April 29, 2013

The pink abalone is protected by law.     Photo: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

3 Abalone Divers Killed Over Weekend

Drowned off Northern California

Three abalone divers died in separate accidents over the weekend in Northern California. An abnormally low tide drew divers to the beaches where they were snagged by powerful rip currents.

"The surf was absolutely pounding on us," tactical flight officer and Sonoma County sheriff's Deputy Henri Boustany told the Press Democrat. Six state park officers and lifeguards were on duty along 40 miles off Sonoma County's coastline and came to the rescue of several divers.

The first victim, a 66-year-old retired firefighter, was found dead Saturday afternoon off of Shell Beach several feet below the surface. On Sunday morning, a 36-year-old San Francisco diver was pulled to shore after getting caught in a rip tide, but he couldn't be revived. And later Sunday morning, another diver was found dead snagged on rocks 15 feet below the water.

"It is the busiest we've been in that short amount of time with that many horrible outcomes," 12-year sheriff's helicopter pilot Paul Bradley said.



Mount Everest.    

Fight Breaks Out on Everest

Sherpas and Moro team clash

A fight between a group of Sherpas and the alpine team of Simone Moro, Ueli Steck, and Jonathan Griffith took place near Camp III and at Camp II on Mount Everest this weekend. Initial reports about the kicking, punching, rock-throwing skirmish have come from Moro's Web site and articles filed by European news outlets.

A quick summary of Moro's version of events: While the Sherpas were fixing ropes up to Camp III, the alpine team stepped over their ropes. The Sherpas said Steck or Griffith had kicked ice down on a member of their team. (Moro said in the report this was unlikely.) A confrontation ensued between the alpine team and a lead Sherpa, with the Sherpas descending to Camp II as a sign of protest. Steck helped fix ropes to Camp III as a sign of goodwill after the Sherpas left. When Steck, Moro, and Griffith descended to Camp II, a group of 100 Sherpas confronted them, and then kicked, punched, and threw rocks at them. A group of Western climbers stepped in and broke up the fight.

Officials have reportedly led three Sherpas off the mountain as part of an investigation. At least one report said that a Swiss national, possibly Steck, left the mountain and will fly home. Moro, Steck, and Griffith had planned to climb a new route up Everest without the aid of supplemental oxygen.

Initial reports about what happens on Everest are often murky or incorrect when first filed. Stay tuned to Outside as more details emerge, and as the Everest 2013 season unfolds.

Read the full report at SimoneMoro.com


    Photo: Ben Tubby

Chinese Climber Presumed Dead on Makalu

Fell while descending from summit

A Chinese climber is missing and presumed dead after suffering a fall while descending from the summit of Makalu, the world's fifth-highest peak. According to Explorersweb, Xiangliang Liu was climbing with an international expedition organized by Seven Summits when he plunged down a snow-covered face off the mountain's Northwest Ridge Standard route.

Seven Summits owner Mingma Sherpa told Agence France-Presse that four Sherpas had searched for Liu on Wednesday and Thursday, and that his company had asked for a helicopter to search for the 46-year-old mountaineer when that proved unsuccessful.

"A week has passed now and the chances of his survival are very slim," Mingma Sherpa said.


    Photo: Andre Dobroskok via Shutterstock

Tasman Sea Kayaker Turns Back

Will resume after fixing waterlogged phone

After only three days at sea, New Zealand kayaker Scott Donaldson has hit a major snag in his bid to become the first to paddle the Tasman Sea solo. After a leaky dry bag ruined his satellite phone, he was forced to turn into Australia’s Port Macquarie on Saturday night. 

Approaching a large current and without necessary weather or support information, he decided to turn into port before things got dicey. He posted on his website that a new phone is on the way and he hopes to resume his trip in three to four days.

Phone troubles also delayed the start of his trip from Wednesday to Thursday last week.

Donaldson says his the start of his expedition has been otherwise enjoyable, and wrote after a day at Port Macquarie without money or a change of clothes, “I felt less lost at sea!”


    Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Hunt Continues For British Captain

Fell overboard in the Pacific

The search continues for a British yacht captain who fell overboard in high seas 500 miles west of the Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. The Marine Rescue Coordination Center reported the incident to the U.S. Coast Guard around noon on Saturday. They also reported the presence of a second sailor who had remained on board but did not have the necessary skills to operate the 38-foot vessel.

The sailor was successfully retrieved by a Navy helicopter, but the captain remains missing and is now feared dead.

The Coast Guard currently has two crews working in alternating shifts aboard an HC-130 Hercules aircraft, with one resting at Wake Island while the other combs the area. Neither the names of the sailors nor the purpose of their voyage have been released.