications.

During the interview, Messner candidly touched on a number of subjects, including the death of his brother on Nanga Parbat in 1970, his memories on the summit of Everest in 1978 without supplemental oxygen ¬– and his prediction that, within 10 years, Sherpas will own and operate all climbing businesses on Everest. At one point, he joked about the death of alpinism and today's pampered guided climbs. "They go on Everest now like in kindergarten," he laughed. "It's okay, it's tourism. I never did that, but it's a fact."

Messner will be in New York Jan. 31, 2015, to keynote the American Alpine Club Annual Benefit Dinner.

"My time is becoming tighter and tighter, so I can't go to the U.S. as often," Messner said. "But I am anxious to see again American climbers to discuss mountaineering and to do a lecture."

The weekend event, sponsored by adidas, will also include programs with other great climbers including Chris Bonnington, Ed Viesturs and Ueli Steck.

For more information:

303 384 0110. Tickets start at $275.

Learn more about Messner’s Museum here: www.messner-mountain-museum.it

Don’t Laugh: If You’re a Beaver, This is Big News

Rob Mark, an amateur explorer from New Jersey, recently became the first person to reach the world’s largest beaver dam. It took Mark nine days to cover the 124 miles from Fort Chipewyan to the 2,789-ft. wide dam in Wood Buffalo National Park in the northeast corner of Alberta, according to the Sept. 18 Edmonton Journal.

Publicly identified in 2007 by an Ottawa researcher using Google Earth, the dam easily exceeds the largest known previously, a 652-metre structure in Three Forks, Mont. “It’s undoubtedly a first,” said Tim Gauthier, a spokesman for Wood Buffalo National Park, a UNESCO heritage site that encompasses portions of Alberta and the Northwest Territories. “That’s one heck of an odyssey through incredibly inhospitable territory.”

Read the entire story here: http://news360.com/article/257834286#

Nice Try

While EN tends to focus on expeditions, which we define as a “trip with a purpose,” we can’t help but admire the moxie of one Reza Baluchi whose dream was to cross from Miami to Bermuda in a 3mm thick plastic human-powered “hydro pod,” similar to the Zorb Balls popular at adventure parks in New Zealand.

Early this month Baluchi, an endurance runner, was rescued 70 miles off the coast of Florida – despite the Coast Guard warning him three days earlier that he was going to have a hard time punching through the Gulf Stream to make Bermuda.

Inside the homemade plastic bubble were protein bars, bottles of water and a satellite phone.

According to his website, Baluchi tested out his Hydro Pod by taking it from Newport Beach, Calif., to Catalina Island and back, which is 32 miles one way.

See what he has to say for himself at: http://runwithreza.org/bermuda.php

Heyerdahl Honored with Google Doodle

You can receive the Nobel Peace Prize or MacArthur “Genius Grant,” but what really impresses us is to have a Google doodle created in your honor. In numerous countries on Oct. 6, millions learned about Thor Heyerdahl’s expedition on the 100th anniversary of his birth. In the expedition, Heyerdahl and his crew of five successfully sailed a balsa wood raft 5,000 miles westwards from Peru towards French Polynesia in an attempt to prove his hypothesis that the islands were colonized from the Americas, rather than from the Asian mainland, as had previously been thought. The doodle also shows a moai, one of the huge sculptures found on Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, which Heyerdahl visited from 1955-56 on an archaeological expedition.

You can see the Heyerdahl doodle here: http://specblo.com/thor-heyerdahl-google-doodle/


Space Race: Private Museum Collector is Preserving American Space Culture

Space travel always had an allure for us here at EN. When we were younger, we made models of Mercury and Gemini capsules, suspended an X-15 from the ceiling, and watched nearly every launch on a black and white Emerson TV. Those relics of space age culture, sadly, were tossed along with our baseball cards. Thus it’s heartening to know that thousands of space-related cultural artifacts have found a safe home, albeit in an unlikely place.

Down a winding country road in Litchfield, Conn., about 120 miles northeast of New York City is an unassuming former hay barn with sunlight streaking through its cracked wooden sides – its exact location we’ve been asked to keep confidential. Beneath a roof where bats have been known to roost, is the Space Age Museum whose mission is to preserve, interpret and present the cultural history of the space age. Founder John Kleeman, 67, and his son Peter, 34, have relentlessly searched for cultural artifacts that capture the spirit and underlying meaning of human space exploration. It was Peter’s love for space toys at an early age that launched the collection.

The Space Age Museum tells the story of how everyday people expressed fascination with outer space and engaged in the epic adventure of space exploration.

The private 4,000 sq. ft. collection includes science fiction toys, space adventure amusement rides, robot advertising and period photographs that capture life in Space Age America. In one corner there’s a Mr. Bolts robot, the market for which, Kleeman admits, “is pretty thin.” Space artifacts ranging from R2-D2 and E.T. and the Jetsons cartoon are all represented.

The Kleemans are also passionate about photographing remnants of Space Age art and culture alongside American roads and highways, racing to save them before the weather and urban renewal sweep fiber glass rocket ships, aluminum flying saucers, and cast iron robots from the landscape forever.

Kleeman doesn’t consider himself an expert on Space Age culture, history or philosophy. He and his son simply enjoy learning how ordinary folks at the dawn of the Space Age strove to participate in humanity’s journey to the stars. One photo album includes a collection of black and white photographs ordinary people took of their TV sets in 1969 when Neil Armstrong first walked the moon. Elsewhere in his cluttered office sits a display case of 180 space-themed Cracker Jack toys.

Often trolling eBay for collectible items, he regrets missing out on a seat/plunger contraption used to support Buzz Aldrin when he suited up for the Apollo 11 mission.

“We don’t try to compete with space museums like the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center,” said the elder Kleeman as he points a Buck Rogers atomic pistol in our general direction.

“We focus on the people behind the scenes – the less glamorous, and less well known members of the NASA team whose stories are yet to be told.”

While the collection is closed to the public, museum curators often call to request items for public display, including a recent visit by the Museum of Modern Art which borrowed some items, such as an Omnibot 2000 electronic robot, for the 2012 exhibit “Century of the Child: Growing by Design 1900-2000.”

