SEARCHING FOR DINOSAURS IN ANTARCTICA
An international team of researchers supported by the National Science Foundation will journey to Antarctica this month to search for evidence that the now-frozen continent may have been the starting point for some important species that roam the Earth today.
Millions of years ago Antarctica was a warm and lush environment ruled by dinosaurs and inhabited by a great diversity of life. But today, the fossils that could reveal what prehistoric life was like are mostly buried under the ice of the harsh landscape, leaving the part that Antarctica played in the evolution of vertebrates (backboned animals) as one of the great unknowns in the history of life.
Leading the team are paleontologists from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, The University of Texas at Austin, Ohio University and the American Museum of Natural History. Other collaborators include scientists from museums and universities across the U.S., Australia and South Africa. The team will be using the U.S. research vessel R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer to reach the James Ross Island area.
Julia Clarke, a paleontologist with The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences, is one of the principal investigators for the international research mission to Antarctica.
During the month-long expedition scientists will conduct research on James Ross Island and other nearby islands off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the few spots on Antarctica where fossil-bearing rocks are accessible.
"It's impossible not to be excited to reach remote sites via helicopter and icebreaker to look for dinosaurs and other life forms from over 66 million years ago," said Julia Clarke, a professor and paleontologist at the UT Austin Jackson School of Geosciences.
The team will be sharing discoveries and daily life from the Antarctic ice on the expedition website, http://antarcticdinos.org/
The Paddling Grandma Ends 2,500-Mi. Journey
Kayak for Safe Passage's Deborah Walters, Ph. D., a 64-year-old grandmother of four from Troy, Maine, 2,500 miles along the East Coast to benefit the children living in and around the huge Guatemala City garbage dump (See EN, August 2014).
Walters completed her 2,500-mile kayak journey late last month.
Since starting in July 2014, Walters has kayaked over 1,500 miles before requiring emergency spinal surgery in February 2015 for a massively herniated disk. She continued her pre-arranged speaking tour by car. Then to avoid the possibility of armed attacks on her small craft in Mexico, Walters had planned to travel from Florida to Belize aboard the sailing vessel Polaris with Bernie Horn, president of sponsor Polaris Capital Management.
But still recovering from her spinal surgery, she was transported to Guatemala by sailboat and was honored at a large celebration with the children at Safe Passage.
Supporters said she had completed the expedition and could stop. But Walters had pledged to kayak 2,500 miles for the project. So when she recovered from her spinal injury, she restarted where she had stopped paddling in South Carolina and kept going for another 1,000 miles, finally completing the expedition in Key West, Fla. on Jan. 30.
To date, over $425,000 has been raised. Her major sponsors were: Polaris Capital Management, Broadreach PR, Chesapeake Light Craft, and L.L. Bean which provided gear and clothing for field testing.
For more information: email@example.com, http://www.safepassage.org/Kayak
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."
- John Muir (1838-1914), Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the U.S.
Misfit Explorers Never Discovered Anything
They are the sorriest looking bunch of adventurers you can imagine.
This "bi-polar explorer," has a sunburned nose and cockeyed look of disbelief.
(Photos courtesy of Allison Leach)
Lyle of Arabia looks like he survived the desert on a diet of Krispy Kreme donuts.
They're both part of an art project by New Yorker Allison Leach called, "Misfit Explorers," a series of photographs depicting fictitious explorers who never got anywhere nor found anything. The images are based on reenactments of a mixture of actual failed explorers (Scott, Livingstone), amalgamations of incompetent historical expeditions (Franklin Expedition, Donner Party), and fantastical disasters of Leach's own whimsy.
"My constructed photographs examine both the hubris of Western exploration and, reflexively, the power of photography itself," she says.
Her project dates back to 1999, when Leach visited the Shackleton exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. Expedition photographer Frank Hurley's pictures of Antarctic adventurers filled the walls. Hurley's glass-plate negatives inspired Leach to ask: "What happened to all the explorers that never got anywhere or found anything?"
She tells EN, "During the Heroic Age of Exploration, around the turn of the twentieth century, photography was used by Western explorers as an ethnographic tool to document what they viewed as the exotic and 'primitive' natives they encountered on their travels.
"These photographs were seen as evidence of the superiority of the West, and thus paved the way for the ultimate exploitation of indigenous natural resources and subjugation of what were thought of as 'inferior' peoples."
Conversely, the explorers must have seemed completely absurd and bizarre to the indigenous peoples they were "discovering."
Leach, 52, believes her photographs create the fantasy of explorers being "discovered" themselves, offering evidence of the illegitimacy of foreign conquest and the nonsensical notion of cultural hegemony.
