Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Titanic Struck by Submersible; NatGeo Examines O'Brady Antarctica Claims



SEARCHING FOR THE GHOSTS OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA'S WWII PAST


In 2018, author, adventurer, and television producer James Campbell, 58, helped to organize a trek across Papua New Guinea on a WWII trail that he re-discovered in 2006 while researching and writing his book, The Ghost Mountain Boys (Crown, 2007). The rugged 150-mile route was used by a battalion of U.S. soldiers ordered by General MacArthur to march to the battlefields on the north coast of the Papuan Peninsula. Military historians call their 42-day trek "one of the cruelest in military history."   



On November 10, 1942, this C-47-DL Flying Dutchman Serial Number 41-18564 Nose 564 took off from 5-Mile Drome (Wards Drome) near Port Moresby piloted by 2nd Lt. George W. Vandervort on a flight to deliver cargo and troops to Pongani Airfield near the north coast of New Guinea. Aboard a total of twenty-three including the three air crew, a Chaplin and soldiers from the 32nd Infantry Division, 126th Infantry Regiment. Inbound while crossing the Owen Stanley Range, the C-47 was caught in a severe downdraft and crashed at an elevation of 9,000 feet into a flat area near Mount Obree. (Source: https://www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/c-47/41-18564.html)

This June, Campbell, a resident of Wisconsin, and historian and adventurer Peter Gamgee, 62, from Queensland, Australia, will help lead two strenuous treks on the same trail. The first one, June 3-11, 2020, will visit the crash site of the C-47-DL cargo plane that was re-supplying the exhausted troops in November 1942. The battalion's beloved commanding officer, Colonel Quinn and the entire crew perished, as troops looked on from the jungle below. Few people have ever seen the crash site.

The second trek, June 13-20, will visit the site of the Flying Dutchman, a C-47A cargo plane, carrying 23 men, that crashed in the high mountains of the Papuan Peninsula just days after Colonel Quinn's plane went down. While eight of the 16 survivors remained with the plane, two separate parties of four set out to find help. After trekking for over one month, one of the parties made it safely to the coast.

A group sent to rescue the survivors failed to locate them. Eventually, another party would find the crash site and the remains of the men left behind. The Flying Dutchman still lies in the jungle, unvisited by outsiders for more than 50 years.

Campbell and Gamgee intend to confirm the location of both wrecks, mapping them precisely for the first time using GPS. They will return those GPS coordinates and notes and photographs detailing the state of both wrecks to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force and the PNG National Museum. There are still three MIAs associated with the crash of the Flying Dutchman. Any evidence they discover will be shared with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, for whom they have already mapped possible MIA sites on other parts of the trail.

The trek is seeking to raise $7,500 for C.U.R.E Kits, books, and solar lights, which it will distribute in the various villages along the route, and filming. Corporate donations will come with sponsorship rights.

Teammates are being sought and must have a high level of fitness. The Trek Grade is 4 and 5 and includes remote jungle conditions.

Getaway Trekking will provide all logistical support. Costs, which are estimated at US $5,640, includes all in-country accommodation, transport, including chartered flights to and from the trail, and a personal carrier. Participants will be responsible for getting to and from PNG.

For more information on the trek: www.ghostmountainboys.com.

Interested trekkers can contact James Campbell at bogmoose@frontier.com or at 608 333 1177

EXPEDITION UPDATE
Map of Antarctica places the length of O'Brady's trip into perspective.

The Colin O'Brady Problem

The U.K. has its Walter Mitty Hunters Club dedicated to exposing the truth behind those who pose as soldiers and steal the valor of men and women in the Armed Forces.

In the U.S., false claims of a military nature are against the law. Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act of 2013 to make it a crime for a person to claim they have served in the military, embellish their rank or fraudulently claim having received a valor award, with the intention of obtaining money, property, or other tangible benefit by convincing another that he or she received the award.

The closest the expedition world comes to this involves explorers who exaggerate their claims.

According to a post by National Geographic (Feb. 3) Colin O'Brady, who we covered in previous issues of EN, has prompted numerous polar experts to claim he's embellishing his accomplishments in pursuit of fame.

Aaron Teasdale writes about O'Brady's Jan. 3, 2019, Antarctic expedition in which he claimed the first-ever solo, unsupported, unassisted crossing of Antarctica.

"Prominent leaders of the adventure and polar communities were less enthusiastic about O'Brady's claims. Conrad Anker, Alex Honnold, Mike Horn, Borge Ousland, and others spoke out against him, accusing O'Brady of exaggerating his accomplishment or worse," Teasdale writes.

O'Brady "didn't do what (he) advertised," says Australian polar explorer Eric Philips, co-founder and president of the International Polar Guides Association (IPGA). "This wasn't some Last Great Polar Journey. Rather, it was a truncated route that was a first in only a very limited way."

