Month: December 2020

Midcontinent Grid Operator Sees More Coal-Fired Retirements Than Previously Anticipated

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享 Jeffrey Tomich for EnergyWire via Midwest Energy News:The U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, if upheld by the courts, could force more coal plant retirements than initially expected in the nation’s midsection, according to the most recent modeling by the region’s grid operator.In its most recent report discussed at a committee meeting Wednesday, the Carmel, Indiana-based Midcontinent Independent System Operator looked at various greenhouse gas reduction scenarios and how they would affect the coal fleet across the 15 states where it operates.MISO found that the most cost-effective way of achieving a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions over the next two decades – similar to what would be required nationally under the Clean Power Plan – would lead to the retirement of 16 to 21 gigawatts of coal generation, or nearly one-third of the 65 GW that will be operating at the end of this year.MISO had said as recently as December that it expected up to 14 GW of additional coal retirements on top of the 12.6 GW retired to help operators comply with the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (EnergyWire, Dec. 17, 2015).The analysis also considered a 17 percent reduction in carbon emissions that could keep coal retirements to 8 to 11 GW, and a 43 percent carbon cut that could force as much as 30 GW of coal generation off the grid by 2035.Yesterday’s report at MISO’s Planning Advisory Committee meeting represented the next phase of its Clean Power Plan modeling that began after the EPA issued the final rule on Aug. 3. The grid operator has said it will continue the analysis despite the Supreme Court stay issued Feb. 9 (EnergyWire, Feb. 18).While MISO’s initial work focused on compliance options facing states under the Clean Power Plan, the current work looks more broadly at how the grid will evolve for decades to come as utilities shift to cleaner fuels and take advantage of declining costs for wind and solar energy.MISO projects additional coal retirements under Clean Power Plan Midcontinent Grid Operator Sees More Coal-Fired Retirements Than Previously Anticipatedlast_img read more

GM a Step Closer to Meeting Renewable Energy Goal

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Michigan Public Radio:General Motors says a new wind farm being constructed in Ohio brings it one step closer to running all its facilities worldwide on 100% renewable energy.The 100 megawatt wind farm in northwest Ohio was grandfathered in, before a new law made it almost impossible to build wind farms in that state.Rob Threlkeld, head of global renewable energy for GM, says the Ohio project, along with one being constructed in Illinois, will offset carbon emissions from seven GM plants in the Midwest.“Once these projects are completed later this year, renewable energy will be used to power 20% of our facilities globally,” says Threlkeld.Threlkeld says making it to 100% renewables by 2050 will require more wind and solar, increased energy efficiency in GM plants, along with overall grid improvements, and battery storage to address the intermittent nature of wind and solar.More: GM Will Soon Be 20% Of The Way To Its 100% Renewable Energy Goal GM a Step Closer to Meeting Renewable Energy Goallast_img read more

Wood Mackenzie: Met coal prices likely to fall in 2019, steam coal outlook remains ‘challenging’

first_imgWood Mackenzie: Met coal prices likely to fall in 2019, steam coal outlook remains ‘challenging’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):The “sky-high metallurgical and steel prices” of 2018 will be rebalanced in the coming year, while the market for thermal coal is expected to continue on an uncertain and volatile course, according to Wood Mackenzie’s 2019 coal outlook distributed Jan. 22.The global economy is slowing after a strong 2018, Wood Mackenzie warns, with hints of weakening global trade and a manufacturing slowdown in the U.S., Europe and China. Metallurgical markets could be heavily impacted if a cyclical downswing is driven further into a recession by concerns about political uncertainty.The degree to which tighter steel margins impact metallurgical coal producers and cokemakers in 2019 may still largely be in the hands of China. The country’s direct intervention in the supply of coke and metallurgical coal is a dominant force in global pricing. “The Chinese coke industry has come under severe pressure since the release of a new reform program in July 2018, demanding the elimination of excess coke capacity and improvements to pollutant emissions,” the outlook states. “We expect the focus on capacity removal to harden in 2019 and think structural changes in the coke sector will become more visible.”The uncertain future of long-term thermal coal demand is compounding a reluctance to invest in new greenfield coal mines, according to the report. In addition to restrictive permitting and operating regulations, coal plant owners and coal mine operators are faced with banks and insurance companies that are under pressure to halt their support for coal-related projects in favor of renewable ones.“Volatility is defined as the liability to change rapidly and unpredictably. We expect the entirety of the thermal coal commodity life-cycle in 2019 to live up to this definition,” Wood Mackenzie’s outlook states. “From mine shovel to electron, coal faces another challenging year globally.”Similar to the markets for steelmaking coal, thermal coal markets could be easily swayed by the interventions of China. Wood Mackenzie is projecting total Chinese imports in 2019 to be 186 million tonnes, a drop of 6 million tonnes from 2018. “With a better supply outlook, it only takes a slight decrease in demand — from things such as fallout from the U.S.-China trade war, milder weather, environmental restrictions and better gas availability — to depress domestic pricing and trigger a government response in the form of further import restrictions,” Wood Mackenzie added.More ($): Wood Mackenzie: 2019 bringing rebalance to met coal, roller coaster for thermallast_img read more

