Monday, January 25, 2021

Socially Distance Yourself Like a Pro

Officials from Nepal's Survey Department measuring the height of Mount Everest. (Nepal Survey Department/Nepal Survey Department) World’s Tallest Peak is Even Higher After more than a decade of dispute and controversy, China and Nepal have finally agreed on how tall Mount Everest is. The world's highest peak, which sits at Nepal's border with Tibet in the Himalayas, stands at 8848.86 meters (about 29,032 feet), officials from both countries announced on December 8. This is less than a meter higher than the previously recognized height. The agreement marked the end to a long-running debate over the precise dimensions of the mountain, known as Sagarmatha in Nepal and Qomolangma in Tibet. Over the years, the two countries – as well as other governments around the world – have offered up differing estimates of the mountain's height, according to CNN. Read more here:
The Unistellar eVscope at Meteor Crater Name the Asteroid Telescope maker Unistellar and SETI Institute have mobilized the world's largest citizen astronomer network to conduct valuable astronomical research on Near-Earth Asteroid 1999 AP10. Citizen astronomers observed 1999 AP10 in October and November of 2020 after being alerted by the SETI Institute team of researchers. The team used Unistellar eVscopes, a smart telescope that reveals the cosmos quickly and easily, to conduct the research. This worldwide effort led to a better understanding of this still-mysterious body. Even though 1999 AP10 is one of 20,000 known Near-Earth Asteroids, only 1,250 have a size estimate and, among these, only 68 have a shape estimate. Citizen astronomers across the planet are helping expand knowledge of this asteroid, so Unisteller and SETI are offering the world's astronomy lovers a chance to leave their mark on science. They are asking for suggested nicknames for the asteroid. To enter, submit your asteroid name with a short paragraph of justification. Finalists will be evaluated by a panel of judges. Deadline is Dec. 16. The top 10 names will be announced Dec. 21. One Winner shall receive one (1) 3D model of Asteroid NEA 1999 AP10, with an approximate retail value of $20. The winner shall also receive a lifetime of pride and bragging rights, which are priceless. NEA 1999 AP10 won’t be this close to the Earth again for another 11 years when Unistellar hopes to study it further but under a friendlier name. For more information: FEATS
World’s Highest Bike Ride to Benefit The Starr Trust Charity The Guinness World Record for the highest bicycle ride is held by two Germans at 7211m (23,658 ft.) on Muztagata, China, in 2009. In fall 2021, a team of eight British adventurers, Nepalese Sherpas and a film crew will climb a currently undisclosed 7000m+ peak in Nepal. Members of the team will then cycle back down the mountain in an attempt to set a new Guinness World Record. The expedition is being organized and led by the entrepreneur, explorer and Special Forces veteran Neil Laughton, who climbed Mt. Everest with Bear Grylls, has three cycling Guinness World Records and holds a number of altitude records.
The project will benefit The Starr Trust which supports individuals and community projects which enable young people, aged 10 to 18, to fulfill their potential in sport, art and education, by providing mentorship and financial assistance at a time when they need it most. During a November Zoom talk hosted by the Scientific Exploration Society, Laughton, 57, said, “Expeditioning is my drug. I love it. It forces you to focus on the here and now, not whether you fed the cat back home.” He also said that on expeditions he tries to be mentally prepared and think through the “what ifs” to get himself out of scrapes. The team of experienced mountaineers and record breaking cyclists are seeking expedition partners willing to financially assist this project in return for an opportunity to participate in the expedition by cycling and trekking with the team to Nepal and benefiting from other special events, talks, interviews, branding, PR and social media activity. Sponsorship ranges from £5,000 to £40,000 ($6,682 to $53,459). For more information:, +44 (0) 7973 289 552, QUOTE OF THE MONTH “We all know that some level of risk is vital for success. We need to take risks to improve skills, go to new places, have fun, and, in the case of mountain rescue, help people in trouble and save lives. “In the outdoors we take risks to help us excel. We become skilled at an activity, physically fit, and mentally sharpened by taking risks. The more subtle but equally important benefit of risk is that we gain self-confidence and self-respect by taking positive risks. In short, taking risks builds character.” – Christopher Van Tilburg, MD, Search and Rescue: A Wilderness Doctor’s Life-and-Death Tales of Risk and Reward (Falcon Guides, 2017) MEDIA MATTERS
Selena Gomez Selena Gomez to Play Lesbian Mountaineer Selena Gomez will portray pioneering Peruvian mountaineer and social entrepreneur Silvia Vasquez-Lavado in a new film, based on Vasquez-Lavado's upcoming memoir In the Shadow of the Mountain. Vasquez-Lavado (born 1974) is a Peruvian-American explorer, mountaineer, social entrepreneur and technologist. According to Variety (Nov. 12), Vasquez-Lavado is the first gay woman to complete the Seven Summits. She is also the founder of Courageous Girls, a nonprofit that helps survivors of sexual abuse and trafficking, and has organized excursions for abuse survivors to the Mount Everest base camp. In the Shadow of the Mountain is expected to be published in 2022. Learn more here:
U.S. explorers Robert Peary and Frederick Cook fight over the credit of discovering the North Pole in a 1909 illustration from the French newspaper Le Petit Journal Wade Davis on the Art of Exploring The true and original explorers, men and women who actually went where no humans had been, were those who walked out of Africa some 65,000 years ago, embarking on a journey that in 2,500 generations, roughly 40,000 years, carried the human spirit to every corner of the habitable world, writes Wade Davis in the Sept. 1, 2020, Financial Times. “Since then, terrestrial exploration has rarely been divorced from power and conquest.”
