5000 Mile Project: Shoots of recovery in Patagonia after a century of over-grazing

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If you were to consider man’s impact on the natural world, it would perhaps begin with industrialization. Hot-footed in its path would follow a tangle of pollution, booming populations, intensive agriculture and over-consumption.
 
During the past 700 miles of our 5000mileproject odyssey (5000mileproject.org), we’ve steadily been running north from the southerly most tip of continental South America, a wild and remote region of the planet. A place one would consider relatively protected from this ‘humanoid’ onslaught? In reality, ‘Where there is a road, there is a way’.
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Patagonian realizations: Skiing the Whillans ramp on Poincenot

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Editors Note: Andreas Fransson is a Swedish skier who in recent weeks has been touring Patagonia. Salomon Freeski TV, which has just released a documentary profiling Fransson called "Tempting Fear," says he is "redefining the sport of ski mountaineering with his fast, strong and harrowing descents." Also called extreme skiing, and making descents of some of the world's most difficult mountains, in late September Fransson made a first (and last?) ski descent on Poincenot, Cerro Fitzroy massif, Argentine Patagonia. Fransson, who last year made a solo first ski descent of the South Face of Denali in Alaska, calls Poincenot 250 vertical meters of "the most technical skiing I have done in my life." He adds: "When it comes to ski grade rating I doubt I will ever ski anything harder. This is my limit." The following blog about this extraordinary feat is reprinted with his permission.
 
Recently, Bjarne Salén and I walked in toward the Fitzroy massif from El Chaltén. After about 5 hours we arrived at Laguna Los Tres and pitched our tent. From there we skinned up about 600 meters to get some good skiing and check the conditions. We found great snow conditions and skied down to our tent in the sunset.
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Interview with Amory Lovins: Building a sustainable energy future

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The biggest threat to upsetting the amazing pristine landscape and aspirations for a sustainable path in Patagonia, particularly on the Chilean side of the Andes, are an array of development projects aimed at converting this region’s natural resources into electricity.  In Aysen, HidroAysen’s big plans to build five large-scale dams on the Baker and Pascua rivers are well-known, but there are also a plethora of other dam schemes slated for southern Chile. Off the coast of Magallanes, on Riesco Island, a massive coal mining project called “Mina Invierno” is already underway to help support a rapid expansion of coal-fired thermal power plants in Chile’s north (and global warming). Chile’s government urges that more energy supply is needed to continue to fuel economic growth in the decades ahead, but are their facts, figures and energy strategy correct, wise and forward-looking?
 
Nobody is better to answer that question than Amory Lovins, probably the preeminent energy thinker in the world today. The chairman and chief scientist of the Colorado-based think tank Rocky Mountain Institute has a jaw-dropping resume: Oxford don; a former professor at nine universities; author of more than 30 books; advisor to a long list of heads of state, governments and major corporations around the world; winner of numerous awards including the “Alternative Nobel” and a MacArthur genius award; and named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine. 
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Snowboarding the Andes

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Patagonia holds a sense of mystery for snowboarders everywhere. As a half-Swiss-half-American, the idea of surfing on the powder of South American volcanoes seemed a fiction.  It was only when my plane’s wheels set down in Chile’s capitol Santiago and I was surrounded by the Andes that I began to believe.
 
After a 12-hour bus trip south, my first Patagonian snow was on Osorno Volcano. With the tremendous glistening blue Lake Llanquihue providing a backdrop, I considered my $1,000 plane ticket a fair trade for discovering another world.  A little extra hiking yielded untouched powder, with a sprinkling of igneous rocks poking out to watch for.  There are not a lot of off-piste options on this volcano, but what it lacks in trails it greatly makes up in amazing views.
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Extreme sports: Winter Desafio Aysen 2012 in Chilean Patagonia

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Coyhaique -- Teams from Chile, South Africa, France, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia showed their courage and face up to the challenges of kayaking, trekking and mountain biking and crossing lakes, rivers and mountains for two days of competition.

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