June 28, 2011
Latok peaks and the Ogre's Thumb

Latok peaks and the Ogre's Thumb     Photo: Ben Tubby/Flickr

First Ascent of Latok III West Face

Third time's a charm for embattled Russian team

A team of four Russian alpinists has recorded the first West-Face ascent of Pakistan's 22,798-foot Latok III.  Alexander Odintsov, Evgeny Dmitrienko, Ivan Dozhdev, and Alex Lonchinsky spent 15 days climbing capsule-style on the 5,580-foot face, in Pakistan's Karkoram range, finally topping out on June 25. The ascent is the culmination of 11 years of work by Odintsov, whose previous bids at climbing the line ended in accidents. In 2000, Odintsov's team was forced to retreat after several members were hurt from rockfall and an avalanche. In 2001, Odintsov returned with a new crew, but was turned back when a falling rock cut climber Igor Barikhin's rope as he was ascending, killing him. The West Face is the ninth out of ten new routes that Odintsov plans to climb as part of his ongoing Big Walls of the World project.

Read more at the British Mountaineering Council


Black-tipped shark

Black-tipped shark     Photo: Courtesy of Greyloch/Flickr

Shark Hurdles Surfer

Photographer captures shark mid air, above surfer.

A four-foot shark exploded out of the water off New Smyrna Beach in St. Petersburg, Florida, twisted through the air, and cleared an unidentified surfer before splashing back into the Gulf. The shark was most likely a spinner shark or a black-tipped shark, and was probably trying to catch a fish. It’s not uncommon for sharks to go airborn when they lunge at a fish, even when surfers are in the water, according Eric Hovland of the Florida Aquarium. But actually clearing a human is somewhat more unusual. Although this shark wasn't hunting the surfer, Florida has seen at least 170 shark attacks since 2000, most of which were on “surface recreationists."

Read more at WTSP 10 News


Kayaker in Rapids

Kayaker in Rapids     Photo: Colmsurf/Flickr

Jackson Dominates Kayak Champs

Teen wins three golds and a bronze

Dane Jackson, the 17-year-old kayaking phenom, collected a bronze medal and three golds at the International Canoe Federation Freestyle World Championships, which ended Sunday. Jackson won gold in the Kayak, Canoe, and Squirt competitions, and took bronze in the Open Canoe category. Notably, he is the only person ever to enter all four disiplines, never mind make the podium in each. Jackson comes from a storied paddling family: his father Eric is himself a four-time world champion and owner of Tennessee-based Jackson Kayak. “Dane has a better understanding of how a boat moves on water—any boat on any water—but until now he hasn’t cared about scoring points but now that he’s put his mind to it, he’s going to be tough to beat,” his U.S. teammate Clay Wright, says. In case it wasn't clear that Dane is headed toward family supremacy, Eric was a surprise non qualifier for the men's freestyle finals. Click here for full results.


Read more at Paddling Life



Whales     Photo: Isaac Kohane/Flickr

Eskimo Whaling Exec Charged with Theft

Commission head accused of embezzling $100K

On Monday, a federal grand jury in Anchorage indicted Teresa Judkins, former chief executive of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, on charges of embezzling more than $100,000. The panel brought two counts of "theft, fraud, and misapplication from an organization receiving federal funds," based on allegations that Judkins used commission money for personal air travel and the purchase of a snowmobile. Judkins served as chief executive of the commission from 2007 until 2008, when she was fired. The AEWC opposes commerical whaling in Alaska but oversees traditional subsistence whaling and represents native whalers before the International Whaling Commission. Hunting whales for traditional use is legal for Alaska natives but is banned under the Marine Mammal Protection Act for non-native residents.

Read more at Reuters


    Photo: Rubbermaid Products/Flickr

Guys: BPA May Make You Less Sexy

Water-bottle chemical could impede spatial ability

BPA (bisphenol-A), a toxic compound used in plastic production, has been linked to breast cancer, early puberty, and infertility. Now, a study on deer mice released Monday by the University of Missouri found that BPA exposure makes male mice less attractive to female mice. Male deer mice exposed to BPA through their mother's womb and tested in a maze showed a loss of spatial learning abilities—a male dominant trait—appearing less masculine and less attractive to females. BPA-exposed males were rejected two to one by both BPA-exposed and BPA-clean females. The catch: though humans and deer mice are biologically quite different, researchers said the study showed that "developmental exposure to BPA compromises cognitive abilities and behaviors essential for males to reproduce successfully," possibly having implications for other species, including humans. So guys, if you're having trouble in the dating game, it might be a good idea to check your water bottles and Tupperware to make sure they're BPA free.

Read more at Fast Company