Cerrejon mine CEO: Coal industry is in terminal decline

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Most chief executive officers paint a rosy picture when they talk about their companies’ prospects. Not Guillermo Fonseca.The CEO of Colombian coal giant Cerrejon — jointly owned by BHP Group Ltd, Glencore Plc and Anglo American Plc — isn’t sugar-coating anything. The industry, he says, is in terminal decline, and the company is suffering. Prices slumped, a drought hampered operations, and his mine is on the wrong side of the Panama Canal.“The large impact we foresaw from the market disappearing, we always saw as out there in the future,” Fonseca said during an interview in Bogota. “Well, the future is now.”While coal demand remains strong in Asia, it’s withering in North America and Europe as power generators turn increasingly to cheaper and cleaner natural gas, wind and solar power. That’s particularly hard for Cerrejon, which sells much of its coal to Europe. Fonseca projects demand from some countries in the Atlantic market may fall another 50% to 60% over the next five to seven years.Fonseca’s grim outlook doesn’t bode well for Colombia. Coal is the nation’s biggest export after oil, and Cerrejon operates one of its largest mines, a sprawling and terraced open-pit operation near the Caribbean coast. Fonseca is telling the government, unions and local communities that Colombia has a limited window of opportunity to make the most of its vast coal resources while there are still buyers.Cerrejon will produce about 26 to 27 million tons of the fuel this year, Fonseca said. That’s below the company’s target of 30 million tons, he said, and the lowest in more than a decade. Dry weather forced the company to suspend output in some of the pits to avoid breaching air quality regulations.More: One coal CEO sees writing on wall, says make money while you can Cerrejon mine CEO: Coal industry is in terminal declinelast_img read more

Britain looks to complete country’s coal phaseout by 2024

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:Britain is set to move forward by a year to 2024 its deadline for phasing out coal, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday.This was announced during the Year of Climate Action launch event ahead of the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow in the light of statistics showing that Britain’s reliance on coal-fired power generation has dropped from 70% in 1990 to around 40% in 2012 and to less than 3% in 2019. The contribution of renewables, meanwhile, is now “at record levels” standing at 33%.The government’s goal is to bring coal’s share to zero, by closing the last coal-fired plant in the country by October 1, 2024. The previous deadline for that was 2025, announced in 2015.According to the latest government statistics, the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions have declined by 2.1% between 2017 and 2018 mainly thanks to the wave of coal plant closures. Last year, Great Britain, which now has four active coal generators, went for 3,700 hours, or more than five months in total, without using coal.[Veselina Petrova]More: Britain mulls bringing forward coal phase-out date to 2024 Britain looks to complete country’s coal phaseout by 2024last_img read more

Hawaiian Electric to add 460MW of solar, 3GWh of storage in drive for 100% green grid

