Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Ten Questions for Underwater Explorer Barry Clifford

Members of the 1990 International Polar Expedition met with Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa (center) and the city's environmental minister, Takeshi Shimotsuma (far right) to discuss the city's role in developing the IPCC Kyoto Guidelines to support and implement the Paris Agreement. The expedition team urged the Mayor to continue his leadership role, and he congratulated them on their accomplishments on and off the ice. Team members from left to right: Geoff Somers, Great Britain; Will Steger, USA; Jean-Louis Etienne, France; Keizo Funatsu, Japan; Victor Boyarsky, Russia; and Cathy de Moll, expedition manager.

1989-1990 Trans-Antarctica Team Celebrates 30th With New Climate Declaration

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the historic 1989-1990 Trans-Antarctica Expedition across Antarctica, the six expedition team members reunited in Japan recently to share their concern for the continent's future, and their commitment to the world's young people who will be most affected by the climate change that is now occurring.

The 1990 International Trans-Antarctica Expedition was the first-ever non-mechanized crossing of Antarctica and the longest-ever traverse (nearly 4,000 miles). The international team of six included Will Steger (USA), Jean-Louis Etienne (France), Victor Boyarsky (Russia/Soviet Union), Qin Dahe (China), Geoff Somers (Great Britain) and Keizo Funatsu (Japan), plus three sleds and 40 sled dogs. The expedition's purpose was to bring world attention to the international cooperation that managed this continent of science, and to lobby the world's leaders to ban mineral exploration and continue uninterrupted the international Antarctic Treaty.
1990 Trans-Antarctica team member Will Steger (USA), left, speaks to a crowd on November 10 at the Tokyo International Forum about the vital importance of international cooperation in stemming the precipitous melting of Antarctica's ice shelf and in addressing a growing global climate crisis. Also pictured: Victor Boyarsky, Qin Dahe, and Geoff Somers.

In November's appearances in Hokkaido, Kyoto, and Tokyo, Japan, the team issued a mission statement updated from the one they read on December 11, 1989, at the South Pole, noting that their expedition would no longer be possible due to the melting of the Antarctic ice shelf, and emphasizing the ever-increasing urgency for international research and cooperative action to address the growing crisis. The team also met with Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa, an international leader in climate action.

The Trans-Antarctica anniversary events in Japan were sponsored by the DAC Group, North Face Japan, and Gore-Tex Japan. A similar celebration is scheduled in Lanzhou, China, in March, 2020 on the 30th anniversary of the expedition's completion, March 3, 1990.

The full transcript of the expedition's 2019 mission statement can be found at:

Read the Antarctic Treaty here:

Scripps professor Jeff Severinghaus (Photo courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography)

Search Begins for World's Oldest Ice

A group of local scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego are in Antarctica to search for the world's oldest ice. The reason? To understand more about Earth's climate history by looking at ice caps, according to Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The research team will be seeking an entire ice sheet, about two miles thick, to use as a sample, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The problem? A standard drill could take five years to dig deep enough to find the necessary ice sheet sample, according to researchers with Scripps Institution of Oceanography. That's where San Diego's team of researchers come in.

Paleoclimatolgist Jeff Severinghaus believes he has a faster way to find the ice sheet - a drill that could take just 48 hours, instead of five years. Severinghaus is working with a geologist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, John Goodge, to design a drill, according to Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

This month, the team will use the drill in Antarctica, in hopes of learning more about Antarctica's history from ice sheets, according to Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Severinghaus will return from San Diego in the spring with his discoveries, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Learn more here:


Colin O'Brady

Celebrity Adventurer and Neophyte Rower Leads Drake Attempt

The Drake Passage is one mother of a body of water, named for Sir Francis Drake who in the sixteenth century called it ". . . the most mad seas." When the cold air of the Antarctic ice cap collides with the warmer maritime air over the ocean surrounding the continent, the result is a vicious storm belt of blizzards and dense fog spanning 600 miles from the southern tip of South America to the South Shetland Islands.

On the best of days the ocean is turbulent and, on the worst of days, impassable in smaller vessels. Mariners have long called this region the "Roaring Forties," "Furious Fifties," and "Screaming Sixties," referring not to decades, but lines of latitude.

In March 1988, the late American Ned Gillette, then 43, and his team set out against the currents to row the Drake assisted by a small sail and fueled by 6,000 calories per day of energy bars and shakes. For fourteen days, the four-man team muscled their hardy heavy-gauge aluminum Sea Tomato 684 miles from Cape Horn to Nelson Island in the South Shetlands, just off the Antarctica peninsula. 
This month, celebrity adventurer Colin O'Brady, 34, an American professional endurance athlete, motivational speaker, adventurer and former professional triathlete, and his five teammates, will embark on The Impossible Row, an attempt to complete the world's first completely human-powered crossing of the Drake.

