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Dispatches : Adventure Lab

This Week's Missing Links, November 17

The best articles, videos, and photos I didn't post this week—until now. If you only have time to click on two links, check out "BP Will Plead Guilty and Pay Over $4 Billion," from The New York Times, and "Tunnel Vision," a haunting and thoughtful look at a fatal avalanche, from Outside.

A haunting and thoughtful look at a fatal avalanche
, Outside

Is Lance Armstrong seeking legal reparations? Roopstigo

Bearing witness to a terrifying climbing fall, Adventure Journal

The place to go for anyone looking to get better at ice climbing, San Juan Mountain Guides

Piolet D'or Asia, Explorer's Web

Why you shouldn't bike in front of runners in a race if you're wearing a flourescent jersey, Yahoo

How many near-death experiences does it take to row from London to Istanbul? Outside

How climber Steve House is mentoring the next generation of climbers, Mountain

How surfer Jon Rose is helping after Sandy, Outside

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2012 National Outdoor Book Award Winners Announced

Screen Shot 2012-11-16 at 11.00.59 AMThe Ledge. Photo: Random House

The National Outdoor Book Awards have released their picks for the best books of 2012. This year's titles include 15 winners and honorable mentions in nine categories, ranging from children's book to natural history to design. The Outdoor Literature Award was a tie between two books, Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail, by Suzanne Roberts, and The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier, by Jim Davidson and Kevin Vaughan.

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Motivation in the Form of a Bike

As Dave Vanderveen recovered from a car accident that could have killed him, he decided to return to mountain biking. The only problem was that the bones in his foot were shattered, and at least one of those bones looked like a bag of marbles. He needed something special for motivation, and his wife put up with an unusual bedroom request to make sure he had a muse. That last sentence sounds dirty, but the video is nothing of the sort. It's clean, short, beautifully edited, and you should watch it to get an idea of what an injured athlete has to go through to get back to singletrack.

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Adventure Video of the Week: The Water Tower

It would be hard to dream up a better combo for an adventure movie that raises awareness about a water crisis than filmmaker Peter McBride and climber Jake Norton. McBride's film Chasing Water won the 2011 Banff Montain Film Short award for tracking Jonathan Waterman's source-to-sea paddle down the Colorado River. Along the way, McBride documented the changes the river has undergone since he was a boy living in its watershed. Norton is in the middle of an expedition called Challenge 21, a multi-year project to climb the three highest mountains on each of the seven continents to raise awareness about the world water crisis through Water For People. He's traveled to eight of those peaks so far.

In The Water Tower, the pair is joined by Kim Havell and others for a July 2012 expedition up Mount Kenya. The 17,057-foot peak provides roughly 70 percent of the nation's fresh water supply. Aside from an electrical storm the team had to weather on the mountain, they also faced plenty of challenges on the ground. For McBride, one of those tests was whether to drink the warm blood from a recently slit goat's neck during a Samburu warrior festival. "I didn't have the courage to tell these warriors no," he says. "Keeping it together afterwards—belly gurgling—and going back to shooting was trickier than I expected."

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Assessing Hurricane Sandy's Damage to the New Jersey Coast

Seasideheights1-njSeaside Heights. Photo: Google/NOAA

After Hurricane Gloria damaged the New Jersey coast in 1985, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asked the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to estimate the coastal effects of the storm. The state agency wasn’t sure, because they didn’t have an accurate baseline. “I mean, they had some Polaroid pictures, and that was it,” says coastal researcher Dr. Stewart Farrell. “They had no data, no surveys, no map, no nothing.”

Farrell put together a proposal to start surveying the coast, got the go ahead, and founded the Coastal Research Center at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in 1986. He has conducted coastal surveys every spring and fall since. By late October, he was nearing the end of the 2012 fall monitoring. “But Sandy hit,” he says. “Now we’re going back and seeing how much dune and beach are missing, because somebody’s gotta come up with a number for how many cubic yards of sand we’re going to need to fix things.”

Every morning since the hurricane struck, Farrell has driven and walked the coast to survey the damage. That includes weekends. So far, he’s captured Atlantic, Cape May, and Ocean counties. His groundwork will be combined with aerial surveys and computer models that offer a fuller sense of the damage, but even right now the effects of the storm are clear. “It’s the worst event in my career, which goes back to the 1960s,” he says.

We called up Farrell this past Friday afternoon, after he returned from surveying damage in the borough of Avalon, to find out more.

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