Monday, September 14, 2020

Women Explorers Face Sexism in the Arctic

Elcano 500, Jimmy Cornell's new Outremer 4X catamaran. Photo courtesy of Jimmy Cornell.


Author, sailor and event organizer Jimmy Cornell has just launched his latest expedition sailboat, this time a fully electric 48-ft. Outremer 4X called Elcano 500, and next month he plans to set off from Seville, Spain, to celebrate and follow the route of the first circumnavigation, completed in 1522 by the Spanish sailor Juan Sebastian Elcano.

Elcano set off from Seville in 1519 with Ferdinand Magellan, taking command of the expedition when Magellan was killed in the Philippines, and completing the round-the-world voyage the following year.

According to, Cornell is calling his latest adventure the Elcano Project. The boat's name, besides paying homage to the first circumnavigator, is a play on "Electricity. Carbon. No!"

The voyage will follow the original course, stopping in Tenerife, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Puerto Julian and passing through the Magellan Strait. From there, Elcano will set off across the Pacific, visiting Puka Puka in the Cook Islands, Guam, and the Philippines, including the island of Mactan, where Magellan was killed.

From there, Elcano will visit several other Pacific islands, cross the South Indian Ocean, round the Cape of Good Hope and return to Seville. The 30,000-mile voyage is expected to take less than a year.

Learn more about the project here:


Members of the expedition play cards while Akademik Fedorov pushes deeper into the Arctic Ocean. Photo: Chelsea Harvey/E&E News

No "Hot Pants" Permitted on Arctic Expedition; Women Explorers Face Sexism

"No leggings. No crop tops. No 'hot pants.' Nothing too tight or too revealing." That was the warning women on an expedition ship faced last fall. Thermal underwear worn on the outside was also banned in common areas.

It was for their own safety, they were told. Most of the crew on board the Russian research vessel named Akademik Fedorov were men.

The MOSAiC expedition across the frozen Arctic Ocean, touted as the largest polar science expedition in history, revealed problems of gender inequality in scientific field missions, according to a Sept. 8 story by Chelsea Harvey of E & E News. MOSAiC is spearheaded by the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Germany.

The rules prohibiting tight clothing were a "safety issue." Some of the men on board would be spending months at sea. The implication seemed clear to four female reporters. Women should dress modestly or risk being harassed - or worse - by men on the ship.

In the following weeks, the new rules would breed an undercurrent of resentment, according to Harvey.

Expedition leaders denied the rules were meant to single out women. But many MOSAiC participants felt they perpetuated an insidious form of sexism: the idea that women's bodies are a distraction in the workplace and that women are responsible for managing the behavior of men.

The ship's mission: to assist the MOSAiC expedition's flagship vessel, the German icebreaker Polarstern, in setting up a network of drifting research stations on the Arctic sea ice. At the end of the six-week voyage, Akademik Fedorov returned to Norway. Polarstern stayed behind, freezing itself into the sea ice for a yearlong drift across the central Arctic. The mission will conclude this fall, when the Polarstern returns from its voyage.

"It seems like in particular the women were being targeted because of this whole tight yoga pants, hot pants, whatever they were actually called," said Jessie Creamean, a researcher at Colorado State University and one of the only female senior scientists on board.

Experts say these issues illustrate wider challenges women still face in polar science and field research across the board.

A 2018 study, commissioned by the National Science Foundation, investigated the prevalence of sexual harassment in academic science, engineering and medicine. The report listed isolating environments, such as remote field sites, as among the key risk factors.
The same study found the two biggest predictors of harassment in science are settings in which men outnumber women - common in polar expeditions - and environments that suggest a tolerance for bad behavior, with leaders who fail to take complaints seriously or punish perpetrators or who don't protect victims from retaliation.

See the study here:

Read the E & E News story here:

One bra = three vodka shots at Vernadsky base. Photo taken in 2010. Ten years later the offer still stands.

EN can recall visiting the Vernadsky Research Base, a Ukrainian Antarctic Station, in 2010. Many of the women on the trip were uncomfortable to learn that the all-male base had a standing offer of three vodka shots to any woman who donated their bra to the Faraday bar, promoted as the southernmost bar in the world. Men on the base saw it as harmless fun; we viewed it as somewhat cringey.

A treasure trove of 1,200 rolls of undeveloped film.

Rescuing the World's Unseen Photos

While the Kodak FPK camera known to be in the possession of legendary climbers Mallory and Irvine on Mt. Everest in 1924 is most likely lost to history (see EN, July 2020), some believe that if it's ever found, there's a chance undeveloped images could still be processed. Meanwhile, two photographers have made a name for themselves rescuing other lost and undeveloped images that provide valuable insight on how the world lived decades ago.

For many of us, a time capsule is simply a shoe box filled with memorable items. The photographic time capsule that Boise, Idaho, photographer Levi Bettwieser uncovered was approximately 1,200 rolls of unprocessed film from the 1950's, shot by a mysterious photographer named "Paul."

As the creator of The Rescued Film Project, Bettwieser has been finding and recovering rolls of "lost and forgotten" film for years.

"Knowing I am the first person in history to see these images leaves me humbled," he says. "When I process them I have no idea what I am going to get."

See the BBC feature about rescued images here:

See many of "Paul's" lost images here:

Ron Haviv, an American photojournalist who covers conflicts and is co-founder of VII Photo Agency in New York, is another photographer passionate about uncovering undeveloped rolls of film. His work has led to creation of a national archive of images from the public's lost rolls, and can be seen in his book The Lost Rolls (Blurb Publishing, 2015).

Learn more here:


"What did the mountains care about our plan to climb them, rafting the waters that divided them? They had eternity before us, and eternity after us. We were nothing to them."

- Erica Ferencik, Massachusetts-based novelist, screenwriter and stand-up comic. She is author of Into the Jungle (Gallery/Scout Press, 2019), and The River at Night (Gallery/Scout Press, 2017) where this quote originated.


A new building in Antarctica breaks ground at the Rothera Research Station. Designed by Hugh Broughton Architects, the project aims to facilitate the British Antarctic Survey's (BAS) ongoing climate-related research.

Can Antarctica Stay Free of Coronavirus?

At this very moment a vast world exists that's free of the coronavirus, where people can mingle without masks and watch the pandemic unfold from thousands of miles away.
That world is Antarctica, the only continent without COVID-19. Now, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in weeks or months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don't bring the virus with them, according to Cara Anna and Nick Perry writing for Associated Press (Sept. 13).

Good internet connections mean researchers at the U.K.'s Rothera Research Station have watched closely as the pandemic circled the rest of the planet.

New Zealand's Scott Base will be able to test for the virus once colleagues start arriving this month, weeks late because a huge storm dumped 20-foot snowdrifts. Any virus case will spark a "red response level" with activities stripped down to providing heating, water, power and food, according to AP.

While COVID-19 has rattled some diplomatic ties, the 30 countries that make up the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP) teamed up early to keep the virus out. Officials cited unique teamwork among the United States, China, Russia and others.

As a frightened world was locking down in March, the Antarctic programs agreed the pandemic could become a major disaster. With the world's strongest winds and coldest temperatures, the continent roughly the size of the United States and Mexico is already dangerous for workers at 40 year-round bases.

"A highly infectious novel virus with significant mortality and morbidity in the extreme and austere environment of Antarctica with limited sophistication of medical care and public health responses is High Risk with potential catastrophic consequences," according to a COMNAP document seen by AP.

Since Antarctica can only be reached through a few air gateways or via ship, "the attempt to prevent the virus from reaching the continent should be undertaken IMMEDIATELY," it said.

