EXPEDITION NEWS, founded in 1994, 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.
April 2017 - Volume Twenty-Four, Number Four
Celebrating Our 23rd Year!
Did You Know Alex Lowe?
Max Lowe, the son of the late mountaineer Alex Lowe, is seeking personal and archival information about his late father who was widely regarded as one of the best climbers of his generation. Max, 28, a filmmaker from Bozeman, Mont., was in Boulder this month for fundraising and pre-production of a film titled Torn that will tell his family's story.
In October 1999, the climbing world was saddened by news that Alex, at the age of 40, died in a 6,000-ft. avalanche on Shishapangma (26,289-ft.) in the Tibetan Himalaya.
Alex was attempting to ski the mountain as part of the 1999 American Shishapangma Ski Expedition. He was killed along with high-altitude cameraman David Bridges, 29, from Aspen, Colo. (See EN, November 1999). Lowe left behind three sons: Max, the eldest, Sam and Isaac.
If you knew Alex, contact Max Lowe.
Teammate Conrad Anker was injured in the slide. Anker, a professional athlete employed by The North Face, married Alex's wife, Jennifer Lowe, in 2001 and adopted the boys.
Lowe-Anker is author of the memoir Forget Me Not (Mountaineers Books, 2009), which received the National Outdoor Book Award for literature in 2008. She is also president of the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation best known for launching the Khumbu Climbing School in Nepal.
In April 2016, 16-1/2 years after the tragedy, the bodies of Lowe and Bridges were found by Swiss and German alpinists Ueli Steck, 39, and David Goettler, 37 (See EN, May 2016). Max explained to EN this month that both bodies were cremated on the mountain in the Buddhist tradition.
Max, a graduate of Westminster College who has recently returned from a film project in Iraq with the Sierra Club's Stacy Bare, is now focusing on telling the story of Alex and the impact he had on his family.
"I want to tell the untold story of Alex as a person, not a legend," Max says.
Target release date is Spring 2018. Funding is sought in the high five figures.
For more information: www.maxlowemedia.com
Loncke Wins European Adventurer of the Year Award
Belgian Louis-Philippe Loncke, 40, won the European Adventurer of the Year award for completing his three extreme desert treks in less than one year:
* November 2015 - Death Valley National Park (California), 250 km in 8 days
* August 2016 - Simpson Desert (Australia) 300 km in 12 days
* October 2016 - Bolivian Salars (Bolivia) 250km in 7 days
The award, judged by an international jury of outdoor magazine editors and adventurers, was presented to Loncke last February at the ISPO trade show in Munich for achieving something unique in the world of adventure and expeditions by pushing the limits.
Belgian Louis-Philippe Loncke crossed Death Valley solo and unsupported without waffling.
For all crossings, Loncke only used a backpack containing water, food and equipment. He was completely solo and unsupported: no support vehicles following along and no food resupply. He navigated off-track not following any roads. (See EN, December 2015).
In 2018, Loncke plans a historic solo crossing of Chile's 600-mile Atacama Desert.
Watch the award ceremony at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mmedQ-irUM
Learn more about the award here:
Loncke's website is www.Louis-Philippe-Loncke.com
Extreme Ice Survey Marks 10th Anniversary
Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), a long-term photography program that provides a visual "voice" to the planet's changing ecosystems marked its 10th anniversary last month. EIS installed its first time-lapse camera at Iceland's Solheim Glacier in 2007. (See EN, April 2016).
"Over the past decade, we've witnessed the world change. Glaciers have disappeared. Lakes have formed. And our cameras caught it all," according to a recent announcement.
Today, the Extreme Ice Survey project includes 43 cameras at 24 sites around the globe - from Greenland to Antarctica. Its pictorial archive serves as a visual legacy and provides a baseline - useful in years, decades and even centuries to come - for revealing how climate change and other human activity is dramatically impacting the planet.
Recently an Extreme Ice exhibit opened at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.
According to founder James Balog, "Arctic and Antarctic glaciers are changing every day of every year. As we move into the next decade, we will continue to capture their story. But we also aspire to place more cameras in more places - most notably glaciers in South America which are rapidly disappearing."
The organization is also at work on a new feature-length documentary film examining the Anthropocene (the current geological age), which will debut in early 2018.
