Sunday, February 11, 2018

"Amy Winehouse" Sub Takes Passengers, Everest Watchdog Dies

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.

February 2018 - Volume Twenty-Four, Number Two
Celebrating Our 24th Year!                                   

Richard Wiese returns to drive The Explorers Club in 2018-19

Richard Wiese Elected President of The Explorers Club Once Again

The Explorers Club Board of Directors elected Richard Wiese its 44th president on Jan. 28. He assumes office on Mar. 11 after the Club's annual meeting at its New York headquarters.

Wiese has served in many capacities over the years, including as president from 2002 to 2006. Under his previous administration, the Club began its "Classic Series Books" which included the well-known and successful As Told at The Explorers Club (Lyons Press, 2005) edited by George Plimpton. An accomplished explorer, Wiese is both executive producer and host of the award-winning and highly popular weekly PBS television series, Born to Explore.

His professional achievements have earned him numerous awards, including two Daytime Emmy Awards. He is author of the book, Born to Explore: How to Be a Backyard Adventurer (Harper Paperbacks, 2009), and first climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro at the age of 11. A resident of Connecticut, he is married with three young children.

After the announcement, Wiese posted on Facebook, "In my lifetime, science and nature have never been under such siege. Our world needs scientists and explorers more than ever before. I am proud to say, since 1904, The Explorers Club has stood for innovation, conservation and the value of different cultures. Our members make a difference. I am honored to serve as its next president."

Not just a toy, drones get more respect everyday.

Drones to the Rescue

Like them or not, drones are getting the job done. A lightweight inflatable rescue tube called Restube can now be delivered by drone. It easily stores in a fanny pack and could be the next must-have accessory for waterborne expeditions.

Two swimmers ages 15 and 17 got into trouble on the New South Wales coast in Australia near Lennox Head, about a half-mile from shore. Within minutes, a rescue drone flew out and deployed the buoyancy device which inflated upon contact with water. Thanks to the buoyancy both were able to reach the beach safely.

The Deputy Premier of New South Wales, John Barilaro, says, "Never before has a drone fitted with a flotation device been used to rescue swimmers like this."

The German Red Cross in the north German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is starting a pilot project involving 15 drones equipped with Restube buoys. 

Learn more here:

John Roskelley to be honored in Boston (Photo by Keith Curry)

AAC Honors Five at Feb. 24 Annual Dinner

Each year the American Alpine Club recognizes outstanding achievements in conservation, climbing, and service to the climbing community. This year is no exception. Five individuals will be recognized for displaying monumental drive, courage, and commitment in the mountains and in their lives. 

Awardees are:

Honorary Membership: John Roskelley
The Robert And Miriam Underhill Award: Alex Honnold
Heilprin Citation: Ellen Lapham
The Robert Hicks Bates Award: Margo Hayes
The David R. Brower Conservation Award: Former Secretary Of The Interior, Sally Jewell
The 2018 Annual Benefit Dinner, Feb. 24, 2018, at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston features a keynote from Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, the first woman to climb all fourteen 8000 m peaks - including K2 - without supplemental oxygen or high altitude porters.

For more information:

King of the World

Apparently if you're rich enough and have a strong bladder, you can be part of the team visiting the wreck site of the Titanic for the first time in 13 years. OceanGate Expeditions, based in Everett, Wash., is selling 11-day missions starting this June to the famed shipwreck for a cool $105,000. There is space for nine people per mission to join the expedition crew 380 miles off the coast of Newfoundland as they dive to 12,500 feet to, "explore the wreck, view artifacts, and capture images of the ship before she surrenders to the elements," writes OceanGate president Joel Perry.

Passengers will descend in a 22-ft. titanium and filament wound carbon fiber submersible called Cyclops 2 which is vaguely reminiscent of the late singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse's eyeliner. The descent for four passengers and one pilot will take 90 minutes; total time in the submersible is six hours. The submersible has enough life support on board to sustain five people for 96 hours.

So-called amateur Mission Specialists will join at least one submersible dive to the ship and have the opportunity to train and support the submersible operations in roles such as sonar operation, laser scanning, navigation, communications, camera operations, and data logging.

A number of estimates have been made about the length of time left before Titanic is no longer recognizable as a shipwreck. The range of opinions is due, in part, because only a small amount of data has been collected during the limited number of manned and unmanned expeditions to the site, according to the OceanGate website.

