Wednesday, March 18, 2020

COVID-19 Crisis Roils Exploration World



By its very definition, exploration is dependent upon travel. Explorers have a desire to make sense of the unknown, to see what is over the other side of the hill. During the worldwide COVID-19 crisis, travel has been severely restricted, at worse banned.

As the world turns to science and technology for a solution to the coronavirus, explorers are adapting accordingly:

*    Everest is now closed. Following an announcement from China that it would restrict climbing on its half of the mountain due to coronavirus concerns, Nepal followed suit with a full shutdown of the mountain's southern side, completely closing off the peak to climbers hoping to summit this spring.
The decision to close Everest largely concerns the nature of the virus itself, which affects respiratory function in affected individuals. In a low-oxygen environment like Everest, respiratory impairment would prove doubly dangerous. The communal nature of Everest base camps, where climbers live in close quarters, also played a part in China and Nepal's decision to close the mountain, according to the outdoor trade publication SNEWS.

Alpenglow Expeditions and other guide companies planning ascents on the Tibetan side of the mountain have already cancelled spring trips. As of Mar. 12, Nepal still had no overt signs of the health crisis. That could change on a dime.

Read more here:

*    The Explorers Club Monday night public lectures have usually been streamed online. Now plans call for this to continue, albeit without an audience. The Club's annual dinner was postponed until Oct. 10, 2020. For more information: www.explorers.org

*    Companies in the outdoor industry throughout the world are asking employees to work from home indefinitely. Petzl America, for instance, manufacturer of life safety equipment, asked all employees with the ability to telecommute to do so.

Patagonia has taken the unprecedented step of temporarily closing all stores, shutting down ordering on its website, and suspending all orders.

REI is temporarily closing its 162 retail stores nationwide starting March 16, until March 27. "I believe that is the right thing for our community. In fact, I believe it is our duty-to do all we can to help keep one another safe in this unprecedented moment," announces Eric Artz, President & CEO, REI Co-op. All orders through REI.com will get free shipping while stores are closed.

"The outdoors remains a vital part of all our lives, especially in moments like this," says Artz.

*    Some of the industry's biggest warm-season shows, like the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, scheduled for June 23-25 in Denver, are proceeding uninterrupted for now, according to SNEWS.

Organizers are undoubtedly hoping that we'll have weathered this storm by then.

Demonstrating incredible resiliency, otherwise homebound Italians literally shouted from the rooftops and balconies this month, singing arias, the national anthem and pop songs. These impromptu songs show the resilience of the human spirit as millions of residents in Italy experience lockdown. Be sure to watch to the end of this viral video for a heartwarming rendition of Puccini's Nessun Dorma. It brought tears to our eyes.

In many of our lifetimes we've persevered through the Cold War, Y2K, 9/11, the Vietnam and Gulf wars, and other world crises. Together we'll get through this, of that we are sure.

EXPEDITION UPDATE



Explorers Club Inks Deal With Discovery Channel

These are uncertain times for any nonprofit, thus it was heartening to learn that The Explorers Club successfully inked a groundbreaking multiyear deal with Discovery Channel. It is the largest brand partnership in the Club's 116-year history.

The Club has been working on the agreement since Fall 2018. Since then it was presented to Chapter Chairs and unanimously approved by the Board of Directors.

According to TEC board member Richard Garriott, who helped negotiate the deal, Club officials engaged in more than 12 months of negotiations to arrive at a 3-to-10 year deal.

"This agreement likely represents between $6 million and $20 million to the club, which is nothing short of transformative to the future of our organization," he said in a Mar. 15 email to membership. The exclusive media partnership includes:

*    Infrastructure - Two million dollars for improvements to the headquarters building on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The punch list includes replacing the electrical and plumbing systems (which have not been updated since the building was built in 1910); overhaul of IT and media infrastructure; adding climate control to preserve and protect collections and archives; and repair or replacement of the building's aging elevator, thought to be one of the oldest in New York City, according to Garriott.
 
*    Expedition Grants - One million dollars per year for TEC expeditions, including  media and educational dissemination opportunities. Both TEC and Discovery must approve of any "Discovery" grant. "Discovery gets de facto 'media rights' to any expedition which accepts the grants, but no one is required to take the money, and each expedition can negotiate directly with Discovery if there are important issues," Garriott says.
 
*   Naming and Archive Rights - Discovery will pay a few hundred thousand dollars per year to The Explorers Club. In return, Discovery will have usage of two rental offices, some archives access, and for the term of the agreement, temporarily rename the building to a mutually agreeable name yet to be determined.