No more contact with tourists, COMNAP warned. "No cruise ships should be disembarking." And for Antarctic teams located near each other, "mutual visits and social events between stations/facilities should be ceased."

In those hurried weeks of final flights, the U.S. "thankfully" augmented medical and other supplies for winter and beyond, said Stephanie Short, head of logistics for the U.S. Antarctic program.

"We re-planned an entire research season in a matter of weeks, facing the highest level of uncertainty I've seen in my 25-year government career," she said.

Read the story here:


Horodyskyj has added polar guide to her list of accomplishments.

Ulyana N. Horodyskyj Lives a Life of Science and Adventure

In heavy seas off the coast of Antarctica, Ulyana N. Horodyskyj, Ph.D., 34, a field researcher and adventurer from Broomfield, Colorado, guides her 19-ft. inflatable Zodiac filled with cruiseship passengers back to their expedition ship. The ship is dangerously rising and falling like a pogo stick. Dumping paying customers into the sea would not be helpful, but she nails it. It is a final exam of sorts for her certification as a polar guide with the Polar Tourism Guides Association.

This is her second working trip to Antarctica and just the latest in a series of adventures for a scientist who by age 23 had conducted research on all seven continents. Men's Journal magazine named Horodyskyj (pronounced - horo-DIS-kee) one of the world's most adventurous women in 2019, one who is redefining the limits of what's humanly possible.

The journey of a landlocked Coloradan to Antarctica begins with an upbringing in an outdoorsy family in Rochester, New York, competing in high school science fairs, and eventually receiving a Masters in Planetary Geology from Brown University, and Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Her resume sits squarely at the intersection of adventure travel, citizen science and exploration. Horodyskyj has tested spacesuits in a Falcon 20 "vomit comet" and was once Maytagged in a human centrifuge at the National Aerospace Training and Research Center.

To study climate change, Horodyskyj traveled to the icefields of Mount Everest, the fjords of Baffin Island, the Svalbard archipelago near Norway, and the glaciers atop Mount Kilimanjaro - all wild and remote terrain where the effects of a changing planet are often most easily observed.

In 2016 she spent 30 days locked inside a three-story 636 sq. ft. habitat as part of the HERA (Human Exploration Research Analog) program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. She served as was commander of a team of two men and one other woman studying the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body. There was no Internet, no email, but they were constantly monitored as the team tossed back vitamin D pills to counteract the lack of sunlight - the NASA version of the TV show Big Brother.

Today, as a member of the Fjallraven Local Guides program and a Fellow of The Explorers Club, she's passionate about teaching environmental science at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, while running Science in the Wild, which she founded in 2016 to host citizen-scientists on immersive international expeditions to the Himalayas, South America and the Arctic.

"These are not tourist trips. There's hard work to be conducted alongside researchers who will publish the work. It's my passion to make science accessible, fun and interesting so people will commit to join us," she says.

Ulyana is married to professional musician and expedition guide Ricardo Peña, who she accompanied this past July as he completed number 50 in his quest to summit the tallest peak in each state. The 60-mile roundtrip hike to Wyoming's Gannett Peak (13,810-ft.) while saddled with a grueling 42-pound backpack, was her 28th U.S. highpoint.

"I was drawn to geology and natural sciences - it was a career path that allowed me to pursue my passion for wild places which were imprinted upon me at an early age," she said while taking a break from her latest project: analyzing and interpreting climate data for the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Alaska Climate Research Center.

"Science provides answers and solutions to problems facing our planet. Science not only brings us modern conveniences such as air flight and smartphones and GPS, but it's our best chance to cure the most serious health issues facing the world today."

Learn more about Science in the Wild at:

Recently Horodyskyj won the Leif Erikson Award from the Iceland Exploration Museum along with fellow Coloradan Jeff Blumenfeld, editor of Expedition News, and Canadian explorer George Kourounis, who has documented many forms of severe weather.

Read the announcement here:

In 2019, the red, white and blue, compass-adorned Explorers Club flag that was personally flown by Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong on humanity's first moon landing mission was presented back to The Explorers Club in New York City, 50 years after the historic expedition. Neil's sons, Rick and Mark Armstrong, donated the flag to be hung in the Club's Apollo Room for posterity. Collectibles Authentication Guaranty (CAG) certified its authenticity and provenance.

Save Those Space Collectibles

A recent survey taken every year by the Asheford Institute of Antiques showed that space-related collectibles are the most wanted things on a list of 14, probably because various moon landings, rocket launchings and sales of item related to space exploration get so much publicity. In fact, a U.S. flag mounted to a card signed by the three Apollo 11 astronauts was sold at auction by Auction Company for $63,195.

According to Kovels newsletter for dealers, collectors and investors (May 2020), space exploration has been a fascinating subject since Buck Rogers and other famous characters appeared in comic strips, TV shows and movies.

Read about The Explorers Club flag that flew to the moon on Apollo 11:

Goal Zero Promotes a Solar-Powered Archaeological Expedition to Peru

If you've ever wondered how expedition teams manage to keep their gear powered while traveling in remote locations, this short video is for you. It comes courtesy of and Goal Zero, makers of battery packs and solar chargers for use in rugged environments.

In this case, the manufacturer follows Preston Sowell and his team of archaeologists and filmmakers as they head to an isolated lake in the Peruvian Andes in search of a lost Inca temple.

The video tells the story about how power was provided in the field to capture footage for a full-length documentary for National Geographic. It explains how cameras, computers, drones, and other gear are kept functioning while exploring off the grid.

See it here:

Enter the Digital Detox Challenge

Explorers and adventurers are used to being off the grid. Thus readers have a great chance at being selected for the Digital Detox Challenge sponsored by is an online resource aimed at helping people compare satellite and rural internet providers in their area. They are looking to hire someone to go off the grid and detox from day-to-day calls and screens for two nights, and then use a mobile hotspot connection to report on their experience.

Two nights? Seems easy enough to us. The winner receives up to $1,000 in an RV reimbursement, transport and food.

Apply here. Deadline is Sept. 23, 2020.


Jenny Wordsworth knows what it's like to face death in pursuit of adventure.

Embracing Failure with Jenny Wordsworth
Free Webinar, Sept. 29, 2020

Locked down and masked up, we welcome any opportunity to stay in touch with explorers and adventurers around the world, even virtually. Jenny Wordsworth is a lawyer, professional endurance athlete, keynote speaker, brand ambassador for Atkins and a Polar Ambassador to the U.K. On Sept. 29 she's hosting a free talk online with the Scientific Exploration Society.

Wordsworth has traveled and raced some of the most arduous and renowned endurance events in the world and while enjoying major successes, she has also faced major failures as well. She will recount her attempt to break the world record for the fastest solo, unsupported and unassisted ski from the coastline of Antarctica to the South Pole in 2018. The expedition nearly ended her life.

In November 2019 she returned to Antarctica to finish what she started and she will explain more about lessons she learned along the way.

Register for the webinar free on Eventbrite:

Voices on the Road

Deep in the remote Peruvian Amazon a road is quietly destroying a protected rainforest, causing conflict and fear. But for some indigenous communities, desperate for change, it also brings hope.

The road is cutting through a UNESCO World Heritage Site - the Manu Biosphere Reserve - and opening it up to the outside world.

Many indigenous communities are struggling to live in this "paradise" and the road brings the promise of a better life. But at what cost? An award-winning documentary created by filmmakers Eilidh Munro and Bethan John is now available to stream free online at

Take 23 minutes out of your life to watch it. It has received rave reviews, including a special congratulatory message from Sir David Attenborough. The people of Manu deserve to be heard.


