100 Bodies Found in Nepal Village

Langtang is thought to be the worst-affected village after the Nepal earthquake.     Photo: Andrew and Annemarie/Flickr

100 Bodies Found in Nepal Village

Casualties of mountain avalanche

Nepalese officials and local volunteers in Langtang on Monday discovered the bodies of 100 trekkers and villagers buried in an avalanche caused by the April 25 earthquake, the Guardian reports.

The mountain town, which is about 40 miles north of Kathmandu, was a popular destination for foreign trekkers, many of whom would stop at its many guesthouses. Following the earthquake, “entire hillsides sheared away,” burying the village, the Guardian reports. The 100 bodies were recovered after an exhaustive search operation to locate some 600 trekkers and support staff missing in the area since the earthquake hit nine days ago.

“Local volunteers and police personnel are digging through six-feet deep snow with shovels looking for more bodies,” Gautam Rimal, assistant chief district officer for Langtang, told the Guardian.

Among the dead are at least seven foreigners, but only two have been identified, Rimal said. Officials say 120 more people could be buried beneath the snow. Rescue efforts were slow to reach the village due to bad weather. 

The earthquake’s death toll is now upwards of 7,300 people. Including those found Monday, more than 400 people are reported dead in Langtang, and hundreds are still missing.

0 Comments

Sherpas Refuse to Fix Everest Route

Inside the Khumbu Icefall in 2006.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sherpas Refuse to Fix Everest Route

Likely spells end to climbing season

Sherpas on Monday refused to fix the route through the Khumbu Icefall, which was destroyed in the April 25 earthquake, likely ending this year’s climbing season, the AP reports.

The Icefall Doctors, the group of Sherpas tasked with maintaining climbing routes through the icefall (between Base Camp and Camp I), informed Nepal’s Mountaineering Department that they will not fix the route, according to Gyanendra Shrestha, a Nepali official. “It is just not possible to rebuild the route in time for climbers to attempt to scale the peak,” Kapindra Rai, of the Sagamartha Pollution Control Committee, which controls the Icefall Doctors, told the AP.

The Nepalese government hasn’t officially announced the closing of the 2015 Everest season. Officials are hesitant to cancel the season and refund climbing permits. After last year’s avalanche, which killed 16 high-altitude workers in the icefall, the government canceled the season and extended permits one year.

Climbing permits will remain valid until the end of May, but all of the remaining teams have abandoned their attempts. A summit attempt this season appears to be unlikely. If nobody attempts a climb, this year will be the first time Everest has gone unclimbed since 1974.

0 Comments

Researchers Reveal Effects of California Drought

A drought state of emergency was declared for California in January.     Photo: Ray Bouknight/Flickr

Researchers Reveal Effects of California Drought

Trees are dying, snowpack is gone

A little more than a month after California Governor Jerry Brown issued the first mandatory water restrictions in the state’s history, the bad news continues to roll out regarding the drought afflicting much of the West.

An estimated 12 million trees have died in California forests over the past year due to extreme drought conditions, KPBS reported Monday. The estimate was based on an aerial survey conducted from April 8 to April 17 by the U.S. Forest Service. The survey was visually conducted by flying a fixed-wing aircraft 1,000 feet above ground while digitally mapping the territory below.

Additionally, state officials canceled a planned snowpack measurement on May 1 because there would be no snow to measure, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. The Sierra Nevada snowpack typically accounts for about 30 percent of the state’s water supply when it melts in spring and summer. On April 1, the snowpack’s water content was 5 percent of normal—a historic low. Readings taken Thursday indicate the snowpack’s water content is about half an inch, just 3 percent of normal, according to the Los Angeles Times

0 Comments

National Park Foundation Partners with Anheuser-Busch

Budweiser has created special packaging commemorating Anheuser-Busch's partnership with the National Park Service.     Photo: Anheuser-Busch

National Park Foundation Partners with Anheuser-Busch

Waives rule against deals with alcohol makers

The National Park Foundation has entered into a two-year, $2.5 million partnership with Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer and the maker of Budweiser, according to a recent press release. The goal of the collaboration is to raise awareness about the National Park Service (NPS) in celebration of its centennial in 2016 and drum up support for Find Your Park, a campaign aimed at encouraging Americans to visit and better appreciate the national parks system. 

“Budweiser is an American brand with a steadfast commitment to our nation,” said Dan Wenk, interim president of the National Park Foundation, in the press release. “With their generous, multifaceted support of our Find Your Park movement, we will ensure that these special places are loved and protected well beyond the next 100 years.” (Anheuser-Busch InBev is based in Belgium.)

The parameters of the partnership are unclear. In entering into an arrangement with Anheuser-Busch Inbev, the NPS and its chief charity, the Park Foundation, have stepped away from a directive established in 1998, when NPS director Robert Stanton issued an order that prohibited donations from alcohol or tobacco products. Though it is not the first time the policy has been lifted or waived, the most recent decision has elicited words of concern about the influence of alcohol sponsors—or any private corporate sponsors, for that matter—on the Park Service’s future.

“This is yet another example of the park service’s willingness to change its management to accommodate corporate sponsors,” Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, told the Denver Post. “This deal isn’t a slippery slope. It’s a bungee jump.”

To advertise the new alliance, AB InBev will release Budweiser cans and bottles in red and white stripes and images of the Statue of Liberty and will sponsor several summer concerts in national parks next year.

0 Comments

Dowsett Sets New One-Hour Cycle Record

Alex Dowsett is the fourth person to break the hour record, by about a half of a kilometer.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Dowsett Sets New One-Hour Cycle Record

Fourth person to do so in past eight months

British time-trial champion Alex Dowsett broke the one-hour cycling record for farthest distance traveled, covering 32.89 miles at the Manchester Velodrome on Saturday, according to the BBC. Dowsett beat Australian Rohan Dennis’ February mark of 32.62 miles.

As Outside reported last June, a change in UCI regulations that lifted previous bans on certain track bike modifications, such as drop handlebars and shaped tubes, has resulted in a renewed interest in the hour record among competitive cyclists. 

German cyclist Jens Voigt set a new hour record of 31.76 miles in September, followed by Austrian Matthias Brändle’s distance of 32.22 miles set in October, Dennis’ 32.62-mile record set in February, and now 26-year-old Dowsett’s distance to beat of 32.89 miles. 

“The first 30 minutes were easy compared to what I expected,” Dowsett told the BBC. “But the last 10 minutes were a bit grippy.”

British Olympic champion and Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins will try to break Dowsett’s record on June 7 in London.

0 Comments