Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Patagonia Toe Jam

Emerald Lake sits high above Ushuaia, about a 20 minute chartered bus ride from the hotel. The frigid water is the color of turquoise and the scenery here in the Patagonia region of southern Argentina sucks the very breath right out of you. Today's hike through a muddy bog up to the lake was yet another bonding experience for the 64 students and 24 adult chaperones who are preparing to leave civilization on Wednesday evening aboard the 100-passenger M/V Ushuaia.

Jim Raffan, guest lecturer, belives there are "F" days and "M" days. F days stand for "fine," when everything goes as planned. Borrrring. But then there are the "M" days which stand for "miserable" - when the conditions conspire to make you regret getting up in the morning. But Raffan believes those are the days you remember the rest of your life. To him, "m" also stands for "memories" as the Students on Ice team certainly experienced today.

So there we were, our expensive Lowa and Merrell boots set aside as we donned rented rubber boots - "Wellies" - for the six-mile roundtrip hike to the lake, a hike that saw some of us mired in knee-deep mud - an "M" day for sure. Christina and Simit, two students on the group, rescued one of the Argentinian guides from the rath of two Italian women who were smoking cigarettes on the trail and having a hissy fit about ruining their hiking boots. They obviously didn't get the memo about the need for rubber knee-highs. The climb up through the morass was fine, but try hiking downhill in floppy rubber boots. My big toes are crying the blues.

Dinner tonight was shared with Scobie Pye, 59, a professional Zodiac driver from Tasmania. Were it not for these sturdy twin-tubed rubber runabouts, landings on the Antarctic peninsula would not be possible. Pye tells me he's seen "Zodes" flip, but never on his watch. His big concern is with the huge cruise ships - 1000-1500 passengers each - that have begun to ply these waters. He wonders who's going to rescue the passengers if something goes wrong, "certainly not 100-passenger ships like the Ushuaia," he tells me. Luckily, the ships in the area book their landing sites in advance with a trade association to avoid conflicts and overcrowding that could likely occur when more than one ship vies for a visit to the same penguin colony."Antarctica is better off with smaller ships," he says.

Tonight before bedtime, Geoff Green, expedition leader, read us the drill on seasickness, a topic I'm sure I'll return to in a later blog as I share a common trait with Charles Darwin himself: a propensity towards mal de mar, tossing cookies, or as I once wrote after a disasterous English Channel crossing on a hovercraft in 1972: "saying hello to yesterday's lunch." Stay tuned. This could get interesting.

Monday, December 28, 2009

"The Luckiest People on Earth"

“In a few days time you’ll be among the luckiest people on earth,” said 38-year Antarctic veteran David Fletcher,former base station manager for the British Antarctic Survey. Fletcher’s was one of a series of classroom presentations here at the Hotel Del Glaciar, a combination ski/hiking/fishing lodge high on a hillside overlooking Ushuaia, Argentina.

Sixty-four students from throughout North America and parts of Europe and the Middle East are here tonight learning what Students on Ice (studentsonice.com) calls “polar fundamentals” – a comprehensive curricula designed to prepare the group for Wednesday, the start of a two-day, 600-mi. crossing of the legendary Drake Passage en route to the Antarctic peninsula.

Fletcher tells the students, “What you’ll see in Antarctica you’ll remember and talk about the rest of your lives … you’ll be staggered by what you see.”

Indeed. The students are excited about viewing wild penguins for the first time. Fletcher continues, “Don’t give them a human face, they deserve more respect than that.”

But first, another day of classroom talks, get-acquainted exercises, and a hike to nearby Emerald Lake for a mountainside picnic.

The students and their 24 chaperones, myself included, are beginning to gel, becoming a cohesive second family focused on making the most of every minute down here.

Fletcher again: “Be sure to put your cameras down occasionally and let Antarctica enter your heart. Take the time to absorb the greatest place on earth.”

Saturday, December 26, 2009

We're Off

After visiting my parents and getting suitably fattened up for the coming Antarctic journey, I reported to Miami Airport to meet the group - about 65 Canadian and U.S. high school students and about 20 adult chaperones. JN (that's his name), the ship doctor, tells me he has a supply of seasick patches, which is a good thing considering I get queesy on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World.

Everyone is pretty excited about the trip ahead as sappy Christmas music plays in the departure area (a welcome change from the sappy elevator music they usually play).

Gee, I hope they feed us on this Lan Chile flight to Santiago otherwise I'll be eating my leather boots like Capt. Robt. F. Scott, although my boots have a little road salt on them for extra flavor.

I expect to be offline until I can log on in Ushuaia just before we board the chartered research ship bound for the Antarctic
peninsula. It's the same vessel that hit rocks last year. Memo to self: Google "Argentina hull repair."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Expedition News Treks to Antarctica

We can’t just sit around while everyone else explores the world. Finally, the time has come for the “trip of our dreams.” Expedition News travels to Antarctica with Students on Ice this month (www.studentsonice.com). Log onto www.expeditionnews.blogspot.com for periodic updates, and be sure to catch our February issue for a full report. Think South.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tweet This!

Want to stay current on various expeditions in between issues of Expedition News? Here’s a tip for members of the Twittersphere: search #expedition. In late December there were dozens of expeditions posting tweets. Want to follow EN? Don’t bother. Truth be told, we’re not half as interesting as actor Ashton Kutcher, followed by 4.2 million people last time we looked.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

No Butts About It

Tired of the ubiquitous The North Face logo staring back at you from someone’s shoulder in line at Costco? Is the brand becoming, well, a little too popular on the subway or among non-climbing, non-outdoorsy pretzel vendors on Fifth Avenue? Well, just to knock the mighty TNF down a notch is a look-alike brand called The South Butt with a line of t-shirts, fleece jackets, shorts and hats.

TNF is none too pleased. Recently, The North Face Apparel Corp. issued holiday greetings to The South Butt, LLC by filing a federal lawsuit in St. Louis seeking to enjoin The South Butt from continuing to market and sell its parody apparel product line.

The suit, filed on December 10, 2009 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, also seeks damages from The South Butt, its founder, college freshman Jimmy Winkelmann, and a local St. Louis pharmacy through which on-site retail sales of The South Butt apparel are made.

The South Butt, a small St. Louis-based company, was started by 18-year-old Jimmy Winkelmann, to help his parents pay his college tuition at a state college. It puts out parody products which serve to effectively spoof North Face, employing the tag line, “Never Stop Relaxing” in contrast to the North Face line, “Never Stop Exploring.”

“The South Butt has previously made it clear to the North Face that the consuming public is insightful enough to know the difference between a face and a butt,” said Albert S. Watkins, legal counsel for The South Butt and Jimmy Winkelmann. “In every sense, The South Butt is prepared to assume the proverbial position and take everything that North Face thrusts at it,” added Watkins.

The skirmish between the two companies has garnered international media attention and has effectively been characterized as a contemporary Samson versus Goliath showdown.