Says OceanGate advisor David G. Concannon, Explorers Club member and leader of the effort to recover the Apollo F-1 rocket engines that launched men to the moon, "I led the last expedition to explore the Titanic using deep submersibles back in 2005. This was my third expedition in five years, and the wreck had badly deteriorated from year to year.  It will be interesting to see how it has held up over the past 13 years, and to see what the future holds.  

"As for the cost, it isn't cheap to build a deep diving submersible. Nobody has ever built one that can go below 1,000 meters, and there are no government subs available that can reach the depth of Titanic, so the price reflects this. Furthermore, more people have stood on the top of Mt. Everest in a single day than have seen the Titanic underwater, so the price also reflects the scarcity of the opportunity," Concannon tells EN.   

As for having a strong bladder, snacks and water are allowed, however, due to limited bathroom facilities, limiting consumption throughout the dive is recommended. "There's actually something called a low-residue diet they use for the space program," OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, tells HuffPost (Jan. 22).

"Inside, the humidity's very high so you don't have a need to drink water. As long as your system's empty you're OK."

Still, the sub will be equipped with a portable toilet with a little screen for "semi-privacy," Rush said: "That's mostly so people don't worry about it as much."

The mission support fee of  $105,000 per person is about as much as First Class passage on Titanic's inaugural sailing after adjusting for inflation.

Learn more at:

Tough Sledding

American Astronaut Scott Kelly is hosting a VIP Astronaut Challenge in Norway, well  above the Arctic Circle, Apr. 1-7, 2018.

Cost of the one week trip is approximately $12,500 and no previous outdoor skills are required, although we imagine it does help to have a tolerance for cold. A maximum of 26 people at least age 16 or older will be invited. Activities include cross country skiing, fat biking, snowmobiling, and learning dog sledding skills.
The slightly younger astronaut Scott Kelly

Kelly will participate and share his space experiences with the group, talking about shaving 13 milliseconds off his Earth age during his 340-day mission on the International Space Station, spacewalking, and the scientific value in sending an identical twin into space. Proceeds benefit the UK-based charity International Space School Educational Trust which works in partnership with some of the world's leading space organizations to deliver unique learning opportunities for people of all ages.

For more information:

Johan Reinhard on Llullaillaco Volcano (Photo courtesy of Johan Reinhard)

Reinhard Wins Hillary Medal

Anthropologist and archaeologist Dr. Johan Reinhard received the Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal for remarkable service in the conservation of culture and nature in mountainous regions.

The award was presented at the Mountain Museum in Pokhara, Nepal, on Dec. 11, 2017, during Nepal's annual Mountain Festival.

Reinhard is a National Geographic Explorer, Senior Fellow with The Mountain Institute, and Research Professor with Future Generations University. He has published groundbreaking research on sacred landscapes, notably relating to Tibetan Buddhist beyul (hidden valleys that helped form the basis of the Shangri-La legend), Himalayan shamanism, sacred lakes of the Aztecs and Incas, and mountain-top Inca burials.

Dr. Kumar Mainali, president of Mountain Legacy, notes that the Medal both recognizes Sir Edmund Hillary's own service on behalf of mountain people and their environment and also encourages the continuing emulation of Hillary's example.

Read the story here:


So that's what flares are for? Record or not, this has to be one of the best end-of-adventure photos we've seen in a long time.

Pringles Power

An 18-year-old New Jersey man became the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean when he finished an arduous 3,000-mile journey on Jan. 28. Oliver Crane arrived on the Caribbean island of Antigua after a 44-day trek that began off the coast of Northwest Africa on the Canary Islands, according to ABC News.

"You are out there with just you, the boat and water, day after day. You get really lonely. And then coming into Antigua harbor, seeing my family and friends. I've never felt so much joy, seeing them all, never felt so much love. It was an amazing experience," Crane says.

The teenager rowed in a 23-foot custom-made boat that had a solar-powered water maker but no toilet. He used a bucket instead.

"I ate mainly junk food," he says. "I was supposed to eat freeze-dried food as my main energy source, but I had a hard time getting it down, so I lived off of Pringles and candy for a long time." Spoken like a true teenager with a cast iron stomach.

Crane beat the previous record set by then 22-year-old Katie Spotz in 2010.

