mountainhardwear.com Mountain Hardwear Athlete, Ryan Robinson in Yosemite Valley. Photo: Chris Burkard
Feeling good and looking fine, the combination brings a smile to Tammara’s face, as fellow passenger Danny Davis abides. Shown here is the men’s Heritage Down Jacket and women’s Bixby Jacket.
Available at Burton.com, Burton Flagship locations and Premium Retailers around the globe.
CONTENTS OUTSIDE MAGAZINE 11.16
Travis Fimmel (page 36) at One Gun Ranch in Malibu, California
66 Till Boredom Do Us Part
At its best love is a marathon, one that only gets better as the adventures pile up. From those first dates to the golden years, here’s how to make your romantic life epic.
Thirty years after Eastern Air Lines Flight 980 crashed into a Bolivian peak carrying 29 people and a load of smuggled snakeskins, two Boston buddies scoured the mountain’s flanks to try and solve one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. BY PETER FRICK-WRIGHT
Fat cats, skinny cats, spotted cats, sick cats. Hawaii’s hundreds of thousands of feral felines are decimating its endangered birds. Conservationists want to eliminate the “kitties of doom.” But cat people won’t go down without a fight. BY PAUL KVINTA ON THE COVER: Shirt by Double RL; T-shirt by Simon Miller; pants by Vince. Styling by Jeanne Yang for the Wall Group; grooming by Marissa Machado for Art Department using Kevin.Murphy.
COVER AND THIS PAGE, PHOTOGRAPHS BY
“In Guadalajara, mariachi echoes through the streets, and barrels of tequila are made at the nearby Patrón . —PAGE 56
First Look: Utah startup Mountain Hub is out to crowdsource avalanche safety. Food: What’s behind the oilyfish craze? Stunts: Aussie daredevil Rex Pemberton’s quest to parachute his way to surf-video greatness. Gear: As global temps rise, jacket manufacturers slim down. Outsider: Vikings star Travis Fimmel takes minimalism to the max.
Wanted: A jump rope that counts reps for you. Skis: Featherweight tips and honeycomb polymers mean nimbler turns and harder charging. Spectrum: Buoyant decks with plenty of float, finesse, and pop. Upgrade: Luminous gear for winter’s fading light.
In the Lead: Can the nature cure ever compete with Xanax? Active Cities: Washington, D.C. Pulse: IV hydration clinics, Epic bone broth, perfect instant coffee, and a retired runner taking on the New York City Marathon. Tools: The athlete’s kitchen.
+ Style Special
Mexico: Yoga retreats in Tulum, farmto-table bounty in Baja, Pacific surf, and tequila from the source in Guadalajara. There’s mucho mas to our southern neighbor than meets the eye.
12 Exposure 20 Between the Lines 108 Parting Shot
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: GENTL & HYERS (FROM HARTWOOD, BY ERIC WERNER AND MYA HENRY, ARTISAN BOOKS © 2015); JOÃO CANZIANI; HANNAH MCCAUGHEY; GALLERY STOCK
MICROTHERM® STO R M D OW N® JAC KE T
G U I D E B U I LT T O TA K E Y O U H I G H E R OUR FOUNDER, EDDIE, WAS AN OUTDOOR GUIDE. THAT’S WHY, FOR 96 YEARS, WE’VE CONTINUED TO WORK WITH GUIDES TO MAKE GEAR TO MEET THEIR RIGOROUS NEEDS. WE MADE OUR MICROTHERM STORMDOWN JACKET TO WEIGH LESS THAN 12 OUNCES WITH WATER-RESISTANT, SUPER HIGH-LOFT, 800-FILL STORMDOWN FOR WARMTH AND STRETCH FLEECE PANELS FOR MOVEMENT. MAKE YOUR OWN ONE-OF-A-KIND MICROTHERM BY CUSTOMIZING IT AT EDDIEBAUER.COM.
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EXPOSURE Nick Greece
Last September, Greece flew a powered paraglider over the salt flats around Iran’s Maharlu Lake, a body of water with colorful tendrils of algae that reminded him of his home near Salt Lake City. “A lot of things had to come together for a shot like this,” says the photographer, who followed the lead of Soheil Barikani, an Iranian glider, while the two were in the air. “When I looked through the viewfinder, I knew I’d made it to the right place at the right time with the right people.” THE TOOLS: Canon 5D Mark III, 24–105mm f/4 lens, ISO 400, f/4, 1/1,250 second
After working together on the 2011 snow boarding movie The Art of Flight, Serfas spent the next three years with the crew of The Fourth Phase, a new film that docu ments the transpacific travels of snow boarder Travis Rice. One of Serfas’s favor ite shots came in the Tordrillo Mountains, near Anchorage, Alaska, which the crew accessed by helicopter in April 2014. “It was really cool that the snow was so deep and that Rice was able to drag that plume off the edge,” says the Whistler, British Columbia, photographer. “Conditions weren’t in our favor that year, so to do a jump that worked out that beautifully was huge.” THE TOOLS: Canon 1DX, 24–70mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 200, f/8, 1/1,000 second
WE DIDN’T INVENT THE SMALL BATCH When you handcraft the world’s finest tequila, there’s an art to every step. That’s why we double-distill our 100% Weber Blue Agave in small-capacity, custom copper stills to give our tequila its signature smooth finish. We didn’t invent the small batch,
The perfect way to enjoy Patrón is responsibly. Handcrafted and imported exclusively from Mexico by The Patrón Spirits Company, Las Vegas, NV. 40% abv.
WE JUST PERFECTED IT.
EXPOSURE Scott Markewitz When a wildfire scorched the Bald Mountain Ski Area, near Sun Valley, Idaho, it transformed the mountain’s back side from thick forest to an open maze of limbless black poles. After driving there in February 2015 from his home in Salt Lake City, Markewitz decided that it would be almost as fun to photograph as it is to ski. “I love the black lines created by the trees, and the fact that skier Jessica Wolcott’s tracks are parallel to the ones above her,” says the photographer. “This is the kind of amazing shot you can get only by lean ing out of a helicopter.” THE TOOLS: Nikon D4, 24–70mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 400, f/11, 1/1,000 second
C A P T U RE D BY JE S S E F OY
Janet Brooks Exercise so you can escape the zombie apocalypse! Fatties get eaten first, so cardio is key. Like Reply September 11, 2016 at 10:20am
Love Is a Mogul Field One day last December, as my new girlfriend and I rode our first chairlift together at Taos Ski Valley, I made a critical relationship error. It was a bluebird morning, and the terrain off Kachina Peak, the mountain’s highest point, had just opened for the first time that season. Hopped up on adrenaline, I turned to Kelly and said, “I think we should hike it.” Never mind that we had agreed on a mellow day of skiing together, and that, while Kelly is a great athlete, she is also an intermediate skier who is understandably wary of expert-only terrain. “OK,” she said, her tone loaded with all kinds of obvious signals of hesitation that a more evolved boyfriend would have picked up on. But there was fresh snow! All I heard was unbridled enthusiasm confirming that this was the girl for me. Things got deathly quiet around 30 minutes into a climb much steeper than I’d remembered. With our skis slung over our shoulders, we were making awkward progress up the exposed and windy ridge following a jagged, slippery boot-pack. At the top, Kelly was silent, exhausted, and visibly spooked by the double-black-diamond signs. I selected Main Street, a wide-open bowl, but Kelly’s skinny frontside skis got manhandled in the chunky snow, resulting in a series of face plants that I dutifully pretended not to notice. When we reached the bottom of the run, I think her exact quote was, “Chris, I just want you to know, I’m not having any fun.” I had blown our first ski date. We laugh about that day now, in part because it illustrates a classic pitfall of outdoorsy relationships: the Disparity of Skill dilemma. It’s a treacherous place to be. No one wants to come off as a flailing novice while trying to impress their new mate. But navigating such challenges isn’t impossible, a theme
we explore in this month’s package on mixing love and adventure (“Till Boredom Do Us Part,” page 66). If you read this magazine, you have likely found or are seeking a partner who shares your passion for the outdoors, and we hope these stories prove that the search—and the obstacles presented—is worth the effort. In our case, Kelly and I survived by premeditating revenge. She is now my fiancée, but she has vowed not to marry me until I take her surfing—her sport. I’m already dreading the coming days of being pummeled by waves as she effortlessly carves bottom turns in front of me. And she can’t wait. —CHRISTOPHER KEYES (
For August’s “Waiting to Inhale,” Logan Ward accompanied his adolescent daughter, who is affected by juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), on a freediving trip in the Cayman Islands. While some readers questioned his wisdom, others believe this ever vigilant adventure dad found a new and remarkable approach to risky parenting. My 12-year-old daughter, Mia, also has juve-
nile arthritis. It was wonderful to share this empowering story with her, and I was also glad to hear the father’s side of having a child with JIA. Thanks for educating your readers. Many still aren’t aware that children have arthritis, or of the pain, medications, and ongoing medical appointments these kids must deal with. THERESA BREES
Boulder Creek, California
Evolution of the Outsider This issue’s love-themed guide to adventure (“Until Boredom Do Us Part,” page 66) includes an illustration charting the development of the modern male outdoor enthusiast. A few of us here at Outside fit one or another of these archetypes pretty much to a T, although some are more evolved than others.
