January 2011 – Volume Eighteen, Number One
EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 18th 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.
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THE SEARCH FOR HENRY HUDSON'S LOST WINTER CAMP
New Yorker Leslie Trager, and Canadians Rob Tymstra and Guy Bennet, will attempt to locate explorer Henry Hudson's lost winter campsite of 1610-1611 in southern James Bay, Canada, starting in September 2011.
Hudson explored the region around modern New York City while looking for a western route to Asia under the auspices of the Dutch East India Company. He explored the river that was eventually named for him, and laid the foundation for Dutch colonization of the region.
Four archaeologists, under the leadership of Eric Deetz, a Consulting Archaeologist for the James River Institute for Archaeology in Williamsburg, Virginia, will be part of the team. Deetz concentrates on the 17th century and has worked extensively in Jamestown - founded three years before Hudson sailed into James Bay. Rounding out the core group is Malcolm Lawson, a retired Royal Marine Commando who has decades of safety/rescue experience including inspecting oil rigs in Hudson Bay.
The team will search areas targeted by satellite radar data from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University showing uplift caused by isostatic rebound in the southern James Bay area over the past 400 years. (Isostatic rebound is the rising of the land after the weight of the glacier from the last ice age was removed).
According to Leslie Trager, a practicing attorney, "On the basis of this information, it is possible to determine the location of the bay which Abacuck Prickett, one of Hudson's returning men, described in his memoirs as the place where Hudson's ship was hauled out and his winter camp established. This bay no longer exists, and probably hasn't existed for the past 200 years, but we believe its existence is shown by the contour lines created from this radar data."
If successful, the expedition will not only show where Hudson camped for the winter of 1610-11, but also may indicate that he returned to this location after the June 23, 1611 mutiny and give some insight into his ultimate fate. Finding Hudson's camp is expected to verify the rate of rebound over the past 400 years to be approximately six meters (19.7 feet) in this area of James Bay. "Confirming the rate of rebound based on historical locations is far more accurate than basing it on carbon dating seashells," says Trager, who as treasurer of the New York Map Society, has presented a number of lectures on subjects relating to maps. Sponsors are being sought to support the estimated $78,000 budget. (For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org, (+1) 212-721-1192)
WHO LIVED ON PITCAIRN BEFORE THE BOUNTY ARRIVED?
An expedition in 2011 by the Pacific Islands Research Institute (PIRI) will head to Pitcairn Island in the remotest part of the southeast Pacific, home of the remaining 52 ancestors of the Bounty Mutineers. The goal is to uncover what is left of the previous culture that existed on Pitcairn prior to the arrival of the Bounty.
The Mutineers credit their survival to mature breadfruit trees, bananas and sweet potato left behind by the island's previous inhabitants. The goal of PIRI is to uncover what remains of the ancient sites. It is theorized that early Pitcairn islanders were the ancestors of the Rapa Nui of Easter Island or at least paid a significant role in the development of the Rapa Nui culture.
The Pacific Islands Research Institute, Friday Harbor, Wash., founded by Capt. Lynn Danaher, is dedicated to the study, understanding and preservation of the unique cultural heritage and fragile environment of the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Expedition sponsors are being sought. (For more information: IslandExplorer.org; Lynn@islandexplorer.org)
Bones Found, But Are They Amelia's?
Three bone fragments turned up on a deserted South Pacific island that lay along the course Amelia Earhart was following when she vanished in 1937. Nearby were several tantalizing artifacts: some old makeup, some glass bottles and shells that had been cut open.
Now scientists at the University of Oklahoma hope to extract DNA from the tiny bone chips in tests that could prove Earhart died as a castaway after failing in her quest to become the first woman to fly around the world. If these bones are hers, it would solve one of the two greatest 20th century mysteries in exploration; the other is whether George Mallory summited Everest in 1924.