With the trip, Crane raised money for homelessness and is already planning his next adventure - this time on terra firma. "Maybe climb a few mountains," he said. "Land-based, definitely. I'm going to take a break from the ocean for a while. I'm enjoying solid ground."

He was participating in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, billed as the world's toughest row. He now plans to tour schools and yacht clubs in the U.S. to talk about the challenge and ocean conservation. 

See his website at:


"Adventure is putting yourself in an uncomfortable place and dealing with it. Exploration is part of human nature to find out and discover - to see something and come back with knowledge. For 7-1/2 billion people to exist on this one small planet, we have to discover things."

- Conrad Anker, 55, American rock climbermountaineer, and author, speaking at the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show trade convention in Denver.

From Dec. 1-17 the North Face Climbing Team consisting of Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, Savannah Cummins, Alex Honnold, Anna Pfaff, and Cedar Wright, climbed a collective 15 summits in the Fenris Kjeften ("the lap of the wolf god") or the Wolf's Jaw in the Drygalski Range of the Orvinfjella in the Queen Maud Land Region of Eastern Antarctica. 

The team was able to explore the range in a variety of climbing styles collectively ascending 12 new routes/first ascents from alpine style rock ascents to big wall climbing and a new route on Ulvetanna Peak, the crown jewel of the range.

Explaining the extreme conditions during the expedition, he joked, "We entered the pain cave. We revisited the hurt locker."

Members of The North Face-sponsored expedition. (Photo courtesy of The North Face/Pablo Durana)


How Tall Is Mount Everest? It Depends.

The height of Mount Everest is widely recognized as 29,029 feet. But the calculation is inexact and subject to multiple factors. Nepal is sending a team of surveyors to the summit to settle the "how tall?" question for themselves, according to a New York Times story (Feb. 4) by Bhadra Sharma and Kai Schultzfeb.

Teams from around the world, including China, Denmark, Italy, India and the United States, have come up with other calculations, which have sometimes strayed a little bit higher, or a little bit lower, than that figure. Italy, in 1992, lopped seven feet off the standard height, measuring it at 29,022 feet. In 1999, a measurement by American scientists pushed the peak a little higher, saying the mountain reached 29,035 feet, according to the Times story.

Now, for the first time, Nepali surveyors are limiting intervention from foreign powers and sending a team to the summit to settle the height question for themselves. In addition to the science, a bit of national pride is at stake.

"Mount Everest is our treasure," said Buddhi Narayan Shrestha, the former director general of Nepal's Department of Survey. "What will happen if foreign experts continue to reduce the height of our mountain without us participating?"

Read the full story here:

Keep the Mountains Dangerous

Another Times story (Jan. 13), an opinion piece by Francis Sanzaro, argues that the mountains should be kept free ... and dangerous.

Last August, after several accidents and deaths among climbers on Mont Blanc, Western Europe's highest and most treacherous mountain, Jean-Marc Peillex, the mayor of the French town of St. Gervais-les-Bains, issued an order: Anyone attempting to climb the nearby Gouter route up the mountain must now have specified gear including a harness, rope and headlamp. Those who do not take these precautions are to be fined, according to the story.

Sanzaro writes, "... the decree appears to be a first - no such regulation exists on any of the world's mountains, and it threatens to unravel a centuries-old ideology based on the understanding of mountains as wild, inherently risky places of conquest, not to be confused with busy boulevards and cafe-lined city streets.

 "Around the country, parks are getting sued for wild animal attacks on visitors within their boundaries, for falling trees or for not warning visitors for the most obvious of risks, such as rivers flooding during storms. These cases indicate a population out of touch with natural danger.

"Mountains are inherently dangerous. But just as free speech makes a place for disgusting speech, wild places need to make a place for irresponsible activity. It is our life, after all. Right? Not really. Our right to life doesn't always include our right to risk it. If that thought doesn't feel strange to you, think about it again. It should.

Sanzaro concludes, "This is basic stuff, and the mountains do this for tens of millions of us annually. If we make the mountains safe, perceive them as urban space and demand to have them as regulated as city blocks, we have not only lost 'the mountains' but that part of us only they can foster."

