Thursday, July 10, 2014

Explorer Teaches Islanders to Swim


Aquanauts Break Underwater Living Record

Fabien Cousteau, grandson of famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, has completed a 31-day stay in an underwater laboratory, thus breaking his grandfather’s “underwater living” record, writes Nature World News.

The team spent the month in Aquarius, which is a 43-feet-long underwater laboratory near a coral reef, off Key Largo (see EN, June 2014).
Fabien, along with two "aquanauts", dived 60 feet on June 1, 2014 to reach their underwater home. According to Reuters, Aquarius is air-conditioned and also has full Internet service, and is operated by Florida International University.

Fabien and his team named their expedition, Mission 31.

"This expedition's main goal was to reach as many people around the world ... to impassion future generations to care about the oceans, to cherish them, to be curious about them in a way that existed during my grandfather's era," Cousteau told a news conference after surfacing.
The team studied climate change, effects of ocean acidification, pollution, and predator-prey relations, among others.

Videos and photos can be seen here:

Access for River of Doubt Trek Restricted by Local Indians

Minnesota adventurers Dave Freeman and Paul Schurke’s expedition last month retracing Pres. Theodore Roosevelt's 1914 descent of the Amazon's mythical River of Doubt was stifled by access issues to those areas controlled by the Cinta Larga Indians. Yet they enjoyed a surprising grand finale to their Brazilian trek. Despite being cautioned that the natives may greet outsiders as intruders, Freeman and Schurke received heartwarming welcomes at Cinta Larga villages along their canoe route. (See EN, June 2014)

"We'd contacted tribal chiefs months ago seeking access permission and finally received a phone message indicating tacit approval. But we didn't know what to expect as we approached their villages by canoe," said Freeman. "However, they treated us like family. The kids and elders alike were keen to show us their community and share native gifts and meals with us."

It wasn't until 40 years ago that Brazilian officials made their first contact with the Cinta Larga. As Freeman and Schurke found, the tribe's transition from the Stone Age to the Space Age has been stunningly abrupt. "They still maintain their traditional hunting and fishing practices but the chiefs now connect with the rest of the world through Facebook," said Schurke.

"Just as we neared the first village, we heard a roar of elation erupt. It turns out they were all gathered in the village square watching the community's only TV as Brazil scored a goal in World Cup Soccer."

"Brazil is a country of such amazing contrasts," said Dave. "It's coastal cities are burgeoning industrial centers with cutting-edge, global hi-tech businesses.

But most of the country is comprised of the Amazon, a forest over half the size of the U.S. which is home to ten of thousands of people who live just as their ancestors did."

All told, Dave and Paul paddled about 400 miles of the Rio Roosevelt during their month-long trek, including about two dozen miles of rapids that they ran, lined or portaged with their folding "Pak Boat" canoe.

Learn more about the project at:


90 Years Later, Mallory Honored at Explorers Club

Ninety years after he disappeared on Mount Everest, climber George Leigh Mallory was honored at the Explorers Club by Conrad Anker and Wade Davis. The Explorers Club’s historic Clark Room was over capacity on June 12 when members and guests turned out for this dream team of exploration superstars, plus an art exhibit of original work by Thom Ross and Anker’s wife, Jennifer Lowe.

Both Anker and Davis recounted the history and vision of this unique and incredible man, the discovery of his body by Anker in 1999, and the mystery that endures about whether he was the first man to summit Everest.

Davis, hailed by dinner chairman Daryl Hawk as a scientists, scholar, poet and passionate defender of life’s diversity, is author of Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest (Knopf, 2011). He believes the conquest of Everest in the early 1920s “became a mission of imperial redemption.” At that time, “trying to reach Everest was like trying to go to the moon.”

Locating Mallory’s body was the “greatest discovery in the history of mountaineering.”

Davis shared the little-known fact that the world has been mispronouncing the mountain’s name for decades. “It’s supposed to be ‘Eve-rest,’ not ‘Ev-rest,’” he told the crowd of 100.

Anker remembers wistfully back to the heroic era of mountaineering, “The days of tweed jackets when climbers read Shakespeare to each other.” On finding Mallory’s body, Anker said, “It was a very humbling moment. I was awestruck. I couldn’t make sense of it. For a split second I thought of not telling anyone.” Knowing that his radio was being monitored, he used a code phrase to announce the discovery: “mandatory group meeting.”
Anker, who believes Mallory and climbing partner Sandy Irvine turned back at the base of the First Step, professes the greatest respect for Mallory, “He chose the safest, most logical route up the mountain – the North Col.”

Concludes Davis, “It doesn’t matter if Mallory and Irvine got to the top. It’s remarkable they got as high as they did. … these were the kind of men we’ll never know again.”

Teaching Islanders to Swim

For two weeks in May, explorer and filmmaker Jon Bowermaster’s One Ocean Media Foundation helped organize – and filmed – a learn-to-swim program on the remote Maldivian island of Eydafushi. Despite living just a couple feet above sea level, many of the locals there never learned to swim. With the support of the Slow Life Foundation and Soneva Fushi Resort, Bowermaster’s goal was to get moms and kids more confident in the water, in part as a way to impress upon them the importance of taking better care of the ocean that surrounds.

At the end of the two weeks the 48 third graders and 18 moms who had come for lessons each day put on masks, fins and snorkels and finally had a close-up look at the world below the surface.

“Like many corners of our ocean world the Maldives suffer from a variety of ills, mostly manmade: Overfishing. Plastic pollution. Rising sea levels due to a warming ocean. And acidification,” Bowermaster writes. “Teaching these incredible families to swim was a first step towards encouraging them to become even better guardians.

Swim lessons will continue; the film will be finished Fall 2014.

For more information:


“Difficulties are just things to overcome, that’s all.” – Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922)


Italian Cave Explorer Trains European Astronauts

Last month, Italian explorer Francesco Sauro, 29, won a 41,000 Euro ($55,780) grant from the Swiss luxury watch maker, Rolex, to explore caves in South America. The Rolex award will allow him to continue his work on the caves in the Amazonas region of Brazil and Venezuela, according to The Local, Italy’s English language news website.

“The mountains are completely different from every other environment in the world; the rock is about 1.6 billion years old. The mountains rose up after the opening of the Atlantic Ocean, he tells reporter Rosie Scammell.

“These are probably the oldest caves in the world,” he says.

Getting to grips with such an environment may be a challenge for the average person, but there is one group who can relate to Sauro: astronauts.
The geologist has been brought in by the European Space Agency (ESA) to train astronauts, due to the similarities between space and the caves he explores.

In the caves there is “no day and no night”, Sauro says, matter-of-factly, of the eternal darkness he endures.

“This is what happens if you go to space; the time is not controlled by night-time and daytime.”

Sauro continues, “Caves are three-dimensional features inside the mountains. You have to move in a three-dimensional way, on different gallery levels and at different depths. It’s much more complicated that at the surface,” he explains.

As an expedition leader, Sauro also helps them with safety training, preparing them for work outside the International Space Station: “They have to be rigged to the station otherwise they will fly away.”

Read entire story here:


The Ice Cream Expedition is One Sweet Project

Stanford alumnus Caleb Kruse ’14, his brother Cameron Kruse and their friend Jordan Fatke received one of National Geographic’s Young Explorers Grants to give away ice cream across America in order to inspire “the next generation of explorers and conservationists.” If that’s the case, we can’t wait for them to visit Connecticut., EN’s headquarters state.

During their Ice Cream Expedition, the team plans to visit 33 states over a two-month trip and plans to stop along the way to teach kids about conservation while using ice cream as a conversation starter.

According to Caleb Kruse, one of the project’s founders, the team wants to encourage the children it meets to explore and preserve the natural world around them – anything from a national park to the garden in their backyards. Children will then be asked to sign a pledge to observe, explore and protect their chosen regions.

One sponsor is Magnolia Ice Cream, which is providing four unique flavors of ice cream: mango, avocado, guava and a mix of purple yam and coconut.

Read the complete story in The Stanford Daily (July 6):


Mountainsmith Sponsors Kayak Trek of North America’s Longest Waterway

Pack maker Mountainsmith is sponsoring the Blackwater Drifters’ kayak expedition of the longest navigable waterway in North America. The two-man team will traverse 14 states and almost 4,000 miles along the Jefferson-Missouri-Mississippi River System. Starting the journey in Brower Springs, Mont., during the first week of June, and paddling approximately eight hours per day, the team is expected to reach the Gulf of Mexico in about five months.

The Blackwater Drifters team consists of filmmaker Nick Caiazza and community activist Joe Zimmermann. The two kayakers aim to raise awareness about the many threats to the country’s longest waterway as document their trip. In addition to the long stretches of slow-flowing river water, Caiazza and Zimmermann will paddle across 16 reservoirs spanning over 1,200 miles in length and will need to portage (without any help from gas-powered vehicles) around 16 dams.

Mountainsmith will provide the explorers with Andy Mann signature Parallax camera carrying backpacks, new 2015 Mountain Dome 2 tents and 20-degree Arapaho sleeping bags.

Their candid blog is a delight to read. They write, “We’ve learned firsthand what a banner year for mosquitoes in Montana looks like. You can either sweat with three layers on or you can put on insect repellent – either way you’re cursing the pests.

While en route, Caiazza will capture video for an upcoming documentary and create product spotlight films showing how sponsor support is contributing to their journey and their cause.

For more information:

Timex Seeking Adventurers to “Take a Licking”

In order to woo adventurers to its line of Expedition watches, Timex is running a large-scale effort on social media. Working with Vine and Instagram influencers who are posting their own content, the company is also inviting users to post #MyExpedition photos to Instagram, and in return, earn a 25% discount on their purchase, according to a story by Sarah Mahoney on (July 8).

“We can't do the outdoors any better than the North Faces, LLBeans or REIs of the world, but we are trying to give a little spark to the sense of adventure our customers have,” Sam Martin, brand manager, tells Marketing Daily.

