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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.

August 2020 - Volume Twenty-Six, Number Eight

Celebrating 25 Years!


Traffic jam on Everest, May 2019.

Everest Chronicler Decries Crowding and Lack of Government Management

Alan Arnette, 64, founder of the popular website AlanArnette.com told an Explorers Club Zoom presentation on July 20, that as the number of Everest attempts increase, the death rate is actually going down. It stands at about 3% of all summits versus a 27% death rate on Annapurna.

Arnette, who summited in 2011 at age 54 after three previous tries, reports that notwithstanding the slowdown in expeditions due to COVID-19, the mountain is changing.

"There are more inexperienced clients, and more unqualified guides. Sadly, it seems any person can put up a website and call themselves a guide. Nepali guides are offering expeditions for $20,000, versus a median price of $46,000, which, combined with a smaller climbing window due to weather, created scenes like Nepalese mountaineer Nirmal Purja's famous 2019 photo of a conga line to the top."

Arnette continues, "Climbing season is a time for Silly Rules - regulations that are never enforced due to government instability. While well meaning, policies are mostly ignored.
The Nepalese government sets its restrictions, the media covers it, Nepal gets great PR, but in reality nothing changes."

He predicts another record summit year in 2021, with a corresponding 8 to 12 deaths.

Arnette holds a photo of his mother Ida on the summit of K2 on July 27, 2014, his 58th birthday.

Arnette is a professional speaker, climbing coach, mountaineer and Alzheimer's advocate. His consulting business, Summit Coach, helps aspiring climbers throughout the world achieve their goals - from climbing a Colorado 14er to Everest or even K2, through a personalized set of consulting products based on his 25 years of high altitude mountain experience and 30 years as a business executive.

For more information: AlanArnette.com

In a related story, Reuters (July 20) is reporting Nepal will reopen its Himalayan mountains including Mount Everest to climbers for the autumn season to boost the tourism-dependent economy despite rising coronavirus infections.

Nepal shut down climbing and trekking in March to stem the novel coronavirus, which as of late July has infected 19,547 people and caused 52 deaths in the country of 30 million.

Read the article at:


Artist rendering of memorial climbing boulder in honor of Jess Roskelley

New Spokane Climbing Boulder Memorializes Jess Roskelley

After Jess Roskelley died at age 36 on Howse Peak in the Canadian Rockies in 2019 with Austrian climbers and fellow North Face athletes, David Lama and Hansjörg Auer, the Roskelley family created the Jess Roskelley Foundation to provide funding for local and state public park projects. The Foundation established a six-person board of family members and two of Jess's good friends.

An ideal location was found with the cooperation of the City of Spokane Parks and Recreation Department - the iconic Riverfront Park Ice Age Floods Playground on the north bank of the Spokane River.

After several discussions with the City, the Foundation offered to buy and ship from Colorado a large artificial boulder specially designed by ID Sculpture, the company that was providing smaller climbing features and larger walls situated in the playground area. Funding for the $48,000 project was donated.

The inscription carved into the boulder will read, "Jess Roskelley, Alpinist 1982-2019, "By Endurance We Conquer" - Sir Ernest Shackleton."

"The Jess Roskelley Foundation exists to promote public projects and outdoor activities that will benefit generations to come and provide access to the wild places cherished by Jess, while preserving his legacy as a lifelong Spokane native and elite international alpinist," says Jess' father noted alpinist and author John Roskelley.

Nominations Accepted for the Explorers Club 50

The Explorers Club is seeking nominations from its members of an explorer who is making a meaningful difference in the world. For a new recognition program called Explorers Club 50, they're looking for people who are changing the way we look at the world, whether it be through spoken word, saving a language, field work, or in a lab, whether they work with the tiniest organisms or are helping to solve the world's biggest problems.

Criteria are purposely broad. Nomination should explain who or what defines exploration in the 21st-century. These are 50 people who are changing the world, regardless of whether they are a member or not, that the world needs to know about.

Winners (along with their nominators), will be announced in fall 2020, in publications, digital media and television. Deadline is Sept. 15, 2020.

Learn more here:



"Fortune has shined on me throughout my life and has allowed me to enjoy exotic experiences and adventures. Many more talented people have stood on the sidelines watching me do cool stuff telling themselves that they couldn't.

"Opportunities are out there waiting for you to grab them. For every one you're able to grab you have to invest in nine others that don't pan out. If you're afraid of failing, you won't make that investment."

- Ed Sobey, Ph.D., author, Shipwreck Treasures, Incan Gold, and Living on Ice - Celebrating 50 Years of Adventure (self-published, 2020)


Climbers Deal With Grief

In the short film, A Thousand Ways To Kiss The Ground, filmmaker Henna Taylor, of Boulder, Colorado, has you look into the eyes of climbers and their loved ones grappling with grief, mostly related to death in the mountains. It's heart-rending, hard-to-watch, yet also hopeful.

