The Outside Blog

Dispatches : May 2011

Dutch Climber Ronald Naar Dies on Cho Oyu


Leading Dutch mountaineer Ronald Naar died on Sunday while descending Cho Oyu, Radio Netherlands has reported. Naar had given up his summit bid and was heading down with his team when he reported feeling unwell and collapsed unexpectedly at 26,200 feet.

Naar, 56, was one of the Netherlands' most successful alpinists and the first Dutchman to climb the seven summits. During the 1970s, he became the first Dutch climber to scale the Alps' three greatest north faces: the Eiger, Matterhorn, and Grandes Jorasses. He later concentrated on establishing first ascents on remote polar peaks, making a number of expeditions to places like Greenland and the Antarctic Peninsula.

Naar's career was marred by a number of controversies. The most notable took place in 1992, after he left an frostbitten Indian climber to die just yards from his tent on Mt. Everest. Joe Simpson, author of Touching The Void, called the incident "as pernicious an example of pragmatic, self-serving callousness as I had ever heard in the mountains." Naar, who was leading the expedition, later wrote that he decided not to go to the climber's aid because a rescue attempt could have endangered his team and would likely have ended in the victim's death anyway.

--Adam Roy

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Irish Climber Dies on Everest

Photo from ilkerender on Flickr

Irish climber John Delaney died yesterday on Everest, according to 7Summits-Club, the team with whom he was climbing. The club's web site says Delaney ran into trouble at roughly 28,800 feet and was pronounced dead at 4:30 a.m. after receiving assistance from guides and Sherpas. The Irish Central reports Delaney is survived by his wife and three children, the youngest of whom was born just last Wednesday. In today's Belfast Telegraph, Delaney's mother is quoted as saying his wife "didn't want to tell him that she had the baby until he was coming back.” Delaney was 41.

—Spanish mountaineer Edurne Pasaban has ended her attempt to summit Everest without supplemental oxygen after illness, high winds, and a rescue effort slowed her team's progress. The problems started when two team members began developing altitude sickness at the South Col, according to her blog. Coupled with high winds and cold temperatures, they determined a summit bid without O2 wasn't possible. The team retreated to base camp and shortly thereafter assisted in a rescue effort of Spanish climbers on nearby Lhotse. The 48-hour ordeal was enough for the team to call it quits. "We, the Endesa Everest without O2 expedition, are coming home," Pasaban wrote. "We are exhausted, and Vitor, our weatherman, has forecast good weather for us over the next few days. It is the right decision for us all."

—Richard Parks and Steve Williams made the summit early this morning as part of their 737 Challenge. Parks, a former Wales international rugby player, and Williams, an Olympic gold medalist rower, are attempting to to climb the 7 Summits and reach the three poles (North, South, and Everest summit, which is often called the third pole) in just 7 calendar months. The pair have only Denali and Elbrus remaining.

—Outside blogger Alan Arnette is in Lukla after summiting Saturday. In his most recent post, he answers questions about his fast climbing times this year compared with past attempts and invites readers to post additional questions about his climb.

--Michael Webster

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Telluride Mountainfilm: Tim DeChristopher


Bidder 70 from Gage & Gage Productions on Vimeo.

Tim DeChristopher has been in the news since December 2008, when the former University of Utah economics student bid $1.8 million on 13 parcels of BLM land in Utah at a federal oil and gas lease auction. DeChristopher had no plans to pay—it was a spontaneous act of civil disobedience to protest the sale of land near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. The BLM took him to court; March 4, 2011, he was convicted of interfering with and making false representations at a government auction.  He'll be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison at the end of June. This weekend, he'll be attending Mountainfilm as a special guest and introducing Bidder 70, a film by Telluride residents Beth and George Gage. The 40-minute rough cut—a work in progress for obvious reasons—follows DeChristopher's rise to celebrity status among the climate change crowd. If you'll be at Mountainfilm, linger after the screening: Literary heavyweights Terry Tempest Williams and Bill McKibben will join DeChristopher onstage to discuss the current state of the climate change movement.  Read more about DeChristopher here. Here's the trailer for Bidder 70.

--Kyle Dickman


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The Gear Junkie Scoop: Outlier Supermarine Rain Shirt

By Stephen Regenold

The bike shirt from Outlier Inc., a New York company, is made of cotton, a special blend tightly woven with fibers stitched intentionally to swell when wet. The fabric, an offshoot of a relic material from the World War II era, is nearly comparable to Gore-Tex in its waterproofness and breathability, Outlier cites. One of the cotton weave's first known uses was for "immersion suits" created for jetfighter pilots who might crash in the North Sea, ostensibly shot down by Nazis. Today, Outlier revives this anachronistic cotton to sew shirts that cost upwards of $300 and appeal to bike-commuting city office workers, fashion dabblers, as well as a certain well-off niche of the hipster set.

This is all to say the Supermarine Rain Shirt, the aforementioned $300 piece, is among the strangest apparel products I have tested all year, if not ever. In use, the collared button-up fits flatteringly close and comfortable, though still a bit restrictive like all dress shirts can be. Paradoxically, rain beads on its cotton face. Wear it outside in a storm and this tuck-in shirt can do double duty for you in lieu of a raincoat.

Outlier rain shirt - photo 2 copy

Bird watchers and British survivalist nuts, it is said, are longtime fans of this special cotton weave, which uses a fine, long-strand cotton fiber. One blend, the most known, is made by Ventile Fabrics at a mill in the county constituency of Chorley, England. There are a few niche outdoor brands, including West Winds (U.K.) and Wiggy's (U.S.A.), that use Ventile in jackets and clothing. Outlier, which is based in Brooklyn, gets its "magic cotton" from a Swiss mill, and the company adds on a DWR (durable water repellent) coating to further boost its propensity to shed rain.

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Mountainfilm: If a Tree Falls


The final pre-Mountainfilm trailer we're showing is If a Tree Falls, a film from Academy Award nominated director Marshall Curry. The feature documentary tells the story of the rise and fall of the violent anarchist group the Earth Liberation Front. The trailer alone is intense. Greatly looking forward to catching this one at Mountainfilm. 

--Kyle Dickman 

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