The target market, he says, is more likely to be aspiring to adventure than actually entering canoe marathons or attempting Mt. Rainier. “These are not the people climbing mountains and hanging off a ledge by one finger. That’s just not authentic to our brand. But that doesn’t mean they don’t see themselves as adventurers, and want more expeditions in their lives.”

Read the story here:

Nikwax Sponsors Japan to California Solo Row

Nikwax athlete and accomplished paddler Sonya Baumstein currently is training to be the first person to complete a 5,700-nautical mile solo row from Choshi, Japan to San Francisco, California in 2015.

Baumstein, 28, has an extensive adventure resume. Most recently in 2013, Baumstein became the first person to SUP the Bering Strait from Big Diomede to the Alaskan mainland, just north of Wales, Alaska. The year prior, in 2012, she sea kayaked from Seattle to Juneau; and in 2011, Baumstein successfully rowed across the Atlantic, from the Canary Islands to Barbados.

During her solo row from Japan to San Francisco, Baumstein will collect information that will be analyzed by NASA to increase knowledge of how global warming is impacting the oceans. Baumstein’s boat will be outfitted with a device that measures ocean salinity, temperature and depth.
To help Baumstein achieve her goal, Nikwax will outfit Baumstein’s boat with the Spectra Rowboat 150 water maker. Nikwax also will supply Baumstein with products – including Tech Wash, TX.Direct, Polar Proof and BaseWash Travel Gel – to help clean and maintain the water repellency of her gear to assure she stays dry and warm during her journey.

Baumstein is an accomplished ocean rower, paddler and backcountry adventurer. For more information:

Watch Sonya’s Bering Strait journey here:

Boot Manufacturer Stomps on Ridiculous Requests

Peter Sachs, general manager of LOWA Boots based in Stamford, Conn., took a moment to rant about the onslaught on sponsorship requests he receives. Remember this the next time you’re looking for support. He kvetches:

“I get at least one request for free gear sponsorship per week, 52 weeks per year. I hear a lot from college students wanting to spend the summer outdoors. Instead of actually getting a job and working to earn money so they can buy gear and then use it on their days off, they send atrocious letters asking for free gear, offering to be testers and willing to spread the good will of our brand name on their soon-to-be launched "Mysummersadventure" Facebook page.

“They need to tell me, the owner of the company purse strings, what their summer adventure will do in real terms to sell more of my company's product, to reach more consumers with our brand name and message and to ultimately drive sales and profits.

“I am not sure what college teaches in 2014, but this is a basic business thing. Sell more, earn more profit (and reduce expenses). Not increase vacation spending.

“Also, I am not sure why climbers/hikers/skiers, etc. think I should help underwrite their summer fun while I am sitting behind my desk busting my chops to earn a living so they can go outside and play. NO – I've been doing this for close to 40 years – working this outdoor business thing. It's time I was able to get outside once in a while and have all these young bucks work 55-60 hour weeks – and be grateful for their two days of skiing per year, six days of hiking and a few bike rides after work.

“That's my two cents.”

– Peter Sachs, General Manager, LOWA Boots LLC

Crater if You Want – You’re Covered

California-based production company Lucky Treehouse got one of the world’s best free climbers, Alex Honnold, to climb San Francisco’s Goodby, Silverstein, & Partners building and The Palace of Fine Arts for Stride Health.

Honnold picked out his first health plan and then headed to San Francisco for a day of urban free climbing. While a veteran rock climber, urban climbing is relatively new territory for Honnold, and he expresses his enthusiasm for the change in scenery. Lucky Treehouse captured the day’s events in a documentary video, running approximately five minutes. They also created a 30-second teaser spot for Stride Health.

The web site doesn’t pull any punches: “Okay, so maybe Alex is king of his free-soloing domain, but only once he carefully studies a route. Occasionally he’ll slip while roped in and ‘take a 40-footer.’ If Alex hits his head or breaks a bone, he’s only going to have to pay 10% of the doctor bill.”


See the video here:


1st International Explorers Film Festival Comes to Ireland, Sept. 6-7, 2014

The 1st International Explorers Film Festival, presented by the Explorers Museum in partnership with the World Explorers Bureau, is dedicated to showcasing the work of adventure filmmakers of all experience levels from around the world. The EFF 2014 judging panel will shortlist the very best of these entries for various awards. All shortlisted films will be screened at Charleville Castle, Explorers Museum at Charleville Castle Global Expedition Headquarters in Tullamore, Ireland, during the festival event. There is no fee for entries; the deadline is July 18, 2014.

For more information:

Save the Date for “Space Stories” at The Explorers Club, Oct. 25

Oct. 25, 2014, is a special all-day Space Stories event focusing on the history of human spaceflight at Explorers Club headquarters in New York.

This year's venue will feature astronauts and space-flight participants from several missions using the Cold War as a backdrop – Apollo, Soyuz, Shuttle and SpaceShipOne. The day will include a mix of straight-up talks, "Exploring Legends" interviews by Jim Clash, and panel discussions.

Among confirmed story-tellers so far are Charles Duke, Apollo 16 moonwalker (seen in photo above); Richard Garriott and Greg Olsen, both of whom flew aboard Soyuz to ISS; four-time Shuttle/Soyuz veteran Leroy Chiao; Walter Cunningham, Apollo 7 Lunar Module pilot; Cady Coleman, who performed a live flute duet with Ian Anderson aboard ISS (and who will play at Space Stories); and Brian Binnie, who piloted SpaceShipOne to win the Ansari X Prize in 2004.

Cost: $60 per person,, or 212 628 8383


Expedition Communications Specialist - For Hire

Paul Buijs is available to provide onsite communications for outgoing expeditions. He is a technology professional with experience in providing onsite solutions. He is interested in providing real time or near real time expedition photography, web development and social media coverage. Buijs is the founder and editor of Mud and Adventure ( – a site focused on adventure sports. He is also an internationally ranked obstacle racer and passionate photographer. (,

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Santa Maria Wreck Needs Further Study


One hundred years ago, Theodore Roosevelt, America’s “Rough Rider” and “Wild West” adventure president, undertook his biggest physical challenge – the first descent of an unmapped, rapids-choked tributary of the Amazon, the legendary “River of Doubt.”

During the two-month trek, Roosevelt’s crew faced great hardship. They lost their boats and supplies to punishing whitewater. They endured starvation, Indian attack, disease, drowning and a murder within their own ranks. The ordeal brought Roosevelt to the brink of suicide and left his health debilitated. But he later said he wouldn’t have traded this epic experience for anything. It added the Rio Roosevelt, as it’s now called, to the map of the Western Hemisphere and prompted several books, including his own and the 2005 national bestseller The River of Doubt, by Candice Millard (Anchor, 2006).

This month, two Ely, Minn., guides, Dave Freeman and Paul Schurke, are teaming up with native Brazilians to retrace Roosevelt’s fabled expedition. Unlike Roosevelt, this centennial trip, which departed in late May, is employing lightweight Kevlar and collapsible folding canoes. In contrast, Roosevelt’s crew relied on one ton dugouts they crafted along the way – canoes they found nearly impossible to portage around the miles of whitewater rapids through dense jungle that define the river’s upper end.

That portion of the river remains unchanged, surrounded by impenetrable jungle that’s protected from development of any kind. And it remains the realm of the Cinta Larga, an Amazon tribe whose first significant contact with the outside world didn’t occur until the 1970s. Plans call for a six-week, 400-mile descent, through the end of June, starting near the headwaters and finishing where the Trans-Amazonian Highway crosses the Rio Roosevelt’s lower reaches.

For more information: Daily updates on the River of Doubt Expedition can be found on, a geography and wilderness education website targeting 85,000 students enrolled at over 600 schools.


Cousteau Grandson Begins Month-Long Submersion

The grandson of explorer Jacques Cousteau has started a 31-day underwater expedition in the Florida Keys. Fabien Cousteau is among a group of five people spending a month inside the Aquarius Reef Base, a pressurized lab 63 feet below the ocean's surface nine miles off the coast of Key Largo. The mission began on June 1 (see EN, September 2013).

Mission 31 researchers will study the effects of climate change and pollution on the reef, while also making a documentary.

Jacques Cousteau is credited with creating the first ocean floor habitat for humans. Mission 31 expands on his ocean exploration while coinciding with the 50th anniversary of his underwater travels.

This is the first time the Aquarius lab, which is operated by Florida International University, has been used for a mission of such duration at the only underwater marine habitat and lab in the world.

Watch the mission live here:

Solo New York to Gallipoli Row Postponed

Erden Eruc, the first person to complete an entirely solo and entirely human-powered circumnavigation of the Earth, has postponed by a year the launch of his solo 5,700 nautical mile Journey for Peace - New York to Gallipoli (Turkey) Memorial Row. The reason is a lower back injury requiring additional rest.

“Launching later this season is not possible (due to) increased hurricane risk for New York departures after mid-June,” he posted to Facebook. The injury happened on April 30 during a heavy workout; proper diagnosis was not made until 30 days later. (See EN, ¬¬¬August 2013)

Despite the setback, he was a cordial host when EN saw him during a fundraiser on May 31 at an Australian bar in New York. The Gallipoli Campaign, a notable failed offensive by the Allies in World War I, took place on the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915.

Learn about his plans here:


It’s a Jungle Up There

“If only I had a tail I could explore so much easier,” says Dr. Margaret D. Lowman, aka Canopy Meg, during a May 23 presentation to the Northern chapter of The Explorers Club. Dubbed the "real-life Lorax" by National Geographic and the "Einstein of the treetops" by Wall Street Journal, Lowman has earned an international reputation as a pioneer in forest-canopy ecology, canopy plant-insect relationships, and devising ingenious canopy-access methods. Using climbing ropes, hot air balloons, construction cranes, inflatable treetop rafts, and walkways, she’s dedicated her career to conducting forest canopy research, a place she calls the “eighth continent,” where 50 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity lives.

“The world has chopped down 50 percent of its forests,” she laments. “We must save what we have, replant what we lost.”

She believes that canopy walkways can generate more tourist income for local communities than logging and is working closely with Coptic priests in Ethiopia to save the last five percent of forests in the country's northern region.