Polar Thigh

Rash-like non-frostbite injury characteristic of extended time in polar environments. It's a form of mechanical abrasion combined with air temperature fluctuations/variations in pockets of air trapped beneath clothing layers. It is generally only seen in polar environments, especially among skiers, due to frequent hip extension which stretches clothing covering the thigh. (Source:

For a particularly horrifying example, and you're not particularly squeamish, see Jenny Wordsworth's Instagram account. En route to the South Pole for a second time, she convinced herself her polar thigh was healing to get a free pass to continue. While she couldn't smell it personally in the cold, it's apparently quite odiferous.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Record Year in 2021 Expected on Mt. Everest; Pilot Marks 30 Years Searching for Amelia Earhart


Traffic jam on Everest, May 2019.

Everest Chronicler Decries Crowding and Lack of Government Management

Alan Arnette, 64, founder of the popular website told an Explorers Club Zoom presentation on July 20, that as the number of Everest attempts increase, the death rate is actually going down. It stands at about 3% of all summits versus a 27% death rate on Annapurna.

Arnette, who summited in 2011 at age 54 after three previous tries, reports that notwithstanding the slowdown in expeditions due to COVID-19, the mountain is changing.

"There are more inexperienced clients, and more unqualified guides. Sadly, it seems any person can put up a website and call themselves a guide. Nepali guides are offering expeditions for $20,000, versus a median price of $46,000, which, combined with a smaller climbing window due to weather, created scenes like Nepalese mountaineer Nirmal Purja's famous 2019 photo of a conga line to the top."

Arnette continues, "Climbing season is a time for Silly Rules - regulations that are never enforced due to government instability. While well meaning, policies are mostly ignored.
The Nepalese government sets its restrictions, the media covers it, Nepal gets great PR, but in reality nothing changes."

He predicts another record summit year in 2021, with a corresponding 8 to 12 deaths.

Arnette holds a photo of his mother Ida on the summit of K2 on July 27, 2014, his 58th birthday.

Arnette is a professional speaker, climbing coach, mountaineer and Alzheimer's advocate. His consulting business, Summit Coach, helps aspiring climbers throughout the world achieve their goals - from climbing a Colorado 14er to Everest or even K2, through a personalized set of consulting products based on his 25 years of high altitude mountain experience and 30 years as a business executive.

For more information:

In a related story, Reuters (July 20) is reporting Nepal will reopen its Himalayan mountains including Mount Everest to climbers for the autumn season to boost the tourism-dependent economy despite rising coronavirus infections.

Nepal shut down climbing and trekking in March to stem the novel coronavirus, which as of late July has infected 19,547 people and caused 52 deaths in the country of 30 million.

Read the article at:

Artist rendering of memorial climbing boulder in honor of Jess Roskelley

New Spokane Climbing Boulder Memorializes Jess Roskelley

After Jess Roskelley died at age 36 on Howse Peak in the Canadian Rockies in 2019 with Austrian climbers and fellow North Face athletes, David Lama and Hansjörg Auer, the Roskelley family created the Jess Roskelley Foundation to provide funding for local and state public park projects. The Foundation established a six-person board of family members and two of Jess's good friends.

An ideal location was found with the cooperation of the City of Spokane Parks and Recreation Department - the iconic Riverfront Park Ice Age Floods Playground on the north bank of the Spokane River.

After several discussions with the City, the Foundation offered to buy and ship from Colorado a large artificial boulder specially designed by ID Sculpture, the company that was providing smaller climbing features and larger walls situated in the playground area. Funding for the $48,000 project was donated.

The inscription carved into the boulder will read, "Jess Roskelley, Alpinist 1982-2019, "By Endurance We Conquer" - Sir Ernest Shackleton."

"The Jess Roskelley Foundation exists to promote public projects and outdoor activities that will benefit generations to come and provide access to the wild places cherished by Jess, while preserving his legacy as a lifelong Spokane native and elite international alpinist," says Jess' father noted alpinist and author John Roskelley.

Nominations Accepted for the Explorers Club 50

The Explorers Club is seeking nominations from its members of an explorer who is making a meaningful difference in the world. For a new recognition program called Explorers Club 50, they're looking for people who are changing the way we look at the world, whether it be through spoken word, saving a language, field work, or in a lab, whether they work with the tiniest organisms or are helping to solve the world's biggest problems.

Criteria are purposely broad. Nomination should explain who or what defines exploration in the 21st-century. These are 50 people who are changing the world, regardless of whether they are a member or not, that the world needs to know about.

Winners (along with their nominators), will be announced in fall 2020, in publications, digital media and television. Deadline is Sept. 15, 2020.

Learn more here:


"Fortune has shined on me throughout my life and has allowed me to enjoy exotic experiences and adventures. Many more talented people have stood on the sidelines watching me do cool stuff telling themselves that they couldn't.

"Opportunities are out there waiting for you to grab them. For every one you're able to grab you have to invest in nine others that don't pan out. If you're afraid of failing, you won't make that investment."

- Ed Sobey, Ph.D., author, Shipwreck Treasures, Incan Gold, and Living on Ice - Celebrating 50 Years of Adventure (self-published, 2020)


Climbers Deal With Grief

In the short film, A Thousand Ways To Kiss The Ground, filmmaker Henna Taylor, of Boulder, Colorado, has you look into the eyes of climbers and their loved ones grappling with grief, mostly related to death in the mountains. It's heart-rending, hard-to-watch, yet also hopeful.

Taylor produced the film primarily to raise money for the Climbing Grief Fund (CGF), an organization which helps grieving climbers gain access to professional mental health resources.

CGF was started in 2018 by professional climber, Madaleine Sorkin, in collaboration with the American Alpine Club (AAC).

The previous year, 2017, had been particularly dark for both of them. Sorkin's loss centered around two tragedies: the death of Hayden Kennedy and the climbing accident that left Quinn Brett, of Estes Park, Colorado, paralyzed from the waist down.

In the 2019 AAC Guidebook to Membership, Sorkin wrote, "After (Kennedy's) memorial, many seemed lost in how to keep company with their own pain, let alone another's pain. We were feeling our helplessness and dragging the weight of accumulated loss in our community."

CGF supports mental health in several ways, including financial support. This year alone, CGF has awarded 15 grants, each worth $600, for grieving climbers, according to a Boulder Daily Camera story (July 22) by Chris Weidner.

See the film trailer here:

Read the Daily Camera story here:

High school students with experience a life-changing adventure in Antarctica.

Adventures and Experiences are as Important as Wealth

Here's an idea we can fully embrace.

Bill Perkins writes in Robb Report (Aug. 2) that adventures and experiences are just as important as acquiring wealth.

"Due to compounding, your financial savings don't just add up - they snowball. And the same can happen with memory dividends: They'll compound as you share the memory with others," he writes.

"That's because whenever you interact with someone and share an experience you've had, that becomes an experience in itself. You're communicating, laughing, bonding, giving advice. You're doing the stuff of everyday life. By going out of office, you not only live a more engaged and interesting life but also have more of yourself to share with others."

He concludes, "Grow the richest life you can, one that's rich in experiences, adventures, memories - rich in all the reasons you acquire money in the first place."

It's clear that most Expedition News subscribers do just that.

Read it here:

Accidental Climber

Jim Geiger is the accidental climber with an impressively neat garage.

