Between the Lines

Dec 1, 2001
Outside Magazine

We were working far ahead, according to the peculiar calendar of magazines, when history shifted on its terrible axis and left us, along with the rest of the world, struggling to reckon with the losses and uncertainties that continue to develop since the events of September 11. The issue you're holding now was put together during a month of strong emotion, urgent inquiries, and persistent soul-searching. Early on, it was important to reach out to family and friends, to try to help. Our ever-vigilant copy chief, Greg Cliburn, leads a double life as a firefighter-paramedic here in Santa Fe. Being familiar with the hard work Greg does for this community, and awed by the sheer courage it took to deal with the magnitude of the tragedy in downtown Manhattan, the employees of Outside sent a donation to the New York Firefighters 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund.

At the same time, we tried to gauge how much our world has really changed. For the adventure-travel industry, the specter of terrorism is always there. But after canvassing 36 U.S. and foreign outfitters, we found that travelers are still boldly going forth, only now with a carefully redrawn map of the world. And as Patrick Symmes reveals in his gripping account of the wilderness rescue workers who came from all over the American backcountry to lend a hand in the search-and-rescue operation in New York, skills honed in the outdoors were in many ways the best tools for tackling a dreadful new urban wilderness. Meanwhile, Hard Way columnist Mark Jenkins was set to embark on a six-week trek through northern Afghanistan. He's staying put—for now—but this month he turns his mind to a vexing question: What place does adventure have in a time of war?

If our reporting in this issue is any basis for judgment, Americans—and Outside readers in particular—are not going to shrink from anything challenging or mind-expanding. We are hardwired to get out there, to explore, to connect. It's what we do. And so we will.

Veteran photographer Dan Winters, whose portraits of Picabo Street and Chris Sharma appear in our New Legends package,was presented with an unaccustomed challenge on this assignment. With heightened airport security, his film was diverted to a bomb-inspection site for a week."I knew the film would turn up," Winters says."And the shoot was phenomenal. The strength of these athletes is incredibly inspiring."

After chronicling the first commercial descent of Peru's Cotahuasi River, contributing editor Peter Heller's mouth was agape."The river is in a gorge twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, it's haunted by giant Andean condors, and it's got 100 miles of continuous whitewater," says Heller, whose urban adventure guide to Boulder and Denver will be published in May 2002 by Outside Books/W.W. Norton.

"People who think beyond the conventional wisdom are often perceived as jerks," says Jack Hitt, who reports on America's richest and most controversial conservationists, Ted Turner and his son Beau. "Ted happens to be an obnoxious jerk, but his ideas about saving endangered species have merit, and he's lucky to have a son who combines a more subtle political sensibility with Ted's enviable insanity."

Erik Weihenmayer has been so busy since summiting Everest last May that he hasn't had time for mountaineering. But in July the blind climber managed to claw his way up Disney's Matterhorn ride."Mickey and I went up it," jokes Weihenmayer, who kicks off our New Legends package with a preview of the new afterword to his book, Touch the Top of the World, to be published in paperback in April 2002 (Plume).

Kurt Markuswas looking forward to photographing Ted Turner's Flying D ranch in Montana, in part because he was going to witness a wolf-feeding. But the event turned out to be less rough-and-tumble than Markus expected."I thought I'd see gnashing teeth and bloodspattered everywhere," he says."But the feed consisted of dragging part of a dead bison up to the fence, throwing it into the pen, and watching the wolves run around."

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web