Educating youth is another passion she shared. "One of the biggest issues facing the next generation is keeping our kids linked to nature," says Lowman, a sentiment reflected in her recent book, It's a Jungle Up There (Yale University Press, 2006), co-authored with her two sons Edward and James.

For more information:

NASA Scientist Worried About Greenland Ice

“If the Greenland ice cap melts, sea levels would rise 22 feet,” warns Ian Fenty, Ph.D., a scientist from NASA’s JPL Science Division. He was speaking to guests from The Explorers Club on May 9 while docked at a Hudson River pier aboard the 116-ft. MV Cape Race, an expedition vessel restored for charter. Satellite images show the Greenland ice sheet is thinning, especially along the coasts; water from the melted ice is flowing into the ocean, he said.

Fenty displayed images of West Greenland’s Jakobshavn glacier, site of the longest calving (1.8 cu. mi.) ever videotaped. It has retreated 10 miles in just eight years and at 20 meters per day is considered the fastest-flowing glacier in the world.

“We know there’s a human effect, it’s not small and it’s causing the sea level to rise. In fact, half of global mean sea level change is due to Greenland melting.” He believes the U.S. needs to commit to climate science as France has done.

Communicating Field Work

It’s one thing to conduct field research, and quite another to tell the world about it. Gaelin Rosewaks, 34, of New York, grew tired of sitting at her computer so she developed a passion for field work. She told an audience at the Wilton (Conn.) Library on May 28 that she’s found her calling: these days her Global Ocean Exploration, Inc. works with scientists to communicate the research conducted on field expeditions, through video, photography, blogging, and public speaking, as she was doing that night in a presentation moderated by photographer and explorer Daryl Hawks.

She’s been a guest angler and scientific consultant on the National Geographic Channel's series, Fish Warrior with host, Jakub Vagner, catching and studying white sturgeon on the Fraser River. She was named one of six "Sustainable Stewards" at the Sustainable Planet Film Festival for her outstanding contributions to marine conservation. Rosenwaks also earned a master’s from Duke University, where she studied the migratory movements of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna.

“Scientists want to get their message out there and explain their work, but usually don’t have the time to do it,” she said. “I’ll do what’s right for the expedition: photography, writing, video or a combination of all three.”

She believes television exposure is the most effective means of reaching the widest number of people. “My ‘aha’ moment about the global power of television came when I was recognized in a spice market in Turkey.”

For more information:


“Floating above the clouds, materializing out of the mist, mountains appear to belong to a world utterly different from the one we know, inspiring in us the experience of the sacred.”

– Edwin Bernbaum, Sacred Mountains of the World (University of California Press, 1998)


Santa Maria Believed Found Off Haiti

More than five centuries after Christopher Columbus’ flagship, the Santa Maria, came aground in the Caribbean, archaeologists now believe they have finally discovered the vessel’s long-lost remains off the north coast of Haiti. If confirmed, it’s likely to be one of the world’s most important underwater archaeological discoveries.

Eleven years ago, marine archaeological investigator Barry Clifford, 68, of Provincetown, Mass., believed he had found the shallow-draft ship in 10 to 20 feet of water, but there wasn’t enough proof to go public.

In May, after it became evident that the wreck site was looted, and a cannon – called a lombard – was missing, Clifford decided to announce his findings in hopes of protecting the site and return shortly for further study.

On May 15, Clifford held a press conference at The Explorers Club headquarters in New York, a media event that became one of the most visible held there in recent years. Over 90 people crowded into the historic Clark Room of the Club; there was a scrum of 13 video cameras in the back, and an equal number of still shooters.

After 522 years, there wasn't much left of the wreck site located in the Bay of Cape Haitien – no Santa Maria nameplate, no inscribed ship's bell, no “Chris loves Isabella” carved in the mast. Methodically, Clifford presented his findings to confirm the discovery.

“All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this is the wreck of the Santa Maria,” Clifford said. “There is overwhelming evidence this is the Santa Maria exactly where it’s supposed to be.”

Clifford added, “It has to be excavated properly, then put on display for posterity.”

As a result of his announcement, over 1,600 news stories appeared worldwide. It was a story that even broke through to popular culture. Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon facetiously congratulated CNN for finally moving on from coverage of the missing Malaysian airplane.

“Yeah, we were all wondering where the ‘Santa Maria’ has been all year,” he joked.

After Clifford held a late May meeting with Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, the Haitian government created a High Level Commission to monitor the possible discovery. The Commission will be composed of experts from UNESCO, ministries of culture and tourism experts from the Museum of Haitian National Pantheon (MUPANAH), and Clifford himself.

History Channel and October Films have snagged exclusive rights to Clifford’s exploration and will air the expedition at a later date.

Clifford, who believes the available evidence is irrefutable, nonetheless has work cut out for himself. Kevin Crisman, Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M, remains cautious, noting that several Spanish ships were wrecked off Haiti and it will be difficult to confirm that this is the Santa Maria, adding that the ship sank so slowly in 1492 and that the crew had time to retrieve all objects, such as guns, which could allow to identify it.

Clifford expects to submit his exploration plan in June and return to the site this summer. He said, “We need to move quickly on this exploration to determine with certainty that these are, in fact, the remains of Christopher Columbus’ ship.

“This is an emergency situation. We need to preserve this ship for mankind. If we put it on display in New York City, imagine how many people will pay to see it. We should charge admission with the money going back to Haiti.”
See the Jimmy Fallon clip at approximately two minutes:

Here’s the story that broke on May 13 in the UK Independent:


Amelia Earhart Search Hopes to Get Kickstarted

They’ve been looking for Amelia Earhart ever since she disappeared in 1937, but now searchers have a powerful new weapon: the crowdsourcing site At press time, there was only seven days to go to raise $1.96 million to search for the aviatrix.

There has never been a credible artifact recovered from the flight, though it hasn’t been for lack of trying. It’s been less than two years since The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) failed in its efforts to find the missing airplane near the Pacific Island of Nikumaroro. This time, a different organization, Howland Landing Limited, Carson City, Nev., is preparing to launch Expedition Amelia, searching an area near Howland Island.

By donating money to the cause through Kickstarter, the group says supporters will receive daily updates on the progress of the expedition and a detailed look into the life and disappearance of Earhart. The information gathered during the expedition will be edited into a documentary.

The leader of the expedition, Dana Timmer, has been searching for Earhart’s airplane for 15 years. His team has used sonar equipment to search an area at a depth of over three miles in hopes of finding the Lockheed Model 10-E Electra. Analysis of the collected data by sonar experts has identified several targets that he says are the approximate size of the aircraft.

The effort is not an easy one, and industry insiders give it almost no chance of success. “The Earhart/Noonan Electra is 18,000 feet down in the vicinity of Howland Island and may even yield a range of artifacts that could rival the finds of the Titanic,” said Dr. Tom Crouch, senior curator of the National Air and Space Museum.

For more information:


Another Reason Why There’ll Always Be an England

The U.K.’s Calor Gas Ltd. will continue to support the plucky Nick Hancock, 39, in his revived attempt to set a world record by living solo for 60 days on Britain’s loneliest outpost. Rockall has been called the most isolated speck of rock surrounded by water on the surface of the earth.
Hancock had to abandon a previous effort in 2013 to reach the tiny remote Atlantic rock, after rough seas prevented him from landing. The English-born chartered surveyor from Ratho, west of Edinburgh, is now in the process of trying again.

His aim is to spend two months on the rock, the tip of a dead volcano 260 miles west of the Outer Hebrides. Success would mean beating endurance records for the longest solo occupation of the rock – the current record is 42 days set by three Greenpeace campaigners in 1997. Hancock also hopes to raise £10,000 (approx. $16,800) for the Help for Heroes charity.

The island of Rockall is just 100 feet wide and 70 feet high and supports no inhabitants except for the occasional mollusk. No wonder: due to the extreme weather and waves that regularly lash the top of the rock, nothing grows there, other than algae, seaweed and black lichen.

Calor will be providing all the natural gas Hancock needs for his 8-ft. survival pod perched on an 11- by 4-ft. ledge.

Follow Hancock at @rockallnick. For more information:

Here’s the Dirt: Explorers Wanted to Blog About Scrubba Wash Bag

The late explorer Norman D. Vaughan liked to talk about how he handled his underwear during Robert E. Byrd’s 1928-30 Antarctic expedition. He told of Byrd instructing his team to wear the same underwear for ten days, then switch to new pairs, then after 20 days go back to the old pairs. In a twisted sense of polar logic, that’s how team members convinced themselves they had clean underwear.

Today’s explorers? Well, often you can smell them before you see them. Now there’s hope.

The Scrubba wash bag, the “world’s first pocket-sized washing machine,” is a 5 oz. waterproof sack with a flexible internal washboard made up of hundreds of washing “nobules” which are backed by a patterned grip surface. To wash clothes, travelers add cleaning liquid and two to three quarts of water, seal the bag, expel the air and rub for as little as 30 seconds. Rubbing for a full three minutes is on par with washing machine performance.

Like a real washing machine, it has a transparent window to view clothes getting clean. Rinsing can be accomplished in the bag or in the shower, and then it’s simply a matter of hanging the clothes to dry.
The Scrubba wash bag was conceived in 2010 when founder Ash Newland took a four-month break from his job as an Australian patent attorney to climb Africa’s Mt. Kilimanjaro. Realizing he couldn’t possibly travel with 24 pair of underwear, nor return with well-worn, er, pungent pairs, he looked for a portable washboard to take along – not a particularly convenient option.

“It was then that I had the idea that if we could incorporate a highly flexible washboard into a waterproof sealable bag, we could change the way people wash clothes while traveling,” said Newland.

Newland is looking for a select group of explorers to take a Scrubba on their next trip, then blog about its performance. There’s no pay involved, but recipients will be sent a free Scrubba (value: $64) for the test. For more information: To apply, send an e-mail to Be sure to explain where you’re going and how you’ll give the product a good “scrubbing.”

