Long Reads

Archive

There’s a new competition raging among elite runners: the beer mile, in which you do four laps around a standard track, chugging a 12-ounce brew at the start of each loop. If you can do it in under five minutes—without hurling or passing out—you’re not just fast. You’re a hero.

The crude that would feed the XL pipeline comes from a once pristine part of Alberta that now resembles mining operations on a sci-fi planet. At places like Fort McKay, home to First Nations people who've lived there for centuries, the money is great but the environmental and health impacts are exceedingly grim.

Is there such a thing as the greatest vista on earth? The Japanese think so, and they've got the breathtaking Three Scenic Views, a trio of iconic landscapes that stand above the rest. One writer takes them all in on a breakneck tour.

With warp-speed ascents that include the Matterhorn (1:56) and Denali (9:43), ultrarunner turned alpinist Kilian Jornet Burgada is the king of the endurance world's latest obsession: fastest known times. And now he plans to run up Everest.

Tired of epic lift lines, hostile locals, and $15 burgers at the lodge? Something wonderful is happening in a remote pocket of British Columbia, where homegrown spirit is flourishing beyond the reach of corporate resorts and there's plenty of powder to share.

The German-American surfing writer was kidnapped by Somali pirates in 2012—and held for two years and eight months. Joshua Hammer reports on his imprisonment, drawn-out negotiations to ensure his release, and the ugly business of kidnapping for cash. As the global debate over ransoming hostages heats up, just how should we be getting our journalists home?

There are many threats to the 50-year-old Wilderness Act. But the most dangerous, Kenneth Brower says, comes from those who are chipping away at the very idea of wilderness itself.

Jamie Smith says he was recruited into the CIA as an undergraduate at Ole Miss, cofounded Blackwater, and has done clandestine intelligence work all over the world, operating out of a counterterrorism boot camp in the woods of north Mississippi. Plenty of people believed him, including the Air Force (which paid him $7 million to train personnel) and William Morrow, which signed him up to write his memoir. There's just one little question: How much of it is true?

It may be the oldest emotion. Before happiness, before sorrow, before exhilaration, and way, way before the urge to climb mountains and bomb down steeps, there was fear. Now scientists are finding new ways to help us conquer our deepest anxieties—and use them to perform even better.

An eight-step plan for rebooting your career and finding a job that you love.

Prepare yourself for the worst with the smartest survival tools around.

Every year, more than 500 Americans will be struck by lightning—and roughly 90 percent of them will survive. Though they remain among the living, their minds and bodies will be instantly, fundamentally altered in ways that still leave scientists scratching their heads.

No, but it is getting increasing dangerous out there. As hordes of skiers hit the backcountry, they're triggering more avalanches than ever before, and there's still a dangerous gap between our collective enthusiasm and the depth of our knowledge. But while the learning curve is daunting and the risks are high, the adventure rewards are immense—if you do it rig

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.

Last year in Nazaré, Portugal, the Brazilian surfer nearly drowned while trying to ride the biggest wave ever surfed by a woman. Most of the alpha males who dominate the sport say Gabeira doesn't belong in their ranks, but nothing will stop her from going back in.

Do cell phones, satellite messengers, and personal locator beacons create more false alarms in the backcountry?

A star political blogger for Grist.org, David Roberts spent so much time posting and Tweeting and staring at screens that he almost went nuts. So he pulled the plug for a year, restarting his relationship with technology and actively seeking health, balance, and adventure in the real world. What he learned just might save you from meltdown.

The hours are long, and the work can be dangerous. But animal care workers, the unsung heroes devoted to the health of mammals at SeaWorld and other marine parks, have unrivaled access to the animals—and the challenges of captivity. Here, three former employees go on the record about their experiences.

What makes a Best Town Ever? Access to adventure, healthy eating options, bike lanes, and green spaces. And these places have it all.