Read the story here:


Climbing Everest for Love

While the last thing Everest needs is more inexperienced climbers attempting to summit, The Climb, a subtitled 2017 film from France, is the story of a Senegalese-French man from humble roots who sets out to climb Everest to impress the woman he loves - and slowly becomes a media sensation. Had he climbed a much tougher mountain, the relatively unknown K2 for instance, it wouldn't be the same. Everest has a much better publicist. The Netflix movie is surprisingly engaging and stars relative acting newcomer Ahmed Sylla.

See the trailer here:


Everest Watchdog Elizabeth Hawley Dies at 94

Elizabeth Ann Hawley, an American journalist who chronicled Mount Evereest expeditions for more than 50 years from her home in Kathmandu, died Jan. 26 at the age of 94.

Though she never scaled a mountain herself, to maintain accuracy in the Himalayan Database she co-founded, she grilled mountaineers before and after summit attempts, traveling to their hotels in her trademark powder blue Volkswagen Beetle. As the saying goes, if she hasn't certified your summit, you haven't summitted.

If Elizabeth Hawley hasn't certified your summit, go back and climb it again.

Luis Benitez, Everest guide and six-time summiteer, posted to Facebook: "I am at a complete and utter loss. Ms. Hawley always knew when you landed and was ringing the hotel right when you walked in the door. She was the keeper of all our Himalayan secrets and successes. ... thank you for being an example for so many young guides on how to truly be a professional in a profession of chaos."

She kindly granted EN an interview in 2013 (see EN, June 2013). Knowing her prickly personality, we were on our best behavior when we met at the famed Hotel Yak and Yeti in Kathmandu. 
"The fascination with Everest will never go away, so long as it remains the highest mountain on earth. But half the people there don't belong on the mountain - many of them can't put on crampons or tie knots." 

Oldest man, youngest man, first amputee - these "firsts" are not basic to climbing, she told us. "They may be relevant to humans, but these firsts don't matter much. What matters are pioneering new routes; it's not about a line of ants climbing up mountains."

Hawley continued, "Today's advanced equipment and fixed ropes and Sherpa who push and pull have made it easier to get up Everest, but certainly not easier to survive." 

Read her New York Times obit here:


The SES Explorer Awards 2018, May 22, 2018, London

This celebration of exploration, innovation and leadership takes place May 22, 2018 at the Imperial College - City and Guilds Building in London.

The UK-based Scientific Exploration Society (SES) leads, funds and supports scientific discovery, research and conservation in remote parts of the world offering knowledge, education and community aid. Theme for the evening is "Pioneers With Purpose."

For more information: 


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: 

Advertise in Expedition News - For more information:

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 1877 Broadway, Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80302 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2018 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through Read EXPEDITION NEWS at

Enjoy the EN blog at

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Grant Money for Snowboarding Adventurers; Trip Report From Nepal Eye Mission


Explorers Club Names ECAD Honorees

The Explorers Club recently named the honorees for its ECAD 2017 recognition dinner, themed "Next Generation Exploration," on Mar. 10, 2018 at the Marriott Marquis, Times Square in New York. They are:

* The Explorers Club Medal - Captain James A. Lovell

In less than two decades, U.S. Navy Captain James Lovell (ret) participated in four groundbreaking space flights. In 1968, Lovell was assigned to be the Command Module Pilot of Apollo 8 - man's maiden voyage to the Moon. It was during this flight that Lovell and his fellow crewmen became the first humans to leave the Earth's gravitational influence, and to see the far side of the Moon.

* The Buzz Aldrin Space Exploration Award - Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos is the founder of aerospace company Blue Origin, which is working to lower the cost and increase the safety of spaceflight so that humans can better continue exploring the solar system. In 2014, Bezos and his team received The Explorers Club Citation of Merit for recovering the F-1 engines of the Saturn V rocket that sent Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon.

* The Citation of Merit - Edith A. Widder, Ph.D.

Dr. Edith Widder's distinguished career as a deep sea explorer includes the study of how the ocean's inhabitants use bioluminescence to help them survive in the ocean's darkest depths.

* The Edward C. Sweeney Memorial Medal - David A. Dolan

David Dolan has committed his life to combine his passion for exploration with international humanitarian service. He established health clinics, orphanages, water wells, and housing projects on four continents and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya to raise funds to fight poverty.

