A Hard Place

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Outside magazine, January 2001  

A Hard Place

I WAS BRIEFLY A “guest” of the Turkish secret police in the Kurdish area near Iraq, have stood guard over sleeping friends along fluid borders of war-torn nations, and have otherwise stared down the wrong end of a gun barrel more than once, but none of my experiences compares with the saga of Beth Rodden, Jason Smith, John Dickey, and Tommy Caldwell
(“Fear of Falling,” November). Greg Child’s narrative of this harrowing episode was riveting, and the description of the hostages’ imprisonment in “coffinlike holes in the riverbank” with glacial runoff flowing in was terrifying. I hope and pray the Four Musketeers soon find peace and restful sleep undisturbed by the horrors they endured. I’ve also said a
prayer for the army prisoner, Turat, who faced his death with dignity.
Michael J. Ireland
Westlake Village, California

I WAS FORTUNATE enough to be one of the last groups into the Ak Su and Kara SuValleys of Kyrgyzstan in the summer of 1999 and found them spectacularly beautiful and inhabited by handsome, friendly families. Women came out with bowls of yogurt to greet us, and laughing children posed for photographs. Then, less than three weeks after we left the valleys,
the four Japanese geologists were captured. Greg Child’s article brought home with startling clarity how lucky my party was to avoid trouble. I could imagine every move the terrorists and the climbers made. Believing that you’ve killed another human must be a terrible experience, but Tommy Caldwell and the other climbers should remember that they were de
facto prisoners of war. Under international law they had a right to try to escape and a right to take whatever measures necessary to succeed. May peace return to Kyrgyzstan.
Bruce C. Patton
Denver, Colorado

Out of This World

BILL MCKIBBEN’S description, in “Across the Disappearing Finish Line” (November), of the interwoven nature of his endurance training and his father’s passing was not so much to be read as felt. I found myself drawn into the center of the lives of the two men and ended up in tears. Just when I start to think Outside can’t
possibly get any better, I open a new issue to a story like his that tells me different. Thanks, Bill, and thanks, Outside, for a job well done.
Timothy R. Atkinson
Bismarck, North Dakota

That’s Why the Lady is a Tramp

I AM WRITING TO congratulate Brad Wetzler on his hilarious article describing his experiences as a Bohemian-style hobo (“Is Just Like Amerika!” November). His piece perfectly expresses all the different sides of the Czech tramping phenomenon— the nostalgia, the boozy camaraderie, the merry cheesiness, and the residual romance inherent in the
experience. As someone who has never been a “hard-line” tramp but for a few years used to embark on long hikes nearly every summer weekend (dressed top-to-toe in surplus army gear), I can testify to the unorthodox charms of this recreational activity. The only thing I missed in his account was more about how pretty (not wild or dramatic—just very
picturesque in a sweet, tame way) the Czech landscape is. This quality, much like the Czech genius for beer, has undoubtedly had some effect on the character of Czech tramping. Again, my compliments on an excellent piece.
Katerina H. Pavilitova, Director Czech Tourist Authority
New York, New York

Equal Opportunities
THANKS FOR YOUR November issue’s extensive ski coverage, especially the reviews of the different types of equipment for different styles of skiing and snowboarding—and specifically your mogul-ski review. Many all-ski magazines only manage to review equipment that appeals to a mass-market audience and ignore specialized equipment like mogul skis. Bumps
are too tough for most people, but Outside, with its large variety of topics, manages to address those of us who love them. Thanks for staying on the edge!
Joe Monohan
Boston, Massachusietts

An Apology
WE AT NIKE HAVE always attempted to excite, inspire, and yes, even provoke people through our advertising. In doing so, it is crucial that we recognize and define certain limits of acceptability. Recently an ad ran in this publication promoting the Nike Air Dri-Goat trail-running shoe. That ad, which included unfortunate remarks about spinal-cord injury,
should never have been approved, much less written. Purely and simply, we made a mistake. Every Nike employee is personally embarrassed by this ad because it runs counter to who we are as a company. At Nike we believe, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” We offer a sincere apology to anyone who was offended by that ad.
Kirk Stewart, V.P., Communications
Nike Inc.
Beaverton, Oregon

Correspondence may be sent by e-mail ( or addressed to the Letters Editor, Outside, 400 Market St., Santa Fe, NM 87501. Please include your full name and address.

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