Monday, July 6, 2015

An Incredible Tour of the World's Highest Peaks Via Google Maps Street View


by Megan Barber camp colera.jpg
Google Maps Street View of Camp Colera at 19,685 feet, on the way to summit Aconcagua
From Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, to Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest freestanding mountain in Africa, the world's highest peaks are stunning in their beauty. And while most of us use Google Maps to scope out a new coffee shop, the street view application lets you explore these awe-inspiring mountains without ever leaving the couch.
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↑ Everest Base Camp: The Climbers Memorial is a sacred site located just above 14,000 feet, which honor the lives of fallen climbers on Mt. Everest.
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↑ Most expeditions to the highest point on Earth are staged at Everest Base Camp, pictured here.
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↑ The 18,192-foot Kala Patthar on Mount Everest.
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↑ Namche Bazaar is the gateway to the high Himalayas. The town is popular with adventurers in the Khubu region because it is at a good altitude for acclimitization and has a number of stores to outfit expeditions properly.
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↑ The summit of Aconcagua in Argentina, the tallest mountain in the Western and Southern Hemispheres and the tallest point outside of the Himalayas.
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↑ On the route to scaling Aconcagua, Camp 2 along the False Polish Glacier route is also Camp 3 for the Guanacos route.
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↑ Located in the Caucasus mountains, the snowy summit of Mount Elbrus towers over Europe and Russia.
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↑ Expeditions to the summit of Mount Elbrus can take shelter in Diesel Hut from the often hostile weather.
uhuru.jpg
↑ At 19,341 ft, Uhuru is the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro.
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↑ Located at the base of the mountain, Arrow Glacier is the last campsite before summit day for trekkers attempting the treacherous Western Breach ascent route on the way to Mount Kilimanjaro.
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↑ Lava Tower is a large rock formation along the Lemosho and Machame routes. From the top of Lava Tower you can see spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mount Everest base camp in Tibet to reopen July 1


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BEIJING The Mt Everest base camp in Tibet will be reopened to climbers on July 1, the tourism authorities said on Tuesday.

The base camp was closed for safety reasons following the 7.9-magnitude earthquake on April 25 that killed climbers and guides on Nepal's side of the mountain.

Roads leading to the base camp will be subjected to periodic traffic controls, a spokesperson with the tourism bureau said, according to Xinhua news agency. The base camp, located 5,200 metres above sea level, saw 59,100 visitors in 2014.

The earthquake killed over 9,000 people and injured more than 21,000.
 
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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

WATCH: ‘Everest’ Thrilling Trailer Of Epic Climate Disaster

The much awaited trailer of ‘Everest’, director Baltasar Korm├íkur’s 3D epic climate-disaster thriller has finally been unveiled.

The film is based on true events and the trailer will undoubtedly give you goosebumps. The plot of the film is about the fatal 1996 Mount Everest expeditions detailed in Jon Krakeur’s best-selling book ‘Into Thin Air: A Personal Account’ of the Mt. Everest Disaster.

Releasing on September 18, ‘Everest’ stars Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson and Jake Gyllenhaal

Friday, June 19, 2015

What can tourists do to help—not hinder—Nepal’s quake recovery?

Every year 800,000 international visitors travel to Nepal to experience its unique attractions.
These include Sagarmatha National Park (Mt Everest), the Annapurna and Langtang trekking regions, and the Kathmandu Valley, which is dotted with UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Durbar Squares in Patan and Bhaktapur. The April 25 earthquake and aftershocks seriously affected all these places.

Tourism is critical to Nepal’s economy. The World Travel and Tourism Council reports that the industry contributed 8.9% to Nepal’s gross domestic product in 2014, supporting 1.1 million jobs. Before the earthquake, Nepal was the 26th fastest-growing tourism economy out of 188 countries.
What impact will the earthquake have on tourism? Based on the Nepalese culture, tourism and civil aviation ministry’s tourism statistics, about 23,000 visitors would have been in the country on April 25, 2015. It is not yet known exactly how many tourists were among those who lost their lives in the earthquake.

 Nepal is one of the most hazard-prone countries in the world.  Nepal is one of the most hazard-prone countries in the world. This is due to its location in a high-intensity earthquake zone and extreme topography. The risk profile is known with relative accuracy, and so is the fact that rural communities are considerably more vulnerable than the urban population.

