The Value of a Sherpa Life - Grayson Schaffer reports on Friday's Everest avalanche that claimed the lives of 16 Sherpas in an instant. "And, yes" he says, "there is something that needs to be done about it." In the wake of this devastating tragedy, many Sherpas are threatening a strike and the government is mulling total closure for the upcoming season, which has 335 permits in the queue. Footage of the avalanche. Previously, in The Disposable Man: A Western History of Sherpas on Everest, Scaheffer spoke of the high risks, low pay and shocking mortality rate: "... no service industry in the world so frequently kills and maims its workers for the benefit of paying clients." [more inside]
Sometimes, there's nothing better to do after a snowstorm than to watch the snow slowly slide off the roof. Do you get a thrill at that moment when gravity trumps friction, and a large slab frees itself, landing on the ground below in a big WHUMPF? Then please enjoy this curation of YouTubery documenting the anticipation and beauty that is the Roof Avalanche! [more inside]
What started as a glorious powder day ended in a desperate fight for survival after three skiers were buried by a killer avalanche in the backcountry of Stevens Pass, in Washington's Cascades. Megan Michelson lived to tell about it, but she can't shake off a haunting question: How did a group of expert skiers make such a deadly mistake?
"Our goals are to train and maintain a network of highly efficient avalanche search and rescue cat teams across Canada." The Canadian Avalanche Rescue Cat Association seeks to add adorable kitties (CARCA) to the teams of animals that currently play a role in search-and-rescue missions for avalanche survivors. Only a few years old, they're the subject of a soon-to-be-available documentary (trailer), and offer training videos to demonstrate the serious business of training cats for search-and-rescue. And they are definitely not fake, please do not believe that canine propaganda.
"It... picked up cars and equipment as though they were so many snow-draped toys, and swallowing them up, disappeared like a white, broad monster into the ravine below." Nearly 100 years ago, on March 1, 1910, the deadliest avalanche in United States history struck the small town of Wellington, Washington. Ninety-six people died as a massive wall of snow struck two Great Northern trains stopped at Wellington to wait for the tracks to be cleared, rolling them nearly 1000 feet into Tye Creek and burying the victims under huge piles of snow, trees, and debris. [more inside]
Not for want of a glove: first person video of a skier buried, then rescued from an avalanche. He also got very lucky to be honest. In the time that he's buried, you can hear his breathing already accelerate. The ruffling noise back and forth is his chest rising and falling and the noise that his jacket makes. The intermittent whimpering noise you hear is him trying to swallow and get some air since the avalung wasn't fully in his mouth and instead just to the corner of his mouth. Avalanche at 1:19. Blue sky and view of the rescuers starts at 6:07.
While Alaskan senators get mopey about polar bears and climate change, the capitol city is busy cutting their power use... even if it is a bit against their will. The Snettisham Hydro plant suffered a massive avalanche this Spring, taking out the main source of power for Juneau. Some more info
Avalanche transceivers have become an essential piece of technology for people who spend time in avalanche terrain. Beacons, as they're also known, operate on an international standard frequency and can be used to find other transceivers (hopefully still attached to people) buried under snow, giving rescuers a chance to find victims before they suffocate. [more inside]
The Alaska Pacific River Forecast Center provides massive amounts of NWS remote weather station data on precipitation statewide. With avalanche season about to begin, these data are extremely useful to both amateur recreationists and snow professionals.
So Forsberg is coming back and it means the Avalance could once again be a force to be reckoned with. Can anyone beat Detroit? And in the East, the Bruins are looking good. I care, but do my fellow nerds? It seems there's a serious dearth of computer geeks that follow hockey. Is the gap between ESPN and ICQ that big? Do any of you other nerds watch hockey, or is it dead?
Never go skiing with a mobile phone. Or rather never try to search for persons burried in an avalanche with your mobile phone turned on. Sad but true.