Monday, December 27, 2010
Reptile & Amphibian Ecology International (RAEI), a nonprofit conservation ecology organization, has a new innovative program that puts used cameras and other equipment to work for promoting the science and art of biodiversity. RAEI accepts donations of all kinds of gear crucial to conservation ecology, from camera bodies and lenses to GPS units. The donated equipment is used by biologists and photographers in the field to document the diversity of life. Some of the gear is used by RAEI staff, but many of the recipients of the donated items are residents of impoverished regions in Ecuador, Mexico, and Cameroon, according to Dr. Paul Hamilton, executive director.
Residents of targeted study areas are chosen for their knowledge of ecosystems and abilities to conduct field work. They are then given basic gear like cameras, GPS units, and data sheets, along with training and a research manual. They are also taught the technical skills needed to take photos and field data, and given instructions on how to get their photos and data to biologists who can use them. A list of items that are particularly needed can be found at RAEI's website, www.raei.org.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Marketing Professional Sought – Wilderness Research Foundation seeks a marketing professional to join their Board of Directors. The successful candidate will be based in the New York metro region, have an interest in science, the outdoors, or the polar regions, and the capacity to help us attract corporate sponsorship and media attention. For further information, please see www.wildernessresearch.org or contact WildResch@aol.com.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The Will Steger Foundation is celebrating the 20th Anniversary Reunion of Will Steger's Trans-Antarctica Expedition, December 10-11, 2010.
On March 3, 1990, a team of six men from six different countries and their 42 sled dogs completed the first-ever dogsled crossing of the Antarctic continent. The 1990 International Trans-Antarctica Expedition, led by Minnesotan Will Steger, travelled 3,741 miles in seven months, enduring temperatures as low as -54F and winds as high as 100 mph. In early December 2010, the team will gather for the first time in 20 years to reflect on their journey and its impact, felt around the world by both lawmakers and school children.
· FFree public forum – Perceptions from China and the US on Climate Change, featuring China team member and scientist, Dr. Qin Dahe and University of Minnesota’s Associate Professor Elizabeth Wilson. Dr. Qin Dahe is a well-known glaciologist, climatologist and a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Sciences as well as the former Administrator of the China Meteorological Administration. Details: Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, Cowles Auditorium, December 10th, 7 pm.
· EExpedition Reunion Event - Team members representing France, UK, China, Japan, Russia and the US will share their stories and video clips from the expedition at a public event on Saturday, December 11th from 3-5 p.m. The event will be held at Anne Simley Theater at Hamline University, 1536 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul. Tickets are available at The North Face Stores in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The tickets are free; a donation of $5 for students and $10 for adults is suggested.
The landmark expedition could not be replicated today: not only have dogs been banned from Antarctica, but the Larsen A and B Ice Shelves, on which the team travelled for a month, no longer exist, its demise a major indication of the impacts of climate change.
The impacts the team has made on a global scale are monumental. Following the expedition, the team members met with the heads of state in France, China, Russia, Japan and the US, calling for the ratification of the 1961 Antarctic Treaty; the Treaty involves 39 countries that cooperatively manage Antarctica for scientific purposes only. The team and sled dog “Sam” met with President and Mrs. Bush at the White House on March 27, 1990. In 1991, the Treaty was ratified, protecting Antarctica from oil and mineral exploration and preserving it for science.
In 2007, team member Dr. Qin Dahe of China shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for his work on climate change. Dr. Qin’s scientific contributions were largely based on the ice core samples he took across the entire Antarctic continent during the expedition. Frenchman Jean-Louis Etienne and Minnesotan Will Steger both have committed themselves to raise awareness about climate change, informing citizens through expeditions and public speaking on how they can make a difference. Locally, Will Steger established the Will Steger Foundation to educate, inspire, and empower people to engage in climate change solutions. UK team member Geoff Somers has worked with numerous polar expeditions and lectured widely. Dr. Victor Boyarsky of Russia heads the Arctic and Antarctic Museum in St. Petersburg and has led numerous expeditions in the Arctic. Japanese team member Keizo Funatsu runs Silver Cloud Kennel in Alaska and has competed several times in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.
As a result of the success of the expedition’s adventure learning program, Hamline University launched the Center for Global Environmental Education, to create environmental education programs for K-12 teachers. Leading up to and following the expedition, Hamline hosted a series of summer institutes for teachers, bringing together leading Antarctic scientists with K-12 educators from around the world. The expedition packed its gear on the campus during the third annual Antarctic Institute.
