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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.

October 2017 - Volume Twenty-Four, Number Ten

Celebrating Our 23rd Year!                                   


Landlocked Researcher is a Shark's Best Friend

You couldn't be much further from the ocean, and sharks, than Colorado. Yet it's here that the Ocean First Institute in Boulder has become one of the marine animal's most fervent benefactors.

Leading the charge for the species is Dr. Mikki McComb-Kobza, 49, one of the top shark experts in the world and a tireless advocate for sharks and shark habitat. As a shark biologist, her work focuses on the sensory biology and ecological physiology of sharks, skates and rays. She seeks to highlight their global population decline and to frame new directions for their conservation.

Dr. Mikki McComb-Kobza never met a shark she didn't like.

Inspired by the 1975 Steven Spielberg movie Jaws, she began to read about the animal and became hooked for life, learning to dive so she could spend more time with them underwater. She's now dedicated to, as she told an Explorers Club audience, "sharing the truth about sharks."

She says, "The story of sharks is the story of survival. They have survived five mass extinction events on earth. The over 500 species of sharks predate the dinosaur. When we study them, we're looking back in time.

It's also the story of diversity. She explains that sharks range in size from the small dwarf lanternshark, a deep sea species of only 17 cm (6.7 in) in length, to the whale shark, the largest fish in the world, which reaches approximately 12 m (40-ft.) in length. 

Her favorite is the hammerhead consisting of over 10 species. Its unique shape is hydrodynamic, extremely maneuverable, and can be used to detect and pin prey, "which is helpful when feeding on stingrays."

Here's looking at you kid.

McComb-Kobza speaks, teaches and conducts research around the world including in South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. Her outreach efforts have been covered by the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery Channel's Shark Week, and CBC National Radio Canada.
She holds a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from Florida Atlantic University and is the author of numerous scientific publications.

Her current position as executive director of Ocean First Institute allows her to promote research, conservation, and sustainability. The Institute supports expeditions and a variety of education initiatives that reach students of all ages. These days she's active in establishing marine protected areas in known shark nurseries where, she says, "sharks need extra protections to ensure their survival."

One challenge is to help people overcome their deep-seated fear of sharks. "Sharks are timid, they're leery. I found an animal that surprised me," she says. 

"For instance, the male sharks bite into females during copulation. As you can imagine, it's a pretty brutal affair."

McComb-Kobza, who admits to not eating seafood and is disappointed about the scourge of shark finning in Asia, adds, "We believe that when people experience how the ocean impacts their lives they begin to understand. When they understand they begin to care, and when they care they begin to act to protect. This is the change we are creating and is the cornerstone of everything we do."

She adds, "Protecting sharks is an uphill battle, but happily, kids think sharks are rock stars, right up there with dinosaurs."

Thanks to her work and that of the Ocean First Institute, to borrow from the iconic movie, maybe we don't need a bigger boat after all.


Bicyclists Pack it Out

Last month, the Granite Gear-sponsored Packing It Out team, Seth Orme and Abby Taylor, completed a 4,500-mile bike tour from Georgia to the Pacific Ocean in Washington state. They picked up 2,100 pounds of trash along their route and held 11 trash clean ups, reaching hundreds of thousands of people, according to a company statement. 

The team battled various weather and bug-laden conditions throughout their 18-state journey, plus many smoke-filled miles due to wildfires. 

"It has truly been a one of a kind, wild ride," said Abby Taylor, 26, from Toccoa, Ga. "If you want to see America, if you want to meet people, if you want to fall in love with your country again ... go on a long bike ride. I have received more kindness on this trip than I thought possible."

Seth Orme, 27, is from Statesboro, Ga.

Packing It Out was born out of a decision to leave it better. According to the team, "We had forgotten that this land is our land; this land is our responsibility. As a result, many of our scenic areas have become coated with litter." Since its inception, the team has packed out over 4,000 pounds of trash from national trails, national parks, state parks and community parks.  

For more information: www.packingitout.org 

Granite Gear, based in Two Harbors, Minn., sells backpacks, adventure travel gear, storage sacks, lifestyle accessories, and canoe gear. (www.granitegear.com)


The late Emma Kelty
British Woman Murdered on Brazil Solo Adventure

In a world full of bad news, this one was particularly sobering to any explorer or adventurer.
A 43-year-old former headteacher, adventurer Emma Kelty, was robbed and murdered last month while kayaking alone in the Brazilian Amazon.

