March 2024 – Volume Thirty, Number Three

Celebrating our 30th year!


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.

Anthodite Hall is the immense chamber that is the gem of Sistema Huautla. There are 1,000 meters of rock strata above it to the surface. Photo by Matt Tomlinson



Forty-nine cave explorers from the U.S., Mexico, UK, Switzerland, and Costa Rica, are about to spend two to six weeks on PESH 2024, an exploration of Mexico’s Sistema Huautla. It is the deepest cave in the Western Hemisphere at 1560 meters (5,118 ft.), and at 100.2 (62 miles) in length, the 28th longest known cave in the world. It ranks as 10th deepest in the world and has 30 entrances. 

The team leaves Austin on March 17 carrying The Explorers Club flag for the 13th time since 1980.

As many as five teams will be exploring and mapping from remote, deep underground camps, totally out of touch with the surface world. In addition, PESH will be conducting scientific studies in biology, microbiology, archaeology, paleontology, and paleoclimatology.

As far as team leaders know, Proyecto Espeleologico Sistema Huautla (PESH) has conducted more different scientific studies, and has collected more indigenous oral tradition folklore stories, than any speleological project in the world, according to team leader Bill Steele from Irving, Texas. Steele is former director of Alumni Relations and the National Eagle Scout Association at Boy Scouts of America (see related story).

Top three sponsors of the expedition are Scott Petty Family Foundation, Pigeon Mountain Industries (rope), and Collin Street Bakery (fruitcakes used in diplomacy with indigenous people and for high energy underground food).

For more information:


Well Said: Scout Exploration Merit Badge Defines Exploration

This year is the seventh anniversary of the Exploration merit badge offered by the Boy Scouts of America. (See EN, March 2017). The Explorers Club is mentioned in the merit badge booklet 42 times, and 20 members wrote the contents of a personal page, according to cave explorer Bill Steele who worked on the program.  Most of the merit badge booklet's content was written by Explorers Club members Dr. Lee Berger and Dr. Michael Manyak, both Eagle Scouts.

Since the merit badge was launched and the Scouts USA coed program has come about, approximately 20,000 boys and girls have earned the badge.

Steele, a speleologist who has led and participated in expeditions to many of the longest and deepest caves in the U.S., Mexico, and China, tells EN, “One thing, in particular, I like about the content of the merit badge booklet is its definition of exploration:

Exploration is adventurous, but it is much more than an adventure. Many adventures may be quite exhilarating but are not exploration. Exploration is the actual search to discover information. Taking a sailing trip in the Caribbean, hiking in the mountains, or joining a guided tour of ancient ruins is exciting, but it is not exploration. However, if you took a sailing trip to the Caribbean to study reef ecology, or you hiked in the mountains to survey wildlife, then that would be an exploration.

“Please encourage Scouts you know to earn the Exploration merit badge. You might even consider contacting your local Boy Scouts of America council office and becoming a counselor for it. You may influence a prominent future explorer,” Steele adds.

For more information about the badge:



The lunar Moon Phases sculptures, each approximately one inch in diameter, are mounted in a sustainably built, fully transparent, compartmentalized cube

that now, unfortunately, is facing downward.

Koons Bites the Dust

One-hundred-twenty-five Jeff Koons sculptures are still aboard the Nova C (Odysseus) lunar lander, which is likely to soon lose power and communication with flight control engineers. Nova C landed on the Moon’s surface on its side last month, but according to Intuitive Machines, the company behind the lander, the craft came down on its side.

The botched landing on February 22 came after its two rangefinder lasers were unable to guide the touchdown because their safety switches had been engaged, the New York Times reported last month. The switches are only able to be disabled manually. There were other glitches and inaccuracies in the calculated trajectory that complicated the landing.

Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus said during a recent briefing that the only cargo on the side of Odysseus facing down is artist Jeff Koons’s Moon Phases sculptures, the 125 one-inch miniature Moons, each representing a phase of the Moon dedicated to major historical figures, such as Mozart, Cleopatra, and Leonardo da Vinci. Nonetheless, Koons, the world’s most expensive living artist, can now lay claim to the first “authorized” work of art on the moon.

Despite the difficulties, Odysseus marks the first successful U.S. landing on the moon since 1972 and the first lunar landing by a privately manufactured and operated spacecraft, according to Reuters.

Learn more about the installation here:

Berkeley Square is a rarefied address even by London standards.

No. 43 is center in the photo above.

