Wednesday, June 13, 2018

What's Cooking Spider-Man? Everest Round-Up, Pringles Fuel an Expedition


Bill Steele and Hemirrhagus billsteelei, the spider named in his honor.

What's Cooking, Spider-Man?

Last time we wrote about world-renowned speleologist Bill Steele, he helped launch the National Eagle Scout Association's World Explorers Program dedicated to conducting national competitions to select young Eagle Scouts to experience life-changing opportunities in numerous fields.
Steele, an Eagle Scout himself, spends a lot of his time inside caves in Mexico, also home to a newly discovered species of spider. Scientists recently named it Hemirrhagus billsteelei, in honor of Steele's contribution to the collection of cave-dwelling tarantulas and other arachnids in Mexico's Huautla Cave System.

Without Steele, some of these spiders might never have been found.

Steele retired in 2014 after a 34-year career with the BSA. His last role was as national director for alumni relations and the National Eagle Scout Association. Today he leads Proyecto Espeleológico Sistema Huautla, or PESH, an annual underground expedition into the deepest cave system in the Western Hemisphere.

The new species can grow six to eight inches long. We hear some Explorers Club members can't wait to sink their teeth into Billsteelei at the next annual dinner.

Read more at:


The Everest climbing season experienced unusually stable weather during the spring climbing season, but had its usual mix of both success and tragedy. Here's a quick round-up of results this year.

The jet stream hit the Himalaya on May 7. Everest expeditions were forced to wait at lower elevations, and the Icefall Doctors had to wait until May 10 to continue fixing ropes to the summit. Nevertheless, by May 14 they had completed the set lines on both the Nepalese and Tibetan sides of the mountain. From May 13 till May 24, the weather on Everest remained relatively calm, leading to a highly unusual 11 straight summit days, and likely a new record for Everest summits in one season, according to ExplorersWeb.

Exact statistics are still being compiled by the Himalayan Database, but this season will likely be the busiest ever. Everest saw at least 700 successful summits, substantially more than the current record of 667 set in 2013.

*    Death Count Drops, Slightly - Five deaths have been reported on Everest for the season, two fewer than in 2017. "The use of more supplemental oxygen, improved weather forecasting, staying on known routes and an increase of Sherpa support for foreigners, all have helped make Everest safer today than ever," writes noted climber, coach and professional speaker Alan Arnette on, based in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Of those fatalities, three were Sherpa: Damai Sarki fell into a crevasse near Camp 2 on the Nepal side; Pasang Norbu, 41, died near to the summit after suffering a stroke; and Lam Babu died in unclear circumstances on the way down from the summit while supporting a cryptocurrency stunt (see below). Two international climbers perished: Macedonian Gjeorgi Petkov, 63, from a heart attack on the Nepalese side, and the Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki, 36, who was found dead in his tent while trying to descend from Camp 3.

*    Almost a Triple Crown - In an attempt to bag Lhotse, Everest and Nuptse in a single season, Singaporean hedge-fund manager and ultra-marathon runner Leow Kah Shin hired a private team from Adventure Consultants, led by Guy Cotter. He and Cotter didn't quite make the Triple Crown, but managed two out of three - a fair haul. They climbed Lhotse and Everest in just over 24 hours, beginning on May 16. Earlier, they had abandoned their Nuptse push due to high winds and heavy snow.

Xia Boyu climbed with the Imagine Treks and Expeditions team, led by super Sherpa Mingma Gyalje. Photo: AFP

*    Double Amputee Returns 43 Years Later - In one of the most inspiring stories of the season, 70-year-old double amputee Xia Boyu managed to summit Everest, 43-years after his tragic first attempt. On that early expedition, the Chinese climber suffered severe frostbite, ultimately losing both his legs.

*    Record 22 Ascents; New Woman's Record - Kami Rita Sherpa, 48, made yet another trip to the top of the world, summiting Everest a record 22nd time. His goal is 25 summits before retiring. Meanwhile, 44-year-old Lhakpa Sherpa, from Connecticut, bested her own record for successful female ascents. Already the woman's record holder with eight Everest summits, she reached her ninth on May 16 from the North Col on the Tibetan side of the mountain.

*    Become a VVIP - Fancy yourself an Everest climber? One guide service, Seven Summits Treks and Expeditions based in Kathmandu, will take you there for a cool $130,000, all inclusive (except for airfare, your personal gear, and tips). Ask for their VVIP Everest Expedition Service via what they call the southeast ridge normal route, as if anything on Everest was actually "normal." The 36-day trip says nothing about the need to train before you arrive in Kathmandu, other than arriving with "a certain level of fitness."

