Monday, October 16, 2017

Landlocked Researcher is Sharks' Best Friend

You couldn't be much further from the ocean, and sharks, than Colorado. Yet it's here that the Ocean First Institute in Boulder has become one of the marine animal's most fervent benefactors.

Leading the charge for the species is Dr. Mikki McComb-Kobza, 49, one of the top shark experts in the world and a tireless advocate for sharks and shark habitat. As a shark biologist, her work focuses on the sensory biology and ecological physiology of sharks, skates and rays. She seeks to highlight their global population decline and to frame new directions for their conservation.

Dr. Mikki McComb-Kobza never met a shark she didn't like.

Inspired by the 1975 Steven Spielberg movie Jaws, she began to read about the animal and became hooked for life, learning to dive so she could spend more time with them underwater. She's now dedicated to, as she told an Explorers Club audience, "sharing the truth about sharks."

She says, "The story of sharks is the story of survival. They have survived five mass extinction events on earth. The over 500 species of sharks predate the dinosaur. When we study them, we're looking back in time.

It's also the story of diversity. She explains that sharks range in size from the small dwarf lanternshark, a deep sea species of only 17 cm (6.7 in) in length, to the whale shark, the largest fish in the world, which reaches approximately 12 m (40-ft.) in length.

Her favorite is the hammerhead consisting of over 10 species. Its unique shape is hydrodynamic, extremely maneuverable, and can be used to detect and pin prey, "which is helpful when feeding on stingrays."

Here's looking at you kid.

McComb-Kobza speaks, teaches and conducts research around the world including in South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. Her outreach efforts have been covered by the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery Channel's Shark Week, and CBC National Radio Canada.
She holds a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from Florida Atlantic University and is the author of numerous scientific publications.

Her current position as executive director of Ocean First Institute allows her to promote research, conservation, and sustainability. The Institute supports expeditions and a variety of education initiatives that reach students of all ages. These days she's active in establishing marine protected areas in known shark nurseries where, she says, "sharks need extra protections to ensure their survival."

One challenge is to help people overcome their deep-seated fear of sharks. "Sharks are timid, they're leery. I found an animal that surprised me," she says.

"For instance, the male sharks bite into females during copulation. As you can imagine, it's a pretty brutal affair."

McComb-Kobza, who admits to not eating seafood and is disappointed about the scourge of shark finning in Asia, adds, "We believe that when people experience how the ocean impacts their lives they begin to understand. When they understand they begin to care, and when they care they begin to act to protect. This is the change we are creating and is the cornerstone of everything we do."

She adds, "Protecting sharks is an uphill battle, but happily, kids think sharks are rock stars, right up there with dinosaurs."

Thanks to her work and that of the Ocean First Institute, to borrow from the iconic movie, maybe we don't need a bigger boat after all.

For more information:,


Bicyclists Pack it Out

Last month, the Granite Gear-sponsored Packing It Out team, Seth Orme and Abby Taylor, completed a 4,500-mile bike tour from Georgia to the Pacific Ocean in Washington state. They picked up 2,100 pounds of trash along their route and held 11 trash clean ups, reaching hundreds of thousands of people, according to a company statement.

The team battled various weather and bug-laden conditions throughout their 18-state journey, plus many smoke-filled miles due to wildfires.

"It has truly been a one of a kind, wild ride," said Abby Taylor, 26, from Toccoa, Ga. "If you want to see America, if you want to meet people, if you want to fall in love with your country again ... go on a long bike ride. I have received more kindness on this trip than I thought possible."

Seth Orme, 27, is from Statesboro, Ga.

Packing It Out was born out of a decision to leave it better. According to the team, "We had forgotten that this land is our land; this land is our responsibility. As a result, many of our scenic areas have become coated with litter." Since its inception, the team has packed out over 4,000 pounds of trash from national trails, national parks, state parks and community parks.

For more information:

Granite Gear, based in Two Harbors, Minn., sells backpacks, adventure travel gear, storage sacks, lifestyle accessories, and canoe gear. (


The late Emma Kelty

British Woman Murdered on Brazil Solo Adventure

In a world full of bad news, this one was particularly sobering to any explorer or adventurer.
A 43-year-old former headteacher, adventurer Emma Kelty, was robbed and murdered last month while kayaking alone in the Brazilian Amazon.

The Londoner was last heard from on Sept. 13, days after posting about her fears of being robbed or murdered in a jungle area in Brazil's remote north used for drug trafficking.

Three people were in custody, according to the AP, including a teenager who had confessed to carrying out the killing with six other people.

Kelty was 42 days into a 4,000-mile trip from the Amazon's source in Peru, through Brazil and to its mouth on the Atlantic Ocean, using a GPS, social media and blogging to let friends follow her progress.

Her last known location was around 150 miles west of the jungle city of Manaus, between the towns of Coari and Codajas.

Olie Hunter Smart, an explorer who completed a similar route in 2015 and helped Ms. Kelty plan her journey, said Coari was known to be a dangerous area.

Read more at:

Climbing? Shoes are Most Important

Famed "rock" star Alex Honnold, the 31-year-old free soloist and an ambassador for The North Face (apparel) and La Sportiva (footwear), tells (July 20), "Footwear is super-important for climbing. In some ways, it's the most important. The only things attached to the rock are your hands and feet - your hands you can work on through training, but for your feet, it basically comes down to your footwear choice."

FN reporter Neil Weilheimer later asks about fear.

"If you're in danger, then maybe you shouldn't just overcome your fear and push through it. You don't necessarily want to do something super-dangerous. But if your fear is unjustified, if it's psychological and you're afraid for no real reason, you should push past it and do what you're supposed to be doing," Honnold says.

A bad movie with great climbing.

His favorite climbing movie?

"'The Eiger Sanction,' an old Clint Eastwood movie. It has the best climbing footage ever shot for Hollywood, but it's a terrible movie overall."

Read the story here:

First Seven Summits, Then the Real Challenge: Stand-Up Comedy

It can be argued that stand-up comedy is one of the hardest things you can do, perhaps even harder than climbing the Seven Summits. Shailee Basnet should know. After climbing the Seven Summits, she is conquering the eighth: New York's comedy scene.

After taking a six-week stand-up comedy course in New York, Shailee Basnet made her prime-time debut at the Broadway Comedy Club on Sept. 8, according to a story by Alyssa Roenigk on (Sept. 19).

Nepali Shailee Basnet

"I know I look short," the 5-foot Basnet quipped. "But I'm tall by Starbucks standards."
Basnet is a 34-year-old former Nepali journalist whom espnW readers first met in 2015, shortly after she and six of her countrywomen - some of the first Nepali women to summit the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents - became integral to their nation's relief and recovery efforts after devastating earthquakes hit that April.

What she learned climbing Everest, beside the fact that she is stronger and braver than she knew, is that failure is fleeting and anything is achievable if you focus on one step at a time.

"You don't need to find the courage to do everything at once. You only need to find courage to write your first joke, write your first script, type it out, print it, tell a friend, and then find a platform where people will hear you," Basnet says. "If they laugh, that's the biggest drug in the world.

"I am a very proud Nepali and have my roots in Nepal, but I wanted to spread my branches around the world," Basnet says. "I want to learn more languages and make people laugh everywhere."

Once on stage, she draws connections between her life in the third world, her life as a Nepali girl who is married to a white guy from Colorado, and the lifestyle differences their relationship illuminates, Roenigk writes.

Read the story here:

Time to say goodbye Columbus?

Too Many Statues of Columbus?

New York Times columnist Gail Collins (Oct. 7) weighed in on the Confederate statue controversy by evoking Christopher Columbus.

"The point of Christopher Columbus was exploration. Although people knew the world was round, they had no idea how long it might take to get around it. Columbus's goal was to try to make it to the other side of the planet. He sailed out into the great unknown and brought back word of his discoveries," she writes.

"This was not good news for the folks who were already there. Columbus described them in very positive terms, the way you might tell your friends about a really big bargain at the shoe store: 'No one refuses the asker anything that he possesses, on the contrary, they themselves invite us to ask for it.' You already see the readers licking their chops and ordering up an expedition."

