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.
February 2019 - Volume Twenty-Five, Number Two
Celebrating Our 25th Year!
The final sinking of the Endurance. It was abandoned in November 2015 as the masts collapsed, the hull crumbled, and the men watched helplessly from the ice as their boat sank. The rest is history.
SEARCH FOR SHACKLETON'S ENDURANCE WAS A GOOD TRY
At press time, an expedition to locate one of the most iconic exploration ships in history was cancelled due to bad weather.
The Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 and the icebreaker S.A. Agulhas II reached the last known location of Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated ship, the Endurance, which was crushed by the ice and sunk in 1915. According to a tweet by the director and archaeologist of the expedition, Mensun Bound, "We are the first people here since Shackleton and his men!"
Unfortunately, bad weather led to the loss of an AUV and cancellation of the effort.
The Agulhas did not break a straight-line channel through a solid ice shelf to reach the site. Instead, through a combination of favorable surface conditions and the skill of her experienced crew, she threaded a narrow channel - following leads through drifting floes to arrive at approximately 68.5 degrees S 52.5 degrees W, the final position Shackleton's crew recorded for the Endurance.
The search was a secondary goal for the research team. Before heading towards the wreck site, the expedition conducted a subsea survey of the Larsen C ice shelf using ROVs and AUVs. According to Professor Julian Dowdeswell, the expedition's chief scientist, the data gathered will help oceanographers and glaciologists "better understand the contemporary stability and past behavior of Larsen C, with its wider implications for ice sheet stability more generally."
Since the team is already in the Weddell Sea and carrying all the tools needed for hunting a shipwreck at depths of 9,000 feet, it tried to locate Endurance and survey the site. If Endurance had been found, the team says that the wreck was not going to be touched or disturbed. That was not to be.
The ship became trapped in the ice, absolutely stuck, which is what happened to the Endurance some 100 years ago.
“The conditions were brutal. It makes you think about all that Shackleton and his team had to put up with. It was dangerous back then 100 years ago, and it’s dangerous today," said expedition leader Bound in an expedition video.
He paraphrases Shackleton: “This is the worst corner of the worst sea on earth. What the ice gets, the ice keeps.”
Read more: https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/weddell-sea-expedition-reaches-last-position-of-the-endurance
Read the expedition blog here: weddellseaexpedition.org
View Bound's video report at: https://vimeo.com/317146403/dd8de74aa7
Inspiring Explorers 2019: Leah Stewart, Alexander Hillary, Marco de Kretser, Rosanna Price and Georgie Archibald
Young Explorers to Kayak Antarctic Waters in Spirit of Polar Exploration
Sir Edmund Hillary's grandson, a living kidney donor, and a mother are among a group of young explorers who are heading to Antarctica to take part in an expedition featuring kayaking with New Zealand Olympian Mike Dawson.
New Zealand's Antarctic Heritage Trust has just named the five young people selected
to take part in its 2019 Inspiring Explorers' Expedition, March 2-17, 2019. They are accomplished photographer Alexander Hillary (Sir Edmund Hillary's grandson); living kidney donor and freelance camera operator Leah Stewart; Wellington communications specialist and mother Rosanna Price; Christchurch learning advisor Georgina Archibald; and photographer and sound specialist Marco de Kretser, from Auckland.
The group will join two students and a teacher from Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate on the expedition. The group will travel to the Antarctic Peninsula from South America aboard a One Ocean Expeditions vessel.
This is the fourth Inspiring Explorers' Expedition, and follows last year's successful 560 km crossing of the Greenland ice cap, the summiting of New Zealand's Mt. Scott in 2017, and the crossing of South Georgia island in 2015.
Learn more about the project at: https://www.nzaht.org/pages/meet-the-2019-inspiring-explorers-1#
The historic Church of San Lorenzo Venice (Chiesa San Lorenzo) is being given a second life as it re-launches as Ocean Space. Photo: TBA21-Academy
Ocean Research Center Opens in Venice
TBA21-Academy (Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary) this month announced the opening next month of Ocean Space - a new, collaborative global hub for trans-disciplinary oceanic research and discovery in Venice.
Following decades of careful restoration and renovation, the historic Church of San Lorenzo is being given a second life as it re-launches as Ocean Space, a new collaborative platform for research, discovery, and innovation supporting ocean stewardship and conservation.