At least not of the traditional, compulsory, watch-the-clock-until-the-bell-rings kind. As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet of standardized testing and indoor inactivity is choking the creativity right out of our kids. The alternative: set 'em free.

In the half-century since the Wilderness Act was passed, almost everything has changed. All the more reason to go wild.

The true, tragic, and improbable love story between a handful of Navy scientists and the small cetaceans they believed held the keys to mastery of the oceans.

Pet-friendly American suburbs make ideal habitats for skunks, and populations of the bushy-tailed moochers have exploded in recent years. Time to investigate an outbreak that's bringing the wrong kind of funk to summer nights.

The true story of the mountain's most horrific day, the Sherpas who paid the price, and the aftershocks that will change the mountain forever

There's a reason exiles dreaded being packed off to Siberia. While retracing the path of a doomed 19th-century U.S. polar expedition in the Russian High Arctic, we encounter swarming mosquitoes, a few Kalashnikovs, an island lost in time, the burial site of ten brave men, and a haunting beauty like nothing we've ever seen.

It's not easy to swim with sperm whales: they're hard to find, hard to reach without adequate diving experience, and they just might swallow you up if you get too close. But how else are we going to crack their complicated language system? A group of rogue freedivers takes the plunge.

When you enter the Western States 100—a day-and-night endurance run in the Sierra Nevada—you can "mature a lot."

This road trip from New Orleans to Florida featuring lazy days feasting on the freshest seafood, sandy camping, and pristine paddling.

Why Clint Dempsey is the perfect player to shoulder Team USA's daunting World Cup campaign

A quasi-legal, father-son mission to train-hop through the changing American West

On a sprawling farm in Vermont, Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena runs a business and a fitness crusade. He'll train anyone who shows up, with one major caveat: You must submit to his every cruel and unusual whim.

How a dedicated group of denim and apparel companies are ushering in a new age of American craftsmanship

It's been more than 50 years since the Colorado River regularly reached the sea. But this spring, the U.S. and Mexico let the water storm through its natural delta for a grand experiment in ecological restoration. As the dam gates opened, a small band of river rats caught a once-in-a-lifetime ride.

National parks are America's greatest recreational asset. Now an overdue movement will make them even better.

A story about an American icon, environmental displacement, and slob behavior by the human race

When 24-year-old David Sneddon disappeared hiking around western China, officials chalked it up to a drowning. Only a decade later did another scenario emerge: maybe David had been kidnapped and taken to North Korea.

Last September, a trekking company's guided trip through the wilds of Papua New Guinea was shattered when machete-wielding men attacked the native porters, killing two on the spot and injuring many more. The motive appeared to be robbery, but Carl Hoffman knew something else was at work—ancient tribal patterns of violence that, he knew, would inevitably be avenged

In the Sundarbans region of India and Bangladesh, some of the world's last wild tigers roam free and ravenous. An expedition to film these elusive predators is tricky business. You may not see them, but they almost certainly are watching you.

Europe has a secret. It's called Albania—a Maryland-size playground of rugged peaks, emerald seas, and ripping rivers. The only catch? It's really poor, graft is rampant, and there's little environmental regulation. Pack your bribe money for a warts-and-all jaunt through the wildest post-Communist state on earth.

For some surfers and SUPers, hanging ten is the holy goal—toes on the nose, nothing in front of you but pure green wave. With a nerve disorder threatening to destroy his balance, longtime kook Erik Hedegaard asked a waveriding genius to train him for one last shot.

Terlingua, Texas, is a magnet for drifters, dropouts, and raft guides—but not murderers. So when a popular bar owner turned up dead after a night of hard drinking, the tiny town found itself facing some very tough questions.

Some of the world’s scariest waves explode off the coast of Portugal, and North Shore gunslinger Garrett McNamara won’t stop until he’s tamed an elusive wave he calls Big Mama

The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is a lawless no-man's-land where violence and suffering rage, and no one has it harder than the region's 21 million Pashtun women. Their mode of rebellion? Short-verse poems called landays.

