Since the sport’s early days in the seventies, mountain bikers have carved illicit trails on public and private land. Pioneering riders create winding singletrack in their favorite nearby hills, then carefully share the location with only a handful of friends. But in recent years, as the sport has grown bigger and bigger, government agencies and some adventurous entrepreneurs have sought to adopt pirate trails into official networks. This usually means better maintenance, maps and signage, trail...more
Over the past year, professional surfing has undergone a remarkable and very unexpected evolution. Beginning in 2019, the World Surf League is offering equal prize money to men and women at all of its events, making it one of very few global sports leagues to do so. A key part of this story was the push to get women included in the big-wave contest at Mavericks, on the Northern California coast, an effort headlined by 31-year-old Bianca Valenti. In a way, her whole career had been leading up...more
Former Navy SEAL David Goggins has spent the past two decades exploring the outer limits of human performance, both in the armed forces and as an endurance athlete with more than 60 ultras under his belt. But what makes Goggins truly unique is the hardship he faced long before he began his athletic career. A brutally abusive father. A learning disability. Depression. Even obesity—he once weighed nearly 300 pounds. Goggins found strength in putting himself through hell and relying on mental tough...more
There are a lot of really tough endurance races out there, but perhaps none are harder—both mentally and physically—than the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race in Queens, New York. The whole thing takes place on a single city block, and in order to finish before the cutoff, runners have to run the equivalent of about two marathons a day for 52 days in a row. In the race’s first 22 years, only 43 people finished. This past summer producer Stephanie Joyce headed to Queens to talk ...more
Almost everyone who’s used underarm crutches agrees: they are terrible. They’re hard on your wrists, they cause falls, they cause nerve damage. This is why almost every country in the world has abandoned them. Except the U.S., where if you go to the hospital with a leg injury, you’re most likely going to leave with adjustable aluminum crutches. In this third installment of our series exploring how gear gets made, we look at the fascinating history of why better designs for crut...more
There’s no more painful pursuit for a cyclist than the hour record.It’s just you, by yourself, on a bike, going as far and as fast as you can in 60 minutes. Eddie Merckx, considered by many to be the greatest pro racer in history, called it the longest hour of his career and only attempted it once. Others describe it as death without dying. When her father passed away, Italian cyclist Vittoria Bussi decided she wanted this record for herself. For her father’s memory. For history. When she starte...more
For more than two decades, Ruffwear has been reinventing gear for dogs. The brand makes booties, jackets, collars, toys, and pretty much anything else you could want for your pup. But how do you design something when the end user can’t give you feedback other than incessant tail wagging? And don’t dogs get just as much enjoyment out of an old stick as the latest and greatest chew toy? In this second installment of our series exploring how gear gets made, producer Alex Ward reports on the unique ...more
Pararescue specialists—known as PJ’s in the military—are the most elite unit in the Air Force. But if you want to be a PJ you have to make it through Indoc, a brutal nine-week training course that’s designed to test your motivation and resolve. And there’s no easier way to make someone uncomfortable than sending them underwater for a long, long time. Staff Sergeant Travis Morgan had spent what felt like his whole life preparing for Indoc. He knew that only a small percentage of candidates made i...more
Wilderness therapy has been used for decades to help troubled teens and addicts, and recently all kinds of people are seeking out guided nature experiences to detox from their hyper-digital modern lives. The classic approach of such programs is to push participants to challenge their limits in order to build character. That can work great, but it’s not a smart recipe for those trying to recover from emotional trauma. Not long ago, contributing editor Florence Williams, author of the The Nature F...more
John Orth is a violin maker from Colorado. Andrew Shapiro is a college kid from Virginia. They have little in common except that for the last two years they’ve been trading back and forth the world record for the most pull-ups in 24 hours. Over the summer, they both set their sights on 10,000 pull-ups. It’s a number that would have been unthinkable two years ago; a number that seemed like it would reveal the very limits of what the human body can do. Instead, they found a different l...more