If you have an item for sale, or would just like to share an image of roadside space art, you can email the museum through its website. If the local Rocket Dry Cleaners or Astro Car Wash is going out of business, or if you have a souvenir from the A'Le'Inn, John Kleeman wants to know.

For more information: www.spaceagemuseum.com


“In the taxonomy of travelers, the word ‘explorer’ suggests a morally superior pioneer, a man or woman who braves the battle against nature to discover new terrain, expanding our species’ understanding of the world. ‘Adventurer,’ by contrast, implies a self-indulgent adrenaline junkie, who scares loved ones by courting puerile risk. The former, obviously, is the far better title, but it’s tough to claim these days. The world is Google-mapped. Reaching the actual virgin territory of space or the deep ocean requires resources that few possess.

“In short, the noble fig leaf of terra incognita has fallen away and laid bare the peripatetic, outsize bravado of (Robert F. ) Scott’s kindred spirits. The resulting itineraries are pretty strange. We now have guys like Felix Baumgartner sky-diving from a balloon-borne capsule at 128,100 feet.”

– Elizabeth Weil writing in the New York Times Sunday Magazine (Sept. 28) about Sarah Marquis, a woman who walked 10,000 miles in three years.


Today's Space Exploration Follows in the Footsteps of Early Engineers

Space exploration is a challenge to human ingenuity, and celebrations in October, under the guise of World Space Week, are an ode to it, according to a post by Chris Arridge on Phys.org, Oct. 10.

Spacecraft have to be kept warm against the cold of space, but cool against the heat of the Sun – think of traveling from Antarctica to Africa without taking your coat off. They have to make electricity for themselves. They have to be able to work out what way they are facing. They need to be able to communicate with Earth – but even traveling at the speed of light it takes a radio signal about 40 minutes to get from Jupiter to Earth, so robotic spacecraft have to survive on their own,” Arridge writes.

“A simple reason why space exploration is valuable is that in developing spacecraft to explore distant worlds, we get better at building spacecraft for more practical purposes. Engineers and space scientists today have their work cut out to meet these challenges, but they follow in the footsteps of the early engineers and scientists who pioneer space exploration.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-10-exploring-space-big-humanity.html#jCp


Grant Available for Innova Inflatable Kayak

Innova, a Washington State manufacturer, makes tough inflatable boats that fit into small backpacks. PVC-free Innova kayaks have been used on expeditions led by Jon Turk and Kira Salak, among others. This month the company announces a grant program that will award an appropriate level inflatable kayak (est. value $900) to explorers who can demonstrate the performance of the kayak in harsh conditions. News value, support of a worthy cause, and a demonstrated ability to capture quality photographs and share the trip socially will rank high in Innova’s decision on who to fund.

The company will be making a decision and awarding a kayak by the end of the year.

To apply: Tim Rosenhan, tim@innovakayak.com

Help Solve a Mystery and Receive a Planeload of Cash

There’s a rusted WWII airplane engine still visible along the Iron Door Mine Trail above Lake Havasu City, Ariz., near Crossman Peak. It attests to a disaster in which five servicemen tragically died when their B-25J aircraft, based at Yuma AAF base, crashed in a fireball on August 11, 1945. According to the mishap report, the aircraft flew into the mountain after encountering low clouds and rain. While that crash site is easily accessible to anyone with a pair of hiking boots, the site of two aviation mysteries are a bit harder to find, hence the need for someone to launch an expedition.

On Aug. 4, 1943 at 1900 hours, a Pursuit P-40 crashed between Site Six and what is now Havasu Landing. Flames were extending back to the cockpit as it filled with smoke. The pilot escaped by parachute without injury, writing in his report, “After the parachute opened, I attempted to steer for land but was unable to guide the parachute. When I saw I was going to land in the Colorado River, I pulled off my shoes and unbuckled my parachute then dived out of the parachute when I was approximately 15 or 20 feet from the surface.

“After swimming about ten minutes a motorboat from Site Six approached and picked me up.”

The plane, downed by engine failure, sank a complete wreck. It was there when Site Six ended its relationship with the U.S. Army in 1945, and is still somewhere beneath the lake surface.

Help find this lost plane

There’s another mystery as well: Lake Havasu holds the wreck of a war surplus North American AT-6C single engine fighter which went down in the lake on Jan. 2, 1960, taking the lives of two duck hunters – both brothers from California. It’s thought the carburetor froze up; the bodies were recovered but the plane has yet to be found.

“To budding Jacques Cousteaus, to all you Indiana Jones types, or fans of famed early 1960s TV diver Lloyd Bridges … find either of the planes, bring back photos, and the Convention & Visitors Bureau will reimburse you $1,000 for your help in solving the mystery,” said Doug Traub, president/CEO of the CVB.

“It’s not some Loch Ness monster down there, these are two real planes, piloted by real people. It’s fully documented.

One thousands dollars doesn’t go far for an underwater expedition, but it could help generate additional funding to the determined explorer.
For more information: Michelle Gardia, Lake Havasu City CVB, michelle@golakehavasu.com


The Flying Classroom Delivers Learning Adventures to Students Worldwide

The Flying Classroom, a STEM+ learning adventure led by National Geographic Emerging Explorer Captain Barrington Irving, will be making stops throughout the Asia-Pacific region in the next two months on the first of three global trips to bring learning adventures to students worldwide. Students will have access to Irving's adventures through videos and a blog on www.flyingclassroom.com.

Captain Irving, who holds the Guinness World Record as the youngest person to fly solo around the world, is piloting Inspiration III, a Hawker 400XP business jet provided by title sponsor Executive Air Services in Miami. During the trip, Captain Irving will carry out ground, air, and sea expeditions designed to teach students about real-life life applications of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, History, Geography and Humanities (STEM+).

The expeditions include:

• Learning how to build sustainable cities in Shanghai

• Visiting wildlife reserves in Singapore to learn about animal conservation

• Diving to see coral reef regrowth from a bio-rock sculpture in Bali, Indonesia

• Learning how to balance an ecosystem challenged by the poisonous cane toad in Australia

"The Flying Classroom is more than just an aircraft," said Captain Irving. "It's an exploration vehicle for learning that will engage and teach millions of kids who follow the website by making them part of the expeditions and research.”

Other sponsors include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and FlightSafety International. Educational partners include Skype in the Classroom, NASA, and National Geographic.