TBA21-Academy also is opening its archives to the public with the first physical presentation of OceanArchive, developed by Etienne Turpin with the support of Andrés Jaque and Office for Political Innovation. The launch of Ocean Space reintegrates the historic church, which has been largely closed to the public for the past 100 years, back within the social and cultural fabric of city. The space will be activated throughout the week of the Venice Art Biennale in May 2019, including a special live performance by Jonas.
TBA21-Academy (Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary) leads artists, scientists, and thought-leaders on expeditions of collaborative discovery, fostering a deeper understanding of the ocean through the lens of art and engendering creative solutions to its most pressing issues. For more information: TBA21.org
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"All of us are transients here. What endures is our planet and her oceans. From my mid-Pacific vantage point, human artiface and artifacts appeared small and temporary. This is why dreamers will always build boats to voyage into that eternal ocean realm: to gain the perspective that is hidden from those who stay close to the shore."
- Ed Gillet, quoted in The Pacific Alone: The Untold Story of Kayaking's Boldest Voyage (Falcon Guides, 2018), by Dave Shively. In the summer of 1987 Ed Gillet achieved what no person has accomplished before or since, a solo crossing from California to Hawaii by kayak. Gillet, at the age of 36 an accomplished sailor and paddler, navigated by sextant and always knew his position within a few miles. Along the way he endured a broken rudder, among other calamities, but at last reached Maui on his 64th day at sea, four days after his food had run out. Until the book was issued, Gillet barely spoke of his crossing for 30 years.
New York Times Supplement Features Controversial Antarctica Trek
A stand-alone supplement in the Jan. 19 New York Times, penned by Adam Skolnick, acknowledges the controversy surround what is considered "unassisted" and "unsupported" when it comes to Antarctic crossings.
In regards to Borge Ousland's longer crossing in 1996-97, American Colin O'Brady is quoted, "He's one of the greatest modern-day polar explorers. But to me, it's apples and oranges."
Englishman Louis Rudd, who was simultaneously crossing separately, addresses critics of the adventure, especially in regards to their route following a marked path that heavy vehicles traverse, "I wish they could be there, it's not a road at all. Trying to say it was easy that we skied down a road is just so wrong. It's unbelievable. It's a bit disappointing. It's a shame that they haven't actually said, 'Well done, guys, great effort that was, tough journey.'"
Antarctic Weight Loss Plan: Unassisted or not, Louis Rudd lost more than 30 pounds on his journey.
Both were unaided by kites for propulsion, a device Ousland used for part of his trek over 20 years ago.
According to the Times' Adam Skolnick, both men carried satellite phones and remained in touch with their respective expedition managers and handlers. Some in the exploration community argue that this communication should be considered assistance. (See this month's Expedition Mailbag for further comment from two readers.)
One little known fact: O'Brady buried his excrement six inches deep and brought four rolls of toilet paper. Rudd is old school: he used ice. TMI?
Read the Times story here:
The elusive Andean cat (photo courtesy Preston Sowell)
Hemispheres, the in-flight magazine in every United Airlines seat pocket, features explorer Preston Sowell in its February 2019 story, "Cat's Cradle: The Search for the Andean Feline: An expedition into the High Mountains of Peru in Search of the Mythic Andean Cat." Sowell has studied the small, bushy-tailed Andean cat, which lives in the mountains of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru and is the most endangered feline in all of the Americas, according to writer Cayte Bosler.
Finding the cat could help secure legal protection for the Sibinacocha watershed, which is currently under threat from mining and rapid climate change. "Documenting the Andean mountain cat may be a lifeline for protecting the area," Sowell tells Bosler. "We all rely on the resources that mining brings, and our society can't survive without it right now. However, some areas just shouldn't be disturbed. I think the Sibinacocha watershed is one of them."
The story continues, "Scientists don't know much about the Andean cat's behavior. Barely larger than a house cat, it lives only in remote, austere areas above 13,000 feet, roaming alone over long ranges to hunt prey like the viscacha, a rabbit-like rodent with long, furry ears. Our team strategically places camera traps, equipped with motion sensors, to collect data. On the first excursion, we find scat, an exhilarating clue. Here. It's been here. We set a camera and wonder: Will it return? Will we get a glimpse into the unknown?"
