Wednesday, February 23, 2011


In late April, renowned African Explorer Julian Monroe Fisher, 56, will launch his most ambitious expedition to date.

Equatoria – A Walk Across Africa, is a four- to five-month expedition will have Fisher walking solo west from the Indian Ocean coastal town of Pemba, Mozambique, towards the coastal town Lobito, Angola, at the Atlantic Ocean. The more than 4,000 mile walk will take him across the landscape comprising parts of the territories of the African countries of Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. Some gear will be pre-shipped to drop zones along the way; he will also purchase supplies from local villages as he travels, loaded onto an estimated 30 lbs. backpack. Most of the journey will be on footpaths and unpaved roads, with some grassy savannah.

If successful, Fisher will become the first recorded American to walk coast to coast across the African continent from Mozambique to Angola, and is believed to be the first recorded solo expedition by any explorer ever attempted along this specific route, according to Fisher, who currently resides in Gars Am Kamp, Austria.

The primary objective of the project is to bring global awareness to the efforts of the Mines Advisory Group – MAG International – and their work in current and former conflict zones to reduce the threat of death and injury from remnants of conflict. He hopes to draw attention to the members of the United Nations Security Council
that have yet to sign the Ottawa Treaty, namely the U.S., Russia and China.

Fisher will walk across many areas that remain impacted by landmines and other lethal remnants of wars both old and new. His journey will raise awareness of how these weapons continue to plague people’s lives long after ceasefires.

Additionally, the expedition will raise funds for The Bunkeya Cultural Village (BCV) in the Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Julian Monroe Fisher is a noted African explorer from Greenwood S.C., who currently lives with his family in Austria. An anthropologist, his team in 2008 was recognized by the Ugandan Wildlife Authority for establishing a new route down from the Rwenzori Mountain glaciers along the Lamia River to the Semliki River confirming conclusively that the mountains are a true source of the River Nile. His sponsors include: Eton, Goal Zero, GoPro, Jetboil, Nitewatches, and Spot.

(For additional information:,

For additional information about MAG and its global work visit:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuckerman Ravine’s Greatest Friend

Al Risch doesn’t wear a hat when he skis. It could be 20 degrees F. outside, as it was recently at Sugarbush Resort in Vermont, and there’s Al. No hat, no helmet, ears bright red. “Hats make my head itch,” he tells us as we set off on one of the resort’s signature intermediate trails.

When Risch worked at Cranmore Mountain Resort in New Hampshire, they say you could tell it was a really cold day, way too cold to ski, if you saw Risch in a hat, although truth be told, it was usually just a hood. “My ears just freeze up and peel, they don’t care.”

When Al tells us he’s climbed to Tuckerman Ravine, the southeastern flank of 6,288-ft. Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, over 630 times, somehow we’re not surprised. As executive director of Friends of Tuckerman Ravine, he knows that steep, 50+ degree glacial cirque – a backcountry ski destination since the early 20th century – perhaps better than anyone else alive.

Risch, who tells us that at the age of 78 he’s “half-way to middle age because I’m going to live to be 156,” learned to ski on a rope tow at age five. He first climbed Tuckerman in 1959 and has had a few close calls since. Like the time he decided to glissade down the east snowfields on his boots, without skis, then hit boilerplate ice and had to grab at rocks, twigs, anything to arrest a death slide. He said that before he could slow his descent, “I could visualize a plaque on the mountain, ‘Here Lies Al Risch.’”

He continues, “There were people in the bowl, but no one saw me. Next time I’ll look before I leap.”
Then there was the time he lost most of his index finger to a lawn mower accident. Kids love it when he pretends to pick his nose, seemingly right up to his base knuckle.

Today Risch is perhaps Tuckerman Ravine’s greatest friend, head of an organization of 1,000 outdoor enthusiasts passionate about protecting this fragile environment for future generations of people, plants and animals.

Says Eric Friedman, advisory council member of Friends of Tuckerman Ravine and marketing director of Mad River Glen in Vermont, "Al Risch is without question the biggest advocate for arguably the most important piece of backcountry ski real estate in New England. We and our progeny owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for his commitment and perseverance for Tuckerman Ravine."

The Tuckerman mystique is threatened by overuse and shrinking federal support for the Forest Service which has managed and protected the ravine since the early 1930's. Friends of Tuckerman Ravine has built a foot bridge to an overflow parking lot, purchased new emergency radios, replenished first aid caches, and plans to install new avalanche warning boards.

“Tuckerman Ravine has a mythic quality,” Risch says. “You have to hike up, there’s no mechanization. It’s a mecca for backcountry skiers who can make a pilgrimage back to the source.”

A tip of the hat from Expedition News for keeping the legend of Tuckerman alive.

(For more information:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Got Books? One Man's Polar Collection

According to retired Du Pont executive Mike Tyler of Lewes, Dela., “Books, a seemingly endless resource of exploration accounts, have taken me on frigid journeys I never imagined existed or ever realized that so many courageous men even made.”