“The expedition literally changed the direction of my life, my teaching and in many cases the lives of my students,” explains Louise Huffman, a teacher from Naperville, Illinois, who attended the Antarctic Institutes. “Today, I would not be leading the educational outreach efforts of a huge international science project if I had not been so turned on by polar science 20 years ago. Six young women who were in my classes in 1989 and 1990 have gone on to get PhDs in science! The changes brought by this project have far-reaching affects.”
The educational program, which relied on the early computer networks of Prodigy, CompuServe, Minitel and Apple (as the internet was not yet available to the public), reached 25 million children worldwide. The team received letters, poems, essays, handmade books and drawings from schools around the world, including rural communities in China and even the Australian Outback.
“Wherever I go,” explained Will Steger, “I meet people who were affected by the expedition. Many of them followed the expedition in elementary school. Now that they are parents, they are teaching their children about global cooperation and the importance of working together to solve problems like global climate change.”
The expedition was the focus of four hour-long ABC-TV specials which won the station a National Sports Emmy Award. It was featured in the November 1990 issue of National Geographic Magazine. Jazz great Grover Washington wrote a song and dedicated his 1990 national concert tour to the expedition, called Protecting the Dream. Major sponsors Target Stores, The North Face and Gore-Tex launched an expedition exhibit in an 18-wheeled truck that travelled the country, providing armchair explorers a “vicarious” experience.
# # #
Hamline University is located at 1536 Hewitt Avenue in St. Paul. Lot parking is free on Saturdays. For a campus map, visit www.hamline.edu
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
As the American Polar Society celebrates its 75th anniversary leading the world in polar research and exploration, they have launched a membership drive, hoping to attract scientists, explorers and enthusiasts from around the world. For more information: www.ampolarsociety.org.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
In the summer of 2009, Charles Scott, a middle-aged corporate executive, and his 8-year old son, Sho, left their home in New York City to ride connected bicycles 2,500 miles the length of Japan. Telling skeptical friends, “A child can accomplish a whole lot more than many people think,” the two mapped out a 67-day route that stretched from the northern coast to the southern tip of the mainland, passing through many of Japan’s most famous cultural sites and nature preserves.
Hoping to encourage efforts to combat climate change, they raised money for a global tree planting campaign, received press from around the world, and were named “Climate Heroes” by the United Nations (http://www.unep.org/wed/2009/english/content/climateheroes.asp).
Scott, 42, described the estimated $10,000 adventure as “a celebration of the bond between father and son, and a challenge to contemporary society’s notions of what is reasonable for a child to attempt.” Dismissing fears shaped by “a culture that is increasingly sedentary and mistrustful of the value of discomfort,” the pair cycled through uninhabited stretches of Japan’s northern wilderness, slept in a tent wherever they found themselves, navigated heavily populated, traffic-choked urban landscapes, struggled up and down mountains populated by wild monkeys, took on sumo wrestlers, meditated in a Buddhist temple, held hands in silence at Hiroshima Peace Park, made friends throughout the country, and explored the limits of quality father-son time.
The trip was almost entirely self-funded, with support from Intel which provided a mobile Internet device using their latest Atom processor and a wireless card that allowed Scott and Sho to stay connected and post blog updates throughout the country. Details from the adventure are at www.japanbikeride.com.
Scott and Sho have just announced their next bike adventure, scheduled for the summer of 2011. The pair, along with Sho’s 4-year old sister, Saya, will circumnavigate Iceland, a 1,500-mile (including side trips) fully self-supported trip on two connected bicycles and a bike trailer. They will use press coverage from the ride to encourage action to address climate change. The route and other logistical details are still being developed and they are currently seeking $10,000 in cash and in-kind support. (For more information: www.icelandbikeadventure.com).
Friday, October 22, 2010
Sure, you can travel to Antarctica on a big, fat cruise liner and pay upwards of $20,000, or you can apply as a chaperone or student on Students on Ice, an award-winning, 10-year-old organization offering educational expeditions to the Arctic and the Antarctic.
The Quebec-based organization has a few openings for chaperones and students to visit the Antarctic from Dec. 27, 2010 to Jan. 10, 2011.
The ship-based journey will explore southern South America, the Antarctic Peninsula and surrounding Southern Ocean. It will involve 65 international students, aged 14-18. The students will travel on this transformative adventure together with a team of 25 world-renowned scientists, historians, artists, explorers, educators, leaders, innovators and polar experts. Students on the expedition will develop knowledge, skills, perspectives and practices that will help them to be Antarctic ambassadors and environmentally responsible citizens.
Interested students and teachers/chaperones should contact the Students on Ice office to get more information and an application form, or apply online. The cost is $12,500 USD and includes airfare from New York JFK, accommodations, and all meals and activities. (For more information: www.studentsonice.com, 866-336-6423, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
The next time you are facing a monumental task and feel overwhelmed by it, think of Jordan Romero. He’s the thirteen-year-old boy who reached the summit of Mount Everest in May, ably accompanied by his mountaineer father, stepmother and three Sherpa guides.
