Thursday, December 24, 2009

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 12/24/09


A Swift Water Rescue was Engaged Saturday when
Two Climbers Flipped their Raft trying to get to Drury Falls in Leavenworth
Photo Courtesy of the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office

-- Two Seattle-area ice climbers are safe and dry after their raft capsized early Saturday in the icy Wenatchee River on the approach to Drury Falls, forcing a swift-water rescue operation. The incident happened before 7 a.m. in Tumwater Canyon, about 2 miles west of The Alps candy store on Highway 2, Sgt. Andy Zimmerman, Chelan County Sheriff’s spokesman, said Sunday. The climbers were Alex Krawarik, 38, of Bellevue and Rafael Haroutunian, 47, of Seattle. Alex is well known in the climbing community. He co-authored, Washington Ice: A Climbing Guide with AAI Guide Jason Martin. To read more, click here and here.

--The American Alpine Institute's International Mountain Day celebration was a success. All proceeds went to the fund to help purchase Index to make it a permanent climber's park. Through a combination of raffle items and pay-what-you can rock rescue clinics, AAI was able to make a nice dent in the funds required to purchase the crag!

Blake Herrington
Photo from Outdoor Research

--Bellingham's Blake Herrington established seven new alpine lines in the Cascades over the summer and people started to take notice of the 21 year-old. Climbing did a feature article on him. Check it out here.

-- When a rescue team came on Luke Gullberg's body at the top of a Mount Hood glacier and tried to figure out what had become of his climbing partners, they looked up at a forbidding rise of ice and snow. They saw no sign of Katie Nolan and Anthony Vietti on the 1,500-foot Reid headwall, no gear in bright color standing out from the monochrome, no trail. And they heard no radio signal. Had Nolan and Vietti rented a $5 locator beacon and had they been able to activate it after whatever misfortune ended their climb on Dec. 12, the searchers below might have been able to pinpoint their location. The two are presumed buried beneath several feet of snow and ice. It's the second time in three years that a search and rescue operation on the 11,239-foot mountain has failed to turn up climbers who went up the mountain without signaling devices and got into deadly trouble. To read more, click here.

--In related news, the Oregonian newspaper stepped WAY over the line this week with an anti-climber/anti-SAR cartoon. To see it, click here.


--The Sierra Nevada ski industry appears poised to bounce back from last year, one of its worst, to this season, which could be the best in years. "Because of the early snow, everyone I've talked to has never been more optimistic about this season," said Rob Brown, president and publisher of Orinda-based Mountain News Corp., which publishes and provides snow reports for media outlets. "I really believe it's going to be one of the best we've seen in a long time. "There's a lot of pent-up demand since last year was so bad," Brown added. To read more, click here.

June Mountain Ski Resort in the Eastern Sierra

--On Saturday, June Mountain Ski resort finally opened. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation on Monday to preserve the spectacular heritage of the California desert by creating two new National Monuments and expanding Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks and the Mojave National Preserve. The bill would establish new wilderness areas in Death Valley National Park and on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the US Forest Service. Finally, the legislation would also establish a permitting process for all renewable energy projects on BLM land. To read more, click here.

--Two men have pleaded guilty to trying to steal 600 pounds of wildflower seed pods in Utah's Zion National Park in hopes of a payday on the commercial market. Forty-four-year-old Cresencio Martinez-Guzman and 23-year-old Cresencio Lucena-Alvarez pleaded guilty to felony theft of government property and were sentenced to probation Dec. 7. They also admitted being in the U.S. illegally and agreed not to fight deportation. To read more, click here.


--Joe "Touching the Void" Simson has soloed a new route on the popular Himalayan trekking peak, Mera Peak.
To read more, click here.

Fumitaka Ichimura and Genki Narumi, two of the now well-known Giri-Giri Boys from Japan, recently made the first ascent of the north face of Tawoche (21,328') in Nepal. The pair made the their alpine style ascent November 26-28. To read more, click here.

--High altitude climbing blogger, Alan Arnette has written a fascinating blog on Everest death statistics. To read the blog, click here.

The government of Pakistan has announced that its bargain rates on mountaineering fees will be maintained for the 2010 climbing season. Under the discount plan, which has been in place for the past several years in an effort to lure climbers to the troubled country, there is no fee for peaks up to 6,500 meters and a sliding scale for higher peaks, topping out at $6,000 for a team of seven on K2. To read more and to see the fee structure, click here.

--Nepal’s Cabinet sat down earlier this week in an unconventional office- they called their meeting to order in the shadow of the world’s highest mountain- Everest. Arriving by helicopter, the cabinet members wore oxygen masks for the thin air and heavy winter clothing for the below-freezing temperatures. They met near the Mount Everest base camp Kalapathar, at 5,242 meters (17,200 feet) above sea level, which can be seen as a symbolic gesture of how far we have to go and how much must still be done to deal with climate change. In the mainstream version of the Monkeywrench Gang and Greenpeace spirit, national governments have been utilizing public relations-friendly, high profile meetings to emphasize to the world the importance of the Copenhagen Summit. To read more, click here.

Click on the Image to Enlarge

--On the Tibetan Plateau, temperatures are rising and glaciers are melting faster than climate scientists would expect based on global warming alone. A recent study of ice cores from five Tibetan glaciers by NASA and Chinese scientists confirmed the likely culprit: rapid increases in black soot concentrations since the 1990s, mostly from air pollution sources over Asia, especially the Indian subcontinent. Soot-darkened snow and glaciers absorb sunlight, which hastens melting, adding to the impact of global warming. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--There was a fair bit of controversy over this article about an avalanche this week. The newspaper called the victim experienced an knowledgeable, but he didn't carry a beacon, a probe or a shovel. Read a backcountry ski blog about this here.

The Kelman Hut is a National Park Hut, perched high above Tasman Saddle
at 8,038 feet in the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

Two Australian climbers were lucky to survive a 200-metre fall in the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park last week. The men, both described as experienced climbers in their 20s, fell after one of them lost his footing as they climbed the track to Kelman Hut, near Mt Annan. They were tied to each other and Department of Conservation area manager Richard McNamara told the Timaru Herald there was little they could have done to prevent the fall. He said when one of them slipped on a ledge, they both fell. To read more, click here.

--The Sauk County Sheriff's Department in Wisconsin says at least three people have serious injuries and at least nine more have minor injuries after a serious ski lift accident Thursday night at Devil's Head Resort in Merrimac. Victims were transported to area hospitals. After 10 o'clock, the chief deputy reported rescuers had finished evacuating the ski lift. Authorities say around 7 P.M. a ski lift loaded with people suddenly stopped and started falling backwards, and operators couldn't get it to stop.

--In related news, a 4-year-old girl was flown to the hospital in serious condition after falling from a ski chairlift Saturday at Alta Ski Area. The girl was riding the Sunnyside chairlift about 4:30 p.m. when she apparently fell 30 to 40 feet, said Unified Fire Authority Capt. Clint Smith. To read more, click here.

--New Hampshire conservation officers say a Nashua hiker who spent the night in the woods after conditions delayed his progress was prepared to handle the tough conditions. Forty-five-year-old Kevin McDonald headed out Saturday for a nine-mile trek in Livermore near the Kancamagus Highway between Lincoln and Conway. To read more, click here.

The UIAA has published its Mountain Ethics Declaration on December 11 to mark International Mountain Day. The Declaration spells out ethics of sportsmanship, respect for cultures and care for the environment, and it was approved at the UIAA General Assembly on October 10. To read more, click here.

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