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November 1998 — Volume Five, Number Eleven
A trio of adventurers will retrace the footsteps of polar explorer Robert Scott, 87 years after his historic - and fatal - expedition. Before the year is out, team leader Peter Hillary (son of Sir Edmund), and Australians Eric Philips and Jon Muir, will ski or parasail with steerable kites across 1,738-mi. (2,804 km) of Antarctica in a self-sufficient 80 to 100-day trek to the South Pole and back. The South Pole has been reached over land many times before; but this time, members of the Iridium - Ice Trek will follow the exact route of the 1911-12 expedition - hopefully without repeating Scott's failure. Each man will tow 330 lbs. of food, fuel and equipment on sleds, propelled at times by kite traction - wind-powered steerable Quadrifoil kites made by Active People, Inc., Kanata, Ontario.

Scott and two others died in their tent after a nine-day blizzard just 11 miles (18 km) from a supply depot on the return journey. His team had reached the pole after incredible hardship, only to find that the party of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had been there weeks before.

Hillary, whose father Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb Mt.Everest in 1953, said Antarctica was the "heart and lungs of the planet" and the expedition would help promote environmental awareness about the region.

The team will leave eight depots of food and fuel along the route to the South Pole, which they hope to reach by Christmas Day. Once there, they plan to make holiday calls home with Iridium mobile satellite phones, an expedition sponsor.

In a related story, the new Oxford Dictionary of Quotations published the most famous "last words" of the 20th century last month. Right up there with convicted killer Gary Gilmore's "Let's do it," was Captain Laurence Oates, a member of Scott's team, who walked off into a blizzard uttering one of the expedition world's most famous last words, "I am just going outside and may be some time."

Cook Society Keeps the Faith — The Frederick A. Cook Society continues to hold out the belief that someday polar explorer Frederick A. Cook (1865-1940) will be exonerated (See EN, August 1995). Of course, the fact that the American physician and explorer served time in Leavenworth Prison certainly doesn't help the cause. On Oct. 18, the society met in the small Catskill village of Hurleyville, N.Y. where a new comprehensive - and sympathetic - memorabilia room was dedicated in a local museum. Society members heard a presentation by Bolling Byrd Clarke, daughter of famed polar explorer Adm. Richard E. Byrd.

"I never liked summits, I never liked them at all. I distrust them intensely. You're as far from help as you can get." - English climber, author and lecturer Joe Simpson speaking to the American Alpine Club - N.Y. Section annual dinner, Oct. 24. Simpson is known for the book "Touching the Void," his personal chronicle of survival and courage. It exonerates Simpson's climbing partner, Simon Yates, who cut the rope between them to save his own life when Simpson fell and broke his leg on a vertical ice face in 1975 in Peru.

Speed Climbing Everest — In October, a Spanish mountaineer became the 809th person to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Carlos Pitarch, a 31-year-old lawyer, and 31st Spaniard to reach the top of the world, only spent a minute there because of extremely strong winds. A few days later, on Oct. 17, Kaji Sherpa, 34, of Nepal shattered an eight-year-old record for the fastest time to summit. Kaji reached the peak after an exhausting all-night climb without the use of supplemental oxygen. His time of 20 hrs. 24 min. beat the record set in 1990 by French alpinist Marc Batard who took 22 hrs. 29 min. Kaji had reached the summit four previous times.

Smarter Than Your Average Yeti — Legendary mountaineer Reinhold Messner says the Yeti or Abominable Snowman, is not a humanoid ape, but a large bear. There are about 1,000 roaming Nepal and Tibet, usually at night, Messner announced at the Frankfurt (Germany) Book Fair. Messner's book "Yeti," claims to confirm this with the help of photos taken during several encounters.

Just Like Climbing — The latest company to make the analogy between climbing and business is software maker Compuware. Its Oct. 20 Wall Street Journal ad shows a climber ascending a snow-covered ridge. We applaud Madison Avenue's fascination with climbing. The more companies that use the imagery of climbing in their marketing campaigns, the more that are likely to fund new expedition projects.

IMAX is Living Large — IMAX is on a roll, according to an Oct. 22 USA Today story by Andy Seiler. He writes, "With long-running hits such as 'Everest' hanging onto the box office charts month after month (it even broke the top 10 in May), the large-screen movie format is exploding in popularity, breaking attendance and earnings records as new theaters go up across the USA and around the world."

Thru-Hiker is Through Hiking — On Oct. 22, the NBC Today Show covered retired farmer Earl Shaffer, 79, upon completion of his third and final thru-hike of the 2,160-mi. Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.

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. ©1998 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. Subscriptions: US$36/yr.; international postal rate US$46/yr.

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