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Tech:The largest renewable tender in Hawaii’s history has chosen its winners, contracting a solar and storage pipeline that exceeds anything the U.S. state has ever seen.Investor-owned utility Hawaiian Electric said this week the tender it launched last August had selected 16 solar-plus-storage or standalone storage projects across Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island, a fleet of 460MW of PV and nearly 3GWh of storage capacity in total.The winning developers were not named at this stage, with information on project size and location due to be shared “in 30 days or sooner.” The utility – which will now start negotiating contracts with developers – noted that the deals must be endorsed by Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC).The utility – which itself bid for five projects and was contracted for two standalone storage ventures – said the timeline for the overall 460MW/3GWh fleet would have plants start hitting commercial launch in 2022. Disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic makes delays a possibility, Hawaiian Electric said.The solar and storage push comes as Hawaii works to become fully renewable by 2045. The U.S. state will have to fill the gap left behind by the shuttering of a 180MW coal-fired plant on Oahu and a 27.6MW oil-powered plant on Maui in 2022 and 2024, respectively.This year’s tender comes after a 260MW/1GWh solar-plus-storage pipeline of eight projects was contracted through a first procurement phase, in 2018. Slated to come online in 2021, the ventures were contracted at average tariffs of 9.38 U.S. cents per kWh.[José Rojo Martín]More: Hawaii’s renewable tender to deliver major solar and storage push Hawaiian Electric to add 460MW of solar, 3GWh of storage in drive for 100% green gridlast_img read more