Vision Films will release Accidental Climber from filmmaker Steven Oritt (My Name is Sara, American Native), a captivating documentary charting the journey of climber Jim Geiger summiting Everest - a grueling endeavor, much less for a 68-year-old retired forest worker who comes face-to-face with the worst disaster in mountaineering history. The film will be released in the U.S. and Canada across all VOD/Digital and DVD platforms beginning this month with international dates to follow.

Accidental Climber chronicles the summiting of Mount Everest by Geiger, a great-grandfather and amateur mountaineer from Sacramento, California, who attempts to become the oldest American to summit the peak; what ensued was the worst disaster in mountaineering history leaving 16 climbers dead in a tragic avalanche and forever changing his life.

Watch the trailer here:

Pre-order here:

Helping hand for man's best friend.

St. Bernard Rescued in England

Here's a switch.

St. Bernard dogs are the ones that traditionally have come to the rescue of human hikers and climbers. But in a reverse of circumstances, humans rescued a St. Bernard after she collapsed while coming down England's highest mountain, according to CNN (July 26).

With their great sense of direction and resistance to cold, St. Bernards have been saving people in the mountains since the 18th century, according to Smithsonian Magazine. They were first bred by monks living in St. Bernard Pass, a dangerous route through the Alps connecting Italy and Switzerland, to help them on rescue missions after heavy snowstorms. Over a span of nearly 200 years, the dogs saved about 2,000 people, according to the magazine.

Late last month a 121-pound St. Bernard named Daisy was rescued from Scafell Pike (3,209-ft.) in North West England after she showed signs of pain in her rear legs and was refusing to move.

The rescue operation took a total of five hours and 16 team members of the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team. No word about how much brandy was consumed.

Read the story here:


Back home in Boulder, Colorado, McKenna flies this 1967 Beechcraft Bonanza, a four-seater, single engine plane with a classic V-tail design.

Pilot Marks 30 Years Searching for Amelia Earhart

Few people can claim to have their baby teeth in the American Museum of Natural History, but that's one of the advantages Boulder resident Andrew McKenna enjoyed growing up the son of Dr. Malcolm C. McKenna, a noted vertebrae paleontologist who needed a homo sapiens tooth.

Traveling with his father on fossil digs to Wyoming, Greenland and Egypt, McKenna honed his archaeological skills which these days are helping solve one of the greatest mysteries of all time: the disappearance of aviatrix Amelia Earhart.

Earhart has been honored worldwide ever since her disappearance, including this mural along Route 66 in Cuba, Missouri (photo courtesy of Viva Cuba).

The year was 1937, the tail end of the Great Depression, when Earhart, one of the most famous women of her day, disappeared at age 39 without a trace along with her navigator, Fred Noonan, and her aircraft, a Lockheed Electra 10E. It was an ill-fated attempt to be the first woman to fly around the world as close to the equator as possible.

Since then, Earhart has been honored with streets, airports, schools, a U.S. commemorative postage stamp, a Barbie doll, a theatrical film starring Hilary Swank, more than 50 books, and over a dozen songs, including one by American singer Kinky Friedman.

The search has continued for over 80 years, now focused on a tiny atoll called Nikumaroro, an uninhabited atoll in Kiribati, about 2,100 miles from Honolulu, where Earhart and her navigator are believed to have crash landed and died as castaways. It's the grandfather of all cold cases.

McKenna, 61, a graduate of Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Science, is a certified SCUBA diver, commercial pilot and president of Journey's Aviation, the flight school and Fixed Base Operator (FBO) at Boulder Municipal Airport.

He has traveled to Nikumaroro six times over the past 30 years as a member of the nonprofit The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) that has been chasing clues for decades. McKenna and his teammates have worked with drones, ground-penetrating radar, forensic dogs, multibeam and side scan sonar, UV lamps, historic photos and film, radio reception patterns, and employed a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

He seems right at home conducting field research in the worse conditions imaginable - traveling a 10-day roundtrip ocean voyage and rough seas to work in temperatures of 110 degrees F., high humidity, unrelenting sun, "and giant coconut crabs six inches across with a 1-1/2-ft. reach. They prefer not to wait for you to die before they try to eat you," he laughs.

Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, praised McKenna's role in the decades-long search: "As the son of a famous paleontologist, Andrew developed a special skill in observing objects in the ground, potential clues the rest of us might miss. Plus, as a pilot with experience in search and rescue, he is able to provide perspective on the efficacy of historical searches for missing aircraft."

McKenna adds, "My father taught me that when working a dig, look for manmade shapes. Something that doesn't belong."

This aluminum sheet discovered in 1991 could have been from Earhart's Lockheed Electra 10E.

With every trip to the western Pacific Ocean, the team finds yet another clue to keep them occupied for years. The latest is a piece of aircraft aluminum that washed ashore and was found in 1991. As forensic experts study the rivet patterns compared to photos and 16mm film of the aircraft, McKenna reports that a piece of insulated copper antenna wire embedded in the recovered piece has been reliably traced to the Earhart era.

"Is it part of the Lockheed Electra? Every clue opens new doors and brings us closer to solving the mystery of her disappearance," says McKenna who grew up in Englewood, New Jersey, and spent summers in Ward, Colorado.

McKenna and his wife Jacquie, who volunteers for a number of Boulder-area nonprofits, are the parents of two daughters enrolled in Boulder High School. In his spare time, McKenna flies his 1967 Beechcraft Bonanza, a four-seater, single engine plane with a classic V-tail design.

Every time he flies, he thinks back to the post-Depression era and that brave pilot and navigator. He's eager to return in 2021 to expand the deepwater search and continue to scour for clues buried on one of the most remote islands on earth.

"We're placing the puzzle pieces together with every expedition and following the research in a direction that makes the most sense. It would be tremendously gratifying to answer one of the last great unsolved mysteries of the 21st century."

Learn more about TIGHAR at

Read about another theory regarding Earhart's disappearance, one that focuses on Papua New Guinea, and the discovery by a World War II Australian Patrol, by viewing the research of Australian David Billings at:


Lunar Rhapsody was Neil's Favorite

In honor of the late astronaut Neil Armstrong who would have turned 90 years of age this month, we link to the eerie space melody Lunar Rhapsody, the song he played on the Apollo 11 journey, and the song heard in the film First Man as Neil and his wife Janet dance in the biopic. It was a great example of the use of a Theremin, an electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the thereminist (performer). It dates back to 1928 and was often used in horror films.

It's one track of Capitol Records' Music out of the Moon, the earliest popular release to feature an entirely electronic instrument. Released in 1947 it predicts a future in space.

Listen to it here courtesy of the Radio Science Orchestra:

Exploring the Solar System

The New York Times on July 30 created one of the best interactive graphics yet of man's exploration of the Solar System and beyond.

The graphic includes spacecraft currently operating beyond Earth orbit, as well as many crashed or inactive spacecraft from recent decades. It omits the Apollo missions, most spacecraft launched before Pioneer 10 in 1972, many Soviet moon and Venus missions and some recent microsatellites.

Writes one commenter named DLessani from Half Moon Bay, California: "They summarized humanity (sic) best achievements. Voyager 1 left our Solar System 8 years ago and will continue its journey through interstellar space even after Solar System demise. Its message: we once existed."

See it here:


Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism

(Rowman & Littlefield, April 2019) by Jeff Blumenfeld ­- How to travel and make a difference while you see the world? These are stories of inspiration from everyday voluntourists, all of whom have advice about the best way to approach that first volunteer vacation, from Las Vegas to Nepal, lending a hand in nonprofits ranging from health care facilities, animal shelters and orphanages to impoverished schools. Case studies are ripped from the pages of Expedition News, including the volunteer work of Dooley Intermed, Himalayan Stove Project, and even a volunteer dinosaur dig in New Jersey.

