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.
November 2017 - Volume Twenty-Four, Number Eleven
Celebrating Our 23rd Year!
PATAGONE EXPEDITION DOCUMENTS PATAGONIA BY HORSEBACK
Now that Patagonia, or as some call it "Patagucci," has become a virtual uniform for outdoorists, it's good to remember that the apparel company is named after a wild, remote, frontier region of Argentina that warrants protection.
To document this vast wilderness, Stevie Anna of Midland, Tex., is using her West Texas rodeo and backcountry guiding skills to cross this unforgiving terrain solo, with just her dog and two horses for company. She calls it a "land that refuses to be explored by any other means." She departed Nov. 3 for the 1,000-mile trek.
Stevie Anna will document Argentina's last frontier. (Photo by www.javiercastillofotografo.com)
Anna posts: "A wild, limitless place, Patagonia is filled with inspiring tales and unaltered truths from the distant past. Gauchos (cowboys) and their families have turned these lands and estancias (ranches) for generations. My mission for this trip is to discover, document and share these undying formalities during my solo journey covering over 1,000 miles by horseback, with my dog Darcie."
She continues, "While many travelers, bikers and explorers are confined by marked routes or pavement, Patagonia offers one by horseback an exclusive path, that blazed only by the explorer himself. So there is no specific route or trail I will be riding. Even the most desolate areas of Patagonia are quilted with estancia fences. Traveling as a gaucha, working and staying with local gauchos along the way, and speaking the language will allow me to pass through fences, estancias and areas others cannot."
Anna makes her living providing expedition support and public relations services to explorers and adventurers, including polar explorer Lonnie Dupre. She also matches potential candidates to companies for brand ambassador programs, sponsorship, logistics, and fundraising.
She plans to share every step of the journey, and tell the story of the region using solar chargers on the trail, and sometimes going out of the way to find connectivity, which can be miles from her original route.
She travels with awareness of the risks that lie ahead:
"Besides the natural threats of hypothermia, wild dogs, drought, forest fires, injury, storms, raging rivers, puma, heat exhaustion, grazing scarcity, wild boar, hunger, snow storms, horse accidents, lameness, rocky trails, and hail, there is the threat of getting robbed, language barriers, getting lost or even loosing my horses.
"I hold all of these challenges in perspective and have spent years working alongside the local gauchos, learning the language and preparing for the risks and challenges," Anna says.
Learn more about the project at:
To date, she's raised about one-third of her $15,000 sponsorship goal. See her GoFundMe site at:
Himalayan "Gift of Sight" Expedition 2017 Returns to Nepal
A team of leading ophthalmologists will again travel to a remote region of Nepal to tend to the eye care needs of over 1,500 remote villagers in the Upper Gorkha region, near the epicenter of the massive earthquakes and aftershocks in 2015.
The team, assembled by Scott Hamilton, president of Dooley Intermed International, New York, will depart in early December on a two-week mission co-sponsored by members of the elite Operation Restore Vision team of Operation International, Southhampton, N.Y.
Nepal's Pema Ts'al Sakya Monastic Institute will again provide senior monks to serve as Eye Camp assistants and interpreters. They are trilingual and can speak English, Nepali, and Tibetan.
The expedition is focused in the general roadless region of the approach trek to Mt. Manaslu. The team will trek in while transporting equipment using a mule caravan.
The doctors, in cooperation with the Himalaya Eye Hospital, will provide eye examinations, refractions, and perform sight-restoring surgery on those blinded by cataracts. Cataract surgery is one of the most cost-effective and gratifying surgical procedures in medicine since patients are "cured" overnight, often with full restoration of their eyesight.
In 2013, members of the same team restored vision to dozens of villagers in Nepal's Lower Mustang region, while providing quality eye care and refractive services to over 700 individuals.
