March 29, 2013


Skimo Elk Mountain Grand Traverse Begins

Athletes brave avalanche conditions

Tonight at midnight, 180 teams of skiers will set out from the base of Crested Butte Mountain in Crested Butte, Colorado, for a 40-mile traverse along an old 1880s mail route through the Elk Mountains. Now in its 16th year, the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse is known for its difficulty: 7,800 feet of vertical gain, serious backcountry strategizing, and a solid 10+ hours of (ideally) continuous forward (and uphill and downhill) motion. The fastest teams will finish the descent down Aspen Mountain somewhere in the range of seven to eight hours. The rest could be out there for up to sixteen.  

Though other backcountry touring races have certainly popped up around the world, the Grand Traverse is for the most part incomparable in terms of rigor and remoteness. In order to ensure that the adrenaline-fueled participants aren't entering the backcountry unprepared, organizers require a hefty mandatory gear list. Here's a sampling of what's required along the largely self-supported course:

Apart from the obvious—skis, poles, boots, skins—G.T. racers must carry a stove, pot, survival shelter, altimeter, compass, course map, first-aid and repair kit, SPOT tracker, beacon, shovel, probe; enough food and water for a long, cold haul; and a full set of extra layers.

Follow Outside editor Meaghen Brown's progress along the course.


    Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Cali Dog Rescues Trapped Homeless Man

Led his owner to the victim

Mole, a mixed German Shepherd from California, became a hero on Monday, when he pulled a classic “Lassie” and rescued a dehydrated homeless man from a mountain. Ramon Llamas and his dog, were walking along Mount Rubidoux in Riverside, when Mole began tugging at his owner’s leg. “He kept tugging at my pant and whining, pulling me,” Llamas said.

Mole led Llamas to the prostrate body of a 44-year-old homeless man name Paul, trapped under rocks and severely dehydrated. Llamas and several other hikers comforted the man and provided him with water until rescuers could arrive.

Rescue workers estimated that Paul may have been trapped there as long as 8 days, flickering in and out of consciousness. “He’d be dead if it wasn’t for that dog,” one paramedic told Fox News.



Bees     Photo: vagawi/Flickr

Bee Deaths On the Rise

As many as 50 percent of hives dead

A mystery disease that has been ravaging the world's bees for the better part of a decade has surged in the last year, killing as many as 50 percent of hives. Now, beekeepers and some researchers say a new type of pesticide could be to blame.

A study carried out by scientists from the University of Dundee found that if bees were exposed to neonicotinoids, a class of pesticide used to kill bugs that prey on certain crops, they experienced the insect equivalent of an epileptic seizure.

Besides diminished honey production, the bee deaths could be a problem for farmers, who depend on the insects to pollinate their crops. Farmers in California have spent up to $200 per hive—20 times the normal price—to rent bees.

Via New York Times