The South Butt has initiated a tongue in cheek (pun intended) Internet challenge to hone the skills of the public in discerning the difference between a face and a butt. See it at: http://apps.facebook.com/south-butt-challenge/

Wary of TNF’s legal eagles, the South Butt folks offer this Web site disclaimer, “We are not in any fashion related to nor do we want to be confused with The North Face Apparel Corp. or its products sold under ‘The North Face’ brand. If you are unable to discern the difference between a face and a butt, we encourage you to buy North Face products.” (For more information: www.thesouthbutt.com)

Job Opening - Work for the AAC

Major Gifts Position Open

The American Alpine Club (AAC) seeks to add a dynamic member to its senior staff as Major Gifts Officer. The position requires a minimum of five years of experience in development, with direct experience soliciting funds from individuals and foundations. This position will be an integral part of the AAC team as the club expands programs, grows membership, and prepares for its next capital fund campaign. Candidates should have extraordinary organizational skills, a passion for the outdoors, and be capable of working directly with donors. The position reports to the executive director, and the right candidate will be a part of the senior leadership team. Resumes and cover letters should be sent electronically by January 11, 2010, to Janet Miller: jmiller@americanalpineclub.org. A full job description is available at www.americanalpineclub.org/pt/majorgiftsofficerjobdescription. `

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Want to Go to Ecuador?

Kurt Diemberger and Martin Torresquintero are heading out to Ecuador on January 6, 2010. They are offering a super good deal on air travel (under $400 on LAN RT from JFK) and still have space on the Land Cruiser for another couple of climbers. They plan to shoot mountain photo and video, hang out in Papapllacta and climb Antisana.

For more information:

Martin Torresquintero
MT Mountain Guiding
PO Box 2986
New Haven CT 06513-3925 USA

Clif Maloney's Friends Hike Hudson Highlands

We're sorry we missed this event. Here's a report from the head of the AAC's New York section:

Clif, who perished on September 28 on Cho Oyu, after becoming the oldest American to summit an 8000 meter peak, trained assiduously in the Hudson Highlands, about 50 miles north of Manhattan, across the river from West Point. On a beautiful, Indian Summer type of day, about 30 New York Section members gathered to remember Clif, in the way he would have most appreciated, by hiking the very same trails he spent so many hours climbing in preparation for his quest for the Seven Summits. Two groups summited Breakneck Ridge via different routes and a third group hiked the carriage trails around and visited the Osborne Castle in Garrison. After a full day of outdoor activities, the group gathered at the Galligan’s in Cold Spring for a sumptuous cocktail party and buffet dinner. Among the attendees were Carolyn Maloney, Clif’s widow, and their two daughters Christina and Virginia.
Our thanks go to Vic Benes who organized the outdoor activities and to the Galligan’s for their warm and welcoming hospitality.

Phil Erard
NY Section Chair

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blah, Blah, Blah

How do you get someone to pay for the trip of your dreams? Come to an upcoming book talk.

Dec. 29-Jan. 5 - The M/V Ushuaia, somewhere off the coast of Antarctica. Part of Studentsonice.com trip.

Feb. 2, 2010 – Boulder, Colo. Library

Feb. 3, 2010 – Brad Washburn American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colo.

Feb. 9, 2010 – AMC Club, St. Thomas Church, 95 Greenwood Avenue, Bethel, Conn.

Feb. 10, 2010 - Richmond Memorial Library, Marlborough, Conn., www.richmondlibrary.info

Feb. 18, 2009 - The Learning Annex, New York City

Feb. 27, 2009 - Southington (Conn.) Library

Apr. 12, 2010 – Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo, Fla.

May 28, 2010 - Senior Men's Club of New Canaan (Conn.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mountain Stories Come to The Explorers Club, Oct. 17

On Oct. 17, The Explorers Club presents a public event titled, Mountain Stories: Mountaineering in the 21st Century – Challenges & Opportunities. The event will honor six outstanding individuals who have made their mark in mountaineering and exploration – presentations ranging from mountain exploration to traditional mountain climbing disciplines. Featured speakers are:

• Robert Anderson, FN '87 - Mountain Guide, Everest summiteer, and author of Seven Summits Solo and Antonovs over the Arctic, Mr. Anderson will discuss the challenges of Antarctic climbing.

• Graham Bowley – Graham is a New York Times reporter who has had numerous assignments in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Graham will be discussing the challenges facing K-2 climbers.

• Ken Kamler, MD, FR '84 – A nationally recognized surgeon, explorer and climber who has made significant and lasting contributions to the advancement and practice of extreme medicine in some of the most remote regions on Earth.

• Jennifer Lowe-Anker – Artist and author of Forget Me Not, a beautifully written story of great love, and a tribute to Alex Lowe and his "tribe" of climbers.

• Kevin Mahoney – A UIAGM certified mountain guide and Mountain Hardwear-sponsored climber from New Hampshire. Juggling his time between his family, and his own guide service, Mahoney has been nominated for the "Piolet d'Or" for the first ascent of Arctic Rage on the "Moose's Tooth" in Alaska.

• Freddie Wilkenson & Janet Bergman – New England-based Mountain Hardwear-sponsored professional climbers and mountain guides. Freddie was the 2007 recipient of the Robert Hicks Bates Award for young climbers. He and Janet will
discuss the challenges confronting young climbers in the 21st century.

(Admission $60; for more information contact The Explorers Club, 212 628 8383, Reservations@ Explorers.org)

Cool Sled - The Concept Ice Vehicle

In November 2010, Andrew Moon and Andrew Regan, long-time fellow explorers from the Cayman Islands and Geneva respectively, will lead the Moon-Regan TransAntarctic Expedition, a 3,000-mile motorized expedition using two Science Support Vehicles and a bizarre-looking Concept Ice Vehicle (CIV), sort of a cross between a snowmobile and an ultralight airplane.

Once in Antarctica they will depart from Patriot Hills, ascending nearly 10,000 feet to the Polar plateau en route to the South Pole. From there the team travels north to McMurdo Station on the coast. This final leg of the journey is expected to be the most dangerous – the risk of unstable and unpredictable crevasses becomes even more real as they cross the ice shelf, necessitating the use of Ice Penetrating Radar (IPR) to avoid crevasses.

Polar researchers often rely on planes and big road trains pulled by tracked vehicles. Moon and Regan hope to demonstrate that wheeled utility vehicles powered by biofuels can provide an effective means of transport for research teams working on the ice.

Moon and Regan will be using two six-wheel-drive Science Support Vehicles (SSVs) to transport team members and their equipment, one of which has been tried and tested on their Ice Challenger Expedition in 2005. The original SSV was adapted by a team of engineers in Iceland, who dedicated 2,000 manhours to creating the perfect ice-busting expedition vehicle.

The Ice Vehicle, developed by Lotus, is capable of coping with the extreme conditions of the Antarctic. In order to traverse the variable sub-zero terrain at speeds up to 84 mph, the futuristic-looking Ice Vehicle travels atop three independently suspended skids (skis) and is powered by a modified, rear mounted, bio-fueled engine that reduces emissions by 70 percent. It is capable of operating in temperatures as low as –72 C (–98 F).

