Plenty of adventure fans are familiar with the story of Alex Lowe, the famed mountaineer who died in a monster avalanche on Shishipangma in 1999. He left behind a wife, Jennifer, and three sons. His best friend, superstar climber Conrad Anker, survived the same avalanche, and went on to marry Jennifer and raise Lowe's three sons as his own. Jennifer Lowe-Anker tells her story of love, loss, and redemption in her new book Forget Me Not, and Anne Curry of NBC's Today Show interviewed both Conrad and Jennifer early this morning.
Now hang on a sec: Before everyone flies off the handle and storms the message boards to condemn our sick, twisted senses of humor (guilty as charged), they'd do well to listen to the clip in question from The Onion Radio News:
That's twice now that America's finest satire service dips a toe into our waters, with predictably hilarious results. Plus, according to BACKPACKER staffer Genny Wright, it probes an important question posed by girl scouts everywhere once they learn about hanging bear bags.
“But what about the bear smelling the food we had for dinner inside us?”
Ditch your guilty American Idol and Dancing With The Stars habits tonight, people, because this evening the boob tube finally has something worth watching: PBS will air Storm Over Everest, a documentary account of the 1996 disaster on Everest. The two-hour film by noted high-altitude documentarian and five-time summiteer David Breashears uses a combination of new interviews and gripping reenactments to take a fresh look at one of the most high-profile outdoor tragedies in recent history. Check it:
Participants include several sherpas, eyewitnesses, and survivors like Neal Biedelman and Sandy Hill, who until now had refused contact with the media regarding the events. Breashears and the film's production company, Working Title, constructed a scale model of Everest at Utah's Snowbird resort to film the reenacted portions, and some participants (including Biedelman) play themselves. Giant fans powered by airplane engines helped recreate the vicious storm that took eight lives in one day.
The documentary airs tonight almost 12 years to the day after the 1996 disaster at 9 p.m., EST, as part of PBS' Frontline series.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008 in:
News & Events, Video & Media
If you were thinking about trekking in Patagonia soon, you may want to wait until the dust — or in this case, ash — settles: Chile's Chaiten Volcano erupted yesterday, sending pyroclastic plumes soaring into the stratosphere and coating nearby towns in inches of ash. The Chilean government has declared a state of emergency and started evacuating the area, including rafting Mecca Futaleufu.
The eruption of the 3,155-ft. volcano was largely unexpected, and geologists estimate the last time it blew was around 7420 B.C. The prehistoric eruption created the 2-mile-wide lava dome that just ruptured. Check out the footage:
Whoah. When nature blows her top, it's probably best to just get out of the way.
"Sundance's mission is to be a green channel ... so I knew the subject had to be about green. And so with these elements I thought, "Ah! Sex life of bugs!" Because everybody likes sex and is interested in sex. And people don't really think how strange the animals are around us."
Um, sure, Izzy. whatever you say. If someone commissioned me to make a movie for a green network, I can't say that bugs shacking up would pop into my head first. But I salute her for her creativity just the same.
In every episode, Rossellini will perform sex acts — dressed as a bug, mind you, in ridiculously bright-colored costumes. But she will attempt to mimic their behavior in full, from hermaphroditic behavior of snails to the rough trade of mollusks. If you don't get Sundance Channel, you can still watch all the episodes online.
"I chose insects because they are so [different] from us. Mammals, like a dog or a chimpanzee, might look too much like us. The films are very accessible. They are not shocking in any way. And I wanted it to be that way. Insects are so different from us that you can't even go close to anything that would shock us."
I don't know about that — maybe I'll reserve judgment on that last point until I see how far Rossellini goes on the praying-mantis-cannibal-mating episode. I'd really hate to costar with her that day.
Snowsports fans and climbing bums get massive seasonal doses of films pumping up the out-there achievements of their respective sports. But extreme adventure hiking videos don't come along very often, so when one shows up, we've gotta milk it. Spain's El Caminito del Rey has it all: Dizzying heights, incredible vistas, and insanely crumbling infrastructure. Check it:
The route gets closed from time to time by local government (usually when somebody falls to their death), but hikers always manage to make their way back to the dilapidated via ferrata. Some clip into a harness and attach a carabiner to the flimsy safety wire that runs the length of the trail.
"El Caminito del Rey" means "The King's little road;" let's hope Spain's king isn't afraid of heights.
This year, China closed their borders in Tibet and put the smackdown on elite climbers everywhere, but that couldn't stop the intrepid 6th graders of Mill Creek Elementary from launching a successful summit bid on the Northeast Ridge. Here's the video proof:
Their epic adventure has all the drama you'd expect of a harrowing siege on the world's highest peak, complete with confusing route finding, priceless sound effects, human triumph, and near disaster (Sherpa Chris: "I lost one cram-poon!").
Since no one's climbing via the North Ridge this year, we'll all have to live vicariously through the saga of these brave mini-mountaineers. — Ted Alvarez
No one likes to hear reports of wilderness search-and-rescue missions coming over the wire, but I think we can all admit that in our dark little hearts, we might wonder from time to time which ones have the requisite amount of drama to fuel a Hollywood adaptation. The dependably hilarious folks at The Onion explore the idea in this video:
It's funny — I've often thought to myself that if I'm ever stuck in a wilderness survival situation that becomes a movie, Matt Damon would be a great choice to play me as well. But for some reason, everyone I tell this to seems to think Danny DeVito would be a better choice. Interesting. — Ted Alvarez
Dean Potter was already a top badass in the rock climbing world, but was that enough for him? Uh, no. After expanding into BASEjumping and highlining, he decided to combine the two and pioneer BASElining, which basically entails walking across a slackline over a yawning canyon with nothing but a parachute for protection. If Potter falls during the attempt, he pops the chute and sails gently to the canyon floor (at least, that's the idea).
The New York Times ran a great article with an even better video about Potter's attempts to walk across 180 feet of slack line hanging 900 feet above a canyon near his Moab, UT home. While the article does a solid job of getting behind the eyes of a climber who really wants to fly, you can't truly understand the depths of Potter's genius/madness without watching the accompanying mini-movie. Potter sways and bounces fluidly atop the rope as his voice-over explains the adrenalin calm that enables him to balance both the mental and physical strain. When Potter defies logic, leaps out from the rope, and careens toward the canyon floor, it's electric. It makes me want to try it/never try it all at the same time.
Either way, I should probably learn how to cross the 4-foot slackline between my desk and the bathroom first. — Ted Alvarez