In fact, money is more important.

The website reads, "If you want to experience what it feels like to be on the highest point on the planet and have strong economic background to compensate for your old age, weak physical condition or your fear of risks, you can sign up for the VVIP Mount Everest Expedition Service offered by Seven Summit Treks and Expeditions."

No thanks, we're good.

*    Publicity Stunt Goes Very, Very Wrong - One group held "the world's highest dinner party" at base camp. They had champagne, wore evening gowns and tuxedos, and raised over $135,000 for Community Action Nepal - a charity that supports Nepalis, according to Arnette's blog.

Fair enough. But when an ASKfm cryptocurrency promotional stunt, designed to draw attention to a cryptocurrency Initial Coin Offering, resulted in the death of one Sherpa, experienced Everest hands just shook their heads.

It was a stunt designed to play on one of cryptocurrencies most resilient memes: "to the moon" - the idea that prices will skyrocket, leaving currency holders rich in the process. But it was a stunt that left one Sherpa presumed dead on Everest, according to Mark Serrels, writing on (June 4).

ASKfm, one of the world's top 10 social media networks, is set up in a question and answer format that is very popular with teens and tweens. It was about to release a brand new Initial Coin Offering (ICO), giving early investors the chance to pre-buy some of its cryptocurrency before its launch. To promote the ICO, ASKfm sent four "crypto enthusiasts" to Everest. The plan: bury $50,000 worth of ASKT, ASKfm's cryptocurrency, in a nano ledger at the top of the mountain.

See their promotional video here:

Askfm ledger wallets left on Everest. 

The team of four made it to the top on May 14, and returned safely.

According to extensive media reports on the tragedy, Lam Babu Sherpa, a man who helped the ASKfm's four-man team summit, was left behind during the descent and is now presumed dead. Lam Babu Sherpa was a veteran of three Mount Everest summits.

Maxim Tsaryk, CEO of ASKfm, tells (May 31), "We sponsored an event like many other big companies do, although it didn't go well, and we are saddened and horrified by the outcome."

He continues, "Companies that choose to sponsor extreme sports and events are always taking a risk, as these events are, well, extremely risky. We can argue about if this was a good marketing ploy, but we can't argue about the fact that anyone's life being taken is horrible, even if it's someone who is working daily in a high-risk environment or choosing an extreme profession."

As of earlier this month, the buried Nano Ledger containing ASKfm's cryptocurrency is still on the mountain. Tsaryk says, "We weren't pushing for anyone to actually go and find this ledger, this was more of an entertainment kind of thing."

For more details about spring 2018 on Everest, visit:


Pringles Fuels Greenland Ice Cap Expedition

Many explorers we've covered on expeditions report deep cravings for chocolate. Or sticks of butter. Or pemmican, a nasty mix of animal fat and protein. Or a few nips of brandy at night. Now comes word of a rather unusual exploration fuel: Pringles.

Yes Pringles. While traditional potato chip manufacturers shave off slices of potato and deep fry them, Pringles are much different. The creation process begins with a slurry of wheat, rice, corn, and potato flakes that are pressed into form. The resulting dough is then laid out like a sheet of ultra-thin cookie dough and mechanically cut into shape. The chips then move forward on a conveyor belt until they are ultimately pressed into molds, giving it the famous Pringles shape, according to

Perhaps the only thing natural is the can's paper cardboard, but that's just us talking.

Now comes word that Pringles were considered a daily award during a grueling expedition to the Greenland ice cab by polar explorer and guide Eric Larsen, of Boulder, and his three clients.


For the love of Pringles. Photo taken during a previous Eric Larsen polar training trip. Nice lips. 

Larsen blogs on May 29, "To ski across the Greenland ice cap, we are pulling everything in lightweight sleds - 26 days of food, fuel and gear. Obviously, we want things to be as light as possible - especially our food. But we also need enough calories to sustain our daily efforts (for this trip around 5,000). Freeze dried meals, super charged oatmeal, Skratch energy bars, chocolate, salami, cheese, soup... we eat basically the same thing every day (and enjoy it).

"But the highlight has to be the salty snack of Pringles when we get in the tent each night. On polar expeditions, I choose Pringles because they stay fairly intact in the sled (surprisingly and somehow) and you can find them all over the world. Not a lot of nutritional value of course, but for crunch power and tasty satisfaction, they're worth it.

"... it takes a bit of self control to not chow through an entire tube each night," Larsen writes. 

We're thinking it might taste better if they actually used potatoes.