Hero Dad Marketing director Sam Moulton
Dirtbag Contributing editor Kyle Dickman
Gentleman Adventurer Chip Cunningham, CEO of Outside GO
Pro Bro Editor at large Grayson Schaffer
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: GRAYSON SCHAFFER; LOGAN WARD; OUTSIDE GO; NICK KELLEY; TORBJORN BUVARP; COURTESY OF SAM MOULTON
Facebook Comment of the Month:
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OLYMPICS PREVIEW RYAN LOCHTE
The Gold Medal Diet
What the Olympic Champions Are Eating This Summer
Get Fired Up!
How to Create the Ultimate Backyard BBQ
LEADS THE TEAM THAT WILL RULE IN RIO
Secrets of the South
Perfect Travel Hideouts
Shooting the Darién Gap
ZIKA! TRAITORS! HEROES! & MORE
A Terrifying Journey to the World’s Most Dangerous Place
OUTSIDEONLINE.COM AUGUST 2016
IS THE OUTDOOR INDUSTRY READY TO PLAY POLITICAL HARDBALL?
AUGUST 2016 OUTSIDEONLINE.COM
I simply do not agree with the approach described in Logan Ward’s article. Exposing someone to risk requires consent, which a child can’t truly give, as children are unable to fully weigh the consequences. LARRY CLOYES
Searcy, Arkansas Children don’t have to grow up to participate in dangerous sports, but at least let them have a real sense of adventure. How can life progress without risk? Let them be inspired by the athletes and explorers who have demonstrated how the trail less traveled can lead to a rewarding life. CODY MORAGA
I am a 22-year-old reader currently in treatment for
chronic Lyme disease. While I am temporarily unable to enjoy the outdoors as much, I get to go on adventures by reading your magazine. I loved your August issue with Ryan Lochte on the cover, particularly Jason Motlagh’s story on refugees crossing the Darién Gap and Kyle Dickman’s story about veterans involved in disaster relief. Thank you for existing! JENNY DELGADO
We admire your taste, Jenny. A free subscription is on the way. Before the Olympics, I didn’t think it made sense to put Ryan Lochte on the cover of Outside, as all his swimming is performed indoors. >
“There have been other shark encounters around . . 66
To investigate the 31-year mystery of Eastern Air Lines Flight 980 (“Cliffhanger,” page 78), Frick-Wright hiked to a glacial moraine near La Paz, Bolivia, 16,000 feet above sea level, where the plane collided with 21,122-foot Mount Illimani. The expedition subjected Frick-Wright to some serious discomfort. “At first a lot of the drama I encountered was just me adjusting to the altitude,” says the Portland, Oregon, writer, who also hosts the Outside Podcast. “The first two days, I had to stare at my food very hard before attempting to eat it.” But like most good detective stories, this one had an unforgettable lastminute twist. “Thankfully,” he says, “there was a much more interesting tale to tell.”
A 1985 photo of the mysterious crash site
Outside’s writers are often put on the trail of a soon-to-be classic tale by an admirer of the magazine. Can you guess which of these were sourced from readers and which we made up?
a. Peter FrickWright’s “Cliffhanger” (page 78) Frick-Wright met the story’s two subjects, Dan Futrell and Isaac Stoner, after they’d read his article about a treasure chest hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains (“Cache Money,” September 2015). Looking for an easier-to-reach alternative, they settled on Eastern Air Lines Flight 980, which crashed in the Andes in 1985.
b. Patrick Symmes’s “The Generals in Their Labyrinth” (July 2008) Our star disaster reporter says there was “no effin way” he could have succeeded in writing about a cyclone in Myanmar if not for a devoted fan of the magazine at the U.S. embassy in Rangoon.
c. Paul Kvinta’s “Pussies Galore” (page 88) At a marinemammal conference, Kvinta met an NOAA scientist who’d read his story about kangaroo-human relations in Australia (“Overroo’d!” December 2015) and believed he’d found a similar situation in Hawaii.
d. T. J. Murphy, “A Boy and His Bonk” (January 2015) A recruiter for the U.S. Navy (and longtime admirer of Murphy’s fitness reporting) failed to convince the Boston writer to enlist, so he suggested the next best thing: a fitness company based on the training regimens of the Navy SEAL s.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: PETER HAPAK; NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD; PETER BOHLER; JOSHUA ZUCKERMAN/GETTY
USA 2016 O LY M P I C S PREVIEW
Answers: a) Real; b) Fake; c) Real; d) Fake. Murphy found out about the SEAL-style company on his own and decided to try it out because he was “bored.”
But you guessed correctly that he would make news in Rio for his activities outside.
shoes, which she tosses aside.”) She is running for her life. This is not a fashion show.
Mind the Gap
If Jason Motlagh had permission from FARC to pass through Central America’s Darién Gap (“Skull on a Stake”), then it couldn’t have been that dangerous. Was Geraldo Rivera with you? You can shamelessly self-congratulate once you’ve gotten through the southern Philippines.
I enjoy reading your magazine, but I found Jason Motlagh’s description of one of the people in his group traveling through the Darién Gap sexist and demeaning. (“With gold hoop earrings, lime spandex, and a backward courier cap, her flair has endured. But she is top-heavy, saddled with huge breasts, and wearing flimsy
Santa Monica, California
For “Pussies Galore” (page 88), Kvinta traveled to Kauai to report on a fierce debate taking place over the fate of the Hawaiian island’s feral cats. Kvinta, who lives in Atlanta, quickly discovered that the feud pits conservation biologists against cat lovers who, however well intentioned, don’t always have the facts on their side. “The story is about an emotional argument versus a scientific-data argument,” says Kvinta. “One side is very good at formulating an emotional strategy. When that gets thrown into the world of politics, it can be very effective.”
What We’re Watching
Where are the world’s elite winter athletes headed? Find out as the third season of Season Pass follows the best skiers, snowboarders, and guides on the planet on a relentless search for perfect powder. Hosted by Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley, the series features Chris Davenport in the Rocky Mountains, Ted Ligety in Alaska, and snowboarders Rob Kingwill and Seth Wescott carving the wildest lines in the Himalayas. Premieres Friday, November 25.