Read the story here:


"Always there has been an adventure just around the corner - and the world is still full of corners."

- Roy Chapman Andrews, 1884-1960, American explorer, adventurer and naturalist who became the director of the American Museum of Natural History.


AAC Cutting Edge Grant

The American Alpine Club is now accepting proposals to fund climbers planning expeditions to remote areas featuring unexplored mountain ranges, unclimbed peaks, difficult new routes, first free ascents, or similar world class pursuits. Awards will typically fall in the $5,000 to $15,000 range, however award amounts will vary based on project and budget.

The Cutting Edge Grant is supported in part by Global Rescue, which provides travel risk and evacuation memberships. CEG recipients are additionally awarded upgraded Global Rescue benefits, a service intended to help AAC members climb hard and return home safely.

Deadline is Nov. 30, 2017. Learn more at:

Explorers Club Student Grants Available

The Explorers Club, as part of its public service commitment, offers exploration grants in the following categories, but the deadline to apply, Nov. 13, 2017, is fast approaching.

* High School Students and College Undergraduates

The goal of this grant category is to foster a new generation of explorers dedicated to the advancement of the scientific knowledge of our world. The average award is approximately $1,500.

* Graduate Students

This category supports exploration and field research for those who are just beginning their research careers. The average award is approximately $2,500.

Research proposals are being sought in a wide array of disciplines, including:

Climate Change, Geoscience, Paleoclimate (i.e. Early Earth, Tectonics, Volcanism, Paleontology, Glaciology, Geophysics, Astronomy); Marine Science, Marine Biology, Marine Life, Fish, Coral, Ocean, Fresh Water, Rivers, Lakes, Estuaries; Anthropology/Archeology; Plants and Molds; Animals; and Conservation Science.

To apply, go to


Bonington documentary is available online starting Nov. 20, 2017

Bonington Movie Chronicles One of World's Most Famous Mountaineers

Stories of friendship, love, risk and devastating loss run deep through this intimate look at the career of Sir Chris Bonington, and his dream to lead the way.

Produced by filmmakers Brian Hall and Keith Patridge, the documentary profiles Bonington's drive for exploration - the first British ascent of the north wall of the Eiger, new routes on Mont Blanc, the ascent of 'The Old Man of Hoy' and then to the greater ranges where he is the first to stand on the virgin summits of Annapurna 2, Nuptse and the Central Tower of Paine, followed by landmark expedition success on the South Face of Annapurna 1 and Everest SW face.

The film looks retrospectively, from his rock climbing days in the UK through to visionary ascents on the high peaks of the Himalaya and shares the remarkable and poignant life of one of the world's best-known mountaineers.

It becomes available starting Nov. 20, 2017 for $13.

Watch the trailer here:

Now Here's a Great Big Story

Erik Weihenmayer, no stranger to these pages, is the first blind rock climber to summit the tallest peak in every continent, Mount Everest included. At a young age, Weihenmayer was diagnosed with retinoschisis, a rare eye disease that left him sightless by age 13. But he didn't let that hold him back from seeking out adventure, proving that what others may see as a hinderance can oftentimes be one's greatest asset.

Erik is the focus of a Great Big Story feature, part of its Frontiers series, introducing dreamers, pioneers, and innovators leading society at the cutting edge.

Great Big Story is a global media company devoted to cinematic storytelling. Headquartered in New York, with bureaus in London and Stockholm, our studios create and distribute micro docs and short films, as well as series for digital, social, TV and theatrical release.

See it here at:



Specially-designed eyeglasses that allow climbers to look straight ahead yet see the crag or pin above them. They look silly, but are still better than having to wear a neck brace. (Source:


An ethusiastic traveler who visits spots where at least three states or three Canadian provinces meet. There are 65 such spots where at least three state borders intersect and another four in Canada, where provinces meet. Some are marked with monuments, others with survey markers, and some aren't marked at all. There are 38 on land, and most are in remote areas. (Source:


Time Marches On

The Pax Arctica - Russian Arctic Expedition 2017 (see EN, September 2017), is being led by explorer Luc Hardy, who is 61, not 58 as previously reported.


Norman Dyhrenfurth, 1918-2017

Norman Dyhrenfurth, a Swiss-American mountaineer and filmmaker who organized the successful American expedition in 1963 to Mount Everest that put six climbers on the summit and inspired generations of Americans, died on Sept. 24, 2017. He was 99 and passed in a Salzburg, Austria, hospital of natural causes.

Dyhrenfurth assembled the historic team of 19 mountaineers and scientists for the 1963 Everest Expedition that practically launched the modern U.S. mountaineering and outdoor industry by putting the first Americans on top of the world's highest peak. The U.S.-led mountaineering expedition included 900 porters carrying about 26 tons of food, clothing, equipment and scientific instruments.

Dyhrenfurth and his team of pioneering climbers - captured in a Life magazine cover story and honored by President John F. Kennedy at a White House Garden reception - came to represent the birth of mountaineering as a popular sport in the United States.

Read more at:


Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme, The Museum at FIT, Sept. 15 - Jan. 6, 2018, New York

Travel to extreme environments is a relatively modern phenomenon. Expeditions to the North and South poles, the highest mountain peaks, the depths of the ocean, and outer space have been widely covered in the press for more than a century. But it was not until the 1960s that these endeavors began to influence fashion.

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT) presents Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme, Sept. 15 - Jan. 6, 2018, the first large-scale exhibition of high fashion influenced by clothing made for survival in the most inhospitable environments on the planet - and off of it.

On view are approximately 70 ensembles and accessories from MFIT's permanent collection, as well as a selection of objects borrowed from leading museums and private collections. Collectively, the objects and the exhibition design evoke both the beauty of extreme wildernesses-on land and sea, as well as in outer space-and the dangers these locales present to human explorers.

The parka, for example, was invented by indigenous Arctic peoples; then, during the "heroic era" of polar navigation (1890 to 1922), it was appropriated by explorers. Eventually, the parka was redesigned for sports and the military, before finally finding its way into leading fashion magazines.

The exhibition includes a video that gives visitors more information about expeditions and their cultural impact, as well as details about a number of the concepts presented. The MFIT website, too, provides supplemental information about historical figures, such as explorers Matthew Henson and Robert Peary, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, and Sylvia Earle.
The Museum is located at Seventh Avenue at 27 Street, New York.

For more information:

Explore in London, Nov. 10-12, 2017

Explore, the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)'s annual expedition and field research planning weekend is happening on Nov. 10-12, 2017, in London.

It is a weekend for anyone planning an expedition, field research project or an adventurous journey with a purpose. Over 100 field scientists and explorers will give lectures, run workshops and provide practical advice.

For more information:

Sixth Annual Explorers Club Polar Film Festival, Jan. 25-27, 2018, New York

The Explorers Club will host its Sixth Annual Polar Film Festival on Jan. 25-27, 2018, to screen a diverse collection of films about the Arctic and Antarctic.

The festival is open to the public and offers the audience the opportunity to rub elbows with the presenters, special guests, speakers and filmmakers who will share their stories and imagery. The event honors their passion and spotlights their life's work in the Arctic and Antarctic.

The Explorers Club has always been closely associated with polar travel and exploration. During its early years, the Club's prominent members, including Robert Peary, Frederick Cook and Roald Amundsen, to name a few, gradually lifted the veil that covered the ends of the Earth. Less well known, however, are the extensive photographic records, artifacts, and histories collected and maintained by the Club that capture this important period of polar exploration.

The due date for submissions of films ranging from feature length to shorts is Oct. 30.

For more information:


Seeking Everest Expedition Partner

Illina Frankiv, a mountaineer and circus acrobat, is planning to climb Mt. Everest unguided via the North Ridge in March 2018 and is looking for a partner (male or female). She is prepared to go solo on this expedition but would rather form a team. "I'm choosing to climb on the North side of the mountain via Tibet in order to avoid additional danger of the Khumbu Icefall from the South side of the mountain in Nepal," she says.

