Expedition News
April 2005 – Volume Twelve, Number Four

EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 10th year, is the monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online and via snail 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 our April issue, but this is only part of the story. Click here to subscribe to the full edition. or e-mail us for a free sample copy at editor@ExpeditionNews.com


Two young climbers, one a Columbia Business School student, the other studying for an MBA at Wharton, will be researching mental capacities on Everest this spring. The project will be conducted in cooperation with scientists from Brown and Harvard University who are performing research on behalf of NASA. During the climb, the team will be using PDA-based software-dubbed MiniCog-that enables the assessment of mental functions and the deterioration of cognitive ability at altitude.


Baffin Island, located in the Canadian Arctic, is the setting for the Baffin Island Kite and Ski Expedition, April 25 - May 25, a multi-sport exercise in adventure and teamwork between The North Face-sponsored athletes and local Inuit people. The objective of this ski mountaineering expedition will be for Hilaree Nelson, Meg Oster, Ingrid Backstrom and Kasha Rigby to make numerous first descents along the majestic fjord land of the remote and seldom visited east coast of Baffin Island.

Solo Sub-artic Canoe Expedition PLANNED

Alaskan adventurer Brian K. Holder is about to embark on a thousand mile, five-week, unsupported, solo expedition on the Mackenzie River in Canada's Northwest Territories.

This is Holder's second solo expedition. The first was on Alaska's largest lake – Iliamna. That venture included camping in close proximity to large Grizzlies and days with "zillions" of black flies. Holder's upcoming trip may have a similar environment but the scale is considerably larger. "Seventy maps are required to cover this area," he said. The voyage will begin in June and conclude in late August.


Vaughan Hopes to Climb Namesake Mountain – He's suffering from congestive heart disease and confined to a wheelchair, yet Alaskan explorer Norman Vaughan, 99, is still determined to summit the 10,300-ft. peak in Antarctica named after himself (See EN, May 2002). According to the Mar. 20 New York Times, a team including veteran mountaineer Brian Horner, will likely help Vaughan summit in a specially rigged sled dubbed the Norm-Hauler.


EGAD! – Mar. 19-20 was no ordinary weekend for the 101-year old Explorers Club in New York. It was time once again for the organization's cherished Explorers Club Annual Dinner (ECAD). The black tie fundraiser is the oldest, continuously held annual dinner in New York. The weekend featured board meetings, chapter meetings, and a new member reception, during which time newcomers touring the organization's New York headquarters learned about a rather delicate piece of a whale's anatomy.

The sight of the whale's, er, manhood, undoubtedly stuck in the minds of many in the group, until supplanted by the Waldorf-Astoria's own version of Fear Factor – the annual dinner's exotic hors d'oeuvres, featuring tarantulas, cockroaches, scorpions, crickets, rattlesnake, mealworms and beaver. After the two-hour cocktail period, there was nary a doggie bag in site. The tables were picked clean by fearless explorers and their intrepid guests. Other amusing and poignant moments included:

  • Whale of a Story – One stop on the tour of Club HQ was its aforementioned and legendary mounted whale penis. It's glued to a somewhat cheesy wooden base that looks like it might have been the inspiration for Carvel's spokescake, Fudgie the Whale. One can imagine members having a good laugh over the specimen in the days prior to 1981 when women were admitted. Today, women make up 20 percent of the Club's 3,488 members, but the penis remains nonetheless. Later, new Club members on the HQ tour met the Club's new house cat, originally named Sir Ed, but now simply nicknamed Shred.

  • A Rare Find – During its on-going effort to catalog and protect the Club's records that share the basement with Shred, the EC's library staff uncovered an especially valuable piece of exploration memorabilia. There in a box of files was a dinner program from Jan. 15, 1913 honoring Roald Amundsen, the first to reach the South Pole. It was signed by Ernest Shackleton, Cmdr. Robert E. Peary, and Amundsen. Club archivist Clare Flemming placed the program with 100 others in an acid free folder. "We carve away as best we can in the basement, to identify, preserve, and make available records of enduring value," she said, reciting the archivist's mantra. Dinner at the Amundsen event 90 years ago included green turtle soup and sweetbread with mushrooms – all rather tame compared to the ECAD's recent fare.

