Wednesday, May 13, 2020

TV Show Seeks Field Technician; Dog Sniffs Out Whale Poop


Unalaska, Alaska, is the chief center of population in the Aleutian Islands.

Field Technician Needed for TV Documentary Set in Aleutians

A television production company with a track record of hit shows on A&E, Discovery, History, Netflix, Travel Channel and many other networks is looking to cast a science or field technician for an upcoming show.

The ideal candidate must have on-hand experience with magnetometers, drones and other surveying equipment. A knowledge of Arctic or Alaskan terrain is preferred, but not required. This is an opportunity to be a part of a three- to four-week expedition in the Aleutian islands looking for lost artifacts. The goal of the expedition is to highlight the great history of the area, and hopefully uncover some truly unique finds. The production company prides itself on authentic story-telling with great characters and is not looking to fabricate drama.

For more information:

5G Comes to Everest

Base camp at Mount Everest now has 5G coverage, thanks to China Mobile. However, even at 5364m above sea level (17,598 ft.), this is not the highest place on Earth that you can get a 5G connection - currently that is the Intermediate Camp at 5800m, according to the mobile technology website (April 21).

To honor its 20th anniversary, China Mobile overhauled the 177 km transmission line that connects Base Camp to its main network. This line now powers three 5G base stations and three 4G ones. Eight tons of networking equipment were hauled up, which also allowed CM to also build two 5G base stations at the Intermediate camp.

The new high-speed connection can be used to broadcast video live from the camps whether it's day or night. Two more 5G base stations were also being installed to operate at the Advanced Base Camp at 6500m (21,325 ft.).

Here's a quick history of cell coverage on Mount Everest: the first 3G connection from Base Camp was established in late October of 2010, allowing video calls. A few months later in 2011 a tweet from Everest was sent out from a Samsung Galaxy S II (which also starred in the world's highest unboxing video). This wasn't the first tweet from the summit, that one came in 2010 via satellite. In 2013, China Mobile flipped the switch on the first 4G tower in Base Camp and demonstrated a live video stream in HD.

Reader comments below the story were none too kind. Says Cyber, "useless amount of junk, people persistently continue to pollute every corner of the earth."

Posthc piles on with: "Rich Sport Rich Trip Rich Stuff and No local people will use 5g."


Read the full story and watch the drone sizzle reel here:

Some food containers bearly pass

Smarter Than the Av-er-age Bear

A recent story in Costco Magazine about the Bear-Resistant Products Testing Program at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana, sparked our interest. Bears are given garbage cans, coolers and other food containers for an hour to see if they can bat, claw, bite, flip, or smash they way in. One technique bears like to use is a CPR maneuver as they explore weaknesses in a container.

Only products that withstand 60 full minutes of a 700-pound bear mauling receive a valuable stamp of approval from the federal Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) certifying them as bear-resistant. Keeping bears out of human food and garbage is the best way to ensure their survival in the wild.

This testing protocol allows consumers, parks and municipalities to obtain products that they know will work to keep human food and garbage inaccessible to bears and keep them out of conflict with people.

Watch a bear perform cooler CPR here:


"[Nature] causes me to reflect on those precious people in my life, amplifying how much they matter to me . . . my mind ranges over them much like the mountains in my memory, too, each alike but unique.... Every day, especially every day outside in nature, is another chance at redemption."

- Author and endurance athlete Marshall Ulrich writing in Both Feet on the Ground: Reflections from the Outside (DNA Books, 2019). Ulrich is an extreme endurance athlete - ultrarunning icon, Seven Summits mountaineer, and adventure racer. He's raced, led expeditions, or climbed mountains in nearly 30 countries, and visited 30 more. He uses his adventures to drive home a very powerful message especially suited to today's shelter in place orders: "Get out and stay out - as often and for as long as you can."
For more information:


NASA Shuttle Flight Director: "We Built That"

For 33 years, Paul Dye, the featured speaker at an Explorers Club dinner, worked in increasingly responsible roles within the U.S. (NASA) Manned Space Program, both as a technical expert in spacecraft systems and, eventually, as the overall lead of many missions to space. He retired from NASA in 2013 as the longest-serving Flight Director in U.S. history.

Dye said he was hired by the legendary Gene Kranz, the crew-cutted NASA Flight Director in the homemade, five-button, off-white vest portrayed in the Apollo 13 movie by actor Ed Harris. "The Flight Director has ultimate authority over a flight and no one can take that away from him," Dye said.

No Handshaking Allowed - The Spock salute was de rigueur at a Mar. 13 presentation when former NASA Flight Director Paul Dye, was joined by Explorers Club members Mike Seibert (left), who spent 12 years working on the operations team for the twin Mars rovers
Spirit and Opportunity, and Alan Stern (right) principal investigator of the New Horizons mission to Pluto. 
Dye's Flight Director career spanned both the space shuttle and International Space Station programs. The winner of many prestigious awards including the Johnson Space Center Director's Commendation, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, and four NASA Exceptional Service Medals, Dye delighted in bringing the lessons learned from the most advanced flight operations back to the next generation of space operation professionals and to general aviation pilots and builders.

"Everybody is important right down to the people who design the nuts and bolts on the spacecraft," Dye said. "In fact, nobody on the team received a mission patch until Olga, our janitor, received hers."

Among his more humorous anecdotes is the story of the pneumatic tubes that transported documents within the Houston Mission Control Center (MCC). "They were only designed to transport a maximum of three ounces of paper, but engineers being engineers, we had to test the system. Someone packed a tube with pencils and we wound up removing splinters for a while," Dye said.

The team's staple diet was pizza, donuts and kolaches, a Czech breakfast food comprised of sweet bread filled with various breakfast items. Dye hoisted "Skinny Black Tie and White Shirt Days" in honor of early scenes of the MCC during the Apollo era, and tried to find the most annoying music possible with which to wake up astronaut crews. Touchingly, they played the Charlie Brown theme song when NASA supporter and cartoonist Charles Schultz died in 2000.

To this day, the Silver Snoopy Award, a sterling silver Snoopy lapel pin that has flown in space, symbolizes the intent and spirit of Space Flight Awareness. An astronaut always presents the Silver Snoopy because it is the astronauts' own award for outstanding performance, contributing to flight safety and mission success.

Dye will often check when the International Space Station is flying over his Nevada backyard,  then go watch it overhead, remembering fondly, "We built that .... It's kind of a neat feeling.

"I learned the game from Apollo veterans so it was my honor to pass down knowledge to younger teams who will eventually control future flights to the moon and Mars."

Dye's forthcoming book, Shuttle Houston: Life in the Center Seat of Mission Control (Hachette Books, 2020), tells the stories of flying human beings in space, and developing and executing missions to conduct science, deploy payloads, and build structures in space. 

