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Skiing and Snowboarding : Climbing

Another Look at the Dead on Everest

Shutterstock_69239275Everest. Photo: Daniel Prudek/Shutterstock

On Thursday, climbing blogger Alan Arnette posted a new analysis of the dead on Mount Everest. "Around 225 climbers have died on Everest since 1953 with about 3,700 individuals standing on the summit," he wrote. "The vast majority of the dead are still there."

Arnette compiled his report in response to an article that he called sensational. He wanted to gather facts and take a deeper look at the reasons why bodies remained on the mountain. His analysis includes a simple chart showing the locations and causes of deaths from 2001 to 2012. He noted 39 deaths on the North Ridge route, 25 on the South Col route, and six deaths on other routes. "That the north side death rate is higher is not a big surprise," wrote Arnette. "The north is traditionally considered slightly more dangerous given the exposure to cold and harsh winds plus the technical nature of the Steps and exposed rock on the summit ridge."

The more common causes of death include falls and altitude sicknesses. Those who perish on the mountain remain primarily for logistical reasons.

As to the question of why bodies remain on Everest, it is a matter of logistical difficulty and further risk. It can take five or even 10 or more very strong, acclimatized Sherpas to move a body lower from the extreme altitudes above 8,000 meters. The work is slow and dangerous exposing the rescuers to altitude, weather, and potential falls. And it is expensive, costing over USD $30,000 for a full repatriation. If several years have passed, the body has most likely frozen into the landscape preventing any form of recovery.

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Custom Wood Helmets for Biking, Skiing, and Paddling


In the 1990s, Dan Coyle started making wooden helmets for himself and his buddies for whitewater kayaking, as well as wooden eyeglass frames and paddles. It was a hobby, a use for Coyle’s chainsaw and grinder.

Coyle noticed that, structurally, wood is similar to rigid, closed-cell foam. That means it can, with impact, deform and absorb shock like EPS in a traditional bicycle helmet. In fact, Coyle discovered, almost any wood is capable of absorbing more energy than polycarbonate and the ABS plastics typically used in bike, skate, motorcycle, and ski helmets, while also being more durable. A wooden shell provides protection over a greater spectrum of impact energies, according to Coyle's tests. Add a cork liner and the comfort level compares to other helmets currently on the market.

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Expedition Watch: Climbing the Wolf's Tooth

Bh_SP_ulventanna_2ndimage2The Drygalski Mountains. Photo:

The realities of an expedition to Antarctica, where temperatures fall to -50 degrees and the wind can reach speeds of up to 100 miles per hour, are harsh. At night, for example, explorers must pack all those things they don't want to freeze into their sleeping bags. "Even your pee bottle," climber Leo Houlding said in a dispatch. "Or you won’t be able to empty it and might have to boil it up with your morning brew, as my tent-mate Jason did several times in Greenland. Not pleasant."

Houlding and five teammates are headed to Antarctica in mid-December to climb Ulvetanna. While tackling the peak will be a supreme technical challenge, the crew will also have to grapple with keeping their supplies in good shape. It will take four hours a day at an MSR stove just to melt enough ice for their water, and having access to that ice involves even more work. "Because huge stretches of Ulvetanna are dead vertical, much of the time there won’t be any snow to collect as we climb," said Houlding in a dispatch. "So we’ll have to melt enough snow at base camp to fill a 120-litre barrel, which we’ll haul up behind us, chipping ice out of it with ice axes every time we cook or make a cup of coffee in wall camp."

Here's a bit more* about the niceties of Houlding's expedition:

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A Chance to Climb Out of Brazil's Favelas

In 2003, climber Asa Firestone traveled to Rio de Janeiro to climb "Two Brothers," twin peaks surrounded by favelas—shanty towns harboring many of the city's poor. Many locals warned him against climbing in such a dangerous area. He went anyway, and decided to use climbing to help the area's children. In 2011, he teamed up with local climbing guide Andrew Lenz to begin the CEU Urban Climbing School in the Rocinha Favela. Now, they want to build a climbing wall in the government-run Rocinha sports complex. "Climbing can offer these youth a positive alternative to their daily struggles and the construction of a modern climbing wall will provide them with this opportunity," says Firestone on a new fundraising site. "Approximately 5,000 murders are reported per year in Rio de Janeiro's favelas. Climbing is not the end all solution but it can certainly help."

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The Lightest Insulated Alpine Boot Ever Made


When world renowned alpinist/speed climber Ueli Steck has a new gear idea, his sponsors hit the drawing board to turn that idea into product. So when Steck told Scarpa he wanted the lightest insulated boot in the world for his next alpine speed ascent—a tall order—the family-owned Italian footwear company threw out convention and started working on research and development.

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