The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Exploration

16-Year-Old Climber Encourages Kids to Find Their Own Everest

Skora5Romero near his home in Big Bear Lake, California. Photo: Jennifer Briggs

What do you do when you’re 15 years old and you’ve already climbed the highest mountain on every continent? If you’re Jordan Romero, you launch a nationwide campaign to scale the tallest summits in all 50 states—and inspire other kids to chase their own dreams.

Last December, Jordan became the youngest person to climb the Seven Summits when he topped out on Antarctica’s Mount Vinson Massif. It was the end of a six-year quest that had started when he summited Mount Kilimanjaro—at 10. But for Jordan’s Find Your Own Everest (FYE) tour, which launched this summer in New England, it’s only the beginning.

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Powering Public Lands: Government Puts Solar Energy in the Spotlight

Maps_combo_sezLeft: BLM land open to solar development before 2011; right: BLM's current 17 solar energy zone. Maps: NRDC

Wind, solar, geothermal and other so-called green energy sources might not spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but they're far from benign.

Ask any bird conservationist what she or he thinks of wind farms and you might get a less-than-glowing response. Back in 2005, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency put migratory bird mortality due to wind turbines somewhere around 440,000 each year. And solar power developers made no friends among the conservation world when the Ivanpah solar project in Southern California and adjacent to the Mojave Desert Preserve butted up against the endangered desert tortoise. The project was stalled as many hundreds of the reptiles were relocated.

"For a couple of years I was basically in cardiac arrest," says Ileene Andrerson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Because of the amount of land to be developed [for renewable energy] and the piecemeal approach."

Anderson is referring to the years following the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, during which companies filed hundreds of project applications for mostly solar but also wind projects on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which had $350 million in ARRA funds with which it was mandated to "restore landscapes and habitat, spur renewable energy development on public lands, and create jobs."

That looks great on paper, but environmental groups quickly raised red flags over where the renewable energy developments would be sited and what oversight (or lack thereof) would be placed on them. This effectively pitted greens against greens in what looked like a counterproductive, senseless battle. But Bobby McEnaney, land policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, contends that the efforts the NRDC and similar groups have made to ensure renewable energy is developed with minimal negative impacts on wildlife, recreation access and cultural resources were rooted in lessons learned from decades of oil and gas development on public lands.

"Solar and wind energy developers would probably prefer the laissez-faire approach, which is what oil and gas developers have had on BLM land," McEnaney says. "But two wrongs don’t make a right."

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In Case You Missed It: Watch Felix Baumgartner's Record-Breaking Free Fall

On Sunday, Felix Baumgartner successfully completed a jump from 24 miles above the earth, free falling at a speed of more than 700 miles per hour before landing safely on the ground. In case you missed the livestream of his feat, here are three videos that show you what happened. The video above shows the entire jump. If you didn't see the event live online, watch it. The video immediately below shows a one-minute-and-30-second version of the jump from Red Bull. It includes all of the spine-tingling moments packed into a tight edit, including Baumgartner's leap from the capsule and his out-of-control, end-over-end spin in the earth's upper atmosphere. The last video shows a re-creation of the jump using legos. No further explanation should be needed for you to click play on it.

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Felix Baumgartner's Record-Breaking Free Fall, by the Numbers

P-20121014-00069_NewsOn solid ground. Photo: Red Bull

On Sunday at 11:31 a.m. EST, 43-year-old Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner lifted off in a capsule attached to a 55-story balloon made of plastic one-tenth the thickness of a sandwich bag and floated roughly 24 miles into the air so that he could jump. "One of the most exciting moments was standing out on top of the world, 30 seconds before stepping off," Baumgartner said.

After Baumgartner stepped off, he added multiple extreme records to his resume. Here are the details of his slow rise and supersonic fall, focusing on the numbers.

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Expedition Watch: A Two-Horse Journey From Canada to Brazil

On July 8, 25-year-old journalist Filipe Leite straddled one of his two horses and rode out of the Calgary Stampede under the escort of the Royal Mounted Police to start a 10,000-mile, two-year-long, 12-country journey that he hopes will end on his family’s ranch in Brazil. To understand the motivations for the cowboy's quest, it helps to start with his birth. His father, a cowboy, named him Filipe because it means friend of horses in Portuguese. He rode a horse before he could walk. As a little boy, his father told him the story of Aime Tschiffely, a Swiss schoolteacher who decided to ride from Argentina to New York City in 1925 on a pair of horses. Tschiffely rode over 16,000-foot mountain ranges, down into humid tropical jungles, and slept in Indian villages on his way through Central America. He didn't make it to New York City, but landed in Washington, D.C., where he was greeted at the White House by President Calvin Coolidge in 1928. “Of high adventures, hairbreath escapes, and deeds of daring, there were few; yet in all the annals of exploration I doubt if any traveler, not excepting Marco Polo himself, had more leisure than I to see and understand the people, the animals, and plant life of the countries traversed,” said Tschiffely in an article about the expedition.

Leite said Tschiffely's journey inspired him. The Brazilian hopes to chronicle his expedition in a documentary. For now, he is resting in Delta, Colorado, roughly 1,000 miles from his start in Canada. He estimates it will take him another a year and nine months of riding before he arrives home at his family’s ranch in the small town of Espirito Santo do Pinhal, Brazil. “My horses will be retired there where they will enjoy fresh water and green grass for the rest of their days,” says Leite. “I'm giving them to my little sister. She's six years old now and will spoil them to death.”

We caught up with the cowboy by email to find out a bit more about his journey.

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