May 2012 – Volume Nineteen, Number Five
EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 18th 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.
KAYAKERS PLAN 360 CIRCUMNAVGIATION OF BRITAIN
The GB360 Midlifekayak expedition set off late last month from the Cornwall coast in the South West of England with plans to circumnavigate mainland Britain by kayak – a total distance of about 2,500 miles. English paddlers Andy Mullins, Geoff Cater and Mike Greenslade hope to complete the trip in approximately 100 days by covering roughly 25 miles each day. A total of 23 people have previously completed the route with the first successful attempt in 1980.
The paddlers of GB360 Midlifekayak met on the Isles of Scilly (UK) in April 2010 and found that they all harbored ambitions for a large scale kayaking expedition. Along with a goal of completing the expedition, GB360 Midlifekayak hopes to raise $15,000 for their favorite causes. They will be equipped with Kokatat Gore-Tex drysuits, PFDs and accessories to help keep them dry on their journey.
(For more information: www.midlifekayak.co.uk)
Third, It Won’t Stink Like Polypro
Colorado State University apparel design and production researchers and students are working to develop natural-fiber outdoor clothing that can charge MP3 devices, tablets, computers, GPS units and cell phones with built-in – but comfortable to wear – solar panels. The project is so impressive that it was selected to compete in a sustainability design competition in Washington, D.C., last month.
The effort, funded by a $15,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, intends to also reduce pollution on two fronts. First, the clothing will use the most recent research and technology to make natural fibers such as cotton and linen as outdoor savvy as other petroleum-based textiles which are heralded by outdoor enthusiasts for warmth, UV ray protection, comfort and moisture-wicking. Second, the clothing will provide a solar source of energy for electronic devices, reducing alkaline battery use – harvesting energy while the wearer participates in outdoor activities. Third, well let’s just say natural fibers have certain olfactory advantages over polypro.
(Read the entire announcement here: http://www.news.colostate.edu/Release/6186)
Arctic Watch to Photograph Whales
Polar explorer Richard Weber’s Canadian Arctic Holidays Arctic Watch facility on Somerset Island in Nunavut, Canada, will launch its first scientific project to photograph and identify the beluga whales that visit the area each summer. The goal is to identify 100 individual whales through photo identification of heads and tails.
“Computer-assisted photo identification provides a powerful, inexpensive method of monitoring population movements and testing hypotheses about ecological mechanisms affecting demography. The use of photographic data enables the tracking of large numbers of individual whales reliably without subjecting them to stressful capture and marking procedures,” Weber says.
As soon as the whales arrive in Cunningham Inlet, Gretchen Freund, an expert in whale photo identification and Nansen Weber, Richard Weber’s son, will collect the photographic data. They will photograph whale heads and tails looking for identifying marks such as old scrapes and injuries, then sort, resize and catalogue the photos. Following the summer collection period, computerized identification will be conducted by Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, Conn.
“With this program we can start to answer which whales return annually and how do individual whales stay in Cunningham Inlet?,” said Richard Weber.
“With a better understanding of the changes taking place and their effects on the Arctic Watch beluga whales, we can ensure they continue to visit for generations to come.”
(For more information: www.arcticwatch.ca, www.canadianarcticholidays.ca)
Youngest to the North Pole? Depends Upon Who You Ask
A story in the Apr. 10 issue of UK’s Daily Mail caught our eye. The eight-year-old daughter of endurance runner Richard Donovan was credited with being the youngest person to ever reach the North Pole. The youngster, Jaimie Donovan, nicknamed “Captain Tot,” from Galway, Ireland, is said to have broken the record set by the daughter of British adventurer David Hempleman-Adams, Alicia, by one day. Both youngsters were flown to the pole.
Age eight is practically middle aged compared to the actual, although unofficial record set by the offspring of polar explorers Paul Schurke and Rick Sweitzer. Bria Schurke was seven years-old when she reached the North Pole in May 1993. Peter Schurke was 18 months. Rick Sweitzer's son Chris was 16 months.
