September 2010 – Volume Seventeen, Number Nine
EXPEDITION NEWS, now in its 17th year, 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.
SEARCH RENEWS FOR SANDY IRVINE'S KODAK CAMERA
A group of explorers headquartered in Boston are planning to search for George Mallory's partner, Andrew "Sandy" Irvine, and the Vest Pocket Kodak he's said to have been carrying when he disappeared on Mt. Everest in 1924. They hope the photos will answer the still burning question: Did either man reach the summit before both perished on Everest's desolate slopes?
The Andrew Irvine Search Committee is seeking $250,000 by December to fund a recovery expedition next year to the Tibetan side of Mt. Everest, and take video footage of what they hope will be a major historic discovery. After years of patient detective work, they say aerial photography indicates the body of Andrew Irvine is lying in a rock cleft at 27,641-ft. (8425 m) within the Yellow Band strata of the mountain's North face.
The small, tight expedition of highly experienced climbers hope to ascend to Irvine's location, film his lie, attempt (from his injuries) to determine his cause of death, and give him an Anglican interment. Kodak scientists have assured the Committee that if the camera remained light tight, "printable images" could be obtained with developing techniques especially created for this film. If the film shows they reached the summit, history would be rewritten, believes expedition founder Tom Holzel, a semi-retired market positioning executive from Boston.
In any case, the discovery of Irvine and his Kodak camera would reveal the last three days of these pioneers of Everest, and so finally close the book on this great 86-year-old mystery.
Holzel tells EN, "Our creation of huge photographic route maps (Scale 1:270), coupled with hours of searching the aerial film under a microscope, eventually led to an 'eureka moment' of recognition–the faint image of a frozen corpse which by its odd location could only be that of Andrew Irvine." Holzel says an attempt to reach the body in May 2010 was made by at least three climbers, but all returned empty-handed. (For more information: Tom Holzel, VelocityPress.com, Tholzel@gmail.com, (+1) 617-293-1958)
Final Leg of "Save the Poles"
Polar explorer Eric Larsen, 39, departed last month on his quest to summit Mt. Everest, the final leg of his "Save the Poles" expedition, a first-ever journey to the South Pole, North Pole and summit of Mt. Everest in a continuous 365-day period (see EN, February 2010). In January 2010, Larsen and his team completed a 750-mile, 48-day ski traverse to the Geographic South Pole. Larsen, from Boulder, Colo., and Grand Marais, Minn., and a separate team reached the Geographic North Pole on April 22, Earth Day, after a 51-day, 500 mile push that included snowshoeing and skiing across shifting sea ice and sometimes even swimming across open water sections of the Arctic Ocean.
His purpose for the expedition is to connect people to the Polar Regions and the environmental issues that are impacting them.
For the Everest leg of the expedition, Larsen will include video updates from the mountain, as well as a more interactive approach to conversing and answering questions via Twitter and Facebook.
The Save the Poles expedition is sponsored by Bing and Terramar with major support from Goal0, Sierra Designs, MSR, Scream Agency, Stanley, Therm-a-Rest, webExpeditions and Optic Nerve.??? (For more information:www.savethepoles.com).
Around-n-Over Keeps Going and Going
The human powered circumnavigation project by Erden Eruc, 49, which began in July 2007 at Bodega Bay on the shores of California, is currently in the Indian Ocean. Erden will return to Bodega Bay to conclude his journey sometime in 2012. By then he will have also reached the summits of Denali, Kosciuszko, Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua in his quest to reach the highest points on six different continents by human power.
Founded by Erden, the mission of the nonprofit Around-n-Over is to educate and inspire children based on the lessons learned during human powered journeys, and to raise funds for charitable projects focusing on education. During the circumnavigation journey so far, Around-n-Over has been able to commit over $78,000 toward charitable projects.
After 51 days at sea, Erden was over 1,750 nautical miles from Carnarvon, his departure point in Western Australia on July 13. He is expected to be at sea another two months before landfall at a confidential location he prefers not announce at this time as a precaution against pirates. His title sponsor is Aktas Group.
Erden is in an ocean rowboat, a first generation ARR Class (Atlantic Rowing Race Class) boat 23 ft. long, constructed from a marine plywood kit in 2001 by two British rowers. It is the standard two person boat which the race participants used until ocean rowboats with molded composite hulls were introduced in 2004.
He emails EN, "If I succeed, this will be the first ever complete crossing of this ocean by human power, mainland to mainland. Australia nonstop from California. Now the complete Indian Ocean... Each phase is noteworthy in itself and I enjoy the thought of that."
