The Only Things You Should Read, Watch, and Do This Week: October 24
The books, movies, music, podcasts, and other media on our radar
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This week in outdoor diplomacy: Canada sent America this much-needed self-confidence boost, reminding us that there's plenty that already makes us great (including our national parks). So we're giving Canada some love right back. Or at least, one Canadian. And we find several more reasons to agree with our northern neighbor that our parks are already great. For those who aren't into the warm, fuzzy feelings, continue bracing for November 8 by reviewing the Clinton and Trump environmental scorecards. (Just doing our part to pick up the slack from the debates.)
'The Escapist' by Gabriel Filippi and Brett Popplewell
Canadian mountaineer Filippi teamed up with Canadian writer Popplewell for his memoir, which covers Filippi's 20 years of climbing on six continents, including both sides of Everest, K2, and Nanga Parbat. Filippi's reflections on survivor's guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder are well worth the read; he's witnessed a lot of tragedy, both in the mountains and in his personal life. He narrowly missed being in the camp where ten climbers were killed in a Taliban attack, and he was at Everest base camp when the April 2015 earthquake struck. But The Escapist also has the hallmarks of any good climbing memoir: fond memories of mentorship, adventures, and many shared swigs of whiskey. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's a satisfying read for anyone who needs their regular dose of “Why I must go to the mountains.”
Coffee Table Book
'Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History' by Molly Shiot
Shiot's Instagram, @theunsungheroines, gives a small preview of the vintage badassery to be found in this photo collection, which honors the female athletes, reporters, and influencers who blazed trails in the sports world. There are some familiar names, like swimmer Diana Nyad, as well as under-the-radar pioneers, like mountaineer Barbara Polk Washburn. Trust us—the full book deserves a place on your coffee table or bookshelf. Even better, give a copy to young, aspiring adventurers—they'll find plenty of people to look up to in these pages.
'America's National Parks' by Wadada Leo Smith
This might be the first jazz album to ever focus on our public landscapes. In addition to titles like “Yosemite: The Glaciers, the Falls, the Wells and the Valley of Goodwill,” Smith includes places that are important but aren't acknowledged in the parks system, like “New Orleans: The National Culture Park.” Smith, a Pulitzer-nominated trumpeter and composer, is a fascinating artist in his own right, and his album explores the beauty and politics of public lands in a singular way.
A Little Bit of Everything
'Monumental: Skiing Our National Parks' by Powder Magazine
Powder sent skiers to Yosemite, Glacier, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Olympic with one goal: explore five of our most famous national parks in the winter, when they regain the wildness they lose during the crowded summer season. The experiences resulted in an online series of essays, a coffee table book, and a film, which premiered this week in Denver and will tour North America through December. More than your basic ski porn, it's homage to the parks at their most pristine.
Enormocast: “Kolin Powick uses SCIENCE to keep you ALIVE!”
Product recalls are boring. (Unless it's for a piece of gear you own.) What's not boring is the team responsible for product recalls, and even more interestingly, for product quality checks. In other words: these people get to beat up new products to make sure they're safe enough to hit shelves. Powick knows all about this—he's Black Diamond's climbing category director and former director of quality. In this podcast, he pulls the curtain back on the process behind the most recent Black Diamond recall and the company's intense QC lab.
Longread from Outside
“What Happened to Eastern Airlines Flight 980?”
Peter Frick-Wright introduces us to “the single greatest aviation mystery of the 20th century.” A plane crashes into a Bolivian mountain in 1985, and, despite investigators efforts, the bodies and black box go unrecovered.
The last anyone heard from the jet was at 8:38 P.M. Eastern time. According to ground controllers, the flight was about 30 miles from the airport and cruising on track at roughly 20,000 feet. It was cleared to descend to 18,000 feet when it plowed straight into a mountain.
But when Frick-Wright joins two friends from Boston on an expedition to reach the crash site, things go in a very unexpected direction.