• Natural Beauty in Wintertime New Hampshire

    Surf films can be a lot like heavy plastic surgery. In both cases the attempt to create a thing of beauty ends up mutating the subject to the point that the original form is unrecognizable. Cutting B-grade material and tucking botched waves away from view produces a distilled image of wave-riding, but hardly mirrors the experience of heading down to the beach for a surf.

    This short clip of winter surfing in New Hampshire displays things in proportions more naturally familiar to the average surfer. Rather than packing each second with a constant barrage of wave-riding, the less surf-centric footage displays icy beaches, pre-dawn mornings, and peeling waves as one might enjoy them on a frigid day along the 18 mile coast.

    Sea Smoke from the Granite Stoke on Vimeo.
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  • World's Most Grueling Marathon?

    The human body probably can't endure challenges more injurious than the world's most intense long-distance races. The Tough Mudder sends participants through ice water and electrical wires. The Iron Man puts athletes through a trifecta of endurance challenges. But the event that might be the toughest of them all is the Badwater Ultramarathon. Each July, the grueling race has runners completing 135 miles through California's Death Valley (which reaches summer temperatures of up to 130 Fahrenheit) before finishing 8,300 feet up Mount Whitney.

    2012 Badwater Ultramarathon winner Mike Morton crosses the finish line one minute shy of the course record. Photo: Instagram/donorun
    "Badwater is a lot more difficult than an Ironman," says Courtney Baird, former editor-in-chief at Inside Triathlon magazine. "First there's the harsh environment. Death Valley is much hotter than any Ironman in the world. And even the fastest runners can take multiple days to complete the course, with the winner usually getting no sleep. The very slowest Ironman athletes take 17 hours." The course is so daunting that each contestant is required to have a crew to help them stay hydrated, fed, and cool as they traverse the course, which boasts 13,000 feet of climbing.

    The event, held July 16-18, is in its 35th year and was open to 96 runners by invitation only. Of the select group of invitees, 89 runners finished and 7 were unable to complete the course. The winner of this year's race, 40-year-old Mike Morton, finished in 22 hours, 52 minutes, 55 seconds. His time was just over a minute shy of the all-time record for the course, set by Valmir Nunes in 2007. On the women's side, Sumie Inagaki of Japan posted the fastest time in 29 hours, 53 minutes, 9 seconds.

    Last year's winner and 2012 runner-up, Oswaldo Lopez, soaks in the Death Valley heat. Photo: Chris Kostman/Adventure Corps
    Aside from the podium, this year's race had a number of impressive finishes. Chris Moon, 50, a double amputee who lost an arm and a leg in a mining accident aimed to shave a whopping 10 hours off his previous time of 53 hours. Moon managed to crush his goal, finishing in 41 hours, 50 minutes, 38 seconds. "I want to overcome physical challenges and show that I have not been weakened by the unfortunate things that sometimes happen," Moon said to BBC News, adding that he intends to continue running events like Badwater into his 70s.

    Perhaps Moon can draw some inspiration from 70-year-old Arthur Webb, who completed his 15th Badwater Ultramarathon this year in 33 hours, 45 minutes, 40 seconds. If this year's race is any indication, Moon will be dominating long distance challenges into the future just as he hopes.

    Channels: Outdoor
  • Destructive landslide caught on film in B.C.

    A Canadian news crew investigating a deadly landslide was caught off-guard when another large slide struck Johnsons Landing, British Columbia on Friday.

    The journalists reporting for Canada's Global News narrowly escaped the disaster, along with one other boat docked at the shore's edge where the destruction took place. Upon hearing the rumbling mass of land headed toward them, both boats moved into safer waters. Francis Silvaggio, who was onboard with the film crew, commented in disbelief: "Five minutes ago we were there. We would have been wiped out."

    The other boat in the video can be seen outrunning the massive logs that barreled into Kootenay Lake. The normally serene vacationing spot in Johnsons Landing saw brown waves surging out from shore after the first slide hit, while trees collapsed and debris piled into the water.