Main sponsor The Discovery Channel said the crew will not use any motors or sails and must work around the clock to complete their mission.
Home away from home for six extreme endurance rowers.

O'Brady, from Portland, Oregon, tells his 11,400 Twitter followers on Nov. 17, "Up until I started training just a few months ago, I'd never rowed a boat before. But I've been strengthening the most important muscle for years; my mind. Mindset is the key for any of us to fully unlock our potential and make the impossible possible."

O'Brady was on The Tonight Show to talk with Jimmy Fallon about his partnership with the Discovery Channel.

"Get this," he said to Fallon. "I've never rowed a boat anywhere in my life."

Watch his Nov. 16 appearance here:

In 2018, the neophyte rower completed a 930-mile expedition on foot across the Antarctic continent in a controversial 54-day journey (see EN, January 2019). The then 33-year-old documented his journey - which he called The Impossible First - on his Instagram page.

For more information: www.Discovery.com/theimpossiblerow 


"Our earth is a raft in the sea of the universe. The more we learn, the more we realize how fragile it is. We need to engage everyone in preserving the wonders of our raft."

-  Milbry Polk, Explorers Club Sweeney Medal recipient, awarded at the 115th annual dinner in New York on March 16, 2019. Learn more about her work here: www.milbrypolk.com


Bombardier Blood

A new documentary focuses on mountaineer and severe hemophiliac Chris Bombardier's attempt to climb the Seven Summits. Bombardier Blood follows his summit of Everest where he and his medical team overcome frozen veins, fatigue, and the omnipresent fear of life-threatening bleeds - to raise awareness and critical funds for the global hemophilia community.

Chris Bombardier is a mountaineer and outdoorsman with severe hemophilia B living in Salem, Mass. The documentary is an inspiring and heart-warming adventure film that cinematically highlights both what is and is not possible when living with this rare disease. It is available for community screenings.

Watch the trailer here:

Barry Clifford

Ten Questions for Barry Clifford, Underwater Archaeological Explorer

In May 2014, Barry Clifford, now 74, one of the world's most renowned underwater archaeological explorers, reported he found the wreck of the Santa Maria, flagship of Christopher Columbus, off the coast of Haiti. Over 90 people crowded into the historic Clark Room of The Explorers Club for the announcement. The news was carried worldwide.

The newest adventure for Clifford is the 12,000 sq. ft. Whydah Pirate Museum on Cape Cod that houses a full-scale replica of Samuel Bellamy's Whydah Gally, a pirate ship that sank in 1717 off Wellfleet, Mass.

Clifford discovered the wreck and its accompanying treasure in 1984, helped in part by family friend John F. Kennedy, Jr., who was part of his dive team. To this day, the Whydah remains the only fully authenticated pirate ship ever found. At the heart of Clifford's museum is an interactive lab where visitors can watch archaeologists work their way through recovered pirate artifacts piece by piece.  
We caught up with him recently in Boston, across Massachusetts Bay from his home in Provincetown.

EN:             How can you be sure you discovered the wreck of the Santa Maria off Cap Haitian?

BC:            We spent several years surveying the Bay of Cap Haitian, eliminating over 560 anomalies before discovering the eight and ninth 15th century lombards (cannons), ever discovered in the Western Hemisphere.

Coincidentally, it was the exact distance (1.5 leagues) as described in the Columbus Dario (diary) from the wreckage of the Santa Maria to Fort Navidad, the fort Columbus built, in part, from the wreckage of his beloved flagship.

Most recently, even more compelling evidence came to light when fellow explorer Dr. Charles D. Beeker, director of Indiana University's Center for Underwater Science and Academic Diving Program, discovered evidence that the "Columbus Anchor" uncovered in the 1960's, which Columbus purportedly used in an attempt to kedge (winch) off the sand bar on which they had "silently" grounded, was located within anchoring distance of the wreck we had discovered.

EN:            Not everyone believed this discovery, did they?        

BC:            Sadly, both lombards, and a variety of compelling artifacts were looted from the site after UNESCO rejected our discovery without consulting our archaeologists, or, examining a word of our research.

UNESCO still disputes the findings. But I take comfort in that the same people who said I didn't find the Santa Maria also didn't believe that we found the Whydah in 1984..... until our team pulled up a ship's bell upon which was cast in block letters THE WHYDAH GALLY 1716.