The Londoner was last heard from on Sept. 13, days after posting about her fears of being robbed or murdered in a jungle area in Brazil's remote north used for drug trafficking.

Three people were in custody, according to the AP, including a teenager who had confessed to carrying out the killing with six other people.

Kelty was 42 days into a 4,000-mile trip from the Amazon's source in Peru, through Brazil and to its mouth on the Atlantic Ocean, using a GPS, social media and blogging to let friends follow her progress.

Her last known location was around 150 miles west of the jungle city of Manaus, between the towns of Coari and Codajas.

Olie Hunter Smart, an explorer who completed a similar route in 2015 and helped Ms. Kelty plan her journey, said Coari was known to be a dangerous area.

Read more at: 

Climbing? Shoes are Most Important

Famed "rock" star Alex Honnold, the 31-year-old free soloist and an ambassador for The North Face (apparel) and La Sportiva (footwear), tells FootwearNews.com (July 20), "Footwear is super-important for climbing. In some ways, it's the most important. The only things attached to the rock are your hands and feet - your hands you can work on through training, but for your feet, it basically comes down to your footwear choice."

FN reporter Neil Weilheimer later asks about fear.

"If you're in danger, then maybe you shouldn't just overcome your fear and push through it. You don't necessarily want to do something super-dangerous. But if your fear is unjustified, if it's psychological and you're afraid for no real reason, you should push past it and do what you're supposed to be doing," Honnold says.

A bad movie with great climbing.

His favorite climbing movie?

"'The Eiger Sanction,' an old Clint Eastwood movie. It has the best climbing footage ever shot for Hollywood, but it's a terrible movie overall."

Read the story here:

First Seven Summits, Then the Real Challenge: Stand-Up Comedy

It can be argued that stand-up comedy is one of the hardest things you can do, perhaps even harder than climbing the Seven Summits. Shailee Basnet should know. After climbing the Seven Summits, she is conquering the eighth: New York's comedy scene.

After taking a six-week stand-up comedy course in New York, Shailee Basnet made her prime-time debut at the Broadway Comedy Club on Sept. 8, according to a story by Alyssa Roenigk on EspnW.com (Sept. 19).

Nepali Shailee Basnet

"I know I look short," the 5-foot Basnet quipped. "But I'm tall by Starbucks standards."
Basnet is a 34-year-old former Nepali journalist whom espnW readers first met in 2015, shortly after she and six of her countrywomen - some of the first Nepali women to summit the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents - became integral to their nation's relief and recovery efforts after devastating earthquakes hit that April.

What she learned climbing Everest, beside the fact that she is stronger and braver than she knew, is that failure is fleeting and anything is achievable if you focus on one step at a time.

"You don't need to find the courage to do everything at once. You only need to find courage to write your first joke, write your first script, type it out, print it, tell a friend, and then find a platform where people will hear you," Basnet says. "If they laugh, that's the biggest drug in the world.

"I am a very proud Nepali and have my roots in Nepal, but I wanted to spread my branches around the world," Basnet says. "I want to learn more languages and make people laugh everywhere."

Once on stage, she draws connections between her life in the third world, her life as a Nepali girl who is married to a white guy from Colorado, and the lifestyle differences their relationship illuminates, Roenigk writes.

Read the story here: http://tinyurl.com/Nepalicomic

Time to say goodbye Columbus?
Too Many Statues of Columbus?
New York Times columnist Gail Collins (Oct. 7) weighed in on the Confederate statue controversy by evoking Christopher Columbus.
"The point of Christopher Columbus was exploration. Although people knew the world was round, they had no idea how long it might take to get around it. Columbus's goal was to try to make it to the other side of the planet. He sailed out into the great unknown and brought back word of his discoveries," she writes.
"This was not good news for the folks who were already there. Columbus described them in very positive terms, the way you might tell your friends about a really big bargain at the shoe store: 'No one refuses the asker anything that he possesses, on the contrary, they themselves invite us to ask for it.' You already see the readers licking their chops and ordering up an expedition."
Read the story here:

"Always there has been an adventure just around the corner - and the world is still full of corners."
- Roy Chapman Andrews, 1884-1960, American explorer, adventurer and naturalist who became the director of the American Museum of Natural History.
AAC Cutting Edge Grant

The American Alpine Club is now accepting proposals to fund climbers planning expeditions to remote areas featuring unexplored mountain ranges, unclimbed peaks, difficult new routes, first free ascents, or similar world class pursuits. Awards will typically fall in the $5,000 to $15,000 range, however award amounts will vary based on project and budget.

