Is there a quarry near your house? Step 1: make sure they’re not blasting; Step 2: ride down the pile of loose rocks and dirt on your old snowboard. I’d advise wearing more than a short-sleeve T-shirt. A couple guys strapped on their GoPros so we could see what it’s like without the shredded skin.
Get your corn maps—NASA is looking to begin releasing maps of the Sierra Nevada snowpack in near real-time. The maps are part of an effort to give California better estimates of how much water the mountains are holding, but backcountry users can certainly benefit. Skiers unwilling to embrace summer sports will be able to use them as a road map to the places that are still holding the most snow, and backpackers will be able to see which remote areas are clear. The surveys are incredibly detailed and even show snow depth, and though they’ve begun surveying the maps aren’t online yet. When they do begin posting them, they’ll go up on JPL Airborne Snow Observatory.
Seattle-based Sqigle is trying to bring the rugged, solar-powered Earl tablet to the backcountry market hoping it will appeal to a generation that’s come to rely on their phones to find their way from work to home (I am among this group). The startup is attempting to crowdsource funding, asking for contributions of $249 to try to raise upwards of $250k to build the hardware. A rugged tablet’s not a bad idea, but it still might be a good idea have a plan in place for when you cross paths with a bear, it’s tough to look that up on the fly. Since 4G LTE coverage isn’t great in the backcountry, the idea behind Earl is that it could also listen to AM/FM broadcasts and tap into shortwave frequencies–just don’t expect to download maps using them.
Oregon’s Siuslaw National Forest is huge and is home to some of the largest old-growth stands left in the United States. It encompasses nearly 1,000 square miles of inland coastal forest, and portions of it are quite remote. So remote that the present program to collect fees for recreation, an old-school system where you stuff your cash into a box, is vulnerable to vandals who’d also like that money and have repeatedly beaten the collection boxes silly to get at it. Which is ironic, because an underfunded Forest Service and now the budget sequester have made a thin staff that much thinner, and so the fees meant to “enhance the visitor experience, such as clean toilets, trash service, and environmental education” have instead gone toward repairing the collection system.
You might think that vandals are going to all the trouble because they view the $5 per day visitor pass as an onerous burden — since we’re already paying for the USFS system out of federal taxes, not to mention fees that the forestry industry pays. That would be a little reductive, however. Though Siuslaw is one of the most heavily logged forests in the Northwest, sadly the feds don’t turn all that fee money back around to clean toilets (and keep staff levels strong). The solution at many trailheads will be the honor system: Buying your pass online ahead of time. And that, too, will almost surely mean less money going into coffers — but also less spent repairing the rickety collection system.
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One of the two teenagers who got lost on a day hike in Trabuco Canyon, California and was found four days later has been charged with possession of meth. This is the duo who said they “wanted to touch the clouds” but became disoriented and confused, suffering from vivid hallucinations over four days while staggering around the backcountry. The search for the two cost an estimated $160k and required 1,900 hours of work, plus one deputy was injured. If convicted of meth possession, the hiker could face three years in jail and possibly have to repay for his rescue.
If you want to go to Wrangel Island, be prepared to take an icebreaker or a helicopter. Not to mention a jet, or several, to Russia, since you’re going to wind up 90 miles north of Siberia. For the last leg you could tag along, as writer Hampton Sides did for his current story in National Geographic, with Russian photographer Sergey Gorshkov. He shot this Pacific walrus, as well as this gorgeous slideshow for the piece. In an outtake interview with NPR about the story Sides explains that Gorshkov is perhaps a rarer species than the polar bears, Pacific walruses, snow geese, musk oxen, and snowy owls that live on the Russian nature sanctuary: He didn’t even pick up a camera until his 40s, and before that he made a fortune in oil.
“He lives in Moscow and has more money than he probably knows what to do with,” Sides says. “Some people have described him as an oligarch.” That loot helps, but so does courage and patience. ”This is a guy who has dedicated hundreds of thousands of dollars and so much of his time to getting these images right,” says Sides. Not to mention, he’s willing to put himself at great risk: ”He’s pretty fearless,” says Sides. “Some of those images you just can’t get unless you’re right up there with these animals.”