The bell inscribed THE WHYDAH GALLY 1716

EN:             Do you have plans to return to Haiti to conduct conclusive research?

BC:             We'd love to, but it depends upon the government of Haiti. Right now, it's one of the most dangerous countries on earth and we've yet to receive permission to return. 

EN:             Historical revisionism in the modern era has made Columbus somewhat of a controversial figure. Instead of Columbus Day, some states celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day. Why the on-going effort to conclusively prove the location of the wreck?

BC:            Right or wrong, this ship and the Columbus expedition changed the course of human history. He was an explorer who followed his dream and I have great admiration for him.

EN:            Where's the money coming from to continue this quest for the Santa Maria?

BC:            I received some funding from various television shows, lectures, and early funding, but otherwise it's all been funded by myself and a dear friend. I've yet to sell any recovered artifacts from a career of underwater exploration.

EN:            Why not? especially if the proceeds will support more exploration?

BC:            I started out exploring for treasure, but when I realized these recovered artifacts came from slave ships and some were used to pay for people, I decided I could never wear that around my neck or sell it.

EN:             How did JFK, Jr. become involved in the search for the Whydah?

BC:            I knew Caroline Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. from skiing in Aspen, and agreed to add JFK, Jr. when he asked to join our Whydah search in 1982. He was an important member of the team and a terrific young man, then about age 22. Around that time, his diving compass was snagged and broke off. We later found it in 2007 and it's now on display in our Cape Cod museum.

JFK, JR.'s compass lost in 1984, recovered in 2007. Note initials in the upper right corner.

EN:             You're somewhat of an expert on pirates. When did pirates start saying things like "aye matey" and "arghhhh?"

BC:            Those are Hollywood inventions. But if you're curious about why men and women went under the skull and bones, watch Poldark, the PBS Masterpiece show streaming on Amazon Prime.

EN:             So what you're saying is that pirates have been much maligned?

BC:            Pirate society was an early exercise in democracy where former slaves were experimenting in democracy with Europeans, often being elected as officers, and sharing equally in the plunder. Crew members were elected to higher positions based upon what they contributed to the brotherhood and well-being of the ship. It wasn't about skin color.

EN:            What's next for you?

BC:            I'm working on a book of short stories, planning additional tours for our museum tour of pirate artifacts, and hoping to expand our Cape Cod museum. I have no plans to retire until I'm 92 to correspond to the year Columbus "sailed the ocean blue."

Learn more about the Whydah Pirate Museum here:


It's our favorite time of the year, a time for us to share with you some, ahem, quirky gifts to give to the explorer in your life. After all, soap on a rope won't do for this group of alpha males and females. They'll be looking for gifts with some gravitas. We respectfully submit our top five for the holiday season, a time when we all know, money is no object. Whoop whoop.

Behind every successful explorer is a substantial amount of coffee.

Rocket Fuel

For the rocket man (or woman) in your life, the one who dreams of joining the space program, consider these rocket fuel ceramic mugs. Coffee doesn't ask silly questions. Coffee understands. ($19.99, https://shop.amnh.org/rocket-fuel-ceramic-mug.html).

The Vermonter Therma-Phone is made of Johnson Woolen Mills outer fabric.

Smartphone Cozies

Therma-Phone's Mobile Phone Survival Kits are perfect for explorers who can't survive without constantly posting from the trail.  They're like cozies, but instead of your favorite THC-infused brew, they protect those addictive pocket brains we all carry. The phone protector is an engineered heat-reflective, insulated soft case that retains and reflects heat back to the phone to keep it warm, thus extending battery life five to 10 hours, or so they claim. ($39.95, www.therma-phone.com)

The Moki is a Step Up

A Step Up

Yes, there is a way to stand on a tire to reach a rooftop rack, but it's a lot more convenient using a Moki Door Step that attaches to those U- and D-shaped door latches found in most every SUV. The rubber coated hook withstands 400 lbs., although we suspect a 400 lb. explorer or adventurer will be tall enough to reach the rack regardless. ($44.95, www.rightlinegear.com)

The motorized wiener machine.

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)

When the weather warms up, it's the perfect season for cooking hot dogs on a camp grill. But after a hard day digging up dinosaur bones, the last thing a hungry explorer wants to do is stand there manually turning his foot long sausage meat. That's why the Rotisserie Kit just had to be invented. It attaches to any portable drill and is perfect for roasting pigs in a blanket, assuming you can dial back on the drill speed. (Coming soon, price TBD, www.imaginecamping.com)

The BMW NIGHT SKY, a feasibility study by BMW Individual.