Read the entire post here:

Nominate Your Favorite Outdoor Book 

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 National Outdoor Book Awards. The program recognizes the work of outstanding writers and publishers of outdoor books. 

Books may be nominated for awards in one of nine categories including: 

History/Biography, Outdoor Literature, Instructional Texts, Outdoor Adventure Guides, Nature Guides, Children's Books, Design/Artistic Merit, Nature and the Environment, and Natural History Literature. Additionally, a special award, the Outdoor Classic Award, is given annually to books which over a period of time have proven to be exceptionally valuable works in the outdoor field.

To be eligible for the 2018 National Outdoor Book Awards, nominated books must have been released (date of first shipment of books) after June 1, 2017 and before September 1, 2018, except for those titles which have been nominated for the Outdoor Classic Award. Application forms and eligibility requirements are available on the National Outdoor Book Awards website:

The deadline for applications is August 23, 2018.


"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). Source: Richard Wiese, newly-elected president of The Explorers Club, speaking on June 7 at the "Explorations in Investing" annual meeting of Jumar Management and Piton Debt Holdings in Boulder, Colorado.

Wiese would later say, "The best explorers see the dark cloud and know when to come to shore." When bad things happen, his father, an airline pilot credited with the first truly solo flight across the Pacific Ocean (1959), from the U.S. to Australia, would advise, "put yourself in a bubble of calm," to figure your way out.

In his introduction, Bo Parfet, author of  Die Trying: One Man's Quest to Conquer the Seven Summits (AMACOM, 2009), said, "Explorers survive because they think ahead and relentlessly prepare." 

His financial management firm uses exploration as a metaphor for investing.

El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California. 

Honnold, Caldwell Break Climbing's "Four Minute Mile"

Two of the world's best rock climbers coped with frightening falls and the deaths of two fellow climbers on the same rock in a month-long quest to shatter a mythical record in Yosemite National Park. Tenacity paid off June 6 as Alex Honnold, 32, and Tommy Caldwell, 39, reached the top of El Capitan, the most celebrated slab of granite on Earth, in less than two hours, breaking a barrier compared to the four-minute mile, according to an Associated Press story by Brian Melley (June 7).

The blistering time of 1 hour, 58 minutes and seven seconds capped weeks of practice and a few stumbles on the so-called Nose route that runs up the middle of the 3,000-foot (914 meters) sheer monolith.

Hans Florine, who has held the record on and off between 1990 and 2012 - the last time with Honnold - said the mark is equivalent to the ongoing quest to break the two-hour marathon or Roger Bannister's 1954 achievement in the mile.

"We were pushing the five-hour barrier before and then the four-hour barrier and then the three-hour barrier. So which one of those is the four-minute mile?" Florine said before the mark was broken. "I think it is getting close," he tells AP.

On June 3, two U.S. climbers in their forties perished on El Cap's Freeblast route horrifying spectators in the valley below who had been hoping to see Honnold and Caldwell. Honnold and Caldwell were not climbing that day and they canceled plans to go for the record and instead conducted a training run.

Honnold is the only person to have climbed El Cap solo without a rope or any protection, a perilous feat that earned him both admiration and criticism for being reckless. (See EN, June 2017).

Read more about the El Cap speed record here:


Bolivian National Park Found to be World's Most Diverse

A two-and-a-half year expedition in a remote part of Bolivia has uncovered a treasure trove of data on what has proven to be the world's most biodiverse national park, according to

Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) discovered more than 120 potentially new species of plant, butterfly, and vertebrate during their epic trek. As a result of the work, Madidi National Park is now considered the most biologically diverse protected area on the planet.

A giant cowbird snacks on the ticks of a lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris) in the Madidi river. Photo by: Milieniusz Spanowicz/Wildlife Conservation Society.

In terms of species, it is home to 265 mammals, 1,018 birds, 105 reptiles, 109 amphibians, at least 314 fish, 5,515 plants with 1,544 butterfly species and sub-species also confirmed within the park.

Dr. Robert Wallace of the WCS said: "The massive amounts of images and data collected will provide us with the baseline information needed to protect this natural wonder for future generations of Bolivians and the world." Of all the species recorded in the Madidi landscape, 200 of them were newly discovered in Bolivia while 124 are considered as "candidate new species."

Read the story and view the video here:

Ulyana Nadia Horodyskyj  

Explorer Conducts Science in the Wild

Ulyana Nadia Horodyskyj was last covered in EN in April 2016, for her study of the difference between satellite images of Baffin Island glaciers, and the so-called "ground truth" research they gather by direct observation at the same sites seen from space.