As for Wrangel, it’s worth a deeper dive into Sides’ story, for both its wonder and to understand the threats. ”You’re looking at a kind of nature that has been largely this way since the Pleistocene time,” he says. Via NPR.
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Laziness in grooming just got some good news: a study at the University of New South Wales has concluded that men and women find bearded faces more attractive. Researchers also found that men with facial hair were rated as healthier, more masculine, and more likely to be good parents. The study surveyed only 300 women and 200 men showing them photos of men with varying messes of beards.
Women judged faces with heavy stubble as most attractive and heavy beards, light stubble and clean-shaven faces as similarly less attractive. In contrast, men rated full beards and heavy stubble as most attractive, followed closely by clean-shaven and light stubble as least attractive.
I’d be interested to see this compared to a mustache study. Kickstarter, do your thing.
Thomas Vanderham made his way from Kamloops, BC to Utah hitting all his favorite trails along the way and shooting a reel for Sony to promote their Action Cam, so at least we know one person is using it. The bright green of the Pacific Northwest followed by a few days riding in Southern Utah, sounds like a solid way to pass the time. They even managed to sneak in a flight to Las Vegas since there’s nothing better than riding the desert with a crushing hangover.
Bill Dance, host of the appropriately named Bill Dance Outdoors show has a lot of wisdom for anglers. He’s been imparting it since 1968, and in that time he’s had a few fantastic bloopers. With all our helmet cams and constant filming, just imagine how great our blooper reels will look 40 years from now.
Using some of the massive profits they’ve generated from nearly doubling the company in the last five years, Patagonia has announced that they’ll create a $20 million venture fund. The fund will be used to invest in companies that share Patagonia’s core values. Using their fund, $20 Million & Change, they hope to inspire companies to embrace their environmental and responsible growth practices. Beyond merely getting cash, companies would also gain access to Patagonia’s industry knowledge in terms of sourcing sustainable materials, distribution channels, and more.
The League of American Bicyclists rated states by four parameters to rank them according to the most accommodating for cyclists, and North Dakota came in last. The top spots went to Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Minnesota with their comparatively robust laws protecting cyclists as well as their commitment to cycling infrastructure. You could argue about who should be in the top slot, but it’s odd to see the largely rural North Dakota get last. Other states that are very rural like Iowa, Nevada, and Maine did much better, presumably because of laws on the books like their safe passing distance, which requires cars to give you 3 feet when passing.
via Gear Junkie
Generations of Sherpas have tirelessly schlepped foreigners’ gear (and hides) up Everest. And for much of that time they’ve been treated as little more than servants, not mountaineers in their own right. Even before setting out for Everest in 1953 with Sir Edmund Hillary, Tenzing Norgay (left) – as sirdar, or leader, of the Sherpas who would carry loads for the sahibs to supply them on the mountain – had been agitating for better working conditions. When his team was told to sleep on the floor of the British embassy’s garage in Kathmandu, Tenzing, who was offered a bed inside, was outraged. Next morning, lacking access to any facilities, the Sherpas relieved themselves in the street in front of the embassy, prompting fury from embassy staff, but offering an eloquent reminder that the Sherpas weren’t servants who could be arrogantly dismissed.
Today thousands of Sherpas’ lives have been transformed by mountaineering: The best guides and their families are better educated, they have electricity, the web. But there are still many, many Sherpas who live far from the Khumbu Valley and its tourism dollars, who live in the poverty of Hillary’s day. And as their fellows working in support of commercial expeditions on Everest and other peaks continue to acquire skills and expertise that make them far more qualified than simply setting fixed ropes, they are becoming more entrepreneurial, more vocal, and more assertive in the management of the climbing. The fight on Everest was a clash between independent and commercial climbing, but it also revealed a much more complex and deep-rooted tension: that of people coming into their own after generations spent in supporting status.
Via The Guardian.
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