Sunday, April 8, 2018

Amazon Bwana Eats an Iguana; Amelia's Bones Found?

Allison Hargreaves (1962 - 1995) receives her due.

New York Times Finally Runs Allison Hargreaves Obit   

While the death of British climber Allison Hargreaves was noted in the September 1995 issue of EN, that's not quite the same as an obituary in the New York Times. Now, 23 years later, she receives her due in a new Times Obituaries section feature called "Overlooked."

On Mar. 14, the Gray Lady posted an obit by Maya Salam recognizing her feat of becoming the first woman in history to summit Everest alone and without bottled oxygen. Only the Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner had ascended Everest in a similar manner before.
Exactly three months after Everest, in the late afternoon of Aug. 13, 1995, Hargreaves reached the summit of K2 in Pakistan, the world's second-highest peak. Just hours later, she and five others died when they were engulfed by a storm with fierce winds that rose up the mountain. She was 33.

"After her death, a backlash ­- fueled by a media frenzy around her death ­- began to mount. Some called her selfish and criticized the choice to leave behind young children to put herself in harm's way. Similar denunciations were not leveled so harshly against the fathers who died on the mountain alongside her," writes Salam. 

When asked if a female climber needed to be tougher than a man, Hargreaves said, "I think that women in general have to work harder in a man's world to achieve recognition."


Black Swallowtail by Zac Velarde

Butterfies Are Free 

Last month we wrote about Adventure Scientists. Early this month the citizen-scientist organization based in Bozeman, Montana, announced it was recruiting for its Conserving Biodiversity: Pollinators project. 

The mission is simple: get into the backcountry and photograph butterflies and the plants they use during butterfly season 2018 (May to October). They have one project focused on Arizona, California, Utah, Montana, and Washington, and a slightly different global project open to people anywhere. Photos of the butterflies and their host plants are then uploaded to the iNaturalist mobile app.

Why butterflies? Glad you asked. They are considered indicators of biodiversity. Although backcountry areas can be biodiversity hotspots, AS says researchers are lacking data on butterflies in these remote areas. They need help to collect data on their abundance, diversity, and distribution in the wild. These data will be used by land managers to inform conservation decisions on public lands.

Butterflies comprise approximately 20,000 species globally. They serve as important biodiversity indicators for ecosystem health and provide food for many organisms such as migrating birds. 

For more information:

It Happened One Night: ECAD Moves to Times Square, 
Attracts 1,000 Explorers Club Members and Guests 
While the Marriott Marquis Times Square lacked the same panache as the Waldorf-Astoria, until recently home of the Explorers Club Annual Dinner for over 100 years, and while the touristy hotel was somewhat soulless - akin to holding an event in an airport terminal - at least the 1,030 members and guests at the 114th ECAD could see the stage and hear the speakers. Plus the food was pretty good, not counting the ants, cockroaches and iguana which we're always too, uh, chicken to sample. 
In terms of funds raised, Club officials say it was one of the most successful dinners ever, as well it should be with tickets starting at $500 per plate. 

One woman was wearing a 70.37 ct. natural emerald pendant surrounded by 1.10 cts. of diamonds valued at $141,000 that she didn't dare leave it in her hotel room, she told me.

Guests attended in kilts, in a kalpak, the traditional Kyrgyz hat from Kyrgyzstan (which, truth be told, we had to Google to spell correctly), and plain vanilla black tie. There was a run on chocolate mousse covered in Colombian ants known for their large "arses," millworms on chocolate cake pops, lizard flesh, and rambutan fruit from Southeast Asia. Once opened, it has a sweet, rich creamy flowery taste, but the Club's exotic-foods specialist, Gene Rurka, had to intervene when some guests put the entire golfball-sized spiky, prickly fruit in their mouths. (Who knew?)

Big arse ant lollipops

This ain't candy, man.

