Friday, March 18, 2016

One Small Slurp for Mankind


Minnesota Explorers Mark 30th Anniversary of
Historic North Pole Expedition with New Adventures

Thirty years ago last March 7, an eight-member team that included Minnesotans Will Steger, Paul Schurke and Ann Bancroft launched a two-month expedition that was hailed by National Geographic as "a landmark in polar exploration." In temps that exceeded minus 70 degrees F., they left the northern tip of North America to travel 1,000 miles by ski and dogsled across the Arctic Ocean to reach the North Pole. Their accomplishment, the first confirmed trek to the top of the world without resupply, was featured in a National Geographic cover story, a television special and a best-selling book. (See EN, May 1996)

This 30th anniversary will be marked by adventures closer to home. Earlier this month, Steger set out on a month-long solo trek from northwestern Ontario's Wabakimi Wilderness to travel across Quetico and the Boundary Waters and finish at his Steger Wilderness Center near Ely.

As a witness to climate change, he'll share the impacts he observes in posts to the Steger Wilderness Center and Climate Generation websites. Also this month, Schurke departed by dogsled and ski across the Boundary Waters (with one of the original 1986 North Pole sleds). He had to turn back when he says, "trails got a bit soupy."

According to Steger the polar ice pack is 30 percent smaller and thinner, and the team's launch site is gone. "Climate change has disintegrated our staging base which was coastal Canada's Ward Hunt Ice Shelf," he said. "It's no longer possible to depart from
there for the Pole. Arctic ice, which helps stabilize global weather systems, is rapidly diminishing."

For more information on their current projects, log onto:,,


Matthew Henson's Dinner Companion Addresses ECAD 2016

In one of the exploration world's most extraordinary nights of the year, there was draw-dropping silence as one of the dinner speakers, Canadian Dr. Frederick Roots, 94, winner of the Explorers Medal, casually told the bejeweled and tuxedoed audience of about 1,200 that this was only his second ECAD dinner. During his first visit in 1953, when he was the keynoter, he sat next to famed explorer Matthew Henson. Yes, that Matthew Henson (1866-1955), the first African-American Arctic explorer, a teammate of Robert Peary on seven voyages over a period of nearly 23 years.

"He was very quiet," said Roots.

Fred Roots broke bread with Matthew Henson (Photo courtesy

It was a most memorable comment during a most memorable evening, a dinner that whizzed by at Mach 10. We were privileged to sit at the cool kids' table, close to an astronaut, a humanitarian eye doctor, and a man, Dr. Walter Munk, who studied wave patterns used to plan the landings in Normandy on D-Day. Heady stuff indeed.

Approximately $250,000 was raised by the Club, which has 3,390 active members, to support exploration, including a series of student grants. Here are some highlights:

Turtle Power - Wallace J. Nichols, author of Blue Mind (Back Bay Books, 2015) told of tracking a loggerhead sea turtle named Adelita across the ocean. The turtle was released into the wild in 1996 and swam 7,456 miles over 368 days, making history, at least sea turtle research history.

Nichols recalled his early days when he told his father he wasn't going to be a doctor or lawyer. "My dad was worried I'd be on the side of the road of life in a ditch," Nichols said. Instead, now nicknamed "The Turtle Guy," he has devoted his life to projects that protect turtles. His goal is to get more marketing experts to focus on helping the planet than, as he put it, "sell sugar water." (See

Nichols is so invested in things aquatic that when he came to New York for ECAD and wanted to see a show, he bypassed Cats, Les Mis, Book of Mormon and Lion King to see instead Red Speedo, a rather obscure off-Broadway play about men who wear Speedos and swim fast and take drugs so they can swim even faster.

Big Dreamers - Mary Ann Potts, editorial director of National Geographic Adventure, a digital magazine, told of celebrating the stories of ordinary people who are changing the world. "These are people so bold, curious, obsessed and inspired that they devote their lives to a big dream," she said.