World Explorers Bureau Opens U.S. Branch in San Francisco

The two-year-old World Explorers Bureau (WEB), a niche speakers agency based in Ireland, announced the opening of its first U.S. office in San Francisco to be run by Charlotte Baker Weinert. She has a 20-year career working in motion pictures and advertising. The announcement was made by Tim Lavery, the founder and CEO of the Bureau.

WEB represents 70-plus explorers and extreme adventurers, including the very best of British, Canadian and U.S. adventurers.

For more information: Charlotte Baker Weinert,,


In the Kingdom of Ice – The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette
by Hampton Sides (Doubleday, August 2014)

Reviewed by Robert F. Wells

The year 2015 will be the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition, when his Endurance became frozen fast in an ice floe. Few recall a similar venture more than three decades earlier to the North Pole by commanding officer George De Long who hoped to enter the Arctic's "Open Polar Sea" and discover the North Pole, via a path through the ice created by the warm Kuro-Siwo currents. It was thought to be a “gateway to the pole.” But in the 1870's, who knew no such channel existed?

The voyage was funded to create news fodder for the slightly outrageous James Bennett – owner and publisher of New York's very successful Herald newspaper. Bennett put "colorful" to shame. Staging carriage races at night up Broadway – totally naked – was one of his trademarks. He won the first trans-oceanic yacht race and was (and still is) The New York Yacht Club's youngest commodore. One evening when visiting his fiancee at her family's fancy-dancy mansion, nature called through his inebriated fog... he unbuttoned his pants and arced a perfect line of pee precisely into her father's grand piano. What a perfect guest. And a perfect person to bankroll a polar voyage of discovery.

A bit of context: At the time, horrors of the Civil War stood tall in peoples' memories. In 1867, the U.S. bought Alaska from Russia. A financial crisis gripped the world during the mid-1870's. Good news was scarce. A legendary cartographer from a small town in Germany (Dr. Petermann) was cranking out maps touting the feasibility of polar exploration made possible by following temperate Pacific currents. De Long was gnashing at the nautical bit. Bennett was game. A capable craft was readied, as was a truly international crew. And in no time, the Jeannette was steaming up California's coast to parts unknown.

From here, Hampton Sides launches into a gripping tale of saltwater, endless impenetrable ice packs, a pressurized destruction and sinking of the Jeannette, dog sled treks to find relative civilization in Siberia, frostbite, boots oozing seawater, fearful footfalls over "messes" of rotten ice, walrus slaughters interspersed with starvation, a desperate scramble of three small boats over a hostile open sea to reach land... followed by fate. The author uses journals and logs from De Long, published by Emma De Long in 1883, as well as horrific tales from others in the crew. But that came later. From 1879 through most of 1881, the world revolved on an endlessly silent void of news, as the USS Jeannette was simply lost.

So today, before we all slide into the 100th anniversary of Shackleton's "endurance" in the Antarctic, warm yourself up with De Long's voyage to the North Pole. In the Kingdom of Ice will launch you into a mood, with "ice as far as you can see.” Don't forget to bundle up.

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


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

Monday, May 12, 2014

Everest's Most Tragic Day

It was the deadliest, darkest day on the world’s most revered mountain. April 18, 2014 will forever be remembered as the day when an avalanche buried 16 Nepalese Sherpa, 13 of whom were eventually recovered in a somber recovery effort followed worldwide. They were on the mountain hauling supplies and fixing ropes and ladders for expeditions funded by mostly western climbers. Sherpas skirt danger daily – many on Everest make a dozen or more roundtrips through the treacherous Khumbu Icefall over the course of a 10-week season, estimates professional climber and guide Freddie Wilkinson.

The role of the Sherpa is considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, ranked close to being a bush pilot in Alaska, or commercial fisherman in the Bering Sea.

Despite the hazards, Himalayan expeditions typically offer three months of work in a poor region where there are few other opportunities. A typical Sherpa makes from $3,000 to $6,000 by the end of the season, according to an article last year in Outside Magazine by Grayson Schaffer.

On that fateful day, blocks of ice the size of mansions came crashing down about a two-hour climb from base camp, near the top of the notorious icefall. Lakpa Rita Sherpa tells The Discovery Channel that the area where the Sherpa were trapped was only about 20 feet wide – “they couldn’t run one way or the other.”

He continues, “It was one of the most difficult rescues I ever did, but there was nothing you could do.”

The New Yorker estimates 6,200 climbers have summited Everest in its history, at a cost of about 250 lives lost. To make sense of the tragedy, EN this month turns to the words of a few of those with knowledge of the disaster and the Everest region.

• Jon Krakauer reveals in The New Yorker (Apr. 21) that the slide wasn’t entirely a surprise. New Zealander Russell Brice who owns Himalayan Experience (Himex) grew increasingly concerned as early as spring 2012 “about a bulge of glacial ice three hundred yards wide that was frozen tenuously to Everest’s West Shoulder, hanging like a massive sword of Damocles directly over the main route up the Nepal side of the mountain.”

Read Krakauer’s blog post here:

• Photographer Thom Pollard, who was on the mountain shooting a documentary about a climber who hoped to be the oldest American to summit, estimates on Facebook that there are now 47 children without fathers. He writes on Apr. 23, “I mourn for not only for the families who have lost a father but for those (Sherpa) who want to be here and are forced to leave. While dangerous, this is work people line up for.”

Pollard’s focus has since shifted and he is currently working on a “new” film about the tragic turn of events.

• Pasang Gelzen Sherpa, a past president of the Northwest Sherpa Association, acknowledges that Nepal’s economy relies heavily on tourism. At the same time, he says, “I really feel that trekking agencies have to value Sherpa life.”

He tells the Seattle Weekly (Apr. 29) that if companies just spent a couple hundred dollars more per Sherpa for life insurance, they could ensure a significantly higher payout when a tragedy like this strikes. Life insurance has emerged as a major point of debate in Nepal since the disaster, with Sherpa demanding that the government raise the minimum payout requirement, currently at about $10,000.

• Freddie Wilkinson writing in the Apr. 20 New York Times, calls for an increase in the compensation and benefits for the climbing Sherpas to “square with the challenges they face while on the job. … there is no better way to honor the lives of those who have perished.”

• Columnist Giles Coren writes “Close Everest. Close All the Damn Mountains,” in the Apr. 26 issue of The Times (UK). “On one hand, you have 16 Sherpas killed; on the other, a bunch of macho idiots whose holidays have been ruined. The Sherpas of Everest are on strike. A long queue of very rich white men with extremely tiny penises is furious because it wanted to go and play on the mountain.”

He railed mercilessly against “the 330-odd foreign climbers currently waiting to haul their fat, pampered arses up the once-revered peak for the sake of a stupid selfie and a handful of dull stories with which to bore the ears off their children and grandchildren until they are shut up in a retirement home for old bores with no toes.”

Coren pulls few punches in his blistering story and concludes, “So just close the damn mountain and send those idiots home.”

Read the story here (£1 fee required):

To help support the surviving families, a group of ten photographers who have worked extensively with the Sherpas are raising money for the non-profit Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation, which has been working with Sherpa climbers in the Khumbu since 2003.

For more information:

Another way to help: log onto for Discovery’s link to the American Himalayan Foundation Sherpa Family Fund.


The Future of Space

Ira Flatow, host of Science Friday on Public Radio International, hosted a panel discussion on the future of space travel late last month on board the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York.

Bobak Ferdowski aka “Mohawk Guy” from NASA JPL who has 67,000 Twitter followers, said, “You can’t understand earth without understanding Mars. It’s easy enough to get to – we’ve proven it could have been inhabitable in the past. It’s not a totally foreign world. Water was once ankle- or knee-high on Mars. The moon is a much harsher environment.”

Will Pomerantz, VP special projects at Virgin Galactic, told the approximately 200 invited guests, “We’re at one of the most dynamic times in the space industry ever.” He says Richard Branson and his son expect to be on the first flight in 4Q 2014. In all, over 700 tickets have been sold so far at $250,000 each for flights involving two pilots and six paying passengers. “It’s never going to be an impulse buy,” he jokes.

“But in 10 years the cost of spaceflight will come down to be about as much as purchasing a new SUV.”

NASA astronaut Mike Massimino, a veteran of two space flights, was asked about the Sandra Bullock movie, Gravity.” He praised the look and feel of the film’s special effects, and confirmed that the hand tools and the payload bay was accurate. “But flying around like cowboys is very discouraged.”

Young adults in the audience were pleased to learn that 2030 – just 16 years away – seems to be the logical date for sending the first humans to the red planet.

Conference Explores the Democratization of Space

Speaking of space (after all, this is Expedition News), a watershed moment in spaceflight occurred in New York on May 1 when 13 spaceflight companies – all part of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation – gathered at The Explorers Club to discuss suborbital spaceflight, asteroid mining, space tourism, astronaut training and spaceports of the future.

Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida, spoke about the democratization of space travel. “Space should not be the domain of the privileged few,” he said.

Chris Lewicki of Planetary Resources shared a presentation that explained one asteroid can contain more platinum than has been mined in all of history. The company hopes to eventually mine asteroids. He assured the group of 200 that doing so won’t affect its orbit (whew!).

Sean Mahoney of Masten, designers of vertical take-off and vertical landing vehicles, emphasized that dollars spent on space exploration are spent on earth. “We’re not putting dollars on a rocket ship and sending it into the sun,” he smiled. “We’re creating real value right here.”

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. CSF member companies are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering.

For more information:


“Have we vanquished an enemy? None but ourselves. Have we gained success? That word means nothing here.”

– George Leigh Mallory (1886-1924), who perished high on Mt. Everest.


The Most Famous Climbing Gear in the World

Our recent visit to the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum in Golden, Colo., reacquainted us with what is arguably the most famous piece of climbing gear in history. We originally wrote about this artifact in January 2008 and it continues to fascinate us. On display beneath glass, it’s a simple ice axe owned by the family of a climber, one of five, who owes his life to the axe.

According to museum docent Del Peterson, before the axe came to Golden six years ago, it was used to break boards and dig holes. The family was amused when white-gloved museum curators carefully placed it in a shipping container for travel to Colorado.