Tuareg nomads have stormed out of the desert again, threatening a return to culture war in the Sahara’s legendary lost city. Patrick Symmes on the rebel alliance, and the fire next time.

The volcanic remains at the heart of Aniakchak National Monument—the least visited site in the national park system—are a trippy mishmash of postapocalyptic cinder cones, hardened lava, and flame-colored walls. The only catch? Doing it right involves days of trekking and rafting through some of the planet’s toughest, most bear-heavy terrain.

After 18 years, Andrew Tilin’s marriage ended with a crash, leaving him in a crippling state of sorrow, anger, and loneliness. He decided to get serious about riding again, hoping that the pain and discipline of pure exertion would set him right one more time.

Last year, a media-shy billionaire bought the flailing Lonely Planet travel-guide empire, then shocked observers by hiring an unknown 24-year-old former wedding photographer to save it. Charles Bethea straps in for a bizarre ride as a kid mogul tries to remake a legendary brand for the digital age.

An innovative sushi chef named Bun Lai has a new strategy in the war on invasive species: If you can’t beat ’em, plate ’em. Feral hog sashimi, anyone?

South African Johnny Olivier was just looking for an easy job to pay the bills. But after agreeing to help a buddy collect lion bones for an international wildlife-trafficking kingpin, he found himself in the middle of an unprecedented poaching scheme that involved imported sex workers, heavy gambling, bags of cash, and the slaughter of more than 30 rhinos.

Twenty-seven years ago, David Ewing Duncan wrote a magazine article about a secret tropical gem called Belize, inspiring a wave of adventure travelers that changed the tiny country forever. Braced for a few stabs of guilt, he went back with his son and found that paradise was different, but not completely lost.

How a Mormon kid from Utah cracked the code for producing adventure videos you can't stop sharing.

Camera-equipped flying robots have quickly become a ­staple of the ­adventure world, filming first ascents and nailing poachers. But that’s just the beginning. As Eric Hansen found out during a cross-country test drive, affordable consumer drones will revolutionize how we experience the outdoors.

Search the web for Dean Reinke and you’ll soon be scrolling through a rap sheet of consumer complaints about how he and his for-profit road-race company, USRA Half Marathon, do business. Is he a fraud who has stayed one step ahead of the law, or an upstanding man who’s been slimed by his enemies?

Five years after Lewis and Clark completed their famous mission, another more audacious expedition sets out for the Pacific. In this exclusive excerpt from the new book 'Astoria,' the legendary Overland Party attempts to establish America's first commercial colony on the wild and unclaimed Northwest coast—provided, of course, they survive the journey.

When 23-year-old Lahr went missing on a trail outside Ouray, Colorado, the world lost an amazing young talent

A handful of primate researchers believe Sasquatch is real, and they take their search for the creature very—very—seriously.

As a teenager, I began sponsoring a poverty-stricken boy in the Caribbean. Twelve years and thousands of dollars later I flew down to meet him—and to learn if my efforts did any good at all.

A fascination with a cartoon animal and a Class V river lured her to the empty wilderness of Tasmania. Turns out the raw side of Down Under offers an amazing number of pristine places to camp, surf, hike, mountain bike, and kayak. Stephanie Pearson goes all in.

Jack London said that achieving greatness sometimes means burning white hot, even if there's a price to be paid once the flame goes out. Josh Dean went to Alaska to hang with Lance Mackey, the toughest competitor in Iditarod history. He came away with a new understanding of resilience, bravery, and the iron bond between a musher and his dogs.

Each spring on Costa Rica’s desolate Caribbean coast, endangered leatherback sea turtles come ashore at night to lay and hide their eggs. Poachers steal them for cash, and as Matthew Power reports, they’re willing to kill anyone who gets in their way.

