Expedition News


Here's a look at this month's issue. To receive a free copy, send a long self-addressed stamped envelope (34 cents postage) to the below address. - The Editors

Highlights - May 2002 - Volume Nine, Number Five

EXPEDITION NEWS is the 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.


Micah Dash, 25, a University of Colorado student, is team leader of a speed climbing expedition heading to Greenland this July. They hope to establish a new route on the west face of Nlumasortorq in the Tasermuit Fjord in southeastern Greenland. Previous teams, mostly European, have made ascents of this big wall in classic expedition style taking an average of five or more days, and sometimes as long as two weeks. Dash and partners intend to establish a new route in a single push with supplies for only 24 to 36 hours.

The expedition, called Team Moab, has received a 2002 American Alpine Club Lyman Spitzer Climbing grant, and $1,000 from United Airlines, but at press time was still seeking the final $1,000 in funding (their total budget is estimated at $4,000). (For more information: Micah Dash, 303 641 7682, micahdash21@hotmail.com).


America's Oldest Antarctican Keeps Dreaming Big
By Jeff Rubin, Antarctic Editor of The Polar Times

America's oldest Antarctican, Colonel Norman D. Vaughan, the last surviving member of Admiral Byrd's first Antarctic expedition of 1928-30, turns 97 this Dec. 19.

"I get up every morning and thank God I'm alive," he told me recently when I called him at his home in Anchorage. His Boston accent remains undiminished by years in the 49th State. "I sure appreciate life and I love my family. I'm getting along fine."

He says he'll live to 100, "because not many people die after that." He also plans to return to the summit of Mt. Vaughan - the 10,300-ft. Antarctic peak he climbed with his wife Carolyn and several friends in December 1994 - to celebrate his 100th birthday, perhaps with a sip of champagne, which would be the first taste of alcohol for this lifelong teetotaler.

Last June, the University of Alaska, where he had worked as a custodian when he first moved to Alaska in 1973, awarded Col. Vaughan an honorary doctorate of law degree. "That was a jump, wasn't it?" he quips. "From janitor to doctorate - I give hope to the other janitors."

More recently, he rode in a wheelchair to carry the Olympic torch through the snow-filled streets of Juneau during the Olympic flame's visit to the Alaskan capital before the Winter Games in Salt Lake City. "That was a good time," he says, adding that he plans to mount the glass torch on his wall.

Col. Vaughan features prominently in the May issue of Vanity Fair magazine, in a lavish photo spread titled "The Explorer's Heart," in which he's the senior member of 10 of what the magazine calls "the greatest living explorers" (see related story below). The magazine calls Col. Vaughan the "Indomitable Snow Man," and shows him dressed in polar gear, posing in Cooper Landing, Alaska, with a handsome husky named "Spirit."

The four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race finisher (all after age 70) is also very involved with - and lends his good name to - the 776-mi. Norman Vaughan's Serum Run, an annual dogsled and snowmobile run that commemorates the 20 men and their dog teams who relayed crucial diphtheria serum from Nenana to Nome in 1925. "Alaska's patriarch of adventure," as the Anchorage Daily News called him in April, started the Serum Run in 1997 to highlight the history of the Iditarod.

"I was disappointed when my doctor told me I shouldn't do it this year," the Colonel reports. "He's given me some new pills for some difficulties I've had this year with a valve in my heart. But my heart's getting better - I'm walking and going to Joe's Gym in Anchorage, where I have a regular workout on the weight machines. I'm going to be able to do the Serum Run next year."

The Colonel's 1995 book My Life of Adventure (Stackpole Books), sums up his philosophy of life with a simple, yet inspiring motto: "Dream Big and Dare to Fail."

Sold to the Man in the Horns -- The 75-ft. oak and pine Viking ship that sailed from Iceland to Newfoundland to great fanfare in 2000, is languishing in Brewer Pilot Points Marina in Westbrook, Conn., as its owner seeks a buyer. The "Icelander" ("Islendingur" in Icelandic) was built by Icelandic shipbuilder Capt. Gunnar Marel Eggertsson, a direct descendant of Leif Eiriksson. Fireboats and local news crews welcomed the ship's arrival in Boston, Providence, Mystic Seaport, New Haven, and New York City as it commemorated the 1,000th anniversary of Leif Eiriksson's discovery of the New World.

Eggertsson had hoped to sell it to a museum, or to the government of Iceland, but, alas, there's not much demand for Viking ships these days, especially one without a head (i.e. restroom). The ship was recently listed on eBaymotors.com for $600,000 and even received one bid, but it failed to meet the reserve. Looking for a gift for the man or woman who has everything? The good captain relisted the Viking ship on eBaymotors.com this month. (For more information: contact Capt. Eggertsson in Iceland at (+35) 4894 2874; agbj@isl.is).