As well as ice fields, crevasses and boulders, another obstacle that Jordan had to overcome was skepticism from the public. When news of his Everest success was made public, some in the international climbing community balked at the idea of a kid barely into his teens being put into the dangerous circumstances that come with climbing the world’s tallest peak, and others made assumptions about how he got there. But to author Katherine Blanc, whose recently published book for children and young adults, The Boy Who Conquered Everest, documents Romero’s story, the mountain climbing is secondary to the planning, the hard work and training it took to get there.
“People thought he was a rich kid who bought his way to the top of the world. Jordan does not come from money. He raised the money for his trips by selling t-shirts and headbands, by holding taco dinners with some of the money going to the trip, by giving presentations to outdoor companies that then sponsored him with equipment rather than funds. He did it the hard, old-fashioned way,” says Blanc, 47, the daughter-in-law of famed cartoon voice Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Barney Rubble)
(When we heard that, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask what it was like at the dinner table. Katherine tells us, “Mel frequently spoke to us ‘in character.’ And since Mel created over 1,500 character voices, you never knew who you might be talking to next.”)
But back to Romero: Not only did the Everest ascent make him the youngest person ever to reach the summit, it also got him one step closer to fulfilling his childhood dream of summiting the highest peak on each of the seven continents. In a three-year period starting just after his tenth birthday, Romero climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa, both Mount Kosciuszko in Australia and the Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia (to satisfy any sticklers about his credentials), Russia’s Mount Elbrus, Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, then Alaska’s Mount McKinley, before tackling Everest.
While her book is aimed at young adults or kids, Blanc says Romero’s mindset appeals to all ages, including many adults. “’Find Your Own Everest’– that’s become his catch phrase,” says Blanc, a resident of Romero’s hometown, Big Bear Lake, Calif. “As the youngest person to summit Everest, Jordan holds a world record, but he really wants to use the book to urge kids, and adults for that matter, to get outside, put down the video game, get some exercise. … He’s not telling everyone to pursue mountain climbing, just to set your own goals and dream big.”
In January 2011, Romero hopes to climb Mount Vinson Massif, the highest point in Antarctica, the final stop in his Seven Summits quest. His only obstacle is his age – Antarctica requires a climber to be 16, and Jordan is 14. Blanc says Team Jordan is hoping to obtain a special permit, based on his previous climbing record. (For more information: www.hayhouse.com).
Friday, October 15, 2010
The torrential downpour outside on the streets of Manhattan was reminiscent of the Himalaya as 200 climbing fans gathered on the Upper West Side to hear climber and professional photographer Jimmy Chin recount a spellbinding expedition in 2008 to summit what Conrad Anker called “the center of the universe” – Shark’s Fin, a stunning unclimbed blade defining the east face of Meru, a 6,450-meter (21,161 feet) peak located in the Garwhal Himalaya of northern India, high above the Ganges River.
The 19-day experience was harrowing. “Talk about the art of suffering,” Chin said. “You’re either gorging on food getting ready for the trip or starving somewhere.”
The talk began with a photo of Chin as a youngster in a sled. “Despite all my climbing, the coldest I’ve ever been was standing at a bus stop back home in southern Minnesota in a jean jacket on a 30 degrees below zero day. I guess that prepared me for a life of freezing,” said Chin, a North Face athlete from Victor, Idaho.
Later he praised the support provided by Sherpa. “Here we think we’re bad ass climbers and the Sherpa are running rings around us on an expedition, putting up ladders, fixing lines. They’re all super strong. They were born at 15,000 feet.”
The elusive granite feature on Meru, which resembles a shark's fin, is the exemplar of high altitude alpine big wall climbing, characterized by a 1400 meter (4,593-ft.) climb with the final 700 meters (2,297 ft.) an overhanging big wall. Chin, Conrad Anker and Renan Ozturk were pushed back just two pitches from the summit. It was painful watching the team spend five days in a two-man portaledge which resembles a hanging tent. Chin calls it his one bedroom/no bath apartment – a “claustrophobic icebox no bigger than a single bed.”
He continued, “On the fifth day in a portaledge in a storm, you basically run out of things to say.
“One of the great things about climbing is that it’s an amazing vehicle to see the world and experience different landscapes.”
The Never Stop Exploring Speaker Series is a classic touring slide show that had all the trappings – an engaging speaker, a sweepstakes drawing, great music, a poster signing, and schwag such as free magazines, refrigerator magnets and lip balm. It was all part of a multi-city tour sponsored by W.L. Gore & Associates, Outside Magazine, Paragon Sports, Primaloft Insulation, and The North Face.