Read excerpts and "Look Inside" at: @purpose_book

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 pay for 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, LLC, 290 Laramie Blvd., Boulder, CO 80304 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2020 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through payable to

Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Collector is No. 1 in Dinosaur No. 2 Field


Erin Parisi plans Everest attempt in Spring 2021

Erin Parisi Sets Sights on Becoming First Known
Transgender Person to Climb Everest

Erin Parisi is setting out to make history as the first known transgender person to climb Mt. Everest. Following COVID-19 setbacks impacting her training and plans, Parisi is ready to emerge from the shadows and make history for the trans community by scaling the world's highest peak. (See EN, September 2019).

Parisi, 43, a real estate manager for a network communications company, is executive director of TranSending, founded in 2018, a non-profit dedicated promoting athletics as a platform of transgender awareness and inclusion.

She has already completed four of the Seven Summits. Mount Everest will be number five in her journey to become the first known trans person to climb all the seven summits.

Parisi is self-funding what she can for this expedition, but needs support raising an
additional $30,000 by July 15, 2020, in order to summit in Spring 2021. Some of the key
expenses this will cover is a permit for "Permission to Climb" ($11,000), Oxygen ($6,500), Food ($5,000), Climbing Sherpa Support (4,000), Gear ($3,000), Transport Sherpa/Yaks ($1,000), Icefall Doctors ($1,000), and O2 Mask and Regulator ($1,000).

At press time, she was almost halfway to her $29,029 fund-raising goal.

Learn more at:


"That's one small family home for man."

Neil Armstrong's Home for Sale

Now's your chance to own a piece of NASA history. The family home of Neil Armstrong is on the market for $375,000. The Armstrong family lived in the 2,560 s.f. El Lago, Texas, home for most of the 1960's, during NASA's Apollo and Gemini missions, leading all the way up to 1971, when Armstrong retired and left NASA.

This seems like a bargain considering that a postcard-sized Explorers Club flag that flew on the moon is valued in the five-figures.

The film First Man was not shot at the home, Armstrong's son Mark tells EN. Instead, the home was meticulously recreated in an Atlanta suburb.

The historic 4-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom property features high ceilings, a recently replaced 5-tab roof and luxury vinyl plank flooring, wrought iron spindles, a dining room, and decked attic.

The real estate listing is suitably breathless: "Just imagine the conversations that took place in this stunning great room with a stone façade, beamed vaulted ceiling, and tile flooring. Equipped with quartz countertops, a mosaic backsplash, glass-fronted cabinets, a 5-burner commercial gas range, a water purifier, and breakfast bar, the stunning kitchen will be a delight to any chef."

Featuring a pool, pergola patio, and storage shed, the backyard is perfect for soaking in the sun by day or admiring the moon at night.

Mark Armstrong adds, "There have been some murmurings on social media about the idea of someone purchasing the home for the purposes of turning it into a landmark, but I have no idea if they are serious.

"However, there have been some discussions about turning my father's birthplace (outside of Wapakoneta, Ohio) into a landmark as well.  I would be supportive of either, particularly if it were structured in such a way so that any fund raised went to STEAM initiatives," the younger Armstrong tells EN.

See the listing here:

Turns seawater into drinking water

Portable Desalinator Could be a Game Changer

Currently posted to Indiegogo is a portable desalinator that's affordable and weighs less than a bag of sugar. The handheld device can strap to a backpack and be used on outdoor adventures. Quench Sea, priced at $60 for pre-orders, combines a hydraulic system, triple pre-filtration and a small reverse osmosis membrane to desalinate seawater into freshwater using manual human power.

Produced by Hydro Wind Energy in London, it's capable of making up to two liters of palatable water per hour, all through a manual handle-powered unit that fits into a small bag.

The campaign, which ends July 16, has already raised more than six times its goal, enough to go into production, ensuring the device will become commercially available in February 2021, at which time it will be priced at $70 per unit. 

Watch how it works here:

See the campaign:


"The man wants to wander, and he must do so, or he shall die."

- Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890), British explorer, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat.


George Frandsen is No. 1 in Dinosaur No. 2 Research

George Frandsen has heard all the jokes from people amused by his passion for collecting fossilized dinosaur excrement  - ancient poo if you will. The 41-year-old from Jacksonville, Florida, who started collecting at age 19, holds the Guinness World Record for the world's largest collection of coprolites, the scientific name for fossilized poo. The word comes from the Greek Kopros Lithos, meaning "dung stone."

George Frandsen and Barnum, the largest coprolite ever found.

Frandsen makes a point to emphasize, "It's all fossilized. Doesn't smell. I don't collect fresh poo." That's actually a good thing since he keeps much of his 7000+ piece collection in a poo safe at home.

His proudest specimen, a Guinness record-breaker, is a T.rex trophy turd, 20.47 lbs., called Barnum, found in South Dakota in 2019. Frandsen places its value in the tens of thousands of dollars. It helps prove T. rex consumed large quantities of bones that it was incapable of completely digesting. Incredible finds like this landed him on the TV show Ripley's Believe It or Not! and numerous other guest broadcast appearances.

"Corprolites tend to be the butt of a lot of fossil jokes, however they are an incredibly important and underrated part of our fossil records."

Experts agree.
"Dinosaur coprolites are these amazing poo-y time capsules that give us direct behavioral evidence about the mysterious lives of long-dead creatures. Fossil teeth tell us what the dinosaurs could eat, but coprolites tell us what they did eat!" says Kenneth Lacovera, American paleontologist and geologist at Rowan University, and author of  Why Dinosaurs Matter (Simon & Schuster/TED, 2017)

In case you're wondering, fossilized crocodile poop is more common because the poop didn't have too far to fall and was almost immediately encased in mud.

Interest soared when the South Florida Museum (Bishop Museum of Science and Nature) became the first museum with a dedicated coprolite exhibit. It received worldwide publicity in 2015-16 and put fossilized poop on the map. 

Frandsen, an avocational paleontologist and an executive at a health care solutions company, continues, "Knowing what kind of creature made a specific coprolite helps us piece together what prehistoric ecosystems looked like during a certain time and place."

"They can tell paleoscatologists - people who study very old poop - about animal diets, physiology, anatomy and behaviors."

He's recently married to Melanie Williams, who is apparently a perfect match. They eloped to Monument Valley in southern Utah where the two went fossil hunting and actually found a previously unknown cache of bones eroding from a hillside that they reported to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

"Sadly, we found no fossilized poop, but the BLM was pretty excited," said the collector who the Miami Herald called "King of Fossilized Feces."

Frandsen is passionate about public education about the importance of coprolites, despite its somewhat icky original source. 

"Find a dinosaur bone, it doesn't tell you much. Find a turd with inclusions, it'll tell us what it ate, how it chewed, it can tell us about digestion, and the shape of their intestines. In fact, some poops are spiral and come out like a twisted ice cream cone."

Clearly, once you view a specimen that looks like a Mister Softee, well that's hard to ever unsee.

His Guinness video has been seen 83,000 times. Watch it here:

Learn about his online Poozeum at:

There's also a Poozeum Facebook page and Poozeum Instagram page.

Tom Holzel uses a magic wand when sharing a detailed map of Everest at home.

Search for Sandy Irvine and 1924 Everest Camera Examines Narrow Rock Slot  

By Tom Holzel
Litchfield, Connecticut
Exclusive to Expedition News

As described in the National Geographic video Lost on Everest which aired last month, big wall climber and guide Mark Synnett of Jackson, N.H., led a group of climbers up Everest's North route toward the summit. Among them was Thom Pollard of North Conway, and drone photographer Renan Ozturk.

