EXPEDITION NEWS is the 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.
A young explorer and freelance journalist from London plans to study an island near New Zealand before it’s too late – before the place sinks into the sea. Cyclones are an increasing threat to Tokelau, a non self-governing territory of New Zealand, because of its mean elevation above sea level of just 5 feet. Peak baggers need ascend no more than 10 feet to reach the island’s summit.
The insidious rising sea level threatens to wipe-out Tokelau in the next 100 years according to Damian Welch, 26, who wants to study what he considers is the most unchanged place in the South Pacific, "a territory lost in the enormity of the Pacific," 300-mi. north of Samoa. Welch won a Royal Geographical Society and BBC Radio 4 "Journey of a Lifetime" award, and will be traveling to Tokelau in February for three months.
"Tokelau is an idyllic world living under the threat of destruction. I want to make a record of Tokelau in the 21st century, the most traditional Polynesian culture there is, and one of the most endangered. Young people are leaving for New Zealand and a Western influenced diet brings diabetes mellitus and obesity," he tells EN.
"I will do this by talking with the people, questioning them, inviting their opinions, and by providing disposable cameras to some of the kids, in order to see Tokelau through different eyes," says Welch. He will also conduct basic medical research for Professor David Warrell of the Oxford Centre for Tropical Diseases (See EN, December 2001).
Welch draws inspiration from personal correspondence with Thor Heyerdahl who has motivated him to strive to become a more vocal member of the geographical community. (For more information: Damien Welch, UK 0044 208 776 7470 and 0044 7903 675189 mobile; email@example.com)
A team of explorers carrying the Explorers Club flag will depart in February to search for the shipwreck of Ferdinand Magellan’s Nao Santiago. The group will sweep a 6-mi. long area off the coast of Patagonia using a magnetometer to detect cannon balls, anchors, and other metal pieces that most likely survived when the ship went down in 1520. The search will focus on an area specified by a diary kept by Antonio Pigafetta, a Venetian nobleman aboard that ship. Pigafetta writes in his journal that the Nao Santiago, one of Magellan’s five ships that left Spain in 1519, was shipwrecked near Port San Julian.
Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521), leader of the first expedition to circumnavigate the globe, never received the acclaim he deserved for his great feat. Compared to Columbus's voyage of 8,000 miles over the relatively quiet Atlantic, Magellan's expedition of 42,000 miles - 22,000 of them over waters no white man had ever seen - was an achievement without parallel in an era of fragile wooden ships.
Few voyages have been so filled with intrigue, treachery, mutiny, murder, scurvy, starvation and death. Only a lone, bedraggled ship out of a fleet of five managed to complete the journey.
Had it not been for a diary kept by Pigafetta, the record of the venture would have been quite different. Only the distorted accounts of deserters, mutineers, and jealous officers eager to usurp Magellan's glory would have survived, for Magellan was murdered midtrip.
Magellan himself did not reach his goal, the Spice Islands; yet he had accomplished the most difficult part of this task. He had been the first to undertake the circumnavigation of the world. His voyage gave the first positive proof of the earth's rotundity and the first true idea of the distribution of land and water.
The expedition next month, affiliated with the Maritime Museum of Ushuaia and the Science Museum of Long Island (N.Y.), will include Robert Hemm (expedition coordinator), Uberto Sagramoso (documentary producer), Inga Boudreau (explorer/writer), Dr. John Loret (scientific coordinator), Carlos Vairo (maritime expert), Steve Bogaerts (main diver), Bil Phillips (main diver), Edgard Peralta (local explorer), and Marcelo Mendez (team coordinator/producer). (For more information: Marcelo Mendez, 212 242 3786, firstname.lastname@example.org)
A group calling itself the Everest Peace Mountaineers plans to go to Pakistan this summer to climb 26,361-ft./ 8035m Gasherbrum II (G2) as a symbol to the world that "we all can get along." The international team of mountaineers, which includes Muslims, Christians, and Jews, says the mostly self-funded effort will symbolize the countries of the world coming together for a common goal. G2 is only a few miles from the disputed area where Pakistan and India are at war.
"I personally believe we as climbers have a great potential to deliver a message of peace in this troubled time, either to our own fellow countrymen or worldwide," said Pakistan 2002 Peace Climb team member Khoo Swee Chiow. The core team all climbed Turkey’s Mt. Ararat (16,945-ft. / 5165m) as part of the 2001 Peace Climb (www.holylandexpeditions.com). The G2 team also consists of Everest summiteers Nasuh Mahruki, David Keaton (Carmel, Calif.), Ricardo Torres-Nava, Fernando Gonzales Rubio, Tunc Findik and Marcelo Arbelaez.
