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.
June 2019 - Volume Twenty-Five, Number Six
Celebrating Our 25th Year!
Examining the Everest Mess
We would be hard-pressed to think of an Everest climbing season since the May 1996 disaster when Everest received as much negative publicity as it did this year. The Everest mess last month saw hundreds of successful summits, but at the expense of 11 deaths this season alone.
As a professional speaker, mountaineer and Alzheimer's advocate Alan Arnette, founder of The Blog on AlanArnette.com, so aptly put it, "Everest 2019 will go down as the year Everest finally broke."
Writes Arnette, "It's easy to place blame and deny responsibility, no matter how shallow. I did my best to look at all sides but the facts tell the story. Yes, we have seen many of these factor before, but not in such magnitude, with such callous disregard, such blatant disrespect and with so little urgency to enact change.
"The state of Everest has rarely been so poor."
This image of the 2019 Everest conga line shocked the world. Taken May 22, 2019, it shows mountain climbers lining up to stand at the summit.
While there were successful summits across four 8000-meter peaks in Nepal and Tibet, "it became clear that too many people were totally unprepared to attempt these serious peaks. However, several extremely qualified climbers also lost their lives, many choosing to forgo supplemental oxygen," according to Arnette, who reports that beginning on May 22, hundreds summited early each morning for several days and once again death was in the air.
"May 23, Nirmal "Nims" Purja, got his place in history with a shocking photo of a line of climbers on the Hillary Step (above). The photo came as the death toll on Everest inched up to 11."
In an interview on the PBS News Hour on May 28, Arnette says of Everest, ".... it's the pinnacle, it's the dream. They (climbers) grew up watching 'National Geographic' or documentaries on PBS about climbing Mount Everest or read books. And it's a childhood dream.
Jostling for the Top
"And as the world improves in its economic status, the middle classes have more money, we're starting to see more and more people try to go there," Arnette commented.
Later he says experienced mountaineers would never jostle for the top. "And that tells me that this year we had a lot of novices up there that honestly needed more support and more experience before they arrived."
Watch the interview here:
Arnette, who has climbed Everest four times, tells CNN that Nepal issued a record number of permits to foreigners this year. Because each of them requires a Sherpa guide, there were about 800 people trying to climb from the Nepalese side, he said.
In addition, bad weather made it so that there were only five days when people could climb toward the summit.
"So you have 800 people trying to squeeze through a very small window," Arnette explained.
Last year, Everest hosted a record 802 people on her summit from both sides, according to Arnette. The death toll was five, about the same each year for the past 10 or so. Both summits and deaths were higher in 2019, which will be confirmed later this year by the recognized authority for such things: the Himalayan Database (www.himalayandatabase.com)
Aspen mountaineer Mike Marolt, renowned for climbing and skiing high-altitude peaks from the Himalayas to the Andes, tells John Meyer of the Denver Post (May 28), "The harrowing activity of sleeping in a tent at over 27,000 feet was probably the scariest thing I've ever done.
"I'm just blown away that more people don't get killed on that mountain."
Marolt continues, "If you're not willing to invest the time on expeditions to build up to it, and on the actual expedition itself, what's the point just to stand on top?
"We might as well just build a tram to the top and supply oxygen, eliminate the death and eliminate the trash. If we had a tram, we could haul the bodies and the trash off and everybody would get to stand on the top and see the view and get a selfie."
Jake Norton of Evergreen, Colorado, who returned from his eighth trip to Everest, posted his thoughts via social media from the Tibetan plateau last month. Norton wrote he was "haunted" by what he saw on the mountain and read in media reports.
"The Everest I know has forever been a place of triumph and tragedy, where beauty and horror commingle in the subtle hues of its very landscape," Norton wrote.
"Sadly, the drama usually outshines the normal, and the tragedy of death or poor decisions outplays the successes and the beauty and the human spirit that is on the mountain daily. If anything, Everest is a dramatic microcosm of humanity."
Read the Denver Post story here:
Pollution Adds to the Danger
To make matters worse, Mount Everest and its surrounding peaks are increasingly polluted and warmer, and nearby glaciers are melting at an alarming rate that is likely to make it more dangerous for future climbers, a U.S. scientist who spent weeks in the Everest region said recently.
Prof. John All of Western Washington University said after returning from the mountains that he and his team of fellow scientists found there was lot of pollution buried deep in the snow, and that the snow was surprisingly dark when they processed and filtered it.
"What that means is there are little pieces of pollution that the snow is forming around, so the snow is actually trapping the pollution and pulling it down," All said in Kathmandu, Nepal's capital.
All and his team spent weeks testing snow on Everest and its surrounding peaks, as well as plants on the foothills. He said because the glaciers are getting thinner and smaller, it is making it more dangerous for climbers.