For more information:,,

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pulling for the Planet, Drone Helps Plan Gobi Expedition, Surviving the "Drake Shake"


A one-month expedition will explore a virtually unknown region of the Russian Arctic to create awareness of the challenges affecting this part of the world.

The Pax Arctica - Russian Arctic Expedition 2017 is led by explorer Luc Hardy, 58, of Cos Cob, Conn., founder of Pax Arctica, an organization that raises awareness of the impact of climate change on arctic, polar and glacier regions.

Luc Hardy is ready to roll.

At a time when no place on the planet seems inaccessible, one of the most extreme regions has yet to reveal its secrets. Above the Arctic Circle, the islands of New Siberia and De Long are still terra incognita ... even if ancient and modern maps mention them; even if a few rare explorers trampled the ground of these virtual "white zones."

At press time, the Franco-Russian-American expedition was expected to launch from the port of Tiksi, in Yakutia. This (re)discovery of the islands of New Siberia is supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

Says HSH Prince Albert II, "The entire world needs the Arctic, a living Arctic, rich with the people who inhabit it and preserved from the dangers that threaten it.This is why it is our duty to invent in the Arctic, a new mode of development, an economy respectful of men and nature."

Victor Boyarsky will guide the expedition.

Well-known explorer Victor Boyarsky will be the guide for this expedition. He is Deputy PR Director of the Russian State Museum of Arctic and Antarctic in Saint-Petersburg.

In 1988, Boyarsky crossed Greenland from south to north by ski and dog with an international team; in 1989-1990 he participated in the International Trans-Antarctica Expedition, the longest in history, led by Will Steger. Since then he has participated in more than 30 expeditions to the North Pole on ski and with nuclear icebreaker.

It's hoped that the expedition will provide valuable information on the effects of climate change on these regions and the consequences they can have on ecosystems.Geolocalized measurements will be carried out in order to better understand local signs of climate change.

Inspired by the great adventurers of the nineteenth century, expedition leader Luc Hardy will embark on board the 437-ft. Russian Arctic research vessel - Mikhail Somov - in the company of renowned multidisciplinary researchers including the paleozoologist Alexei Tikhonov and the anthropobiologist Eric Crubezy.

A documentary film about the Pax Arctica Expedition will be directed by Bertrand Delapierre, whose numerous films include The Pursuit of Endurance - on the Shoulders of Shackleton.

See the trailer:

Partners include: Green Cross International, La Francaise, Sigg, and Tag Heuer.

Follow the expedition in real time:

Follow via Garmin inReach:


UK polar explorer Newall Hunter, 53, is 900 km (560 miles) into a bike-based reconnaissance trip in preparation for a solo crossing of the Gobi Desert on foot this November.

At press time he was half-way across, posting about checking inside his boots in the morning before putting them on due to scorpions.

Newall Hunter will tackle the Gobi in winter.

The coming winter trek will take Newall, a resident of Wotton-Under-Edge, Gloucestershire, England, between 70 and 90 days depending on weather conditions, which will feature temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees F. (- 40°C) and winds of up to 100 mph.

His official 1,600 km (994-mile) solo attempt on foot will stretch from this November into January 2018, according to a story in the Gloucestershire Reporter by Eddie Bisknell (Aug. 18)

However, for the first part of his research for the trek, Newall is going to spend most of September on the bike reconnaissance to identify the best route for him to take and to locate sources of water.

To help him in his search for water he will be flying a drone to obtain on-the-spot aerial images, which may prove crucial to the mission's success since he will only be able to carry two days supplies at a time.

Hunter is an aerial drone operator specializing in technical filming solutions for extreme sports, expeditions, and in mountainous and remote locations where others won't go.

See examples of his work at:

"Water, or rather the lack of it, is going to be the most critical factor, if it can be located then it will probably be frozen," said Newall, who just over two and a half years ago gained the title of the first Scot to ski solo to the South Pole and the first Briton to undertake that particular route.

"If it can't be done on a bike, then I certainly won't be able to walk it pulling a cart with my supplies on it, but I don't think it will come to that," he said.

The word "Gobi" means "waterless place" and the desert which bears its name is a vast and arid region in southern Mongolia and northern China; it is the world's fifth largest desert.

His progress on both the reconnaissance and the full attempt can be followed on

Read the story in the Gloucestershire Reporter here:

Follow him on Facebook:


Apparently, when you're born with an exploration gene, you're always planning your next project, even before your current one is completed. Such is the case with Lonnie Dupre from Grand Marais, Minn. We first met the indefatigable explorer in 1989 during the Bering Bridge Expedition. Since then, the ¬¬¬56-year-old's projects have been covered often in these pages.

His next adventure is a 100-day, 1,000-mi. dog sled expedition in Greeland beginning in January 2019. Based out of Qaanaaq, the northernmost community in the world, the team will share the Inuit culture, the exploration, history and scientific discoveries of a rarely visited place on earth.

Lonnie Dupre keeps going and going and going.

The team will travel to Warming Land, a series of unexplored icy fjords located on the northwestern tip of Greenland. The team then pushes on to the northernmost islands of Greenland, with a mission to discover the cairn built in the early 1900's by Robert Peary - generally recognized as the first explorer to reach the North Pole.

The team will also document three centuries-old Inuit tent rings at the mouth of Bessels fjord - reportedly discovered by Dupre in 2000, during his circumnavigation of Greenland, but never excavated nor measured.

To conduct product testing, the expedition will capitalize on one of most remote and harshest climates in the world. The team will also collect samples of ice, snow, plant life, and the inhabitants themselves for various pollutants.

"Pulling for the Planet pays homage to the Inuit people, unsung heroes of countless Arctic expeditions and pioneers of ingenuity to create rich lives. The Inuit exemplify a low carbon footprint existence-they lead their lives on simple living principles such as valuing strong communities, family, and unified work," Dupre says.

In addition to an educational program that expects to reach thousands of schoolchildren via free educational curricula, Pulling for the Planet, in conjunction with Pale Blue Dot Media, will produce a 1-hour film that shares the journey, discoveries and fascinating Inuit culture.

To accomplish the mission, Dupre has pulled together an exploration dream team including:

Joseph Cook - As a 2016 Rolex Young Laureate in the Exploration category, this glacial microbiologist has made his research a journey of discovery that reveals how ice micro-organisms on the Greenland ice sheet shape our world.

Cristian Donoso - A hardy explorer, Cristian has kayaked countless miles in rough waters in some of the most inhospitable places on earth. In 2006, he was named a Rolex associate laureate in exploration and culture. He plans to study and share the significance of the kayak in Inuit lives.

John Hoelscher - Spent six years in Antarctica before joining Lonnie on their first ever non-motorized circumnavigation of Greenland.

Ulyana Horodyskyj - scientist, adventurer and entrepreneur based in Boulder.

Pascale Marceau - An adventure racing, backcountry skiing and mountaineering athlete, her background is as a chemical engineer in the production and renewable energy fields.

Stevie Plummer - Has led the marketing and PR support for Lonnie's latest expeditions. An avid adventurer herself, she will be joining the team in Greenland and managing all communications and marketing aspects of the project.

The project is seeking $300,000 in sponsorship funding.

Learn more at:


Alan Arnette on K2

Alan Arnette Continues Sponsor Search for Project 8000 for Alzheimer's

Alan Arnette, 61, of Ft. Collins, Colo., is recovering well from a hiking accident earlier this year, well enough that he's resumed a sponsor search for his Project 8000 for Alzheimer's (see EN, January 2015) - an effort to raise $5 million for Alzheimer's and reach 100 million people.

With summits of Everest, K2 and Manaslu under his belt, and good efforts on Shishapangma, Broad Peak, Cho Oyu, and Lhotse, Arnette is planning to attempt the 11 mountains above 8000 meters (26,247 feet), he has not yet summitted.

If successful, he would only be the second American and 35th person to climb all 14 of the 8000 meter mountains.

As the 18th and oldest American to summit K2 at age 58 in 2014, the Alzheimer's advocate and passionate climber has reached over 50 million people and raised close to $300,000 for AD research, working with The Cure Alzheimer's Fund, Banner's Alzheimer's Prevention Registry, UsAgainstAlzheimer's and occasionally, the Alzheimer Association.