Here is a list of his favorite polar adventure books:

Shackleton, Roland Huntford, Abacus 1996 (paperback)

South Sir Ernest Shackleton, Konecky and Konecky

The Heart of the Antarctic, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Birlinn Ltd. 2000 (paperback)

Endurance, Shackleton's Incredible Journey, Alfred Lansing, McGraw Hill, 1959

Shackleton, Margery and James Fisher, James Barrie Books, Ltd., 1937

Shackleton's Boat Journey, Frank A. Worsley, W. W. Norton, 1977 (paperback)

Shackleton's Boat, The Story of the James Caird, Harding McGregor Dunnett, Neville & Harding Ltd., 1996

Shackleton's Forgotten Men, Leonard Bickel, Thunder's Mouth Press, 2000

Shackleton An Irishman in Antarctica, Jonathan Shackleton and John MacKenna, University of Wisconsin Press, 2002

Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen, Ambition and Tragedy in the Antarctic, David Thomson, Thunder's Mouth Press, 2002

Shackleton's Captain, A Biography of Frank Worsley, John Thomson, Mosaic Press, 1999 (paperback)

Trial by Ice, A Photobiography of Sir Ernest Shackleton, K. M. Kostyal, National Geographic Society, 1999

Shackleton the Antarctic Challenge, Kim Heacox, National Geographic

Shackleton, the Antarctic and Endurance, edited by Jim Pigott, Dulwich College, 2000

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, Jennifer Armstrong, Crown Publishers, 1998

The Endurance, Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition, Caroline Alexander, Alfred A. Knopf, 1998

Antarctic Eyewitness, Charles Laseron's South with Mawson, Frank Hurley's Shackleton's Argonauts, Angus and Robertson, 2000 (paperback)

Shackleton's Way, Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer, Margot Morell and Stephanie Capparel, Viking Press, 2001

Mrs. Chippy's Last Expedition, Caroline Alexander, Harper Collins, 1997

The Worst Journey in the World, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, Carroll & Graf, 2002 (paperback)

South with Endurance, The Photographs of Frank Hurley, Simon & Schuster, 2001

Other Adventures in Polar Regions beyond Shackleton

Scott's Last Expedition, Captain Scott's Own Story, Forward by Peter Scott, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1964

Race to the Pole, Tragedy, Heroism, and Scott's Antarctic Quest, Sir Ranulph Feinnes, Hyperion, 2004

Tragedy and Triumph, The Journals of Captain R. F. Scott's Last Polar Expedition, Konecky and Konecky, 1993

Little America, Richard E. Byrd, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1930

Discovery, Richard E. Byrd, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1935

Scout to Explorer, Back with Byrd in the Antarctic, Paul Siple, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1936

With Byrd at the Bottom of the World, Norman D. Vaughan, Stackpole Books, 1990 (signed)

Crossing Antarctica, Will Steger and Jon Bowermaster, Alfred Knopf, 1992 (signed)

North to the Pole, Will Steger with Paul Schurke, Times Books, 1987 (signed)

Polar Frontiers, Norman Lyttle, Parents' Magazine Press, New York, 1972 (signed)

The Loneliest Continent, Walker Chapman, New York Graphic Society, 1964

Nansen, Anna Gertrude Hall, The Viking Press, 1940

The Crossing of Antarctica, Sir Vivian Fuchs and Sir Edmund Hillary, Cassell, 1958

Antarctic Odyssey, in the Footsteps of South Polar Explorers, Graham Collier, Carroll and Graf, 1999

Voyage Through the Antarctic, Richard Adams and Ronald Lockley, Allen Lane Penguin Books, 1982

Wondrous Cold, An Antarctic Journey, Joan Myers, Smithsonian, 2006

The Antarctic Regions, Dr. Karl Fricker, The Macmillan Company, 1900

The South Pole, An Account of the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition in the "Fram" 1910-1912 Vols. One and Two, Roald Amundsen, John Murray, 1913

Two Years in the Antarctic, Lieut. A. B. Armitage, Edward Arnold, 1905

Antarctic Adventure, Scott's Northern Party, Raymond E. Priestley, E. P. Dutton, New York 1915. (Inscribed "To Surgeon General G. Bidie 1906 [initialed "From N"] Fridtjof Nansen).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mentors Needed: Students on Ice Antarctic University Expedition 2011 has a few spots open in its upcoming University Antarctic Expedition, Feb. 12-28, for adults to join the team as a mentor. Prices have been reduced because of the short timing, so here’s your chance to see Antarctica.

This ship-based expedition offers prospective students the opportunity to enroll in one of several University-level field courses, and experience one of the most awe inspiring places on Earth. SOI uses an interdisciplinary approach to examine the uniqueness of the Antarctic continent, its political, scientific and exploration history.

Once in Antarctic waters, all students and mentors will make frequent field trips to the Antarctic mainland via Zodiac inflatables from the main ship. These landings will be supplemented by lectures, seminars and lab exercises in dedicated space aboard our expedition vessel, the M/V Ushuaia.

The expedition will have approximately 60 participating University students, and 30 University faculty, scientists, experts, and educators. If interested in mentoring on this trip of a lifetime, see, then contact: Geoff Green, Executive Director, Students on Ice,