The team had been planning to climb both Everest and sister peak Lhotse, but crowding on Everest forced them to change their plans. They climbed up to the last camp at 8000 meters (26,240 feet), the last point the two mountains share, and only reached the top of Lhotse.
The scientists said the samples and data would be processed once they return to United States, and they would then issue a report on their findings. They had done similar research in the area in 2009.
Read the story here:
RGS Offers Platinum Prints of 1921 Expedition Images
In a related story, the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) has recently collaborated with the Salto Ulbeek studio in Belgium to create the first-ever limited edition series of platinum prints from the 1921 Everest expedition, created from negatives in the Society's Collections, including newly digitized fragile silver nitrate negatives, housed in specially controlled conditions for the Society by the British Film Institute.
"Mountain shapes are often fantastic seen through a mist: these were like the wildest creation of a dream ... Gradually, very gradually, we saw the great mountain sides and glaciers and arÍtes, now one fragment and now another through the floating rifts, until far higher in the sky than imagination had dared to suggest the white summit of Everest appeared."
- George Mallory, from his account in the official publication of the expedition: Mount Everest: the Reconnaissance (Edward Arnold & Co Ltd., 1921).
These museum-grade prints are hand-made to order by the master printmaker Georges Charlier and his team at Salto-Ulbeek in Belgium to provide greater clarity and detail in every print.
Taken by George Mallory, Charles Howard-Bury, Alexander Wollaston and Edward Oliver Wheeler with Abdul Jalil Khan, the photographs were originally intended to complement the purpose of the expedition - to carry out new and more detailed survey work in the region. The selection also includes some of the finest panoramic photographs of any high mountain region ever taken.
See the images here:
Purchase information here:
The images are stunning and may have the unintended consequence of attracting even more inexperienced climbers to Everest.
Record Set for World's Deepest Dive
For the fourth time, the Five Deeps Expedition has successfully dived to the bottom of one of the world's five oceans. The team completed a mission to reach what is commonly known as the deepest point on planet Earth: Challenger Deep within the Mariana Trench.
Victor Vescovo set a new deep-diving record and is the first human to make multiple dives, solo, to its hadal depths in the DSV Limiting Factor (Triton 36000/2 model submersible), the world's deepest diving, currently operational submarine. It was the deepest dive in history - the expedition reached a maximum depth of 10,928 meters/35,853 feet deep, 16 meters/52 feet deeper than any previous manned dive.
Neat Trick - Rob McCallum holding a styrofoam cup compressed during its visit to the bottom of the Mariana Trench while aboard Limiting Factor's record setting dive. Oceanographers take advantage of crushing, deep-sea pressure to make decorated, shrunken Styrofoam cups as souvenirs and for science outreach, images perfect for the twitterspere. Photo: Reeve Jolliffe/EYOS Expeditions
On board the DSSV Pressure Drop for this historic accomplishment was legendary American oceanographer, explorer and marine policy specialist, Dr. Don Walsh (Captain, USN Ret.), who made the first successful decent into the Mariana Trench in 1960. The maximum depth achieved was measured and later corrected to be approximately 10,916 meters.
For more information:
Read Vescovo's Forbes.com (May 14) interview by Jim Clash here:
What lies beneath?
New York Divers Get Wrecked
Hundreds of wrecks lay scattered around New York, one of the busiest cities in the world, just waiting for divers to explore the less-popular underworld of New York/New Jersey harbors and waterways. Searching for these underwater treasures is especially important now - before storms like Sandy become more frequent and accelerate the disappearance or deterioration of these underwater time capsules.
NYC Wrecks seeks to uncover and document what lies beneath New York and New Jersey harbors by utilizing open-sourced databases, local historians, maps, trusted contacts and new technology. Any collected data and imagery will be provided free of charge to those interested. In the future, school groups will be invited to use tools and technology to explore identified wrecks from shore as educational excursions. Curriculum and worksheets will be provided, according to Kate Sutter, a New York-based open water SCUBA instructor and research assistant.
Relatively accessible wrecks will ideally be visited as field trips where students of all ages can pilot drones (and hopefully an ROV). Assignments will be provided to teachers for follow-up. This will provide a better understanding of local history as well as ignite excitement for exploration.
Sutter is looking for divers and teachers who would be interested in collaborating. Donations are appreciated as the project is currently self-funded.
For more information:
Antarctica Cruise Ships Watch Out for Each Other, Pledge to Reduce Plastic Waste
Everest isn't the only place on the planet to visit for bragging rights. There's also the seventh continent.