The Century Mark

first_imgHogpen Gap is a proving ground for any cyclist in the Southeast. Aaron West/Steepclimbs.comWHAT IS IT ABOUT TRIPLE DIGITS THAT HOLD A SPECIAL PLACE IN THE MIND OF THE ENDURANCE ATHLETE?Joining the century club is especially challenging in the Blue Ridge, where those 100 miles usually include thousands of feet of climbing. It takes a special kind of mental fortitude to line up at the start knowing you have all that riding, all that pain, ahead of you. I guess that’s why they give you the t-shirt at the finish line.Luckily for the masochist, the Blue Ridge is the perfect place for the 100-mile race. The elevation gains will bust your lungs, the descents will raise the hair on the back of your neck, and the scenery will bring tears to your eyes. Or maybe that’s your quad muscles in utter revolt of you spending a perfectly good Saturday in this manner.Either way, we have compiled a guide to the toughest century rides in the Blue Ridge, so pick your poison of hellacious hills.BLOOD, SWEAT & GEARS, Boone, NCElevation Gain: 9,000 ftToughest Climb: Snake MountainShorter Options: Half CenturyLance Armstrong famously called the Boone area of North Carolina “the best area for training in the whole of the United States,” so it is fitting that one of the Southeast’s toughest century rides would be located here. Ride director Scott Nelson says in the early days of the race, they were just concerned with covering the costs of the race, now they sell out their 750 spots in a matter of hours and raise thousands of dollars for the Watauga Red Cross and other organizations. Nelson says 70 percent of riders each year have ridden the event previously, which lends an even more communal atmosphere to the event, especially for those using the race as a personal triumph.“They’ve decided they were going to re-define themselves by doing something that pushes them. For whatever reason, a lot of people are choosing our ride to do that.”They may be choosing Blood, Sweat, and Gears (BSG) because of its reputation for endless climbs and the beauty of the region it traverses. Riders only have four miles to warm up before the course takes a sharp turn upwards, gaining 1,000 feet over the next five miles.“Unlike a lot of other rides, you start out climbing just a few miles in,” says century rider Aaron West. Then you go through Blowing Rock, the heart of the city, which is pretty quaint.”But the true test of the BSG comes at the 60-mile mark and the climb up Snake Mountain. A six-mile gradual climb turns into a grueling quad-buster during the last mile, reaching grades of 20 percent.“It gets steeper and steeper, then you get to what they call ‘The Wall,’” said West. “A lot of people walk it; they call that getting ‘snake-bit.’”It’s not all downhill from there, but the hardest part is over. Even though this race is held in the heat of late June, over 200 volunteers turn out to make sure riders have what they need. This dedication is what makes the ride special in the eyes of Nelson, and keeps riders coming back year after year.“Once you ride BSG, you’re part of the family,” he said.SIX GAP CENTURY, Dahlonega, GAElevation Gain: 11,230 ftToughest Climb: Hogpen GapShorter Options: 3 Gap Fifty or 35-mile Valley RideFor the past 24 years, the Six Gap Century has been near the top of any list touting the toughest century rides in the Southeast, and for good reason. The course mirrors many of the same climbs as the Tour de Georgia, one of the main warm-ups for the pros riding in the Tour de France. American cycling great Levi Leipheimer proclaimed the  Tour de Georgia’s “climbing in the mountains is the best of any North American race.”Over its 100 miles, riders climb over six mountain gaps and gain over 11,000 feet of elevation along the way, including the signature climb over Hogpen Gap at nearly 3,500 feet above sea level.“That’s about seven miles with an average of 10% grade with some steeper pitches,” said West. “People say that’s one of the toughest individual climbs in the Southeast.”West says one of the major appeals of the Six Gap Century is barreling down the backside of each mountain.“The descending is the reward for the climbing, kind of like a roller coaster.”Because the ride takes place in late September, the weather often makes it more tolerable. Be sure to check out the annual Bike Expo that takes place in downtown Dahlonega the day before the race.3 STATE 3 MOUNTAIN, Chattanooga, TNElevation Gain: 5,900 ftToughest Climb: Burkhalter GapShorter Options: Metric Century (2 State, 1 Mountain) or Quarter Century (1 State, 0 Mountain)During the first weekend in May for the past 25 years, cyclists have been riding one of the most lung-busting century routes in the Southeast. Like its name suggests, the 3 State 3 Mountain route winds its way through Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia and over Suck Creek, Sand, and Lookout Mountains from its starting point in Chattanooga. The ride has had to deal with its fair share of adversity over the past few years. In 2011, tornados knocked off the last section of the Lookout Mountain climb, and controversy over rider and motorist behavior threatened the ride’s signature climb up Burkhalter Gap in 2010. With the strife behind them, however, over 2,000 riders participated in 2012.Each of its three distinct climbs get progressively more difficult as the ride wears on. The first major climb up Suck Creek Mountain is long and gentle, averaging a 5 percent grade over seven miles. Sand Mountain is significantly more steep, but is also shorter, averaging 7 percent grade over only 2.5 miles. The crown jewel of Burkhalter Gap averages a 10 percent grade over its 2.3 miles, with sections as steep as 20 percent near the top. These mountain roads also provide some of the best scenery in the tri-state area.ASSAULT ON MOUNT MITCHELL, Spartanburg, SCElevation Gain: 10,357 ftToughest Climb: Mount MitchellShorter Options: Assault on Marion (74.2 miles)The Assault on Mount Mitchell is one of the oldest centuries in the Blue Ridge, beginning in 1975, and for this reason is well known throughout the Southeast and the country.“As far as challenges in the Southeast, it’s kind of the benchmark,” said West. “Even if you can argue which ones are harder, it’s always near the top of the list, if not at the top.”The Assault is well known because of its history, but also because of its difficulty. This ride not only features a 25-mile climb to the top of Mount Mitchell, it features a 75-mile, relatively flat ride from Spartanburg to the mountain’s base. This route and climbing profile means riders have to use a little more strategy than on a normal mountain century, according to Jennifer Billstrom, who rode the Assault in 2007.“It’s flat and fast and really fun until you get to Marion, then you’re climbing to the sky,” she said. “It wears you down quite a bit. There is such a temptation to ride it as fast as you can. It would be really easy to burn yourself out before you even start the most challenging part. You really have to pace yourself.”Mount Mitchell marks the highest point east of the Mississippi, so a summit finish is all that much more spectacular.