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A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.

- John James Audubon

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Expeditions

Oct 17, 2018

Update: Nine Climbers Die at Gurja Base Camp. What Really Happened? The Experts’ Opinion

Many media outlets from around the world have offered explanations. But there has been confusion, and a serious lack of understanding on what happened to the nine climbers on Friday morning.

WRITTEN BY

Sean Verity

In the early hours of Friday morning, five South Koreans and four Nepali guides died during a violent snowstorm. It was the deadliest accident in Nepal’s climbing community since 2015, and those that passed away included decorated Korean team leader Kim Chang-ho. Whilst everyone agreed on the scene of total destruction, there has been much disparity and confusion with regards to an explanation. Media outlets offered varied and often conflicting hypotheses, as presented in our article: 9 Climbers Die at Gurja Base Camp: What We Know So Far.

The Outdoor Journal has since reached out to Global Rescue (the first on the scene) the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), The National Avalanche Center, the climbing community within Nepal, and many local avalanche or safety bodies from around the world. Our goal was to establish exactly what might have caused the devastation at Gurja Base Camp.

THE TIMELINE

The below information is courtesy of Global Rescue, a US-based emergency assistance group and the first on the scene at Gurja Base Camp. They spoke to The Outdoor Journal to offer a first hand account.

On Friday 12 Oct 2018  at 0555hours, Global Rescue was notified by Trekking Camp Nepal of an accident involving Global Rescue members on Gurja in Nepal.

It appeared that an avalanche during a high wind snow storm swept the entire climbing party and staff down the mountain from its basecamp. A helicopter flyover later located the mortal remains of missing climbers and expedition staff by air.  Total: 5 Koreans (4 had Global Rescue coverage) and 4 Nepalese. The mortal remains of climbers and expedition staff were reported to be scattered in a 400-500m radius.  There was significant debris in base camp area.

Global Rescue deployed personnel to Kathmandu on Saturday, 13 Oct 2018 to coordinate logistics with Nepal and South Korean governments, embassies and families of the Global Rescue members. On Sunday, Oct 14 2018, helicopters using longline rescues retrieved the remains of all nine, transporting them first to Pokhara then to Kathmandu. The remains of the South Korean climbers departed Kathmandu for Seoul the evening of 16 Oct 2018.  The Minister of Tourism conducted a ceremony at which Global Rescue was present prior to departure.

THE SCENE AT BASE CAMP

All eye witnesses were in agreement. Helicopter pilot Siddartha Gurung told AFP: “Everything is gone, all the tents are blown apart”. Dan Richards, the CEO of Global Rescue, said that “Base camp looks like a bomb went off” and “at this point we don’t understand how this happened. You don’t usually get those sorts of extreme winds at that altitude and base camps are normally chosen because they are safe places”.

It’s at this point that many stories that can be found online deviate from one another.

CAN WE DISCOUNT A LANDSLIDE?

When the news of this tragedy first broke, The Himalayan Times were the first to report “at least nine climbers including five Korean nationals were killed when a massive landslide buried the base camp of Mt Gurja (7,193 metres) on the lap of the south face of Mt Dhaulagiri in western Nepal”.

However, Bruce Raup a Senior Associate Scientist Senior Associate Scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) told The Outdoor Journal that a “landslide (a large displacement if rock and soil) seems unlikely to me because it was likely frozen in place” and his colleague Richard Armstrong, a Senior Research Scientist at the (NSIDC), explained that “the evidence would be there at the site, rock and other debris mixed in with the camp destruction”.

CAN WE DISCOUNT AN AVALANCHE?

The Kathmandu Post reported that upon arriving at the camp, Nepali climbing guide Lakma Sherpa said “When a team of locals reached the site, it was clear immediately that the camp was hit by snowstorm” and that “officials suspect that a massive avalanche on the mountain may have triggered the snowstorm.” Meanwhile, Shailesh Thapa Kshetri, a police spokesman in Nepal, told the New York Times that it was unlikely that an avalanche had struck the team, because the bodies were not buried.

However, when The Outdoor Journal reached out to the NSIDC for comment, Richard Armstrong couldn’t discount an avalanche. Whilst Shailesh Thapa Kshetri pointed out that the bodies had not been buried, “that would still be the case with a dry snow powder avalanche. Not that much mass of snow collecting along the path of the avalanche, but significant destruction due to the air blast resulting from air being displaced by the powder cloud, which would have a density greater than “clean” air”.

