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December 1998 — Volume Five, Number Twelve
It's been called the hardest place in the world to reach, harder than the Antarctic. The Chang-Tang in Tibet is the world's highest plateau, a forbidding landscape for which no record exists of it being crossed over land. In April 2000, a team lead by a Santa Fe, N.M. businessman hopes to traverse its 650 miles in five months on foot, with the support of camels and yaks. The distance from the start of the plateau to Lhasa is daunting, but it is the elevation - averaging 17,000 feet, almost as high as Everest base camp - which has kept the region so isolated.

Naturalist George Schaller established the Chang Tang Nature Reserve in 1993, after exploring the region by road in 1987-1994. However, the remotest part of the area - where the expedition will travel - lies beyond the reserve.

The Chang-Tang Expedition 2000 team will be Ogden K. Shannon III, 64, expedition leader; Major General P.F. Fagan, 61, deputy leader; Nevada Wier, 44, photographer; Clare Rhoades, 52, medical consultant; Bruce Kirby, 34, communications expert; Chuppa Nelson, 45, communications/logistics; and local guides as yet to be named. Great Escapes USA of Boulder, Colo. will handle logistics. Team members will navigate by GPS during their arduous trek to Lhasa.

The Chang-Tang Expedition has been honored by one of the great traditions of The Explorers Club: the loan of a numbered flag that signifies confidence by the Club in an individual member's non-commercial expedition. Said John Bruno, President Emeritus, and chairman of the EC's Flag & Honors Committee, "The Chang - Tang Expedition is a superb example of a small, privately organized expedition with correct and achievable goals made possible through dedicated research."

The expedition is entirely self-funded because, as Shannon tells us, "We're not interested in sponsors. When you get sponsors involved, they want some say so in how it's being handled." Shannon, who will conduct a reconnaissance of the region in April 1999, adds, "There are no trails or roads. Our route will be shaped by topography. We'll go where the terrain permits us to go." (For more information: Ogden K. Shannon III, 817 877 0495)

In the 1868 Jules Verne novel, "The Children of Captain Grant," a shark is caught with a bottle in its belly containing clues to the whereabouts of senior British officer Captain Grant. Apparently, he's been taken prisoner of war by the Russians. Lord Jon Glenarvan takes the captain's children, Robert and Mary, on a search for their father along the southern hemisphere's 37th parallel. Verne's tale was the basis of a 1962 movie, "In Search of the Castaways," with Maurice Chevalier and Hayley Mills, and now is the theme behind an expedition by a four-member team of Russian and Ukrainian mountaineers and biologists.

"Why go in '99? Let's wait a year and we can really play this up."
- That's what two expedition leaders have said their Millennium-crazed sponsors are telling them. According to Steve Matous, president of expedition outfitter Great Escapes USA in Boulder, Colo., two projects that came to him for logistic support were postponed a full year because sponsors were interested in taking advantage of the extra publicity a Millennium tie-in might offer.

Look for dozens of new expeditions in 2000 as explorers reclimb and retraverse nearly everything to be the first to do so in the new Millennium.

Banff Festival Launches World Tour - If you couldn't get to Banff earlier last month, Banff will come to you. The 10th annual "Best of the Festival" World Tour has begun its trek to 180 cities around the globe. This year, the festival sold nearly 10,000 tickets to screenings of 30 finalist films representing 10 countries. Grand prize winner was "The Living Edens: Bhutan - the Last Shangri-La" by American producers Alex Gregory, Dennis B. Kane, and Harry Marshall. Best Film on Climbing was "Everest - The Death Zone" by U.S. producers Liesl Clark and David Breashears.

Subterranean Alaska - Dateline NBC calls cave diving one of the most dangerous endeavors a human being can undertake. The Nov. 8 program profiles the work of Lizzie and Andrew White of Quest Adventures working beneath dangerously shifting Alaskan glaciers. "Parts of Alaska have 10,000 caves in a single square mile. When you explore any cave in Alaska, you may be the first to set foot there since the Ice Age," reports correspondent Bob McKeown.

He's Cooked - It doesn't look good for Dr. Frederick A. Cook. According to a syndicated New York Times story on Nov. 26, Cook researcher Robert M. Bryce, author of the most exhaustive study of Cook's controversial career, has found an original uncropped photograph taken on McKinley in 1906. Bryce contends Cook issued a cropped version of the image to mislead the world into believing he achieved the first ascent of McKinley.

Collecting Exploration Art - Exploration art is apparently the new rage among those who drive SUV's to work on Wall Street, wear high-tech mountain gear to suburban barbecues, and keep Jon Krakauer's Everest adventure story on the best-seller list, according to the Nov. 22 New York Times. Only recently have artifacts such as oxygen cylinders, packing crates, rations cups and climbing shoes been marketed under the heading of exploration art, Christa Worthington writes.

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 137 Rowayton Avenue, Suite 210, Rowayton, CT 06853 USA. USA. Tel. 203 855 9400, fax 203 855 9433, Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. c1998 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.

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