Taylor produced the film primarily to raise money for the Climbing Grief Fund (CGF), an organization which helps grieving climbers gain access to professional mental health resources.

CGF was started in 2018 by professional climber, Madaleine Sorkin, in collaboration with the American Alpine Club (AAC).

The previous year, 2017, had been particularly dark for both of them. Sorkin's loss centered around two tragedies: the death of Hayden Kennedy and the climbing accident that left Quinn Brett, of Estes Park, Colorado, paralyzed from the waist down.

In the 2019 AAC Guidebook to Membership, Sorkin wrote, "After (Kennedy's) memorial, many seemed lost in how to keep company with their own pain, let alone another's pain. We were feeling our helplessness and dragging the weight of accumulated loss in our community."

CGF supports mental health in several ways, including financial support. This year alone, CGF has awarded 15 grants, each worth $600, for grieving climbers, according to a Boulder Daily Camera story (July 22) by Chris Weidner.

See the film trailer here:


Read the Daily Camera story here:


High school students with StudentsonIce.com experience a life-changing adventure in Antarctica.

Adventures and Experiences are as Important as Wealth

Here's an idea we can fully embrace.

Bill Perkins writes in Robb Report (Aug. 2) that adventures and experiences are just as important as acquiring wealth.

"Due to compounding, your financial savings don't just add up - they snowball. And the same can happen with memory dividends: They'll compound as you share the memory with others," he writes.

"That's because whenever you interact with someone and share an experience you've had, that becomes an experience in itself. You're communicating, laughing, bonding, giving advice. You're doing the stuff of everyday life. By going out of office, you not only live a more engaged and interesting life but also have more of yourself to share with others."

He concludes, "Grow the richest life you can, one that's rich in experiences, adventures, memories - rich in all the reasons you acquire money in the first place."

It's clear that most Expedition News subscribers do just that.

Read it here:


Accidental Climber

Jim Geiger is the accidental climber with an impressively neat garage.

Vision Films will release Accidental Climber from filmmaker Steven Oritt (My Name is Sara, American Native), a captivating documentary charting the journey of climber Jim Geiger summiting Everest - a grueling endeavor, much less for a 68-year-old retired forest worker who comes face-to-face with the worst disaster in mountaineering history. The film will be released in the U.S. and Canada across all VOD/Digital and DVD platforms beginning this month with international dates to follow.

Accidental Climber chronicles the summiting of Mount Everest by Geiger, a great-grandfather and amateur mountaineer from Sacramento, California, who attempts to become the oldest American to summit the peak; what ensued was the worst disaster in mountaineering history leaving 16 climbers dead in a tragic avalanche and forever changing his life.

Watch the trailer here:


Pre-order here:


Helping hand for man's best friend.

St. Bernard Rescued in England

Here's a switch.

St. Bernard dogs are the ones that traditionally have come to the rescue of human hikers and climbers. But in a reverse of circumstances, humans rescued a St. Bernard after she collapsed while coming down England's highest mountain, according to CNN (July 26).

With their great sense of direction and resistance to cold, St. Bernards have been saving people in the mountains since the 18th century, according to Smithsonian Magazine. They were first bred by monks living in St. Bernard Pass, a dangerous route through the Alps connecting Italy and Switzerland, to help them on rescue missions after heavy snowstorms. Over a span of nearly 200 years, the dogs saved about 2,000 people, according to the magazine.

Late last month a 121-pound St. Bernard named Daisy was rescued from Scafell Pike (3,209-ft.) in North West England after she showed signs of pain in her rear legs and was refusing to move.

The rescue operation took a total of five hours and 16 team members of the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team. No word about how much brandy was consumed.

Read the story here:



Back home in Boulder, Colorado, McKenna flies this 1967 Beechcraft Bonanza, a four-seater, single engine plane with a classic V-tail design.

Pilot Marks 30 Years Searching for Amelia Earhart

Few people can claim to have their baby teeth in the American Museum of Natural History, but that's one of the advantages Boulder resident Andrew McKenna enjoyed growing up the son of Dr. Malcolm C. McKenna, a noted vertebrae paleontologist who needed a homo sapiens tooth.

Traveling with his father on fossil digs to Wyoming, Greenland and Egypt, McKenna honed his archaeological skills which these days are helping solve one of the greatest mysteries of all time: the disappearance of aviatrix Amelia Earhart.

Earhart has been honored worldwide ever since her disappearance, including this mural along Route 66 in Cuba, Missouri (photo courtesy of Viva Cuba).

The year was 1937, the tail end of the Great Depression, when Earhart, one of the most famous women of her day, disappeared at age 39 without a trace along with her navigator, Fred Noonan, and her aircraft, a Lockheed Electra 10E. It was an ill-fated attempt to be the first woman to fly around the world as close to the equator as possible.