Backdropped by a blue and white part of Earth, the International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-130 crew member on space shuttle Endeavour after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation. Undocking of the two spacecraft occurred at 7:54 p.m. (EST) on Feb. 19, 2010
In related news, you can view the International Space Station as it soars above your own backyard, a great diversion if you're self-quarantined.

Spot The Station is a free on-line alert service that allows you to watch the International Space Station pass overhead from several thousand worldwide locations. It is the third brightest object in the sky and easy to spot if you know when to look up. Visible to the naked eye, it looks like a fast-moving plane only much higher and traveling thousands of miles an hour faster.

You can sign up here: 


Eba, an approximately 5-year-old Jack-Russell terrier mix, sniffs at the breeze.

Silver Lining: Pandemic and Poop-Sniffing Dogs Gives Whales a Break

American and Canadian marine scientists - and one talented dog - are seizing an unexpected opportunity presented by the coronavirus pandemic. They are trying to establish whether Pacific Northwest whales benefit from the current drop in boat traffic and underwater noise.

Stay-home edicts have significantly reduced recreational boat trips and ferry crossings this spring. Commercial whale watching tours and the cruise ship season remain on hold. Large cargo ships continue to come and go with slightly reduced frequency, according to Northwest News Network's Tom Banse on KUOW NPR (May 11).

Noise and vessel disturbance are considered major factors in the decline of the Northwest's endangered resident orcas alongside the other big factors of dwindling food supply - chiefly, chinook salmon - and toxic pollution.

"From a killer whale's perspective, not having fast moving boats around like recreational boats... that might be quite beneficial," said oceanographer Scott Veirs of Seattle, who coordinates an underwater microphone network called Orcasound.

A dog named Eba, trained at the University of Washington, is used to locate whale scat from up to a mile away. Often to check on whales without disturbing or capturing them, researchers need to collect poop samples, which contain valuable information about their health. Eba gets to play with her favorite tug toy as a reward for finding floating whale poop.

Listen to the story here:

Explorers Club members: Oh the tales they could tell. (Felix Kunze photo)

Tales From The Explorers Club

Avenue Magazine tells some tales of The Explorers Club in a story by Angela M.H. Schuster (April 1). She writes, "Commissioned in 1910 as a family home for Singer Sewing Machine magnate and art collector Stephen C. Clark, the (Explorers Club's) five-story townhouse exudes an Old-World grandeur, appointed with stained glass windows and stone statues and columns plucked from medieval monasteries throughout the Low Countries and France.

"Among the latter is a formidable statue of Joan of Arc on horseback, which graces a massive mantel in the second-floor lecture hall. Many of the club's members find it ironic that St. Joan had presided over decades' worth of club meetings before women were admitted in 1981."
Schuster continues, "Among the other notable curiosities are a stuffed cheetah from Teddy Roosevelt's 1909 Smithsonian expedition; a globe upon which Thor Heyerdahl plotted the route for his 1947 voyage aboard Kon-Tiki; and the cartilage of a whale's penis, its size serving to keep a certain amount of club members' braggadocio in check."
She says Club membership rolls stand at 3,500 worldwide, with 600 members based in the New York area, and the rest belonging to some 33 chapters, including the most recent addition, an outpost in Bhutan. Over the past decade, the club has seen a demographic shift downward in terms of the age of its members, with a number of young scientists and adventurers joining the fold.

Read the story here:

Marabar by Elyn Zimmerman would be removed from a plaza in Washington as part of a plan by National Geographic to expand its headquarters. (Photo: Elyn Zimmerman Studio)

Critics Want NatGeo Stone Left Unturned

Explorers affiliated with the National Geographic Society have a long history of surmounting stone in places like Mount Everest. But the 130-year-old organization has decided that more than a million pounds of artfully placed granite are in the way of plans to expand its headquarters in Washington, according to a New York Times story by Rebecca J. Ritzel (May 9).

The boulders, part of a sculpture called Marabar, by Elyn Zimmerman, were installed by the society almost four decades ago in an outdoor plaza at its four-building campus.

But now, to make room for a new entrance pavilion and a rentable rooftop garden, National Geographic plans on dismantling the sculpture after Zimmerman was unable to find a new home for it.

The decision has drawn letters of complaint from architects, art critics, museum leaders and others who say they fear the loss of an important work.

Zimmerman said National Geographic had to take elaborate measures to prepare the site for the weight of the granite stones. "The largest of those boulders weighs a quarter of a million pounds," she said. "They're going to have to dynamite the thing out of there. "

Read the story here:

Byrd's oil-burning stove emitted toxic fumes. It also looks like he could use a haircut - like many of us these days.

How Did Richard E. Byrd Self-Quarantine? (Hint: Not Well)

None of our days of self-quarantine approaches what Adm. Richard E. Byrd, the American arctic explorer, endured in 1934, when he spent five months alone in a one-room shack in Antarctica, wintering over the long night, writes Dennis Overbye in the New York Times (May 5).

Byrd's account of his 1934 ordeal, Alone, published in 1938, was written once Byrd was already famous for having been the first person to fly over the North Pole (although some researchers have disputed that claim) and, later, over the South Pole. He had received three ticker tape parades on Broadway.

"On his second expedition to Antarctica, from 1933 to 1935, Byrd, accompanied by a crew of more than four dozen men, sled dogs and a cow, hoped to increase the scope of his efforts from his established base on the coast, called Little America, into the interior of the continent, where the weather dynamics were unknown.

"He hit on the idea of wintering over through the entire dark Antarctic night, from April to October, to make meteorological and other scientific measurements. The Advance Base that Byrd and his crew eventually established was 178 miles away - a treacherous, crevasse-laden journey across the Ross Ice Shelf," Overbye writes in the Times.

In the book, Byrd conceded that he hungered for the ultimate solitude. There were all those books he wanted to read. He brought a windup record player with him, so he could listen to classical music.

Much of Alone is a testament to the idea that you should be careful what you wish for.  A month in, he realized that he was being poisoned by the fumes from his oil-burning stove. "What I had not counted on was discovering how closely a man could come to dying and still not die, or want to die," he wrote in the opening pages of his memoir.

Every day he had to decide: run the stove to stay warm, and possibly suffocate because of the fumes, or breathe safely and risk freezing. He later claimed that the ordeal had humbled him such that he handed over command of his next adventure flight to a younger colleague, according to Overbye's story.

Read it here:

Alex Honnold is Prudent

When asked about his thoughts on "Prudence," professional rock star rock climber Alex Honnold tells WSJ Magazine (May 2020): "The constant reflection on mortality (that comes from climbing) encourages you to live your life as fully and as completely as possible. Part of being a professional climber is to know the right tool for the right situation and to minimize risk as you can."

