Monday, March 17, 2014
DUCK DOWN UNDER
A team of five adventurers are undertaking a first-time expedition from London to Sydney in a WWII DUKW amphibious truck, crossing 20,000 miles by land and 2,000 miles over water. Departing in 2015, this will be an historic journey completed entirely in a single vehicle under its own power from the United Kingdom to Australia. The team will map and share its travels through social and digital media, and bring solar innovations and medical assistance to remote communities, as well as conduct scientific research en route.
Starting from the gates of the Royal Geographical Society, the expedition will cross the English Channel to France before heading overland across Europe and into Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and then China. The team then hopes to negotiate much of the Mekong River system, starting in Laos and taking in Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.
“This in itself may represent a world-first as the amphibious nature of the DUKW will allow skirting of dams, rapids and waterfalls which have prevented traditional watercraft from attempting this,” said Zimbabwean-born Brit Richard Coe, 45, expedition leader.
From Thailand, the route passes to Malaysia. From there they will cross by sea to Sumatra in Indonesia. Island hopping the archipelago will carry them to East Timor which will serve as the jumping-off point for the final, longer sea crossing to Darwin, Australia. The last leg will be overland, completing this epic adventure at the steps of the Sydney Opera House.
Sponsorship is being sought for the estimated $166,000 project. Extensive filmmaking and documentation is planned.
For more information: Richard Coe, email@example.com, www.duckdownunder.org.
RED DEER RIVER EXPEDITION SEARCHES FOR DINOS
The Red Deer River in Alberta, Canada, cuts through a series of Upper Cretaceous rocks that produce a succession of dinosaur faunas that represent the last 15 million years of non-avian dinosaur history on Earth. In 2012, an Explorers Club flag expedition worked its way down the upper part of the river, looking for new dinosaur specimens, and old dinosaur sites with historical significance (and the potential of additional work during a return visit).
The expedition succeeded in its objectives, and follow-up is being conducted this year by the University of Alberta. The trip ended in Drumheller in 2012, and the intention was always to continue the trip farther downstream in 2014.
On July 14, 2014, 18 members of the Explorers Club will put their canoes into the Red Deer River just downstream of the Bleriot Ferry. The rocks in this area represent the lower part of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation, which has produced numerous dinosaur fossils of the Edmontonian Land Mammal Age.
Over the next two weeks, they will work their way downriver, stopping at exposures to look for new dinosaur fossil sites, and to attempt to relocate several quarries that had been worked by early dinosaur hunters before the availability of good topographic maps and GPS.
The 131-mile expedition will pass through the lower beds of the Horseshoe Canyon formation, the marine beds of the Bearpaw Formation (which are unlikely to produce dinosaur fossils, although occasionally good skeletons of dinosaur cadavers that had drifted out to sea have been found), the world-famous beds of the Dinosaur Park Formation, and the upper part of the Oldman Formation. From there, the team will emerge from the badlands at Jenner on July 28.
Any dinosaur skeletons with good potential for excavation will be worked in subsequent years by the University of Alberta. However, in addition to the specimens, a significant amount of data will be collected and incorporated immediately into several palaeoecological studies that are assessing the changes in dinosaur diversity as they approached the extinction event 65 million years ago.
Team Leader is Jason Schoonover, 67, Saskatoon, who has been an amateur paleontologist since 1979. Field Leader is Dr. Phil Currie, 63, Edmonton, an internationally renowned paleontologist and an Explorers Medalist. Joining the team is Capt. Norm Baker, 84, of Windsor, Mass., who has the distinction of having been the navigator on Thor Heyerdahl’s Ra, Ra II and Tigris reed boat expeditions.
“Any and all new finds add to paleontology’s growing storehouse of knowledge,” said Schoonover.
“With 36 eyes to the ground here in the field with the richest concentration of dino bones on the planet, we stand a better than average chance of making important discoveries—particularly as we’ve had a couple of heavy snowfall winters which caused greater than normal erosion.”
For more information: www.jasonschoonover.com/blah.html
AMELIA EARHART TAKES OFF AGAIN
Denver traffic and weather reporter Amelia Rose Earhart of KUSA 9News shares the same name and passion as one of the most revered names in early aviation. It’s that same love for soaring the skies that's pushing the NBC affiliate news anchor to recreate her namesake's 1937 transcontinental journey.
