Posts by Yunziyi Lang

Meru – The Story of The Impossible

Posted by on Aug 25, 2015 in All Posts, Experiences, Featured Posts, Sports | 0 comments

Meru – The Story of The Impossible

Spread the News:ShareA spine-chilling documentary of three climbers, Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk, premiered in New York last week. It shows how they maintained a fine balance between insanity and persistence as they filmed their climb of the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru.  It is grim trying to understand the drive it took to attempt the climb twice, especially after the first climb resulted in a nearly fatal disaster. During a climb on Mount Everest in 1999, Conrad discovered the body of a legendary English Mountaineer, George Mallory, which made him famous worldwide. Conrad was profoundly inspired by Mallory’s theory of climbing a mountain “because it’s there”. The idea of tackling Meru, “The Impossible,” never stopped haunting him after conquering  Mount Everest. “There’s an intrinsic reward that we get from doing it, the challenge of it. The camaraderie and the teamwork that climbing has, that is between two people, is a pretty unique and special thing” Conrad said during an interview with Matthew Lickona. Mount Meru reaches more than 21,000 feet above the sacred Ganges River in Northern India, and is filled with obstacles that are both nightmares and alluring calls to some of the world’s best climbers. In fact, the Shark’s Fin is more of a flat wall than a mountain. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, director of the documentary, describes Meru as “anti-Everest”, because there are no Sherpas who can offer help during climbing. Jon Krakauer, the bestselling author of Into Thin Air, said in the film, “You can’t just be a good ice climber. You can’t just be good at altitude. You can’t just be a good rock climber. It’s defeated so many good climbers and maybe will defeat everybody for all time. Meru isn’t Everest. On Everest you can hire Sherpas to take most of the risks. This is a whole different kind of climbing.” The Sark’s Fin route is composed of glacier, snow and rock, which requires a high level of competency in various types of climbing. More importantly, there is no room for setting up a tent. Climbers have to sleep in portaledges that hang on the straight wall of Mount Meru. In October 2008, the three friends started the adventure, but were force to retreat after a snowstorm cost them several days and reduced their supplies to nearly nil. During the worst parts of the ascent, they could only travel few hundred meters in one day. However, they had made it just a hundred meters below the peak of the summit. They returned to their family and swore never to attempt the expedition again. But dissatisfied with the first failed attempt, the team decided a second attempt was necessary,  even after promises Conrad made to his family and a severe injury Renan suffered in an avalanche. To them, Meru was a dream for which they were willing to risk their lives. There is nothing more rewarding and worthy than the moment when they reached Meru Peak after 11 days of struggle. The journey was filled with “friendship, sacrifice, hope, and obsession”, said Jimmy, who is also the co-director of this documentary. He added, “I’ve spent much of my life in the mountains as both a climber and as a professional photographer. I always wanted to make a film that gave an audience the visceral experience of going on a difficult alpine big wall climb. I hoped to give people a glimpse of the stakes, the risks and sacrifices involved.” Meanwhile, Jimmy is also looking after Himalayan residents and their culture. As a board member of Machik, he engages in developing opportunities for education, capacity building, and innovation in Tibet. So far, the organization...

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Photo Friday: Quyllur Rit’i – Eulogy for Glaciers

Posted by on Aug 21, 2015 in Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Quyllur Rit’i – Eulogy for Glaciers

Spread the News:ShareIn the ancient Andes, high mountains were worshiped for their power of controlling the weather as well as crop productivity. Moreover, Andean people honored these mountains as being the origin of their culture, the home of powerful spirits, and the linkage between the Earth and sky. Hence, it is not surprising that they hold ceremonies every year to show their respect to those mythical giants. In fact, more than 50 ceremonial sites have been found near high mountains by archaeologists. The shrine of Quyllur Rit’i is located in the Sinakara valley in the Cusco Region of Peru, at which the spiritual and religious Star Snow Festival is held every year. It is close to Ausungate peak, which is over 20,000 ft. Catholic pilgrimages began since 1783 when a local shepherd boy encountered a mysterious white youth, who appears to be the child Christ based on the legend. The festival is held in mid-June and on September 14. Over 10,000 pilgrims as well as tourists will gather at the site annually, even though Quyllur Rit’i is quite difficult to reach. After all, it is a valuable opportunity to enjoy spectacular ritual dance. Here are some photographs of the Quyllur Rit’i. Read more about the festival here. Quyllur Rit'i (Source: Carlos Díaz/Flickr) Quyllur Rit'i (Source: Carlos Díaz/Flickr) Quyllur Rit'i (Source: Carlos Díaz/Flickr) Quyllur Rit'i (Source: Carlos Díaz/Flickr) Quyllur Rit'i (Source: Carlos Díaz/Flickr) Quyllur Rit'i (Source: Carlos Díaz/Flickr) Quyllur Rit'i (Source: Carlos Díaz/Flickr) Spread the...

