Between the Lines

Nov 1, 2001
Outside Magazine

THIS MONTH, READERS will note the return of a familiar voice: Tim Cahill, a founding editor of Outside, stages a welcome comeback after an extended hiatus devoted mainly to sipping fine scotch and exploring the mountains around his home in Missoula, Montana. An inveterate vagabond whose wanderings have yielded seven books and countless magazine columns and features, Cahill is quick to point out that his trademark blend of literate storytelling and bold adventure arises principally from a rich personal wellspring of wilderness incompetence.

"I wasn't much of an outdoorsman when I started at Outside, so a lot of my humor was genuine humor involving genuine ineptitudes that I committed," he says. This statement will evoke a knowing smile from anyone who's had the pleasure of reading about legendary Cahillian mishaps, like his decision to relieve himself over the entrance to a bat cave in Guatemala ("Throne of Terror," October 1986). "I should have known better," he sighs. "It caused great distress to the bats."
In pursuit of such debacles, Cahill has wended his way from Samoa to the Sahara and virtually everywhere in between—a globetrotter's résumé whose scope might seem to rule out the possibility of finding new horizons and fresh material. Not so, says Cahill: "It's a great, big, huge, inexhaustible world out there, and if your eyes are open, it's impossible to become jaded." He does worry, however, that his vast experience may have created another problem: "In traveling to every continent on earth, I have, through osmosis, I'm afraid, managed to acquire a certain backcountry savoir faire. So unfortunately the 'nimrod in the wilderness' approach to a story is no longer viable for me."

With all due respect, we think Tim's full of baloney. And after reading his account of a journey in which he sets off down the Missouri River unburdened by a crucial piece of camp gear ("You know, it takes a real moron to forget his sleeping bag"), we're sure you'll agree: Our beloved Mr. Cahill is as graceful, hilarious, and wonderfully incompetent as ever.

To read a longer conversation with Tim Cahill, log on to

It's pretty hard not to hate Steven Lippman, a former pro surfer who now spends seven months each year photographing gorgeous models splashing through the surf at exotic locations like Tahiti, Hawaii, the Bahamas, and, in the case of our cover story on paradise islands, Grenada. "I'm really fortunate to have this kind of work," says the L.A.-based Lippman, who also directs television commercials and music videos (in the same wonderful spots, of course). "It's like always being on holiday."

Over the past 20 years, Peter Oliver has done enough backcountry skiing to write an entire book on the subject. May we have a drumroll, please? Skiing and Boarding, released this month, is the fifth volume in Outside Books/W.W. Norton's Adventure Travel series. For a sneak preview, turn to our special on North America's best off-trail skiing (page 106), where Oliver reveals his favorite powder stashes from Vermont to the Rockies to the Pacific Northwest.

Although he once flogged his boat across the Caribbean through the remnants of Hurricane Mitch, Tim Zimmermann says he never really
experienced the true force of nature until he met Ellen MacArthur, who is taking the world of open-ocean sailing by storm. "In Europe, everyone knows her simply as 'Ellen,'" says Zimmermann, who caught up with MacArthur during a rare break between races. "She deserves to be introduced to an American audience." The meet-and-greet starts on page 100.

"When you're that far south and feel the wind blowing down on you from the pole, you have only one thought," says contributing editor Rob Buchanan, whose story on the boom in Antarctic adventure travel appears on page 54. "You're just lucky to be there."

Brad Wetzler is drawn to odd characters and arcane knowledge—which is why we're pleased that he's taken over The Wild File, our fountainhead of answers to questions on subjects like astrophysics and the morphology of snowflakes. For Wetzler's wild debut, turn to page 41.

Hikers, bikers, kayakers, skiers, and other restless, adventurous types will want to grab the 2002 Outside Travel Guide , a special issue packed with dozens of trips from Alaska to Fiji.

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