"Like so many, I find the state of investment, awareness and knowledge of Alzheimer's unacceptable," he says.

With the proper PR backing, he believes 100 million people can be reached during the campaign. His website and social media has over three million annual interactions, and over 30,000 social media followers. Arnette is seeking approximately $35,000 each for exclusive sponsorship of the remaining 11 mountains. The money is to be used for hiring guides, support staff, communications, gear, food, insurance, travel, and permits.

On Feb. 10, 2017, he was swept off his feet by high winds on Twin Sisters (11,428-ft.) in Rocky Mountain National Park. Arnette was on a tune-up climb for an attempt on Dhaulagiri in April. With him was fellow climber Jim Davidson (See EN, March 2017).

"I am making good progress and anticipate being able to climb another 8000'er in spring 2018," he tells EN.

For more information:


"The first time I went to Everest as the lead guide, I reached 28,000 feet, but was forced to stay overnight and slept on the ground after stomping a platform in the snow. If I continued on, I felt I would be risking the loss of fingers and toes to frostbite, or being blown off the mountain because the winds were so high.

"The second time, the trip was cut short because of a lethal rock-fall on the mountain. There is never a guarantee, even if you have the best guide in the world, that you can make it to the summit. So much can happen, and so much can go wrong."

- Vern Tejas, mountain climbing guide from Talkeetna, Alaska. His book, Seventy Summits(Blue River Press/Cardinal, 2017), written with Lew Freedman, is a compilation of his experiences over the last four decades of high altitude mountain guiding.

For more information:


Surviving the Drake Shake

Knowing full-well our propensity for seasickness - mal de mer, tossing your cookies, praying to the porcelain god, saying hello to yesterday's lunch - call it what you like. Under certain conditions, truth be told, we could be incapacitated, or at the very least, the front of our shirts severely stained.

As the saying goes, once afflicted you become afraid you're going to die; then as seasickness gets worse, you worry that you won't.

We wear seasickness as a badge of honor. After all, no less an explorer than Charles Darwin was famously prone to the condition, resting in a hammock and eating only raisins during rough passages, and spending as much time ashore as possible.

Thus we read intently recent advice posted by Quark Expeditions about crossing the dreaded Drake Passage, which you'll recall is the body of water between South America's Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. It connects the southwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean with the southeastern part of the Pacific Ocean and extends into the Southern Ocean.

The passage is 800 kilometers (500 miles) across, making the crossing from Ushuaia the shortest distance and most direct route to the Antarctic Peninsula.

When rough, it's called the Drake Shake; in calm weather, seasoned travelers call it the Drake Lake. Regardless of the weather, it's best to consider your options.

"Take ginger, don't drink, eat saltines, wear wrist bands, try acupuncture, stare at the horizon, close your eyes... the dizzying array of suggestions to fend off seasickness may have you feeling queasy. But which one really works?" asks the Quark post by Miranda Miller (June 13, 2017).

"It may surprise you to learn that up to 50% of the people in any given passage across the Drake will feel some degree of seasickness.

"In seasickness, your eyes and inner ear disagree about your body's position in space. The resulting conflict can cause drowsiness, cold sweats, dizziness and vomiting," she warns.

"The passengers I spoke with on our expedition had varying degrees of success with their seasick skin patches and tablets. Unless you've been seasick before, you can't tell which solution will work for you."

Dr. Dan Zak, one of Quark's onboard physicians, said, "Once vomiting kicks in, dehydration becomes a risk - and if we determine you are becoming dehydrated, a shot of anti-motion sickness medicine in the buttocks may be in order.

"There's no shame in getting seasick - many veteran sailors admit to an occasional bout. It's almost impossible to tell whether you'll be seasick, but if you are prone to motion sickness, and ounce of prevention could be better than a pound of cure," Miller posts.

Your seasick-prone EN editor found the perfect solution: we moved this publication to Boulder.

Read Quark's advice here:


If not "world's hardest climb," it's certainly hard enough.

Hardest Climb in the World?

It took four years of preparation and seven visits to Norway, but Czech rock climber Adam Ondra has finally completed what is thought to be the hardest climb in the world.

The 24-year-old achieved the 45 meter ascent at Hanshelleren cave in Flatanger in just 20 minutes on Monday. Ondra believes the climb to be the first that can be classified as a "9c" - which would make it the world's hardest single rope-length climb.

"Months and months of my life summed up in 20 minutes. So much time and effort in something so short but intense as hell," he said.

His last triumph was becoming only the third man ever to climb El Capitan's Dawn Wall, the fabled rock in Yosemite National Park. The world champion, who was born in Brno in 1993, climbed his first 9a at the age 13 and went on to became the first climber in history to win both the Lead and Bouldering World Cup titles.

But Everest blogger and climber Alan Arnette of Ft. Collins, Colo., begs to differ.

(Ondra's feat is), "Impressive to be sure, but the grading system is not uniform across the world and this was a single rope, 45 m pitch rated on the French scale at 9b. When compared to the Yosemite Decimal Systems (YDS) it would be 5.15b and there are several climbers according to Mountain Project that meet that level of difficulty.

"Many people still view Alex Honnold's June 2017 free solo climb of of the 915 meter, 3,000-foot, wall of El Capitan-without a rope-to be the most impressive climb of all time. It took Honnold 3 hours and 56 minutes compared to Ondra's 20 minutes but both climbs will go down in history as amazing feats," Arnette tells EN. (See related story).

Ondra's next victory may well be an Olympic medal. Climbing was approved as a sport for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo by the International Olympic Committee last year.

See the story here:

Hillary and Tenzing Team Up on Pluto.

Pluto's Mountains Named after Hillary and Tenzing

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has officially approved 14 names for surface features on Pluto, according to Mike Wall of (Sept. 8).

The names were submitted for IAU approval by the New Horizons team. The scientists came up with some of those names themselves, while others were proposed by members of the public via the Our Pluto campaign, a collaboration among the mission team, the IAU and the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, Calif.
Tenzing Montes and Hillary Montes were names given to towering water-ice mountain ranges on Pluto in honor of Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary.

"The approved designations honor many people and space missions who paved the way for the historic exploration of Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, the most distant worlds ever explored," said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder.

Alan Stern at the Rocky Mountain chapter of The Explorers Club last May.

Stern and the IAU don't see eye to eye on everything, however. In 2006, the IAU reclassified Pluto as a "dwarf planet," reducing the number of officially recognized "true" planets in our solar system to eight. The decision still does not sit well with Stern and a number of other scientists.

Read the story here:


Lowell Thomas Awardee to be Honored Posthumously

Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Awardee Donn Keith Haglund, Ph.D., passed away peacefully on Aug. 9 at the age of 90. His son Erik is attending the Oct. 28 Toronto dinner and will present on his father's work (See EN, August 2017).

Dr. Donn Haglund was known for his expertise in maritime transport to support Arctic economic development. He was Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, where he established an Arctic Winter field course which he taught for more than 40 years. The course "Arctic Winter," inspired countless students with his passion of the far North and his dedication to preserving the Arctic Circle.

Read his obituary here:


Join Science in the Wild

Join Science in the Wild, an adventure citizen science company run by Dr. Ulyana Horodyskyj, in the field this year and next. You'll not only learn about the beautiful landscapes you're trekking in and climbing, but also get to participate in important scientific projects.

From November 11-19, 2017: If you're a climber, take part in our snow and ice sampling expedition on Mexico's volcanoes, Iztaccihuatl and Pico de Orizaba. We'll be exploring the impacts of city pollution as well as volcanic ash on melting of snow and ice:

From January 15 - 20, 2018: If you love survival stories, horseback riding, and hiking, travel with us to the Andes and explore the site made famous in the book, Alive! in the company of one of the survivors. We'll learn about the science of survival and document how the glacial landscape has changed in the 40+ years since the airplane crash:

From February 4 - 12, 2018: If you love Aztec history, culinary delights, and working with robotics, join us in Mexico to explore Teotihuacan (site of Pyramids of the Sun and Moon), Nevado de Toluca's volcanic crater lakes, and Iztaccihuatl's summit glacier. This trip is not as rigorous as our November Mexican volcanoes itinerary and is focused on a scientific, culinary, and cultural experience:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

First American Woman Summits K2, A Ride on the Time Machine, Why Dinosaurs Matter


First American Woman Summits K2

In December 2014, we wrote about plans by Vanessa O'Brien to become the first American woman to successfully summit K2. On July 28, at the age of 52, she succeeded in her years-long goal. The summit team also included 11 other climbers, including six Nepali Sherpas.

