Expedition News
September 2013 – Volume Twenty, Number Nine

EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 20th 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.


Explorers are now attempting the first circumnavigation by kayak of Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America, located approximately 12,500 feet/3810 m above sea level. They'll follow the 684-mi./1,100 km shoreline to gather scientific measurements of industrial pollution during the six-week trip. Most cities in Peru and Bolivia around the lake have no water treatment plants or insufficient sewage and all waste flows directly into the lake or via streams or rivers.

They will also take photos to create the first photographic inventory of the lake's shoreline that could be used in the future to compare coastal evolution, similar to current studies of retreating glaciers. By documenting pollution, and gathering testimonials from locals suffering water contamination or the retreat of the shore, they hope to attract outside support to reduce the contamination.

Expedition leader is Belgian explorer Louis-Philippe Loncke, a member of The Explorers Club, a London 2012 Olympic torchbearer, and ambassador for the Jane Goodall Institute Belgium.

Peruvian Gadiel Sanchez Rivera is notable for being the guide of the Walking the Amazon Expedition, traveling for two years with Brit Ed Stafford along the Amazon River. The documentary Walking the Amazon has been seen on Discovery Channel in 100 countries.

On Sept. 8 the Titikayak team blogged: "We are amazed people have never seen a kayak before. Even two 14-year-old kids had never seen a white man and found it funny I had hair on my arms."

Louis-Philippe tells EN: "Like most people, I had no idea that one of the most iconic lakes on the planet is in danger, along with the people living around it. There are numerous articles about the problems but it feels like it never gets proper attention. We need to help the towns by building infrastructures to treat water now before it's too late."

The expedition carries a flag from The Explorers Club and is sponsored in-kind by Edgar Adventures, Julbo Eyewear, Powertraveller and Select Paddles, among others. For more information


Vegan Hiker Sets Pacific Crest Trail Record

In early August, Vegan hiker Josh Garrett set a new record for thru-hiking the grueling 2,655-mile Pacific Crest Trail, with an official time of 59 days, 8 hours, 59 minutes - smashing the record of 64 days, 11 hours, and 19 minutes set by Scott Williamson in 2011 (see EN, July 2013).

Garrett, 30, a track coach and exercise physiology instructor at Santa Monica College, carried a message from the border of Mexico to Canada about the plight of animals.

Since his departure June 10, Garrett has raised awareness and funds for Mercy For Animals, a national nonprofit working to prevent cruelty to farmed animals and promote compassionate food choices and policies.

Garrett averaged 44.7 miles per day on his trek, covering terrain ranging from the blazing hot Mojave and Anzo Borrego deserts, where daytime highs exceeded 110 degrees F. in mid-June, to the steep Sierra Nevada and Cascades of the Pacific Northwest. For more information


Prince Harry Prepares for South Pole Expedition

Prince Harry will take part in a grueling 24-hour training exercise with the Walking With The Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge, ahead of the challenging expedition they will embark on in just two months' time.

Later this month, the 28-year-old Prince, who is Patron of the charity, will join the team inside special environmental test chambers which simulate the extreme conditions they will face in Antarctica.

He will acclimatize with the team, known as Team Glenfiddich, test equipment and practice the routine for the expedition in extreme conditions, including skiing and setting up camp.

The test comes two months ahead of a race to the South Pole, when Harry will join three teams of wounded servicemen and women in November and December.

Harry and his teammates, who all have either physical or cognitive injuries sustained in the line of duty, will cover more than 200 miles in total.

In the final preparation phase, the team will practice traversing the harsh terrain of Antarctica in the Cold Chamber, using cross trainers to simulate skiing for two hours at a time before taking a ten-minute break and repeating the activity for the following 12 hours.

The expedition aims to highlight the extraordinary courage and determination of the men and women who have been wounded in military service. Prince Harry was also Patron of the Walking with the Wounded trek to the North Pole in 2011 and the Everest Expedition in 2012. For more information

RGS Makes Long Flights More Bearable

If you have ever stared outside of an aircraft window wondering what's below, the Royal Geographical Society has the answer.

The 183-year-old exploration organization based in London teamed up with the Institute of British Geographers to develop the Hidden Journeys Project - a web portal containing 15 flight paths from around the world that passengers can explore, interact with and contribute to once they have flown or visited the destinations on the actual route.

What's more, the Hidden Journeys Project is constantly growing thanks to contributions from both visitors and the Hidden Journeys Flickr group. These contributions include everything from paintings, pictures or illustrations to detailed descriptions of geographic or manmade features visible from the air.

The RGS hopes the content will enrich seatback and bulkhead moving maps with geographical information about the journey and the iconic landscapes passing below. Singapore Airlines will be first to adopt the feature on new aircraft being introduced in late 2013. For more information


Antarctica Research Base Inspired by TV's Thunderbirds

A fascinating exhibition recently opened at Architecture and Design Scotland in Glasgow. "Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in Antarctica" for the first time shows examples of research stations built in the past decade. There is more than a hint of Star Trek in the air-a sense that designers and architects are making buildings that could be for outer space on Earth, according to the story by Colin Amery in the Wall Street Journal (Sept. 3).