Go With Us
Outside GO’s newest Tasmanian adventure combines two award-winning treks through the Island of Inspiration. Visitors begin their journey with the Bay of Fires Walk, which includes a chance to kayak the Ansons River and enjoy uncomplicated luxury at our Forester Beach camp accommodations. From there you’ll travel to the east coast of Tasmania, where you’ll soak up views of the dusty pink Hazards Mountains and have an opportunity to summit 1,899-foot Mount Graham. You can also explore the region by boat, meandering along white-sand beaches or snorkeling and fishing around uninhabited Schouten Island. The 11-day trip ends with a splash at the breathtaking Saffire Freycinet in Coles Bay Conservation Area. From $5,250; outsidego.com
ONLINE EXTRA What stories inspire kids to love the outdoors? From The Lorax to My Side of the Mountain, Outside Online’s “Essential Reading for Young Adventurers” is your definitive guide to the best books, movies, and digital media for little ones. Now’s the time to build a library with the classics (and a few underrated gems) that will get your rippers hooked on the adventurous lifestyle.
Do You Climb Here Often? This magazine has long touted nature’s power to bring people together, and we couldn’t be happier to provide readers with a step-by-step primer on outdoor love (“Till Boredom Do Us Part,” page 66). Have we benefited from our own advice? A few tales of field-tested romance from some of our staff. ALETA BURCHYSKI Outside’s copy editor knew her husband was the one on their fourth date, when he presented her with a pair of Columbia hiking boots. AARON GULLEY Contributing editor Gulley’s eventual wife laughed at his retro hardtail and challenged him to a mountain-bike race down Moab’s iconic Porcupine Rim trail. Opinions vary on who won.
BRYAN ROGALA Our video production manager saved his wife from a pack of marauding hogs that had surrounded their tent. “I figured if she still wanted to date me after that, I was golden.” BEN FOX The assistant managing editor of Outside’s 2017 winter Buyer’s Guide caught the eye of his girlfriend while unpacking puffies in the basement of a Patagonia store.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: GRAHAM MICHAEL FREEMAN; COURTESY OF SAFFIRE FREYCINET LODGE; MIKE ARZT
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NEWS F R O M
T H E
F I R S T LOOK
Safety in Numbers?
HOW A PARK CITY, UTAH, TECH STARTUP IS TRYING TO MAKE AVALANCHE DEATHS A THING OF THE PAST
by Christopher Solomon IN FEBRUARY 2011, Brint Markle and three
friends were skiing the uncontrolled back side of Mont Fort in Verbier, Switzerland. It was a great day for poor decisions: the powder deep, the sky blue, the stoke high. “I think our skiing experience was above our education,” Markle says today. One of the skiers took an aggressive line. The slope ripped out. Markle watched, helpless, as the avalanche swept his buddy 750 feet down the mountain, siphoned him through a cliff band, and spat him out at the bottom, partially buried but unharmed. The group later heard that, shortly before the incident, another slide had occurred on a similar slope just a ridge or two away. “I just remember thinking, Gosh, had we known a bit more, we wouldn’t have been out there,” Markle says. continued >
Mountain Hub hopes it can prevent burials with better data
The philosophy behind Mountain Hub is simple: if people have more information at their fingertips, and can share it instantly, they’ll be better equipped to avoid avalanches and other hazards. That dodgy experience drove Markle to cofound Mountain Hub (formerly Avatech), a startup in Park City whose avalanche tools— including the company’s website, app, and probe—are designed to help people instantly share safety information, along with route descriptions, alerts, trip reports, pictures, and topo maps. In doing so, the company is creating the kind of backcountry buzz not heard since the rollout of Dynafit bindings. The philosophy behind Mountain Hub is simple: if people have more information at their fingertips, and can share it instantly, they’ll be better equipped to avoid avalanches and other hazards. Today we grab the info we need to play outside from a buckshot of e-sources—Gaia for maps, AllTrails for hiking suggestions, Strava to time those outings and claim bragging rights. Mountain Hub wants its platform to be the one tool to rule them all—with our help. Say you wanted to go skiing this weekend in the North Cascades. First you’d log into Mountain Hub’s website to check the latest conditions of the bergschrund below the summit and any beta on the bear problem at high camp. Next you’d digitally plan your route and download the topos to your phone. Then you’re out the door. You can post up-
dates to Mountain Hub during your trip—in fact, the company is banking on crowd participation. If you see a sketchy cornice above a skin track, you can snap a GPS-tagged photo and upload it to the app for others to see. (When you’re out of range, the data is stored for later.) Thus a mountaineer or mountain biker becomes both contributor and consumer, adding to the hive mind’s knowledge even while benefitting from what others post. The project raises an intriguing question: Can we crowdsource safety? Mountain Hub is a two-product company. Its first to make a splash, appearing in 2013, was a piece of hardware—a long collapsible probe that, when thrust deep into the snowpack, gives thousands of readings per second about the snow’s layers. The readings appear on a screen atop the probe and can help users interpret the snowpack’s stability. Data on the device’s effectiveness is still forthcoming, but many are impressed with Mountain Hub’s potential to advance snow science. “I’m incredibly excited about this,” says Jordy Hendrikx, director of the Snow and Avalanche Laboratory at Montana State University. This fall the company unveils the ingenious Scope ($499), which shrinks improved
snowpack technology into the handle of a ski pole and sends the data to a user’s cellphone. Aimed at ski guides and backcountry skiers with advanced avalanche training, the Scope is “not a magic wand,” emphasizes brand president Thomas Laakso, nor does it give a “red light/green light” on whether to ski a slope. Rather, it’s designed to be used incrementally during a ski day for quick peeks beneath the surface, sending info back into Mountain Hub’s network to create a broader look at conditions. “When it comes down to the safety of our community, there’s a culture of contribution,” says Laakso. That’s the vision, anyway. Mountain Hub has a relatively modest 12,000 or so users to date, almost exclusively pros, patrols in places like Jackson Hole and Breckenridge, and search-and-rescue groups. Users contributed 35,000 data points last winter. The company makes its money through a mix of subscriptions ($5 a month for individuals, more for organizations) and other means, such as probe sales. But Mountain Hub will only really succeed if lots of people buy into the idea, log in (often), and post many observations. It’s fully reliant on the community. Not everyone is sure that more info means more safety. “I think the idea of collecting data from the field and sharing it is great,” says Ethan Greene, director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. But the problem generally isn’t that people don’t have information, he says. It’s that people don’t understand it or don’t listen. “If we provide people with a lot more raw data, does that increase their safety?” Greene O says. “I think that’s an open question.”
PREVIOUS PAGES, FROM LEFT: RICHARD HALLMAN/AURORA; MENNO BOERMANS/AURORA. THIS PAGE: GARRETT HARMSEN.
Thomas Laakso (third from left) doing field work in Utah
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THEY TASTE INCREDIBLE (SERIOUSLY) When canned in oil, the flavor of fish improves— especially if it’s allowed to age. “It’s almost like a wine, where people are buying based on the vintage,” says Kathy Sidell, who recently opened Saltie Girl, a tinned-fish bar, in Boston.
DON’T LAUGH—THERE ARE GOOD REASONS WHY CANNED SEAFOOD IS HAVING A MOMENT
by A. C. Shilton WHETHER YOU’VE been hanging out with your paleo-obsessed climbing buddies or your foodie friends, you’ve probably seen them do something surprising: crack open a tin of canned sardines, anchovies, or mackerel. Four-hour guru Tim Ferriss extolled the virtues of doing so on the Freakonomics podcast (“I will literally buy cases of sardines,” he said), and Wild Planet, which sells sustainable fish in cans, has seen sales rise 28 percent in the past year. What’s going on here? Thanks for asking.
