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January 2000 — Volume Seven, Number One
Highlights From January 2000

Here's a sample of the January 2000 issue of Expedition News. To subscribe to the complete version each month – either by postal or email — see the subscription information below.

EXPEDITION NEWS is a monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online and by mail to media representatives, corporate sponsors, educators, research librarians, explorers, environmentalists, and outdoor enthusiasts. This forum on exploration covers projects that stimulate, motivate and educate.

While Everest gets the press, the book deals, and the IMAX movie, its slightly shorter neighbor, K2, maintains its allure as arguably the hardest mountain to climb in the world. At 28,251 feet (8611 m), the world’s second tallest peak has never been summitted by an American woman. Heidi Howkins, 31, of Ridgefield, Conn., attempted a first American woman ascent in 1998, but was turned back at 23,600 feet by high winds and thigh-deep snow. Undaunted, she and 11 experienced climbers and base camp coordinators will return to the so-called "Savage Mountain" with team leader Jeff Alzner, 41, a landscape contractor from Portland, Ore.

An American team will converge in Islamabad, Pakistan, this May, then travel through Pakistan and China to the northern side of K2. The goal of the K2000 American North Ridge Expedition is an ascent of the North Ridge route, in lightweight, expedition style, without the aid of supplemental oxygen or high altitude porters.

According to Howkins, as of last month, only 12 Americans and 164 climbers had reached the summit of K2. The success rate on the mountain is less than 30 percent, and 57 climbers have died trying. Only five women have ever reached the summit, three of whom died during the descent; the other two died on other mountains.

The estimated budget for K2000 is $166,000, of which $95,000 has already been raised. The team’s biggest expense is the $40,000 earmarked for the 44 camels needed for the approach to the mountain and their exit. "There's really no other option in that area. It's a very remote region of China - a week-long trek from the closest Jeep trail," Howkins said. "I'm new to camels myself, and I hear they can be real nasty sometimes. Jeff Alzner went to Morocco for camel training last month so I think we'll be fine." Major sponsors to date include: Mazamas (105-year-old Portland-area climbing organization),, and PowerBar.

The expedition will work closely with Howkins' SupPorters Project which benefits the Balti porters who carry loads for climbing and trekking groups in the Karakoram Range of the Himalayas. Typically, porters have been poorly equipped, a situation Howkins has begun to alleviate with the support of Bolle (eye protection), Fox River (socks and gloves), Gregory Mountain Products (backpacks), Montrail (footwear), and PowerBar (funds for shipping). (For more information: Heidi Howkins, 203 438 0802 x 22;

"We need to know a lot more before we send humans to Mars." – NASA Chief Scientist Kathie L. Olsen, Ph.D., speaking at the Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner on Dec. 8 honoring seven women astronauts. Since 1960, out of 32 missions to Mars, only 11 have succeeded. According to Olsen, landing on the Martian polar ice cap is the most challenging landing ever attempted. In December, the Mars Global Surveyor was repositioned to look for clues to the failure of the Mars Polar Lander. It performed special targeted scans of the Mars surface in order to obtain high-resolution camera images of the landing site and possibly spot the spacecraft or its parachute.

A Mountain of Steel - Australia, the country affectionately known as Oz, is a hot-bed of adventure sports. Visitors to the Olympic Summer Games next September won't think they're in Kansas anymore if they visit BridgeClimb, one of the country's most unusual tourist attractions. Since late 1998, over 140,000 climbing enthusiasts have gathered at the base of the 3,770-ft. (1149 m) Sydney Harbour Bridge, for a government-sanctioned ascent of the world's largest steel arch bridge - the one millions saw on worldwide television coverage of New Year's celebrations.

Sherpas Go to Climbing School
In 1996, a fateful year in the Himalayas, a group of American climbers were shocked to find Sherpas with many years of expedition experience were unfamiliar with tying into their harnesses properly.

Members of the Team Tanager Rolwaling Himalayan Expedition, based out of Tanager Lodge in the New York Adirondacks, decided four years ago to create a school, staffed with Sherpa and American volunteer instructors, to provide free climbing instruction to residents of the Solu-Khumbu district. A driving force was Kili Sherpa, 33, who has worked for over 10 years in the trekking and expedition business, and like most Sherpas, has lost friends and relatives to climbing accidents.

The school, located just outside the Khumbu village of Lukla, now focuses on many of the fundamentals such as basic knots, belaying and rappeling, jumaring, rope handling, and rope care (often ropes are handled roughly and improperly stored near gasoline cans). (For more information: Tad Welch, Solu-Khumbu Sherpa Climbing School, 202 462 1706;

Helly Hansen Sponsors Mountain Adventure Award
Helly Hansen joins an ever-growing list of outdoor manufacturers sponsoring expedition award programs. The HH Mountain Adventure Award will honor innovative teams of explorers dedicated to self-reliance, human-powered endeavors, respect for the wilderness, and an understanding of history. Judges will prefer small, non-guided, non-commercial, non-research-based American expeditions.

Hat's Off to Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation
Alex Tilley, the founder of Tilley Endurables, the Canadian adventure travel clothing and hat company, was honored Nov. 16 with the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation's first President's Award in recognition of over US$125,000 in support spanning 15 years.

Sir Edmund Hillary, 80, combined his Nov. 15 visit to Toronto with an appearance at the company's flagship store, signing 450 copies of his new book, "View From the Summit." Specially autographed copies of the new Tilley T2000 hat were sold for US$70, which included a US$35 donation to the Foundation.

Under the direction of Sir Edmund, the organization has helped construct at least 26 schools, three airfields, two hospitals and 12 village clinics in Nepal. The Foundation has also established hygienic waste systems in remote Nepal villages and a 10-year fund for a reforestation project in Sagarmatha National Park. Hillary is passionate about educating the youth of the Himalayas so that they may contribute to their own communities as teachers, healthcare providers and craftspeople. (For more information: Zeke O'Connor, Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation, 222 Jarvis Street, Toronto, Ontario M5B 2B8. Tel. 416 941 3315).

Learning From Mistakes - "You learn from other people's mistakes," Seattle climber Chris Boskoff, 32, says in the Dec. 6 issue of People magazine. She was climbing Broad Peak in 1995 when storm gusts of over 100 mph on neighboring K2 contributed to the death of Alison Hargreaves and four others. "It's risky, but then a lot of people die out there driving. Still, I get into my car."

These Hands are Made for Walking - Chuck Huss of Iowa City, Iowa, attracted the attention of the Cedar Rapids Gazette on Dec. 6 by demonstrating his training regimen for an expedition to Mt. Everest this spring. The 50-year-old climber walks up and down his driveway every day on his hands. Training in the flatlands of Iowa for Himalayan mountaineering might seem like a challenge, but Huss has it down to a science, writes Dan Geiser.

EXPEDITION NEWS is a monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online and by mail to media representatives, corporate sponsors, educators, research librarians, explorers, environmentalists, and outdoor enthusiasts. This forum on exploration covers projects that stimulate, motivate and educate. EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 137 Rowayton Avenue, Suite 210, Rowayton, CT 06853 USA. Tel. 203-855-9400, fax 203-855-9433, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. ©1999 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.

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