AN ‘AIR BLAST’?

Of all the many accounts that have been suggested until now, Suraj Paudyal, a member of the rescue team is believed was closest to the truth. When talking to CNN, Surjah said that “It seems that a serac [a piece of glacial ice broke] and barreled down the couloir [a gully on a mountainside] from the top ridge of the mountain and the gust created the turbulence washing the climbers and staff from their tented camp at the base camp”.

Bruce Raup, a Senior Associate Scientist at the NSIDC, hypothesised that “A snowstorm might have loaded the slopes above them with unstable snow, which then fell catastrophically in an avalanche. Dry snow and ice avalanches are known to push air ahead of them in a sort of shock wave that can pack hurricane force — enough to scatter a camp. Thus, the “air blast” explanation rings true to me, with the understanding that the air blast was caused by a snow avalanche.”

Bruce’s colleague, Richard Armstrong, a Senior Research Scientist, backed this possibility. “In the case of an air blast there would be no such debris (ice and snow), and in many cases like this, very little avalanche debris, actual avalanche snow that is, just the debris of the camp as damaged by the air blast,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the National Avalanche Center , Simon Trautman, an Avalanche Specialist, explained that “Air blasts are a pressure wave of air that runs beyond the obvious avalanche front (or deposited debris). This phenomenon is associated with avalanche motion, but is only occasionally observed. One theory is that air blasts are generated when free falling avalanche debris compresses air close to the ground, subsequently propelling the air ahead of the debris. While this may, or may not be the physics behind air blasts, we do know that they can be very powerful and destructive.” Simon’s colleague, Dr. Karl Birkeland, Director of the Forest Service National Avalanche Center added “that while air blasts with smaller avalanches are rare, air blasts associated with large avalanches in big mountains are fairly common. A few years ago the base camp at Mount Everest was severely affected by an air blast associated with a large avalanche that was trigged by an earthquake”. The Outdoor Journal reported on this earthquake at the time.

The Colorado Geological Survey clarifies on their website, that “The air blast zone is usually in the vicinity of, but not necessarily continuous with, the lower track or runout zone. In some cases it may even run part way up the slope across the valley from the avalanche path.”

HOW POWERFUL IS AN AIR BLAST?

Bruce Raup of the NSIDC explained that an air Blast could have hurricane force, but could it have caused the devastation found at Gurja base camp? The Colorado Geological Survey explains, “Air blasts from powder avalanches commonly exert a pressure of 100 lb/ft (2) of force (Martinelli, speech November 8, 1973). Pressures of only 20-50 lb/ft (2) are capable of knocking out most windows and doors.“

The Outdoor Journal would like to thank all of those who contributed to this article.

Cover Photo: Charles Ng, Jalja La Pass. Views of Dhaulagiri (8167 m) & Gurja Himal (7193 m)

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Expeditions

Dec 20, 2018

Colin O’Brady: The 50 Highest Points in Each US State and Another World Record

Colin O’Brady sets his third world record, undertakes new challenge in 2018 with support from Standard Process Inc.

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WRITTEN BY

The Outdoor Journal

Presented byimage

It is 2:54 a.m. on July 19, 2018, and Colin O’Brady set a new world record. For 21 days, Colin non-stop travelled and climbed with his sights on achieving the fastest time to summit the highest peak in all 50 states in the U.S. Standing atop the summit of Mt. Hood that morning, he officially achieved his goal.

Shattering The U.S. 50-State High Points Record

Drought. Lightning strike. Grueling 26-hour climbs. Multiple climbs per day. Colin O’Brady battled it all in an exhilarating 21-day race against the world clock to climb the tallest peak in all 50 states across the U.S. The 13,000-mile cross-country trek came to a close when O’Brady summited Mt. Hood in his hometown state of Oregon. The Portland native was greeted by friends, family, enthusiasts and locals who cheered on O’Brady in support of his goal.

Colin O’Brady, the 50HP world record holder.

In total, O’Brady walked, ran, hiked and climbed more than 300 trail miles, beating the previous 41-day record set in 2016 by 20 days. On two separate occasions, O’Brady had to skip a peak and come back to it later due to restricted access and unsafe weather conditions. Arizona’s Humphrey’s Peak was temporarily closed due to fire danger caused by lack of rain to the area and Mt. Whitney, California’s high point, was closed due to a lightning strike that caused a forest fire. The final week of this world record attempt in the Pacific Northwest was especially strenuous due to extreme elevations. O’Brady climbed 150 miles across 8 peaks in just 7 days, with no single peak falling below 11,000 feet.

