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Dispatches : Adventure Lab

Wild Love With Sara Close

In May of 2009, Jonny Copp, Micah Dash, and Wade Johnson were killed by an avalanche while on a climbing expedition in China's Sichuan province. We have written before about the number of different ways people are remembering them. Boulder's Adventure Film Festival is held every year in honor of Copp. The American Alpine Club offers the Copp-Dash Inspire Awards for climbers who are looking for help with funding and to share their expeditions via multimedia. Applications can be submitted for those awards now. In the latest Wild Love video, Sara Close shares how Copp's death affected her and how she's moving forward.

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A Chance to Climb Out of Brazil's Favelas

In 2003, climber Asa Firestone traveled to Rio de Janeiro to climb "Two Brothers," twin peaks surrounded by favelas—shanty towns harboring many of the city's poor. Many locals warned him against climbing in such a dangerous area. He went anyway, and decided to use climbing to help the area's children. In 2011, he teamed up with local climbing guide Andrew Lenz to begin the CEU Urban Climbing School in the Rocinha Favela. Now, they want to build a climbing wall in the government-run Rocinha sports complex. "Climbing can offer these youth a positive alternative to their daily struggles and the construction of a modern climbing wall will provide them with this opportunity," says Firestone on a new fundraising site. "Approximately 5,000 murders are reported per year in Rio de Janeiro's favelas. Climbing is not the end all solution but it can certainly help."

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Astronaut Donald Pettit on Taking Photos in Space

When astronaut Donald Pettit heads into space with his 10 cameras, his goal is to collect data about the earth and the stars. Often, his images end up as art. Anyone with a computer can download the photos he takes from the cupola—the glass turret astronauts can look out of to see earth—of the International Space Station and put them into a timelapse video for all to see on Vimeo. At Outside, we've taken several of his photos and put them into blogs and galleries. (Here's a gallery of star trails.)

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Surfer Gabriel Medina Lands Amazing Backflip

While competing in ASP junior events, Brazilian Gabriel Medina made a name for himself as an aerialist. As a 17-year-old, he won the most prestigious event in the ASP's Cash for Tricks series. Now 18, Medina is competing on the ASP World Tour and perfecting new aerials in his off time. A little more than a week ago, he took to the North Shore of Oahu and landed his first backflip. It's not the first backflip in the history of surfing, and it won't be the last, but it's still rare and impressive.

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Adventure Video of the Week: Touring With the Utah Avalanche Center

In Outside's November issue, Megan Michelson shares her haunting story about surviving a fatal avalanche in the backcountry of Stevens Pass in Washington's Cascades. It's a thoughtful, in-depth look at a mistake that cost several skiers their lives. In the past couple of decades, avalanche fatalities have increased. Take these stats from Michelson's story:

Last year, 4.2 percent of the nation’s 10.2 million skiers ventured into the backcountry. But with increased use comes increased risk. The average annual number of avalanche fatalities in the U.S. has been slowly notched up since the 1990s, from 15 to the current 29 per year. Last winter saw 34 people, including snowmobilers, die in avalanches, thanks to an especially unstable snowpack across the West. Thirty-seven people died in 2007.

The above video—though long at 20 minutes—does a great job of showing the snow conditions that led to avalanches in Utah last winter. It's a season-long, ride along with the Utah Avalanche Center as their experts study the snow and issue warnings to skiers. At one point, one of the narrators compares conditions after a heavy snowfall on a weak bottom layer to stacking a Cadillac on champagne glasses. The snowpack is fragile and ready to explode down the mountain with the slightest extra push or weight.

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