Read more of his comments here:


Explorers Club Member Victor Vescovo and the Five Deeps Expedition Team Launching the Limiting Factor on its way to the Mariana Trench - which will be featured on Discovery (Photo by Tamara Stubbs)

Explorers Club Discovery Grants Open to All

Applications are being accepted for the $1 million "Explorers Club Discovery Expedition Grant" program to further advance significant exploration and scientific discovery. Final candidates for the grants will be selected by an independent panel of accomplished explorers, researchers, and academic scholars, including six renowned Ph.D. scientists, in conjunction with both The Explorers Club and Discovery. Explorers and adventurers anywhere can apply; they need not be a member of the Club, as was previously communicated to membership. However, applicants are welcome and encouraged to apply for membership.

The Grant program will allow explorers to share their findings on Discovery Channel television and digital platforms, in addition to explorers sharing their findings and discoveries in an array of scientific journals highlighting their accomplishments.

For more information:,


"Explore" the Weather In Your Backyard

Explorers chomping at the bit to resume field research, and weather nerds everywhere, are invited to become citizen scientists. The NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory is collecting public weather reports through a free app available for smart phones or mobile devices. The app is called "mPING," for Meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground.

mPING reports are immediately archived into a database at The University of Oklahoma, and are displayed on a map accessible to anyone.

To use the app, reporters select the type of weather that is occurring, and tap "submit," which seems to us a lot more interesting than piecing together yet another COVID-era jigsaw puzzle on the kitchen table. The anonymous reports can be submitted as often as every minute.

Weather radars cannot "see" at the ground, so mPING reports are used by the NOAA National Weather Service to fine-tune their forecasts. NSSL uses the data in a variety of ways, including to develop new radar and forecasting technologies and techniques.
The mPING app was developed through a partnership between NSSL, the University of Oklahoma and the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies and was included in Scientific American's list of "8 Apps That Turn Citizens into Scientists."

Learn more:

Everest without the altitude: Dr. Arun Nayak in his Mumbai stairwell

Lockdown Madness: Everest By Staircase

Climbers on lockdown worldwide have started to go stir crazy, as evidenced by Mumbai orthodontist Arun Nayak who decided to climb Everest's height within his 47-story apartment house - all 2,950 floors accomplished without breaking self-quarantine guidelines.

In a video posted by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, you can see how Nayak, an amateur mountaineer and long distance runner, monitored his progress. He enlisted his wife during the final ascent. He reports the 20-1/2 hour, three-day effort was - no surprise here - hot, humid, boring and monotonous.

See the video here:

Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism

 (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2019) by Jeff Blumenfeld ­- How to travel and make a difference while you see the world? These are stories of inspiration from everyday voluntourists, all of whom have advice about the best way to approach that first volunteer vacation, from Las Vegas to Nepal, lending a hand in nonprofits ranging from health care facilities, animal shelters and orphanages to impoverished schools. Case studies are ripped from the pages of Expedition News, including the volunteer work of Dooley Intermed, Himalayan Stove Project, and even a volunteer dinosaur dig in New Jersey.
Read excerpts and "Look Inside" at: @purpose_book
Get Sponsored! -  Hundreds of explorers and adventurers raise money each month to travel on world class expeditions to Mt. Everest, Nepal, Antarctica and elsewhere. Now the techniques they use to pay for their journeys are available to anyone who has a dream adventure project in mind, according to the book from Skyhorse Publishing called: Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers.
Author Jeff Blumenfeld, an adventure marketing specialist who has represented 3M, Coleman, Du Pont, Lands' End and Orvis, among others, shares techniques for securing sponsors for expeditions and adventures.  
Buy it here:  
Advertise in Expedition News - For more information:    

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 290 Laramie Blvd., Boulder, CO 80304 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2020 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through payable to

Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at

Thursday, April 16, 2020


For those of us with many friends among the Sherpas, and memories of expeditions to its fabled peaks, we're pleasantly surprised that Nepal remains relatively unscathed by the coronavirus crisis, with just 16 reported cases of COVID-19 and no confirmed deaths as of April 14.

While the country remains on lockdown through at least April 27, Nepal closed all climbing, including Everest, for the spring 2020 season. China, through the Tibet Mountaineering Association, closed all their mountains to foreigners. Chinese nationals will be allowed on Everest and a small team is planning their expedition starting in a few weeks.
The family of famed Himalayan climber Apa Sherpa.
The lack of tourism is dealing a devastating blow to Sherpas and the personal efforts to aid their recovery. The Sherpas have come to depend on the income from Everest expeditions to support their families, buy food, pay school costs, build homes, and more.
This year's loss of income will be a considerable hardship for many of them.

Mountaineer Lukas Furtenbach, founder and lead mountain guide of Furtenbach Adventures, writes on (April 1), "With access to the mountain (Everest) now officially shut off to adventure-seeking climbers, the short Everest climbing season is over before it really began, and so with it goes all the tourism-related commerce that keeps the local economy afloat.
"Every year, Sherpas sign on with climbing expeditions and trekking groups to serve as 'the muscle' behind the Herculean effort of getting gear, supplies and people up to the world's highest altitudes. For almost all of them, that work is their only source of income for the entire year, and now that work is gone," according to Furtenbach.
"We had lost our climbing season, but they had lost their sole means of livelihood.
"Most of the Sherpas are professional mountain guides with no other profession to fall back on. Right now, some of them are on their way back to their villages to help their families with farming. Others are headed to Kathmandu hoping to secure some other form of work. The situation is devastating. And unlike social safety-net programs available to us in developed countries, there will be no government 'bailout' for these Sherpas coming from Nepal or China," Furtenbach writes

Read the story here:

Trash continues to plague Everest.
Meanwhile, Nepal's government earlier this month rejected calls to use the downtime on the mountain to clean-up trash. Fluorescent tents, discarded climbing equipment, empty gas canisters and human excrement litter the well-trodden route to the 8,848-metre (29,029-feet) high summit.
"It is not possible this season," Danduraj Ghimire, chief of Nepal's tourism department told AFP (April 10).
Mountaineering organizations say that the coronavirus crisis is a good opportunity to clean-up what is sometimes called the world's highest garbage dump. "The government should let a Nepali team just clean the mountain. Apart from clearing trash, it would give employment to Sherpas who have lost this season's income," said Santa Bir Lama, head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

Read more at:

