Thursday, February 11, 2016

"Misfit Explorers" Discover Nothing


An international team of researchers supported by the National Science Foundation will journey to Antarctica this month to search for evidence that the now-frozen continent may have been the starting point for some important species that roam the Earth today.

Millions of years ago Antarctica was a warm and lush environment ruled by dinosaurs and inhabited by a great diversity of life. But today, the fossils that could reveal what prehistoric life was like are mostly buried under the ice of the harsh landscape, leaving the part that Antarctica played in the evolution of vertebrates (backboned animals) as one of the great unknowns in the history of life.

Leading the team are paleontologists from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, The University of Texas at Austin, Ohio University and the American Museum of Natural History. Other collaborators include scientists from museums and universities across the U.S., Australia and South Africa. The team will be using the U.S. research vessel R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer to reach the James Ross Island area.

Julia Clarke, a paleontologist with The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences, is one of the principal investigators for the international research mission to Antarctica.

During the month-long expedition scientists will conduct research on James Ross Island and other nearby islands off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the few spots on Antarctica where fossil-bearing rocks are accessible.

"It's impossible not to be excited to reach remote sites via helicopter and icebreaker to look for dinosaurs and other life forms from over 66 million years ago," said Julia Clarke, a professor and paleontologist at the UT Austin Jackson School of Geosciences.

The team will be sharing discoveries and daily life from the Antarctic ice on the expedition website,


The Paddling Grandma Ends 2,500-Mi. Journey

Kayak for Safe Passage's Deborah Walters, Ph. D., a 64-year-old grandmother of four from Troy, Maine, 2,500 miles along the East Coast to benefit the children living in and around the huge Guatemala City garbage dump (See EN, August 2014).

Walters completed her 2,500-mile kayak journey late last month.

Since starting in July 2014, Walters has kayaked over 1,500 miles before requiring emergency spinal surgery in February 2015 for a massively herniated disk. She continued her pre-arranged speaking tour by car. Then to avoid the possibility of armed attacks on her small craft in Mexico, Walters had planned to travel from Florida to Belize aboard the sailing vessel Polaris with Bernie Horn, president of sponsor Polaris Capital Management.

But still recovering from her spinal surgery, she was transported to Guatemala by sailboat and was honored at a large celebration with the children at Safe Passage.

Supporters said she had completed the expedition and could stop. But Walters had pledged to kayak 2,500 miles for the project. So when she recovered from her spinal injury, she restarted where she had stopped paddling in South Carolina and kept going for another 1,000 miles, finally completing the expedition in Key West, Fla. on Jan. 30.

To date, over $425,000 has been raised. Her major sponsors were: Polaris Capital Management, Broadreach PR, Chesapeake Light Craft, and L.L. Bean which provided gear and clothing for field testing.

For more information:,


"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."

- John Muir (1838-1914), Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the U.S.


Misfit Explorers Never Discovered Anything

They are the sorriest looking bunch of adventurers you can imagine.

This "bi-polar explorer," has a sunburned nose and cockeyed look of disbelief.

(Photos courtesy of Allison Leach)

Lyle of Arabia looks like he survived the desert on a diet of Krispy Kreme donuts.

They're both part of an art project by New Yorker Allison Leach called, "Misfit Explorers," a series of photographs depicting fictitious explorers who never got anywhere nor found anything. The images are based on reenactments of a mixture of actual failed explorers (Scott, Livingstone), amalgamations of incompetent historical expeditions (Franklin Expedition, Donner Party), and fantastical disasters of Leach's own whimsy.

"My constructed photographs examine both the hubris of Western exploration and, reflexively, the power of photography itself," she says.

Her project dates back to 1999, when Leach visited the Shackleton exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. Expedition photographer Frank Hurley's pictures of Antarctic adventurers filled the walls. Hurley's glass-plate negatives inspired Leach to ask: "What happened to all the explorers that never got anywhere or found anything?"

She tells EN, "During the Heroic Age of Exploration, around the turn of the twentieth century, photography was used by Western explorers as an ethnographic tool to document what they viewed as the exotic and 'primitive' natives they encountered on their travels.

"These photographs were seen as evidence of the superiority of the West, and thus paved the way for the ultimate exploitation of indigenous natural resources and subjugation of what were thought of as 'inferior' peoples."

Conversely, the explorers must have seemed completely absurd and bizarre to the indigenous peoples they were "discovering."

Leach, 52, believes her photographs create the fantasy of explorers being "discovered" themselves, offering evidence of the illegitimacy of foreign conquest and the nonsensical notion of cultural hegemony.

"By turning the lens around onto my incompetent, invading explorers, and using their same cold, analytical ethnographic-style of photography, I expose our Western imperialistic ambitions to scrutinize and ridicule."

Not to be outdone by Victorian dilettantes, in 2013 she volunteered at a chimpanzee sanctuary deep in the African bush for three months to minister to a paralyzed chimpanzee named "Arvid." That began her new career in primate rehabilitation.

In 2014, she volunteered for four months in Borneo providing enrichment to an orangutan stroke victim named "Hocky."

This summer she plans to volunteer for three months in the Congo (DRC) with a bonobo project.

As a board member of IDA-Africa's Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center in Cameroon, Leach is planning a presentation by its director and founder, Dr. Sheri Speede, on Apr. 11 at The Explorers Club in New York. Speede's first book, Kindred Beings, published last fall by Harper Collins, came out after a National Geographic photo from the sanctuary went viral.

Dr. Sheri Speede cradles the head of a primate named Dorothy while her family of chimpanzees looked on. This deeply touched people around the world while showing that animals do indeed have feelings.

Leach, a former People Magazine contributing photographer, has traded her life of shooting celebrities for the far more rewarding one of photographing apes in the wild and advocating for their conservation.

"By exploring the limits of my comfortable middle-class 'comfort zone,' learning new cultures and livelihoods, and most importantly, empathizing with our closest living relatives, I have discovered a new passion and mission, which is far bigger than myself and any celebrity ego."

The Misfit Explorers images, previously exhibited at a New York photo gallery, can be currently seen here:

Leach explains her work on YouTube here:

For more information:, 646 640 6396,

Sherpa Wishes Trekking Clients Would Learn to Disconnect

Karma Sherpa is a quiet, unassuming Sherpa now living in Boulder, Colo., who has definite opinions about the commercialization of Everest. As owner of outfitter Sherpa Mountain Adventures, established in 2009, he leads trekking experiences in the Himalayas that takes clients far outside their comfort zones.

Karma, 38, grew up in a single parent household with eight other siblings in the Mt. Everest region called Teksindu, and sadly lost two cousins on Everest, prompting his mother to make him promise never to attempt the summit. He has trekked to Everest base camp many times, has guided since 1995, including for Colorado's Outward Bound course in Nepal, and organized a successful 2012 private expedition to the summit.

Karma Sherpa wants his clients to learn how to unplug.

But as for himself, the summit is not his goal. He's more interested in offering clients an unplugged outdoor experience. He decries outfitters that bring generators to base camp.

"I see many outfitters try to make their clients too comfortable on the mountain," he tells us over coffee in Boulder. "The definition of adventure is to try something you don't do on a regular basis. You need to feel the challenge, something you can't do watching movies or TV at base camp.

"We try to encourage clients to disconnect from technology and connect with nature, with local people, connect with the mountain. Yes, it's good to have a cell phone, email access to home, and GPS, you can't disconnect entirely from modern technology, but there needs to be a balance."

Sherpa, who was active in helping Nepal rebuild after the April 2015 earthquake, is planning a 14-day guided trip in October to the Solukumbu region south of Everest that includes Pike (Pee-Kay) Peak, which he says is a moderately strenuous trek at relatively low (13,000-ft.) altitude. It is the most prominent peak in the area with the best panoramic views in the region.

He expects clients will pack their smartphones, iPads, laptops and headphones, but he'll watch closely that they disconnect to "concentrate their minds on the mountains, which is why they came to the Himalayas in the first place."

For more information:

Sherpa and his earthquake relief efforts is profiled in a story by Angela K. Evans written for the Boulder Weekly (Jan. 28). See it here:


Falling for a Climber

With Valentine's Day this month, what better story than one about the love lives of climbers? Chris Weidner interviews a dozen male and female climbers in the Boulder area for the Daily Camera (Feb. 10).

