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Dispatches : Adventure Lab

Skier Andreas Fransson in 'Tempting Fear'

In September 2012, we posted the trailer for Tempting Fear, filmmaker Mike Douglas' surprise documentary on 29-year-old extreme ski-mountaineer Andreas Fransson. Douglas originally planned to make a short about Fransson, but after discovering how articulate the athlete was he set off to tell a much longer story. Douglas followed Fransson for 17 months—from January 2011 to May 2012—as the skier returned to the slopes after a 2010 neck injury that almost killed him. In October, the resulting 25-minute movie won the Best Action Film award at the Adventure Film Festival in Boulder. You can now watch the entire flick above.

For more from Fransson, check out this Outside interview by Kelley McMillan.

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Searching for the Perfect Waterfall in Mexico

Whitewater kayakers Erik Boomer, Tyler Bradt, and Galen Volckhausen joined adventure filmmakers Tim Kemple, Anson Fogel, Blake Hendrix, and Skip Armstrong on a trip to a remote jungle in Mexico to find the ultimate waterfall. The resulting adventure short about their quest, Cascada, drops on January 14. Here's a taste of what's to come.

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Expedition Watch: Hiking the Keystone XL Trail

There's no pipeline—or anything even resembling a trail or infrastructure—yet. And that's precisely why Ken Ilgunas decided to head out in September on a 1,700-mile hike tracing the planned route for the Keystone XL Pipeline—from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada, to Houston, Texas. He wanted to chronicle the opinions of the people who live along the proposed route.

Before he left, Ilgunas shared all of the logistics. He detailed his food supplies (6.5 pounds of mashed potato powder and 228 candy bars), his plan for staggering his supply pickups (sending individual boxes via Priority Mail to small town post offices), and shared his design of a homemade lightweight camp stove (tin foil and an empty Purina cat food can). He wrote a post about how he broke his pinky toe after tripping down the stairs in his friend's basement to add some pre-trip drama. He wrote another post about all of the gear he would take with him, 27 pounds of stuff that includes a can of bear spray he's had at the ready for plenty of non-bear-related incidents. He's been in defense mode a fair amount of the trip, something that becomes obvious after a quick survey of of his blog post titles: "It finally happens, I'm attacked by cows," "Finally get going, have an interesting bar experience outside the Alberta/Saskatchewan border," and "A posse of paranoid Montanans surround my tent."

Here's a bit more on his trek, in case you want to follow along.

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Lightning Deaths and Injuries, by the Numbers

Shutterstock_85169098Lightning. Photo: Shutterstock

On Wednesday January 2, 42-year-old Irish adventurer Ian McKeever was leading a group of more than 20 people through the lunar landscape section of Mount Kilimanjaro when he was struck by lightning and killed instantly. The Telegraph reported that fellow climber Jack O'Donahue, 60, was hiking just three feet away from McKeever when the bolt knocked him off his feet. Donahue survived. At least six other people on the expedition were treated for injuries, including McKeever's fiance, whom he planned to wed in September 2013.

The Irish Times reported that friends were surprised that McKeever would die from a lightning strike on Kilimanjaro, as he had climbed much more difficult and dangerous terrain. In 2007, he set the speed record for climbing the seven summits, achieving the feat in 156 days. (Vern Tejas now holds the record—he climbed all of the peaks in 136 days.) "I am absolutely shocked to hear about the death of my friend Ian. It was a freak accident and a complete fluke," Irish explorer Pat Falvey told the Independent. "I have lost two friends in lightning strikes, including one on the Himalayas—but they are very rare on Kilimanjaro."

Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 3.05.18 PMIncidence of lightning strikes (click on image for full size). Photo: NOAA

Death caused by a lightning strike is an incredibly rare event, but there are some areas in the world where it occurs at a higher rate than others. Central Africa has a greater incidence of lightning strikes than any other large region. (See the large black area in the map above, which is to the west of Kilimanjaro.) Moist airflow from the Atlantic Ocean couples with mountainous terrain and leads to year-round thunderstorms in a location where much of the population is rural, few advanced warning systems exist, medical facilities are often sub-standard, and most buildings are rudimentary. Though there is no definitive overall set of statistics for the region, there is not a shortage of reported strikes. In 2011, 18 children and a teacher were killed in a primary school in Uganda when it was hit by lightning.

Here's a quick breakdown of lightning deaths and injuries, with statistics taken from a study in the September issue of the journal of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, NOAA, the National Lightning Safety Institute, and a few other scientific studies.

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A Site Where Female Action Sports Athletes Can Show Off

Female action sports athletes looking for exposure have a new outlet.

Rachael Burks started femalewolfpack.com as a site for women to show off their feats after a sponsor pulled funding she needed for a video shoot. “It’s turned into something a lot bigger than I thought it would be,” she told Powder. “People from all over the world are sending submissions in.”

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