Today's Earhart, 31, no relation to the original Amelia, is planning a 14-stop/17-day 24,301 nm flight scheduled for June 1, 2014 departure that will be live-streamed and shared via social media. Earhart and her co-pilot, Theddy Spichtig, will host real-time in-air Facebook and Twitter chats and, thanks to cameras mounted along the aircraft, from wing tip to fuselage, curious viewers will be able to watch their progress.
Honeywell Aerospace outfitted the plane with custom satellite communication equipment, as well as the live-tracking cameras that viewers can use to toggle between multiple vantage points on their single engine Pilatus PC-12 NG aircraft.
The flight will start and end in Oakland, Calif.
If the 2014 Earhart can pull it off, she will become the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe in a single-engine aircraft.
The aviatrix recently spent two days undergoing water survival training at Survival Systems USA, a Groton, Conn., company that teaches survival egress training in a huge “Survival Theater” that dunks students upside down in water as mock thunder and lightning simulates the worst possible conditions.
"I went from having a legitimate fear of the ocean to feeling like I could survive an extreme emergency on the flight around the world," she tells Mashable.com
Earhart says that the goal of the project is to inspire a new generation of female aviators. To that end, she has created the Fly with Amelia Foundation, a 501(c) 3 organization providing flight scholarships to young women who want to become pilots.
Key sponsors include Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney, as well as Pilatus.
For more information: www.flywithamelia.org/foundation/, www.facebook.com/ameliaroseearhart, www.survivalsystemsusa.com
We can’t help ourselves. Even though Everest isn’t the toughest mountain in the world to climb, it apparently has the best publicist because, arguably, it’s the world’s best known. Here’s a sample of what to expect this May from Everest a.k.a. Chomolungma in Tibetan ("Goddess Mother of the World") and Sagarmatha in Sanskrit ("Ocean Mother”):
• Yet Another Everest Movie Planned
There are no less than four theatrical films and TV movies about the 1996 tragedy on Mt. Everest when eight climbers died. Here comes one more:
Everest is an upcoming American 3-D adventure thriller film directed by Baltasar Kormákur and written by Justin Isbell and William Nicholson, based on the book Into Thin Air written by Jon Krakauer. Release date is Feb. 27, 2015.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Scott Fischer; Jason Clarke is Rob Hall; Josh Brolin portrays Beck Weathers; and John Hawkes is Doug Hansen, a slow climber who causes his team to be late setting out on their journey up the peak.
Filming has already started in Nepal. Additional production is scheduled for the Alps and Iceland. The Hollywood Reporter posted that South Tyrol's regional film board has funded the $65 million production with a grant of $1 million.
• No More Mr. Nice Guy
After several breaches of rules and guidelines while climbing Everest, Nepal has decided to adopt strict measures for climbers starting this spring. According to India Today (Feb. 22), to facilitate better service to the climbers, porters, sherpas, sardars, high-altitude workers and cooks, the Nepal government has decided to set up an integrated office at Everest Base Camp.
Besides setting up a dedicated liaison office at BC for the upcoming spring season (from March through May), the government will begin verifying climbers' experience, health and age before allowing them to climb.
The ministry is also mulling installing GPS facilities in the Khumbu region, where Everest is situated, to track the location of trekkers and mountaineers. Officials said that the move will stop overcrowding on the mountain.
Read the story here: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/mt-everest-nepal-government-office-base-camp-sherpas/1/345027.html
• Over the Hill: First Great-Grandfather to Summit Everest
Jim Geiger, a life coach and mountaineer from Sacramento, heads to Everest this May to try to become both the oldest American to summit (at the age of 68), and the first great-grandfather. He says there’s no reason to feel that as you get older that you can’t still do things. “Age is just a number,” he says. See his story here:
• You Knew it Was Bound to Happen
In May, speed climber Joby Ogwyn, 39, will perform one of the most audacious human stunts ever – the first wing-suit flight off the summit of Mount Everest. It will be broadcast around the world live on the Discovery Channel as he plunges more than 10,000 feet at speeds up to 150 miles an hour.