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ONE MAN’S SLIGHTLY DERANGED QUEST TO BODHI HIS WAY TO A MUST-SEE YOUTUBE CLIP
by Erin Berger
GOING VIRAL isn’t what it used to be. It’s no longer enough to simply catch something surprising on camera. (Remember “Double Rainbow”?) Today you must engineer your video, whether by training a rat to carry a slice of pizza into a subway station or using a green screen to conjure a bear chasing a snowboarder, as Australian production studio Woolshed admitted doing last July. This fall, Aussie daredevil Rex Pemberton took video engineering to a new level. In 2015, when Pemberton saw Robbie Maddison rig
2. QUICK EXIT Pemberton jumped from a helicopter hovering at 3,500 feet, positioned more or less directly above the swell line. Strapped to his waist: a hefty six-foot surfboard. (It smacked him in the face on the test run.)
his dirt bike with a pair of water skis to ride waves in Tahiti (24 million views), a totally unreasonable idea took hold. In Pemberton’s words: “No one’s ever transitioned from a parachute to surfing!” So Pemberton reached out to sponsors— including Outside Television—and in September unveiled a Russian nesting doll of crazy stunts involving a helicopter, a surfboard, a parachute, and the distinct possibility of a disastrous wipeout. Here’s how he rode his way to stardom.
3. AERIAL MANEUVER Right after he jumped, Pemberton’s parachute deployed. It was designed to glide at a maximum 30 miles per hour, the approximate speed of the ten-foot waves he was pursuing.
1. WAITING GAME Pemberton and his crew of 16 holed up at Australia’s Jarosite Reef, in Torquay, Victoria, for ten days to catch the right conditions.
5. SWEET VICTORY Against all odds, he landed on the wave and managed to ride it for 400 feet while the cameras captured every Internetworthy second.
Jumping the Sharks
Three ways Pemberton’s stunt could’ve been even crazier 1. A blindfold. (Not just on him, but on the helicopter pilot, too.) 2. Lit sticks of dynamite taped to his hands. ’Nuff said! 3. Sharks. The observation boat could have chummed the waters near the reef prior to the jump.
4. MOMENT OF TRUTH Once tracking a swell line, Pemberton pulled a cable on his chest to cut away from the canopy while simultaneously turning 90 degrees to the side. “One wrong move and I could have gotten wrapped up in the canopy and bashed into the reef,” he says.
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DISPATCHES GE A R
HOW THE INVISIBLE HAND OF CLIMATE CHANGE WILL SHAKE UP YOUR COATRACK by Gordy Megroz
a member of Stephen Sullivan’s design team at Jackson, Wyoming, outdoor-apparel brand Stio approached him about producing a heavy winter jacket. Sullivan stopped her. “I said, ‘It doesn’t get that cold anymore. And when it does, it doesn’t stay cold very long,’ ” says Sullivan. “ ‘We need to concentrate on midweight jackets.’ ” What Sullivan meant is that global warming has forced Stio to adjust its business strategy. To that end, the company has gone from producing lots of gear designed to be used in extremely cold situations to garments built for milder conditions, a move that reflects consumer demand for multiseason apparel. And companies stand to lose if they don’t adapt. As the Oregonian reported last December, Columbia’s share price took a hit in 2015, dropping a third of its value in the fourth quarter. “We do not believe recent stock price declines are a function of company missteps … but are instead related to uncontrollable weather factors, [like] the warmest December in 55-plus years,” wrote Japanese investment bank Nomura about Columbia, the North Face, and Ugg. “While all three have grown their product offerings in less weather sensitive areas, we believe the cold-weather stigma still surrounds [them].” In recent years, major players such as Eddie Bauer and Mountain Hardwear have produced more season-straddling clothing. “They’re making versatile products that can be used in winter and also into the shoulder seasons,” says Matt Powell, vice president of industry analysis for the NPD Group, which examines trends in the outdoor-recreation market. The shift is evident in sales. Two years ago, when heavily insulated jackets and pants
Mountain Hardwear’s multiseason Ghost Whisperer jacket
dominated Mountain Hardwear’s fall line, the company earned 60 percent of its profits from winter outerwear. For the 2015–16 season, the number dwindled to roughly 25 percent. Meanwhile sales of mid- and lightweight jackets have grown to account for approximately half its revenue. According to Robert Fry, global director of product merchandising and design, Mountain Hardwear now moves
Tough Act to Follow
I N H OT WATE R
P to ola ur r-b s ea r
D su ow pp n lie rs
Is re lan so d rt s
TH E L IN E
Sk ir es or ts
D b un m ugg eak y er s
S co ola m r pa ni es
O N FI RE
Some industries are in a better position than others to thrive in a warming world
“tens of thousands” of units per year of its Ghost Whisperer jacket—a seven-ounce, 800-fill puffy designed for multiseason use. (It’s the company’s bestseller.) Similarly, two of Eddie Bauer’s most popular jackets, the Microtherm and Sandstone, are both lighterweight options. Textiles manufacturers are adjusting, too. Polartec and PrimaLoft have developed thinner “active insulation,” a replacement for down and bulkier synthetic fill that’s also breathable. Polartec’s version, Alpha, was quickly licensed by Eddie Bauer, Outdoor Research, and Strafe Outerwear. PrimaLoft’s, called Gold Insulation Active, is used by L.L.Bean, Marmot, Merrell, and Under Armour. “For the past two years I’ve started seasonal meetings by saying, ‘Hey guys, eight of the past ten years have been the warmest on record,’ ” says Fry. “We need to keep up with people’s expectations for what they need to do outside.”
