May 2007 – Volume Fourteen, Number Five
EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 13th 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.
EXPEDITION TAKES A BITE OUT OF MALARIA
In an effort to kick off Malaria Awareness Day and Africa Malaria Day, South African adventurer Kingsley Holgate has begun a one-year Africa Outside Edge Expedition circumnavigating the continent of Africa through 33 countries following the famous Portuguese spice route. Together with Holgate, employees of Nando's, a South African sauce company, will hand out tens of thousands of mosquito nets to remote African villages to help prevent malaria, the silent killer that claims one child every 30 seconds and over one million people each year. Holgate, the self-professed "old grey beard of African adventure," will circumnavigate clockwise in a Land Rover and inflatable boat.
Holgate is working with USAID, The Global Fund, the U.S. President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), as well as with volunteers. The private sector is also kicking in monetary support, from companies including Nando's Peri-Peri Sauces, Land Rover, Captain Morgan rum, and Garmin GPS, to help distribute mosquito nets, books and reading glasses in remote villages throughout Africa. When placed over a bed, mosquito nets are a simple lifesaving solution that lasts approximately four years and are the most effective between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. when female mosquitoes usually bite and transmit malaria.
Globally, 500 million people are infected with malaria every year, with 90 percent of all malaria cases found in Africa. Most often, nets will be used by one mother and two of her children, making this initiative extremely important to the future generations of Africa. Pregnant women and children under the age of five are most susceptible. (For more information: www.KingsleyHolgate.co.za)
Pan-American Road Trip Gets Derailed
In April 2006, New Yorkers Karen Catchpole and Eric Mohl embarked on the Trans-Americas Journey, a three-year, 70,000-plus mile cross-country and cross-continental drive. Or so they thought. The overland journey, in a Chevy Silverado, was supposed to be an exploration of the byways and back roads of North America, Central America and South America (See EN, April 2006).
In late March, the husband and wife team wrote supporters that after receiving verbal commitments from Chevrolet to support the Trans-Americas Journey with a Silverado truck, Chevy abruptly pulled out of the partnership and asked that they return the vehicle. Staff and budget cuts were given as the primary reason for backing out.
The two left jobs and an apartment in New York City believing they had a solid vehicle partner for the full journey. "We are committed to continuing the Trans-Americas Journey as planned and we are very sad to be losing our Silverado which has been a star performer over the past 11 months and more than 42,000 miles," they write. "Our vehicle has always been the third member of the Trans-Americas Journey team and we are focused on finding a replacement for the truck we are about to lose." (For more information: Trans-Americas.com)
Steger Plans Ahead to 2008
Polar explorer Will Steger, still in the midst of his Baffin Island expedition (See EN, April 2007), is already thinking ahead to 2008 - last month he announced his next project. Next spring, five young adults, ages 20 to 23, will join Steger on a 1,200-mile dogsled expedition across Ellesmere Island. There they will follow in the footsteps of three legendary polar explorers: Robert Peary, Frederick Cook, and Otto Sverdrup.
They will visit ice shelves that have collapsed due to global warming and those that are on the brink of collapsing. Crossing fjords, mountain ranges, and sea ice, the expedition team will record the impact global warming has had on the northern coast of the third largest and northernmost island in the Canadian Arctic.
Steger hopes the 2008 Ellesmere Island Expedition will inspire and mobilize the next generation of explorers and eyewitnesses to global warming. "These youth will travel over northern Ellesmere, an area that has undergone significant warming in recent decades, to document the effect of climate change on the island," Steger said.
"There is no better time than now: the Ward Ice Shelf experienced a major breakup during the summer of 2002 and the Ayles Ice Shelf calved entirely in August 2005. The expedition will include the historical perspective of other crossings, including Robert Peary's in 1906, when the ice shelf was continuous. Using expedition journals and archived photos, the team will retrace historical routes to examine how conditions have changed due to global warming," says Steger. (For more information: GlobalWarming101.com)
Record-breaking helicopter pilots Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodill reached the South Pole last January - a significant milestone in their attempt to set a new world record for flying around the world via the South and North Poles in a cherry-red Bell Helicopter 407.
This is the pilots' second attempt to set this record, their first attempt in 2003 ending in near disaster when on Dec. 20th, 58 days into their journey and two days after reaching the South Pole, they crashed in whiteout conditions on the Ronne Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Both pilots sustained serious injuries and their crash was reported by media around the globe. Many might have called it a day after such an experience but Jennifer, 66, and Colin, 55, were determined to re-attempt the challenge. (See EN, July 2000 and January 2004).
