Fatality at Mule Ears in Big Bend, Texas

The Houston Chronicle reports Big Bend hikers found what is believed to be the body of Peter Bastien who was reported missing in June on Mule Ears in the park. A seven-day air and ground search was conducted in June when authorities found Bastien’s car at the trailhead. In May another hiker died from dehydration less than 24 hours after being reported missing. Temperatures often exceed 100 degress in the summer.

Navajos Upset Over Wastewater Snowmaking at Arizona Snowbowl

The Christian Science Monitor reports that Navajos are upset with the Forest Service recent approval of a plan to use recycled sewage water for snow making at the Arizona Ski Bowl. 14 tribes have opposed the move and there were 10,000 comments before Cocincino Supervisor Nora Rasure made the annoucement. The Snowbowl occupies just 777 acres in a mountain forest covering 74,000 acres – 1 percent of which is directly impacted by skiing. The are 400 ski related Flagstaff jobs supporting the 150,000 annual visitors. The Navajo compare the San Francisco Mountains to the National Cathedral. In another related battle Devil’s Tower in Wyoming is considering renaming the land “Bear Lodge” — its traditional name.
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Fatal Avalanche on Colorado Fourteener Mount Quandry

Outdoorwire reports two climbers in a church group were caught in an avalanche on Colorado Fourteener Mount Quandry near Breckenridge. One climber was able to call 911 with his cell phone. The body of the other climber was recovered with use of a rescue dog under 1.15 meters of debris. The hard slab avalanche which was triggered by the climbers was reported to be 600 feet wide but only 1 to 2 feet thick and fell 13,800 feet and fell to nearly 11,700 feet from a very wind-loaded (or wind-drifted) S aspect. One on November 11, 2002, two climbers were swept by an avalanche but survied. A lone skier was killed on Dec. 21, 1999.

Peak on Appennines Highest Massif in Italy to Be Named “John Paul’s Peak”

Various news sources report that a peak on the Gran Sasso is to be named “John Paul’s Peak” on May 18 — the Pope’s 85th birthday. The Gran Sasso is the highest massif in the Appennines range which runs along Italian peninsula. The articles do not give the specific coordinates of the peak to be named but report it is 2,424 metres (7,900 feet). There are several higher peaks on the massif including the highest 2,914 metre Corno Grande peak. The coordinates for Corno Grande is 42° 28′ N; 13° 34′ E
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Stuck SUV Saves Hiker Stranded in New Mexico Snow

The Gallup Independent has a strange tale about a lost hiker whose life was saved because the keys were in an SUV stuck in a 5′ New Mexico snowdrift. Chuck Whitney got stuck on County Route 50 and so he and his girlfriend camped out while they waited for help the next day. In the middle of the night they heard a car door slam and the engine start but didn’t investigate because they thought the region was too remote for anybody else to be there. The next morning he found foot prints and saw somebody had been in the car although they had left. Whitney found out later after reading a newspaper report that the person in the car was Mike Miller who had spent 23 hours lost in a snowstorm and was subject of a statewide search. After drying his clothes Miller walked further down the road where he was picked up by a passing motorist.

Steeper Murayama Kodo Trail Opens on Fuji

The Yomiuri Shimbun reports a new trail has opened on Fuji. The Murayama Kodo trail was the most popular route up the mountain until it fell into disuse in 1903, when an easier trail was opened. In 2002, the Tokyo-based Fujisan Club began clearing the trail. The new trail is a stark contrast to the modern method, whereby visitors travel to the fifth station–2,400 meters above sea level–and then ascend to the 3,776-meter summit along a relatively easy trail. Records show that the ancient trail was opened in the late Heian period (794-1192) as part of the rigorous training for yamabushi, ascetic Buddhist monks. The trail begins at Murayama Sengen Shrine, 500 meters above sea level. It served as the main trail until the middle of the Edo period (1603-1868), when a new route was opened.