Friday, March 17, 2017
Preston Sowell and Peruvian underwater archaeologist Josué Israel Zare Vergara preparing to submerge.
High Altitude Lake in Peru Reveals 850-Year-Old Submerged Ruins
During ongoing climate and ecological studies, environmental scientist Preston Sowell, 47, from Boulder, Colo., discovered submerged ruins in a remote, high-altitude lake in southern Peru. Climate studies imply that the structures were built between A.D. 1160 to 1500, when regional lake levels were lower.
Sowell teamed with licensed Peruvian archaeologists to study the site and conduct archaeological reconnaissance surveys. “Archaeologists believe that we have indeed discovered an important pre-Hispanic ceremonial site,” he says.
The exact location, about 125 miles from Lake Titicaca, has been withheld to discourage looting. Teams in 2013, 2015 and 2016 accessed the site on horseback, carrying their scuba gear to reach depths that are world records at that altitude (16,000 feet). Their expeditions revealed a trove of artifacts and structures dating from the Inca period and earlier.
The entire watershed, and its sacred landscape and cultural features are currently under threat from mining, increased human presence, and dropping lake levels, precipitating the need for an urgent response action, according to Sowell. Later this year they hope to return to conduct excavations, expanded archaeological explorations, and underwater ROV and UAV-assisted surveys. Only a small area has been surveyed to date, so they anticipate that more discoveries will be made in and around the lake.
The goals of the 2017/2018 field seasons will be focused on protecting vulnerable artifacts and providing the information necessary to protect the area, gain long-term funding, and guide future investigations.
“The ultimate goal (besides protection of the watershed) is to get enough momentum so that an academic researcher can easily step in and take on long-term research once we've secured the site. My archaeologists think that there will be 10-plus years of archaeological work there,” he tells EN.
The project, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), is seeking $36,000 to fund the next critical phases of the field effort. For more information: email@example.com, 303 775 6920
Dr. Douglas Duncan
Time for a Corona
Dr. Douglas Duncan, director of the Fiske Planetarium at the University of Colorado, previewed the Aug. 21, 2017 total eclipse last month in Boulder. Duncan has been chasing total eclipses since 1970.
This summer, you won’t have to fly your Lear Jet to Nova Scotia. For the first time in 40 years, a total eclipse will cross the entire U.S.
“A total eclipse is one of the most spectacular sights you can ever see,” Duncan gushes.
“It looks like the end of the world might look. There is a black hole in the sky where the sun should be. Pink flames of solar prominences and long silver streamers of the corona stretch across the sky. It gets cold, and animals do strange things. People scream and shout and cheer, and remember the experience their whole life.
But total eclipses are important scientifically as well. They let us see parts of the sun’s atmosphere that are otherwise invisible,” Duncan said.
Are you feeling lucky? Watch the eclipse for Baily’s beads – the rugged lunar topography allows beads of sunlight to shine through in some places, and not in others.
Duncan is a faculty member in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences of the University of Colorado, where he directs the Fiske Planetarium.
In 2011 he received the prestigious Richard Emmons award presented to the “Outstanding Astronomy Teacher in the U.S.” Duncan broadcasts science commentary on the Colorado Public Radio program, “Colorado Matters.”
For more information, including details on buying eclipse glasses, view:
Michael Aisner of Boulder, Colo., is a self-professed “eclipse freak” who has seen 11 total eclipses around the world for an elapsed time of 35 min. 13 sec. Share his passion for eclipses at: www.eclipsefreaks.com
Finally, if you want to know if the skies will be clear when you haul ass to North Platte, Neb., check out Historical Cloud Cover Charts at:
On My Honor: Scouts Create Merit Badge for Exploration
Growing up in the Scouts, we seem to recall receiving one or two merit badges, that’s it, including one for ham radio. In fact, we still remember Morse code to this day, although it doesn’t come up much in conversation.