A central aspect of the expedition was to examine the "Irvine Crevice," a narrow rock slot that I had determined by aerial photography probably contained the body of George Mallory's climbing companion, Andrew Irvine. Did he have the famous Kodak camera which, if the two had reached the summit, might contain a history-altering  photo from the top of the world?

How the location was arrived at can be seen in this video I prepared in 2017:

On his return from an exhausting summit success, Mark unroped from the guide line to clamber down a steep, hundred feet of loose shale. Using his GPS, he arrived at the exact predicted spot only to find a dark rock streak within a very narrow slot. It was empty.

Speculation on this disappointing failure centered on two likely possibilities:

One, my prediction was wrong.

Or, two, the body, along with Mallory's, had been moved in a major Chinese clean-up operation around 2006-2008.

The Everest community is split over these finding: Half are saddened that now we will never solve this famous mystery, the other half aren't.

The expedition is beautifully covered in the July 2020 issue of the National Geographic magazine, which contains a massive Everest compendium and some of the most incredible mountain photography I've ever seen.

The National Geographic Lost on Everest documentary airs around the world this summer. 

Learn more at:

Tom Holzel, 79, a researcher in Litchfield, Connecticut, spotted an article in the New Yorker in 1971 describing the sighting high on Mt Everest of two climbers closing in on the summit "going strong for the top." Did they make it? He's spent the last 50 years trying to find out. He's studied oxygen vs non-oxygen climb rate charts, the difficulty of the Second Step, and the search for the body of Andrew Irvine, and possibly, the camera both Irvine and Mallory were known to carry.  

Mallory and Irvine's camera was actually a FPK, not a VPK.

In a related development, Holzel reports this month Todd Gustavson, curator of the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, N.Y., and an expert on Kodak cameras, believes the sought-after device is an FPK (Folding Pocket Kodak) Model 1A, Series II (shown above), not a VPK (Vest Pocket Camera) as originally thought.


Barnstormer Bessie "Queen Bess" Coleman (1892-1926) was awarded a pilot's license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale - the first African American woman, and woman of Native American descent to do so - on June 15, 1921, and returned to the United States where her race and sex still blocked her from finding gainful employment.

Black Explorers Depicted as Locals, Never Explorers

Explorers have been deified through history. They have shaped our modern understanding of what it means to move around and discover the world - and who is granted the privilege to do so. Yet while many intrepid travelers are - and have always been - Black, their stories remain sidelined.

All too often, whether it be in marketing materials, advertising, or journalism, Black people and other BIPOC communities are cast as the locals rather than the explorers, or simply left out of the conversation altogether, writes NNeya Richards in Conde Nast Traveler (June 17). 

Richards continues, "Richard Wiese, the white president of The Explorers Club - ostensibly a bastion of the old guard of travel, where its members have historically been celebrated for 'discovering' indigenous populations - is aware that the traditional notion of who gets to be an 'explorer' needs to be expanded.

"He says that exploration is moving away from the idea of  'We discover these people, we want to study these people' to 'We want them to be part of us and tell us what they know about the experience.'

"He adds: 'You have to do more than just say we welcome everybody of all races. What is it that, if they walked into these doors, would not make them feel welcome, or feel like it's a place they should be,'" Richards quotes Wiese. 

Read the story here:

"Use NASA as a Never-ending Lewis and Clark Expedition"

A new space economy could be the key to rebuilding after Covid-19 - and outsmarting China - says Michael V. Smith, a leading Air Force futurist, in a June 19 opinion piece appearing in Politico.

"It is far past time to use NASA as a never-ending Lewis and Clark expedition, to explore space expressly for the purpose of economic development and settlement. The fledgling U.S. Space Force must develop quickly into far more than mere support for terrestrial warfighters," he writes.

"It must move beyond the narrow vision of the Department of the Air Force to become a navy on the new ocean of space; protecting commerce, enforcing the rule of law, and providing safety of navigation services for all lawful and non-hostile users of space."

Smith is an assistant professor of strategic space studies at the Air Command and Staff College at the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.

Read the story here:


A socially distant balloon circumnavigation.

Exploring Isolation: Inside the Minds of Legendary Explorers

In the time of quarantine, exploration legends Kathy Sullivan, Bertrand Piccard, and Børge Ousland know a thing or two about facing the challenges of isolation.

That's the take-away from an online discussion with the three explorers hosted by The Explorers Club and posted to

Piccard says, "What I love with adventure and exploration is that you don't only explore the outer world - you explore the inner world. And you start to understand that when you accept the unknown - the doubts and the question marks become extremely powerful simulations for creativity."

Adds Ousland, "Not all isolation is bad - of course it's hard. Being solo - voluntarily or not - can also be good because you reach levels inside you that you never knew existed. You do get a deeper dialogue with yourself, and nature, when you don't have anyone else to lean on."

Sullivan says, "One of the things I keep in my mind as I'm working through something hard is 'Be Here Now.' Not where you hope you're [going to] be next, not what you're worried about tomorrow - be right here now. Look around you [and] be observant."

Read the May 20 post here:

The ISS appears brighter and higher than an airplane, and a whole lot higher. (Image courtesy of NASA).

Spot The Station

With a 90-minute orbit and a 24-hour day, the International Space Station (ISS) circles the Earth 16 times a day. But where to look for it in the sky? NASA says it's the third brightest object up there and easy to spot if you know when and where to gaze skyward. As certified space nerds, we've geeked out a few early mornings watching it overhead thanks to email notifications directly from NASA. It's an impressive sight.

Sign up here:

For a fascinating 25-minute tour of the ISS hosted by astronaut Sunita Lyn Williams see:



A popular new form of cycling in which riders or runners repeatedly climb and descend a hill as many times as it takes to have ascended 8848 m - the equivalent height of Mount Everest. Complete the challenge on a bike, on foot, or online, and you'll find your name in the Everesting Hall of Fame. Lockdown life has sparked a biking boom, but social distancing rules means riders are usually alone while attempting this challenging twist on biking and running. (Source:

K-Pg Boundary

Speaking of dinosaurs, the line of demarcation between the extinction event of 66 million years ago and the dinosaur-less world that followed. It's the point in between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods. Below the line, dinosaur fossils, lots of coprolites. Above the line, nada. It can be found throughout the world in marine and terrestrial rocks. (Source:


Writer's Comments Originally Appear in New Yorker Subscriber Letter

New Yorker writer Ben Taub, who composed a well-researched 13,000 word story about the Five Deeps Expedition, asked that we make clear his comments about the historic journey around the world and to both poles, to reach the deepest point in each ocean, were written in a letter to New Yorker subscribers (See EN, June 2020). It was sent to an email distribution list, part of a subscription drive for the magazine.


The scorpions, crickets and beetles get a reprieve until 2021. (Photo from ECAD 2018 courtesy Craig Chesek).

ECAD Postponed Until 2021

After extensive deliberations, it was decided that the Explorers Club's greatest gathering of the year, ECAD 2020, would be cancelled (previously re-scheduled for October 2020).

"October is right around the corner and we still have no indication from the government on whether or not large gatherings will be allowed in New York City," writes Club president Richard Wiese.
"We are truly devastated that we cannot provide you with the experience this year, but the health and safety of our members is our first priority."

Ticket buyers were urged to donate funds already paid to the Club for the event.


Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism

(Rowman & Littlefield, April 2019) by Jeff Blumenfeld ­- How to travel and make a difference while you see the world? These are stories of inspiration from everyday voluntourists, all of whom have advice about the best way to approach that first volunteer vacation, from Las Vegas to Nepal, lending a hand in nonprofits ranging from health care facilities, animal shelters and orphanages to impoverished schools. Case studies are ripped from the pages of Expedition News, including the volunteer work of Dooley Intermed, Himalayan Stove Project, and even a volunteer dinosaur dig in New Jersey.

Read excerpts and "Look Inside" at: @purpose_book
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 pay for 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, LLC, 290 Laramie Blvd., Boulder, CO 80304 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2020 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through payable to

Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Cursing Like a Sailor; More Diversity Needed in Exploration


Kathryn D. Sullivan is a record-setter. She's seen holding the Explorers Club flag which was awarded by TEC's Flag and Honors Committee, to be presented back to the Club at a later date.  

First in Space, First Under the Sea  

Explorers Club honorary chairperson Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, 68, has become the first woman to dive the Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench - at 35,810-ft., the deepest point in the ocean, about 200 miles southwest of Guam. Sullivan is also the first American woman to walk in space (1984), making her the first person to both walk in space, and descend to the deepest point in the ocean.

Her co-pilot aboard the DSV Limiting Factor was fellow Explorers Club Medal winner Victor L. Vescovo, as part of Caladan Oceanic's ongoing "Ring of Fire Expedition."

Read about the feat in the New York Times:

In a related story, on January 23, 1960, U.S. Navy lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard set a record for the deepest descent below the ocean's surface. Their submarine, a 150-ton steel bathyscaph called Trieste, descended at a fast clip, four feet per second, taking five hours to complete the journey. The Trieste ultimately reached a record-setting depth over 35,800 feet in the seabed of the Mariana Trench.

In honor of the 60th anniversary, The Explorers Club is selling a limited-edition, Mariana Trench Commemorative Coin for $100 available at:

Polar explorer Matthew Henson speaking to Explorers Club members in this picture from the 1947 Ebony Magazine article about Henson. The article was written to highlight the achievements of Henson and his contribution to the discovery of the North Pole. This coincided with the release of Henson's biography, Dark Companion, co-authored by Bradley Robinson (National Travel Club, 1947).

Explorers Club Addresses Diversity and Inclusion

As systemic, oppressive institutional racism has rocked the nation at all levels of society, The Explorers Club on June 9 issued a statement that addresses the 115-year-old organization's stance on diversity and inclusion. 

In a letter to members, Club president Richard Wiese points out that TEC was among the
first to recognize Matthew Henson, an African American, for his historic accomplishment in reaching the North Pole in 1909. For years the honor had been given to Robert Peary alone.

"But simply having a bust of Matthew Henson is not enough," Wiese writes. "We must continuously work at making our Club more inclusive to those who may not feel it is welcoming or affordable, more diverse and more representative of different nationalities and cultures."

Wiese reports the board has created a "diversity fund" (working title) that can help recruit qualified candidates from around the world and throughout the U.S. who also reflect the diversity of the world's - and our country's - population.

"The fund will also help us offset costs that may be prohibitive for communities that have been historically under-represented in science and/or disadvantaged by systemic socio-economic issues."
Wiese also reports Discovery, the Club's new sponsor, has agreed to provide a $100,000 grant to better help qualified individuals of color, indigenous people, and those residents of developing countries who could not otherwise afford it, become members of The Explorers Club.

"As explorers, we need to lead this Diversity and Inclusion Initiative with the same determination of effort that we put into venturing into new frontiers. We know better than most that the world is woven together in a delicate balance, and that the fabric that binds it are the cultures and the diversity of its inhabitants," Wiese says.

Writes Alexander Bailey Martin on the Explorers Club's Next Generation Explorers Network (NGEN) Facebook page: "... the world of exploration has a moral debt to pay that is compounding daily ... the Club has a key role to play in the world, and that world is being remade - right now. We risk fading into irrelevance if we don't state an actively anti-racist stance and then act, every day, to live up to it."

Definitely cringeworthy is voice over work by famed broadcaster and Club Explorers Medal recipient Lowell Thomas, for a 1931 film called Blonde Captive which can still be seen on YouTube. The documentary takes place in Australia among the Aboriginal tribe people. When viewed through 21st Century goggles, it's embarrassing to say the least.

It played a few years ago at Sydney, Australia's Kings Cinema - Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in an exhibit called "Evidence." The narration was so offensive, they were asked to turn the sound off.

The current national discussion about racism, and the changes already seen within the exploration and adventure community, will hopefully increase participation by communities of color.

Read the Club announcement here:

Cruising in space

Ground Control to Major Tom

Actor Tom Cruise and Elon Musk's Space X are working on a project with NASA that would be the first narrative feature film - an action adventure - to be shot in outer space. It's not a Mission: Impossible film and no studio is in the mix at this stage. Cruise is expected to reach the International Space Station (ISS) for the project within the next two years.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed the plans to go all Hollywood, "We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make @NASA's ambitious plans a reality."

Predictably, Twitter almost lost its mind over the news.

One anonymous writer posts, "Tom Cruise is the last true movie star. Who else would even think to do this? He actually has all the qualities that are poured into the fictional characters we all love... Ethan Hunt, James Bond, Indiana Jones, Han Solo... Tom Cruise is that guy in real life. Gotta love and respect it."

According to, there has never been a leading man (Jackie Chan might dispute this) who puts himself at risk as often as does Cruise, in the name of the most realistic action sequences possible. If he is successful shooting a project in Musk's space ship, he will be alone in the Hollywood record books.

Currently, the ticket price to travel to the ISS for a week, which includes 15 weeks of training, is $55 million, according to the Associated Press.


"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."

- John Burroughs (1837-1921), American naturalist and nature essayist, active in the U.S. conservation movement.


Sailors need to keep it clean when mom is on board.

Bombs Away

When The New Yorker in its May 18 issue launched into a 13,000-word essay by Ben Taub on the Five Deeps Expedition, a historic journey around the world and to both poles, to reach the deepest point in each ocean, it was the F-bombs that struck us the most.

We counted 19 references to the well-known - but rarely uttered in polite society - sexual activity. Including this gem attributed to Alan Jamieson, the expedition's chief scientist. Referencing referencing the early days of Mother Earth, he's quoted, "...billions of years ago, when the earth was 'one giant, f*cked-up, steaming geological mass, being bombarded with meteorites.'"

There was a time when four-letter words were shunned in mainstream media. Ah, but these are harsh, challenging times and apparently, the generally accepted prohibition against the use of curse words in print is a thing of the past, including a salty one attributed to President Trump when referencing Third World countries.

The New Yorker's Taub joined the expedition last summer, after meeting Victor Vescovo, who financed the trip and piloted its submarine, at the Global Exploration Summit, in Lisbon, Portugal.

Of his epic reporting assignment, Taub delves into the backstory, "For several weeks, in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, my primary objective was to win the trust of the crew, so that I could learn not only how they did what they did but also everything that had happened before I came on board. Sometimes this meant coiling ropes, jumping in and out of a Zodiac boat, and hauling equipment on the aft deck.

"At other times it meant poring through submarine dive logs and learning the names and functions of each major component that made up the machine. Most nights it meant drinking with sailors on the top deck, and waking up roiled by rough seas.

"By the end of the trip, I had interviewed every crew member, and those who kept a diary had let me photograph each page."

This got us to wondering. Sailors are known for swearing. Remember Popeye and his famous, albeit tame, catchphrases: "Well blow me down," "Shiver me timbers!" and "Oh my gorshk!"

But explorers have always been a more gentile bunch.