Based on research in other hazard-exposed destinations around the world, tourists were probably not fully aware of the risks involved in travelling to Nepal. Yet the tourism industry will also be critical to Nepal’s economic recovery. When thinking about the future of Nepal and its tourism industry, there are several dimensions to consider.

Tourism plans must include disaster preparedness

Tourist destinations are becoming increasingly aware of the devastating impacts that natural disasters can have on their industries. Organisations at all levels have begun to promote or develop tools to increase disaster preparedness and management of the sector.

Examples include the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s destination standards, the best practice guide for tourism risk management developed by APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), and local action plans (for example, in New Zealand).

To date, not many destinations have implemented these tools. Tourists are typically not accounted for as vulnerable groups in national disaster plans. Nepal’s 2008 National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management does not mention tourism at all.

A similar omission has also been revealed for New Zealand’s civil defence and emergency management plans in an assessment of the impacts of the Christchurch earthquakes on the visitor economy.

The Christchurch evaluation identified areas where tourism-specific plans are critical. These include the evacuation of foreign visitors (involving embassies, airlines and a range of other stakeholders), dedicated communication channels for visitors inside and outside the affected area, and industry assistance to aid a speedy recovery of tourism infrastructure and businesses.

Rescue resources and access

Tourists walk past collapsed houses in Bhaktapur, Nepal.(Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)
The limited availability of helicopters seriously hampered rescue operations in Nepal. Many of the most devastated regions can only be accessed by helicopters, but Nepal has only about a dozen functioning ones.

To a large extent, the immediate rescue effort focused on climbers and sherpas in the Mt Everest region, raising ethical concerns. Leading mountaineers such as Reinhold Messner commented on a morally questionable two-class rescue. Fights over life-saving helicopter space were also observed in the devastated Langtang Valley.

Clearly, a debate is necessary over whether it is in the interest of the country to save foreign tourists—for the sole reason that tourism is the backbone of the economy and perceptions of safety are critical to future tourist arrivals—or whether a life is a life.

Another critical touchpoint between disaster relief and tourism is the airport. Following a disaster, airports become a bottleneck for fleeing foreigners (and locals who can afford it) and incoming assistance. As part of a country’s critical infrastructure network, airports need to be highly prepared and drilled for disasters.

Several newspapers and social media reported chaotic scenes at Kathmandu’s airport. The airport was unable to handle incoming cargo planes.

More than five years ago, it had been decided to upgrade Gautam Buddha Airport as a secondary hub to Kathmandu that can handle larger international flights. The Asian Development Bank agreed on a loan in 2012, and the foundation stone was laid in January 2015. The process has been too slow to be of assistance in this present disaster.

Tourism can provide critical assistance

As the case of the Christchurch earthquakes has already demonstrated, tourism businesses can provide invaluable resources to the disaster response.

For example, a scenic flight operator in Nepal reported having brought 1,000 victims back to Kathmandu in its helicopters. Holidaymakers were seen helping dig locals out of the rubble. Trekkers reportedly shared food and other provisions with locals in remote villages and carried valuable equipment such as satellite phones and first aid kits.

 A scenic flight operator in Nepal reported having brought 1,000 victims back to Kathmandu in its helicopters. However, it is important to proceed with caution in restoring the tourism industry. A statement by Mountain Explore Treks & Expedition in mid-May to encourage travellers to go to Nepal—“We are pleased to inform you that Nepal is now safe to visit”—is irresponsible as long as the rescue and recovery operations are not complete and large aftershocks are to be expected. Buildings are compromised, mountain slopes are unstable and large aftershocks pose a serious risk.
A more measured response, adopted by several other tour companies, is to raise funds and provide support (for example, to donate tents) to earthquake survivors.

From a management and marketing perspective, Nepal will benefit from communicating clearly to prospective tourists which areas of Nepal are safe to travel (for example, the Royal Chitwan National Park) and how the rebuild of infrastructure in other areas (for example, the Mt Everest Valley) is progressing. In addition, it is important that the global tourism industry and inter-governmental bodies support a swift recovery process.