They started this new attempt last December, taking off from Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth. The two are working in partnership with the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) with IBG, to give a core group of 30 schools along the route and children worldwide the opportunity to take part in a global environmental, online project. The pilots have visited many of the schools taking part in the project. Jennifer has written a book, Broken Journey, about her 2003 record attempt.
At press time, the two whirlybirds were returning from the North Pole and had landed in Igloolik, Nunavut, where she writes about the local lifestyles, "...apparently lots of inbreeding but no orphans or abandoned children because there's always a relative somewhere who will happily take them in and no stiff laws to say 'no.'
Bulk food supplies come in twice a year by barge and are much cheaper than the Co-op. If you forget to order your new fridge then you have to wait a year. Unemployment is high, but they're all hunters of seal and polar bear - 90 percent is for home consumption, the rest is 'trophy' hunting, a good income source." (For more information: PolarFirst.com)
Remember that TV blooper by Cynthia Izaguirre of KOAT -TV7 in Albuquerque wherein she introduces famed blind climber Erik Weihenmayer's as a "gay" climber, then immediately corrects herself? (See EN, December 2006). While that continues to be going strong with about 700,000 YouTube views at press time (search: "gay and blind"), Weihenmayer has received yet another 15 minutes of fame, sort of.
On the Simpsons TV show recently, the family is watching a blind mountain climber on TV. Two sighted climbers reach the summit and say, "This view makes it all worthwhile." Then the blind climber gets to the top, and the sighted guys say, "You made it," to which the blind guy responds, "Yeah, and no thanks to you."
The Earth Expedition – Beginning next March, Daren Wendell, 25, of Beloit, Wisc., will begin an estimated 6-1/2 to 7-1/2 year continuous attempt to walk around the world. He plans to start at Springer Mountain, Ga., on the Appalachian Trail (Georgia to Maine).
Continuing the first leg will take him east out of Maine into New Brunswick and to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he will then fly to the western coast of Portugal for leg 2. From there he travels east through Portugal, Spain, France Italy, and Switzerland leading him to Leg 3. This leg will take him through Austria, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine. Leg 4 will take him through Russia. Leg number 5 and 6 will involve a walk, swim or paddle across the frozen Bering Strait (assuming the sea ice cooperates and he receives the necessary permits), through Alaska and Canada then back home.
Wendell attended Kentucky Christian University and is currently a minister to junior and senior high school students at Central Christian Church in Beloit. Last year, he bicycled 4,500 miles across the U.S. He plans to pay for the trip himself, supplemented by private and corporate sponsorship. (For more information: Daren Wendell, (+1) 608-931-7663, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Peace Breaks Out and Nepal is Full of Climbers Again – Mountaineers are flocking to Nepal this spring to ascend the Himalayas, as peace returned to the mountainous country following the end of the decade-old conflict.
Mid-March to May is the ideal season for climbing the Himalayas, and at press time, 57 expeditions have received permission to scale different mountains, of which 22 are for Mt. Everest, said Nepal's Tourism Division of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, last month.
The number has already exceeded the total number of expedition permissions that the government issued during the whole of last spring season, the ministry said. According to officials, the government had granted permission to 53 expedition teams last year, which included 17 permits to ascend Everest.
Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, said the publicity surrounding the proposed Olympics expedition on Everest scheduled for next year has resulted in increased interest by adventure tourists to scale the world's highest peak. A preparatory team for Olympics Expedition 2008 is attempting to summit Everest from China's north side this season, which includes around 250 members, many from media.
The trekkers and mountaineers make up around 20 percent of the total tourist arrivals in Nepal. Tourist arrivals grew by a staggering 32 percent to 82,857 in the first three months of 2007 due to relatively peaceful conditions in the country.
Ten-Year-Old Tells Martha About Seven Summits Quest – While most fifth graders enjoyed spring break at the beach or at grandma's house, ten-year-old Jordan Romero of Big Bear, Calif., moved one step closer to his goal of becoming the youngest person to climb the highest peak on each of the seven continents. On April 5, Jordan and his family successfully reached the top of Australia's highest peak, Mt. Kosciuszko.
