September 1998 - Volume Five, Number Nine

EXPEDITION NEWS is a monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online and by mail to media representatives, corporate sponsors, educators, research librarians, explorers, environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts. This forum on exploration covers projects that stimulate, motivate and educate.


To shed light on Patagonia, a little-known area of the world, an environmentally motivated mountaineering traverse of the northern Patagonian Icefield is planned for December 1999 by Alun Hubbard, 28, a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

The five-person Hielo Norte team will explore the Northern Patagonian Icefield (NPI), attempting first ascents on two peaks and a new route on the highest Patagonian peak, Monte San Valentin (13,314-ft. / 4058 m). Total distance traveled is expected to be roughly 155-mi. "Not a large amount by any means, but then the weather is pretty diabolical down there," Hubbard told EN.


Traveling through the high mountains of western Mongolia, archaeologist Jeannine Davis-Kimball, Ph.D., stumbled across a mound of earth that looked vaguely familiar. It was a kurgan - a burial mound - likely built by the Saka, a nomadic tribe from the first millennium BC and forerunners to the Kazakhs that she documents for the Center for the Study of Eurasian Nomads in Berkeley, Calif.

Davis-Kimball knew that to formally report the finding might lead to pilferage by looters seeking the gold artifacts and wood carvings likely buried with the frozen bodies of humans and perhaps even horses. So it remains today, her own private kurgan, the location of which is known to no westerner but herself, and a handful of locals in Mongolia.


Howkins Says K2 Was Unclimbable - An old climbing adage goes, "Summitting a mountain is optional, but coming down is mandatory." Good advice when you're attempting K2, the world's second-tallest and arguably toughest peak. Faced with high winds and thigh-deep snow, American climber Heidi Howkins and her two male climbing companions decided that K2 is unclimbable this season and have abandoned further summit attempts. Had she succeeded, Howkins would have been the first American woman to climb the 28,251-ft. mountain. (See EN, April 1999). Howkins' updates are on www.greatoutdoors.com/k298.

Bolting Ban Delayed - The U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Jim Lyons announced a one-year stay on its nationwide ban on permanent fixed anchors for rock climbing in National Forest wilderness areas until the completion of "negotiated rulemaking." (See EN, August 1999). The decision was supported by the non-profit Access Fund which generally believes palm- sized fixed anchors have a minimal impact on the environment.

In Search of Golden Arches

The terrain is as alien as any on planet earth. Turn a corner within the 73,000-acre Arches National Park in southeastern Utah and you expect to see NASA's Sojourner roving by. Within this fantasia of stone and sky, as well as elsewhere throughout the world, a dedicated band of explorers are on a passionate search for natural arches - generally defined as a minimum three- foot opening. In fact one such arch explorer, Chris Moore, 34, of Thompson Springs, Utah, makes his living publishing books about these so-called "miracles of nature" and maintains the database of the world's 6,000-plus known arches.


Still Plenty to Explore - Many took issue with the cover blurb of the New York Times Sunday Magazine "Explornography" story by John Tierney (See EN, August 1999). "The vicarious thrill of exploring when there's nothing left to explore," it said. Last month, Bruce Jakosky, associate professor of geology at the University of Colorado at Boulder wrote the Times, "... there still is much to explore in the world today. I'm including the exploration of space, the exploration of the earth's oceans, climate and biosphere and the exploration of the arts and of the nature of humanity.

"Humans as a society have been exploring the world around them since the end of the Dark Ages. Arguably, it is exploration that makes us human."

Truly, Madly, Steeply - The quest by big wall climber and former speed skier Craig Calonica of Lake Tahoe to ski Everest - one of the "last great firsts" - is profiled in a September Details magazine story by Rob Buchanan.

Remembering Ned Gillette

The expedition world lost a friend on Aug. 5 when extreme adventurer Edward "Ned" Gillette, 53, was shot to death in his tent in an apparent botched robbery attempt in northern Pakistan. Injured in the attack, and currently recovering is his wife, Susie Patterson, 42. Two suspects were taken into custody and charged with murder and assault.

Bill Werlin, president of Bellwether, said, "This was a guy who walked to the edge numerous times. And he'd come back and you'd never know the risks he faced." Tom Mendl, product manager of Malden Mills remembered, "Ned was the consummate professional. He knew how to plan an expedition and give a sponsor what they needed.

"He had a great zest for life and lived more than a lifetime of adventure. He squeezed more out of 53 years than what most people experience at twice that age."

Don Burch, president of Quest Outdoors told EN he once asked Ned, "What do you do when you get into a really difficult situation?" Ned's reply was, "A smile goes a long way."



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EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 28 Center Street, Darien, CT 06820 USA. USA. Tel. 203 855 9400, fax 203 855 9433, e-mail editor@ExpeditionNews.com. Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Copyright © 1999 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. Subscriptions: US$36 /yr.; international postal rate US$46/yr. Highlights from Expedition News are also located at www.mountainzone.com/news/expedition where you can order a subscription to the full edition with your credit card.


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