Most importantly, in the long term, it is essential that people travel to Nepal again in the future and contribute to its recovery by spending generously.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How Climate Change Affects Mount Everest & These 5 Major Landmarks Around The World




Paula Bronstein/Getty Images News/Getty Images
 
If you still think climate change is a myth, think again. The New York Times recently reported that global climate change poses a risk to Mount Everest’s glaciers, and other natural monuments, parks, and cities around the world are facing the consequences of a hotter globe. Scientists published these frightening findings in a study in The Cryosphere, a European geoscience journal. According to the study, by 2100, most of the glaciers are likely to be gone. That means in the Hindu Kush Himalayan area where Mt. Everest is located, more than 5,500 glaciers could be lost forever. One of the leading scientists on the study, Dr. Joseph Shea, said:
The worst-case scenario shows a 99 percent loss in glacial mass … but even if we start to slow down emissions somewhat, we may still see a 70 per cent reduction.
Not surprisingly, Mt. Everest is not the only major landmark suffering under climate change. But, hold on for a second, how exactly does climate change even affect these iconic places? Although the scientific details are complex, the basics are not hard to understand. First of all, when the earth warms, warmer water expands and takes up more space, while large bodies of ice, like glaciers and polar ice sheets, melt. Both of theses phenomenons contribute to rising sea levels. Additionally, a changing climate can alter an ecosystem making it inhospitable for certain animals, and it can impact weather pattern, too. Here are five major landmarks other than Mount Everest that are seriously threatened by climate change.

The Republic Of Maldives


We spot trouble in paradise. The Maldives, a group of tropical island in the Indian Ocean, draws hundreds of thousands of tourists annually for its white, sandy beaches and blue waters. Maybe not for much longer — according to the Union of Concerned Scientists’ website, the island is experiencing rising sea levels, causing damage especially to homes and businesses on the coast. The UCS reported:
[The country would] lose 77 percent of its land area by the end of the century. If sea level were to rise by 3.3 feet (1 meter) and the Maldives did not pursue further coastal protection measures, it would be nearly completely inundated by about 2085.

Major U.S. Historical Landmarks



Besides the more obvious glaciers and islands in peril, climate change could destroy several U.S. historical landmarks. Better plan a road trip before its too late. According to the UCS report entitled “National Landmarks at Risk,” sites including Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, Boston’s Historic District, several NASA sites, and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse are all vulnerable for a variety of climate change reasons. For example, President Barack Obama allotted thousands of acres of land in coastal Maryland to be the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument. But, according to the UCS, by 2050 the land could be “largely underwater” due to climate change induced rising sea levels in the nearby Chesapeake Bay.

The Great Barrier Reef



Warmer oceans lead to coral bleaching, when the reef ejects its living algae and loses its colorful pigment, which not only is what makes them incredibly beautiful in the first place, but are also integral to the ocean’s ecosystem. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, one of the most famous coral reefs in the world, is no exception — the Australian government has declared climate change as a major threat to the reef.

Amazon Rainforest



The World Wildlife Fund UK says that if nothing changes, by 2030 some scientists think of the 2,123,562 square mile forest covering South America half could be destroyed. The Guardian explained that an increasingly warmer climate will lead to less rainfall and drought, causing the forest to die. Piles of dead, dry tress in a hotter climate then could result in forest fires, further damaging the Amazon. The World Wildlife Fund UK reports:
Global warming is already affecting the Amazon. If we don’t take action to tackle climate change, Amazon rainforests could dry up and die over the course of this century.

Mesa Verde National Park



Located in Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park is one of the largest archeological preserve in the country, housing 5,000 archeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings of the Pueblo people according to the National Park Service’s website. An increase in temperature has put the park at risk for more wildfires, according to the UCS. Fires destroy the park and the Native American artifacts it holds, and leave it more vulnerable to flooding.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Mt Everest Glaciers Mostly Gone by 2100


Devil may care climbers beware, you might have to start climbing Mt Everest like a regular rock if humans continue to even exist.
According to a study published in The Cyrosphere, Mt Everest is going to change drastically due to climate change. If Dr. Joseph Shea and the co-authors of this study are to be believed, industry continually to operating like it has for years will shrink the glaciers around Mt Everest by 99 percent. Even if there is a moderate reduction of greenhouse gas emissions Mt Everest is estimated to lose around 70 percent of its natural beauty.

This has shocked the team of researchers with Dr. Shea telling the New York Times, “We did not expect to see glaciers reduced at such a large scale…The numbers are quite frightening.” A forbidding sign indeed.

