May 7, 2013

    Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Volcano Eruption Kills 5 Climbers in the Philippines

Four Germans were scaling Mount Mayon with a guide

A volcano eruption on Mount Mayon in the Philippines killed four German climbers and their guide, a Filipino national, early Tuesday. At least seven other climbers were injured in the eruption, which lasted roughly 73 seconds. One guide told local reporters that the falling rocks and debris that resulted from the blast likely killed the group.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology called the Mayon eruption a “small phreatic event” and said that the alert level would not be raised. However, they have advised people to stay clear of the mountain, as small steam and ash ejections could still occur.

This was Mount Mayon’s 48th eruption since record keeping began. The next most recent took place in 2009, when tens of thousands of people were forced to evacuate the area.


    Photo: bugeaters

Forest Service to Add Firefighting Planes

If business protest doesn't derail plans

The Forest Service has announced plans to nearly double the size of its fleet of firefighting tanker planes over the next five years—if a dispute with a company doesn't hold them up.

According to The Gazette, the agency would award $158 million in contracts for seven new tankers to supplement the eight planes of its "legacy" fleet, many of which date back to the Korean War. The new tankers would be turbine-powered and would have to be capable of cruising at speeds upward of 345 miles per hour with a load of at least 3,000 gallons.

However, one tanker company that was not awarded a contract, Neptune Aviation, said that it planned to appeal the agency's decision. "First of all, we understand that there is a need to protect lives and property," said Dan Snyder, Neptune's COO. "But we also have to support an organization." Should the company file a protest, the Government Accountability Office would have to rule on it within 100 days.

The Forest Service originally planned to add seven tankers last year, but a similar protest by two other companies scuttled its plans.


Climbers at Lhotse.     Photo: Garrett Madison

A Third Sherpa Dies on Everest

Fell on the Lhotse Face

Reports are coming in that a Sherpa from Seven Summits Treks died after tumbling down the icy and hard-packed Lhotse Face. While the details are still unclear, it appears that he wasn't clipped into his rope.

This marks the third death of a Sherpa on the mountain this season. In early April, a highly experienced Icefall Doctor, responsible for setting ropes, slipped and fell into a crevasse. It marked the first time an Icefall Doctor had died on the mountain. A second Sherpa died  Sunday at upper Camp III.