Proceeds from the climb are earmarked for the children of Afghanistan and other causes. Donations to the climb’s charities are being solicited via www.everestnews.com/pakpeaceclimb.htm. (For more information: George Martin, EverestNews.com, 740 587 1021; email@example.com)
First American to Solo 8000 Meter Peak – When Chris Warner climbed the 2300 meter (7,546-ft.) south face of Nepal’s Shishapangma (26,398-ft./8046 m) in a 17 hour 20 minute single push on Sept. 24, he became the first American to ever solo an 8000m peak. Warner is the owner of Earth Treks Climbing Center in Columbia, Md., one of the country’s largest climbing gyms and guide services.
Starting at 3:40 p.m., he left his tent at Advanced Base Camp (5720m) and approached the British route. By dark he was climbing up the 40-80 degree slopes. After midnight he crossed the mid-height rock band and dawn found him moving towards the summit. A white-out on the descent lead to a five-hour delay, as he criss-crossed the wide couloir seven times searching for the fixed ropes (two Korean and an international expedition had fixed over 3,500 feet of rope this year) that ended at Camp 3 (7400m). Thirty-four hours after leaving his tent, he returned.
- The American Alpine Club (AAC) recently awarded $4,200 in Mountaineering Fellowship Fund grants to eight young climbers, making possible exploratory climbing and attempts at first ascents in Alaska, the Canadian Arctic, Pakistan, and Patagonia. Fifteen individual climbers ages 25 and younger applied to the AAC for support. AAC grants are drawn from an endowment made possible by support from AAC members, and the support of corporate partner REI. "These grants for young climbers really embody the core of the AAC mission," noted program manager Chris Chesak.
"They provide support for up-and-coming climbers to attempt something that would normally be out of their reach in order to help them expand not only their personal knowledge of climbing, but also the collective knowledge of the entire climbing community," Chesak said.
Fellowship Funds are awarded in the fall and spring of each year and encourage young American climbers, age 25 years and under, to seek-out climbs more difficult than they might ordinarily be able to do. Fall grant recipients are:
- Classroom Connect in Minneapolis, affiliated with Dan Buettner’s Quest program, is looking for a project to support in 2002. One of the main missions of the Quest series of interactive expeditions (quest.classroom.com) is to make a connection between the learning that goes on in classrooms and the excitement of real-world discovery in the world of science. The group is looking to "piggyback" on a real scientific mission. They’re seeking a project that is exciting, would lend itself to a journey or exploration of an area of the world, and is likely to lead to some kind of discovery. They’re ready to provide financial support for the project, including certain expenses, sophisticated communication expertise, and publicity. (For more information: John G. Fox, Ph.D., Adventure Learning Division, Classroom Connect, 612 340 0758; JFox@classroom.com)
- The United Nations last month proclaimed 2002 as the "International Year of Mountains" in an effort to conserve the ecosystems of mountains and to eradicate conflicts and poverty in mountainous regions.
In the proclamation, the U.N. said it would begin an international campaign to promote the conservation and sustainable development of mountainous regions.
The U.N. will also hold an international videoconference along with the Italian government in May, linking seven of the world's "rooftops," including Mt. Everest, Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. McKinley. According to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), more than three billion people, about half of the world’s population, rely on the ecosystems of mountains for fresh water, electricity from hydraulic power generation, and water for agriculture.
- Were it not for the Guinness Book of World Records, we’d never know the following are actually records accepted from last year's Russian Millennium 2000 expedition. Are you ready? Here we go: the first hot-air balloon flight over the South Geographic Pole; first sky-dive from a balloon over the Antarctic (near the Theil Mountains); most number of balloon flights in Antarctica by a single expedition; the quickest land travel from the Antarctic coast to the South Pole (five days using "snow bugs"); largest mass sky-dive over the Antarctic; highest balloon flight in the Antarctic (close to 5000m above sea level); and the first woman to fly in a balloon over the Antarctic.
According to the Antarctic Non-Government Activity News, Millennium 2000 was a Russia-based multinational venture that focused on the Weddell Sea sector between the Patriot Hills in Ellsworth Land and the South Geographic Pole (SGP). Somehow we think these folks had a bit too much time on their hands.
- The Kilimanjaro National Park Authority (KINAPA) has awarded a tourist, Bruno Brunod from Italy, with a special certificate for setting a record in climbing Mount Kilimanjaro roundtrip in only 8 hours 34 minutes and 52 seconds. It normally takes a climber five to seven days to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,340-ft.) through the Marangu route and one has to sleep in huts set up along the route to acclimatize. Brunod's personal physician, Stephano Mattioti, said that this achievement was possible because Brunod was an experienced climber and had done a lot of exercises (those must be some exercises).