Says writer Jon Krakauer, "O'Brady needs to be called out for his false claims."

Famed polar explorer Eric Larsen tells National Geographic, "I don't think anyone looked at the route (O'Brady) was skiing and thought it was even remotely impossible. The reason no one had done it is because no one thought it was worthwhile, in the sense of being anything record-breaking."

O'Brady claims to be the first person to ski alone and unsupported across Antarctica, but in the opinion of many of the world's leading polar guides and historians, that distinction belongs to Norwegian Borge Ousland, considered by many to be the modern era's most accomplished polar explorer.

Shortly after O'Brady completed his trek, prominent American climber Conrad Anker, who has made more than a dozen expeditions to climb the continent's frozen mountains, tweeted, "@borgeousland is the first to cross Antarctica unsupported. Full Stop."

In 1997, the 34-year-old Norwegian pioneered a new route across the frozen continent, much of it never traveled by humans, over 64 days and 1,864 miles, to achieve one of the world's last great geographical feats. Antarctica had now been crossed solo, according to National Geographic.

Looking at a map of Antarctica, you might wonder how O'Brady's 932-mile route can be considered a crossing of "the entire continent," as he calls it, since it appears to start and end several hundred miles inland, especially compared to the much longer journeys of Ousland, Mike Horn (who completed a daring 3,169-mile solo kite-ski crossing of Antarctica in 2017), and others.

Ousland skied from water's edge on the Ronne to water's edge on the Ross. When he undertook his expedition two decades ago, this was considered the only way to claim a crossing of Antarctica.

"To me, Antarctica is what you see on a satellite map," says Ousland, noting the ice shelves have been a part of Antarctica for at least 100,000 years, according to the NatGeo article.

O'Brady has built his personal brand around achieving the "impossible." Yet the veteran polar explorers National Geographic's Aaron Teasdale consulted for the story used different descriptors for his trip, labeling it "achievable," "contrived," "disappointing," and "disingenuous."

Driven by what he describes as the "embarrassing confusion" over O'Brady's claims, and recognizing how a lack of well-defined criteria allowed him to "pull the merino wool " over the public and media's eyes, IPGA Master Polar Guide Eric Philips of Icetrek Expeditions recently announced the Polar Expeditions Classification Scheme (PECS), that sets a new standard for polar expeditions and records.

According to the PECS, which was created in consultation with leading polar authorities, O'Brady's trip would not be classified as a "full crossing," nor would it be considered "unsupported." Philips, who boasts a lifetime's commitment to polar exploration and the community surrounding it, says he wants to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

Costco Magazine in its February 2020 edition read by approximately 13 million members promotes O'Brady's book, The Impossible First (Scribner, 2020), claiming he was the first person ever to cross Antarctica solo.

We reached out to Costco for a correction but at press time have yet to hear back.

Read the story here:

Learn more about PECS here:


 
First to row the Drake? It's debatable.

In a related story, O'Brady claimed another debatable feat: the first human powered row across the Drake Passage.

In 12 days, on Dec. 25, the six-man team traveled over 600 miles of open ocean, facing intense winds, giant swells, and stormy weather in a 29-foot row boat. The other teammates were Jamie Douglas-Hamilton of Edinburgh, Scotland; Fiann Paul of Reykjavik, Iceland; Cameron Bellamy of Cape Town, South Africa; Andrew Towne of Minneapolis (and formerly Grand Forks, N.D.); and John Petersen of Oakland, Calif. The feat was filmed for Discovery Go online.

View episodes here:


EXPEDITION NOTES

Outdoor Retailer Snow Show Debuts New Products

Among the 1,000 different brands on display last month at the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show in Denver were some that have some application for exploration and adventure. The trade event is the largest in North America, attracting more than 10,000 buyers, 1,300 designers and 800 members of the media. Here are four that caught our eye:

   
Help them find your sorry self.

*            RECCO SAR Helicopter Detector - Used for large-scale search of missing persons in open terrain, so long as said persons are wearing RECCO rescue reflectors in their gear. It's a standard rescue tool for SAR teams worldwide. (RECCO.com)
 
 Scan the snowpack.

*            Avametrix AvyScanner Avalanche Predictor - The AvyScanner is a lightweight, handheld device that uses ultra-wide band radar and sophisticated artificial neural network "machine learning" to scan the snow pack and identify the conditions likely to produce a human-triggered avalanche. (https://www.avametrix.com/avyscanner)

Stay warm with bison fur. 