For more information: www.flyingclassroom.com


I Want to Be Under the Sea:
Sea Stories Comes to Explorers Club, Nov. 8

For the past 10 years, an impressive roster of scientists, shipwreck explorers, archaeologists and historians presented at the Manhattan headquarters of the Explorers Club to over 130 of their fellow members, peers and the general public. Sea Stories is a day focused on exploration, conservation, scuba diving, shipwrecks, nautical history and marine life. This will be a great opportunity for those who are interested in the ocean to interact. It’s open to the public and advance reservations are required. For more information: 212 628 8383, www.explorers.org.


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 new 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: http://www.amazon.com/Get-Sponsored-Explorers-Adventurers-Travelers-ebook/dp/B00H12FLH2

Advertise in Expedition News – For more information: blumassoc@aol.com.

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 1281 East Main Street – Box 10, Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Tel. 203 655 1600, editor@expeditionnews.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jamie Gribbon. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2014 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through www.paypal.com. Read EXPEDITION NEWS at www.expeditionnews.com. Enjoy the EN blog at www.expeditionnews.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Two Big Discoveries Announced in September

September 2014 – Volume Twenty-One, Number Nine

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.


Travel company Kensington Tours has partnered with Adventure Science to launch an expedition to the remote unexplored northern section of the Strict Nature Reserve of Madagascar's Great Tsingy. From Oct. 1-16, 2014, a highly skilled team of explorers and scientists will trek, climb and crawl through the UNESCO World Heritage Site to document the secrets of 100 miles of the region's labyrinths of sharp rocks, towering cliffs, endangered creatures and deep caves.

The 100 Miles of Wild: Madagascar's Limestone Labyrinth Expedition will showcase one of Africa's final frontiers. The expedition has multiple goals: to expand the knowledge of lemur distribution within the park to estimate population numbers; to identify diversity and potential new species; to locate Jurassic period dinosaur mega tracks that are believed to exist in the area; to conduct preliminary investigation into an unexplored system of caverns and caves; and to create a detailed map with accompanying photos and video in order to share their findings with the rest of the world.

The expedition will be led by Dr. Simon Donato, a Kensington Tours' Explorer in Residence, star of the Esquire Network's Boundless and founder of Adventure Science. Team members include George Kourounis, an elite global adventurer and host of The Discovery Network's Angry Planet series and Travis Steffens, a renowned primatologist who studies the biogeography of lemurs in Madagascar. Rounding up the 14-person team are an engineer, climbing experts, a former U.S. Army ranger, a communication specialist, Malagasy Park officials and a local Kensington Tours guide.

Sponsors include DeLorme inReach, Delta Airlines and Farm to Feet socks.

For more information: http://www.adventurescience.ca/madagascar/index.html


Franklin Expedition Ship Believed Found

This has been a big year for marine discoveries, considering the news in May that the Santa Maria was presumed located off Haiti. This month Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced one of two ships lost more than 160 years ago in an ill-fated expedition to the Northwest Passage led by British Capt. Sir John Franklin has been found by Canadian archaeologists attached to the Victoria Strait Expedition. (See EN, August 2014).

It could be the HMS Erebus or the HMS Terror – researchers aren't sure yet. Harper's remarks at Parks Canada's laboratories in Ottawa follow an earlier announcement that two artifacts from the 19th-century Arctic expedition were found on an island in Nunavut, Canada's northernmost territory

Both the Erebus and Terror were icebound during the expedition that left England in 1845 in an attempt to chart an unnavigated portion of the Northwest Passage.

The well-preserved wreckage was found on Sept. 7 using a remotely-operated underwater vehicle recently acquired by Parks Canada. Its location remains confidential in an attempt to deter looting.

Sir John Franklin and 128 crewmen were lost in the original 1845 expedition. Skulls believed to be of the members of the expedition were found and buried on King William Island in 1945.

But for 167 years it has remained a mystery as to why Franklin and his men were never heard from soon after the Royal Navy had mounted one of the best equipped Arctic explorations in its history to find a possible trade route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Harper's government has poured millions into the venture, with the prime minister himself taking part in the search. Read his statement here:


Explorers Museum Hosts Inaugural Weekend

On Sept. 6 to 7 the new Explorers Museum near Dublin hosted an inaugural weekend (see EN, January 2014). The event was held at Charleville Castle, County Offaly, where the first expedition to Everest was launched under the leadership of Col. Charles Howard-Bury.

In 1921 he was the leader of the Mount Everest Reconnaissance Expedition, organized and financed by the Mount Everest Committee, a joint body of the Alpine Club and the Royal Geographical Society. In 1922 he wrote a full account of the expedition, published as Mount Everest The Reconnaissance, 1921.

(Explorers Museum co-founders Tim Lavery and Lorie Karnath with Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Photo by Anne Doubilet)

The opening weekend included a luncheon honoring museum patron Sir Ranulph Fiennes, and the first Explorers Film Festival, whose winner, The Aviatrix produced by Nylon Films, is the story of the journey of Lady Heath who in 1928 was first to fly solo from Cape Town to London, and Tracey Curtis-Taylor who 85 years later set out in a vintage biplane to fly that adventure again.

Sunday included an inaugural Explorers Museum "fireside chat" held next to a roaring fire at Charleville Castle, presented by Dr. G. Terry Sharrer, long-term Curator of Health Sciences (ret.) for the Smithsonian Institute.

Said co-founder Tim Lavery of the World Explorers Bureau, “Protecting and increasing the diffusion of knowledge of explorers past and present will serve to inspire a new generation of explorers.”

For more information: www.explorersmuseum.org


Newly-Discovered Dinosaur Feared Nothing

Scientists have discovered and described a new supermassive dinosaur species with the most complete skeleton ever found of its type. At 85 feet (26 m) long and weighing about 65 tons in life, Dreadnoughtus schrani is the largest land animal for which a body mass can be accurately calculated. Its skeleton is exceptionally complete, with over 70 percent of the bones, excluding the head, represented. Because all previously discovered supermassive dinosaurs are known only from relatively fragmentary remains, Dreadnoughtus offers an unprecedented window into the anatomy and biomechanics of the largest animals to ever walk the Earth.