"There's no guarantee," said Ric Gillespie, director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, an organization of aviation enthusiasts in Delaware that found the pieces of bone this year while on an expedition to Nikumaroro Island, about 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometers) south of Hawaii (see EN, April 2007)
"You only have to say you have a bone that may be human and may be linked to Earhart and people get excited. But it is true that, if they can get DNA, and if they can match it to Amelia Earhart's DNA, that's pretty good," Gillespie tells the Associated Press. It will be months before scientists know for sure. Since 1989, Gillespie's group has made 10 trips to the island, trying each time to find clues that might help determine the fate of Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan. Gillespie said Earhart's plane, even if it landed safely, would have been slowly dragged into the sea by the tides. The waters off the reef are 1,000 to 2,000 feet deep. Gillespie's group needs $3 million to $5 million for a deep-sea dive.
Steger Trans-Antarctica Reunion Snowed Under
It's a delicious irony that the 20th reunion of the 1990 International Trans-Antarctica Expedition (TAE), planned for St. Paul last month, was snowed out. But not just any snow: the fifth largest snowstorm in Minnesota history, yup, the same one that destroyed the roof of the Metrodome.
When the original reunion site, Hamline University, closed for the weekend, the group of 30, minus the 250 disappointed members of the general public who had tickets, met at an Embassy Suites Hotel by the airport. Steger's former wife, Patti Steger, of Steger Mukluks (Steger Mukluks) sponsored the team's rooms and food, and provided each with new mukluks for their winter visit.
During the hotel lunch, stories were shared about the 3,741-mi., seven month first non-mechanized crossing of Antarctica and its impact on the lives of those involved.
Where are they now? Dr. Qin Dahe, the team member from China, shared his work on climate change that led to his team of scientists receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. His science and data, resulting from the snow samples collected throughout Trans-Antarctica, clearly show the implications of increased CO2 in the atmosphere.
Russian team member Dr. Victor Boyarsky is now director of the Arctic and Antarctic Museum in St. Petersburg where he lives with his wife. Keizo Funatsu of Japan lives outside of Fairbanks in a cabin; he gave away his dogs for a simpler life. Geoff Somers lives in Keswick, England, and still runs the local hills daily for hours at a time, works at odd jobs, and speaks to all ages of audiences about his numerous Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. Dr. Jean-Louis Etienne of France is currently living in San Diego with his wife, Elsa, and two young sons, while he plans his next adventure.
As for Will Steger, he lives on a houseboat in downtown St. Paul when he is not in Ely, Minn. He has a staff running the Will Steger Foundation, dedicated to creating programs that foster international cooperation and leadership through environmental education and policy.
According to an editorial in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune by Nick Coleman (Dec. 4), 20 years later, looking back, Steger is astounded – and worried – by the loss of the ancient Larsen A and B ice shelves, much of which has melted, and is discouraged by the lack of public and political attention that Americans pay to the issue of climate change. (See photos from the reunion here)
Tennis Star Hospitalized After Kili Climb
Martina Navratilova was hospitalized in Kenya early last month because of fluid accumulation in her lungs that occurred the fourth day into her attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro (see EN July 2010) The 54-year-old tennis great, diagnosed with high-altitude pulmonary edema, said she endured a hair-raising four-and-a-half hour trip back down the Tanzanian mountainside atop a stretcher carried by six porters. She had reached nearly 14,800 feet when forced to give up, according to the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. She was flown to the Nairobi Hospital for more tests and has since recovered. While there, she expressed annoyance at a CNN report she saw while in the hospital.
"It was on the crawl – 'Navratilova quits Kilimanjaro climbing attempt.' Quitting would suggest I had a choice," she said. "It was either going up to die or going down - and that's not much of a choice."
She was attempting the climb to raise money and awareness for the sports foundation as part of a 27-person team. Navratilova was diagnosed with a noninvasive form of breast cancer in April. She worked as a commentator at the French Open and had radiation treatments in Paris in May. Prior to this, she had told the Associated Press she had never climbed higher than 12,000 feet.
