May 27, 2014

"Oh f*ck, I hurt bad, but I gotta get out."     Photo: DrJohnepal/YouTube

Climber Crawls Out of Crevasse

And records everything

“Pretty well f*cked" is how climber and climate scientist John All described his situation after falling 70-feet into a crevasse on Mount Himlung in the Himalayas late last week.

The Western Kentucky University professor had been in Nepal conducting climate research and was slated to climb Mount Everest until this year’s deadly avalanche forced him to consider summiting the neighboring peak instead. En route, he survived the fall, and, in true 127-Hours-fashion, immediately turned on his camera to document the predicament.   

Despite sustaining a broken arm, five broken ribs, and a dislocated shoulder, All managed to claw his way out of the crevasse after 5 hours of painful climbing. “Because my ribs were so broken in my right side, I had to do everything with just my right foot, but not the upper part of my leg, and my left leg, and then my left arm,” he told HLN’s RightThisMinute.

After making it back to his tent, All was rescued by Global Rescue the next morning and taken to a hospital in Kathmandu. After checking himself out of the ICU the following day, he took to Facebook to express his gratitude for the support he received during his rescue: “When I was shivering and bleeding and waiting for the chopper, the things I heard from the sat link kept me going.”

He posted video of his accident to YouTube the following day.

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MacAskill completes a world first "bump front flip" in Epecuen, Argentina.     Photo: Fred Murray

Danny MacAskill's New Video

Jaw-dropping moves in Argentina

Danny MacAskill is famous for his agility, balance, and urban bike riding skills. Exploding on the scene in 2009 and 2010 with wildly popular YouTube videos, MacAskill has continued to impress and, of course, teamed up with Red Bull along the way.

For his latest YouTube sensation, MacAskill and Red Bull traveled to Villa Epecuen in the Buenos Aires province of Argentina. Once a thriving tourist town, a dam break in 1985 flooded the entire place under nearly 30 feet of water.

In 2009, the water began to recede and the ruins of the once-popular town have emerged degraded and destroyed. MacAskill had dreams of riding Epecuen ever since he saw images of the old buildings starting to rise from the water. He finally had his chance early this year.

Paired with friend and director Dave Sowerby, MacAskill brings life and a handful of new tricks to the Argentine ghost town. 

More Outside MacAskill Coverage:

The standard Red Bull Player.

 

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Initial reports state that Phinney had to swerve to avoid crashing into an official race vehicle.     Photo: kristof ramon/flickr

Taylor Phinney Breaks Leg

Bad crash may end rider's season

Taylor Phinney, the golden boy of American cycling, has suffered a catastrophic setback in his quest to become the first American man to win both the U.S. time trial and road race championships in the same season. As VeloNews reports, the 23-year-old suffered a broken leg after crashing on Monday at the USA Cycling Professional Road Race championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Phinney, who rides for BMC Racing, underwent surgery on Monday evening to repair a compound fracture of the left tibia and fibula.

Although crashes in professional cycling are common occurrences, Monday's incident is drawing greater scrutiny because an official race vehicle might have been responsible for Phinney's accident. Phinney and Lucas Euser of UnitedHealthcare were on their first descent of Lookout Mountain (45 kilometers into the 166.7-kilometer race) and going "Mach 10" according Garmin-Sharp's Tom Danielson, whom they passed in their furious downhill spurt. At a sharp left turn, the pair caught up to a lead motorcycle, causing them to split off in opposite directions in a desperate attempt to avoid a collision. Euser went right, while Phinney went inside left and slammed into the guardrail.

Euser suffered only a minor elbow wound and stayed with Phinney after the crash.

"We came into that left-hander really fast, and [Taylor] caught the lead moto. The moto got these wobbles, and it took Taylor on the inside of the corner. And there was nothing he could do. When you go on the inside of that corner that fast, you're going down," Euser said.

USAC spokesman Bill Kellick wrote that "there was no contact between any rider and any vehicle," and that the ultimate cause of the crash was still being investigated. The identity of the motorcycle driver has not been released.

This is unlikely to provide solace for Phinney, who was hoping to ride in his first Tour de France this July, an auspicious debut that will likely have to be postponed for another year.

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Diet beverages could help people stick to their diets more effectively, according to a study backed by (surprise, surprise) the American Beverage Association.     Photo: Tony Alter/Flickr

Drink Diet Soda, Lose Weight?