“Dreadnoughtus schrani was astoundingly huge,” said Kenneth Lacovara, Ph.D., an associate professor in Drexel University's College of Arts and Sciences, who discovered the Dreadnoughtus fossil skeleton in southern Patagonia in Argentina and led the excavation and analysis.

“It weighed as much as a dozen African elephants or more than seven T. rex. Shockingly, skeletal evidence shows that when this 65-ton specimen died, it was not yet fully grown. It is by far the best example we have of any of the most giant creatures to ever walk the planet.”

The gold standard for calculating the mass of quadrupeds (four-legged animals) is based on measurements taken from the femur (thigh bone) and humerus (upper arm bone). Because the Dreadnoughtus type specimen includes both these bones, its weight can be estimated with confidence.

“With a body the size of a house, the weight of a herd of elephants, and a weaponized tail, Dreadnoughtus would have feared nothing,” Lacovara said. “That evokes to me a class of turn-of-the-last century battleships called the dreadnoughts, which were huge, thickly clad and virtually impervious.”

Read the complete story by Rachel Ewing of Drexel University here: http://drexel.edu/now/archive/2014/September/Dreadnoughtus-Dinosaur/

Dots All Folks!

How did we ever miss this? Morse code, the 160-year-old communication system, now has a new character to denote the "@" symbol used in e-mail addresses.

Late last year, the International Telecommunications Union, which oversees the entire frequency spectrum, from amateur radio to satellites, voted to add the new character.

The new sign, which will be known as a "commat," consists of the signals for "A" (dot-dash) and "C" (dash-dot-dash-dot), with no space between them.

The new sign is the first in at least several decades, and possibly much longer. Among ITU officials and Morse code aficionados, no one could remember any other addition.

"It's a pretty big deal," said Paul Rinaldo, chief technical officer for the American Radio Relay League, the national association for amateur radio operators. "There certainly hasn't been any change since before World War II."

Perhaps the most famous Morse communication is the international distress signal S-O-S. It consists of three dots, three dashes, and three more dots. Please, let’s not monkey around with that one.


“I just wanted all the wars to be over so that we could spend the money on starships and Mars colonies.”

― Grant Morrison, Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human (Spiegel & Grau, Reprint edition, 2011)


Navy’s SEALAB Was a Game Changer

By Ben Hellwarth

This summer marked the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Navy’s first SEALAB, a prototype sea-floor base that was a historic game-changer for diving.

SEALAB I was a 30-ton steel vessel resembling a stout submarine that was placed off the coast of Bermuda. It enabled four volunteer Navy divers to spend 11 days nearly 200 feet below the surface instead of the mere minutes that conventional diving methods would have allowed.

(The U.S. Navy"s SEALAB I, in transit to Bermuda in 1964. Photo credit: U.S. Navy)

There had been just a few such forays into sea dwelling, including one staged by Jacques-Yves Cousteau a year earlier, but the SEALAB I venture in July 1964 was the first to demonstrate both a greater depth and duration than ever thought possible by using a revolutionary method known as “saturation diving,” so named because it involved allowing a diver’s body to fully absorb the gases breathed under the pressure of a given depth.

The concept of saturation diving had its skeptics because it ran contrary to conventional diving methods and the long-established limits that greatly restricted dive times in the name of safety – basically the deeper the dive, the shorter the possible stay, often just a matter of minutes, before a diver had to begin the gradual process of surfacing, known as decompression.

With the prospect of long-duration saturation dives came the need for a shelter like SEALAB I, which was about the size of a school bus. On the inside it was outfitted like a camper and – here’s the tricky part, very different from a submarine – the special mix of gases inside was pressurized to match the water pressure outside. That meant a hatch in the floor could remain open and the seawater stopped at the brim. The “aquanauts” could don dive gear and leave their habitat at any time of day or night, affording them access to the seabed of a kind previously available only in science fiction. SEALAB I, and later SEALAB II and III, opened new doors to ocean exploration and had a swift and lasting impact on military, civilian and commercial diving operations.

Hellwarth bemoans the lack of recognition for SEALAB in this Huffington Post blog entry:


For more information: see SEALAB: America’s Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor (Simon & Schuster, 2012), by Ben Hellwarth.


Ben Hellwarth is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist who got his start in journalism after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley. In the 1990s he won a number of notable awards as a staff writer for the Santa Barbara News-Press, then part of The New York Times Regional Newspaper Group. Visit him at www.benhellwarth.com


Starshade Will Help Peer at Exoplanets

Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is on the hunt for aliens. She thinks we might be able to find them within the next 20 years, according to an Aug. 23-24 interview by Alexandra Wolfe in the Wall Street Journal.

Prof. Seager, 43, thinks there's something out there, "just by the sheer numbers of planets," she says. "Every astronomer knows that every star out there has at least one planet, and we have over 100 billion stars in the galaxy, and upward of hundreds of billions of galaxies in our universe."

The problem is that the bright light from the stars makes it nearly impossible to see the surrounding planets. Prof. Seager is working with NASA to develop a "Starshade" to help block the light of stars so telescopes can better see exoplanets (planets outside our own solar system), which have become her specialty.

Read the entire story here: http://online.wsj.com/articles/an-astrophysicist-in-search-of-e-t-1408650066

Going to the North Pole? Here’s What to Pack

On May 6, Polar adventurer Eric Larsen successfully reached the geographic North Pole after a grueling 480-mile unsupported traverse across the Arctic ocean. Along the way he negotiated severe windstorms, unusually thin ice, arctic swimming and polar bears.

Larsen and his teammate Ryan Waters completed this unsupported, unaided Last North expedition in 53 days—setting a new American speed record (a Norwegian team did it in 49 days in 2006). They were the only team attempting a “land to Pole” crossing to reach the North Pole this season, and the only team since 2010 to accomplish the feat. They are only the second American team to ever complete the crossing, according to the story by Aaron H. Bible in Elevation Outdoors (July/August 2014).

Claiming six major polar expeditions notched in his proverbial belt, Larsen’s overarching goal now is to connect people with the last frozen places on earth, while highlighting the environmental issues impacting them. With the release of the National Climate Assessment in May (http://www.globalchange.gov/ncadac), his experiences and observations from the front lines of global warming seem especially relevant, writes Bible.

Our favorite part of the story is Larsen’s expedition gear list which covers everything on the trip, right down to his overboots, tent brush, Stanley insulated flask, pencil flares and Mossberg 500 pump action pistol grip shotgun.

