The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Jan 2011

Climber Ethan Pringle on Injuries, Nicknames, and Jumbo Love

Sixteen months after injuring his shoulder during the 2009 American Bouldering Series Nationals, Ethan Pringle made his comeback. He did it in fine style last June, when he repeated Dai Koyamada's Wheel of Life (V16/5.14d), a massive 60-plus move roof problem in Australia's Grampians. Since then, Pringle, 24, has been on a tear, sending two more 5.14d routes, winning the UBC Pro Tour at the Nor'easter, and repeating Chris Sharma's Spicy Noodle (5.14c) in Yangshuo, China.

Now in Hueco Tanks, Pringle says he isn't in any rush to return to the competition that took him out of action. He'll be skipping ABS Nationals next month to spend time at home before heading off to Spain on a one-way ticket. I spoke with Pringle about his recovery and his fondness for Chris Sharma's routes.
--Adam Roy

You've had a really remarkable comeback since injuring your shoulder. How did you manage  to return so strong after all that time off?
I guess I just went back to devoting all my time to climbing and tried my hardest not to get injured again. I sort of failed in that regard at the Nor'Easter comp, but besides that I've been pretty much injury-free for the last year or so. When I got injured originally, I had my doubts about whether I would climb anything harder than 5.12 again. So it was to my pleasant surprise that last February, March, April I started to climb well again.

Since then I've just been getting more psyched on climbing and really getting back into the swing of it. Every time I get injured it seems like a more serious injury, and every time I take time off I come back more psyched. I think that's how it works for most climbers.

In December, you put up China's hardest route, Spicy Dumpling. Tell me a little bit about  how that effort went. From what I heard, it sounded like you polished it off pretty quickly.
First of all, it's an awesome route, an awesome climb. Chris [Sharma] is the one who put the bolts in it. It branches off of a route he did called Spicy Noodle. You climb up the first 30 feet or so of that route then branch out left onto the face. I was really inspired by the line.

I remember watching the video of Chris on it when it first came out and thinking—because it has this really big, shouldery move for the left arm, which is the shoulder that I injured—that I would never be able to repeat that move that he does.

But I thought the route looked awesome, a really cool line. When I saw it at first I was equally stunned by it. Then I got on it, and the first time I went up it I was pretty beat down by the crux, I couldn't figure it out.

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Illegal PWC-User Saves Life

Jet ski assistance. Photo Courtest of Flickr

Jet skis have been controversial ever since they hit the surf scene: they're loud, smelly, and dangerous. But, as proved during a recent swell in California, they can also be invaluable for safety in the ocean.

During the swell, photographer Russell Ord was illegally out on a personal watercraft (PWC) taking photos of surfers at Mavericks, according to A PWC ban was put in place for the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary in late 2008, effectively disallowing PWC use at Mavericks, unless NOAA releases a high-surf advisory. There was no advisory for this swell.

But, when a large set rolled through the lineup and caught many surfers inside, Ord had to put his PWC to use. He successfully pulled one surfer from the impact zone and then spotted the body of Jacob Trette floating unconscious in near the rocks. Trette reportedly suffered a couple of two-wave hold-downs before being washed through to the inside. Ord got Trette on his sled and took him to the beach. Trette had no pulse, but thanks to the quick work of EMTs and surfers, his pulse was revived. reports that after a couple of days in a coma, Trette is alert a talking again.

The incident brings up an argument that surfers have touted since the ban entered discussion: is it worthwile when lives are at stake? During big swells around the world, there are normally small flotillas of PWCs around, just for life-saving purposes.

And where was the NOAA high-surf advisory? The set that washed through the lineup was reportedly about 25-foot.

Or are these big-wave surfers just crazy? Sound off below.

--Will Taylor

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Quiksilver, ASP Announce $1 Million Pro New York

Long Island Surf Queens County, Long Island. Courtesy of Flickr

Quiksilver and ASP announced today that New York's Long Island will be the site of the Quiksilver Pro New York this fall, according to TransWorld Surf. The event, running from September 4-15, will be the first East Coast venue for the ASP World Tour, and the $1 million purse will be the largest yet offered on the tour.

The Pro New York will be the sixth stop of the 2011 World Tour and will draw some of the best wave riders in the world to an East Coast haven for surfers.

"When I was young," said Kelly Slater, ten time ASP World Champion, "I remember some great waves on Long Island with my brother Sean and my friends. I'm really looking forward to being in New York."

Check out two of the premier surf shops on Long Island, Unsound Surf and Long Beach Surf.

--Will Grant

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The Gear Junkie: 'Top 20' from OR Show

The twice-annual Outdoor Retailer trade show, held in Salt Lake City, is an exhibition of to-be-released outdoors apparel and gear from manufacturers around the world. After six days in Utah last week -- demoing new gear, skiing powder, walking the trade show floor -- a few items began to surface as the best new products from the show. Here are my top picks, 20 innovative products I cite as "Best in Show" from the big exhibition in Salt Lake. --Stephen Regenold


1. Kid Helmet/Goggle Package -- Smith's Cosmos/Galaxy helmet and goggle package costs just $80. What you get for that is a youth ski helmet and goggles made to work together. Instead of an elastic strap on the back of the helmet, the system uses a magnet-and-buckle design to let the goggles snap into place. The Smith promise: "Even the youngest of rippers can now put on and adjust goggles by themselves."


2. Flat Tool -- Forged out of titanium and weighing an unnoticeable 19 grams, the MAKO Bike Tool is a simple and ultra-light solution for ad hoc bike repair on the road or singletrack trail. It has neoprene inserts that hold four driver bits. On the tool's body, there are slots and cut-outs to create metric box wrench sizes, spoke wrenches and other crucial tools to fix your bike. 

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Uncooperative Bison Killed Outside Yellowstone

Yellowstone Bison Yellowstone bison. Courtesy of Flickr

Wildlife officials in Montana shot and killed an uncooperative female bison on Monday in the Gallatin Valley north of Yellowstone National Park, according to Reuters. The bison was one of a herd of 25 that officials drove from Yellowstone to Gallatin National Forest. When it wandered from the National Forest onto private land where it is not allowed, it was shot.

Moving the animals from the park to the national forest, which hasn't been done for decades, represents a hard-won compromise between federal and state govenrments and between ranchers and conservationists. Migrating bison have historically posed a threat to livestock producers in the area because of the animal's tendency to host the disease brucellosis, which can abort bovine pregnancies.

Bison are one of many ungulates in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem whose migratory patterns take them to lower elevations during winter months, often to private land in the neighboring valleys that drain the high Yellowstone Plateau. Over the years, more than 3,000 bison have been killed as incorrigble dispersers.

Although managing for a free-roaming bison herd at the urban-wildland interface has been a politically charged issue, wildlife officials from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and the National Park Service have worked arduously to maintain the health of the range, the wildlife, and the surrounding argricultural infrastructure. No obvious or easy soultion has yet presented itself.

Check out the National Park Service's interagency plan to eliminate brucellosis from Yellowstone bison. Like bison, wolves often get into trouble when they wander out of Yellowstone. Check out Outside's latest coverage of Yellowstone wolves.

--Will Grant

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