Long-time Kilimanjaro guide and former Explorers Club president Richard Wiese tells EN, "Anyone who thinks Kili is an easy mountain has never climbed it before. I've been going there for 40 years. I've ascended it 18 times, leading about 16. You need to watch out for bargain basement climbs that rush you up there with a minimum of support."
Global Circumnavigator Erden EruÁ Completes Indian Ocean Row
The closest anyone had come to crossing the Indian Ocean by human power was in 1971 when the Swedish rower Anders Svedlund landed on a beach near Antseranana on northwest Madagasgar, having left from western Australia. Others have aimed for the Seychelles or Mauritius, with only a few successful landings. In order to be considered a complete Indian Ocean crossing, the remaining 1,200 nautical miles to reach mainland Africa must be covered.
Erden EruÁ, 49, reached Mahajanga on the northwest shores of Madagascar last Nov. 26, after 137 days alone at sea (see EN, Sept. 2010) In his words, this crossing "would certainly qualify as an adventure of a lifetime...(and) it is merely a step forward in my larger circumnavigation journey." He is now waiting for the cyclone season to end before rowing further on the southern Mozambique Channel toward mainland Africa this spring.
EruÁ, a Seattle-based adventurer, is in the midst of his Six Summits Expedition, and a human-powered global circumnavigation. EruÁ's efforts on the Indian Ocean are significant not only because he and this same rowboat are the first to have rowed on three separate oceans - Atlantic, Pacific and Indian - but also because as an ocean rower with 629 total career days spent on the world oceans, he is now ranked in second place after the late Peter Bird of the U.K. who was lost at sea on his day 937. EruÁ carries Peter Bird's logo on his rowboat in memoriam. (For more information and a look at his removal of 138 days of facial hair, log onto around-n-over.org)
"Bak-a-Yak" Creator Retires
Outdoor industry legend Skip Yowell, who co-founded JanSport in 1967, has announced his retirement from the company. What began as a passion for climbing and hiking turned into the number one selling daypack in the world. Yowell's innovative ideas did not end there; he is also credited with creating the first dome tent, waist-suspension flexible frame pack, travel pack and the panel-load daypack.
He's author of The Hippie Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder & Other Mountains, (Naked Ink, 2007) Those in the adventure sponsorship business admire him most for his innovative "Bak-a-Yak" promotion - surely one of the all-time great expedition fundraising schemes. The book outlines how Yowell raised funds for a Himalayan expedition by placing sponsor banners on this side of yaks. For the right price, he would hang the corporate banner on a fury beast, then send in a photo for the company boardroom or annual report.
While Yowell is retiring, he will continue to be a global ambassador for the JanSport brand, making appearances on its behalf as well as assisting in the design of the Skip Yowell signature line. He also serves on the board of directors of Big City Mountaineers, which enhances the lives of under-resourced urban teens through transformative outdoor experiences.
Says Yowell in a statement to the outdoor industry, "My to-do list is long and I have many more mountains to climb."
Hmmm, doesn't sound too retired to us.
Used Cameras Sought for Conservation Group
Reptile & Amphibian Ecology International (RAEI), a conservation ecology non-profit, has a new innovative program that puts used cameras and other equipment to work for promoting the science and art of biodiversity. RAEI accepts donations of all kinds of gear crucial to conservation ecology, from camera bodies and lenses to GPS units. The donated equipment is used by biologists and photographers in the field to document the diversity of life. Some of the gear is used by RAEI staff, but many of the recipients of the donated items are residents of impoverished regions in Ecuador, Mexico, and Cameroon, according to Dr. Paul Hamilton, executive director.
Residents of targeted study areas are chosen for their knowledge of ecosystems and fieldwork. They are then given basic gear like cameras, GPS units, and data sheets, along with training and a research manual. They are also taught the technical skills needed to take photos and field data, and given instructions on how to get their photos and data to biologists who can use them. A list of items that are particularly needed can be found at RAEI's website.
Mystic Seaport Honors Sylvia Earle
World-renowned oceanographer, marine biologist, deep sea explorer, author and Honorary President of the Shark Research Institute, Dr. Sylvia A. Earle was honored with Mystic Seaport's America and the Sea Award at a gala held in her honor at the St. Regis Hotel in New York last November.
