F E A T U R E S
Some of their names are already spoken with awe (Ed Viesturs, Lance Armstrong), and others soon will be (Josune Bereziartu). Not that fame is the point. Just ask Tommy Caldwell, Eric Jackson, Bjorn Daehlie, Anne-Caroline Chausson, and Göran Kropp. These aren't just athletes—they're 25 standard-bearers of excellence, men and women who have taken mind-boggling risks, pulled off outrageous feats, and inspired us to surpass our own mortal limits. Need we say more? Well, yeah—and we do.
The Immovable Object Meets the Unstoppable Force
Off the charts in strength, as clearheaded as he is daring, seemingly impervious to altitude and fatigue, Ed Viesturs has emerged as America's best-known—and best-paid—mountaineer. Now he's gunning for the last two ascents that stand between him and his dream: to be the first American to summit all fourteen 8,000-meter peaks without bottled oxygen.
By Craig Vetter
The Post-Communist Wolf
Accidents of geography and ecology—and the big-game hunting fantasies of a certain pipsqueak dictator—preserved Romania's Carpathian Mountains as a haven for lynx, brown bears, and wolves. And now, ready or not, here comes capitalism, with developers close behind. Joining a tiny band of conservationists fighting to keep man at bay, the author tracks these ancient predators and looks for signs of wild hope in the dark, wintry heart of Europe. By David Quammen
Below Another Sky
Twenty-year-old Asia Wright never knew her photographer father, who died in an avalanche in 1980 on Minya Konka—the highest mountain in China's Ta-hsüeh Range. In 1999, accompanied by the last man to see her father alive, she undertook a two-month journey to relive and comprehend his final adventure, right up to its tragic end.
By Rick Ridgeway
THE HOLIDAY GUIDE TO GEAR AND STYLE
Swag Me, Santa!
Custom-made Igneous skis! A Gary Fisher Sugar 1 mountain bike! The Nikonos-V underwater camera! Burton's SPLT 66 snowboard! Your own personal submersible! Chic duds for all the dogs in your life! Comb through our list of 101 great finds, discreetly wipe the drool from your chin, and then decide what cool loot to give—and get—this year.
By the Editors
D E P A R T M E N T S
One of the largest ski resort expansion projects to hit North America in 20 years opens in British Columbia this month, boasting 4,000 feet of vertical, a potential 4,000 acres of skiable terrain, and a bottomless cache of bone-dry powder. Can America's struggling resorts survive the second coming of Whistler? It may taste like sparkling Gatorade, but the latest energy drink requires a photo I.D.A sleek new toboggan called Captain Avalanche brings sledding into the 21st century.Run for your lives! Creepy tropical diseases and parasites raise the stakes on the adventure-racing circuit.PLUS: A historic Vermont ski hill sells for a song; Sir Edmund Hillary's son cries foul over a new book; and the latest craze in kite sports prepares for a dizzying winter launch.
The Wild File
Does wearing wet cotton in winter sap your body heat faster than wearing nothing at all? What organism can survive the most hostile environment? Do captive bears hibernate? What makes ice slippery?
By Stephanie Gregory
The Hard Way
Thrown together on a moment's notice, two strangers muscle their tandem sea kayak through vicious currents and tanker-choked shipping lanes, past the muzzles of machine guns, and back 3,000 years into the war-torn history of the Dardanelles.
By Mark Jenkins
Risqué hideaways: As the winter chill sets in, there's no better way to discover secluded beaches and untraveled tropics than by taking a tip from the most intrepid of travelers: nudists! Naked or not, you won't want to miss this revealing guide to the world's most private slices of paradise.
Discovering Maui's hidden gems, where clothing is strictly optional.Dodging the pleasure police on the Baja Peninsula.Ten other choice spots—Greece! Utah! Australia!—to take it all off.Sunscreen showdown: When it comes to protecting your privates, not all lotions are created equal.Plus: Dangling from helicopters on 200-foot cables, "longliners" find a new way to notch once unreachable first descents; an exclusive caving expedition goes deep on the Big Island, and three places to hit powder paydirt in December.
Take it outside: Hitting the gym during winter's dark and frigid days can quickly strip the joy from your fitness routine. Fear not. These four workout solutions for skiing, swimming, biking, and running are guaranteed to bring you strength, speed, and endurance—plus enough fresh air to last until spring
Cover photo of Ed Viesturs by Veikka Gustafsson on the north face of Annapurna, Nepal, April 21, 2000