Naming rights to the building, currently honoring broadcaster Lowell Thomas, have appeared to be the most contentious part of the agreement among membership, but is a fairly typical request, dating to well before Sir Ernest Shackleton named one of his 23-foot whalers, the James Caird, after a rich benefactor. There are numerous examples of nonprofits in New York offering naming rights; Avery Fisher Hall, NYU Langone Medical Center, and The Julliard School immediately come to mind.

Discovery Channel will have access to the full historical archives of The Explorers Club, including 13,000 books, 1,000 museum objects, 5,000 maps and 500 films. This vast catalog will serve as the foundation of additional educational content creation.
Scenes from the Apollo 50th anniversary reunion during the 2019 Explorers Club Annual Dinner appeared in a Discovery Channel documentary last year.

*   Marketing SupportDiscovery will also provide millions of dollars in value through "in kind" advertising of the TEC brand. Last year, Discovery collaborated with the Club to produce Confessions From Space: Apollo, which included interviews with members who were recognized at the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. 

"Exploration as an endeavor has always relied on outside funding, as well as media. We feel strongly that our brand, our ability to communicate our mission, and our capacity to bring explorers together, will be greatly enhanced," said Club president Richard Wiese.

Read the Discovery announcement here:

EXPEDITION NOTES
Gregg Treinish honored.

Gregg Treinish Honored by World Economic Forum
   
Gregg Treinish, 30, founder of AdventureScientists.org, has been named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader (YGL) for 2020 - joining an illustrious network of influential people aiming to improve the planet. He joins an international community under age 40 - including Pete Buttigieg, Amal Clooney, Megan Rapinoe, and Juan Guaidó - recognized for driving positive change.

"It's not enough to be just an explorer any more, it's 'been there, done that,'" says Treinish, who recruits today's adventurers to conduct scientific research in some of the world's most inaccessible places.

Over the last decade, Treinish's organization has co-opted thousands of adventure travelers to do the field research that lab-based researchers could not. One of the first projects was getting Everest mountaineers to obtain samples of plants growing at almost impossibly high altitudes. U.S. researchers were able to determine how that moss could survive in such extreme conditions and used the results to develop methods of increasing yields and protecting crops from adverse weather events.

On the sea, Adventure Scientists has used a network of 6,000 citizen researchers to build what it believes is the world's biggest database on microplastics in oceans around the world.

The 115 Young Global Leaders for the Class of 2020 includes a decorated Olympian and World Cup winner, the youngest Prime Minister of Finland, an accomplished and pioneering digital journalist in Africa, an advocate of social justice and reform in Nepal and a human rights lawyer fighting for an inclusive society in Ethiopia and beyond.


Citizen astronaut Richard Garriott on board the International Space Station (2008).

Space Adventures Agrees With SpaceX to
Launch Private Citizens on Crew Dragon Spacecraft

Building on the success of Crew Dragon's first demonstration mission to the International Space Station in March 2019 and the recent successful test of the spacecraft's launch escape system, Space Adventures, Inc. has entered into an agreement with SpaceX to fly private citizens on the first Crew Dragon free-flyer mission. This will provide up to four individuals with the opportunity to break the world altitude record for private citizen spaceflight and see planet Earth the way no one has since the Gemini program.

If interested parties are secured, this mission will be the first orbital space tourism experience provided entirely with American technology. Private citizens will fly aboard SpaceX's fully autonomous Crew Dragon spacecraft launched by the company's Falcon 9 rocket, the same spacecraft and launch vehicle that SpaceX will use to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

Said Eric Anderson, Chairman, Space Adventures, "Creating unique and previously impossible opportunities for private citizens to experience space is why Space Adventures exists. From 2001-2009 our clients made history by flying over 36 million miles in space on eight separate missions to the ISS. Since its maiden mission in 2010, no engineering achievement has consistently impressed the industry more than the Dragon/Falcon 9 reusable system.

"Honoring our combined histories, this Dragon mission will be a special experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity - capable of reaching twice the altitude of any prior civilian astronaut mission or space station visitor," said Anderson.

Responding to a question on Twitter about a possible price tag of $52 million per seat, Anderson tweeted: "Per seat price for a full group of four not quite that much (not dramatically less, but significant enough to note). Definitive pricing confidential, and dependent on client specific requests, etc."

The company's orbital spaceflight clients include Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth, Greg Olsen, Anousheh Ansari, Charles Simonyi, Richard Garriott (see related story), and Guy Laliberté.