*            United By Blue BisonShield - Tired of feathers coming out of your parka? Try bison fibers - a natural insulation made from salvaged American bison fur, a by-product of the ranching industry. The Bison Ultralight is made of 50% wool and 50% bison fur said to be warmer, lighter, and entirely natural. (unitedbyblue.com)

Helmet safety lights are solar powered.

*            Solar Powered Bike Helmets - By incorporating Swedish tech brand Exeger's ultrathin, flexible solar panels into its helmets, POC can equip them with an endless source of electricity without adding bulk. They will feature an integrated rear-facing safety light when available later this year. (pocsports.com)

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

"Before we invented civilization our ancestors lived mainly in the open out under the sky. Before we devised artificial lights and atmospheric pollution and modern forms of nocturnal entertainment we watched the stars. There were practical calendar reasons of course but there was more to it than that. Even today the most jaded city dweller can be unexpectedly moved upon encountering a clear night sky studded with thousands of twinkling stars. When it happens to me after all these years it still takes my breath away."

-  Carl Sagan (1934-1996), Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (Ballantine Books, 1997)

MEDIA MATTERS

The eerie sight of the Titanic sitting on the sea bed in the North Atlantic

Wreck of Titanic Hit By Submersible; U.S. Keeps It Quiet

The Triton DSV Limiting Factor, a hi-tech submersible costing $35 million, is said to have struck the Titanic last year. According to a Telegraph (UK) story by Bill Gardner (Jan. 28), the expedition leader last month admitted that the state-of-the-art Triton submersible collided with the wreck in July when "intense and highly unpredictable currents" caused the pilot to lose control. It is the first collision with the Titanic made public since the wreck was rediscovered in 1985.

Organized by EYOS Expeditions, an adventure firm based in the Isle of Man, the trip was accompanied by scientists from Newcastle University and was the first dive down to the Titanic in nearly 15 years.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration allegedly failed to tell the court that the Triton sub, pictured, had struck the Titanic CREDIT: EYOS/EYOS

Rob McCallum, the EYOS expedition leader, confirmed that there had indeed been "contact" with Titanic due to strong ocean currents, but insisted any damage could only have been minor.

"We did accidentally make contact with the Titanic once while we were near the starboard hull breach, a big piece of the hull that sticks out. Afterwards we observed a red rust stain on the side of the sub," he tells the Telegraph.

"But the submersible is covered in white fiber glass and is very delicate and expensive. While underwater it's essentially weightless - it's not a battering ram."

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the government weather agency which also holds responsibility for protecting deep sea wrecks reportedly knew that the two-man EYOS submarine struck the Titanic, but officials monitoring the dive failed to report it.

Nonetheless, the company hopes to return to the wreck later this summer to recover the Marconi wireless that sent out the fateful distress call.

Read the story here:

Matthew Henson (seated) and other 1909 polar team members with the original
Peary sled.

Scenes for Polar History Film to be Re-enacted in Ely, Minn.

Ely, Minn., renowned as the base of many polar expeditions, is about to host another - or more correctly, a polar re-enactment. This month, Voyage Digital Media will be recreating scenes at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge on White Iron Lake circa 1909 of Robert Peary's dogsled expedition to the North Pole. Actors, including Wintergreen guides, will be dressed in period costumes including fur parkas as team members. Wintergreen's Canadian Inuit sled dogs - the same breed used on Peary's expedition - will pull an exact replica of his 12-ft. komatik dogsled laden with furs and supplies.

The documentary film is being co-produced with the non-profit National Maritime History Society (NMHS) of Peekskill, N.Y., and made possible by grant funding from Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest and the H. F. Lenfest Fund from The Philadelphia Foundation.

The film tells the story of the Ernestina-Morrissey, an historic Arctic sailing ship associated with numerous early expeditions. This ship was skippered by Peary's team member Robert A. Bartlett.
For the Ely shoot, re-enactors will play the roles of Peary and Bartlett as well as Peary's Polar Inuit companions and his career-long expedition colleague - African-American Matthew Henson.

Wintergreen Lodge owner Paul Schurke said he hosts film crews every season "but this project certainly ranks among the most unique and it will be a personal time-warp for me. The 1986 dogsled and ski expedition that Will Steger and I led to the North Pole replicated elements of Peary's expedition but we didn't do it with period costume and sleds - we weren't wearing caribou parkas," he said.

Rather, they were wearing anoraks and footwear designed locally by Susan Schurke and Patti Steger that led to Ely's iconic apparel manufacturing businesses, Steger Mukluks and Wintergreen Northern Wear.

Schurke said his one concern is how his Inuit dogs will do harnessed in a Arctic fan hitch, in which they'll be splayed out from the sled on long ropes. "Here in the boreal forest, they've always been harnessed two-by-two in the tandem hitch so we'll see how they respond to a fan configuration. It could be a bit of chaos."