Obviously, we were born too soon. Here’s news of the new Boys Scouts of America Exploration Merit Badge designed to inspire the next generation of explorers. Created and developed by experts in the field, the Exploration Merit Badge is the 137th addition to the BSA’s bank of merit badge programs and is now available to Scouts nationwide.
“We have a wealth of experience encouraging Scouts to use their natural curiosity to learn how the world works, and now we’re putting that energy and adventure into a new merit badge,” said Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive. “The Exploration Merit Badge adds to our broad range of STEM topics and programs Scouts can experience.”
To earn the Exploration Merit Badge, Scouts will be asked to demonstrate their knowledge of exploration, as well as its history and importance in today’s world. They will complete hands-on projects about real-life explorations and have the opportunity to complete an exploration in a lab or in the field. The badge culminates with the Scout planning, preparing for and completing their own expedition.
Beware of Scouts bearing bullwhips
Michael J. Manyak, M.D., Distinguished Eagle Scout and expedition medicine expert, led the charge for the development of this merit badge and worked closely with the BSA and other explorers to make it come to life.
“Exploration is what drives innovation, whether in science, economics, or business – we need exploration to spur discoveries that help enhance their lives and improve our world,” said Manyak. “The possibilities for exploring are endless and require teamwork and dedication. We look forward to seeing Scouts become future change-makers through their experiences with this badge.”
The badge shows an Indiana Jones type hat, binoculars and a bullwhip. A bullwhip? Is that for getting closer to the hors d’oeuvres at the next Explorers Club dinner, we wondered?
Manyak enlightened us: “In today's overly politically correct world maybe some misguided people might misinterpret this for violence or submission or slavery or whatever rage du jour, but the vast majority interpret it for what it is, a symbol of Indiana Jones, a consummate if fictitious explorer. Honestly, everybody smiles when they see it, they get it.”
For more information:
Dr. Geoffrey Tabin
Geoff Tabin: Exploration’s Triple Threat
In entertainment, a triple threat is a performer who excels at acting, singing, and dancing. In exploration, a triple threat could be defined as Geoff Tabin, M.D., a Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Co-Director of the Outreach Division at the John A. Moran Eye Center and University of Utah, specializing in cornea, cataract and refractive surgery. Not only is he known to perform 1,000 cataract surgeries in a single week in Africa, but is also an accomplished mountain climber and guide. And to top it off, plays a mean jazz harmonica.
Tabin has been named an "unsung hero" by the Dalai Lama for his international work and dedication to eradicate unnecessary world blindness and sustain ophthalmic health care in the developing world. Being the fourth person to climb the Seven Summits, he has pioneered difficult technical rock, ice, and mountaineering routes on all seven continents including the East Face of Mt. Everest.
His passion for mountain climbing directed him to his professional career in eye care. After summiting Mt. Everest on one of his expeditions, he came across a Dutch team performing cataract surgery on a woman who had been needlessly blind for three years. It was then he understood his life calling.
“As the world ages, blindness will increase unless we do something,” he told a seminar earlier this month in Vail, Colo. He explained that 39 million people are blind today, of which 90 percent live in developing countries.
“It’s an aspect of global public health that we can actually win. When we perform cataract surgery, the patient is cured for life.”
On July 1, 2017, Tabin will become the Fairweather Chair and a Professor of Ophthalmology and Global Medicine at Stanford University.
Recently, Tabin won an eTown eChievement award for his work with the Himalayan Cataract Project. eTown is one of the most successful and widely distributed radio shows in the U.S., carried on 300 stations every week and podcast worldwide.
Listeners from around the country send in nominations of remarkable individuals who are working hard to make a positive difference in their communities and beyond.
Tabin joined in on harmonica with David Bromberg and his band for a rendition of the song "Tongue." See it here:
Learn more about Tabin’s work at www.cureblindness.org.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.”
– Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890), English explorer, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat.
