MISSING SNOWBOARDER SPENT NIGHT IN HOTEL
Here’s a thought: Drinking and reporting your brother lost to authorities don’t mix. South Lake Tahoe search and rescue spent more than $40,000 looking for 24-year-old snowboarder Corey Hoffman, 24, who got separated from his brother on last run and disappeared after allegedly pounding drinks at a Heavenly Valley bar. Hoffman wasn’t lost in the snowy backcountry, though — he turned up the next morning after he’d spent the night at the Horizon Hotel Casino in South Tahoe. More than 75 people and two helicopters battled high winds, blowing snow, and avalanche hazards looking for Hoffman, who was probably drinking free watered-down cocktails at the one dollar blackjack table. Authorities tried to figure out how the snafu occurred, but as the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office wryly put it, “After a lengthy interview with Corey and his brother who had reported him missing, we are unable to determine exactly what transpired…[details are] conflicting, due to the consumption of alcohol.” Via RGJ.
DUPRE MAKES THIRD SOLO WINTER ATTEMPT ON DENALI
Nobody’s ever summited Denali on an entirely self-supported solo effort in winter, and only nine expeditions totaling 16 people have ever reached the summit in winter, with six deaths occurring on those climbs. This isn’t stopping climber Lonnie Dupre, who’s giving it a go in January, the coldest and darkest time of the year. Dupre landed on Kahiltna Glacier Wednesday and knows that on the mountain he’ll be battling -60º F temps and 100-mile-an-hour winds and will have just six hours a day of sunlight. This is his third attempt in three winters — he’s made it it as high as 17,200 feet (the summit is 20,320) before bad weather has forced him to retreat. Via Explorersweb.com.
ARC’TERYX FILES PATENT FOR REFILLABLE “VAPORBAG” AVIE PACK
Word of Arc’teryx’s patent for an avalanche “Vaporbag” backpack leaked out last summer, but is getting new attention with the Outdoor Retailer trade show coming up. The bag deploys automatically, no rip cord required, and wouldn’t need the bulk of a canister to fire. The patent describes how the unit can deploy 50 times between battery charges and could weigh a lot less than present avalanche airbag tech. How’s it work, exactly? Via battery-operated fan. That would eliminate many issues with current bags, in particular traveling with them. But patents are no guarantee of production — intriguing as it is, this might never come to retail. Via Wildsnow.com.
CALIFORNIA MEGA-QUAKE IS POSSIBLE AFTER ALL
For decades, scientists have assumed the central portion of California’s San Andreas fault acts as a barrier that prevents a big quake in the southern part of the state from spreading to the north, and vice versa. As a result, a mega-quake that could be felt from San Diego to San Francisco was widely considered impossible. But scientists at Caltech and in Japan now think they’re wrong. They’ve simulated how that mid-fault buffer zone, long thought somewhat dormant, and only moving with tectonic plates, might be more like the rest of the fault — able to shift all at once if there’s enough stress on it. The scientists believe that just such a snap caused the 9.0-magnitude Tohoku-Oki earthquake that hit Japan in 2011 (which triggered the subsequent tsunami and the death of 16,000 people. Scientists believe they can look at the midsection of the San Andreas more closely to see if there’s a physical record of a fault slip like the one their calculations predict. Via LA Times.