But this was more than a gathering of old-timers regaling over their past explorations and slapping each other on their back. Here are the dinner highlights that impressed us most:
*            Bezos is the Pointy End - Amazon chief Jeff Bezos was recipient of the Buzz Aldrin Space Exploration Award given once every four years for pioneering achievements in space exploration. He was recognized as founder of the aerospace company Blue Origin, which is working to lower the cost and increase the safety of spaceflight.   
Bezos, who tops Forbes' annual World Billionaires list with a $130 billion net worth, said, "you don't pick your passions, they pick you. ... I'm passionate about space. There's nothing I can do - I'm in love with it. The problem is it's too hard to get to, but we need to be there."
Bezos believes that for the sake of the earth, mankind needs to go into space.
Later he commented, "This planet is a finite resource. Do we want to go out into space or have a life of stasis, which would be dull.
"We've sent robotic probes to every planet in the solar system. Believe me, this is the best one. ... We have to go into space to protect this plant."
Bezos is a proponent of space vehicles with "true operable reusability, like a commercial airliner." My tablemates in the back of the room commented that Bezos probably always travels in first class, in the pointy end of the plane. Another jokes, "Bezos? He is the pointy end."
Amazon bwana eats an iguana.Amusingly, the biggest news to come out of the dinner was this photo of the multibillionaire sampling an iguana. 
*            Our Flag - Trevor Wallace, winner of The New Explorer Award along with Gino Caspari, Ph.D., said of the Explorers Club flag: "Our flag represents a radically different view of the world; our flag represents our collective quest for knowledge; our flag represents boundless curiosity; our flag represents our protection of the land and the advancement of scientific research; our flag transcends politics and brings unity between people and cultures.
"I am creating a film to prove to the naysayers who say there is nothing left to explore that they are very wrong. There is much more to be discovered and explored, especially when you extend the dimension of time, our past is full of mysteries and parts of the human story still waiting to be uncovered. As explorers we do not fear the new and different, the unknown, we thrive on it," Wallace said.
"The world will always need explorers, and we will never cease to explore." 
*            "This is What I Learned" - David Concannon, the former Flags & Honors vice president, summed up the definition of an explorer versus an adventurer. "An adventurer goes from here to there and comes back and says 'this is what I did.' An explorer goes from here to there and comes back and says 'this is what I learned and this is the knowledge I want to impart to you.'"
*            Camera Shy - Edith A. Widder, Ph.D., winner of the Citation of Merit, said, "The key to preservation of the ocean lies in exploration. Explorers are optimists who see beyond the limits and come up with solutions despite the odds." Her fascinating talk described work with an "E-Jelly," a plastic sphere containing LEDs engineered to flash in a fashion similar to some bioluminescent deep-sea jellyfish. It's considered the key to luring a camera shy Giant Squid close enough to be filmed.

Read about this innovative technique here:

*            To Infinity and Beyond - U.S. Navy Captain James A. Lovell (Ret.) was recipient of the Explorers Club Medal, the highest honor that can be bestowed by the Club. In less than two decades he participated in four groundbreaking space flights: Gemini 7, Gemini 12, Apollo 8, and the ill-fated Apollo 13; Tom Hanks portrayed Lovell in the 1995 American space docudrama of the same name.

"I went 240,000 miles in Apollo 8 to explore the moon and instead, I discovered the earth," Lovell said as he explained he could cover the entire planet with his thumb as he gazed out the spacecraft's window. "Looking back at earth, my world expanded to infinity ... God has given mankind a stage on which to perform. How the play turns out is up to us."
Read more about the dinner here:
"Adventure and excitement are the two things missing from civilization. Danger keeps you on your toes."

- Climber Jim Bridwell. Source: Palm Springs Life magazine, December 2015. Bridwell died Feb. 16 in Palm Springs, Calif., at the age of 73 of kidney failure and hepatitis C believed to have been caused from the tattoo he received from a headhunter during his cross navigation of Borneo in the 80's. The story of Bridwell's declining health is chronicled by his son, Layton, on a GoFundMe site that raised $42,081 out of a $50,000 goal, from 632 donors. 

Field Report: Re-Photographic Mission in Mongolia Chases Roy Chapman Andrews Across the Gobi 100 Years Later
By J.K. Cluer, Reno, Nevada
Special to Expedition News 
Like most good ideas in Mongolia, the concept of re-photographing the extensive image collection generated by the early 20th century Central Asiatic Expedition, led by Roy Chapman Andrews, sprang up over dinner with my long-time cohort Dr. Saandar in an Irish pub in Ulaanbaatar, sometime in 2011-2012. Saandar, land surveyor and map maker, and I, an economic geologist, have been working together in Mongolia since 1997, sometimes with the aim to explore and discover to make a little money, sometimes to just spend money and have a little fun; we always wonder if wisely. Time will tell, but the fun of exploring is never in doubt, nor never disappoints.
The thought occurred to us to re-photograph the Central Asiatic Expedition's (CAE) amazing 1910s and 1920s views of Gobi landscapes and Urga cityscapes (now Ulaanbaatar, today's thriving capital city). For us this was a very attractive project because we both love history, exploration, photography, and Mongolia. And the centennial of the expeditions was just around the corner.
People have real jobs and time goes on, but we never let the idea slip out of our sights. We knew that we'd need to partner with the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) because being the original expedition sponsor they hold all of the images and documents in their archives. Happily upon our first meetings at AMNH in March 2015, Michael Novacek and Mark Norell (the original chasers of Roy Chapman Andrews across the Gobi) were most supportive of the idea, and subsequently made available their dedicated staff in the AMNH library. 