London Calling 

The Explorers Club last month announced the planned launch of The Explorers Club, London located at 43 Berkeley Square, a Grade II listed townhouse built in 1749 and located in Mayfair. The seven-story self-contained, period townhouse overlooks Berkeley Square and is at the epicenter of London's iconic West End, near Green Park, Bond Street, Oxford Circus, and Underground Stations providing access to the Victoria, Central, Bakerloo, Jubilee, and Piccadilly lines.

“This addition to our community is designed to broaden our commitment to scientific research, conservation, and the human instinct to explore – as well as provide Club members a unique benefit in one of the world's great cities,” said Explorers Club president Richard Garriott.

“This will be a fitting milestone for our organization's 120th anniversary.”

Upon opening, The Explorers Club, London will offer events programs in line with programming at Club headquarters, including book launches, film screenings, and workshops with explorers recently back from the field.

Patronage membership will support grants programs, field research, and the communication of scientific discovery to the public – through the direction of Explorers Club global leadership and its worldwide membership.

The London Clubhouse will feature a library, meeting space, screening room and a recording studio, two restaurants, two bars, an orangery, and a cigar terrace.  

The Explorers Club, London will be headed up by Stephen Boxall FIH, former managing director of The Ritz London, where he and his team will oversee the refurbishment for a targeted opening in Q1 2025, according to Garriott.


Berkeley Square was the home of Oscar Wilde, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, and (fun fact) home of the Nameless Thing, a horror legend originating in the 1840s at House No. 50, which was said to drive people to insanity if they gazed upon it too long. No matter. Explorers are a fearless lot.

Trevor Wallace, Expedition/Field School Leader

Enroll in Underwater Archaeology Field School in Menorca

The Menorca Shipwreck Project (MSP) is a multi-year archaeological expedition that began in fall 2023 starting with the excavation of a 300-year-old wreck in Cala en Busquets, located on one of the Mediterranean’s Balearic Islands belonging to Spain. 

The project is a collaboration between Explorers Club members, Menorcan and Catalonian archaeologists, local museum staff, and cultural heritage professionals carrying the Club’s historic flag #69.

The MSP hosts a field school each year where participants learn the basics of underwater archaeology, improve their scuba diving skills, and learn about the rich multilayered history of Menorca that dates back millennia.

Field school recipients will receive a PADI Specialty Card Exploration Diver: Archaeology and Museum certification.

The pre-expedition is scheduled for Sept. 24-28; Session 1 Sept. 30-Oct. 12; Session 2 Oct. 13-25; Session 3 October 27-November 7, 2024.

No previous archaeology experience is necessary, though having a PADI Open Water or Equivalent Certificate is encouraged.

For more information, watch the video and apply here:

"I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer!" – DeForest Kelley as Star Trek’s Dr. Leonard McCoy

Space Medicine Program is the Real McCoy


Think how the popular sci-fi series Star Trek predicted the future: automatic doors, flat screens, flip phones, Bluetooth headphones, MRIs, virtual reality, and more. Now, with all those real humans going to space, there’s going to be a need for space doctors.


The Baylor College of Medicine – Massachusetts General Hospital Space Medicine advanced specialty training program is "establishing extra-terrestrial standards of clinical excellence.” It’s a jointly administered program leading the charge to bring terrestrial standards of care to the extraterrestrial environment.


The two-year program for Emergency Medicine residency graduates is designed to train experts in clinical care, risk management, medical system design, research, and operational considerations supporting human activities in space.


Program administrators believe that one must first be an outstanding terrestrial doctor to practice outstanding Space Medicine. 


“As we move toward longer-term, exploratory travel and habitation of the Moon, and eventually Mars, emergency medicine/wilderness medicine-based acute diagnostic and treatment care is needed to augment the preventative medicine approach of current aerospace medicine training,” says N. Stuart Harris, M.D., MGH Program Director.


The program is administered by the Departments of Emergency Medicine at BCM and MGH as well as the Center for Space Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. It is sponsored by the Translational Research Institute for Space Health, The Departments of Emergency Medicine at BCM and MGH, and commercial spaceflight partners.


Applications are open through Nov. 1, 2024.

For more information:, 


“Is it asking too much of a masculine human nature to expect it to remain in Arctic climate enduring constant hardship, without one relieving feature. Feminine companionship not only causes greater contentment, but as a matter of both mental and physical health and the retention of the top notch of manhood it is a necessity.”