Richard Donovan, Jaimie’s father, defends her record by referring us to page 125 of the Guinness Book of Records. He e-mails EN:
“According to the information in the book, Jaimie now happens to be the youngest person at the Geographic North Pole (not that it matters too much). Every year, I personally get claims of all kinds – people saying they ran a marathon at the North Pole when they were elsewhere in Greenland etc., etc.”
Donovan continues, “Therefore, I think you should contact Guinness World Records with proof of anything to the contrary i.e. if an 18 month-old or a 16 month-old stood at the exact geographic North Pole, i.e. 90N!”
Says Paul Schurke in reply, “I guess we should send our family photos and news clips of that trip to the Guinness World Record folks!”
However we don’t get the sense that he’ll actually get around to doing so. He and his family seem to be doing fine regardless. In fact, we caught up with Schurke as he was about to launch a dogsled trek across Svalbard Island, located in the Arctic Ocean, halfway between Norway and the North Pole.
App Features NatGeo’s Greatest Stories Ever
Enough with the Angry Birds already. Here’s an app really worth the money: PrimaLoft, the manufacturer of performance insulations and yarns, is sponsoring National Geographic Adventure: Greatest Stories Ever Told, a new iPad app developed from National Geographic magazine’s archives. The app features stories of explorers at the moment of discovery, and their adventures on journeys around the world. The new app brings adventures around the world to life through extraordinary photography, video and top-notch journalism.
The app uses the full capabilities of tablet technology with video, photography, interactive mapping and more to reinvent how adventure stories are told. Featured explorers include Bob Ballard, Alex Honnold, and Will Steger.
The Greatest Stories Ever Told app is now available in the iTunes store for $1.99.
Fox River Supports 70-Day Paddling Trek for Kids Wilderness Program
Fox River, U.S. manufacturer of outdoor, sport and lifestyle performance socks, is supporting Expedition 2012, a 70-day paddling trek to raise awareness and funds to support the Keewaydin Foundation and Keewaydin Way.
Expedition 2012 aims to preserve and enhance Keewaydin's unique heritage of wilderness canoe tripping and raise funds to support and build Keewaydin's scholarships program for the foundation. The Keewaydin Foundation offers youth wilderness programs and has been operating wilderness and adventure-based summer camps for well over a century. The Foundation is dedicated to environmental preservation, and the camp’s summer programs offer a rare and undisturbed wilderness experience.
Fox River performance socks and handwear will keep crew members warm and dry during the 1,200-mile canoeing trek. The 10-man crew departed early last month from Lake Dunmore in Vermont and is traveling across creeks, lakes, rivers and streams before arriving in Moosonee, Ontario, over two months later. Temperatures will range from the low-20s to mid-60s over the course of the 10-week trip.
(For more information: www.Expedition2012.com).
Climber Beth Rodden Signs with Osprey Packs
Outdoor pack manufacturer Osprey Packs, Inc. announced the addition of renowned climber Beth Rodden to its roster of 2012 sponsored athletes.
One of the most accomplished female climbers in the world, Rodden has free climbed three routes on El Capitan, more than any other woman. She has also established some of the hardest traditional climbs and sport climbs in the world by a woman, including free climbing the Nose on Yosemite’s El Capitan and the first ascent of Yosemite’s Meltdown. She was the youngest woman to climb a 5.14a, and is one of the only women in the world to have red-pointed a 5.14c/8c traditional climb.
Over the past few years Rodden has become increasingly involved with clinics and working with young climbers across the country. Other Osprey-sponsored athletes include freeskier Alison Gannett, climber Timmy O’Neill, MTB racer Krista Park, climber Majka Burhardt and mountaineer Ben Clark.