The team will also attend the grand opening of a new Eye Hospital in Bhakundebesi Village, in the Kavre District of Nepal. The construction of the new facility has been sponsored by Dooley Intermed and Operation International. Patients will receive needed eye care, including surgeries, regardless of ability to pay.
This area has a population of over 600,000 and is currently without a dedicated eye care facility. The new satellite eye hospital facility will soon be performing essential ophthalmic services including comprehensive ophthalmic examinations, refractions and treatment. The facility will include an optical dispensary and pharmacy, enabling comprehensive treatment of many common eye and vision problems.
"This new facility will provide vital eye care to a very large marginalized population of men, women and children, year after year, serving an area in great need," Hamilton says.
After the Eye Hospital inauguration ceremony, the "Gift of Sight" doctors and staff will proceed by vehicle for a site inspection of the Dooley Intermed-sponsored Orphanage Eco-Home and "Milk For Kids" program, and new Community Health Clinic in the Saankhu Sharada Valley, before returning to Kathmandu.
Watch this space and the EN blog for a recap early next year.
See the 9-min. documentary of the 2013 Gift of Sight Expedition here:
Learn more about the work of Dooley Intermed at:
New Online Tool Allows Users to Explore Mountains Worldwide
A new tool that gives users the most detailed view yet of the world's mountains is now available from the USGS.
The Global Mountain Explorer (GME) can help a variety of users, from hikers planning their next adventure, to scientists, resource managers and policy makers seeking information that is often sparse in these prominent yet often understudied landscapes. Mountains occupy anywhere from 12 to 31 percent of the land surface of the Earth, but despite their importance, surprisingly few attempts have been made to scientifically define and map these regions worldwide with detail.
"This product allows anyone with access to the internet to explore where mountains are, whether they are low or high, scattered or continuous, snowy or snow-free," said USGS ecosystems geographer Roger Sayre, who led the project. "Mountain Explorer users can visualize and compare in one place and for the first time the three major global mountain maps that have been produced," he added.
Users can select an area by zooming in or by typing a place name like Mt. Kilimanjaro to view its elevation and type. They can also select from a number of backdrops -- such as satellite images, topographic maps or political boundary maps - on which to display the different types of mountain classes.
A tutorial showing the full features of the Global Map Explorer is available here:
Learn more at: https://rmgsc.cr.usgs.gov/gme/
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome."
- Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), English poet and essayist
Skis Remain Essential for Polar Exploration - Part I
By Jeff Blumenfeld, editor, Expedition News
(Also appearing in Skiing History magazine, November-December 2017)
Throughout the modern era of polar exploration, skis have played an invaluable role, propelling explorers forward, sometimes with dogsled teams, sometimes without, and more recently, with kites to glide across the polar regions at speeds averaging 7 mph.
Modern-day polar explorers including Eric Larsen, Paul Schurke, Will Steger, and Richard Weber, all continue to use skis today, taking a page right out of history.
Were it not for skis, reaching the North and South poles in the early 1900s may have been delayed until years later.
"Stars and stripes nailed to the North Pole"
This long-awaited message from American explorer Robert E. Peary (1856-1920) flashed around the globe by cable and telegraph the afternoon of September 6, 1909. Reaching the North Pole, nicknamed the "Big Nail" in those days, was a three-century struggle that had taken many lives, and was the equivalent of the first manned landing on the moon.
But was Peary first to achieve this expeditionary Holy Grail? Historians to this day
aren't absolutely sure whether Peary was first to the North Pole in 1909, although they are convinced both he and Frederick Cook (1865-1940) came close. Of course, Cook's credibility wasn't enhanced by his conviction for mail fraud in 1923, followed by seven years in Leavenworth Federal Prison.
Surprisingly, it wasn't until 1986 that the possibility of reaching the pole unresupplied and without mechanical assistance was finally confirmed, thanks in part to the use of specially-designed skis.
That was the year a wiry Minnesotan named Will Steger, a former science teacher then aged 41, launched his 56-day Steger North Pole Expedition, financed by a combination of cash and gear from over 60 companies.