Watch horrifying footage taken from April 2007 to June 2016 that shows how the Sólheimajökull Glacier in Iceland is retreating due to a combination of stream erosion and ice melt. The cracks ("crevasses") seen forming parallel to the flow indicate that the glacier is also spreading out (thinning) as it flows forward.
Learn more at: http://extremeicesurvey.org
Cold Places: Explorers Club Weekend 2017
Once again, as it has for 113 years, the world's largest gathering of explorers convened in New York on Mar. 23 to 26 for an annual dinner, annual meeting, seminars, VIP tours and general all-around bonhomie. During the annual meeting it was announced that Club membership stands at 3,356, the largest age group being 61 to 70, of which 78% percent are male, 22% female.
One positive note was that the younger age groups are growing about 15 percent. New is a private invitation-only Facebook group of 40 younger members called NGEN, the Next Generation Explorers Network.
The theme for ECAD 2018, "Next Generation of Explorers," reflects the understanding that the future of the Club, in fact the future of exploration itself, will be the responsibility of the young explorers of today.
The dates and venue for ECAD 2018 have not yet been announced.
Some highlights of the weekend:
* Cold Places - Ellis Island generally received high marks for the location, despite problems with acoustics. Some enjoyed the scenic schlep by ferry from Battery Park, while others wished they could return to the Waldorf Astoria, which was closed for renovations.
Still, the sold-out event was the most successful annual dinner ever, with gross revenues of around $400,000, according to an annual meeting presentation by Club president Ted Janulis.
Actor, producer and director Robert De Niro made a powerful speech criticizing President Donald Trump's climate policies.
Wade Davis was Master of Ceremonies, and legendary British Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes was a featured speaker, who also echoed De Niro's strongly expressed sentiments, all of whom were roundly applauded by the more than 1,200 Explorers Club members and guests in attendance in Ellis Island's Great Hall.
The Club's highest award, the Explorers Club Medal, was bestowed upon Dr. Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, pilots of the Solar Impulse aircraft which set the first around-the-world solar flight.
The Explorers Club Medal was also awarded to Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and a master in the traditional Polynesian art of non-instrument navigation.
Scenes of the dinner are included in the President's Video Report at:
* "An explorer walks into a bar" - That sounds like the start of a joke, but Club HQ has gotten serious about its expanded Explorers Corner bar for members and guests, now open most nights of the week. Featured are specialty drinks with exploration themes, libations that sound like someone went into a liquor store and decided to put everything they could find into one drink.
There's the Heyerdahl Highball made with a garnish of actual Kon-Tiki rope fiber, the Shackleton, Not Stirred, the Hot Teddy ("Speak softly, and carry a big cinnamon stick!"), Explorers Club Jungle Juice, a Cosmonautopolitan, and the Suffering Bastard.
Good thing no one actually drives in New York.
"Everyone who comes here has a story," says bartender Sixto Acosta, who spoke to
EN while a clip of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom played in the background.
Many of the drinks contain Explorers' Club Johnnie Walker Whiskey, created through a licensing deal with Diageo's John Walker & Sons. (It comes with a plural possessive apostrophe at no extra charge.)
* "May we have the envelope please? - When you're the repository of almost 125 years of exploration history, you can never have too many artifacts. The Club was honored to receive from Explorers Award recipient Bertrand Piccard a piece of the Breitling 3 Orbiter balloon envelope that was part of the world's first nonstop balloon circumnavigation (1999).
Bertrand Piccard (left) presents to Club president Ted Janulis.
* Secret Sons - It is an emotional story indeed. There were a few teary-eyed members in the audience as Dr. S. Allen Counter, retold the story of his 1986 mission to successfully reunite the then 82-year-old sons, one part white, the other part black, of Robert E. Peary and Matthew A. Henson. Both, born to Greenlandic Inuit women in 1906, were left behind when the explorers returned south. While the two men worked together to reach the top of the earth as equals, Peary would go on to be honored, while Henson, due to his race, was virtually shunned.
In 1988, Counter was instrumental in relocating Henson's simple grave at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx to a place of honor next to Peary's gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery. He is author of a new children's book, North Pole Promise: Black, White, and Inuit Friends (Bauhan Publishing, June 2017).
Watch the trailer to the film North Pole Promise, narrated by James Earl Jones:
* A Whale of a Story - One of the favorite stops along a pre-ECAD media tour of Club headquarters was the iconic whale penis in the Trophy Room. Ashley P. Taylor of LiveScience.com was sufficiently struck by the enormous cetacean phallus to do some digging into its background, as she explains in an April 17 post on CBSNews.com.