Since then, Earhart has been honored with streets, airports, schools, a U.S. commemorative postage stamp, a Barbie doll, a theatrical film starring Hilary Swank, more than 50 books, and over a dozen songs, including one by American singer Kinky Friedman.

The search has continued for over 80 years, now focused on a tiny atoll called Nikumaroro, an uninhabited atoll in Kiribati, about 2,100 miles from Honolulu, where Earhart and her navigator are believed to have crash landed and died as castaways. It's the grandfather of all cold cases.

McKenna, 61, a graduate of Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Science, is a certified SCUBA diver, commercial pilot and president of Journey's Aviation, the flight school and Fixed Base Operator (FBO) at Boulder Municipal Airport.

He has traveled to Nikumaroro six times over the past 30 years as a member of the nonprofit The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) that has been chasing clues for decades. McKenna and his teammates have worked with drones, ground-penetrating radar, forensic dogs, multibeam and side scan sonar, UV lamps, historic photos and film, radio reception patterns, and employed a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

He seems right at home conducting field research in the worse conditions imaginable - traveling a 10-day roundtrip ocean voyage and rough seas to work in temperatures of 110 degrees F., high humidity, unrelenting sun, "and giant coconut crabs six inches across with a 1-1/2-ft. reach. They prefer not to wait for you to die before they try to eat you," he laughs.

Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, praised McKenna's role in the decades-long search: "As the son of a famous paleontologist, Andrew developed a special skill in observing objects in the ground, potential clues the rest of us might miss. Plus, as a pilot with experience in search and rescue, he is able to provide perspective on the efficacy of historical searches for missing aircraft."

McKenna adds, "My father taught me that when working a dig, look for manmade shapes. Something that doesn't belong."

This aluminum sheet discovered in 1991 could have been from Earhart's Lockheed Electra 10E.

With every trip to the western Pacific Ocean, the team finds yet another clue to keep them occupied for years. The latest is a piece of aircraft aluminum that washed ashore and was found in 1991. As forensic experts study the rivet patterns compared to photos and 16mm film of the aircraft, McKenna reports that a piece of insulated copper antenna wire embedded in the recovered piece has been reliably traced to the Earhart era.

"Is it part of the Lockheed Electra? Every clue opens new doors and brings us closer to solving the mystery of her disappearance," says McKenna who grew up in Englewood, New Jersey, and spent summers in Ward, Colorado.

McKenna and his wife Jacquie, who volunteers for a number of Boulder-area nonprofits, are the parents of two daughters enrolled in Boulder High School. In his spare time, McKenna flies his 1967 Beechcraft Bonanza, a four-seater, single engine plane with a classic V-tail design.

Every time he flies, he thinks back to the post-Depression era and that brave pilot and navigator. He's eager to return in 2021 to expand the deepwater search and continue to scour for clues buried on one of the most remote islands on earth.

"We're placing the puzzle pieces together with every expedition and following the research in a direction that makes the most sense. It would be tremendously gratifying to answer one of the last great unsolved mysteries of the 21st century."

Learn more about TIGHAR at www.TIGHAR.org

Read about another theory regarding Earhart's disappearance, one that focuses on Papua New Guinea, and the discovery by a World War II Australian Patrol, by viewing the research of Australian David Billings at: https://earhartsearchpng.com/


Lunar Rhapsody was Neil's Favorite

In honor of the late astronaut Neil Armstrong who would have turned 90 years of age this month, we link to the eerie space melody Lunar Rhapsody, the song he played on the Apollo 11 journey, and the song heard in the film First Man as Neil and his wife Janet dance in the biopic. It was a great example of the use of a Theremin, an electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the thereminist (performer). It dates back to 1928 and was often used in horror films.

It's one track of Capitol Records' Music out of the Moon, the earliest popular release to feature an entirely electronic instrument. Released in 1947 it predicts a future in space.

Listen to it here courtesy of the Radio Science Orchestra:


Exploring the Solar System

The New York Times on July 30 created one of the best interactive graphics yet of man's exploration of the Solar System and beyond.

The graphic includes spacecraft currently operating beyond Earth orbit, as well as many crashed or inactive spacecraft from recent decades. It omits the Apollo missions, most spacecraft launched before Pioneer 10 in 1972, many Soviet moon and Venus missions and some recent microsatellites.

Writes one commenter named DLessani from Half Moon Bay, California: "They summarized humanity (sic) best achievements. Voyager 1 left our Solar System 8 years ago and will continue its journey through interstellar space even after Solar System demise. Its message: we once existed."

See it here:



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.
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:
Advertise in Expedition News - For more information: blumassoc@aol.com
EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 290 Laramie Blvd., Boulder, CO 80304 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, editor@expeditionnews.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2020 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 payable to Blumassoc@aol.com.

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