In an effort to help, popular coach, keynote speaker and mountaineer Alan Arnette of, which is dedicated to raising awareness for ending Alzheimer's, has posted a day-by-day Virtual Everest 2020 - Support the Sherpas campaign that links to 10 fundraising efforts from outfitters including Alpine Ascents International, Adventure Consultants, Furtenbach Adventures (see above), and others.
Access the list of fundraising campaigns here:
Follow Virtual Everest here:
They can see clearly now, but for how long?
One bit of bright news:
The distance between the Indian state of Punjab and the Himalayan MouNtain Range is just shy of 200 km (124 miles). And now for the first time in almost 30 years, residents in the north western state can actually see the world's tallest mountain range, according to Sarakshi Rai writing in Esquire Middle East (April 12).
One of the reasons for this decreasing air pollution levels in India is because of the coronavirus lockdown imposed for the last month.
A report released by the country's Central Pollution Control Board late last month said the nationwide curfew implemented on March 22 and the subsequent lockdown ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi two days later, "resulted in significant improvement in air quality in the country, as revealed by data analysis and comparison of data for time before enforcement of restrictions."
Now if it could only stay that way without causing such hardship.
One would be hard-pressed to find a better definition of oxymoron than "self-quarantine exploration." Among our thousands of readers, most are probably experiencing severe withdrawal from travel, exploration and adventure. We "explored" and cleaned our garage recently. Ok, that's done. Closets were next, then the junk drawer in search of a bottle of Purell from that last trip to Nepal.
Long-distance paddler Susan Marie Conrad, 59, a resident of northwest Washington State, had to delay her planned 1,200-mi. through-paddle of the Inside Passage. It was cancelled after a year of planning, saving, and training, despite what her friends thought was an ultimate form of social distancing.
"I know there's no way in hell I'm going paddle away from this reality and think I'll be sitting on some beautiful beach, enjoying the sights and sounds of the Inside Passage, no matter how magical, while this pandemic continues to unfold," she wrote to her followers.
"The Inside Passage will always be there. I'm grateful that I have the health, time, and financial resources to plan and pull off something like this in the first place. It's a privilege, not a necessity. In the end, it's not about what I want, it's about what's best for the greater good."

EN feels the exploration world's pain as we all work together to surmount what is likely the largest crisis in many of our lifetimes. Not a group to sit idly by, the exploration world is pivoting with a range of opportunities to keep homebound spirits alive. So put down the puzzles, and consider how you can scratch that itch to explore even while social distancing. Pivots that we admire most include:
Ground Control to Major Tom
*    Take a Masterclass with Astronaut Chris Hadfield
MasterClass ( is an immersive online education platform that offers access to genius by allowing anyone to take online classes with the world's best. Instructors include Christina Aguilera, Serena Williams, James Patterson, and Chris Hadfield, EN's instructor this past month.
Referred to as "the most famous astronaut since Neil Armstrong," Colonel Chris Hadfield is a worldwide sensation whose video of David Bowie's Space Oddity, produced in the International Space Station while weightless, was seen by over 45 million people online.
He is acclaimed for making outer space accessible to millions, and for infusing a sense of wonder into our collective consciousness not felt since humanity first walked on the Moon. A heavily decorated astronaut, engineer, and pilot, Colonel Hadfield helped build the Mir space station, performed two spacewalks, and in 2013, became Commander of the ISS for six months off planet. 

Hadfield uses a model of the ISS during his MasterClass.

Want to learn about the In-Situ Resource Utilization for Mars exploration? Watch the ISS traveling through the aurora australis? Learn about quindar tones (see Buzz Words)? Bubble detectors? Ion propulsion engines? Escape velocity and Hohmann transfer orbits? Chris is your man.
In regards to exploring space in the future, he says in the online series, "We need to invent stuff we don't even know we have to invent .... It takes a huge group of people working together right on the edge of possibility."
Watch Hadfield perform Space Oddity:
*    Learn from an Antarctic Pro How to Shelter in Place

As the station chief for the Global Monitoring Division's (GMD) Atmospheric Research Observatory at the South Pole, Christine Schultz spent 13 months during 2010 into 2011 in one of Earth's most isolated places: Antarctica. Three of those months were spent without the sun hanging in the sky and with temperatures dropping to an average of minus 70 degrees F.

During her time in Antarctica when she wasn't working, Schultz and the rest of the crew found ways to stay entertained in their own shelter-in-place scenario.
"People get pretty creative over the winter months when there's not a lot of outside stimulus," Schultz tells Adriana Navarro, AccuWeather staff writer. Over her time spent sheltering from the minus 70 degrees F. temperatures, Schultz and the group watched movies, learning how to knit and hit the gym.
"My greatest advice for anyone in isolation is to get creative and make sure you have a routine," Schultz said. Especially in the winter months, a routine helped her maintain her sense of day and night. She also suggests not staying in pajamas all day.

Read the April 3 story here:
*    New York Wild Film Festival Goes Online  
Turn off Tiger King and focus on films with more redeeming value. The popular New York Wild Film Festival invites you to traverse the seven peaks of Fitz Roy in Patagonia; ride 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada on horseback; row across the Atlantic with four working mums from Yorkshire; kayak and kite ski over the Greenland Ice Cap; sail on a makeshift raft and trek across hundreds of kilometers of remote outback and so much more.

See the free line-up of films here:

Staying positive and continuing to plan for the future during this public health crisis means exploration can come roaring back when life returns to some semblance of normalcy.

The megalodon is ready for prime time.

*    Explore the Oceans From Home

Ocean First Institute, located in landlocked Boulder, Colorado, connects youth with the wonders of the ocean and the importance of hands-on conservation through programming that highlights scientific exploration. Its in-person and virtual education programs have already inspired over 110,000 students across the world to take action within their local communities.

Upcoming webinars in April include: Mysteries of Megalodon, Can sharks really smell a drop of blood a mile away?, and What can I learn by being a SCUBA diver?

Learn more: 

Self-Quarantining Arctic Explorers Have Great Timing  
It's tempting. Many of us may prefer to be somewhere else on the planet instead of locked down at home. Somewhere else, like Svalbard, Norway, for instance, home of two intrepid explorers of the Hearts on Ice project. In a classic case of great timing, the two planned to be in self-imposed isolation well before the coronavirus crisis plagued the world.
Hilde Fålun Strøm (left) is from Svalbard; Sunniva Sorby resides in British Columbia.
In September 2019, seasoned expedition leaders Hilde Fålun Strøm and Sunniva Sorby began an nine-month study in isolation in an historic 215 s.f. trapper's cabin known as Bamsebu in Svalbard (See EN, November 2018).

The goal of the project is to show rapid climate change escalation and what can be done to mitigate the effects. Now it's turned into so much more. Due to the virus crisis, they may extend their stay. Current international travel restrictions make it difficult for Sorby to return to Canada.

In a recent letter to sponsors, Strom and Sorby write, "Who would have thought when we planned this expedition and platform in support of engagement and education around our Climate Crisis that we would be sitting in the middle of a very different sort of crisis. Our hearts are with all of you.
Bamsebu, A COVID-free zone. 
"We have more opportunities for wildlife observation (we have had over 33 Polar bear encounters so far - largest bear was 600kg!), ice core sampling (longest ice core to date is 46 cm), phytoplankton and salt water collection (eight samples - will collect more when the ice thaws), drone flights (17 successful infrared pre-programmed flights) to measure surface temperatures, hosted school calls with experts (18 hosted calls with thousands of youth around the world on topics that range from Technology to Weather to Citizen Science).
For more information:

Watch their pre-expedition video here:

For advice on surviving self-isolation, see:

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's learning to dance in the rain."
-    Vivian Greene (1904-2003), British writer regarded as the world's foremost expert on dolls' houses. The saying, apropos for these troubled times, can be seen in inspirational posters and greeting cards worldwide.
EN's Favorite Adventure Books
You can only stare at Netflix and Twitter for so long. Now perhaps more than ever before, this is the time to get wrapped up in a good adventure book. Before you set out on your own adventure or expedition, become a student of those who have gone before. Here are some of our favorite books on the subject, as reprinted from Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers (Skyhorse Publishing). How many have you read?
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain (1884). The classic
American novel that inspired countless budding adventurers. "Huck's always
been my hero," polar explorer Will Steger says. "I've patterned my
life after his."

