The ul­ti­mate ad­ven­ture so­ci­ety

Emirates Man - - CONTENTS -

The Ex­plor­ers Club at the sum­mit of Mount Ever­est

Count­ing more than 3,000 trav­el­hun­gry pi­o­neers as mem­bers, in­clud­ing Sir Ed­mund Hil­lary and the crew from Apollo 11, The Ex­plor­ers Club is the ul­ti­mate ad­ven­ture so­ci­ety. Its mem­bers were the first to both North and South Poles, to Ever­est’s sum­mit, and to the ocean’s deep­est depths, but there’s still so much more to do

t’s not of­ten you nd yourself sit­ting in front of a re­place framed by two, six-foot tall ele­phant tusks. As far as we know, there’s only one room in the en­tire world where said ele­phant tusks would be the fth or sixth most im­pres­sive item in plain view. The sit­ting area of the Mem­bers’ Lounge in the Ex­plor­ers Club on Man­hat­tan’s Up­per East Side in­cludes model sled dogs whit­tled dur­ing Ad­mi­ral Richard Byrd’s sec­ond ex­pe­di­tion to the Antarc­tic, the hatch from the Ex­plorer (one of the only ships to sur­vive the bomb­ing of Pearl Har­bour), an an­cient ta­ble do­nated by the Prince of Por­tu­gal, and a ce­les­tial nav­i­ga­tion tool used by Arc­tic ex­plorer Cap­tain Robert Bartlett. Ven­ture deeper into the Tu­dor man­sion that the or­gan­i­sa­tion calls home and you’ll nd the only four-tusked ele­phant skull, a taxi­der­mied sperm whale pe­nis, the ta­ble where Teddy Roo­sevelt planned the Panama Canal (it’s a very sturdy piece of fur­ni­ture), and many other trea­sures from some of the great­est ad­ven­tures in mankind’s his­tory.

In 1 04, au­thor and war cor­re­spon­dent Henry Collins Walsh called to­gether the rst meet­ing of the group that would in­cor­po­rate a year later as the Ex­plor­ers Club. At the time, the bravest and bold­est were still four years from reach­ing the North Pole and six out from the South Pole, and many of the world’s ex­plor­ers were fo­cused on ven­tur­ing to the Arc­tic and Antarc­tica. As the club’s mem­ber­ship grew, how­ever, it would come to in­clude Sir Ed­mund Hil­lary and Ten­z­ing Nor­gay, the first people to sum­mit Mount Ever­est, as well as Don Walsh and Jac­ques Pic­card, the duo that reached the deep­est depths of the ocean. Buzz Aldrin and the mem­bers of Apollo 11 brought the club’s trade­mark red, white and blue ex­pe­di­tion ag to the moon in 1 .

To­day the Ex­plor­ers Club boasts 3,000 mem­bers across 30 chap­ters world­wide, people “who have con­trib­uted in broad terms to the cause of ex­plo­ration and who ev­i­dence a sus­tained in­ter­est in some eld of sci­enti c ex­plo­ration and the fur­ther­ance of sci­enti c knowl­edge of the world.” They hold a yearly din­ner at the Wal­dorf Ho­tel in New York. The 2014 event fea­tured speeches from Tesla and Space X’s Elon Musk and bril­liant physi­cist Stephen Hawk­ing. Ama­zon founder Jeff Be­zos, who re­cently ap­plied for mem­ber­ship, at­tended as well.

Will Rose­man over­sees the or­gan­i­sa­tion as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. The snap­pily dressed for­mer bush pi­lot in the Congo gives tours of the 70th street man­sion with the enthusiasm of some­one who spends his days in the coolest club­house, be­cause he pretty much does. He counters the no­tion that the Ex­plor­ers Club is an out­dated in­sti­tu­tion. “ ess than ve per cent of the ocean has been ex­plored,” he says in his of ce dec­o­rated with framed can­vas squares from some of the ear­li­est planes. “Within Amer­ica, there

“We have more people go­ing out on ex­pe­di­tions than we ever have. Just last year, our mem­bers dis­cov­ered eight or nine new an­i­mals”

are an in­fi­nite num­ber of things to dis­cover. Years ago, the patent of ce said there will be noth­ing left to in­vent. But there are al­ways things to in­vent. There are al­ways things to ex­plore. We have more people go­ing out on ex­pe­di­tions than we ever have. Just last year, our mem­bers dis­cov­ered eight or nine new an­i­mals.”

