Lake Ellsworth drilling waits for another day

Credit to The Guardian for the great graphic (

News from the Lake Ellsworth team in Antarctica that drilling down to the subglacial lake will have to wait for another year.

It must be a huge disappointment to the team, but as an observer currently in the relative warmth of London, it the project remains a massive inspiration. Projects like this show that geographical exploration is alive and well and focused on understanding and learning about our planet.

There are many polar expeditions nowadays – fastest, least supported, etc. – but this expedition was more than these. It showed the determination, initiative and daring of a team of people to try something on the edge of human ability, not for the sake of it, but to find out more about our planet. All power to them and I am sure that they will succeed in the end.

To put this mission in perspective, the first expedition to attempt to summit Mount Everest was in 1922, and the first successful expedition to reach the summit and come back down again was in 1953. I hope we will not have to wait another 31 years, but the very fact that there are people who put everything on the line to explore our planet is fantastic.

To the team at Lake Ellsworth, a massive ‘thank you’ for providing an example to the rest of us.

Learning from Cisco

Digital Explorer website gets the Cisco treatment using their green screen video conferencing technology #verycool

What a first full day of the MCY Innovate 2012 expedition! We went to visit Cisco to find out what is behind the amazing growth of this company over the past 28 years, from a married couple at Stanford University, to a company employing 65,000 people across 165 countries.

The theme was innovation and the values that has kept Cisco at the forefront of innovation for nearly three decades. We were lucky to have a range of talks and demonstrations. What really struck me was the emphasis that Cisco places on talent, their people, as well as technology.

Innovation is not just coming up with a new idea or solution, it’s coming up with something new that adds value for customers or employees and also is a commercial success. Some of the facts were quite amazing. During 2008,there were as many connected devices as people on the planet and the number of devices is accelerating away.

The average person in developed economies uses 6.4 devices a day – home phone, work phone, mobile, laptop, work computer and potentially a tablet, as well as thinking about connected devices such as GPS in cars and entertainment devices such as TVs.

The whole team came away with an understanding of how systems and products can be used in a collaborative way, so that communication using voice, data and video links can be done in a seamless way. With some of the latest video conferencing technology, participants have almost felt that they were in the same room. Technology continues to break down barriers and bring people closer.

I was particularly interested in their rugged kit, designed for use by the military and on oil rigs, but I can see great potential in using the kit to live broadcast to classrooms from remote locations. Onwards and upwards with our exploration of what makes a great innovator.

Awesome Sarah – explorer and educator

We were sad to hear of the extreme weather earlier this year that has delayed  Sarah Outen’s London2London expedition. Sarah had to be rescued by the Japanese Coast Guard after she and her rowing boat were hit by a huge storm in June.

Digital Explorer has been working with Sarah on the education side of things, developing resources and competitions for primary schools and so it was great to read this blog post on her education blog:

Recipe for Adventure Competition: the results

Hello Everyone,

A little while ago we set a competition for L2L Primary Schools to design me a ‘Recipe for Adventure’ – dreaming up a tasty meal that would give me of all the different food groups that I need for adventuring.

London2London HQ received some excellent entries and I have just spent some time getting very hungry and excited at the thought of trying some of the recipes.

Everyone has been spot on in thinking about the food groups I need when I am cycling, or kayaking or rowing – so we have lots of protein for helping me rebuild my muscles, carbohydrates and sugars for giving me energy, vitamins for keeping my skin and gums healthy and all washed down with plenty of water to keep me hydrated.

My favourite entries came from English Martyrs School in Oakham and Mr Kirkland’s Class at Manor School in Didcot. Both schools will receive L2L stickers and some adventuring books, including ‘The Boy who Biked the World’ by Alistair Humprheys and my book ‘ A Dip in the Ocean’. As well as that, I shall be visiting both schools to tell them all about my adventures so far and what treats and surprises I have eaten on the way.

Coming next on the Education Blog…. I shall be sharing some of the stories from my attempt to row across the North Pacific in my boat Gulliver. You may already know – but it didn’t go quite to plan this time.

Happy summer holidays to everyone who is on them already or about to start. Make sure you pack in some adventures!


Sarah, Nelson, Hercules and Gulliver x

Congratulations to both schools who won.

And sending all our best wishes to Sarah as she prepares to face the challenges of the Pacific again. See this CBBC Newsround clip that really brings home the scale of her ambitions, and do follow her on twitter.

And, Sarah, drop by the Digital Explorer office for a cuppa and a chat next time you’re in town, you’re an inspiration and role model.

Highlights from a vintage Explore Conference #rgs_explore

Just coming down from a vintage year at the annual expedition planning conference that is Explore at the Royal Geographical Society. Lots of great expeditions, speakers and two standing ovations in the main lecture theatre. Fantastic.