Annapurna - Maurice Herzog (The Lyons Press, paperback edition,
1997). French climber Maurice Herzog's gripping and horrific account of
the first ascent of an 8,000-meter peak in 1950.

Arctic Dreams - Barry Lopez (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1986). An inspiring,
classic celebration of the Arctic region.
The Brotherhood of the Rope: The Biography of Charles Houston -
Bernadette McDonald (The Mountaineers Books, 2007). The story of the
1953 K2 expedition and the famed belay that saved five people.
Crossing Antarctica - Will Steger and Jon Bowermaster (Alfred A.
Knopf, 1991). First-person account of the $11 million expedition that
will be remembered as both Antarctica's final dogsled adventure and the
longest of any kind ever.
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage - Alfred Lansing (The Adventure
Library, 1994 Edition). One of the greatest rescue stories ever told.
Eric Shipton: Everest & Beyond - Peter Steele (The Mountaineers
Books, 1998). An in-depth look at this climbing and exploration legend
who explored at a time when there were still white spaces on the map.
Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer (Villard Books, 1997) - Hard to believe,
but climbing Everest became even more popular after the 1996 tragedy
was recounted in such vivid detail.
Kon Tiki - Thor Heyerdahl (Rand McNally & Company, 1950).
"Fishing was easy; sometimes the bonitos swam aboard with the waves."
Feel the romance of one of the world's best-known expeditions by reading
an original edition purchased from a used book store.
The Last Climb: The Legendary Everest Expeditions of George Mallory -
David Breashears and Audrey Salkeld (National Geographic, 1999). Did
Mallory and Irvine reach the summit? Where's Irvine's camera? Better
read this if you have any hopes of finding it on your own expedition.
The Last Step: The American Ascent of K2 - Rick Ridgeway (The Mountaineers
Books, 1980). What can go wrong on an expedition? Plenty. This
is a first-person account of a K2 climb, warts and all.
North to the Pole - Will Steger with Paul Schurke (Times Books,
1987). Could Robert E. Peary have reached the North Pole in 1909 unsupported?
Will and Paul demonstrate in fifty-five days and a thousand zigzag miles how it could have been done.
Sea of Glory - Nathaniel Philbrick (Viking, 2003). Lewis and Clark
received all the publicity 30 years before, but the U.S. Exploring Expedition
of 1838 to 1842 was the granddaddy of American seagoing expeditions.
Shackleton - Roland Huntford (Ballantine, 1987). The definitive
Shackleton, every excruciating moment of his extraordinary life.
Snowstruck: In the Grip of Avalanches - Jill Fredston (Harcourt, 2005).
Fredston is one of North America's leading avalanche experts. Dreaming of
a white Christmas? Read this and you'll think of snow in a whole new light.
Surviving the Extremes: A Doctor's Journey to the Limits of Human Endurance -
Kenneth Kamler, MD (St. Martin's Press, 2004). The expedition doctor has seen it all. You will reconsider swimming in an Amazon lakes after reading about the candiru.

The Seven Summits - Dick Bass and Frank Wells with Rick Ridgeway (Warner Books, Inc., 1986). Two middle-aged men with a dream to be first to climb the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. The Seven Summits craze started here. When he liked something, such as Snowbird's legendary deep powder, Bass would tell us, "It makes my heart sing, my thing zing, and my socks roll up and down."
They Lived to Tell the Tale: True Stories of Modern Adventure from the
Legendary Explorers Club - Jan Jarboe Russell, editor (The Lyons Press,
2008). Oceanographers, naturalists, Arctic explorers, NASA astronauts,
and even an ethnobotanist all recount their most memorable projects.
Touch the Top of the World - Erik Weihenmayer (Penguin Putnam,
2001). The story of the first blind climber to summit Mount Everest. His
guide dog was a chick magnet, but can he really tell the denomination of
paper bills by smell alone?
List excerpted from Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers (Skyhorse Publishing, 2014)
The Explorers Club Goes Hollywood
There was something quite familiar about the climatic scene of Hunters, the Amazon Prime original content about a diverse band of Nazi hunters in New York City in 1977. There in episode 10 was the Explorers Club HQ Roosevelt Room standing in for a doctor's office, and the club's library as the location for the episode's explosive finale starring Al Pacino and Logan Lerman.
The scenes were shot last Labor Day Weekend according to club executive director Will Roseman who says use of the club for location shoots is a significant fundraiser for the 116-year old organization.
The Explorers Club library was repurposed for the climactic finale of Amazon Studios Hunters. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Murphy).
Roseman says the club receives standard location rates of $2,000/hour for shooting time, and $1,000/hour for prep, based on a minimum 12-hour day. "The revenue generated through these location fees goes to student grants, building improvement and general administrative costs," Roseman says.
"We've had many celebrities at the club over the years. It's fun to see them, but after a quick hello we usually just go back to work."
Produced by Jordan Peele's Monkeypaw Productions, Hunters blends history and fantasy for a unique TV thriller. Creator David Weil said he came up with the concept five years ago and was largely inspired by stories his grandmother told him as a boy.
Other productions shot at the club include The Verdict (1982) with Paul Newman; and TVs Vinyl with Bobby Cannavale; and Tiny Fey's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

A fuel-efficient cookstove can profoundly change lives in Nepal. (Photo courtesy
Now You're Cooking
Himalayan Stove Project (HSP) released its newest fundraising video, What is Himalayan Stove Project?, depicting its project to deliver fuel-efficient cookstoves to Nepal. The voice of Mandy Stapleford of Good News Good Planet narrates the 2 min. 20 sec. video, filled with images of Nepal from a recent delivery mission. It focuses on how the stove can change the lives of families by reducing household air pollution.
Watch the new video here:
The sustainable cookstoves lower levels of damaging indoor air pollution by reducing smoke and harmful gasses by up to 90%, also reducing the amount of particulate matter contributing to climate change. Additionally, the stoves greatly reduce the amount of fuel use by up to 75% resulting in less time needed to gather biomass fuel, a daunting and often dangerous task for women and children.
Since 2012, HSP has worked with Nepali partners to deliver nearly 6,000 cookstoves. HSP sponsor Kahtoola helped sponsor the video.