–           Robert E. Peary (1856-1920) defended fathering a child outside of marriage with a local Inuit woman. Source: The Explorers Club, edited by Jeff Wilser (Ten Speed Press, 2023)


(Editor’s note: nice try Bob. Peary was frequently gone for years at a time. In their first 23 years of marriage, he spent only three with his wife and family.)



The Endurance crushed by ice in 1915.

Construction of Endurance Replica Planned

Irish businessman and renowned deep-ocean sailor Enda O’Coineen is spearheading a 14 million Euro (approx. $15.2 million) project to build a replica of adventurer Ernest Shackleton’s most famous ship, Endurance. The announcement coincided with the 150th anniversary of the famed explorer’s birth.

One of the early backers had been British tycoon and adventurer Hamish Harding, who died last June in the Titan submersible implosion off the Newfoundland coast.

Mensun Bound, the British marine archaeologist who was director of exploration on the Discovery team that located the Endurance off Antarctica in March 2022, is working with O’Coineen on his plan.

Bound tells EN, “We have been consulting with the tall-ship designers Dykstra of Amsterdam. They told me …. that the average time from conception to maiden voyage is six years. But we are hoping for more like half of that.”

The Irish Independent (Feb. 10) says that an initial $600,000, representing five percent of the capital cost, is currently being sought from 12 “founders.”

Bound adds, “… the core purpose, in broad terms is youth development, educational outreach, and science, particularly oceanographic environmental science. We want to work with teachers around the world to inspire students to pursue careers in environmental science.”

An assessment published last year by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust recommended the original Endurance be left where it is, and said the risk of people traveling to the site to steal from it is “relatively minor.” No wonder. The original Endurance sank after being crushed in pack ice in 1915 in what Shackleton had described as "the worst portion of the worst sea in the world.”

Read more here:

The four degrees of frostbite. (Source:

FDA Approves Frostbite Treatment


The first time Dr. Peter Hackett, the American mountaineer and medical doctor, saw a patient with frostbite, the man died from his wounds. It was in Chicago in 1971, and the man had gotten drunk and passed out in the snow, his fingers so frozen that gangrene eventually set in.

Dr. Hackett, the third person to have summited Mount Everest in a solo ascent, climbing from South Col to the top on October 24, 1981, has worked at Mount Everest Basecamp, on Denali, Alaska, and now in Colorado, becoming an expert in treating cold-weather injury.

Previously, there was not much to do about frostbite, except rewarm the patient, give aspirin, amputate in severe cases, and, more often, wait and accept that six months later the patient’s body might “auto-amputate” by naturally shedding a dead finger or toe. The saying was, “Frostbite January, Amputation July,” remembered Dr. Hackett, clinical professor at the Altitude Research Center at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus.

“For centuries, there was nothing else to do,” he tells Matt Richtel of the New York Times (Feb. 24).

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first therapy for the treatment of severe frostbite in the country. The drug, iloprost, is given intravenously for several hours a day over a little more than a week. It works by opening blood vessels to improve circulation, limiting inflammation, and stopping the formation of platelet clumps that can stop circulation and kill tissue. It affects a person’s toes, fingers, ears, cheeks and nose.

“Most at risk are high-altitude climbers, people who work outdoors without proper gear, and people who are homeless, particularly those with poor circulation. Frostbite happens in ‘extremely cold temperatures,’ according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with injury often occurring during the thawing process as vessels become damaged by clots and inflammation, strangling blood flow,” writes Richtel.

Dr. Hackett said the universe of people who suffer severe frostbite includes “mountaineers, snowmobilers getting stuck out, mushers, the military” and other people working in frigid conditions, along with those who are homeless and “people with drug and alcohol problems who are exposed to cold for long periods.”

As small as the market might be for the new drug, Dr. Hackett hopes it might save a few digits, according to the Times story.

Read the story here: (firewall may apply)

Go on The Quest


Alex Harz of Englewood, Colorado, is the creator and host of The Quest 2D and an accompanying virtual reality documentary series. The project is designed to take global audiences on "educational thrill rides" to reveal captivating stories from some of the most fascinating places on Earth. Harz and his crew spent 63 days in Nepal filming the initial installments of The Quest in 2D, as well as one-of-a-kind first-person real-life virtual reality to the summit of Mt. Everest during a 52-day expedition.


Harz likens the project to a combination of, “Werner Herzog with Anthony Bourdain and a bit of Red Bull-style adrenaline going on immersive adventures.”