Her successful summit was preceded by two unsuccessful attempts to make it to the top of "the savage mountain."

Due to her dual citizenship, O'Brien, an ex-Morgan Stanley banker from New York, is also the first British woman to successfully and safely summit K2. British woman Alison Hargreaves summitted in 1995, but died on the descent at the age of 33.

Everest gets the most press. But K2 is the bigger prize, a hard-fought summit achieved this month by dual passport holder, British-American woman Vanessa O'Brien. (Photo courtesy Vanessa O'Brien)

Reportedly, only 18 women have survived the climb to the top of K2.

O'Brien is the Guinness World Record holder for being the first woman to set a speed record to climb the Seven Summits, the highest peak on every continent, in 295 days. She successfully climbed Mt. Everest in 2010.

"It is said when you climb Everest, you are a mountaineer in the eyes of the world, but when you climb K2 you are a mountaineer in the eyes of other climbers," said O'Brien before her climb, according to a story by James Clash posted to (July 29).

The K2 2017 season has ended with 12 people summiting (six Nepali, one Pakistani, three Chinese, one Icelander, and O'Brien, the one British-American) bringing the total to about 396 summits compared to about 8,250 for Everest, according to climbing blogger Alan Arnette, an Everest summiteer in 2011 and oldest American to summit K2 at 58 on his birthday July 27, 2014.

See Arnette's 2017 K2 climbing season coverage at:

Read Jim Clash's exclusive interview with O'Brien at:

Kayakers Abandon Cuba to Key West Expedition

In June we wrote about the Oru Kayak Libre Expedition from Cuba to Key West.The 103-mile ocean passage is infamous for strong currents, sharks, unpredictable weather, and as a hazardous journey often made by Cuban refugees seeking political asylum in the U.S.

Andy Cochrane, Oru's director of marketing, writes that the morning of the attempt the four-man team participated in a Cuban press conference with a few TV stations and local publications, met the U.S.-Cuban ambassadors, and paddled out of the harbor with a number of athletes from the Cuban national team.

Andy Cochrane abandoned a Cuba to Key West kayak attempt. (Photo by Peter Amend)

By late afternoon two team members, worn down by skeg issues and unrelenting heat, pulled out. A few hours later Cochrane fell ill, likely a combination of sun, sea sickness, and possibly bad food.

"After puking the first thing I had eaten in hours, I decided to end my attempt. This was probably lucky, as I soon came down with serious diarrhea."

The final team member quit hours later due to sickness.

Cochrane writes, "Defeat is a tough pill to swallow. I haven't felt this humbled in a long time. I'm in awe of those who have done this crossing before us. Yet, even with our failure to paddle the crossing unsupported, I realize the project will only be a failure if we choose to not learn something along the way.

"It will only be a failure we don't share the message of friendship and love with the greater community here in the US. That's what matters most right now," Cochrane says.

See the story here:


You never know-Jack could have a job waiting for him in 13 years.

Guardian of the Galaxy

Upon posting a job opening for "Planetary Protection Officer," NASA has received countless job applications, but none as original and adorable as the one by fourth grader Jack Davis, a 9-year-old with all the right qualifications to be a "Guardian of the Galaxy."

Dr. James L. Green, NASA's director of planetary science, sent a perfect response that reads in part, "It's about protecting Earth from tiny microbes when we bring back samples from the Moon, asteroids and Mars. It's also about protecting other planets and moons from our germs as we responsibly explore the Solar System."

He then suggests that Jack "study hard and do well in school."

See the post here:


Viking Rowers Reportedly Break Arctic Ocean Records

Fiann Paul, front, Alex Gregory and Carlo Facchino are rowing across the Arctic Ocean, breaking records for speed and for how far north they've rowed.

A team of some of the best rowers in the world are crossing 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) of Arctic Ocean, breaking records and going farther north than any rowers have gone before.

Icelander Fiann Paul, 37, and the Polar Row crew are in the midst of a six-week voyage rowing north through the Norwegian Sea from Tromso, Norway, to the archipelago of Svalbard and then south to Iceland. After reaching the latitude of 78 degrees north, the crew is believed to be the first to row the Arctic Ocean from the south to north.

They also believe they've broken seven Guinness World Records so far, including the farthest north anyone's traveled by rowboat, according to the Ocean Rowing Society, which tracks ocean rowing records, writes Alex Brockman of CBC News.

The crew rows for 12 hours a day, splitting 90-minute shifts between them. Their schedule was so ambitious, the Norwegian government balked at giving them the permits to travel to Svalbard.

"They thought we were bluffing, they thought it was impossible," Paul said. "So the governor's representative made us pay as much as possible for search and rescue insurance."

The team of nine also includes Alex Gregory, who won back-to-back Olympic gold medals in rowing for Great Britain in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.

Read the CBC story here:

Track the expedition via Garmin inReach at:


"Alas! Alas! Life is full of disappointments; as one reaches one ridge there is always another and a higher one beyond which blocks the view."

- Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930), a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He also liked to mail naked photos of himself at the age of 67 to his Norwegian-American girlfriend, but that's another story (see EN, July 2013).


Take a Ride Back in Time

Now for an expedition of a different sort-one back in time.

The 1960 sci-fi thriller, H.G. Wells' The Time Machine starring Rod Taylor, Alan Young, and Yvette Mimieux, has stuck in our mind since we first scared ourselves witless in a darkened Kennedy-era movie theater.

The replica prop is upholstered in mohair velvet, studded with Swarovski crystals and embellished with marble. It is housed in an antique, hand-carved Berninghaus chair. Gets better mileage than a DeLorean, but is way more expensive.

We were further intrigued when we recently viewed the 2016 documentary How to Build a Time Machine, which continues to make the rounds of theaters worldwide.

The 83-min. film by director Jay Cheel tells the story of two middle-aged men obsessed with time travel. One is theoretical physicist Ronald Mallett from the University of Connecticut who explains how losing his beloved father at the age of 11 pushed him into a lifelong obsession with time travel. He wants to go back in time to save his life.

The other is a Westchester County animator who built a full-scale model of the 1960 sled-like contraption, only one actually better than the original prop still owned by a California collector.

Robert Niosi estimated it would take around three months, but his attention to detail got the best of him-as he began forsaking plastic for milled brass, replacing pine with mahogany and hunting down others with their own replicas, the project stretched out over a decade.

After seeing the documentary, we wondered about the status of Niosi's time machine replica. Our inquiry was particularly timely: it's currently for sale for a cool $803,000 according to, an Asian online marketplace for luxury products.

The listing breathlessly promises, "It stays true to its literary and cinematic roots, making it an amazing possession for those interested in film, science fiction, or amazing artwork.
"Imagine how excited your friends and family will be to sit in your own personal time machine! If you love collecting quirky things, a time machine is about as exceptional as any collector's item you can find on the market."

Luxify's Stephanie Lau tells EN, "The film in which it is featured, has been playing around the world, from Singapore to San Francisco, and has been extremely well received by audiences and credits alike."

We love collecting quirky things, so we wondered what kind of warranty is available at that price.

The website quotes Niosi, "Once a year, for 10 years, I will personally travel to the location of the Machine to clean and maintain it. I will replace any worn parts and make sure it is in 100% operating condition."

Sign us up for a test drive.

View the listing at:

Watch the documentary trailer at:



What can long-dead dinosaurs teach us about our future? Plenty, according to paleontologist Kenneth J. Lacovara, Ph.D., who has discovered some of the largest creatures to ever walk the Earth. Lacovara is Dean, School of Earth & Environment, Professor of Paleontology & Geology, and Director, Jean & Ric Edelman Fossil Park of Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J.