 We spent a couple days in the archive rifling through beige colored steel filing cabinets, a little mini exploration where we experienced the thrill of finding unpublished photos from the previous century and actually handling them. We knew then and there that the deal was sealed - there was sufficient high-quality material to work with, and if the re-photography was successful would eventually help to reveal dramatic changes during those intervening 100 years in Mongolia.
It is interesting to note that the original expedition paid very serious attention to photography and even cinematography, not only to document the mission, but also to produce promotional material for fundraising campaigns. When reading Roy Chapman Andrews' Under a Lucky Star (Speath Press) I learned that he had taken his adventure story to the University Club in New York to seek funding. Another odd connection - I had visited the University Club in 2009 seeking funds for gold and copper exploration missions in the far west of Mongolia, and considering the seniority of the audience I wonder if I pitched some of the same people.
Roy Chapman Andrews (1884-1960) was a leading scientist/adventurer in his day, the prototype "Indiana Jones," president of the Explorers Club from 1931 to 1934, and eventually ascended to director of the AMNH. The major contributors to the CAE photo archive were: James B. Shackelford, a Hollywood cinematographer and AMNH director who made some of the first motion pictures in and of Mongolia; Walter Grainger, the lead paleontologist for the expedition, who not only made far-reaching scientific discoveries including the first dinosaur eggs (this was at the Flaming Cliffs), but was also a keen photographer; and Yvette Borup Andrews, Roy's first wife, whose efforts produced a collection of Ulaanbaatar scenes. Seemingly, without Yvette on the mission, there would have been almost no still photos of Ulaanbaatar - history shows her to be a key player in photo documentation.
Once we had scanned photos in hand from the AMNH, the next challenge was to determine exactly what the subject was, and from where it was shot. While there was some information in the files, in general the context was vague enough that another layer of exploration was required. Early 20th century place names had to be translated to their modern equivalents, and placed in the context of the expedition route maps. This is where Saandar's expertise in Mongolia geographic history, topography and high-precision mapping rose to the occasion. His admirable work has identified three main locations of the Mongolian photographic record: Ulaanbaatar, Flaming Cliffs, and Tsagaan Nuur ("White Lake").
In October 2017, we mounted a preliminary expedition to the Flaming Cliffs and camped there several nights under cold and windy skies. We used UAV videography when air conditions allowed to quickly scan the expansive cliff front looking for specific landforms featured in the CAE's photos. We managed to get in two good days of identifying subjects, approximating views, and obtaining high resolution images. In a few instances we even felt like we must be standing on exactly the same ground the expedition photographer did, and this was indeed a satisfying sensation.
Preliminary results from some of the Gobi locations show dramatic landscape changes in the form of cliff retreat that apparently occurs at the rate of three to four meters per century. Another way to visualize the cliff retreat is about the width of your smart phone every two years - any way you describe it, it's rapid change. Our early ideas are that intense wind blasts, freeze/thaw action, and seismicity combine to undermine the cliffs and eventually topple them over. There is also a human element of erosion as the area is a very popular tourist destination and is virtually unregulated. We will be further documenting and quantifying the rapid changes and possible implications in subsequent missions.
J.K. Cluer is the current president of the Geological Society of Nevada, and for the past several years has been working with Mongolian colleagues and the American Museum of Natural History on a mission to rephotograph the images obtained by the Roy Chapman Andrews Central Asiatic Expeditions to Mongolia in the early 20th century.  You can reach him at Learn more about Roy Chapman Andrews at
A classic view of Flaming Cliffs with a Dodge car at the base taken by Walter Grainger in 1923. This photo appeared as Plate LXII of the The New Conquest of Central Asia issued as Volume I of Natural History of Central Asia by AMNH in 1932 with the caption "Grainger removing a nest of dinosaur eggs at the Flaming Cliffs, 1925."
Cluer and his teammates crawled out on that precipice in 2017 but didn't see any evidence of fossils or egg shells. Was the 1923 photo staged, with clever product placement? Note the clear evidence of cliff retreat.