Wade Davis is professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia, former explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society and winner of the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. He is the author of 23 books, the latest is Magdalena: River of Dreams (Bodley Head). He continues, “Searching for a passage to the Indies, the French explorer Jacques Cartier is said to have discovered the St. Lawrence River in 1534, though the valley was clearly settled at the time, and the waters offshore crowded with the Basque fleet, fishermen with no interest whatsoever in flaunting the location of their discoveries, a cod fishery that would feed Europe for three centuries.” The 20th century brought more of the same. Another example from Wade Davis: Hiram Bingham shot to international fame and a place in the U.S. Senate with his discovery of Machu Picchu, an Incan site well known at the time to local farmers, who told him where it was and how to get there. “Reaching the North Pole was less a journey of discovery than a quest for personal glory and fame. Men such as Frederick Cook and Robert Peary clung desperately to their claims, often demonstrably false, even as they branded their expeditions indelibly with themselves. “With endorsements, sponsorships, book deals and lecture tours in mind, Robert Peary did nothing to share the glory with his indispensable companion, Matthew Henson; the four Inuk men who accompanied them both to the pole remain little-known footnotes to the story,” Davis writes. Read the story here:
Antarctica researcher David Knoff Isolate Like a Pro The New York Times turned to the pros – explorers – on how to successfully survive lockdowns, especially in late 2020 and early 2021 for what is expected to be a long, lonely winter due to Covid-19 restrictions. Times reporter Tim Herrera spoke with these people to get advice on coping with life in extended isolation – and how to deal with not quite being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. David Knoff, interviewed in the story, lives in Antarctica, perhaps the most remote place on the planet — and his most exciting evening lately involved penguins. Since November 2019, Knoff has led a team of 24 people at Davis Station, a permanent research outpost in Antarctica run by the Australian Antarctic Division. The yearly average high temperature there is around 19 degrees F., and during the darkest days of winter – typically from May to July – there are some weeks when there are zero hours of daylight. “The darkness had more of an impact on mood and energy than many of us expected, for a few months during the depths of winter the sun barely made it above the horizon (or not at all),” Knoff, 35, wrote in an email to the Times. To get through a bleak winter, Knoff said, it’s important to change with your surroundings and train yourself to learn to make the best of a tough situation. “It is surprising how well you adapt to your surroundings and conditions,” he said. “Not every day can be sunshine and penguins,” Knoff wrote in an email to the reporter. “You will have bad days/weeks/months, and the highs and lows will oscillate faster and higher as the months roll on, but stay focused on the positive and have a goal in sight.” He added: “Although not entirely accurate during an Antarctica winter, the sun will always come up tomorrow!” Read the story here:
Borge Ousland with his daughter near their home in Oslo. Exploring Isolation “Isolation has been difficult for many people during the pandemic, but explorers face a special challenge. With international travel all but frozen they have had to suppress the urge to probe the world’s deepest caves and densest jungles or to brave polar bears or sharks and make do with ordinary life,” writes Paul Berger in the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 12) Borge Ousland skied and paddled for 87 days across almost 1,000 miles of ice and water at the North Pole before flying home to Oslo shortly before the new coronavirus pandemic interrupted life in Norway, according to Berger. Ousland spent the months that followed confined to the area around his suburban home in Fornebu exploring what he calls “the little world” around him, cycling, camping, kayaking and picking mushrooms with his 9-year-old daughter. During a live stream discussion with fellow adventurers in May called “Exploring Isolation,” the 58-year-old pointed out his newly circumscribed life has a bright side: “There is no polar bear going to eat me.” Bertrand Piccard, who circumnavigated the globe by balloon and by solar-powered plane, sat down to dinner in the third week of March with his wife, his three daughters and their three boyfriends and told them they had a choice: refuse to accept the crisis and suffer, or embrace it and develop new skills. The 62-year-old Mr. Piccard says that moment in their home on a vineyard outside Lausanne, Switzerland, was like the beginning of an expedition. “It’s a moment of rupture,” he says. “You leave behind what you know and you enter into the unknown.” Read the story here: WEB WATCH Dish Disaster The National Science Foundation released stunning video footage earlier this month capturing the exact dramatic moment the Arecibo Observatory's 900-ton platform fell into the 1,000-foot wide dish below. A drone happened to be performing an up-close investigation of the cables that still held the platform above the dish as the cables snapped. The video of the massive radio telescope shows both the drone footage and the view from a camera in the visitor center that shows the platform falling into the dish just above the jungle floor in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Two massive chunks of the cement towers that the cables were attached to can also be seen falling. Two of the cables had previously broken, one in August and another in November, destabilizing the telescope. It’s rather horrifying.
The Enigma cipher machine found in the Baltic Sea was handed over to a German archaeological office by divers. XHJFUTRZ: German Enigma Cipher Machine Found After 75 years under the waves of the Baltic Sea, it looks kind of like a rusty lasagna, or a deep-fried typewriter. A rare Enigma cipher machine, used by the Nazis during World War II, has been retrieved from its watery home by German divers searching for discarded fishing nets. It's been donated to the Archaeological Museum Schloss Gottorf in Germany. The divers were working on behalf of the conservation group World Wide Fund for Nature, or WWF (known as the World Wildlife Fund in the US and Canada) to retrieve abandoned fishing nets that posed dangers to marine life. Take two minutes and watch the c/net site’s video explaining how the enigma machine worked. Hint: it’s all in the cribs. Fascinating. BUZZ WORDS Third Quarter Phenomenon When you’ve passed the halfway point of a project but not near the end, and you start to drag. It’s the decline in performance during the third quarter of missions in isolated, confined and extreme environments, regardless of actual mission duration. (Source: 2018 study published in The Journal of Human Performance in Extreme Environments). Moon Trees Next year is the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 14 mission. During that flight, the late Stuart A. Roosa, Command Module pilot, on his third crewed mission to the moon, carried a small canister holding 500 tree seeds aboard the Kitty Hawk orbiter. The seeds orbited the moon 34 times before being brought back to Earth for germination and became known as Moon Trees. Many were distributed across the country as part of the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976. For a list of Moon Trees see: Point of No Return (PNR) The point in the flight of an aircraft beyond which the remaining fuel will be insufficient for a return to the starting point with the result that the craft must proceed. (Source: Our thanks to UK explorer Neil Laughton for this reference. In a November Scientific Exploration Society presentation that included his quest for the Seven Summits he said, “You know you’re going to Antarctica at that point.” EN HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE Locked down at home for 10 months, there are only so many times you can clean your sock drawer or watch The Crown on Netflix. But it won’t always be this way. And when the world opens up again, those on your holiday gift list will thank you for these, er, somewhat unusual gifts. After all, we’re guessing that for the people you know, a necktie just won’t do. Here’s our favorites this holiday season.
