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July 1999—Volume Six, Number Seven
Highlights from July 1999

Here's a sample of the July 1999 issue of Expedition News. To subscribe to the complete version each month - either by postal or e-mail - see the subscription information below.

Climbing has long been viewed as a metaphor for life. Climb Everest, the reasoning goes, and the challenges of everyday life seem to pale in comparison. Physically challenged climbers have been successful in generating interest both from sponsors and the media as they inspire and motivate the disabled and abled alike.

One unstoppable disabled climber is Ed Hommer, 43, of Duluth, Minn. Last month, he became the first double amputee to summit Mt. McKinley, a feat that landed him on the NBC-TV Today Show on June 28. Hommer now has his sights set on a first-time expedition to the Himalayas in 2000 to climb a trekking peak in Nepal's Annapurna sanctuary. The next year we wants to climb 26,906-ft. (8201 m) Cho Oyu, then Everest via the North col in 2002 - hopefully as the first double amputee to successfully summit.

Hommer and his climbing partner, French Canadian Kelly Raymond, 32, from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, summited McKinley at 7 p.m. on June 3 after 15 days on the mountain, four days of which were spent tent-bound in storms. Seven p.m. may sound late by Everest standards, but at that altitude and latitude (20,320-ft. and 63 degrees N), it remains light until almost midnight. Summitting was an important feat for Hommer because it was on McKinley that he lost both legs below the knee to frostbite when he crashed his small plane at 11,000 feet in December 1981.

Hommer is used to hurtling obstacles. He is reportedly the only double amputee commercial airline pilot in North America, regularly flying 50-passenger EMB 145 turbojets out of Chicago O'Hare for American Eagle, an affiliate of American Airlines. While having a double amputee for a pilot doesn't necessarily allow passengers to peacefully sleep through a flight, Hommer says his two prosthetics are so good, "I hardly walk with a limp." What's more, he's checked out every six months like any other commercial airline pilot and American Eagle has been promoting Hommer in various publications.

"Climbing is not about being a double amputee," Hommer tells EN. "For me, a large part of it is to get a message out there to other physically challenged people. Learning about my story, they might be surprised about what they're still able to do with some assistance from others and their own personal drive."

Hommer has been grateful about the sponsorship support received from American Eagle and prosthetics manufacturer Nova Care. He's so grateful, in fact, that he wore the logos of both companies during his Today Show interview with Matt Lauer. Granite Gear, MSR, and Sierra Designs also provided support for the McKinley expedition. Moving forward, additional sponsorship is being sought as he sets his sights on standing tall in the Himalayas. (For more information: Edward L. Hommer, cell 847 867 2632).

Paraplegic Abandons Rainier Climb - An attempt by Jeff Pagels, 50, of Wisconsin to become the first paraplegic to reach Mount Rainier's summit, ended amid high winds, melting ice and exposed rock some 2,000 feet short of the summit.

Nepal Trains Women Climbers - Nimi Sherpa has a dream. In the next five years, Nepal's foremost woman climber would like to see an all-Nepali women's team on Everest. A climbing instructor and a tourism professional for more than a decade, she says, "In a Himalayan country known for its mountains and climbers, it's hard to come up with names of even a few women climbers or trekking guides. You can count them on five fingers."

"Home is where your dog is." - Megan Edwards, author of "Roads from the Ashes: An Odyssey in Real Life on the Virtual Frontier" (Trilogy Books).

Yeah, But Will it Cure Yak Breath? - Everest: the book, the IMAX film, the made-for-TV movie, now Everest: The Gum. It was only a matter of time, we suppose. An affiliate of Wm. Wrigley, Jr. Company is introducing Everest Powerful Mint Gum, with the "taste as big as its name." Made with natural peppermint oil, the maker of this "powerful" mint gum, the Amurol Confections Co. of Yorkville, Ill., says it "Stands up to the Challenge!" Look for it in test markets nationwide. Guaranteed not to stick to your crampons.

Trailblazers of the Century - Approaching his 80th birthday on July 20, Sir Edmund Hillary was honored as a "Trailblazer of the Century" in the June 14 issue of People magazine. "Over the years," New York bureau chief Maria Eftimiades writes, "Hillary has watched thousands try to duplicate his heroics as mountaineering, no longer the province of a few hardy adventurers, has become the exotic diversion of virtually anyone with a whim and a checkbook."

What's So Funny About the Explorers Club? - Popular New York cartoonist Stan Mack thinks the Explorers Club is full of good material. He attended the Explorers Club annual dinner last March and created a two-page cartoon for the June 6 New York Times Magazine titled, "Overheard at the Explorer's (sic) Club." A member is quoted from the podium: "Americans have lost their sense of adventure. I asked a colleague about Magellan and he said the funds are overrated."

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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