In a June 26, 1928 file photo, American aviatrix Amelia Earhart poses with flowers as she arrives in Southampton, England, after her transatlantic flight on the Friendship from Burry Point, Wales.

No Bones About It 

Occasionally we like to check in with the folks at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), the Oxford, Pa., organization closest to solving the mystery of the famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart in 1937. 

A new scientific study claims that bones found in 1940 on the Pacific Island of Nikumaroro belong to Earhart, despite a forensic analysis of the remains conducted in 1941 that linked the bones to a male. The bones, revisited in the study "Amelia Earhart and the Nikumaroro Bones" by University of Tennessee professor Richard Jantz, were discarded. For decades they have remained an enigma, as some have speculated that Earhart died a castaway on the island after her plane crashed.

The bones were uncovered by a British expedition exploring the island for settlement after they came upon a human skull, according to the study. The expedition's officer ordered a more thorough search of the area, which resulted in the discovery of several other bones and part of what appeared to be a woman's shoe. Other items found included a box made to hold a Brandis Navy Surveying Sextant that had been manufactured around 1918 and a bottle of Benedictine, an herbal liqueur.

In attempting to compare the lost bones with Earhart's bones, Richard L. Jantz, writing for Forensic Anthropology magazine,co-developed a computer program that estimated sex and ancestry using skeletal measurements. The program, Fordisc, is commonly used by forensic anthropologists across the globe.

Could these be the bones of Amelia Earhart, originally found in 1940?

Read the Mar. 7 story by Marwa Eltagouri of The Washington Post:

The original Jantz study can be seen here, including an analysis of Earhart's weight and body shape:

In a related story, Barbie has 17 new dolls modeled after a diverse group of women who made huge strides in sports, science, art and society. The famous doll brand, owned by Mattel, announced its new "Inspiring Women" series members in time for International Women's Day on March 8. They include Mexican artist Frida Kahlo; and mathematician Katherine Johnson, who worked at NASA to help send the first Americans into space, and Earhart.

Amelia is a real doll. 

According to the company, Barbie designed the new dolls after taking an international survey of thousands of moms with daughters who expressed worry about the kinds of role models their kids were exposed to. The dolls are still in the pre-order phase.

Aleksander Doba kayaked across the Atlantic at age 70, often naked

Naked Kayaker Tackles Atlantic Ocean

Only one person had ever crossed the Atlantic in a kayak using solely muscle power, and he traveled island to island, from Newfoundland to Ireland. The goal of Polish extreme kayaker Aleksander Doba was to go continent to continent between the mainlands, from Senegal to Brazil, unsupported.

His skin broke out in salt-induced rashes, including blisters in his armpits and groin. His eyes blew up with conjunctivitis. His fingernails and toenails just about peeled off. His clothes, permeated with salt, refused to dry. The fabric smelled horrendous and aggravated his skin, so he abandoned clothes, according to Elizabeth Weil writing in the New York Times (Mar. 22).

Read all the gory details here:

Time to Ban Westerners - and Their Egos - From Mount Everest?

Spring in the Himalayas brings with it the start of the brief Everest climbing season - and for the next six to eight weeks, a thousand or so foreigners will descend on Nepal in a bid to scale the highest mountain on the planet. The weary climbers who make it to the top will join an exclusive club of roughly 8,500 people who've summited since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's first successful ascent on May 29, 1953.

But after almost a century of Everest expeditions, 288 deaths and several tons of festering rubbish left behind, can we finally call time on these Western vanity projects? asks travel writer Simon Parker in the UK's The Telegraph (Apr. 4). 

When one considers the dozens-deep queues to the summit, thousands of empty gas canisters, scuffles between climbers, and frozen corpses, Parker wonders whether an ascent "provides anything more than a massaging of my white, middle class ego?"

Parker continues, "Nepal certainly needs tourism and there are dozens of alternative treks to keep the adventurous dosed-up with adrenaline. But just 'because it's there' doesn't mean it has to be Everest." 

