Two Americans died on the highest mountain in the Americas over the weekend due to complications from altitude sickness. Eric Nourse and David Reinhart were climbing Aconcagua, a 22,841-foot peak near Mendoza, Argentina, via the Polish Glacier Direct route when Reinhart became ill at about 22,000 feet. Nourse set out to find a way down, but died in high camp after going to sleep in his tent. "We carried our gear up the mountain, and after a little catnap [Eric] would carry it back down," said brother Greg Nourse, who accompanied the pair on the climb. "He was never concerned about dying." On Tuesday, porters found Reinhart's body 150 feet above the camp where he had stayed.
Bode Miller's ultimate goal is to ski at full strength in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Last February, Miller hurt his knee while skiing in a race there. When he tried to ski on it a couple weeks later in Bansko, Bulgaria, he realized it wasn't working right. In the spring, he had microfracture surgery. While early December reports said Miller might return in February, he says in the video embedded above that a recovery may take 12 to 18 months. "If I give my knee a full chance to heal, it should be very close to 100 percent, which it hasn't been since 2001," he said. "We have a chance to really finish on a super high note on that Olympic season—where I'm really focused and draw things together and try to put together a real legendary season."
It's been more than two years since Austrian BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner unveiled his ambitious Red Bull Stratos mission, a plan to free-fall from a height of 128,000 feet and become the first human to break the sound barrier without the aid of jet propulsion. That announcement gained considerable worldwide attention, including an August 2010 cover story in Outside. Not only was Baumgartner challenging a record that had stood for more than 40 years, but he was trying to execute a NASA-scale project while relying on a sponsor known more for kitschy stunts—like landing a motorcycle atop the Arc de Triomphe replica in Las Vegas—than for pioneering science.
When Stratos was delayed, many observers assumed that Red Bull had bitten off more than it could chew. As two stories demonstrate this month, that was anything but the truth. In our Exposure Special, "Bull Shot," photographer Balazs Gardi documents some of the impressive logistics that led to last November's triumphant Stratos mission, while Outside associate editor Ryan Krogh, who was on the scene in Roswell, New Mexico, the day of the jump, reveals exactly how Red Bull managed to pull it off. And in "Get Your Head in the Game," a profile of sports psychologist Michael Gervais, Brian Mockenhaupt lets us in on one of the more surprising factors that led to the mission's two-year delay: Baumgartner was afraid of his space suit. Mockenhaupt chronicles the methodical counseling that enabled Baumgartner to stop panicking and focus on his historic feat.
Last year’s pitiful snow season left skiers and boarders starving for the white stuff. Which is why we’ve dug up a smorgasbord of new terrain, fresh trips, and killer deals that will have you ripping all winter long.
ALTA AND SNOWBIRD, UTAH It’s not just that Alta and Snowbird average more than 500 inches of the world’s fluffiest snow each season. It’s that the snow falls on some of the most challenging lines in North America—and this season, many of those trails will be even easier to access. Over the summer, Snowbird replaced the old, slow Little Cloud double chairlift with a high-speed quad that zips skiers to the top in three and a half minutes (twice as fast as before), allowing speedier turnaround on coveted powder pitches like 1,300-vertical-foot Shireen. Just a few miles farther up Little Cottonwood Canyon at Alta—which connects to Snowbird via a high-speed quad and can be skied on the same day with the $99 AltaBird ticket—a new smartphone-friendly website alerts skiers to openings on trails with typically late post-storm rope drops. That includes the north-facing open bowls off Backside, all of which dump you in front of the Rustler Lodge’s outdoor heated pool (doubles from $352).
ALYESKA, ALASKA Alaskan storms tend to stick around for a while, sometimes dropping up to 40 inches of snow in just 24 hours. Last season that happened a lot. When the final tally was recorded, Alyeska, located just 40 minutes south of Anchorage, was covered with 962 inches of snow at the peak. That accumulation made for never-ending powder throughout the resort’s 1,400 acres, and it allowed ski patrol to open two new chutes on a trial basis: Max’s Chute and #1 East, both of which are narrow 2,500-foot rides of pure fall line. They skied so well that the mountain’s staff expects to open them again this season. And if the weather isn’t as generous, there’s always the backcountry. Chugach Powder Guides operates heli- and cat skiing right out of the resort. We suggest you jump on this deal: four nights of lodging at the swanky, slopeside Hotel Alyeska, two days of lift tickets at the resort, and two days of intermediate-to-expert cat skiing (avalanche gear and lunch included) in open bowls and glades, all for $1,488.
REVELSTOKE, BRITISH COLUMBIA What was nothing more than a backcountry spot for local skiers just six years ago has grown into a major resort. Last season, Revelstoke began using another new tool to help skiers and riders better navigate the mountain: sensors placed in key areas send minute-by-minute updates to the resort’s website, reporting wind direction, humidity, and temperature. Using that information, you can determine where the trails will be most wind-loaded with powder and how dense that snow will be (the denser the snow, the fatter the ski you’ll need). And when the lift-serviced terrain is totally skied out, guests can ride a cat (from $300 per day) to 5,000 acres of mostly gladed sidecountry terrain. Another great perk? Everything is within walking distance of the chairlifts, including your digs at Sutton Place and its new outdoor heated pool (doubles from $560).
WHISTLER BLACKCOMB, BRITISH COLUMBIA There’s a reason the locals prefer mega-fat skis. The resort’s damp ocean air can yield some heavy snow, which is why the resort has built a rental fleet full of fat, rockered skis like the Rossignol S7 and Salomon Rocker 115. And to make sure you don’t miss out on fresh tracks after a big dump, Whistler upgraded its smartphone app with alerts that let you know when ropes are dropping on some of the steepest, longest lines in North America, including the 1,300-foot couloir and the 43-degree Big Bang, located on Blackcomb Mountain. Added bonus: beginning this season, Extremely Canadian guides will run daily backcountry clinics inside Garibaldi Park, an area that holds snow weeks after a storm. For $199 (avalanche gear not included), clients hike and ski as much as 20,000 vertical feet on intermediate-to-expert faces, all while receiving instruction on powder-skiing technique. Later on, grab a massage at Fairmont Chateau Whistler and splurge on one of the rooms overlooking Blackcomb Mountain (doubles from $389).