"Then they leverage social media to create a global impact. The positive reach of social media is extraordinary." Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita, is honored in NGA as the 2016 People's Choice Adventurer of the Year (see:

Too Much of a Good Thing - "I'm happiest when I'm blowing bubbles," said Michele Westmorland, marine photographer. "Unfortunately social media is so powerful we're all compelled to use it. I'm looking forward to going to PNG (Papua New Guinea) and disconnecting for a time. I dread the day when social media can reach me underwater."

Sam Cossman is all fired up about volcanoes

Magma Man - Sam Cossman, explorer and filmmaker, showed a video of himself wearing an industrial proximity heat suit used to brave volcanic heat so intense it melted his GoPro housing and the blades of his unmanned drone. "This is what I was meant to do," he said with great passion. "Expeditions use technology to peel back the layers of the unknown." Later he told the seminar at the Waldorf-Astoria, "Beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone are where discoveries begin." (

Don't Keep it to Yourself - "It's not good enough to be an explorer and keep it to yourself," said Dr. Sylvia Earle, American marine biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer. Armed with technology we can witness and observe what our predecessors could not. It's not too late. We know what to do. We just need the will to do it."

Snake Charmer - The evening also included a presentation by naturalist Jim Fowler who came out wearing a snake that relieved itself on his suit. "I always seem to get a seat on the subway wearing this," he joked. Later Fowler remarked, "The motivation for exploration in the past was exploitation. Now the motivation is explanation."

Can't Beat 'Em, Eat 'Em - One cherished tradition of the dinner is the consumption of exotic foods that explorers may find in the field. This year, the focus was on invasive species such as the lionfish, a striped, spiny fish long a staple of home aquariums that has taken over the Eastern seaboard.

The lion sleeps tonight - in our stomachs.

Other treats included goat penis and goat eyeball swizzle sticks, iguana, and scorpion.

For a goat, obviously size doesn't matter.

I wanna iguana. Then a Pepto-Bismol.

Everything tastes better when eaten off a stick ... with the possible exception of scorpion.

Read more about the exotics menu in this Mar. 10 post on

Bloody Nice - Patrick Lahey, president of Triton Submarines, Vero Beach, Fla., shared a BBC video of Sir David Attenborough, English broadcaster and naturalist, submerging in a Triton, a manned submersible that Lahey is trying to get wealthy yacht owners to buy, place on their yachts and lend out for science.

He says owners like to have their submersibles used for a purpose rather than their "own personal jollies." It takes 10 days at the Triton training center, 20 dives and time in a simulator to be able to competently operate the Triton 3300/3, the company's most popular submersible. It can submerge a pilot and two passengers, in perfect comfort and safety, to depths of 3,300 feet.

This one-person Triton submersible sells for $1.7 million and can remain submerged and tetherless for six to eight hours at 3,300 feet - a lot longer than we can get a plate of goat penises to stay down.

Lahey continues, "Most people see the ocean as a forbidden place. If you want to connect them to the ocean, put them in a submersible and you'll create an advocate for protecting the ocean."

Attenborough, 89, said in the video, "It's bloody nice someone my age could be taken down in such great comfort."

Simone Moro Sets Ground-Breaking Mountaineering Feat

Italian alpinists Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger last year set out from Europe to attempt the first winter ascent of the notorious 'Killer Mountain', Nanga Parbat (8126 m). After more than 80 days on the ninth highest mountain in the world, Simone, along with Spainard Alex Txikon and Ali Sadpara from Pakistan successfully summitted the mountain on Feb. 26 via the Kinshofer Route. Tamara Lunger stopped her bid on the ridge below the summit.

Simon Moro (Photo courtesy: The North Face)

This marks a ground breaking first winter (Dec 21, 2015 - Mar 21, 2016) ascent of the mountain and also Simone's fourth first winter ascent of 8000m peaks (the other three are: Shisha Pangma (8027m), Makalu (8463m), and Gasherbrum II (8035m). While there had been a handful of successful summits of the mountain, out of 30 tries, no one has made an ascent of Nanga Parbat in winter until now.

Currently, the only summit missing off the list of the 14 highest mountains in the world climbed in winter is K2.

Tamara and Simone's expedition was sponsored by The North Face and W.L. Gore & Associates.

For more information:

Who Knew?