Last July, Jordan began his quest for the Seven Summits when he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in a speedy three and half days. Next on Jordan's list is Mt. Elbrus in Russia. He plans to head to Russia this July during his summer break from school. With the support of his father and stepmother, both world-class adventure racers on Team SOLE, Jordan plans to bag Mt. Aconcagua in Chile at the end of the year. He then hopes to finish his Seven Summits quest by climbing Mt. Everest before his sixteenth birthday.
Meanwhile, he's become a media darling with a cover story in Weekly Reader and an appearance on Martha! – the Martha Stewart Show last February. His major sponsors are Kahtoola, Salomon, and SOLE Custom Footbeds. To raise even more funds, he's selling official Jordan Romero t-shirts on his Web site for $20. (For more information: www.JordanRomero.com).
Sir Edmund Hillary: "Keep the Mountains Clean" – Sir Edmund Hillary, 87, has urged people to keep the mountains clean. Nearly 1,800 people have summitted the world's highest peak since Hillary and his Nepali Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first achieved the historic ascent in 1953. Speaking about his own expedition more than 50 years ago, Hillary said it was one of the most satisfying adventures of his career.
"If you attempt Mount Everest with considerable care and don't get carried away by foolish efforts, the satisfaction from climbing the mountain is very considerable," Hillary said. Hillary added that today's mountaineers were able to overcome almost any problem due to technical advances.
"The mountaineering has become much more technical than when Tenzing and I climbed the peak and there are some really excellent climbers who seem to be able to overcome almost any great problem," he told Asian News International.
Over the years, the slopes have become a dumping ground with mountaineers leaving behind tons of supplies, climbing gear, oxygen bottles, gas cans, batteries and ropes. Nepali and foreign climbers have removed some of the garbage in recent years, but Hillary said it was not enough.
"It's very important for people in the mountains to treat the mountains with considerable respect and do all they can to protect them," Hillary said. "It's been a considerable problem, but people have tried to clean up the mountain and some good work has been done, but not enough perhaps.
"There is still lots to be done to keep the mountains like Everest, to keep them clean and wholesome," he added.
Hillary's Himalayan Trust not only supports dozens of schools, but also funds two hospitals in the remote Solukhumbhu region, home to Mount Everest and to the Sherpas, the yak-herding tribe known for their climbing skills.
The Art of Exploration – To explore and understand the world has been the motivating force for the growth of human culture. The Art of Exploration, an innovative new program melding arts and sciences, was created to inspire young people by introducing them to explorers and artists. The Art of Exploration utilizes the examples of individuals to ignite that questing spirit in young people to reach beyond the ordinary to experience the extraordinary.
The program grew out of discussions that Milbry Polk, co-founder and executive director of Wings WorldQuest, an organization that celebrates the accomplishments of women explorers and promotes scientific exploration and education, had with Ginger Head, founder and director of Imagination Celebration of Fort Worth, an organization which for the last 20 years has been creating art based programs. The Art of Exploration is offered to the public through special events, lectures, films and exhibitions.
Programs planned in the next year include space architect Constance Adams, NASA scientist Nathalie Cabrol, composer Arturo Rodriguez, and explorers sharing their discoveries about sound, plants and global warming and polar exploration. (For more information: Milbry Polk at email@example.com)
Great Gobi Expedition Seeks Participants – There are spaces on an expedition to Mongolia this summer for self-funded participants. The Scientific Exploration Society (SES) has recently undertaken two successful expeditions to Mongolia – working with eminent Mongolian scientists, discoveries were made of rare endemic flora and dinosaur fossils in the Gobi desert.
This summer, a team of approximately 12-14 people, led by Steven Ballantyne of SES have been granted special permission to undertake paleontological work and other projects in the Great Gobi Protected Area A, in the south-west of the country. The work includes undertaking research of the two-humped Bactrian camel, the Wild Horse (Khulan) and the Gobi bear - all endangered species that live in the conservation area. (For more information on this expedition and to learn the story of Bella, the very rare double nosed dog, visit ses-explore.org)
Kayak 4 a Kure – Kayak 4 a Kure is an Amarillo, Texas-based non-profit organization committed to fighting children's cancers through kayak expeditions. This month, two men, John Dubina and Louis Breckenridge, have started a month-long expedition in a triple kayak from the headwaters of the Mississippi River (Lake Itasca, Minn.), to the Gulf of Mexico, 2,400 miles south.