"By turning the lens around onto my incompetent, invading explorers, and using their same cold, analytical ethnographic-style of photography, I expose our Western imperialistic ambitions to scrutinize and ridicule."
Not to be outdone by Victorian dilettantes, in 2013 she volunteered at a chimpanzee sanctuary deep in the African bush for three months to minister to a paralyzed chimpanzee named "Arvid." That began her new career in primate rehabilitation.
In 2014, she volunteered for four months in Borneo providing enrichment to an orangutan stroke victim named "Hocky."
This summer she plans to volunteer for three months in the Congo (DRC) with a bonobo project.
As a board member of IDA-Africa's Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center in Cameroon, Leach is planning a presentation by its director and founder, Dr. Sheri Speede, on Apr. 11 at The Explorers Club in New York. Speede's first book, Kindred Beings, published last fall by Harper Collins, came out after a National Geographic photo from the sanctuary went viral.
Dr. Sheri Speede cradles the head of a primate named Dorothy while her family of chimpanzees looked on. This deeply touched people around the world while showing that animals do indeed have feelings.
Leach, a former People Magazine contributing photographer, has traded her life of shooting celebrities for the far more rewarding one of photographing apes in the wild and advocating for their conservation.
"By exploring the limits of my comfortable middle-class 'comfort zone,' learning new cultures and livelihoods, and most importantly, empathizing with our closest living relatives, I have discovered a new passion and mission, which is far bigger than myself and any celebrity ego."
The Misfit Explorers images, previously exhibited at a New York photo gallery, can be currently seen here:
Leach explains her work on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zU7I-ePQrw
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org, 646 640 6396, www.allisonleachprojects.com
Sherpa Wishes Trekking Clients Would Learn to Disconnect
Karma Sherpa is a quiet, unassuming Sherpa now living in Boulder, Colo., who has definite opinions about the commercialization of Everest. As owner of outfitter Sherpa Mountain Adventures, established in 2009, he leads trekking experiences in the Himalayas that takes clients far outside their comfort zones.
Karma, 38, grew up in a single parent household with eight other siblings in the Mt. Everest region called Teksindu, and sadly lost two cousins on Everest, prompting his mother to make him promise never to attempt the summit. He has trekked to Everest base camp many times, has guided since 1995, including for Colorado's Outward Bound course in Nepal, and organized a successful 2012 private expedition to the summit.
Karma Sherpa wants his clients to learn how to unplug.
But as for himself, the summit is not his goal. He's more interested in offering clients an unplugged outdoor experience. He decries outfitters that bring generators to base camp.
"I see many outfitters try to make their clients too comfortable on the mountain," he tells us over coffee in Boulder. "The definition of adventure is to try something you don't do on a regular basis. You need to feel the challenge, something you can't do watching movies or TV at base camp.
"We try to encourage clients to disconnect from technology and connect with nature, with local people, connect with the mountain. Yes, it's good to have a cell phone, email access to home, and GPS, you can't disconnect entirely from modern technology, but there needs to be a balance."
Sherpa, who was active in helping Nepal rebuild after the April 2015 earthquake, is planning a 14-day guided trip in October to the Solukumbu region south of Everest that includes Pike (Pee-Kay) Peak, which he says is a moderately strenuous trek at relatively low (13,000-ft.) altitude. It is the most prominent peak in the area with the best panoramic views in the region.
He expects clients will pack their smartphones, iPads, laptops and headphones, but he'll watch closely that they disconnect to "concentrate their minds on the mountains, which is why they came to the Himalayas in the first place."
For more information: www.sherpamountainadventures.com
Sherpa and his earthquake relief efforts is profiled in a story by Angela K. Evans written for the Boulder Weekly (Jan. 28). See it here:
Falling for a Climber
With Valentine's Day this month, what better story than one about the love lives of climbers? Chris Weidner interviews a dozen male and female climbers in the Boulder area for the Daily Camera (Feb. 10).
"If I didn't want to go climbing I would never see my boyfriend," said a 34-year-old woman from Lafayette, Colo., recalling a past relationship. "I felt like he was cheating on me with climbing. I was jealous of climbing. It was weird."
Says one male climber, "Feelings get hurt when you just want to bro down with bros but your girlfriend wants to go do some easy climb you've already done."
Says another, "Climbing will never cheat on you. Climbing will never lie to you. Climbing is honest and consistent. Climbing is the best relationship I've ever had."
One 60 year-old mother said she's only briefly dated non-climbers. "As a general rule, their bodies aren't as nice."