The expedition would become the first confirmed, non-mechanized and unsupported dogsled and ski journey to the North Pole, proving it was indeed possible back in the early 1900s to have reached the pole in this manner, regardless of whether Peary or Cook arrived first.
Dogs are the long-haul truckers of polar exploration. For Steger's 1986 North Pole project, he relied upon three self-sufficient teams of 12 dogs - specially bred polar huskies weighing about 90 lbs. each. The teams faced temperatures as low as minus 68 degrees F., raging storms and surging 60-to-100-feet pressure ridges of ice.
To keep up with dogs often pulling 1,100 lbs. supply sleds traveling at speeds of up to four miles per hour, team members used Epoke 900 skis, Berwin Bindings, Swix Alulight ski poles, and Swix ski wax, according to North to the Pole by Will Steger with Paul Schurke (Times Books/Random House, 1987).
This mode of travel was not far removed from the early days of polar exploration.
Norway's Best Skier Crosses Greenland
Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930), an accomplished cross-country skier, skater and ski jumper, carved his name in polar ski exploration by achieving the first crossing of the Greenland ice cap in 1888, traversing the island on cross-country skis.
Nansen, something of a Norwegian George Washington revered as much for being a statesman and humanitarian as he was an explorer, rejected the complex organization and heavy manpower of other Arctic ventures, and instead planned his expedition for a small party of six on skis, with supplies manhauled on lightweight sledges. His team included two Finnish Sami people, who were known to be expert snow travelers. All had experience living outdoors and were experienced skiers.
Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930)
Despite challenges such as treacherous surfaces with many hidden crevasses, violent storms and continuous rain, ascents to 8,900 feet and temperatures dropping to minus 49 degrees F., the 78-day expedition succeeded thanks to the team's sheer determination and their use of skis. In spring 1889, they returned to a hero's welcome in Christiania (now Oslo), attracting crowds of between 30,000 to 40,000, one-third of the city's population.
Nansen later won international fame after reaching a record "farthest north" latitude of 86 degrees 14 minutes during his North Pole expedition in 1895, falling short of the Big Nail by over 200 miles.
In 1890, Nansen wrote: "Skiing is the most national of all sports, and what a fantastic sport it is too. If any sport deserves to be called the sport of all sports, it is surely this one."
Nansen's Greenland exhibition would be repeated, again on skis, by the 27-year old Norwegian Bjorn Staib in 1962. It took Staib and his teammate 31 days to cross the almost 500-mile-wide ice cap.
"The skis served them well," according to a story by John Henry Auran in the November 1985 Ski magazine. He quotes Staib, "There were steep slopes in the west, but we never knew where the crevasses would be. So we zipped across as fast as possible - sometimes I wished we had slalom skis - and hoped that we were safe and wouldn't break through."
Writes Auran, "Skis, always essential for Arctic travel, now became indispensable. Crossing ice that sometimes was only the thickness of plate glass, the skis provided the essential distribution of weight which kept the men from breaking through. And they made speed, the other margin of safety, possible."
In 1964, Staib would attempt to ski to the North Pole but was turned back 14 days from his goal by poor ice and extreme cold. Nonetheless, he had nothing but praise for the use of skis on the expedition. Their simple Norwegian touring skis with hardwood edges performed without difficulty.
Says Staib, "Skiing in the Arctic is not like skiing at home. There's no real variety, there isn't even any waxing. There is no wax for snow so cold and, anyway, there is no need for it. There are no hills to climb or descend."
Scott of the Antarctic
Although Nansen retired from exploration after his return to Norway, his techniques of polar travel and his innovations in equipment and clothing influenced a future generation of Arctic and Antarctic explorers including one whose failure was considered a blow to national pride on par with the wreck of the Titanic.