O’Brady was eager to welcome people to join him on the trails or via social media. He often took to Instagram to share his progress and encourage followers to explore their own backyard and celebrate public lands. He received some extra special support from his Dad, who joined him on four separate climbs to celebrate his 60th birthday. Fitz and the Tantrums Drummer, John Wicks, joined O’Brady in Montana to tackle the 12,799-foot Granite Peak. The Missoula native is a personal friend of O’Brady’s and also an ultra-marathon runner and avid mountain climber.

Over the course of the past few years, Colin has become used to the spotlight.

“Nothing can really prepare you for the sheer exhaustion and physical strain that this kind of rapid push creates,” said O’Brady. “It was an ambitious goal, wanting to knock out all 50 peaks in just 21 days. But it really does take a village. I’m beyond grateful for my family and friends, and the much-needed community support at each stop. I also owe a huge thanks to Standard Process and their new Nutrition Innovation Center for both the preparation and the supplement regimen they put me on in the months leading up to the challenge. It put me in a great place to begin this journey and allowed my body to recover properly along the way. Without their support, I think I’d still be somewhere on Gannett Peak right now!”

Colin makes his way down Mount Hood, back towards friends, having broken another world record.

As the exclusive nutritional supplement partner, Standard Process worked with O’Brady to prepare his body to meet this rigorous challenge. Dr. John Troup, PhD, Standard Process Vice President of Clinical Science, Education, & Innovation, led the clinical team at the Standard Process Nutrition Innovation Center (NIC) to run a series of state-of-the-art diagnostic tests to determine the exact nutrients O’Brady needed. The Center is the only active clinical research center of its kind, dedicated to both mid-and long-term support of whole food clinical nutrition.

“We’re so excited to be a part of Colin’s monumental achievement,” said Charlie DuBois, Standard Process President and CEO. “Colin O’Brady is not like a lot of people in this world. He pushes himself to accomplish the seemingly impossible, and then he’s on to the next big goal. We’re inspired and we’re proud to be part of his nutritional journey to peak health.”

The Impossible First

Standard Process continues to support Colin as he pursues his fourth record, The Shackleton Expedition. Also known as The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, Colin is now undertaking an unsupported and unaided 1,000-mile solo trek across Antarctica’s icy terrain in frigid -40°F temperatures, gusting 58-mile-per-hour winds and total daylight – unable to re-supply, use wind aids or have human contact aside from a daily safety-check phone call.

In order to embark on this extreme adventure from November 2018 through January 2019, Colin needed to be in peak mental and physical condition. As part of the Standard Process sponsorship, NIC staff worked closely with Colin to develop a whole food-based supplement plan that further enhanced his own nutritional plan. This included developing nutrition bars for Colin to consume alongside his primary caloric and nutritional intake during the challenge.

Follow Colin and The Impossible First expedition here.

About Colin

A lifelong user of chiropractic care and Standard Process supplements, Colin is fueled by passion and excellence, inspiring others to embark on their own journey to peak health, no matter how big or small.

Born on an organic farm in Olympia, Washington, Colin is a lifelong advocate and user of chiropractic and acupuncture services. He did not begin his athletic life as a mountaineer chasing world records. In high school, he excelled in both swimming and soccer and was eventually recruited to swim competitively for Yale University. After a near-death experience in 2008 where he suffered severe burns to nearly 25% of his body, he came back 18 months later by winning the Chicago Triathlon’s Amateur Division in 2009. This led him to return to the mountains and launched his career as a professional endurance athlete. His world record achievements also include an Explorers Grand Slam speed record and a previous Seven Summits speed record.

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About Standard Process

Standard Process is guided by the whole food philosophy of its founder, Dr Royal Lee. Dr Lee’s goal was to provide nutrients as found in nature, where he believed their natural potency and efficacy would be realized. Today, Standard Process proudly carries on Dr Lee’s legacy and regularly grows more than 80 percent of the raw plant ingredients found in its products on its certified organic farm in Palmyra, Wisconsin. Using state-of-the-art manufacturing processes to retain vital nutrients within each ingredient, Standard Process manufactures its supplements in its NSF International-certified facility. Standard Process employs high-quality control standards and follows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s good manufacturing practices. For more information, visit: standardprocess.com

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