Heading back outdoors again to hail a cab, the nor'easter pounding New York somehow didn't seem quite so nasty any longer.
Learn more about the Shark’s Fin climb here: http://www.thenorthface.com/catalog/sc-brand/meru.html, www.jimmychin.com/
Friday, October 8, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
Luck o’ the Irish finds the “Polar Time Capsule”
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Morgan Outdoors, 46 Main St., Livingston Manor, in the New York Catskills, about 100 miles northwest of New York, N.Y., will host Jeff Blumenfeld for a special presentation based on his book, "You Want to Go Where?" at 7 p.m. Sept. 3.
The book covers some of the world's most historic expeditions and adventures with an eye toward how people can gain funding for their own travels.
This program has been presented at the Explorers Club, the Adventurers Club, the American Mountaineering Museum, and off the coast of Antarctica in January.
Blumenfeld covers several adventures, from Will Steger's first confirmed dogsled trek to the North Pole to Reid Stowe's recently concluded history's longest sea voyage — 1,152 days.
Seating is limited and reservations are recommended by calling Lisa Lyons at 845 439 5507.
The free public program will be followed by a book-signing.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Finally, all those ham radio DXpeditions become a little more bearable thanks to this new Australian wine we picked up at Stew Leonard's in Norwalk, Conn. The coded message on the label says, naturally, SHIRAZ.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 16th year, is the monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online to media representatives, corporate sponsors, educators, research librarians, explorers, environmentalists, and outdoor enthusiasts. This forum on exploration covers projects that stimulate, motivate and educate.
PROTECTING RUSSIA’S WILD SALMON
This summer, Outdoor Research, the outdoor gear company, will help a team of whitewater kayakers explore the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s Far East and draw international attention to this threatened area and its wild salmon.
Partnering with scientists, conservation NGO's and funded by a grant from National Geographic Society's Expedition Council, the Kamchatka Project aims to collect valuable scientific data for researchers and bring much needed attention to protect Kamchatka’s river drainages and the salmon that depend on them. Kayaks will allow the least intrusive, most intimate and only way to explore many sections of these wild rivers.
The 600-mile long Kamchatka Peninsula is the spawning ground of roughly one fourth of all Pacific salmon, a species that plays an integral role in the livelihood of communities around the world. Yet this environmentally rich and pristine wilderness is severely threatened by a changing landscape, including an increase in poaching for caviar and industrial land use designations, putting this iconic species at risk.
The Kamchatka Project team is comprised of six skilled whitewater kayakers with diverse backgrounds in science, education, video, and web production, allowing them to tackle the issues that face Kamchatka with an educated and informative perspective.
Throughout the summer, the expedition will be documented in real-time through photos and interviews on VertiCulture, an outdoor adventure website. Once the expedition ends this month, the Kamchatka Project team will generate an online educational platform, edit an adventure documentary, create educational materials, and organize a speaking tour.
“Exploratory kayaking provides a compelling platform to raise awareness for a more important cause,” said Kamchatka Project expedition leader Bryan Smith. “Kamchatka’s salmon-based ecosystems are unparalleled by anything on the planet, and we hope our efforts will help inspire the international community to make sure this abundant source of natural capital is not destroyed.” (For more information: www.outdoorresearchverticulture.com).
Ericsson Dies on K2
Swedish mountaineer and professional skier Fredrik Ericsson died Aug. 6 while trying to summit K2 in Pakistan (see EN, June 2010). The incident occurred between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. as Ericsson was attempting to become the first man to ski from the summit to base camp. Ericsson, in his mid-30s, was at the bottleneck, at an altitude of around 8300 meters (27,231 feet), between Camp 4 (8000 meters) and the summit (8611 meters). According to published reports, as Ericsson was attempting to fix ropes to the snow and ice along the route he lost his purchase and was unable to arrest his fall.
Ericsson's body, resting at about 7000 meters, will remain where it fell, according to his website. His parents have requested it remain in the mountains he loved. (For more information: www.fredrikericsson.com).
New Highpoint Record Set
On July 16 at 1:55 p.m. Hawaiian time, Mountain Hardwear Youth Athlete Matt Moniz, 12, and his father Mike ran to the top of Hawaii’s Mauna Kai (13,796-ft.), setting a new speed record for summiting the 50 highest points in all 50 U.S. states. The new 50-50 record set by the Moniz duo is 43 days, 3 hours, 51 minutes and 9 seconds, beating the previous record notched by Denver schoolteacher Mike Haugen and mountain guide Casey Grom by two days 16 hours (see EN, July 2010).