  • Dissing Columbus – Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson addressed ECAD to "stake a claim" on behalf of their hometown hero, Leif Eiriksson. "Icelanders see themselves as descendents of explorers and discoverers," he said. "We are a proud people so sure of ourselves that after we discovered America, we didn't bother to tell anyone else. We just wrote about it in our sagas in a language (Icelandic) no one else could understand." Later Pres. Grimsson said, "We need to ensure that our societies are open to innovation, and adopt to new ways of thinking that discoveries uncover. How is it that a small country like Iceland can be so successful? Part of the reason is the heritage of Viking exploration that we have inherited."

  • The Final FrontierEric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures, made a pitch for private space exploration. "Fewer than 500 people have traveled into space. It's one of the most exclusive clubs there is." The Explorers Club awarded one of its flags to an upcoming private expedition to the International Space Station (ISS). Anderson continued, "Space exploration must continue – it's a crucial part of who we are as human beings. It's an important part of our destiny. Private space exploration can play an important role in existing government-sponsored exploration."

  • Parting the Curtains – The 2004 Ansari X Prize pilot Brian Binnie shared what it was like to pilot the first successful private mission to space on SpaceShipOne. "For a minute-and-a-half, it's a pure adrenaline rush on the way up, followed by peace and quiet. Then, my god, there's the view. It's like someone pulled back the stage curtain for your eyes only." The X Prize will now be expanded to include future prizes for other space-related feats.

  • Report from IraqCol. Matthew Bogdanos, the Marine colonel who led the team that recovered priceless artifacts looted from the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, reported on his observations. "The Iraqi people ransacked the museum to protest against the regime. For the most part, the thefts were professional and selective. Copies were left behind, but many extraordinary pieces were taken," he said. Bogdanos, a prosecutor for the New York County District Attorney's Office, told of looters lighting foam padding to see their way in the dark, then succumbing to the fumes in the poorly ventilated space. ("Not smart"). Of his time spent in Afghanistan, he marveled that sheep and goats never seemed to step on land mines. Consequently, "we followed them everywhere."


    Trip Report: The Long Walk Returns

    By Dave Anderson

    In December 2004, Dave Anderson of Lander, Wyo., successfully completed the objectives on The Long Walk 2004 Expedition. The Long Walk is a book that documents the supposed true story of Slavomir Rawicz, who escapes from a Soviet Gulag in 1941 and walked 4,000 miles to India with only the clothing on his back and a knife and axe for supplies. For three months Dave Anderson, Lauren Edwards, Ant Chapin and Keri Bean used every type of transportation means available from their feet to horses, camels, boats, trains and airplanes to retrace Slavomir's journey. They experienced the wild and scenic beauty of two continents from the enormous Lake Baikal to the endless Gobi dessert to the thin cold air of the Himalaya. In addition to observing local culture, the expedition delivered medical supplies to remote communities. Dave Anderson reports about his trip in our April issue. For a free sample issue, send an e-mail to editor@ExpeditionNews.com


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    Book a Canadian Arctic SafariArctic Watch Lodge, founded in 2000 by polar explorer Richard Weber and his wife, Josťe Auclair, of Quebec, is now taking reservations for the summer season, July 2 – Aug. 13. Itís the vacation of a lifetime, located at a world-class beluga whale observation site, 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle on Somerset Island.

    Arctic Watch is an important stopover on the migration route of some 2,000 belugas who come to nurse their young. Kayak, raft, hike, and whale watch while staying in the 5,000 sq. ft. lodge and surrounding 16 space-age structures with duvet-covered beds and private bathrooms.

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    EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 28 Center Street, Darien, CT 06820. Tel. (+1) 203-655-1600, fax (+1) 203-655-1622, blumassoc@aol.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jamie Gribbon ©2005 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr.; international postal rate US$46/yr. Click here to subscribe to the full edition.. 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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