Recently she was profiled in Rock & Ice magazine (April 26). Horodyskyj's Ph.D. work in glaciology had taken her to the Himalaya to study the effects of climate change on glacial lakes and villages high in the Nepalese mountains. She had participated in and even led alpine expeditions before, participating in climbs up Mount Ranier, Argentina's Aconcagua and Lobuche in eastern Nepal, according to the story by Zoe Rom.

She and her boyfriend and climbing partner, expedition guide and musician Ricardo Pena, are constantly training for ambitious climbs. For now, their exploration wish list  includes the Seven Summits, the 50 state high points and the Colorado centennial peaks. On each summit, Horodyskyj will make a short video about science, and Pena will sing a song.

"The pull of mountains even taller than the Rockies drew Horodyskyj to Nepal, where she began researching the effects of climate change on glacial lakes, studying how steadily warming glaciers endangered Nepalese villages near flooding lakes. Leaning on traditional knowledge and collaborating with Sherpa scientists in the mountains was a dream come true for Horodyskyj," Rom writes.

"When my scientific work has application and can be used to help people, it holds a lot more meaning for me."

Horodyskyj runs Science in the Wild (, a Boulder, Colorado, company that takes clients on immersive adventure science expeditions.

Read the story here:

Scientists and Archaeologists Locate WWII Plane Where 11 Lost Their Lives

A B-24 D-1 bomber plane transporting 11 American servicemen was shot down over the South Pacific on March 11, 1944. For more than 70 years, the final resting place of the aircraft nicknamed Heaven Can Wait and the men it carried remained a mystery. Now, through the efforts of Project Recover, it has finally been identified.

Project Recover is an organization dedicated to locating the remains of U.S. aircraft that crashed into the ocean during World War II. To find the wreckage of this particular plane, a team of marine scientists, archaeologists, and historians worked together to trace its final flight, according to the story by Michele Debczak on (May 28).

Before heading off to Papua New Guinea to survey the area, Project Recover compiled data on the crash from military reports, diary entries from airmen on associated planes, and extended family members.

With that information in hand, the team traveled to the suspected crash site and searched a 10-square-mile patch of sea floor with sonar, divers, and aerial and aquatic robots. It took them 11 days to locate the wreckage of Heaven Can Wait in Hansa Bay, 213 feet beneath the ocean's surface.

Most touching moment: a memorial service for all 11 servicemen held aboard the research vessel. The documentary concludes with these words:

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them."

- Excerpt from "For The Fallen," by Laurence Binyon (1914)

Read the story and watch the video here:

AUV Helps Scientists Find "Holy Grail of Shipwrecks" and Up to $17 Billion in Treasure

Here's another example of how technology is answering some of the oceans' deepest secrets: The Spanish galleon San José, which went down off the coast of Colombia in 1708, is the so-called "holy grail of shipwrecks." 

The doomed vessel was discovered in 2015 after more than three centuries lying in wait at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea, and late last month, researchers revealed how they made their famous find, according to a story by Peter Dockrill on (May 23).

The perfect Father's Day gift for the treasure hunter in your life. 

Marine scientists from the Woods Hole (Mass.) Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) say the San José - whose sunken riches are estimated to be worth as much as $17 billion in today's currency - was discovered by a 13-foot autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) called REMUS 6000, during a survey off Colombia's Barú Peninsula. It has a maximum depth of 19,685 feet (6000 m, hence the model number).

Who gets their pieces of eight remains locked in controversy.

Some contend that since much of the wealth aboard the vessel resulted from the conquest of the Americas, it ought not leave Colombia - while others say other nations still may be entitled to a share of the treasure, based on historical arguments that much Spanish cargo in the late 17th century rightfully belonged to Holland, France, or England.

With the history of these sorts of disputes in mind, the United Nations called on Colombia last month to not commercially exploit the discovered wreck and the cultural heritage it represents.

Read the full story here:

Want your own REMUS 6000? Who wouldn't? Read the sales brochure here:


BLUE Film Examines a Marine World in Jeopardy

BLUE, directed, written and produced by Karina Holden, is a new documentary focusing on people defending marine habitats, campaigning for smarter fishing, combating marine pollution and fighting for the protection of keystone species. Among its numerous awards is "Best Impact Film," from the New York Wild Film Festival 2018.  

The way the ocean operates is different to how we thought of it 100 years ago. The film believes we can no longer think of it as a place of limitless resources, a dumping ground, immune to change or decline. Lest watching this makes you, well, blue, the doc shows there is a way forward and the time to act is now.