For more information: www.spaceadventures.com

Read the full announcement here:

Watch the sizzle reel:

Mehgan Heany-Grier (Photo by kefskiphoto.com)

The Power Of Adventure

Mehgan Heaney-Grier, a lifelong ocean adventurer with more than 20 years experience working above and below the waterline, talked to the Rocky Mountain chapter of The Explorers Club on Feb. 25, 2020, about "The Power of Adventure." In 1996, at the age of 18, Heaney-Grier established the first constant weight free-diving record in the U.S. with a dive to 155 feet (47.26 meters) on a single breath of air. 

She's an accomplished athlete, professional speaker, marine educator, conservationist, expedition leader, stunt diver and television personality.

In 1998 Heaney-Grier captained the first United States Freediving Team to compete in the World Cup Freediving Championships held in Sardinia, Italy. In 2000, Heaney-Grier was inducted as part of the inaugural roster into the Women Divers Hall of Fame.

As an ocean advocate, adventurer and storyteller across multiple media platforms, Mehgan is dedicated to raising awareness and empowering the next generation of ocean stewards to engage and tackle the critical issues facing our oceans today.

Heaney-Grier told the chapter, "Exploration is the older, wiser version of adventure, but adventure is where we begin ... the underwater universe is awe-inspiring. It's profound and humbling and reminds us we're a part of something so much bigger than ourselves."

For more about Mehgan: www.mehganheaneygrier.com

 
The Arctic Watch crew. 

Will Work for Pemmican

Are you hard working and adventurous? Think the Arctic is an inspiring environment and wish to share it with others? Weber Arctic is looking to hire new guides at two wilderness lodges in Canada's Arctic this summer - the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge and Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodge.

Assuming the coronavirus crisis eases by then, Weber Arctic is looking to add guides to its team of ambitious adventurers. The small family business's two lodges in Canada's Nunavut territory provide guests a large variety of experiences including: sea kayaking the Northwest Passage, fly fishing, fat biking, hiking, quading, and the chance to see polar bears, muskoxen, beluga whales, narwhals, arctic wolves, caribou and much more.

Learn about the opportunity here:


To apply for this position, send your resume and cover letter to mail@WeberArctic.com

FEATS


Slackliners Featured in New Film 

Slacklining is both an art and a sport that requires balance training, recreation and is also described as a moving meditation.

This extreme sport is demonstrated in a new, inspiring short film called Pathfinder. The documentary brings viewers on a cinematic journey highlighting a never-before attempted milestone in the world of slacklining, taking place under the Northern Lights in the Senja Island, Norway.

A rich and meaningful story, the 10-minute film explores the physical and spiritual aspects in the world of six slack-liners with insights from Norwegians on the folklore and mysticism surrounding the Northern Lights, the nature of the setting, and the indigenous people of the north: The Sámi.

See the trailer here: https://vimeo.com/390192829 (password 1234).

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."

- T.S. Elliot (1888-1965), U.S. poet, essayist, publisher, playwright, and literary critic.

MEDIA MATTERS
Boulder Film Festival Provides Vicarious Thrills for a Troubled World

It was certainly a case of flop sweat.

EN's heart was racing and beads of perspiration formed on our brows. Yet we were hardly moving. Instead we spent last weekend watching a procession of outstanding films at the 16th annual Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF), enjoying pulse quickening scenes of  "superpower dogs" lowered onto avalanche victims by helicopter; blind athlete Lonnie Bedwell paddling the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon; superfit Faroe Islands pastor Sverri Steinholm running along knife-edge ridges; storm chasers playing tag with tornados; and the late U.K. piano restorer Desmond O'Keeffe, delivering an upright to 14,000-ft. Lingshed in the Indian Himalayas. 

If the audience was nervous about the coronavirus, they didn't show it. Funniest moment was when actor Ryan Gaul, during a talkback for the film Jack, featuring a cat about to be euthanized (it's funnier than it sounds), yelled "run!" and mockingly fell to the floor when the moderator sneezed. It was a moment of comic relief we all needed along with another shpritz of hand sanitizer.

BIFF attracted 25,000 films, filmmakers and movie buffs from around the world to Boulder for a four-day celebration of the art of cinema. This year, the festival debuted the Adventure Film Pavilion at eTown Hall to celebrate the most exciting new adventure films of the year.

Adventure Pavilion moderator Isaac Savitz said his selection committee viewed 400 adventure films in three months to select 35 for the BIFF audience. If you didn't like one, just wait a few minutes and another film was screened that would drop your jaw to the floor.