Alan Arnette lies injured on Twin Sisters
Accident Gives New Meaning to “Rocky” Mountains
Best wishes for a speedy recovery to climber, Alzheimer’s Advocate and master adventure blogger Alan Arnette, 60, of Fort Collins, Colo., after he was swept off his feet by high winds on Feb. 10 on Twin Sisters (11,428-ft.) in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Arnette was on a tune-up climb for an attempt on Dhaulagiri in April. With him was fellow climber Jim Davidson. An experienced climber, Arnette was the 18th American to summit the notoriously deadly K2 and at age 58 in 2014, the oldest.
He blogs, “With no warning my next sensation was losing my footing and being pushed to my right. For a split second, I felt totally helpless. It was a hard push that I had no control over.”
Arnette continues, “… a rogue wind gust blew me off my feet, into the air, twisting my helpless body along the way before violently depositing me on the sharp rocks of a talus field.
It pains us just looking at this.
“I felt a pain in my lower right leg that transcended all my life’s injures including nine dislocated shoulders, torn ACL and meniscus knee injuries, sprains and strains.”
Arnette adds, “The intensity was breath taking, paralyzing. The pain was searing, debilitating. My mouth opened wide. I gasped for air while stretching my hands out to grab my leg. My eyes were shut tightly hoping that this was a horrible nightmare.
“I let out a primal scream that had no words, no translation other than I was hurt in a way I had never anticipated or had ever experienced.”
Later he would learn that the winds had been clocked in the area between 60 and 80 mph with gusts close to 100 mph that day.
The next ten hours became a case study in triage, rescue, communications and friendship.
By that evening, 40 rescuers had responded to help save his life.
“I sobbed uncontrollably in my cocoon as I heard those numbers knowing that these are volunteers who pay for their own gas, food and gear. They invest months to train for rescues like this with the only payback being the knowledge of helping someone in need.”
Earlier this month, he told EN, “I’m doing well. The leg is healing a bit faster than I expected but it will still be August until I can get out. My face is still numb from the impact with the rocks. I am still having some emotional challenges dealing with such an unexpected event on a ‘simple’ hike on a well known trail that I have done probably 100 times.
“But, and I am not trying to be brave or pollyannaish, I only see the good in the incident. It showed me the meaning of true friends, how even when you are totally prepared the unexpected can knock you off your feet, literally, and how fortunate I have been to climb so many peaks around the world and if such a serious incident were to occur, it would happen in my own backyard.
“I don’t think we did anything wring or foolish, it just happened, and I am fine with that,” Arnette tells us.
Read his chilling account here:
Fly Me To the Moon
Billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX – Space Exploration Technologies – said it plans to take tourists on a trip around the moon in as little as two years, after it starts ferrying NASA astronauts to the international space station.
In an announcement last month, Musk’s company said it already accepted “a significant deposit” from two unidentified “private citizens” and envisions sending them to circumnavigate the moon after SpaceX begins routinely ferrying NASA astronauts to the international space station. The manned government trips into orbit could start by late 2018, according to Wall Street Journal reporter Andy Pasztor (Feb. 28).
Health tests and initial training for the first passengers are set to begin later this year, adding that “other flight teams have also expressed strong interest and we expect more to follow.”
The plan entails an autonomous, roughly weeklong voyage that would speed hundreds of thousands of miles from home, hurtle past the Moon and then return on an automated trajectory and presumably, a parachute landing.
In a nod to the iconic Apollo program that sent U.S. astronauts to the surface of the moon more than four decades ago, SpaceX said plans call for private flights to blast off from the same launchpad where those missions started.
Read the story here:
Eric Larsen is schwagged out down to his underwear.
Being Sponsored is a Privilege for Eric Larsen
Eric Larsen, 45, has no full-time job. In reality, he has dozens of jobs. Polar adventurer, expedition guide, dog musher and educator, are just four that come to mind for this Boulder, Colo., resident who has spent the past 15 years of his life traveling to some of the most remote and wild places left on earth.
In 2006, Eric and Lonnie Dupre completed the first ever summer expedition to the North Pole. During this journey, the duo pulled and paddled specially modified canoes across 550 miles of shifting sea ice and open ocean.
Eric successfully led his first expedition to the South Pole in 2008, covering nearly 600 miles in 41 days.