"If I didn't want to go climbing I would never see my boyfriend," said a 34-year-old woman from Lafayette, Colo., recalling a past relationship. "I felt like he was cheating on me with climbing. I was jealous of climbing. It was weird."

Says one male climber, "Feelings get hurt when you just want to bro down with bros but your girlfriend wants to go do some easy climb you've already done."

Says another, "Climbing will never cheat on you. Climbing will never lie to you. Climbing is honest and consistent. Climbing is the best relationship I've ever had."

One 60 year-old mother said she's only briefly dated non-climbers. "As a general rule, their bodies aren't as nice."

Weidner runs this gem of a quote later in the story, "We climbers share a good-humored fatalism and a rare penchant for suffering. I couldn't be with someone who didn't have that edge to them, who cared more about stupid crap like politics and the Super Bowl and going to fancy restaurants than about taking a good, hard look at what it really means to exist as a human being."

Read the story here:

Tastes Like Turtle

The story of the 1951 annual Explorers Club dinner is especially noteworthy due to claims that Club members ate frozen mammoth from Alaska. While this sounds a lot better than hissing cockroaches and crickets, former exotic dinner fare, the mammoth menu tale was all a big joke, according to a story in the New York Times (Feb. 3) by James Gorman.

Bernard Hubbard, known as the "Glacier Priest," brought back the supposed mammoth meat from the Aleutian Islands, off the coast of Alaska.

The purported dinner fare that evening was well received by the press and general public, and became an enduring legend for the Club and popularized the notorious annual tradition of serving rare and exotic food at Club dinners that continues to this day.

Eating fossil meat may seem hazardous, but animals that died thousands of years ago have been found frozen, and Yale researchers recently point to credible reports of paleontologists sampling the ancient flesh of extinct bison and mammoth, according to Gorman.

The Yale Peabody Museum holds a sample of meat preserved from the 1951 dinner, interestingly labeled as a South American giant ground sloth (Megatherium), not mammoth.

The Yale researchers reported earlier this month in the journal PLOS One that they had sequenced a fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene of the preserved sample and studied archival material to verify its identity, which if genuine, would extend the range of Megatherium over 600% and alter views on ground sloth evolution.

Bleh! A sample of the meat served in 1951 that Yale researchers used for DNA testing.

In the end, after multiple tests, it was determined that the meat was neither mammoth nor sloth, nor ancient, nor even a mammal. Turtle soup had also been on the menu that night, before sea turtles were in such trouble, and the bit of flesh that the scientists tested turned out to be green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas.

The Yale researchers conclude, "The prehistoric dinner was likely an elaborate publicity stunt."

We're shocked. Shocked.

Read the Times coverage here:

The Yale study, with specimen photos, charts and graphs, can be viewed here:

Glamping it Ain't

Speaking of expedition food, climber Jimmy Chin tells Bon Appetit magazine (Jan. 13) about eating and cooking on an expedition. Spoiler alert: It ain't glamping. In one case, according to the magazine's Rochelle Bilow, Chin and teammates ate oatmeal and cous cous 12 days in a row, packing enough food for 7 days but being stuck on a mountain for 18, and eating every meal out of one pot and a spoon shared by three people - all while functioning on decreased dexterity and brain power due to the freezing temperatures and thin air.

Read the gory details here:

The Strange World of Felt Presences

On May 20, 1916, Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsley (see related story), and Tom Crean reached Stromness, a whaling station on the north coast of South Georgia. They had been walking for 36 hours, in life-threatening conditions, in an attempt to reach help for the rest of their party. You know the story by now: By reaching Stromness they managed to save all the men left from the ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

Members of Shackleton's rescue party felt the presence of a phantom fourth person. (Photo by Frank Hurley)

They did not talk about it at the time, but weeks later all three men reported an uncanny experience during their trek: a feeling that "often there were four, not three" men on their journey. The "fourth" that accompanied them had the silent presence of a real person, someone walking with them by their side, as far as the whaling station but no further, according to a story in the U.K.'s The Guardian newspaper by Ben Alderson-Day and David Smailes.

Shackleton was apparently deeply affected by the experience, but would say little about it in subsequent years, considering it something "which can never be spoken of."

Encounters such as these are more common than you think. The Guardian story was published in 2015, but remains relevant as historians and explorers alike celebrate the 100th anniversary of the South Georgia crossing.

Read the story here:


Hot Sauce Designed for Adventure Raises $5,000

Unless you're eating crickets or wooly mammoth (see related story), expedition fare can be pretty bland. Thus, we're pleased to learn one hot sauce entrepreneur successfully rattled the cup on Kickstarter to raise $5,002 from 55 backers.

Hot sauce reviewer Jason Leek is hot for Expedition Sauce

The company, de Mars LLC, is working with a local Seattle factory to produce Expedition Sauce in three ounce aluminum tubes and suitable for extreme travel. It starts shipping in early April for approximately $7 each.

Hot new product is expected in stores this April thanks in part to crowdsourcing.

Currently a team of sponsored climbers in Yosemite are using it and creating short videos about their adventures. Company founder and CEO John de Mars has personally consumed the hot stuff on dozens of trips including two Mt. Rainier summit missions. De Mars tells EN, "It has incredible flavor and heat that can make bland food taste great."

Jason Leek, a southern-drawled and heavily goateed professional hot sauce reviewer (who knew?), says it's his favorite hot sauce. Who are we to argue? View it here:

For more information:


Brooks-Range Sponsors Four More Climbers

Brooks-Range Mountaineering, manufacturer of backcountry and outdoor equipment and accessories, added four new climbers to its 2016 Ambassador Program. They are: Ali Criscitiello, Eric Layton, Miranda Oakley, and Drew Smith.

Ali Criscitiello is a new ambassador for Brooks-Range Mountaineering.

The Brooks-Range Ambassador Program includes a select group of the top U.S. mountaineering, rock climbing, and backcountry professionals that use Brooks-Range products regularly for their mountain adventures. Ambassadors assist with product feedback and field-testing, and will represent the brand in outdoor pursuits, sharing their experiences through blogging, videos, and social media.

Criscitiello, Layton, Oakley and Smith join existing Brooks-Range Ambassadors Kevin Tatsugawa, Charlie Barrett, and Aaron Richards.

For more information:


Take Your Protein Pills and Put Your Helmet On

When David Bowie, the British music icon, died on Jan. 10 at the age of 69, thousands undoubtedly turned to YouTube to view a particularly evocative version of his hit, Space Oddity, wherein we learn the fate of one "Major Tom."

In fact, since May 2013, when Commander Chris Hadfield, a retired Canadian astronaut who was the first Canadian to walk in space, posted his modified rendition of the song from the International Space Station (ISS), it has been viewed over 30.5 million times.

After handing over command of the ISS in 2013, but before returning home, Hadfield released this musical tribute to David Bowie.

Commencing countdown, engines on. View it here:

One Giant Step for Photography

Kipp Teague of the Project Apollo Archive has uploaded more than 8,400 high-resolution photos of NASA's lunar missions to Flickr. The images, made by Apollo astronauts using mostly Hasselblads, are wonderfully imperfect - they aren't always in focus, and the exposure and framing often is off - but as with family snapshots, it's the content that matters. They remind us that anything is possible. All these years later, they still inspire.

This image of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module with earth in the background is one of thousands of little-known images available on the Project Apollo Archive.

Perhaps that is why the photos, which are free to all who want them, have spawned all manner of mashups and remixes, according to One stop-motion video by Vimeo user harrisonicus is a favorite. The clip, set to a frantic, video game-like soundtrack by Built By Snow, uses a stop-motion effect to travel from the launch pad to the moon in 2 minutes and 54 seconds.

See the video here:

Spokesperson Sarah Ramsey tells NASA couldn't be more pleased, "We're delighted that people are using our content in creative and innovative ways. All of our images are publicly available - we support their use for science, education and public engagement," she says. "These images will inspire the Mars generation to take on the new challenges of exploration on our journey there."

See the entire Project Apollo Archive here:


Brit Henry Worsley, 55, Dies on Antarctic Attempt

British explorer Henry Worsley died last month attempting to be the first person to complete the first-ever solo unsupported and unassisted crossing of the Antarctic landmass. It was an epic charity mission inspired by famed explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.