It Came From Another World

For the love of all things holy, there's no better way to shower your largess on a friend or loved one than gifting a luxury car with meteorites embedded in the dashboard. The BMW Individual M850i NIGHT SKY was created as a feasibility study by the experts of BMW Individual in a manual process lasting several weeks.

They quilted cosmic patterns into the merino leather seats and roof lining, created starry constellations in the central console, and applied a series of mosaics - from the 4.5 billion-year-old material of a genuine meteorite. The small mosaics cut from an iron meteorite are only 0.35 mm thick. Starting price is an astronomical $111,900. Your recipient can hop into this bad boy the next time he or she drives to the Fortress of Solitude. 

For more gift ideas, check out TheExploreStore.com for a host of clever products based on an exploration theme. Among its many items are books including EN's Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would-Be World Travelers (hint, hint).


Barbara Hillary was the first African-American woman on record to reach the North Pole, and first to reach both the North and South Poles.

Barbara Hillary (1931-2019)

Barbara Hillary, an African-American woman with a deeply ingrained sense of adventure, passed away in Far Rockaway, New York, on Nov. 23 at the age of 88. It's said that her body lived hard, and it simply wore out.

Many people know the major storyline of Barbara's expeditions to the North and South Poles in her 70s - feats of pure grit and determination. Barbara made one final, epic expedition, to Mongolia, earlier this year. She accomplished that trip, too, against the odds, and with tremendous support from friends, guides, sponsors, journalists, and the hospitable people in Mongolia.

Back when we knew her, she would like to say, "Wouldn't it be better to die doing something interesting than to drop dead in an office and the last thing you see is someone you don't like?"

Her friend Deborah Bogosian writes, "Everything about her was fascinating, convention-breaking, and confounding. Her record-setting treks, her defeat over cancer, her arduous fight to get her house back after Hurricane Sandy. Her years as a nurse, her gigs as a taxi driver and in sundry other jobs that gave her more than a few stories to tell. Her appreciation for archery, guns and knives, big trucks and big dogs. The roses and miraculous tomatoes she grew."

Learn more about her life and read her New York Times (Nov. 27) obituary at:

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

12 Questions for Pluto Explorer; Wings Over Tanzania

Osa and Martin Johnson


Long before the very first wildlife documentary, an American couple named Martin and Osa Johnson captured the public's imagination from 1917-1937 through their films and books of adventure in exotic and far-away lands. The Johnsons were the quintessential models of the golden age of exploration. They were cut from the same cloth as the boldest of innovators, explorers and entrepreneurs. They were people with big ideas and the courage to make those ideas reality.

Through years of work in the field they innovated wildlife film techniques and made documentary movies that were superior to others at the time. It's estimated that they exposed about a million feet of film during their lives and they believed their footage would be an irreplaceable record of our "unspoiled" natural world.

In 1933, Osa and Martin Johnson took two Explorers Air Yachts (Sikorsky S-39 and S-38) to Africa to create the first flying safari documentary of the continent. They flew from Cape Town to Cairo over the course of two years. Most of their time was spent in East Africa, capturing the very first aerial and some of the first conservation footage of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, and many areas of Tanganyika (Tanzania).
A modern-day filmmaker will recreate the Johnson's flights throughout Tanzania.

Fast forward to today: director and explorer, Haley Jackson of Delta, Colorado, will lead a team of explorers and filmmakers on a modern day flying expedition to retrace the Johnson's flights of the 1930's throughout Tanzania. Using the replica Sikorsky aircraft from the original flying safari, the team will film an aerial expedition of Tanzania's 16 National Parks. The 10-week effort is scheduled to begin in 2020.

Using the pilot's journals and the Johnson's footage and photos, the team will film the same landmarks, landscapes, and animal herds that the Johnsons filmed nearly one hundred years ago.

Using IMAX's large-format 3D camera equipment, they will create unparalleled images of the wildlife, landscape and people that call it home. By juxtaposing new footage with the matching shots from the Johnsons, the project, called "Wings Over Tanzania," will create a doorway into the past, to experience the abundant wildlife, landscape, and people as it was in the 1930's. The flying safari will accomplish four objectives; help wildlife conservation, inspire science and aviation, boost wildlife sanctuaries, and ignite hope.