“When I tell people about my rides, that’s the one that impresses them the most,” says West.Century MapMOUNTAINS OF MISERY, Blacksburg, VAElevation Gain: 10,000 ftToughest Climb: Mountain LakeShorter Options: Wilderness Road Ride (various distances)Mountains of Misery celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2012, attracting over 500 riders to its hilly route outside Blacksburg, Va. Over 10,000 feet of climbing await those willing to take on the challenge, which passes through some of the South’s most picturesque countryside.“The entire route is absolutely beautiful; it’s very scenic from beginning to end,” said Billstrom. “It really is like riding through a postcard.”For every beauty, there is a beast. Ride director Anne Jones says she has a unique way of warning riders who sign up for the event.“I tell everyone that signs up, ‘I’m sorry, it’s not fun,’” she said. “There is no way you can ride that far and have that much climbing and not hurt.”The beginning section of the course is marked by short steep ascents and descents. The climbing starts in earnest at the 60-mile mark. This is just a precursor for the ride’s signature element: the climb up to the finish at Mountain Lake. The Category-1 climb comes in the final 5 miles and averages almost 12 percent grade, with sections of 16 percent. This uphill finish is what “makes everyone cry” according to Jones. As a testament to its difficulty, race organizers have put an aid station half way up the climb, less than two miles from the finish.The race also has great support from the surrounding community, with loads of spectators lining the climbs, bearing signs and chalking the asphalt for their favorite riders.MOUNTAIN MAMA, Monterey, VAElevation Gain: 10,000 ftToughest Climb: Allegheny MountainShorter Options: Blue Grass Valley (27 miles), Two State Short (53 miles), Two State Long (67 miles)The Mountain Mama climbs and descends nine mountains between Virginia and West Virginia, making this one of the most rugged centuries in the Allegheny Highlands. The climbing starts right off the bat: less than 500 yards into the route, riders encounter their first significant uphill, a wake-up call at 1.5 miles at 7% grade. The Mountain Mama course is punctuated by steep and sometimes long climbs, but it’s not all an uphill battle. High speed, twisting descents and stretches along valley floors gives this ride the variety to keep riders guessing.The Allegheny Highlands is known for its rugged terrain and elevation drops, and the Mountain Mama takes advantage. Although the route passes in the shadow of Spruce Knob, West Virginia’s highest point, this course does not lack in ascents. Over the last 20 miles, there are three major mountain climbs, including Allegheny Mountain. This is where the top tier riders separate themselves from the pack. The final five miles of the ride include a 2.5 mile climb into a thrilling 2.5 mile downhill into the finish from the top of Monterey Mountain. This final section also holds some of the best views on course; the Mountain Mama certainly saves the best for last.Shenandoah Mountain 100NORBA Pro Drew Edsall is enjoying his first ride in the laid back Shenandoah Mountain 100.SHENANDOAH MOUNTAIN 100, Stokesville, VAElevation Gain: 13,000 ftToughest Climb: Death ClimbShorter Options: Take the tour over 3 or 4 days.One of the most prominent dirt centuries in the Blue Ridge is the Shenandoah 100. The race now hosts 650 riders and is part of the National Ultra Endurance Series. “It’s kind of become an annual East coast who’s who of long distance mountain biking,” says race director Chris Scott.Beginning from the Stokesville Campground, the course winds its way mostly through George Washington National Forest. Consisting of mostly singletrack riding, with the occasional doubletrack or fire road, the course gains over 12,000 feet of elevation. Scott says the singletrack climb of Lynn Trail comes early in the race and can be a deal breaker if a rider has to walk the entire thing. Later in the race comes the Death Climb, a long slog up a fire road that can bonk any rider. One of the highlights of the race is a seven mile downhill from the high point of the race off of Little Bald Knob. The views off Chestnut Ridge also gives racers a unique feeling of remoteness, as only mountains are visible for miles. Scott says he and his crew are hoping to add more and better singletrack to the beginning of the 2012 version. Ultimately, though, it’s the festival atmosphere that drives people to show up year after year.  •Best of the Rest, More Great CenturiesIssaqueena’s Last RideIssaqueena’s Last Ride in South Carolina is said to trace the final escape of Creek Indian maiden Issaqueena as she fled a Cherokee war party. You could feel like you’ll never escape during this ride’s middle third. The route’s gentle terrain gives way to a steep, sustained climb up the Blue Ridge Escarpment and Whitewater Falls, where legend has Issaqueena ducking behind the falls to escape her pursuers’ clutches. This climb stretches over 10 miles and reaches grades of 14%. Issaqueena’s Last Ride also forms half of the Blue Ridge Double with the Tour de Cashiers.Hot Doggett Century The Hot Doggett Century ride gets its name from its signature climb over Doggett Gap, which comes relatively early in the race at mile 32. Don’t be fooled into thinking the hard part is over, however, as you still have over half of the over 9,600 feet of climbing to go before finishing in Mars Hill, NC. Add in the possibility of blistering July heat and screaming descents and this is one doozy of a ride.Blue Ridge Breakaway Breaking away from the pack is easy…at the beginning. This ride starts off easy with virtually flat first 50 miles, but the second half of the ride is dominated by two major peaks and 32 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The views are spectacular, if you can still see straight once you get up there. Adding to riders’ misery is the always fickle BRP weather. During their first ride, cyclists even had to be evacuated due to a sudden storm.Bridge to BridgeThe Bridge to Bridge begins in Lenoir, NC and makes its way casually around the county before getting serious in a hurry. After 50 miles of rolling hills, the course takes a sharp turn upward with a sustained 11 miles of climbing. The final leg of the race is its most painful, however, as riders follow the Blue Ridge Parkway across the beautiful Linville Viaduct before the steep slog to the top of Grandfather Mountain. The finish and a surprising amount of spectator support await those who complete this “hill of a ride.”Tour de CashiersThis mountain century begins and ends in Cashiers, NC and makes great use of the scenic Nanatahala and Pisgah national forests along its route. High elevation lakes and picturesque gorges make this one of the most beautiful rides in the Blue Ridge. Don’t be fooled, though, as the route includes the Walnut Creek climb: nearly 2,000 feet of elevation gain over 6 miles, half of which comes in the final 2 miles.last_img read more

