The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Feb 2012

Prosecutors Will Not Indict Armstrong

A two-year federal investigation into allegations that seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs is closed, United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr., announced on Friday. Investigators led by famed prosecutor Jeff Novitzky were searching for evidence that Armstrong's government-sponsored U.S. Postal team had cheated. Several former Armstrong teammates were rumored to have testified that he took performance enhancing drugs. Birotte's statement said that the government was "closing an investigation into allegations of federal criminal conduct by members and associates of a professional bicycle racing team owned in part by Lance Armstrong." The statement did not explain why the investigation had closed.

Read more at The Associated Press

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Sierra Club Took Millions From Gas

The Sierra Club accepted $26 million in donations from the gas industry between 2007 and 2010, including a gas-drilling company that is associated with fracking, according to a story published this week by Time. The donations began as both the natural-gas industry and the Sierra Club were looking for cleaner alternatives to coal and ended in when current club directory Michael Brune took over in 2010. In a blog post published yesterday, Brune said the club turned away $30 million in donations in 2010 because of a changed view on natural gas within the club. "The first rule of advocacy is that you shouldn't take money from industries and companies you're trying to change," Brune said.

Read more at TIME

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Red Bull Snowboard Contest Opens in BC

On Thursday, the controversial Red Bull Supernatural snowboarding contest opened in the Selkirk Mountains in British Columbia. Designed by Travis Rice, the project includes more than 80 jumps and ramps set into the side of a 45-degree slope. Construction required clearing and topping trees on public lands and has upset some in the snowboarding community, including Utah snowboarder and backcountry advocate Warren Smith. "I’m not a bleeding heart tree hugger, Smith wrote in a letter to Red Bull, "but I’ve sat in meetings where land managers, politicians, and conservation leaders point to unsanctioned structures as reason to ban tax-paying recreationalists from public lands." Seventeen of the world's best snowboarders, including Terje Håkonsen and Nicolas Müller, are scheduled to compete. The contest will be filmed by helicopters and broadcast as by NBC as a two-hour special on March 31.

Read more at Adventure Journal

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Honnold Frees Big Wall in Mexico

American climber Alex Honnold added a new big wall climb in Mexico's Baja California, making the first free ascent of El Giraffe on El Gran Trono Blanco. Honnold, together with Will Stanhope and Paul McSorley, traveled to Mexico in late January to attempt El Gran Trono Blanco's 1,200-foot east face. The climbers spent two-and-a-half days equipping and working a free variation on the climb, El Giraffe Libre (5.13), before Honnold led the entire line. Photographer Andrew Burr, who witnessed the ascent, told Climbing that he doubted the route would ever be downgraded. "It was mega-hot, and watching Alex negotiate the roof and heinously thin slab traverses in the heat was some of the most impressive leading either myself or Stanhope has ever witnessed," he said.

Read more at Climbing

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