Watch the trailer here:

Learn about U.S. screenings at:


"Good Evening Everybody"

There's a game we like to play when showing visitors around the headquarters of The Explorers Club in New York. There on the landing is a bust of a distinguished looking gentleman; cover the nameplate and few visitors recognize the man who at one time was the most famous broadcaster in America. In fact, the Club's building is named in his honor, as is an annual award.

Globetrotting writer and broadcaster Lowell Thomas (1892-1981) is the subject of a new documentary by filmmaker Rick Moulton, narrated by Robert Siegel.  If you watch a news video today, listen to a newscast or download a podcast, then you are benefiting from the work of Lowell Thomas. As Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, Dalai Lama and many others explain in this lively film about a dynamo of a man, Lowell Thomas invented what is now often celebrated or disparaged as "traditional journalism."

And he was a great adventurer. In a primetime special after his death, Walter Cronkite concluded that Thomas had "crammed a couple of centuries worth of living into" his 89 years. He returned from Arabia in 1919 with film of "Lawrence of Arabia," a legend he also more or less invented through a multi-media show. After riding a mule caravan up into forbidden Tibet in 1949, just before the Chinese invaded, Thomas returned with his leg broken in eight places but also with precious film of the young Dalai Lama. 

See the trailer at:



An experience close to home, cheap, simple, short and 100% guaranteed to refresh your life. A microadventure takes the spirit of a big adventure and squeezes it into a day or even a few hours. Source: Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes (William Collins, 2014) by Alastair Humphreys, British adventurer, author, blogger, filmmaker and photographer.


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

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

Buy it here: 

Coming in Fall 2018: Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism by Jeff Blumenfeld (Rowman & Littlefield)

Advertise in Expedition News - For more information:

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 1877 Broadway, Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80302 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2018 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through (made payable to  Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at

Monday, May 7, 2018

Youngest Americans Reach the North Pole


Youngest Americans Reach the North Pole
The youngest Americans to reach the North Pole returned safely home last month.
Three-and-a-half-year-old Ronin Phi Garriott de Cayeux and sibling Kinga Shuilong Garriott de Cayeux, 5 years old, joined two other children in setting the record on an expedition led by their father, Austin, Texas, adventurer, video-game designer and citizen astronaut Richard Garriott de Cayeux, known to gamers as “Lord British.”

The group included the youngest American, British, French, Luxembourgish and Taiwanese-Chinese explorers on record with a goal of studying climate change and the indigenous Inuit people.
The trip spanned from April 13-22 with access to the geographic North Pole via Norway's Svalbard Islands and the Russian Barneo ice camp, according to Garriott de Cayeux.
The pint-sized polar explorers traveling to the North Pole last month were (left to right) Ronin Phi Garriott de Cayeux, Kinga Shuilong Garriott de Cayeux, Olivier Ren Kraus (age 7) and Maika Ai Kraus (age 7). They hold Explorers Club Flag #61 which they took on their expedition.

One inspiration for the trip was the Explorers Club Young Explorers Program. Garriott de Cayeux is on the Club’s board.

Previously, the youngest-ever records were held by Jaimie Donovan, eight, from Galway, Ireland, who flew out to the Arctic with her father, Irish endurance runner Richard Donovan, in 2012; and Alicia Hempleman-Adams (UK), also age eight, who stood at the geographic North Pole in 1997 to meet her father, the well-known adventurer David Hempleman-Adams (UK), at the end of his successful trek to the pole, according to the World Record Academy (

Watch news coverage of the recent expedition here:

Twin seven-year-olds Maika and Olivia Kraus appeared on New York TV prior to departure:

(Photo courtesy IAATO /Lauren Farmer)

Antarctica Visitation Up 17-22%

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) reported its visitor numbers for the 2017-2018 Antarctic season. The upward trend in visitor numbers recorded since 2011-2012 continued in 2017-2018. The majority, 41,996, of visitors traveled by sea to Antarctica on vessels offering excursions ashore, representing a 16% increase compared to the previous year. Of these, 3,408 flew to the South Shetland Islands on the Antarctic Peninsula where they immediately boarded a vessel for onward travel. In addition, 9,131 visitors experienced Antarctica on one of four cruise-only vessels that do not make landings, an increase of 22% since 2016-2017.

Five-hundred-eighty visitors flew to field camps in Antarctica’s interior with IAATO land operators. Overall, the total number of Antarctic visitors in 2017-2018 was 51,707, an increase of 17% compared to the previous season. IAATO has been monitoring, analyzing and reporting trends since 1991 as part of its commitment to “leave only footprints” through the effective self-management of its activities. All visitor activities follow strict codes of conduct developed by IAATO and through the Antarctic Treaty System.