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O UTS I DER
High Noon at the Broasis
VIKINGS STAR TRAVIS FIMMEL HAS EXACTLY THREE POSSESSIONS: HIS TRAILER, HIS PICKUP TRUCK, AND HIS HORSE
by Grayson Schaffer to meet the Australian actor Travis Fimmel, best known for his role as Norse warrior Ragnar Lothbrok in the History channel’s Vikings series, at his ranch outside Los Angeles. Given the popularity of the show—four seasons, an Amazon Prime release, and season five in the works—I had assumed that Fimmel’s pad would be some secluded midcentury hideout with a wellstocked kitchen and a gym worthy of a broadsword slinger who’d also recently anchored a Warcraft film adaptation that made nearly half a billion dollars worldwide. But the address led to a dusty outdoor riding arena just off the highway, where Fimmel, barefoot in a pair of camo cargo shorts and a surf tee, greeted me from the back of his 15-year-old chestnut quarter horse, Wanker. “I’m just getting him warmed up so he doesn’t buck you off,” says Fimmel, who is 37 and was raised on a dairy farm in Echuca, Australia. He grew up working in his family’s cherry orchards, camping and fishing with his two older brothers, and surfing behind dirt bikes in irrigation canals. He came to L.A. when he was 21, after being scouted by a modeling agency and dropping out of architecture school. Almost immediately, he was stopping traffic on billboards modeling Calvin Klein underwear. Still mounted, Fimmel led me in my rental car up to his broasis, which, it quickly became clear, was actually a dilapidated 18-foot beige and white Nomad travel trailer parked permanently in the shade of a pepper tree between a water tank and the tack shed. “Got it real cheap, over in Phelan,” says Fimmel. “Towing it back, the side panels were flapping, and the back door fell off.” The ranch belongs to longtime stunt coordinator Walter Scott. Fimmel showed up in 2010 looking for riding lessons ahead of a big-screen remake of the 1960s TV show Big Valley. Most of the work around his family’s farm was performed on ATVs, so he was a novice horseman. “Just ask me about when I first met him,” says Scott. “He says he knew about horses— everything he learned right here, on that horse. Roping and everything. Him and another guy came. He never left.” The film went down in flames after the director was convicted of committing taxcredit fraud on a previous project, but Fimmel
I’D BEEN TOLD
stuck around the stable and now squats there when he’s not traveling. “Out here it’s just good people. No industry,” Fimmel explains. “Just the stunt boys.” Among a generation who’ve shunned material possessions as barriers to life experience, Fimmel has achieved an advanced state of stoic minimalism. According to him, his only worldly possessions are Wanker, the Craigslist trailer (which now has airconditioning), and a red 1982 GMC stepside pickup with a ’73 bed (which does not). Before the trailer, he lived in an old Ford Econoline with a pop-up bed. “It got taken off me,” he says. “It wasn’t road worthy.” Unlike the cool kids who gussy up Sprinter vans and Westfalias, Fimmel only recently upgraded from a flip phone to an iPhone 4, does no social media, and rarely
you could make money and people never saw what you did. Then you could relax and not care about how bad you are.” It’s the proper amount of self-hatred for an action hero who’s actually good at his craft—more Viggo Mortensen than Chris Hemsworth. He starts shooting a blockbuster bank-heist film, Finding Steve McQueen, in September, starring alongside Kate Bosworth and Forest Whitaker. Fimmel is extraordinarily soft-spoken— introverted, even—for a guy at risk of being typecast as a barbarian. At an interview with three of his Vikings castmates at Comic-Con in July, Fimmel managed to get through the entire Q&A saying exactly zero words. But he’s only now being tested in parts with more range, like his supporting role as a beardedhipster pickle entrepreneur in the 2016
Among a generation who’ve shunned material possessions as barriers to life experience, Fimmel has achieved an advanced state of stoic minimalism. checks his e-mail. “I’m always getting texts asking why I’m not responding on Instagram or Facebook, and I’m like, ‘It’s not me. You’re writing to some stranger.’ ” Fimmel helped me into the saddle, and we headed out for a hack on a trail behind the property, him riding Scott’s horse Josey. It was hot, and Wanker wanted to stop in the shade. Fimmel’s ultimate goal is to save as much money as he can and end up back in Australia on a nice spread—“with three or four wives,” he jokes, though at the moment he says of the opposite sex, “They all hate me, although it’s not for lack of trying. When you do a lot of traveling, it’s hard.” He eats what he wants, works out only when he’s forced to, and does his drinking at the local VFW hall. But for a guy who regrets his modeling days and says he wasn’t looking to get into acting—“Still not looking to, mate”—he’s stripped away everything else. If he could, he’d spend three months studying for each of his parts. “You get sucked into it, trying to be good at it,” he says. “I wish
romantic comedy Maggie’s Plan and a loving, alcoholic father in an adaptation of the horse-racing novel Lean on Pete that was shot in Oregon and wrapped this summer. On that project, he ducked out for a few days to reel in his first steelhead with a friend at the mouth of the Chehalis River. It was nearly 100 degrees on the trail. The Blue Cut Fire had just broken out in San Bernardino, and disaster-relief crews were a constant presence on the highway. Each of the past three summers, Fimmel has escaped this kind of heat, shooting Vikings in the cold mists of Ireland. The Ragnar role even landed him an endorsement deal as the face of high-end down-jacket company Canada Goose, which photographed him earlier this year among the icebergs of Newfoundland. Here, though, it was just really hot. We put the horses up, Fimmel hosed Wanker down, and we went for a Bud Light at the VFW. If any of the vets and bikers recognized him, they didn’t show it. This time next year, it may not be so easy.
Fit to Ride
THE BEST PLANKS FROM OUTSIDE’ S ANNUAL TEST IN SNOWBIRD, UTAH, ARE ENGINEERED FOR BIG FUN
by Marc Peruzzi
Kastle FX95 HP $1,199 BEST FOR: Flat-out charging. THE TEST: It’s not rocket science—remove material from the tip and you get a ski that’s easier to pivot. Kastle’s all-mountain FX95 HP is the best example. Here, a silver fir wood core and two sheets of Titanal combine with a nearly translucent window in the tip for an incredibly powerful ski that anyone can drive. “Power and speed open up new possibilities,” said a tester, “but you can cruise, too.” THE VERDICT: You’ll pay for it, but look here if you like going fast in open bowls and on morning groomers. 126/95/115
Dynastar Speed Zone 12 Ti $900 BEST FOR: Laying trenches in corduroy. THE TEST: Dynastar’s new pure-frontside Speed Zone 12 earned the highest score of any ski we’ve ever tested when it came to arcing fast turns on hardpack. Like many of its competitors, the ski’s layers get wider toward the base. But Dynastar incorporated the construction into the sidewalls, too. That makes for industryleading edge penetration and vibration absorption. “I’ve never seen a ski that inspires this much confidence,” said a tester. THE VERDICT: World Cup edge hold for the masses. 121/72/106
Rossignol Experience 88 HD $800 BEST FOR: Quick skiing— now with extra grip. THE TEST: The old Experience 88 offered laughout-loud fun in freshies. But get it on nasty packed snow and it became as skittish as an unbroken mustang. Rossi fixed this by souping up the ski’s core with an open-weave layer of carbon and basalt. That adds energy while eliminating chatter, without the weight penalty of added metal. “The 88 destroys manky snow,” said a tester, “but has supreme hold on hardpack.” THE VERDICT: Still light and loose off-trail, and now it shreds, too. 135/88/124
Blizzard Quattro RX $1,320 (with bindings) BEST FOR: Total frontside domination. THE TEST: The brandnew Quattro RX is a highend rally car, earning Gear of the Year in our winter Buyer’s Guide for its ability to demolish groomers and play off-piste. Blizzard managed this versatility by adding a hint of rocker and widening the waist to enable float in six inches of powder. Burying the binding in the core channels your energy into the ski for a precise ride. “You can achieve extreme angles, but it’s still very forgiving,” said a tester. THE VERDICT: Your daily driver when it’s not dumping. 129/84/113
adventure tools, tested & reviewed
Elan Ripstick 96 $700 BEST FOR: Splitting your time between skiing on- and off-piste. THE TEST: At first blush, Elan’s all-mountain Ripstick 96 is pretty weird. Rocker on the outside edges and camber on the inside made us skeptical. But it blew us away once we pointed the tips downhill. That rocker allows for effortless off-trail surfing. Load up the cambered inside edge on hardpack and arc GS turns. “Intermediates can handle it,” said a tester, “but experts will like it, too.” THE VERDICT: Two skis in one. 134/96/113
Salomon QST 118 $900 BEST FOR: Storm days. THE TEST: The QST 118 is a study in the evolution of ski engineering. There’s traditional stuff like sidewalls and a wood core, but also modern touches such as a honeycomb polymer to reduce swing weight and a carbon-flax weave to dampen vibration. The result is a new-school ripper with the heart of a retro charger. Go from full throttle on open faces to squirrelling through trees. “It’s supple and stout,” declared a tester. THE VERDICT: A dedicated yet versatile powder ski. 142/118/129
Fischer Ranger 98 TI $850 BEST FOR: Resort steeps. THE TEST: The Ranger 98 TI is another good example of how removing weight from a ski’s tip makes it easy to turn. Fischer swapped the traditional nose for a carbon shovel that’s nimble and—thanks to its low profile—slices through chunky snow. It’s the best use of carbon we’ve seen yet. “Wow,” said a tester. “It’s light enough to float off pillows but stiff underfoot for hardpack.” THE VERDICT: A softsnow player that can hang in the crud. 132/98/122
DPS Wailer Foundation 106 $799 BEST FOR: Powder lovers who live to carve. THE TEST: DPS—a pioneer of carbon ski technology—isn’t known for aggressive resort sticks. That changes with the new Foundation build. It has a damp bamboo and poplar core and fastgliding race bases, but there’s also backbone for when snow firms up. Said a tester: “It handles like a fat race ski on groomers and a pow ski off-trail.” THE VERDICT: It’s still a powder plank, but now just as capable everywhere else. 142/106/125
The Ranger’s lightweight tip allows Fischer to avoid using structural carbon throughout the ski, which can lead to a chattery ride.