In this first episode of a new series exploring how gear gets made, we investigate the origin of arguably the most refined fork in history. When designer Owen Mesdag was a graduate student in the late-1990s, he fell in love with a particularly clever spoon. Engineered by outdoor brand MSR, it doubled as a stove repair tool. Mesdag was enamored with it and he thought, I want to make a matching fork. And how hard could that be, really? A fork is a fairly simple tool. Except Owen’s fork didn...more
The new movie Free Solo is arguably the greatest film about climbing that’s ever been made. In just over 90 minutes, it chronicles Alex Honnold’s astonishing no-ropes ascent of the 3,000-foot sheer face of Yosemite’s El Capitan, which he completed one morning in June, 2017. Even more impressively, it captures the unique mindset of Honnold, a perfectionist whose years-long obsessive pursuit of his dream gets complicated by an ever-present camera crew and his growing love for his new girlfri...more
Journalist Laura Krantz doesn’t believe in Bigfoot. She’s trained to be skeptical, and all the best Sasquatch sightings and photos have been debunked. Except, then she heard about Grover Krantz, a serious academic and long lost relative who had spent his career researching the possibility that an upright, bi-pedal homonid had once roamed the forest. Some of the evidence was pretty compelling, and so Laura dove into the subject headfirst. The result is Wild Thing, a nine-part series t...more
Maybe you saw the fire coming, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you were ready for it, maybe you weren’t. Maybe you did everything right. Maybe not. Maybe you just lost everything. Maybe that’s not even the worst of it. For this final episode of our wildfire series, we asked fiction writer Joseph Jordan to imagine the experience of someone whose home has been destroyed by flames. He came up with a haunting story that captures our modern relationship with wildfire, in which a single catastrophic blaze is...more
To reduce the intensity of megafires in America, we’d need to treat and burn about 50-80 million acres of forest. So, how do we do it? What would it cost? How long would it take? Is it possible? In this episode we look at whether or not there’s anything we can do about wildfires in the West and the likelihood that we’ll take action on potential solutions.
How do you protect yourself from wildfire on a warming planet? You burn everything on purpose. No, seriously. Thanks to climate change, the whole world is a tinderbox. Fire season now starts sooner and ends later, and scientists say lightning will become more frequent, and winds more powerful. Our only defense may be intentional fires. In this episode, our friends at Outside/In take a close look at the ecology of prescription burns. Why are our forests so dependent on wildfires? And why did some...more
There are between eight and ten thousand wildfires in the United States each year, but most quietly burn out, and we never hear about them. The Pagami Creek Wildfire in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area was supposed to be like that. It was tiny and stuck in a bog that was surrounded by lakes. It was the kind of fire you could ignore. Computer models predicted that it would just sit there. But those models didn’t account for a rare convergence of atmospheric events had prepped th...more
Carina Hoang grew up in a wealthy family in Vietnam. She had a nanny to take care of her and a maid who cleaned up after her—she didn’t even wash her own hair. But when the Vietnam War broke out, she and two siblings fled the country on a boat, landing on Kuku beach, in Indonesia. It was supposed to be a refugee camp, but it was actually a deserted island. No food, no water, no buildings, people, or tools. Just sand and jungle. Produced in collaboration with Snap Judgment, with funding from the ...more
Most of the time, when lightning makes the news, it’s because of something outlandish—like the park ranger who was struck seven times, or the survivor who also won the lottery (the chances of which are about one in 2.6 trillion), or the guy who claimed lightning strike gave him sudden musical talent. This is not one of those stories. This is about Phil Broscovak—who was struck by lightning while on a climbing trip with family in 2005—and the confounding, bizarre science that can’t fully ex...more
Everyone gets older, but not everyone bows out of competition in middle-age. Journalist Jeff Bercovici wanted to know: Why? Why do some athletes flame out in their 30s and 40s, while others are still going as senior citizens? Is it genetics? Special training? Diet? And could amateur athletes achieve similar results? Outside editor Chris Keyes talks with Jeff about his new book, Play On: The New Science of Elite Performance at Any Age, and what it takes to reverse the effects of getting older.