Regardless of its other uses, this single piece of climbing gear saved the lives of five men and has since come to represent the pinnacle of mountaineering ethics. The story bears retelling:

According to the museum, the year 1953 was a great one for mountaineering. By its end, the summit of Mount Everest was achieved. Austrian Hermann Buhl climbed alone to the summit of Nanga Parbat in Pakistan to become the first person to complete a solo first ascent of an 8,000-meter peak (26,247 feet).

However, on K2, the world’s second-highest mountain, a saga unfolded that has forever remained etched in the annals of mountaineering. The tenacity and strength displayed by the members of the expedition team remain legendary.

A storm on the Abruzzi Ridge—at an altitude of 25,300 feet on the slopes of K2 – sent climbers led by Charles S. Houston, a doctor from Seattle, scrambling to save the life of a fellow mountaineer. Climbing alpine style without the aid of oxygen, team member Art Gilkey’s left leg was stricken with thrombophlebitis and began filling with blood clots.
He would die if a clot were to reach his lungs. With no other option than to transport Gilkey to a lower elevation as fast as possible, the team began to maneuver him down the precariously steep and icy slope in his sleeping bag, in the middle of a vicious storm.

Team member George Bell suddenly lost his footing and, in the ensuing entanglement of ropes and climbers, five men started plunging toward their deaths off the face of the

The youngest and strongest man on the team, however, would keep this expedition from being remembered solely for its tragedies. Moments after Gilkey, still sedated with morphine in his sleeping bag, and the other five men began sliding to their deaths, a chemist from Seattle, Pete Schoening, instinctively jammed his ice axe in the snow behind a small boulder. This impromptu rope belay – with the rope wrapped around both his hip and the wooden shaft of the axe – resulted in a quick-thinking arrest that prevented the five men from almost certainly perishing.

Unfortunately, Gilkey would later be swept into the void by an avalanche at the age of 27 . . . . Or perhaps he released the ropes himself in an act of self-sacrifice to protect his teammates. No one will ever know for sure. Nonetheless, Schoening’s life-altering act has since defined the expedition. “The Belay” is now recognized as one of the most heroic acts in mountaineering history.

The five climbers saved by Schoening in Pakistan that day went on to resume their lives and raise families – the “Children of the Belay” they’re called, according to Karen Molenaar Terrell, the daughter of dangling expedition member Dee Molenaar. There are more than 30 descendants of the original team alive today because of Pete Schoening and his axe.

(For more information:,


RiverBlue Film Hopes to Make a Difference

Over the past few years, Mark Angelo, 63, a long time river advocate and recently retired professor from Vancouver, B.C., along with his film crew, have been on a major global expedition that has taken them down the world’s great rivers to shoot an upcoming feature film, RiverBlue, which will premiere this fall.

The film is reportedly one of the most ambitious and extensive river documentaries undertaken in many years and Angelo’s hope is that it will be an “agent for positive change.”

The team, which ranged between four and seven people at different times, undertook an adventure that, in many ways, was unprecedented. During their around-the-world journey by river, they highlighted the many values of rivers while also focusing on the serious challenges that confront them. Along the way, they also ended up taking the first in-depth look at the textile and tannery industries in countries such as China, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia. These industries are a major but under-reported industrial contributor to global freshwater pollution. After watching this, after becoming aware of the impact of so-called “hydrocide,” you may never wear blue jeans again.

Among the film’s sponsors are Inspired Cinema Vancouver, Image Media Farm, and Mountain Equipment Co-op, along with Canadian environmental philanthropists Rudy North, Andy Wright, and Val and Dick Bradshaw.

For more information:,


Kickstarter Kick Starts Completion of Headhunter Art Film

When we started EN almost 20 years ago, whoever thought there would be an electronic thing called the Web, and that this thing could actually help raise money for exploration projects? Thus, we’re thrilled to learn that a Kickstarter campaign for a film about a 1920’s artist in Melanesia actually raised $37,420 – over $2,000 more than originally sought.

Michele Westmorland is a world-renowned photographer from Kirkland, Wash., who is telling the overlooked story of female adventurer and artist Caroline Mytinger and her paintings hidden in storage for the last 75 years. Headhunt Revisited is about the power of Mytinger's art to connect cultures across oceans and decades.

The expedition took two months and gathered over 90 hours of footage and 10,000 images.

The film, now in post-production thanks to Kickstarter funding, retraces Mytinger’s improbable trip to the land of headhunters, with a goal to paint portraits of the native islanders. Nearly 80 years later, her paintings now inspire two contemporary artists. Westmorland, who lead her own expedition in search of descendants of Caroline's paintings; and Papua New Guinean portrait painter Jeffry Feeger, who has been inspired by Caroline's art to paint his own modern interpretation of Melanesia today, acknowledging that indeed times have changed.

“It’s very exciting to have the Kickstarter campaign over and now begin the real process of putting the film together,” she tells EN. She hopes to premiere the film in 2015.

For more information:,

See the expired campaign here:

Kokatat Supports 7 Rivers 7 Continents Project

This month, Kokatat-supported athlete Mark Kalch will begin his descent of Russia’s 2,300 mile Volga River. The Volga is the third source to sea expedition in his “7 Rivers, 7 Continents” project, in which he plans to paddle the longest rivers on each continent.

In 2008, Kalch completed a descent of the Amazon River which was followed in 2012 by the descent of the Missouri-Mississippi. During each expedition Kalch uses multimedia storytelling and an online platform to tell the stories of the river and its people.

His other target rivers are the Nile, Yangtze, Murrau-Darling and Onyx.

For more information:

Live Your Dreams

The American Alpine Club grant for the everyday adventurer recently announced its winners. With the support of The North Face, the grant awarded 50 individuals $28,075 for projects including: a first ascent in Wyoming’s Cloud Peak Wilderness Mountain Range, a climb of the Regular Route on Half Dome in a day, establishment of a second free route up the East Face of the Central Tower of Torres del Paine, Chile, and an attempt to become the oldest person to climb the Nose of El Capitan in a day.

See all the award recipients here:


Picture This

Last month, Canon Europe sponsored a WWF and Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) expedition to the islands of Svalbard above the Arctic Circle, as part of its role as Conservation Imaging Partner of WWF International. The NPI and WWF-Canon expedition collected critical data about Europe's most westerly polar bear population.

During the Svalbard expedition, the team of researchers had two specific missions: to place satellite collars on polar bears so that their routes can be tracked over the next year, and to scout for new denning areas on islands in the Svalbard peninsula. Completing these tasks help scientists assess the response of polar bears to climate change, and to understand if there will be anywhere for the bears to den in the future, following a recent report that the area could be completely free of summer sea ice by 2050.

The Svalbard trip is the third Arctic research expedition that Canon has supported. In 2012, the expedition traveling from Greenland through Canada's High Arctic to the Last Ice Area was designed to assess the future management options for that area. In 2013, researchers traveled to the Taimyr Peninsula in the Laptev Sea to collect genetic material to confirm the theory of existence of unique subspecies of the Laptev walrus population.

See the project’s blog posts here:


Shackleton in Living Color

Beginning on Aug. 8, 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton led a crew of 27 Englishmen to Antarctica in an attempt to make the first land crossing.

Australian photographer Frank Hurley brought 40 pounds of color-photo equipment on the onerous journey and would have to dive into three feet of icy seawater to salvage cases of glass negative plates from their wrecked ship.

His work, as posted to, became one of the earliest examples of color photography.

See the collection of 21 images here:


Expedition Communications Director For Hire

Paul Buijs, a former U.S. Marine and New York City resident is available to provide onsite communications for outgoing expeditions, plus photography, web development and social media coverage. Buijs is the founder of Mud and Adventure (, a site focused on adventure sports and is a passionate travel and architecture photographer. (

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

Monday, April 7, 2014

Kon-Tiki Flag Goes on Another Trip


Next month a team of four will attempt to become the first people to complete a straight-line journey from one end of Britain to the other, something never before attempted. The route will travel through some of the most extreme coastal, mountain and urban environments that the U.K. has to offer.

The journey will be completed by sea kayaking, hand bike/road bike and a section of mountaineering over the Cairngorms plateau, one of the most exposed mountain ranges in the U.K.

In addition to kayak coach Adam Harmer, the team consists of a serving RAF aircrew member, a serving army captain, a Team GB Paralympian, and Tori James, 25, who became the youngest British woman and reportedly the first Welsh woman to climb to the summit of Mount Everest.

The team is supported by The Endeavour Fund and will be raising funds for BLESMA, the limbless veterans charity.
Speaking before departure of the challenge, Harmer said, "If we are successful, the team will have undertaken one of the biggest crossings available in British waters. We will have raised the bar and also broken records in the process.”

He reports that the trip will be filmed and documented so that they can share the highs and lows of long offshore remote expeditions. “I also plan to use the data collected to predict in detail the effects of wind, tide and the use that sails have on tandem sea kayaks."

For more information:


Explorers Club 2014 Annual Dinner Round-Up

It was the biggest weekend of the year for the 3,160-member Explorers Club and we were there Mar. 15-16 to report about it right down to the smallest Tasmanian honey-glazed skewered goat penis.

The theme this year was how 21st century exploration is fueled by technology. Said Club president Alan Nichols, recently re-appointed by the Board, “If we embrace rather than resist the future, The Explorers Club will continue as the center of world explorers … we’ll become the center of world exploration – changing the paradigm of exploration from west centered to world centered …”

He later predicted the Club would have one million true explorer members by the end of the 21st century. (If so, to paraphrase Jaws, they’re gonna need a bigger HQ).

• Notable Comments

Emcee Brian Greene, American theoretical physicist and string theorist, said his first expedition was at age 10 when he traveled on the Staten Island Ferry. “I started with lunch inside me and finished with lunch not inside me.” Later he said, “We live in a world wracked by strife. The value of exploration is that it binds us together – allows us to imagine and accomplish the possible.”