Weidner runs this gem of a quote later in the story, "We climbers share a good-humored fatalism and a rare penchant for suffering. I couldn't be with someone who didn't have that edge to them, who cared more about stupid crap like politics and the Super Bowl and going to fancy restaurants than about taking a good, hard look at what it really means to exist as a human being."
Read the story here:
Tastes Like Turtle
The story of the 1951 annual Explorers Club dinner is especially noteworthy due to claims that Club members ate frozen mammoth from Alaska. While this sounds a lot better than hissing cockroaches and crickets, former exotic dinner fare, the mammoth menu tale was all a big joke, according to a story in the New York Times (Feb. 3) by James Gorman.
Bernard Hubbard, known as the "Glacier Priest," brought back the supposed mammoth meat from the Aleutian Islands, off the coast of Alaska.
The purported dinner fare that evening was well received by the press and general public, and became an enduring legend for the Club and popularized the notorious annual tradition of serving rare and exotic food at Club dinners that continues to this day.
Eating fossil meat may seem hazardous, but animals that died thousands of years ago have been found frozen, and Yale researchers recently point to credible reports of paleontologists sampling the ancient flesh of extinct bison and mammoth, according to Gorman.
The Yale Peabody Museum holds a sample of meat preserved from the 1951 dinner, interestingly labeled as a South American giant ground sloth (Megatherium), not mammoth.
The Yale researchers reported earlier this month in the journal PLOS One that they had sequenced a fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene of the preserved sample and studied archival material to verify its identity, which if genuine, would extend the range of Megatherium over 600% and alter views on ground sloth evolution.
Bleh! A sample of the meat served in 1951 that Yale researchers used for DNA testing.
In the end, after multiple tests, it was determined that the meat was neither mammoth nor sloth, nor ancient, nor even a mammal. Turtle soup had also been on the menu that night, before sea turtles were in such trouble, and the bit of flesh that the scientists tested turned out to be green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas.
The Yale researchers conclude, "The prehistoric dinner was likely an elaborate publicity stunt."
We're shocked. Shocked.
Read the Times coverage here:
The Yale study, with specimen photos, charts and graphs, can be viewed here:
Glamping it Ain't
Speaking of expedition food, climber Jimmy Chin tells Bon Appetit magazine (Jan. 13) about eating and cooking on an expedition. Spoiler alert: It ain't glamping. In one case, according to the magazine's Rochelle Bilow, Chin and teammates ate oatmeal and cous cous 12 days in a row, packing enough food for 7 days but being stuck on a mountain for 18, and eating every meal out of one pot and a spoon shared by three people - all while functioning on decreased dexterity and brain power due to the freezing temperatures and thin air.
Read the gory details here:
The Strange World of Felt Presences
On May 20, 1916, Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsley (see related story), and Tom Crean reached Stromness, a whaling station on the north coast of South Georgia. They had been walking for 36 hours, in life-threatening conditions, in an attempt to reach help for the rest of their party. You know the story by now: By reaching Stromness they managed to save all the men left from the ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
Members of Shackleton's rescue party felt the presence of a phantom fourth person. (Photo by Frank Hurley)
They did not talk about it at the time, but weeks later all three men reported an uncanny experience during their trek: a feeling that "often there were four, not three" men on their journey. The "fourth" that accompanied them had the silent presence of a real person, someone walking with them by their side, as far as the whaling station but no further, according to a story in the U.K.'s The Guardian newspaper by Ben Alderson-Day and David Smailes.
Shackleton was apparently deeply affected by the experience, but would say little about it in subsequent years, considering it something "which can never be spoken of."
Encounters such as these are more common than you think. The Guardian story was published in 2015, but remains relevant as historians and explorers alike celebrate the 100th anniversary of the South Georgia crossing.
Read the story here:
Hot Sauce Designed for Adventure Raises $5,000
Unless you're eating crickets or wooly mammoth (see related story), expedition fare can be pretty bland. Thus, we're pleased to learn one hot sauce entrepreneur successfully rattled the cup on Kickstarter to raise $5,002 from 55 backers.
Hot sauce reviewer Jason Leek is hot for Expedition Sauce
The company, de Mars LLC, is working with a local Seattle factory to produce Expedition Sauce in three ounce aluminum tubes and suitable for extreme travel. It starts shipping in early April for approximately $7 each.
Hot new product is expected in stores this April thanks in part to crowdsourcing.
Currently a team of sponsored climbers in Yosemite are using it and creating short videos about their adventures. Company founder and CEO John de Mars has personally consumed the hot stuff on dozens of trips including two Mt. Rainier summit missions. De Mars tells EN, "It has incredible flavor and heat that can make bland food taste great."