The 55-year-old former British Army officer died Jan. 24 after being airlifted to a hospital in Punta Arenas, Chile, suffering severe exhaustion and dehydration.

Henry Worsley (1960-2016) was a descendant of Frank Worsley, Sir Ernest Shackleton's skipper on Endurance.

The father of two was found to have bacterial peritonitis (a bacterial infection in the abdomen), after having trekked approximately 913 miles unaided across the South Pole - just 30 miles short of his end goal.

Worsley was 71 days into his record-breaking solo mission to complete the legendary British explorer Ernest Shackleton's unsuccessful crossing of Antarctica 100 years ago.

Prince William, a friend of Worsley and a patron of the Shackleton Solo Expedition, said he and his brother Prince Harry were saddened by the news. "He was a man who showed great courage and determination," he said. "We are incredibly proud to be associated with him."

Worsley died following complete organ failure despite all efforts of Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) and medical staff at the Clinica Magallanes in Punta Arenas, Chile.

By early February, the project had raised £317,823 ($461,284) for The Endeavour Fund which supports wounded, injured and sick Service personnel and veterans, encouraging them to use sport and adventurous challenge as part of their recovery and rehabilitation.

Learn more about Worsley's ill-fated expedition and listen to his audio updates here:


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 fund their journeys are available to anyone who has a dream adventure project in mind, according to the book from Skyhorse Publishing called:

Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers

Author Jeff Blumenfeld, an adventure marketing specialist who has represented 3M, Coleman, Du Pont, Lands' End and Orvis, among others, shares techniques for securing sponsors for expeditions and adventures.

Buy it here:

Advertise in Expedition News - For more information:

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 1877 Broadway, Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80302 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2016 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Scholarships Available for Student Polar Ambassadors

Outdoor Retailer Show Round-Up

Once again, explorers, adventurers and retailers throughout North America and parts of the world converged on Salt Lake City for the bi-annual Outdoor Retailer convention. You’ve got to love a trade show that not only allows retailers to bring their pet dogs, but goes so far as to issue canines their very own name badges.

Memphis, part lab and Doberman, is a real gear hound. Let’s see the Consumer Electronics Show try to be this cool. His master, Joe Rizzo, works for Zeal Optics.

Two speakers in particular captivated the attention of thousands of attendees.

The Passion of Terry Tempest Williams

The woman at our table during the Outdoor Industry of America breakfast was sobbing softly as American author, conservationist and activist Terry Tempest Williams, 60, marked the centennial of the National Park Service. Williams herself was also tearful at times as she said, “We are not the only animals who understand love and loss. We are not the only animals who inhabit this beautiful, broken world. We are not the center of the universe. … Wild spaces are our refuge.”

Williams implored the audience of outdoor retailers and manufacturers to make the most of their power and love for the outdoors to protect those places. “… find (your) activist roots … put protection over profit because in your heart you know it’s the same thing.”

Williams is a proponent of the “Keep it in the Ground” movement that hopes to restrict fossil fuel development on public lands.

The Emerald Mile

During the Conservation Alliance breakfast, author and adventurer Kevin Fedarko candidly shared his experiences as “Groover boy,” the lowest caste of river guide on the Grand Canyon. It was his responsibility to follow behind the guided tours in a rubber raft, the so-called “poo boat,” named Jackass, full of human excrement.

He calls dory guides, “a river subculture of extraordinary men and women who are masters at storytelling, which usually amount to giant bald-faced lies.”

His book, The Emerald Mile (Scribner | Simon & Schuster, 2013), follows the story of the fastest ever ride down the canyon in 1983 when floods threatened to destroy the Glen Canyon Dam and a deluge of water was released. It deplores threatened development in the canyon, including a massive tramway the Navajo nation hopes to use to deliver 10,000 tourists per day to the bottom. To make matters worse, the western canyon is visited by 600 helicopter flights a day, he says.

‘The bottom of the Grand Canyon is a secret and forbidden world through a giant tapestry of rock,” he said. “It instills a level of humility among those who establish a connection with it.”

Cool Gear

Want to know about the latest and greatest new technology on display for explorers and adventurers? Well, you’ll have to consult some of the big outdoor magazines for their gear reviews. We’re more interested in the unsung manufacturers creating the products you probably won’t see in the glossy pubs. For instance:

“I’ve Been Everywhere, Man” – Taylor Jordan of Traveler Guitar

Rock On – The Traveler Guitar is a full-scale compact travel guitar with a full neck. They’re small enough to fit in an airplane overhead, and at under three pounds it’s light enough to take on almost any expedition. Use it with a headphone amp to disconnect from nature, assuming you ever find the need to do so. Better learn the words to the Beatles’ Day Tripper first. $300. For more information:

Ryan Kirkpatrick, president of Shwood. Get into a pinch? Go ahead and burn ‘em.

Wood, Shwood – Handcrafted sunglasses from Shwood in Portland, Ore., include sunglass frames made out of wood, titanium, acetate, pieces of vinyl from Atlantic Records, even compressed paper. For more information:

Bad News for Cheating Adventurers – They have no excuse now to leave their wedding bands behind. Qalo is a wedding ring made of medical grade silicone that provides a safe, functional alternative to the traditional metal wedding band. TV comic Jimmy Fallon almost lost a finger when his wedding band snagged on a counter at home. It’s called a ring avulsion. Google it if you dare. Just saying. $15.99 to $19.99. For more information:


The Fur Flies as Salt Lake Man Attempts First AutoGyro Circumnavigation

It sounds improbable, but after writing EN for over 21 years, we’ve learned not to doubt the determination of explorers and adventurers focused on setting records.

No flying cars yet on the horizon. This AutoGyro will just have to do.

Later this month, Marc Bradley Campbell, 56, a retired composites pool manufacturer, former actor, and competitive sailor based in Salt Lake City, plans to train for the world’s first AutoGyro circumnavigation of the globe by flying from Torrence, Calif. to Jacksonville, Fla., hopefully breaking the roundtrip record of three days three hours.

Oh, and did we say he’s flying with his cat, an adopted stray named Ki? Cue the eyeroll.

The Torrence-Jacksonville-Torrence shake-down flight will be a prelude to an expected early summer 2016 project called Ribbon Around the World to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Campbell will be flying a 16-ft. German-made AutoGyro Calidus, whose range is 500 miles with a top speed of 115 mph. It sells for approximately $120,000. The AutoGyro is one of the last remaining types of aircraft that has yet to circumnavigate the globe, despite previous attempts. Sponsors of the $150,000 circumnavigation effort include AirGyro, Garmin, and Turtle-Pac.

Let the fur fly

About that feline. Ki will be inside the cockpit and sit in a chest pouch to keep Campbell company. Campbell played “Benny Bushnell” in the film, The Executioner’s Song (1982), the story of Gary Gilmore, a convicted murderer who lobbied for his own execution. For one extreme AutoGyro pilot, this planned round-the-world flight is likely to be his biggest role yet.

For more information:,, 813 482 2626


“Exploration is adventurous, but it is much more than an adventure. Many adventures may be quite exhilarating but are not exploration. Taking a sailing trip in the Caribbean, hiking in the mountains, or joining a guided tour of ancient ruins is exciting, but it is not exploration. However, if you took a sailing trip to the Caribbean to study reef ecology or you hiked in the mountains to survey wildlife, then that would be exploration.

“Exploration has a scientific basis, and information is collected and usually shared. The actual trip is secondary to the purpose of discovering information and contributing to scientific knowledge. This distinction is what sets exploration apart from adventure travel, eco-tours, and similarly adventurous activities.”

– Bill Steele, 67, a speleologist who has led and participated in expeditions to many of the longest and deepest caves in the U.S., Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and China. He has explored more than 2,500 caves across North America and Asia. His legacy from a long career with the Boy Scouts of America is the recent introduction of an Exploration merit badge.


Deep Thoughts About the Sea

Enric Sala, 47, a marine ecologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, says only one percent of the ocean is currently protected and the rest is being disrupted by overfishing, pollution, climate change and species extinction.
He was asked by the New York Times (Jan. 3), what is going to be the hardest place on the planet to protect in the future. His reply: “There is one place in Antarctica, the Ross Sea, that requires the consent of 25 countries to protect it: 23 of these countries have agreed. Russia and China are left.