New study says: Yep.

A new study soon to be published in the June issue of Obesity claims to have definitively proven that diet beverages do in fact help people lose weight. 

The study, simultaneously conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center and Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education, followed 303 participants on identical diet and exercise programs. The participants were divided into two groups: one that was allowed to drink diet beverages, such as diet sodas, teas and flavored waters, and one that drank only water.

Surprisingly, the diet soda group lost more weight—44 percent more, in fact. Not only did they lose more weight, the study claims, but they also showed improved cholesterol levels and reported feeling "significantly less hungry." Both groups saw reductions in overall weight and blood pressure.

"There's so much misinformation about diet beverages that isn't based on studies designed to test cause and effect, especially on the Internet," says study co-author and Anschutz chief strategy officer John C. Peters. "This research allows dieters to feel confident that low- and no-calorie sweetened beverages can play an important and helpful role as part of an effective and comprehensive weight-loss strategy."

This isn't the first time researchers have come to this conclusion. A 2013 study at the University of North Carolina came to a similar conclusion after a six-month trial, during which the diet-beverage group showed a greater likelihood of achieving meaningful weight loss.

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In March, a mudslide in Washington killed 41 people. The mudslide in Mesa County, Colorado, is said to dwarf the Washington slide in size.     Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr

Massive Mudslide in Colorado

Three missing as search continues

Residents near Mesa County, Colorado heard "a noise that sounded like a freight train," signaling a massive mudslide Sunday morning, according to officials at the Mesa County Sheriff's Office. Though the slide occurred in a remote part of the state, rescue workers and geologists continue to search for three men who went missing in the event.

The mudslide was two miles wide, four miles long, and about 250 feet deep in some places, according to Mesa County officials. "It's an understatement to say it's massive," Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey told reporters. A week of rain is thought to have triggered the slide, as a mountainside became so saturated that it collapsed into the valley below.

It swept downward with such force that it slid over a "significant" hill and back down, Hilkey said. This was a fairly remote area with few people—partly on U.S. Forest Service land and partly on private ground. The only people believed to have been in the area were three well-known locals: Clancy Nichols, 51, his son Danny Nichols, 24, and Wes Hawkins, 46. The Hawkins family owns much of the private land that the mudslide affected, and the Nichols family lives on ranches in the area. Both families are well established in the Plateau Valley area of Mesa County and related by generations of marriage between extended family.

The three men had apparently been checking on irrigation water that had been cut off in a smaller mudslide. They were still there when the second, bigger mudslide occurred.

Hilkey said there is some hope that the men may be trapped in the remote area with no cell phone coverage. A significant search continues with the help of locals (many of whom know the men), firefighters, drones, a helicopter, a hydrologist from the National Weather Service, and a geologist from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Helicopter footage showed the extent of damage the mudslide left behind:

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Helicopter en route to Everest.     Photo: Rick McCharles/Flickr

Rogue Climber Summits Everest from South

Hops Khumbu Icefall in heli

According to reports, on Friday, May 23, 40-year-old Jing Wang, owner of the Chinese gear company Toread, reached Everest's summit, along with five Sherpas, at 6:20 p.m. Wang and her teammates weren't the the first, or only, people to top out on Everest this year; as many as 51 climbers have summitted from the north side. But her ascent is the first via Nepal since an avalanche killed 16 Sherpas in mid-April. Following the accident, most expeditions packed up and left the mountain.

On a quest to tag the Seven Summits, plus both poles, in record time, Wang was originally climbing with Himalayan Experience (Himex) but was forced to obtain another permit when Himex abandoned its 2014 Everest expedition. When Wang was unable to obtain a permit from the Chinese to climb via the north side, she later managed to secure one with Excursion Himalaya.

To avoid the obvious hazards of the Khumbu Icefall, Wang recruited five climbing Sherpa and two cooks to fly over the danger zone and into Camp 2. The team is rumored to have commissioned some 20 flights to transport gear and people—at a cost of at least $2,000 per person each way, according to Alan Arnette's blog.

Sherpas fixed ropes at the Hillary Step for her summit, just a portion of the 25,000-plus feet of rope she apparently purchased before her expedition, said an official at Base Camp.

Wang may have arrived at Camp 2 Saturday, but nothing has been reported since the Nepalese government confirmed she reached the summit Friday evening. Joint Secretary Madhusudan Burlakoti said the government has not reached a decision on whether to recognize Wang's ascent by helicopter.