Can You Dig It? How did paleontologists get so smart? We’re guessing many of them started with Dig It Up Dinosaur Eggs. Each kit includes 12 individually-wrapped projects, each with its own chiseling tool and instructions. Scrape away at the egg to reveal the surprise dinosaur inside. It comes with a free excavation tool set so you don’t have to hide the family toothbrushes. (, $24.95)
Time for Adventure While we’re pretty sure a $50 Timex will tell time just as well, if your gift recipient is interested in celebrating the “Spirit of Mountain Exploration,” consider the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere inspired by the professional Minerva watches from the 1920s and 1930s, which were conceived for military use and exploration. This handy little timepiece is dedicated to the world’s Seven Summit mountaineering challenge, the holy grail of mountaineering adventures. It comes in a 42mm titanium case combined with blue and contrasting icy white design details (not just white, mind you, it’s “icy white”), finding inspiration in the colors of glaciers. It tells time in 24 time zones, which will be fun to visit once that vaccine kicks in. (, $6,100)
Everest Explorers Jacket Protects Pooches When filling out your holiday gift list, lest us not forget the four-legged members of the team. The Everest Explorer Jacket from Canada Pooch is made of a rugged water-resistant shell to keep your expedition dog protected, with soft fleece lining and faux-down insulation for ultimate warmth. There’s also a faux-fur trim to keep a fleabag’s real fur warm and dry. (, $44)
How’s Your Aim? In this social distancing era, bota bags, those wineskin sling pouches usually made of leather to carry martinis, cheap rotgut wine or some other alcoholic sustenance, are having a moment. In fact, no less a drinking authority than Ernest Hemingway explains in the 1926 novel The Sun Always Rises: “He was a young fellow and he held the wine bottle at full arms’ length and raised it high up, squeezing the leather bag with his hand so the stream of wine hissed into his mouth. He held the bag out there, the wine making a flat, hard trajectory into his mouth, and he kept on swallowing smoothly and regularly.” In this Covid-wary world, passing around hits of Jagermeister will give way to passing the bota bag like some Hemingway character, then simply taking aim. A perfect holiday gift for that explorer in your family who likes a tipple or two. (, $9.95)
What a Doll! Don’t forget the youngsters on your holiday gift list ….. Mattel says polar marine biologists are curious explorers, learning about the animals, habitats and ecosystems in the chilly polar regions at the top and bottom of the Earth. Barbie doll is an adventurous spirit, always enthusiastic about exploring the world, and she's partnered with National Geographic to encourage imagination, expression and discovery through play. She wears a professional outfit with themed accessories that include a penguin. (, $14.99)
Stuff Happens It’s a dangerous world out there and stuff happens on the road. Pepper spray has been used to deter four-legged animals like bears, but what about the two-legged kind? PepperBall, makers of non-lethal defense and a trusted supplier to the U.S. Army, over 5,000 law enforcement agencies, and consumers nationwide, offers its single-shot PepperBall launcher just in time for the holidays. PepperBall projectiles are made with a proprietary outer shell and food-grade irritant compound engineered to burst on impact into a temporarily incapacitating cloud with no permanent effects. While it doesn’t do much to foster that holiday spirit of peace on earth, it could prove handy in a pinch. (, $24.99)
Visit the Titanic This is the big one folks, only second to a trip to outer space. Why settle for soap on a rope when you can gift a trip to the legendary Titanic? If you want to explore the Titanic firsthand, planning ahead is key. You need to apply to be a Mission Specialist, OceanGate’s term for someone who is part of the submersible team. She wasn’t discovered until 1985, and now, 36 years later, the OceanGate Titanic Survey Expedition is making it possible for your gift recipient to see the Titanic with their own eyes. Starting in 2021, they can descend to the wreck site in a state-of-the-art submersible and explore the remains. It’s eight hours roundtrip and according to the site’s FAQ, there’s only a small portable toilet and privacy screen available. Guests need to reduce food and liquid consumption prior to, and during the dive to reduce the need to use the facilities as much as possible (ya think?). EN editor’s ancient bladder might not make it, so he’s out. But as the Western world’s first official Covid-19 vaccine recipient says, “Go for it.” (, $125,000) DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS Red Wigglers Last month we misidentified the worms being grown by Ken Kamler for fun and profit. They were red wigglers, not earthworms. And Dr. Kamler hastens to add that it is his partner, Granis Stewart, not he, who runs the whole operation. In 2005, Stewart set the women's world record for the largest striped bass shot with a speargun while freediving (55.3 lbs.), so apparently she’s a woman of many talents.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Enough Already With Offensive Route Names; Flights to Everest Resume; What Color is Your Pee?