Read the story here:

Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon (Picador, 2018)
On July 14, 2015, more than 3 billion miles from Earth, a small NASA spacecraft called New Horizons screamed past Pluto at more than 32,000 miles per hour, focusing its instruments on the long mysterious icy worlds of the Pluto system, and then, just as quickly, continued on its journey out into the beyond.

At a time when so many think that our most historic achievements are in the past, the most distant planetary exploration ever attempted not only succeeded in 2015 but made history and captured the world's imagination.

Chasing New Horizons is the story of the men and women behind this amazing mission: of their decades-long commitment and persistence; of the political fights within and outside of NASA; of the sheer human ingenuity it took to design, build, and fly the mission; and of the plans for New Horizons' next encounter, one billion miles past Pluto in 2019.

In a recent email, Stern tells EN, "The New Horizons mission has set the record for the most distant exploration of worlds in history. We also set records for how many people watched - more than two billion people visited our web site during the flyby of Pluto - showing once again that raw exploration is deeply engaging to people all around the world."

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 Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at  

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Teammates Wanted for Papua New Guinea Trek

Berua, one of the local guides you might meet along the Papua New Guinea trek. (Photo taken by Philipp Engelhorn in 2006)
Teammates Wanted for Papua New Guinea Trek
Author and television producer James Campbell is looking for six qualified backpackers to join him on a trek across the Papuan Peninsula of Papua New Guinea in June 2018. This will be Campbell's second trip on the trail.
In 2006, Campbell organized a small team of outside adventurers to retrace, for the first time, the 150-mile WWII route of a battalion of American soldiers. Military historians call the 42-day trek "one of the cruelest in military history." Navigating the same swamps, thick jungles, and 9,000-foot mountains, it took Campbell's team 21 days to cover the distance from a village called Gabagaba on the Peninsula's south coast to the village of Buna on the north coast. 
This June, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Buna, which U.S. Army historians call the first major land victory of the Southwest Pacific, Campbell will repeat the trek. Inspired by Campbell's 2006 journey, the PNG government is now considering setting aside a portion of the territory along the trail as a national wilderness park to protect the remote Highland villages as well as a mountain ecosystem that includes birds of paradise, tree kangaroos, cassowaries, native possums, and rare butterflies and orchids.
Campbell's hope is that this repeat trek will provide the PNG government with the nudge it needs to establish the park.
Campbell's 2006 trek was unsupported. Since then, an Australian company, Getaway Trekking, has set up an operation on the trail. Getaway is committed to preserving and protecting both the ecosystem and the local cultures. Getaway's operating principle is that much of the money paid by future trekkers will go directly back into the villages for labor, food (from local gardens) and accommodation.
For Campbell's three-week, June 2018 trek, Getaway will provide all logistical support. Costs include all in-country accommodation, transport, food on the trail, internal flights, and a personal carrier. Participants will be responsible for getting to and from PNG.
For more information: Interested trekkers can contact James Campbell at, 608 333 1177.
Adventure Canada Partners with the Sedna Epic Expedition
Adventure Canada is partnering with the Sedna Epic Expedition, an international team of women - ocean explorers, scientists, artists, educators and scuba diving professionals -to scout, document, and record disappearing sea ice in the Arctic. The project will combine indigenous and scientific knowledge to document climate change while it empowers Inuit girls and young women in the Arctic.
Team Sedna will mount a snorkel and dive expedition aboard Adventure Canada's vessel, the Ocean Endeavour, from August 6-17, 2018, during the Arctic Safari expedition to Nunavut and western Greenland. Adventure Canada embraces Inuit culture and traditions, and has successfully operated in the Arctic for more than 30 years.
"Sedna's sea women, Inuit advisors, and young Inuit team members look forward to collaborating with Adventure Canada's resource team, and to deliver our signature, hands-on ocean outreach program in Nunavut's Inuit communities," said Susan R. Eaton, the Calgary-based founder and leader of the Sedna Epic Expedition.
Route of the Ocean Endeavour in August 2018.
The experiential ocean outreach program for Inuit youth and elders will take place in Qausuittuq (Resolute) and Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet) where Sedna's sea women will showcase sea critters in mobile aquariums and lead underwater robot-building workshops and snorkel safaris, bringing the ocean to eye level for Inuit communities and Adventure Canada travelers.
During the Arctic Safari expedition, Sedna's team will engage with passengers aboard the Ocean Endeavour, inviting them to participate in their citizen science ocean programs, including a ship-based marine mammal and seabird survey. The sea women will present lectures on topics ranging from climate change to maritime archaeology and underwater photography and videography.
For information about joining Sedna's team of women explorers during Adventure Canada's Arctic Safari, visit or call Susan R. Eaton at 403 605 0159. Learn more about Adventure Canada at
Science Guys

