The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Nov 2010

Photography in the World's Extreme Environments

Photo By Michael Nichols
Photo by Michael Nichols

 "My whole thing is visceral," says photographer Michael Nichols. "My stuff is savage, on the run."

"What I'm really known for is pushing the boundaries—showing something you can't see in any other way."

Nichols is one of five photographers featured in the Annenberg Space for Photography's Extreme Exposure, a special series on shooters driven to capture the world's most remote and endangered locations. You can listen to each photographer talk about the dangers they face in this digital exhibit.

"I live in the middle of the Everglades," says Clyde Butcher, "As primeval a place you can find in the United States."

Photo by Clyde Butcher
Photo by Clyde Butcher
"I'm fighting wind. I'm fighting rain. I'm fighting mud. I'm fighting lightning. Now that's something to be scared of. I've had my hair stand on end. I've had lightning come out of my fingers."

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The Gear Junkie Scoop: Marquette Backcountry Ski

Marquette Backcountry Ski - 4
By Stephen Regenold

Snow piles deep each winter on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a region of vast forests, rivers, small mountains, and the immense body of Lake Superior to the north. Not many people live on the U.P. But those who do, like David Ollila, often embrace outdoor activities with a fervor.

For Ollila, this means mountain biking and backcountry skiing. He founded U.P. Mountain Biking Magazine in 1995. To record his exploits, Ollila later invented a helmet-camera design that would eventually grow into a successful company, V.I.O. Inc.

Ollila's latest venture, Snapperhead Inventions LLC, was a company born after a year of development and $70,000 in borrowed capital. The company's sole offering, the Marquette Backcountry Ski, is a unique piece of winter gear custom made for terrain similar to what's found in the woods and hills above Ollila's home on the U.P.

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New Irish Big Wave Surfed


Photos of a new big wave dubbed "Prowlers" turned up on this week and they are insane. Take a look at the video above and it's easy to agree that the lads riding these waves are some brave souls. The water is frigid, the waves are in the ballpark of 50 feet, and the wave is breaking over a rock reef. And, they're not talking: the boys are the location under wraps for as long as they can. Would you go looking for that?

--Will Taylor



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10 Things You Should Know About 127 Hours

James Franco, Photo by Chuck Zlotnick                     James Franco, Photo by Chuck Zlotnick

The new movie 127 Hours will reach theatres all over the country this Friday. If you haven't been reading our blog, here's the part where we tell you again that it's the story about Aron Ralston's struggle to stay alive after a 800-lb. boulder falls on his arm in Blue John Canyon. To get you prepped for the movie, here's a quick list of the things to know before you sit down with your bucket of popcorn and pail of Coke to watch Aron Ralston drink his own urine while he slowly starves in the desert.

10 People Fainted During the Previews
Yes, you've probably heard this already. It happened in the scene where James Franco, playing Aron, sawed his arm off. Here's a quick link or two in case you want to read more about it. Just keep in mind, this film isn't The Exorcist or Saw.

9 What You Should Do If You Feel Like Fainting
We had to include this, just for fun. New York wrote a long piece with advice from both Ralston and Franco on what viewers should do if they feel dizzy or light-headed in the theater.

"Stay seated," Aron Ralston told Vulture last week. "It's okay if you're in your seat and you feel like you need to pass out for a few seconds. It only becomes dangerous if you decide you need to leave the theater and you stand up and then you're falling from a standing position."

"If you're feeling woozy, just cover your eyes. There's nothing wrong with covering your eyes. It took 40 minutes [for Aron to cut his arm off], so what Danny showed is mercifully short. It's visceral, but it's about the exhilaration of getting free and leaving in the end."
--James Franco 

Outside Pocket Knife 8 About That Pocket Knife

It was an imitation leatherman—so not exactly a precision instrument for sawing off a limb. Not that we should be casting any stones. At one point we asked Ralston for an honest review of the pocket knife we give to subscribers. Here's what he had to say.
1. Hey, Hey, bone saw!
2. Say you bust a strap on your backless leather chaps. No problem—its got an awl.
3. Pewter color makes it less identifiable than the old yellow Outside knife. Owner is therefore less likely to be mocked as too cheap to plop down $6.97 for a real Wal-mart knockoff.
4. No pliers, toothpick, or tweezers—but a fish scaler? It'll more likely be cleaning resin out of a pipe than scales off any fish.
5. Flimsy bottle opener would keep Lindsay Lohan sober.
6. Right-handed can opener. 'Nuff said.

7 The Question
Was Aron Ralston a hero or just a reckless adventurer? Steve Casimiro, a consultant to the film, writes his opinion on Adventure Journal.

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Columbia Sportswear Chairwoman Busts Up Robbery

Gert Boyle, the 86-year-old leader of Columbia Sportswear, thwarted an armed robbery attempt at her home by setting off a silent alarm. After the robber held her up at gunpoint outside and then led her inside, she told him she had to turn off her alarm. Instead, she tripped a silent panic button. Police showed up and caught the man.

You can read the full AP story here, but all you really need to know is what she said to the policeman who came to brief her on the investigation.

"He mistakenly wore a North Face jacket, and he asked her how she was doing," Sergeant Neil Hennelly told the AP. "She said she was doing fine until that jacket walked through the door."

-Joe Spring

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