November 2020 – Volume Twenty-Six, Number Eleven Celebrating our 26th year.     EXPEDITION NEWS, founded in 1994, is the monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online to media representatives, corporate sponsors, educators, research librarians, explorers, environmentalists, and outdoor enthusiasts. This forum on exploration covers projects that stimulate, motivate and educate. EXPEDITION NOTES
Everest will likely be more crowded in 2021 due to pent-up demand. Photo by Elia Saikaly Flights to Everest Region Resume; Pent-Up Demand Expected   The flights to the Everest region that had been suspended on October 22, have been allowed to operate once again, according to The Himalayan Times (Oct. 26). The flights were halted when a Covid-19 case had been detected for the first time in Namche Bazar, the gateway to Everest region. Several areas in the region had been sealed following the emergence of the case. However, the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Municipality has now decided that domestic and foreign tourists will now be allowed entry.   Read the story here:   According to, “I expect 2021 to be a near-record year on both sides of Everest due to pent up demand.   “Case in point, IMG sold out their Rainier 2021 schedule within hours of its posting date, also for Denali. With hundreds of people having to postpone their 2020 Everest, and other 8000ers, combined with operators hungry for business who will bargain on price, I anticipate near-record crowds.   Arnette continues, “Nepal, also thirsty for tourism and permit revenue … I don’t anticipate price increases but do over the next few years, so 2021 may be the best time to climb Everest anticipating the future, albeit with crowds.”   The Himalayan Database reports that through August 2020 there have been 10,271 summits on Everest by all routes by 5,790 different people. A total of 1,352 people, including 941 Sherpa, have summited multiple times. QUOTE OF THE MONTH   “Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it's a small price to pay for living a dream.” – Peter McWilliams (1949-2000), American self-help author, poet, self-publisher, photographer, activist.  EXPEDITION FOCUS
Ha Ling Peak near Cranmore, Alberta, was the official name given to a peak south of Canmore, and east of Whiteman’s Pass, Whiteman’s Pond and Whiteman’s Crag, in 1997 after having been previously named Chinaman’s Peak. Enough Already With Offensive Climbing Route Names    A recent story in outdoor industry trade publication SNEWS asked readers just one question: Have you ever encountered a (climbing) route name that you consider to be racist, sexist, discriminatory, or otherwise offensive?   Ninety-one percent of the voters responded with “yes, several times.” Only four percent answered “no, and I wasn’t aware of the problem.”   The goal of the survey was to understand the opinions of those in the outdoor industry – explorers, adventurers and mountain guides alike – and bring attention to the issue. The study was conducted by 57Hours whose founder Viktor Marohnic said, “As a company that strongly supports the current racial justice movements, we were especially curious to understand how widespread this issue is, and whether people think these routes should be renamed.”   The results speak for themselves.   Future surveys will determine whether the prevalence of certain route names deter women and BIPOC from participating in adventure sports like climbing and mountain biking. Forty-three percent agreed that was the case. One survey responder commented, “When we enter the sport, they’re subtle reminders that add to a feeling of not really belonging.”   Climbers are familiar with the frat boy, or really, middle school level of vulgarity.     “Climbing culture is saturated with racist and colonialist names for mountains, trails, and individual climbs,” writes Chris Weidner in the Boulder, Colorado, Daily Camera (July 9).   Brandon Pullan writing in Gripped (June 25) griped about names such as Squaw’s Tit, Whiteman’s Crag, and White Imperialist. There are worse names than that, but EN is a family magazine.   “A big first step in our outdoor community is to acknowledge that the names of many of the peaks and places in Canada are based on an ugly history of racism and that those names need to change,” Pullan writes.   Read the survey results here:   Read Pullan’s story here:  
Check the color of your urine while on expeditions.(Photo courtesy Ski Area Management, September 2020) Clear and Copious   Those are the buzzwords for exploration when it comes to staying hydrated. Ideally, your urine should be copious and the color of a glass of famed Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) beer. A tip of the hat to the Sugarbush Ski Resort in Vermont which posted this handy guide in employee work areas to encourage its staff to drink at least 72 ounces of water daily.   As fans of brew of all types, we can certainly relate to that. These so-called Armstrong charts can often be found in nearly all bathrooms in elite sports facilities. They’ve been spotted them in numerous bathrooms of just about every single NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, NCAA College, Premier League soccer and rugby team here and abroad. The Armstrong charts take their name from Dr. Lawrence E Armstrong, who studied the importance of taking a close interest in your urine output and he’s most famous for attempting to validate his chart’s accuracy, according to UK sport scientist Andy Blow writing on In fact, according to the Royal Geographical Society Expedition Handbook edited by Shane Winser (Profile Books, 2004), it’s important to drink a lot of fluid on expeditions. If urine looks cloudy, dark or frankly bloodstained or may have a fishy or other strong unpleasant odor, it’s a possible sign of urinary tract infection. You don’t want urine to be any lighter than PBR. Clear urine indicates that you're drinking more than the daily recommended amount of water. While being hydrated is a good thing, drinking too much water can rob your body of electrolytes, says   According to Michael J. Manyak, M.D., FACS, a urologist, explorer, and co-author of Lizard Bites & Street Riots: Travel Emergencies and Your Health, Safety & Security (WindRush Publishers, 2014), “If you’re anywhere there’s a chance of being dehydrated, the best gauge is how frequently you urinate and what the color looks like, which is a factor of its concentration. If you’re not peeing every few hours you’re down a few quarts.   “You can drink PBR, but make sure you drink plenty of water as well.”   Adds Kenneth Kamler, MD., author of Surviving The Extremes (Penguin Books, 2004), “You’ll get dehydrated on any expedition, especially at altitude. You don’t feel thirsty until you reach a loss of 3% body fluid. It’s serious, you can lose strength, endurance and get cloudy in the head even with the loss of one percent.   “Thirst is not a good parameter to see if you need to drink. Checking urine color is more accurate. Don’t be reluctant to watch yourself pee,” Kamler says.   Editor’s Note: Dr. Kamler’s recent work involves raising earthworms and selling their waste, called castings, to gardeners. Adding worm castings (aka vermicast) manure to the soil aerates and improves its overall structure while providing beneficial nutrients to plants. They are also effective for repelling many pests that feed on plants, such as aphids and spider mites. (Who knew?) He calls his basement set-up The Wiggle Room. Perhaps a story for another day. MEDIA MATTERS   Build Mental Endurance Like a Pro; Have a Little in Reserve   Athletes, including climbers, who have endured the most grueling tests have a lot to tell us about how to thrive in the pandemic.   There’s a special kind of exhaustion that the world’s best endurance athletes embrace. Some call it masochistic, others may call it brave. When fatigue sends legs and lungs to their limits, they are able to push through to a gear beyond their pain threshold. These athletes approach fatigue not with fear but as a challenge, an opportunity,” writes Talya Minsberg in the New York Times (Nov. 7).   “The drive to persevere is something some are born with, but it’s also a muscle everyone can learn to flex. In a way, everyone has become an endurance athlete of sorts during this pandemic, running a race with no finish line that tests the limits of their exhaustion.”  