Apparently, the massive member dates back to 1977, when the Club received it from Mr. and Mrs. Frederick S. Schauffler who sent their regrets in a note ... along with a sperm whale foreskin, stuffed and mounted on an oak base.
Frederick Schauffler was an Explorers Club member and U.S. naval captain.
According to the foreskin's record, it came from the collection of an individual named Edward Sanderson who was born in Ohio in 1874, but lived his final years on the Massachusetts island of Nantucket, where his taxidermied sperm whale penis was donated to the Nantucket Historical Association, which runs the Nantucket Whaling Museum.
How Sanderson came to befriend the father of Frederick Schauffler, and how the relic continues to stand tall in the Trophy Room makes for some fascinating reading.
Read the story here:
Ernest Shackleton Loves Me
During EN's last visit to New York, we were otherwise occupied with Explorers Club happenings. But we're a sucker for exploration-themed Broadway shows and are resolved during our next trip to Gotham to see the new off-Broadway musical Ernest Shackleton Loves Me which runs through June 11 at the Tony Kiser Theatre.
We love a good exploration musical.
The show is an epic musical adventure that tells the story of a sleep-deprived single mom who struggles to work as a video game music composer. Unexpectedly, she is contacted across time by the famous polar explorer, Ernest Shackleton.
Inspired by her music, he shares his epic Antarctic journey with her in video and song. Against all odds, they discover that their greatest inspiration lies within each other. It is directed by Obie Award winner Lisa Peterson and written by Tony Award winner Joe DiPietro (Memphis).
Watch a live performance of one appropriately named song called, "This Sucks," wherein electric violinist/singer/songwriter Valerie Vigoda names many of our favorite explorers.
For more information: http://ernestshackletonlovesme.com
Álvaro de Marichalar
Making the rounds of the speaker's circuit is Spanish solo explorer Álvaro de Marichalar, 54, who since 1982, has singlehandedly captained 40 expeditions aboard a customized 11-ft. personal watercraft, setting 11 world records along the way.
His most recent feat of solitary maritime exploration: a 7,500 nautical mile journey through 28 Caribbean countries. His Solo Caribbean Tour recreated, albeit on a so-called JetSki, the historic journeys of Spanish explorers Juan Ponce de Leon, who was the first European to arrive in Florida in 1513, and of Vasco Núńez de Balboa, who led the first European expedition to the Pacific Ocean.
His talks are complete with tales of encounters with sea life such as dolphins, sea turtles and sharks; observations of pollution and other signs of humans' negative impact on the oceans; and raising funding and sponsorship for the expeditions.
Álvaro, based in Madrid, uses his projects to benefit various non-governmental organizations such as the Red Cross and Tierra de Hombres.
He currently plans a 2019 World Circumnavigation on his tiny craft.
See his 2-1/2-min. sizzle reel:
For more information: email@example.com
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"One must conquer, achieve, get to the top; one must know the end to be convinced that one can win the end-to know there's no dream that mustn't be dared. . . . Is this the summit, crowning the day? How cool and quiet! We're not exultant; but delighted, joyful; soberly astonished. . . . Have we vanquished an enemy? None but ourselves. Have we gained success? That word means nothing here. Have we won a kingdom? No . . . and yes. We have achieved an ultimate satisfaction . . . fulfilled a destiny."
- George H.L. Mallory (1886-1924) Source: QuoteInvestigator.com and the September 1918 issue of a London periodical called The Alpine Journal: A Record of Mountain Adventure and Scientific Observation by Members of the Alpine Club.
Let's Make Great Americans - Always
American athlete, adventurer, author, activist and motivational speaker, Erik Weihenmayer, writes in a Denver Post op-ed piece (Apr. 3), "Donald Trump says, 'Let's make America great again,' but greatness is all around us. Instead the slogan should be, 'Let's make great Americans - always.'"
Weihenmayer continues, "Over the last thirteen years, I've met thousands of people who live the spirit of No Barriers, a battle cry for grit, innovation, and a dogged pursuit of purpose. Our challenges are as real as dragging and bleeding our way towards a distant summit, as real as overcoming the death of a child. But despite the formidable obstacles in our way, what's within us can transcend all barriers. It's the trail map Americans have always used to navigate towards growth and renewal."