The team returned with four images of the cat, including a close-up of the distinctive tail: long, thick, and banded with dark rings.
Read the story here:
Editor's Note to our many Colorado readers: Sowell will present his findings on Feb. 21 during a free public talk at the Fjallraven store in Boulder starting at 7 p.m.
For more information: https://explorers.org/events/detail/fjaellraeven-speaker-series-with-preston-sowell-boulder-co
Insurance Companies to Everest Trek Operators: "No More Mr. Nice Guy"
International insurance companies last month threatened to end travel coverage to Nepal if the government did not crack down on elaborate helicopter rescue scams that target foreigners trekking near Mount Everest and other high altitude peaks.
Last year, investigations by the Nepali government and Traveller Assist, a medical assistance company based in Ireland, found that some trek operators, guides, helicopter companies and even doctors and hospitals had conspired to bilk millions of dollars from insurance companies by pushing for emergency mountainside evacuations for minor illnesses, or when simpler treatment options were available, according to Kai Schultz writing in the Jan. 25 New York Times.
The Nepali government found evidence that some guides went as far as intentionally making hikers ill by spiking their food with large amounts of baking soda, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea and other ailments, and then calling for an emergency helicopter evacuation.
These evacuations can cost as much as $40,000 each, depending on how many trekkers are on board, and insurance companies are often stuck with the bill, writes Schultz.
Dem Bones: A Final Discovery for British Explorer Matthew Flinders (1774-1814)
This statue of Matthew Flinders unveiled by Prince William in 2014 at Euston Railway station in London shows the explorer crouched over a map of Australia. Flinders will be re-interred at a yet-to-be determined site. His cat Trim is portrayed on the right. (Associated Press photo).
Britain is carrying out its largest-ever archaeological dig, courtesy of construction on a multibillion-dollar, high-speed rail system to speed passengers between Britain's biggest cities. But last month, workers in London unearthed a traveler from a different era when they found the remains of Capt. Matthew Flinders. The British explorer led the first circumnavigation of the continent whose name he would go on to popularize: Australia, according to a Jan. 25 story on NPR by Ian Stewart.
Archaeologists in London have been working under a giant temporary shelter to exhume and move at least 40,000 human remains from St James's Gardens, a former burial ground. Flinders' headstone had been moved from the cemetery during the 1840s and his remains had been presumed missing.
But last month, archaeologists found an ornately engraved lead plate with a well-preserved and unmistakable inscription: "Capt Matthew Flinders."
Flinders (1774-1814) was the first person to circumnavigate Australia and the explorer who popularized its name. The region had been known as "Terra Australis Incognita" or "Unknown South Land" according to the National Library of Australia. It was later named "New Holland" by Dutch explorers. But after Flinders' expedition, he wrote "Australia" on a map and the name stuck. He was accompanied the entire way by an indigenous man named Bungaree, according to Australia's ABC broadcaster. Bungaree, an interpreter and guide, simultaneously became the first Australian to sail around the continent.
Read the full story here:
The Secret is Out
We're not sure how a 115-year-old organization that counts as its members Peary, Hillary, Heyerdahl, Armstrong and Aldrin can be considered a "secret," but that's what the BBC calls The Explorers Club in its Jan. 17 feature.
Mike MacEacheran writes, "The deepest oceans. The farthest rivers. The highest peaks. Even the moon and outer space itself. All of it has been mapped by the club's globetrotting members. And on any given day, many can be found in the back room, taking tea while plotting their next extraordinary adventure. Talk is not of the weather, but of moon landings and blow dart encounters."
Teddy Roosevelt's membership app (Photo by Mike MacEacheran)
Says newly re-elected Club president Richard Wiese, "Exploration for us is now less a cult of personality and more a cult of data. And because of that we're getting better at finding the truth."
The story includes a shout-out to American writer and broadcaster Lowell Thomas of Lawrence of Arabia fame, an enthusiastic member in the 1960s, who was instrumental in the club acquiring its current headquarters, once a private family home owned by an heir to the Singer Sewing Machine.
"'This place used to be about pushing dragons off the map,' said the club's archivist and curator of research collections Lacey Flint, leading me on a fascinating tour of the townhouse. 'We still push those dragons, but the club has become so much more. What really excites members is that we know more about the volcanoes on Jupiter than we do about the very bottom of our oceans,'" writes MacEacheran.