Conrad Anker Conrad Anker knows something about that. The celebrated 57-year-old mountaineer, who has, among other things, ascended Meru Peak’s Shark’s Fin route in India, summited Mount Everest three times – once without supplemental oxygen – and survived a heart attack while climbing in the Himalayas, advised people to “always have a little in reserve.”   Deplete your resources early and you’ll be in trouble. Focusing on day-to-day activities will pay off in the long run. If you burn out all your mental energy in one day or week, you may find it more difficult to adapt when things don’t return to normal as quickly as you would hope. There’s a pacing in living day to day, just as there’s pacing in climbing.   “When you get to the summit and you use every single iota of energy and calories to get to the summit, and you don’t have the strength to get down, then you’re setting yourself up for an accident or for something to go wrong,” Anker tells the Times.   “Don’t play all your cards at once and keep a little something in reserve.”   Read the story here:  
Dooley Intermed Gift of Sight medical mission to Nepal, 2017. Hopefully trips like these can resume in 2021. When Will It Be Safe to Travel Again?   Sure, Zoom is the best we have right now. And the safest. But it fails to hold a candle to actually getting onto a plane and going somewhere beyond the confines of home. Christopher Elliott ask this question in the Washington Post (Oct. 7), reporting that Bill McIntyre, a spokesman for Global Rescue, a medical and security response service for travelers, says internal surveys of the organization’s members indicate a readiness to get back on the road.   “Most travelers already have plans to go somewhere domestically by year’s end, and a majority say they’ll travel internationally sometime in 2021,” McIntyre says.   “Talk to medical experts, and they will tell you to stay close to home,” Elliott writes. Manisha Juthani, an infectious-disease specialist at Yale University School of Medicine, says a person who wants to take one to two weeks off should make it a staycation or road trip, at least for now. “I personally do not recommend traveling far from home,” she says.   Read the major benchmarks for travel safety:   EXPEDITION FUNDING
Enter the 2021 SES Explorer Awards   The nonprofit UK-based Scientific Exploration Society (SES) has seven 2021 Explorer Award grants available for funding scientific expeditions. SES seeks inspirational leaders and scientific trailblazers who are organizing expeditions that focus on discovery, research and conservation. The 2021 awardees must be prepared to take on monumental physical, logistical and global challenges and share the values of grit, curiosity, integrity and leadership that “Pioneers with Purpose” such as SES Founder Colonel John Blashford-Snell CBE exemplify. The awards are:   •           Sir Charles Blois Explorer Award for Science & Adventure (£5,000)   •           Elodie Sandford Explorer Award for Amateur Photography (£4,000-plus)   •           Gough Explorer Award for Medical Aid & Research (£4,000)   •           Judith Heath Explorer Award for Botany & Research (£5,250)   •           Neville Shulman Explorer Award for Expedition Filmmaking (£7,000)   •           Rivers Foundation Explorer Award for Health & Humanities (£5,000)   •           SES Explorer Award for Inspirational & Scientific Trailblazing (£5,000)   Enter here by April 2, 2021:   EXPEDITION MARKETING
Exploring the rails. Are You a Rail Explorer? The ink-stained wretches at EN celebrate anything that promotes the concept of exploration, even amusement-type attractions. Last month we wrote about a ride that shares what it feels like to take a sudden “whipper” off a climbing wall. The Rail Explorer is an attraction that promises far less adrenaline, but lets you “explore” the rails. Get us that vaccine and we’re going to be all over this. A rail explorer is a pedal powered vehicle that rides on railroad tracks. They have four steel wheels, hydraulic disc brakes, pedals for each seat. Although the rail explorers require pedaling, steel wheels on steel rails makes the experience very different from riding a regular bicycle. There is no need to carefully watch the road ahead, there is no need to steer, and riding is hands free. We do assume, however, that you need to pick and choose your rails carefully. We don’t expect you’ll be able to ride on Amtrak rails to Boston.  Pedal powered rail vehicles date back to at least the 1850’s, when maintenance workers used hand-cars and “rail bikes” to travel along the tracks. They were used to transport crew and materials for track inspection and repairs.    The attraction is located in different regions of the U.S. Want to travel eight miles roundtrip in the New York State Catskills, the experience is $42.50 pp.   Learn more and watch the videos here:   EXPEDITION INK
One of the winners of the 2020 NOBA competition 2020 National Outdoor Book Award Winners Announced   The elusive and mysterious eel is a winner in this year’s National Outdoor Book Awards. The eel is the subject of the book which took top honors in the Natural History Literature category, one of ten highly competitive categories that make up the National Outdoor Book Awards.    A total of 14 books were chosen as winners in this year's contest which is now in its 24th year. Sponsors of the program include the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Idaho State University and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education. The Book of the Eel by Patrick Svensson pieces together humankind's long quest for knowledge about the creature, a quest that, interestingly enough, starts with Aristotle. Parts are also played by Sigmund Freud and Rachel Carson, but the star of the show is Johannes Schmidt who spends much of his life searching the world's oceans to find where European and American eels are birthed.   The winner of the History/Biography Category is The World Beneath Their Feet by Scott Ellsworth. Ellsworth covers mountaineering history from 1930 to 1953.  “What separates this book from many other climbing histories is that Ellsworth approaches mountaineering from a cultural and political perspective,” said Ron Watters, chair of the National Outdoor Book Awards.   “The British,” said Watters, “aware that the days of their great empire were numbered, sought to bolster national pride by attempting to climb the world's highest peaks. At the same time, the newly empowered Nazis looked to the Himalayas as a proving ground for Aryan superiority.”    The judges also chose a second winner in the History/Biography category: Labyrinth of Ice by Buddy Levy, focusing on the Greely polar expedition which was forced to make a desperate escape from the frozen north. “It is one of the most harrowing expeditions of polar history,” said Watters. “Author Buddy Levy tells this epic tale with finesse and intelligence.”   Complete reviews of these and the other 2020 winners may be found at the National Outdoor Book Awards website at:   WEB WATCH  
Screen grab of Tulsa archaeologists and historian John Leader (top left), Phoebe Stubblefield, and Scott Ellsworth, speaking via Zoom on November 9, 2020. Uncovering the Tulsa Massacre: Searching for the Lost Victims of an American Tragedy Fascinating. That’s the best way to describe a two-hour-plus Zoom presentation that was part of The Explorers Club’s wildly successful Monday night lectures on Nov. 9, 2020. In 1921, the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was torn apart in an unprecedented act of racial violence. Following a questionable “crime” by a young Black man, shots were exchanged by opposing groups, then white mobs attacked Black individuals, homes, and businesses, destroying the once prosperous community.