The $5 million project is seeking sponsorship. For more information and to watch early Johnson film footage, view http://www.haleyjackson.com/tanzania-beyond-the-wild/

Contact: Haley Jackson, haleyjack@gmail.com, 310 487 7803

Reid Stowe

Marathon Sailor/Artist Back in the News

Reid Stowe, the marathon sailor and artist we've been covering for 20 years, is back in the news. Credited with the longest nonstop ocean voyage in recorded history (1,152 days), today Stowe is raising a family in suburban North Carolina and driving a 2005 Chevy Malibu. But he has also obsessively been making giant abstract paintings, most of them using the weather-beaten sails that carried his schooner across the globe (See
EN, July 2010).

He was recently back in New York to visit the Chelsea gallery that is showing his art, according to the New York Times story by Alex Vadukul (Oct. 27).

"All this time later, I'm still trying to tell the world the story of what I went through," said Stowe, 67, during his recent stay in Manhattan. "I've departed the touch of earth longer than anyone else. All my paintings carry the vibrations and significance of that journey."

In 2007, he and his girlfriend departed from Hoboken on a boat stocked with six tons of nonperishable provisions and a sprout garden. On Day 15, a freighter hit their schooner. Around Day 300, his partner, Soanya Ahmad started feeling sick, and a boat picked her up near the coast of Australia. Communicating by a satellite phone, Stowe soon learned that she was pregnant. On Day 457, Soanya gave birth to Darshen in New York. Mr. Stowe met his son for the first time when he arrived on the Hudson two years later.

Currently, while residing in Greenboro, N.C., he takes care of his father who has Alzheimer's and is also trying to publish a memoir.

Read the entire story here:


Kelvin Kent image by Jim Pisarowicz

Kelvin Kent Talks About Being at Altitude

Kelvin Kent, a member of Chris Bonington's British teams for Annapurna (1970) and Everest (1972) spoke to an Explorers Club chapter in Montrose, Colorado, last month about his climbing career. Kent considers the 1970 Annaurna climb, "the last of an era of logistical sieges," and believes there are phenomenal climbers today who are almost like ballet dancers. In regards to the rigors of climbing above 8000 meters, Kent said, "After being at altitude for long periods of time, no one can tell me this isn't doing damage to one's brain cells."

He recalls how team members had to warm their Mallory batteries in saucepans to get a few minutes of radio broadcast time out of them.

In regards to the unspeakable weather experienced in the Himalayas, he said, "Human beings can withstand wind and can withstand cold, but they can't withstand both .... but regardless, human beings will always try to do things they haven't done before."

In 1971, Kent was deputy leader of the British Trans Americas Expedition which took two Range Rovers from Anchorage to Terra Del Fuego in southern Chile. Kent is a charter council member of the Scientific Exploration Society and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He is the author of five books and remains active on five boards in the Montrose/Ouray/Ridgway areas, including the nonprofit Western Colorado Friends of the Himalayas (westerncoloradofriends.wordpress.com/mission).


"It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams."

 - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014), Columbian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist.

EN Travels to Iceland in the Footsteps of Apollo Astronauts      
Neil Armstrong worked hard and played hard during Apollo geology field exercises in Iceland. (Photo by Sverrir Palsson courtesy of the Exploration Museum).
On one of the world's most remote island nations, in a windswept North Iceland town of 2,300 hardy souls 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle, a small private museum devoted to exploration is making a name for itself honoring space exploration.

The idea behind The Exploration Museum dates to 2009 when Husavik locals realized the role Iceland's otherworldly lava flows in the country's Highlands played in training almost three dozen Apollo astronauts. NASA had found a parallel lunar landscape: no vegetation, no life, no colors, no landmarks.

Last month EN was privileged to be part of the annual Explorers Festival which brings explorers and adventurers together for a series of talks by explorers, art and photo exhibitions, poetry readings, concerts, and film screenings.

Over the years since its inception in 2014, the tiny museum at the top of the world has hosted presentations about the Jeff Bezos-funded recovery of the Apollo 11 rocket engines; awarded astronaut Scott Parazynski (veteran of five Space Shuttle flights and seven spacewalks) and Harrison Schmitt (Apollo 17) its Leif Erikson Exploration Award; and also hosted Walter Cunningham (Apollo 7), William Anders (Apollo 8), Rusty Schweickart (Apollo 9), and Charlie Duke (Apollo 16).

Through the efforts of its founder, Orlygur Hnefill Orlygsson, a monument honoring the Apollo astronauts that trained in Iceland in 1965 and 1967 is located outside the museum, unveiled in 2015 by the grandchildren of Neil Armstrong.