* The New Explorer Award - Gino Caspari, Ph.D. and Trevor Wallace

Dr. Gino Caspari is a Swiss archaeologist and explorer. The Fulbright alumnus and Columbia University graduate focuses on the discovery and analysis of ancient landscapes, graves, and ruins.

Trevor Wallace is an expedition filmmaker focusing on the wild, remote corners of the world and stories of the human spirit. Trevor has conducted three investigative and field research expeditions with Dr. Caspari, capturing their search for Scythian tombs in the feature documentary Frozen Corpses Golden Treasures.

New App Launched for Antarctica Polar Guides and Visitors

To mark Antarctica Day (Dec. 1), the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) launched a free iOS and Android app for staff guiding visitors in Antarctica that makes it quick and easy for users on-the-go in the field to access essential information, without the need for a phone signal.

IAATO, a member organization formed in 1991 to advocate and promote the practice of safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to the Antarctic, developed the new Polar Guide: Antarctica app to include existing operational procedures and guidelines for wildlife watching, visiting specific sites, being a responsible Antarctic visitor, preventing the introduction of alien species and more.

The app is also intended to be a useful resource for anyone visiting or keen to learn more about Antarctica, the Antarctic Treaty and the work being done to preserve the continent's extraordinary landscape and wildlife.

It's available free from the iTunes store and

Visitation to Antarctica in 2017-18 is expected to approach that of the continent's record 2007-08 season. (Photo by Jeff Blumenfeld)

In 2016-17, the total number of visitors traveling to Antarctica with IAATO members was 44,367, an increase of 15% compared to the previous season. Overall, levels of visitation, particularly in the cruise sector of the industry, has been increasing steadily since 2011-2012. IAATO's estimate for next season, 2017-2018, shows continued growth in line with global trends with 46,385 visitors expected, an increase of 5% that would see visitation reaching the peak of 46,265 reported by IAATO in 2007-08.


"Our mission was accomplished. But at the same time we had accomplished something infinitely greater. How wonderful life would now become! What an inconceivable experience it is to attain one's ideal and, at the very same moment, to fulfill oneself. I was stirred to the depths of my being. Never had I felt happiness like this - so intense and yet so pure. That brown rock, the highest of them all, that ridge of ice - were these the goals of a lifetime? Or were they, rather, the limits of man's pride?"

- Maurice Herzog (1919-2012) upon reaching the top of Annapurna in 1950. At 8091 m (26,545 ft.) is was the highest peak yet summitted at the time. Source: Annapurna, Heroic Conquest of the Highest Mountain Ever Climbed by Man by Maurice Herzog (E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc., 1952).


Trip Report: Dooley Intermed International - Operation Restore Vision Gift of Sight 2017 Expedition to Upper Gorkha, Nepal

By Jeff Blumenfeld

A team of leading ophthalmologists traveled to a remote region of Nepal to tend to the eye care needs of over 800 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, departed Dec. 5, 2017 on an almost two week medical mission co-sponsored by members of the elite Operation Restore Vision team of Operation International,
Southampton, N.Y.

The expedition was focused in the roadless region of the approach trek to Mt. Manaslu. The team, which traveled by 4WD for eight hours, then trekked for eight hours on foot, accompanied by a mule caravan.

The doctors, in cooperation with the Himalaya Eye Hospital, provided eye examinations, refractions, and performed sight-restoring surgery on those blinded by cataracts. The medical team consisted of Chris Teng, MD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at the Yale School of Medicine; Sanjay Kedhar, MD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute,
University of California, Irvine; and Omar Ozgur, MD, Oculoplastic Surgeon at Advanced Eye Medical Group, Mission Viejo, Calif.

Cataract surgery is one of the most cost-effective and gratifying surgicalprocedures in medicine since patients are "cured" overnight, often with full restoration of their eyesight.

The following are excerpts of trip reports which were written on an iPhone then held four days until the team could access internet service. Read the complete trip reports at

Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017

Kathmandu at Last. The Dooley Intermed-Operation Restore Vision Team Arrives.

What do you do for 12 hours in the air? Frankly, whatever you can to pass the time: watch two movies, finish Annapurna by Maurice Herzog, eat three meals, read the airline in-flight magazine, clean out your wallet, make space by deleting iPhone photos, sleep in an upright position (good luck with that), play iPhone blackjack, and rip articles out of magazines to read again maybe never.

