The Lofty Heights
THANK YOU, Erik Weihenmayer, for the wonderful piece on your climb to the top of the world ("Tenacious E," December). Not only was achieving the summit without sight impressive, but you did it amid such controversy from the climbing community. You quote the detractors who say, "Now that a blind guy's climbed it, everyone's going to think it's easy." So did your accomplishment make me want to climb Everest? No, I'm a novice mountaineer. But it does make me want to take a journey within myself, as you did, to better understand what's there. It will certainly be an amazing adventure.
Thetford Center, Vermont
Terror vs. Travel
FOR A YEAR MY wife and I had been planning a trekking adventure through India and Nepal, but with the recent terrorist attacks in America we came to the conclusion, after much contemplation, that our adventure would have to wait. We've heard many different opinions on whether we should go or not, but I want to express how much I appreciated Mark Jenkins's perspective on travel during a time of war ("Seismic Shift," The Hard Way, December). Realizing that "Adventure is largely a luxury of peace" reinforces how our generation should appreciate the freedoms we have during times of peace, and how adventure is a luxury we must sacrifice when peace is shattered. We can all shed a tear and yet still refuse to live in fear.
I HAVE ONLY one question about "new legend" Kelly Slater ("Star Power," December): Is he single? The heavens above have created a surf god like no other. Someone should tell this guy not to go walking around in his black surf suitit's making several of us want to become permanent surf bunnies.
I WAS SHOCKED, disheartened, and my holidays were generally ruined by what I saw on page 53 of the December issue. There was Picabo Streetwith an engagement ring on her finger! What a bummer.
Rafts and Ruins
AS AN ARCHAELOGIST working for the last three years in Peru's Cotahuasi Valley, I read with interest Peter Heller's article on his rafting and kayaking expedition down the river ("Pourover," December). The valley has a rich prehistory dating to at least 10,000 b.c., and the trickle of tourists going to explore it has increased steadily since the late 1990s. Tourism, although welcomed by most Cotahuasinos, can be dangerous to the region's archaeological treasures. In the more popular Colca Valley to the south, two decades of unmanaged visits to Incan ruins by well-intentioned visitors has led to the destruction of walls and the almost total loss of surface ceramics from some sites. I applaud Mr. Heller's discretion and respect when he visited prehistoric tombs during his expedition, and I urge whitewater companies like Bio Bio Expeditions to cooperate more closely with archaeologists and local development workers toward a plan to maintain the Cotahuasi's cultural heritage for generations to come.
Department of Anthropology,
University of California, Santa Barbara
Back to the Future
HATS OFF TO TED and Beau Turner! In Jack Hitt's December article "One Nation, Under Ted," we see the duo subverting all kinds of accepted land-use practices. Ted Turner has the best men in their fields and they don't have to hold committee meetings or try to please the whole population. Ted could easily parlay his fortune into any avenue for selfish gain, but instead he commits his life to a land ethic that tries to return plants and animals like longleaf pines, bison, elk, and ferrets to their former glory. It will even pay its way via some selective timber sales and marketing fine bison meat. May their ambitious plan fare well and teach the American people and its government what steward-ship really means.
St. Germain, Wisconsin
BY JOVE, I THINK you've got it! A quick preview of the December issue reveals no butts or boobs on the cover, no farcical fashion reviews, and no bone-crunching monster trucks parked in the creekjust a well-balanced meal of educated, insightful, inspiring, and thought-provoking reporting and commentary, seasoned with great photography. Welcome home! It's good to see you again.
Hobe Sound, Florida
The Lofty Heights