“I would like to take President Putin down there so he can see it with his own eyes and understand firsthand how stunning these places are and understand they are for all of life.”

See the interview here:

Disney Picks up The Explorers Club

In previous issues of EN, we’ve written about a former pop rock band, an off-Broadway play, and a Johnnie Walker whiskey playing off The Explorers Club name, not to mention numerous children’s organizations that borrow from the prestigious New York-based organization. Late last year came word that Walt Disney Pictures has picked up Adrienne Kress’ enticing new adventure series, The Explorers Club. Michael De Luca, who had been attached to the property since July, will produce under his Michael De Luca Productions banner. The Explorers Club, set for publication in Fall 2016, is the first in Kress’ three book deal with Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House.

Explorers Club author Adrienne Kress

The Explorers Club centers on Sebastian, a shy boy who teams up with the risk-taking Evie in search of her grandfather, who’s been kidnapped for a map leading to the fountain of youth.

In order to save her grandfather, Evie teams with Sebastian to reunite her grandfather’s old explorer team, the Filipendulous Five, who disbanded for reasons unknown.

The story alone fits Disney’s brand, as high-concept adventure stories are a staple for the studio. The Explorers Club immediately strikes favorable comparisons to the studio’s animated hit Up, which encapsulated a similar call to adventure. For more information:


Editor’s note:
This new section of EN will focus on the nonstop search for funding, including new methods of securing sponsorship of expeditions, feats and adventures, from corporations, nonprofits, crowdsourcing and even scholarships as we explain below.

Scholarships Available for Polar Ambassadors

The Students on Ice (SOI) Foundation, based in Gatineau, Qu├ębec, educates the world’s youth about the importance of the polar regions, supports them in their continued personal and professional growth and inspires and catalyzes initiatives that contribute to global sustainability. Over the past 15 years, SOI has taken more than 2,500 youth from 52 countries to the polar regions, fostering generations of educated, inspired and empowered youth whose understanding of the environmental, social and political landscape is shaping their perspectives and impacts on our world.

There are many scholarships for students to have the chance to join SOI's life-changing expedition to explore the Canadian Eastern Arctic and the western coast of Greenland from July 21 to August 5, 2016.

The application deadline is March 11, 2016. For more information:

Dr. Don Walsh, Honorary President of The Explorers Club, and Geoff Green, C.M., founder of the Students on Ice Foundation, will host a fundraiser at The Explorers Club in New York on Feb. 3, 2016. To purchase tickets, contact: Jessica Freeborn at, 819 827 3300

Unlikely Source of Polar Sponsorship

For explorers and adventurers desperately seeking sponsorship, comes this encouraging tale of an unlikely sponsor of a North Pole Expedition this winter. A Midland, UK, businessman has stepped in to save a globally important, milestone expedition that could be the last of its kind ever to be made by a British team.

Set to make it into the history books with worldwide repercussions, the Sir Ranulph Fiennes’-backed Race Against Time will see Coventry-born explorer Mark Wood trek from the Russian Arctic Coast to the geographic North Pole across fragile Arctic ice.

No sour grapes here. Mark Tweddle comes to the rescue of polar expedition.

In February 2016, Brits Wood, Paul Vicary and Mark Langridge will attempt to trek from Russia to the North Pole without resupply. The team will attempt a 60-day crossing from the Russian Cape Arkticheskiy (the Arctic Cape) across the Arctic Ocean to the Geographic North Pole.

The trek, set to expose the true fallout of climate change in the Arctic, was on the verge of failing due to a lack of sponsorship when Midland entrepreneur Mark Tweddle, 38, heard of Wood’s expedition and plight at a guest lecture the explorer was giving. Owner of a successful global fruit import and export business, Tweddle stepped in at the 11th hour.

“As a company that is leading in its field with global firsts, including with new varieties of grapes, we wanted to be part of a world last,” Tweddle tells the website.

Read the story here:

Learn about Wood’s expedition here:


Canada Goose Celebrates First-Ever Global Campaign with Exploration Film

Canada Goose released Out There, a short film directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker and director, Paul Haggis, according to SportsOneSource Media. The focus of its first-ever global brand campaign, the film chronicles the stories and triumphs of explorers and everyday adventurers who have survived harrowing situations and accomplished incredible feats. It’s one of the best corporate exploration films we’ve seen in a long time.

The film tells the stories of some of the brand's most inspirational "Goose People": Laurie Skreslet, the first Canadian to summit Mount Everest; Lance Mackey, a four-time Iditarod Champion, two-time ESPY nominee and Hall of Famer; Karl Bushby who is currently seeking to be the first human to traverse the globe completely with unbroken steps; Paddy Doyle, a veteran pilot at First Air, Canada's airline of the North, and Marilyn Hofman, a medivac flight nurse who had a brush with death while visiting the Canadian Arctic.

View it online here:

Wigwam Celebrates 110 Outdoor Movers and Shakers

Last year, Wigwam, a made-in-the-USA socks brand, celebrated its 110th anniversary by looking at the past 110 years to find 110 people in the outdoors world who have made a difference. The website, which continues on, is a look back in history at an incredible group of adventurers and iconoclasts, many “unexpected” heroes. The list includes outdoor movers and shakers – from athletes and artists to conservationists of decades past, including those still getting it done. See it here:


NY WILD Film Festival Comes to The Explorers Club, Jan. 28 to 31, 2016

The 2016 New York WILD Film Festival will be held January 28 to 31, 2016 at The Explorers Club headquarters in New York. The event, now in its third year, spotlights films in the exploration, adventure, wildlife and environmental genres.

This year, renowned director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia) will receive the award for Best Conservation Hero Film for his documentary What's Motivating Hayes, about the pioneering investigative biologist Tyrone Hayes. Meru, winner of the U.S. Documentary Audience Award at Sundance and recently shortlisted for the Academy Award for Documentary Feature, will also be screened.

The event offers film and adventure enthusiasts – as well as armchair travelers – an insider's look at the world of adventure and wildlife cinema by showcasing the best films from across the globe that explore such vital concepts as conservation, discovery and respect for the planet.

NY WILD is presented by The Explorers Club. Title sponsors are National Geographic, and The University of Miami - Exploration Science.

For more information:

Enduring Eye: The Antarctic Legacy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Hurley,
Royal Geographical Society, London, through Feb. 28, 2016

One of the greatest-ever photographic records of human survival is on display in a new exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society in London, now through Feb. 28, 2016.
Honoring the achievements of Sir Ernest Shackleton and the men of the Endurance Expedition of 1914-1917, newly digitized images reveal previously unseen details of the crew’s epic struggle for survival both before and after their ship was destroyed.

At the heart of the exhibition are more than 90 high resolution images, taken by Shackleton’s official expedition photographer Frank Hurley, and saved by him under the most extreme circumstances to provide a lasting record of the men of the Endurance and their story.

For the first time, the fragile glass plate and celluloid negatives, stored securely at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) for more than 80 years, have been digitized directly from the originals. Now viewed at full definition, the images unlock the remarkable detail captured originally by Hurley in his photographic processing, including interior images of the Endurance and high resolution information of life on the pack ice of the Weddell Sea.

Can’t make it to London? See the official program with many of Hurley’s images here:

Egad! ECAD Returns to the Waldorf

The 2016 Explorers Club Annual Dinner (ECAD) returns to the Waldorf Astoria in New York on March 12, 2016, themed Oceans: Current of Life. Last year it was held at the Museum of Natural History, located crosstown from Club HQ. Honorees this year include:

The Explorers Club Medal

Frederick Roots, O.C., Ph.D.
A legendary polar scientist, expedition leader, and explorer, Roots is a Canadian geoscientist, meteorologist, and ecologist. His distinguished career has included the famous Norwegian-British-Swedish Antarctic Expedition (1949-52), contributing author of the Antarctic Treaty, and developing the Polar Continental Shelf Program. He also holds the record for the longest unsupported dogsled journey (189 days). EN met him in late 2009 in Antarctica with Students On Ice and was immediately struck by his connection with over 80 youth from throughout North America.