– High school and college students from throughout the east came to the Explorers Club for a "Day of Exploration," Dec. 8, to receive inspiration from world-renowned explorers Sylvia A. Earle, Wade Davis, and . It was a first-ever presentation to potential new members of the Club’s Youth Activities Committee, which annually bestows Youth Activity Fund grants to student applicants with significant projects.
Explorers Club president Faanya Rose kicked off the meeting by advising budding young explorers to, "Hang out where the action is, and soon you’ll be part of the action." Marine biologist Dr. Earle, who has logged over 6,000 hours underwater, told the group, "More has been discovered in the last 20 years than in all preceding history. The pace has really picked up thanks to new technology."
Later, Earle said, "The great era of exploration is just beginning. Less than five percent of the ocean has been seen, let alone explored. We need to explore our ocean planet from the inside out, by being there.
In a fast-paced 80-minute lecture, anthropologist and ethnobotanist Dr. Wade Davis warned that two decades ago, 6,000 languages were spoken on earth, yet today, over 50 percent are no longer being taught to children. Some 450 tongues have only a few elderly speakers and are in immediate danger of extinction.
"We’re losing the legacy of language," he laments. Warning of the "conceit of the West," he said, "We don’t represent the world. We’re not the paragon of human potential. After 9-11, why do they hate us? Because they see the face of the West that rides roughshod over their lives."
Wade continued, "We must recognize there’s no proper way of being. Different societies represent alternative visions of life itself."
High altitude archaeologist , best known as the discoverer of the Inca "Ice Maiden" in Peru in 1995, explained he races against time, against looters, against even lightning, to discover more frozen mummies at over 20,000 feet. "Frozen bodies will unlock secrets for hundreds of years thanks to new technology," he said. Reinhard is drawn to high altitude archaeology because it combines mountain climbing, cultural anthropology, and even scuba diving (into frozen mountaintop lakes). Reinhard has found that discoveries of frozen mummies bring science alive. "Kids are crazy about mummies. They’re a wonderful way to teach schoolchildren about DNA. Once you have mummies like the Ice Maiden," he continued, "the world takes notice."
- Over 200 explorers and would-be explorers attended the 21st annual Explore 2001 conference at the prestigious Royal Geographical Society in London last November. Our coverage of the conference continues below:
• Every expedition needs a team member in charge of handling media inquiries, believes David Graeme, overseas operations director at World Challenge Expeditions. "If something goes wrong, the media will camp on your doorstep and try to turn your words around. Have people in charge of handling their demands."
• Catherine Hartley, one of the first British women to walk to the South Pole, encouraged the RGS audience not to be discouraged when soliciting funds. "It’s absolutely grim raising money, worse than getting through the expedition itself. But don’t give up. I mortgaged my house and forced my way into marketing managers to try to get the dosh (cash). It finally arrived a few days before departure," she said.
• Expedition guide Paul Walker told of a polar bear trip wire system that protected his camp on Spitsbergen island. It reminded us of the perimeter system that kept the aliens from harming Leslie Nielsen and Anne Francis in the classic sci-fi thriller, Forbidden Planet (1956). In spring 2001 Walker led the successful Polestar expedition to Svalbard, which made the first-ever British ski crossing of Spitsbergen. He advised RGS attendees to "think of everything … we even tested our food containers in freezers to make sure the rubber seals could withstand the cold. Their failure could have ruined the entire expedition."
– Moonstone Mountain Equipment, the Seattle-based outdoor industry manufacturer of technical outdoor apparel and sleeping bags, named acclaimed American mountaineer Brent Bishop of Seattle as consultant for product design and marketing.
Bishop, son of the late legendary climber Barry Bishop, is the first American to follow in his father’s footsteps and summit Mt. Everest (1994). He joins Moonstone with a legacy of successful climbs and a wealth of product design and development expertise. Bishop will become an integral part of the brand’s elite test team, and plans to evaluate new Moonstone apparel and bags during upcoming expeditions.
- Freedom Scientific Inc., manufacturer of assistive technology products for people with sensory impairments and learning disabilities, named blind climber Erik Weihenmayer, of Golden, Colo., as chairman of its newly-created Product Advisory Board. He will also serve as company spokesperson for Freedom's full line of hardware and software products for those who are blind or vision impaired.
