Perfect Pitch


Outside magazine, December 2000  

Perfect Pitch

I HAVE TO TELL YOU that the article on El Capitan by Dan Duane (“Up on the Big Stone,” October) was quite simply one of the best pieces of writing on climbing—or on any subject, for that matter—I have ever read. I think I was holding my breath the entire time I
was reading, and when I was finished I had tears in my eyes. Dan captures the true spirit of El Capitan, a mountain that seemed impossibly high when I first saw it and has been on my mind and in my dreams ever since.

Roger Platt
San Francisco, California

AFTER BEING DIAGNOSED with thyroid cancer and having two neck surgeries in ten weeks, my salvation has been a weeklong trip to the Yosemite Valley. For now, I’ll have to be content with viewing Royal Arches and Half Dome from the ground up, but I look forward to learning how to climb when my strength is back. I value reading about rock climbers who push
the boundaries, moving beyond mental and physical limitations. I’m sure I’m not the only person stuck at home due to illness or injury—thanks for bringing it to us when we’re temporarily unable to go after it ourselves.

Kathryn Murray
Del Mar, California

BACK IN HIGH SCHOOL, I read anything I could get my hands on about the pioneers of rock climbing, from The Vertical World of Yosemite to early accounts of ascents on the rock in the Alps. It was great to see an article about some of my heroes, people who embody what climbing means to me. Thanks for the terrific photos and
writing in the October issue. I plan to hang up the portraits to remind me of what these individuals have done for climbing.

Ben Renich
Eugene, Oregon

Bonding Experience

I JUST FINISHED David Rakoff’s “I, Nature Boy” (October), and never have I so thoroughly enjoyed reading the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of someone with convictions and beliefs so divergent from my own. What a fantastic writer! A refreshing contrast to the
“greenie” approach to nature. Rakoff’s honest self-revelation, disarming wit, and fluid writing and timing drew me in.

Doug Lagassé
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Dark Green
I HAVE BEEN AN environmental activist for over 14 years and was transfixed by Bruce Barcott’s article on Barry Clausen and “ecoterrorism” (“Snoop: The Secret Life and Prying Times of Barry Clausen,” October). It seems to me the PR term “ecoterrorists” is a way to distract the
public from the real ecoterrorists—the corporations and the government that supports them. As for Barry Clausen, he is part of the problem, not the solution.

Jonathan Paul,President, Ocean Defense International
Williams, Oregon

BRUCE BARCOTT’S article on Barry Clausen was great. What a well-written, intelligent, unbiased article. I am an environmentalist and was skeptical about Clausen’s motives. But I do agree that if Earth First!, the ELF, and the ALF are legally caught committing terrorist acts, they need to be stopped and prosecuted. Those groups give environmentalists like
me a bad name. Keep up the excellent journalism.

Dan Marchildon
Atlanta, Georgia

IN THE FUTURE I’ll take my kid to Yuppie National Park and show him or her a stand of third-growth maple and sugar pine, uniformly staked in rows, surrounded by an RV park hemmed in by a sea of chicken wire and plaster subdivisions called “Grizzly Downs.” Of course, before we brave the interstate and its attendant 11-mpg SUVs we’ll dine on GENSalmon,
BIOCheese, and SYNCrackers. I can see myself playing the “Aw Shucks” role of Tall Tale Daddio, bragging about what it was like to hug a 250-foot cedar. Thanks, Barry, you da man. Add this to your database!

Rob Gibbert
Gig Harbor, Washington

EDITOR’S NOTE: In “Snoop,” Bruce Barcott wrote that Mitch Friedman, executive director of the Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, had once “published the infamous ‘Eco-Fucker Hit List,'” a document linked to a letter found in the Montana cabin of Theodore Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber. In fact, Mr. Friedman had no role in writing, editing, or publishing the
list. The erroneous information first appeared in Ron Arnold’s 1997 book EcoTerror: The Violent Agenda to Save Nature. Mr. Arnold later published an erratum sheet correcting the error. Neither Mr. Barcott nor his editors were aware of the correction, and we regret repeating the error.
Happy to Help
FOR YEARS, my 12-year-old daughter Clare has been unable to join the rest of the family in our ascents of Colorado’s fourteeners. She reliably gets significant altitude sickness (headache, nausea, vomiting) at about 12,000 feet while her younger brother racks up climbing achievements. After reading about the ginkgo biloba study in the August issue (“The Natural High?” Dispatches), she was determined to give it a try. Twice a day for five days before our ascent of Mount Bierstadt (14,060 feet), she took four 50-milligram capsules; she reached the summit ahead of her brother, with no symptoms of altitude sickness. Thanks to your
magazine and the researchers in your report for opening this door to my daughter and our family.

Eric Ennis
Denver, Colorado

Bee Here Now
I WAS QUITE AMUSED by “Attack of the Killer Bees!” in your October issue (Dispatches). Drones in Apis mellifera are the males whose sole purpose is to mate with the queen. The drone has no stinger and is also incapable of foraging for food, so he
must be provided for by the worker bees. The worker bees (female) are the ones capable of stinging. Furthermore, there are never that many drones in a colony, as they do not contribute to providing food. Hence “a black cloud of 15,000 furious drones” producing “over 500 stings” is utterly impossible.

Maureen Henry
Myersville, Maryland

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