Jason Leek, a southern-drawled and heavily goateed professional hot sauce reviewer (who knew?), says it's his favorite hot sauce. Who are we to argue? View it here:
For more information: www.expeditionsauce.com
Brooks-Range Sponsors Four More Climbers
Brooks-Range Mountaineering, manufacturer of backcountry and outdoor equipment and accessories, added four new climbers to its 2016 Ambassador Program. They are: Ali Criscitiello, Eric Layton, Miranda Oakley, and Drew Smith.
Ali Criscitiello is a new ambassador for Brooks-Range Mountaineering.
The Brooks-Range Ambassador Program includes a select group of the top U.S. mountaineering, rock climbing, and backcountry professionals that use Brooks-Range products regularly for their mountain adventures. Ambassadors assist with product feedback and field-testing, and will represent the brand in outdoor pursuits, sharing their experiences through blogging, videos, and social media.
Criscitiello, Layton, Oakley and Smith join existing Brooks-Range Ambassadors Kevin Tatsugawa, Charlie Barrett, and Aaron Richards.
For more information: www.brooks-range.com
Take Your Protein Pills and Put Your Helmet On
When David Bowie, the British music icon, died on Jan. 10 at the age of 69, thousands undoubtedly turned to YouTube to view a particularly evocative version of his hit, Space Oddity, wherein we learn the fate of one "Major Tom."
In fact, since May 2013, when Commander Chris Hadfield, a retired Canadian astronaut who was the first Canadian to walk in space, posted his modified rendition of the song from the International Space Station (ISS), it has been viewed over 30.5 million times.
After handing over command of the ISS in 2013, but before returning home, Hadfield released this musical tribute to David Bowie.
Commencing countdown, engines on. View it here: https://youtu.be/KaOC9danxNo
One Giant Step for Photography
Kipp Teague of the Project Apollo Archive has uploaded more than 8,400 high-resolution photos of NASA's lunar missions to Flickr. The images, made by Apollo astronauts using mostly Hasselblads, are wonderfully imperfect - they aren't always in focus, and the exposure and framing often is off - but as with family snapshots, it's the content that matters. They remind us that anything is possible. All these years later, they still inspire.
This image of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module with earth in the background is one of thousands of little-known images available on the Project Apollo Archive.
Perhaps that is why the photos, which are free to all who want them, have spawned all manner of mashups and remixes, according to Wired.com. One stop-motion video by Vimeo user harrisonicus is a favorite. The clip, set to a frantic, video game-like soundtrack by Built By Snow, uses a stop-motion effect to travel from the launch pad to the moon in 2 minutes and 54 seconds.
See the video here:
Spokesperson Sarah Ramsey tells Wired.com NASA couldn't be more pleased, "We're delighted that people are using our content in creative and innovative ways. All of our images are publicly available - we support their use for science, education and public engagement," she says. "These images will inspire the Mars generation to take on the new challenges of exploration on our journey there."
See the entire Project Apollo Archive here:
Brit Henry Worsley, 55, Dies on Antarctic Attempt
British explorer Henry Worsley died last month attempting to be the first person to complete the first-ever solo unsupported and unassisted crossing of the Antarctic landmass. It was an epic charity mission inspired by famed explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.
The 55-year-old former British Army officer died Jan. 24 after being airlifted to a hospital in Punta Arenas, Chile, suffering severe exhaustion and dehydration.
Henry Worsley (1960-2016) was a descendant of Frank Worsley, Sir Ernest Shackleton's skipper on Endurance.
The father of two was found to have bacterial peritonitis (a bacterial infection in the abdomen), after having trekked approximately 913 miles unaided across the South Pole - just 30 miles short of his end goal.
Worsley was 71 days into his record-breaking solo mission to complete the legendary British explorer Ernest Shackleton's unsuccessful crossing of Antarctica 100 years ago.
Prince William, a friend of Worsley and a patron of the Shackleton Solo Expedition, said he and his brother Prince Harry were saddened by the news. "He was a man who showed great courage and determination," he said. "We are incredibly proud to be associated with him."
Worsley died following complete organ failure despite all efforts of Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) and medical staff at the Clinica Magallanes in Punta Arenas, Chile.
By early February, the project had raised £317,823 ($461,284) for The Endeavour Fund which supports wounded, injured and sick Service personnel and veterans, encouraging them to use sport and adventurous challenge as part of their recovery and rehabilitation.
Learn more about Worsley's ill-fated expedition and listen to his audio updates here:
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.
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