Read the complete packing list here: http://www.elevationoutdoors.com/polar-explorer-eric-larsen/


Adventurers Named to Granit Gear Team

Backpack manufacturer Granite Gear announced their official athlete roster of 2014-2015. Athletes include: polar explorers Lonnie Dupre, Eric Larsen, and John Huston, professional thru-hiker Justin “Trauma” Lichter, and blind hiker Trevor Thomas, each of whom has shown impressive persistence in pushing the limits of their specific disciplines.

All these internationally recognized outdoor professionals will be involved in gear testing and research and development.

“Both our athletes and our customers’ safety directly depends on the quality and durability of our gear,” says Mike Meyer, senior director of Design & Development. “Our athletes really put our gear to the test in some of the most extreme environments on the planet. Their product feedback is a tremendous asset.”

This year, the athletes are participating in various events such as climbing Denali in January, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) through the winter months, an impromptu triathlon across the state of Colorado, and various week-long explorations and adventures around the U.S. They will also join Granite Gear during various trade shows and events throughout the year.

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/granitegearhq


Isabella – the Warrior Queen
By Kirstin Downey (Nan A. Talese, Doubleday, October 2014)

Reviewed by Robert F. Wells

Chances are, if you hear of Spain's Queen Isabella, you might imagine her and King Ferdinand waving goodbye to Christopher Columbus as he sails West in 1492. What you probably don't know is much about how this extraordinary leader became unquestionably the most powerful force in Europe during the latter part of the 15th Century. At the time, lineage dictated who ruled what. Isabella's was (and still is) suspect. But few can ignore her impact as the world shook off a medieval past, faced Ottoman intrusions laced with atrocities – and navigated through the inane intolerance of The Inquisition.

Europe grew up as a collection of city/fortress states. If you think of what it might be like for a gazelle in Africa to survive, knowing that lions, hyenas, crocodiles, etc. were just waiting for a chance to eat you... you have a pretty good idea what survival was like on the continent around 1450. Isabella? Nothing less than the right person at the right time.

She was a born leader, fair, honest, fearless, compassionate, intelligent and utterly devoted to Catholicism and its God. She unflinchingly shared or gave credit to her husband, Ferdinand, who often proved he seldom deserved it. Meanwhile, the French hated English hated The Turks hated the Portuguese hated the Italians... and the list went on. And to top it off, The Vatican offered as much piety as a petty party of pick-pockets.

Males (of course) thought no woman was "up to" leading nations. In fact, until Isabella's time, history was punctuated by perilously few leading ladies. Joan of Arc – one of Isabella's heroes – was burned at the stake a few decades earlier, primarily because "as war and in prison, she had worn men's clothes". (Someone should whisper to Hillary Clinton to avoid pant suits!)

But listen, Isabella and Joan preceded Catherine the Great and Queen Victoria by centuries. Face it, men have a wonderful ability to keep women from doing what they are fully capable of doing. And the Muslims during the 1500's initiated matters to extremes, forcing women to conceal their bodies in "voluminous robes... leaving them to stumble along the streets, when they were allowed to venture out of their homes.” Even tips of fingers were not to be seen... (What is it about men who create these strictures?)

Isabella, looking westward, was the one who saw promise in a New World. She took the risks against conventional thinking. She inspired explorers to treat natives with dignity and respect... which soon lapsed in disaster. The Europeans delivered smallpox to the islands. And in turn, the Caribes and others thanked them by passing on syphilis to Europe. What a trade!

As with many current historians, Downey plumbs newly accessible original sources to deliver fascinating insights to Isabella's reign. Credit to Isabella is due. And having the author bring forward a tapestry of tales about this laudable Queen and Spain's history during this period is equally overdue.

Robert Wells, a member of The Explorers Club since 1991, is a resident of South Londonderry, Vt., and a retired executive of the Young & Rubicam ad agency. Wells is the director of a steel band (see www.blueflamessteelband.com) and in 1989, at the age of 45, traveled south by road bike from Canada to Long Island Sound in a single 350-mile, 19-hr., 28-min. push.


Adventure Film Festival Returns to Boulder, Oct. 2 to 4, 2014

The 10th anniversary of Boulder’s homegrown Adventure Film Festival will be held in the Colorado city on Oct. 2 to 4. Organizers promise, “gritty, profound, shocking, visceral, and inspiring independent films that manifest the spirit of adventure.” The three-day weekend also includes the Adventure Street Fair featuring gourmet food trucks, climbing wall, interactive green screen, live music and more.

Adventure Film’s line-up was handpicked by a dedicated, Boulder-based selection committee from over 200 entries submitted from 19 different countries. With the support of filmmakers, sponsors, non-profits, partners, volunteers – all adventurers – Adventure Film Festival will feature the 2014 award winners on a world tour traveling from Boulder to Asheville to Mexico City to Santiago, Chile, with several major cities in between. Since its inception, Adventure Film has presented live shows to over 100,000 people worldwide.

For more information: www.adventurefilm.org

Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner, Oct. 11, 2014

The annual awards dinner named for the famed broadcaster is this year themed, “Imagination in Exploration,” Oct. 11 at Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif. Awardees are distinguished entrepreneur, inventor and geophysicist Sheldon Breiner; shark researcher G. Chris Fischer of OCEARCH; ocean explorer David. G. Gallo of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; polar explorer and philanthropist Frederick D.A. Paulsen; and a strong supporter of education, Edward P. Roski, Jr. Tickets start at $300.

For more information: http://www.explorers.org/index.php/events/detail/the_2014_lowell_thomas_awards_dinner

Wings WorldQuest Women of Discovery Award, Oct. 16, 2014

With their cutting-edge science, spirit of adventure, and capacity to transport attendees to realms seldom seen, the Women of Discovery Awards, Oct. 16 in New York, have become a “must attend” event. Established in 2003 by Milbry Polk and Leila Hadley Luce, the WINGS WorldQuest Women of Discovery Awards recognize outstanding women who are making significant contributions to world knowledge through exploration. The awards come with a research grant, travel to New York, and opportunities to present field research to the press and the greater public. To date, 73 pioneering women have received the WINGS WorldQuest Women of Discovery Award.
Proceeds from this event will benefit the improvement and expansion of WINGS WorldQuest’s mission to inspire and support women explorers in the field.