"When you explore, two things happen: you discover things and you have an adventure," says science educator, mechanical engineer, television host, and New York Times bestselling author, William Sanford "Bill" Nye, who closed the 2018 American Library Association conference in Denver last month. He shared the stage with co-author Gregory Mone, a novelist, science journalist, speaker, and children's book author.

Bill Nye (left) and Gregory Mone
As creator of the Emmy award-winning, syndicated television show Bill Nye the Science Guy, Nye first became a household name while introducing the millennial generation to science and engineering. He now appears in his much-anticipated return to the screen, in the Netflix series, Bill Nye Saves the World. Nye is on a mission to help foster a scientifically literate society.

Nicknamed the "Shiny Object Man," Nye seems to be interested in everything. "Three things everyone wants," he tells the librarians, "is clean water, electricity and the internet. Electricity is astonishing. It can process all this information and it can make toast."

Mone has covered artificial intelligence, robots, physics, and biology as a magazine writer. In Jack and the Geniuses, inspired by the 100 volumes of Tom Swift books first published in 1910, Nye and Mone take middle-grade readers on a scientific adventure that features real-world science and scientific facts along with action and a mystery that will leave kids guessing until the end, making the books ideal for STEM education. 

"We want Jack and the Geniuses to push back on the anti-science movement," Nye says.

On the subject of alien life, Nye comments, "If we would find evidence of life on Mars or Europa (smallest of the four Galilean moons orbiting Jupiter), it would change the course of human history."

"Space travel is the best thing we can do to extend the life of humanity. ... I will go if I can be assured that SpaceX would go on without me . . . I've said I want to die on Mars, just not on impact."

- Elon Musk, PayPal founder, Tesla CEO, and SpaceX CEO/CTO (Source: Vanity Fair, March 10, 2013

Adventure Scientists Help Adventurers Add Value
Wherever you travel, there are scientists desperate for data from around the world. You can provide an invaluable service - becoming the eyes and ears of researchers worldwide - by simply collecting data and shipping it back to a non-profit organization based in Bozeman, Montana, called Adventure Scientists.
Since its founding in 2011, Adventure Scientists has sent thousands of explorers and adventurers on missions to collect data from remote, difficult-to-access locations for its conservation partners. These partnerships have led to the discovery of more than three dozen new species, provided key information to guide climate change decision-making, and helped protect threatened wildlife habitat around the world.
Consider Expedition 196, an attempt to visit all the countries of the world. Without a purpose besides setting a Guinness World Record, it would have been merely an expensive stunt. But Cassandra De Pecol, 27, wanted to achieve more. She added legitimacy to her travel adventure by filling 33 separate liter-sized water sample bottles along her route and shipping them all back to Adventure Scientists for its study of the insidious proliferation of microplastics in the world's oceans.            
Microplastics - or plastic particles smaller than five millimeters in size - pose a significant environmental risk when they enter waterways, according to the Adventure Scientists website. The sources of these often microscopic particles can be from washing nylon apparel, cosmetics, even toothpaste, and debris such as plastic bottles and bags.
Sadly, Adventure Scientists found evidence of microplastics in an average 74% of samples received worldwide - 89% for saltwater samples, 51% for freshwater. The data is part of one of the largest microplastics studies on earth.
"The numbers are absolutely shocking," Adventure Scientists founder and executive director Gregg Treinish tells the 2017 National Geographic Explorers Festival on June 16, 2017, in Washington, DC. 

Treinish, 36, a wildlife biologist and backcountry guide who has hiked the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail and spent nearly two years hiking 7,800 miles along the Andes, wanted his journeys to make a difference, considering the enormous problems the world faces, from coral bleaching, illegal timber harvests, deforestation, and shark finning, to name a few issues. (See: )
"It's important that this data is used to influence change," Treinish says.
Take roadkill for instance, a sad fact-of-life for millions of animals each year. According to Treinish, researchers need annual data about wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVC) across the U.S. In 2011-2012, there were 1.23 million deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S., costing more than $4 billion in vehicle damage, according to State Farm.  