Climbing was Shelma Jun’s fallback sport. A snowboarder and mountain biker, she found her way into a climbing gym after injuring her shoulder and looking for an activity where she wouldn’t risk more impact. As a friend told her, you can’t fall very far if you’re attached to a rope. In 2014, she created an Instagram account called Flash Foxy to celebrate the crew of hard-charging New York women she’d begun climbing with. After gaining thousands of followers, she co-founded the Women’s...more
Knox Robinson grew up watching his dad run and went on to race track himself at a Division I college, but he was never defined by the sport. He’s more of a renaissance man. For years, he gave up athletics, studying and living in Japan, then managing rock stars and rappers in New York City. It was only as an adult—and after having a son of his own—that he returned to running, eventually co-founding a running collective called Black Roses NYC. Grounded in New York street culture, the group s...more
Ayesha McGowan came late to competitive cycling. An accomplished violinist, she didn’t enter her first organized biking event until after college. Despite riding an old steel bike with a milk crate on the back and wearing jean shorts in a peloton of spandex, she impressed the other women, who encouraged her to start competing. A year later, she took fifth place in her first race, then kept winning on the amateur circuit. Now she’s aiming to be the first African American female cyclist on...more
When Mikhail Martin started climbing at a Brooklyn gym in 2009, he was one of very few African Americans to rope up. Today, his group, Brothers of Climbing, is working to change that. BOC is tackling diversity in rock climbing, which includes bridging the gaps in lingo, jargon, and etiquette that keep people of color out of the sport. Nobody understands these issues better than journalist James Edward Mills, author of The Adventure Gap, a book that looks at the challenges minority groups face wh...more
In 2014 the federal government rounded up Cliven Bundy’s cattle over a matter of unpaid grazing fees. So the Bundy family gathered a posse and took them back, at gunpoint. Two years later, they took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Bundys are making a habit of taking on the federal government and winning. For the last two years, reporter Leah Sottile has been following this story, trying to figure out what all this means for the future of public lands in the American west, an...more
Kellee Edwards had a dream of getting her own show on the Travel Channel. She also had a plan. As a black woman trying to break into the overwhelmingly white and male world of travel television, she figured she would have to be overqualified to get noticed. So she got certified as a scuba diver, learned to pilot her own aircraft, and traveled solo to remote corners of the planet. In just a few years, she went from working as a bank teller to hosting the Travel Channel show Mysterious Islands. Ou...more
Distance runner Alexi Pappas is the rare dual-threat of Olympic athlete and movie star. In the 2016 film Tracktown, which she wrote, directed, and plays the lead character in, she set out to capture the running-obsessed culture of Eugene, Oregon—a place where recreational runners share the trails with pros, and local farms and butchers step up as beef and vegetable sponsors for hungry athletes. Outside contributor Stephanie Joyce talked to Pappas about how her life as an Olympic hopeful translat...more
One day in 2005 or 2006, a young wolf in Idaho headed west. He swam across the Snake River to Oregon, which was then outside the gray wolf’s range. After he established a territory, he became the most controversial canid in the state. Dubbed OR4 by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, he was the alpha male of the first pack to live in Oregon in more than half a century. For years, biologist Russ Morgan tracked him, collared him, counted his pups, weighed him, photographed him, and protected h...more
Mavericks, the monster surf-break off the Northern California coast, has long been a proving ground for the world’s best big-wave surfers. But the big wave surf contest held there most years has never included any women, despite the fact that female surfers have been dropping in on giant swells for decades. In fact, the first-ever contest at Mavericks, held in 1999 and called “The Men Who Ride Mountains,” took place several weeks after Sarah Gerhardt caught her first wave there. She wasn’t a pro...more
After building Patagonia into an internationally renowned apparel brand, the company’s first CEO, Kris Tompkins, walked away from the job, following her heart to South America. She landed on a small farm in Chile, where she and her soon-to-be husband, The North Face founder Doug Tompkins, set to work conserving one of the last wild places on earth. But just as their dream of creating a network of parks stretching across Argentina and Chile was coming to fruition in 2015, she lost Doug in a kayak...more
It was the kind of disaster that wasn’t supposed to happen anymore. On February 11, 2017, the fishing vessel Destination disappeared in the Bering Sea on its way to crab grounds. It was a boat with an experienced crew, in unremarkable weather conditions, but there was no mayday, no life raft and no survivors. For the last year, reporter Stephanie Joyce has been following the investigation into what went wrong, and how this mysterious tragedy has changed Alaskan fishing.