The findings come from a computer model of glaciers the team built, that took into account the higher temperatures causing the ice to melt and how much gain there would be from snowfall and precipitation. Even with continued snowfall there was still a downward trend in glacier size. If humanity is able to put reductions in place by 2050, climate change will still reduce the glaciers around Mt Everest to almost zero by 2100.

While the landscape would be forever changed, this could end up making the region safer for mountain climbers, as the majority of the 250 people that have died trying to reach the peak of Mt Everest have died due to either avalanche or exposure. Of course, not only will the glaciers melting bring the actual mountain into view but also bring to light the tons of garbage left by climbers that is already visible. The garbage is such a problem that the Indian Army went out in April of this year to try and remove some of it.

Dr Shea admitted to the New York Times that computer models are never exact and that even while agreeing with field evidence that leave too many unknowns to be completely accurate. So there may be hope yet, if all of science is wrong about climate change. The chances of 97 percent of them being wrong however, is minimal.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Nepal earthquake stirs debate on overcrowding and commercialisation of Everest


(Mount Everest may be over…)
There's no mistaking the twinge of pain in his voice as Jamling Tenzing Norgay speaks on the phone from Kathmandu. Mention the series of avalanches that were set off on the world's tallest mountain, Mount Everest, and on some of the peaks around by the deadly earthquake last Saturday, killing at least 19 climbers of different nationalities, and he remains silent for a few seconds. As a Sherpa mountaineer and mountain guide, Norgay's sense of tragedy is palpable — what makes it even deeper is the family legacy; his father Sherpa Tenzing Norgay was the first summiteer of Mount Everest (along with Edmund Hillary) in 1953.
"We respect Mount Everest as a mother and a goddess — both in Hindu & Buddhist cultures. An earthquake is a natural calamity but there's still a deep feeling of sadness," says Norgay, who rushed to Kathmandu from Darjeeling, where he lives, to search for many of his family members who live in the villages around Everest Base Camp. There were 2,500-3,000 climbers and trekkers at the base camp last weekend, with over 35 teams, many of which were hoping to climb the mountain. "There were heavy losses of both lives and equipment. Many of the climbers had to be evacuated by helicopters from BC and Camp 1 and even higher elevations. However, the worst hit are the Sherpas with 14 of them killed," adds Norgay.

In recent years, there has been a great deal of debate around the issue of overcrowding and commercialisation of the Everest with a huge number of hobby climbers or Everest 'tourists' flocking to Nepal to reach the highest point in the world. The recent deaths at the base camp following deadly avalanches will now rekindle the debate.

"While we in India can't comment about Nepal's internal tourism policy in allowing a large number of mountaineers to go to Everest every year, many of the casualties during the quake happened because inexperienced climbers didn't know how to save themselves," says wing commander Amit Chowdhury, vice president of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, who was expedition leader of the Indian Air Force expedition to Mt Everest in 2005. He adds that many veteran mountaineers are now giving Everest the miss and looking out for more challenging routes on other mountains. Mandip Singh Soin, mountaineer and founder and MD of adventure tour operator Ibex Expeditions, avers that the government of Nepal needs to seriously look into the issue of overcrowding on the slopes of Mt Everest and find solutions in creative ways so as not to lose out on tourism dollars which are very important for the economy. "Mountain tourism is not just important for Nepal but also sustains the huge community of Sherpas who provide the lifeline for all mountaineering activities," says Soin.
He has given Everest the miss and instead climbed Mt Meru in the Gharwal Himalayas, which is one of the world's toughest peaks, amongst others. Meanwhile, Gurgaon couple Sangeeta, 51, & Ankur Bahl, 54, have been through a harrowing time after Ankur was stranded at Camp 2 (21,000 feet) of Mt Everest along with other climbers from Madison Mountaineering. "But this was a natural calamity and won't put me off the mountains. In fact, I will come back here again to climb Everest," Bahl told ET Magazine from Lukla on the Everest trail after he was evacuated by helicopter. The Bahls have been on expeditions to Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa, Elbrus in Russia, Vinson in Antarctica, Aconcagua in South America and McKinley in North America. "Even though I spent a few terrible days awaiting news of my husband, I too intend to go and climb Everest soon. Achieving the famous Seven Summits is a dream for both of us," Sangeeta said.

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