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Filed under: prairie musings, energy, Dangerous things — Peg Britton @ 6:47 am


Wind power has skyrocked in the United States over the past decade. Since 2000, we’ve gone from about 2,500 megawatts of installed capacity to more than 40,000. That means a lot more turbines, and when those turbines need maintenance or repairs, you want people who are comfortable working 300 feet above ground, hanging from a rope. Rock climbers are perfect for the job.

Rope Partner, a Santa Cruz-based turbine maintenance and repair company, hires recreational climbers to get to the top of turbines in two-man teams. They perform routine inspections, provide cleaning and upkeep services, and even repair damage to the fiberglass blades. Chris Bley, an outdoorsman and environmentalist, launched the business in the early aughts after talking to two fellow climbers in Joshua Tree National Park who made money working on turbines in their native Germany. Since starting as a one-man operation, Rope Partner has expanded to more than 50 employees and works on turbines throughout the United States, and in Mexico and Canada.

Not only do these rock-climbing turbine doctors keep the clean energy flowing, they also get to enjoy an outdoor office. Unlike the rest of us they aren’t being slowly killed by sedentary desk work. Van Jones may have undersold these green-collar jobs after all.

For more…

To see how fast rock climbers can climb, click here.  It’s too much to watch.



Filed under: prairie musings, print news, Video, Dangerous things — Peg Britton @ 9:42 am


Dangerous things fascinate me in a strange way. I’m intrigued by the lack of fear that some people possess in order to actually enjoy the challenge of climbing the perilous sides of mountains, free climbing a rock ledge overhang with fingertips 2,000 feet above solid earth, or “hiking” the El Caminito del Rey, the most dangerous walkway in the world. The list is endless for me as I have a terrible fear of heights.

This is right up there with the post I made in 2007 about the Old Yungas Road, the “Road of Death” in 2007.

My Florida friend, Linda, sent me the following video as she knew it would scare the socks off me. She giggled when I told her I couldn’t even watch the entire video in one sitting…and had to space it out because watching it gives me the willies. I keep pushing myself away from my computer…eek! Watching it for the 10th time, for me, would not be any easier than the first.

The “King’s Little Pathway” was officially closed in 2000 because of the fatalities, but the plan is to make it once again available to tourists as one of the main attractions of this area of Spain. It is still possible to access the walkway, but it is against the law as it is highly dangerous. For those who thrive on danger, the trail offers a burst of adrenalin.

The walkway is only three feet wide, has no railings and is pinned on the mountain wall that is 2300 feet above the river deep within the treacherous Gaitanes Gorge of El Chorro, Spain. The pathway was built in 1905 and now it has fallen apart to a point that there is often nothing but metal bearing rods left. This deadly trail is known as the most dangerous walkway in the world. This is El Caminito del Rey or The King’s Little Pathway.

Check out the video below to see how some adventurers have nerves of steel and walk up and down El Caminito del Rey like there is no abyss below them. The person who filmed this video appeared to have the camera on his head…but I don’t know. He could have been holding the camera, but that doesn’t appear likely to me. He also didn’t stop at collapsed areas and just walked across the metal beams as if it were a commonplace event. He/she has an amazing sense of balance and is fearless. The following video shows how insanely dangerous El Caminito del Rey is.



Filed under: print news, Dangerous things — Peg Britton @ 1:18 pm

It caught me unaware, but motor vehicle crashes…not crime or terrorism…are the No.1 killer of healthy Americans in foreign countries. “And the threat to travelers is poised to increase dramatically as worldwide economic growth gives more people access to motor vehicles.” So says USA Today yesterday.

State Department data show that travelers should be particularly concerned in Mexico. In the three years ended in 2006, at least 280 Americans lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes in Mexico, the nation Americans visit most. Americans’ experience in Canada resulted in 11 deaths for the same 2004-2006 period, but the number of tourists was also slightly less.

Mexican taxis and buses often do not comply with traffic regulations and are not always well maintained. One of Mexico’s most dangerous roads that made the list is Highway 1, a winding, narrow, potholed road from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas that lacks guard rails, shoulders, and road signs.

The article lists the world’s most dangerous roads, which is a subject I find fascinating. Previously, I’ve posted blogs on the Old Yungas Road in Bolivia that is a 50-mile mountain road connecting Coroico to La Paz. Heights one give me the willies and these pictures don’t help. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, this is the worst road in the world. You can see lots of pictures of it here on Dark Roasted Blend. There are links on links so visit them all.

The Old Yungas Road is aptly called “The Road of Death”. Avi Abrams wrote the following in November, 2006: North Yungas Road is hands-down the most dangerous in the world for motorists. If the previous road is just impassable, this one clearly endangers your life. It runs in the Bolivian Andes, 70 km from La Paz to Coroico, and plunges down almost 3,600 meters in an orgy of extremely narrow hairpin curves and 800-meter abyss near-misses. A fatal accident happens there every couple of weeks, 100-200 people perish there every year. In 1995 the Inter-American Development Bank named the La Paz-to-Coroico route “the world’s most dangerous road.” Along the route there are many visible reminders of accidents, wreckages of lorries and trucks that lie scattered around at the bottom.

Others making the ASIRT list are: Brazil, Interstate 116; China, Sichuan-Tibet Highway; Costa Rica, Pan American Highway; Croatia, Coastal roads; Ecuador, Cotopaxi Volcan road; England A44; Peru, Kuelap-Celendin-Cajamarca road; Scotland A77.

Dark Roasted Blend includes one that isn’t on the list, but appears it should be: Scroll down to Russian Siberian Road to Yakutsk.

This is the official federal-government highway to Yakutsk, and it is also the only one to get there. As there are no other roads, the intrepid motorists are doomed to wallow in this dirt, or wait in week-long 100 km car line-ups (they say women even gave birth there while waiting). This can turn into a major humanitarian disaster during rainy spells, when the usual clay covering of the road turns into impassable mud blanket, swallowing trucks and tractors alike. In the meantime the city has to partly airlift food products.


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