adventure tools, tested & reviewed
S P E C TRUM
Boards of a Feather
FOUR WINNERS FROM OUR SHOWDOWN IN CRESTED BUTTE, COLORADO
by Drew Zieff
K2 Split Bean $850 BEST FOR: Surfing the backcountry. THE TEST: “This is the Danny DeVito of splitboards,” joked one tester. “Short, fat, and hilariously fun.” The Bean runs a mere 144 centimeters in length, but with a 287-millimeter waist it’s remarkably buoyant. Flat camber between the rockered nose and swallowtail had testers lauding the Split Bean’s stomping potential, turning chops, and sprightly feel. You’ll want a narrower board in steeper terrain. THE VERDICT: A wacky deck beloved by riders of all shapes and sizes.
Gnu Space Case $580 BEST FOR: Defying convention (and gravity). THE TEST: The Space Case transforms average snowboarders into astronauts. Moderate stiffness and an aggressive camberrocker-camber profile led one hard-carving tester to describe it as “soft enough to party, stiff enough to rip.” A freestyle-minded rider said the pop encouraged “antigravitational ollies.” The asymmetrical shape rides switch with finesse, whips through turns, and straight-lines with stability. THE VERDICT: A snappy twin for the park—and the entire resort.
Burton FT Branch Manager $670 BEST FOR: Seeking out and shredding powder. THE TEST: Burton hits the sweet spot with the Branch Manager. The directional shape indicates a deep-snow tool, but this is no one-trick pony. The wide, stiff nose delivered enough float to traverse big open patches, while the soft, rounded tail, tight sidecut, and short contact length made it nimble and responsive in trees. One tester dubbed it “the most agile pow board—ever.” THE VERDICT: A spoton blend of playfulness and power.
Rome Blur $580 BEST FOR: Winning all-mountain races. THE TEST: While the Blur’s rounded gun shape has a retro vibe, the technology is anything but oldschool. Two free-flexing carbon stringers run parallel to the sidewalls, affording control, responsiveness, and pop. Said one tester: “It loads well, building momentum and accelerating as you launch out of a turn.” Put simply, the board is fast enough to merit its moniker. THE VERDICT: From conquering big lines to carving groomers, this is a speed demon’s allmountain dream.
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adventure tools, tested & reviewed
U PG R A D E
Keep It Light
THE DAYS ARE GETTING SHORTER. HERE’S THE BEST GEAR TO BRIGHTEN YOUR PATH.
by Peter Koch
Light and Motion Imjin 800 bike lamp $200 When dawn-patrol rides take unexpected (perhaps off-road) turns, the 800-lumen Imjin leads the way. The tiny spot mounts easily to a helmet or handlebars.
Giro Republic LX Reflective cycling shoes $190 Stylish by day, this leather commuter glows under headlights. A stiff outsole and cleat provide pedaling power if you’re running late.
Night Runner 270° shoe lights $60 These 150-lumen sneaker lamps clip to your laces. Wide white beams illuminate 30 feet up front, while rear red ones ensure you’re visible to trailing traffic.
Coleman Conquer 200L LED headlamp $35 Coleman packed this 200-lumen visual aid with features like automatic adjustment and touch-free control— wave your hand to cycle through lighting modes.
Sugoi Zap Training jacket $165 Sure, it sheds drizzle, but the Zap shows its true colors after sundown, when headlights turn its reflective fabric into a disco-ball-inspired attention grabber.
Showers Pass Transit Waterproof pack $264 Fully weatherized and made of ballisticstrength nylon, the Transit sports four bright red LEDs. Visible from 500 yards, the lights flicker or pulse to draw eyes.
MPowerd Luci Outdoor 2.0 lantern $15 When space is at a premium, this solarpowered, inflatable, 50-lumen shiner flattens out, then puffs back up when needed.
Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal bib tights $155 Venture beyond sweaty trainer sessions with these fleece-lined tights. Fluorescent blocking on the calves helps drivers recognize you faster.
Goal Zero Lighthouse Micro Flash torch $25 This pocket-friendly, 2.4-ounce package puts out a maximum 150 lumens, enough to light your campsite. Bonus for being waterproof and rechargeable.
Adam Clark | Mark Fisher
HELIO SHELL A ski mountaineer and ultralight alpinist’s dream jacket, the Helio Shell is our lightest waterproof and breathable jacket, engineered with GORE-TEX® C-Knit. GORE-TEX®, GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY®, GORE® and designs are trademarks of W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.
I N T H E LE A D
IS IT TIME FOR DOCTORS TO PRESCRIBE OUTDOOR THERAPY?
by Frederick Reimers WHEN STACY Bare returned
from his deployment to Baghdad in 2006, he struggled with a host of problems: alcoholism, a cocaine habit, and suicidal thoughts, to name a few. It wasn’t until 2010, when a fellow veteran took him rock climbing on First Flatiron, in Boulder, Colorado, that things began to turn around. “If I hadn’t started climbing, I’d probably be another sad statistic,” says Bare. “The focus it gave me let me leave my troubles on the ground.” The idea of a nature cure isn’t new. Groups like Outward Bound continued >
The only appropriate response to sheer beauty is pure silence. Itâ€™s a reaction we all share, and one only a parent can truly appreciate. MIND
Discover for yourself at aspensnowmass.com/mindbodyspirit P: Jeremy Swanson L: Aspen Highlands
have been bringing veterans on expeditions for years, and we all know the psychological benefits of a simple walk in the woods. But Bare wanted to take things a step further. He thought that if there were enough scientific studies that put adventure therapy on par with pharmaceutical treatments, doctors would start prescribing it as a cheaper, safer alternative. Physician-recommended outdoor recreation, says the 38-year-old Bare, who is now the director of Sierra Club Outdoors, would result in less dependence on medications and lower health care costs. He also hopes that it might usher in a time when “you can use a prescription copay to cover the price of guides and specific gear.” In 2013, Bare partnered with University of California at Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner to found the Great Outdoor Lab, a think tank with the goal of researching and ultimately proving the health benefits of being outside. Bare hopes the studies will establish nature as a viable therapy for a range of ailments, from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to traumatic brain injury and dementia. More important, he wants to establish credibility with the mainstream medical community and insurance companies. Keltner was a natural choice to help lead the effort. He studied psychological and physiological responses to nature for two years in the lab by exposing subjects to pictures, films, and, in some cases, a eucalyptus grove on the UC Berkeley campus. He and his colleagues found that those stimuli lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as inflammatory cytokines. (Inflammation is a common pathway for depression, heart disease, and diabetes.) “Most people have the sense that after a good dose of the outdoors, they feel
the effects of exercise,” says Bare. “We have to hold our research to the same standard as a pharmaceutical company.” The three-year study, currently under review by several academic journals, corroborated Keltner’s lab findings and showed that veterans experienced a 35 percent decrease of PTSD symptoms after a single two-day rafting trip. “We have pharmaceutical solutions
“The quality of the science and what we are learning is encouraging,” says Tyler Norris, vice president of total-health partnerships at Kaiser Permanente. “If we could package the outdoors and call it a pharmaceutical, it would be sold widely.” stronger and healthier,” Keltner says. “We’re just starting to marshal more controlled scientific evidence.” In 2014, Bare convinced Keltner to take his studies into the field, running two-day rafting trips on California’s American River with Sierra Club youth and veterans groups. Bare chose rafting because it’s an immersive outdoor experience without a high fitness requirement. “It’s important for the study to isolate the effects of outdoor adventure from
for health problems that can be solved by the great outdoors,” says Keltner. Bare describes one vet who took up kayaking and reduced the amount the Department of Veterans Affairs was paying for his medication from $25,000 per year to $5,000. Keltner and Bare are already collaborating with other researchers, including Dr. Nooshin Razani at the University of California at San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, as well as health care providers like Kai-
ser Permanente. They’re also in discussions with the VA. “The quality of the science and what we are learning is encouraging,” says Tyler Norris, vice president of total-health partnerships at Kaiser Permanente. “If we could package the outdoors and call it a pharmaceutical, it would be sold widely.” He notes that several more studies need to replicate the findings before it’s considered a therapy on par with acupuncture and support groups, which are commonly included in health-insurance plans. And Norris stops short of predicting that insurance might someday pay for a rafting trip or a new pair of hiking boots, as Bare hopes. Others disagree. “Insurance companies are all about managing risk and reducing costs,” says Stephen Lockhart, chief medical officer at California-based Sutter Health. “So if outdoor adventure is seen as a way to do that, they’ll adopt it.” Lockhart envisions mechanisms like rebates on premiums if you spend a certain amount of time outdoors, in the same way nonsmokers and runners can receive a reduced rate. Bare is certain that the system will go further eventually. “No one questions using sick time to go to the therapist. If you end up healthier and more productive by taking a powder day, it just makes sense. Xanax isn’t seen as an extravagance, and time outdoors O shouldn’t be either.”