(For more information: www.ospreypacks.com)
Shortwave Listening Opens the World to Budding Explorers
Truth be told, we first became interested in geography while huddled over a Hallicrafters SX-110 shortwave radio in our basement bedroom. Glad to see we weren’t alone down there. Bill Husted writes in the Ventura County (Calif.) Star on May 5, “I'm an analog guy in a digital world. Shortwave listening, once the drug of choice for nerds, is an unlikely hobby nowadays. After all, that distant station I'm straining to hear probably is also available as a crystal clear audio stream somewhere on the Internet.
“So how can I stand before you today, with no fingers crossed, and tell you that you may find both education and joy through shortwave listening? … keep in mind that there really is an element of magic here, something to be experienced more than explained.”
He praises the unfiltered nature of shortwave, “It's all unfiltered, all coming to me as it happens. It's such a random smorgasbord of information that there would be no way to duplicate it with a television or computer.”
Hulsted continues, “Unlike TV or the Web, shortwave listening is a lot like fishing. You never know what you'll catch. Those who try it for the first time often find satisfaction and even excitement as they troll these waters and make their own catches for the first time.”
(Read Hulsted’s entire column here: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/may/05/shortwave-listening-like-a-fishing-expedition/)
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.
– Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)
Obtaining Expedition Funding in Tough Economic Times
By Parker Liautaud
Polar explorer Parker Liautaud, from London, is a 17 year-old adventurer, environmental campaigner and speaker. In April 2011, he completed his second North Pole expedition, becoming the youngest mainland European to walk that distance to North Pole – and in the second fastest time ever recorded. In April 2012, he completed his third expedition to the North Pole and successfully completed the field sampling phase of the scientific partnership between his organization, Last Degree, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Liautaud, the first person to check-in at the North Pole via the social media service Foursquare, is planning several polar expeditions for the next few years, including his third North Pole expedition, an expedition to find the real-time location of the constantly shifting North Magnetic Pole, as well as an expedition to become the first person to circumnavigate Svalbard unsupported – all of which requires him to raise several hundreds of thousands of dollars in the coming years.
Although a tender age 17, he’s been rattling the tin cup for years now and shares some advice on corporate fund-raising.
Acquiring funding for an expedition is often the most challenging aspect of expedition planning – by far the most time-consuming and frustrating aspect of an expedition, and often, even funding that seems secure falls through the roof. Moreover, exploration grants are rarely significant enough to cover a sizeable part of an expedition budget – for instance, the biggest grant I could find that would be applicable to an expedition that I am planning for next year covered a mere 2% of its budget.
Most explorers and adventurers have come to the conclusion that the best way to fund expeditions is through corporate sponsorship – an incredibly difficult task. Even though I have far less experience in fund-raising than many adventurers out there, I outline below a few points that I have come to realize over the past few years.
I can’t stress this point enough. Companies are vastly complex organizations with motives and deadlines that are completely incomprehensible and invisible to the outside individual, and it’s important to be OK with that. If you send in a proposal, it is likely they will only consider serious funding if it is at least six months in advance, maybe more. Sometimes, you will have written to them right after they have budgeted for the year, so they won’t consider any new projects for the next 12 months. It happens. In the past few years, there are many occasions when I have left fund-raising tasks to the last minute, and I have crashed and burned in several regards because of it.
What do you bring to the table in times of economic despair?
This is a relatively obvious point, but the company needs to have an incentive to sponsor you. What is the “hook” of the expedition in terms of media/press/social media and/or in terms of CSR (corporate social responsibility)? I started searching for sponsors for the very first time in late 2009, probably the worst time imaginable in terms of the world economy. It was pointed out to me very early that sponsorship programs are some of the first to be slashed when budget cuts are made. Marketing potential isn’t enough anymore – but your project may have a hook if it benefits their company directly or it benefits the world directly.
Regardless of how hopeless approaching a particular company or individual may seem, do it anyway.
