June 28, 2013
Nanga Parbat

Nanga Parbat     Photo: Guilhem Vellut/Flickr

Pakistan Orders Cliimbers Off Nanga Parbat

In wake of massacre

Following the terrorist attack on Nanga Parbat in which gummen attacked and killed 10 foreign tourists, Pakistan has suspended all mountaineering expeditions on the mountain. Fifty to fifty-five climbers currently on the mountain have been asked to leave.

“[The murdered climbers] were our guests and what we did with them while they were sleeping in their tents is a matter of disgrace for us all,” Aftabur Rehman Rana, president of the Sustainable Tourism Foundation of Pakistan told the International Business Times. “This is not what Islam has taught us … The killing of foreign climbers on the way to Nanga Parbat Diamer Base Camp will have far reaching negative impacts on the already lifeless tourism industry of Pakistan.”

The Gilgit-Baltistan region where Nanga Parbat is located became a tourist hub in the 1970s, as people travelled on the Asia Overland Route to reach it. In recent years, the region has remained a bright spot amid the violence. Trekking companies are already registering cancellations, and the trend threatens to derail the region's economy which depends on the 15,000 to 20,000 adventure tourists who visit each summer.


Google Street View Trekker     Photo: Courtesy of Google

Google Street View Trekker Now On Loan

Borrow it for your next expedition

Looking for the perfect camera for your next adventure? Google will lend you a pretty nice one, for free, provided your destination is worthy of Street View. The company announced Thursday that it will start lending its mobile "Trekker" cam, unveiled last summer, to groups deemed worthy. (Previously, the trekker has been solely operated by employees or hand-selected partners.)

From the public application form:

If you represent an organization such as a tourism board, non-profit, government agency, university or research group that would like to take photos with the Trekker for future inclusion on Google Maps, please fill out this form. Tell us more about your proposed locations and upcoming trips, and we’ll get back to you if/when there’s an opportunity for us to partner with you on a Trekker collection. Thanks!

The form also asks if you might need "sponsorship" to complete the project—take note, impoverished explorers.


    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Rare Bird Sighted, Flies Into Turbine

UK bird watchers heartbroken

The last time the white-throated needletale was spotted in the United Kingdom, the U.S. was about to invade Iraq for the first time, so when the rare bird was sighted in the Herbrides, a group of some 40 bird watchers hurried to the region to catch a glimpse.

The group located the bird and managed to observe it for a joyful two hours before watching in horror as it flew into a wind turbine.

“It was really beautiful when it was flying around, graceful and with such speed.” said John Marchant, who made the trip from Norfolk. “To suddenly see it fly into a turbine and fall out the sky was terrible.” The group rushed to the bird’s aid but soon saw that it was beyond their help.

The neddletail, believed to be thousands of miles of course from its traditional migratory pattern, was first spotted in Northumberland and followed north to the Isle of Harris. "Why it is ended up in Harris is a bit of a mystery,” said a spokesman for Bird Guides. “It should be well away in Siberia, Australia or Japan.”


With the Oprah interview coming up, and new leaks every day, what new Lance Armstrong details will come to light this week? And what does it all mean?     Photo: Grayson Schaffer

Armstrong Still Considers Himself Tour Winner

Says it was impossible to win the Tour clean

In an interview with Le Monde, Lance Armstrong said that it was "impossible" to win the Tour de France at the height of the EPO era without doping and that he still considers himself the rightful winner of his seven Tour titles.

“The Tour de France? No. Impossible to win without doping because the Tour is an endurance event where oxygen is decisive,” he told Le Monde.“To take one example, EPO will not help a sprinter to win a 100m but it will be decisive for a 10,000m runner. It’s obvious.”

Immediately after the interview broke, a host of current pros berated Armstrong for his comments, claiming he was seeking to steal attention ahead of the Tour and undermining the current "clean" generation of riders.

Taking to Twitter, Armstrong clarified his comments, reiterating that he was referring principally to era in which he raced. “99-05. I was clear with Stephane Mandard (the sports editor of Le Monde) on this. Today? I have no idea. I’m hopeful it’s possible,” he wrote.

Five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault responded angrily to Armstrong's comments, and laughed at the idea that doping is a cultural problem in the sport given the lack of positives among young riders (despite the fact that many experts believe a conservative doping program is undetectable with today's tests).

“Stop saying it’s cultural for God’s sake. It’s impossible. There are plenty of young riders who’ve had dope tests and not tested positive … It’s constant suspicion," Hinault told BFM TV.

UCI President Pat McQuaid, who is regularly criticized for abetting Armstrong's doping and taking bribes to cover positives results, dismissed Armstrong and said the sport is looking forward, not back. “Armstrong’s views and opinions are shaped by his own behavior and time in the peloton. Cycling has now moved on,” McQuaid said.


A marijuana grow in Denver     Photo: Coleen Whitfield

Study: Pot Killing Rare Fishers in the Sierra Nevada

Tracked animals with radio collars

Poisons meant to keep grazing animals away from pot grows in California's Sierra National Forest are wreaking havoc on the fisher, a rare weasel-like animal, researchers say. In a paper published this week in Conservation Letters, a team of veterinary scientists for the University of California-Davis measured the survival rates of 46 adult female fishers and compared them against the location of poison-laden growing sites that had been discovered throughout the area.

The researchers found that illegal grows were the most likely cause of poisoning, as very few of the radio-collared animals were observed venturing into cities or agricultural areas where they would have been likely to encounter the chemicals.

“By increasing the number of animals that die from supposedly natural causes, these pesticides may be tipping the balance of recovery for fishers,” lead author Craig Thompson said in a statement. The animals are candidates for listing under the federal Endangered Species act, as well as under California and Oregon state statutes.

Read Damon Tabor's feature story on the pot wars in Mendocino County