Awards this year will honor: Arita Baaijens (Biologist, Netherlands), Daphne Soares (Neuroecologist, Brazil), Felicity Aston (Meteorologist, Great Britain), and Helen Thayer (Educator, New Zealand). Master of Ceremonies is the actor Uma Thurman. Tickets start at $275.

For more information: 914 522 2434, info@wingsworldquest.org


Documentary Filmmaker Available – Daniel Byers, documentary filmmaker, specializes in capturing adventure expeditions around the world, from Afghanistan to Everest, including several with Explorers Club members and National Geographic TV. His films have been featured internationally at major conferences, and won over a dozen festival awards including Banff Mountain Film Festival. He's always looking for a good adventure, so if you want the story of your expedition told, have a look at his work at skyshipfilms.com and give him a shout.

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 new 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: http://www.amazon.com/Get-Sponsored-Explorers-Adventurers-Travelers-ebook/dp/B00H12FLH2

Advertise in Expedition News – For more information: blumassoc@aol.com.

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 1281 East Main Street – Box 10, Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Tel. 203 655 1600, editor@expeditionnews.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jamie Gribbon. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2014 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through www.paypal.com. Read EXPEDITION NEWS at www.expeditionnews.com. Enjoy the EN blog at www.expeditionnews.blogspot.com.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Explorers Vie for $50,000 in Grants


The mystery surrounding the disappearance of the 1845 British Arctic Expedition commanded by Sir John Franklin is the most enduring in polar exploration history. This summer, the Government of Canada’s search for the lost Franklin ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, will be enhanced by the inclusion of Canadian leaders in exploration, assembled with the help of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS).

The partnership, which includes The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, One Ocean Expeditions, Shell Canada and the Arctic Research Foundation, will add resources, technologies and expertise to the hunt, focusing on the Victoria Strait, which up to this point has largely not been targeted by search teams. The Victoria Strait is significant – it includes the last reported location of the missing vessels and crews.

The loss of the Erebus and Terror have played an important role in the exploration of Canada’s North and its mystique. The vessels were trapped in ice off the northwest coast of King William Island in what is now Nunavut. There was little left behind by the crews after they deserted the ships. No survivors were found alive to tell their tale.

The mystery surrounding the missing ships has become the stuff of Canadian lore that has inspired songs, stories and the imaginations of Canadians. The search has over time cemented Canada’s understanding and connection with the North. Moreover, much of Canada’s claim to sovereignty over its Arctic islands can be traced to the significant geographical advances made because of the Franklin search era.

This summer, the expedition team of experts, researchers, and others will be in the search area for a 10‐day period. One Ocean Expeditions will deploy the One Ocean Voyager equipped with navigation and scanning equipment (including multi‐beam sonar) and a state‐of‐the‐art autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).

(Photo credit: William Jamieson)

“The 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition will be using technologies not used on previous 20th and 21st Century Franklin expeditions. One new piece of kit will be a synthetic aperture sonar from Defence Research and Development Canada. It is a military-grade, guided torpedo-like vehicle that can gather three-dimensional data with fine-grain definition along its search tracks,” says team member Joseph Frey (seen in photo). “It has the advantage of being more stable than side-scan sonar.”

Shell Canada is contributing to the expedition and to the development of the classroom educational program designed to excite interest in exploration history but also leverage public interest in broader issues concerning Canada’s Arctic.

Because of their importance, the ships were declared National Historic Sites in 1992, the only such designation applied to sites that remain unknown. Since 2008, the Government of Canada, headed by Parks Canada, initiated active searches for the missing ships. Though the ships have not yet been found, more than 746-mi./1,200 square km of the Arctic seabed has been surveyed during the course of modern searches.

For more information: http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/franklin-expedition/


An American climbing dream team will attempt to determine the highest peak in Myanmar starting this October. There are two primary candidates: Hkakabo Razi and Gamlang Razi. Hkakabo Razi has been considered Myanmar’s highest peak since British botanist Francis Kingdom Ward explored this region in the 1930s. Hkakabo was climbed in 1995 by Japanese mountaineer Takashi Ozaki, who later died on Everest. Gamlang was climbed in 2013 by an American team lead by Andy Tyson.

According to Tyson’s GPS readings, Gamlang appears to be taller than Hkakabo Razi, however, accurate measurements have not been taken on the summit of Hkakabo. The six-person team hopes to climb Hkakabo (and perhaps Gamlang), to verify its elevation which currently stands at approximately 19,295-ft., according to Jenkins, based in Laramie, Wyo.

Team members are: Hilaree O’Neill, leader; Mark Jenkins, writer and expedition coordinator; Cory Richards, photographer; Emily Harrington, climber; Renan Ozturk, videographer; and Taylor Rees, base camp manager.

Jenkins estimates it will take 15 days of tough jungle trekking, using porters to travel through tiger-infested areas, just to reach the mountain – making it more remote than Everest or the North Pole. The team will carry a Juniper Systems GPS which uses 12 satellites instead of the traditional two or three. It can measure accuracy down to one meter.

Sponsors include National Geographic and The North Face.


Breathe Easy Nepal 2014 Seeks to Battle Hidden Killer of the Himalayas

The Himalayan Stove Project project we wrote about in EN in February 2014 will return to Nepal this fall during the post-monsoon season to gather data on how its donated stoves have been performing. The Breathe Easy Nepal 2014 team, led by George Basch, 77, of Taos, N.M., will work with a local Rotary Club in Nepal that has helped distribute the small clean burning cookstoves to Gamcha, a village near Kathmandu. Data will be gathered with the assistance of Dr. Bruce Johnson, director of The Human Integrative and Environmental Physiology Laboratory of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

The organization, established in 2010, donates and distributes free, clean-burning, fuel-efficient, fully-vented Envirofit cookstoves (seen in photo) to people of the High Himalayas. It eliminates the choking, life threatening smoke spewed out by “traditional” cooking campfires on the floor of kitchens, or from inefficient cookstoves in most Nepali homes.

Worldwide, Household Air Pollution (HAP) is responsible for 4.3 million premature deaths annually – one of the world’s biggest killers. Clean cookstoves, which efficiently burn wood, yak dung or crop waste, help reduce that deadly toll.
Over 3,000 have been distributed to date in Nepal.