His speaker’s bureau breathlessly promotes him as “… a world renowned, record-holding adventurer, (who) shares jaw-dropping, hair-raising stories and photos of his adventures while offering insights on how to conquer fear and take the first step when faced with a new challenge.” His speaking fees range from $20,000 to $35,000 per talk.
He says, “Everest is the pinnacle for me. I’m going to climb it, I’m going to jump off and I’m going to fly down to Base Camp, ‘boom, boom, boom.’ … There are 50 ways to die on that mountain. I only have to pick one.”
He tells CNN (Feb. 27), “I’m not afraid to die.”
Read the story here:
See his promo video here:
Sleeping Bag Surfaces From Greely Expedition Rescue
A reindeer-skin sleeping bag from a 19th century polar rescue expedition, an artifact from an era in which men — toiling through starvation, frostbite and other tribulations — pushed the boundaries of the known Earth ever-farther north, has been rediscovered and displayed at the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Conn.
According to a story by John Burgeson in the Connecticut Post (Feb. 22), the bag was given to what was then the Bridgeport Scientific Society by William Barrymore of Stratford, Conn., who served in the Navy during the Civil War.
"Apparently, it was someone in the crew of the USS Bear who gave the bag to Barrymore," said curator Adrienne Saint-Pierre, who said the bag had been part of the Barnum Museum collections since Barrymore's widow gave it to the society, the precursor to the museum.
The Bear was dispatched in 1884 to rescue Adolphus Greely and his team. Greely, a Civil War army veteran, lead the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, starting in 1881, which was part of the First International Polar Year.
His party was rescued on June 22, 1884. The survivors were living in a single, collapsed and flapping tent. Nineteen of Greely's 25-man crew had perished from starvation, drowning, hypothermia, and, in one case, gunshot wounds from an execution ordered by Greely.
It's fitting that the sleeping bag has found a home in the Barnum Museum. The second half of the 19th century, the time when P.T. Barnum achieved rock-star status worldwide, was also an era when people everywhere were captivated by the exploits of polar explorers, writes Burgeson.
Read the full story here:
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“For as long as I can remember, I have loved snow and ice. As a result, I have spent most of my life exploring the Arctic region. These journeys have brought such joy and beauty to my life that I have dedicated myself to helping preserve these wonderful frozen places. More than ever before, I am driven to share my passion for the Arctic, a region whose health and stability have far-reaching consequences for us all.”
– Polar explorer Lonnie Dupre. He has launched a Kickstarter campaign along with Bozeman, Mont., filmmaker Deia Scholsberg, to raise $6,000 for post-production of a one-hour documentary that will reveal the planet’s world of ice and snow, and the need to keep these frozen regions healthy. It was filmed in Greenland, on the Arctic Ocean, Alaska and Minnesota.
The campaign ends March 26. See it here:
Jane Goodall is Still Getting it Done
Expect accolades to pour in next month for Jane Goodall, the primatologist turning 80 on April 3 who still travels year-round for animal rights.
According to an AP story (Feb. 11) by Christopher Torchia, Goodall, a protege of anthropologist Louis Leakey, documented the relationships and other behavioral patterns of chimpanzees, finding parallels with human conduct that spurred debate about evolution.
“Now she is an environmental and animal rights activist, traveling 300 days a year to speak for those species that cannot speak for themselves.”
A columnist in News24.com, an online news outlet in South Africa, said of the octogenarian, ‘‘in a society terrified of aging, (she) makes having reached this milestone seem, well, cool.’’
Read the story here:
“Just A Flesh Wound”
Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Miles O’Brien, former Explorers Club annual dinner emcee and science and aviation correspondent for PBS News Hour. In a bizarre accident, a Pelican case loaded with TV gear fell onto his left forearm after taping was done on location. The trauma caused Acute Compartment Syndrome – an increase in pressure inside an enclosed space in the body. This can block blood flow causing a whole host of serious, life-threatening consequences. To save his life, a surgeon amputated his left arm above the elbow.
He jokes on his website that it was “just a flesh wound,” and continues, “Life is all about playing the hand that is dealt you. Actually, I would love somebody to deal me another hand right about now – in more ways than one.”