The William Beebe Award

Joseph MacInnis, C.M., M.D.
MacInnis is a medical doctor whose pioneering research on undersea science and engineering projects earned him his nation’s highest honor—the Order of Canada. He’s worked under the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He currently studies red-zone leadership and its role in solving global problems such as climate change.

Explorers Club Citation of Merit

Edmundo R. Edwards, FI ‘90
Archaeologist, astronomer and ethnologist, Edwards, a 45-year resident of Easter Island, has devoted his life to the scientific study, survey of numerous sites and preservation of the archaeology and culture of the Polynesia. Co-founder of the Pacific Islands Research Institute (PIRI), Edwards works tirelessly towards continued discovery, analysis, documentation, restoration and understanding of South Pacific history and cultures.

For more information and to order tickets:

Hold the Learjet: U.S. is Within Path of Solar Eclipse, Aug. 21, 2017

You won’t have to fly your Learjet to Nova Scotia to see the next total eclipse of the sun. It’s coming to you on August 21, 2017, when millions of people across the U.S. will see nature's most wondrous spectacle. It will be the first total eclipse over the U.S. in 38 years.

As the moon completely blocks the sun, daytime becomes a deep twilight, and the sun’s corona shimmers in the darkened sky. It’s already being called the Great American Eclipse with an “official” website ready to sell you as many t-shirts, ballcaps, solar system necklaces, and plastic eclipse viewing glasses as you may need. See a video showing the path of totality here:


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:

Advertise in Expedition News – For more information:

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 1877 Broadway, Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80302 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2015 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Climber Sets Eiger Record; Greatest Cave on Earth


The Swiss Machine Sets Eiger Record

Mountain Hardwear athlete Ueli Steck clocked a successful two hour, 22 minute summit of the Eiger Heckmair Route, breaking his previous record and regaining the fastest climb to date.

Dubbed "the Swiss Machine," Steck's latest climb becomes the fastest solo speed ascent of the North Face of Switzerland's famed Eiger, located in the Bernese Alps of Switzerland, according to SGB magazine (Nov. 18).

The climb took place on Nov. 16, as good weather and clear climbing conditions helped Steck push to the summit.

"We can never compare ascents in a place like the Eiger," said Steck. "Conditions and weather are always different. But this is what makes alpinism interesting and unique. For me it is the personal challenge and your own experience that really matters."

Read the story here:

Icelandic Airline Loftleidir Opens Antarctica to Passengers

We're not sure we like making Antarctica too accessible, so it's with mixed emotions that we report Iceland Airline Loftleidir made history when it landed a Boeing 757 on the Antarctic ice sheet in late November, the first time a Boeing commercial passenger jet has landed on the frozen continent.

Previously the Royal New Zealand Air Force had landed a 757 in Antarctica. Historically the transport planes have been Hercules L-282G and Ilyushin IL76-TD.

Would you like peanuts, pretzels or puffin?

The entire crew of the plane was Icelandic, and 60 passengers were on board.

The purpose of the flight was to study whether traditional passenger jets could be used to fly passengers and cargo to Antarctica. The trip was made in collaboration with the tour company Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE), which specializes in trips to Antarctica. Annually the company takes 400-500 travelers to Antarctica. The company hopes that by using passenger jets it will be able to increase the number of passengers and offer them more comfort during the trip.

The plane landed by the Union Glacier, which is in Western Antarctica, where an airstrip had been prepared on the ice. ALE operates a camp near the airstrip.

ASC Names Free-Fall Jumper and Ex-PepsiCo CEO to Advisory Board

The ASC, which provides conservation partners with difficult to attain data, grassroots support, and outreach by leveraging the specialized skills of the adventure community, has named new members to its Advisory Board.

They include Alan Eustace who set the world record for the highest-altitude free-fall jump, leaping from 135,889 feet in 2014. Also named is Roger Enrico, chairman/CEO of PepsiCo from 1996-2001, and chairman of DreamWorks Animation from 2004-2012.

ASC executive director Gregg Treinish tells EN, "The addition of these new members to our advisory council provides an invaluable group of supporters and advisors who will help ensure that ASC remains a sustainable and forward thinking organization for decades to come. We are fortunate to have some of the world's greatest business minds working so closely with our developing organization."

See the announcement here:


Death Valley Unsupported North to South

Belgian adventurer and explorer Louis-Philippe Loncke, 38, walked alone and completely unsupported from the northern to southern border of Death Valley National Park in Death Valley in early November. He claims that no one has ever succeeded in this challenge to walk this 150-mi. route, but such claims are hard to verify.

He had no resupply, no vehicle support, no pre-placed food drops, carried his supplies on his back without a man-hauled wagon, and had never visited the park before starting his trek.

Death Valley Days: record or not, this was one thirsty walk.

Loncke planned six days to cover the distance but it took him eight days to cover the harsh terrain and weather. Temperatures ranged from 50 to 95 degrees F.

Why this particular feat? "I love to prepare for such challenges, the pain in the knees and feet, and lack of food and water is compensated by this immersive experience with the desert and having the privilege to witness all its beauty," he said.

"My body didn't need the planned water and calorie intake and I could stretch all supplies to eight days and even finished the expedition with over half a gallon of water and three pounds of food."

He saw this project as message for the world:

"I used less than a gallon of water per day to trek Death Valley. It's a personal challenge and effort. I believe we all can do a personal effort to decrease our water consumption. Water is life, this blue gold must be protected and conserved. With a small individual effort of a 10 to 30% decrease in our consumption we would save a lot of our water resources."

His top three sponsors were: Clif Bar, Leki and Millet. Read about the trip here:

See his route here:


"But when I say our sport is a hazardous one, I do not mean that when we climb mountains there is a large chance that we shall be killed, but that we are surrounded by dangers which will kill us if we let them."

- George H.L. Mallory (1886-1924). Source: The Lost Explorer: Finding Mallory on Mount Everest by Conrad Anker and David Roberts (Simon and Shuster, 1999)

He returned to Everest for a third time in 1924 with a dark fatalism. He presciently told his Cambridge and Bloomsbury friend Geoffrey Keynes, "This is going to be more like war than mountaineering. I don't expect to come back."


The Last Race to the Pole?

Polar explorer Eric Larsen and extreme mountaineer Ryan Waters were featured in an Animal Planet documentary earlier this month that covered their harrowing attempt to make it to the North Pole faster than anyone else in history - unsupported and unassisted, pulling everything they need on two 320-pound sleds.

Videotaping their own footage, the experienced explorers discovered a rapidly melting ice cap leaving thinning ice, deep trenches and more open water - the result, they believe, of global warming.

During a Nov. 19 preview in Boulder at a Zeal Optics store, Larsen explained that due to melting polar ice, he felt this 481-mile journey from Cape Discovery on Ellesmere island to the geographic North Pole, was the last full expedition in history that will ever reach the pole as they did.

At one point, they used shotgun cracker shells to keep polar bears at bay. In another instance, they donned dry suits to actually swim across leads with a rope to pull their floating sleds across. With only a thin layer of tent nylon protecting the team from the worse weather in the world, they both agree it was "nuking" outside.

Larsen also admits to Day 40 Syndrome - "when your other life fades away and you don't care anymore. You're in survival mode. I wasn't a father or husband any longer," he told the audience at Zeal Optics. "I'm a guy trying to get to the North Pole and live."

Adds Larsen, "Telling the story of the North Pole and a melting Arctic Ocean has been the primary mission in my life for over 10 years ... This is a journey that may soon become impossible."

While the show aired Dec. 9, you can see excerpts here:

Getting Low is the Best Cure

To use the words of Lady Gaga, who posted a photo of herself in an oxygen mask on Instagram last year after being hospitalized in Denver: "Altitude sickness is no joke."

Gaga had a monster of a headache.

That's the conclusion of a story by Karen Schwartz in the New York Times (Dec. 13) that explains it's impossible to predict who will be affected by altitude sickness, though research has found that those who are obese tend to be more susceptible. Meanwhile, those over age 60 have a slightly lower risk.

The article questions the efficacy of "High Altitude Body Oil" made by ISUN Alive & Ageless Skincare that claims it "supports adaptation to high altitudes."

Schwartz writes, "The best way to avoid altitude sickness is to ascend gradually, and either stop at a lower altitude for a night or return to one to sleep.