The 2020 line-up included four shorts programs and three features, including Home, about UK Adventurer Sarah Outen who traversed the globe by bike, kayak, and rowboat; Climbing Blind, about Jesse Dufton who attempts to be the first blind person to make a gripping "non-sight" lead of the iconic Old Man of Hoy seat stack in Scotland; and Lost Temple of the Inca, about Boulder scientist Preston Sowell's journey to Peru where he discovers a lost temple of the Inca Empire. It was a behind-the-scenes look inside a cutting edge expedition at the headwaters of the Amazon river, a race against time as mining companies seek to ruin the Peruvian Andes Lake Sibinacocha region.

Legendary grizzly expert, Green Beret medic, and eco-warrior Doug Peacock, the real-life inspiration for the character George Hayduke in Edward Abbey's novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, said in Grizzly Country, "Saving habitat is the most satisfying expression of joy I know. If you're down and depressed get outside. It's the best cure I know for the metaphysical icky-poos."

Survivor's Guilt in the Mountains

The New Yorker (Mar. 2), in a story profiling Bozeman, Montana, therapist Tim Tate,  provides an inside look at the North Face athletes program, revealing that it does not offer health insurance or life insurance. The pay can range from substantial six-figure annual salaries for the stars (who have agents that typically handle the negotiations) to four-figure stipends, or even just free gear, for up-and-coming "ambassadors," according to an examination of the risks inherent in climbing by Nick Paumgarten (Feb. 24).
 
"The athletes would pursue these activities with or without us," Arne Arens, the president of the North Face, tells Paumgarten. "We know the inherent risks. We try to limit them as much as we can. They choose the objectives. Our role is to make it as safe as possible."

According to the story, generally, the athletes develop their own projects and pitch them to the company, which in turn shapes them not only to market the brand but also to road test new technology and gear. "If it weren't for the athletes, we wouldn't be able to push the limits ourselves," Arens said.

The New Yorker story shares a page from Conrad Anker's journal which recounts about three dozen names handwritten on it - friends and partners who'd died. The list begins with Anker's mentor, Mugs Stump, who fell into a crevasse while descending Denali, in 1992. Scott Adamson, Justin Griffin, Hans Saari, Doug Coombs, Ned Gillette, Mira Smid, Hari Berger, Todd Skinner, Walt Shipley, Ang Kaji Sherpa, Ueli Steck, Dean Potter. "Martyrs without a cause, except perhaps that of their own fulfillment," Paumgarten writes.
 
"Mountain climbing is a modern curiosity, a bourgeois indulgence. It consists mostly of relatively well-to-do white people manufacturing danger for themselves."

Read the entire 9,700 word story here:

WEB WATCH

Still from Michael Churton's Bound to Everest

Witness to a Tragedy

Adventure filmmaker Michael Churton's camera was rolling on the deadliest avalanche in Everest history. His new feature-length documentary, Bound to Everest, recounts that fateful day in April 2015 when a 7.8 earthquake hit the mountain. At Everest Base Camp, the violent vibrations trigger an immense avalanche. Snow, rock and ice catapult by at savage speeds, blasting Churton into the rocks. The camera is rolling as a bright member of Churton's expedition team vanishes next to him in a fury of white.

The death toll at base camp rises to 19 and surpasses the 2014 avalanche tragedy to become the deadliest day in Everest history. Bound to Everest is an examination of the adventure of a lifetime gone wrong and a survivor's search for closure.

Still in rough cut form, it promises to be both horrifying and inspiring when it comes out in October.

Watch the trailer here:

BUZZ WORDS

Sawanobori

The Japanese art of climbing up flowing streams and waterfalls. (Source: The New Yorker, Mar. 2, 2020)

(Earth photo courtesy of NASA.gov)

Overview Effect
 
A cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from outer space. It is the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, "hanging in the void", shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this "pale blue dot" becomes both obvious and imperative.

Michael Collins of Apollo 11 says, "The thing that really surprised me was that it (Earth) projected an air of fragility. And why, I don't know. I don't know to this day. I had a feeling it's tiny, it's shiny, it's beautiful, it's home, and it's fragile."

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.

Buy it here:

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

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 290 Laramie Blvd., Boulder, CO 80304 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, editor@expeditionnews.com. 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 www.paypal.com.   

Read EXPEDITION NEWS at www.expeditionnews.com. Enjoy the EN blog at www.expeditionnews.blogspot.com

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