For more information: Paul Schurke, Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge, info@dogsledding.com 218 365 6022

EXPEDITION FOCUS

What Expeditions Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

By Joel Ehrenkranz, MD

Chief Operating Officer
Tribeca Pharma
Salt Lake City

My first foray into field research, 1977-1983, investigated seasonal breeding in the Labrador Inuit. I've led studies on thyroid disease in Western Siberia, Outer Mongolia, and an Indian slum, iodine deficiency in the Rwenzori Mountains, and the ethnopharmacology of fracture treatment in South India. A successful expedition accomplishes the intended goal on time, under budget, with no heroic tales to tell about harrowing escapes from the jaws of death.

Joel Ehrenkranz, MD, in Madhugiri, Tumkur District, Karnataka, India, harvesting plants used for fracture healing.

In parallel with my field research endeavors, I have also founded five biotech companies. Some of the products developed by these companies - a home pregnancy test, point-of-care diagnostics, drugs for osteoporosis - trace their origins to events that occurred during field research.

In 2007, for example, when I inadvertently found myself doctoring in an Ebola epidemic on the border of Uganda and the Congo, the idea to use a new technology, the smartphone, for medical diagnostic testing came to me.

In 2016, while studying thyroid disease in a Bangalore, India slum, I came across the use of herbs for healing fractures by traditional bone setters. Learning about botanicals for fracture repair has led to new products for preventing osteoporosis. A successful biotech startup gets a product to market on time, under budget, with an absence of mishaps and excuses.

There is considerable similarity between an Explorers Club-caliber field study and founding a successful biotech startup. Both involve setting an objective, reviewing the literature, developing a plan, recruiting, funding, permitting, logistics, execution, delivery, analysis, and communication. The lessons learned in the course of Explorers Club-level expeditions have general applicability to undertakings and endeavors in general.

Exploration and entrepreneurship are two sides of the same coin. Donning polished dress shoes and a tailored suit in place of crampons and an anorak turns an explorer into an entrepreneur. Conceiving and completing an expedition represents entrepreneurship basic training.

Some pointers for a successful exploration project:

*            Do your homework.

*            Write a plan that details goals, milestones, time line, budget, and logistics.

*            Pay close attention to the world around you.

*            Stay focused on achieving your objectives.

About the author: Joel Ehrenkranz lives in Salt Lake City and is a member of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Explorers Club. He's an associate professor of endocrinology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and a serial entrepreneur with an insatiable curiosity about the natural world. His current company, Tribeca Pharma, is developing plant-derived compounds for the prevention and treatment of skeletal disorders.

EXPEDITION MARKETING

 
Apa Sherpa

Everest Guide Apa Sherpa Signs With Celebrity Speakers Bureau

Bruce Merrin's Celebrity Speakers Bureau, based in Las Vegas, has agreed to represent world record mountaineer and inspirational speaker Apa Sherpa for speaking appearances worldwide, including corporate events and meetings, conventions, retreats, seminars, workshops and more.

"Sherpa," the native Himalayan ethnic group that shares his last name, live on the borders of Nepal and Tibet and are known for their skills in mountaineering. Perhaps the most exceptional and renowned among them is Apa Sherpa, who holds 13 world records for summiting Mount Everest.
In his keynote address, "A 30,000-Foot View of Leadership," Sherpa shares his unique perspective on leadership, gained from his 25 years of leading expeditions and his 21 ascents of Everest, four of those without the use of supplemental oxygen.

 
In 2010, he formed the Apa Sherpa Foundation, to assist with education projects and schools in the Khumbu Valley of Nepal, which has the mission to empower individuals throughout the world to follow his example in overcoming adversity. Without an education, becoming a guide is the only lucrative means of survival for members of his native village.

Sherpa Adventure Gear Announces New Education Campaign

Sherpa Adventure Gear Commits to Education in Nepal

Sherpa Adventure Gear, Modesto, Calif., which specializes in technical travel apparel, announced an education giveback program, aiming to provide 10 million days of school for children in Nepal by 2030. Since January 1st, 2020, Sherpa Adventure Gear has been donating a day of school to a child in Nepal for every item sold online and in stores globally in order to reach that goal.

"We are on a mission to help educate the next generation in Nepal," says Sherpa Adventure Gear CEO Kelsie Costa.

"The brand's founder, who is from Nepal, has made education a priority since day one, believing that it's the gateway to opportunity. That same belief is still core to us and I'm thrilled to introduce the next level of giveback and am thankful to consumers supporting our brand's educational goals in Nepal."



EXPEDITION CLASSIFIEDS

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: tinyurl.com/voluntourismbook @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.


Advertise in Expedition News – For more information: blumassoc@aol.com.

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