Read his story at www.milesobrien.com
CLIMBING FOR DOLLARS
Melissa Arnot Joins Salewa North America
Footwear manufacturer Salewa North America, based in Boulder, Colo., has named Melissa Arnot, 30, to its elite Salewa North America mountain athlete roster. Arnot, from Ketchum, Idaho, is an accomplished mountain guide and ﬁve-time womenʼs summit record holder on Mt. Everest. She joins Ed Viesturs and Kai Lightner on the athlete team as they develop new products and encourage people to pursue an active, alpine lifestyle.
Arnot, dubbed the Queen of Everest by Outside Magazine, has a climbing resume that is built to impress any climber, man or women. With nearly 100 summits of Mt. Rainer, her Everest summits, multiple expeditions above 6000 meters and as a member of the Eddie Bauer First Ascent guide team, Arnot is a force with which to be reckoned.
In 2012 she launched a non-proﬁt with fellow mountain guide, Dave Morton, to provide life insurance and cover rescue expenses of mountain workers (www.thejuniperfund.org). Then in April 2013, she successfully helped defuse a brawl on the ﬂanks of Mt. Everest. She is now poised to return to Everest and climb with her newest partner, Psang Lhamu Sherpa – one of the few female guides on Everest who is Sherpa and female.
For more information: www.salewa.com, www.melissaarnot.com
Climbers are Apple of Their Eyes
Apple is crowing about the use of the iPad on expeditions. The Apple Your-Verse blog posts, “Before leading a trip with their Alpenglow Expeditions group, Adrian Ballinger and Emily Harrington study terrain and weather patterns, plot routes, decide where to camp, and manage equipment and supplies.
“Not long ago, they relied on outdated or inaccurate paper maps to inform their plan of attack. Sometimes maps of these areas didn’t even exist. But now with iPad and the Gaia GPS topography app, they can see remote mountain regions in great detail.”
Says Ballinger whose company is based in Olympic Valley, Calif., “Five years ago, it was hard to even get a paper map of some of these places. Now with the iPad it’s remarkable how much we can plan ahead.”
The two use their iPad to blog, post photos, and update social media. In the past, recounting their story would have had to wait weeks until they returned to civilization, but now they can edit and upload photos and videos right from camp.
Harrington lays it on thick on behalf of their sponsor, “In a whiteout being able to see where you are on the mountain can be a matter of life or death. iPad is the only way to tell where we’re going.”
See the entire post here: http://www.apple.com/your-verse/elevating-expedition/
Those fields dedicated to keeping people alive in the face of injuries or environmental exposures that would ordinarily be fatal. War, epidemics, voyages of exploration and disasters encourage the kind of desperate improvisation that occasionally produces breakthroughs.
Source: Extreme Medicine: How Exploration Transformed Medicine in the Twentieth Century(Penguin Press, 2014), a new book by Kevin Fong., M.D., that explains medicine’s efforts to expand the limits of human survival.
Highway to the Danger Zone
Award winning British mountaineer and author Mick Fowler has posted a video of his travels through the Himalayas on what must be one of the most dangerous highways in the world.
Watch it here, but not on a full stomach: http://www.20min.ch/ro/videotv/?vid=339276
Crowdfunding Advice from Desert Explorer
Explorer Louis-Philippe Loncke, of Mouscron, Belgium, shared his own crowdfunding experience in response to the story about humanitarian traveler Sarah Papsun in the January issue of EN. He writes:
“I thought of using crowdsourcing when I started a search of Kickstarter, IndieGogo, and Ulule. My conclusions are:
I searched for an entire two days with keywords such as expedition, adventure, exploration ...
Less than 5% of expeditions were funded sucessfully on Kickstarter or IndieGogo. However, Kickstarter works very well for hardware/technology products.
But on Ulule the rate was somewhat higher – around 30%. The amounts raised were mainly low cost, usually less than USD $5,000, either because the expedition was less expensive or the ‘ask’ was lower since the explorer was already investing their own money.”
– Louis-Philippe Loncke
Editor’s note: In 2008, Loncke achieved the first crossing on foot of the length of the Simpson desert, the world’s largest sand dune desert in Australia. Ulule is the first European crowdfunding site and can be found at www.ulule.com.
On Mar. 26 he’s speaking live about his Lake Titicaca expedition on TEDxFlanders in Anwterp, Belgium. Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJ-dNsheRNs
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