    Emergency Info BC, the British Columbian Government's Twitter source for alerts on natural disasters put out an advisory shortly after the slide, writing, "Onlookers should keep clear of Johnsons Landing landslide area. [Please] allow emergency personnel to do their work."

    Unfortunately, the warning came too late for some as a search crew of approximately 70 people set out to locate four individuals who police declared missing in Thursday's slide, which the news crew set out to investigate. On Sunday afternoon, the body of a man who is believed to be 64-year-old Valentie John Webber was found, The Canadian Press reported. Webber was declared missing Thursday, along with his two daughters, 17-year-old Rachel and 22-year-old Diana, neither of whom have yet been found. The fourth person who went missing in the slide, Petra Freshe, a 64-year-old German man is also still unaccounted for.

    The rescue mission was handed over to the British Columbia Coroner's office on Sunday night. Despite the discouraging news, Chief Coroner Lisa LaPointe assured The Canadian Press that "searches for the remaining people are underway."
    Channels: Outdoor
  • A Sharply Condensed Alaskan Winter

    Winter in Alaska is beautiful as it is long. Amid brutal weather and few hours of sunlight, survival of the cold months is a challenge in itself. For those acclimated to such a raw setting, however, there's much to enjoy. Zan Butler is one individual for whom the Alaskan winter is a marvel. The photographer spent October 2011 through April 2012 making this time-lapse clip, which displays the changing of seasons around Anchorage, Alaska.

    Butler commented on his project on Vimeo, writing, "So this is what I did over this past winter when I was not making people coffee." In his time spent outside the coffee shop, he managed to catch frigid sunsets, changing tides, and the northern lights. His short film succeeds in capturing glimpses of the natural phenomena of winter in Alaska, minus the experience of the harsher elements.
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  • The world's most athletic dogs are photographer's focus

    Professional photographer Albert Lewis has always been a dog-lover. So before visiting the 2012 Iditarod, he was highly skeptical of how the dogs were treated. "I've always been a little pessimistic about the race," said Lewis. "I've always thought 'Oh, it must be bad for the dogs.'"

    Yet upon arriving at the starting line in Anchorage, Alaska, in March, his beliefs about the race were reversed. "I walked around with chills and almost a tear in my eye at how cool it was. These dogs couldn't wait to run and they looked so happy." Lewis soon decided to combine his love of dogs and photography in a forthcoming book entitled Born to Run.

    In order to continue funding his project, Lewis set up a campaign on the website Kickstarter. While he'll continue raising money until July 20, Lewis has already received over $22,000 in donations-- far more than he expected.

    Many past books on the Iditarod have focused on dog-sledding as a sport, but the main objective of Lewis's work is to convey the beauty of the dogs. "I'm going up to these dogs and letting them lick me and they could sleep on my couch any night because I just love dogs."

    For the Anchorage, Alaska based photographer, the project has come with its own set of challenges. Lewis has spent most of his career doing fashion shoots, oftentimes for big companies such as Target, The North Face, and Nordstrom. When taking photos in the bitter Alaskan weather, he recounted, "I was freezing. My toes and fingers were so cold but the dogs could care less. The snow was dumping and it was about ten degrees out but they just couldn't wait to take-off."

    2012 Iditarod winner Dallas Seavey (top right) gives a lift to his trusty companion. Aliy Zirkle (above) finished 2nd to Seavey in 2012, nearly becoming the first woman in two decades to win the famous race across Alaska.

    Sven Haltmann, who trains and races dogs for the Iditarod, holds one of his best friends high. "They're teammates," says Lewis. "It's a really intense bond."

    Each year, teams of 16 dogs prepare for the race across more than 1,000 miles of Alaskan tundra. "The dogs get going up to 25 miles per hour," says Lewis. "They could knock you and I on our butts."

    Karen Ramstead, who works with the aspiring young Iditarod athletes, was mobbed when she asked them who wanted to be photographed with her.

    Photographs Courtesy of Albert Lewis
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