Lowe and Behold

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Outside magazine, May 1999

Lowe and Behold
With most media attention on mainstream athletes like Michael Jordan, Mark McGwire, and John Elway, it was so refreshing to read your profile of climber Alex Lowe (“The Mutant and the Boy Scout Battle at 20,000 Feet,” March). Very few athletes will ever measure up to what he’s done. I hope that the cover of Outside is just the

Patrick Clark
Missoula, Montana


Your article about Alex Lowe highlights his attempt to juggle career and family. Though that’s a common battle, I can’t feel sorry for someone who allows the lure of adventure to take priority over his responsibilities as a father and husband. I admire him for his accomplishments and abilities, but I’d admire him a lot more if he got his priorities straight.

Dave Andrews
Germantown, Tennessee


Tumbling Down

I applaud Bruce Barcott’s article on the movement to tear down the dams that are choking our rivers (“Blow-Up,” February). Another charge against dams: They deprive our beaches of sand. All of the sediment that creates problems behind dams would ultimately have been destined for the coast. Meanwhile, coastal erosion is a chronic problem, and one of the primary
culprits is a lack of sediment from rivers. As a result we spend billions of dollars to renourish our beaches, with mixed results, in an attempt to keep them wide enough for recreation and the protection of coastal development.

Chad Nelsen
Environmental Programs Manager
Surfrider Foundation
San Clemente, California


After reading “Blow-Up,” I wondered: What will happen to the ecosystems that have sprung up as a direct result of the dams? Wetlands now exist downstream from most earthen dams, and lake fish often move into the reservoirs created. While I have mixed feelings about dams, these issues need to be addressed in a balanced way before any come tumbling down.

Beth Ratcliff
Denver, Colorado


Local Wisdom

David Quammen’s “Looking at X Rays in the Garden of Eden” (March) is an extraordinarily detailed article and a very neat nutshell overview of the conflicts concerning Kakadu National Park in Australia, its Aboriginal owners, and mining within its boundaries. As Quammen artfully encapsulates, it has been a torturous 30 years of political machinations. The only
problem with your report is that it uncovered a secret known only to the locals–the wonderful Kakadu Bakery in Jabiru.

Greg Miles
Public Relations Officer
Kakadu National Park


Which, in Fact, Is Our Business

I was thoroughly amused by Ian Frazier’s droll take on the urban-émigré outfitter and angling supplies emporium (“Our Business is People. Well, People and Trout and Some Ancillary High-Margin Items…,” March). Here’s something I didn’t even know existed, and already Outside is delicately wielding the pinprick of satire to puncture its pretensions.

Vince Cox
Los Angeles, California

Desert Solitaire No Longer

As a former assistant superintendant of Mojave National Preserve, I read “A Desert Defiled” (Dispatches, February) with great interest. In addition to doing a fine job of detailing the issues that confront that new park, your article also touched on the National Park Service’s inability to manage sensitive issues adroitly. It has been too easy for the Park Service
to simply look the other way when people, say, occupy or trespass on federal land, or mine on improperly located claims. Now, thanks to the actions of a coalition of local and national environmental groups, change is finally on its way.

Frank Buono
Prineville, Oregon


Rite On

You used the word “rights” in a headline in your March issue where you should have used “rites” (“Hello, Father? Do You Offer Last Rights By Cell Phone?” Dispatches, March). I know: picky, picky. As a writer, editor, and Catholic-school survivor, however, I feel I am within my rights to request that you write “rites” right. All right? Now that’ll be ten Hail

Abigail Kelly
Irvine, California

Correction: Our February article on dam decommissioning incorrectly stated that pregnant women have been warned not to swim in Lake Powell because of high concentrations of selenium and other potentially dangerous elements. While a 1996 interim U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report indicated that levels of selenium in Lake Powell’s
striped bass, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass are a potential health concern, and the State of California warns pregnant women and children against eating fish containing selenium in the amounts found in Lake Powell bass, no official warnings have been issued regarding swimming in the lake. Outside regrets the error.

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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