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Video » Breathtaking – K2 – The World’s Most Dangerous Mountain

American alpinist Adrian Ballinger climbed K2, the “Savage Mountain” in 2019, reaching the summit of the second tallest mountain in the world without supplemental oxygen.

Via YouTube »

“K2 is a savage mountain that tries to kill you.” That is how climber George Bell described the infamous peak after the first American expedition in 1953–forever giving the mountain its nickname–The Savage Mountain. Sixty-six years later, Eddie Bauer mountain guides Adrian Ballinger and Carla Perez aim to summit the 8611-meter peak and join a community of explorers fewer in number than those who have been to outer space. Even more incredible, they both will attempt the feat without the use of supplemental oxygen. Every step of the way the team faces hazardous conditions, terrifying setbacks, and crushing misfortunes. But as Ballinger puts it, “I’ll go until the mountain tells me I can’t go anymore.”

UNESCO designates 15 new Geoparks

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) on July 10, 2020 at it’s meeting in Paris, designated 15 new Geoparks. There are now 162 designated sites across 44 countries.

UNESCO said »

These sites of exceptional geological and cultural significance showcase the beauty and diversity of planet Earth. Today 162 sites across the world document our planet’s evolution over 4.6 billion years, unlocking our history preserved in the rock record to learn from the past and support local communities.

More » UNESCO

More » Wikipedia entry for UNESCO Global Geoparks

 

The commercialization of Mount Everest

The crowds climbing Everest are spoiling one another’s views and polluting the region. Less than one-third will summit. 4% will die trying.

However the economies of Nepal and Tibet depend on these climbers, contributing some 10% of Nepal’s GDP.

A typical Everest package costs US$66,000 per climber — including $11,000 for government permits, US$14,000 for guides, US$5,000 for sherpas, US$4,000 for oxygen, plus US$1,000 for yaks and porters.

It’s an additional US$70,000 to retrieve your body should you fail trying.

Zachary Crockett, The Hustle »

When Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary first reached the summit of Everest in 1953, mountaineering was a sport reserved for alpine clubs, national expeditions, and scientific pursuits.

For decades, the governments of Nepal and Tibet (which share access to Everest) denied access to most foreign climbers. Throughout the 1980s, access was limited to one Everest permit per season.

But in the early 1990s, everything changed.

Realizing that there was a business opportunity in leading Western adventure seekers up Everest, climbers like Rob Hall (Adventure Consultants) and Scott Fischer (Mountain Madness) convinced Nepalese officials to expand foreign access. John Krakauer’s 1997 bestseller Into Thin Air, which chronicled the death of 8 climbers (including Hall and Fischer) on one of these early expeditions, only further stoked demand.

More » NYTimes (paywall) » After Deadly Jam on Everest, Nepal Delays New Safety Rules

 

China closes Mount Everest base camp to tourists

The new restrictions are directed at regular tourists. Mountaineers, scientific researchers, and geological disaster researcher are still be allowed inside the reserve.

Karson Yiu, writing for ABC News:

Tourists will now no longer have access to the research base camp and can only reach as far as the Rongbuk Monastery at 16,400 feet above sea level. Only those with proper permits will be able to access base camp just over a mile away — and, with that, go beyond base camp onto the mountain.

And

Tibet Autonomous Region Sports Bureau said in a statement that during last year’s climbing season, they collected 8.4 metric tons of waste including garbage and human waste from the core area.

The People’s Daily reported that this year, authorities are restricting permits to only 300 climbers and the mountain is only open to climbing during the spring.

China will also now charge a $1,500 per climber rubbish collection fee and each climber will be required to bring down 8 kilograms (17.6 pounds) of garbage back down with them to hand over to authorities.

More at ABC News

China will be the world’s top tourist destination by 2030

Chinese authorities have recognized that tourism is a key pillar of their economy, and they continue to invest heavily to improve infrastructure and standards, in addition to opening up the country with increasingly tourism-friendly policies and initiatives.

At the World Travel Market in London, Euromonitor International’s Head of Travel Caroline Bremner said: “Destinations like China are poised for a successful performance in inbound tourism, with China set to overtake France as the leading destination worldwide by 2030.”

The report estimates there will be 127 million arrivals in China each year by the end of the next decade, compared to 126 million in France and 116 million in the US.

And as household incomes and standards of living continue to rise, more Chinese are predicted to be travelling overseas in the coming decade than any other nationality.

Read more at World Economic Forum

These passports offer the most travel freedom

The Henley Passport Index is a ranking of the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without first obtaining a visa.

Henley & Partners released this press release today:

Japan has overtaken Singapore to claim the top spot on the 2018 Henley Passport Index, having gained visa-free access to Myanmar this month. Japan now enjoys visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations, compared to Singapore’s total of 189. The countries have been neck and neck since they both climbed to 1st place in February, pushing Germany down to 2nd place for the first time since 2014.

Germany has now fallen further to 3rd place, which it shares with South Korea and France. Their nationals enjoy visa-free access to 188 countries. France moved up a place last Friday when it gained visa-free access to Uzbekistan. Iraq and Afghanistan continues to sit at the bottom (106th) of the Henley Passport Index — based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association(IATA).

The US and the UK, both with 186 destinations, have slid down yet another spot — from 4th to 5th place — with neither having gained access to any new jurisdictions since the start of 2018. With stagnant outbound visa activity compared to Asian high-performers, it seems unlikely they will regain the number 1 spot they jointly held in 2015 any time soon.

In general, the UAE has made the most remarkable ascent on the Henley Passport Index, from 62nd place in 2006 to 21st place worldwide currently, and looking ahead, the most dramatic climb might come from Kosovo, which officially met all the criteria for visa-liberalization with the EU in July and is now in discussions with the European Council.

Russia received a boost in September when Taiwan announced a visa-waiver, but the country has nonetheless fallen from 46th to 47th place due to movements higher up the ranking. The same is true of China: Chinese nationals obtained access to two new jurisdictions (St. Lucia and Myanmar), but the Chinese passport fell two places, to 71st overall.

Dr. Christian H. Kälin, Group Chairman of Henley & Partners, says countries with citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs all fall within the top 50 of the Henley Passport Index. Newcomer Moldova, which is due to launch its CBI program in November, has climbed 20 places since 2008. “The travel freedom that comes with a second passport is significant, while the economic and societal value that CBI programs generate for host countries can be transformative,” says Dr. Kälin.

The top countries are:

1. Japan (190 countries)

2. Singapore (189 countries)

3. Germany (188 countries)

4. (Tied) France, South Korea, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden, Spain (187 countries)

5. (Tied) Norway, United Kingdom, Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, USA (186 countries)

6. (Tied) Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Ireland (185 countries)

7. (Tied) Australia, Greece, Malta (183 countries)

8. (Tied) New Zealand, Czech Republic (182 countries)

9. Iceland (181 countries)

10. (Tied) Hungary, Slovenia, Malaysia (180 countries)

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