In the news recently is Miles & Miles, a beer from the Henniker Brewing Company in Henniker, N.H. It's named in honor of nearby Derry's own Captain Alan Shepard, the second person and first American to travel into space. He became the fifth and oldest person to walk on the moon, and the only astronaut of the Mercury Seven to walk on the moon.

That's one small slurp for mankind (Photo courtesy Henniker Brewing Co.)

While on the moon, Shepard used a Wilson six-iron head attached to a lunar sample scoop handle to drive golf balls. Despite thick gloves and a stiff spacesuit, which forced him to swing the club with one hand, Shepard struck two golf balls; driving the second, as he jokingly put it, "miles and miles and miles."

According to the Wall Street Journal (Jan. 19) company owner Dave Currier recently complained to presidential hopeful John Kasich campaigning out on the trail, "We have to get label approval from Obama. "Every one of these labels has to be approved by the federal government. It's too much regulation."

Replied Kasich, "If I'm president, we will not be approving labels on bottled beer."


"I really wanted to reach out, stick it in my space suit, and bring it home and show it to everybody. This is what it feels like."

- Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan who stepped on the moon in December 1972. He left his footprints and his daughter's initials in the lunar dust. Now 40 years later, he shares his personal story of fulfillment, love and loss in the 2016 documentary, The Last Man on the Moon. Watch the trailer. It's available for rent at:

"If you think going to the moon is hard, you ought to try staying at home," says an astronaut's wife in the film.


Nat Geo Channel Plans More Exploration Coverage

National Geographic Channel plans to transform its Explorer franchise into a weekly series that blends magazine and talk show elements, hosted by British journalist Richard Bacon.

The new-model Explorer is described as a weekly "docu-talk" series that will feature magazine-style field reporting, celebrity guests and talk show segments shot in front of a studio audience. The series will bow on Nat Geo's 171 channels around the world in the fall.

One ambitious miniseries is Mars from Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. The six-part series will blend true-life adventure and the drama of human experience in a hybrid scripted/documentary that looks at efforts to colonize Mars over the next century.

The revamp of Explorer is Nat Geo's effort to offer a point of view on the week's news a la John Oliver's Last Week Tonight and The Daily Show. Alumni from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are on board the production team. The show will originate from New York.

Read the Variety story here:

Just Saying

Excuse us if we have insects on our mind after scarfing creepy crawlies last weekend in New York. Some people simply see them as bugs, but others believe that in the future they'll be our most important source of protein. Like chickens, sheep and cows, insects produce high-value protein from plant-based nutrients-but they do it in a much more cost-efficient way. Producing two pounds of meat currently requires up to 29 pounds of animal feed, according to a story in The Red Bulletin, the Red Bull corporate magazine (January 2016).

We suppose it goes great with a can of Red Bull Total Zero (Photo courtesy
The Red Bulletin)

With insects, you can produce the same amount of protein with as little as 3.7 pounds. You just have to get over the "yuk" factor. Patience young grasshopper.

Read the story here:


The North Face 2016 Explore Fund Grants Seek Applicants

The North Face 2016 Explore Fund grant-giving program is open through April 5, 2016 for applications. This year, $500,000 will be awarded to nonprofit organizations that connect people to the outdoors in meaningful ways.

To celebrate the National Park Service Centennial, The North Face is encouraging organizations to activate their programs in national parks and has earmarked $250,000 of the total grant funding in support of organizations that encourage people to play, learn and serve in these parks.

To be considered for an Explore Fund grant, applicants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations or in a formal relationship with a qualified fiscal sponsor.

For more information and to submit an application before April 5, visit


A Splendid Savage - The Restless Life of Frederick Russell Burnham
by Steve Kemper (W. W. Norton & Company 2016)

Reviewed by Robert F. Wells

Frederick Russell Burnham (1861-1947) might undoubtedly be the most famous American you've never heard of. Born to parents living amongst savages in the midwestern frontier, he gained recognition worldwide for very particular skills as an adventurer and military resource. Along the way, he hobnobbed with the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill - as well as a wide range of robber barons and colonialists prying opportunities from the ground in remote regions of the west and colonial Africa.

