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Syria is an enthusiastic state sponsor of terrorism and a fiendish fan of torture and oppression. But have you tried the stuffed grape leaves? Patrick Symmes invades before the coalition of the willing can.

Ingenious tips from essential wellness books

Into The Bus: An intimate tour of the Fairbanks City Transit System Bus 142, where the late Chris McCandless was discovered

Each summer 20,000 shining paragons of American boyhood march into the wilderness of Philmont Scout Ranch to confront an age-old question: Can the anarchy of adolescence be tamed?

Following up on Donald Katz's "The King of the Ferret Leggers"

The Quidditch World Cup sounds dorky, and make no mistake: it is. But these sorcery-loving Harry Potter fans play pretty rough, as Eric Hansen found out when he captained a bad-news team of ex-athletes, ultimate Frisbee studs, slobs, drunks, and some people he knows from Iceland. Brooms up, and may the best Muggles win.

Norway's forbidding Hardangervidda Plateau nearly killed Roald Amundsen when he attempted a ski traverse in the winter of 1896. But the failure set him on a path of training, study, and exploration that led to his historic conquest of the South Pole. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of that feat, Mark Jenkins and his brother Steve skied the route, an epic challenge that even now can prove deadly.

The plan was to check out Yemen, a little-visited Arab nation that offers glowing deserts, forbidding mountains, and lonely Socotra Island—a naturalist's paradise as imagined by Dr. Suess. But instead all hell broke loose, and a tourist romp became a front-row seat to the bloody upheavals sweeping the Middle East.

In the aftermath of the Big Leak, the author wrangles a skipper, a conservationist, and the real Forrest Gump to hoist canvas and sail into the mess that is the Gulf of Mexico. But here's the crazy part: While stewing in America's worst environmental disaster, he has a hulluva lot of fun.

Before the event, the doc gave me a six-day course of steroids for my back and threw in a bottle of Vicodin. “At your age,” he said, “after this race, you’re going to need it.”

Beer is the Dom Perignon of the Amazon. The surest way to get everyone’s attention is to show up with an obscene amount. We had everyone’s attention.

All told, the Marolts have six ski descents from about 7,000 meters. “People who haven’t done this have no concept,” Mike says. “It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do.”

He glanced through the glass and saw Tilikum staring back, with what appeared to be two human feet hanging down his side. There was a nude body draped across Tilikum’s back.

The list of seven summits climbers used to read like an alpinist all-star team. Now there are kids who can include it on their college applications.

In the Northwest's San Juan Islands, best known for killer whales and Microsoft retirees, a teen fugitive has made a mockery of local authorities, allegedly stealing cars, taking planes for joy­rides, and breaking into vacation homes. His ability to elude the police and survive in the woods has earned him folk-hero status. But some wonder if the 18-year-old will make it out of the hunt alive.

In the rugged eastern provinces of Afghanistan, where peaks rise thousands of feet on all sides and the next valley is a world away, American troops are engaged in a kind of alpine warfare not seen for decades. Months can go by without combat, but when you're patrolling terrain as dangerous and unpredictable as the enemy, the calm is often shattered when you least expect it.

When feet started floating into the dark, coastal bays of British Columbia, it wasn’t hard to imagine the worst, especially when the Mounties went silent. Even paradise has an underbelly.

Asperger’s turns social interaction into a source of suffering. “It’s like everyone else has a bucket for dealing with people,” says Clay, “and I only got a cup.”

What Twight rails against is mediocrity of effort. I’d drunk heavily from his rancid punch, and in a strange way I looked forward to more.

Outside the capital, the generals had not bothered with emergency services. No we will not help you. When Nargis hit, the military put its head in the sand.

“You go ahead and get this race out of your system,’ my wife told me. ‘But I don’t want to get a call from Butte saying your butt’s bleeding.”

It usually takes a week of traveling with Ed Tower before I’m seized by the tantrum-pitching impulse and can barely resist the urge to punch myself again and again in the face.

With Kelly Slater as his chief ambassador, SoCal surf legend Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz had a plan to teach the kids of Israel and Palestine how to get barreled—and bring peaceful vibes to the Middle East along the way. Of course that was before the Hamas supporters, the hashish, and the paparazzi got in the way.

When Pete Absolon, the Rocky Mountain director of NOLS, set out for a climb in Wyoming's Wind River Range, life couldn't have been better. A deadly mistake by another man ended it all in an instant—and started a nightmare that's never going to stop.

Six weeks, I told my wife. All the way to heaven and then home. Perhaps I would fail in some, or every, way. But one must go oneself to know the truth.

Before her 2005 arrest, eco-saboteur Chelsea Gerlach took part in nine Earth Liberation Front actions, including the 1998 arson that destroyed Vail Mountain’s Two Elk lodge. In an exclusive interview from behind bars, Gerlach talks about life on the run, destruction on behalf of the environment, and why she cooperated with the federal investigators who smashed the ELF.

You were told that Everest base camp is an insult to the true spirit of mountaineering. (Harrumph.) But why weren't you told about the excellent bars, the butter people, and that friendly Playboy bunny from Poland? The author spends a month at the world's most exclusive party town.

Did Alaska's frigid waters take another life?

When we travel, we think we don’t want to get sick, but maybe, less consciously, we’re not so sure. If nothing of note happens on a journey, was it one?

Is it a bird or a haunting memory? Wells Tower tracks an uncertain resurrection in the big woods of Arkansas.

For decades, no one had traversed the entire length of the Wakhan, following the old Silk Road from the northward bend of the Panj River. We had no idea if it could be done.

Deep inside a remote canyon, a boulder shifts. In an instant, Aron Ralston's hand is pinned beneath half a ton of rock. So begins an ordinary hero's six-day ordeal of grit, pain, and courage—culminating in a decision to do the unthinkable.

“Schoening leaned into his ax and braced himself for the impact. The rope thinned, then drew taut as a steel wire. For the next five minutes, he kept six men from falling of the face of the mountain.”

Everybody knows that many athletes cheat by using performance-enhancing drugs like steroids, testosterone, and EPO. But what is it like to take these banned substances? Do they really help you win? To find out, we sent an amateur cyclist into the back rooms of sports medicine, where he just said yes to the most controversial chemicals in sports.

The author's father traveled the world, shipped out on the last commercial sailing voyage around Cape Horn, and handed down a legacy of adventure. But his risk-taking spirit had a dark side—and its shadow fell across a final winter rendezvous in Aspen.

The most wanted man in America survived five years in the North Carolina woods, eating salamanders, sleeping on the cold ground, and stalking deer. Or so he says. Spend a night in his secret mountain hideaway and you get the feeling there's more to this story.

With their nifty new windmills, tidy techno-homes, and enviro-crusading queen, the Dutch are busy creating the cutest little ecotopia on earth—while stoking a booming hypercapitalist economy. What does tiny Holland know that America is too big and dumb to figure out?

“No one knows where I am, for the simple reason that I don't know exactly where I'm going. Not knowing is a key ingredient in this game.”

“I looked down to find my crotch on fire.” Tom Kluberton holds up gutted pants as evidence. “OK, they’re crotchless, but they are still good Carhartts.”

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