Archive for July, 2011

Chimu Inka’s New Band Member?


Guillermo and Family

Guillermo Seminario, leader of the Peruvian band, Chimu Inka, with is wife Lourdes and their new son, born in Trujillo, Peru about 8 months ago. They just sent us this shot, which we wanted to share with you. Congrats to Familia Seminario. Chimu Inka has come to the U.S. under sponsorship from MSI in the past and will be visiting again in 2012.

Winter Scenes in Southern New Zealand


I shot most of these images within the last few days, the panorama was shot this afternoon.
Images ©Mountain Spirit Institute

Early Morning Light on Lake Wakatipu Mountains

Early Morning Light Above Queenstown, NZ

AlpenGlow on Lake Wakatipu, NZ

Clouc over the Southern Remarkables, this afternoon.

Light touching the peaks east of Lake Wakatipu

Alpenglow on high peaks, South of Queenstown, NZ

Panorama from Kingston, NZ, taken this afternoon

Super Full Moon


Nasa - Super Perigee Moon

March 16, 2011: Mark your calendar. On March 19th, a full Moon of rare size and beauty will rise in the east at sunset. It’s a super “perigee moon”–the biggest in almost 20 years.

“The last full Moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993,” says Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC. “I’d say it’s worth a look.”

Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon’s orbit. It is an ellipse with one side (perigee) about 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other (apogee): diagram. Nearby perigee moons are about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser moons that occur on the apogee side of the Moon’s orbit. Read the rest of this story…

A NZ Earthquake’s Lightshow


Fishermen See Flashes of Light as Quake Hits Port
Lyttleton,  New Zealand,
From: The Press*
By Paul Gorman

Gary Vallance, Photo: Stacy Squires

Light show: While fishing on Lyttelton Harbour on June 13 Gary Vallance saw blue lights flashing in the water at the precise time the magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck.

Flashes of blue light in the deep waters of Lyttelton Harbour mystified the four occupants of a fishing boat on June 13.
Heading back to port after a largely unsuccessful trip in search of groper, Christchurch engineer Gary Vallance and three friends experienced the 2.20pm magnitude-6.3 earthquake from a different perspective in their seven-metre boat.
They did not feel the magnitude-5.6 quake at 1pm, when they were in deeper water near Pigeon Bay.
However, Vallance put their lack of fishing success down to the shake and unexpected swells.
“We were about halfway up the harbour between the heads and Lyttelton when the second one hit,” he said.
“I was looking out the front of the boat and I saw a couple of blue
flashes down in the water
was definitely a flash, a dim blue flash.
“Almost immediately, the boat shuddered and the guy driving it wondered what the bell it was. He thought he’d run into something.
“Then we saw all  rocks coming down the hillsides.
“The blue flashes were about 100 metres to the side of the vessel and shot from left to right in a straight line across us. Then the next minute it was like the boat hit something.”

He wondered if the flickering blue light was the result of friction from rocks on the harbour bottom grinding together as the quake struck.
Canterbury University geological sciences professor Jarg Pettinga said what they saw was possibly the effects of the energy of the P-wave (primary wave) moving through the water.
“The shockwave may have released some bubbles of gas from sediment or it may be something to do with the way the light was interfering wiht the water as the seismic wave was coming through.”

* The Press is an excellent newspaper, and their coverage of the earthquake through it all, has been fantastic. If you’d like to keep up on the latest earthquake news please visit their website, or if you’re on the South Island, purchase a copy.

Loving Linquistics


By R. Richards

You probably know about Google Translator but I thought I’d briefly write about it here, just in case you’ve never used it. If  you haven’t, check it out.

Use this to write to friends old and new in foriegn lands

It’s a great tool for reaching out across cultures and languages to those you may have met while doing your overseas expedition, and kept their address but never wrote to them because of the language barrier. It also features on-the-fly translation for those using gmail, and for other email clients, quick cut and past from the website into emails works effortlessly.

I must admit, my Spanish grammar isn’t the best, (I’ve been told I speak “Tarzan Spanish”). One of these days, I’ll get my conjugations down, but for now, in order to write a somewhat grammatically correct email to my friends in Peru, I admit it, I often use Google Translator.