The NASA worm and meatball logos
NASA Brings Back the Worm
The original NASA insignia is one of the most powerful symbols in the world. A bold, patriotic red chevron wing piercing a blue sphere, representing a planet, with white stars, and an orbiting spacecraft. Today, we know it as "the meatball." However, with 1970's technology, it was a difficult icon to reproduce, print, and many people considered it a complicated metaphor in what was considered, then, a modern aerospace era.
Enter a cleaner, sleeker design born of the Federal Design Improvement Program and officially introduced in 1975. It featured a simple, red unique type style of the word NASA. The world knew it as "the worm."
Now the worm is back. And just in time to mark the return of human spaceflight on American rockets from American soil.
The retro, modern design of the agency's logo will help capture the excitement of a new, modern era of human spaceflight on the side of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle that will ferry astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the Demo-2 flight, now scheduled for mid- to late May.
It seems the worm logo wasn't really retired. It was just resting up for the next chapter of space exploration. The meatball will remain NASA's primary symbol.
Read the announcement:
For past stories about NASA's symbols, visit:

Quindar Tones

Most often referred to as the "beeps" that were heard during the American Apollo space missions, Quindar tones were a means by which remote transmitters on Earth were turned on and off so that the Capsule communicator could communicate with the crews of spacecrafts. (Source: Astronaut Chris Hadfield on Masterclass; see related story)

Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism
 (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2019) by Jeff Blumenfeld ­- How to travel and make a difference while you see the world? These are stories of inspiration from everyday voluntourists, all of whom have advice about the best way to approach that first volunteer vacation, from Las Vegas to Nepal, lending a hand in nonprofits ranging from health care facilities, animal shelters and orphanages to impoverished schools. Case studies are ripped from the pages of Expedition News, including the volunteer work of Dooley Intermed, Himalayan Stove Project, and even a volunteer dinosaur dig in New Jersey.
Read excerpts and "Look Inside" at: @purpose_book
Get Sponsored! -  Hundreds of explorers and adventurers raise money each month to travel on world class expeditions to Mt. Everest, Nepal, Antarctica and elsewhere. Now the techniques they use to pay for their journeys are available to anyone who has a dream adventure project in mind, according to the book from Skyhorse Publishing called: Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers.
Author Jeff Blumenfeld, an adventure marketing specialist who has represented 3M, Coleman, Du Pont, Lands' End and Orvis, among others, shares techniques for securing sponsors for expeditions and adventures.  
Buy it here:  
Advertise in Expedition News - For more information:    

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 290 Laramie Blvd., Boulder, CO 80304 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2020 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

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

COVID-19 Crisis Roils Exploration World

By its very definition, exploration is dependent upon travel. Explorers have a desire to make sense of the unknown, to see what is over the other side of the hill. During the worldwide COVID-19 crisis, travel has been severely restricted, at worse banned.

As the world turns to science and technology for a solution to the coronavirus, explorers are adapting accordingly:

*    Everest is now closed. Following an announcement from China that it would restrict climbing on its half of the mountain due to coronavirus concerns, Nepal followed suit with a full shutdown of the mountain's southern side, completely closing off the peak to climbers hoping to summit this spring.
The decision to close Everest largely concerns the nature of the virus itself, which affects respiratory function in affected individuals. In a low-oxygen environment like Everest, respiratory impairment would prove doubly dangerous. The communal nature of Everest base camps, where climbers live in close quarters, also played a part in China and Nepal's decision to close the mountain, according to the outdoor trade publication SNEWS.

Alpenglow Expeditions and other guide companies planning ascents on the Tibetan side of the mountain have already cancelled spring trips. As of Mar. 12, Nepal still had no overt signs of the health crisis. That could change on a dime.

Read more here:

*    The Explorers Club Monday night public lectures have usually been streamed online. Now plans call for this to continue, albeit without an audience. The Club's annual dinner was postponed until Oct. 10, 2020. For more information:

*    Companies in the outdoor industry throughout the world are asking employees to work from home indefinitely. Petzl America, for instance, manufacturer of life safety equipment, asked all employees with the ability to telecommute to do so.

Patagonia has taken the unprecedented step of temporarily closing all stores, shutting down ordering on its website, and suspending all orders.

REI is temporarily closing its 162 retail stores nationwide starting March 16, until March 27. "I believe that is the right thing for our community. In fact, I believe it is our duty-to do all we can to help keep one another safe in this unprecedented moment," announces Eric Artz, President & CEO, REI Co-op. All orders through will get free shipping while stores are closed.

"The outdoors remains a vital part of all our lives, especially in moments like this," says Artz.

*    Some of the industry's biggest warm-season shows, like the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, scheduled for June 23-25 in Denver, are proceeding uninterrupted for now, according to SNEWS.

Organizers are undoubtedly hoping that we'll have weathered this storm by then.

Demonstrating incredible resiliency, otherwise homebound Italians literally shouted from the rooftops and balconies this month, singing arias, the national anthem and pop songs. These impromptu songs show the resilience of the human spirit as millions of residents in Italy experience lockdown. Be sure to watch to the end of this viral video for a heartwarming rendition of Puccini's Nessun Dorma. It brought tears to our eyes.

In many of our lifetimes we've persevered through the Cold War, Y2K, 9/11, the Vietnam and Gulf wars, and other world crises. Together we'll get through this, of that we are sure.


Explorers Club Inks Deal With Discovery Channel

These are uncertain times for any nonprofit, thus it was heartening to learn that The Explorers Club successfully inked a groundbreaking multiyear deal with Discovery Channel. It is the largest brand partnership in the Club's 116-year history.

The Club has been working on the agreement since Fall 2018. Since then it was presented to Chapter Chairs and unanimously approved by the Board of Directors.

According to TEC board member Richard Garriott, who helped negotiate the deal, Club officials engaged in more than 12 months of negotiations to arrive at a 3-to-10 year deal.

"This agreement likely represents between $6 million and $20 million to the club, which is nothing short of transformative to the future of our organization," he said in a Mar. 15 email to membership. The exclusive media partnership includes:

*    Infrastructure - Two million dollars for improvements to the headquarters building on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The punch list includes replacing the electrical and plumbing systems (which have not been updated since the building was built in 1910); overhaul of IT and media infrastructure; adding climate control to preserve and protect collections and archives; and repair or replacement of the building's aging elevator, thought to be one of the oldest in New York City, according to Garriott.
*    Expedition Grants - One million dollars per year for TEC expeditions, including  media and educational dissemination opportunities. Both TEC and Discovery must approve of any "Discovery" grant. "Discovery gets de facto 'media rights' to any expedition which accepts the grants, but no one is required to take the money, and each expedition can negotiate directly with Discovery if there are important issues," Garriott says.
*   Naming and Archive Rights - Discovery will pay a few hundred thousand dollars per year to The Explorers Club. In return, Discovery will have usage of two rental offices, some archives access, and for the term of the agreement, temporarily rename the building to a mutually agreeable name yet to be determined.