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, in a taped address aided by a voice synthesizer, said, “Why go into space? Because it’s all around us. Otherwise it would be like being stuck on a desert island, not trying to escape … If the human race is to continue for another million years, we have to spread out into space. Life on earth is fragile. … If there is an asteroid on a collision course with Earth, not even Bruce Willis could save us.”

Astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz is working on a new type of rocket called the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR). “I think the first person to walk on Mars is already alive somewhere. Hopefully that person is already on my team.”

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin commended Amazon chief Jeff Bezos for funding the expedition that recovered F-1 engines that propelled Apollo 11 to the moon in 1969, as well as locating other Apollo Saturn V rockets. “These were the engines that lifted a nation,” he said. “The most powerful machine ever created by mankind.” Later he revealed fuel consumption on the Saturn V was a mere seven inches to the gallon.

Visionary innovator Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla Motors said, “We need big rockets and they need to be reusable. … Aircraft like 747s aren’t thrown away after each flight and neither should rockets.” He predicts in the future people will be willing to sell their possessions on Earth and someday move to Mars at a cost he estimates will be as low as $500,000.

Later in the evening, one of the 1,000 guests, Ian Fichtenbaum, a space finance professional, tells EN he will pass on taking one of Musk’s flights. “I like Earth. It’s my favorite planet. It has the best beaches.”

• Want Some Antennae with That?

Speaking of goat penis, there was a lot more animal sex organs this year during the cocktail hour at the Waldorf Astoria, prompting’s Julie Cereck to write, “Enter NYC's Explorers Club – the 110-yr.-old organization whose members have been to the North and South Poles, the moon, and some of the deepest points in the ocean, and apparently eat goat penis the whole damn time, which is why the game-filled cocktail hour preceding the dinner proper is considered by many to be the gastronomic highlight of their explorer-y lives.”

According to Gene Rurka, the Exotics chairman of the dinner, 70 items were served including four Explorer cocktails (goat and calf eyeballs containing olives and onions), two of the rarest coffees in the world, 11 varieties of mushrooms with international sauces, two invasive fish species – lion fish and snakehead fish – and numerous fruit and plant varieties. Rurka also says there were three types of jellyfish served, of which one was prepared into a soup.

“Our selection this year included tarantulas, scorpions, cockroaches, crickets, mealworms, earthworms, maggots, and roasted ants,” he tells EN.

Want to know what you missed? How did the bull and goat penises taste? (Bleh!) Log onto Cereck’s hilarious story here:

• Kon-Tiki Flag Goes on Another Trip

The Norway chapter made a last-minute search for an airline sponsor to help pay for the oversized frame containing Thor Heyerdahl’s Explorers Club Flag no. 123 that flew on the Kon-Tiki in the late 1940’s. It was on loan and needed transport to Oslo’s Kon-Tiki Museum. They eventually had to take it out of the frame and carry it on board, according to chapter chair Synnøve Marie Kvam Stromsvag, the museum’s guest services manager.

This is the first time since 1947 that the flag is being reunited with the raft. No. 123, which can be seen in the Kon-Tiki book that many of us read in our teens, is on loan until August 7.

• Explorers Club Tells Diageo to Take a Walk

The Explorers Club is suing the parent company of Johnnie Walker for using its name on a new whiskey brand. Diageo's line of Explorers Club whiskies was launched in duty-free shops in late 2012. According to the New York Post, the 120-year-old New York-based Club says it owns the trademark to the name.

The Club sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company last spring. The Manhattan suit filed last month says the font on the Explorers Club whiskey label is "confusingly similar" to the one used by the historic organization. It wants Diageo to stop selling the brand or pay for licensing fees.
Read the Post story here:

• Missed the ECAD Opening Video?

If you missed the dinner’s 2-min. opening video, produced and edited by Les Guthman, you can see it here:

WINGS WorldQuest Announces 2014 Women of Discovery Awards

The founding director of WINGS WorldQuest, Milbry Polk, announced this month the recipients of the 2014 Women of Discovery award, bestowed each year to women who have made extraordinary discoveries in the farthest reaches of the world.

WINGS celebrates and supports women explorers by promoting scientific exploration, education and conservation. It inspires people to explore the world around them. It has bestowed more than $300,000 to WINGS Fellows in support of fieldwork.

Each year WINGS WorldQuest recognizes women who have made great strides in the field of exploration. All awardees become lifetime Fellows of WINGS WorldQuest.

And the winners are:

Earth Award – Daphne Soares, Brazilian Explorer, Neuroecologist

Courage Award – Felicity Aston, British Explorer, Physicist and Meteorologist

Humanity Award – Arita Baaijens, Dutch Explorer, Biologist, Author, Photographer

Lifetime Award – Helen Thayer, New Zealand Explorer, Writer, Educator

Learn more about the awardees here:

Astronauts Clean Their Attics

When a flag carried by Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11 has an estimated auction price of upwards of $30,000, a motion picture ring sight used on Apollo 15 is expected to net $20,000 to $30,000, and an Apollo 11 lunar surface checklist could net $45,000, you know something big is about to happen on Madison Avenue.

Bonhams Space History sale in New York on April 8 will feature nearly 300 artifacts priced sky-high, all related to decades of international space exploration. The auction includes genuine spacesuits, critical flight items from the famed Apollo 11 mission, lunar-flown American flags, rare photographs and astronauts' personal effects.

Two top lots in the sale are from Apollo 11: an emblem flown with the craft into lunar orbit, and signed by the most famous space crew in history – Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin – is estimated at $40,000 to $60,000. Also up for bid: a photo of Buzz Aldrin with Neil Armstrong ($800 to $1,200), his lunar trajectory notes ($800 to $1,000), a broken cassette earphone from Apollo 15 ($2,000 to $3,000), and a photo of earthrise signed by 12 moonwalkers ($12,000 to $18,000).

You can download the Bonhams catalog here:

Texas Governor Joins MIA Expedition

Texas Gov. Rick Perry will join the BentProp Project in the Republic of Palau, where he will help search for American servicemen who went missing in action (MIA) during air battles over the island nation during World War II.

The governor and first lady will travel to Koror, Palau, from April 5 to 17. “Somewhere in the waters of Palau, or deep within its marshy jungles, lie the answers some families have been waiting generations to hear,” Perry said.

“The BentProp Project has made a mission of finding those answers, and I’m honored to lend a hand to the 2014 expedition, both in the field, and in spreading the word about this exceptional program.”

As part of the expedition, Perry will assist in searching for American aircraft shot down by occupying Japanese forces during combat and air operations over the islands between 1944 and 1945.

The 2014 expedition team is also being joined by teams from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of Delaware, and the Advanced Underwater Robotics program at Stockbridge High School in Stockbridge, Mich.

The BentProp Project has indexed the crash sites of more than two dozen American military aircraft, and is searching for approximately 80 MIAs in the Republic of Palau. As a result of its search expeditions, the BentProp Project has helped locate and recover the remains of eight American MIAs in Palau.

Read the entire story here:

To learn more about the BentProp Project, visit:


“The Cosmos extends, for all practical purposes, forever. After a brief sedentary hiatus, we are resuming our ancient nomadic way of life. Our remote descendants, safely arrayed on many worlds throughout the Solar System and beyond, will be unified by their common heritage, by their regard for their home planet, and by the knowledge that, whatever other life may be, the only humans in all the Universe come from Earth.

“They will gaze up and strain to find the blue dot in their skies. They will love it no less for its obscurity and fragility. They will marvel at how vulnerable the repository of all our potential once was, how perilous our infancy, how humble our beginnings, how many rivers we had to cross before we found our way.”

– Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (Ballantine Books, 1997)

Editor’s note: We became a huge fan of Sagan about 20 years ago when we shared a New York City taxi with him after an Explorers Club function. Despite what he could tell us about the secrets of the heavens, we were most interested in his “billions and billions” catchphrase.

With a slightly bemused expression, Dr. Sagan told us he never actually said it; it was originally a Johnny Carson bit that over the years was accredited to Sagan himself.


Scott Photos Saved From Auction

Negatives taken by Captain Robert F. Scott on his ill-fated polar expedition have been saved after a major fundraising campaign. The Polar Museum at the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) in Cambridge, England, had to raise £275,000 ($455,810) by the end of April to avoid the prospect of the 113 negatives being sold at auction, probably to a foreign bidder, according to the story by Ben Kendall writing in the Western Morning News (Apr. 2).

The negatives are described as an “extraordinary visual record” of Plymouth-born Scott’s famous 1912 Terra Nova Expedition in which he and his four companions died on their return from being beaten to the South Pole by Norwegian Roald Amundsen.

The negatives had been in a private collection and only emerged in 2012, having been thought lost.

The images are fascinating and can be seen here:

Bidding on Adventure

British armchair adventurer Franklin Brooke-Hitching, 72, is putting his 1,400-book private library up for sale in London through fall 2015. Sotheby’s auction house is valuing the collection at $10 million, for which Brooke-Hitching paid around $2.5 million. According to the Wall Street Journal (Mar. 21), it includes a catalog of tree-bark cloth known as tapa that Captain James Cook collected in the Pacific, and lithographs and etchings from Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition – its spine is made of leather horse harnesses and the binding comes from the wooden boxes of food provisions.

For more information:

Apollo “Lunatics” Pulled Pranks

It seems Apollo 12 astronaut Allan Bean’s spiral-bound “cheat sheet” of instructions for moonwalkers, worn on his left wrist, was hacked back in the late 1960s. His backup crew impishly inserted hand-drawn cartoons and pictures from Playboy.

The Wall Street Journal (Mar. 15-16) ponders, “Posterity may wonder why, after years of effort and even loss of life, man’s achievements while actually on the moon were seemingly modest – collecting rocks, going for a drive, hitting golf balls. … as if Columbus had crossed to the New World and spent a day simply gathering shells at the beach.”

Exploring Predigitally

Benjamin Clymer, the founder of the watch website Hodinkee, prefers old-style mechanical watches. In a New York Times interview (Mar. 30) he describes watches that assisted in changing history. “When Apollo 13 failed, the Omega Speedmaster was integral to its safe return to Earth. At the time of Edmund Hillary’s ascent to Everest and when they went down to the Mariana Trench, a mechanical watch is all they had,” he says.

