March 5, 2013

Main summit of Broad Peak as seen from the fore cone     Photo: Jerzy Natkański

First Winter Ascent of Broad Peak

Polish team bags summit

A polish team reached the summit of Broad Peak on Tuesday afternoon, notching the first winter ascent of the main summit of the 26,401-foot peak, according to Explorer's Web. Four climbers—Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Artur Małek, and Tomasz Kowalski—set off to climb the world's 12th highest mountain as part of a five-year Himalayan mountaineering project supported by the Polish government.

"Summit captured between 17.30 to 18.00 local time," said Artur Hajzer, the leader of the five-year project, on Explorer's Web. "All four climbers of the summit team made the First Winter ascent of Broad Peak 8,047m."

Broad Peak is located in the Karakorum range in Northeastern Pakistan. British explorer W.M. Conway so named the mountain because its summit ridge is more than a mile long. It has three prominent points, and more than once climbers have turned around after mistakenly reaching a spot beneath the main summit. An Austrian team first bagged the main summit in 1957. In 1988, a Polish climber attempted the peak in winter, but mistakenly turned around after reaching a secondary summit during a storm.

The Polish team's website features several daily updates chronicling the group's ascent in words and pictures. The expedition will report more details of Tuesday's climb on Wednesday.


Yellowstone National Park     Photo: Birdiegal/Shutterstock

Yellowstone to Open Entrances Late

Sequester hits home

Yellowstone National Park will delay opening its four entrances and leave positions unfilled in order to make up $1.75 million in cuts from the sequester. In a news conference on Monday, Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk said that the park could save almost a tenth of the necessary cash by not plowing roads until a week later in the season. "We spend more than $30,000 a day plowing roads," he said. "If we can save five days because we've let the energy of the sun soften the snow, more efficient plowing, we can save more than $150,000.

One unusual side benefit of the closures may be to boost bicycle use in Yellowstone. During the gap between snowmobile season, which ends in mid-March, and the opening of the roads in mid-April, bicycles are the only wheeled vehicles that visitors can bring into the park; this year's late opening will extend the car-free season.

Via Bozeman Daily Chronicle


    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Carly Rae Jepsen Boycotts Boy Scouts Concert

Cited their anti-gay stance

Carly Rae Jepsen, proprietor of the infectious earworm known as “Call Me Maybe,” has withdrawn from a scheduled appearance at this summer’s Boy Scouts of America Jamboree in West Virginia, citing the organization’s anti-gay stance. The singer announced her decision, as is the fashion of our times, on Twitter. “As an artist who believes in equality for all people,” she said, “I will not be participating in the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree this summer.”

GLAAD’s vice president of communications Rich Ferraro released a statement soon after, declaring the organization’s support for Jepsen and commended her strong stance. “No fair-minded media outlet, corporation, or celebrity will want to partner with the BSA as long as the organization puts discrimination and anti-gay bias before the needs of young people,” he said.

In a less threatening move, the late-'90s adult contemporary soft rock group known to a few people as Train also announced that they will withdraw from the Jamboree barring a change in Boy Scouts anti-gay policy.

The Boy Scouts voted in February to uphold the organization’s long-standing ban on gay members and leaders. Major sponsors such as UPS and Intel have since withdrawn their support.


    Photo: Giorgio Montersino/Wikimedia Commons

Gaza Marathon Canceled After Women Banned

Hamas event shut down by U.N. aid agency

A good way to get your marathon canceled is to ban women from running, Hamas learned earlier today. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency canceled the Gaza marathon after Hamas rulers barred women from participating in the annual race.

“UNRWA regrets to announce that it has canceled the third Gaza marathon which was to be held on 10 April,” the agency said in a statement. “This follows the decision by the authorities in Gaza not to allow women to participate.” 

The response from Hamas—which has banned women from riding on the backs of motorcycles and men from working in hair salons—was predictable: 

"We regret this decision to cancel the marathon but we don't want men and women running together," Abdessalam Siyyam, cabinet secretary of the Hamas government, told AFP news agency.

"We did not tell UNRWA to cancel the marathon and we haven't prevented it, but we laid down some conditions: We don't want women and men mixing in the same place," he added.

The race, which included women last year, would’ve raised money for U.N. summer camps for children in Gaza.


Soldiers frequently disappeared during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.     Photo: The U.S. Army/Flickr

Soldier Found Alive After 33 Years

Soviet was living with Afghan natives

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan led to the deaths of over 15,000 men in the Red Army. Many of those missing were left behind after the war, but a commission to find the MIA soldiers found one had been living a semi-nomadic life in Herat for 33 years.

Bakhretdin Khakimov, a former Uzbek native, was injured during the early months of the invasion in 1979 and was rescued by local people. He assumed the name Sheikh Abdullah and decided not to return to Samarkand after the war. It remains unclear why Khakimov decided not to return home, but Russia's Veterans Committee, which was responsible for tracking him down, said that many fear retribution for deserting the army although many ex-Soviet republics have passed laws that would grant these men immunity.

The Veterans Committee says it will continue searching for other soldiers missing since the war. Two hundred sixty-five are still missing and Russian officials believe many took up lives in Afghanistan.

In 2006, Ukrainian solider Gennady Tseuma came forward and explained how he started a new life among the Afghans after he was taken prisoner by mujahedeen fighters. "They said: 'You have a choice. If you want to live, become a Muslim and stay here. If you don't, we'll kill you.' I agreed to cooperate," Tseuma, who adopted the name Nik Mohammed, recalled, according to NPR.

Via The Huffington Post