He writes, "The early explorers built primitive wooden huts ญญ- more shelter than architecture. Today, in an accelerated leap of architectural history, the hut has been transformed into research stations that belong to an unexplored future.

"The five examples exhibited are from five countries, and they exemplify the international nature of Antarctica, which the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 defined as being free of all military activity and deemed that 'in the interests of all mankind shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes.'

"The British Antarctic Survey has been actively researching for the past 60 years, and this year it has occupied a new research station, Halley VI - the first fully movable polar station in the world. Designed by architect Hugh Broughton, it looks like a train of linked units jacked up on ski legs that can be extended as the snow rises or be towed to a new site. Broughton suggests it has links to the science fiction world of the television series Thunderbirds, with its International Rescue transporter," according to Amery.

Lighting has been designed to counter seasonal affective disorders, and the whole "train" is red, white and blue-a patriotic gesture in the desert of pristine whiteness, and a symbol of continuing British commitment to Antarctic research exactly a century after Capt. Robert Falcon Scott's pioneering journey.

Too young to remember Thunderbirds in all its 1960s "Supermarionation" cheesiness? YouTube can help:

Manned Mission to Mars Could Bore You to Death

Research at the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) project, on the slopes of Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano, and funded in part by NASA, is a continuation of a long history of attempts to understand what will happen to people who travel through outer space for long periods of time, according to the New York Times (July 16) story by Maggie Koerth-Baker. With current technology, the journey to Mars will take more than eight months each way.

"Which means that astronauts will get bored. In fact, a number of scientists say that - of all things - boredom is one of the biggest threats to a manned Mars mission, despite the thrill inherent in visiting another planet," she writes.

Chronic boredom correlates with depression and attention deficits.

The diaries of early polar explorers are full of tales of extreme boredom, depression and desperate attempts at entertainment reminiscent of prisoners' stories from solitary confinement. An important lesson that Antarctica can impart on a Mars expedition is this: even scientists on important missions can get excruciatingly bored.

One effective way astronauts combat boredom is by staying busy with work. Some Antarctica researchers have also learned to actively fend off boredom by celebrating a ridiculous number of holidays, both traditional and invented so they have something to look forward to.

Koerth-Baker concludes, "It might sound absurd, but many scientists say strategies like this are necessary because, without proper mental stimulus, we risk making a physically and technologically challenging endeavor into a psychologically grueling one. It would be catastrophic if humanity's greatest voyage were brought low by the mind's tendency to wander when left to its own devices."

Cousteau Grandson Plans Mission 31

In November, Fabien Cousteau, 45, the grandson of the famed oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, hopes to break an unofficial record by living 31 days in an ocean-floor habitat.

The younger Cousteau will attempt to live in the underwater laboratory Aquarius, situated in water 50 to 60 feet deep about eight miles off the Florida Keys, for one day longer than his grandfather lived in an underwater village on the floor of the Red Sea in 1963.

His team will consist of six aquanauts who will explore the effects of underwater living, as well as the impact of climate change in the Atlantic Ocean.

The dive team is set to arrive Nov. 1 in Florida and undergo intensive training for 11 days. They will enter the undersea facility on Nov. 12, according to a Wall Street Journal (Aug. 18) story by Jo Piazza.

Several times a week, the underwater explorer swims entire lengths of an Olympic-size swimming pool in Brooklyn Heights while holding his breath. He wants to be prepared in the unlikely event he needs to bail out of Aquarius in an emergency and ascend to the surface, according to Piazza.

Living in a 1,000-square-foot apartment this summer, Cousteau awakens every morning and holds his breath while still in bed. Sometimes, he submerges himself in the bathtub doing the same thing. Occasionally, he sits in his 6-foot-by-3-foot closet, in the dark among the clothes, to cultivate the feel of walls and objects so close to his body.

"The big difference between this expedition and his grandfather's is the ability to communicate - especially with WiFi. Today's team will be able to blog, tweet, Instagram and stream videos. Four live-streaming cameras will feed into mission control and will also be available to the public online," writes Piazza. For more information


Frozen in Time Recovery Mission Blogs From Greenland

Author Mitchell Zuckoff, a professor of journalism at Boston University, is in Kulusuk, Greenland, this month to help recover three World War II heroes entombed inside a glacier since November 1942. Two of the men were Lieutenant John Pritchard and Radioman Benjamin Bottoms, crewmen of a Coast Guard amphibious biplane who were trying to rescue survivors from a B-17 bomber that crashed during a search mission.

The third man was the radio operator of the B-17, Corporal Loren Howarth. Zuckoff described the historic events and the search for the lost plane in his most recent book, Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II (HarperLuxe, 2013). In his blog, he documents the public-private partnership to carve through thousands of tons of ice to fulfill the U.S. military's promise to "leave no man behind."