Some of my biggest sponsorship deals started with me thinking, “I know they won’t sponsor me, but I guess I might as well write to them.” In fact, this is what I was thinking when I wrote to GE, my first sponsor. My personal advice is to never, ever miss an opportunity, even if you don’t know it exists. I write to anyone and everyone I can think of. Even if initially, it seems totally and completely hopeless. FYI, I didn’t have any contacts at GE. I wrote to people I didn’t know at all. In fact, this is pretty much the case with almost all of my deals to date. Going through networking is useful and important, but don’t walk away if you’ve already burned through all your contacts.
If there is initial interest, NEVER accept rejection and walk away.
In my minimal experience, about 75% of my proposals received no reply, 24.5% of my proposals were rejected, 0.499% received an expression of interest and only one or two actually came through. Maybe this only applies to me, but if I had to guess, I would assume I’m not the only one, because most people don’t have sponsorship agents. The last three sponsorship deals I secured came from companies that were interested but then rejected my proposal, then rejected further proposals for at least a year, time and time again. I made sure I was polite and not excessive, but opportunities came up. The only reason they thought of me was because I kept on getting back to them, letting them know what’s up, thinking of new angles on how it could work for their company, etc.
Make sure they know you are flexible.
I try to make sure that companies know that I take pride in providing tailor-made solutions to every one of my sponsors. Each company will have different aims and different needs – so I try to make sure they know that I can adapt to what they want from a campaign, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the overall goals of what I am doing.
General initiation, personalized approach.
If I already know the person I am sending a proposal to, I tailor my proposal specifically to that company. This means also adding factors that apply to the right kind of exposure and a campaign that would align with their industry and their audience or customer base. If you are “cold calling” by e-mail, I wouldn’t bother personalizing it because you will likely send out hundreds of them, but once there is interest, I like to make sure I know everything there is to know about their company and industry so that I can create a proposal to fit their needs.
If you’re too firm, you risk killing the deal.
I find that it’s important not to let companies take advantage of me (keeping in mind they know I’m only 17) and make me an unfair offer. After all, I have a certain amount to raise and a limited time to raise it in. However, I find it stupid to keep a dollar amount firm in my head and be completely unyielding. The truth is that for expedition sponsorship, pretty much everything you are offering them is free for you (logos on equipment, social media, speeches, press, etc.). So, for me, I will make sure that I come to an agreement that is fair. If the amount is low, it’s a shame for me but it’s still expedition money. If another company then offers more money, then I can replace the sponsor that pushed down their own amount, but I never want to waste an opportunity.
Fund-raising will get easier as exposure grows and you do more expeditions. It’s just important to keep in mind that the beginning will be very hard, but not to let that deter you.
(For more information on Parker Liautaud: www.parkerliautaud.com)
Cameron Returns The Explorers Club Flag No. 161
“Explorers are of a different tribe. They attempt things that leave many shaking their heads and asking, ‘Why?’”, writes columnist Dave Whiting in the OC (Calif.) Register, Apr. 16. Attending a ceremony marking the return of Explorers Club Flag No. 161 at Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif., Whiting continues, “Onstage before his tribe, Cameron gazed out over men and women who have gone down the Amazon River, climbed the world's highest peaks, bicycled across central Asia – and cleared the way for the director making his own dives to Titanic.
“Of those who ask why, Cameron said, "I don't have to answer that question in this room."
Cameron explained why some take on what others consider crazy risks. Sure, one could send a robotic sub to the deepest place on the globe. But robots can't share the human experience. "It's the telling of the tale that is the human story," Cameron said. "To me, that was the whole point."
Standing before retired Navy Capt. Don Walsh, who descended into the Mariana Trench aboard Trieste with Jacques Piccard in 1960, Cameron declared, "No kid ever dreamed of being a robot."
Cameron later continued, "A good part of exploration is not admitting what's possible and what's impossible."