In short, Burnham was a scout. Possibly the best there ever was. As defined in an 1851 Webster's Dictionary, a scout was "a person, commonly a horseman, sent... to a distance, for the purpose of observing the motions of an enemy or discovering any danger."

Decades earlier, Kit Carson and a handful of others honed the craft. And through timely tutelage from old hands like "Holme,", a cantankerous perfectionist, or "Dead Eye" Lee - plus a variety of befriended natives, Burnham mastered the skill. Exceptional tracking and survival instincts... how to read the ground for food and water... how to interpret animal skat, fibers on bushes, bird voices, broken cobwebs, bent grass, etc.

His uncanny abilities took him in two directions: 1) to help military missions, and 2) to strike it rich. The California Gold Rush was not that long ago, and the glittery prospect of riches coursed through Burnham's veins like an evil obsession. There was no one who could discover stuff like Burnham - or protect armies from disaster. He was a self-taught botanist, naturalist, mineralogist and geologist - the whole package. A contemporary called him the "Sherlock Holmes of all out-of-doors." Yet he was humble, selfless to a fault, empathetic of natives, and - a trait essential for scouts - always one who admitted failure when it matched reality.

Burnham was a man with an itch. He seldom stayed in one place for long. And even with tortuous means of travel in the latter half of the 1800's, Burnham saw nothing about striking out for the unknown - the very wild west, Mexico, the Yukon... even East Africa. More than that, he would drag around his oft-deserted wife and extended family to live one step away from "the wild." He'd be chasing Ndebeles tribesmen in Africa... tickling traces of gold from dirt in Dawson... followed by dodging violence in the Yaqui Valley of Mexico. His poor wife would lose him for weeks and months at a time.

As author, Kemper, brings Frederick Burnham back to life. Pulling from two memoirs and a variety of disparate sources, he takes readers on a real expedition of an extraordinary life - exposing Burnham as a man of contradictions. A savage at heart... while able to navigate high society. A collector of trophy animals... but an ardent conservationist. A protector of indigenous peoples... while being a devout racist. The book is a wonderful exploration of an incredible person, largely forgotten - as well as a journey into a time long past.

Robert Wells, a member of The Explorers Club since 1991, is a resident of South Londonderry, Vt., and a retired executive of the Young & Rubicam ad agency. Wells is the director of a steel band (see


Most Interesting

Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World" is no longer of this world. The character played by 77-year-old Jonathan Goldsmith is depicted taking a one-way journey to Mars in the actor's final star-turn for the brand, which Dos Equis posted online this month. Goldsmith will be replaced by another actor in a similar campaign, Advertising Age reported.

The production values are excellent and will bring a smile to fans of both expeditions, and well, beer.

See it here:

Good in a Pinch

Find yourself on an expedition and your expensive DSLR goes down? One travel writer, Yvette Cardozo, found her iPhone up to the challenge during a recent trip to Iceland. There's hope if your memory card goes on the fritz. See her work here:


The Explorers Museum Summit Weekend and Film Festival, June 24 to 26, 2016

The Explorers Museum, located in Charleville Castle in Tullamore, Ireland, about 60 miles from Dublin, will host a film festival themed, "Redefining Exploration," June 24 to 26. Attendees will attend talks and view a collection of exploration films, including Racing Extinction, directed by Louie Psihoyos; Chris Nicola's No Place on Earth, directed by Janet Tobias; and The Search for Michael Rockefeller by Agamemnon Films director Fraser Heston.

A gala dinner will honor Captain Norman Baker, celestial navigator on Thor Heyerdahl's Ra, Ra II and Tigris Expeditions.

Speakers include: Heiko Bleher, a German explorer, researcher, author, photographer, filmmaker and producer, and Anne Doubilet, underwater explorer, writer, and photographer with over 30 stories with National Geographic.

Master of Ceremonies is Duncan Stewart, broadcaster, RTÉ, Ireland's national radio/television network. Sponsors are actor Dan Aykroyd's Crystal Head Vodka and Pixelwork.

For more information:


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 fund 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:

Advertise in Expedition News - For more information:

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 1877 Broadway, Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80302 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2016 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