Overall American visitors remained the most numerous, accounting for 33% of the total number, the same proportion as the previous year. Chinese visitors were the second most numerous, accounting for 16% of all visitors and increasing by 4 percentage points compared to 2016-2017. Australian, German and British visitors were the next most enthusiastic visitor nationalities, accounting for 11%, 7% and 7% respectively.

Tour operators are conscious not to kill the golden goose. IAATO requires its members to abide by the Antarctic Treaty System. Tour operators refrain from making any landings in Antarctica from vessels carrying more than 500 passengers. They also coordinate with each other so that not more than one vessel is at a landing site at any one time, no more than 100 people are ashore at once and a staff: passenger ratio of up to 1:20 is maintained.

Read the complete announcement here:

Live aboard this Turkish gulet while volunteering on a whale shark research study. 

Space Available on Djibouti Whale Shark Research Expedition

Teammates are being sought to join an expedition to study whale sharks in the Gulf of Tadjoura, a gulf of the Indian Ocean in the Horn of Africa, Nov. 30 to Dec. 8, 2018. The project will be led by Shark Research Institute Director of Science & Research, Dr. Jennifer Schmidt. Participants will serve as research assistants, documenting whale sharks by photo identification, collecting and analyzing plankton samples and observing night feeding behavior.

Research goals are to understand where these animals come from, why young sharks congregate in this area, and where they go when they leave. Home for this liveaboard expedition is the M/V Deli, a Turkish gulet (wooden sailing boat) that accommodates 12 people in shared rooms with private baths.

Both whale shark interactions and diving are available each day, and participants may choose any combination of activities. Cost: $2,200 double occupancy, includes shared accommodation onboard, land-based hotel stays, and meals onboard the ship. Airfare is extra.

For more information: at Shark Research Institute Global, Princeton, N.J.  

Five Women Explorers Inducted as WINGS WorldQuest Fellows

WINGS WorldQuest, a nonprofit organization which supports and recognizes extraordinary women in science and exploration, awarded five recipients its 2018 Women of Discovery Awards during a ceremony in New York on April 25, 2018. 
WINGS WorldQuest Honorees (l-r) - Eleanor Sterling, Ph.D., Nalini Nadkarni, Ph.D., Thandiwe Mweetwa, Nergis Mavalvala, Ph.D., and Asha De Vos, Ph.D. 

The WINGS WorldQuest Women of Discovery Awards were established in 2003 to recognize extraordinary women making significant contributions to world knowledge and science through exploration. Unique to this honor and organization is the $10,000 unrestricted grant that is bestowed on each Fellow, to use as she sees fit to advance her research, career, and expeditions.

In 15 years, 79 pioneering women have been bestowed as Fellows, and WINGS Worldquest has granted over $550,000.

The five are:

Asha De Vos, Ph. D.
Sea Award

A Sri Lankan marine biologist, ocean educator and pioneer of blue whale research within the Northern Indian Ocean.  

Nergis Mavalvala, Ph. D.
Air and Space Award

She is a physicist whose research focuses on the detection of gravitational waves from violent events in the cosmos that warp and ripple the fabric of spacetime.

Thandiwe Mweetwa
Conservation Award

Her work focuses on studying population dynamics and threats to survival of lions and other carnivores in eastern Zambia in order to protect the species and their habitat.

Nalini Nadkarni, Ph.D.
Lifetime Achievement Award

Known as the "Queen of the Forest Canopy." For three decades, she has used mountain-climbing techniques, construction cranes, and hot air balloons to explore life in the treetops of Costa Rica and the Pacific Northwest, documenting biota that are rarely or never seen on the forest floor.

Eleanor Sterling, Ph. D.
Humanity Award

Dr. Sterling is passionate about the intersection between biodiversity, culture, and languages. She works to strengthen connections, between people and place, across communities, and through time.
For more information:


“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."  

-  Mark Twain aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer.

U.S. State Department Changes Travel Advisory System

The U.S. State Department recently changed how it issues warnings to U.S. citizens about international travel. Previously the agency released advisories, warnings, or bulletins about specific nations, which caused some confusion. “What’s the difference between a travel warning and a travel alert?” people wondered.

The system has changed so that each country now has an advisory - not a rule, but instead a “recommendation” - rated on a four-point threat scale. The lower the number, the lower the risk: (1) Exercise Normal Precautions (blue), (2) Exercise Increased Caution (yellow), (3) Reconsider Travel (orange), and (4) Do Not Travel (red).

