Expedition News

December 2001 - Volume Eight, Number Twelve

EXPEDITION NEWS is a monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online and by mail to media representatives, corporate sponsors, educators, research librarians, explorers, environmentalists, and outdoor enthusiasts. This forum on exploration covers projects that stimulate, motivate and educate.


The following are highlights of the December issue of Expedition News. This free version is only about one-third of the entire newsletter, which is available for US$36/year; US$46 via international post for 12 annual issues. Want to know what you’re missing? Send us a long self-addressed stamped envelope for a free sample issue.


The unsupported Trans-Baikal Bike Expedition plans to use mountain bikes towing supply trailers to cross 434 miles (700 km) of frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia this February.

The Trans-Baikal Bike Expedition team consists of six young people between the ages of 18 and 23 from Germany, Holland, Italy, France, Sweden and the UK.

Baikal has been crossed by bicycle before, and cars drive along the lake on a regular basis in the winter, but this doesn’t matter much to the TBBE team. “As we are not heading for any records or ‘first something’s,’ we are doing it for the adventure and the experience itself,” says expedition leader and German adventurer Till Gottbrath, 41, who, in 1999, led the crossing of the Greenland inland ice. He will be supported locally by the Russian Andrej Sagusin, 26, the team’s logistical leader - a local professional hunter and licensed guide.


Would-Be Explorers Discover Royal Geographic Society Conference – Over 200 explorers and would-be explorers attended the 21st annual Explore 2001 conference at the prestigious Royal Geographic Society in London last month.

Based upon the enthusiasm of many of the college students there, it’s safe to say people will be exploring for a long time to come. One student approached EN with a plan to cross America on camel; another team – all in their early 20’s – plan to circumnavigate Africa by Land Rover. A team of four hopes to establish a true course for the River Parapeti in Bolivia, considered unnavigable for 350 years.

Explore 2001 speakers addressed equipment, fund-raising, and medical matters, as well as developing project ideas, safety, insurance liability, and environmental responsibility.

The speakers provided a wealth of constructive information for expedition planners:

• Chris Johnson, former medical officer of the British Antarctic Survey, says expeditions are getting safer over the years. “There are fewer jokes about explorers in pots being eaten by cannibals,” he said. “Expeditions are reasonably safe, but only if you’re sensible and anticipate problems.”

• Listen to Dave Worrell, however, and you might not be so sure. Worrell, professor of Tropical Medicine & Infectious Diseases at the University of Oxford, advised, “Make sure everyone on your expedition has first aid training. The one team member without training may be the only one left standing after the avalanche strikes. There are no passengers on an expedition.” He warned of harmful bacteria that could still live in a boiled crab during your meal, and bacteria that can cause gas and bloating so bad, team members would all need separate tents. “Cook it, peel it, or forget it,” should be the explorers’ mealtime mantra.

According to Worrell, some team members never even make it to base camp. “While the perception of danger lies with exotic infection, attacks by large animals, or cannibals, in reality, the greatest danger to expeditions is road accidents. Don’t trust your life to a madman behind a wheel. Watch him like a hawk, check the vehicle, and never drive at night.”

Heat Foils Texas Border Walker – Here’s someone who won’t be joining the Royal Geographic Society anytime soon: a Texas man who was trying to be the first to walk and canoe the length of the 1,952-mile U.S.-Mexico border said the harsh landscape and intense heat – even in November – forced him to abandon his plans and catch a Greyhound bus home after just two days.

David Chizum started his ambitious U.S.-Mexico Border Friendship Expedition 2001-2002 on Nov. 7 at California's Border Field State Park, across the border from Tijuana. He had planned to trek for five months and was hoping to end in Brownsville, Texas, this spring.


Memo to Marketers: Adventure Marketing Can Break Through the Clutter

This month’s issue includes an open memo to all those corporate marketing executives out there who must decide between yet another golf or tennis sponsorship, or the next great expedition project. We write, in part:

Consider the typical golf or tennis sponsorship: the savvy marketer can sample products, entertain customers, present their latest advertising campaigns over lunch or dinner, and distribute goodie bags brimming with imprinted polo shirts and ballcaps. Traditional sports sponsorship is a no br ainer. A slam-dunk.

