The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Feb 2011

Outside Magazine, Mar 2011

South African Hendrik Coetzee was among the world's most talented whitewater kayakers, obsessed with exploring the remote rivers of Africa. But after a decade of surviving highly risky first descents and exploratory expeditions, he was ready to let it go after one last run in the Congo. That's when his luck ran out. By Grayson Schaffer

Hurled epithets, angry fists, hit-and-run crashes: in the new culture wars between drivers and cyclists, it's my way or the highway. Tom Vanderbilt saddles up for a three-hour commute into Manhattan to observe the bikelash firsthand.

Man-hunting wolf packs, freakishly large catfish, and homemade vodka as an antidote to radiation: it's the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, where 25 years without humans has turned the de facto wildlife refuge into a living genetics experiment. By Henry Shukman

Four years ago, cycling enthusiast and Pilates instructor Shannon Galpin decided it was time to be the change she wished to see in the world. So she launched a nonprofit, went to Afghanistan, and devoted herself to women's issues. That was the easy part. Nick Heil joins her for a fundraising ride in the heavily armed Panjshir Valley.

destinations special
23 Reasons to Get Out There: All that dire talk about never-ending recessions and struggling economies has forced the travel industry to adapt. Which means that now—right now—is the time to plan the trip of your life. Plus: To give you some added incentive, we present our Trips of the Year, everything from whitewater rafting in Siberia to mountain biking in Argentina to the greatest multisport vacation in Alaska. Our best travel writers also share their favorite adventures.

Suede boots, sneaker-inspired shoes, and a look at why Amazon River trekker Ed Stafford wears Crocs while hoofing it around the house and the jungle.

Covet: A handcrafted leather briefcase that will stand the test of time.
Adventure Tech: The best new digital tools, from a smashproof cell phone to a sleek iPad rival.
Kids' Gear: Winter was made for youngsters. Here are the coolest toys to get them—and you—through it.
Made in the USA: Asia has the cheap labor, but the good old red-white-and- blue is still producing the planet's best outdoor products.

No More Barriers: Part one in our four-part series addressing the most common obstacles to peak athletic performance focuses on beating your toughest competition: your own mind.

Hiking for fun: it's the new big thing in China. To learn the art of backcountry travel‚ with all the Western fixings, like trail markers, designated campsites, and composting toilets‚ a group of Chinese hikers tackles a section of the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smokies. By Yang Xiao, translated by Ed Jocelyn

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Stuff You Should Click On: Week of February 4

You might have missed a few things this week, given the X Games and the upcoming Super Bowl, but there was still plenty going on in the world outside. From the backcountry slopes to the shores of Maui, here's the stuff you should click on this week.

Who Needs The X Games?
Kimmy Fasani Lands First Double Backflip for Women:

Maybe After a Little More Practice:

A Good Case for the Backcountry:
Chairlift Requires 3 Evacuations in 3 Weeks (

Better Yet, Ski Hawaii:
Chuck Patterson "Surf Skis" 20' Jaws (Transworld Surf)

Not Your Father's Jetpack:
Water-Powered Jetpack Runs Two Hours on Single Tank:

German Public TV Dumping Tour in 2012 (ESPN)

The Thorpedo Returns:
Thorpe Ends Retirement, Looks to 2012 Olympics (New York Times)

You Boys Like Mexico?

-- Michael Webster

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Runner Barred from U.S. Championships

Chirlee Joseph Chirlee, a U.S. citizen, private in the U.S. Army, and Olympic marathon hopeful, will be barred from the national cross-country championships on Saturday because, strangely enough, he doesn't meet citizenship requirements imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations, The New York Times reports.

The IAAF rule states that competitors must have been a citizen of their home country for at least two years in order to compete; Chirlee emigrated from Kenya five years ago but has been a U.S. citizen for less than two years. The rule was imposed to discourage international competitors from jumping country to country for competitive advantage, but the rule still applies on the domestic level because USA Track and Field has adopted the IAAF rules as its own, something they've done since the mid 1980s.

The New York Times article states that USA Track and Field officials insist that the rule is not discriminatory and that it is not directed at Chirlee or several other athletes who are in his situation.

"We have an obligation to make sure competitive opportunities to represent the U.S. internationally go to individuals who are eligible to do so,” said Jill Geer, the chief public affairs officer for the organization. In other words, if Chirlee were to compete on Saturday, he would influence the outcome of the race and therefore the other competitors who are eligible to compete internationally.

“Is the rule perfect? No,” said Geer, who added that USA Track and Field officials, acting on Chirlee’s behalf, tried unsuccessfully to get the IAAF Chirlee’s eligibility.

“I accepted the two-year wait to represent the country,” Chirlee said. “But I was confused why it applied to races on home soil. I just wanted to be treated like any other U.S. citizen."

-- Michael Webster

Photo by familymwr on Flickr

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SIA: The Best Women's Gear

Last week's SnowSports Industries America trade show (SIA) made its second debut in Denver, Colorado, exhibiting a lot of new cold-weather product set to hit stores for the 2011/2012 winter season. I spent a couple of days there, getting the skinny on new snowboards for next year as well as some hot pieces for women.

Want a sneak peek? Here are my four favorite new things for the ladies.
--Alicia Carr Troxell

1) Giro Amulet Goggle

AMULET Umber Trees  amber scarlet
Giro's been making goggles for a few years now, but never before have they had a women's-specific goggle. And, no, it's not one of their smaller frames turned pink. This tree-adorned goggle is based on their men's bestseller, the Basis, and features all of the same high-tech details like Carl Zeiss optics and a roomy interior with wider-than-usual peripheral vision. Not to mention leather detailing at the temple. Stylish.

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