March 11, 2014

Matthew Power at the Costa Rica Wildlife Sanctuary run by Vanessa Lizano and her family. Moin, Limon, Costa Rica.     Photo: Adam Wiseman

Matthew Power, 1974-2014

Was noted Outside writer

Yesterday we learned that Outside contributor Matthew Power, 39, died while reporting a story for Men's Journal in Uganda. He'd been on a weeklong trip, accompanying the British adventurer Levison Wood, who was attempting to walk the length of the Nile River. According to police reports from Ugandan authorities, Matt collapsed and died quickly.

In a statement released by Men's Journal, Wood and the other expedition members said they believed he succumbed to heatstroke, though a definitive cause of death won't be known until an autopsy is performed in Kampala.

Matt wrote many stories for Outside, from criticism to essays to reported pieces from far off places. His most recent was the story of Jairo Mora Sandoval, a sea turtle activist who was murdered in Costa Rica. Matt approached the story in his usual fashion: he heard the news and jumped on a plane.

Matt was a fearless and compassionate journalist who did terrific work. He was tough but treated his story subjects with the utmost respect. Journalism is worse off, and our hearts are broken.

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Steve Irwin in Australia, 2005.     Photo: Richard Giles/Wikimedia

Steve Irwin's Final Words Revealed

Cameraman shares last moments

On March 9 on Australian television, Justin Lyons, the cameraman for the late Aussie television host Steve Irwin, told the story of the stingray attack that killed the Animal Planet Star on September 4, 2006.

Lyons and Irwin were filming for a documentary called Ocean's Deadliest, which was hosted by Philippe Cousteau, Jr. and released in 2007. The two had been milking the venom from sea snakes and were looking for tiger sharks off the coast of Queensland, but had been shut down by weather on that Monday.

"Steve was like a caged tiger when he couldn't do something," Lyons told Studio 10. "So we jumped in the inflatable and off we went to look for something to do."

They quickly came upon a large stingray in chest-deep water. "This one was eight-foot wide—massive bull ray," said Lyons. "Stingrays are normally very calm; if they don't want you to be around them, they'll swim away."

After several minutes of shooting, Lyons and Irwin placed themselves on either side of the stingray so that Lyons could get a clear shot. The plan was for Irwin to swim up behind the ray and for the ray to swim out of the frame. Only that's not what happened.

"All of a sudden it propped on its front and started stabbing wildly with its tail—hundreds of strikes in a few seconds," said Lyons. "It probably thought that Steve's shadow was a tiger shark, which feeds on them very regularly."

It was only after Lyons panned his camera back toward Irwin that he noticed how much blood was in the water. Contrary to media reports at the time, Lyons said Irwin didn't pull the barb—which he estimates was a foot-long and bladelike.

"He stood up and screamed, 'It's punctured me lung," Lyons told Studio 10. "He was in extraordinary pain… He didn't know it had punctured his heart." Lyons and the zodiac crew helped Irwin back aboard and raced for the mothership, but it was too late to save their friend, who quickly bled out. "He just sort of looked up at me calmly and said, 'I'm dying.' And that was the last thing he said."

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After a wild finish, Seavey beat out Zirkle and his father, Mitch, for the 2014 title.     Photo: Loren Holmes/Alaska Dispatch

Dramatic Iditarod Finish

Shocking come-from-behind victory

Just after 4 a.m. today in Nome, Alaska, Dallas Seavey crossed the finish line at the 2014 Iditarod dogsled race and wondered why so many people had stuck around to see the third-place finisher. Seavey soon realized he had unknowingly passed leaders Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle sometime during the night. He won this year's race in a record 8 days, 13 hours, 4 minutes, and 19 seconds. A fitting end to one of the most challenging races in Iditarod history, Seavey beat out King, Zirkle, and his father, Mitch, for his second Iditarod victory.

King started the final 77-mile stage nearly an hour in front of Zirkle and some three hours in front of Seavey. But when a storm hit on Monday night, King’s sled was blown into a pile of driftwood roughly 26 miles from the finish. He was able to gather his team, but the dogs refused to run. He waited there in the storm for more than two hours before waving down a snowmobile and scratching from the race.

Zirkle decided to stop at a safety checkpoint 22 miles from the finish line. She had passed King but had no idea. With a hurting dog team and frostbit hands, Zirkle stopped to wait out the weather for more than two hours.