The Cutting Edge Grant is supported in part by Global Rescue, which provides travel risk and evacuation memberships. CEG recipients are additionally awarded upgraded Global Rescue benefits, a service intended to help AAC members climb hard and return home safely.

Deadline is Nov. 30, 2017. Learn more at: http://tinyurl.com/AACGrant

Explorers Club Student Grants Available
The Explorers Club, as part of its public service commitment, offers exploration grants in the following categories, but the deadline to apply, Nov. 13, 2017, is fast approaching. 
*            High School Students and College Undergraduates
The goal of this grant category is to foster a new generation of explorers dedicated to the advancement of the scientific knowledge of our world. The average award is approximately $1,500.
*            Graduate Students
This category supports exploration and field research for those who are just beginning their research careers. The average award is approximately $2,500.
Research proposals are being sought in a wide array of disciplines, including:
Climate Change, Geoscience, Paleoclimate (i.e. Early Earth, Tectonics, Volcanism, Paleontology, Glaciology, Geophysics, Astronomy); Marine Science, Marine Biology, Marine Life, Fish, Coral, Ocean, Fresh Water, Rivers, Lakes, Estuaries; Anthropology/Archeology; Plants and Molds; Animals; and Conservation Science.
To apply, go to www.grants.explorers.org

Bonington documentary is available online starting Nov. 20, 2017

Bonington Movie Chronicles One of World's Most Famous Mountaineers

Stories of friendship, love, risk and devastating loss run deep through this intimate look at the career of Sir Chris Bonington, and his dream to lead the way. 

Produced by filmmakers Brian Hall and Keith Patridge, the documentary profiles Bonington's drive for exploration - the first British ascent of the north wall of the Eiger, new routes on Mont Blanc, the ascent of 'The Old Man of Hoy' and then to the greater ranges where he is the first to stand on the virgin summits of Annapurna 2, Nuptse and the Central Tower of Paine, followed by landmark expedition success on the South Face of Annapurna 1 and Everest SW face.

The film looks retrospectively, from his rock climbing days in the UK through to visionary ascents on the high peaks of the Himalaya and shares the remarkable and poignant life of one of the world's best-known mountaineers.

It becomes available starting Nov. 20, 2017 for $13.

Watch the trailer here:

Now Here's a Great Big Story

Erik Weihenmayer, no stranger to these pages, is the first blind rock climber to summit the tallest peak in every continent, Mount Everest included. At a young age, Weihenmayer was diagnosed with retinoschisis, a rare eye disease that left him sightless by age 13. But he didn't let that hold him back from seeking out adventure, proving that what others may see as a hinderance can oftentimes be one's greatest asset. 

Erik is the focus of a Great Big Story feature, part of its Frontiers series, introducing dreamers, pioneers, and innovators leading society at the cutting edge. 

Great Big Story is a global media company devoted to cinematic storytelling. Headquartered in New York, with bureaus in London and Stockholm, our studios create and distribute micro docs and short films, as well as series for digital, social, TV and theatrical release.

See it here at:

Specially-designed eyeglasses that allow climbers to look straight ahead yet see the crag or pin above them. They look silly, but are still better than having to wear a neck brace. (Source: http://nancyfriedman.typepad.com)


An ethusiastic traveler who visits spots where at least three states or three Canadian provinces meet. There are 65 such spots where at least three state borders intersect and another four in Canada, where provinces meet. Some are marked with monuments, others with survey markers, and some aren't marked at all. There are 38 on land, and most are in remote areas. (Source: www.bjbsoftware.com/corners/)

Time Marches On
The Pax Arctica - Russian Arctic Expedition 2017 (see EN, September 2017), is being led by explorer Luc Hardy, who is 61, not 58 as previously reported. 
Norman Dyhrenfurth, 1918-2017

Norman Dyhrenfurth, a Swiss-American mountaineer and filmmaker who organized the successful American expedition in 1963 to Mount Everest that put six climbers on the summit and inspired generations of Americans, died on Sept. 24, 2017. He was 99 and passed in a Salzburg, Austria, hospital of natural causes.