Orly Orlygsson (l) and Explorers Festival director Francesco Perini are dressed for success Iceland-style.

Orlygsson is an expert in exploration history and a space exploration enthusiast, with a range of experiences including journalist, photographer, filmmaker and parliamentary assistant, as well as his current ownership of the Húsavík Cape Hotel. Turn on the hot water in the rooms and it smells of sulfur; flip the handle to "cold" and the water is the world's best-tasting, the same liquid bottlers ship to the states and sell for $3 a throw.

Orly, as he is affectionately called, is the director, writer and star of a quirky, charmingly eccentric Icelandic film called Cosmic Birth about space exploration that premieres at The Explorers Club on Nov. 15, 2019 (see below). 

Mark Armstrong and son Andrew in the Exploration Museum holding a sweater worn by Neil Armstrong during a visit to the North Pole with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1985.

In a talkback after a screening in Reykjavik, Mark Armstrong, 56, son of Neil, explained how he consulted on the 2018 film First Man, particularly the dining room scene where his father, played by Ryan Gosling, discussed the risks involved in his space mission.

The younger Armstrong remembers, "We were confident because our father seemed so very confident in the mission." Later he said, "Our mother was the true actor. She must have been terrified but didn't let on to us."

Mark believes the U.S. was letting space slip away. "The country's leadership in space exploration came at tremendous cost in terms of dollars and lives. The space program has been languishing but it's starting to pick up - there's a lot of cause for optimism right now."
In reference to the Apollo program, he said, "Apollo proved that if we apply ourselves, amazing things can happen. Apollo gave people hope that achievements are possible beyond our dreams if work at it together."

The festival included presentations by the Iceland Space Agency (ISA) regarding efforts by the Ohio-sized country to join the European Space Agency (ESA).

"Sure, we have an inflated sense of self, but we realize how insignificant we are," says space strategist Thor Fanndal. "But we punch well about our weight considering we only have 350,000 citizens. What kind of country our size would be this well known everywhere? We want to become part of something grander than ourselves."

Iceland is back in the space training business: this past summer NASA returned to the country to test the prototype of a self-driving rover truck set to explore Mars in 2021.
Learn more about the Exploration Museum at: https://www.explorersfest.com/the-exploration-museum

Cold as Ice

Colorado Explorers Club members broke out their polar expedition gear on Nov. 1, 2019, to visit the National Science Foundation Ice Core Facility in Denver, the world's largest such facility which stores, curates and studies ice cores recovered from the planet's polar ice sheets. Over 21,000 meters (about 13 miles) of core samples are stored from Antarctica, Greenland and the high mountain glaciers of the world. The laboratory provides the opportunity for scientists to examine ice cores without having to travel to remote field sites.
13 miles of ice cores are stored in Denver
The Denver Federal Center repository was dedicated in August 1993 and is one of only three such facilities in the world. Some of the cores being stored were extracted from as far down as 3,000 meters (9,842 ft.) and date back 2-1/2 million years. The frigid samples are used for scientific research related to climate change and other disciplines. Interestingly, once cores are extracted, they are protected for shipment in the kind of plastic wine bottle netting used by your local wine retailer.
The lab uses a specially designed keyboard to accommodate heavy gloves.

The tour was conducted in both the "warm" exam room (minus 10 degrees F.), and the main storage room chilled down to minus 32 degrees F., which was for many visitors, including about 25 local schoolchildren, the coldest temperatures they've ever experienced.

By the time ice cores arrive for study, it's estimated that each meter of ice is valued at approximately $25,000. Outdoor gear companies often test their cold weather apparel within the space.
Mr. Freeze with assistant curator Richard Nunn. The 1997 Batman & Robin movie character, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is the lab's mascot. 

"It takes a special kind of crazy to work in these temperatures," admits assistant curator and tour guide Richard Nunn. "By studying ice cores, we can start piecing together what's happening to our planet. It provides information on the rate of change which can help us better understand climate."  
For more information: www.icecores.org


South slope of the Grandes Jorasses, with the Planpincieux Glacier on the left.

Glacier Collapse Would be Size of Four Epcot Spaceship Earth Spheres    
The Italian side of a Mont Blanc glacier is at risk of collapsing due to increased ice melt linked to climate change, scientists and local officials warn. A massive chunk of the Planpincieux Glacier on Grande Jorasses peak of the Mont Blanc massif is the cause of concern. About two feet of its ice melts per day due to high temperatures.