Designed and engineered by Formula 1 chassis designer Kieron Bradley and Polar guide Jason de Carteret, it is light enough to be man-hauled across rough terrain. The Ice Vehicle will travel ahead of the two heavier support vehicles to ensure that the ice surface is safe.

During the trip, the team hopes to draw attention to the plight of the Antarctic climate by conducting science experiments that demonstrate just how important the Polar regions are to the world’s environmental stability.

They will also visit Scott's hut at Cape Evans to draw attention to the work of the Antarctic Heritage Trust preserving the history of Antarctica and to raise
awareness about Antarctica in the centenary year of the Race to the Pole by Admunsen and Scott. They have established an educational Web site, www.juniorpolartraveller.com, to educate and inspire children about the Polar regions.

Andrew Moon, 50, and Andrew Regan, 45, previously journeyed to the North and South Poles. They met skiing to the South Pole in 2004, and in 2005 teamed up to successfully lead the mechanized Ice Challenger Expedition, a journey from the coast of Antarctica to the geographic South Pole. The trip was completed in 69 hours. For the TransAntarctic Expedition, the co-leaders will be accompanied by a support team including an expedition logistics expert, two mechanics, a cameraman, a Polar photographer and a communications expert. (For more information: www.transantarcticexpedition.com)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Q & A With Vern Tejas


Checking in with Professional Guide Vern Tejas

As EN enters its 16th year next month, we’ve created this new feature wherein we attempt in this age of instant communications, short attention spans, blogs, vlogs, Twitters and tweets to check in with some of our favorite people Out There, asking the first 10 questions that pop into our fertile brain.

Vern Tejas, 56, a senior mountain guide for Alpine Ascents International, is best known for Denali’s first solo winter ascent, the first solo of Mt. Vinson (Antarctica’s highest), first winter ascent of Mt. Logan (Canada’s highest) and as lead guide for Col. Norman Vaughan’s first ascent of Mt. Vaughan in Antarctica.

We caught up with Tejas (pronounced Tey-Has) in Grand Central Station after he changed out of his sweaty workout clothes, having rollerbladed up from the West Village. ("Don't you get stares changing in the Mens room?" we asked. He laughs, "I use a stall since there are no phone booths any longer.”)

Over a frightfully expensive Chop Chop Cobb salad and chicken wrap we began our probe.

What brings a hard-core Talkeetna, Alaska guide to the canyons of New York?

"Love, pure and simple. I fell (if you pardon the expression) for a New York M & A attorney named Carole Schiffman. She was a climber on one of my guided trips and we hit it off after we returned home. It was the first marriage for both of us.”

Where did you finally tie the knot?

"After dating for 19 weeks in 2007 we were on a climb together in Antarctica on Mt. Vinson. When we discovered that fellow guide Todd Passey, a former missionary, was still ordained to perform marriage ceremonies, we decided right on the summit ridge that there was no better place than the top of Vinson to exchange vows.”

"Carole would later joke that she was suffering from hypoxia at the time."

Is a wedding ceremony in Antarctica legal?

"Well, not exactly. We satisfied the bureaucrats back home a few months later with a civil ceremony at City Hall in New York, decorated with plastic flowers that looked like they were there for decades.”

"It’s a good thing we made it official. About two months later, after returning from Everest, I became seriously ill and was hospitalized with blood poisoning. I qualified, as her spouse, for health insurance and we could take advantage of the fine health care that this city has to offer. So I guess you can say our marriage and Carole’s quick action saved my life.”

What's next for you?

“I am fortunate to hold the record for the number of times anyone has climbed the Seven Summits - eight. Now I want to re-claim my record for the fastest time. Ian McKeever completed all seven in 156 days, beating my record by 30 days. I think I can go back and knock off another round of the Seven Summits in 150 days next season.”

You had a prostate cancer scare. Will that figure into the attempt?

“Yes, this time around I hope to raise awareness of the disease which I seem to have under control currently. Cancer of the prostate is the most common form of cancer among men in the developed world. It’s estimated that there are 230,000 new cases in the United States alone each year. It’s high time we develop a better understanding of how to deal with this killer.”

How supportive is your wife in your career?

“Carole is wonderfully supportive of my guiding life and understands the call of the wild. We love to climb together and eventually hope to co-guide together.”

How do you train while stuck in the concrete jungle?

“New York is a surprisingly outdoor city. I bike the West Side Highway, Rollerblade to meetings, even unicycle. To train for Vinson, we dragged tires across the Brooklyn Bridge. The comments from passing New Yorkers were priceless:

"'Hey mister? What happened to the rest of your car?'

"'You know, if you put that tire up on edge, it'll roll better.'”

What's the biggest difference between Talkeetna and New York?

"New York has better bagels."

How has the guiding business evolved?

"Well, I'll have to give Dick Bass a big kiss for 'inventing' the concept of the Seven Summits in 1984-85. Paradoxically, the publicity surrounding the Everest disaster of 1996 also generated interest in guided climbs. Since then I've helped a lot of people fulfill their dreams.”

Finally, in a shameless bout of self promotion, we couldn't resist asking: How's it feel to be the cover boy of the new book, "You Want to Go Where?"

“I had to look closely when I first saw Gordon Wiltsie's image of me. It was taken on a serac on Norman Vaughan's namesake mountain in Antarctica in 1994. I recognize my parka and my boots, which I still own. I wound up buying three copies of the book. My mother is going to love it.”

Fuzz Aldrin?

This t-shirt offered on www.uberapparatus.com made us laugh. But we wonder what Buzz thinks of it. Can you spell "cease and desist?"

Friday, August 28, 2009

Washburn Camera Images Return From Space

The American Mountaineering Center in Golden, Colo., will host a gathering on Sept. 30 to exhibit the last pictures ever taken from Bradford Washburn's camera, pictures taken from outer space. NASA Astronaut John Grunsfeld, a long-time member of the American Alpine Club, brought the camera on his recent mission to repair the Hubble. On Sept. 30 Grunsfeld will return the camera for all to see, talk about the mission, and unveil the photos which for a limited time will be displayed in the museum alongside some of Washburn's personal favorites. (For more information: www.mountaineeringmuseum.org).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Doggie Bags Climbing Wall

On the first day of the Outdoor Retailer 2009 Summer Market, the huge outdoor trade show in Salt Lake last month, the climbing wall went to the dogs when Ruff Wear unveiled its new DoubleBack Harness for man's-best-friend. One might be confused as to why a dog would even need a climbing harness since they are physically unable to go up cliffs, so Ruff Wear got an adorable dog into the harness to demonstrate it.

Turns out that there are many ways a dog-specific climbing harness can be used, including climbing, mountaineering, canyoneering, and helping dogs up and down steep and exposed terrain in the high country. It's a good bet that most outdoor enthusiasts are also dog lovers, and would always prefer to have their best friends along for every hike and climb. Now they can, even in the most harsh areas, as a dog can easily be lifted and lowered with the Ruff Wear DoubleBack Harness.