The opening scenes of HBO’s Watchmen depict the Tulsa Massacre, a catastrophic 1921 race riot in which machine guns, firebombs, and even airplanes were turned on the residents of the city’s black Greenwood district. Photo courtesy HBO. Forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield, an expert on discerning markers of identity and trauma on skeletal remains as well as a relative of a Tulsa Race Massacre survivor, detailed her work excavating mass graves where hidden victims may have been buried. Dr. Stubblefield appeared with historian Scott Ellsworth, who has written extensively about the Tulsa Race Massacre and explained why the massacre occurred, described the subsequent cover-up, and detailed current efforts to determine the facts. Archaeologist John Leader hosted the presentation. Watch it on Facebook here:   WEB WATCH
The late Carl Sagan was a memorable cab mate almost 30 years ago. The Pale Blue Dot is Where We Make Our Stand   As the train wreck that is the year 2020 comes to a close, we seek solace in the famed commentary by noted American astronomer, planetary scientist, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, and poet Carl Sagan (1934-1996) called Pale Blue Dot.   In a video available on YouTube, the science communicator said, “the earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena … For the moment, the earth is where we make our stand.” Sagan continues, our planet is “the only home we’ve ever known …. There is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”   Over 965,000 have viewed this short clip:   In a side note, EN editor and publisher Jeff Blumenfeld remembers sharing a cab with Sagan in 1992. As he retells the encounter in Get Sponsored (Skyhorse, 2014):   “My most memorable evening occurred while promoting the (Explorers) Club’s ‘Space Dinner’ in 1992. Afterward I shared a cab crosstown with the late astrophysicist Carl E. Sagan, Ph.D.   “There I was, sitting next to one of the greatest minds of the late 1900s, and all I could think to ask was, ‘What’s up with that ‘billions and billions’ catchphrase?’ With a slightly amused look, Dr. Sagan told me he never said it; it was originally a Johnny Carson bit that over the years was accredited to Sagan himself.’”
Rainn Wilson is a self-professed climate idiot. It’s Rainning in the Arctic   Comic actor Rainn Wilson from the hit TV show The Office, had no idea that a trip to Greenland would bring him to the brink of death, or so he says. He claims he narrowly escaped his demise. Hardly, we say.   Watch him retell the story of risking death during a film shoot:   Watch his series An Idiot's Guide to Climate Change:   BUZZ WORDS
Duria Antiquior, a more ancient Dorset, was the first pictorial representation of a scene of prehistoric life based on evidence from fossil reconstructions, a genre now known as paleoart. The first version was a watercolor painted in 1830 by the English geologist Henry De la Beche based on fossils found in Lyme Regis, Dorset, mostly by the professional fossil collector Mary Anning. Regurgatilites   Fossilized vomit, which falls within the category of bromalites – the fossilized remains of material sourced from the digestive system of organisms.   While on the same subject, don’t forget Gastroliths (a swallowed stone to aid digestion), Cololites (fossilized intestinal contents), and Coprolites (fossilized excrement).    Source: George Frandsen, Guinness World Records holder for the largest coprolite ever found (appraised at $15,000) and curator of the Poozeum ( He likes to say that dino dung is “history left behind.” Watch his Nov. 10, 2020 presentation to the Rocky Mt. chapter of The Explorers Club here (starts at 16:00): 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: @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 Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Does Everest Come with a Money Back Guarantee? Explorers Club Discovery Grants Exceed $250K

October 2020 – Volume Twenty-Six, Number Ten Celebrating our 26th year this month! EXPEDITION NEWS, founded in 1994, is the monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online to media representatives, corporate sponsors, educators, research librarians, explorers, environmentalists, and outdoor enthusiasts. This forum on exploration covers projects that stimulate, motivate and educate. EXPEDITION NOTES
Members of the Mount Everest expedition from fall 2019, including Madison Mountaineering guide Garrett Madison, far left in red, and climber client Zachary Bookman, third from right in orange. (Photo Courtesy of Francois Lebeau) Climbing Everest: There’s No Money Back Guarantee Seattle mountaineering guide Garrett Madison and Silicon Valley tech CEO Zachary Bookman were set to take on the world’s tallest mountain peak together. Instead, they’re mounting arguments against each other in court, according to a story by Kurt Schlosser in (Oct. 5). The ongoing dispute, which has generated two lawsuits so far, stems from a trip to Mount Everest in which Madison, founder of Madison Mountaineering, contends that he was relying on his skills as an expedition leader when he cancelled any attempt to climb due to hazardous conditions. Bookman, co-founder and CEO of San Francisco cloud computing startup OpenGov, argues that the $69,500 trip he signed up for amounted to a scam, that he was essentially charged for a five-day walk to Base Camp, and that Madison promised to pay back some of his costs, according to Schlosser. Of Madison’s 13 Everest expeditions, 10 have reached the summit. He failed in the spring of 2014 when an ice avalanche killed 16 Sherpas in the mountain’s Khumbu Icefall. The following year, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal, killing 9,000 people, including 22 at Everest Base Camp. Madison’s third miss came last October, on the trip with Bookman, when a towering serac was hanging over the climbing route and he called off the expedition. Bookman signed a contract to make the trip with Madison Mountaineering in which he assumed the risk that weather and safety issues could cause problems with the expedition. The company’s no-refund policy is explicit in those documents. The same contract also recommended participants get trip-cancellation insurance, which Bookman declined to do. Read the story and see the legal complaints here: San Diego explorer Dave Dolan comments on Facebook: “There are too many spoiled brats doing mountain climbing and other extreme sports & endeavors. That guy bringing this suit ought to be embarrassed and ashamed for his behavior. Zachary Bookman reminds me of the character played by the late Bill Paxton in the movie Vertical Limit. That failed expedition to climb K2 was funded by a wealthy SOB industrialist named Elliot Vaughn played by Paxton. Hang in there Madison. As a wise person once said, illegitimi non carborundum.” (Editor’s note: mock Latin for "Don't let the bastards grind you down.") QUOTE OF THE MONTH “The natural world is the great equalizer. It doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, Black or white, young or old, gay or straight, male or female, liberal or conservative. When you spend time in nature, you begin to realize how insignificant you are. Being out there can teach you humility, and with humility comes mutual respect and tolerance. “You become less self-absorbed, less confrontational, and this, in turn, makes it easier to respect others and to work together for a common good.” – J. Robert Harris, chairman of The Explorers Club’s newly-created Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiative. Source: Outdoor Retailer Magazine, July 15, 2020. A lifelong New York City resident, he has completed over 50 multi-week treks across the globe, all unsupported, most of them alone. Learn more about him and his adventures at MEDIA MATTERS