In a related story, Don Walsh, tells EN that Explorers Club Flag number 161 was first put into service in 1955, and had been on 19 expeditions including the Arctic, Antarctic and up Mt. Everest twice. The flag will be formally retired, presented to the Club’s headquarters, and displayed close to flags that have been to the moon, on Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki, and elsewhere suitably historic.
Cameron's Deepsea Challenge Expedition was sponsored by the National Geographic Society and Rolex.
Caught in the Act
Have you managed to capture amazing, unusual or exciting animal behavior on video or as a photo sequence? Aquavision in South Africa is looking for material to broadcast on Caught In The Act, a National Geographic TV program shown in over 165 countries. Payment will be made for every clip selected. (For more information: email@example.com)
ExplorersConnect.com is New Resource for Explorers and Adventurers
New to the web is Explorers Connect, an online platform and social network specifically designed for explorers and those involved with expeditions and adventurous outdoor pursuits. The free web forum enables its members – from enthusiastic amateurs to professional experts – to share and exchange information, recruit teammates, review and recommend equipment and suppliers, and to follow the trials and tribulations of intrepid souls across the globe.
The site was founded by television director and endurance rower Belinda Kirk, 36, who hopes to create the world’s biggest online community of adventurers. She has already attracted over 3,000 members including the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), Charity Challenge and The Adventurists. Our favorite section is “Join a Team” where, should we be so inclined, we could sign up for a six-month human powered descent of The Nile from source to sea, or a traverse of Europe’s biggest glacier – the Vatnajokull ice cap in Iceland, via Iceland's highest peak, the barely pronounceable Hvannadalshnúkur. (For more information: www.explorersconnect.com).
ON THE HORIZON
The Explorers Club Hosts Phantoms of the Clark Expedition
May 9 to Aug. 3, 2012
Journeys into the natural world and the tools explorers take with them along the way, are the focus of artist and explorer Mark Dion’s Phantoms of the Clark Expedition, opening at The Explorers Club in New York on May 9, 2012 and continuing through Aug. 3, 2012. The Dion installation was commissioned by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass., as part of the Institute’s commemoration of the centennial of the 1912 publication of Through Shên-kan: The Account of the Clark Expedition in North China, 1908–9, written by the Institute’s founder, Robert Sterling Clark and naturalist Arthur deCarle Sowerby.
The book details a scientific expedition Clark led to the Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces of China. Admission is free of charge. An artist-conceived "field guide" will lead visitors through the installation and will highlight the building’s history and The Explorers Club's collection. For more information: www.explorers.org.
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Life on Ice – Looking for a great adventure read? Lonnie Dupre’s new book Life on Ice covers 25 years of arctic exploration, including the world’s first circumnavigation of Greenland and One World Expedition, a summer expedition to the North Pole. Over the past two decades, Dupre has lived and traveled with the Arctic Inuit, bringing their culture to the rest of the world. Dupre reveals the secret of survival in a world with quickly shifting weather patterns: respecting nature in all its elements and living in sync with the world we inhabit. The guiding force behind Life on Ice is the same as the impetus for Dupre's expeditions: the desire to make a difference in the world.
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Ripped From the Pages of EN – Read the book that was spawned by Expedition News. Autographed copies of You Want to Go Where? – How to Get Someone to Pay for the Trip of Your Dreams (Skyhorse Publishing) – are available to readers for the discounted price of $14.99 plus $2.89 s & h (international orders add $9.95 s & h). If you have a project that is bigger than yourself – a trip with a purpose – learn how it’s possible to generate cash or in-kind (gear) support. Written by EN editor Jeff Blumenfeld, it is based upon three decades helping sponsors select the right exploration projects to support. Payable by PayPal to email@example.com, or by check to Expedition News, 28 Center Street, Darien, CT 06820 USA.
EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 28 Center Street, Darien, CT 06820 USA. Tel. 203 655 1600, fax 203 655 1622, firstname.lastname@example.org. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jamie Gribbon. ©2012 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.