logo

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

- JRR Tolkien

image

Himalaya

Mar 03, 2019

Rescue efforts on Nanga Parbat: Will History Repeat Itself in Search for Nardi and Ballard?

It’s been more than a week since Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard were last in touch with the outside world, from 6,300 metres on Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world.

WRITTEN BY

Billi Bierling

Since The Outdoor Journal published this story, news has since broken that confirmed the deaths of both Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard.

Daniele Nardi from Italy and Tom Ballard from the UK have now been missing for over a week. Hopes are slowly fading in the search to find the two climbers alive. With stormy winter weather incoming, plus the escalation of the conflict between India and Pakistan, it does not look promising.

“I see very little chance for the two climbers to be found alive. Heavy snowfall has significantly increased the avalanche risk, especially on the exposed Mummery Rib,” says German mountaineering journalist and blogger, Stefan Nestler. “All signs point to the fact that Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard were caught in an avalanche, and it’s rather unlikely that the pair survived given the current conditions on the mountain.”

Nanga Parbat Peak, photo by Moiz Ismaili

The Mummery Rib, which sits on the Diamir Face of the mountain, is named after the British climber Albert F. Mummery, who had launched one of the very first attempts of Nanga Parbat in 1895. However, he and two of his climbing mates disappeared after they had reached the rib, and it is believed that the three became victims of an avalanche. To this very date, the rib has never been fully climbed.

Rescue efforts led by Pakistani mountaineer Muhammad Ali Sadpara, who together with Spaniard Alex Txikon and Italian Simone Moro succeeded in the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat, are currently on hold due to the low visibility, bad weather and lack of access. This is exacerbated by the fact that the helicopters, which are exclusively administered and flown by the Pakistani army, are being deployed at the border with India due to the recent hostilities between the two nuclear powers.

According to Sadpara’s Facebook page, a helicopter is waiting for the weather to clear to collect four climbers from K2 base camp to assist Sadpara in his rescue efforts. The K2 team is led by Alex Txikon who plans to use drones to search the area around the Mummery rib and Kinshofer route.

The situation is similar to last year’s rescue of the French mountaineer Elizabeth Revol and her Polish climbing mate, Tomek Mackiewicz, who got into trouble on their descent from the summit. This heroic rescue effort that involved the entire climbing community showed a great deal of solidarity and led to the rescue of Revol. However, Mackiewicz remained on the mountain.

Whether or not Ballard and Nardi will be as fortunate as Revol remains to be seen. Nardi is a well-known character in the Nepal Himalaya with an Everest ascent and attempts on Makalu and Cho Oyu under his belt. In 2011, he took part in scientific research to measure humidity, temperature, wind direction and solar radiation on the highest peak on earth. Tom Ballard also started climbing and mountaineering at an early age, stepping into the footsteps of his mother who was considered one of the female high altitude pioneers in the 1990s. Sadly, Alison Hargreaves never returned from her successful climb of K2 in 1995, when she got literally blown off the second highest peak in the world.

“Mountaineers, who are climbing in the North of the country, have to be aware that rescue operations are very limited in Pakistan. They may hope for help from outside, however, they must never rely on it, especially not in winter,” says Nestler. “Professional mountaineers have to accept that in an emergency they will have to rescue themselves. Successful operations, such as the rescue of Elizabeth Revol last winter, will sadly remain an exception,” Nestler concludes.

Cover photo: Nanga Parbat (Naked Mountain) is the world’s 9th highest mountain and the 2nd highest in Pakistan (after K2). Shot from Fairy Meadows, the Raikot (Rakhiot) Face on the northern side is quite imposing. Photo by Ahmed Sajjad Zaidi

Continue Reading

image

Environment

Sep 04, 2019

The Great Barrier Reef outlook is ‘very poor’. We have one last chance to save it.

It’s official. The outlook for the Great Barrier Reef has been downgraded from “poor” to “very poor” by the Australian government’s own experts.

image

WRITTEN BY

Terry Hughes

That’s the conclusion of the latest five-yearly report from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, released on Friday. The report assessed literally hundreds of scientific studies published on the reef’s declining condition since the last report was published in 2014.

The past five years were a game-changer. Unprecedented back-to-back coral bleaching episodes in 2016 and 2017, triggered by record-breaking warm sea temperatures, severely damaged two-thirds of the reef. Recovery since then has been slow and patchy.

Fish swimming among coral on the Great Barrier Reef.
AAP

Looking to the future, the report said “the current rate of global warming will not allow the maintenance of a healthy reef for future generations […] the window of opportunity to improve the reef’s long-term future is now”.