The harness was conceived in 2002 and finally is ready to go to market. Features include strength ratings to 2,000 lbf, anodized aluminum buckles, adjustable Martingale collar (the kind that restrains without choking) to customize fit, a rope tie-in point, padded belly support and adjustable frame and leg loops.

Ruff Wear drew a large crowd to the climbing wall inside the Salt Palace Convention Center as they lifted a dog up into the air and let it hang out. It seemed to be very comfortable and relaxed inside its harness as it looked around at everyone taking pictures. The demonstration made it clear that as long as a dog owner builds good anchors, he can safely raise or lower his pet over just about anything. 

Friday, July 31, 2009

The First Time She Met Will Steger

Jennifer Kimball Gasperini, a good friend and former employee, was inspired by my book You Want to Go Where? (Skyhorse Publishing 2009) to write her own account of when she first became immersed in the world of polar exploration. That's Jennifer with Will Steger's Resolute Bay base station manager, Jim Gasperini (see rugged looking dude in beard and cap), who she would later marry. That's Will Steger during one of the rare moments he wore a tie.  


Just two weeks on the job as a PR account executive for a firm on the 66th floor of the Empire State Building, I walked into New York's prestigious Explorers Club with an air of confident sophistication.  On this cold January day, I would make my debut to both the New York media and my sole client at a press conference.  As the crowd gathered, my boss introduced me to our client representative, Wayne.  After welcoming me to the team, he asked for a favor.  I was in a position to please; whatever it was, I would do it.

"Our model didn't show up today.  Are you willing to be our clothing model for the conference?"  Of course there was only one answer:  "Sure."  In minutes, I was handed a dark garment and set off to the ladies room.  I changed out of my stylish linen skirt and pressed white blouse and slipped into the first item of the fashion show.  My nose detected a terrible odor but I kept my composure and walked out to face the audience:  photographers and writers from  Sports Illustrated, Vogue, USA Today, The New York Times and others. 

There I stood, cameras flashing from every direction, in a full suit of Thermax thermal underwear.  I soon learned that the synthetic underwear,

made of high-tech hollow fibers produced by Du Pont, had recently been worn on a training trip, a dogsled journey in the high Arctic, led by Will Steger, the featured guest of our press conference.  I'm certain it had not been washed since.  Will Steger lived in a remote cabin in northeast

Minnesota, just miles from the Canadian border.  He had no running water or electricity.   His life-long goal was to recreate Admiral Peary's famed 1909 dogsled expedition to the North Pole.  Despite National Geographic's endorsement of Peary, many experts disputed his claim that he had actually reached the geographic North Pole.  

Will, who ran a wilderness training school in the deep woods, had logged hundreds of  miles of dogsled travel in the high Arctic.  If anyone could put this journey to the test, it was he. He had gathered a select team of six experienced team members, trained 42 sled dogs, and raised enough money for flights to start and finish.   

Du Pont had agreed to be the lead sponsor of his 500-mile journey.  Their goal: to demonstrate that if their fibers, woven into thermal underwear, sleeping bags, socks, and jackets, could keep a team of polar explorers safe and warm, they were certainly good enough for the average outdoors enthusiast.

On top of the the long underwear, I donned layer upon layer of insulated clothing:  an insulated jumpsuit, a hooded jacket with a fur ruff made of

coyote, insulated socks and beaver mitts.  As I dressed, Will Steger regaled the crowd with the benefits of each item.  Despite the cold outside, the pre-war building was over-heated and I broke out in a sweat.   Just when I thought I might faint,  I was asked to climb into a huge sleeping bag, demonstrating how the team would sleep, fully dressed in frigid temperatures well below zero.   In the nick of time, I was released to the ladies room to reclaim my more shapely, and sweet-smelling attire. 

I had never met anyone like Will Steger.  A small, wiry fellow, I couldn't imagine how he would survive the demanding trip over floating sea and rubble ice for 500 miles by ski and dogsled; but, his charisma immediately captivated me.  He stayed close by my side through much of the press conference and, time and again calling me by my childhood name, Jenny.  Only close frends and family called me that.  He acted as if we had known one another for years, yet we had just met that day.  It later became clear to me that he saw in me the key to his future.  If I could generate enough media coverage of his journey, his role as a world-renowned explorer would be set in stone. 

The press conference was a huge success.  Over a white lunch of Arctic char with cream sauce, rice pilaf and white asparagus, with Baked Alaska for dessert,  I be-friended many key media contacts.  As everyone departed, they were given large plush polar bears.  A few hours later, our staff and client met with Will and his co-leader Paul Schurke for dinner at the famed Oak Room Restaurant.  When asked how he wanted his steak cooked, Will answered, "just walk it through the kitchen."  At a large round table in the dark wood-paneled restaurant, I was seated next to Will and had the opportunity to ask many questions about his life, expeditions, dogs and the Arctic.  This information I stored away, drawing on it over the next four months as I cold-called media for front page coverage of a remarkable story.

Later, standing outside the restaurant, Will took me aside and told me that I would be in regular contact with his base camp manager, Jim Gasperini, during their training and 50-day journey.  He gave me a phone number and a sideways hug, then disappeared into the maelstrom that is  New York City at night.  I would not see or talk to him again until May 1, when his team returned triumphant after 56-days of hardship, many pounds lighter and skin blackened with frosbite.

Note to Self: No More High-marking

This is an amazing video of a snowmobiler practicing the art of high-marking. Only this time, the motorhead triggered an avalanche. It happened April 4, 2009 near Valmont, BC, Canada. If this doesn't make you sick, nothing will, aye?

See what we mean by logging onto:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Internet Opens Doors for Explorers

By Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY, July 1, 2009

For someone crisscrossing oceans in a 70-foot sailboat to stay at sea for 1,000 days without stops or resupplies, Reid Stowe (pictured) is one of the planet's most accessible people — online.

His 1000days.net — for a voyage which started from New Jersey on April 21, 2007 — offers far more than daily entries such as Friday's post noting "the breaking wavetops spoke to me" or his explaining Sunday that "for me, speaking to you is speaking to God." The site also has satellite tracking, video, audio, an online store, a handy way to use Paypal to pay $20-$49 to become an official "seaman" and listings of at least 33 corporate sponsors backing the venture.

Jeff Blumenfeld, who publishes Expedition News and wrote a new book called You Want to Go Where? that explains how explorers can get sponsorships, notes money was drying up for expeditions until the Internet arrived because sponsors didn't see much payoff. "And then sponsors started to get it," he says. "These wouldn't be explorers who'd take off and you wouldn't hear from them for months. Online, you'd get exposure from them constantly."

Lots of expeditions were able to get backing, he says, that "would have had no chance without the Internet." Like the explorer who hit golf balls across Mongolia, a driver who went across Europe in a truck powered by vegetable oil scavenged from restaurants and a mountain biker pedaling from North America's lowest spot — Death Valley — to its highest — Mount McKinley's peak.