The first three films of The Quest series are:


The Quest: Nepal (trailer:


The Quest Everest (trailer:


The Quest: Everest VR Experience (trailer:


All three documentaries are journeys to a deeper understanding of the country’s fascinating culture, history and nature.

Alex Harz, creator/host (right)

The Quest: Nepal is available on a variety of platforms throughout North America, and will be released overseas later this year.


The first three films were privately funded. The Quest is slated to shoot in Africa in early 2025 with corporate, private, philanthropic, organizational, and production funding opportunities available.


For a list of platforms see:

Pasang: In the Shadow of Everest

For Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, the first Nepali woman to reach the summit of Everest, she faced not only the mountain’s physical and mental extremes but the challenge of bucking traditional gender norms in Nepal. Her record requires a sad asterick: she reached the summit in April 1993, but died on the descent. Drawing on interviews with family members and fellow climbers, director Nancy Svendsen’s film describes the various social, national and financial obstacles that Sherpa encountered. In theaters.

Watch the trailer:


Explorers Can Benefit from Multisport Competition

Jennifer Strong McConachie, an ultrarunner, mountaineer, marathon swimmer, distance paddler, and multisport athlete from Wichita, Kansas, is author of Go Multisport: Add Fun, Challenge & Exploration to Your World (Hatherleigh Press, 2024).

This had us wondering: could multisport competition benefit explorers? 

Author Jennifer Strong McConachie

As we suspected, McConachie agreed:

"The discipline of multisport prepares explorers for success in the field. The beauty of being a multisport athlete is that through this range of physical conditioning our fitness levels and skills become transferable from one sport to another.

“Secondly, the mental toughness that gets us through the demands of switching from one sport to another also helps us learn to be calm, to be patient, to relax, and to live in the moment to focus our energy,” says McConachie, who is inspired by human-powered continental and ocean crossings and expeditions into the arctic and other extreme environments.

“Finally, the more we are exposed to different situations and demands, the more adept at problem-solving we are when things go south. Whether I’m scuba diving, doing a dig in the desert, or venturing into the jungle, I have acquired a huge skill set via multisport that gives me the confidence to move forward to achieve my current goal.

“I have been noticing more and more how explorers use multisport to access hard-to-reach areas and to make discoveries,” she tells EN.

For more information:,


As he left the moon’s surface, Buzz Aldrin looked back and

noticed the U.S. flag had fallen down.

What the Apollo 11 Site Looks Like Today

NEO Productions has speculated what the site of the first moon landing might look like today, almost 55 years since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed during the Apollo 11 mission. Left behind were various experiments including a seismometer, the laser lunar retroflector, and commemorative items such as Soviet medals and an Apollo 1 mission patch.

Neo Productions creates short documentaries about topics ranging from politics, and geography to media, society, and more. The Neo YouTube channel, followed by over 1.76 million subscribers, logged over 3.6 million views for their Apollo video. The computer simulation is also accompanied by over 14,000 comments from viewers – which leads us to ask, “Who reads these?”

Some are quite snarky such as this one from @ghola82, “That part where he showed the trash pile made my Murican (i.e. American) heart swell with pride!”

Here’s a fascinating 9-1/2 min. look at how Tranquility Base might appear today, superbly preserved but hard to study: (skip ad)


New York WILD Film Festival Celebrates

10th Anniversary on April 3-7, 2024

The program includes films from 20 countries – including the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Peru, South Korea, Mongolia, and the Philippines – as well as stories closer to home. The program includes 30 speakers, plus a panel featuring returning WILD heroes, called "WILD Stories: 10 Years of Impact & Inspiration." The location is New York’s Paley Center for Media and The Explorers Club.

For more information:

Travel With Purpose, A Field Guide to Voluntourism (Rowman & Littlefield) by Jeff Blumenfeld ­– Travel has come roaring back and so has voluntourism. Be ready to lend a hand wherever you go. How to travel and make a difference while you see the world? Read excerpts and “Look Inside” at:

Get Sponsored! – Need money for your next project? Read about proven techniques that will help you find both cash and in-kind sponsors. If the trip is bigger than you, and is designed to help others, well, that’s half the game right there. Read Jeff Blumenfeld’s "Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers." (Skyhorse Publishing).


Buy it here:

Advertise in Expedition News – For more information:


EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 290 Laramie Blvd., Boulder, CO 80304 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2024 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments are accepted through Read EXPEDITION NEWS at

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