The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Nov 2012

Reinhold Messner on Real Alpine Adventure

Screen Shot 2012-10-31 at 9.39.22 AMThe movie poster. Photo: Courtesy of Messner

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.

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Death Toll From Sandy Rises to 75 in United States, 143 Overall

SandyLandfallNightA 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.

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A Video Showing the Life and Death of Sandy

Here is a view of Sandy's life from above. It was recorded by NASA's GOES-13 Satellite. It begins on October 23, when Tropical Depression 18 morphed into Tropical Storm Sandy. Before that, on October 22, at roughly 11:00 a.m., about 320 miles southwest of Kingston, Jamaica, a hot towering rain cloud that rose roughly nine miles above the ocean formed into a more organized Tropical Depression 18, which generated winds of 30mph. Just six hours later, it became a tropical storm and picked up the name Sandy as it moved toward Jamaica at 3mph while generating winds of 45mph. The next day, Sandy's winds picked up to 80mph and she started growing.

By October 25, Sandy had become a Category II hurricane that blew sustained winds of 105mph—tropical force winds extended more than 205 miles from her center. As she moved over the Caribbean, she caused more than 70 deaths, and left more than 18,000 people homeless in Haiti. On October 25, NASA noted that high pressure moving clockwise over New England might push Sandy into the Mid-Atlantic as a cold front moved in from the west. By October 26, as she passed over the Bahamas, the tone became more serious as her potential to become a gigantic freak superstorm became more obvious. She was dubbed the "Bride of Frankenstorm."

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Expedition Watch: A Solo Climb of Denali in Winter

LonnieDupreWaiting out the storm. Photo: Lonnie Dupre

Lonnie Dupre has attempted to climb Denali in January each of the last two years. Both times he hit bad weather. So he huddled inside snow caves and waited for the conditions to clear. They didn't, even after seven days of sitting. Turning around after so much waiting was the toughest part of his two previous expeditions—he reached 17,200 feet in 2011 and 14,200 feet in 2012—but an easy decision. "If you make the wrong choice in those conditions, that's it," said Dupre in an email.

We checked in with Dupre to find out what he has planned for his third winter attempt at Denali.

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The Pull of the Crowd: Editor's Letter, November 2012

Keyes-novIn the winter of 2002, three friends and I headed out of bounds from the Santa Fe Ski Basin for an afternoon of sidecountry skiing in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Our destination was a set of relatively mellow chutes that drop from a ridge just above timberline into a steep scree field. Thanks to our jobs at Outside, we were equipped with the latest gear: avalanche beacons, shovels, probes, and early AT skis and bindings. Otherwise, we were not unlike many parties heading out of bounds: woefully unprepared. Only one in our party had any avalanche training. The rest of us knew just enough to get into trouble, and that's exactly what happened. One friend volunteered to drop in, and he immediately triggered a slide. The three of us watched him helplessly from above as he sank deeper into the snow. I remember hearing someone repeating the line, "Get ouf of it, get out of it, get out of it." Miraculously, he did, grabbing a tree before the slide had really picked up speed. We scurried back in-bounds with our tails between our legs.

I thought of this incident when I first heard news of last winter's massive avalanche in the Tunnel Creek drainage near Stevens Pass, Washington, which swept up four expert skiers and killed three. When I heard that former Outside assistant editor Megan Michelson had been with the party of 15 skiers involved, I was shocked. Megan is one of the best skiers I know, an athlete who has spent hundreds of days in the backcountry. That a group she was with could be taken by surprised seemed impossible to me.

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