Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc     Photo: David Baum

Avalanche Kills Two on Mont Blanc de Tacul

One survives

Two Italian mountain climbers were killed and another injured Tuesday by an avalanche in the French Alps. The accident occurred at 4 a.m. on Mont Blanc de Tacul, a 14,000-foot peak that is a popular route to the summit of Mont Blanc.

Bad weather prevented rescuers from initially using helicopters to reach the accident, but more than 60 search and rescue crew members eventually took part in the operation along with two helicopters and two sniffer dog teams. The injured climber, an Italian mountain guide, was evacuated to a nearby hospital.

The route to Mont Blanc can be prone to avalanches due to its steep slope, and climbers generally avoid the area after heavy snow. About a week had passed since the last heavy snowfall, Stuart Macdonald, a British mountain guide and director of the Avalanche Academy in Chamonix, told the Associated Press

Two other climbers were found dead in a seperate incident on Tuesday, 80 miles southwest of the accident on Roche de la Muzelleis, a mountain in the Ecrins. It remains unclear how they died.


Photo: Caitriana/Flickr

Beijing Man Builds Apartment-Top Mountain

Will be torn down in two weeks

Chinese authorities have given a Beijing resident 15 days to tear down an artificial "mountain" he built illegally on top of a high-rise apartment block. Neighbors say workers hired by Zhang Biqing, the head of a traditional medicine company, built the 8,600-square-foot rock, tree, and bush-covered structure mostly at night, brushing aside their complaints that the additions were damaging the building's structural integrity.

"He was very arrogant," one neighbor, who asked not to be named, told CNN. "He could care less about my complaints."

Local urban management officials finally cracked down on the mountain after Chinese publications ran images of the structure on their front pages on Monday. Speaking to the Beijing Times the mountain's creator said he would comply with the order, but said that authorities were overreacting in categorizing his "ornamental garden" as a villa.


Photo: Courtesy of Martin Aircraft Company Limited

First "Practical Jetpack" Approved for Tests

In development for 30 years

The creators of the world's first "practical jetpack" have been given the go-ahead to perform test flights by New Zealand aviation authorities. Despite the name, the Martin Jetpack doesn't actually use jets to fly, instead hovering, helicopter-like, with the aid of two large ducted fans. The current prototype, dubbed the P12, has a flight range of slightly under 19 miles, and can stay aloft for up to half an hour.

"For us it's a very important step because it moves it out of what I call a dream into something which I believe we're now in a position to commercialise and take forward very quickly,” said Inventor Glenn Martin.

Martin has been developing the jetpack for 30 years, with the goal of eventually creating a craft that would be easy to control and could mimic the futuristic contraptions he saw on shows like Lost in Space. The machine is expected to retail for between $150,000 and $250,000.

Via The Independent