Now about those antipodes – A self-imposed requirement of Erden's human powered circumnavigation is to include a pair of antipodal points on his route. Antipodes are pairs of points on the earth's surface which are located diametrically opposite of each other, like the North Pole and the South Pole. Every point has its antipode. Erden's circumnavigation track is mirrored on the opposite side of the globe by its antipodal track. When these two tracks cross each other, the antipodal requirement of a true circumnavigation will have been achieved. This ensures that the journey has gone as far beyond the horizon as possible to the far ends of the globe and then back. The natural results of this requirement are that the journey will have crossed the Equator at least twice and will have traveled at least the length of the Equator. (see EN, August 2007)
Clearly, when you're burning thousands of calories day in and day out, you need to do these circumnavigations right. (Track the expedition at around-n-over.org)
Die With Your Boots On
Given a choice in the matter, when it's time for that final belay, we'd like to die like William Holland – with our boots on. Late last month, two men hiking in the Canadian Rockies have found the frozen remains of Holland, an American climber who vanished more than two decades ago.
"I've been speechless," said Holland's wife, Anne Holland Bateman, of Walla Walla, Wash. "It has been 21 years. I never thought we would know what happened."
The hikers discovered Holland's remains on Aug. 15 in Jasper National Park in Alberta, officials said. Holland disappeared in 1989. The men were walking near the base of Dome Glacier when they noticed a yellow object that seemed out of place in the snow-covered landscape. Upon closer inspection they discovered, much to their shock, the object was a yellow jacket and it was still attached to Holland's perfectly preserved remains.
"He was fully intact," said Garth Lemke, a public safety specialist with Parks Canada. "He still had his pack on. His clothes were tattered but in reasonable condition."
Holland, a 39-year-old geologist from Gorham, Maine, climbed the summit of the Snow Dome Mountain in April 1989. While battling blowing snow and whiteout conditions, Holland glanced over the edge of a cliff face, in an effort to locate a route of descent.
The drift broke free and he fell about 1,500 feet to his death. (Read more about the discovery)
Pea-Sized Frog Found in Borneo
The smallest frog in the Old World (Asia, Africa and Europe) and one of the world's tiniest was discovered inside and around pitcher plants in the heath forests of the Southeast Asian island of Borneo. The pea-sized amphibian is a species of microhylid, which, as the name suggests, is composed of miniature frogs under 15 mm (about one-half inch).
The discovery published in the taxonomy journal Zootaxa was made by Drs. Indraneil Das and Alexander Haas of the Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation at the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, and Biozentrum Grindel und Zoologisches Museum of Hamburg, respectively, with support from the Volkswagen Foundation. Dr. Das is also leading one of the scientific teams that is searching for the world's lost amphibians, a campaign organized by Conservation International and IUCN's Amphibians Specialist Group.
The mini frogs (Microhyla nepenthicola) were found on the edge of a road leading to the summit of the Gunung Serapi mountain, which lies within Kubah National Park. The new species was named after the plant on which it depends, the Nepenthes ampullaria, one of many species of pitcher plants in Borneo, which has a globular pitcher and grows in damp, shady forests. The frogs deposit their eggs on the sides of the pitcher, and tadpoles grow in the liquid accumulated inside the plant.
Because they are so tiny, finding them proved to be a challenge. The frogs were tracked by their call, and then made to jump onto a piece of white cloth to be examined closer.
Amphibians are the most threatened group of animals, with a third of them in danger of extinction. They provide important services to humans such as controlling insects that spread disease and damage crops and helping to maintain healthy freshwater systems.
Teams of scientists from Conservation International and IUCN's Amphibian Specialist Group around the world have recently launched an unprecedented search in the hope of rediscovering 100 species of "lost" amphibians - animals considered potentially extinct but that may be holding on in a few remote places.
Follow the search for the lost amphibians
There's a full description published in the journal Zootaxa
Hear the frog's call     (we love this stuff; it sure beats wasting time surfing YouTube)
Those of us at EN don't even like walking around the kitchen in bare feet, much less the open trail. So imagine our amazement that there's a growing barefoot hikers movement, including one in our home state.
According to the Barefoot Hikers of Connecticut (who knew?) there is nothing more natural than hiking through nature barefoot. "The soles of your feet and toes are wonderful sensory organs and the myriad of feelings from earth, grass, moss, pine-needles, and mud are wonderful," their website breathlessly explains. "Many could not see hiking any other way."
Think about the plus side: virtually no trail erosion since a bare foot makes much less of an imprint than a booted foot. To which we would add, no blisters, no shoelaces coming loose, no expensive hiking boots to purchase. Aside from some pesky LACERATIONS! it's a wonder more people don't hike this way.
"I'm guessing that barefoot hiking is not a great way to pick up girls," sniffed one outdoor boot manufacturer who requested anonymity in case a few of these tenderfoots decide to one day lace up.
Peter Sachs of Lowa Boots in Stamford, Conn., takes a more serious tact when we asked him to weigh in on boots versus bare feet:
"As a boot manufacturer we are always striving for saving weight, making less impact on the trail and other similar benefits. However, we always remind ourselves that sturdy footwear is there to support and protect the feet and ankles in uneven terrain, over long distances, carrying loads and in various types of weather.
"As we build shoes we can certainly take inspiration from those who try new things and try to incorporate those features into our footwear, but in the end, we can't sacrifice what we know works and does what the most important piece of outdoor gear is supposed to do – make your adventure positively memorable," Sachs said.
Learn more about barefoot hiking here:
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