The Antarctic travel season may still be months away, but responsible Antarctic tour operators from across the globe experience their busiest day of the year in early June when the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators' (IAATO) Ship Scheduler opened. It's a database which has used IAATO and Antarctic Treaty System requirements to set limits on time, number of passengers allowed, and number of daily visits to visitor sites around the Antarctic coast for almost two decades.
The 278 ft. Ushuaia
is home base for the StudentsonIce.com high school trip to Antarctica.
Each year in June or July, outside of the Antarctic travel season, the 116 IAATO members log their desired landings for the Antarctic season ahead using the scheduler. The ship scheduler, which was introduced in the early 2000s, provides the basis for coordination between IAATO member vessels. Each vessel knows where the others will be and the visits are planned and confirmed well in advance of the start of the season. No more than 100 passengers can be ashore at any one time, with a minimum staff to visitor ratio of 1:20.
The majority of Antarctic coastal visitor sites also have Antarctic Treaty System approved site guidelines that set a maximum daily number of ship visits.
For more information about Antarctic site guidelines, visit:
The group has also pledged to turn the tide on plastics with new guidelines set to reduce single-use plastic use among visitors to the white continent.
The new guidelines, announced on World Environment Day (June 5), encourage visitors to prepare for their journey by avoiding the use of disposable items, such as wet wipes, bottles and razors, cosmetics containing microbeads, and to continue environmental efforts on their return home.
The new guidelines will be available to visitors this summer, ahead of the Antarctic travel season, which begins in October.
Amanda Lynnes, IAATO Head of Environment and Communications, said:
"Traveling to Antarctica is a privilege and we hope that by taking guests there they return as ambassadors for its ongoing preservation and protection."
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"The climbing of earth's heights, in itself, means little. That men want and try to climb them means everything. For it is the ultimate wisdom of the mountains that man is never so much a man as when he is striving for what is beyond his grasp, and that there is no battle worth the winning save that against our own ignorance and fear."
- James Ramsay Ullman (1907 - 1971), American writer and mountaineer. (Source: Becoming a Mountain: Himalayan Journeys in Search of the Sacred and the Sublime by Stephen Alter (Arcade, 2015)
It's believed the 124-foot ship discovered by NOAA is a schooner or brig built in the mid-19th century, with its hull sheathed in copper.
NOAA Experiences a "Eureka" Moment
A previously unknown shipwreck from the mid 1800s was found by accident as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sea floor explorers were testing equipment in the Gulf of Mexico on May 16, according to the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer.
NOAA says the "unexpected and exciting discovery" was first picked up on sonar, then verified with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) sent to the sea floor.
It was found roughly 160 miles off shore along the Florida Escarpment, and sits 1,460 feet down, NOAA officials told the newspaper.
Emily Crum, a spokeswoman for the NOAA Ocean Exploration and Research, told the Observer the main focus of the expedition was to test equipment so finding the shipwreck by accident "was certainly a surprise."
"Typically when we find/explore shipwrecks, we have some basic information that allows us to search for a target," she said.
"In this instance, there was no information to suggest the wreck was there. The team just 'stumbled' upon it... Because it wasn't a planned exploratory dive, we had to quickly rally marine archaeologists to join the dive via the live video feeds and they were able to provide some preliminary observations," she said.
Read the story and watch expedition video here:
How 16 Explorers Paid for Their Trips
The web has such a massive, unsatiable appetite for content that MSN.com recently assigned a writer to prepare one of those click-baity slide shows about exploration. The subject for this one explains how 16 explorers who changed the world paid for their expeditions, a topic near and dear to our hearts.
The May 10 post by Jordan Rosenfeld explains Ferdinand Magellan was funded by Spain's King Charles I, but only after he moved to Spain; Charles Darwin was supported by Robert FitzRoy, captain of the ship HMS Beagle; Amelia Earhart raised funds through advertising and endorsements; and Columbus received money from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Castile, Spain (he obviously spent money on a great publicist - his name is everywhere: Columbus, Ohio, Columbus Circle, and an entire country).
See the slide show here:
Searching for Lake Ontario Wrecks Takes a "Touch of Madness"
Speaking of shipwrecks, the National Museum of the Great Lakes book titled Shipwrecks of Lake Ontario: A Journey of Discovery, contains stories of long lost shipwrecks and the journeys of the underwater explorers who found them, written by Jim Kennard with paintings by Roland Stevens and underwater imagery by Roger Pawlowski.
For decades, teams of shipwreck enthusiasts have been searching for sunken ships in the New York State waters of Lake Ontario. Using SCUBA equipment, simple depth finders, sophisticated side-scan sonar equipment and eventually with remote operated vehicles, they set out to unlock the secrets of the past.