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Washington’s Real Monuments POLITICS MIGHT BE THE FOCUS OF OUR NATION’S . . RESOURCE IS ADVENTURE
LOCAL PRO Michael Wardian, ultrarunner and marathoner “I could run the Potomac Heritage Trail every day. It’s gnarly, full-on rock hopping with decent climbs. Start at Roosevelt Island and run it to Chain Bridge, then pick up the Towpath back for a six-mile loop along the river.”
by Graham Averill 1
RIDE Rock Creek Park (1) Consider this D.C.’s Central Park, only bigger, with 1,700 acres of hiking and biking paths. Hike the creekside Valley Trail.
miles of hiking trails in the rocky Mather Gorge and more than 200 trad and top-rope routes on 60-foot-high walls.
RUN The National Mall (2–3) It’s two miles from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol, with the Washington Monument, the Reflecting Pool, and Smithsonian Castle in between.
DRINK Port City Brewing Hop across the Potomac River to Alexandria, Virginia, and grab a porter from this local fixture, which won Small Brewery of the Year at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival.
AIR IT OUT American Parkour Academy (4) Drop by for backflip classes in the first parkour training center in the country.
GET SOCIAL Capitol Hill Bikes CHB’s 11-mile shop ride snakes along singletrack at Fort Dupont and finishes at District Doughnut.
COOL OFF Key Bridge Boathouse (5) Rent a kayak and paddle around Theodore Roosevelt Island.
EAT The Dabney (6–7) Chef Jeremiah Langhorne goes all in on the locavore movement, sourcing fare from the mid-Atlantic and cooking it over the embers of an open fire. Order the oysters and hearthroasted vegetables.
GO GREEN Great Falls Park This 800-acre playground is 30 minutes from town and has 15
LOCAL JOE Mary Breed, masters national champion road cyclist “When I’m looking for a fast place to ride, I crank out laps at Hains Point (8), an island in the middle of the city with a three-mile loop and little traffic.”
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: RICHARD T. NOWITZ/GETTY; STEVE GODWIN; PRESTON SCHLEBUCH/INTERSECTION; ANDREW CEBULKA (2); MARY GERSEMA; JONATHAN O’REILLY; LIZ VANCE; ANYA CHIBIS; ELI MEIR KAPLAN
ACTI V E CIT IES
MERRELL and the M Circle Design are registered trademarks of Wolverine Outdoors, Inc., a subsidiary of Wolverine World Wide, Inc. ©2016 Wolverine Outdoors, Inc. All rights reserved. Vibram® is a registered trademark of Vibram S.P.A., all rights and registrations are intellectual of property Vibram S.P.A.
STICK IT TO WINTER.
CAPRA GLACIAL ICE+
VIBRAM® ARCTIC GRIP™ FOR TRACTION ON WET ICE
CONDUCTOR™ FLEECE LINING PROVIDES INSULATION
THERMOCHROMATIC LUG CHANGES COLOR
E X C L U S I V E LY AT R E I
Bright Lights, Big Apple
A FORMERLY RETIRED RUNNER LOOKS TO MAKE HIS MARK AT THE WORLD’S GREATEST MARATHON —P.V.
PUL S E
Fuel Injection . . TO QUICKER RECOVERY?
by Peter Vigneron HYDRATION clinics
providing IVs full of vitamins to people dogged by hangovers have proliferated in the past few years. So when Chaz Faulhaber and Kristy Anderson found themselves dehydrated after a 2014 mountainbike race in Sedona, Arizona, it got them thinking: What if we could bring this to elite athletes? Along with their friend Benjamin Wilks, a physician, the pair opened OnusIV in Denver in 2015.
The company also travels to running and biking events in a converted Sprinter van to deliver their pre-race drips and post-race rehydration packages, which range from $65 to $175, depending on the nutrients that are included. Faulhaber says an IV offers a quicker way to replenish both fluids and vitamins than, say, chugging a Nalgene bottle full of water with some electrolytes mixed in. Doubters abound.
Jim Winger, who is a family and sportsmedicine specialist at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine, says that the risks of inserting IVs into healthy people— which include infection and even vein damage—probably outweigh any gains. “There’s no benefit,” Winger says. “You don’t become better hydrated with an IV.” Faulhaber just wants people to give IVs a shot. “We love skeptics,” he says.
On November 6, a contingent of U.S. runners hope to end East African dominance at the New York City Marathon. Among them: 30-year-old Patrick Smyth, who is in the midst of a comeback after mostly retiring in 2012.
was going to be my last professional race. It was horrible. So why New York? I was happy with my time at the trials. [Editor’s note: He came in eighth.] And New York is a race I’ve always wanted to run.
It’s not an easy course. It’s a cross-countryrunner’s course—hills, bridges. And there are going to be a lot of talented guys to compete with. With a solid buildup and a good race, I could do pretty well.
Did you think you’d ever run at a high level again? Definitely not. I didn’t foresee getting back the intensity that I have now. My last road marathon before the Olympic Trials in February was Chicago in 2012, which I thought
Instant coffee hasn’t evolved much during the gourmet-brew boom. Snobs pressed for time might grab a pouch of Starbucks Via, but climber Matt Segal figured that things could get better. So he teamed up with food-industry veteran Alex Hanifin to form Alpine Start. Their secret sauce? “We don’t burn our grounds,” Hanifin says. “Most instant coffee tastes scorched.” Indeed, Alpine’s Original Blend is smooth, with a pleasantly nonacidic aftertaste. More flavors are in the works, including one with dehydrated creamer. —P.V.
