SnowshoeMag.com News Bytes: May 17, 2004

Although Snowshoe Magazine is a periodical providing original content, we also view the industry as one that stirs some news. Here are some great newsworthy notes that require your attention (each month we will try to provide three notes):

*The Breast Cancer Fund’s Fifth Mountain Climbing Expedition will take place this summer to support breast cancer prevention efforts. This year’s team of over 30 breast cancer survivors and others who have been touched by the disease will attempt to summit Mount Shasta in Northern California to raise funding and awareness for breast cancer prevention.

Due to the success of “Climb Against the Odds – Mount Shasta in July 2003,” The Breast Cancer Fund planned a second Mount Shasta, Calif., climb for July 2004. Last year a team of 49 individuals took on the mountain and raised over $750,000 for breast cancer prevention efforts, and the extraordinary response to this event inspired the organization to do it again.

“We had such a positive experience with Climb Against the Odds – Mt. Shasta 2003 that The Breast Cancer Fund has decided to make it an annual event,” said Development Director Beth Strachan. “These climbs give survivors and their supporters the opportunity to conquer their fear associated with the disease and inspire people to take action to end this epidemic.”

This year’s climbers hope to raise $500,000 for breast cancer prevention initiatives. Each team member has dedicated months of intense training to prepare for the climb, in addition to attempting to raise $8,000. These climbers will work tirelessly to increase awareness of the harmful health effects caused by environmental toxins, and most importantly, expressed the strength and courage they’ve found in facing breast cancer.

**According to the Associated Press, scientists are packing blocks of snow from national parks throughout the western United States into freezers to test for pollution.

The National Park Service began the study two years ago and is scheduled to conclude it in 2007. The goal is determining whether airborne pollutants have fouled national treasures that many people believe are unspoiled.

“It’s really sort of a mystery we’re trying to solve,” said Dixon Landers, the lead scientist in a multidisciplinary research team working on the Western Airborne Contaminants Assessment Project.

Landers and other scientists are trying to determine what toxic compounds and metals drop from the atmosphere into the parks, where they come from, and whether their concentrations are significant enough to worry about.

The results should help determine whether long-term monitoring is necessary, said Tamara Blett, a Denver-based National Park Service ecologist who coordinates the project. The study focuses on Mount Rainier, Olympic and other national parks in the West because most of them have been ignored by such studies, while researchers have focused on pollution problems in the Great Lakes and parks in the East.

“We really know nothing about the West. It’s just a blank slate, especially for the persistent organic pollutants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and DDT,” Blett said.

***There’s still gold at the end of the Klondike Trail, and Canada’s Greg and Denise McHale of Dawson City, Yukon can prove it. Each is now the justifiably proud owner of a $5,000 gold nugget – the prize for Team Canada’s first-place finish in the 2004 Fulda Challenge Extreme Arctic Adventure.

Greg, an RCMP constable and mountain climber, was also the top male athlete of the Challenge, claiming a 1,500 Euro ($2,500 Canadian) cash prize. His wife Denise tied for second place in the women’s competition to win 1,000 Euros (about $1,700 Canadian).

This year’s Challenge pitted nine two-person (one male, one female) teams from seven countries against 2,000 kilometres of the rugged goldrush route from Skagway, Alaska, to Dawson City, and beyond to the Arctic Circle. Along the route, in what has been called the toughest battle in the Fulda’s four-year history, the McHales competed with the other teams in a variety of demanding outdoor events that ranged from a half marathon and a snowshoe race up 3,000 vertical meters, to hovercraft handling and tire changing.

Plans are already underway for Fulda Challenges in 2005 and 2006. More information about the Fulda Challenge is available at http://www.fuldachallenge.com.

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Ryan Anderson