Pure as the Driven Snow


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Outside magazine, April 2001  

Pure as the Driven Snow

I THINK IT’S GREAT that Rob Story profiled Tom Burt, a true backcountry patriot and die-hard snowboarder (“Legend of the Fall Line,” February). Burt has amazing style, not to mention physical strength. I, and surely many others, fully respect his ability to stay out of the
limelight and keep focused on what snowboarding is all about: getting outside and having fun. I commend you for publishing this great story and letting others know that snowboarding purists still exist, led by the king of the OB, Tom Burt.
James LoPrete
Birmingham, Michigan

The Power of Positive Thinking

Kudos to Michael McCullough for the accurate column on the Odyssey 2000 bike ride (“…And All I Got Was This Lousy Prosthetic Foot,” Dispatches, February), but shame on Outside for a headline that plays on one rider’s misfortune. Tim Kneeland may be justifiably criticized for
mismanagement and financial ineptitude, but your title stinks as much as Kneeland’s ampsites. All riders were aware of the inherent risks of riding a bike around the world. When you consider the riders rode a combined three million miles or more, the number of serious accidents was remarkably small.
Al and Stephanie Tarkington
(Odyssey riders #99 and #100)
Del Mar, California

As the rider who had “a brush with a semi in Sweden,” I take exception to the tone and thesis of Michael McCullough’s review of Odyssey 2000. While my accident (an act of God, not of Tim Kneeland & Associates) ended my ride in Sweden and left me in the hospital for months, I, and many other riders, feel that Odyssey 2000 may have been the best year
of our lives. And although I would much rather still have my own leg, of course, I am quite pleased with my prosthesis and wonder how Outside came to deduce it was a “lousy prosthetic foot.”
James (Jim) E. Shewan Virginia Beach, Virginia
Must Be Something in the Water

Outside’s article on Fallon’s drinking water and arsenic made unsubstantiated charges against the American Water Works Association that demand clarification. The article alleges that AWWA and the AWWA Research Foundation were responsible for “holding back” the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to reduce the nation’s arsenic standard for drinking water. That charge is patently false. The truth is that AWWA publicly endorsed a stronger arsenic standard almost two full years ago, and notified the EPA twice that we supported a lower arsenic standard to protect public health. Most importantly, at no time did
AWWA seek to impede the EPA’s work. Your readers should know that AWWARF contributed over $9 million in a research partnership with the EPA in an effort to improve the information on arsenic’s health risks and removal from drinking water. By omitting these important facts, your article leaves readers in the dark and unfairly questions the reputation of the
drinking-water profession.
Jack W. Hoffbuhr
Executive Director, AWWA
Denver, Colorado

Bill Donahue responds: The American Water Works Association did, in fact, endorse an arsenic standard stronger than the EPA’s longstanding limit of 50 parts per billion, calling in September 2000 to lower the standard to 20 ppb. However, it did so only after arguing against a tighter standard for well over a decade, and only after the EPA proposed a
limit of 5 ppb. In January, the EPA officially ordered a new national arsenic limit of 10 ppb. Furthermore, while the AWWA Research Foundation has studied the health risks of arsenic in a research partnership with the EPA, the figure they contributed was not “over $9 million,” as Mr. Hoffbuhr says. According to public records, $3.5 million was provided by
the U.S. Congress for that partnership. Moreover, as the article points out, the AWWA’s research initiatives did provide solid scientific information, but the organization also served to bog down the bureaucratic process of lowering arsenic limits.
Love What You’ve Done to the Place

For twenty years, my private space has borne an uncanny resemblance to the interiors described in Ian Frazier’s “The Great Indoors” (February). My equipment-heavy adventure lifestyle has cost me more than one relationship. I’ve gone through a few women but, thank God, I
still have my gear.
Ron Rasmussen
South Lake Tahoe, California

Ian Frazier’s “The Great Indoors” was brilliant. I always suspected there were others like me, but never realized that we are a culture. Now, if I could only find a dog…
Doug Murdoch
Rockburn, Quebec

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.