Naming rights to the building, currently honoring broadcaster Lowell Thomas, have appeared to be the most contentious part of the agreement among membership, but is a fairly typical request, dating to well before Sir Ernest Shackleton named one of his 23-foot whalers, the James Caird, after a rich benefactor. There are numerous examples of nonprofits in New York offering naming rights; Avery Fisher Hall, NYU Langone Medical Center, and The Julliard School immediately come to mind.

Discovery Channel will have access to the full historical archives of The Explorers Club, including 13,000 books, 1,000 museum objects, 5,000 maps and 500 films. This vast catalog will serve as the foundation of additional educational content creation.
Scenes from the Apollo 50th anniversary reunion during the 2019 Explorers Club Annual Dinner appeared in a Discovery Channel documentary last year.

*   Marketing SupportDiscovery will also provide millions of dollars in value through "in kind" advertising of the TEC brand. Last year, Discovery collaborated with the Club to produce Confessions From Space: Apollo, which included interviews with members who were recognized at the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. 

"Exploration as an endeavor has always relied on outside funding, as well as media. We feel strongly that our brand, our ability to communicate our mission, and our capacity to bring explorers together, will be greatly enhanced," said Club president Richard Wiese.

Read the Discovery announcement here:

Gregg Treinish honored.

Gregg Treinish Honored by World Economic Forum
Gregg Treinish, 30, founder of, has been named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader (YGL) for 2020 - joining an illustrious network of influential people aiming to improve the planet. He joins an international community under age 40 - including Pete Buttigieg, Amal Clooney, Megan Rapinoe, and Juan Guaidó - recognized for driving positive change.

"It's not enough to be just an explorer any more, it's 'been there, done that,'" says Treinish, who recruits today's adventurers to conduct scientific research in some of the world's most inaccessible places.

Over the last decade, Treinish's organization has co-opted thousands of adventure travelers to do the field research that lab-based researchers could not. One of the first projects was getting Everest mountaineers to obtain samples of plants growing at almost impossibly high altitudes. U.S. researchers were able to determine how that moss could survive in such extreme conditions and used the results to develop methods of increasing yields and protecting crops from adverse weather events.

On the sea, Adventure Scientists has used a network of 6,000 citizen researchers to build what it believes is the world's biggest database on microplastics in oceans around the world.

The 115 Young Global Leaders for the Class of 2020 includes a decorated Olympian and World Cup winner, the youngest Prime Minister of Finland, an accomplished and pioneering digital journalist in Africa, an advocate of social justice and reform in Nepal and a human rights lawyer fighting for an inclusive society in Ethiopia and beyond.

Citizen astronaut Richard Garriott on board the International Space Station (2008).

Space Adventures Agrees With SpaceX to
Launch Private Citizens on Crew Dragon Spacecraft

Building on the success of Crew Dragon's first demonstration mission to the International Space Station in March 2019 and the recent successful test of the spacecraft's launch escape system, Space Adventures, Inc. has entered into an agreement with SpaceX to fly private citizens on the first Crew Dragon free-flyer mission. This will provide up to four individuals with the opportunity to break the world altitude record for private citizen spaceflight and see planet Earth the way no one has since the Gemini program.

If interested parties are secured, this mission will be the first orbital space tourism experience provided entirely with American technology. Private citizens will fly aboard SpaceX's fully autonomous Crew Dragon spacecraft launched by the company's Falcon 9 rocket, the same spacecraft and launch vehicle that SpaceX will use to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

Said Eric Anderson, Chairman, Space Adventures, "Creating unique and previously impossible opportunities for private citizens to experience space is why Space Adventures exists. From 2001-2009 our clients made history by flying over 36 million miles in space on eight separate missions to the ISS. Since its maiden mission in 2010, no engineering achievement has consistently impressed the industry more than the Dragon/Falcon 9 reusable system.

"Honoring our combined histories, this Dragon mission will be a special experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity - capable of reaching twice the altitude of any prior civilian astronaut mission or space station visitor," said Anderson.

Responding to a question on Twitter about a possible price tag of $52 million per seat, Anderson tweeted: "Per seat price for a full group of four not quite that much (not dramatically less, but significant enough to note). Definitive pricing confidential, and dependent on client specific requests, etc."

The company's orbital spaceflight clients include Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth, Greg Olsen, Anousheh Ansari, Charles Simonyi, Richard Garriott (see related story), and Guy Laliberté.

For more information:

Read the full announcement here:

Watch the sizzle reel:

Mehgan Heany-Grier (Photo by

The Power Of Adventure

Mehgan Heaney-Grier, a lifelong ocean adventurer with more than 20 years experience working above and below the waterline, talked to the Rocky Mountain chapter of The Explorers Club on Feb. 25, 2020, about "The Power of Adventure." In 1996, at the age of 18, Heaney-Grier established the first constant weight free-diving record in the U.S. with a dive to 155 feet (47.26 meters) on a single breath of air. 

She's an accomplished athlete, professional speaker, marine educator, conservationist, expedition leader, stunt diver and television personality.

In 1998 Heaney-Grier captained the first United States Freediving Team to compete in the World Cup Freediving Championships held in Sardinia, Italy. In 2000, Heaney-Grier was inducted as part of the inaugural roster into the Women Divers Hall of Fame.

As an ocean advocate, adventurer and storyteller across multiple media platforms, Mehgan is dedicated to raising awareness and empowering the next generation of ocean stewards to engage and tackle the critical issues facing our oceans today.

Heaney-Grier told the chapter, "Exploration is the older, wiser version of adventure, but adventure is where we begin ... the underwater universe is awe-inspiring. It's profound and humbling and reminds us we're a part of something so much bigger than ourselves."

For more about Mehgan:

The Arctic Watch crew. 

Will Work for Pemmican

Are you hard working and adventurous? Think the Arctic is an inspiring environment and wish to share it with others? Weber Arctic is looking to hire new guides at two wilderness lodges in Canada's Arctic this summer - the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge and Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodge.

Assuming the coronavirus crisis eases by then, Weber Arctic is looking to add guides to its team of ambitious adventurers. The small family business's two lodges in Canada's Nunavut territory provide guests a large variety of experiences including: sea kayaking the Northwest Passage, fly fishing, fat biking, hiking, quading, and the chance to see polar bears, muskoxen, beluga whales, narwhals, arctic wolves, caribou and much more.

Learn about the opportunity here:

To apply for this position, send your resume and cover letter to


Slackliners Featured in New Film 

Slacklining is both an art and a sport that requires balance training, recreation and is also described as a moving meditation.

This extreme sport is demonstrated in a new, inspiring short film called Pathfinder. The documentary brings viewers on a cinematic journey highlighting a never-before attempted milestone in the world of slacklining, taking place under the Northern Lights in the Senja Island, Norway.