With him is North South Polar chief Lou Sapienza, Commander Brian Glander, and Major Jeremiah Ellis, among others. Geophysicist Jaana Gustafsson blogs about the search site, praising "the sound of silence, ice changing character with weather, the clear skies and the never-ending ice cap. In Sweden we call it 'bergtagen' or in English, like 'caught by the mountain.' - this feeling you just want to see the same view forever and ever and not return."
Read the expedition blog here



Sufferfest 13 14 15 – California's Fourteen Thousand Foot Peaks Enchained by Bike

Special Report by Aaron H. Bible

In the true high-alpine spirit of suffering for your goal, free-soloist Cedar Wright, 38, and climbing partner Alex Honnold, 27, recently set an obscure and painful new record: linking together all of California's 14ers entirely by human power.

The duo set off by bicycle June 19 and had climbed technical routes on fifteen 14ers by July 10, 2013. The trip covered roughly 800 miles (700 by bike, 100 by foot) and more than 100,000 vertical feet. Notably, the team took the most difficult technical rock routes they could find, free-soloing each climb up to 5.10a.

"We were ready for something different," said Wright from his home in Boulder, Colo. "And we were psyched to try out the bike touring - we had been wanting to try something lower impact. We just had no idea how heinous it was going to be. We slowly but surely drove ourselves into the ground. We really wanted to quit. At times we secretly hoped our bikes would get stolen so we could quit. But we're both the kind of people who just don't give up." The two took about five rest days during the 21-day journey.

While California has at least 20 summits over 14,000 feet, only 12 meet the "300 vertical feet of prominence" standard, but many climbers include the three peaks along the Palisade Traverse to reach the number 15.

Wright adds, "Taking the car out of the mix really makes things much more difficult ... and adding a six thousand foot elevation gain on the bike to each mission (editor's note: from the road to trailhead) really ups the suffer quotient.

He continues, "This was one of the most sustained and difficult climbing challenges of my life, and as far as I know it is the first time that all of the California 14ers have been enchained by bike. I'm really happy we pulled it off, because at times I genuinely wondered if my body was going to hold up. We climbed quite a bit of technical rock, all onsight free solo, and tried to stay away from the standard routes as much as possible. We were in a perpetual state of exhaustion which definitely adds an element to the solo commitment," Wright said.

He adds, "I consider this to be one of the greatest achievements of my climbing life, and it was awesome to share it with Honnold who is a great friend and motivating force in my life.

"I jokingly coined our trip the '13 14 15 Sufferfest,' but it turned out to be a pretty premonitory name for the trip. Mostly we toiled and suffered, but occasionally I would have a moment of genuine bliss, taking in the beauty of the incredible Sierra Nevada. Hopefully we inspired other climbers to undertake a big human powered adventure," Wright said.

Peaks and routes climbed (the duo also bagged two 13,000 foot peaks, not listed here):

Aaron Bible is an outdoor industry journalist, covering paddling, climbing, biking, skiing and adventure travel for the last 15 years. He is based in Frisco, Colo. More of his work can be viewed at


New Book Chronicles Architecture in Burma

Lorie Karnath, former president of The Explorers Club in New York, has authored Architecture in Burma (Hatje Cantz, 2013) a review of the architectural treasures of this long-isolated country, which she calls both a melting pot and a museum. It describes via photos and text Burma's history through to the present via its architecture.

While Burma is now opening to the outside, it remains one of the least discovered in the world.

"The architecture in Burma represents a mixture of the country's history, politics, natural assets, religion, and superstition," Karnath writes. "Despite some recent advances toward modernization, in architectural terms, centuries of relative seclusion have caused this country to remain something of a historical timeline. Myanmar's resplendent temples, stately colonial edifices, and myriad of structures that comprise innumerable fishing and country villages provide an architectural window into the country's diverse and oftentimes tumultuous history."

Karnath continues, "The turbulence of the region, punctuated by dynastic squabbles, is perhaps best chronicled and understood by way of its architecture. The escalation of successional quarrels frequently resulted in new rulers packing up entire palaces and other structures and hauling these by elephant to establish a new seat of government or capital elsewhere. The vestiges of the old cities were for the most part simply left to the vicissitudes of nature."

Karnath plans several book signings including one at Rizzoli in New York in January, and is planning another expedition to some of the more remote areas of the east and southern parts of the country.
For more information


Honorees Announced for Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Award, Oct. 26

From visionary entrepreneur Ted Turner to Karo tribal member Lale Labuko; from neurophysiologist Allen Counter to conservationist Martha Hayne Talbot; from world-renowned photographer John Rowe to marine ecologist Enric Sala, the 2013 Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Award recipients all embrace the principle and quality of "right action" in exploration. Their contributions cover the globe, from Africa to the Arctic; from South America to the South Pole; from the United Nations to the vast oceans of the world.

The black tie dinner takes place Oct. 26 at the historic Willard Hotel, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, in Washington, D.C. Tickets start at $325. Reservations can be made via e-mail at or (+1) 212-628-8383.


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