Read the story here:

Top 10 Old School Explorers

We usually ignore the listicles we see online, but this one caught our eye. You'd expect to read the usual names appearing on any list of the 10 Toughest Old-School Explorers and Adventurers. Sure, there's Nansen, Mawson, Norgay and Shackelton. But when writer Andrew Moseman set out to identify others for (Nov. 23), he came up with some surprises.

Things did not work out well for one wallaby.

Moseman's list includes Englishman Ernest Giles who trekked across the Australian Outback not just once, but four times in all, starting in the 1870s. At one point he was so ravenous that he grabbed a wallaby and ate it raw - "fur, skin, bones, skull and all."

Also on the list was the French Geodesic Mission - 20 French and Spanish scientists who set out in 1735 for what is today Ecuador. Their mission: survey the expansive vistas of the Andes to determine the exact distance of a single degree of latitude at the equator. A one-time project leader blew money on a diamond for his mistress. The weather was terrible. They ran out of money. Nonetheless, "their mission opened up eyes in Europe to a strange and wonderful new world of plants and animals in a faraway continent," Moseman writes.

Read the top 10 list here:


Ladakh Documentary Completes Kickstarter Campaign

Of Woman and Earth ended a successful Kickstarter campaign and is back in the field documenting the ever-changing lives of the last generation of Ladakhi nomads.

A Ladakh documentary will now be completed thanks to Kickstarter.

Set in the heart of the Tibetan Plateau in the Indian province of Ladakh, Of Woman and Earth tells the story of three elderly women whose lives are transforming in the face of many cultural and climatic changes spurred by modernization. The filmmakers explore themes of spirituality, ancient traditions vs. modern education, the value of family, and women's changing roles within the nomadic Ladahki community.

Irie Langlois (Director/Producer) and Aje Unni (DP/Director) used rewards such as Ladahki handicrafts and photographic prints from the region to raise $10,307 AUD ($7,565 USD) with 136 backers. They were assisted by Backercamp, established in 2012 and based in Barcelona.

Backercamp is an international team with experience in online marketing, graphic design, web development, engineering, and law, that has been partnering with individuals and companies to make their projects happen, gathering valuable insights about the do's and dont's of crowdfunding. They say they've helped over 4,000 projects in 30-plus countries raise more than $40 million.

See the Kickstarter campaign here:

Learn about their campaign consultants here:


Mastering the Art of Not Falling

"Climbing well is when you don't fall off," renowned free solo climber Alex Honnold told a Boulder audience on Nov. 18. His Boulder Bookstore-sponsored talk was part of a book tour for Alone on the Wall (W. W. Norton & Company, 2015), wherein Honnold recounts the seven most astonishing climbing achievements so far in his meteoric career. He narrates the drama of each climb, along with reflective passages that illuminate the inner workings of his mind.

Honnold has free-soloed the longest, most challenging climbs ever.

A 30-year-old climbing phenomenon, Honnold pushes the limits of free soloing beyond anything previously attempted, as he climbs without a rope, without a partner, and without any gear to attach himself to the wall. If he falls, he dies.

He says his secret to climbing success is to take baby steps, expanding his comfort zone bit by bit, a tactic that has earned him the nickname, "No Big Deal" Honnold.

Later he said, "There's a creative side to climbing, but I choose not to focus on that. I'm not an artist."

Of the recent ascent of the Dawn Wall by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, Honnhold said, "It hurts my fingers just thinking about spending seven years to climb it like Tommy did. It's the hardest climb that has ever been done."


Greatest Cave on Earth

Talking a mile-a-minute in a 30 min. documentary, world renowned cave explorer Bill Steele recounts his spring 2015 expedition of the deepest and longest cave in the Americas - Sistema Huautla.

Proyecto Espeleol├│gico Sistema Huautla or PESH was an international group of deep cave explorers, primarily from the U.S. and Mexico, devoted to the exploration and scientific documentation of Sistema Huautla, the deepest cave in the Western Hemisphere, located in the Sierra Mazateca in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

First explored in the 1960s, Sistema Huautla is known to have 20 entrances and over 40 miles of interconnecting passageways reaching a depth of 5,069 feet. PESH has undertaken a ten-year program of exploration that will expand and refine the map of Sistema Huautla as well as study the geology, hydrology, archaeology and paleontology of the caverns and the biology of creatures and organisms living deep within the earth.

Bill Steele, the expedition co-leader, described Sistema Huautla in Men's Journal last year as "probably the greatest cave on Earth. It's already the 8th deepest cave on the planet, and it's longer than the top 16 deepest caves, which means it's huge. And there's so much more we haven't discovered. This is just the tip of the iceberg."

Whole Earth Provision Co. was among the supporters of the 2015 expedition and provided the expedition with two GoPro Cameras, batteries and mounts, fuel for camp stoves, and small items, both useful and fun, for children in the communities near the cave system.

You can see the documentary here:

Steele speaks about risk in an interview conducted by Jane Falla for the Blueprint Earth blog (Oct. 26). It reads in part, "I've probably had 15 close calls. When things happen they happen fast, and you don't have time to think; you act. It hasn't always been safe; there can be extreme hazards. But you address them in a calculated way and minimize the risk as best you can. If you do the right thing and survive, you have a good story to tell."

Read the interview here:

Drone Art

Eye in the sky.

Say what you will about drones, but many come back with awe-inspiring images. Arctic Watch photographer Nansen Weber undertook the mission of filming on the Northwest Passage with the use of a $2,700 DJI Inspire 1 drone.

He spent four weeks filming in the vicinity of the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, on Somerset Island, Nunavut. His video shares some of the magical wonders of the Northwest Passage - one of the last beluga nurseries on earth, the polar bears living in the environment and the unique landscapes of this hidden gem in Canada.

Watch it here:

For more information:


Let's see now. There's Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Give-back Tuesday. These are all thinly veiled attempts to separate you from your hard-earned shekels on one specific day of the holiday period. But every day this month is a good time to remember that explorer or adventurer in your life.

That's where our annual holiday gift guide comes in. No cookie-cutter gifts will do for the multi-day-underwear-wearing trekkers or climbers on our list. We go the extra mile for truly unique gifts.

Consider these gems:

Fire Fishing Pole

Weiner on!

We hate it when our marshmallows fall into the fire while trekking across Death Valley, or summiting Denali. Here's a hot dog or marshmallow roaster that looks and feels like a fishing pole. With a quick flick of the wrist, watch food flip for an even roast. Someone is going to make a fortune on this one. (

No Bull

We've seen happier faces on bulls.

Nothing worse than trekking eight days to Everest Base Camp, then suffering a sleepless night due to altitude and a tentmate snoring like a buzzsaw. Thank the stars for Mute, the latest in breathing technology from Rhinomed of Australia. Looking like a plastic bullring, it stents (holds open) and dilates the nasal airways. This allows the snorer to - wait for it - breathe more easily through the nose, keep the mouth closed and reduce the vibrations that cause disruptive snoring.

It's said to increase airflow an average of 38% when compared to nasal strips. We're buying these suckers by the gross for a few, er, loud explorers we know.

Green with Envy

It's not easy being green.

That's how their friends will feel when you give your gift recipient a supply of RecoveryBits plant-based nutrition. Throw away those energy drinks, gels, bars and supplements. EnergyBits, Inc., of Boston claims one can recover quickly and naturally with the most nutrient-dense, eco-friendly, sustainable superfood on earth, namely chlorella algae.

We've tried these little green tabs. It reminds us of eating seaweed. Or more accurately, eating a schmear of seaweed scraped off a jetty. Bleh? Maybe. But at least it's non-GMO. (

Urine the Money

A sock full of urine isn't the first thing you think about when planning what to place under the tree. And this gift isn't exactly ready for market. But urine luck. Urine-powered socks will soon be available to delight the adventurer in your life. Researchers from the University of West of England have developed a pair of socks that, they claim, can generate electricity using a person's urine.

They're going to need a bigger sock.

According to its makers, these extraordinary socks can store up to 648 milliliters of urine - almost 22 ounces. This urine is stored in the socks using integrated tubes, said researchers.

Explaining the working of the socks, researchers said when the user walks, the liquid is forced through microbial fuel cells that contain bacteria. These bacteria consume the nutrients in urine and thus create electricity during this process.