Every year, scores of Into the Wild fans tackle a dangerous river crossing to visit the last home of Alaska's most famous adventure casualty. Why are so many people willing to risk injury, and even death, to pay homage to a controversial ascetic who perished so young?

In a typical January, the fabled Japanese resort Niseko gets more snow—nearly 15 feet—than any ­other ski area in the world. But is there such a thing as too much?

No jungle or river is too remote for self-described medicine hunter Chris Kilham, who travels the globe looking for plants to boost our vitality, ease our pain, and turn us on.

The drowning of Avishek Sengupta at an obstacle challenge last April was ruled an accident, but his family and friends believe that the sport’s most prominent company did a terrible job of monitoring safety at a water obstacle called Walk the Plank. Elliott D. Woods looks at the life of a remarkable amateur athlete and explains why his tragic end may lead to a multimillion-dollar legal fight.

Bode Miller (skier) and Morgan Beck (volleyballer) have had a few rough moments as a couple, including a bitter child-custody battle with an ex-girlfriend and the death of his younger brother, Chelone. But as Bode plunges into the most ambitious ski season of his career, he’s already met his match—a woman who, like him, seems to thrive on a little craziness.

Determined that Russia will put on the most lavish Winter Games in history, Vladimir Putin has spent $51 billion, quashed environmental critics, and turned one of Europe’s most beautiful natural regions into a construction zone.

The rewards of risk are fueling a catastrophic increase in TBIs. How can we protect ourselves?

Motivated by adventure, science, and awe at the power of nature, stormchasers are risking it all to get closer to tornadoes than ever before. Last spring, during the deadly Oklahoma City outbreaks, they got more than they bargained for.

For years, Bob Shacochis was obsessed with a fish, South America's fighting golden dorado. But when he followed that dream to Argentina's Iberá Marsh, he found that he wasn't the only one with a vision that could pull him under.

Geologist Orrin Pilkey predicted exactly what a storm like Sandy would do to the mid-Atlantic coast and New York City. On a tour of destruction after the deluge, he and David Gessner ponder a troubling question: Why are people rebuilding, as if all this isn't going to happen again?

Les Stroud, the most trusted name in survival, has seen it all—and lived to tell about it. Next time you’re up a creek, you should probably do what he says.

On the morning of June 30, all 20 members of Prescott, Arizona's Granite Mountain Hotshots headed into the mountains to protect the small town of Yarnell from an advancing blaze. Later that day, every man but one was dead. Through interviews with family, colleagues, and the lone survivor, a former hotshot pieces together their final hours—and the fatal choices

What do you get when you combine six eye surgeons, thirteen runners, six educators, two nonprofits, 871 cataract patients, 63,000 students, two of the fastest men on the planet, and one trail race in the remote highlands of East Africa? Accelerate Ethiopia. Welcome to the brave new world of adventure philanthropy.

The Deschutes River fly-fishing guide called Stealhead Joe was an angling master with a long list of devoted clients. But as Ian Frazier, who fished with Joe last fall, learned, off the water, Joe’s life was a tangle of troubles that ultimately overwhelmed him.

The tortured life of a globe-traveling picky eater.

When the Great Recession hit, young people found a million different ways to cope with their battered job prospects. Alex and Nick Kleeman found the best way, scraping together enough cash to buy a 32-foot sailboat, then plunging into the Pacific for the adventure of their lives. So what if they didn’t know how to sail?

Why is Europe dominating the United States in meteorological prognostication? Follow the money.

For more than a century, Western climbers have hired Nepal’s Sherpas to do the most dangerous work on Mount Everest. It’s a lucrative way of life in a poor region, but no service industry in the world so frequently kills and maims its workers for the benefit of paying clients. The dead are often forgotten, and their families left with nothing but ghosts.

The helicopter ride to a luxury resort was undeniably sweet. But for Peter Heller, the greatest thing about New Zealand’s South Island was kayaking down a surly river with an old paddling buddy, in a country that’s still unbelievably pristine.

Back Next