Why Dinosaurs Matter (Ted Books, September 2017) explains how dinosaurs achieved feats unparalleled by any other group of animals.

Says Lacovara, "As we move into an uncertain environmental future, it has never been more important to understand the past."

Kenneth Lacovara's 2014 discovery of the giant titanosaur, Dreadnoughtus schrani, was published by the journal Scientific Reports, making international headlines. It is the most complete skeleton of a giant titanosaur discovered to date.

Lacovara writes, "Dinosaurs matter because our future matters. Global warming, sea level rise, the catastrophic degradation of our environment, and the heartbreaking and costly biodiversity crisis all loom large on our horizon. People, even paleontologists, are more concerned with the future than with the past. But we don't have access to the future.

"We can make no observations of it and can conduct no experiments in it. The future is a dark scrim that races just before us, always obscuring that which we are about to experience, always concealing how the world will dispose of our dreams and hopes and prayers and desires. As for the present, there's not much to it."

He continues, "Unstable and fleeting, like the heaviest of elements. A wisp of time separating that which can be from that which has been. The sentence you are reading is already in your past. But the past can be embraced. It's in the hills, under the oceans. You can hold it. Crack it open. Learn from it. Put it in a museum for all to see. Most importantly, the past is our guide to the future, the only one we will ever have."

Learn more about Lacovara's work at:

Buy the book on


Big Agnes Wants to Hear From You

Need gear like tents, sleeping bags and camp furniture? Big Agnes, the outdoor company based in Steamboat Springs, Colo., wants to hear from you.

Successful applicants must agree to share photography from their trip(s), keep in touch with updates, provide gear testing reports, and allow us to utilize media assets on our website, catalog, and social media outlets.

Access their online request form here:


Voyagers' Aging Engineers Begin to Retire

Today the two Voyager satellites - 1 and 2 - are respectively 10 billion and 13 billion miles away, the farthest man-made objects from Earth. The 40th anniversary of their launch will be celebrated next month. In the Aug. 3 New York Times Magazine, Kim Tingley explains the challenges faced when some of the original engineers age out of NASA.

Voyager 2 was launched on Aug. 20, 1977. Voyager 1 was launched on Sept. 5, 1977. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

"All explorations demand sacrifices in exchange for uncertain outcomes. Some of those sacrifices are social: how many resources we collectively devote to a given pursuit of knowledge. But another portion is borne by the explorer alone, who used to be rewarded with adventure and fame if not fortune," writes Tingley.

"For the foreseeable future, Voyager seems destined to remain in the running for the title of Mankind's Greatest Journey, which might just make its nine flight-team engineers - most of whom have been with the mission since the Reagan administration - our greatest living explorers."

Tingley continues, "They also may be the last people left on the planet who can operate the spacecraft's onboard computers, which have 235,000 times less memory and 175,000 times less speed than a 16-gigabyte smartphone. And while it's true that these pioneers haven't gone anywhere themselves, they are arguably every bit as dauntless as more celebrated predecessors. Magellan never had to steer a vessel from the confines of a dun-colored rental office, let alone stay at the helm long enough to qualify for a senior discount at the McDonald's next door."

Read the story here:

The Voyager team tapped famous astronomer and science popularizer Carl Sagan to compose an onboard message. Sagan's committee chose a copper phonograph LP as their medium, and over the course of six weeks they produced the "Golden Record": a collection of sounds and images that will probably outlast all human artifacts on Earth.

View the 116 images NASA wants aliens to see:

No Holds Barred

"Before you do it, do you like, write a note to your mom or anything?" asks late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel last month, of Alex Honnold's recent free solo of El Capitan.

"No, that seems overly dramatic," Honnold replied.

In a July 14 segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Honnold explained his preparation and mindset for the record-breaking climb. View the full segment here:

The Art of Adventure Writing

It's not enough for an explorer or adventurer to conceive of a newsworthy project. Not enough to do it safely and come back alive. They need to be exceptional communicators to tell the rest of us - those who stayed home-what it was like out in the extremes.

Dave Roberts, 74, author of 29 books, is one of the country's best adventure writers and provides some advice on the craft to Monica Prelle in the REI Co-Op Journal (posted July 24).

Dave Roberts (Photo by Matt Hale)

In the 1960s and 1970s, Roberts was climbing the hardest routes in Alaska, including the first ascents of the Wickershim Wall on Denali and the east face of Mount Dickey. His dramatic experiences in mountaineering gave him plenty of story fodder and ultimately launched his writing career, in which he specialized in climbing, adventure, and the American Southwest, according to Prelle.

"You can't make a living writing about climbing, you have to broaden it, so the answer was to write about adventure more generally. Gradually over the years, I expanded my so-called area of expertise to anything to do with adventure, and even more broadly-travel, literature and history," he says.

"The very notion of adventure has changed and not for the better. With the advent of so-called adventure travel in the mid-1980s, a bunch of companies sold the basically bogus idea that a group trip led by experts including paying customers, who were along to do something somewhat adventurous but basically turned over all of the decision making to the leaders, fostered the idea that adventure was something you can neatly package and sell instead of something planned and executed by yourself."

He continues, "There was no hope of sponsorship when I started out, but now every aspiring snowboarder or mountain biker wants to be a North Face athlete. I think, sadly, you find a lot of younger people who think it's more important to be sponsored or get a certain number of hits on Facebook than it is to really do something that's cutting edge. There are climbers who become famous because of Instagram-I don't even understand that."

Read the post here:



Recent news that conservationists unearthed a 106-year-old ice-covered fruitcake in Antarctica they believe once belonged to the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott, prompts us to look into the peculiar lives of researchers on the coldest, highest, driest, windiest continent on Earth.

That brings us to "Fingy," a pejorative term for a new employee posted to an Antarctica base. The term apparently derives from "f-king new guy," or FNG. (Source:

For another 22 Antarctic slang terms, like "Big Eye," "Cheech," "Ice-Husband"/"Ice-Wife," and "Turdsicle," see:


Dr. S. Allen Counter, 1944-2017

S. Allen Counter, the Harvard neurobiologist and explorer who reclaimed the reputation of Matthew A. Henson, a black explorer on Robert E. Peary's 1909 expedition to the North Pole, and tracked down his descendants in Greenland, died last month at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 73.

The cause was cancer, his daughter Philippa Counter said.

The late Dr. S. Allen Counter

One of his interests-discovering the cause of widespread hearing loss among the Inuit of Greenland-dovetailed with a historical mystery he hoped to solve. While dining with Swedish colleagues in the late 1970s, he was told that both Peary and Henson, Peary's main assistant on all but one of his Arctic expeditions, had left descendants in northern Greenland, the product of their relationships with Eskimo women.

Dr. Counter, who had been fascinated by Henson since childhood and had written extensively on the contributions of black Americans in remote places, made it his mission to track down their sons and descendants.

He was the driving force behind Henson's reinterment at Arlington National Cemetery. (See EN, April 2017).

Read his New York Times obituary here:


2017 Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Award -
"The Changing Face of the Arctic," Oct. 28, Toronto

This year's Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Awards are themed, "The Changing Face of the Arctic," and will be held on Oct. 28 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. The event includes a full weekend of activities. Awardees are:

* HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, FI '14

Prince Albert II of Monaco has long been dedicated to the protection of the environment and focuses on fighting climate change, promoting renewable energy, combating the loss of biodiversity, and preserving water resources through his Prince Albert II Foundation. He has also participated in research expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, thus becoming the first head of state to reach both poles.

* Donn Haglund, Ph.D., FE '72

Dr. Haglund is a Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of Wisconsin, where he created and taught a pioneering Arctic wilderness field course for more than 40 years. He is recognized internationally for his expertise in maritime transport in support of Arctic economic development, and for his dedication to scientific research in these areas.