The award honors and celebrates those who embrace the scholarship, exploration, adventure, aesthetics, competition and freedom the sea inspires. Earle has been at the forefront of deep ocean exploration for four decades. She was the first woman to walk freely on the ocean floor, and currently is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society. This was just the latest in the more than 100 national and international awards and honors that have been bestowed upon her.
Earle has led more than 70 expeditions, including the first team of women aquanauts during the Tektite Project in 1970, and has logged more than 7,000 hours underwater. In addition, she has broken several deep-diving records, including solo diving to a depth of 1,000 meters (3,281 feet)
Earle is also the founder of the Sylvia Earle Alliance (SEA) a non-profit foundation committed to the creation and expansion of marine protected areas, otherwise known as "Hope Spots." (For more information: mysticseaport.org, sylviaearlealliance.org)
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"All of us with loved ones engaged in extreme risk as a lifestyle and vocation live in dread of getting bad news, but at the same time we are wildly proud of our sons for their courage and determination to be explorers in a time when most people think terrestrial, social, and environmental exploration is over."
- Joint statement from Paul and Mary Korbulic, parents of Chris Korbulic, who with fellow American Ben Stookesberry, were horrified to witness an acclaimed South African guide named Hendrik Coetzee, 35, dragged from his kayak by a crocodile in early December. He is resumed dead. Korbulic is from Rogue River, Ore., and Stookesberry is from Mount Shasta, Calif.
The trip was a first-of-its-kind kayaking expedition from the White Nile and Congo rivers into Congo, according to a statement from Eddie Bauer, the trip's sponsor.
Jon Stewart Book Pokes Fun at Mt. Everest
There under our tree this year was the new humor book presented by The Daily Show's Jon Stewart. Earth (The Book) - A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race (Grand Central Publishing, 2010), contains a section on Mt. Everest for visiting aliens. It reads:
"This is Mt. Everest, located on the border between Nepal and Tibet in the Himalayas. At 29,029 feet (sic) above sea level, it is the highest point on earth. Everest was a metaphor for the outer limits of human achievement. Asked why he sought to conquer it, mountaineer George Mallory famously answered, 'Because it is there.'
"Today, you'll find this symbol of mankind's loftiest aspirations gaily festooned with used oxygen tanks, over 100 tons of garbage, and heaping dollops of human waste. If you visit, we're sorry for the mess. On the plus side, you will find about 120 perfectly preserved frozen corpses for your dissecting pleasure. Feel free to take any or all of them. Including George Mallory ... because he is there."
It's a Tie
NBC Today can actually be pretty funny at times, thanks to the wry sense of humor of anchor Matt Lauer. Such was the case on Dec. 21 when he asked astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson of the American Museum of Natural History to explain that morning's lunar eclipse. When Lauer innocently asked about how solar eclipses differ, Tyson pointed to his brightly painted tie and its comical illustration of a solar eclipse. Lauer cracked up and so did the crew members behind the scenes.
Hanesbrands Homerun in Oprah Magazine Would Have Made Shackleton Proud
Hanesbrands hit a homerun in the January issue of O! The Oprah Magazine with coverage by Stephanie Pearson of a mother and daughter who trekked to Everest base camp. The story focused on winners of the Hanesbrands and Champion "What's Your Everest?" promotion with climber Jamie Clarke (see EN, October 2009) Hanesbrands' name was mentioned numerously, there was a distinctive Champion "C" logo on a photo of a tent, and LaQuishia Stone, the young girl who won a trip to base camp (17,500 feet), is shown wearing a Hanesbrand shell with the Champion logo as clear as day.
It's exposure like this, in a magazine like Oprah, that will encourage other companies to send their products along on sponsored expeditions.