Apparently nobody told Bear Grylls that reality TV stars never have long careers. A dozen years after the cheeky Briton exploded onto American television, the king of survival entertainment is charging harder than ever, guiding A-list stars into the wild for his NBC show, Running Wild with Bear Grylls, while launching innovative new series for Facebook and Netflix. He’s also building an adventure theme park in England and hosting a new survival race this spring outside Los Angeles that’s o...more
In her acclaimed 2012 memoir, Wild, Cheryl Strayed delivered a fresh take on outdoor writing—a redemption story set on the Pacific Crest Trail. The book spent seven weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List and reminded people everywhere that a grueling journey through the wilderness can help us overcome almost anything. At last year’s SXSW conference, Tim Ferriss sat down with Strayed for an episode of The Tim Ferriss Show to ask her about her creative process and philosophy. He has a way of...more
In 2009, Canadian researcher Geoff Hill asked park managers across North America what problems did they needed solved? Every single one of them said, “Human waste.” Since then, Hill has been on a quest to figure out what to do about the fact that each year national parks in the US and Canada get hundreds of millions of visitors, and at some point most of them have to take a dump. So far, every solution has failed, and so with every trip to the outhouse we’re contaminating groun...more
If you’ve ever beaten yourself up after eating an entire pint of ice cream, know this: it’s really not your fault. According to obesity researcher and neurobiologist Stephen Guyenet, author of The Hungry Brain and founder of the wellness and science blog Whole Health Source, millions of years of evolution have hardwired us to seek out sugary, fatty, and salty foods. All those calories kept us alive back when we were hunter gathers. Today, they just make us fat. Outside editor Chris ...more
On the 833-mile border between Finland and Russia, a band of elite Finnish soldiers are preparing to defend the country if Russia decides it wants to again redraw the map of Europe. With tensions still high after the Kremlin’s invasion of Crimea and Ukraine, writer David Wolman went to Finland to find out what this tiny band of Finns can possibly do if the Russian war machine heads their way. Quite a lot, it turns out.
To write her three bestselling books about the ocean, Susan Casey went deep with great white sharks in California, followed big-wave surfing icon Laird Hamilton in Hawaii, and chased wild dolphins around the world. Her willingness to literally immerse herself in the topic of the ocean—she’s a former competitive swimmer—has allowed her to craft captivating stories that chronicle our relationship to the sea. And yet she’s a relative newcomer to the life aquatic. In the mid-1990s, she w...more
Falls are the leading cause of death in the backcountry. Nothing else comes close. And while many are freak accidents that amount to nothing more than bad luck, some are more nuanced and interesting—and personal. If you found yourself stuck at the bottom of a canyon with a broken leg, what would you do? And why? In this episode we go inside the thought process of a real-life survivor—one who happens to host a podcast about survival.
Andy Petranek and Michael Stanwyck know fitness. Petranek was a former adventure racer and RedBull Athlete before founding one of the first CrossFit gyms. Soon after, Stanwyck walked in looking for a new type of workout and quickly became CrossFit LA’s manager. But while their classes made gym members stronger, the pair longed to have a more wholistic impact on their clients. In 2011, they created the Whole Life Challenge, a six-week program that focuses on seven lifestyle changes that opt...more
Bee venom is similar to a rattlesnake’s. It rapidly disperses in your tissue, and when you’re stung the pain you feel is a combination of proteins and peptides attacking your cell membranes. Each sting contains enough venom to incapacitate a small mouse, but bees won’t really hurt you unless you’re allergic. Or at least, that’s what you thought until you disturbed a hive of African bees, which have been known to chase attackers for more than ten hours.
There are several thousand species of mushroom, but only a handful that will kill you. And the toxins found in poisonous mushrooms are some of the deadliest natural poisons on Earth. Just seven milligrams—one quarter of a grain of rice—is enough to kill an adult, compared to a full teaspoon of cyanide. When you picked some mushrooms off the forest floor, you planned to make a nice risotto. But now you’re fighting for your life.