Kathmandu is the loud, raucous, polluted capital of Nepal. A city of 1.2 million that assails every sense from the moment you arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport.

We pass hundreds of tiny store fronts, mopeds seemingly coming at us from all directions, dogs everywhere in the streets and pedestrians wearing dark clothes on dark, poorly-lit washboard streets.

Friday, December 8

Imagine you live in a remote Nepali village one day's trek from the nearest road. Now imagine a group of strangers arrive with sharp instruments and want to operate on your eyes. It requires an abundance of faith.

For their part, the communities know we're due to arrive. Thus it was important for the Dooley Intermed - ORV team to understand a bit more about the rich, if somewhat enigmatic culture of Nepal and its people.

First stop was Pashupatinah Temple, a UNESCO Cultural Heritage site, and sacred Hindu temple on the banks of the Bagmati River. From across the hill we watched as a half- dozen families cremated their dead loved ones. Red-bottomed monkeys, stray dogs running through the river, and vendors selling all matters of trinkets added a festive air.

We pay to pose with a sadhu, a colorfully decorated Hindu holy person said to renounce all worldly possessions. However, our guide tells us this particular fellow's insistence on being paid for photos makes his piety somewhat suspect.

The expedition team visits Pashupatinah Temple (the author is second from right). We suspect the sadhu is a fake fakir. But it makes a great photo for the folks back home.

We see evidence of the spring 2015 earthquake that killed 9,000 Nepalis - numerous construction sites and still cracked walls - as we head to Bouddhanath Stupa, the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. Dating to the 14th century, from above it looks like a giant mandala, or diagram of the Buddhist cosmos.

There are cobwebs of wires everywhere, rubber-coated spaghetti on every pole. One for telephone, one for power, one for internet, one for TV, going into every apartment.
Like much of everything else in this country of 29 million, no one knows how, but it all seems to work.

Rubber spaghetti on every pole in the Thamel commercial neighborhood of Kathmandu.

Tomorrow we travel by 4WD eight hours into the hills, then trek from there on foot for 10 hours with mules. It's in these remote areas at the end of the road - and beyond - that Dooley Intermed does its best work.

December 9-10, 2017

Bone-jarring. There I've said it. How else to describe an 8-hour 4WD kidney-rattling drive from Kat to Soti Khola about 80 miles away.

Dust kicked up by the bus ahead inhibits our vision. Leaves are coated a mocha brown. The roads are more like trails. You can't read, you can't sleep. As you're Maytagged on washboard roads, you hold on and try to absorb the shocks as if riding a bucking bronco.

Sunday morning the plan blessedly allows us to leave the claustrophobic 4WD's behind and trek on foot two hours and 1,000 feet higher to Lapu Besi, our stop for the night. The porters and cooks follow behind, aided by pack mules to carry our personal and medical gear.

I marvel at the speed of one porter who passes me at a good clip. I'm kitted out in Sherpa fleece, LEKI collapsible poles and Hi-Tec boots with Michelin soles that mimic car tires. Yet I'm smoked by an elderly gentleman loaded down with a camera case and medical equipment while wearing open-toed rubber sandals, both of his heels listing to either side.

These are strong, resilient people for sure.

Dec. 11, 2017

Gingerly crossing a tremendous landslide caused by the earthquake, we arrive at Machhakola to applause from a crowd of 100 Nepalis eagerly awaiting our arrival. Marigold garlands are ceremoniously placed over our heads.

We're told some walked a day to get here, an impressive feat considering most locals wear a pair of open-toed sandals, certainly not the modern hiking boots or trekking poles that we couldn't imagine going without.

Patients patiently await eye exams in Machhakola.

Dozens of Nepalis crowd our makeshift examination room. We hit the ground running.

Dec. 12, 2017

These people have so little, their lives made harder still by the spring 2015 earthquake whose epicenter occurred here, directly below the hillside village of Machhakola.

A single water tap in the central square provides water for drinking, washing, cooking. Those of us with delicate western stomachs give it a wide berth as we frequently apply Purell sanitizer to our hands.

We are, some might say, blissfully isolated from the world. Our Kat-bought Sim cards are temperamental, there's no internet, and no newspapers. One consolation is an inReach emergency satellite device that allows us to send 160-character texts, and summon emergency aid if necessary. Otherwise, this blog has to wait until I return Friday to the city.