It's often easy to forget that the constant search for expedition sponsorship isn't a new phenomenon. It dates back as early as Christopher Columbus seeking funds to explore the New World. In more modern times, Sir Ernest Shackleton would have been proud to see sponsors thusly credited. In his book, South: The Story of Shackleton's 1914-1917 Expedition, The Boss writes in the days well before Facebook and TMZ, "The only return and privilege an explorer has in the way of acknowledgement for the help accorded him is to record on the discovered lands the names of those to whom the Expedition owes its being."
Shackleton goes on to write, "The two hundred miles of new coast-line I have called Caird Coast (ed. note: named after James Caird who gave Shackleton £24,000) Also, as a more personal note, I named the three ship's boats, in which we ultimately escaped from the grip of the ice, after the three principal donors to the Expedition - the James Caird, the Stancomb Wills, and the Dudley Docker."
Finding sponsorship then wasn't easy and it's still not easy. But it can be done with persistence and an understanding of the need for sponsors to receive maximum exposure for their support.
Exum Inks Deal with La Sportiva
Exum Mountain Guides, a year-round mountain guiding service that specializes in rock, alpine, ice and ski mountaineering, has inked a sponsorship deal with outdoor manufacturer La Sportiva N.A. Effective immediately, La Sportiva will serve as Exum's exclusive footwear sponsor for 2011 and beyond.
With over 80 years experience, Exum Mountain Guides, Jackson Hole, Wyo., are some of the most experienced and respected guides in the world. Exum is an AMGA (American Mountain Guide Association) accredited guide service with reportedly the highest number and largest percentage of certified guides of any mountain guiding service in the country. (Exum Mountain Guides)
CLIMBING FOR DOLLARS
Jeff Lowe Seeks $125K for Film
Climbing legend Jeff Lowe has just two months to raise funds for his long awaited film project, Metanoia, the story of his unrepeated solo climb of the Eiger North Face in 1991. By a Mar. 3 deadline, Lowe needs $125,000 to complete the film. At press time, 148 backers have pledged about $17,000 and author Jon Krakauer was set to narrate.
The project hopes to send its director, Academy Award nominee Greg Lowe (Jeff's brother), Jeff and a small crew back to Switzerland later this winter to film key scenes from Jeff's 1991 solo first ascent of Metanoia, on the north face of the Eiger. While there, producers hope to film the long awaited second ascent of the infamous route. Getting Jeff back up in the helicopter to direct the aerial shots is considered hugely important. A degenerative neurological disease forced him to quit climbing seven years ago.
"This is a project that we will all benefit from, as the greatest gap in mountaineering literature and films is the paucity of the stories of American climbers doing their greatest climbs around the world. This will help fill that gap," said Michael Chessler of Chessler Books.
Caught With Foot in Our Mouth
"I love Expedition News. However, the mixture of 'feet' and 'meters' is inconsistent, to say the least. Please, please, when you give distances, altitudes, etc., either print 'x feet (x meters)' or 'x meters (x feet)' If you look over your latest News, you'll see that sometimes you use feet and sometimes meters. Some consistency, please! By the way, I started climbing in the Gunks in 1974 and was a rock climbing fanatic until about 1983 or so. But all the climbs I did were listed in feet, not meters. I'm old enough to understand feet, but have trouble with meters. So giving both helps educate me."
Former Gunks climber
Dear Anita: You're absolutely right. While the international climbing community uses meters, those of us here in the States are more accustomed to feet. We'll continue to run both. - The Editors
You Want to Go Where? - How to Get Someone to Pay for the Trip of Your Dreams - The only book that not only takes you behind-the-scenes of some of the most historic and modern-day adventures and expeditions, but also provides advice on how individuals can fund and arrange their own trips.
Written by Jeff Blumenfeld, editor of Expedition News, it retells the story of explorers familiar to EN readers, including Anker, Schurke, Shackleton, Steger, Vaughan, and many others. It includes tips on communications technology, photography, writing contracts, and developing a proposal that will impress potential sponsors. Available through Amazon.com (also Kindle Edition), BarnesandNoble.com and Borders.com (Skyhorse Publishing, 2009)
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