A comet strikes ancient Venus. (Illustration by Sam Cabot) Looking for Pieces of Venus? Try the Moon A growing body of research suggests the planet Venus may have had an Earth-like environment billions of years ago, with water and a thin atmosphere, writes Jim Shelton in YaleNews (Oct. 7, 2020). Yet testing such theories is difficult without geological samples to examine. The solution, according to Yale astronomers Samuel Cabot and Gregory Laughlin, may be closer than anyone realized. Sam Cabot at the Lowell Observatory Discovery Channel Telescope in Happy Jack, Ariz. Cabot and Laughlin say pieces of Venus – perhaps billions of them – are likely to have crashed on the moon. A new study explaining the theory has been accepted by the Planetary Science Journal. The researchers said asteroids and comets slamming into Venus may have dislodged as many as 10 billion rocks and sent them into an orbit that intersected with Earth and Earth’s moon. “Some of these rocks will eventually land on the moon as Venusian meteorites,” said Cabot, a Yale graduate student and lead author of the study. Cabot said catastrophic impacts such as these only happen every hundred million years or so – and occurred more frequently billions of years ago. “The moon offers safe keeping for these ancient rocks,” Cabot said. “Anything from Venus that landed on Earth is probably buried very deep, due to geological activity. These rocks would be much better preserved on the moon.” Upcoming missions to the moon could give Cabot and Laughlin their answer soon. The researchers said NASA’s Artemis program is the perfect opportunity to collect and analyze unprecedented amounts of lunar soil. Read the story here:
Nate Menninger joined hard-working Sherpa on Everest The American Who Became a Porter on Everest Nate Menninger, 26, a young adventurer from Boston, decided to take a job as one of the first ever non-native Everest porters. That meant being paid $15 a day for hauling gigantic packs weighing up to 220 pounds (100 kilograms) along rugged, high altitude trails, huddling with fellow porters in freezing huts at night for rest and sharing their basic rations. Along the way, he made a film about his experiences, which he hopes will shine a light on the largely unsung work of Everest porters and the precarious way they eke out a living in one of the planet's toughest environments, according to CNN Travel writer Tamara Hardingham-Gill (Oct. 12, 2020). Fascinated by Everest, but unable to afford the tens of thousands of dollars needed to cover the cost of the permit and support needed to reach the summit, he hit upon an idea to climb it for free. "…I realized if I climbed Everest as a porter, I wouldn't have to pay $65,000. I would actually get paid to climb Everest. That was the only feasible way I could attempt the mountain at the age I was." Menninger eventually scaled back his original plan to reach the top of Everest, settling for making a film about his time among the porters on the still arduous 11-day hike from the town of Lukla, at 9,400 feet above sea level, to Everest Base Camp. Subsisting mainly on a diet of rice with lentils, he lost over 20 pounds over the course of the expedition and didn't shower for more than three weeks. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the region's mountaineering industry, which generates around $300 million for Nepal every year. Menninger's experiences on Everest are documented in the film The Porter. Read the CNN story here: It’s been called the hardest job on the planet. Watch The Porter: The Untold Story at Everest on Vimeo:
Rules for Returning to the Moon Eight countries have signed on as founding member nations to NASA's Artemis Accords during the 71st International Astronautical Congress this month. Those nations include Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. NASA released the Artemis Accords in May to establish a framework of principles for safely and responsibly planning for humanity's return to the moon. "Artemis will be the broadest and most diverse international human space exploration program in history, and the Artemis Accords are the vehicle that will establish this singular global coalition," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a statement. Read the CNN story here: EXPEDITION FUNDING First Tranche of Discovery Grants Exceed $250,000 The Explorers Club announced the first tranche of Discovery grants exceeded $250,000, the largest amount of grant funding in its 116-year history. “These awards are a real milestone for the Club because it’s rare that we can fund entire expeditions,” says Trevor Wallace, Vice President, Education and Research. “And we have even more coming in the pipeline.” Recipients were six explorers, researchers and scientists: • Anggra Alfian, Celebica (Sulawesi, Indonesia) Expedition With the hope of developing conservation programs in the area, this expedition will document plant species, habitat conditions and the conservation status at Mt. Latimojong ­ ­– the highest mountain in Sulawesi. The area boasts high endemic biodiversity; the exploration and sample collection will be carried out during both the dry and the rainy seasons by creating a herbarium. Andrej Gajic studies the effects of plastics on sharks. • Andrej Gajic, Center For Marine and Freshwater Biology Sharklab ADRIA (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina) Expedition Studying the effects of ocean plastics on sharks, this expedition will set off into the Adriatic Sea on a scientific mission to study how human plastic waste works its way up the food chain and into the ocean’s top carnivores. • Dr. K. David Harrison, Swarthmore College (Redding, Connecticut) Expedition As the Arctic melts, and oil companies move in, the Nenets people of Russia, who for centuries have driven their reindeer along an annual, 800-mile migration, now must navigate new terrain. Their ancient odyssey, and the unique knowledge of nature it has provided, will survive only as long as there is snow and ice beneath their feet. This expedition will document and capture the stories and visuals of Nenets reindeer herding on the Siberian tundra, and includes a Nenets co-leader and anthropologist, Dr. Roza Laptander. Nina Lanza studies the chemistry of life in the Arctic.
