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.