The team hopes to prove that as a result of using the more fuel efficient stoves, the Nepalese will experience a reduction in respiratory illnesses (e.g. asthma, COPD, respiratory infections), improved respiratory health, and improvement of other health problems (e.g. low birth weights, stunted growth, nutritional deficiencies, and cataracts).

Sponsorship for the Himalaya Stove Project continues to be sought with adidas already on board. Money will be used for travel expenses, the purchase of stoves, and completion of a documentary, The Hidden Killer of the Himalayas.

For more information: George Basch, george@himalayanstoveproject.org

Grandma Paddler Has 12 States, Two Countries to Go

Kayak for Safe Passage’s Deborah Walters, Ph. D., is a 63-year-old grandmother of four from Troy, Maine, paddling from Maine to Guatemala to benefit the children living in and around the huge Guatemala City garbage dump. At press time she was south of Boston near Plymouth, just beyond the first leg of her planned 2,500-mile solo kayak expedition (See EN, February 2014).

Walters (seen in photo) is propelling 385 pounds of supplies through the water in a Chesapeake Light Craft kayak (a custom redesigned Chesapeake 18), full of camping gear, food, water, clothing and lots of technology. Fighting the currents and confused seas, dealing with dense fog, and being snagged by a fisherman are some of the challenges thus far, she tells EN.

“I've camped on pristine wild islands, and been hosted at tony yacht clubs. In every town, people tell me that the next harbor along is the one where they almost lost their boat on the rocks or got swept away by the strong currents. It's a good thing I am not easily frightened, and can use their advice to double-check the charts and other navigation resources.”

She has 12 states and two countries to go. Walters has an enviable 47 mostly in-kind sponsors to date, the top four being Broadreach PR, Chesapeake Light Craft, Polaris Capital Management, and L.L. Bean which provided gear and clothing for field testing. She’s hoping to find a $50,000 level sponsor for kayak and expedition naming rights.

For more information: dr.deb.walters@gmail.com, www.KayakForSafePassageKids.org

Explorers Club Tells Johnnie to Keep Walking

A New York court has ruled that Diageo must now stop using the Explorers’ Club brand name after the New York Supreme Court granted a permanent injunction. Diageo said it would appeal the ruling, according to an Aug. 6 Wall Street Journal story by Peter Evans.

The judge ruled Johnnie Walker Explorers' Club, a range of the blended Scotch whisky sold in duty-free stores, profited from an unsanctioned association with the 110-year-old club of the same name (See EN, April 2014).

"It is clear that Diageo's adoption of the name of the Explorers' Club was for the purpose of leading the public to believe that it was connected or affiliated with the club," Judge Charles E. Ramos ruled, adding that Diageo had profited "to the tune of approximately $50 million in sales" since the launch of Explorers' Club in late 2012.

Diageo "has indisputably profited enormously from the purported unlawful and disputed use of the Club's name," Judge Ramos said.
Although it makes up only a small proportion of the 20 million cases of Johnnie Walker sold each year, losing the Explorers' Club brand would be a blow to Diageo.

Read the complete story here: http://online.wsj.com/articles/diageo-forced-to-drop-johnnie-walker-explorers-club-brand-1407338908#printMode


Everest Tragedy is Referendum on Risk and Inequity

Lapka Rita, the famed Sherpa who summited Everest 17 times, fought back tears as he recounted the deaths of 13 Sherpas and three other Nepali climbers buried when a giant serac casued an avalanche that roared through the Khumbu Icefall on Apr. 18. At the time Lapka Rita was in base camp. During an Aug. 7 presentation in the Sherpa Adventure Gear booth at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake, he said, “I tried my best to hide my tears in front of my Sherpa teams. There was no way they could have escaped the avalanche zone.”

In 2013, he was honored by Outside Magazine as an Adventurer of the Year for his role in orchestrating numerous rescues after several high mountain accidents.

(Photo by Tracy Frankel)

Norbu Tenzing Norgay (right in photo), eldest son of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, Sir Edmund Hillary’s climbing partner in 1953, called the recent tragedy a “referendum on risk and inequity.” He added, “What happened will happen again on Everest. We feel Everest has become a cash cow and anyone going to Everest should ask what are the ethics of the (guide) companies they are working with.

“The amount of risk Sherpas bear are far greater than they should be taking.” Norgay, vice president of the American Himalayan Foundation, reports that when Sherpas died in the early 1970s, they received $100,000 in today’s dollars. But benefits now are only $15,000.

Tashi Sherpa, founder and CEO of Sherpa Adventure Gear, summed up the somber presentation by saying, “We are not here to condemn anyone. … profit is not a bad word, but profiteering is. … the status quo cannot be in the status quo any more. … I’m more sad than furious.”

Polar Photographers: Bring Plenty of Digital Cards

Lee Narraway, official photographer of the Students on Ice (SOI) expeditions, has been traveling to the Arctic for 15 years. She provides advice to budding photographers in a story that appeared last month on the SOI blog. Narraway says, “My passion is the wilderness but I never imagined a paradise like Antarctica where I can be surrounded by over half a million wild creatures and none of them are afraid of me. The stunning scenery and patterns of nature all combine to make this a sacred place for me.”

She advises, “You are about to be immersed in the magic and beauty of the polar regions. Shoot lots of images. Try to look for simple uncluttered compositions that will tell your story. … “Technical notes: bring LOTS of cards… I shoot 800 to 1,000 images a day (I admit to being out-of-control), extra batteries, battery charger, polarizing lens is effective on SLR cameras, cleaning tissue or cloths for your lens. Please protect your camera; it does not thrive in salt air or water so keep it covered when you are in a moving Zodiac. At least three cameras per expedition get broken, usually by sitting on them or dropping them…have a neck strap for the camera and keep it in a sturdy case when not in use,” Narraway recommends.

Read the rest of her interview here: http://studentsonice.com/blog/soi-educators/qa_lee_narraway/

Access Narraway’s website at http://leenarraway.com/

Learn more about Students on Ice here: www.studentsonice.com


“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

¬– Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)


1879 Voyage Is a Time Machine for Climate Change

A doomed Navy expedition kept exacting records that show the rapid weakening of the polar ice cap, according to an essay by Hampton Sides in the Wall Street Journal (Aug. 2).

