March 13, 2014

Just hanging out at the gym.     Photo: Getty Images

Massive Climbing Gym Opens in L.A. Brewery

With 42-foot climbing walls and hundreds of routes

Indoor rock climbing—in all its arm-pumping, chalk-filled, adrenaline-rush glory—is taking the workout world by storm. It’s the perfect way to release your inner monkey after a long day at the office, and it’s catching on. Just last Wednesday, the impressive Stronghold Climbing Gym opened at the Brewery in downtown Los Angeles.

The historic Edison Company’s #3 Steam Power Plant, built in 1904, is now home to a state-of-the-art facility that includes 42-foot climbing walls with hundreds of routes. The gym is also equipped with a 2,000-square-foot mezzanine with weights, cardio machines, and pull-up bars that overlooks the bouldering area. Yoga classes are also available to stretch out your climbing muscles. Plus, you can grab a brewski on your way out.

“The outdoor-climbing market is not growing leaps and bounds,” Greg Thomsen, managing director for Adidas Outdoors told Outside. “But gym climbing has a very strong growth rate. Something like 1,000 people a day are starting to sport climb, according to our research.”

Which makes us wonder: When and where will the next mega climbing gym open?

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Will Ferrell and Kelly Slater appear in a new Funny or Die video.     Photo: Courtesy of Funny or Die

Robert Redford and Will Ferrell Spawn Activism

Are celebrities the voice of youthful consciousness?

After the success of Zach Galifianakis's "Between Two Ferns" interview with President Obama—a humorous PSA for the Affordable Care Act—the website Funny or Die is suddenly interested in shaping public opinion.

Today the site released a three-video faux battle between Robert Redford and Will Ferrell over how to best reconnect the Colorado River with the Pacific Ocean. Redford wants to raise flows and is stumping for Raise the River, an actual charity, while Ferrell argues that it would be better to move the ocean inland.

"The Colorado River is one of the most loved and hardest working rivers in the world," says Redford. "But we’ve overused it. Most years the river dries up even before it reaches the sea."

Meanwhile, Ferrell, stumping for the faux charity Move the Ocean employs a cameo by surf legend Kelly Slater to make the case for moving the Pacific inland. "American professional surfers suffer from a lack of adequate surfable coastline in North America and are forced to travel great distances to enter surf competitions."

The main commentary in all of this, of course, is that 18- to 34-year-olds don’t actually care enough about the Colorado or healthcare or anything else, unless it comes in the form of a celebrity gag reel.

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By mapping Power's skull, surgeons were able to print the perfect implant.     Photo: Bunyos/Thinkstock

Skull Implants Printed in 3-D

Custom body parts, coming up!

After a 2012 motorcycle accident in Wales, Cardiff's Stephen Power has undergone countless reconstructive surgeries to repair his body. In one of his most recent operations, surgeons were able to create custom skull implants using a 3-D printer.

Through complex scanning of the unaffected side of Power’s face, Swansea-based surgeons produced a 3-D model of his skull. With that information, the team was able use medical-grade plates and a special bone saw to print the perfect three-dimensional implant.

Photo: Power's impant models from ABMU Health Board's Twitter.

The surgical team completed a successful reconstruction during an eight-hour operation that restored Power’s face and confidence. "I think it's incomparable—the results are in a different league from anything we've done before," maxillofacial surgeon Adrian Sugar told BBC News.

Power’s skull implants point toward an era where surgeons can quite simply create a new bone or body part for you. The process remains incredibly elaborate but will likely become streamlined as the technology advances.

Power’s operation is now featured in an exhibition called 3D: Printing the Future at the Science Museum in London.

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Detour wants to change the way you explore the outdoors by connecting you with local guides.     Photo: Courtesy of Backcountry

Detour, an Adventure Guide Marketplace

New from Backcountry.com

Imagine if items on Craigslist included an Intro to Ice Climbing class and a Half-Day Fly-Fishing Trip instead of used mattresses and stolen bike parts. That's basically the idea behind Detour, a new online marketplace for guided outdoor adventures from Internet retailer Backcountry.com.

Soft-launched last summer, the latest venture from Backcountry currently offers more than 100 guided outdoor trips that involve skiing, climbing, mountain biking, hiking, fly-fishing, and even snowkiting. Prices range from $205 for a full day of climbing in Garden of the Gods to three-day winter camping and expedition training in Colorado's Rocky Mountains for $1,575.

In a way, this subdomain of backcountry.com is also the outdoor adventure version of Airbnb, matching locals with visitors for a more authentic vacation, says Backcountry chief marketing officer Scott Ballantyne. "We're thinking of people traveling into these places that have a set amount of time, and want to do more than just the groomers and the standard hike," Ballantyne said.

Current guides range from ex-athletes, people with previous guiding experience, snow patrolers, or just outdoor-obsessed locals. The site is also looking for more guides and outfitters to join the marketplace, but not just anyone can expect to get paid to take tourist on a hike in the woods.

"Finding the right guide for us a bit of a dating game. We appraoch these guides, and they approach us," Ballantyne said. "But they have to be accredited with guide company. We don't just accept anyone as a guide."

Currently, trips are offered only in Utah, Colorado, and parts of the Northeast. The website plans to expand into California next and has sights set on Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho in the future.

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Is there a vast ocean 250 miles beneath the planet's crust?     Photo: Ingram Publishing/Getty Images

Study Finds Evidence of Secret Sea

About 250 miles beneath our feet

Do you remember the vast ocean Jules Verne wrote about in his novel Journey to the Center of the Earth? Turns out the sea might be more than science fiction fantasy. 

Scientists have found a mineral that suggests the existence of a massive reservoir buried more than 250 miles beneath our feet. It could hold as much water as all the world’s oceans combined, according to the study published Wednesday in Nature

The hunch rests on the discovery of ringwoodite, a water-loving mineral that comes from the transition zone between the planet’s upper and lower layers. Researchers recently found the material in a diamond that they believe was blasted to the surface by a volcanic eruption.

“No one is ever going to run a geological field trip to the transition zone [310 miles] beneath the Earth's surface, and no one is ever going to drill down to the transition zone," Graham Pearson, a geologist who studied the stone, told the Guardian. "It was a total piece of luck that we found this." 

Even though the mysterious underground reservoir is out of reach, humans are still making plenty of new discoveries in our more accessible oceans. According to one study, there are 10 times more deep-sea dwellers living in the “twilight zone” than scientists originally thought. That’s a lot of fish.

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