Getting into BASE jumping isn't easy or cheap. Before prospective jumpers can take their first leap, they typically have to make hundreds of skydives, find a mentor, and accumulate thousands of dollars worth of gear.
That could all change this spring with the launch of Moab BASE Adventures, the first company to offer non-jumpers the chance to make a tandem jump from a cliff. Owners Mario Richard and Steph Davis, veteran jumpers and climbers based in Moab, Utah, take passengers to one of two exit points on Moab's sandstone mesas, where they strap in with tandem master Richard and huck themselves off for a 900- to 1,400-foot ride back to the valley floor. No skydiving or climbing experience is necessary—you just need to weigh fewer than 185 pounds and be fit enough to hike and scramble to the top. "This is like a shortcut," says Richard. "Until now, you couldn't do a BASE jump without spending all this time and money."
Shivling Peak via Shutterstock Photograper: Galyna Andrushko
As mountaineers from around the world converge in Nepal and prepare for the 2012 Everest climbing season, Apa Sherpa, the porter-turned-professional-climber who has summited the mountain 21 times, is in the midst of a three-month trek to call attention to the changing climate. He's warning that rapid glacier melt could result in cataclysmic flooding in the Himalaya region.
Thousands of lakes in the Himalayan foothills, laden with glacier run-off, are endangering "millions of people in seven countries abutting the massive mountain range," according to the Associated Press.
"In Nepal alone, at least 20 of the more than 2,300 glacial lakes are in danger of bursting banks made mostly of rock and scree held together by little more than gravity. Across the wider mountain range, dozens more are building to dangerous levels as temperatures rise and ice melts quicker," reported the news agency.
Ashima Shiraishi, the 10-year-old prodigy who has torn through some of Hueco Tanks' hardest problems over the past two years, notched another landmark ascent on Tuesday when she completed the V13 testpiece Crown of Aragorn. The climb, which took Shiraishi two days, means that she is now tied for the hardest ascent by a female boulderer of any age.
No woman had ever climbed a confirmed V13 before 2010, when Angie Payne made the first female ascent of Dave Graham's The Automator in Rocky Mountain National Park. Few women have repeated the feat—between three and five others, depending on whether you count problems on the extreme low end of the grade. To see a 10 year old join those ranks is nothing short of incredible. Shiraishi, though, is clearly no normal 10 year old: in the past two years, the New Yorker has climbed at least eight problems rated V10 and above. In early March, she won her age division at the ABS Nationals by flashing every problem. As her coach Obe Carrion said in "Obe and Ashima," the film about Shiraishi released last year, "She has 'it'."
Sticky approach shoes will get you to and from your projects, but they're not just for cragging. Approach shoes can have urban appeal—like when you want to impress your friends after a few beers by bouldering up the nearest sculpture/rock/tree. We don't necesarrily recommend this, we're just saying, we know far too many people that attempt such stunts with improper shoes and pay the consequences.
Here are a few of our faves to get you off the ground:
Evolv Cruzer: The barefoot runner of approach shoes, Evolv's Cruzer has maximum sensitivity for a sticky-soled shoe. Whether you're buildering, smearing up the nearest granite slab, or heading to Miguels for pizza, it gets the job done. In fact, even non-climbers might like it's breathable cotton upper and microfiber memory foam-lined insole. Together they're a padded pillowcase for your dogs, which either have just been or are about to be crammed into a toe crushing wrap of leather and rubber. Flip the heel forward and wear them like slippers, or hang 'em from your harness with the handy heel loops so you can walk off the descent without slicing your feet. They make great camp shoes too, even if you have to pack them in. Available now, $75, evolvsports.com
Young Hoon Oh, South Korean PhD candidate in anthropology at UC Riverside, is headed to Nepal at the end of the month to attempt his second Everest summit. But his itinerary extends well beyond the days he'll try to reach the top of the world. He'll then spend a year and a half living with Sherpa families in order to research his dissertation. His goal is to document how mountaineering has transformed Sherpa society over the nearly 100 years during which Western climbing guides have employed Sherpa people as porters.
Without this assistance, many hundreds of climbers from all over the world could not have ascended Everest and other Himalayan peaks. But the benefits that mountaineering has bestowed on Sherpa culture aren't always as clear, says Oh. Yes, Himalayan mountaineering and trekking have brought a thriving tourism and guiding industry to the region. But that has come at a price.