They were trapped in pack ice north of the Bering Sea, yet for every hour of the day for two years, a group of U.S. Navy explorers in the early 1880s, led by Lt. Cmdr. George Washington De Long, braved the freezing cold and took measurements of air and sea temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, ice thickness and drift, as determined by the ship's daily position. It was arduous, sometimes tedious work, and De Long wondered whether his notations would do the world a whit of good.

Over 130 years later, an international team of climatologists and historians, working with the National Archives, has dug back into those historic logbooks and started digitizing and analyzing De Long's work. "The data De Long gathered is quite valuable and amazingly thorough," says Kevin Wood, a scientist affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "The Jeannette was well-equipped for science, and it was the first vessel ever to go through that part of the Arctic."

Read the entire essay here: http://online.wsj.com/articles/why-an-1879-voyage-is-a-time-machine-for-climate-change-1406937914#printMode

Like Going to Disneyland

The 2012 expedition by James Cameron to the deepest part of the ocean is the subject of a new film titled, “Deepsea Challenge 3D,” according to a New York Times story by Mekado Murphy (Aug. 3). Speaking about his dive to 35,787 feet, Cameron says, “All of my nervousness about the dive was before, like the day before I’d stop and think about it for 10 minutes,” he said. “But when I was there and closing the hatch, I was just excited to see what was down there, like a kid in the car going to Disneyland.”

New Yorkers Take to Bouldering

Bouldering is booming in New York, according to a July 16 story in the Wall Street Journal by Bob Eckstein. Some of the most popular spots are in Central Park and the Cloisters, with names like Rat Rock, Cat Rock, and Life is Beautiful. “Certainly there is more socializing here than with traditional mountain climbing,” he writes. Says one boulderer, “One friend of mine uses a climbing forum as her dating site. I don’t think she could date a non-climber.”

Read the story here: http://online.wsj.com/articles/with-bouldering-new-yorkers-reach-new-lows-in-rock-climbing-1405475777

Uncharted Waters

In the weeks after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished, most likely in the Indian Ocean, Australian officials said they knew less about the area they were exploring than is known about the surface of the moon.

It's actually even worse than that.

Surveys of Mars and Venus are considered around 250 times more accurate than existing maps of the underwater region where Flight 370 searchers are looking – a lightless, virtually lifeless seabed.

The hunt for Flight 370 has been overshadowed in recent weeks by the Malaysia Airlines jet shot down in Ukraine, but it remains one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. Unlike the Ukraine tragedy, which left tons of debris, not even a stray suitcase has been found from Flight 370, which disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 with 239 passengers on board, leaving little more than a trail of cryptic satellite transmissions behind as it diverted off course.

In the Aug. 1 Wall Street Journal, Daniel Stacey explains how technology is being used in the search: http://online.wsj.com/articles/worlds-deep-sea-explorers-angle-to-solve-the-mystery-of-the-missing-malaysian-airliner-1406833389

Tastes Like Chicken?

One of the actors in the new reality series, Ice Lake Rebels, comments on her daily fare in a July 26 New York Times story by critic Neil Genzlinger. The Animal Planet series follows a small group of people who live on houseboats on Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. Says one woman in the show about a Shackleton expedition staple, “Seal meat’s the greatest. Don’t hate me for it. They’re so cute, I love them, but they’re delicious.”


There’s Money in the Cloud

The goal of the Cloudbase Foundation is to enable hang glider and paraglider pilots to give back to the communities they fly high above. As we learned in a fascinating Outdoor Retailer Summer Market conversation with Nick Greece, editor of USHPA (Hang Gliding and Paragliding) magazine, the 501(c)(3) volunteer organization provides advice on how to develop small scale localized, sustainable projects. For example, development of hang glider schools in Pokhara, Nepal, that enable locals to become self-sufficient through establishment of adventure tourism companies focused on flying.

“We work with community leaders to determine the need,” Greece says.

Hang gliders have fixed wings and the pilots lay beneath in a prone “Superman” position; paragliders are specially-designed parachutes that fold into backpacks.

For more information: www.thecloudbasefoundation.org

Budding Explorers Vie for $50,000

It is said that exploration is imagination acted upon, and now National Geographic Channel (NGC) and 20th Century Fox are launching a crowdsourced search to find the next generation of inspiring explorers.

Developed by digital agency Campfire, a unit under SapientNitro, the Expedition Granted competition invites contestants to submit a video up to two minutes in length and a Tweetable elevator pitch at ExpeditionGranted.com outlining what their passion project is and why they deserve to have it granted.

It’s part American Idol, part Kickstarter – anyone with an idea to explore uncharted territory – and the passion to follow it through – can enter to win the $50,000 award to make it happen. Submissions will be accepted through August 31, 2014. Only U.S. residents over age 21 are eligible.

The campaign is designed to broaden NGC's audience by conveying that explorers aren't necessarily Indiana Jones-type adventurers. Rather, the aim is to attract entrants from all backgrounds and disciplines ranging from art and music to food, science and technology.

Sponsors Jeep and Dos Equis are helping to raise awareness via their own social media channels.

For more information: http://expeditiongranted.nationalgeographic.com/



A creature that is happiest in the ice.

– Source: In the Kingdom of the Ice by Hampton Sides (Doubleday, 2014)


Messner Keynotes American Alpine Club Annual Benefit Dinner, January 30 to 31, 2015, New York

Famed climber Reinhold Messner will appear at the 2015 American Alpine Club Annual Benefit Dinner in New York on January 30 to 31, 2015. Tickets include the dinner presentation by Messner, open bar, silent and live auctions, and access to other weekend activities including climbers gatherings and panel discussions. Price: $275 to $350, tel. 303 384 0110

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 new 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: http://www.amazon.com/Get-Sponsored-Explorers-Adventurers-Travelers-ebook/dp/B00H12FLH2

Advertise in Expedition News – For more information: blumassoc@aol.com.

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 1281 East Main Street – Box 10, Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Tel. 203 655 1600, editor@expeditionnews.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jamie Gribbon. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2014 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through www.paypal.com. Read EXPEDITION NEWS at www.expeditionnews.com. Enjoy the EN blog at www.expeditionnews.blogspot.com.