The Stuff Sack: News from the wilds of the Internet

Coast Guard surfer rescue
Surfing Alaska’s Kodiak Islands has its risks, and cold water isn’t really their most dangerous. In the case of Eagle River resident Scott Jones, it was Old Man Wind and his pesky sidekick, Riptide. Jones was surfing with some buddies (a pretty select group when you consider the winter conditions of their home break), when a rip, described as a “raging river,” pulled him from the lineup, around a point and deposited him on a rocky shore hemmed in by the full-moon fueled high tide. He found himself some shelter in a seawall cave and waited for the orange & white calvary, which was alerted to his frothy predicament by his friends.
Shout out to

Climbers for a cause
Two rock climbers from Michigan are raising money for research into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder through their website, Their first effort under the mission is Mexico’s Time Wave Zero, a 23-pitch sport route in the Sierra Madre.
via WZZN 13

Forbes does … gear reviews?
Look, I suppose it’s cool that outdoor gear has made it to the pages of Forbes and their New York City rooftop campout to test a lot of the promo gear they received is pretty innovative, but I couldn’t help but chuckle at what author Jon Burner considers “essential gear.” He does know his audience, however, given what he chose to review at length: GPS devices and solar smartphone chargers.
Have a read.

Possibly “worst ever” storm system bearing down on Alaska’s coast

Apparently Alaska is preparing for a big one. 

This kind of storm hasn’t been seen in decades and will bring 10-foot surges and hurricane-force, snow-encrusted winds to a number of small towns along the coast, as well as the more populated city of Nome. The storm is rumbling out of the Bearing Sea at close to 60 mph.

The National Weather Service says it has the potential to be one of the “worst storms ever.” Effects of the storm are already being felt in the Aleutians and are expected to last until at least Wednesday afternoon.

NOLS students run into protective mother grizzly on Alaska course. Evacs needed.

A group of seven NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) students backpacking during an independent travel day during the last days of their course in Alaska came across a mother griz and some cubs. Four students were attacked, suffered injuries. They were in the Talkeetna wilderness.

The teenage students were armed with bear spray and the appropriate emergency protocol, but apparently did not get to use the repellent. Evacs got underway in enough time for the students to reach formal medical care before their injuries worsened.

A number of things are coming into play that make this situation unique in the history of bear attacks. The students were crossing a stream. The odds are very good that the bear did not hear them, a key issue in bear country, even as they were making noise for that very purpose. Thus, they may have startled a mother bear, which almost never ends well.

It was evening, around 8:30. This is when bears become active foragers, more so when with cubs. The kids were probably looking to find camp close to the stream as a water source.

The only way this could have been prevented was by staying home. Given the number of trips and students NOLS leads each year, it has done a remarkable job of keeping its students safe in hostile environments. The School, literally, wrote the book on backcountry travel, safety and injury care. I feel awful for the kids, who just wanted to experience wilderness. The School now has an ugly case study for the upcoming Wilderness Risk Management Conference and hopefully, more information on which to base future bear country travel guidelines.