Not surprisingly, countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria fall within the highest category because of the likelihood of life-threatening risks and the U.S. government’s limited ability to provide help.

CBS travel correspondent Peter Greenberg criticizes the new program because it’s not well defined. “Once you get beyond the first category, I still don’t know what that means. Does it mean ‘don’t trip’? And ‘Exercise Increased Caution,’ does that mean ‘don’t trip and fall’?
“Most people, once it gets beyond the second category, decide ‘I’m not going,’ he tells CBS This Morning last Jan. 16. “My own personal metric is that I will not go anywhere where I don’t know who’s in control, but putting Mazatlán in the same department as Syria and Yemen is not really helping people.”

The warnings are split even further by country according to Crime, Terrorism, Civil Unrest, Health, Natural Disaster and Time-Limited Event, which Greenberg thinks is a good idea.   
Enter your destination country and the threat level will be displayed along with alerts and visa requirements. What’s more, a color-coded map also identifies the world’s hot spots. Through its Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), you provide details of your trip and are then placed on an email list to receive Travel Advisories and Alerts as soon as they are issued. 
Staff columnist Stephanie Rosenbloom writes in The New York Times, “The smartest way to use the rankings to help decide if a trip is right for you is to read the explicit risks on the country page, which on the overhauled website are more clearly explained.”

For more information:


Mountain is Momentous

Narrated by Willem Dafoe, Mountain is a cinematic and musical collaboration between acclaimed director Jennifer Peedom (Sherpa) and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, one of the world’s great chamber orchestras.

Mountain is a vertiginous juxtaposition of image and music that explores the powerful force that mountains hold over our imaginations. Only three centuries ago, setting out to climb a mountain would have been considered close to lunacy. Mountains were places of peril, not beauty, an upper world to be shunned, not sought out. Why do mountains now hold us spellbound, drawing us into their dominion, often at the cost of our lives?

From Tibet to Australia, Alaska to Norway armed with drones, Go-Pros, and helicopters, the filmmakers have fashioned an astonishing symphony of mountaineers, ice climbers, free soloists, heli-skiers, wingsuiters snowboarders and parachuting mountain bikers.

See the trailer here:

Justin Fornal in full regalia at The Explorers Club Annual Dinner, March 2018 (Photo by Rod Mickens)

18 Most Adventurous People in the World is out with its list of the “18 Most Adventurous People in the World Right Now” (posted in April). It’s a list that may surprise you. In addition to well-known adventurers free solo rock climber Alex Honnold, alpinist Jess Roskelley, and polar explorer Felicity Aston, is the lesser-known Justin Fornal, a so-called Cultural Explorer - he’s a cultural detective, extreme athlete, a culinary explorer, and somewhat surprisingly, a resident of The Bronx. 

Fornal’s projects include traveling 1,200 miles deep into the East African bush to learn more about the Buganda tribe; and swimming 100 miles around a Scottish island to create one of the rarest whiskies in the world.

“All my stories are obsessions,” he tells writer Will Cockrell. “And when I can combine athleticism with cultural research in the field to create something, that’s what makes it all worth it for me.”
In the future, Fornal is planning to swim 230 miles from Mali’s Mopti to Timbuktu to build a clinic and raise awareness in the fight against female genital mutilation. “At the heart of all my field research is giving people a microphone,” he says. “I want to get the stories out there while the stories can still be recorded,” he tells the website. 

Read the article here:


Alex Staniforth raised corporate sponsorship as a teenager for his expeditions to Baruntse in 2013, and Everest in 2014 and 2015.

Eight Tips for Finding Sponsorship

A guest post on by young British endurance adventurer, speaker and mental health fundraiser Alex Staniforth, provides eight pragmatic tips for soliciting expedition sponsorship. Staniforth is author of Icefall: The True Story of a Teenager on a Mission to the Top of the World (Coventry House Publishing, 2016). He explains that sponsors, “... want to be associated with positive things, and adventures/expeditions are an exciting way for them to engage with their customers and take their brand to cool places.”

Staniforth continues, “When approaching prospective sponsors, many people get confused. They think you’re asking for charity sponsorship, that is where people raise charity sponsorship by doing challenges like marathons, cycles and skydives by family/friends/colleagues. Be clear in communicating that you’re funding the cost of the project itself. 