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Perishing On The Peak

Posted by on Aug 12, 2015 in All Posts, Experiences, Featured Posts | 0 comments

Perishing On The Peak

Spread the News:ShareOn a journey to Kullu Valley in northern India, David Nixon witnessed death of a fellow traveller. As an honorary research fellow at University of Exeter, Nixon published an article, seeking to explore the theological meaning behind this unanticipated tragedy. It began on a trek towards the Pir Panajal region, an extremely remote mountainous area. On day four of the trip, Nixon noticed that his friend Simon had trouble climbing to Rohtang Pass at 4700 meters and had to ride a pony while the guide carried his backpack. Rohtang Pass, translated as “pile of corpses” in Tibetan, is known for its bad weather conditions that caused several fatalities in the past. It links the Kullu Valley with the Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh, both of which are surrounded by glacier-covered mountains. The glacier-covered roads made it even more difficult for the team to proceed. On the descent, Nixon fell on ice and wounded his temple. The group split in two – a faster group and a slower group – since Simon and Nixon and some others had a hard time catching up. The next day, Nixon saw that Simon could hardly move forward, even with the guide desperately pushing him, and he knew that wasn’t a good sign. After rejoining the faster group and having dinner, he watched Simon being carried back to the camp by other teammates. A retired policeman tried to save Simon through CPR, even though it was clear that Simon was already dead. Afterwards, Nixon delivered a prayer for Simon, and the group set up a cairn with some Buddhist prayer flags. They carried Simon’s body in a sleeping bag on the back of a pony until it was taken over by a senior team from the Indian travel agency in Delhi and repatriated to London. According to the coroner, Simon had died from cardiorespiratory arrest and pulmonary edema as a consequence of altitude sickness, which could have been prevented if he went back when he initially felt sick. For Nixon, this experience had a profoundly spiritual meaning. He noted that the context of mountains and countryside could be related to Biblical imagery. Specifically, the valley in which Simon’s bier quietly disappeared as it was carried along and the mountain embedded in cold and dark rocks reminded him of the scene of the glorious and magnificent evocation of death by the Psalmist. Psalm 23 says that, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they protect and comfort me”. Nixon believes that Simon’s identity had been eternally fixed on the mountains in Kullu Valley. Similarly, the identity of the whole traveling group had also been altered. Upon reflection, Nixon found there was little to comfort him and others who were marked by Simon’s death. He believes that the wilderness of the mountains is associated with the later wilderness of exile. “If, as Brueggemann maintains, the ‘Jesus movement’ was the next step on the way from exile to land, then Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness are also part of this dynamic”, he wrote. “Without seeking the discomfort and the dislocation, I recognize that a reconceptualization of God, a new turn in spirituality, is a gift to be welcomed,” he said. Nixon pointed out that exploring theological meaning behind stories is what human beings do to give sense and order to surrounding world, and “impose meaning on the remorseless flow of events in which they are swirling.” As Nixon showed, high mountain landscapes can evoke these meanings with great...

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Roundup: Tidewater Glaciers, North Cascades, Antarctic Bacterium

Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 in Featured Posts, Roundup, Science | 0 comments