The elder Moniz reflected upon the past weeks, “From Florida to Alaska and Katahdin to Mauna Kea, Matt and I marveled firsthand at both the cultural and geographic diversity of our great nation. It seemed daily we were confronted with complexities ranging from high winds and snow to mosquitoes and bears; challenges that served to strengthen our resolve and our already close father-son bond. The expedition was an adventure of a lifetime and will most certainly provide a lifetime of memories.”
The project was dedicated to raising awareness about pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). (For more information: www.climb7.com).
Northern Lights Expeditions Shines on Children of Arctic and U.K.
Kokatat, the watersports apparel and accessories company, continues to sponsor Northern Lights Expeditions, a project seeking to establish links between children of isolated indigenous communities of the Arctic and children of the U.K., as they are preparing for phase two of its three-part service project.
Northern Lights explorers Richard Smith and Craig Mathieson founded the project to help develop the children's confidence and self-reliance through what Smith and Mathieson have coined “inspiration of exploration.” The participating schools are developing online projects covering global warming, song, dance, and social cultural comparisons.
During July and August 2009, Smith and Mathieson kayaked between remote Inuit settlements of Eastern Greenland forging links with Scottish schools and delivering donated laptops to assist with connecting children from different cultures.
This month, the team will travel back to Greenland with teachers to make introductions to the Greenlandic schools and to ensure that all required health and safety assessments are in place prior to the exchange visit of the pupils. During the winter, pupils from schools in Scotland and the French Alps will participate in a mini-expedition by dog sled across the sea ice of the South Eastern coast of Greenland.
In the future, Northern Lights will expand the program to involve other indigenous communities from Arctic countries, making first contact again by kayak. A BBC Radio 4 documentary about Northern Lights is currently in production and set to broadcast in the coming year. (For more information: http://northernlights-expeditions.org/).
Scotch on the Rocks
A crate of Scotch whisky that has been frozen in Antarctic ice for more than a century is being slowly thawed by New Zealand museum officials – for analysis, not to be tasted.
The crate of whisky was recovered earlier this year – along with four other crates containing whisky and brandy – beneath the floor of a hut built by British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton during his 1908 Antarctic expedition (see EN, December 2009).
Four of the crates were left in the ice, but one labeled Mackinlay's whisky was brought to the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand, where officials said last month it was being thawed in a controlled environment.
An Antarctic Heritage Trust team that was restoring the explorer's hut found the crates in 2006 but couldn't immediately dislodge them because they were too deeply embedded in the ice.
Drinks group Whyte & Mackay, the Scottish distillery that now owns the Mackinlay's brand, launched the bid to recover the whisky for samples to test and potentially use to relaunch the defunct Scotch. The whisky may still be drinkable but would probably not be tasted.
Shackleton's expedition ran short of supplies on its long ski trek to the South Pole from the northern Antarctic coast in 1907-1909 and turned back about 100 miles (160 km) short of its goal. The expedition sailed away in 1909 as winter ice formed, leaving behind supplies – including the whisky and brandy.
Check the Attic
The late Peter Allen was right when he sang, “Everything Old is New Again.” Time to check the attic: climbers are using hula hoops to stay in shape. According to Betty “Hoops” Shurin, owner of Betty Hoops Dance Therapy (www.bettyhoops.com), hula hoops are “…portable, fun fitness. I know people that summit mountains with their hoops. Climbers use it on their rest days.” Shurin, an extreme sports enthusiast and yoga instructor, first found the hoop at a music festival, and immediately recognized its cross-training benefits – hip-opening, core strengthening and flexibility – yet fell in love with the youthful and playful feelings. In 2003, she created a collapsible hula hoop which is adjustable to two sizes, for 80-pound youth up to 240-pound adults.
Time to Rearrange the Deck Chairs
The 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Belfast-built Titanic will be marked by a cruise retracing the ship's final journey. Although the ship will not leave Southhampton until April 8, 2012, the cruise company has already sold over 80 percent of their tickets from passengers representing 22 countries. (Why are we not surprised?)
The cruise will depart from Southampton on the MS Balmoral and follow the Titanic’s itinerary. The ship will travel across the Atlantic, arriving at the point of the Titanic’s fateful collision with the iceberg on April 14-15. A memorial service will take place to pay tribute to the passengers and crew who perished 100 years ago. From there the cruise will travel to Halifax, Nova Scotia and on to New York.
Reportedly, many passengers are descendants of those who died on Titanic or who were involved with the ship in one way or another.
