The Outside Blog


Between the Lines, December 2012

Dean Kuipers, who wrote "Honey Stinger," about an FBI ecoactivism informant, isn't new to environmental reporting. His first article for Outside, in 1993, was about monkeywrench-style sabotage, and his book Operation Bite Back tells the story of radical activist Ron Coronado. In this issue, Kuipers focuses on "Anna," an informant who infiltrated a group of seemingly innocuous radicals, spying on them but also egging them on. "This guy Eric McDavid was arrested simply for talking, which has become a pattern post-9/11," says Kuipers, who lives in Los Angeles. "The FBI is using informants to generate a lot of radical chatter and then nailing people for it. Getting 20 years for that is just wrong."

To help you prepare for ski season, we assembled a list of North America's 18 best resorts ("Powder to the People") and put it all online with an additional 40. So what's standing between you and your next ski vacation?

There's skiing almost everywhere. Forty states have ski areas, many reasonably priced—like Missouri's Hidden Valley ("Elevation: 860"), where a lift ticket is just $45.

Ski schools (read: babysitters) are ubiquitour. And at resorts like Stratton, Vermont, and California's Squaw Valley, the schools, restaurants, and hotels are all walking distance from world-class corduroy.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado, has flights from 230 U.S. airports, and Alta and Snowbird are just a 45-minute drive from Salt Lake City. Which is to say, there's no excuse for not skiing great snow every weekend.

"When MacAskill looks at a streetscape, he doesn't just think like a rider but like a director, too: How will the scene be blocked and choreographed? Who's on the soundtrack? What's the money shot?"

To report "Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning," an investigation into the benefits of being in nature, contributing editor Florence Williams spent a week immersed in Japan's forests and cities, where scientists measured how time outside—and the lack thereof—changed her brain and body. One discovery: sniffing oil from cypress trees immediately dropped Williams' blood pressure 12 points.

$58,284: Total value of the 68 items in the 2012 Holiday Gift Guide ("For Love or Money?").

$4: Minimum you need to spend on a gift from that archive that someone will love.

"I spent much of my four previous trips to Afghanistan slumped down in the backs of cars for fear of being spotted by kidnappers. Which is why reporting on locals who ski in the mountains near Bamiyan was so thrilling: I could actually see the people and the country like they were before the wars started 30 years ago. I drank tea in people's homes while children giggled around us. Bamiyan is what a peaceful Afghanistan could look like. It makes the situation in the rest of the country that much sadder."
—Contributor Elliott D. Woods

Woods won a National Magazine Award for his work in Afghanistan. He wrote and photographed "War and Piste," about the burgeoning ski culture in the Hindu Kush.

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