Online, Stowe has chronicled plenty of drama — wild storms, exotic sealife and his girlfriend, Soanya Ahmad becoming pregnant and going ashore — even as he mixes in shout-outs to sponsors who make his isolation possible. Says Blumenfeld: "Without the Internet, he'd just be the Kon-Tiki."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Take a Hike

Maybe he should have been on a hike after all. When Mark Sanford, 49, the conservative Republican South Carolina governor, ditched his security detail this month, turned off his cell phone, and told his staff he was going to hike the legendary Appalachian Trail, he said he wanted to clear his head. Maybe do some writing after a stressful three months.

Blogs and comics had a field day even before he admitted to the real reason for his absence. Rather than commune with nature, he flew south for an extramarital affair with a “friend” in Argentina. But cry not. Outdoor industry executives – the people who make packs, boots, and trekking poles – rejoiced. The big winner in the Sanford affair is the trail itself, which received enormous publicity nationwide, including route maps published in major media and stories mentioning the trail on the evening news. In fact, at one point this week, there were 1.1 million Google hits for “Appalachian Trail Sanford.”

“Just the mere suggestion that highly stressed politicians can seek solace by hiking the Appalachian Trail plants a positive image in the minds of outdoor enthusiasts everywhere,” said Greg Wozer, vice president of LEKI USA, makers of trekking poles. “While we haven’t noticed a run on our trail equipment, this kind of exposure in newspapers, magazines and on radio and television reaching by millions certainly doesn’t hurt.”

Wozer continues, “I am sorry for the pain caused to his family and the good folks of South Carolina, but am certainly glad he didn’t decide to go lie on a beach somewhere.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Iceland's Westman Islanders Dig It

From time to time we like to check in with the hardy Westman Islanders off the southern coast of Iceland – hardy because the only way to reach the island is to fly in small planes that are often cancelled due to weather, or journey on a three-hour ferry with large stacks of innocent looking Chinese take-out boxes in their passenger lounges – only they’re not for Chinese food. Spend some time on board during a rough day and you’ll know what we mean. As the saying goes, once afflicted by seasickness you become afraid you’re going to die; then as the feeling gets worse, you worry that you won’t. Hardy is right.

Within sight of the sheer, towering walls that millions of puffins call home, volunteers and researchers are continuing to uncover the remains of some of the 417 properties destroyed when Heimaey (current pop. 4,100) experienced a volcanic eruption in 1973 that covered one-third of the town in up to 20 meters of lava and ash. In fact, as you drive around, the streetlights are marked 12 to 15 feet high to show the depth of the ash over three decades ago.

This summer, Kristin Johannsdottir (pictured) is leading a modern-day archaeological dig to uncover a section of town – now protected by black netting – where the homes were merely boiled in steam from hot ash; other homes, totally engulfed in molten lava, are beyond rescue. Johannsdottir’s team is targeting about 10 homes which, although their top floors are crushed, are thought to have well-preserved basements. Clothes probably still hang in closets, pictures still on the walls.

While backhoes do the heavy work, volunteers are needed to shovel close to the buildings as homeowners, long-ago compensated by the government for their property, hope to seek return of their family heirlooms and keepsakes. Like the Pompeii of old, it promises to be a trip back in time, or at least back to the Seventies. (For more information: www.pompeinordursins.is).

Friday, May 29, 2009

Got an Adventure Book to Launch? You Want to Go to the Explorers Club

If you had an adventure book to promote, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place for a launch party than the prestigious Explorers Club in New York. That’s where we chose to introduce to media “You Want to Go Where,” scheduled for publication on June 17. The event was hosted by the Iceland Tourist Board and IcelandNaturally.com in honor of one chapter that retells the story of an Icelandic sea captain who hand-built a replica Viking ship and sailed it to the New World in 2000. That’s Einar Gustavsson of the Iceland Tourist Board in the middle. Far left is famed adventure photographer Gordon Wiltsie whose image of Vern Tejas on the summit of Mt. Vaughan in Antarctica was selected for the cover of the book. Author Jeff Blumenfeld is far right.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

You Want to Go Where? Without a Net?

This month we offer another exclusive sneak preview of one of our favorite and never-before-told adventure projects, an anecdote that will appear in You Want to Go Where: How to Get Someone to Pay for the Trip of Your Dreams by EN editor Jeff Blumenfeld (Skyhorse Publishing, publication date: June 17).

It’s one thing to capture an image in the field, and quite another to transmit it back home almost instantaneously to a waiting audience of armchair explorers. Today anyone can link their digital camera to a satellite telephone from the most backwater regions of the planet, then onto the Internet. But it wasn’t always that easy. I pushed technology to the edge in October 1995 when I hired a Brooklyn-based news photographer named Mark D. Phillips to photograph a tightrope walk—to this day history’s longest and highest—across China’s Qutang Gorge, the most spectacular of the fabled Three Gorges.

But the word “tightrope” doesn’t do it justice. Listen to former circus performer Jay Cochrane, a thin, intense, milk-drinking athlete in his sixties with impossibly orange-blonde hair, and he’ll tell you it was a high-wire “skywalk.” Listen to my father, a retired but still savvy menswear retail consultant from seventh avenue, and he’ll say, “schmuck! You have a tightrope walker for a client? Better get your money up front!”

Jay, nicknamed the “Prince of the Air,” became a client when he was looking to promote his plans to walk 2,098 feet, some 1,340-feet above the Yangtze river. The Chinese hired the wirewalker to bring international attention to the Three Gorges dam, the largest of its kind ever constructed, and deflect some of the criticism for the many cities and towns that would be inundated. We brought in Mark Phillips because we needed an image of the feat, and we needed it fast, sent by telephone modem to the closest wire service. Easier said than done.

Base camp was Fengjie, a historic city in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality about to be submerged by the dam. First we needed a signature photo. One image that would communicate death-defying heights, an exotic location, and just one man, one wire, and a forty-five-foot balance pole. Mark stationed himself on the far end, waiting for Jay to complete his fifty-three-minute crossing in front of an estimated 200,000 Chinese spectators, and another 200 million watching on television across the country.

Photography is all about access, being in the right place at the right time, so Mark spent two weeks scouting the best position for himself and his camera equipment. Scrambling down to a narrow ledge, just below Jay, below the supports for the unforgiving 1-1⁄4-inch braided steel wire rope spanning the gorge, it was now or never. He fired off dozens of frames of film with his Nikon f3. When Jay simultaneously lifted one hand and one foot, we had our money shot.

Mark raced back to his room in a seedy hotel, developed the film in water that housekeepers boiled for him, and dried the color negatives with a hair dryer. He placed the color negatives into a scanner, then tried to secure a clear open telephone line to Agence France-Presse in Hong Kong. The transmission over the hotel’s single long distance circuit continued to crash. Finally, after sitting on his hotel-room floor attempting to connect for four hours, he managed to complete one seventeen-minute transmission. AFP distributed the image worldwide, and Jay made it into the record books.