Omar Ozgur, MD, Oculoplastic Surgeon at Advanced Eye Medical Group, Mission Viejo, Calif.

Into all of this arrives the Dooley Intermed-Operation Restore Vision team. In short order, our ophthalmologists find patients with facial skin cancer, blocked tear ducts, droopy lids, chronic eye infections, and over 76 operations are scheduled, mostly mature cataracts rendering the patients blind. So far its been a grueling, but intensively satisfying trip.

Dec. 13, 2017

This morning was the reveal for 42 surgery patients; bandages were removed, doctors performed a final check, and sunglasses were distributed.

These are not particularly emotive people. Their reactions to regaining sight were quite subdued, just a few smiles here and there, especially among family members who now no longer have to lead their loved ones by the cane.

Dec. 14, 2017

Chinja Ghale, 65, is a proud Nepali who became blind three years ago. For five hours yesterday, her son-in-law guided her along precipitous trails to the Dooley Intermed - Operation Restore Vision eye camp here in Machhakola. Cataracts in both eyes turned her world into darkness. She walks barefoot to better feel the ground.

Cataracts removed, Chinja (far right) can now see again for the first time in three years.

Yesterday, the mature cataracts were removed from both eyes, replaced by intraocular lenses. As expedition leader Scott Hamilton, a certified ophthalmic technician, removed both bandages from her eyes, a smile came over her deeply lined face.

She passed the finger test; was asked the color of the jacket on a volunteer.
"hariyo" (green)," she says in Nepali, now able to see colors again.

Then suddenly she jumps up and begins walking in the dirt and hay-covered courtyard of our makeshift eye hospital, walking for the first time unassisted in three years.

Through a translator, she tells videographer Daniel Byers she is looking forward to returning to the fields. Her son-in-law, for his part, no longer has to serve as caretaker.
She was carried in piggyback style, and walked out like a spring chicken.

Ophthalmologist Chris Teng was astounded. "I started residency in 2005 and this is the first time I've seen someone with bilateral (both eyes) mature cataracts make such a complete recovery. In the States you typically don't see cataracts this advanced.

We can't help everyone in this impoverished village, but over these past four days, for over 800 eye patients (71 surgeries), the quality of their lives forever changed for the better.

Friday is our planned extraction by helicopter. The sooner our doctors return to their U.S. practices, the better.


Deliverance from 27,000 Feet

In May 2016, four Bengali mountaineers attempted to achieve a lifelong dream: summiting Mount Everest. After an egregiously late start to their summit attempt, they were abandoned by their guides and left to die on the mountain. Only one survived.

The late Goutam Ghosh turned the camera on himself.

In an interactive article with harrowing video footage, John Branch of the New York Times, reports on the ill-fated expedition and how a team of sherpas recovered the frozen bodies of Goutam Ghosh and Paresh Nath from 27,000 feet above sea level.

It's a must-read for any mountaineer. View it at:

Disabled to be Banned from Mt. Everest

Nepal officials have proposed banning from Everest climbers with complete blindness and double amputation, as well as those proven medically unfit for climbing, according to The Himalayan Times (Dec. 6).

The government move comes at a time when Hari Budha Magar, a former British Gurkha who lost both his legs in wars, announced he would climb the world's highest peak next spring. Magar had already climbed Mera peak as part of his training for Mt. Everest, according to US-based Myrmidon Expeditions, which was planning an expedition for Magar along with Himalayan Ski Trek in Kathmandu.

Noted climbing blogger Alan Arnette, based in Fort Collins, Colo., writes, "... banning everyone with a disability to stop one person seems a bit of overkill.

"So what constituents a disability or who is 'proven medically unfit for climbing?' If this is about protecting people from their own ambitions, then over half of the annual climbers should be banned each year as they lack the experience to safely climb Everest.

"And where does this stop - people with asthma, diabetes, hemophiliacs or cancer? All of these have recently successfully summited Everest with no problems," Arnette writes.

Read the original announcement here:

Arnette's blog post can be viewed at:

Grab Your 15 Minutes of Fame

Are you an explorer or adventurer with an interesting story to tell? There are two services that offer to connect you with radio interviews and podcasts.

If you have an inspirational story to tell or are promoting a book, here are two services that can connect you with radio and podcast hosts. Good luck. If you land that big interview, send us a link to share.