Read the op-ed here:
During a recent book talk in Boulder to promote No Barriers: A Blind Man's Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon (Thomas Dunn Books, 2017), he told an SRO crowd of 80, "I don't want to become the blind Evil Knievel ... I didn't kayak to prove blind people can kayak the Grand Canyon. I did it to experience life."
Later he said, "I didn't conquer fear in the Grand Canyon, but I did come to terms with it."
Weihenmayer is experimenting with new technology called BrainPort V100 Vision Aid that allows him to "see" shapes through a sensor placed on his tongue.
The Sherpa of Nepal's high Himalaya are the men and women westerner's seek out for their endurance and ability to survive at oxygen-deprived altitudes. However, in New York City, home to an estimated 4,000 Sherpa, they're driving cabs, selling imports at street market stalls and chopping vegetables in the kitchens of Asian restaurants. Sherpa Stew, a 2016 documentary by Andy Cockrum, follows mountaineers Nima Dawa Sherpa (2-time Everest summitteer) and Kipa Sherpa (three-time) from the top of Mount Everest to Queens, New York, as they strive to start a new life.
With nuance, humor and insightful direction, filmmaker Andy Cockrum of Danger Dog Films offers a fresh perspective on the immigrant's journey, and one that will change perceptions about the people you pass on the street.
See the trailer here: https://vimeo.com/185497815
For details about upcoming screenings see: www.dangerdogfilms.com
How Does A Nepalese Porter Carry So Much Weight?
Trekking season begins this month in the Himalayas, and visitors are sure to experience a common - if jaw-dropping - sight: local porters carrying towering loads on their backs, often supported by a strap over their foreheads, writes Emily Sohn on NPR's "Goats and Soda" site.
Their packs are sometimes heavier than their bodies, says Norman Heglund, a muscle physiologist of Belgium's University de Louvain. Think: a 150-plus pound pack on a 125-pound man.
When he and colleagues measured the movements of Nepalese porters, they reported in a recent study, they didn't find anything particularly special about how they walk.
They simply go. And they keep going.
"They haven't got any trick," Heglund says. "And what they do is pretty amazing."
Compared to the muscles of European graduate students, the study found, the porters' muscles were slightly more efficient at turning oxygen into work. But there was nothing unusual about their gait or energy use.
That finding emphasizes just how remarkable the human body is, says David Carrier, a comparative biomechanist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, who was not involved with the study, Sohn reports.
A variety of organizations currently advocate for porter health, with some progress to report: guidelines now recommend a 66-pound limit for porters who work for the tourism industry, Heglund says. Still lacking are regulations for porters who do commercial work.
Read the complete story here:
Columbus Sailed. He Delivered. - A Classic Take on the Value of Expedition Sponsorship
Filmmaker and sports promoter Michael Aisner, a Renaissance man from Boulder whose cluttered home includes pet tarantulas, a 1960s-era studio TV camera, and an antique dental chair, once addressed the International Events Group sponsorship conference in Chicago with an elegant take on the impact of expedition sponsorship.
While revisionists 500 years later charge that Italian explorer Christopher Columbus was simply a fortune hunter who left a legacy of exploitation and genocide, and there are some Icelanders - descendents of Leif Erikson - who believe he was a latecomer to the adventure game, one thing Chris knew how to do was ask for money.
During Aisner's one minute talk almost 30 years ago, he explained how expedition sponsorship is nothing new. After all, Columbus pitched Queen Isabella and delivered great value to his sponsor after his discovery of the New World. The Italian explorer also had a great publicist who bestowed upon him enormous publicity and naming rights - e.g. Columbus (Ohio), Columbus Circle, and even a country and space shuttle were named after him.
Take 60-seconds to view his presentation here:
Get Sponsored! - Hundreds of explorers and adventurers raise money each month to travel on world class expeditions to Mt. Everest, Nepal, Antarctica and elsewhere. Now the techniques they use to fund their journeys are available to anyone who has a dream adventure project in mind, according to the book from Skyhorse Publishing titled,
Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers
Author Jeff Blumenfeld, an adventure marketing specialist who has represented 3M, Coleman, Du Pont, Lands' End, Michelin, and Orvis, among others, shares techniques for securing sponsors for expeditions and adventures.
Buy it here:
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