The 10-state expedition hopes to raise $500,000 to benefit research for finding a cure to childhood cancers. (For more information: Louis Breckenridge, (+1) 806-223-3914, firstname.lastname@example.org)
An Expedition About Nothing – Jerry Seinfeld had a long-running TV show that was about nothing. Now an expedition will be launched in June focused on the same topic. On June 11, the German artists FallerMiethStssiWeck (FMSW) are going to mark the geographical zero-point in the Gulf of Guinea with "nothing."
The Expedition Toward Zero will leave Hamburg, Germany in early May in a container ship headed to the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean southwest of Africa. It also happens to encompass the intersection of the zero-longitude line (Prime Meridian) and the equator.
The geographical zero-point is the starting point of the world map coordinate system. Once there, FMSW is going to circle point zero by motorboat and then, at the point closest to zero, plunge a stainless steel ball into the ocean. The ball will contain a vacuum of 0,000001 bar, which the artists say is the best possible approximation to nothing. OK then. We're guessing the world might be a bit well, under whelmed by all this, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust
How's That Again? – Der Spiegel, Germany's largest national magazine, ran an April 4 story on the search for Amelia Earhart. Why are Americans still interested in the disappearance of the famed aviatrix?
The writer, Joachim Hoelzgen, theorizes, "America lost its illusions because of the war in Iraq. There are at present no heroes with whom the national soul identifies itself. The everyday anxiety and disorder of the nation simply do not permit that. Soon, however, that will change because shortly the 70th anniversary of the death of an all-American heroine is approaching - and new, astonishing details on her disappearance in the central Pacific have emerged. It's all about female aviator Amelia Earhart, champion of equal rights and first person to cross the Atlantic after Charles Lindbergh."
(Those who might take issue with that statement can reach Hoelzgen at email@example.com)
Return to Everest 3D – Giant screen filmmakers MacGillivray Freeman Films announced last month the production of the 3D giant screen adventure Return to Everest 3D, a follow-up to the company's giant screen blockbuster Everest. The production marks the first time the world's tallest mountain will be filmed in IMAX 3D.
Return to Everest 3D is directed by two-time Academy Award nominee Greg MacGillivray (The Living Sea, Dolphins) and produced by MacGillivray and his son Shaun MacGillivray.
Starring in the production are two of the original stars of Everest, Jamling Norgay of Nepal and Spanish climber Araceli Segarra, whose successful 1996 ascent to the summit and subsequent appearance in Everest made them international stars. Everest has grossed more than $136 million in worldwide ticket sales, making it the highest grossing IMAX Theatre film of all time. It was the first and only giant screen film to reach Variety's Top 10 Box Office list.
For Return to Everest 3D, Norgay and Segarra will return to the storied 'Goddess Mother of the World' not to conquer the summit but to assist the Nepalese Sherpa whose livelihood depends on the mountain. While Sherpas know the perils and moods of Everest intimately, they often lack critical climbing and communication skills, which has led to a number of deaths on the mountain in recent years.
Return to Everest 3D will also follow a medical research expedition seeking to turn Everest into a working laboratory. Doctors on the Caudwell Xtreme Everest Expedition will risk their lives to study the impact of extreme altitude on the human body and reportedly bring back the first blood and tissue samples taken from the summit. The results of their studies will benefit the treatment of critically ill intensive care patients whose low blood oxygen levels mirror those of climbers at altitude.
The film is slated for release to IMAX Theatres and other giant screen cinemas in March 2009, eleven years after Everest was released to international acclaim. (For more information: www.MacFreeFilms.com)
Man vs. Nature – Vermont adventure writer James M. Tabor, author of Forever on the Mountain (Norton, July 2007), was asked by the Wall Street Journal (Apr. 28) to list his favorite five first-person accounts depicting man vs. nature at its most riveting. His choices: In the Amazon Jungle by Algot Lange (1912); Shackleton's Boat Journey by F.A. Worsley (1933); The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922); K2: The Savage Mountain by Charles S. Houston and Robert H. Bales (1954); and Minus 148 Degrees by Art Davidson (1969).
Women Fall for History Channel Explorer – The New York Times has been fawning over Josh Bernstein, 36, the star of "Digging for the Truth" on the History Channel. In an Apr. 22 story about Bernstein's appearance at The Explorers Club, writer Stacey Stowe says the first question gushed after a Feb. 5 talk came from a "well-groomed youngish woman who asked, 'Do you want to have children?'" Another question was "Does he intend to settle down?"
