October 2, 2013

Kayakers missing in Eastern Tajikistan     Photo: Central Intelligence Agency/Wikimedia Commons

Five Kayakers Missing in Tajikistan

Searching the Balandkiik River

Five kayakers are reported missing on the Balandkiik River in eastern Tajikistan. Ben Luck, Cooper Lambla, Matt Klema, Nate Klema, and Charles King triggered the emergency signal on their SPOT beacon at some point on Monday, September 30. (Ben Luck and Nate and Matt Klema were featured as Outside's Adventurers of the Year for 2011.) The GPS coordinates were 38.83227 N, 72.860240 E.

On Tuesday, during a helicopter rescue attempt, a search team discovered a broken kayak with a backpack on it. Immediately after that sighting, another SOS signal was sent 6 miles downstream, although the search mission could not continue due to looming nightfall. The helicopter search was set to resume Wednesday morning.

Ben Luck's friend posted on MTBR’s forum, soliciting help from any "hiker, kayaker, mountain biker, or other tourist who might be in the area or have knowledge of the area would be able to lend a hand." Anyone with information regarding the missing kayakers is asked to reach out immediately.

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    Photo: Tracy J. Anderson/Shutterstock

Epic Ski Race Now Covers 4 Countries

Winner receive Epic Pass for life

On November first, the Epic Race will begin—a season-long challenge to ski or ride 26 mountains around the world. The first ten to complete this Jules Vernian task, hosted by Vail Resorts, will win an Epic Pass for life. The Epic Pass for life permits winners to ski or ride any resorts participating in the Epic Race that year. 

"After adding three more countries and 20 additional resorts, we're throwing down the gauntlet," says Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. "If you can be one of the first to ski the world, you'll ski for life."
"After adding three more countries and 20 additional resorts, we're throwing down the gauntlet," says Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. "If you can be one of the first to ski the world, you'll ski for life."

The competition spans Switzerland, France, and Austria, making it more epic than the Epic Race of 2008, which included only six resorts in the U.S. During the competition, racers may ski or ride no more than one resort a day in the U.S. and two resorts a day in Europe–to ensure they fully experience every mountain. Expenses are not included.

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    Photo: Youtube.com

Origins of the 'Eagle Cam' Video Uncovered

Filmed by French raptor activist Jacques Olivier Travers

When the infamous "Eagle Cam" video, a tour of Chamonix filmed from the back of a raptor, surfaced last month, little was known about its origins. Fortunately, Adventure Journal tracked down the mysterious master of birds and has coaxed from him the secrets of his art.

The video is the creation of one Jacques Olivier Travers, operator of a raptor center and theme park in Haute-Savoie, France, that nurtures injured birds back to health and reintroduces them to the wild. A certified falconer in his early 20s, Travers is the youngest person in France ever to be certified to keep raptors in captivity.

To help the birds learn to fly again, Travers has taken to paragliding alongside them in the air, a method he thinks is more effective than traditional means of reintroduction. "What seemed a crazy bet has proved an extraordinary instrument of learning flight for birds," he told Adventure Journal. "So much so that they found a total independence after a few months opening the door to a new technique."

Travers believes that his raptor cam videos are a great way to expose the birds to the public, and as of Wednesday, the original Eagle Cam video has over six million views.

Below you can see a new video from Travers, filmed for a show on France's TF1 network, showing a white-tailed eagle named Victor as he follows a skier down a mountainside. Pretty cool.

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Rafters Protest Grand Canyon Shutdown

Crowd of angry permit holders grows

During the federal government shutdown, it will literally take an act of Congress for rafters to float the Grand Canyon, and those who already have permits are protesting.

On Tuesday, three groups of rafters—48 people total—with permits to launch met armed National Park rangers and law-enforcement officials blocking off the entrance to Lees Ferry, the put-in for the Grand Canyon.

Rafters protesting outside of Lees Ferry, the river entrance to Grand Canyon National Park

The rafters protested and were dispersed by law enforcement officials. They were forced to camp in the parking lot at a nearby lodge for the night. 

“Our group has spent over $30,000 to plan this trip and make it happen,” Drew Huemmier of Philadelphia told the Arizona Daily Sun on Tuesday. “Now we are being told to go home by unpaid park rangers.”

There are hundreds of fortunate rafters already on the Colorado River. But groups with a permit scheduled for today forward will be turned away.

National park rangers block the entrence to Lees Ferry. Since Tuesday afternoon, no one has been allowed to enter the river.

In the coming weeks, two to three groups of rafters per day are scheduled to enter the river, which means that the crowd outside of Lees Ferry will likely grow.

As of Wednesday, the entrance to the river was still blocked off, and rafters were back at the barricade.

“If I try to go back tomorrow, we'll have to pay hundreds in flight-change fees,” said Scott Lee, one of the many rafters stranded at Lees Ferry. “I think we all have no choice but to just try to wait it out.”

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Craters of the Moon National Monument     Photo: Mav/Wikimedia

Shutdown Interferes with Search and Rescue

Volunteers wanted for missing hiker

The search for a missing hiker in Idaho's Craters of the Moon National Monument was scaled back Tuesday due to the government shutdown. As of Tuesday morning, no park employees were searching for the hiker, CBS News reports.

Only three staff members out of 16 total employees remain at the park, monitoring infrastructure. The three say they plan to resume the search. Because federal workers deemed "non-essential" are not allowed to volunteer at their jobs during a shutdown, more support will not be forthcoming. Without government support, family members of the missing hiker have called on experienced volunteers to help with the search.

"Either way, we are committed to bringing her home and are actively recruiting volunteers with backcountry experience to keep the search going. But we will not chance injury or loss of searchers," the family said in a prepared statement. "In that vein, at a minimum, those interested in participating should be able to hike 10 to 12 miles and climb 1,000 feet at a time in treacherous terrain."

Officials have been looking for the hiker for about a week. Her hiking parnter was found dead last Wednesday.

Update: Park officials received permission Wednesday to deem ten workers as essential, allowing them to continue the search.

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