“These were tools critical to the survival of any explorer and any scientist on an expedition.”

Read the interview by Jake Cigainero here:

A World of Vision

Stamford (CT) Magazine devoted a feature story in March/April to the 2013 Dooley Intermed “Gift of Sight” Expedition to Nepal, covered previously in EN. In it, expedition leader Scott Hamilton tells writer C.J. Hughes, “I never set out to be a humanitarian. But when you go to these places and you see a need that’s enormous, and you know that you can do something about it – because if you don’t do it, then nobody will do it – then, a light comes on.”

A PDF of the story can be downloaded here:

50 Ways to be a Daredevil Includes Everest Skydive

Skydiving Everest is right up there on CNN’s list of 50 daredevil activities. Surprisingly, rather pedestrian activities such as riding roller coasters, swimming in the Dead Sea, and a 30-min. trip on the London Eye are ranked as well. Go figure. See the story here:

The Travel Channel Green-Lights Expedition Unknown

Watch The Travel Channel for the adventures of Josh Gates as he investigates iconic mysteries across the globe. Gates begins by interviewing key eyewitnesses and uncovering recent developments in the story, then springboards into fully immersive exploration. This authentic, roughshod adventure leads Gates closer to the truth behind these unanswered global enigmas, such as the disappearance of Amelia Earhart’s plane. Expedition Unknown is greenlit for six one-hour episodes produced by Ping Pong Productions.


North Face Grants Encourage More Youth to Explore Outdoors

The North Face announced this month the opening of the 2014 Explore Fund grant-giving program, which will provide $250,000 in grants to non-profit organizations committed to inspiring the next generation of youth with a passion and stewardship for the outdoors.

During the 2014 Explore Fund giving cycle, grants will be awarded to organizations with activities in one of three areas: Creating more connections of youth to nature and providing an inspiration to explore, increasing access to close to home, front and backcountry recreation opportunities, or engaging a new and diverse audience with the outdoors.

Since the Explore Fund launched in 2010, The North Face has donated more than $1 million worldwide to organizations helping youth get outdoors. In total, 80,000 youth in the U.S. alone have been impacted by this program as part of The North Face brand’s mission to inspire a global movement of outdoor exploration.
Applications for 2014 Explore Fund grants are now being accepted online through May 1.
For more information:


Evacuation Fraud

The term used to describe helicopter evacuation that is ordered for altitude sickness. Source: Dan Richards, CEO and founder of private security firm Global Rescue, quoted in a story by Cindy Atoji Keene.

He continues, “Climbing season in Himalaya starts at the end of this month, and we conduct about a dozen operations there every year. Evacuation in Himalaya is handled on a private basis, and by the way, one aspect that we’re dealing with now is the high instance of evacuation fraud. Believe it or not, some trek operators are taking climbers up too fast without enough time to acclimate, which can cause severe altitude sickness. Then helicopter transport takes place and the trekking company and others are able to tap into insurance premiums. We’re actively involved with combating these fraudulent actions.”

Read the entire story here:

Competitive Travel

The art of extreme travel – attempting to visit the most countries, territories, autonomous regions, enclaves, geographically separated island groups, and major states and provinces in the world. Source: Charles Veley, 48, who owns nine passports. He was profiled in New York Times Travel (Mar. 23).


Journalist Matthew Power (1974-2014)

Condolences to the family of Matthew Power, a freelancer on assignment for Men's Journal in Uganda – "a classic MJ story" is how he pitched it. He was accompanying a British explorer, named Levison Wood, while he attempted to walk the length of the Nile. The Brooklyn journalist was only dropping in and walking with him for a week. On Mar. 10, Power fell ill, lost consciousness, and died a few hours later. His travel companions believe the cause of death was heatstroke. He was 39. A prolific writer, his body of work can be seen here:


Advertise in Expedition News – For just 50 cents a word, you can reach an estimated 10,000 readers of America’s only monthly newsletter celebrating the world of expeditions on land, in space, and beneath the sea. Join us as we take a sometimes irreverent look at the people and projects making Expedition News. Frequency discounts are available. (For more information:

Monday, March 17, 2014

London to Sydney by Amphibious DUKW


A team of five adventurers are undertaking a first-time expedition from London to Sydney in a WWII DUKW amphibious truck, crossing 20,000 miles by land and 2,000 miles over water. Departing in 2015, this will be an historic journey completed entirely in a single vehicle under its own power from the United Kingdom to Australia. The team will map and share its travels through social and digital media, and bring solar innovations and medical assistance to remote communities, as well as conduct scientific research en route.

Starting from the gates of the Royal Geographical Society, the expedition will cross the English Channel to France before heading overland across Europe and into Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and then China. The team then hopes to negotiate much of the Mekong River system, starting in Laos and taking in Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.
“This in itself may represent a world-first as the amphibious nature of the DUKW will allow skirting of dams, rapids and waterfalls which have prevented traditional watercraft from attempting this,” said Zimbabwean-born Brit Richard Coe, 45, expedition leader.

From Thailand, the route passes to Malaysia. From there they will cross by sea to Sumatra in Indonesia. Island hopping the archipelago will carry them to East Timor which will serve as the jumping-off point for the final, longer sea crossing to Darwin, Australia. The last leg will be overland, completing this epic adventure at the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

Sponsorship is being sought for the estimated $166,000 project. Extensive filmmaking and documentation is planned.
For more information: Richard Coe,,


The Red Deer River in Alberta, Canada, cuts through a series of Upper Cretaceous rocks that produce a succession of dinosaur faunas that represent the last 15 million years of non-avian dinosaur history on Earth. In 2012, an Explorers Club flag expedition worked its way down the upper part of the river, looking for new dinosaur specimens, and old dinosaur sites with historical significance (and the potential of additional work during a return visit).

The expedition succeeded in its objectives, and follow-up is being conducted this year by the University of Alberta. The trip ended in Drumheller in 2012, and the intention was always to continue the trip farther downstream in 2014.

On July 14, 2014, 18 members of the Explorers Club will put their canoes into the Red Deer River just downstream of the Bleriot Ferry. The rocks in this area represent the lower part of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation, which has produced numerous dinosaur fossils of the Edmontonian Land Mammal Age.

Over the next two weeks, they will work their way downriver, stopping at exposures to look for new dinosaur fossil sites, and to attempt to relocate several quarries that had been worked by early dinosaur hunters before the availability of good topographic maps and GPS.

The 131-mile expedition will pass through the lower beds of the Horseshoe Canyon formation, the marine beds of the Bearpaw Formation (which are unlikely to produce dinosaur fossils, although occasionally good skeletons of dinosaur cadavers that had drifted out to sea have been found), the world-famous beds of the Dinosaur Park Formation, and the upper part of the Oldman Formation. From there, the team will emerge from the badlands at Jenner on July 28.

Any dinosaur skeletons with good potential for excavation will be worked in subsequent years by the University of Alberta. However, in addition to the specimens, a significant amount of data will be collected and incorporated immediately into several palaeoecological studies that are assessing the changes in dinosaur diversity as they approached the extinction event 65 million years ago.

Team Leader is Jason Schoonover, 67, Saskatoon, who has been an amateur paleontologist since 1979. Field Leader is Dr. Phil Currie, 63, Edmonton, an internationally renowned paleontologist and an Explorers Medalist. Joining the team is Capt. Norm Baker, 84, of Windsor, Mass., who has the distinction of having been the navigator on Thor Heyerdahl’s Ra, Ra II and Tigris reed boat expeditions.

“Any and all new finds add to paleontology’s growing storehouse of knowledge,” said Schoonover.

“With 36 eyes to the ground here in the field with the richest concentration of dino bones on the planet, we stand a better than average chance of making important discoveries—particularly as we’ve had a couple of heavy snowfall winters which caused greater than normal erosion.”

For more information:


Denver traffic and weather reporter Amelia Rose Earhart of KUSA 9News shares the same name and passion as one of the most revered names in early aviation. It’s that same love for soaring the skies that's pushing the NBC affiliate news anchor to recreate her namesake's 1937 transcontinental journey.

Today's Earhart, 31, no relation to the original Amelia, is planning a 14-stop/17-day 24,301 nm flight scheduled for June 1, 2014 departure that will be live-streamed and shared via social media. Earhart and her co-pilot, Theddy Spichtig, will host real-time in-air Facebook and Twitter chats and, thanks to cameras mounted along the aircraft, from wing tip to fuselage, curious viewers will be able to watch their progress.

Honeywell Aerospace outfitted the plane with custom satellite communication equipment, as well as the live-tracking cameras that viewers can use to toggle between multiple vantage points on their single engine Pilatus PC-12 NG aircraft.
The flight will start and end in Oakland, Calif.

If the 2014 Earhart can pull it off, she will become the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe in a single-engine aircraft.

The aviatrix recently spent two days undergoing water survival training at Survival Systems USA, a Groton, Conn., company that teaches survival egress training in a huge “Survival Theater” that dunks students upside down in water as mock thunder and lightning simulates the worst possible conditions.
"I went from having a legitimate fear of the ocean to feeling like I could survive an extreme emergency on the flight around the world," she tells

Earhart says that the goal of the project is to inspire a new generation of female aviators. To that end, she has created the Fly with Amelia Foundation, a 501(c) 3 organization providing flight scholarships to young women who want to become pilots.

Key sponsors include Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney, as well as Pilatus.

For more information:,,


We can’t help ourselves. Even though Everest isn’t the toughest mountain in the world to climb, it apparently has the best publicist because, arguably, it’s the world’s best known. Here’s a sample of what to expect this May from Everest a.k.a. Chomolungma in Tibetan ("Goddess Mother of the World") and Sagarmatha in Sanskrit ("Ocean Mother”):

• Yet Another Everest Movie Planned

There are no less than four theatrical films and TV movies about the 1996 tragedy on Mt. Everest when eight climbers died. Here comes one more:

Everest is an upcoming American 3-D adventure thriller film directed by Baltasar Kormákur and written by Justin Isbell and William Nicholson, based on the book Into Thin Air written by Jon Krakauer. Release date is Feb. 27, 2015.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Scott Fischer; Jason Clarke is Rob Hall; Josh Brolin portrays Beck Weathers; and John Hawkes is Doug Hansen, a slow climber who causes his team to be late setting out on their journey up the peak.