With the necessary data, Treinish says they can identify which species are most at risk, whether any "hot spots" exist that are extraordinarily perilous to animals, and where to place wildlife underpasses and overpasses that in some locations have reduced roadkill deaths 80%.
Treinish, named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2013, said he founded Adventure Scientists in 2011 to link adventurers in hard-to-reach places to scientists who needed data from those locations.
"I started biological and ecological expeditioning, using my outdoor skill sets to make a difference in the world. I was sure that given the proper tools and a similar skill set, there were others like me.
"I have been proven right thousands of times ever since. Explorers come to us to have an adventure with a purpose. We send them on missions worldwide."
In addition to the study of roadkill and microplastics, the organization has collected data about animal feces (scat) to study the antibiotic resistance of Enterococcus bacteria which exists within every animal on the planet, including humans; studied pikas in high alpine environments; researched how butterflies can be biodiversity indicators for ecosystem health; and is creating a genetic reference library of endangered trees along the U.S. West Coast.
Becoming an Adventure Scientist volunteer could possibly help explorers raise funds for their next project, and certainly provide much-needed data for researchers. It all starts by visiting their website and telling them where and when you plan to travel. There is no cost to participate. Adventure Scientists will even pay shipping costs for samples.
For more information:

Trip Report: Paddling the African Great Lakes
By Tamsin Venn, publisher, Atlantic Coastal Kayaker Magazine
In January, explorer Ross Exler, 31, set out on a quest to paddle the African Great Lakes. The goal was to paddle across the three largest: Lake Malawi, Lake Tanganyika, and Lake Victoria. Reportedly, the expedition would be the first unsupported, human powered, solo crossing of those lakes.

Ross Exler
The total distance is about 1,000 miles of kayaking and 600 miles of biking from lake to lake through remote regions of Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Good news. On Feb. 20, 2018, he started down Lake Tanganyika, having completed Lake Malawi, dubbed the "Lake of the Stars" by David Livingstone where the hundreds of lanterns fishermen use to attract the lake's sardines, usipa, resembles stars in the sky.
He expects to complete the expedition sometime this month.
Exler, a resident of Manhasset, N.Y., notes, "Almost all of the people are dependent on the lake and the land around it for subsistence fishing and agriculture. Unfortunately, their practices are not sustainable. About half of the population is under 14, so the population is growing quickly and problems will just be exacerbated."
Exler is completely self supported with the use of a folding expedition kayak, designed by Mark Eckhart of Long Haul Folding Kayak in Cedaredge, Colo., and a folding bicycle and trailer. The company's goal is to provide a safe and reliable way to reach the most remote locations in the world.
He will work with The Nature Conservancy's Tuungane Project, on Lake Tanganyika, that addresses the extreme poverty that underpins the region's environmental degradation. TNC's efforts are introducing fisheries education and management, terrestrial conservation, healthcare, women's health services and education, agricultural training, and other efforts to increase the quality of life.
Exler plans to visit some of the project villages and team up on social media to try to get TNC's work and general knowledge of the African Great Lakes in front of a larger audience. 
For more information: 

Will Steger is on the move again.
There's No Stopping Will Steger
There's no stopping peripatetic explorer Will Steger of Ely, Minn. According to a story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Mar. 1), Steger will take an unprecedented solo trek in Canadian Arctic Barren Lands, a place that, reportedly, no one has considered exploring at this time of year.
Starting March 21, the 73-year-old explorer will travel alone on a 1,000-mile, 70-day journey through the Barren Lands, a remote region in the Canadian Arctic with a nasty reputation for high wind. It will be Steger's longest solo expedition and, he said, it will push him in ways like never before, according to the story by Scott Stowell.
To his knowledge, this trip will be the first time anyone has attempted to cross the Barrens' rivers systems during breakup, that transitional weather period between winter and spring.
"Steger's adventure will begin from the Chipewyan Indian village of Black Lake in northwestern Saskatchewan just east of Lake Athabasca. He plans to reach his final destination at the Caribou Inuit community of Baker Lake in Nunavut near Hudson Bay in early June. It's likely Steger won't encounter other people in the 1,000 miles between the two villages that bookend the expedition. He'll be a minimum of three hours away from the nearest human by bush flight," writes Stowell.
Steger says, "I need these breaks to regenerate. I think every human being should have [them]. Very few people take time out because they're so busy they can't afford it."
Read the story here:

Mae Jemison appears in Boulder. (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)
"Space Isn't Just for Rocket Scientists and Billionaires"

More than 1,200 guests - including bright-eyed elementary schoolers who aspire to be astronauts, inspired mid-career female scientists and fellow Star Trek fans - filed into an auditorium on the University of Colorado Boulder campus last month for a sold-out address by former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to go into space.