Mark believes his digital transmission was one of, if not the first from an independent photojournalist sent from this rural region of the country.

“It was at the cusp of digital photography,” he remembers. Mark would later become embroiled in controversy when a photo he took of the 9/11 disaster, an image shot from the rooftop of his Brooklyn home, seemed to show the face of Satan in the smoke enveloping the World Trade Center. The photo was sent worldwide over the newswires, and a media frenzy ensued when it began appearing on front pages nationwide. Mark was accused of doctoring the image for private gain, but was eventually vindicated when Olympus technicians verified the authenticity of the digital image. It was a case of pareidolia, the same phenomenon that makes people believe they can see the face of Mother Teresa in a cinnamon bun.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Sneak Peak at "You Want to Go Where?"

Many of the adventure and expedition stories familiar to the readers of Expedition News will be retold in a new book from Skyhorse Publishing called You Want to Go Where? Written by EN editor Jeff Blumenfeld, it explains how with the right idea and proper advance preparation, it is possible to raise thousands of dollars in cash and outdoor gear and apparel for worthy adventures or expeditions. The book will be released June 1 and is currently available on Amazon.com for pre-order. Here’s a sneak peak exclusive to readers of EN.

There’s gold in them thar hills – discover the support just waiting for you. Here’s a look at expedition grants available to worthy adventurers and explorers. If you’re in need of money – and frankly, who isn’t? – here are a few of the grant programs covered in the book.

American Alpine Club

The Club’s grants program awards over $50,000 annually to cutting-edge climbing expeditions, research projects, humanitarian efforts, and conservation programs. They include:

• AAC Research Grants – AAC Research Grants typically range from $500 to $2,000 and are given annually as a means for researchers to obtain critical seed funding to help secure sustainable funding opportunities. In 2008, 12 individuals were selected and a total of nearly $10,000 was awarded through various funds.

Proposals varied from study of the effects of atmospheric nitrogen deposition on alpine lakes to arterial oxygen saturation as a predictor of next-day acute mountain sickness. (www.americanalpineclub.org)

• Mountain Fellowship Grants—Since 1966, The American Alpine Club has encouraged young American climbers age twenty-five and younger to seek remote climbs more difficult than they might ordinarily be able to attempt.

Any unexplored mountain ranges, unclimbed peaks, and difficult new routes are looked upon with favor, as is any project in keeping with the charter and purpose of the Club. In 2008, five climbers with an average age of twenty-two received a total of $3,900 in funding for trips around the world. (www.americanalpineclub.org)

Banff Centre for Mountain Culture Grant

The Banff Mountain Grants Program supports projects that communicate the stories of mountain landscapes as places of ecological, inspirational, and cultural value, and that celebrate the spirit of adventure. Grant officials say the communications portion has to be central to the project—not “well maybe when I get home I’ll go on the road with some slides.”

Individuals or organizations may apply for grants of up to $5,000 (Canadian) to fund projects that creatively interpret the environment, natural history, human heritage, arts, philosophy, lifestyle, and adventure, in and of the mountains. Projects must include a communications component (such as film, literature, photography) that brings the project before a public audience. (www.banffcentre.ca)

Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation

Each year, The Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation provides grants of up to $10,580 (a symbolic amount representing the cost of the Spirit of St. Louis) to men and women whose individual initiative and work in a wide spectrum of disciplines furthers the Lindberghs’ vision of a balance between the advance of technology and the preservation of the natural/human environment. (www.lindberghfoundation.org)

Earth and Space Foundation Award

In Mexico, a caving expedition studies human performance in extreme environments to improve astronaut selection. In the Sudan an expedition uses remote sensing from satellites to study savannah flood plains to improve the productivity of rice crops. In Antarctica researchers study microorganisms in ice and snow to try to understand possible habitats for life in cold extraterrestrial environments. Since 1994, these and other projects have been honored by Earth and Space Awards that have helped deepen the mutually beneficial connections between environmentalism and the exploration of space.

The Foundation offers five Earth and Space Awards each year to expeditions that further the vision of “the earth as an oasis cared for by a space-faring civilization.” Awards are approximately $500 each. (www.earthandspace.org)

Hans Saari Memorial Fund Exploration Grant (HSMF)

The HSMF Exploration Grant offers ski mountaineers an opportunity to receive grants for projects that expand the realm of ski mountaineering through technically challenging routes or uniquely inspirational exploration. Recipients are individuals whose goals reflect the belief that mountains are an integral part of the lives of the people who live amongst them and that physical achievement is only one component of the ski mountaineering experience.

In 2008, four grants totaling $15,000 were awarded for expeditions to the Kamchatka Peninsula, Alaska’s Tordrillo Mountains, and the Caucasus Range straddling the Republic of Georgia and Russia. The award was established in 2001, following the death of Hans Saari, a renowned writer and adventure columnist who was highly regarded for his ski expeditions, many of which yielded first descents of some the world’s most challenging peaks. (www.hansfund.org)

Journey of a Lifetime Award

A £4,000 travel budget is available for an original and challenging journey to result in a documentary for BBC Radio 4. The aim of the award is to promote global understanding. The journey planned must be interesting and original enough to form the content of a BBC radio documentary. (www.rgs.org/grants)

Land Rover “Go Beyond” Bursary

Run by the Royal Geographical Society on behalf of Land Rover, this award provides £10,000 funding and the use of a 110 Defender vehicle to help the successful participants “go beyond” when exploring their understanding of a particular geographical concept. The loan of a vehicle must be essential to the journey and you’ll need a U.K. driver’s license. (www.rgs.org/grants)

Mugs Stump Award

Mugs Stump was one of North America's most prolific and imaginative climbers until his death in a crevasse fall in Alaska in May 1992. The Mugs Stump Award has helped committed climbers fulfill their dreams of fast, lightweight ascents in the world’s high places since 1993. Proposed climbs should present an outstanding challenge – a first ascent, significant repeat, or first alpine-style ascent – with special emphasis placed on climbers leaving no trace of their passage.

Teams and individuals from North America are eligible. You don’t have to be famous, and both men and women are encouraged to apply. If you share Mugs’ vision of climbing as a celebration of boldness, purity, and simplicity, and have the determination to bring your dream to life, this award can help make it happen. (www.mugsstumpaward.com)

Rolex Awards for Enterprise

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise provide visionary men and women with the financial support and recognition needed to carry out innovative projects. Awards are presented every two years and focus on improving the planet and the human condition. Categories include Exploration and Discovery, and the Environment.

