We've rounded up our favorite Outside long reads, perfect for moments when you want to lose yourself in stories of adventure, survival, and outdoor inspiration
Stories to keep you on the edge of your seat
Every year, scores of Into the Wild fans tackle a dangerous river crossing to visit the last home of Alaska's most famous adventure casualty. Why are so many people willing to risk injury, and even death, to pay homage to a controversial ascetic who perished so young?
Norway's forbidding Hardangervidda Plateau nearly killed Roald Amundsen when he attempted a ski traverse in the winter of 1896. But the failure set him on a path of training, study, and exploration that led to his historic conquest of the South Pole. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of that feat, Mark Jenkins and his brother Steve skied the route, an epic challenge that even now can prove deadly.
It sounds too good to be true: a star miler turned criminal goes to prison, links up with a legendary track coach, trains behind bars until his feet bleed, and earns a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Is the real world ready for Jon Gill's dream?
The Quidditch World Cup sounds dorky, and make no mistake: it is. But these sorcery-loving Harry Potter fans play pretty rough, as Eric Hansen found out when he captained a bad-news team of ex-athletes, ultimate Frisbee studs, slobs, drunks, and some people he knows from Iceland. Brooms up, and may the best Muggles win.
From miles out in the storm-ravaged Chesapeake Bay, the Tangier Island crab boat radioed a mayday, then fell silent. Fellow skippers from this lonely and legendary speck of land rallied to save the two-man crew. God willing, they'd get there in time.
Lhakpa Sherpa has climbed Everest more than any other woman—and now she's on the mountain trying for her seventh summit. So why doesn't anyone know her name?
When Raymond Stansel was busted in 1974, he was one of Florida's biggest pot smugglers. Facing trial and years in prison, he jumped bail, changed his name, and holed up in a remote Australian outpost. Even more remarkable than that? His second life as an environmental hero.
The most perilous road in America gets 300 inches of snow a year, features 70 named avalanche paths, and has almost no guardrails. Who would be crazy enough to keep Colorado's infamous Highway 550 clear in winter? Leath Tonino hopped into the cab of a Mack snowplow truck to find out.
In July, a group of Afghan women set out to climb 24,580-foot Mount Noshaq, their country's highest mountain. No Afghan woman had ever reached the summit, and many challenges stood in their way, from hostile Afghan men who think that women shouldn't exercise, to the terrorist attack in a district near the peak two days before the climb began. This is their story.
Inspired by an infamous assassin's escape from prison, the Barkley Marathons just might be the toughest race on the planet: a 100-mile-long, unsupported slog through the Tennessee backcountry that only 14 people have ever finished. Madison Kahn spoke to three of the event's regulars to get the story behind the Barkley.
LIFE & DEATH
Tales of mystery, miraculous survivals, and untimely ends
After bursting onto the scene as a teenage gym rat, Beth Rodden became one of the most accomplished climbers of all time. Here, for the first time, she opens up about the price of perfectionism, the kidnapping that almost grounded her, finding love again after her marriage to big-wall prodigy Tommy Caldwell, and balancing motherhood and rock.
When 18-year-old Joe Keller vanished from a dude ranch in Colorado's Rio Grande National Forest, he joined the ranks of those missing on public land. No official tally exists, but their numbers are growing. And when an initial search turns up nothing, who'll keep looking?
As America wrestles with high rates of suicide among military personnel and veterans, outdoor programs have been offered up as a promising treatment. Dan Sidles seemed like the ideal candidate: an Iraq War vet who suffered from PTSD, he tried to find a renewed sense of purpose through climbing and mountaineering. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough. Brian Mockenhaupt explores the final years of a tortured friend.
What motivates an amateur racer to rack up thousands of training miles and take on the pain and tedium of marathons and ultramarathons? Sometimes it's about keeping a step ahead of your ghosts.
Is it a bird or a haunting memory? Wells Tower tracks an uncertain resurrection in the big woods of Arkansas.
Richard Carr, a retired psychologist who had long dreamed of sailing around the world, was in the middle of the Pacific when he started sending frantic messages that said pirates were boarding his boat. Two thousand miles away in Los Angeles, his family woke up to a nightmare: he might be dying alone, and there was almost nothing they could do about it.
The 33 special agents assigned to the Investigative Services Branch handle the most complex crimes committed on NPS land. When a day hike in Rocky Mountain National Park ended in a grisly death, ISB veteran Beth Shott hit the trail, where she began unraveling a harrowing case.
He was the alpha male of the first pack to live in Oregon since 1947. For years, a state biologist tracked him, collared him, counted his pups, weighed him, photographed him, and protected him. But then the animal known as OR4 broke one too many rules.
ESSAYS & ESCAPE
Come along for the ride
To be a surfer girl in Maui is to be the luckiest of creatures. It means you're beautiful and tan and ready to rip. It means you've caught the perfect dappled wave and are on a ride that can't possibly end.
Research almost any travel destination and you'll probably wind up on travel-industry Goliath, where passionate people praise and denounce everything from romantic getaways to cockroach-infested hotel rooms. But who can you trust?
As the U.S. battles over the fate of public lands, the Chilean government and Kristine Tompkins are doing something extraordinary down in Patagonia—setting aside millions of acres for stunning new national parks. And they aren't done yet.
Spa treatments have gotten wild in recent years, especially in Southern California, where women pay big bucks for radical remedies like colonics, juice fasts, and a Gwyneth Paltrow fave—the life-changing V-steam. Taffy Brodesser-Akner dons a satin robe and asks: If this is the path to happiness, why am I so freaked out?