January 18, 2012

Tarahumara woman     Photo: eflon/flickr

Drought, Famine Strike Tarahumara

Famed indigenous runners in need of aid

The Mexican Red Cross is sending emergency food aid to the indigenous Tarahumara people in northern Mexico after reports of crippling drought, widespread famine, and rumored suicide. Over the weekend, a local official posted a video on YouTube claiming that 50 Tarahumara had commited suicide after their crops failed. The Tarahumara are known for their their long-distance running ability and were featured in barefoot runner Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run. The regional Chihuahua government denied the reported suicides but acknowledged a serious food shortage as a result of severe drought and freezing temperatures. The Reverend Guadalupe Gasca, a Jesuit priest working in the area, said that recent heavy logging in the once-forested mountains might play a role in the drought. "There has always been hunger in these hills: There have always been climate cycles, but these cycles are getting more frequent and more severe," he said.

Read more at the BBC


Competitor in the 2005 Atlantic rowing race

Competitor in the 2005 Atlantic rowing race     Photo: Arjayay/Wikimedia

Man Breaks Solo Atlantic Rowing Record

Brown crossed to Barbados in 40 days

British rower Andrew Brown on Sunday established a new world record for crossing the Atlantic alone, traveling 3,000 miles from the Canary Islands to Barbados in 40 days and 9 hours. Brown, 26, bettered Emmanuel Coindre's 2004 solo record by two full days. His attempt was nearly derailed by cloudy skies that kept his solar-powered water filter from functioning, forcing him to ration water. Brown finished only 30 minutes behind a two-man boat that won the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Nine teams of 17 teams completed the crossing.

Read more at Explorers Web


Tina Maze

Tina Maze     Photo: Christian Jansky/Wikimedia

Controversy Brews Over Skiers' Underwear

Compression suits cut wind resistance

A controversy over underwear has ski racers and officials up in arms following Slovenian skier Tina Maze's second-place run in a recent World Cup super-g while wearing a plastic compression suit. The International Ski Federation has yet to decide whether the new underwear—full-body composit plastic suits that may reduce wind drag at high speeds—violate rules about underwear moisture permeability. The controversy exploded after the Swiss ski federation challenged Maze's runner-up finish in January 8. The FIS ruled that Maze's suit was acceptable, but recommended that women not wear similiar underwear for unspecified health reasons and said that men wearing plastic underwear would be disqualified. U.S. Ski Team coach Sasha Rearick expressed concern that the rules remain unclear. "Is it the suits themselves? There are a lot of question marks,” he said. Maze appeared at a race this weekend with the words “Not your business” written across her sports bra.

Read more at The New York Times


Cerro Torre

Cerro Torre     Photo: Mazzaliarmadi.it/Flickr

Cerro Torre Climbed by "Fair Means"

Kruk, Kennedy skip Compressor bolts

American climbers Hayden Kennedy and Canadian Jason Kruk made the first "fair means" ascent of the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre's southeast ridge on Monday in Patagonia. The pair climbed the 10,262-foot peak without using any of the 450 bolts placed by first acensionist Cesare Maestri in 1970. Alpinist Colin Haley, who watched the pair through a camera zoom lens, estimated that the climbers took approximately 13 hours to climb from their bivy on the shoulder of the mountain to the summit. Maestri's use of a gas-powered compressor to drill a bolt ladder up the route's final two pitches—a decision that significantly reduced the difficulty of the climb—has long been controversial.

Read more at Rock and Ice


Keystone XL protest

Keystone XL protest     Photo: ElvertBarnes/Flickr

State Dept. Expected to Nix Keystone XL

Obama admin. will reject pipeline project

The U.S. Department of State is today expected to reject Trans Canada's bid to proceed with the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a proposed 2,000-mile project that would carry oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries along the Gulf coast. In November, the Obama administration pushed a ruling to early 2013 in an effort to diffuse any political fallout until after the presidential elections. Congress later demanded that a decision be made within 60 days, prompting today's anticipated ruling. The State department will consider alternative routes for the pipeline that avoid environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska.

Read more at Bloomberg