Slosh-slosh-zap. Now all they have to work on is the ick factor.



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:

Advertise in Expedition News - For more information:

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 1877 Broadway, Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80302 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2015 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at

Friday, November 13, 2015

Climber Eats Bugs for Two Weeks on El Cap


The Summit-to-Sea project is a collaborative research and exploration effort whose core mission is to raise awareness on how glacial melt and receding snowpack affects America's fresh water supply and winter resources.

The team consists of Kristian Gustavson, 31, Asymmetric Research Group (ARG3X), Field Division Research Team Lead, based in Virginia with the satellite office in San Diego. In this particular effort, ARG3X seeks to enhance the scientific understanding, conservation, and public awareness of global water resources from Summit-to-Sea, and to initiate a National Waterway Assessment Program and Monitoring Network through their geospatial platform, OSINT-Environment.

Joining Gustavson is Allan Splitoak, 29, who works with U.S. Special Operations. He is a winter warfare expert and a Special Operations Combat Medic.

Kristian Gustavson picks glacial melt as focus of an expedition.

Starting next month, Summit-to-Sea will travel to selected glaciers to monitor snowpack and atmospheric conditions. The two team members feel that increased glacial melt correlates with global warming. Their effort hopes to determine the risks of increasing glacial melt and the receding snowpack on the nation's fresh water supply.

Summit-to-Sea will collect data on glacial melt, receding snowpack and the 2015/2016 El Nino. Their findings will be submitted to their network at the U.S. Department of the Interior and further efforts will be coordinated with colleagues at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center, and others. They will use 360-degree GPS integrated imagery to map entire glaciers. Aerial LIDAR will study snowpack and avalanche loading. Atmospheric conditions will also be recorded and submitted along with recommendations for additional monitoring stations.

The team will determine which locations hold the most importance to the national fresh water supply and will return on a regular basis to conduct research. While the exact itinerary has yet to be defined, targeted glaciers include St. Mary's and Arapaho in Colorado; Middle Teton and Gannett glaciers in Wyoming; Mount Hood, Oregon; and glaciers in Mt. Shasta, Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, Calif.

"Snowpack and glaciers are key water storage resources for not only the U.S. but many other countries around the world. Natural variability, changing climate, and other factors need to be better understood in order to protect and manage these precious water resources upstream and down. We're setting out to help do just that," Gustavson tells EN.

Sponsors to date are: Brunton Group, Clif Bar, CW-X Conditioning Wear, KEEN Footwear, Lock-n-Load Java, Patagonia, and V360.

For more information: Kristian Gustavson,, 760 277 3503


Philippe Cousteau's environmental education and youth leadership nonprofit EarthEcho International has announced EarthEcho Expedition: Acid Apocalypse, a new expedition to explore the growing threat of ocean acidification. From Nov. 16-19, 2015, Cousteau and his crew will travel to Washington State to conduct field explorations and host live virtual events on the Pacific Northwest's imperiled coastal ecosystems.

The project is part of EarthEcho Expeditions, an annual program that leverages the rich Cousteau legacy of exploration and discovery to bring science education alive for youth.

Cousteau will travel along Washington State's dramatic coastline, connecting with scientists and local youth to highlight the impact of increasing air and water pollution on critical marine ecosystems and the communities they support. The Expedition will feature the efforts of Native American youth and community leaders who are tackling the issue of ocean acidification through a variety of programs and local solutions.

Sponsors are the American Honda Foundation, Campbell Foundation, The North Face and Southwest Airlines, as well as the following partners: Washington Sea Grant; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Ocean Conservancy; Plant for the Planet; Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary; Makah National Fish Hatchery; Seattle Aquarium; Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE; Neah Bay Middle/High School; Chief Kitsap Academy; Eagle Harbor High School, Bainbridge Island, Wash.; and Garfield High School, Seattle.

For more information:


Mother Sets Sail with Four-Year Old Son to Study Microplastics

Local Asheville, N.C., writer Ky Delaney plans to set sail with her four-year-old son in January 2016, departing from Tortola for 28 days at sea. Delaney will write about the evolving relationship between mom and child as they explore the Virgin Islands with the intention of contributing as environmental stewards.

The Pirate Mama Expedition will be coordinating with local community groups on St. Thomas and kayaking outfitters to connect island children with their watery backyards. Two other Asheville women, professional photographer Meghan Rolfe and Sarah Thomas, who has a sailing background, will round out the all-female crew.

Ky Delaney and son will study microplastics for ASC

To increase awareness about the growing problem of microplastics in the Earth's oceans, the crew will collect water samples during the expedition for Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC).

Delaney successfully raised $15,700 from 184 backers on Kickstarter. She writes feature articles and a column titled "Mountain Mama" for Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. She's currently writing her first book.

Data collection can be expensive, time consuming and physically demanding, which limits the role that science currently plays in the conservation process. ASC tackles this problem by providing its partners with reliable and otherwise unattainable data at a fraction of the traditional time and cost. By recruiting, training and managing individuals with strong outdoor skills - such as mountaineering, diving or whitewater kayaking-they benefit from otherwise unattainable data from the field.

For more information:,

2015 National Outdoor Book Award Winners Announced

A two-year search for a grave hidden in the desert. A 95-year old Alaskan native's journey in a hand-carved canoe. The unraveling of the mystery surrounding the world's most difficult mountain.

These are some of the themes among this year's winners of the 2015 National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA). The annual awards program recognizes the best in outdoor writing and publishing.

One of the winners is The Tower by Kelly Cordes. It is an historical look at Patagonia's Cerro Torre, a mountain which is famous for its climbing difficulties and extremes of weather and wind. The legendary mountaineer Reinhold Messner famously described it as "a shriek turned to stone."

Cordes investigates the controversial first ascent of the mountain by an Italian mountaineer. Was it really first climbed in 1959? If so, it was one of the great feats of mountaineering. If not, it was one of the sport's greatest frauds.

See the 2015 winners on the National Outdoor Book Awards website:


"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life."

- John Muir (1838-1914), Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher.


"It's the Danger That Makes Climbing So Special"

Climber Conrad Anker, who located George Mallory's body in 1999, "has one of the more amazing lives," said writer/climber Jon Krakauer as the Into Thin Air author moderated a presentation called "The Other Way," part of The North Face Speaker Series which came to Boulder on Oct. 21.

Anker confided to the sold-out audience of 150 that since his teen years he understood that somewhere outdoors is where he wanted to spend his career. "I realized while attending the University of Utah that my end goal was spending time in nature rather than getting a job in a cubicle," he said.

Discovering Mallory's body was a "humbling moment" for Anker, and reinforced his obsession to determine whether the late climber could have ascended the famed "Second Step" at 28,250-ft. to summit Everest 29 years before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

Conrad Anker (left) meets a fan.

Anker received permission to remove ladders that had been erected at the spot, tried it himself, and concluded that "pretty much there was no way they could have climbed it." Given the condition of the body, Anker thinks Mallory turned around from the First Step, which consists of large boulders at 28,097-ft. that pose a serious obstacle even for experienced climbers, and fell on his descent.

Krakauer later asked rhetorically, "The great question is how to justify climbing when something goes wrong. ... People live in the dirt to climb. This is their passion. Many marriages have been lost on the shoals of climbing."

Of the risk, Anker believes, "collectively it's the price we pay. Loss is something we have to be prepared to bear going into it.

"The fact that climbing is so dangerous is what makes it so special."

Anker concluded, "Fear is a form of self-preservation - I never turn my fear button off."

Then Anker descended from the stage of the auditorium, and met a line of fans waiting for him to autograph their posters and ice axes with his name, and in some cases, a line drawing of a simple anchor.

Learn more about Conrad Anker at:


For Denali, A New Name and a New Height

Besides its new name, the mountain formerly known as McKinley now has a new height.

This past summer, four mountaineers set out to accurately record the elevation of Denali - the highest summit in North America - for the first time using modern technology. Previous attempts to update a 1953 measurement had failed to meet the standards of the U.S. Geological Survey.

The government-funded project, which officially lowered the peak's elevation by 10 feet, to 20, 310-ft., demonstrates how measuring even the tallest mountains has become a more exact science due to better tools and techniques, according to a story by Jo Craven McGinty in the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 6).

