The White Death

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Outside magazine, May 2000

The White Death
I’ve always been impressed by the quality of Outside‘s photographs, but I have to say that your avalanche shot on the cover of February’s issue is in a category all its own. At first I looked and thought, “Another pretty cloud of snow…how nice.” But when I looked closer and saw the skiers near the avalanche path, I felt an
almost primal horror over how quickly you can go from skiing down a mountain to having the mountain bury you alive.

William Neale
Kent, Washington

As the only survivor in a group of three people swept more than 2,000 vertical feet down a chute in Telluride’s backcountry on Valentine’s Day of 1989, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for your February issue (Avalanche: The Dark Side of Snow”). It’s rare to find a
magazine responsible enough to feature the possible deadly outcomes of an activity it promotes. The wisdom you have offered to thousands of readers will no doubt save lives.

Todd Richards
Bristol, Maine
When the Going Gets Tough
I just wanted to commend you on Andrew Essex’s very sharp, funny, and well-written article about the NYPD Scuba Unit (“Law and Water,” March). It takes a special individual to perform those kinds of duties under such wretched conditions. Many times articles written by
civilians just can’t get across the professionalism and pure guts of law enforcement and military personnel. Keep up the outstanding work, and as we say in the special-ops community, “Live hard to be hard!”

1st Sergeant George W. Jasper
U.S. Rescue and Special Operations Group
Kansas City, Missouri
Girl Power
Congratulations on a great profile of Cara-Beth Burnside (“She Can Hit Frontside 50-50s…,” March). Sara Corbett really captured the skater/snowboarder lifestyle without taking easy potshots at the culture. Cara-Beth has done what so many girls my age wanted to do: skate with the guys, and kick ass while doing it. From a former skate-betty who bit every
time she got on a board, my hat is off to CB and to Sara Corbett for covering her career.

Jennifer Smith
Los Angeles, California

Burnside’s skateboarding abilities first blew me away at the Board Fest at Arapahoe Basin in 1997, and I watched her take second in the Superpipe at Breckenridge (part of the Vans Triple Crown) last December. Even more, she is a warm and approachable person. That ability to forget her star status and encourage other women snowboarders impresses me even
more than her alley-oops and frontside 540s. Being an older competitor myself, I understand how the accumulation of injuries over the years makes it difficult and sometimes absurd to want to continue dominating contests. When I’m in pain and discouraged, I think about her.

Cindy Kleh
Keystone, Colorado
Vive la Différence
The photo caption on page 68 says Cara-Beth Burnside is “nailing a 50-50,” when in fact she is actually nailing a rail slide. In a real 50-50, her board would lie lengthwise along the rail, with two wheels on each side.

Robb Albrecht
San Luis Obispo, California
Positive Charge
I am a college athlete, and i’ve always had difficulty with my mental game. Coaches have commented on my lack of mental toughness and said that’s what has kept me from reaching my “peak performance level.” Completely frustrated, I read Paul Keegan’s cover story, “No More Mind
Games” (March)
, and saw a ray of hope. Jim Loehr and his partners have created a program that is challenging yet attainable. Many thanks from a recovering head case.

Emily Butler
Evanston, Illinois
Quick Freeze
I enjoyed Steve Kemper’s “A Screaming Comes Across the Ice” (February), which caught the excitement of the little-known sport of iceboating. I’d like to add one remarkable historical tidbit: Modern iceboats have been reported to reach 90 miles per hour, but in 1938 an
official speed record was set that still holds. John D. Buckstaff hit 143 mph in a Class A stern-steerer on Lake Winnebago, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. According to The Guinness Book of World Records, such a speed is possible in a wind of 72 mph.

Kara Buckstaff
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Italian Renaissance
Robert Roper’s article on the Dolomites (“Easy Does it in the Dolomites,” March) left me thinking, “It’s about time! Why has it taken so long for most of us to discover what an incredible gothic fantasyland this area of northern Italy is?” After three hut-to-hut hikes there in
the past year and a half, I’ve come to love the otherworldly topography.

Thom Gerst
Coon Rapids, Minnesota

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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