In 2010, five young Laureates (aged 18 to 30) will be selected; in 2012, five Laureates and five Associate Laureates will be chosen from among applicants of any age, nationality, or background. Young Laureate candidates cannot apply; they must be nominated by individuals or institutions selected by Rolex. Laureates receive cash prizes and Rolex chronometers. To win, projects must be original, breaking new ground in a creative and innovative manner. (www.rolexawards.com)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Plush Peary, the Polar Pitchman, Meets Al Roker

The late Robert E. Peary received his 15 minutes of posthumous fame, at least in effigy, on April 6, 2009, the centennial of his historic North Pole expedition. Several alumni of Bowdoin College in Maine, the explorer’s alma mater (Class of 1877), made a brief appearance on NBC's Today Show, armed with plush Peary dolls. Wearing matching Bowdoin shirts, the group interacted with weatherman Al Roker in New York City's Rockefeller Plaza outside the popular morning show’s studios. Roker hammed it up with one of the Peary dolls, repeatedly holding it up to the camera for a close-up.

The soft sculpture doll made exclusively for the museum is dressed in traditional Inuit clothing and carries a flag created for Peary by his wife, Josephine, which he carried on all his expeditions. Each time he reached his farthest north point, he cut a piece from the flag and put it in a cache. When he reached the North Pole he cut a long strip from the flag and left it at the northernmost point on the earth. The Plush Peary is available in the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum gift shop and sells for $16. Proceeds support outreach initiatives. (www.bowdoin.edu)

Saturday, April 11, 2009


If you believe an “adventure” is simply an expedition gone awry, then freelance adventure writer Christian DeBenedetti’s The Accidental Extremist Web site is for you (www.theaccidentalextremist.com). It’s for those who have experienced travel mishaps and aren’t afraid to share how foolhardy, careless, and recklessly arrogant they may have been on the road.

It's said to be the Web's first online home for the darkly comical side of travel, the side presented when the wheels come off entirely. Because travel isn't just palm trees and coconuts. Often, it's much more interesting — and hilarious. Though it's only been around a few months, the user-generated site has generated brisk traffic (a recent day: 2,700 views) thanks to submissions by talented writers both known and unknown.

At great expense to my personal pride, I submitted a particularly memorable and potentially life-changing/ending encounter with an Icelandic horse. You can see it here:


Smarter Than Your Average Beer

Savvy marketers at the Icelandic brewery Ölgerdin Egill Skallagrímsson have reintroduced a brew called Polar Beer which was initially produced for British troops based in the country. “When British troops were sent to Iceland in WW II, they expected hardship, but they did not anticipate a lack of beer. And although the Arctic island’s inhabitants were not allowed to brew, sell or drink beer for another 59 years, special provisions were made to make sure the soldiers would get their pint as usual,” said an Ölgerdin press release.

A recent teaser campaign involved placing claw marks throughout Reykjavik, the capital city of this Ohio-sized island nation in the North Atlantic. We think the name is smart; after all, what else would you drink up near the Arctic Circle, perhaps with broiled Icelandic sheep’s head (called svid), or a nice plate of nasty, foul-tasting hakarl – rotten and fermented shark meat? We came across a few six-packs recently at the Keflavik Airport south of town, but preferred instead to stock up on skyr, an addictive yogurt-like dessert that the locals seemingly mainline.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Need Money for Exploring? Try Selling Thongs

In 15 years of covering expeditions, well, this is a first. The 50 Years - 50 States - 50 Speeches Expedition is raising money through sales of a wide variety of imprinted wearables, including this thong for $9.99. It gives new meaning to the term: expedition support.

Thong sales are the brainchild of Dr. David E. Guggenheim, the self-professed "Ocean Doctor." He launched a one-year journey of outreach, education, and discovery on his 50th birthday last October. The project aims to bring free programs about the oceans to schools in all 50 U.S. states. In April alone, Guggenheim has scheduled talks at five schools, from Washington to Texas to Florida and Maine. By its culmination at the end of 2009, the expedition will reach tens of thousands of students, sharing firsthand accounts of ocean exploration and important lessons about the oceans and their conservation.

The expedition is a joint project of The Ocean Foundation, the fiscal sponsor, along with 1planet1ocean, and is supported by tax-deductible donations to the Ocean Doctor’s 50 Years - 50 States - 50 Speeches Expedition Fund. An online store also supports the efforts, with imprinted products that include this thong. You just have to be brave enough to wear one. (For more information: http://oceandoctor.org/50-states).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Where Barbara Met Harry and Sally

Explorers and adventurers have been honored for years for their achievements. The Explorers Club has its Explorers Club Medal and Lowell Thomas Awards. But we daresay few have been honored with a photo on the wall of New York’s famed Katz’s Delicatessen, scene of the fake orgasm scene in the hit movie "When Harry Met Sally" (1989). There’s even a sign overhead to commemorate the table. New Yorker Barbara Hillary, 77, an adventurer who is reportedly the first African-American woman to ski any distance to the North Pole (see EN, March 2009), commands some choice real estate near the corned beef and rye. That's Barbara on the wall at 2 o'clock. The other image shows her when she reached the North Pole in April 2007. Learn more about her at www.barbarahillary.com.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Field Research

In order to research news about mountain exploration, from time to time it's necessary to unchain oneself from the laptop and actually get outdoors. While admittedly this recent visit to The Canyons in Park City was short on scientific exploration, it did provide an excellent opportunity to study snowflake propagation ... and the science of gravity. Photo above: The author engages in some powder therapy on Mar. 9, 2009. Photo credit: Michael Halstead, www.yachtstore.com

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Monkey is Finally Off My Back

They say many of us have at least one book inside screaming to get out. Well, I finally got the monkey off my back. The manuscript for "You Want to Go Where?" has been completed, handed into my editor at Skyhorse Publishing. After numerous weekends chained to the laptop, banging out an account of past adventures and expeditions – and how explorers somehow found the necessary funding to achieve their dream trips - I'm finally done. It has been tough writing about the outdoors while sitting inside for hours upon hours. So hold my calls. I'm going skiing to celebrate.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Best wishes to Andy Knapp

A long-time fixture of the outdoor industry, Andy Knapp, is about to undergo the fight of his life. We wish Andy the best and wanted to share his recent e-mail with readers of Expedition News.

To my industry friends:

As many of you may know. I am taking a leave of absence to enter the hospital for a lengthy stay to receive a bone marrow transplant procedure that has a chance of attacking and setting back the renal cell cancer I have been fighting for six years. There are more details on my blog listed below. There are mortality risks with this therapy, but as I see it, it's no worse than the odds of staring down bears, crevasses, cliffs, towering waves, rapids, endless highways, and so on.

I have enjoyed your camaraderie and support over the years and I hope to return to the industry as soon as I can, but the doctors say no crowds, camping, or airline travel for almost a year as my immune system returns to a normal state. At that point, I will receive my childhood immunizations all over again and hopefully be good to go.

I will continue to be in touch via my andy@midwestmtn.com address, although while in the hospital, I cannot use my cell phone because this is an ICU facility. I will be in the hospital for about four to six weeks, then quarantined at home for another three months. At around 100 days, I will be able to get out more, perhaps biking, using a hospital mask. For those of you with MM business, you can work with Will in the camping department, or Peter in boats/ski, or contact me if there is a problem. Rod and the folks at MM have been very supportive, and I'm sure we will have a great year, with no major changes in direction planned.