Meanwhile, Seavey chose to push his young team through the storm for experience, thinking of years to come. He sped through the safety checkpoint as the rested Zirkle watched him go by.

"I wasn't in a big hurry. I was racing for third," Seavey said. "I was telling my dogs, 'We've done our work here. You guys have done a good job. Let's go home.'" The champ reportedly even stopped to take a few selfies as the sun went down.

Zirkle left the safety checkpoint 19 minutes after she watched Seavey go by. She crossed the finish line just two minutes behind him. It was Zirkle's third consecutive second-place finish after losing to Seavey in 2012 and his father, Mitch, in 2013.

Seavey takes home a $50,000 check and a new truck for his first-place finish.

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The Lorax has graduated from kindergarten classrooms to the Senate floor.     Photo: DogFog/Flickr

Senate Pulls Climate All-Nighter

Officials quote from "The Lorax"

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not." —Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

At an unusual hour and in an unusual place, the closing words of Dr. Seuss' environmentalist manifesto rang out. The setting wasn't a kindergarten classroom, but rather the Senate chambers on Capitol Hill, and the speaker was Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey.

Markey's testimony, which took place just after 11 p.m. EST, was only part of a night where 28 Democratic senators camped out for 14 hours to orate about climate change and attempt to draw attention to the topic.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) helped organize the event. Despite speaking about climate change every week that the Senate has been in session for the past two years, his 60 speeches about the issue have received little attention.

The Democrats seem to have taken a page from their rival across the aisle, Ted Cruz, who notably stumped for 21 hours last September to criticize the Affordable Care Act. Cruz also cited Seuss, but opted for the less controversial Green Eggs and Ham.

Despite a shared love of Dr. Seuss, however, Democrats couldn't entice Republicans to attend their global warming powwow, which ended shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday.

"They'll have an audience of themselves, so I hope they enjoy it," said Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) before leaving for the night. "Maybe if you keep saying it's real, people will believe it. Kind of interesting that this is happening during the cold spell that hasn't been much fun in Oklahoma."

Some Democratic senators facing close reelection campaigns in swing states, such as Louisiana's Mary Landrieu and Alaska's Mark Begich, steered clear of the event as well.

Monday's climate congregation was only the 36th time the Senate has pulled an all-nighter, which works out to about once every six years.

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The supervising producer for Teton Gravity Research suffered serious injuries after he was swept up by an avalanche in Grand Teton National Park (shown here) on Sunday.     Photo: jaypetersen/Getty Images

TGR Producer Buried in Avalanche

Injured by Jackson Hole silde

Teton Gravity Research supervising producer Greg Epstein was caught in an avalanche and seriously injured Sunday afternoon while skiing in Grand Teton National Park’s backcountry.   

Epstein, 43, was about to drop into one of the Air Force chutes near Jackson Hole Mountain Resort when the fracture occurred. The slide swept him more than 1,000 feet down the mountain, according to a press release. His two companions were not injured. 

Jackson Hole Ski Patrol arrived at the scene about an hour after the incident, where they stabilized Epstein and transported him 400 feet to the bottom of the chutes. From there, he was airlifted to the hospital. 

Epstein, a well-known photographer, and his companions had already made one backcountry run that day. All three are expert skiers with extensive knowledge of the area, and each was carrying the proper safety equipment, including beacons and probes.

It’s been an especially dangerous avalanche season across the West. A backcountry skier died in an avalanche in southern Colorado on Tuesday, raising the number of people killed by slides this winter to 19.

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Scuba divers in an underwater cavern.     Photo: PaulVinten/Getty Images

Mysterious Chilean Caves Discovered

Hold clues to continent formation

On the remote Chilean island of Diego de Almagro, scientists located a sprawling network of 20 underground limestone caves. In the dark depths they found small animal bones, wall paintings, and what could be clues to how the continents formed.

Inside the caves, some of which are 160 feet deep, Chilean and French researchers discovered rock types normally found in more temperate zones, a huge clue to how the continents split apart.

"You can make models of areas where the continents broke off, and this could be one of those spots," speleologist Natalia Morata told reporters.

Scientists had to rappel and scuba dive to enter the caves. Only one-third of the area has been explored so far.

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