UCSB Marine Science Institute graduate student Nicholas Schooler (CQ) conducts natural resource damage assessments in the aftermath of the oil spill on the May 22, 2015 along the Gaviota coast, in Santa Barbara, California.
Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
By Joe Carberry
May 25, 2015

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 an oil spill poisoned one of our favorite costal playgrounds, we celebrate the art of getting pitted and pro skier Ingrid Backstrom takes it to the mountains (on a bike).

Nostalgic Nightmare

In what could only be called cruel irony, last week, 46 years after a 1969 oil spill decimated the Santa Barbara, Calif. coastline, an underground oil pipeline ruptured, spilling more than 100,000 gallons into the same stretch of ocean, killing fish and seabirds in the process. The pipe, operated by Plains All American Pipeline, carried 1,300 barrels an hour from storage tanks in Las Flores Canyon to a pump station in Gaviota.

Santa Barbra is a jewel of California surfing with dozens of surf breaks in the vicinity. The region is also a beacon for wildlife and environmental diversity with miles of empty coast as well as the nearby Channel Islands National Park, 40 miles by boat. While the oil spill was substantial, the 1969 oil disaster was much larger as more than 3 million gallons poured into the ocean from an offshore drilling site, prompting an environmental revolution and important drilling regulations. One can only hope this crisis has similar affects.

Pic from ’69: 

Strung Up

Keahi de Aboitiz is the definition of a “new school” waterman. He surfs, kites and paddles at levels that garner extreme superlatives from his peers. But the soft-spoken 22-year-old from Noosa, Australia lets his athletic ability speak for him. And it definitely screams: de Aboitiz is a two-time kiteboarding world champion who’s been at the forefront of the strapless movement (using boards without footstraps). He’s also a gifted surfer and standup paddler who competes on the Standup World Tour as well. Right now, he’s in Tahiti preparing for that tour’s Sapinus Pro, which begins May 30 and is held at a hollow left hand reef break that’s essentially Teahupoo’s little brother.

“It looks like there are some pretty epic waves on the way this week (according to reports),” says de Aboitiz, who’s coming off a broken ankle that hampered him throughout 2014. “I’m looking forward to getting back into some more power again.”

Boulder Holder

Throughout the late 1900’s, bouldering began to emerge as its own segment in the climbing world and now, it’s become a complete revolution with competitions and world championships. But at its root, bouldering lends itself to exploration as new areas are developed by climbing’s elite.

Places like Peñoles, a newer bouldering area in Chihuahua, northern Mexico. In this photo by Andrés Valencia, Mexico City’s Rodrigo Alonso completes the second ascent of High Definition, a difficult problem (rated v11) first done by the Finnish climber, Nalle Hukkataival more than two years ago. At around 40 feet in height, High Definition hasn’t been repeated until now because of the exposure—bouldering is done sans ropes. “Without a doubt, one of the most impressive displays of climbing I have seen in my life,” Valencia said.

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This is the third and main image in the photo story of the #second #ascent of @nalle_hukkataival master piece in #Peñoles, High Definition. |HIGH DEFINITION| There is a certain something to #tall, #exposed lines, that draws climbers towards them like very few boulders can. Maybe it is the aesthetic side of them, standing proud and high above ground, often acting as waypoints when moving about due to their sheer size. Maybe it is the fact that their proudness almost seems like a challenge, as if it were taunting you to try it, daring you to climb it despite the risk. Or maybe, it is the level of commitment needed to actually climb them; maybe the process of coming to terms with the fear of falling, and using this fear to keep you focused and on point while climbing is what ends up being so attractive. High Definition is one of these awe inspiring, magnetic boulder problems. Graded #v11, it follows a series of small pocket-like "chips", edges and crappy feet on a perfect #patina face in one of Peñoles' tallest boulders. First climbed by @nalle_hukkataival, the fact that the top out is about 12 metres off the deck probably contributed to it not having seen a repeat until now. This image is a testiment of my close friend Rodrigo Alonso's second ascent of this king line. The frame was shot as he stuck the crux, which revolves around a left hand deadpoint to a good edge from a right hand mono, at around 7 metres off the ground. Eleven pads were hauled up the mountain for his sending attempts, and when he actually topped it out, all of us watching had a strange mixture of relief, joy and inspiration. Without a doubt, it was one the most impressive display of climbing I have seen in my life.

A post shared by Andrés Valencia (@andresv_photo) on

Summer Shredding

What do women who like to go really fast on skis do in the offseason? They go really fast on mountain bikes, like professional skier Ingrid Backstrom—arguably the greatest female big mountain rider of all-time. This is her helmet-cam view of one of her favorite trails in the Wenatchee, Washington backcountry known as Number Two Canyon.

Pitted, So Pitted

Yes, Memorial Day signals the start of summer and that means south swell season is on in California, a glorious phenomenon that lights up thumpy waves like the Wedge in Newport Beach. It’s also a season that can bring out the Spicoli in surfers everywhere. So we leave you with this piece of hashtag genius: Micah Peasley, who in 2008 described the Wedge in such colorful surfer speak to a local television reporter that he went down in Internet history. Way down. Enjoy.


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