Read the entire story here:
No single story in Expedition News' 25-year history has elicited as much feedback as our January 2019 coverage of the claims by American athlete Colin O'Brady, 33, and British army Captain Louis Rudd, 49, to have separately crossed Antarctica unsupported and unassisted. Here are two representative samples of the letters we've received.
Follow the Rules
"Two undeniable facts from the Expedition News article: Colin O'Brady's and Louis Rudd's feats are significant efforts ... and publicity about such accomplishments as 'unassisted' and 'unsupported' in the general media focuses important attention on the fragile polar regions. That said, unlike summiting a mountain or completing a marathon, there are an infinite number of potential ways to 'cross' Antarctica, depending on the 'rules' - something that the general public would not be aware of.
"Quoting Damien Gildea in Explorersweb, 'Normally, in any field, if someone wants to claim a first, they do so on a track of similar length, and in the same style as their predecessors.
"'You do not contrive a route that is both geographically shorter and artificially easier, thereby choosing just the rules that suit you.' (https://explorersweb.com/2019/01/09/crossing-antarctica-how-the-confusion-began-and-where-do-we-go-from-here/)
"What are the 'rules?' The best ones I know of were originally the 'Rules and Definitions' created by Tina and Tom Sjogren in 2002-2004, the early days of Explorersweb (http://www.adventurestats.com/rules.shtml). Perhaps they crafted the rules to favor their own successful 2002-03 Hercules Inlet-Pole trip. Those rules state that the start or end point of a full trip or traverse has to be from the boundary between land and water - the coastline, and that permanent ice is considered part of the ocean, not the land.
"Of course the heroic era explorers had no choice but to start from where their ships could get them to ... conversely, today's NGO support companies ALE and ALCI, cannot practically support expeditions from Ross Island, the Bay of Whales area, or the Wilkes Land coast. Also, the 'rules' state that, 'using tracks created by motorized vehicle (same goes for bridges or roads) is considered support.'"
- Bill Spindler
A field construction engineer and inspector based in Boulder, Spindler run three Antarctic websites: southpolestation.com, palmerstation.com, and mcmurdostation.com. He examines the recent crossing controversy here: https://www.southpolestation.com/trivia/10s/crossings.html
Technology Provides an Advantage
"I agree with all who commented that the ice road provides support, both physical and moral, for speed of movement, navigation of direction, and safety from crevasses and large sastrugi. Borge manhauled a much longer supply of food with him, his journey being over twice the length of the recent adventurers. I understand that the sail Borge improvised was not even used for the first 1,000 miles - rather only on the "home-stretch" well to the north of the South Pole where winds blow toward the coast, and then only where the sastrugi was minimal.
"Another point ... I am unaware of communications back in 1996-97. Iridium came into being the year following Borge's successful crossing of Antarctica. No doubt there is a huge mental boost for today's adventurers to carry small, lightweight, solar-powered devices that allow for emergency evacuation and for Tweeting with the world."
- Rosemarie Keough
Salt Spring Island, B.C.
Along with her husband Pat, Rosemarie Keough, based in British Columbia, is a medalist of The Royal Geographical Society and The Explorers Club. The two have been awarded World's Best Nature Photographers 2003. Antarctica, the inaugural volume in their Explorer Series of luxurious private press tomes, has received 23 prestigious honors including World's Best Photography Book, World's Best Printing, and Outstanding Bookarts. (www.keough-art.com)
Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2019) by Jeff Blumenfeld - How to travel and make a difference while you see the world? These are stories of inspiration from everyday voluntourists, all of whom have advice about the best way to approach that first volunteer vacation, from Las Vegas to Nepal, lending a hand in nonprofits ranging from health care facilities, animal shelters and orphanages to impoverished schools.
Case studies are ripped from the pages of Expedition News, including the volunteer work of Dooley Intermed, Himalayan Stove Project, and even a volunteer dinosaur dig in New Jersey.
Pre-orders available now on Amazon. Read excerpts and "Look Inside" at: tinyurl.com/voluntourismbook @purpose_book
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: http://www.amazon.com/Get-Sponsored-Explorers-Adventurers-Travelers-ebook/dp/B00H12FLH2
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