September 30, 2014

Daley had been descending with other well-known skiers, snowboarders, and photographers. They are all safe.     Photo: Scott Rinckenberger

Liz Daley Killed in Avalanche

Had been descending Argentina's Cerro Vespignani

Liz Daley, a professional climber, AMGA-certified mountain guide, and snowboarder from Tacoma, Washington, has died in an avalanche near the Argentine town of Chalten. Details of the accident, which occurred Monday, were reported by the Argentine news organization OPI Santa Cruz. Daley, 29, was part of a group descending Cerro Vespignani, a 7,000-foot peak near the iconic Mount Fitzroy. Others on the trip included skier Drew Tabke, snowboarder Chris Coulter, skier and guide Kent McBride, photographer Chris Figenshau and filmer Nick Kalisz. Her body was recovered overnight. This accident occurred on the same day that Canadian JP Auclair and Swede Andreas Fransson, both professional freeskiers, died in an unrelated avalanche in Chilean Patagonia.

Daley’s sponsor Eddie Bauer released the following statement late Tuesday.

We are deeply saddened to report that yesterday, an avalanche in the Fitz Roy Massif region outside of El Chaltén, Argentina, took the life of Liz Daley, a member of our Guide team.

Liz was on a ski mountaineering expedition with three other members of our snow sports team and two production crew members. The rest of the team is safe.

Liz was an accomplished splitboarder, alpine climber and mountain guide who was born and raised in Washington. She was a beloved member of our snow sports team and will be sorely missed by all those who knew her.

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The world's now-second-largest cave is in Malaysia's Gunung Mulu National Park.     Photo: Kaszojad/Thinkstock

Cave in China Now Considered World's Largest

Geologists have accurately measured "supercave"

British geologists announced on Sunday that the Miao Room, located in the Chinese province of Guizhou, is the world’s biggest cave chamber, with a volume of about 380.7 million cubic feet (10.78 million cubic meters). The new mapping of the Miao Room confirms that it’s about 10 percent larger in volume than the previous record holder, the Sarawak Chamber in Malaysia. The Sarawak remains the world’s largest cave by surface area at some 1.66 million square feet (154,500 square meters).

Originally discovered in 1989, the Miao Room is part of the immense Gebihe cave system underneath China’s Ziyun Getu He Chuandong National Park. Explorers already knew it was extraordinary—the cave could hold approximately four replicas of the Great Pyramid of Giza—but in 2013, a new mapping of the cave took place under the auspices of China’s Institute of Karst Geology.

To conduct the survey, the team—in a first for cavers—took advantage of a Riegl VZ-400, an architecturally minded measuring apparatus, National Geographic reports. Consisting of a metal cylinder (not including its batteries and necessary laptop and cables), the device spins 360 degrees and takes up to 122,000 measurements per second. Data from the device was then reprocessed by researchers at the University of Lancaster in the UK. Their findings were announced at the Hidden Earth 2014 national caving conference, held in England over the weekend of September 26.

“To me, this is like discovering that K2 is larger than Everest!” Tim Allen, a leader of the expedition, told National Geographic this week.

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The World Wildlife Fund says the report is a wake-up call for humans, who are overwhelmingly responsible for wildlife decline.     Photo: kapyos/Thinkstock

Wildlife Populations Declined by Half Since 1970

World Wildlife Fund says humans mostly responsible

The earth’s wildlife population has been cut in half since 1970, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s 2014 Living Planet Report, released Tuesday.

The authors of the study blamed human intervention, including habitat loss, hunting, and fishing. The report also considered climate change a factor, but its influence was harder to quantify.

The study measured 10,000 populations of about 3,000 animal species to create an index of the world’s fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. Some populations have remained stable, but they were outweighed by the declines—especially among freshwater species.

Human activity is consuming the planet’s resources faster than they can regenerate, the study authors concluded. “For now, we can cut trees faster than they mature, harvest more fish than the oceans can replenish, or emit more carbon into the atmosphere than the forests and oceans can absorb,” says the report. “The sum of all human demands no longer fits within what nature can renew.”

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Mount San Lorenzo forms the border between Patagonian Chile and Argentina.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

JP Auclair and Andreas Fransson Killed in Avalanche

Freeskiers had been filming on Chile's Mount San Lorenzo

According to reports from the Chilean news website Biobio Chile, Canadian freeskier JP Auclair and Swede Andreas Fransson died in an avalanche on 12,159-foot Mount San Lorenzo, a prominent peak that forms the border between Patagonian Chile and Argentina. The first news of the incident, which happened Monday afternoon local time, came by satellite phone to the police station at Cochrane, a tiny town on the east side of the Northern Patagonian Icefield that climbers use to access the mountain.

Auclair’s last Facebook post was on September 26: “Road trip down south with a great crew. back at it with @andreasfransson99 @bjarnesalen and @danielronnback for #apogeeskiing and very much looking forward to the days ahead.”

Auclair, 37, was born in Quebec and has been a fixture on the freeskiing and ski-movie scene for the better part of the last two decades. Fans of the Sherpas Cinema movie All.I.Can will remember his segment skiing through the streets of Trail, British Columbia. Auclair is one of the founders of Armada skis.

Overflights of the mountain by local authorities on Tuesday confirmed two bodies high on the mountain.

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