“The other key point is sponsorship denotes a two-way relationship. A donation means the donor gets nothing in return. But sponsorship implies that the sponsor gets the return they’ve paid for, like paying a decorator to paint your kitchen. This takes a lot of work, you have a responsibility to deliver, and there are risks and consequences if you fail to do so,” Staniforth writes.

Personalizing a pitch is vitally important. “If you start an email with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ you might as well be sending them an invite to Candy Crush Saga. Nobody likes cold, impersonal emails. Making an effort to find the appropriate contact and personalize the email will help reduce the chances of your email being trashed.”

Read more sponsorship solicitation advice here:


Antarctica: Earth’s Own Ice World

In 2016, Rosaly Lopes, an expert on volcanoes on the Earth and planets, and space artist Michael Carroll, teamed up as fellows of the National Science Foundation to travel on an Explorers Club flag expedition to Mount Erebus, the world’s southernmost active volcano in Antarctica. The logistics of getting there and complex operations of Antarctica's McMurdo Station echo the kinds of strategies that future explorers will undertake as they set up settlements on Mars and beyond.

Their popular-level book, Antarctica: Earth's Own Ice World (Springer Praxis Books), explores the arduous environment of Antarctica and how it is similar to other icy worlds in the Solar System and delves into Antarctica’s infrastructure, exploration, and remote camps, culminating on the summit of Erebus.

Learn more here:


Alone at the Top

What goes through your mind when you’re dropped alone in the middle of the Alaska Range, the cold and darkness surrounding you without another human being for miles? 

Arctic explorer Lonnie Dupre had made a career out of working in teams to survive in extreme conditions and places most humans wouldn’t dare to tread. In 2010, looking for a new personal and professional challenge, Dupre decided he needed to summit Denali, the continent’s tallest peak - and he needed to do it alone and in the depths of the darkest, coldest conditions on the mountain.
Alone at the Top: Climbing Denali in the Dead of Winter (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2018) by Dupre and Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Pam Louwagie, is the dramatic story of one man’s ascent of North America’s highest peak under the harshest conditions - and the climb that nearly killed him.

Dupre was on his fourth attempt in five years in late December 2014 when a surprise storm caught him at 11,200 feet. Forced to live for almost five full days with little food and water, it was the most dangerous situation of his life.

After three failed attempts, he finally reached his goal on January 11, 2015, illuminated by the feeble afternoon winter sun. 

Alone at the Top tells how he almost died in the attempt and offers a mountaineer’s firsthand perspective during life-and-death decision-making on the mountain. 

Read an excerpt from the book here:


Trans-Antarctica Expedition Spawns Another Book

A number of books were spawned by the historic 1989-90 human- and dog-powered crossing of Antarctic. The latest is by UK team member Geoff Somers who, in July 1989, during the brutal months of the polar winter, accompanied five teammates from five other countries on skis to attempt a near 4,000-mile traverse of the greatest axis of Antarctica, with three teams of huskies hauling their supplies.
Across this vast expanse of ice and snow, they had to contend with extremes of cold down to minus 50 degrees F., endure ferocious blizzards, negotiate mountain passes, yawning crevasses and perpetual isolation in the most inhospitable environment on Earth.

This unprecedented trek had to be completed in 220 days before the following winter would engulf them. Somers self-published book is called, Antarctica, The Impossible Crossing? and includes a forward by Sir Chris Bonington.

Why a book now, almost 30 years later?

“It was about time I put pen to paper - for historical reasons this trip, not just because I was part of it, is important in the transition from the old way of travel to the modern.  During the crossing, I kept a daily journal, trying to write at least 900 words a day - so I had plenty of text to choose from,” Somers tells us in an email.

“AND, it is unlikely to be repeated, even if participants were to start on the spine of the Antarctic Peninsula, they would not be allowed to use dogs, the logistics would probably be more costly and difficult. However, the impossible is constantly being proved possible and I would be quite happy to be proved wrong.” 

The book is available through or


Jesus Nut

Here’s something you don’t want to think about when you’re choppering to or from an expedition. The Jesus nut, or Jesus pin, is a slang term for the main rotor retainingnutthat holds the main rotor to the mast of some helicopters, such as the UH-1 Iroquois helicopter; or more generally is any component that represents a single point of failure with catastrophic consequences.

If the Jesus pin were to fail in flight, the helicopter would detach from the rotors and the only thing left for the crew to do would be to "pray to Jesus." (Our thanks to Scott Hamilton, president of Dooley Intermed International, for planting this gruesome thought in our impressionable heads).


Get Sponsored! 

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

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

Buy it here: 

Coming in Fall 2018: Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism by Jeff Blumenfeld (Rowman & Littlefield)

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