Roundup: Tidewater Glaciers, North Cascades, Antarctic Bacterium

Spread the News:ShareThe Culprit for Greenland Ice Sheet Mass Loss “Overall mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet nearly doubled during the early 2000s resulting in an increased contribution to sea-level rise, with this step-change being mainly attributed to the widespread frontal retreat and accompanying dynamic thinning of tidewater glaciers. Changes in glacier calving-front positions are easily derived from remotely sensed imagery and provide a record of dynamic change […] In this study multiple calving-front positions were derived for 199 Greenland marine-terminating outlet glaciers with width greater than 1 km using Landsat imagery for the 11-year period 2000–2010 in order to identify regional seasonal and inter-annual variations. Our results suggest several regions in the south and east of the ice sheet likely share controls on their dynamic changes, but no simple single control is apparent.” Read more here. Area Changes of North Cascades Glaciers “We present an exhaustive spatial analysis using the geographic, geometric, and hypsometric characteristics of 742 North Cascades glaciers to evaluate changes in their areal extents over a half-century period. Our results indicate that, contrary to our initial expectations, glacier change throughout the study region cannot be explained readily by correlations in glacier location, size, or shape. Our statistical analyses of the changes observed indicate that geometric data from a large number of glaciers, as well as a surprisingly large amount of spatial change, are required for a credible statistical detection of glacier-length and area changes over a short (multidecadal) period of time.” Read more here.   The Small Tough Organisms “A population of cold-tolerant Antarctic bacteria was screened for their ability to tolerate other environmental stress factors. Besides low temperature, they were predominantly found to be tolerant to alkali. Attempt was also made to postulate a genetic basis of their multistress-tolerance […] A number of multistress-sensitive mutants were isolated. The mutated gene in one of the mutants sensitive to low temperature, acid and alkali was found to encode citrate synthase. Possible role of citrate synthase in conferring multistress-tolerance was postulated.” Read more here. Spread the...

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What Do Black Southern Cod Like to Eat?

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

What Do Black Southern Cod Like to Eat?

Spread the News:ShareIn the freezing waters of Patagonia, southern Chile, the black southern codfish takes what it can get. With different levels of salinity and nutrients at the mouths of fjords and channels, the black southern codfish maintains regional feeding habits, a new study has found. Researchers Matthias Hüne and Rodrigo Vega, from the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (IEB) and Fisheries Development Institute in Chile, collected fish samples in gill nets to observe and evaluate how the feeding pattern variation of black southern cod is influenced by oceanic and continental water in the Staples Strait in Captain Arancena Island and Puerto Bories in the Ultima Esperanza fjord. Since the black southern cod, an ice fish, is extremely abundant in Patagonia, Hüne and Vega wanted to better understand the trophic structure of the species, which will contribute a more complex understanding of the trophic ecology of fish in Chile. In the coming years, glacier melt is likely to reduce the salinity in surrounding oceans in these regions off southern South America. As a result, the diversity of prey species for the black southern cod will most likely be promoted, meaning that the oceanic food webs may become more complex. It is plausible that those fish will not be intensively affected by changing climate because they are highly adaptable to both higher temperature and lower salinity environments. By dissecting fish samples, the authors of the study were able to determine the diet composition of the species in selected regions. The authors investigated the spatial differentiation in diet composition of black southern cod by taking into consideration both environmental factors (salinity, temperature, oxygen concentration) and biological factors (gender, size). Through this study, they were able to develop a series of factors that predicts the spatial variation for the diet of the fish. Ultimately, Hüne and Vega ascertained that in Staples Strait, the black southern codfish primarily preys on polychaetes, multi-segmented worms that have fleshy bristles protruding from each segment and which are present from abyssal depth to rocky shores.In Puerto Bories, however, the black southern codfish preys mainly on algae and on crustaceans, including ostracods (“seed shrimp” with two shells that exist in almost all aquatic environments, including hot springs) and gammarids (shrimplike creatures which can swim upside-down, backwards or on their sides). Even though there is hardly any difference in the diet pattern among different sexes of the fish, small-sized black southern cod were found to have relatively lower proportion of empty stomachs. There is no doubt that environmental variables play a vital role in affecting the feeding variability of the black southern cod. Theoretically, the fish is prone to consume more diverse prey items where there is higher temperature and lower salinity, which accounts for the relatively high prey diversity in Puerto Bories. The adequacy of potential prey species could largely be attributed to suitable environmental conditions. According to Clarke and Johnston, the metabolic rate of fish in warm water is anticipated to be comparably higher, which could be an explanation for the phenomenon. Furthermore, the research found that small-sized black southern cod mainly prey near the surface of the ocean (or in benthic zone), where the majority of their food comes from ostracods and gammarids. Nevertheless, large-sized species spend most of their time in preying on polychaetes in the water column. Hence, there is no surprise that most of the black southern cod from Puerto Bories were smaller than specimens from Staples Strait. In conclusion, the black southern cod from different locations exhibits various feeding patterns, in which temperature and salinity of the ocean, as well as their physical condition, play an important role in shaping diet....

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