Daily Dirt: March 13, 2013

13 Mar 13
Daily Dirt: March 13, 2013

The not quite as smokey Smoky Mountains.

Your outdoor news for March 13, 2013:

Smoky Mountains Less Smoky

And that’s a good thing. According to a new report from the Colorado State University Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CSU CIRA), the Clean Air Act is working – at least in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Between 1990 – the last amendment to the act – and 2010, sulfur dioxide emissions in the U.S. dropped from 23 million tons to 8 million tons and nitrogen oxide emissions were cut in half. What this all means is that when you are on top of a Smoky Mountain peak, you will be able to see farther than two decades ago (See photo above). CIRA used atmospheric conditions from present and the 1990s to simulate what the park looked like way back when and compare it to present day. The results are dramatic. While the scientists involved in the study stress there is still a lot to do and long way to go, this is a good sign that policy in Washington can affect real and good change.

New Climbing Gym Opens in Roanoke

A climbing gym has opened in Roanoke. The River Rock offers 4,500 square feet of bouldering with over 140 problems and 4,000 square feet of rope climbing with over 30 routes, and will offer lessons, host birthday parties and community events. This new gym is significant for a few of reasons. Roanoke was the winner of our Best Mid-Size Mountain Town reader poll in part because both the community and local government is committed to developing projects like a new climbing gym along their already established greenway. The River Rock sits inside the River House, a converted ice factory in the historic Wasena Neghborhood, which also houses the Wasena City Tap Room plus other commercial space and residential units. This is truly a unique development in the heart of Roanoke, and is exemplary of the strides a city can make from dying industrial center to emerging outdoor mecca. Through mixed use, outdoor recreation/residential/commercial spaces like this, the future is only looking brighter for the the Star City.

Pope on the Slope

Usually when we talk about white smoke, we are not talking about Catholicism, but another religion favored by dreadlocked islanders (cough, cough). In this case, however, white smoke billowing from the Vatican signals the election of a new head of the Catholic church. Specifically, that new pope is 76-year-old Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio – now known as Pope Francis. Whether you give a flying Franciscan about who the next pope is or not, the occasion was an excuse for Outside to retread a 2002 piece cleverly titled Pope on a Rope Tow. The article by Lisa Anne Auerbach is a fun little jaunt to Poland to ski and investigate Pope John Paul II’s history with skiing, rumored to be extensive. A good read, especially given the news of the day which is very much Pope-heavy.

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