British Capt. Robert F. Scott (1868-1912) became a national hero when he set the new "farthest south" record with his expedition to Antarctica aboard on the 172-ft. RRS Discovery in 1901-1904. Nansen introduced Scott to Norwegian Tryggve Gran, a wealthy expert skier who had been trying to mount his own Antarctic expedition.
Scott asked Gran to train his men for a new expedition, an attempt to be first to reach the geographic South Pole, while conducting science along the way. After all, who better to teach his men? Most Norwegians learned to ski as soon as they could walk.
British Capt. Robert F. Scott (1868-1912)
Arriving in Antarctica in early January 1911, Gran was one of the 13 expedition members involved in positioning supply depots needed for the attempt to reach the South Pole later that year.
Scott found skiing "a most pleasurable and delightful exercise" but was not convinced at first that it would be useful when dragging sledges.
"With today's hindsight, when thousands of far better-equipped amateurs know how difficult it is to master skiing as an adult, Scott's belief that his novices could do so as part of an expedition in which their lives might depend on it seems bizarre," according to South - The Race to the Pole, published by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London (2000).
Nevertheless, Scott would later find that however inexpert their use of skis was, they greatly increased safety over crevassed areas. But it wasn't safe enough.
Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (1872-1928)
Scott was bitterly disappointed when he arrived at the bottom of the world on Jan. 17, 1912, only to find a tent, a Norwegian flag, and a letter to the King of Norway left more than a month earlier by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (1872-1928), on December 14, 1911.
Amundsen kicked off his successful discovery of the South Pole by traveling to the continent in the 128-ft. Fram, a polar vessel built by Nansen. He averaged about 16 miles a day using a combination of dogs, sledges and skis, on a polar journey of 1,600 miles.
With Amundsen skiing in the lead, his dogsled drivers cried "Halt" and told him that the sledgemeters said they were at the Pole. "God be thanked" was his simple reaction.
Over a month later, the deity was again invoked, but under less favorable conditions. After Scott reached the South Pole, manhauling without the benefit of dogs, he famously wrote in his diary, "Great God! This is an awful place and terrible enough for us to have laboured to it without the reward of priority."
On their way back from the South Pole, Scott's expedition perished in a blizzard just 11 miles short of their food and fuel cache. A geologist to the very end, Scott and his men were found with a sledge packed with 35 pounds of ordinary rocks and very few supplies.
In November 1912, Gran was part of the 11-man search party that found the tent containing the dead bodies of the Scott party. After collecting the party's personal belongings, the tent was lowered over the bodies of Scott and his two companions and a 12-foot snow cairn was built over it, topped by a cross made from a pair of skis. The bodies remain entombed in the Antarctic to this day.
Gran traveled back to the base at Cape Evans wearing Scott's skis, reasoning that at least Scott's skis would complete the journey. Today those skis can be seen in an exhibit at The Ski Museum in Holmenkollen, just outside of Oslo, honoring Amundsen's historic discovery of the South Pole. One thinks that Scott, would most certainly roll over in his icy grave at the thought of his skis displayed near those of his polar rival.
Later polar expeditions would go on to combine skis with kites, with snowshoes, and floating sledges. Sometimes they would even attract the attention of world leaders.
Next month we'll examine the use of skis during the 1989 Bering Bridge Expedition, and the 1990 Steger Trans-Antarctica Expedition, and consider the future of North Pole ski exploration.
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It's a Pisser
Astronaut Scott Kelly
American astronaut Scott Kelly shares what it's like waiting for launch in an interview in Costco Connection magazine (November 2017). He tells reporter Steve Fisher, "(Because) the shuttle is vertical, you're lying on your back. It's kind of like sitting in a chair or on the floor, so you're leaned back, your legs are above your head. It's a little bit of a feeling like you're standing on your head. You're strapped into the seat so tight that it gets painful. Depending on the person, you have a lot of back pain. Generally, when you sit in that position it makes you have to pee.
"And you get in the suit about a couple of hours before you get into the rocket, so by the time you're launching you've been in the suit five or six hours, so you try to fight those urges off for as long as you can."