• Dr. Nina Louise Lanza, Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, New Mexico) Expedition A largely female team of experts will use cutting-edge technology in Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada, a beautiful, Mars-like Arctic desert, to tell the story of how the search for the chemistry of life on Mars begins with field work on Earth near the Haughton crater in northern Canada. • Dr. Edgard David Mason, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and Autonomous University of Morelos State (UAEM) Expedition Bats have been vilified in the media due to links to Covid-19, but they are a fascinating group of species – key pollinators, insect population controllers and seed dispersers – that need our protection more than we need to be protected from them. This expedition will use state-of-the-art technology to peel back the darkness and learn about the lives of the thousands of bats that live in Mexico's El Salitre Cave. • Peter Tattersfield, in collaboration with Mexico’s Underwater Archaeology Office of the National Institute of Anthropology History (SAS-INAH) - (Polanco, Mexico) Expedition In 1853 the Steamship Independence hit rocks off Isla Margarita and went ablaze. Although the crew members heroically fought to save the passengers – including one Tom Sawyer, who served as inspiration for Mark Twain's book – 132 drowned. For decades, underwater archaeologists have been combing the waters off Baja Mexico for the wreck of the Steamship Independence, and now finally this international team of explorers is poised to uncover it. Read the entire announcement here: To apply for future grants, click here:
Apply for the AAC Partner In Adventure Outdoor Education Grant The Partner in Adventure Outdoor Education Grant, created in collaboration with Tincup Whiskey, will fund educational opportunities from local guide services for you and your partner to take your pursuit to the next level. Open to duos of all experience levels, the grant will award partners up to $1,000 for the educational opportunity of your choice. Apply now and take the next step in your climbing progression. Application deadline is October 29, 2020. To apply, click here: EXPEDITION MARKETING
Does the ISS Need Space Heroes? A U.S. production company is planning to produce a reality TV show competition, where the winner will receive a trip to the International Space Station as the ultimate prize, Deadline reports. The plan is yet another way to capitalize on the newly developed private human spacecraft, from SpaceX and Boeing, that are opening up ways for non-government astronauts to reach space. Dubbed Space Hero Inc., the production company plans to put together a televised contest called Space Hero that would select contestants from around the world to train for space, according to Deadline. The winner of the contest would supposedly receive a 10-day trip to the space station that would be televised from launch to return to Earth. Space Hero is working with aerospace company Axiom Space, a startup that aims to build its own commercial space stations, according to Sept. 17 coverage in by Loren Grush. Meanwhile, it’s not just reality TV stars that are trying to capitalize on these new private space vehicles and NASA’s new commercial-friendly polices. NASA revealed that it is working with actor Tom Cruise to fly to the space station to film a movie. Additionally, NASA astronauts will be filming their first ads in the coming months. New Space Act Agreements have revealed that Estée Lauder will be sending up creams to the ISS on a cargo flight in November, and the astronauts will spend time filming and taking pictures of the products, New Scientist reports. Read the full story here: WEB WATCH
Fruit bats enjoy their 15 minutes of fame on Watch the Animals on Locked down? Well you can still travel through the animal kingdom by watching a variety of species, both in their natural habitats and living in conservation centers., founded by philanthropist Charles Annenberg Weingarten, features more than 170 different animal live cams. ?There are live views of the Channel Islands Kelp Forest, the West End Bald Eagle Cam on Catalina Island, the International Wolf Center in northern Minnesota, and Giant Flying Foxes in Gainesville, Florida (which is actually another name for a fruit bat, but bats are getting bad press these days). Take a Whipper In climbing a “whipper” is an especially hard or dynamic fall where the rope is weighed by a significant load. Now anyone can experience a whipper regardless of their skill level. A new thrill ride attraction being peddled to amusement parks or ski area adventure centers is called the ZipWhipper. Harnessed patrons have 20 seconds to climb as high up the wall as they can before time runs out, at which point the ZipWhipper takes over and pulls them to the top of the wall. The height climbed and time of each climber is recorded, allowing participants to compete against each other. At the top of the 50-ft. climbing wall, participants are given a second to look around and contemplate their height before the ZipWhipper drops them backwards into a breathtaking pendulum free fall, swinging them outward away from the wall. This part simulates a “lead fall” when rock climbing. It simulates the feeling of a drop that happens when you miss a clip rock climbing. No thanks. We prefer real climbing. See their promotional video here: BUZZ WORDS Antarctic Vocabulary If you are new to the ice, you’re a “Fingee,” which stands for “FNG,” which stands for “F*cking New Guy.” If you’re not a Fingee, if you have survived a winter down there, then you are an “OAE,” or “Old Antarctic Explorer.” If you are an OAE and you are finishing up another year on the ice, you are probably, in the eyes of a Fingee, a little “toasty,” based upon your appearance as someone who is ghastly pale, translucent even, plus grumpy and maladjusted. (Source: Sara Corbett, Out There: The Wildest Stories From Outside Magazine (Falcon, 2018) 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: @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 Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at

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.