Welcome back to Extreme Exposure, a weekly column bringing you the best photography and news from the world of action and outdoor sports. This week Durango, Colo., mourns a river-running crown jewel, Sasha DiGiulian chases her Eiger Dreams and more.
Sasha DiGiulian certainly isn’t taking it easy on her summer break. The Columbia University student is in the midst of her Eiger Dreams project in Switzerland where she’s attempting to be the first female and third person to ascend La Paciencia, the toughest route (5.13b) on the Eiger’s North Face. DiGiulian won a world title in 2011 but at 22, has excelled outdoors. “I’ve had this competition success,” she told SI.com. “(But) now I can do bigger pursuits outside. This is the hardest route up the Eiger, a 23-pitch climb.”
DiGiulian’s progress up Paciencia has been hampered by bad weather. Her and climbing partner Carlo Traversi have had to wait out a series of storms. They’re back up on the mountain now and you can follow their web series on the project here:
In another environmental catastrophe, last week the Environmental Protection Agency accidentally dumped one million gallons of wastewater from the shuttered Gold King Mine into the Animas River, filling one of Western Colorado’s most pristine recreational gems with toxic sludge while potentially wreaking havoc on the native trout population and other wildlife that calls this grand drainage home. The river—a legendary whitewater run and trout fishery—actually turned bright orange and forced the city of Durango and La Plata County to declare a state of emergency while officials have told recreationists to avoid the river all together (the river’s waste-filled waters have now flowed into New Mexico).
The EPA says one of its teams was in the mine attempting to clean the toxic waters when it accidentally spilled the wastewater containing iron, zinc and copper into a tributary that then spilled into the river. “The magnitude of it, you can’t even describe it,” New Mexico Governor Susan Martinez told CNN. “Your mind sees something it’s not ready or adjusted to see.” According to one Yahoo report, the Federal Government claims that 40 percent of Western headwaters are at risk to similar spills.
Jordy Smith has had a rough year on the injury front. Currently ranked No. 22 in the world, he hurt his arm at the end of 2014 at the Pipeline Masters and tore the meniscus in his knee free surfing, forcing his withdrawal from the Margaret River Pro. Then he tweaked his back in South Africa at the J-Bay Open.
But that didn’t stop him driving surf pundits half bonkers last week when he released a video clip from Western Australia, where he pulled one of the most radical combo moves in recent memory, weaving through a tight barrel at Mach speed before pulling a ginormous Alley-Oop. You can actually see the tiptoe athleticism as he keeps the board on his feet without grabbing the rail. Smith’s feat was summed up perfectly by his wife, Lyndall, on her Instagram account: “My husband’s a freak.”
Throwing Down in Pairs
In a show of pure riding skill mixed with aerial prowess, Tyler McCaul (right) defeated Kyle Strait in Whistler British Columbia during Crankworx’s Dual Speed and Style Competition on a rain-soaked course. “We were a little worried about the ramps being slippery, but luckily it had traction on it,” McCaul said. Riders are judged on speed through the course and their tricks in the air, moving through rounds in man-on-man format.
This was the final stop on the Crankworx tour that also included Rotura, New Zealand and France’s Les 2 Alps, awarding Triple Crown titles for slopestyle, downhill and enduro. Bernard Kerr of Great Britain won the Triple Corwn for Dual Speed and Style. The event runs all week in Whistler.