Here are some personal highlights in no particular order (I missed lots, I know, so please feel free to add comments on what I should have seen, who I should have spoke to, etc.)

1. Janapar film screening

Much praise to Tom Allen for having the courage to put his emotions and journey on the big screen for all to see. Delighted that this private screening was a part of Explore. Do sign up to hear more about the next part of this adventure – bringing the film to festivals and the public.

2. Atlantic Rising

A wonderful, humorous and thought-provoking talk from the Atlantic Rising crew, recipients of the Land Rover Go Beyond Bursary. Great that they had the platform they deserve and fantastic to see a continuing educational legacy on their new website.

3. foldedsheet

It’s simple, elegant and packs a huge communications punch. I hope you had the chance to meet Luce and see the examples of her work. Here’s an example of Al Humphreys’ latest book using foldedsheet…

4. Pangaea Expedition

I was sorry to miss Emily’s talk but managed to catch up afterwards to hear more about this fantastic oceans expedition project. They are looking at oceans plastic at the moment and hope to be able to work with them in the future.

5. The fact that this happens at all

Massive thanks to Shane, Amy and all the team at Geography Outdoors at the RGS. It’s an annual highlight, meeting with old friends, making new ones and finding out that exploration in the UK and beyond is in rude health. A huge achievement!!

Oh and I’ll never think about hippos in the same way…

Inspiring youth in the Alps

Very excited to be a part of the New Leaders in Sustainability expeditions this year. The expeditions aim to inspire primary school pupils to engage in sustainability and what it means for them on a personal, team and global basis.

You can follow their progress on their expedition website. Digital Explorer is working with the teams to see how we can develop their ability to communicate their experiences and become role models for the wider school community.

The expeditions will be using Digital Explorer’s [de] blogs platform.

Ed Stafford book launch

Great to see Ed Stafford enjoying the success he deserves at his book launch in London on Tuesday. Any teachers looking to engage students in the rainforest, would be advised to get hold of a copy for their pupils.

Ed’s book is available on Amazon and he is currently undertaking a national speaking tour.

Ed was kind enough to be part of the launch for the Digital Explorer Academy with a live chat from the Amazon to students at the London Zoo rainforest exhibit.

The politics of exploration

Some readers may be aware of the Beagle Campaign and its desire for the Royal Geographical Society to reactivate its own multidisciplinary field research expeditions. This campaign resulted in a heated Special General Meeting at the Society, a number of articles in the press and fed into the publication of the review on how the Society advances geographical knowledge through research, including scientific expeditions.

Within this ongoing saga, I have two roles: one as Director of Digital Explorer and the second as a member of Council of the Royal Geographical Society. My name has been used to support various stances and this article seeks to put the record straight. (more…)

Google Earth Expedition Gallery #5 – Shimshal Expedition

This is the fifth entry in a series of expedition based Google Earth tours from Digital Explorer.

ge link icon Download the Google Earth tour – Road to Shimshal 2006

You will need Google Earth to view the tour. If you don’t have Google Earth, you can download it for free:

download google earth

Contact Digital Explorer, if you would like to make a Google Earth tour for your expedition or fieldwork.

Changing young lives

Mohammed at BBC Arabic

Great email from a student from the Emirates who came on our Offscreen Expedition in 2008… Makes it all worthwhile!

The Offscreen Expedition was a big turning point in my life. Since then, so much has changed. Before, I was a careless and reckless young guy with no real interest in what was happening in my life. Just before I was due to leave for the UK, I considered dropping out, but for no particular reason other than I didn’t think it would be exciting. But from the first moment in London I knew that I had been wrong. When I saw the rest of the group waiting at Heathrow Airport, my fears and reservations turned to excitement and anticipation.

It was my first time away from home. I used to lose my temper quickly, and to be mad the entire time. I addition, I used to think that I am right all time, but with a team of Stiffin, Jimmy, Aya, Robert, and all the guys changed in my life. It was not a tour or a vacation; it was a journey that I have to learn from it as much as I can because it will not happen again. Jimmy was a kind of a tuff leader; like a Commander in the army, but I learned how to manage my time from him. Also, he gave me an Inspiration how to respect people time. Stiffen was a much different; a unique man with all of these art talents. I got to understand from him who I can deal with the different kinds of people even I do not like them, and how I can get the people to my side. All the other guys I got something special from them even the other students.

Here I am now, in the United States; a student who represent myself, my family, my country, and also my Offscreen Expedition. When I got the chance to talk about something special in my life I always talk about my Offscreen Expedition, and how my life changed since I had it. On the other hand, the expedition was a start for I where I am now, and a start for studying abroad. I owe the Expedition all my life and I will not forget ever those days.

Terre Haute, USA
Feb, 26, 2010

GIS session at the RGS


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