Ultras are Ultra Cool

first_imgLooking a little rough at mile 27…Well it happened this past Sunday, I knocked out my first Ultra Trail Marathon for the winter running season. There were no aid stations, no cheering fans, and no medals, but plenty of gorgeous views, tough moments, and excellent trail.I was a bit skeptical about the run for a few reasons. First off I had asked Kyle to map out something 17-20 miles long, and of course he comes back to me with this mother (map below). I wasn’t surprised as this is par for the course with Kyle; he likes adventure so more adventure equals more fun right? I was also a tinge worried about my fitness, as my longest run so far this season had been 16 miles. But hell, sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and on Sunday morning I found myself pulling into Sherando Lake.Now this wasn’t my first ultra, which is both good and bad. On one hand I knew what to expect which is good, but on the bad side I knew what to expect. We took off from Sherando Lake and headed towards the St. Mary’s Wilderness. After many miles we were back in Sherando Lake area. The last climb of the day took us up Torrey Ridge, which was a special place for both of us.Me: Kyle, um, I’m having a rough go of it back here.Kyle: I’m in a vortex up here, so don’t worry you have company.Me: You all right?Kyle: I ran out of water 45 minutes ago.Me: You want some of mine?Kyle: Na, I’m going to ride this one out. See where it takes me…Well needless to say we made it back to our cars alive, and only a little worse for wear. Ultra’s are fun, and I think are an activity many people could do. As Ken Chlouber, the Leadville 100 Race Director, would say “You’re tougher than you think you are, and you can do more than you think you can.”I have a few more big runs in the works for this winter, and many miles to run. Hopefully we will see each other out on the trail!Sherando Lake Ultra Maplast_img read more