* Martin T. Nweeia, D.M.D., D.D.S., FN '99

Dr. Martin Nweeia is a research scientist, explorer, professor and scholar on the functional significance of the narwhal tusk and Inuit knowledge. His landmark studies on narwhal tusk sensory function have earned him nine grants from the National Science Foundation, as well as awards from The National Geographic Society, Harvard University, and the Smithsonian Institution.

* Konrad Steffen

Dr. Konrad Steffen is Director, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research and Professor, Institute of Atmosphere & Climate, ETH-Zurich. He researches sea level changes sensitivity studies of large ice sheets using in situ and modeling results.

For more information:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Outdoor Show Drops Curtain on Salt Lake, Studying Tasmanian Devil, the Nepal Fire Truck Exped

Young Explorer Studies Island Conservation Efforts

This fall, Joshua Powell, 23, from Sussex, UK, is leading the Island Conservation For An Island Nation Expedition across the South Atlantic islands. It's the second leg of a recent South Pacific research trip documenting innovation in island conservation practice across the South Pacific and South Atlantic.

Josh Powell

During a stop in Tasmania, he'll study an ambitious strategy by the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program to identify diseased "Devils," geographically isolate a given population on the island of Tasmania and its offshore islands, eradicate some of the diseased carnivorous marsupials, and then translocate healthy individuals to re-establish disease-free populations.

Powell says, "I plan to research the effectiveness of their bold plan that combines several highly challenging conservation techniques in the attempt to save this endangered Tasmanian icon."

The Tasmanian Devil: a face only a mother could love. Or a Warner Bros. cartoon artist. (Photo courtesy Josh Powell)

Powell, a 2017 Churchill Fellow notes, "Island systems might be a world apart, but the challenges they face and the environments they operate in are often directly comparable. For instance, New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands face many of the same challenges as the UK's Falkland Islands, or South Georgia and the South Shetland Islands. That's why it is so important to share best practices."

In addition to the Tasmania group, Powell will work alongside a range of key conservation organizations in each of the given locations, including New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DOC), and WWF South Pacific.

"The project has actually been far more social than I expected, but of course that makes perfect sense because although many islands are uninhabited, a tremendous amount of the most biologically important ones also have human populations - and that means working with local communities is absolutely essential."

Support has been received by The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, with Poseidon Expeditions supporting the second leg to the South Atlantic sub-Antarctic islands, which will depart in October.

For more information: Follow Island Conservation For An Island Nation on Facebook using the hashtag #IslandConservationForAnIslandNation.

Reach Powell at

Outdoor Retailer Lowers the Curtain on Salt Lake City

The so-called Zion Curtain was a law in Utah that required partitions in restaurants to separate bartenders preparing alcoholic drinks from the customers who order them. It was revoked by the Utah legislature in spring 2017, shortly before Emerald Expositions lowered its own curtain on the city, announcing it would relocate its three 20,000-plus person Outdoor Retailer trade shows to Denver effective January 2018.

At a Denver press conference on a blistering hot July 6, over 100 trade show executives, Colorado government officials, and outdoor companies located in the state gathered with the still-snow capped Rockies in the background to announce the Colorado capital would become the site of Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show, Outdoor Retailer Summer Market and Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (podium) praised his state's 40 wilderness areas and four national parks, calling Colorado, "the number one destination for outdoor recreation visitors in the U.S." Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (front row, center), added, "This should have happened a long time ago. You're simply where you should have been long ago."

Colorado was selected in part because of the high value the state places on outdoor recreation. Utah raised the ire of the outdoor community because of its lack of interest in protecting public lands.

"The State of Colorado and Outdoor Retailer share the common belief that protecting public lands is not only good for the economy, but also, for the soul," said Luis Benitez, director of Colorado's Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, who has summited the Seven Summits, and is a six-time Everest summiteer.

Why this matters to readers of EN: for 35 years since its founding, OR has been the place to solicit expedition funding, the place to network with fellow explorers and adventurers, and consider the latest gear and apparel to meet the challenges of extreme environments.

In fact, OR is the place where the entire industry comes together to conduct business, share best practices and to exchange ideas - it's the largest outdoor trade show in North America and as such, presents plenty of opportunities to the exploration and adventure community.

The upcoming show dates are:

Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show, Jan. 25-28, 2018

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, July 23-26, 2018

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, Nov. 8-11, 2018

The final Summer Market in Salt Lake is July 26-29, 2017

Learn more at:

Watching the Eclipse? Don't Forget to Write

The Postal Service has released a first-of-its-kind stamp that changes when you touch it. The Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamp, which commemorates the August 21 eclipse, transforms into an image of the Moon from the heat of a finger (see related story).

The stamp image is a photograph taken by astrophysicist Fred Espenak, aka Mr. Eclipse, of Portal, Ariz., that shows a total solar eclipse seen from Jalu, Libya, on March 29, 2006.

In the first U.S. stamp application of thermochromic ink, the Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamps will reveal a second image. Using the body heat of your thumb or fingers and rubbing the eclipse image will reveal an underlying image of the Moon (Espenak also took the photograph of the Full Moon). The image reverts back to the eclipse once it cools, which when you think about it, is pretty cool itself.

The Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamps may be ordered at

After Climbing: Start Volunteering

Famed climber and noted conservationist John Roskelley, from Spokane, Wash., shared the limelight with his son, Jess, at the American Alpine Club Excellence in Climbing Awards on June 3 in Denver.

John Roskelley

During his presentation, the elder Roskelley praised Jeff Lowe who was in the audience. "He was the greatest climber partner to have. He gives confidence to you and your other climbing partners when you're out with him." His comments elicited a standing ovation from the audience.

John, 68, continued, "You can't climb forever. So use that passion to volunteer back home."
Added Jess, "Some of the activities you volunteer for can be spur of the moment. It doesn't have to be planned. The environment needs your help."

Father and son successfully reached the summit of Everest on May 21, 2003, at which time Jess, at the age of 20, became the youngest American to have reached the top.

Sopranos Actor Kicks off Nepal Fire Truck Expedition

Sopranos star Michael Imperioli kicked off an expedition this month that will see a motley crew of celebrities drive 10 fire trucks on Nepal's hair-raising roads for charity. But wait. It's not as crazy a stunt as one might think.

Imperioli and around two dozen other celebrities - including actor Malcolm McDowell and British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes ­­- will drive 480 kilometers (298 miles) from the India-Nepal border in November to the capital where the trucks will be donated to Kathmandu's fire brigade.

"I got involved in the project first of all because I just think it's a great idea. I think it's going to save lives and save properties and bring benefit to a lot of people," Imperioli told AFP.

The fire department in earthquake-prone Kathmandu - a city of 2.5 million - is poorly equipped with just three functioning fire engines.

Six fire engines, one ladder truck, two front-loader tractors and a fire command vehicle, mostly donated by fire departments in the U.S., will be commandeered by the celebrities for the charity drive.

The project is the brainchild of German watchmaker and two-time Everest summiteer Michael Kobold, who initially planned to drive one fire engine over the Himalayas with the late Sopranos actor James Gandolfini.

Kobold hopes the initiative will spur further donations to bolster Nepal's fire departments.

Read the story here:

Watch the video:


"... It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards."

- Edward Abbey (1927-1989), American author and essayist noted for his advocacy of environmental issues, criticism of public land policies, and anarchist political views.


How High is High?

Did Mount Everest shrink after Nepal's massive 2015 earthquake? Has it lost a few meters of snowcover due to global warming? Is it getting taller due to shifting continental plates?
To clear up these frequently raised questions once and for all, the Nepalese government has kicked off the long and arduous mission of re-measuring the height of the world's tallest peak, according to CNN (June 21).

In 1856, Everest's height was first calculated to be 8,840 meters (29,002 feet) above sea level by a team led by British surveyor Sir George Everest, the man whom the mountain was named after. Later, in 1955, the figure was adjusted by eight meters to 8,848 (29,028 feet), which has remained the official height to date.

"Since multiple scientific studies show that there might have been some changes in the height of Everest, it became the Nepali government's responsibility to check and clarify the matter," Ganesh Prasad Bhatta, director general of Nepal's Survey Department, told CNN.
The height will be calculated using a combination of geodetic data received from three mechanisms: leveling instrument, gravity meter and GPS.