According to a radio interview with Peter O'Dowd of public radio's Here & Now (Sept. 27), if the popular hiking spot collapsed, 250,000 cubic feet of ice could launch down the mountain.
Glaciologist and Colorado College visiting professor Ulyana Horodyskyj climbed Mont Blanc in summer 2018 and says, "If you've ever been to Walt Disney World, there's the Epcot Spaceship Earth, you know that golf ball structure. Imagine four of those," Horodyskyj says. "That's how big this volume of ice is."

Although it's nearly impossible to predict just how imminent the collapse of Mont Blanc is, Horodyskyj says scientists are doing what they can to monitor just how quickly ice is slipping down the slopes. She says scientists can utilize radar, satellite images and even time-lapse cameras to keep a close watch on the ice melt.

An "alarmingly wide" crack was detected in the glacier this year, she says. The glacier's fracture is common during the high heat of summer, she explains, but was wider than usual this year.
"Glaciers, in general, are highly sensitive to rising temperatures and when you're talking about temperate glaciers, it means the glacier [is] already at its melting point," she says.
As the potential for a catastrophic collapse looms and the urgency surrounding climate change action grows, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly recently that Mont Blanc's future "must shake us all and force us to mobilize."

Listen to the five-minute interview here:

Like Electronic Crack on Kilimanjaro

We're all addicted to our technology, even more so on expeditions. Relatively easy climbs on Mt. Kilimanjaro are no exception according to the story by Anupreeta Das in the
Wall Street Journal (Nov. 9-10, 2019). The writer asks whether she can survive on the mountain if her phone died.

To fight the cold she snuggled her smartwatch, AirPods, two digital cameras, a headlamp, charging cables, three power banks and several dozen spare batteries inside her bag.

She writes, "Gadgets, especially smartphones and devices powered by lithium-ion batteries, respond poorly to extreme cold. They can freeze or develop glitches. Batteries drain alarmingly fast. (On day two, as we climbed from 11,550 feet to 12,540 feet, my phone's battery went from 100% to 72%. In airplane mode.)

Eddie Frank, a longtime Kilimanjaro guide writes in a blog post advising climbers on ways to stay connected, including buying a local SIM card, "We're addicted to our personal technology so let's not have a philosophical discussion about going cold turkey on technology while on our Kilimanjaro climb."

Das adds, "But here's why I couldn't let my iPhone die. It was my main camera, my alarm clock, my mirror in selfie mode, my flashlight, my electronic diary - and as I discovered, my pedometer even without a connection, allowing me to track my progress in miles walked, steps taken and floors climbed."

Read the story here:

Alan Stern says Pluto is everyone's favorite planet.
12 Questions for Alan Stern

S. Alan Stern, 61, is an American engineer and planetary scientist and principal investigator of the New Horizons mission to Pluto and beyond. Stern has been involved in 29 suborbital, orbital, and planetary space missions, including 14 for which he was a principal investigator.  
It's the now familiar snowman-shaped object four billion miles from the sun that has been extensively studied. While Voyager and Pioneer had a head start and are the furthest manmade objects from Earth, thanks to New Horizons, Arrokoth is the furthest world ever explored.  
He and David Grinspoon are co-authors of  Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto (Picador, 2018).

We recently caught up with Stern for dinner near his home in Gunbarrel, Colorado, and posed a few brief questions.

EN:             What was your dream growing up?
SAS:            I wanted to be an astronaut since probably age four. While I was named to NASA's short list, I'm disappointed that I never made the final cut. I feel sorry for NASA (ed. note: he says in jest).

EN:             So who is your favorite astronaut?  
SAS:           Hand's down, the late John Young, the astronauts' astronaut. He did it all: piloted and commanded four different classes of spacecraft: Gemini, the Apollo Command and Service Module, the Apollo Lunar Module, and the Space Shuttle. Oh yeah, he also flew twice to the moon and walked on it.

EN:            There hasn't been a moon landing since 1972. What's up with that?
SAS:           I find it unbelievable, but that dry spell is going to end soon.

EN:            How soon?
SAS:          Certainly in the 2020s. In fact, I'd bet the next decade is going to be another Roaring 20s as far as space exploration is concerned.

EN:             Why even return to the moon? Why not go straight to Mars?
SAS:           Because the moon is our training ground. Considering no landings for almost 50 years, we're out of practice.

EN:            Will Mars eventually be colonized?
SAS:           It's going to happen, just wait and see, and with some people who are alive today. We need to provide this kind of inspiration to children today, exciting them about science and engineering careers, and the sheer audacity of exploration of all kinds.