Two Iconic Blue Ridge Outfitters: Then and Now

first_imgLast year, two of the Southeast’s outfitters landed among Outdoor USA’s top 100 outdoor retailers in the country: Mountain Crossings in Georgia and Water Stone Outdoors in West Virginia.Amid a world of big box stores and internet behemoths, these two outfitters have managed to keep their doors open for over 20 years. How have these shops evolved over the past two decades?Mountain Crossings est. 1983Blairsville, Ga. The original founders of Mountain Crossings—Dorothy and Jeff Hansen—were no strangers to adventure by the time they arrived in Georgia. Dorothy had thru-hiked in 1979 and Jeff worked within the outdoor education field and had studied under such legendary figures as Paul Petzoldt. He came to Georgia as a requirement for completing his degree in outdoor recreation, but once he got a taste of North Georgia and met his future wife Dorothy, Jeff never left.“That place and that area meant so much to us,” Jeff says. “Our life together was in the outdoors there.”Their love for the area was tangible, as real as the love they shared for each other, but they didn’t fully realize what that meant to them until they were sitting on the terrace of the building at Neels Gap that would later become their shop. The year was 1982, and the place could only be described as, at best, decrepit.“The state of Georgia’s original intention was to bulldoze the place,” Jeff says. “It was out in the middle of nowhere, so it kinda fell through the cracks.”Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930s, the original building still remained—but just barely. There were loose tiles, a leaky roof, pipes that were literally tied together, and no running water.But the Hansens didn’t mind. They saw potential, and not just for a business, but for building a home away from home. After assuming ownership of the building in the fall of 1983, the Hansens moved to the gap to live there full time and open up shop. Through brutal weather, a collapsing infrastructure, and the practically unheard-of challenge in raising two children without the convenience of running water, the Hansens persevered.Isolated 30 minutes on either side of the mountain from the nearest town meant growth for the outfitter was slow. Through the tried and true method of providing quality customer service, particularly when it came to decreasing pack weights of thru-hikers, the little outfitter on the mountain gained a reputation that trickled out around the world.“I think that maybe the greatest unexpected surprise was how well [the outfitter] was accepted by everybody and the wonderful, extended community that happened in this place that was really not close to anything,” Jeff says.Though the Hansens no longer run the outfitter, they feel that Mountain Crossings is in good hands. Georganna and Logan Seamon of the thru-hiking class of ’09 recently became the new outfitter owners. According to the couple, the future for Mountain Crossings lies in the revival of its roots.“So many people have memories of this place and this building means so much to so many people,” Georganna says. “That’s one thing we’re really working to maintain and preserve.”Water Stone Outdoors est. 1994Fayetteville, W.Va. Though the New River Gorge is now perhaps one of the most iconic climbing destinations in the country, it wasn’t always that way. In fact, when Gene and Maura Kistler first moved to Fayetteville in the spring of 1991, you could count the number of regular climbers on one hand.The Kistlers both had been climbing in the New River Gorge since the early ‘80s and were part of a small, second wave of climbers who journeyed weekly to the then-undeveloped sandstone cliffs. Gene was a carpenter by trade, Maura a teacher. They teamed up with another climber friend, Kenny Parker, to create a climbing shop.Interestingly, Water Stone Outdoors began not as Water Stone, but as Blue Ridge Outdoors (sound familiar?), a Roanoke-based outdoor outfitter with a sister store in Blacksburg, Va. The Kistlers and Parker all found themselves working for the outfitter at some point, but by 1993, Gene was ready to buy the business and open up a third store in his new hometown of Fayetteville.For nearly a decade, Gene and Kenny slowly built the credibility of the Fayetteville store while chipping away at the building’s much-needed renovations. Finally, in 2001, Gene sold the two Virginia businesses to focus his efforts solely on his pride and joy, which, he decided, was in need of a new name.“We asked for suggestions and got over 400 of them, but they were all kinda ridiculous,” Gene remembers. “As I was driving to Charleston to incorporate the damn thing, I just said screw it, we’re gonna call it Water Stone, which works. I guess we could get into kayaks if we wanted to.”But they didn’t. They stuck to their climbing roots. Kenny and the Kistlers did more than simply run a business, too. They walked the talk. They organized volunteer-run events like the New River Rendezvous and the Craggin’ Classic. They developed routes, built trails, advocated for access. They got involved with the local planning committee, created environmental committees of their own, and stood on their soapbox when something threatened the place they love.They created the New River Alliance of Climbers and established a working relationship with the National Park Service. They hosted climbers from every walk of life in their own homes, hosted potlucks, slideshows, crag cleanups. They were, and are, the face of climbing in the New River Gorge, and now, 20 years later, Water Stone Outdoors is one of the most internationally recognized core climbing outfitters in the country.“We definitely see our job as more involved than simply selling gear,” Maura adds. “We see it as our job to help climbers connect and to be a welcome wagon for the community. We’re really proud of the vibe here.” •last_img read more

Trauma Tuesday: Big Nasty, Black Saturday

first_imgHave you ever heard about the monstrous flood that swept through West Virginia in 1985, killing over 50 people and wiping entire towns off the map? What about the carnage that ensued in the whitewater industry, the day that would come to be known as Black Saturday? No? Well, do yourself a favor, and check out our good friend Jay Young’s two-part series (part 1, part 2) on Dirt Bag Paddler Magazine about “the single most carnage-filled day in American Whitewater.”The story follows the rafting industry down the Cheat River, post flood, on Saturday, April 12, 1986. The following footage Young secured from video boater Paul Marshall, who documented the trips with a Super 8 video camera. Though the flood itself took many lives, it’s incredible to see these helmet-less customers get swept away by the power of this rapid (appropriately named Big Nasty) and know that not a single death or injury was reported.last_img read more