He’s not wrong. Con­sider the tragic ex­am­ple of Malaysia Air­lines Flight 370. A et dis­ap­peared and none of the world’s high-tech sen­sors, satel­lite im­agery, or map­ping data could nd the enor­mous ob­ject that sud­denly seemed very small in­deed when com­pared to the scope of the South China Sea and In­dian Ocean. We might be able to go to Google Earth and spot our­selves on the ter­race of the Ex­plor­ers Club – sur­rounded by col­umns first erected at a French monastery in 1380, mind you – but much of the world re­mains a mys­tery.

In re­cent years, the Ex­plor­ers Club and its mem­bers have re­fo­cused on their con­ser­va­tion ef­forts. While the tro­phy room in­cludes a lion, a leop­ard, and a chee­tah shot by Roo­sevelt, Rose­man is quick to point out that those were dif­fer­ent times and many of the spec­i­mens were killed for sci­enti c pur­poses (we’ll give the 2 th Amer­i­can pres­i­dent a pass). The co­ral reefs are dy­ing at an alarm­ing rate, and the ma­rine bi­ol­o­gists and other ocean sci­en­tists are work­ing to raise aware­ness and make an im­pact. Two mem­bers de­vel­oped a plane that can y for 24 hours on so­lar power alone. The or­gani-

Tech­nol­ogy has changed ex­plo­ration in ways that were unimag­in­able

sa­tion is a non-profit and Rose­man says it gives away more than 1 0,000 (Dhs 0,000) a year to fund ex­plo­ration and re­search ef­forts. Most of the money goes to help stu­dents com­plete their projects, an­other gen­er­a­tion in love with the idea of go­ing where no man or woman has gone be­fore.

This as­pi­ra­tion rep­re­sents the most vi­tal func­tion of the Ex­plor­ers Club. It’s a place that in a very small but very real way keeps alive the dreams and the spirit of ad­ven­ture that has got­ten hu­man­ity so far. Ex­plo­ration isn’t just climb­ing the tallest peak or de­scend­ing to the deep­est ocean trench. It’s mak­ing the sci­en­tific dis­cov­er­ies that fuel the next gen­er­a­tion. It’s Elon Musk at­tempt­ing to launch re­us­able rock­ets with Space X. It’s also Musk rein­vent­ing the bat­tery in­dus­try and pos­si­bly the car one as well with Tesla. We’ll have manned commercial space ights in the near fu­ture and are likely go to Mars not too long af­ter that with the help of an Ex­plor­ers Club mem­ber who is de­vel­op­ing an en­gine that will get us to the Red Planet in 3 days. Hu­man­ity keeps push­ing. It’s what we know how to do, even as times change.

“On the other side of the house, we have a ra­dio room,” Rose­man says. “Twenty years ago, it was pop­u­lated 24 hours a day be­cause there were ham ra­dio oper­a­tors and that’s the only way we would keep in touch with people in the eld. Now, people have a GPS or a sat phone. Tech­nol­ogy has changed ex­plo­ration in ways that were unimag­in­able. Just the way the Astro­lab did for Vasco Nunez de Bal­boa or Vasco de Gama or Juan Ponce de Leon.”

Af­ter an hour in the Ex­plor­ers Club, it was time to go. We walked down mul­ti­ple ights of stairs, past the stuffed po­lar bear on one land­ing that roared at the ick of a light switch, and into the lobby where a group of people waited to meet with Rose­man, no doubt ready to plot the next great ad­ven­ture. He took his leave and I walked to­wards the door that would lead me back into the wild un­gle of Man­hat­tan. I turned around to take one last look at the in­side of the club. The re­cep­tion­ist smiled and waved good­bye. She was wear­ing a leop­ard print skirt.

Ex­plo­ration isn’t just climb­ing the tallest peak or de­scend­ing to the deep­est ocean trench

Dr. An­dreas Rech­nitzer and Jac­ques Pic­card

Buzz Aldrin

Sir Ed­mund


Theodore Roo­sevelt

Ten­z­ing Nor­gay

Colonel John Hunt, Ten­z­ing Nor­gay and

Ed­mund Hil­lary

Apollo 11

Don Walsh

Will Rose­man

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