The Titanic was the largest passenger steamship ever built when it set off on April 10, 1912. Four days later it struck an iceberg and sank. One of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters, the tragedy claimed 1,517 lives. According to the traveling show, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, the ship is slowly being consumed by iron-eating microbes. Scientists estimate that this process will cause the ship to implode and collapse on itself in approximately 90 years. The exhibition’s gift shop, which EN visited in a Connecticut Indian casino of all places, sells a raisin-sized piece of coal for $19.99, recovered from the liner’s debris field. A sucker for these kinds of mementoes, it was hard to pass up, but we grit our teeth and moved onto the slots instead. (For more information: http://www.titanicmemorialcruise.co.uk/itinerary.php)
What’s Your Dream Expedition?
What is your dream expedition? Is it rock climbing on seven continents in seven months? Is it bicycling across Europe? This year, NOLS is partnering with Patagonia for the Dream Expedition Contest. The contest is open to people 13 or older. Grand prize is a spot on the classic NOLS Wind River Wilderness course next summer – 30 days exploring the rugged peaks and pristine lakes of Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains. Plus all the gear you need for that course. Plus domestic travel to and from Wyoming. Entries must be in the form of a video. Contest deadline is Oct. 31, 2010. (For more information: http://www.nols.edu/contest/).
The North Face and Gore-Tex Launch Speaker Series
TNF’s “Never Stop Exploring” Speakers Series, presented by Gore-Tex Products, kicks off this fall with a nationwide tour featuring climbers, athletes, and skiers Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, Kit Deslauriers, Karina Hollekim, Dean Karnazes, Mark Synnott, and Diane Van Deren. For a complete schedule and tickets for the Sept. 28 to Dec. 3 tour, log onto: www.thenorthface.com/speakerseries.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“Look, and you will find it – what is unsought will go undetected.” – Sophocles
We are heartened to discover a wealth of recent stories in the media about explorers and their expeditions. When the mainstream media, especially the Wall Street Journal, shows an interest, it bodes well for explorers and adventurers seeking sponsorship from publicity-hungry corporations. Here are some of the notable mentions we’ve found since our last issue:
The Fur Flies
Norwegian Roald Amundsen and Royal Navy Capt. Robert F. Scott were both seasoned explorers in 1910, but they approached their South Pole expeditions quite differently, according to the New York American Museum of Natural History exhibit, “Race to the End of the Earth,” which chronicles the 100-year-old race to the South Pole. Mark Yost explains in the Wall Street Journal (July 28), that it captivated the world because, as an introductory film explains, Antarctica was the “last great geographical prize on Earth.”
Yost reports the Norwegians chose to wear mostly fur clothing; the Brits opted for wool. Amundsen’s team fared much better with the fur outfits because their natural animal skins provided better insulation against the sub-zero temperatures. The Norwegian had learned from the Inuit how to dress properly for the conditions. The display includes Amundsen’s 12-gauge shotgun, his skis and a Norwegian sled. Yost reports that from the British, there’s a pair of heavy steel-spiked overboots – an early precursor to crampons – that didn’t work well at all. “A metaphor, sad to say, for the entire (British) expedition.”
Lindbergh: “How Do You Do It?”
Thomas Kessner’s book The Flight of the Century (Oxford, 2010) provides insight into the enigmatic Charles Lindbergh. According to a review in the Wall Street Journal (July 24-25) by Daniel Ford, when Lindbergh was received by King George V in London barely a week after the landing in Paris, the British monarch asked a question about the epic flight that was on everyone’s mind: “There is one thing I long to know. How did you pee?”
It was a question which, Lindbergh said later, “sort of put me at my ease.”
“Well, you see, sir,” he said, “I had a sort of aluminum container. I dropped the thing when I was over France. I was not going to be caught with the thing on me at Le Bourget.”
The bulk of the book concerns the effect of Lindbergh’s achievement on the U.S. and its relations with the rest of the world. It shares the little-known fact that when the Spirit of St. Louis landed at Le Bourget field near Paris on the night of May 21, 1927, after 33 hours, 30 minutes, 29.8 seconds in the air, the sleepless Lindbergh was worried that the French might not let him stay overnight since he had no visa. He also had no change of clothes, no toothbrush and only 27 cents of ready money.
New Life for an Old Plane
The venerable Twin Otter turboprop plane, a symbol of Canada’s aerospace prowess and workhorse of the polar regions, seemed destined to fly into history when production ceased in 1988. But according to the Wall Street Journal (July 8), a production facility has sprouted in Calgary where Viking Air is assembling a dozen planes, with orders for a total of 50, mostly from diehard operators of the nearly 600 Twin Otters still flying. Said one Viking mechanic, “I’ve been working on Twin Otters for 22 years. You can do things with this airplane that people can only imagine.”