What if you could opt out of society and go live in a completely self-contained glass bubble in the desert? You and your team would be cut off from the rest of society. For two years, you’d have to grow every morsel of food that you wanted to eat and fix anything and everything that went wrong. That was the plan for the team of scientists that entered Biosphere 2 in the mid-1990s. You may remember that they didn’t make it, but why was it the people on the outside who broke the glass and ended th...more
What happens to people who are swept out to sea? Some survive for months and even years, alone in life boats eating whatever they can catch and drinking rainwater. In this episode we ask you, the listener, to imagine a surfing session gone very wrong when a strong offshore wind blows you out into the ocean. You’re alone on your board at the mercy of the weather. No one knows you’re out here and you have no way of calling for help. Do you have what it takes to endure until a rescue arrives?...more
As we get ready to roll out new Science of Survival episodes beginning on November 14, we wanted to replay the one that started it all. This thrilling re-creation of the classic Outside feature by Peter Stark leads the listener through a series of plausible mishaps on a bitterly cold night: a car accident on a lonely road, a broken ski binding that foils a backcountry escape, a disorienting tumble in the snow, and a slow descent into delirious hypothermia before (spoiler alert!) a dramatic rescu...more
Peak performance has always been about getting as close to your genetic potential as possible. The limits of your training, nutrition, and recovery are dictated by your DNA. But what if they weren’t? What if you could change the genetic code you were born with? As sequencing DNA gets cheaper and faster, and gene-editing tools get more precise and easy to use, we’re progressing toward a world where we might all have perfect DNA for our chosen sport—and be able to change it whenever we want. But g...more
If you want to understand sleep deprivation, you want to talk to a Navy SEAL, who go nearly a week without rest during training. And there’s probably no better Navy SEAL to talk to than Dr. Kirk Parsley, the physician who started noticing all sorts of problems with his fellow elite soldiers. They weren’t recovering from workouts, they had trouble concentrating, and they were emotionally unstable. The culprit: they weren’t getting enough Zzz’s. After a decade studying the benefits of sleep,...more
Several decades ago, radio producer Scott Carrier and his brother Dave tried to chase down an antelope on foot. That might sound crazy, but Dave was an evolutionary biologist and had just come up with a radical idea: that during the heat of the day humans could outrun most any creature, even one of the world’s fastest animals. His theory was that humans had evolved as endurance predators, able to hunt without weapons. So the brothers gave it a shot, and Scott produced a story about the efforts t...more
For most athletes, achieving peak performance means training hard, eating right, and maybe some stretching. But when you get to the elite level, where everyone’s doing that, it’s the mental game that makes winners and losers. How hard can you push your body? How much pain can you tolerate? How can you avoid getting psyched out before a big event? If you’re a top-tier professional athlete trying to train your brain, you’re likely going to turn to Dr. Michael Gervais, a renowned expert in high-pe...more
Kevin Fedarko is a celebrated and well-heeled journalist, accustomed to dropping in on an exotic place and extracting a story, often in less than a week. But in 2004 he left his job at Outside and went looking for something deeper and more meaningful: a story forged over months and years. He ended up at the bottom of the Grand Canyon at the helm of a boat full of poop called the Jackass.
More than two decades after he radically transformed big-wave surfing, Laird Hamilton is still a dominant force in the sport. As detailed in the new documentary Take Every Wave, Hamilton is again pushing the edge with his new obsession, hydrofoil surfing. His wife, Gabby Reece, is a former professional volleyball player, model, author, and currently the host of the NBC reality show Strong. At their home in Malibu, Hamilton and Reece have created an elite training boot camp where they torture the...more
Killer frogs! Forest-destroying moths! Bird-eating mongooses! These may sound like biblical plagues, but they’re all the result of bad human decisions. After an invasive species shows up in an ecosystem and wreaks havoc, our response is to import another species that will eat the first one. Then, of course, the predator turns out to be even worse for the environment. Except now, maybe, we’ve figured out how to do biocontrol right. And as it turns out, some of those infamous mistakes ...more
Jack Johnson is known as the world’s mellowest pop star. A surfer raised on the North Shore of Hawaii, his acoustic strumming has been the default soundtrack to good-times beach living for more than 15 years. But these days, something’s up with Jack Johnson. He’s decided that in the current political and social climate, quietly supporting environmental non-profits and greening the music industry isn’t enough. He’s ready to speak up, beginning with his new album, All the L...more
Rebecca Rusch is called the “Queen of Pain” for a reason. She’s a three-time world champion in the 24-Hour Mountain Bike race, the 2011 National XC single-speed champion, and she’s won the Leadville 100 mountain bike race four times. But a couple years ago, Rusch decided to take on an entirely new kind of pain. It would involve an epic ride along the Ho Chi Minh trail to find the crash site where her father, a U.S. Air Force pilot, was shot down when she was just three ye...more