More from Everest 2014:

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Just one more thing New Yorkers have to deal with every day: ungodly numbers of bees.     Photo: Umkehrer/Thinkstock

16,000 Bees Removed from Manhattan Tree

"Beekeeper commissioner" saves Upper West Side

Bees may be disappearing, but as usual, New York City appears to be the exception to the rule. Yesterday, residents of Manhattan's Upper West Side had to call in the NYPD's "beekeeper commissioner" to remove 16,000 bees from a neighborhood tree.

Residents called authorities after noticing the bees in a tree on West 72nd Street near Amsterdam Avenue, according to the New York Post. The police deployed its only bee response officer, Anthony Planakis, to take care of the situation.

Planakis, a 20-year veteran of the force who colorfully tweets from @tonybees, relocated the bees to the top of the Waldorf-Astoria. Nobody was stung.

Bee infestations aren't uncommon in New York. Just last week, Planakis removed 18,000 of the insects from a Brooklyn bus stop.

Bees are nothing compared to the insect fury recently unleashed upon a Portuguese town. Not to be outdone, mosquitoes in Vila Franca de Xira formed a tornado about 1,000 feet high, swarming through the area and putting Sharknado to shame. 

Now might be the time to invest in the bug spray industry.

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Senators are working to federally recognize a trail three times as long as the Oregon Trail—which, by the way, is part of the system.     Photo: Raul Semoloni/Flickr

Congress Considers Coast-to-Coast Trail

6,800-mile hike links DE to CA

An unlikely duo is literally blazing the way for America's first coast-to-coast nonmotorized trail system. U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) forged a regional and bipartisan partnership pursuing formal designation of the American Discovery Trail (ADT)—a 6,800-mile path through 15 states—as part of the National Trails System (NTS).

In a long-discussed bill introduced in the Senate on May 15, Coons proposed amending the National Trails System Act to include the relatively niche trail currently facilitated by the nonprofit American Discovery Trail Society.

Enacted in 1968, the National Trails System includes more than 1,250 national scenic, historic, and recreational trails. The longest individual trail is the 4,600-mile, half-complete North Country National Scenic Trail linking the Great Lakes states. With federal support for the ADT, however, Americans would enjoy greater access to the NTS, which Coons says will boost economic development and interstate mobility across the board.

More important, the bill sets a precedent for building future discovery trails, creating a country connected by nature and not just interstates. 

"I'm a strong believer in the value of trails and what they represent," Coons said in a press release. "Recreation for families, friends, and individuals; tourism and economic development for local parks and towns; and the opportunity to connect communities with the outdoors."

Kirks noted that the ADT would especially boost the economics of his state. The trail splits in southern Ohio and reconnects in Colorado, with Illinois hosting both branches.

This isn't the first time senators have attempted to add the ADT into the NTS. Congress directed the National Park Service to conduct a feasibility and desirability study for the integration, which turned out positively. The bill stalled in the House despite consistent support from the Senate.

The American Discovery Trail Society recommends contacting members of Congress to see make sure this iteration of the bill passes. For those interested in supporting H.R. 3022, visit the ADTS website for sample letters and discussion points.

More Outside Coverage of Trails: 

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A baby sea turtle begins its journey across the beach.     Photo: Getty Images

Where Do Baby Turtles Go?

Scientists use solar panels to follow their path across the ocean

Baby sea turtles have it rough. We've all witnessed the little green creatures trekking across the sands of despair toward the "safety" of the big blue, and it doesn't look easy. But where do the survivors go once they make it to the ocean? Scientists have called this juvenile period the "lost years" because tracking the little tykes is nearly impossible—the radios and tracking tags used in the past were bigger than the turtles' bodies and hindered their ability to move. 

Kate Mansfield, a marine biologist at the University of Central Florida, came up with something that might change everything: solar panels, Salon.com reports.

The panels are small in comparison to just the batteries of the radios and won't weigh the tiny turtles down. For the first test, Mansfield tagged 17 turtles off the coast of Florida and put them into the Gulf Stream. During a few months of tracking the turtles, scientists discovered that they did not follow the expected path toward Portugal's Azores using outer gyre currents. Instead, many of the turtles swam to the center of the North Atlantic Gyre, where seaweed gathers. The reason? They use the green plants for shelter and food.

This research was originally published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B and is considered by some to be a "seminal paper in sea turtle biology."

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