Expedition News
May 2006 – Volume Thirteen, Five

EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 12th year, is the monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online 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 May 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


A team of five adventurers are planning a rigorous trip to northern Alaska this August, one of the most desolate regions of the world. According to team member Pietro Simonetti, 32 from Boulder, Colo., this area of Alaska has been described as the Africa of 300 years ago. “Only about 100 people per year venture in this region, and almost all of them travel half-way along the Kongakut river in the month of June,” he tells EN.

“The ecosystem is basically untouched and it's not an exaggeration to say that some of the lateral valleys by the headwaters of the Kongakut river might have never seen any human presence. We will have to deal with grizzly bears, musk ox, wolves, hundreds of thousands of caribou, the largest concentration of eagles in North America, polar bears and whales ­– from glaciers and mountain tops, to floating icebergs in a span of 14 days.”

In-kind and cash sponsorship is being sought. Major sponsors are Bergans, Black Diamond and Kokatat. Proceeds will be donated to the Colorado Cancer Foundation. (For more information: Pietro Simonetti, 720 304 1259, pietro@acrosstheatlas.com, AcrossTheAtlas.com)


Polar Vet Snowshoes to North Pole – On Apr. 26, Canadian explorer Richard Weber, 46, and Briton Conrad Dickinson, 50, became the first to snowshoe to the North Pole. No skis, no dry suits for crossing open water, only snowshoes on an often harrowing, frequently surprising 880 km journey. The two men struggled through hundreds of kilometers of ice rubble and day after day of almost zero visibility on the 52-day, 12-hour trek that saw Weber falling through the ice. UV exposure left both men with badly swollen faces.

Dot’s All Folks – Early this year, Western Union delivered its last telegram, 150 years after the company revolutionized communications by zapping messages across the U.S. in less than an hour – delivering news at what was then amazing speed, rather than the days or weeks it might take to send a letter from Boston to Los Angeles.

Telegrams frequently heralded the latest exploration achievement. The Explorers Club library has an impressive, if delicate, collection. Says the EC’s Clare Flemming, curator of Research Collections, “Telegrams for the past century served the same function as e-mail does today i.e. the urgent and immediate need to relay information. As such, telegrams were not created for posterity. Add to this that they are generally written on the cheapest paper, which, like newsprint, yellows quickly and becomes very brittle. We are, therefore, fortunate to have telegrams in our archives at all.”

Fleming continues, “Telegrams, originally handwritten, and later mechanically prepared, serve as vital links to a very specific moment in time.”


“Every once in a while, rushing about, my belief in pace rises up, slows me down and grants me a view of a sunset (or) a smile from a stranger.” – Phil Powers, executive director of the American Alpine Club. During a "This I Believe" essay that aired Apr. 3 on NPR's "All Things Considered,” he goes on to say, “When I was 19, I learned something called the ‘rest step’ from an old mountain climber named Paul Petzoldt. He advised me to rest in the middle of each step completely, but briefly.

“The rest step, which I still practice today, allows me to walk or climb with little effort. I can move very quickly yet still find a pause in every step. The awareness of pace I owe to my teacher has served me whether I am seeking the world's highest summits, sharing my love for the mountains with others or kneeling to look my son, Gus, in the eye when he has a question.”

Read the entire essay


Everest Tragedy 10 Years Later

May marks the 10th anniversary of the Mt. Everest climbing tragedy, covered ad infinitum by the media, an IMAX film, a PBS documentary, LIFE magazine, and in Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. EN wondered whether those fateful days would have played out any differently if the climbers in 1996 had the technology available today.

One man who should know is Jim Williams, a guide on Mt. Everest for eight out of the last 12 years. He was a guide for Alpine Ascents International in 1996 and as a result was part of the effort to insure the safety of those who survived the crisis high on the mountain. He tells EN:

“In my opinion the events of 1996 were the result of competition and not related to technology. The folks involved were looking at future sales and ‘making the summit’ rather than client safety or the well being of themselves or their teams.

“The tech stuff has not really helped make the climb safer, less risky or easier. It simply has made communication with those who are not there easier. We had the same radios 10 years ago that we have today.”


Steger North Pole Expedition Looks Back – It began in Paul Schurke's garage in Ely and ended with six frostbitten explorers standing at the North Pole. The Steger International Polar Expedition turns 20 this spring. After 55 days on the drifting ice of the Arctic Ocean, six of the original eight team members reached the North Pole on May 1, 1986. The expedition captured the hearts and minds of Minnesotans like no expedition has since, according to a story by Sam Cook of the Duluth News Tribune. Cook covered the expedition in 1986, and looked back at the historic project in a story that ran Apr. 23.

“Using sextant navigation and relying on the strength of 49 sled dogs, the six-member team led by Ely's (Minn.) Will Steger and Schurke made history. They were the first expedition confirmed to have reached the pole without outside resupply, using traditional navigation,” Cook writes.


Click for Greenland – Kiehl’s, the chichi cosmetic company, tested its Ultra Facial Cream moisturizer on Robert Anderson’s 2005 Greenland First Ascents Expedition. So to celebrate the debut of their newest goop, it launched ClickForGreenland.com on Earth Day (Apr. 22). For the first 500,000 clicks, it will donate 25 cents to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s fund to save Greenland’s polar ice sheets, which are melting due to global warming.


TV Producer – Seeks explorers for interviews, stories and photographs. Contact: HawkPhotography.net, hawkfoto@optonline.net

Powering Your Expedition – Electrical power for Scientific, Video and Film operations. Custom and modular systems. Easily portable. Choose from disposable (lightest) to Solar (ongoing supply for base camps) fuel cells and rechargeable systems. Expedition Battery used worldwide for extreme conditions.

Stuart Cody
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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. Click here to subscribe to the full edition.. Highlights from EXPEDITION NEWS can be found at ExpeditionNews.com and WebExpeditions.net. Layout and design by Nextwave Design, Seattle.
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