"You'll have an answer within two years," Bhatta said.

Read the story here:

First All-Women North Pole Expedition Remembered

In recent years, melting sea ice has made human-powered trips to the North Pole extremely treacherous. Every year, the ice has grown thinner and less stable. It's hoped that the story of the 20th anniversary of the first all-women relay expedition to the North Pole will inspire readers of to fight to protect this delicate environment.

The expedition planning began with a classified ad in The Telegraph:

"Applications are invited from women of any age, background and occupation, but they will have to prove fitness and commitment. They will have to put up with real pain and discomfort. They will wonder every ten steps what they are doing but they have the opportunity in an epic endeavor."

That ad attracted 200 applications of which 60 showed up in the remote moorlands of Dartmoor National Park in southwest England for two rounds of grueling tryouts. The group was then whittled down to 20 amateur adventurers, according to writer Jason Daley.

The team was divided into five groups of four adventurers, each of which would tackle one leg of the 416-mile slog over the ice from Arctic Canada to the Pole, pulling their gear behind them on sledges. Facing temperatures of almost minus 50 degrees F., blasting winds and ever-changing ice, which could (and occasionally did) crumble into open water at any minute, the women carried on, writes Daley.

Read more and listen to the podcast here:

Were It So Easy

Men's Journal posted a story this month that explains how to get into The Explorers Club. "No easy feat," says writer Sam Donnenberg.

In his 1915 application, Teddy Roosevelt famously filled out the "Experience" section of the written application by penning in "President of the United States." (Though it's more likely he officially earned his spot by trekking into the Amazon rainforest to uncover the headwaters of the Rio da Duvida - "River of Doubt" - and now called the Roosevelt River).

"It's a fine line often between adventurism and exploration," said Marc Bryan-Brown, the club's Vice President for Membership.

"All explorers are adventurers, but not all adventurers are explorers. You can climb Everest, or scuba dive with sharks, or hang out in New Guinea with a bunch of tribespeople and it's a lot of fun, but in and of itself that is not exploration," says Bryan-Brown.

Donnenberg warns, "Remember this isn't about how many passport stamps you have. The website clearly states, 'Travel without scientific purpose or objective, big game hunting, personal photography or similar pursuits do not represent sufficient qualifications.'"

Donnenberg adds, "Don't turn in a round up of your all-time favorite vacations. You want to show how you've given back to the scientific community as a result of your exploration of the world (or worlds beyond this one). But don't be discouraged if your explorations haven't exactly gone down in history. The membership committee wants to see that you scratched an exploratory itch, not that you necessarily uncovered a groundbreaking new revelation about the world."

Read the full story here:


Osprey Supports Campaign to Ship Fuel-Efficient Cookstoves to Nepal

Osprey Packs, the pack manufacturer based in Cortez, Colo., has become the latest outdoor gear manufacturer to support the Himalayan Stove Project (HSP), a seven-year effort to deliver clean-burning, fuel-efficient cookstoves to the people of Nepal.

"This support makes great sense for us - we have a strong connection to Nepal," Sam Mix, Osprey Conduit of Corporate Outreach.

"Not only do we sell Osprey packs in Kathmandu through retailer Sherpa Adventure Gear, but many of our end-users either have toured the country, or have it at the top of their bucket lists to eventually visit."

During the spring 2015 earthquakes in Nepal that killed 9,000, Osprey assisted with reconstruction, working with the dZi Foundation, based in Ridgway, Colo.

Mix continues, "Osprey and the HSP are a perfect match. As both a humanitarian and environmental cause, the HSP is consistent with our Philanthropic Five Areas of Focus: Environmental Conservation/Stewardship, Public Lands Protection, Trail Stewardship, Reducing Environmental Hazards, and Climate Change."

Osprey Packs can be found online at Learn more about the Himalayan Stove Project at


The Edge of the World
(Falcon, 2017)

The Edge of the World is a new collection of the best photography ever published by Outside magazine. Covering Outside's most compelling stories from throughout the years, it offers readers an inside and dramatic look through the lens of the world's top adventure photographers. It contains a foreword by world-renowned photographer Jimmy Chin and an introduction by Outside magazine's editor Christopher Keyes.

Chin writes, "All adventures begin on the ground. From there we go, well, anywhere we can. We climb. We rappel down. We run. We leap and land - and leap again."

The story behind the cover image (above) is explained, "To get this shot of British BASE jumper Chris Bevins nose-diving off 460-foot Thaiwand Wall, near Railay, Thailand, Patrick Orton had to climb four pitches up a 5.11 route called Circus Oz.

"I wanted to be directly below Chris when he jumped," says the Bozeman, Montana, photographer. Orton, who was dangling from a bolt by his climbing harness, snapped seventeen frames in the thirty seconds it took Bevins to reach the beach. Rappelling took Orton half an hour. "Chris was sipping a margarita at the bar when I got down," he says.

In blurbing the book, Hampton Sides, New York Times bestselling author of In the Kingdom of Ice, pretty much sums up why we all like to explore:

"Here, from the ends of the earth, comes several lifetimes' worth of astonishing images that confirm how deeply adventure is rooted in our DNA. We humans need to soar through the firmament, to walk on wires across the open spaces.

"We need to swim with whales, bike with wildebeests, paddle among sharks. In these stunning photographs, our truant species seems full of hubris but also profoundly humble in the immense face of nature - for, as every adventurer knows, nothing makes us feel grander than to feel small."


Blogger/Climber Has Great Respect for Everest Climbers

Climber, blogger and Alzheimer's Disease advocate Alan Arnette, 60, presented a fascinating talk about Everest during the Himalayan Travel Mart 2017 in Kathmandu in early June. He has been covering Everest for the past 15 years on an almost real-time basis.

Alan Arnette

Arnette, a resident of Ft. Collins, Colo., has been on Everest four times, summiting once in 2011. In 2014, he became at the age of 58, the oldest American to summit K2.

During his talk, he explains that people follow because, "I didn't try to spin it, don't ask for subscriptions, I simply tell the truth.

"I seek the truth and try to share it in a very clear, authoritative way."

He continues, "Today rumors are spread very quickly. When someone dies you have to double check and triple check before you report it."

Later in the 17-min. talk he says, "I have full respect for anybody who even attempts Everest, much less summits it."

See the entire presentation at: (scroll down to July 2)



Literally a "shadow lover," one who is addicted to total solar eclipses. Source: David Baron, author of American Eclipse (Liveright Publishing Corp., 2017).

Surely an appropriate Buzz Word for July as Americans in a wide swath of the nation will become umbraphiles for a day during the Great American Eclipse. Baron, a former science correspondent for NPR, decided 19 years ago to write a book about the history of eclipses when he first heard about the Aug. 21 event. He has seen five totals so far.

During a recent book talk in his hometown of Boulder, he said, "You must be in the Path of Totality. A 99 percent partial eclipse doesn't cut it. The closer you are to the center line, the longer the duration of the eclipse."

This August he'll be in the Tetons to try and witness the approach of the moon's shadow from the distance.

He says of totality, "It's like time stops, then it's all over. Normally articulate people become babbling idiots. It's remarkably unearthy."

"During totality, don't take pictures. Just look and enjoy it."

Traffic is expected to be at a standstill as millions get closer to the natural world. warns, "Imagine 20 Woodstock festivals occurring simultaneously across the nation. Large numbers of visitors will overwhelm lodging and other resources in the Path of Totality. There is a real danger during the two minutes of totality that traffic still on the road will pull over at unsafe locations with distracted drivers behind them."


Everest: Odds of Dying Too Steep

"I think it is interesting that the ratio of climbers to deaths on Everest hasn't changed from the 35:1 that it has been over the last 20-years or so that I have been tracking it. I have climbed some easier mountains so I appreciate the interest in and beauty of climbing Everest. But with the odds of dying being one in 35, I decided those odds are too steep for me (e.g. Denali is 200:1)."

- Chuck Patton, 74, a former climber from Orlando, Fla., and a suburb of Chicago, who now works full-time as SVP-Business Development for a technology company in Chicago.


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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.

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