August 31, 2007

Backcountry/Couloir Mags Merge

Well, it’s here. The new, merged Backcountry-Couloir Magazine arrived in the mail this week. I don’t usually cheer mergers, so I wasn’t exactly leaping for joy when I heard that the venerable Couloir Mag (which began right here in SoCal) was going to be absorbed by Backcountry. I’m sort of the sentimental type, especially when it comes to blood-sweat-and-tears efforts like Couloir, which Craig Dostie built from a xerox newsletter into the “Earn Your Turns” classic we all know and love.

But, Couloir is gone now, which at least relieves us of the burden of having to decide which of the two mags to subscribe to (and feeling guilty about jilting the other). The addition of Couloir’s talent to the Backcountry pool certainly extends the magazine’s reach, offering the promise of better, richer coverage of the backcountry skiing world.

The debut issue features an extended 2008 gear review section, and an interesting article on a new avalanche terrain rating system that Canada is trying out. Overall, the new mag looks a lot like the old Backcountry Magazine, so if you’re pining away for Couloir, I recommend moping for a while—and then ordering up a Backcountry subscription.

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August 12, 2007

GW Alert: Russia Plants Flag Under North Pole

Here’s a chiller of a story for you from the Los Angeles Times: Russian submarines planted the national flag on the seabed two miles beneath the North Pole, claming the land as an extension of Russia’s continental shelf—and therefore within their domain for oil and gas exploration.

It turns out that Global Warming, which is melting the ice, made the move possible. And rich petroleum reserves are believed to be located in the region. More oil to burn means more warming means less ice means more access to oil, and so on, leading credence to those who believe we humans are going to burn every last drop of oil on the planet and damn the consequences (more…)

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August 7, 2007

How Toxic is Your Sunscreen?

If you’re like me—fair-skinned, that is—you’ve probably discovered that sunscreens don’t all perform the same. I can put on a thick layer of SPF 50 and still get torched. No, it’s not just that sunscreens tend to wash off as you sweat: some just don’t work that well.

Many formulations only give SPF ratings for UVB rays, which turn out to be less damaging than UVA. Some sunscreens now contain new ingredients designed to filter UVA light. Many of these newer chemicals are not yet approved by the FDA, and are only available in sunscreens sold in Europe (more…)

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August 1, 2007

Barcroft Research Lab Open House

If you’re free this Sunday, August 5, you might enjoy paying a visit to the University of California’s Barcroft Research Station. They’re having their annual open house, allowing the public to come in and try to sniff out the top-secret projects normally kept under wraps.

Barcroft sits around 13K on White Mountain. Normally, the road is locked about a mile or two from the lab, but this Sunday the road will be open to the main station, cutting off a good chunk of walking time if you want to head to White’s 14,246-foot summit.

This time of year isn’t my first choice for hiking White Mountain, as monsoon thunderstorms can pop up with little warning, but for your troubles you’ll get short lectures from researchers, refreshments, and ‘sales of souveniers’. For more information, see the White Mountain Research Station Website.

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