These days, Kathmandu residents have one of the best backyard views out there: the world’s tallest mountains. Thanks to unprecedented clean air, it's possible to see Mount Everest right from Kathmandu Valley. It’s the first time in decades that the Himalayas could be viewed in the once-bustling city, which is roughly 124 miles away. Last week, photographer Abhushan Gautam snapped this jaw-dropping photo from the Chobar village in Kathmandu Valley.
Normally, this time of year is known for terrible levels of pollution and dust. Hospitals are typically filled with cases of Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, chronic bronchitis, and allergies. This year, not so much. The COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown has starkly changed one of Nepal’s busiest and polluted cities. Right now vehicles are off the road, and factories are shut down, essentially giving the city a much needed breathe of fresh air. It’s not just Kathmandu Valley reaping the benefits of clearer skies, parts of Northern India are experiencing similar effects. Residents in the city of Jalandhar in Punjab also woke up to breathtaking views of the Dhauladhar mountains. Likewise, the Singhwahini village in Bihar recently enjoyed crystal clear views of the Himalayas, with some villagers even able to spy Mount Everest from their rooftops.
Seeing the Himalayas right from the Kathmandu Valley didn’t use to be such a rare occurrence, in fact, it was part of everyday life. But as the city grew in size, more and more vehicles filled up the streets, and the mountains steadily disappeared behind a blanket of hazy pollution. Cars have been one of the biggest contributors to Kathmandu’s poor air quality. Nepal's Department of Environment released a study in 2017 finding that diesel vehicles alone were responsible for 34% of the air pollution in the city. And while the cleaner skies are a welcomed change, Kathmandu’s Air Quality Index (AQI) still has a ways to go. Even though fossil fuel consumption dropped significantly during the lockdown, wildfire smoke, garbage burning pollution, and cross-border haze have kept the AQI at dangerous levels.
Pollution will inevitably come back when life resumes in Kathmandu. However, the lockdown could be a major wake up call for Nepal. These past few weeks have proved that it’s possible to clean up Kathmandu, and the benefits are worth the hard work. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to see that view every day? Just before the lockdown, electric vehicles made up 10% of all new car sales. If the Nepali government heightened its efforts to support clean energy options, it could help both the nation’s health and economy.
Checking out the slide's 6-foot crown. Doug McCabe/Gallatin Nat'l Forest Avalanche Center photo. On May 19th, 2020, a large wet slab naturally released on the northeastern aspect of Montana's Yellowstone Club. The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center sent personnel to investigate the slide, and determined that the slide was triggered by a cornice fall. Crown-town, USA. H. Dougherty photo. The slab's crown depth ranged between four and nine feet over an 1800-foot width.
After closing lifts and mountain access on March 14 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Washington’s Crystal Mountain will re-open skiing and snowboarding on June 1. Following models first used at spring ski destinations like Oregon’s Timberline and Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin, Crystal will use a reservation system to limit the number of guests on the mountain at the same time. Season passholders and Ikon Pass holders will not be given priority, but will still get to ski for free if they
Listening. That’s the first step of being an ally. Action. That’s step 2. Racism exists, and it's ugly, but everyone can work to put a permanent end to it. It has no place in the outdoors, and it has no place anywhere. Therefore, fixing racism in the outdoors needs to start at the systemic level. If you are stuck at home wondering how you can be of productive help in this fight, here are some tools to help you join the cause we all need to be fighting for right now. RELATED: Racism Exists