Dyhrenfurth assembled the historic team of 19 mountaineers and scientists for the 1963 Everest Expedition that practically launched the modern U.S. mountaineering and outdoor industry by putting the first Americans on top of the world's highest peak. The U.S.-led mountaineering expedition included 900 porters carrying about 26 tons of food, clothing, equipment and scientific instruments.

Dyhrenfurth and his team of pioneering climbers - captured in a Life magazine cover story and honored by President John F. Kennedy at a White House Garden reception - came to represent the birth of mountaineering as a popular sport in the United States.


Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme, The Museum at FIT, Sept. 15 - Jan. 6, 2018, New York

Travel to extreme environments is a relatively modern phenomenon. Expeditions to the North and South poles, the highest mountain peaks, the depths of the ocean, and outer space have been widely covered in the press for more than a century. But it was not until the 1960s that these endeavors began to influence fashion.

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT) presents Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme, Sept. 15 - Jan. 6, 2018, the first large-scale exhibition of high fashion influenced by clothing made for survival in the most inhospitable environments on the planet - and off of it.

On view are approximately 70 ensembles and accessories from MFIT's permanent collection, as well as a selection of objects borrowed from leading museums and private collections. Collectively, the objects and the exhibition design evoke both the beauty of extreme wildernesses-on land and sea, as well as in outer space-and the dangers these locales present to human explorers.

The parka, for example, was invented by indigenous Arctic peoples; then, during the "heroic era" of polar navigation (1890 to 1922), it was appropriated by explorers. Eventually, the parka was redesigned for sports and the military, before finally finding its way into leading fashion magazines.

The exhibition includes a video that gives visitors more information about expeditions and their cultural impact, as well as details about a number of the concepts presented. The MFIT website, too, provides supplemental information about historical figures, such as explorers Matthew Henson and Robert Peary, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, and Sylvia Earle.
The Museum is located at Seventh Avenue at 27 Street, New York.

Explore in London, Nov. 10-12, 2017

Explore, the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)'s annual expedition and field research planning weekend is happening on Nov. 10-12, 2017, in London.   

It is a weekend for anyone planning an expedition, field research project or an adventurous journey with a purpose. Over 100 field scientists and explorers will give lectures, run workshops and provide practical advice.  

For more information: http://tinyurl.com/ExploreRGS

Sixth Annual Explorers Club Polar Film Festival, Jan. 25-27, 2018, New York 
The Explorers Club will host its Sixth Annual Polar Film Festival on Jan. 25-27, 2018, to screen a diverse collection of films about the Arctic and Antarctic.
The festival is open to the public and offers the audience the opportunity to rub elbows with the presenters, special guests, speakers and filmmakers who will share their stories and imagery. The event honors their passion and spotlights their life's work in the Arctic and Antarctic.
The Explorers Club has always been closely associated with polar travel and exploration. During its early years, the Club's prominent members, including Robert Peary, Frederick Cook and Roald Amundsen, to name a few, gradually lifted the veil that covered the ends of the Earth. Less well known, however, are the extensive photographic records, artifacts, and histories collected and maintained by the Club that capture this important period of polar exploration.
The due date for submissions of films ranging from feature length to shorts is Oct. 30.
For more information: PolarFilmFestival@explorers.org
Seeking Everest Expedition Partner
Illina Frankiv, a mountaineer and circus acrobat, is planning to climb Mt. Everest unguided via the North Ridge in March 2018 and is looking for a partner (male or female). She is prepared to go solo on this expedition but would rather form a team. "I'm choosing to climb on the North side of the mountain via Tibet in order to avoid additional danger of the Khumbu Icefall from the South side of the mountain in Nepal," she says.  

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 pay for their journeys are available to anyone who has a dream adventure project in mind, according to the book from Skyhorse Publishing called: 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 and Orvis, among others, shares techniques for securing sponsors for expeditions and adventures.

Buy it here: 

Advertise in Expedition News - For more information: blumassoc@aol.com
EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 1877 Broadway, Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80302 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, editor@expeditionnews.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. 2017 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through www.paypal.com. Read EXPEDITION NEWS at www.expeditionnews.com. Enjoy the 





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