Another cool site I stumbled upon yesterday is where I found a free downloadable Quechua English Dictionary. How cool is that?

I’m sure this  particular dictionary hasn’t been around that long, so I was excited to see and download it. It works quite well. I haven’t checked out the other languages but you can, at  here.

So get out there and start writing to someone, anyone and bridge the language gap. Enjoy.



Voluntourism Emerging as Fast Growing Niche for Outdoor Specialty Retailers
From: The Global Ripple
Clothes that can be worn a long time, not show dirt or stink, and be washed by hand: Rain gear. Sturdy, waterproof walking shoes suitable for mud. Duct tape. Bug repellent. Compact water filter. Headlamp. Pocket knife. Money pouch. Sun block. One-liter, reusable water bottle. Day pack…

These items could easily have been excerpted from a gear list provided by an outfitter, the National Outdoor Leadership School or a chapter of the Youth Conservation Corps, but they were not. They were found instead on gear lists published by — or on behalf of — the American Hiking Society (AHS), the Conservation Volunteers International Program (CVIP) and Wilderness Volunteers, which are among the growing number of non-profit conservation groups partnering with tour operators to fuel rapidly growing demand for voluntourism. Read the rest of this story..

A History of the Carabiner


Linking History...

From: Alpinist
Working his bare-feet up the face, the climber takes a knotted sling from his shoulder and places it around a stone horn. He takes a second sling, deftly unknots it and feeds the cord carefully around his hempen lead rope and the slung rock. With the rope now connected to his natural protection he ties the second cord back into a sling and climbs on….

Before Otto “Rambo” Herzog first conceived using carabiners, climbers had only two options for connecting their ropes to protection: tie the rope and protection together, or untie and run the rope directly through the gear. Neither option was quick or especially safe.
In Alpinist 35 we examine the history of the carabiner; why Otto “Rambo” Herzog first thought of using the device, how it was modified over the last century and how the carabiner got its name.

Rambo Herzog

Otto “Rambo” Herzog earned his nickname seventy years before the Sylvester Stallone movies. “Ramponieren” in German means “to batter” or “to bash,” and Herzog got his nickname, “Rambo,” not for flailing up climbs but for the hours he spent ramponieren specific problems. Today, Herzog is remembered for introducing the carabiner and breaking Hans Dülfer’s grading system. In 1913, he climbed the south wall of the Schüsselkarspitze (2537m) with Hans Fiechtl, a route that reached the limit of grade V (5.8/9), the highest grade in Dülfer’s I-V scale. In 1921, Herzog, together with Gustav Haber, climbed the “Ha-He Verschneidung” on the Dreizinkenspitze (2306m). Today rated 5.10, Herzog and Haber’s climb was so difficult that grade VI had to be added onto the I-V grading scale.

Today all climbing carabiners are made from solid metal. But in the 1970s SALEWA introduced a hollow design, that weighed only forty grams. This model was not only revolutionary because of its form but also because of the safety testing done on every unit. For the first time, each carabiner was individually tested before hitting the market. The slight indent on the curve of the pictured ‘biner, is the mark left by the 1000kg test. Many climbers will look at the empty interior and imagine that hollow carabiners were unsafe. However, in a recent interview with Alpinist, SALEWA’s former General Manager Hermann Huber said the hollow designs were abandoned because of breakthroughs in cold forging that allowed for lighter and stronger designs from solid aluminum.  Read the rest of this story…

Corn & The Advantage of Backwardness


Machu Picchu, Maize and the Advantage of Backwardness
June 30, 2011 by Andean Air Mail & PERUVIAN TIMES
By Nicholas Asheshov
Special for the Machu Picchu Centennial –


Machu Picchu and the Inca Empire were the creation of an import from Central America, maize, and a dramatic climate shift that turned the Andean highlands from inhospitable wet-and-cold to pleasant, as it is today, dry-and-warm.

For more than half a millenium before this shift the high Andes had been miserable.  With the new dry-and-warm, starting around 1000 AD, a backwoods tribe, the Incas, put together the new climate and technology breakthroughs and by 1500AD had produced the world’s most go-ahead empire, heavily populated and larger, richer, healthier and better organized than Ming Dynasty China and the Ottoman Empire, its nearest contemporaries. Read the rest of this story…