What happens when you combine the two, sailors and explorers? In the case of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' 2013 expedition to recover the Apollo 11 Saturn V F-1 rocket engines, the entire team was on their best behavior, according to expedition leader and attorney David Concannon, 54, of Sun Valley, Idaho.

"Sailors, who normally would think nothing of referring to 'friggin' in the riggin,' and worse, behaved themselves because Jeff Bezos' mother was on board," Concannon tells EN.

"So let's keep it clean out there, especially when sponsors and media are around."

Read The New Yorker story, F-bombs and all, here:


A telegraph straight key like this Marconi type 48200 was thought to be used on the Titanic, but according to a detailed paper by Douglas A. Kerr (December 2019), there's no way to tell for sure. Only one grainy, double-exposed photo of the telegraph room is known to exist and is not particularly helpful.
CQD: Judge Approves Plan to Retrieve Titanic Telegraph Key

It was history's most famous distress call: CQD (pronounced in Morse code: dahditdahdit dahdahditdah dahditdit).

A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that a salvage firm can retrieve the Marconi wireless radio that broadcast distress calls from the sinking Titanic. The order is a big win for RMS Titanic, the court-recognized salvor, or steward, of artifacts from the doomed ocean liner.

Photo courtesy University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, Illinois

RMS Titanic, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, has said it plans to exhibit the telegraph key with stories of the men who tapped out distress calls to nearby ships, "until seawater was literally lapping at their feet.

"The brief transmissions sent among those ships' wireless operators, staccato bursts of information and emotion, tell the story of Titanic's desperate fate that night: the confusion, chaos, panic, futility and fear," the company wrote in court filings.

The radio transmitter could unlock some of the secrets about a missed warning message and distress calls sent from the ship, said the company, which obtained the salvage rights to the wreckage in the 1980s.

The radio is believed to still sit in a deck house near the doomed ocean liner's grand staircase.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which represents the public's interest in the wreck site, fiercely opposes the mission. It argued in court documents the telegraph is likely to be surrounded "by the mortal remains of more than 1,500 people," and should be left alone.

The telegraph key is different than the docking bridge telegraph recovered from the wreckage of the Titanic and is displayed at the Nauticus National Maritime Center in Norfolk, Virginia.

While the commonly known SOS distress signal preceded CQD in 1908, Marconi operators rarely used it. It became standard only after the sinking of the Titanic. A 14-year-old boy from Cape Race, Newfoundland, was first to receive the Titanic's distress signal.

Read the story here:

What kind of telegraph key was actually used that fateful night? Hard to tell. Read what researcher Douglas A. Kerr has to say:


Carlos Buhler is on the mend

Help Carlos Get Back on His Feet

Renowned alpinist Carlos Buhler, 65, recently suffered a serious mountain biking accident near his home in Canmore, Alberta. Buhler was in a hospital in Calgary where he was being treated for multiple head, neck, and spinal injuries that was a consequence of his crash. He's currently back in Canmore; ongoing physical therapy and support is planned over the next few months.

Buhler is one of America's leading high altitude mountaineers. Buhler's specialty is high-standard mountaineering characterized by small teams, no oxygen, minimal gear and equipment, and relatively low amounts of funding - yielding first ascents of difficult routes in challenging conditions, such as the Himalayan winter season. He has been keynote speaker and juror at leading mountain and wilderness film festivals, and won numerous Mugs Stump Awards.

Support his GoFundMe campaign here:


Tips on Returning From Isolation

by Rachael Robertson, author, Leading on the Edge: Extraordinary Stories and Leadership Insights from the World's Most Extreme Workplace (Wiley, 2013)

Australian Rachael Robertson, 51, from Williamstown, Victoria, was the youngest and only second female expedition leader at Davis Station, Antarctica. Her comments about coming out of weeks of social distancing and isolation in November 2005 are illustrative today as a lockdowned society begins to slowly open up.

She writes in Leading on the Edge: Extraordinary Stories and Leadership Insights from the World's Most Extreme Workplace (Wiley, 2013) about having to adjust to a new normal and not seeing her family and friends for months to having to live in very close quarters with people you can't take a break from and having to lead in an extreme work environment.

What she wrote then, is just as relevant now in a COVID-19 world:

"I've been in extended isolation before.  A year of freezing temperatures, blizzards, months of darkness and you can't get in or out. The lack of privacy, the mundane nature of the days and the interpersonal pressure of living with 17 other people was extraordinary. Antarctica is a brutal workplace, but I was well prepared for most of it.

"What I wasn't prepared for however, was coming home. I truly believed we'd slip right back into normal mode.... Things I had not planned for included:

Sensory overload - After spending extended periods indoors the noise and smells outside are really strong. The simple noise of a city was a huge cacophony for me - car horns, sirens, trains.

Choice - When you've had considerable time in a personal world that's shrunk, things become simpler because you have limited choice. But suddenly the doors of choice are thrown open and it's startling. I recall on my return, standing in the breakfast cereal aisle of a supermarket overwhelmed with choice.

Expectations - In total we were away from home for 18 months, and to some extent I was thrilled to be back and over the moon to see my family and friends. Today, people will have different expectations about how we respond on the other side - some will be thrilled to be back to a new normal, others will be scared, some will be ambivalent. There will be a spectrum of responses.

Physical contact - A year without so much as a hug is difficult, but you do get used to it. For many people we have faced a similar challenge now. For single people living alone, and not being able to visit family and friends, it may be months without even a handshake.

Overwhelm -One tool I used which held me in good stead when I returned to Australia was No Triangles - which simply means, I don't speak to you, about him. You don't speak to me, about her. We already have enough to deal with, the last thing you need is to listen to someone complaining about someone else.

Rachael Robertson has delivered over 1,500 keynote presentations, remotely and in person, around the world on the topics of leadership and teamwork. Her latest book, Respect Trumps Harmony, is out now. For more information:


Take a Virtual Tour of Grand Central Terminal's Ceiling  

We're thinking you've streamed most of what you want to see on Netflix and Hulu by now. Time to go back to the plain old internet. Here's an idea: take a tour of Grand Central's soaring celestial ceiling depicting a section of the heavens as seen during October through March, or from Aquarius to Cancer. Learn about its seven constellations or what the two bands of gold symbolize, and how a wire stabilizing a rocket in 1957 left a hole in Grand Central's ceiling.

Then there's the mysterious dark patch in the northwest corner left there by restorers when the ceiling was meticulously scrubbed of two inches of grime and dust. It remains an homage to the 1996-98 restoration.

Take a virtual tour at:


Discounted Face Masks 

Snowsports insole maker Masterfit Enterprises, Briarcliff Manor, New York, has added protective face masks to its product line during the pandemic. Readers of Expedition News receive a 10% discount on the company's triple-ply surgical style protective face masks and KN95 respirator masks. Use the below link and coupon code FOMCOVID1910 when checking out. These are already in the U.S. and ship within 24 hours of receipt of the order. Credit cards accepted. Limited to 100 surgical style masks.   

Go to:
Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism

 (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2019) by Jeff Blumenfeld ­- How to travel and make a difference while you see the world? These are stories of inspiration from everyday voluntourists, all of whom have advice about the best way to approach that first volunteer vacation, from Las Vegas to Nepal, lending a hand in nonprofits ranging from health care facilities, animal shelters and orphanages to impoverished schools. Case studies are ripped from the pages of Expedition News, including the volunteer work of Dooley Intermed, Himalayan Stove Project, and even a volunteer dinosaur dig in New Jersey.
Read excerpts and "Look Inside" at: @purpose_book
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 pay for 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:    

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