The Times reported "urban women with thousand dollar handbags lined up for autographs from Bernstein ... who flashed his 'square-toothed snow-white smile.'" Bernstein is said to have a largely female fan base. Tee Faircloth, a friend of Bernstein's and owner of F.M. Allen, the safari outfitter on Madison Avenue, rhetorically asked the newspaper, "Can he be that good looking and that smart and charming?" On the air, Bernstein says with a serious look, "We're digging for the truth, and we're going to extremes to do it."
Doing Things Right – Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard is profiled in an Apr. 2 Fortune magazine story by Susan Casey. She writes, "Scaling the likes of Yosemite's El Capitan, Chouinard had learned big lessons. The biggest was that reaching the summit had nothing to do with where you arrived and everything to do with how you got there. Likewise, he thought, with business: The point was not to focus on making money; focus on doing things right, and the profits would come."
Casey says a quotation from the legendary Sierra Club executive director, David Brower, is the first thing you see when you walk into Patagonia headquarters in Ventura, Calif. It reads simply: "There is no business to be done on a dead planet."
ON THE HORIZON
Mountainfilm 2007, May 25-28 – Currently in its 29th year, the Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride, Colo., is a four-day, six-senses experience of art, adventure, culture and the environment. It attracts filmmakers, photographers, conservationists, mountaineers and explorers from around the world.
A special focus of film programming this year will be on the Eiger, sometimes called "the Everest of the Alps." In honor of the Eiger, the festival will be showing a brand new 35mm print of the classic Hollywood thriller The Eiger Sanction. Also planned: a celebration of the legendary alpinist John Harlin II. In 1962 he was the first American to climb the Eiger, the same mountain where he lost his young life four years later. Carrying on in his father's steps, John Harlin III will be a special guest for 2007 and will discuss his father's legacy as well as his own experiences. (For more information: MountainFilm.org)
Reel Rock Rocks On – Sender Films and Big UP Productions have announced the 2007 Reel Rock Film Tour, an annual event that showcases the best new films about the sport of climbing and brings together communities of climbers, outdoor enthusiasts and film aficionados for high-energy evenings of entertainment.
This year's Reel Rock Film Tour highlights Chris Sharma's King Lines, which will take audiences globetrotting alongside Chris Sharma, 25, as he discovers and climbs the world's most outrageously difficult and beautiful rock climbing formations.
The 2007 Reel Rock Film Tour kicks off with shows in California and Colorado in early September, the start of an expanded, two-month schedule that will reach as many as 60 cities in North America and beyond. The 2007 Reel Rock Tour is presented by Windstopper, and sponsored by Climbing Magazine, Evolv, Prana and Petzl. (For more information: www.ReelRockTour.com).
Alanarnette.com – From time to time the EN staff likes to log onto Alan Arnette's personal Web site where he shares adventures through detailed reports, pictures, videos and dispatches sent directly from the mountains. The site has climbing resources that list climbing gear, training ideas, links to guides, web sites, books and even a guide to digital photography for climbers. Arnette, 50, is a retired tech industry executive based in Colorado who is a passionate amateur alpine mountaineer. He started climbing at age 38 with Mont Blanc being his first high peak. He caught the fever and gained experience while learning new skills in Alaska, on Rainier, the Tetons and the Colorado 14ers. He went on to climb on Everest, Cho Oyu, Broad Peak, Aconcagua, Denali, Ama Dablam and others. (For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
"The Nepal government department which oversees climbing was in touch with me a few weeks ago. When I lived there in the 60's I helped in establishing such a department - initially under the Ministry of Tourism.
"You mention an Everest expedition dealing with the effects of altitude on humans. I was told that 102 expeditions have stated this purpose for visiting Everest. It is the government's belief that people are using Everest because they can obtain more advantageous expedition funding because of the mountain's cache.
"Many of these trips are jaunts meant for personal enjoyment. Altitude experiments can just as well be made on McKinley, etc. Interestingly, the first such scientific expedition was the 1961 expedition of Ed Hillary which sought "effects of altitude on humans."
"Government agencies in Nepal need to close down the 'Everest Superhighway' to save the trail, permit trees to grow, etc. But I'm not holding my breath. Unfortunately, Nepal receives revenue from trekking fees to Sagarmatha National Park."
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It has been worn to the summit of Everest on at least two occasions.
Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad – LEKI, the world's largest ski, trekking and Nordic Walking pole company, Buffalo, N.Y., introduces three new P2 Grip/Strap Trekking Poles for 2007.
Lengthen and shorten the pole strap with the one touch locking tab on top. Grips are vented to reduce weight.
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