One of the biggest films that screened at the 2012 Banff Mountain Film Competition was Messner, a 108-minute German documentary with English subtitles directed by Andreas Nickel. In late September, before the European premiere of the film, journalist Johanna Stoeckl interviewed the famous German mountaineer about everything from his childhood to the evolution of alpinism. Two of Messner's most interesting answers came in the middle of the interview, when Stoeckler asked about his favorite athletes and the state of alpinism today.
A composite image of Sandy making landfall at night. Photo: NASA/Goddard
The death toll from Sandy in the United States has risen to 75, according to the Associated Press. One death in Canada and 67 deaths in the Caribbean bring the count to 143 deaths total from the superstorm. Authorities fear that number will likely rise as search and rescue units scour debris and check areas that are flooded.
The storm knocked out power to more than eight million people in 17 states. The New York Times has a graphic showing the areas and the number of people affected by outages. As subways and buses start up again in New York City, experts warn caution should still be taken in affected areas. The Associated Press has compiled a state-by-state list of the storm's damage. NPR has compiled a list of health hazards—mold, contaminated water, carbon monoxide poisoning—resulting from Sandy, and addressed methods for preventing and dealing with such threats. The Red Cross and FEMA have resources and contact numbers for people who need help.
Sixty-nine parks along the eastern seaboard have either been closed or cordoned off in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, according to the National Park Service. New York was particularly hard hit, with extensive flooding on Ellis Island, Liberty Island, and Battery Park. In New Jersey, the Gateway National Recreation Area, which includes Sandy Hook and Breezy Point, was heavily damaged. Morristown National Historical Park, the site of General George Washington and the Continental Army's winter encampment in 1779, is closed with hundreds of trees down. Further south, all National Capital Region parks are closed, including parks in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Most of Assateague Island, off the Maryland/Virginia coast, remains underwater, and Shenandoah National Park is closed until further notice. More than 100 park employees have been deployed to the hardest-hit areas to assist with repairs.
The number of inbounds avalanche deaths has increased over the past seven years, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Since 2005, there have been eight inbounds-avalanche fatalities—avalanche deaths that occur in open, patrolled terrain due to non-extenuating circumstances—at resorts in the United States in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, California, and Nevada. While eight may seem a small number, it’s double the historical average for a seven-year period. From 1985 to 2005, there were three inbounds-avalanche deaths. The eight deaths also add up to nearly a quarter of all fatalities since 1950.
A 31-year-old software engineer will attempt to make history on Sunday by climbing 103 flights of stairs in Chicago’s Willis Tower on his state-of-the-art-prosthetic leg. After losing his right leg in a motorcycle accident, Zac Vawter signed up to become a research subject at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, helping to test a new kind of prosthetic controlled by his thoughts. The climb, called the “SkyRise Chicago,” is a fundraising initiative by the Institute and will feature almost 2,700 other climbers. However, researchers will be watching Vawter’s progress the closest. While most prosthetics are what the University of Michigan’s Daniel Ferris calls “fancy wooden legs,” Vawter’s bionic leg responds to electrical impulses in his hamstring, essentially allowing him to control it with his thoughts as he would his natural limbs. The $8 million project is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Defense.