I may even do a program at the April Expo via remote if I can figure out the technical details.

Feel free to spread the word to others in your organization/group, as I don't have everyone's email address.

Here is the link to my blog, comments OK:


and my rudimentary website which I am adding to almost daily as I now have more forced time on my hands:


There are also or will be soon, links from the Midwest site:


I also have a mailing address at the hospital (absolutely no flowers or plants are allowed):

Andy Knapp
University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview
PCU 4B - Room 4-233
500 Harvard St. S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Thanks for the good times and memories,

Midwest Mountaineering
309 Cedar Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55454

Friday, February 6, 2009

Greg Mortenson Speaks at AAC Dinner, Feb. 21

What do a best-selling author, NASA astronaut, handful of renowned explorers, and couple dozen icons of climbing have in common? They’ll all be gathering in Golden, Colo., Feb. 21, for The American Alpine Club’s Annual Benefit & Awards Dinner. Greg Mortenson, Author of the #1 New York Times Best Seller, Three Cups of Tea, will provide the evening’s keynote address and will be available for book signing. The $200 price for the evening (which includes a three course dinner) supports the AAC’s international conservation efforts and Central Asia Institute’s ongoing work building schools. Sign up at www.AmericanAlpineClub.org or by calling 303-384-0110 x40.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Aussies Hiring "Explorer" for "Best Job in the World"

Imagine spending six months on the islands of the Great Barrier Reef and getting paid more than $100,000 for it. That’s the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that Tourism Queensland is offering with their “The Best Job In The World” Island Caretaker promotion. More than one million people around the world have visited Tourism Queensland’s “Best Job in the World” Web site, launching the campaign into what one Australian Internet media outlet has described as “cult status.”

Candidates must submit 60-sec. video applications online for the Island Caretaker position on the newly launched Web site, www.islandreefjob.com. Eleven candidates from around the world will be short-listed and flown to Australia in May 2009, where they will compete for the newly created six-month position. The winning candidate will be employed from July through December 2009 exploring the islands of the Great Barrier Reef and reporting back on their experiences. The application deadline is Feb. 22 and over 8,000 have applied to date. No experience is necessary, but we’re sure that faithfully reading Expedition News gives you a leg up on the competition. Take a virtual trip to Oz and check out some amusing video entries on their Web site.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why We Travel, Especially Now

The following is by Tom Cole, who produces the elegantly written Geographic Expeditions newsletter and catalog. In light of lay-offs, 401(k)'s that are more like 201(k)'s, and the lack of consumer confidence, this made me want to pack my bags.

"We hardly need tell you that the financial seas are a bit choppy. And if your boat has sprung a leak or two, the last thing you need is for us to tell you that spending a lot of dollars on a journey afar is necessarily a fine, what-the-heck thing to do. We have 401(k) plans, too. Yet we have some thoughts about travel in these times that you might find interesting.

"First, we figure that if we're going to spend money, we might as well enrich ourselves. And there's hardly a better path to enrichment than on the road. That's our theory, at least. Of course, we're merrily swimming in a sea of subjectivity. We're travelers. And if we couldn't visit places like the Galápagos, Tibet, Kenya, Patagonia, Mongolia, Costa Rica, etc., we'd get on a Greyhound and head for Nevada's Ruby Mountains, a little near-Arctic town in far northern Saskatchewan, New York City, or some such wondrous place. And since you're reading this newsletter, we assume you've got a more or less chronic hankering to hit the road, too.

"Second, we believe strongly that travel offers a magnificent return on investment. Big-screen plasma televisions are fine, and that gorgeous stainless-steel mega-refrigerator is dandy, but travel is an inexhaustible font of heartening memories. You know this well, from experience. We remember our first trip to Europe, our first sight of Mount Everest, that little guy in Cairo who led us around by the hand to meet his family, the Maasai tracker in Kenya whose gentle grace was so touching, the almost shockingly blue sky of Mongolia...Our memories are brilliantly textured and rich, and they will warm us on a cold, dreary night. (And the older we get, the warmer those memories become, as you may have noticed.)

"Third, travel is a nearly matchless way to bond with family and friends old and new. If we put a little effort into it, travel opens our hearts and minds, and draws us closer to our fellow humans. How many times have you heard a happy family remember "That time we went to..."?

"And fourth: travel, rain or shine, is the highest form of re-creation, as our guy Seamus O'Banion often says. As soon as you lock the door and get in the car to drive to the airport, you are who you want to be. And these days (not to be too facile about it), it's very re-creative and restorative to take a trip and create a person who is not (praise be) fixated on the 24-hour news cycle and the ups and downs of the Dow, but rather is open to the world and its immense ability to give joy to those who seek it."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Edge of Never book signing at SIA Show, Jan. 28

It's trade show season again. While I'm in Salt Lake attending the Outdoor Retailer Show, LEKI USA, makers of Ski, Trekking and Nordic Walking poles is busy here and, next week, will be busy in Las Vegas, presenting their new lines.

If work takes you to the Ski Industries America trade show next week, here's an event you may want to attend:

Author and journalist William A. Kerig, a professional skier for 10 years and co-producer of Steep, a feature documentary about big-mountain skiing, will appear with skiing icon Glen Plake at a book signing event in the LEKI USA booth (no. U88) at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 28.

Kerig’s book, The Edge of Never, is the saga of world-famous skier Trevor Peterson’s death in Chamonix in 1996, and the attempt by his 18-year-old son, Kye, to conquer the same deadly couloir that killed his father.

The SIA Show is closed to the public, so you need to be in the industry or need to befriend a local retailer, to get you in.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Great day to work on a book

People are in a panic here in southern Connecticut – the supermarkets are jammed - as the locals await a winter storm that promises to dump oh, maybe 5-7 inches. Ha! I've got more than that in the freezer section of the refrigerator. The cross-country skis are ready to hit the local golf course, so meanwhile it's a great time to immerse myself in writing my first book.

"You Want to Go Where?" provides insight into the adventure marketing field from the perspective of 25 years advising and promoting adventurers, explorers and corporate sponsors. The book covers a range of projects, from world class expeditions by Will Steger, Paul Schurke, and Col. Norman D. Vaughan, to some of the more oddball expeditions ever conceived, including a sailor planning to remain at sea for 1,000 days (a record). It will be both a great read about past expeditions, and advice to the budding adventurer or explorer on how to launch their own trips and possibly get someone else to pay for it. The publisher is Skyhorse Publishing in New York. Publication is set for Summer 2009.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Welcome to the Expedition News blog

After 15 years covering expeditions I know that a lot of interesting news comes up in between publication of each monthly issue of Expedition News. Check in with this new EN blog from time to time for latest skinny.

Stay tuned this summer for the publication of "You Want to Go Where?," my book on adventure marketing with tips on how to get someone to pay for the trip of your dreams. It's already listed on Amazon so I guess I better get cracking. My college age daughter suggests I do what she does when working on papers: "pull an all-nighter." Uh, maybe not.