"The group followed the West Buttress route, which is generally considered the least technical approach to the summit. Only about half the hikers who attempt to scale Denali make it to the top, and dozens have died trying, but this was the eighth trip for Blaine Horner, the climber who led the expedition," writes McGinty.

Read the entire story here (available to subscribers):

Finding Clovis

Dr. Albert Goodyear, an archaeologist who is founder and director of the Allendale PaleoIndian Expedition in South Carolina, has shattered the common belief that the first people in South Carolina, the so-called Clovis people, arrived in Allendale County 13,100 years ago.

Conducting research through the South Carolina Institute of Anthropology and Archaeology at the Topper site on the Savannah River in Allendale County in 1984, Goodyear's team unearthed small tools made of the chert (a hard rock that occurs as flint) believed to be tools of an ice age culture over 16,000 years ago, according to Warner M. Montgomery, Ph.D., writing for the Columbia (S.C.) Star (Nov. 6).

His findings convinced Goodyear if Clovis people used the chert quarry along the Savannah River, the quarry may have been used by even earlier cultures.

Read the entire story here:

Tastes Like Chicken - Climber Eats Only Insect Protein Foods for Two Weeks

In case you've ever wondered what it would be like to rock climb for two weeks by yourself, eating bugs the whole time - that's exactly what entomologist, rock climber, bug-recipe blog founder and edible insect proponent Meghan Curry did in September, according to an Oct. 15 blog entry by Jenna Blumenfeld on

Her stomach full of critters, Meghan Curry chills on El Capitan's Bismark ledge.

"Sleeping on a sheer rock face in a portaledge, a small hanging tent designed for multi-day climbs, for 14 days, Curry satisfied her daily 5,000-calorie requirement to make it to the top of El Capitan, a 7,573-foot cliff in Yosemite National Park, by eating natural foods that incorporate insects. She did it to support a nonprofit organization focused on educating our community about eating insects as an affordable, sustainable way to feed the world," Blumenfeld writes.

It's as good a "hoppertunity" as any to promote insect protein.

Curry documented her climb by using the hashtag #BugWall on Twitter.

Read the entire NewHope 360 post here:

Heavy Load

The climbing community of K2's porters remain forgotten. (Photo by Shah Zaman Baloch)

The porters of Pakistan are untrained, uneducated and trapped in a cycle of poverty and servitude from which most have little hope of ever breaking free. It's an unjust situation that goes largely unseen by the majority of the world, and one that acclaimed filmmaker Iara Lee is bringing attention to with her new documentary, "The Invisible Footmen of K2," according to a story in Elevation Outdoors (October 2015) by Christopher Cogley.

"I really think this film will capture people's hearts because it's a beautiful story of strength and perseverance," she said. "These guys are superhuman, and once you see inside their lives, it's really hard not to care," said Lee.

Read the story here:

See the trailer here:

Seven Rules for Adventure

Math whiz, Seven Summits mountaineer and entrepreneur Paul Niel attempts to lay down the seven rules for adventure in the South China Post (Nov. 12).

In case you're wondering, they are:

1. Take it one step at a time
2. Build a strong team around you
3. Learn to manage risk
4. Always do a postmortem
5. Know your limits
6. Enjoy the climb
7. Look for less trodden paths

Read the story here:


Climber Has the Wright Stuff

There he was, the co-star of the Sufferfest movie franchise, showing what it was like to be a professional climber and filmmaker today. As a North Face-sponsored athlete, Cedar Wright, 40, of Boulder, Colo., has traveled the world establishing adventurous and daring first ascents, often documenting these exploits through his writing and cinematography.

Cedar knows how to dress right for the outdoors.

Wright is a National Geographic Explorer, a contributing editor at Climbing magazine, and has won numerous awards for his films, including the aforementioned Sufferfests he stars in alongside his friend climber Alex Honnold.

We ran into him on Oct. 29 in Boulder, at the North Face launch of the company's fall 2016 line. Cedar ("my parents were hippies ­- they also named my sister Willow"), was working hard on behalf of TNF, which has supported him for 12 years. He was funny, witty and animated, a bit goofy at times, as he modeled next year's outerwear. He was sort of the life of the party, if you can really party at noon.

Wright ("as in the brothers") gamely put on a number of jackets for assembled outdoor media. It was a blur of membraned, laminated, taped, glued, reflective, iPhone- compatible crunchy mountain apparel. Company executives identified one parka as "fighting above its weight class." Another was a "halo piece for the season."

Then there was the "shacket" - a shirt and jacket combination.

To return value to his sponsor, you'll find Wright, a natural storyteller, at poster signings, public speaking engagements (10-12 per year), and media events such as this one.

He writes in Climbing magazine, "Some folks think I'm living the dream, but making your living off something as nebulous as professional climbing is stressful. A blown tendon or a couple (of) seasons without a breakout ascent can and has ended careers ... I'm still in a constant state of hustle, trying to keep the sponsors stoked, trying to get after my own climbing dreams, and all the time knowing that nothing is certain in this lifestyle."

He suggests that a climber, or an adventurer who wants to be sponsored, understand the need to be tech savvy. "You need to communicate using all the tools, especially Instagram," he tells EN.

With 31,000 likes on Facebook, 8,800 Twitter followers, and an impressive 109,000 on Instagram, if he hasn't already broken the Internet, he's causing some serious damage.

"All of it adds value to sponsors," he says.

Ann Krcik, senior director for The North Face, appreciates Wright's "knowledge of our product, our technologies, and company philosophies. He's our go-to athlete for insight and gear testing. Besides which, he's super fun to hang out with."

Wright is working next on a film about free solo climber Brad Gobright, and has a new love for paragliding. He's hoping to summit Orizaba (18,491 ft.), the highest mountain in Mexico and third highest in North America, then paraglide off.

Speaking of his gig with The North Face, he says, "It's good work if you can get it, but you need to work for the money."

For more information:


The Third Pole

Figuratively, if the North and South poles are the initial two poles, then the Himalayan icecap is "the third pole" in the z-dimension - as this area is closest to the sun on the surface of the earth.

The Third Pole Initiative (TPI) is an ongoing effort to study and to work for conservation of the Himalayan glaciers.

Source: Arjun Gupta, a new Fellow of the Explorers Club and an Advanced Leadership Fellow at Harvard University, where he is focusing on climate change and conservation of the Himalayan glaciers.


JanSport co-founder Skip Yowell Leaves Behind a Grateful Outdoor Community

Skip Yowell, 1946-2015

The outdoor community mourns the passing of Howard Murray "Skip" Yowell, who died on Oct. 13 at the age of 69. Yowell passed away at his home in St. Peter, Kansas, after succumbing to lung cancer, an illness first diagnosed in 2010 when he announced he would retire 48 years after co-founding JanSport.

Yowell, many said, did as much if not more to shape the outdoor industry's core values - passion for the outdoors, innovation, collaboration, giving back and having fun - than any other single individual. He introduced thousands of industry colleagues to mountaineering through JanSport's annual Mt. Rainer climb and through his support of Big City Mountaineers, which takes underserved urban kids on outdoor adventures to help them build their self-confidence.

Yowell co-founded JanSport in 1967 above his uncle's transmission shop with his cousin and fellow long-hair Murray Pletz, and seamstress Janice "Jan" Lewis, who sewed the company's first backpacks and for whom the company is named. The company became known for its avant-garde marketing and production innovations, including a dome tent that performed so well in a severe windstorm during Lou Whitaker's 1982 expedition to Everest that dome tents have since become standard issues for such extreme expeditions.

Those of us passionate about exploration admire him for his support of the Back-a-Yak program.

The Back-a-Yak program helped fund expeditions.

During the China Everest '84 Expedition he was a sponsor of a yak - a beast of burden that helped move over two tons of gear from base camp to 17,500-feet elevation to advance base camp at 21,325 feet and back.

Read the New York Times obituary here:


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Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers.

Author Jeff Blumenfeld, an adventure marketing specialist who has represented 3M, Coleman, Du Pont, Lands' End and Orvis, among others, shares techniques for securing sponsors for expeditions and adventures.

Buy it here:

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EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 1877 Broadway, Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80302 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2015 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at