In 2012, Vanessa Garrison co-founded GirlTrek, an organization with a simple goal: get women walking for 30 minutes a day. Now 100,000 walkers strong, GirlTrek is a national force. The story of GirlTrek is about health, justice, power, and survival. But mostly it’s the story of trying to change your community, and the world, through something as simple as going for a walk. To understand how GirlTrek was started, how it blew up, and where it’s going next, Outside contributing editor Florence Will...more
The swamps of Alabama are one of the most biodiverse places on earth. They’ve been called America’s Amazon for the remarkable number of species of fish, turtles, mussels, and other aquatic creatures. Not so long ago, the Alabama sturgeon was a staple of life in these parts. The funny looking fish swam here for millennia, migrating hundreds of miles up streams to spawn. They were caught and eaten in the tens of thousands. Then, a decade ago, they vanished. To the protectors of Alabama’s swamps, t...more
When it comes to important innovations in sports technology, few inventions can compete with the sports bra. In the 1970s, women’s interest in athletics was surging following the passage of Title IX. There was just one problem—actually, make that two problems: breasts. Boob bounce hurts, as women getting in on the jogging craze quickly found out. Then some friends in Vermont had an idea to stitch a couple jock straps together to build a contraption that would keep things in place. Their creation...more
Nearly every sport can point to a classic comedy film taking aim at its flaws. Hockey has Slap Shot. Car racing got Talladega Nights. Skiing will always have Hot Dog. And dodgeball has, well, Dodgeball. Now cycling can claim its own: HBO’s Tour de Pharmacy, featuring executive producer Andy Samberg and a laundry list of A-List celebrities too long to catalog. It’s about damn time. Is any sport riper parody? Besides the rampant doping, there’s the leg shaving, the spandex, the team names, the whi...more
When something goes wrong in the wilderness, someone needs to evacuate and get help. When that someone is you, and every minute counts, the stress is enormous. And you just might not be fast enough. Scott Pirsig and Bob Sturtz were on a spring canoeing adventure in the Boundary Waters, a million-acre wilderness in northern Minnesota, when Bob suddenly started acting weird. He complained of a headache. Then he became disoriented, lost control of his hands, and stopped speaking. He’d suffered a st...more
You hear sometimes about how the Arctic changes people — how It can lead them to lose their minds a little bit, or make dumb mistakes. Then there are those rare adventurers like Sarah McNair-Landry who are at their best on the ice. McNair-Landry grew up near the Arctic Circle, on Baffin Island. At 18, she joined an unsupported skiing expedition to the South Pole. A year later, she dogsledded north and became the youngest person to reach both poles. And that was just a warm up. McNair-Landry has ...more
Water is life, we’re told. But what if you drink too much? As it turns out, there’s a little-discussed flipside to dehydration called hyponatremia—and it’s been on the rise, killing athletes and otherwise healthy people every year. And while you may think you know how much you need to drink, chances are you’re wrong.
What does it take to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage? According to Diana Nyad, the answer is passion bordering on obsession. Nyad first attempted the 111-mile crossing in 1978. Thirty-five years later, at the age of 64, following four failed efforts that left her devastated, she became the first person to complete the crossing, stroking for 53 hours almost nonstop. During her swims, Nyad encountered near-deadly box jellyfish stings, horrendous saltwater chafing, hallucinations, an...more
Mona Seraji is the first snowboarder from the Middle East to compete professionally in the Freeride World Qualifier, a series of big-mountain events that attract the best riders in the world. She’s also a talented surfer, rock climber, and mountain biker. All this is more impressive when you consider the fact that in her home country of Iran, Seraji faces strict rules about how women can participate in athletics. Women aren’t allowed in sports stadiums, for example. They’re discouraged fro...more
Human beings spent centuries trying to control the weather. Then, about 70 years ago, we figured out the basics of what it takes to make it rain. Now, we’re controlling more weather than you might think—and on the brink of a technology that may save us from the effects of climate change. But only if we’re ok with playing God. Also, please let us know what you like—and don’t like—about the Outside Podcast by taking a short survey at www.surveynerds.com/outside.
Science can’t fully explain why and how tornadoes form. But on May 31, 2013, all the factors we do understand pointed towards off-the-charts risk in central Oklahoma. Hundreds of amateur storm chasers, professional meteorologists, and thrill-seekers flocked to the area expecting an incredible storm. What actually touched down blew them all away.
Back when men still believed the “weaker sex” were inferior climbers, Arlene Blum led an all-women’s ascent of Annapurna, the world’s tenth-highest peak. The 1978 climb put the first women—and first Americans, period—on the summit, but the death of two climbers sparked controversy. Outside contributing editor Florence Williams talks with Blum and Alpinist editor in chief Katie Ives about why the expedition continues to inspire climbers and stir controversy.