Eric is now one of only a few Americans to have skied to both the North and South Poles. In fact, when he reached the summit of Mt. Everest on October 15, 2010, he became the first person in history to reach the North Pole, South Pole and Everest – the world's three “poles” within a 365-day period.
More recently, in 2014, he and Ryan Waters skied, snowshoed and swam from Canadian soil to the North Pole, possibly the last expedition of its kind due to disappearing sea ice.
Eric has dedicated his adult life to sharing his love for the outdoor world with others. Eric travels extensively giving motivational and educational lectures to schools, universities, nonprofit organizations and corporate groups. Often this takes sponsorship and lots of it.
We caught up with Larsen in February just before he and Tim Harincar of webExpeditions left on a short scouting mission for a future expedition near Gurvansaikhan National Park, an area roughly 300 miles south of Ulan Bator, Mongolia's capital city.
He was a walking advertisement for his sponsors, dressed in HellyHansen shoes, an ExOfficio shirt, with a Garmin on his wrist and a Zeal Optics sunglass on his head. He was also wearing ExOfficio underwear, but we took his word for it.
“I tell fellow explorers and adventurers that being sponsored is a privilege. For me it’s a 24/7 commitment.
“When I started exploring, before social media, we just went exploring and adventuring. Our only sponsor was the fact that we had jobs. We could last all day on a bowl of rice,” he tells EN.
“I advise young explorers to ‘forget about sponsorship.’ Just go on some adventures for five years, get good at it, establish your own unique perspective, then plan a trip that no one has done before. Then and only then should they solicit sponsorship. They should build their adventure c.v. first.”
He adds, “The world today is smaller than it was. It’s more connected. Explorers need to push against boundaries in unique ways, telling their stories with drones, 360-degree video, texting from the field with a Garmin inReach, all the latest technology.
Larsen is the father of a 4-1/2-year old boy and two-year-old girl. Of his long absences from home, he blogged, “When I'm gone, Maria (his partner) is a single mom. She runs her own PR and marketing business so having a full time job, shuttling kids to ski lessons and swing sets is no cakewalk. I miss her and my two young kids so much at times that it hurts deep and unrelenting.
“But I love expeditions too and these types of adventures are integral to who I am as a person. Part of these trips are simply a form of self-expression. After that, I don't have the answers to my seesaw dilemma. There is no real balance actually.”
See Larsen’s most recent book, On Thin Ice: An Epic Final Quest into the Melting Arctic (Falcon Guides, 2016) here:
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
IMAX Camera Stayed Behind
In February, some editions of EN erroneously stated that filmmaker Michael Brown summited Everest with a heavy IMAX camera. That is incorrect. He carried an IMAX only to Camp II (21,500 ft). “For that shoot I took a 35 lbs. High Def camera to the summit,” he tells EN.
ON THE HORIZON
The tall ship Stad Amsterdam at Fernando de Noronha, recreating the voyage of HMS Beagle.
Sailing Stories Returns to The Explorers Club, April 23, 2017
On April 23, 2017, the Explorers Club will host its annual Sailing Stories, a day focused on sailing-based exploration and conservation at its global headquarters in New York.
• Wendy and George David, oceanic racers will discuss survival at sea as they experienced when their 100-foot boat overturned in the Irish Sea.
• Sharon Green, one of sailing’s leading photographers, will share her images and efforts to capture some of the ocean world’s most epic images.
• Joe Harris, a blue-water sailor, completed a 152-day solo, unassisted sailing circumnavigation of the world by way of the three Great Capes, including the famed Cape Horn, joining a select group of only 140 sailors that achieved this goal.
• Peter Nichols, best-selling author and sailor shares his sailing adventures across the Atlantic and around Cape Horn with the descendants of Charles Darwin and Captain Robert FitzRoy of HMS Beagle.
• Matt Rutherford, describes his non-stop, single-handed voyage around North and South America that earned him two Guinness World Records.
Reservations at www.explorers.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, 212 628 8383.