The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Oct 2012

The World's Hardest Rock Climb Goes Down

The world's first 5.15c route is here—and it's not in Spain. Adam Ondra pushed the grade scale a little higher this morning when he sent his project Change, a severely-overhanging 180-foot sport line in Norway's Flatanger Cave for which he's proposed the highest grade ever given to a route. If the rating sticks—and it likely will, based on Ondra's track record—it will be the hardest rock climb in the history of the sport.

As recently as last week, Ondra's chances of pulling off the send seemed slim. The weather around Flatanger was gloomy, and Change was wet enough that filmmaker Petr Pavlicek, who's been traveling with Ondra, said that trying to scale it was "more swimming than climbing." Ondra, 19, made it as far as the last crux before falling near the finish.

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K2 National Snowboard Binding: Single-Ratchet Ease, Dual-Ratchet Security

K2 Snowboarding National binding

Unlike traditional snowboard bindings that use two ratchet straps to secure your boot to your binding, K2's National uses Auto, a new device that tightens both front and rear straps with a single ratchet.


Auto saves weight and ups the speed and ease of strapping in. It's simple in theory, but the mechanics are unique and fairly complex. An overbuilt ratchet on the upper strap is cabled to the front, underneath the binding. Tighten the top strap, and the Auto simultaneously tightens the toe. It’s slick and hassle-free, which means speedy strap-in on-the-fly with fewer moving parts, whether you're putting your board on or taking it off.

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Patrick Dempsey on Cycling and Cancer

Dempsey ChallengeRememberances at the Dempsey Challenge. Courtesy of Rousseau Photography.

With all the controversy swirling around Lance Armstrong, it's tempting to turn your back on it all, including LiveStrong. I'm as disgusted with the drama as anyone—the lying, the cover-ups, the coverage. But a recent conversation with actor Patrick Dempsey, of Grey's Anatomy fame, reminded me that cycling has real power beyond all the scandals. Dempsey, who founded a cancer center in Maine after his mother contracted the disease, is prepping for the foundation's annual charity ride, scheduled for the second weekend in October. He says that in four years of participating in the Dempsey Challenge he's witnessed cycling's ability to empower patients, to galvanize communities for good, and to raise money that can affect change.

Dempsey spoke with us about his center's upcoming fundraiser and the importance of not giving up on charity events. Don't miss a big list of rides and walks after the interview.

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Surfer Kelly Slater Wins Quiksilver Pro France

Slater_k0013quikeu12cestari_mSlater on the way to his tour victory number 51. Photo: ©ASP/Cestari

Surfer Kelly Slater nabbed his second straight ASP World Cup Tour victory of the year when he defeated wildcard Dane Reynolds in three-to-five foot waves during the final of the Quiksilver Pro France. “It has literally been 20 years,” Slater said. “I had my first win here 20 years ago and that’s pretty crazy."

The 40-year-old is on a quest to win his 12th world title. He climbed from third to second place in the overall standings with his victory, and is in the middle of a tight race with three events left to go.

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Expedition Watch: Swimming the Missouri River

Tumblr_mb595ae3As1rrsp00Cornthwaite playing for the camera. Photo:

On August 10, British adventurer Dave Cornthwaite hopped into the Missouri River near Chamberlain, South Dakota, with a 40-pound, gear-filled raft and started swimming south. Since then, he has stroked for roughly 12 hours a day while dragging the raft behind him. As he swims, he tries to avoid floating debris and tree branches lurking just under the surface of the water. The expedition is the seventh installment of his quest to complete 25 journeys of 1,000 miles or more without assistance from motorized transport. He got the idea for his latest gig while stand-up paddling the Mississippi River just north of Saint Louis, Missouri. "I looked up a short stretch of the river and thought, One day, my friend," said Cornthwaite. "Then my mum got me some swimming goggles for Christmas and I thought I better use them well."

We emailed Cornthwaite a day before the end of his journey to find out a bit more.

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