The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Adventure

Closer to the Ground: Foraging and Fishing With Kids

On a recent Tuesday evening in Santa Fe, a handful of people gathered at Collected Works Bookstore to hear Dylan Tomine read from his new book, Closer to the Ground: An Outdoor Family’s Year on the Water, in the Woods and at the Table. It was one of the first really cold nights of the season and half a dozen members of the audience were clad in sheepskin and down. Tomine, a father of two from Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound, Washington, showed up in standard Pacific Northwest attire: a crinkly, bright blue rain jacket. Every so often, he'd interrupt himself to take a big swig of water and say, “I’ve never felt so dry in my whole life.”

RebelUltraGTXFish story: The author with Weston and Skyla on Puget Sound. Photo: Dylan Tomine

Tomine and his family are avid adventurers, but their sport of choice isn’t climbing or paddling, cycling or surfing. It’s foraging. In all weather and seasons, they take to their motorboat, the local beaches, forests, and trails to hunt for crabs, king salmon, razor clams, chanterelle mushrooms, oysters, and blackberries. Listening to someone describe the outrageous edible bounties of the Pacific Northwest while landlocked in the high desert is a little surreal, to say the least, and the experience was much like that of reading Tomine's book: Saltwater seemed to drip from every word; I could taste the brine in the pages.

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Extreme Alpinism in the Name of Climate Science

Ascending_leninAscending Mount Lenin. Photo: Hari Mix

Is Hari Mix a mountaineer with a science habit or a scientist with a mountaineering habit?

"I'm not sure," says the 27-year-old Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Earth Systems Science at Stanford University. "They're definitely related, I've always been drawn to the scale and beauty of the earth's processes, so I want to go and interact with them directly, and mountaineering is a great way to do it."

This summer, Mix climbed a number of peaks in the Pamir Mountains, mixing his summit pursuits with scientific study. At the top of Mount Lenin, a 23,406-foot peak on the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, Mix collected microbe samples from the highest elevation to date for a climate change research project. (Actually, he bagged several small rocks, in which the microbes live.) Dragos Zaharescu, a research associate at the University of Arizona's Biosphere 2 research program, is now analyzing the samples that Mix collected on Mount Lenin as well as from three other nearby peaks.

Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC), a Bozeman, Montana-based citizen science organization that seeks opportunities for climbers and other outdoor athletes to contribute to scientific research, connected Zaharescu and Mix.

Zaharescu is also analyzing other samples, collected from high on Mount Denali, an archipelago in Artic Russia, Kilimanjaro in Africa, and other peaks around the world. His research focuses on how climate change may be impacting the way biotic communities in high altitudes colonize rock and break it down, initiating nutrients transfer through the ecosystem.

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The Fastest Way to Add Winter Traction


Historically, installing chains on your car to get over a mountain pass has been an awful task. Nearly always it involves crawling around under your car, usually in the middle of a storm or in deep and cold snow drifts, freezing your hands off. It's typically wet, cold, miserable, and dirty—and unavoidable. Chains are required on many Western passes and ski area access roads. No chains, and you head home or wait until the road is plowed and clear, and others get first tracks.

No more. Thule just introduced Easy Fit Snow Chains, which literally snap on with a lever and self tighten as you drive.

There are three easy ways to put the chains on, all of which you can do without taking off your gloves: 1. Extend the rigid arch, which means popping the chain open; 2. Lay the chain on the tire starting from the top; 3. Open up the pedal and push down with your foot to tension the chain.

And it’s just as easy to get them off.

Still don't believe how fast these are? A month ago, Thule snagged a Guinness Book World Record for most snow chains put in one minute. It took the Thule team about nine seconds to install each chain.

To make sure that even the most mechanically challenged can be successful, Thule packages the product in a nylon bag that you turn inside out and use as a mat when installing the chains. It has printed instructions and even marked dots where you should kneel for best positioning. It’s one more way Thule makes sure installing the Easy Fits is easy—and that you don’t lose the directions. Available now, $450;

—Berne Broudy

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This Week's Missing Links, November 17

The best articles, videos, and photos I didn't post this week—until now. If you only have time to click on two links, check out "BP Will Plead Guilty and Pay Over $4 Billion," from The New York Times, and "Tunnel Vision," a haunting and thoughtful look at a fatal avalanche, from Outside.

A haunting and thoughtful look at a fatal avalanche
, Outside

Is Lance Armstrong seeking legal reparations? Roopstigo

Bearing witness to a terrifying climbing fall, Adventure Journal

The place to go for anyone looking to get better at ice climbing, San Juan Mountain Guides

Piolet D'or Asia, Explorer's Web

Why you shouldn't bike in front of runners in a race if you're wearing a flourescent jersey, Yahoo

How many near-death experiences does it take to row from London to Istanbul? Outside

How climber Steve House is mentoring the next generation of climbers, Mountain

How surfer Jon Rose is helping after Sandy, Outside

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2012 National Outdoor Book Award Winners Announced

Screen Shot 2012-11-16 at 11.00.59 AMThe Ledge. Photo: Random House

The National Outdoor Book Awards have released their picks for the best books of 2012. This year's titles include 15 winners and honorable mentions in nine categories, ranging from children's book to natural history to design. The Outdoor Literature Award was a tie between two books, Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail, by Suzanne Roberts, and The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier, by Jim Davidson and Kevin Vaughan.

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