Three-time Piolet d'Or winning alpinist Kazuya Hiraide (JAP) was airlifted 2,500 feet from the 20,000-foot summit of Karun Koh; (photo/Kazuya Hiraide and AAC)
Three-time Piolet d'Or winning alpinist Kazuya Hiraide (JAP) was stymied by severe frostbite just 2,500 feet below the 20,000-foot summit of Pakistan's Karun Koh peak; (photo/Kazuya Hiraide and AAC)

Frostbite Stops Alpinists Just Below Summit, Scientists Discover Super Millipedes, and 5 More Stories to Start Your Week

A weekly wrap-up of adventure news — from the inspiring to the tragic, here’s some of what you missed and a few things to look forward to.

Award-winning alpinist and ski-mountaineer Kazuya Hiraide had to be airlifted off of Pakistan’s Karun Koh peak (22,890 feet) in Pakistan’s Karakorum region. The three-time Piolet d’Or winner and his partner, Takuya Mitoro, were attempting the first ascent of Karun Koh’s North Face when Hiraide developed severe frostbite. The pair were just 2,500 feet short of the summit.

Hiraide is well-respected in mountaineering circles for his fast, light ascents up many of the world’s highest peaks without supplemental oxygen. Most recently, he and Kenro Nakajima received the 2019 Piolet d’Or for their first ascent of a route on Rakaposhi peak (25,550 feet), also within the Pakistani Karakorum.

According to ExplorersWeb, Hiraide and Mitoro were climbing Karun Koh to prepare for an even harder line — the K2’s grueling west ridge.

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Entomologists at Virginia Tech have discovered the first true species of millipede in a drill hole 200 feet beneath Australia. Until the newfound 1,306-legged bug turned up, the term “millipede” was a misnomer. “Prior to this, no millipede had been found with more than 750 legs,” reports SciTech Daily.

The team found that the true millis can measure up to 3.8 inches in length and have up to 300 armor-like body segments. Contrary to popular belief, millipedes are not poisonous.

Findings and photos are now available in the latest Scientific Reports journal.

Charles F. “Chuck” Sams III is now the first Tribal citizen to fill the role of National Park Service director. Sams, whose nomination was officially confirmed by the Senate in November, was ceremonially sworn into office on Thursday, Dec. 16, by Department of the Interior secretary Deb Haaland.

“I have no doubt that together, we’ll be able to expand access to the outdoors, protect America’s public lands, and upgrade our nation’s infrastructure system through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” he said Thursday.

A member of the Cayuse and Walla Walla tribes and a Navy veteran, Sams brings over 25 years of experience in nonprofit conservation and natural resource management to the role.

The man, the myth, and Hollywood’s OG van-lifer, Alex Honnold, has made the second ascent of one of the hardest multipitch climbing routes in the States. And it’s right in his backyard — Las Vegas’s fabled Red Rock Canyon.

“Synthetic Happiness” is a nine-pitch-long 5.13+ route on the Canyon’s notoriously difficult Rainbow Wall. Last month, he and legendary Yosemite wall rider Tommy Caldwell nailed down the first repeat of another Rainbow Wall line, “What Dreams May Come” 5.13-.

“It’s surprising that it even goes. It looks impossible,” Honnold said in an interview earlier this week. Head to ExplorersWeb for the full report.

 

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Major wind storms ravaged the I-25 corridor in Wyoming, Colorado, and northern New Mexico on Wednesday. Gusts averaging 103 mph pummeled thousands of trees, upended semitrucks, tore through buildings, and left thousands without power into the weekend.

Sections of New Mexico’s Carson National Forest, including Red River and Taos Ski Valley, were hit the hardest. The sustained winds prompted local officials to declare a temporary state of emergency.

Carson Forest personnel continue urging residents and visitors to exercise heightened caution. A storm of the magnitude seen Wednesday can lead to later fallout of damaged power lines, timber, and buildings.

Patagonia announced that it would be taking an extended holiday break this year. The contrarian retailer’s North American storefronts and offices will be closed from Dec. 25 through Jan. 1. Customer service and distribution center operations will cease a day earlier, Dec. 24, and start back up on Jan. 3.

“We’re giving employees a break this holiday season with some paid time off,” but, “our website is always open,” reads the holiday closure announcement. Note taken: In a rare display of convention, Patagonia will accept your patronage at patagonia.com and its upcycled-oriented shop, Worn Wear.

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Clif Bar is breaking into a new segment — pet food. Set to launch early next year, Clif Pet will, like its parent company, use all plant-based ingredients.

According to the press release, Clif will premiere three plant-based dog treats in early 2022. Ostensibly, Clif Pet will eventually offer a full smorgasbord of animal-friendly fare, including goodies for the feline segment.

Clif Pet will premier in 2022 with three plant-based dog treats; (photo/Clif Pet)
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Jilli Cluff
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Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing. In 2020, Jilli left her corporate position to pursue an outdoor-oriented life. She now works as a contributor, gear tester, and editor for GearJunkie and other outlets within the AllGear network. She is based out of Austin, Texas, where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.