Sunday, March 28, 2010

Crossing Antarctica Marks 20th Anniversary

It was 20 years ago last month – March 1990 – that Will Steger and five international polar explorers completed what will forever be the most audacious crossing of Antarctica. Their Trans-Antarctica Expedition will last in Antarctica history for a variety of reasons: Its length and duration (3,741 miles in 221 days, requiring that it start in winter and end in winter). Because it was the last expedition by dog (dogs were outlawed the following year by an amendment to the Antarctic Treaty). And its expense (upwards of $12 million). 

A lot has changed in the two decades since – international politics and economies have shifted, new technologies invented and boomed, the human population added one billion, says writer and filmmaker Jon Bowermaster.

Bowermaster is co-author with Will Steger of the original book Crossing Antarctica, and now its 20th anniversary edition published by Menasha Ridge Press. He writes on his Web site, “… when I think of that grueling, seven-month-long expedition perhaps the biggest change has been to the continent itself. At the time, the impacts of global climate change were just beginning to be talked about and mostly in scientific circles. Today the ice shelf where Trans-Antarctica started, on a very cold July day in 1989, no longer exists.”

Bowermaster continues, “Part of the Larsen B Ice Shelf, it was sundered in 2002 by the massive breakup of Antarctica's largest shelf due to warming sea and air temperatures.

Steger’s recent work has focused on educating students and policy leaders alike on the causes, effects and solutions to global climate change. His organization is planning the 5th annual Summer Institute for Climate Change Education, Aug. 12, at the University of Minnesota Continuing Education & Conference Center in St. Paul (

Bowermaster has been back to Antarctica two dozen times since that initial introduction 20 years ago. His recently completed high-def film, Terra Antarctica, documents a six-week long exploration of the Antarctic Peninsula by sea kayak. (

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Danger, Will Robinson!"

Many of us of a certain age grew up fascinated about space exploration, in part thanks to a hunk of metal and flashing lights that we wanted in the house as much as a new puppy. Television’s most famous robot – best known for the phrase, “Danger, Will Robinson!” – was developed by TV producer Irwin Allen in the mid 1960s for Lost in Space. Two faithful reproductions have been completed and are ready to be shipped by robot builder B9 Creations of Deadwood, S.D. They join an additional 54 robot replicas that have already been purchased by collectors worldwide. Each one is numbered and authenticated as an officially licensed replica.

The B9 (think “benign”) appeared in 83 episodes between 1965 to 1968, and is currently being reproduced by Michael Joyce, who is also the founder of team Next Giant Leap (, an effort to win the $30 million Google X PRIZE for the first commercial moon lander.

The original robot used in the television series was altered for other shows and is lost to TV history. These reproductions are actually better built with an acrylic bubble based on the existing original, laser cut steel brain with polished stainless steel top cover and crown, a torso based on the original stone molds, and hundreds of individual parts fabricated from fiberglass, acrylic, aluminum, steel, etc. The B9 speaks in its original voice, that of Dick Tufeld, the 83-year-old voice actor for many Irwin Allen productions. Of course, it might be cheaper to go for the puppy. The B9’s are currently sold by Joyce to collectors for $24,500 (

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hall of Mountaineering Excellence Gala, Apr. 10

Carabiners and Cummerbunds are the dress code for the American Mountaineering Center and Museum's first Hall of Mountaineering Excellence Gala and Induction Ceremony, Golden, Colo. Honored will be significant individuals in mountaineering's past and present. The night will include fine dining, entertainment, live auction, a program honoring the inductees and special guest speaker Ed Viesturs.

The American Mountaineering Museum will induct four members into the Hall of Mountaineering Excellence:

Robert Bates, Yvon Chouinard, Robert Craig and Charles Houston.

The evening will be filled with stories of each mountaineer's greatest ascents and expeditions, memories of the inductees no longer with us, as well as an appreciative look at each man's work beyond the climbing world.

Tickets: $75 Individual, $125 Couple. 5:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.