But occasionally, a sponsorship opportunity arises that steps outside the box, way outside. To the ends of the earth, in fact. It takes some corporate fortitude to sponsor a mountain climbing expedition by a blind climber, an Antarctic crossing by two women, a freedive to 427 feet on a single breath of air, or the circumnavigation of the globe in a hot air balloon.

Yet if planned correctly, these “adventure marketing” projects can yield substantial returns: blind climber Erik Weihenmayer, 32, lands on the cover of Time magazine after climbing Mt. Everest, generating exposure for Allegra in the process; polar explorers Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen capture visual identification for Volvo, Pfizer, and Motorola during an interview with Katie Couric on the NBC Today Show; Audrey Mestre-Ferreras of Miami is about to appear on National Geographic Explorer TV in her wetsuit crediting Mares, a dive manufacturer; and Dr. Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones land the Breitling Orbiter 3 - named for their watch sponsor - on the cover of nearly every daily newspaper on the planet.

Sure, it’s difficult to entertain customers at Everest base camp, or at the South Pole, but adventure marketing opportunities have their own unique set of advantages, as the story goes on to explain (see above for instructions on how to receive a free copy).


Into Finn Air – Mayhem erupted on Mt. Everest as a leaked e-mail message from Finn-Olaf Jones went around the world in Internet time, traveling from his base camp tent to Discovery headquarters in Bethesda, Md., to a tent a few hundred feet away belonging to Bob Hoffman’s Inventa Everest 2000 Environmental Expedition. According to a story in Forbes FYI (Nov. 12, 2001), when Jones, on assignment for the Discovery Channel, questioned the Inventa team’s claims that it too was sponsored by Discovery, Jones got his clocked cleaned – a sucker punch from an expedition outfitter Jones himself hired. The plot thickens: according to the story, Jones’ editors at Discovery hadn’t heard of Hoffman either. Jones, who feared for his safety, writes, “The e-mail had the effect of a flame-thrower applied to a hornet’s nest.”

When reached by EN, Hoffman told us, “There’s no truth to the story in Forbes. It’s complete fiction. This guy (Jones) is living in a world of illusion. We’re in discussions with attorneys to take action.”

The Forbes story is a sad commentary on the state of climbing on Everest; Sir Edmund Hillary laments in the story’s subhead, “It’s all bullshit on Everest these days.”

Elton’s Rocket Man Attempts Kili – Sir Elton John is sending his life-partner, David Furnish, and two others on a climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro in December to raise money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. According to HELLO! Magazine, when they reach the top, the plan is to call Bill Clinton, who’s involved in AIDS charity work. The team has spent hours in a Hypoxic Training Room to build up cardiovascular strength for the 19,340-ft. climb.


Who’s the Mysterious Antarctic Candy Man? - Eagle-eyed Antarctic experts besieged the Hershey Museum in Pennsylvania after reports that a rare 1937 Hershey Ration Bar found at the South Pole was left there by Adm. Richard Byrd’s late 1930’s expedition (See EN, November 2001). Seems Byrd never came closer than 300 nautical miles to the Pole.

Discovered in January 2001 at the South Pole by Adventure Network International’s Douglas Stoup, the bar was issued to Admiral Byrd for his third expedition (1939-1941), his first sponsored by the U.S. Military. But how the bar got to the South Pole is a mystery.

In a statement to the press, the Hershey Museum says, “While Byrd did have the bar for his third expedition, there is no documented proof that he or any of his crew were physically at the South Pole during that time period.” The museum reports 90,000 Ration Bars were produced in 1937 for testing by the military. As such, they were a forerunner to the nasty-tasting but otherwise nutritious World War II Ration D Bars – the inspiration behind the energy bars of today. Most were tested in Tropical climates, and Byrd most likely received only a limited quantity for the expedition.

The bar was found at a depth of 2.5 feet, which leads researchers to believe it was moved from its original 1939 location during a much later expedition, possibly by Dr. Paul Siple during his 1956-58 stay in Antarctica as scientific leader of the South Pole Station.


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