Underwater Flight School Takes Off - Hawkes Ocean Technologies of Pt. Richmond, Calif., is inviting a few intrepid individuals, including explorers, filmmakers, and pioneer sub-sea aviators, to help open what is reportedly the world's first underwater flight school in the Bahamas this fall. Upon successful completion of the course, pilots will be licensed as the first Sub-Sea Aviators.


Sleeping with the Fish at Jules' Undersea Lodge

Underwater habitats have intrigued us for decades - ever since we viewed the small-scale models of the submersible hotels within the Futurama ride in the General Motors pavilion of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. Thus, imagine our excitement about the prospect of visiting the world's first and only, true-to-life, honest-to-goodness underwater hotel - the Jules' Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Fla., opened in 1986. Alas, the experience was somewhat underwhelming.

Rather than some futuristic-looking spaceship-like habitat located next to some beautiful reef, as we had imagined, the Jules Verne Lodge is essentially a sunken 50-ft. motorhome at the bottom of a 30-ft. tropical mangrove lagoon off Route 1, just down the road from a Tom Thumb convenience store and The Shell Man store.

In fact, Jules' Undersea Lodge began life as the stark and utilitarian La Chalupa research laboratory, an underwater lab used to explore the continental shelf off the coast of Puerto Rico. The habitat served as the site of the historic 1995 sea-space link-up in which ocean pioneers astronaut Scott Carpenter and Ian Koblick, co-developer of the habitat and president of Key Largo Undersea Park, spoke with astronaut Mike Gernhardt aboard the space shuttle Endeavour.

You park the car, don scuba gear (visitors must have at least minimal dive training and be over the age of 10), then descend 28 feet to what appears to be a barnacle-encrusted barge on 8-ft. stilts. You duck inside and surface through an interior four-by-six foot "moon pool" - no doors or air locks. Air pressure inside the unit prevents water from flooding the lodge. Inside are hot showers, a kitchen, telephone, air conditioning, books, music and videos. The experience to some is life altering. One couple decided to change their careers and open a dive shop. Another named their baby "Jules," when they realized their unborn child had accompanied them on their adventure in undersea living.

And others, undoubtedly, visit to make little mermaids of their own. In fact, a honeymoon package for $1,050 per night for two offers exclusive use of the facility, fresh flowers, caviar, and meals (a "mer-chef" descends with gourmet food cooked topside, then reheated in a microwave). Pizza delivery from a local store is also offered to those with a sudden craving for anchovy.

A romantic experience? Hardly. The lodge is under 24-hour constant surveillance from a land-based "Command Center," lest aqua guests wake up in a pool of rapidly rising water. There are cameras inside the lodge, but fortunately, only in the "wet room" entranceway. The bedrooms are private, except for 42-in. portholes that occasionally provide amusement to the bored angelfish and parrotfish floating by. (For more information: www.jul.com; rates start at $350 per person per night).


Expedition Public Relations - Alex Foley & Associates specializes in expedition PR. Alex Foley is honorary secretary of the Explorers Club British Chapter and has executed PR programs for many ventures including the 1996 Titanic Expedition and recently, Ice Challenger, the Bering Strait expedition flying Explorers Club Flag 176A this March. (www.icechallenger.com). Contact: Alex Foley & Associates Ltd. (London, UK), alexfoley@btinternet.com Tel: (+44) 207 352 3144; Mobile: (+44) 797 671 3478.

Absolute Adventure Himalaya Climbing Expeditions with Daniel Mazur Announcing new lowered prices due to recent events.

These are full service expeditions, including Sherpa and all costs inside Nepal: Amadablam 2002-05, $3,950; Kangchenjunga 2002, $6,950; Manaslu 2003, $6,950; Dhaulagiri 2004, $6,950; Pumori 2002-05, $3,950. We now offer our new low-budget expeditions: Mustagh-Ata 2002-05, $1,450; Cho-Oyu 2002-05, $4,650; Everest 2002-05, $6,000. Everything for the novice, intermediate and expert since 1987. 206-329-4107, summitclimb@earthlink.net www.summitclimb.com

Join the AAC - Founded in 1902, The American Alpine Club is dedicated to promoting climbing knowledge, conserving mountain environments, and serving the American climbing community.

Your membership benefits include: rescue insurance, timely publications, expedition endorsements, library privileges, discounts, advocacy, and much more. Call 303 384 0110 or log onto www.americanalpineclub.org.

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 28 Center Street, Darien, CT 06820 USA. Tel. 203 855 9400, fax 203 855 9433, blumassoc@aol.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jessica Brown. ©2002 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr.; international postal rate US$46/yr. Credit card payments accepted through www.paypal.com. Highlights from EXPEDITION NEWS can be found at www.expeditionnews.com and www.webexpeditions.net. Layout and design by Nextwave Design, Seattle.

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