The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Oct 2012

Felix Baumgartner's Record-Breaking Free Fall, by the Numbers

P-20121014-00069_NewsOn solid ground. Photo: Red Bull

On Sunday at 11:31 a.m. EST, 43-year-old Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner lifted off in a capsule attached to a 55-story balloon made of plastic one-tenth the thickness of a sandwich bag and floated roughly 24 miles into the air so that he could jump. "One of the most exciting moments was standing out on top of the world, 30 seconds before stepping off," Baumgartner said.

After Baumgartner stepped off, he added multiple extreme records to his resume. Here are the details of his slow rise and supersonic fall, focusing on the numbers.

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Danner Mountain Trail Left Bank: A New Take on a Familiar Boot

Danner

Two Portland, Oregon-based companies—Danner Boots, an outfit that has been dedicated to quality craftsmanship for more than 80 years, and Tanner Goods, a group of young designers and craftspeople—have collaborated on a new boot as part of Danner Stumptown’s collection.

Called the Mountain Trail Left Bank, the boot is named after the building that houses the Tanner Goods workshop in both brands’ native city.

Like all Danner Stumptown boots, the Mountain Trail Left Bank is 100 percent USA-crafted in Danner’s Portland factory. The boots are lined with leather, mirroring Danner’s original Mountain Light Trail design that dates back to the early 1970s. They feature authentic components and materials—rich Horween Chromexel leather from Chicago, gunmetal hardware, a contrast midsole and a Vibram Gumlite outsole. And each pair of boots comes with both cream and evergreen laces, and will ship with a special Tanner Goods key fob.

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This 4-Year-Old Mountain Biker Rips—and Yours Can, Too

There’s a common misperception that kids younger than five are too little to learn to ride a bike. The other day at our local playground, a couple of parents stopped to ask how old my daughter is. She was tearing around the outer loop, standing up to pump her pedals, and then slamming on the brakes with such conviction she proudly left skid marks on the sidewalk. They were convinced she was six. She’s four. They looked at me with a mix of awe and mistrust, like I have a prodigy on my hands or else I’m just being pushy and reckless. My daughter is athletic, but she’s not unusual. Almost any child can learn to ride a two wheeler by the time they’re three.

And some can even learn to bomb a downhill course, complete with ramps and bridges and rocky ledges, by the time they’re four—like the rad preschooler named Malcolm in this video that went viral last week. If you haven’t already seen it, be prepared to be seriously impressed. The kid is clearing stuff at Highland Mountain Bike Park in New Hampshire that would terrify a lot of adults, and he’s four. More proof that, as parents, we tend to underestimate what our kids are capable of, and when.

Not every kid will be a natural-born mountain biker like Malcolm, but it's easy to raise competent three-year-old rippers—on one condition: No training wheels. Just. Don't. Go. There.

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River Runners: The Latest Victims of Climate Change

River_running_climatePhoto: Grand Canyon NPS

For the contiguous United States, the first nine months of 2012 were the warmest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As of October 2, 64 percent of the United States was in the middle of a drought. Wyoming and Colorado experienced the warmest summer on record, while Wyoming and Nevada saw the driest summer on record. In western and central regions of the country, wildfires burned a record-breaking 3.6 million acres in August.

In other words, it was a cruel summer. It stressed wildlife and depleted water reserves, but it also made life difficult for river runners in the Mountain West, whose business success is dictated largely by the health of the rivers they run. This followed very big water during the summer of 2011, thanks to major snowfall during the 2010-2011 season.

"We're usually kayaking in March, April, May, and usually into June," said Peter Van De Carr, who operates Backdoor Sports in Steamboat Springs and runs the Yampa River. "But last summer, we were done [kayaking] at the end of March. As of June 20, the river was 40 cubic feet per second and going down. A year before, June 20, 2011, it was 4,000cfs and going up."

"Some would say it's not climate change, but climate strange, with one of the wettest years on record followed by one of the driest," said Soren Jespersen, northwest Colorado wildlands coordinator for the Wilderness Society. "I think all the businesses that depend somewhat on consistent weather patterns are having a hard time adjusting to these shifts, whether it be ski resorts or river guides."

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