In the 90s, Beth Rodden was a climbing prodigy, celebrated for her athletic gifts and unwavering discipline. Then, while on an expedition in Central Asia in 2000, she and her small team of friends were kidnapped. That terrifying ordeal—and their daring escape—changed her life in ways she has only recently begun to understand. In a revealing conversation with Outside contributing editor Florence Williams, Rodden opens up about the price of perfectionism, blowing up her marriage to climbing supers...more
Once Joe Stone learned how to use his paralyzed body, he immediately set an audacious goal: he would race in an Ironman triathlon—despite the fact that no quadriplegic athlete had ever attempted the event. And after that? Well, Joe decided he could go much, much bigger.
Joe Stone doesn’t do anything halfway. Back when he was a skater, he went big. When he partied, he went hard. When he took up skydiving and speed-flying, he flew almost every day. Then one day he crashed and became a C7 quadriplegic. What do you do when you’re addicted to adrenaline but confined to a wheelchair? A lot of stuff that no one else has ever done before.
On the morning of May 25th, 2006, Myles Osborne was poised to become one of the last climbers of the season to summit Mount Everest. The weather was perfect, and it seemed nothing would stop his team. Then a flapping of orange fabric caught Osborne’s eye. He believed it to be a tent—until the fabric spoke: “I imagine you’re surprised to see me here.” The speaker was Lincoln Hall, who’d been reported dead the night before. He was gloveless, frostbitten, and hallucinating—but miraculously a...more
What’s the cure for our modern malaise of stress, distraction, and screen-addiction? Nature, of course. But while many people advocate the benefits of getting outside, we are only just beginning to understand what really happens to us when we venture out the door. For her new book, The Nature Fix, Outside magazine contributing editor Florence Williams explains the fascinating science behind the restorative power of wild places. Editor Chris Keyes talks with Williams about the research bein...more
In the summer of 1970, Ed Welch and Bruce Frey put in a canoe at the headwaters of the Amazon and shoved off into the current. Their only plan was to travel downstream until it wasn’t fun anymore. They had a rifle, they had a machete, they had a vague idea of how to survive in the jungle. Then a jaguar chased both of them up a tree.
Denmark’s rugged Faroe Islands are known for sheep, rowboats, and a brutal tradition called “The Grind” in which Faroese men butcher hundreds of pilot whales by hand, on the beach, in full view of locals and tourists. Reporter Joel Carnegie traveled to the islands last summer to try to understand the cultural forces that sustain the bloody practice. What’s the point if the whales are no longer needed for income or food (and the meat may contain toxic levels of mercury)? And what happ...more
Writer Mark Sundeen spent the last three years chronicling the lives of three couples who have dropped out of mainstream society, trading cars, technology, and electricity for freedom and hard work on the new American frontier. The result is his latest book, The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Today’s America, a fascinating, timely, and deeply personal examination of what it means to be a non-conformist in the modern age. Editor Chris Keyes talks with the frequent Outside contrib...more
Wolf howls, bird songs, , crickets, frogs—soundscapes contain clues to not only what’s going on around us but also who we are. Not just as individuals, but as human beings. Or at least, that’s what Bernie Krause says. Krause is a soundscape artist who’s spent decades collecting the sounds of the natural world and contemplating their meaning. In this piece, producer Tim Hinman from the podcast Sound Matters talks to Krause about how soundscapes work, what they can tell us about ...more
“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” says Sally Jewell. Hopeful, thoughtful, slightly ticked-off, and surprisingly emotional, the outgoing Secretary of the Interior talks with Outside editor Chris Keyes about the presidential election and what it means for the future of public lands. Can environmental protections be dismantled? Will they? Are we going to see an increase in Malheur WIldlife Refuge-style occupations? America’s chief steward reflects on l...more
Dan and Isaac are back from searching through the wreckage of Eastern Airlines Flight 980 on a remote mountain in Bolivia, but their findings have prompted a whole new set of questions. Will anyone look at the material they brought back to the U.S.? Who hired climber Bernardo Guarachi to get to the crash site back in 1985? And why did he never speak to anyone about his ascent? Have the details of the crash remained a mystery because of international cover up or just bad weather and bad luck?
Since colliding with a Bolivian mountain in 1985, Eastern Airlines Flight 980 has been frozen inside a glacier perched on the edge of a 3,000 foot drop. With wreckage now melting out of the ice at the base of the cliff, Dan Futrell and Isaac Stoner travel to the debris field at 16,000 feet, battling altitude sickness and a roller coaster of emotions as they search for 980’s missing flight recorder.