Snowboarding Explorers Welcome

The American Alpine Club announced a new series of snowboard-specific mountain exploration grants in partnership with Jones Snowboards. The new grants are aimed at supporting amateur backcountry snowboarders and their dreams of mountain adventure and winter exploration.

The two new 2018 grants are:

* Jones Backcountry Adventure Grant, and the Jones 'Live Like Liz' Award

Both grants will provide $1,500 in financial support to assist with expedition travel and logistics and provide a new Jones splitboard, skins and backpack. The Jones "Live Like Liz" Award honors aspiring snowboard mountain guide Liz Daley who was killed in an avalanche accident in 2014. The award seeks to support female snowboarders who exhibit a similar passion for wilderness exploration as Liz.

Applicants for the newly established grants must be American Alpine Club members and grant proposals will be considered based on objective remoteness, exploratory nature, carbon footprint, creativity and overall significance. Objectives may be a single line/peak or a tour/traverse of a wider region. Project locations must be in North America and be completed in 2018.

Applications for both grants are being accepted between December 12, 2017 and January 30th, 2018. Award winners will be announced in February 2018. Jones Snowboards company founder Jeremy Jones and Jones brand managers will review all applications and select the recipients.

For more information and to apply:


Vanessa O'Brien Achieves First Successful American-British Woman Summit of K2

A long time reader suggests we make clear that Vanessa O'Brien's first summit of K2 by both an American and British woman (she holds dual citizenship) should be clarified as the first such successful summit (see EN, December 2017).

In 1986, Briton Julie Tullis summited K2; Briton Alison Hargreaves summited in 1995. Neither climber survived the descent.

On Aug. 4, 1986, Tullis reached the summit via the Abruzzi Ridge shortly after Alan Rouse, these two becoming the first and second British climbers to do so (and Tullis only the third woman ever). Sadly, both would die shortly thereafter, succumbing to altitude while trapped in a prolonged storm on the Shoulder.

At the time of Hargreaves' death, a Pakistani army officer disclosed that he had begged her not to make her assault on the mountain, warning that because of the weather conditions, to do so would be "suicide." Hargreaves was missing her husband and children greatly, and had appeared to relent, Captain Fawad Khan said, but then her passion "gripped her again" and she set out on her last climb.

When Sir Edmund Hillary was asked by adventure journalist James Clash whether he thought George Mallory summited Everest in 1924, Sir Edmund was quoted in Clash's book, To the Limits (John Wiley & Sons, April 2003):

"I haven't the faintest idea. The only convincing evidence, really, would be if Mallory's camera were found with shots that indicated he had been to the summit. (It hasn't been.) There is, of course, the other very important factor, and all the mountaineering world knows this: It's one thing to get to the top of a mountain, but it's not really a complete job until you get safely to the bottom."


Go Wild - 5th Annual New York WILD Film Festival Returns to The Explorers Club HQ, Feb. 22-25, 2018

The New York WILD Film Festival is the first annual documentary film festival in New York to showcase a spectrum of topics, from exploration and adventure to wildlife, conservation and the environment, bringing all things wild to one of the most urban cities in the world, Feb. 22-25, 2018.

Chris Kostman, race director at Badwater, and chief adventure office at AdventureCorps says of the festival,"The films are riveting, compelling, and inspiring, and sometimes depressing - but in a way which inspires action. There is always a great selection of filmmakers and other speakers there, plus the audience is packed with exceptional, learned, engaged conservationists, explorers, scientists, media, film lovers, and filmmakers from around the globe."

So far, over 250 films have been received from 50 countries. See the trailer at:

American Alpine Club Annual Dinner Celebrates 1978 K2 Expedition, Boston, Feb. 23-24, 2018

The AAC will celebrate the 1978 American K2 Expedition at its annual dinner in Boston, Feb. 23-24, 2018. Jim Whittaker led the 1978 expedition that put the first Americans -Jim Wickwire, Louis Reichardt, Rick Ridgeway, and John Roskelley - on the summit.

The 2018 Annual Benefit Dinner features a keynote from Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, the first woman to climb all 14 8000 m peaks - including K2 - without supplemental oxygen or high altitude porters.

For more information:


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:

Advertise in Expedition News - For more information:

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, LLC, 1877 Broadway, Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80302 USA. Tel. 203 326 1200, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2018 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the
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