Selling for about $4.5 million each, the utilitarian Twin needs only 1,200 feet of runway and can take off and land on water, snow, grass or gravel, depending on whether it’s outfitted with amphibious floats, skis or special tires. It can also operate in frigid climes and searing heat, which is why it’s often used to ferry National Science Foundation researchers in Antarctica.
The coming premiere of the film The Wildest Dream, the new documentary about British climber George Mallory, prompted author Graham Bowley to examine climbing’s impact on the family. “… the costs of climbing and exploration were borne not just by the mountaineers who perished but also by the families they left behind,” Bowley writes in the New York Times (July 25).
Bowley reports that this year more than 513 climbers have summited Everest, but that the mountain claimed four lives. He continues, “It’s a very different age of mountaineering. With the crowds and commercialization, the mountains these days may seem stripped of their mystique, majesty and romance. Without the broader importance of men and women extending the boundaries for all mankind, the climbers of today – some brilliant, others pushed and pampered by paid Sherpas and guides in regions they have no business being – seem to be performing a more selfish, or at least more personal act. “Yet the families carry a burden just the same.”
In his review of Graham Bowley’s new book about K2, No Way Down (Harper, 2010), Michael J. Ybarra piles it on the much maligned Mount Everest. “Almost any idiot, willing to spend enough money, can climb Everest. The mountain is high but not technically difficult. The Everest basecamp is a well-appointed village that has become a tourist destination itself. Professional guides eliminate most of what has traditionally been the essence of mountaineering: uncertainty. … Climbers, if the term can still be used, need only show up, wait in relative comfort and, when the weather is good, attach their harness to a fixed line and put one foot in front of the other.” Ouch.
Gobi Reading List
Going on a Gobi desert fossil hunt? What books would you bring? For advice, Ralph Gardner, Jr. of the Wall Street Journal (July 16) turned to Michael Novacek, an eminent paleontologist and provost of the American Museum of Natural History. Before he left for his annual month-long dinosaur and ancient-mammal hunt in the Gobi Desert, among the books Novacek packed was The Oblivion Seekers by Isabelle Eberhardt, a Swiss-Algerian explorer who died in a flash flood in Algeria in 1904 at the age of 27. Novacek is also bringing War and Peace. “It’s time to read it again,” he said. Also packed: a ratty good-luck cap with the likeness of a space alien and the word, “Roswell.”
At the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake this month, Fox Searchlight Pictures hosted an exclusive first look at the new dramatization of climber Aron Ralston’s 2003 ordeal in an isolated canyon in Utah. 127 Hours is the true story of Ralston’s (played by actor James Franco) remarkable adventure to save himself after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him miles from help. Over the next five days Ralston examines his life and survives the elements to finally discover he has the courage and the wherewithal to extricate himself by any means necessary, scale a 65-foot wall and hike over eight miles before he is finally rescued. Throughout his journey, Ralston recalls friends, lovers (Clémence Poésy), family, and the two hikers (Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara) he met before his accident.
The film, from Danny Boyle, the Academy Award winning director of last year’s Best Picture, Slumdog Millionaire, premieres Nov. 5, and is based on Ralston’s book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Atria Books, 2004). Fox hopes to inspire people to share their own life-changing or death-defying experiences through a “social media event” at www.127definingmoments.com.
Time for Church
In its current issue, Urban Climber Magazine and Scarpa named boulderer Jill Church, 30, of Flagstaff, the recipient of the magazine’s 2010 Unearthed Climber of the Year Award.
Urban Climber’s feature ‘Unearthed’ is a peer-nominated format that puts the spotlight on North America’s most talented but little-known boulderers and climbers.
Urban Climber Editor Andrew Tower said Church, who has now earned a spot as an athlete on Team Scarpa, can send hard problems, “but she’s also got a great attitude and is a great ambassador for the sport – a criteria that’s just as important for the award as how hard a nominee climbs.
“Aside from her numerous climbing accomplishments, first female ascents, and plenty of hard sends, Church is the kind of climber any company would be proud to have on their team,” Tower said. (For more information about Scarpa, visit www.scarpa.com. For more information about Urban Climber, visit www.urbanclimbermag.com).
Gramicci Sponsors Climbing Film
Gramicci, the outdoor clothing manufacturer, is sponsoring the feature length documentary film, The Last Wild Mountain: Portrait of the American Climber.
Gramicci will donate signature organic hemp “Camu Tees” to support the production, promotion and distribution of the film. The t-shirts will showcase custom art by the producers and artists working on the film and be sold at film locations and online. All proceeds will directly benefit the film’s non-profit production company.