The most detailed images of Arrokoth (MU69) obtained just minutes before the New Horizons spacecraft's closest approach at 12:33 a.m. EST on Jan. 1, 2019. It's said to be the most primitive object ever encountered by a spacecraft (NASA photo). 

EN:            If Voyager and Pioneer satellites are the furthest manmade objects from Earth, how is Arrokoth the furthest world ever discovered?
SAS:          Voyager and Pioneer have traveled further than New Horizon, but there's really nothing out in their area of deep space to visit. It's like driving through western Kansas!

EN:             In 2015 we received our first-ever high definition images of Pluto thanks to New Horizons. How's the satellite probe doing these days?  
SAS:            It's performing perfectly. It's taking data, sending data, and we're making plans for what we expect it will do next. Stay tuned.

EN:             Pluto: Planet or Dwarf Planet?
SAS:           It's a planet, and a lot of peoples' fave planet - the Solar System saved the best for last. Next question?

EN:             What's this we hear about a space elevator?
SAS:            It's b.s. for now. But come back to me in the 22nd century when technologies are more advanced and we'll see what's possible.

EN:            How about High Altitude Platforms Stations (HAPS) that would enable wireless broadband deployment in remote areas, including in mountainous, coastal and desert areas?
SAS:          This is going to be a huge business. In fact, I'm in a related business myself.

EN:            So, tell us, are we alone?
SAS:          Very likely not. And I think it won't be long before we know. Even if all we find are some extraterrestrial slime or fish, it would be profound ..... and great fodder for late night comics.

In the Nov. 10 Wall Street Journal, Stern says he is starting to think about another mission to Pluto, one that probably wouldn't be launched until at least 2027 and thus won't reach its destination until the mid-2030s. 

Read the story here:

You don't need to go to space to experience the Overview Effect. 

Overview Effect 

When astronauts have the opportunity to look down on Earth from space they experience a sensation that can produce a lasting effect on their psychology. This shift is commonly referred to as the Overview Effect.

Recent studies suggest that exposure to this vantage point leads to an overwhelming sense of emotion, a stronger connection to all living beings, and a greater appreciation for the planet. (Source: Benjamin Grant, author of Overview: A New Perspective of Earth [Amphoto Books, 2016] who uses mesmerizing satellite photography to provoke the same feeling of overwhelming scale and beauty in each of us.

For more information: https://www.over-view.com/book/ 


Department of Shameless Self-Aggrandizement 

Among the many letters of congratulations we received upon celebration of our 25th anniversary, were these three that humbled us.

"A quick note to congratulate you on a quarter century of producing the finest expedition newsletter out there! I hope all's well, and here's to the next 1.2 million or so words..."

- Ben Saunders, English polar explorer, endurance athlete, and motivational speaker.

"Congratulations on a quarter century of serving the exploration world through Expedition News! Having a 'transmission belt' between the explorers and the public to explain what we do is a vital part of our world."  

- Don Walsh, American oceanographer, explorer and marine policy specialist.

"First of all a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS on your 25th anniversary. Yours is an amazing story. You have truly created an iconic communications medium and have every right to be massively proud of your accomplishment. I greatly appreciate what you do, as obviously do so many thousands of others. I look forward to every issue and hope to continue to do so for another decade or two (from my perspective, hopefully much longer from yours)." 

- Chuck Patton, former climber who summited Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mount Washington in New Hampshire, and Mount Santis in Switzerland.


U.S. Premiere of Icelandic film, Cosmic Birth, The Explorers Club, Nov. 15, 2019, 46 East 70th Street, New York

An Icelandic documentary film about mankind's journey to the Moon and the experience of viewing the Earth from a quarter of a million miles away. The film also looks into the role that Iceland played in the training of the Apollo astronauts for the first manned missions to another world. It aired nationally on Icelandic TV and appeared in Iceland theaters on July 20 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing.

For more information:

Explore Pitcairn with Pacific Islands Research Institute
Our mission is to explore the most remote islands in the Pacific and discover their secrets.
Due to our long-standing friendships with some of the residents of Pitcairn Island, we have been invited by the islanders themselves to spend a month on Pitcairn exploring petroglyph sites and conducting forensic archaeology. We will be the first to test for DNA at a historical burial site in Adamstown.  We anticipate two teams of two weeks each, maximum six participants per team, plus guides, researcher and forensic anthropologist.

Timing: June/July 2020.

This is a self-funded Expedition at $16,900 pp. 

For more information: Capt. Lynn Danaher, FN'05, Pacific Islands Research Institute, 808 755 8045, 4islandexplorer@gmail.com