Her takeaway message: The challenges of space exploration mirror the challenges faced in the world today, and we all have a part to play in its success.

"Space isn't just for rocket scientists and billionaires," Jemison said. "We have to figure out how to make it accessible."

Before flying on the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 1992, Jemison graduated from Stanford and Cornell universities, worked as a physician and served as a Peace Corps medical officer in West Africa. At 61, she is now principal of the 100 Year Starship, a U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) -funded project working to make human travel beyond the solar system a reality in the next century.

Future space exploration will be fundamentally different than the current model, she said, and will require all of the same elements - energy, food, medical care, even clothing - needed to sustain life on Earth. Achieving audacious goals in space demands the intelligence of a diverse array of contributors, not just a chosen few, she said.

She admitted she's afraid of heights and had to determine whether she would rather be afraid of heights or be an astronaut.

Read more here:

Travel With Purpose Book Seeks Stories of Voluntourism
EN editor Jeff Blumenfeld is seeking examples of everyday people who devote a portion of their vacation, business or family travel to volunteer services. The most appropriate case studies will be included in his new book titled, Travel With Purpose (Rowman & Littlefield), expected out this fall. If you or a friend or loved one has given back in some way during travel, please contact him at
Denali's Raven
One of the stand out short documentaries presented during last month's Boulder International Film Festival is Denali's Raven, an intimate look at a female Alaskan bush pilot who was a former alpinist. Leighan Falley spent years as a ski guide and climber on the Alaskan range. But after becoming a mother, she quit guiding and took to the skies as a mountain pilot, bringing her daughter, named Skye, along for the ride. She works with Talkeetna Air Taxi.

"The transition from being an alpinist and going on expeditions and being a pilot is a good one because I could still go into the Alaskan range every single day and come home to my family every single night." 

A beautiful film, view it here:

These two Nepalis had their eyesight restored thanks to Dooley Intermed's 2017 Gift of Sight Expedition.  

Gorkha Gift of Sight Documentary 

A team of leading ophthalmologists traveled last December to a remote region of Nepal to tend to the eye care needs of over 800 remote villagers in the Upper Gorkha region, near the epicenter of the massive earthquakes and aftershocks in 2015. Centered in the roadless town of Machhakola, the region has a population of over 600,000 and is currently without a dedicated eye care facility. Seventy-one sight-restoring surgeries were conducted. Expedition News was proud to be a part of the project.

The new 11-min. documentary was produced by Daniel Byers of Skyship Films. View it here:
Sailing Stories Return to The Explorers Club HQ, April 14, New York 
On Apr. 14, 2018, The Explorers Club will host its annual Sailing Stories, a day focused on sailing-based exploration and conservation at its global headquarters in New York. Speakers include:
Pen Hadow, one of the world's leading explorers of the Arctic Ocean. He led two, 50-ft. yachts into the North Pole's international waters, the first non-icebreaking vessels in history to do so, to demonstrate the increasing accessibility and emerging threat to wildlife by the reduced sea-ice cover.
Richard Wilson, twice the oldest competitor in Vendée Globe, a single-handed (solo) non-stop yacht race around the world without assistance. Wilson will share how he uses sailing as an educational tool teaching and conveying positive values to children.
Sara Hastreiter
Sara Hastreiter, Volvo Ocean Race sailor, will discuss how sailing in this relentless 40,000 mile, nine month race around the planet, known as the Mt. Everest of sailing, inspired her monumental goal to sail all seven seas and climb the Seven Summits.
Carson Crain, skipper and team leader for the United States in the 2017 Red Bull Youth America's Cup, will discuss the competitive dynamics in this extreme international sailing competition for under 25-year-old sailors.
Lincoln Paine, a maritime historian and author, will discuss his award-winning book The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World (Vintage, 2015).
Tickets are $75 before Apr. 9. Purchase by emailing or calling 212 628 8383.
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: 

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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