Read the interview here:
The Story Behind Jane, the New Jane Goodall Film
Drawing from over 100 hours of never-before-seen footage that has been tucked away in the National Geographic archives for over 50 years, director Brett Morgen tells the story of Jane Goodall, 83, a woman whose chimpanzee research challenged the male-dominated scientific consensus of her time and revolutionized our understanding of the natural world. Colorado film producer Michael Aisner helped assemble the archival 8mm footage, some of which had not been seen by Goodall in 45 years.
In fact, it was stored in her family attic and had never been shown in a projector before. He explains the search in his own 2-min. documentary that can be see on Facebook at:
Watch the movie trailer at:
Goodall still lives in her childhood home in England and still has the stuffed chimpanzee her father bought her. She writes in the Wall Street Journal (Oct. 6), that when she explained her young dreams about going to Africa, "Everybody laughed at me and told me I was just a girl. Except my mother. She said that if I really wanted something, I had to work hard, take advantage of opportunities and never give up. I never forgot her advice."
Read the story here:
Don't Leave Home Without It
On Oct. 28-29, the Journal ran an amusing list of six unlikely things that overachieving climbers have carried up a mountain. They are:
* $10,000 Rolex watches belonging to Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Rolex had sponsored the climb.
* A church organ lugged up Britain's highest mountain in 1971 by Scottish woodcutter Kenny Campbell.
* An expresso maker carried by Sandy Hill to Everest in 1996.
* Brussels sprouts pushed up Mount Snowdon in Wales in 2014 by Stuart Kettell - using his nose.
* A 165-lbs. barbell carried up Mount Elbrus by Russian powerlifter Andrey Rodichev in 2015.
* Dinner party furniture hauled to Everest Base Camp in 2016 by former Noma chef James Sharman.
Oboz is Official Footwear Sponsor of Banff Festival
Oboz, the footwear manufacturer based in Bozeman, Mont., is the exclusive footwear sponsor in 2017 and 2018 of the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival and the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour.
The Banff Festival, which kicked off on Oct. 28, takes place each fall at the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Alberta. Following the Festival, the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour hits the road to bring the Festival to audiences around the globe. The presenting partner of the Festival is The North Face.
Complete location and schedule information can be found at:
For more information on Oboz:
The use of Instagram to shame the rule breakers, sign ignorers, and idiots with spray paint who defile the outdoors. Best example of Insta-shaming is @trailtrashco which has more than 11,700 followers. It includes images of tree carvings, rock graffiti, feeding Clif Bars to chipmunks, and taking dogs on no dog trails. (Source: 5280 magazine, October 2017).
Climbing World Mourns Passing of Fred Beckey (1923-2017)
The death of famed climber Fred Beckey on Oct. 30 at the age of 94, leaves the climbing world deeply saddened.
Close, long-time friend Greg Thomsen, Managing Director of Adidas Outdoor, shared his thoughts about the loss.
"Yesterday the world lost an iconoclast extraordinaire, a famous mountaineer with more first ascents than anyone, a consummate dirtbag, a prodigious writer, a not-so-great paper salesman, a deep and thoughtful intellectual, a persistent lone wolf, a mentor to so many, a brilliant historian, an environmentalist, a force of nature, and my dear friend for over 47 years," Thomsen tells Kristen Kuchar of trade publication SNEWS (Oct. 31).
In 2013, Beckey was given the Adidas Lifetime Achievement award. In 2015, the American Alpine Club awarded him the President's Gold Medal, a prestigious honor given to only four other climbers in history.
In 2017, he was the subject of Dirtbag, an award-winning documentary film on his life (see EN, May 2017)
Spokane climber John Roskelley posts on Oct. 31, "He wore out partners his own age, so as he got older his partners kept getting younger. They were the only climbers who could stay with him. ... As far as his friends are concerned, he's just off on another adventure."
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:
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