A rich and meaningful story, the 10-minute film explores the physical and spiritual aspects in the world of six slack-liners with insights from Norwegians on the folklore and mysticism surrounding the Northern Lights, the nature of the setting, and the indigenous people of the north: The Sámi.

See the trailer here: (password 1234).


"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."

- T.S. Elliot (1888-1965), U.S. poet, essayist, publisher, playwright, and literary critic.

Boulder Film Festival Provides Vicarious Thrills for a Troubled World

It was certainly a case of flop sweat.

EN's heart was racing and beads of perspiration formed on our brows. Yet we were hardly moving. Instead we spent last weekend watching a procession of outstanding films at the 16th annual Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF), enjoying pulse quickening scenes of  "superpower dogs" lowered onto avalanche victims by helicopter; blind athlete Lonnie Bedwell paddling the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon; superfit Faroe Islands pastor Sverri Steinholm running along knife-edge ridges; storm chasers playing tag with tornados; and the late U.K. piano restorer Desmond O'Keeffe, delivering an upright to 14,000-ft. Lingshed in the Indian Himalayas. 

If the audience was nervous about the coronavirus, they didn't show it. Funniest moment was when actor Ryan Gaul, during a talkback for the film Jack, featuring a cat about to be euthanized (it's funnier than it sounds), yelled "run!" and mockingly fell to the floor when the moderator sneezed. It was a moment of comic relief we all needed along with another shpritz of hand sanitizer.

BIFF attracted 25,000 films, filmmakers and movie buffs from around the world to Boulder for a four-day celebration of the art of cinema. This year, the festival debuted the Adventure Film Pavilion at eTown Hall to celebrate the most exciting new adventure films of the year.

Adventure Pavilion moderator Isaac Savitz said his selection committee viewed 400 adventure films in three months to select 35 for the BIFF audience. If you didn't like one, just wait a few minutes and another film was screened that would drop your jaw to the floor.

The 2020 line-up included four shorts programs and three features, including Home, about UK Adventurer Sarah Outen who traversed the globe by bike, kayak, and rowboat; Climbing Blind, about Jesse Dufton who attempts to be the first blind person to make a gripping "non-sight" lead of the iconic Old Man of Hoy seat stack in Scotland; and Lost Temple of the Inca, about Boulder scientist Preston Sowell's journey to Peru where he discovers a lost temple of the Inca Empire. It was a behind-the-scenes look inside a cutting edge expedition at the headwaters of the Amazon river, a race against time as mining companies seek to ruin the Peruvian Andes Lake Sibinacocha region.

Legendary grizzly expert, Green Beret medic, and eco-warrior Doug Peacock, the real-life inspiration for the character George Hayduke in Edward Abbey's novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, said in Grizzly Country, "Saving habitat is the most satisfying expression of joy I know. If you're down and depressed get outside. It's the best cure I know for the metaphysical icky-poos."

Survivor's Guilt in the Mountains

The New Yorker (Mar. 2), in a story profiling Bozeman, Montana, therapist Tim Tate,  provides an inside look at the North Face athletes program, revealing that it does not offer health insurance or life insurance. The pay can range from substantial six-figure annual salaries for the stars (who have agents that typically handle the negotiations) to four-figure stipends, or even just free gear, for up-and-coming "ambassadors," according to an examination of the risks inherent in climbing by Nick Paumgarten (Feb. 24).
"The athletes would pursue these activities with or without us," Arne Arens, the president of the North Face, tells Paumgarten. "We know the inherent risks. We try to limit them as much as we can. They choose the objectives. Our role is to make it as safe as possible."

According to the story, generally, the athletes develop their own projects and pitch them to the company, which in turn shapes them not only to market the brand but also to road test new technology and gear. "If it weren't for the athletes, we wouldn't be able to push the limits ourselves," Arens said.

The New Yorker story shares a page from Conrad Anker's journal which recounts about three dozen names handwritten on it - friends and partners who'd died. The list begins with Anker's mentor, Mugs Stump, who fell into a crevasse while descending Denali, in 1992. Scott Adamson, Justin Griffin, Hans Saari, Doug Coombs, Ned Gillette, Mira Smid, Hari Berger, Todd Skinner, Walt Shipley, Ang Kaji Sherpa, Ueli Steck, Dean Potter. "Martyrs without a cause, except perhaps that of their own fulfillment," Paumgarten writes.
"Mountain climbing is a modern curiosity, a bourgeois indulgence. It consists mostly of relatively well-to-do white people manufacturing danger for themselves."

Read the entire 9,700 word story here:


Still from Michael Churton's Bound to Everest

Witness to a Tragedy

Adventure filmmaker Michael Churton's camera was rolling on the deadliest avalanche in Everest history. His new feature-length documentary, Bound to Everest, recounts that fateful day in April 2015 when a 7.8 earthquake hit the mountain. At Everest Base Camp, the violent vibrations trigger an immense avalanche. Snow, rock and ice catapult by at savage speeds, blasting Churton into the rocks. The camera is rolling as a bright member of Churton's expedition team vanishes next to him in a fury of white.

The death toll at base camp rises to 19 and surpasses the 2014 avalanche tragedy to become the deadliest day in Everest history. Bound to Everest is an examination of the adventure of a lifetime gone wrong and a survivor's search for closure.

Still in rough cut form, it promises to be both horrifying and inspiring when it comes out in October.

Watch the trailer here:



The Japanese art of climbing up flowing streams and waterfalls. (Source: The New Yorker, Mar. 2, 2020)

(Earth photo courtesy of

Overview Effect
A cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from outer space. It is the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, "hanging in the void", shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this "pale blue dot" becomes both obvious and imperative.

Michael Collins of Apollo 11 says, "The thing that really surprised me was that it (Earth) projected an air of fragility. And why, I don't know. I don't know to this day. I had a feeling it's tiny, it's shiny, it's beautiful, it's home, and it's fragile."


Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism
(Rowman & Littlefield, April 2019) by Jeff Blumenfeld ­- How to travel and make a difference while you see the world? These are stories of inspiration from everyday voluntourists, all of whom have advice about the best way to approach that first volunteer vacation, from Las Vegas to Nepal, lending a hand in nonprofits ranging from health care facilities, animal shelters and orphanages to impoverished schools. Case studies are ripped from the pages of Expedition News, including the volunteer work of Dooley Intermed, Himalayan Stove Project, and even a volunteer dinosaur dig in New Jersey.

Read excerpts and "Look Inside" at: @purpose_book

Get Sponsored! -  Hundreds of explorers and adventurers raise money each month to travel on world class expeditions to Mt. Everest, Nepal, Antarctica and elsewhere. Now the techniques they use to pay for their journeys are available to anyone who has a dream adventure project in mind, according to the book from Skyhorse Publishing called: Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers.

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

Buy it here:

Advertise in Expedition News - For more information:

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 290 Laramie Blvd., Boulder, CO 80304 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2020 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