The things that cause Outside employees to be late to work, or absent altogether, are the ones you might expect. In the winter, many of us are conspicuously tardy after a midnight snowstorm blows through. In the spring, when daylight pushes past 5 p.m. and Friday-night camping becomes a possibility, the parking lot empties in the early afternoon. And every so often, no matter what the season, I receive an early-morning email with another kind of excuse: "Sorry, I'm gonna be late this morning. I got the call to search for a missing hiker last night and was out until 3 a.m."
Several Outside editors have moonlighted with local search-and-rescue organizations that will come to your aid if your adventure goes awry in this part of the world. These staffers, who include senior editor Grayson Schaffer and former associate editor Justin Nyberg, have spent more than 600 hours training at their own expense to improve their lifesaving skills and earn the privilege of jumping out of bed at one in the morning to help complete strangers. Their only reward is a few excused absences from work.
I was thinking about this kind of commitment while reading an early draft of "Catch Me If You Can", Dean King's riveting story about an eight-year-old autistic boy who went missing in Virginia for five days. Hundreds of volunteers showed up to assist with that search. We humans seem to have an innate desire to help others in need. In a storyOutside published online this spring, about the search for ultrarunner Micah True, a.k.a. Caballo Blano, in the Gila Wilderness, author Christopher McDougall described how more than a dozen of the best athletes in the ultrarunning community dropped everything and traveled to remote New Mexico to join in the search.
While reporting "Boom Times", about the 21st-century survivalist movement known as prepping, Emily Matchar visited a handful of sophisticated bunkers and attended a South Carolina convention. "As someone who was raised to believe a gun in the house will inevitably lead to somebody getting shot in the head, it was fun to be in a room with 500 people, 95 percent of whom had a concealed-carry permit," she says. When Matchar returned home to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, she saw her house a little differently, too. "I flipped through my kitchen cupboards and thought, Well, we'll last about 10 days, and that's it."
To document the world's largest search-and-rescue training exercise, held over 40,000 square miles of southern Arizona and New Mexico last October, L.A. photographer Bryce Duffy hitched a ride on an Army Black Hawk helicopter flying with its doors open. Just before takeoff, the copilot did a preflight check, which included Duffy's harness. "He gave it a tug, and it opened right up," says Duffy, who has trained his lens on everything from Texas oil country to Hollywood celebrities. "It's a good thing he did, because at one point the helicopter banked so hard that my camera flew out of my hands. The only thing that saved it from the void was the strap around my neck. I couldn't help thinking that could have been me."
We dispatched Dean King to rural Doswell, Virginia, for "Catch Me If You Can," about the community's massive effort last October to locate an autistic boy in an 85-acre wilderness. King, author of Skeletons of the Zahara, came away impressed by the dedication of the volunteers and search-and-rescue professionals. "But as much planning as it involved," says King, who is working on a book about the Hatfield and McCoy feud, "it was an almost mystical act that ended the search. Miraculous endings have been a part of many other rescues, and people truly believe it was God watching out for the child."
The swooping lines on the custom Jones Titanium Spaceframe aren’t just for show. Former GT Bikes designer Jeff Jones reimagined how a mountain bike works: the Spaceframe’s front and rear triangles are more parallel to each other than on other bikes, for added flex and greater shock absorption. Factor in the material (strong yet forgiving titanium) and oversize tires and you’ve got a ride that’s as light (27 pounds) and responsive as a hardtail but nearly as absorbent as a full-suspension bike. Meanwhile, a buttressed fork makes for rigid steering, and the upright position keeps the forward lean to a minimum for easy handling.
It wasn’t broken, but Black Diamond found a way to make a carabiner better—and safer—anyway. Instead of latching shut via a conventional twist-lock or screw-gate design, the company’s Magnetron RockLock(pictured) and GridLock use magnets to hold tight. The result is a ’biner that is just as strong but, because you operate it with one hand, is much easier to use.
Airbag-equipped backpacks are (wisely) everyone’s favorite new avalanche safety tool, and nearly a dozen manufacturers now sell them in the U.S. But only the North Face thought to incorporate the technology into apparel. Designed with airbag-veteran ABS, the Powder Guide ABS avalanche vest fits over a standard ski jacket, making it ideal for short sidecountry missions. And, yes, there’s enough room in the vest for a small shovel and avalanche probe.