Ask Dave

All-terrain advice from a real adventure hero

Nov 22, 2006
Outside Magazine
Ask Dave

DAVE: Tough, gallant, playful... lost    Photo: Chris Buck

Who are you?
Namaste. (Hello.) Jambo. (Hello.) ¡Muchas hola! (Exuberant hello!) The name's Dave. If you follow the adventure world, you've no doubt heard of me, but for the newbies out there, here's the scoop. I've traversed the Sahara, paddled the Amazon, and climbed the Seven Summits without bottled oxygen—or socks. During a round-the-world-race in 1988, a rogue wave sank my catamaran, Vivacious II, off Antarctica, where I swam ashore and lived for a year on nothing but emperor penguin eggs. I was the first to blizzard-land a V-22 Osprey and to drive nonstop across Arkansas in an Audi. I've survived malaria, bird flu, tropical acne, and a condition that required deworming agents and shaman-prescribed jungle poultices. In short, I've done it all and I know it all. That's why Outside asked me to open my deep canyon of wisdom for you. Welcome to my world.

Settle an argument: Is there any setting—including safaris—where it's still cool to wear a safari jacket?
I put this query to my pal and Animal Planet star Jeff Corwin, who tends to sport a khaki-free style, whether he's chasing antelopes or a taxi. He's not a fan. "Safari jackets are sort of like apartheid-era couture, the type of thing you'd see in Krugerville in 1978," says Jeffy. "And, frankly, I find stuff that has to be professionally pressed doesn't work in the field." That's not to say the style is extinct—casual-wear versions remain popular in numerous catalogs, with colorful print models for women a recent rage. Actual bush-ready jackets are also hot. Stuart Clurman, who has been selling superb weather-resistant models through his New York–based Lost Worlds ( target="_blank" since 1986, says orders are on the rise and he's shipping more than 100 a month, at up to $300 a pop. But as I see it, the only people who can pull off a safari jacket are photojournalists, John Wayne in Hatari! and (ahem) yours truly. Even as I bash out these words on my bullet-dented Skywriter, I'm relaxing poolside in a dashing khaki jacket with a finish that fends off blood, rain, and spilled cocktails. Speaking of which...Garçon! Another gimlet!

What's the most expensivecustom ski boot in the world,and is it worth it?
The walrus-hide boots that I crafted for my near-disastrous first descent of Ama Dablam in '87 will no doubt fetch an astronomical sum when my eBay store launches. But until then, the winner is the $950 boot made by the Austrian cobblers at Strolz ( target="_blank", who custom-craft about 10,000 pairs worldwide and 2,000 stateside each year. I recently visited their U.S. offices, in Hampton, New Hampshire, for a two-hour fitting, during which their soft-handed technician measured every facet of my meaty, size-14 peds. The capable lad constructed a cork-and-wood last before heating the plastic outer boot, contouring it to the mold, and freezing it. I then slid into a leather inner boot, then into the shell. He injected foam and a hardening chemical. Et voilà!—done. Are they worth the Franklins? Well, the second-skin fit theoretically means I can transfer power perfectly to my skis, and my seven remaining toes will be warmer, since nothing is cutting off circulation. But, alas, I'll never know for sure: I left them in Bode Miller's truck, and now he claims he's never seen the things. Right.

Why is a cleft chin a sign of virility?
I found no research on this subject, so I convened a gaggle of ex-girlfriends for my own informal study. Over sushi, I asked them why my cleft used to drive them wild. Opinions ranged from the aesthetic ("like a manly scar!") to the shyly demure ("What?"). But the overall consensus of the night, besides that sake bombs and Kate don't mix, was this: Dave's cleft is part of what makes Dave so ineffably "Dave." Granted, a "chin dimple" is technically a genetic deformity causing a split in the muscle that spans the mandible. But according to recently retired New York plastic surgeon Bruce Nadler, one of a handful of docs skilled in genioplasty, a.k.a. artificial cleft sculpting, a deep crevice creates the illusion that the jaw is wider and squarer. "My patients either wanted to look like Kirk Douglas," says Nadler, "or their dad had a cleft and they wanted their own as a memorial." Weird. I honored my papa by soloing an unclimbed Alaskan peak and then naming it after him. Don't even try Mount Yessir! unless your cleft can crack walnuts.

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