The Last Wild Mountain follows the parallel stories of the first two generations of rock climbers in America, ranging from the Vulgarians to the Stonemasters and everyone in between. Interviews, photographs, writings, and archival footage are woven together into a compelling documentary. The filmmakers explore both the past and the future of climbing—the wild experiences, the offbeat antics, and the environmental aspects on which the future of climbing depends. (For more information: www.lastwildmountain.com)
National Outdoor Leadership School Extends Partnership with Deuter USA
The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and Deuter USA have expanded their long-term partnership into NOLS’ rock climbing program. Deuter has been the exclusive provider of packs for NOLS’ outfitting department for over five years. Each year, hundreds of NOLS students and instructors head into the backcountry equipped with Deuter’s multi-use backpacks to learn and teach wilderness skills, leadership, and outdoor ethics. NOLS will outfit students and instructors on its rock climbing courses with Deuter’s Spectro AC 38. (For more information: www.deuterusa.com, www.nols.edu).
W.L. Gore & Associates Honored by AMGA
W.L. Gore & Associates, maker of Gore-Tex fabric, is the 2010 recipient of the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Industry Award.
The Industry Award is presented annually to an outdoor company that has shown outstanding support through scholarships, products, and sponsorships of professional mountain guides. An AMGA Partner for the past 17 years and a Diamond Partner since 2005, Gore is the official sponsor of the AMGA Instructor Pool. Additionally, Gore provides one full-tuition scholarship each year for an AMGA course or exam. The scholarship provides financial support for mountain guides seeking training and certification in the U.S.
Caroline Islands native Mau Piailug, who passed away last month at the age of 78, was a master navigator, one of the last experts in the ancient art of Pacific Ocean wayfaring. “Crossing an open ocean without instruments in knife-edged canoes,” writes the Wall Street Journal (July 18), “as the Polynesians did a thousand years before (Capt. James) Cook, is one of the great achievements in human exploration. … the palu’s skill is an achievement of reason, memory and calculation.” He earned wide renown in 1976, when he led a daring 6,000-mile voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti and back in a doubled-hulled canoe. “In Hawaii, until Mau Piailug shared his knowledge, the palu’s art had been lost for a millennium,” writes the Journal’s Lawrence Downes.
You Want to Go Where?
Expedition News’ editor and publisher Jeff Blumenfeld’s book provides an inside look at expedition sponsorship, including how to develop a newsworthy project, identify likely corporate sponsors, and use the latest technology that allows instant communications with sponsors, media, family, and friends no matter where you are on earth. It also takes a sobering look at what happens when the project doesn’t go exactly as planned. You Want to Go Where? is available on Amazon for about $18 (http://www.amazon.com/You-Want-Go-Where-Someone/dp/1602396477)
EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 28 Center Street, Darien, CT 06820 USA. Tel. 203 655 1600, fax 203 655 1622, email@example.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jamie Gribbon. ©2010 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through www.paypal.com. Read EXPEDITION NEWS at www.expeditionnews.com. Enjoy the EN blog at www.expeditionnews.blogspot.com.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Reid Stowe, 58, sailed into Manhattan on June 17 on the two-masted schooner Anne after 1,152 days at sea.
"This is a new human experience," he said after docking. "And no one understands what I did physically, mentally or spiritually."
He began his journey with his girlfriend Soanya Ahmed in April 2007, departing from Hoboken, N.J. But a little less than year into the journey she became pregnant and had to return home due to morning sickness. She gave birth to little Darshen in July 2008.
"Before we left, we had an agreement that if I had to get off for any reason, he would go on," Ahmad said. "I knew if he came back and didn't finish the voyage, he would just go back again. There was no way he wasn't going to finish it."
This was the first time Stowe set eyes on his son, who turns 2 in July. While the toddler slept in his mother's arms, other family members, including Stowe's five brothers and sisters and his mother, greeted him with open arms.
"It was because of family love and I dedicate this voyage to my mom and dad," he said.
Over 40 media from around the world covered his arrival.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
New York City artist, adventurer and sailor Reid Stowe and his 70-ft. gaff-rigged schooner Anne, will return to New York Harbor on Thursday, June 17, 2010, after logging 1,152 days non-stop and non-resupplied at sea, a world record. Stowe will be accompanied by a flotilla of boats up the Hudson River to Pier 81 (World Yacht pier) where he will debark at 1 p.m. and step foot on land for the first time in over three years. He will reunite with his companion, Soanya Ahmad, who sailed with Stowe for the first 306 days of the voyage, but had to leave due to seasickness which turned out to be morning sickness.
Ahmad now holds the women’s record for the longest non-stop sea voyage. Stowe will also meet for the first time his son, Darshen, who was conceived at sea and is now almost two years old. Readers of EN are invited to attend the ceremony. Free admittance by advance reservation only is available at www.1000days.net.