Filming has already started in Nepal. Additional production is scheduled for the Alps and Iceland. The Hollywood Reporter posted that South Tyrol's regional film board has funded the $65 million production with a grant of $1 million.

• No More Mr. Nice Guy

After several breaches of rules and guidelines while climbing Everest, Nepal has decided to adopt strict measures for climbers starting this spring. According to India Today (Feb. 22), to facilitate better service to the climbers, porters, sherpas, sardars, high-altitude workers and cooks, the Nepal government has decided to set up an integrated office at Everest Base Camp.

Besides setting up a dedicated liaison office at BC for the upcoming spring season (from March through May), the government will begin verifying climbers' experience, health and age before allowing them to climb.

The ministry is also mulling installing GPS facilities in the Khumbu region, where Everest is situated, to track the location of trekkers and mountaineers. Officials said that the move will stop overcrowding on the mountain.
Read the story here:

• Over the Hill: First Great-Grandfather to Summit Everest

Jim Geiger, a life coach and mountaineer from Sacramento, heads to Everest this May to try to become both the oldest American to summit (at the age of 68), and the first great-grandfather. He says there’s no reason to feel that as you get older that you can’t still do things. “Age is just a number,” he says. See his story here:

• You Knew it Was Bound to Happen

In May, speed climber Joby Ogwyn, 39, will perform one of the most audacious human stunts ever – the first wing-suit flight off the summit of Mount Everest. It will be broadcast around the world live on the Discovery Channel as he plunges more than 10,000 feet at speeds up to 150 miles an hour.

His speaker’s bureau breathlessly promotes him as “… a world renowned, record-holding adventurer, (who) shares jaw-dropping, hair-raising stories and photos of his adventures while offering insights on how to conquer fear and take the first step when faced with a new challenge.” His speaking fees range from $20,000 to $35,000 per talk.

He says, “Everest is the pinnacle for me. I’m going to climb it, I’m going to jump off and I’m going to fly down to Base Camp, ‘boom, boom, boom.’ … There are 50 ways to die on that mountain. I only have to pick one.”
He tells CNN (Feb. 27), “I’m not afraid to die.”

“Boom” indeed.

Read the story here:

See his promo video here:


Sleeping Bag Surfaces From Greely Expedition Rescue

A reindeer-skin sleeping bag from a 19th century polar rescue expedition, an artifact from an era in which men — toiling through starvation, frostbite and other tribulations — pushed the boundaries of the known Earth ever-farther north, has been rediscovered and displayed at the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Conn.

According to a story by John Burgeson in the Connecticut Post (Feb. 22), the bag was given to what was then the Bridgeport Scientific Society by William Barrymore of Stratford, Conn., who served in the Navy during the Civil War.

"Apparently, it was someone in the crew of the USS Bear who gave the bag to Barrymore," said curator Adrienne Saint-Pierre, who said the bag had been part of the Barnum Museum collections since Barrymore's widow gave it to the society, the precursor to the museum.

The Bear was dispatched in 1884 to rescue Adolphus Greely and his team. Greely, a Civil War army veteran, lead the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, starting in 1881, which was part of the First International Polar Year.

His party was rescued on June 22, 1884. The survivors were living in a single, collapsed and flapping tent. Nineteen of Greely's 25-man crew had perished from starvation, drowning, hypothermia, and, in one case, gunshot wounds from an execution ordered by Greely.
It's fitting that the sleeping bag has found a home in the Barnum Museum. The second half of the 19th century, the time when P.T. Barnum achieved rock-star status worldwide, was also an era when people everywhere were captivated by the exploits of polar explorers, writes Burgeson.

Read the full story here:


“For as long as I can remember, I have loved snow and ice. As a result, I have spent most of my life exploring the Arctic region. These journeys have brought such joy and beauty to my life that I have dedicated myself to helping preserve these wonderful frozen places. More than ever before, I am driven to share my passion for the Arctic, a region whose health and stability have far-reaching consequences for us all.”

– Polar explorer Lonnie Dupre. He has launched a Kickstarter campaign along with Bozeman, Mont., filmmaker Deia Scholsberg, to raise $6,000 for post-production of a one-hour documentary that will reveal the planet’s world of ice and snow, and the need to keep these frozen regions healthy. It was filmed in Greenland, on the Arctic Ocean, Alaska and Minnesota.

The campaign ends March 26. See it here:


Jane Goodall is Still Getting it Done

Expect accolades to pour in next month for Jane Goodall, the primatologist turning 80 on April 3 who still travels year-round for animal rights.

According to an AP story (Feb. 11) by Christopher Torchia, Goodall, a protege of anthropologist Louis Leakey, documented the relationships and other behavioral patterns of chimpanzees, finding parallels with human conduct that spurred debate about evolution.

“Now she is an environmental and animal rights activist, traveling 300 days a year to speak for those species that cannot speak for themselves.”

A columnist in, an online news outlet in South Africa, said of the octogenarian, ‘‘in a society terrified of aging, (she) makes having reached this milestone seem, well, cool.’’

Read the story here:

“Just A Flesh Wound”

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Miles O’Brien, former Explorers Club annual dinner emcee and science and aviation correspondent for PBS News Hour. In a bizarre accident, a Pelican case loaded with TV gear fell onto his left forearm after taping was done on location. The trauma caused Acute Compartment Syndrome – an increase in pressure inside an enclosed space in the body. This can block blood flow causing a whole host of serious, life-threatening consequences. To save his life, a surgeon amputated his left arm above the elbow.

He jokes on his website that it was “just a flesh wound,” and continues, “Life is all about playing the hand that is dealt you. Actually, I would love somebody to deal me another hand right about now – in more ways than one.”
Read his story at


Melissa Arnot Joins Salewa North America

Footwear manufacturer Salewa North America, based in Boulder, Colo., has named Melissa Arnot, 30, to its elite Salewa North America mountain athlete roster. Arnot, from Ketchum, Idaho, is an accomplished mountain guide and five-time womenʼs summit record holder on Mt. Everest. She joins Ed Viesturs and Kai Lightner on the athlete team as they develop new products and encourage people to pursue an active, alpine lifestyle.

Arnot, dubbed the Queen of Everest by Outside Magazine, has a climbing resume that is built to impress any climber, man or women. With nearly 100 summits of Mt. Rainer, her Everest summits, multiple expeditions above 6000 meters and as a member of the Eddie Bauer First Ascent guide team, Arnot is a force with which to be reckoned.

In 2012 she launched a non-profit with fellow mountain guide, Dave Morton, to provide life insurance and cover rescue expenses of mountain workers ( Then in April 2013, she successfully helped defuse a brawl on the flanks of Mt. Everest. She is now poised to return to Everest and climb with her newest partner, Psang Lhamu Sherpa – one of the few female guides on Everest who is Sherpa and female.

For more information:,


Climbers are Apple of Their Eyes

Apple is crowing about the use of the iPad on expeditions. The Apple Your-Verse blog posts, “Before leading a trip with their Alpenglow Expeditions group, Adrian Ballinger and Emily Harrington study terrain and weather patterns, plot routes, decide where to camp, and manage equipment and supplies.

“Not long ago, they relied on outdated or inaccurate paper maps to inform their plan of attack. Sometimes maps of these areas didn’t even exist. But now with iPad and the Gaia GPS topography app, they can see remote mountain regions in great detail.”

Says Ballinger whose company is based in Olympic Valley, Calif., “Five years ago, it was hard to even get a paper map of some of these places. Now with the iPad it’s remarkable how much we can plan ahead.”

The two use their iPad to blog, post photos, and update social media. In the past, recounting their story would have had to wait weeks until they returned to civilization, but now they can edit and upload photos and videos right from camp.

Harrington lays it on thick on behalf of their sponsor, “In a whiteout being able to see where you are on the mountain can be a matter of life or death. iPad is the only way to tell where we’re going.”

See the entire post here:


Extreme Medicine

Those fields dedicated to keeping people alive in the face of injuries or environmental exposures that would ordinarily be fatal. War, epidemics, voyages of exploration and disasters encourage the kind of desperate improvisation that occasionally produces breakthroughs.

Source: Extreme Medicine: How Exploration Transformed Medicine in the Twentieth Century(Penguin Press, 2014), a new book by Kevin Fong., M.D., that explains medicine’s efforts to expand the limits of human survival.


Highway to the Danger Zone

Award winning British mountaineer and author Mick Fowler has posted a video of his travels through the Himalayas on what must be one of the most dangerous highways in the world.

Watch it here, but not on a full stomach:


Crowdfunding Advice from Desert Explorer

Explorer Louis-Philippe Loncke, of Mouscron, Belgium, shared his own crowdfunding experience in response to the story about humanitarian traveler Sarah Papsun in the January issue of EN. He writes:

“I thought of using crowdsourcing when I started a search of Kickstarter, IndieGogo, and Ulule. My conclusions are:

I searched for an entire two days with keywords such as expedition, adventure, exploration ...

Less than 5% of expeditions were funded sucessfully on Kickstarter or IndieGogo. However, Kickstarter works very well for hardware/technology products.

But on Ulule the rate was somewhat higher – around 30%. The amounts raised were mainly low cost, usually less than USD $5,000, either because the expedition was less expensive or the ‘ask’ was lower since the explorer was already investing their own money.”

– Louis-Philippe Loncke
Mouscron, Belgium

Editor’s note: In 2008, Loncke achieved the first crossing on foot of the length of the Simpson desert, the world’s largest sand dune desert in Australia. Ulule is the first European crowdfunding site and can be found at
On Mar. 26 he’s speaking live about his Lake Titicaca expedition on TEDxFlanders in Anwterp, Belgium. Watch it here:


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