Shipwrecks of Lake Ontario: A Journey of Discovery details the history and discovery of over 26 shipwrecks in Lake Ontario, many of which have connections to other communities across the Great Lakes including Toledo, Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit and Chicago.
Author Jim Kennard has been diving and exploring the lakes of the northeast United States since 1970. He's found more than 200 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain, the New York Finger Lakes, and in the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Significant discoveries include the two oldest shipwrecks discovered on the Great Lakes, the 1780 British warship HMS Ontario and the sloop Washington lost in 1803. In 1983, he found a unique horse powered ferryboat in Lake Champlain. All of these discoveries received worldwide attention in the news media.
"Searching for ships in the Great Lakes demands hours spent on research; large expenditures for technical equipment; weeks, months and sometimes years looking for a wreck; plus a touch of madness that keeps a team together on an elusive quest," writes Kennard.
For more information:
ON THE HORIZON
The Bowers Museum
Explorers Club WECAD, June 22, 2019, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Calif.
Hosted by the Southern California Chapter of the Explorers Club, and held at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif., the West Coast Explorers Club Annual Dinner (WECAD) on June 22, 2019, will present the Ralph B. White Memorial Award for Ocean Exploration and Conservation of the Seas to the legendary Jean-Michel Cousteau.
Since first being "thrown overboard" by his father, Jacques Cousteau, at the age of seven with newly invented SCUBA gear on his back, Jean-Michel Cousteau has been exploring the ocean realm.
A new award will honor the memory of the late champion of wildlife Alan Rabinowitz; the first Alan Rabinowitz Memorial Award for Wildlife Conservation will be awarded to Joseph "Joe" Rodhe in recognition of his leadership in animal conservation through his creation of Disney's Animal Kingdom over two decades ago and more recently his work with James Cameron in creating Pandora - The World of Avatar.
Keynote speaker for the evening is Jim Williams, an award-winning, professionally certified wildlife biologist working for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for over 27 years. Open to the public; tickets $150 per person. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org, 949 307 9182.
Expeditions in Croatia, Ukraine, The Baltic and Israel with Chris Nicola
July 4 - July 13: Visit Israel and explore the world's longest salt cave, Jerusalem (both below and above ground), climb Masada, swim in the Dead Sea, and camp with Beduoins under the starlit skies of the Judean Desert. July 25 - Aug. 4: Work with local cavers in the mountainous area of Croatia locating and mapping deep pits (Note: rope climbing/rappelling experience necessary). August 6 - Aug. 13: - Visit Western Ukraine, and explore some of the world's longest caves. Also see those towns and caves featured in the documentary, No Place On Earth which tells the story on how five Jewish families survived the Holocaust by taking refuge in a cave system for over a year (www.noplaceonearthfilm.com). For more information: email@example.com, www.chrisnicola.com
Travel on an Expedition to Pitcairn Island
Author Alexandra Edwards has been invited by the Pitcairn Islanders to organize an
expedition to Pitcairn, one of the single most remote and inaccessible islands on the planet and landing spot of nine HMS Bounty mutineers. The expedition will be conducted under the auspices of the Pacific Islands Research Institute with Capt. Lynn Danaher in late summer 2020. Purpose will be to explore petroglyph sites and conduct forensic archaeology tests in what is presumed to be a historical burial site in Adamstown of some of the original mutineers.
Organizers anticipate two teams of two weeks each, a maximum of eight participants per team. This will be a self-funded expedition with an initial budget of approximately $15,000 per person. This is a true remote expedition into a rugged difficult place with limited amenities. It involves flying to Mangareva from Tahiti and taking a small ship to Pitcairn via a 32-hour passage embarking via long boat thru surf. Must be fit and have a positive attitude for adventure. To apply for consideration: Capt. Lynn Danaher, Pacific Islands Research Institute, 808 755 8045, firstname.lastname@example.org
Travel With Purpose: A Field Guide to Voluntourism (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2019) by Jeff Blumenfeld ≠- How to travel and make a difference while you see the world? These are stories of inspiration from everyday voluntourists, all of whom have advice about the best way to approach that first volunteer vacation, from Las Vegas to Nepal, lending a hand in nonprofits ranging from health care facilities, animal shelters and orphanages to impoverished schools. Case studies are ripped from the pages of Expedition News, including the volunteer work of Dooley Intermed, Himalayan Stove Project, and even a volunteer dinosaur dig in New Jersey.
Available now on Amazon. Read excerpts and "Look Inside" at:
Get Sponsored! - 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: http://www.amazon.com/Get-Sponsored-Explorers-Adventurers-Travelers-ebook/dp/B00H12FLH2
Advertise in Expedition News - For more information: email@example.com.
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