It’s one of history’s greatest aviation mysteries: on New Year’s Day in 1985, Eastern Air Lines Flight 980 was carrying 29 passengers and a hell of a lot of contraband when it crashed into the side of a 21,112-foot mountain in Bolivia. For decades conspiracy theories abounded as the wreckage remained inaccessible, the bodies unrecovered, the black box missing. Then two friends from Boston organized an expedition that would blow the whole case wide open.
John Muir rhapsodizing about Yosemite is one thing, but Outside contributing editor Ian Frazier has had it with people calling their favorite outdoor spots “cathedrals,” “shrines,” and “sacred spaces.” When he made his case in an issue of Outside, it struck a major nerve with readers. Here, Frazier explains his argument, reacts to reader letters, and reads the story that ignited a firestorm.
Scientists are compiling huge amounts of data on the impact of global warming, but the story of that data often gets lost. Enter Nik Sawe, a researcher at Stanford who is transforming big data into music. Two parts science, one art, data sonification turns the numbers we tend to ignore into a very human story, and could potentially help scientists identify new trends and correlations that are easier to hear than to see.
For two decades, Conrad Anker has been at the forefront of climbing, evolving into America’s best all-around alpinist. With skills on rock, ice, and big peaks, he’s now something of an elder statesmen and mentor to a new generation of elite athletes. Though perhaps best known for finding the body of legendary British mountaineer George Mallory on Mount Everest in 1999, he is celebrated among climbers for scaling a variety of difficult and dangerous routes on technical peaks around the worl...more
Author Mark Johnson argues that performance enhancing drugs are hardly a recent phenomenon. In his new book, “Spitting in the Soup,” he traces doping all the way back to the 1904 Olympic marathon in St. Louis and shows how doping and sport have been fundamentally intertwined for more than a century. The only thing new, says Johnson, is our increasingly moralistic view of the practice and the demonization of athletes who get caught. Chris Keyes talks to Johnson about the surprising hi...more
Tim Ferriss is many things. A bestselling author. A kickboxing champion. A horseback archer. The first American in history to hold a Guinness World Record in tango. He has built an enormous following by doing just about everything—and, more importantly, figuring out how to do it all better than most experts and then sharing what he’s learned with the rest of us. He calls himself a human guinea pig. Outside editor Chris Keyes talks to Ferriss about the origins and evolution of his uniquely aggres...more
Jason Motlagh and his crew were the first journalists in years to successfully cross the Darién Gap, a lawless, roadless jungle on the border of Colombia and Panama. Teeming with deadly snakes, drug traffickers, and antigovernment guerrillas, it has become a pathway for migrants whose desperation to reach the U.S. sends them on a perilous journey. He talks to Chris Keyes about the risks and logistics of the assignment, his motivations as a reporter, and the emotional toll of working in conflict ...more
Robert Young Pelton has made a career of tracking down warlords and interviewing people in the most dangerous places in the world. He’s been kidnapped in Colombia, survived an assassination attempt in Uganda, and joined the hunt for Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Outside editor Chris Keyes wanted to know how spending that much time on the edge has affected him long term. The answer’s not what you’d think.
Michael Proudfoot was SCUBA diving on a shipwreck in Baja, Mexico when his regulator broke. He survived by finding an air pocket in the wreck, where he spent two days eating sea urchins and drinking fresh water from a teakettle before rescuers arrived. It’s one of the most incredible undersea tales of all time—if it’s true.
When you’re stuck underwater in a submarine, the number of of ways you can die is long and varied—crushing, burning, asphyxiation, exploding, the list goes on and on. Escaping alive requires maintaining calm and focus. Unless your name is Wilhelm Bauer, whose survival story includes the first undersea fist fight.
In the spring 2001, a group set out from Mexico to cross the border into Arizona. The tragic result of their journey—and many others like it—helped researchers develop the Death Index, a new model for predicting dehydration fatalities.
On a brutal route through the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona, thousands have died from dehydration and thirst. But one man’s journey through hell led to a breakthrough for science.
One of the most famous accidents in wingsuit history.
Science doesn’t understand lightning very well—or how a strike affects the human body. Survivors sometimes claim to have super-senses, or special powers. Others develop talents they never knew they had. Phil Broscovak didn’t.
In which you, the listener, face a bitterly cold night, a car accident on a lonely stretch of road, a broken ski binding that foils a backcountry escape, and a slow descent into hypothermia and delirium. Good luck.
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