But that window of opportunity is being squandered so long as Australia’s and the world’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

The evidence on the reef’s condition is unequivocal

A logical national response to the outlook report would be a pledge to curb activity that contributes to global warming and damages the reef. Such action would include a ban on the new extraction of fossil fuels, phasing out coal-fired electricity generation, transitioning to electrified transport, controlling land clearing and reducing local stressors on the reef such as land-based runoff from agriculture.

But federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley’s response to the outlook report suggested she saw no need to take dramatic action on emissions, when she declared: “it’s the best managed reef in the world”.

Major coral bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 have devastated the reef.

The federal government’s lack of climate action was underscored by another dire report card on Friday. Official quarterly greenhouse gas figures showed Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have risen to the highest annual levels since the 2012-13 financial year.

But rather than meaningfully tackle Australia’s contribution to climate change, the federal government has focused its efforts on fixing the damage wrought on the reef. For example as part of a A$444 million grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the government has allocated $100 million for reef restoration and adaptation projects over the next five years or so.

Solutions being supported by the foundation include a sunscreen-like film to float on the water to prevent light penetration, and gathering and reseeding coral spawn Separately, Commonwealth funds are also being spent on projects such as giant underwater fans to bring cooler water to the surface.

But the scale of the problem is much, much larger than these tiny interventions.


Climate change is not the only threat to the reef

The second biggest impact on the Great Barrier Reef’s health is poor water quality, due to nutrient and sediment runoff into coastal habitats. Efforts to address that problem are also going badly.

This was confirmed in a confronting annual report card on the reef’s water quality, also released by the Commonwealth and Queensland governments on Friday.

The Great Barrier Reef attained world heritage status in the 1980s.
AAP

It showed authorities have failed to reach water quality targets set under the Reef 2050 Plan – Australia’s long-term plan for improving the condition of the reef.

For example the plan sets a target that by 2025, 90% of sugarcane land in reef catchments should have adopted improved farming practices. However the report showed the adoption had occurred on just 9.8% of land, earning the sugarcane sector a grade of “E”.

So yes, the reef is definitely in danger

The 2019 outlook report and other submissions from Australia will be assessed next year when the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meets to determine if the Great Barrier Reef should be listed as “in danger” – an outcome the federal government will fight hard to avoid.

An in-danger listing would signal to the world that the reef was in peril, and put the federal government under greater pressure to urgently prevent further damage. Such a listing would be embarrassing for Australia, which presents itself as a world’s-best manager of its natural assets.

Environment activists engaged in a protest action to bring attention to the dangers facing the Great Barrier Reef.
AAP

The outlook report maintains that the attributes of the Great Barrier Reef
that led to its inscription as a world heritage area in 1981 are still intact, despite the loss of close to half of the corals in 2016 and 2017.

But by any rational assessment, the Great Barrier Reef is in danger. Most of the pressures on the reef are ongoing, and some are escalating – notably anthropogenic heating, also known as human-induced climate change.

Read more:
Great Barrier Reef Foundation chief scientist: science will lie at the heart of our decisions

And current efforts to protect the reef are demonstrably failing. For example despite an ongoing “control” program, outbreaks of the damaging crown-of-thorns starfish – triggered by poor water quality – have spread throughout the reef.

The federal government has recently argued that climate change should not form the basis for an in-danger listing, because rising emissions are not the responsibility of individual countries. The argument comes despite Australia having one of the highest per capita emissions rates in the world.

But as Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise – an outcome supported by government policy – the continued downward trajectory of the Great Barrier Reef is inevitable.The Conversation

Terry Hughes, Distinguished Professor, James Cook University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Cover photo: A supplied image obtained Thursday, June 6, 2013 of holiday makers in the Great Barrier Reef, Tropical North Queensland, October 2008. ReefLive, a live 12-hour interactive online show about the reef, will be broadcast on YouTube from 10am (AEST) on Friday to coincide with World Ocean Day on Saturday. (AAP Image/Supplied by Tourism and Events Queensland, Richard Fitzpatrick) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Recent Articles



India Must Stop Deforesting its Mountains if it Wants to Fight Floods.

During floods and landslides in August 2019, two villages were completely destroyed killing several people, while a year earlier Kerala saw its worst floods in a century.

How climate change is driving emigration from Central America

Rising global temperatures, the spread of crop disease and extreme weather events have made coffee harvests unreliable in places like El Salvador. On top of that, market prices are unpredictable.

It’s Time to Break the Deadlock over Africa’s Ivory Trade: Here’s How.

Fierce debates over ivory have dominated the global conference for the international trade in species for 30 years since the first international ivory ban was instituted in 1989.

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Advertising

Analytics

Other