Weihenmayer, the first blind mountain climber to summit Mt. Everest (See EN, June 2001), is a long-time user of Freedom Scientific notetakers and screen reading software. He took his Braille ‘n Speak notetaker on his Everest expedition last May, using it to record his journal notes and report back to those following his progress on the Internet.
Freedom Scientific considers Weihenmayer, a former middle school teacher and wrestling coach, the best-known and most versatile blind athlete in the world: he’s an acrobatic skydiver and skier, a long-distance biker and marathoner, a wrestler and scuba diver. But his passion has always been mountaineering, ice climbing and rock climbing.
- Explorers Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen have signed a deal with 8th Continent soymilk, which will sponsor 2002 Bancroft Arnesen Explore activities. Bancroft and Arnesen will collaborate with 8th Continent on speaking programs, Web site links and a journal for people to log their own dreams. During Bancroft Arnesen Explore’s first adventure, the women made history and achieved their childhood dream by becoming the first women to ski and sail across Antarctica (See EN, March 2001).
Bancroft Arnesen Explore, a yourexpedition brand, is a series of programs designed to enable Bancroft and Arnesen to share their stories of adventure and inspire other women and girls to follow their dreams.
8th Continent, a joint venture between General Mills and Protein Technologies International, a Du Pont business, is a company dedicated to providing consumers with tools to move from being "wellness aware" to "wellness active." 8th Continent soymilk is now in regional markets on the West Coast and in the Northeast. It will launch nationally in May 2002 (www.8thcontinent.com).
"You start out as a little kid and never grow up." – Dr. Sylvia A. Earle’s answer to the question: "How do you get to be an explorer?" Her comments were made Dec. 8 during a meeting of young, prospective explorers at the Explorers Club in New York.
– People magazine (Dec. 10) covered the story of Brian Robinson, 40, who walked into the history books after hiking more than 7,000 miles across three major U.S. trails in one year (See EN, December 2001). In just 10 months Robinson walked the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail – a grueling 7,371 miles in 22 states – much of it through harsh winter weather. Before Robinson wrapped up his Triple Crown on Oct. 27, no solo hiker had managed to hike even two of the trails in one year. "He’s not a nut," insists his brother, Greg, 37. "I guess you could say he has a long attention span."
– The Explorers Club is profiled in the November 2001 Qantas airline in-flight magazine. Writer Michael Gebicki says, "In the days when a pith helmet was still standard adventurer attire, a club was formed to promote world exploration and field research. Ninety-seven years later, the club is still going strong." Gebicki says, "The five-story building (in New York) is a temple dedicated to adventure – a mixture of scholarship and tomb raider devilry – and it’s positively crammed with exotic souvenirs."
The Club’s celebrated top-floor Trophy Room, now politically incorrect, dates back to a time when, according to Club executive director Stephen Nagiewicz, "…this was typical. That was how you studied animals – you shot them, dissected them and stuffed the carcass." The story explains how the Club is changing its image. Says Nagiewicz, "We’re making the effort for the first time to let people know that we’re not a staid old group of guys who just sit around retelling our daredevil exploits and backslapping." In fact, Club members appeared in a New York Times fashion spread in 1999, and recently re-elected Faanya Rose, the Club’s first female president.
- Ardito Desio, an Italian explorer, geologist and cartographer who organized the first expedition to reach the top of Himalayan peak K-2, died in Rome at the age of 104. Born in a tiny village in northeastern Italy, Desio was a relentless traveler. The geology and paleontology professor continued leading scientific expeditions into his 90s. His greatest achievement came in 1954 when a 12-man expedition that he organized took two climbers - Bruno Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni - to the top of K-2, the world's second highest mountain (28251-ft./8611m). Desio and the rest of the team stopped several hundred yards from the summit.
New Lake Baikal Expedition Web Site – The Web site for the Trans-Baikal Bike Expedition (See EN, December 2001) has been changed to: www.tbb-expedition.com.
– We regret that we incorrectly spelled the name of David Warrell in our December 2001 issue.
-Reader William O’Brien of Chicago spotted an error we made in the June 2000 issue of EN. In our story about Chicagoan Albert C. Hanna’s attempt to reach the summit of Everest in May 2000, we wrote Hanna, then 69, turned back 1,000 feet from the summit. The correct distance from the summit was 100 feet.
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- WWW.WebExpeditions.net and Expedition News are pleased to announce a joint project to bring free EN highlights to webExpeditions.net visitors. Get up-to-date information on major expeditions and adventures, media information, and classifieds delivered right to your e-mail box. The highlights are free, but the complete version will remain available only by subscription – still only US$36/year (US$46 via international mail).
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