While bone broth might not be the miracle cure it’s often touted to be, it does help restore electrolytes after a hard workout. And if it’s made from chicken bones—like Epic’s new Homestyle Savory Chicken ($7)—it can boost your immune system, too.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: NICHOLAS EVELEIGH/GETTY; JONATHAN MOORE/STRINGER/GETTY; COURTESY OF EPIC; COURTESY OF ALPINE START
One Emergen-C every day and you’ll emerge restored, fortified and replenished. A super fresh formula packed with B vitamins, electrolytes, antioxidants† and more vitamin C than ten oranges.* Why not feel this good every day? †Antioxidants include Vitamin C, Zinc and Manganese. *Based on using the USDA.gov nutrient database value for a large, raw orange. ©Alacer 2015
TO O LS
DEVICES TO HELP YOU FUEL BETTER AND FASTER
by Meaghen Brown 1. RATIO EIGHT COFFEEMAKER $495 Early-morning training is a lot easier with a good cup of joe. A simple stovetop Bialetti works fine. But connoisseurs will appreciate how
the Ratio spirals the water evenly for uniform extraction and smoother taste. 2. HASAMI PORCELAIN PLATES $16 Research suggests that smaller, dark-
colored plates and bowls cause you to eat less because they alter your perception of relative size. (It’s called the Delboeuf illusion.) Hasami’s black porcelain set keeps meal portions in check beautifully.
3. ASH BLAEDS KNIFE $175 Ash’s handmade knives are constructed of long-lasting highcarbon steel. 4. HAWKINS NEW YORK SIMPLE STORAGE CONTAINERS $35 Studies show that no matter what you eat, cooking it yourself makes it healthier. With these sleek
glass jars, it’s easy to keep dry goods like beans, rice, and pasta on hand, so you’ll be less inclined to order in. And unlike plastic, glass won’t leach chemicals. 5. VITAMIX PROFESSIONAL SERIES 300 BLENDER $559 Any cheap blender can make a smoothie. But with the Vitamix
300, you can craft nut butters and whip up hot soups that would mangle or melt lesser machines. 6. ALL-CLAD 4-QUART SLOW COOKER $150 No time to cook? Throw everything in this electric slow cooker before a long ski tour and dinner will be ready when you get back.
THERE IS JUST AS MUCH MAGIC OFF THE MOUNTAIN.
Can one town really have it all? Two world-class resorts — Park City Mountain and Deer Valley — award-winning dining and a vibrant nightlife, all within one historic mountain town? Filled with laid-back charm that makes you feel at home? Yes. All that. Only in Park City, Utah. Discover the wonder at VisitParkCity.com.
STYLE + destinations:
Do South LOOK PAST THE SPRING BREAKERS (EASILY AVOIDED) AND SECURITY CONCERNS (MOSTLY OVERBLOWN) AND YOU’LL FIND AN ASTOUNDING VARIETY OF ADVENTURE SOUTH OF THE BORDER— WHETHER YOU WANT TO SIP MARGARITAS OR SEND WATERFALLS. WE ASKED A FEW LUMINARIES ABOUT THEIR FAVORITE ESCAPES, THEN HEADED TO GUADALAJARA FOR A STYLISH, TEQUILAFILLED WEEKEND.
JORGE MEDINA Medina, photographed at the hotel Casa Fayette in Guadalajara, is a graphic designer and illustrator. “The bar at Casa Fayette is the best place for a cocktail,” he says. Thermore Quilted Bomber jacket by Levi’s ($128); Aran Patchwork sweater by Dockers ($98); Madras Flannel shirt by Burkman Bros ($170); Five-Pocket trousers by Zara ($89); Bardstown Chukka boots by Timberland ($300)
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: JAMIE MCGREGOR SMITH/GALLERY STOCK; GENTL & HYERS (FROM HARTWOOD, BY ERIC WERNER AND MYA HENRY, ARTISAN BOOKS © 2015); KEVIN TRAGESER/REDUX; INTERSECTION PHOTOS; GENTL & HYERS; MARCUS NILSSON; COURTESY OF CASA OAXACA HOTEL; LOGAN MOCK-BUNTING/AURORA; DOUG FALTER
Experts Only We assembled a dream team of athletes, chefs, and adventurers from both sides of the border to dish on their favorite Mexican getaways (and chimed in with three of our own). —JEN MURPHY
Pump the Breaks Surfer and musician Tim Curran Baja was one of my first trips outside the U.S. I was 16 and went down to hunt for waves on the East Cape. I remember off-roading over pockmarked dirt paths to reach the beach. It took us two and a half hours to get from
Cabo San Lucas to Shipwrecks, a nice right-hand point break near the town of Punta Gorda. The road isn’t as bad now, but you still need to watch for wild donkeys running out of the brush. I’ve been back down with Mansa Vida, a new surf-retreat company I launched with Rob Machado
Arellano, who was a sous chef at Pujol, is running a new spot I’m involved in called Criollo, centered on music, food, and drink. And I highly recommend the Mercado de Tlacolula, held on Sundays just outside town. The barbacoa alone is worth the trip.
a. Tulum oceanfront b. Grilled octopus at Hartwood c. Oaxaca’s botanical garden d. Tim Curran and family e. The beach in Tulum f. Breaker in Baja g. Casa Oaxaca h. All the fixins i. Hartwood
($2,921 for four days; mansavida .com). If you go, I can’t imagine a more perfect base than the Cape in Cabo ($499; thompsonhotels .com). You can drink margaritas in an infinity pool, and Monuments—an interesting and powerful wave—is in your backyard. The paddle out is a little tricky, so I watch the locals to see where they take off.
Enrique Olvera, chef at Pujol in Mexico City and Cosme in New York City My dream is to retire in Oaxaca, but for now I stay downtown at Casa Oaxaca (from $152; casaoaxaca.com .mx). The city is not a place you can understand in one trip, and you definitely want to rent a car and give yourself time to explore. Visitors should ask the hotel’s chef, Rafael Villalobos, where to eat. La Teca, an unpretentious restaurant specializing in foods from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, has delicious starters, like garnachas—masa cups
filled with shredded meat, queso fresco, and salsa. Luis
E D I TO R ’S P I C K
The Sixth Borough My first night in Tulum, there was a rave on the beach near my hotel, a full-on EDM-thumping affair. It was still going at ten the next morning. This put the fear of God in me. I went last January for some R&R at an escape-fromwinter yoga retreat, but I felt like I had landed in Mexico’s version of Brooklyn—all green smoothies and hipster chefs. After a few days of warrior poses, long swims in the clear ocean, and a bike ride out to the stunning Sian Ka’an biosphere, I was won over. You can still find delicious, cheap tacos on the beach (try taqueria La Eufemia). And those chefs, like the one at Hartwood or the newer Arca next door, whip up some tasty local grilled fish and potent mezcal cocktails. My last night in Tulum, there was another rave. That time I almost joined them. — MARY TURNER
STYLE + destinations:
Kayaker Rafael Ortiz The Veracruz region on the Gulf of Mexico is the new mecca for big waterfalls. It’s an unreal landscape of jungle, basalt rock, and green-colored rivers. My family owns a ranch there, so I consider it my backyard—I learned to kayak on the lower Alseseca River at age 14. People have been coming here since the late 1980s, but it really emerged as a destination for kayakers after
Ben Stookesberry and I did the first complete descent of Alseseca in 2006. My buddies and I spent three weeks paddling beautiful stretches of the river, rappelling in the jungle, cliff jumping, and running waterfalls. But you don’t have to do all that if you visit! Stay in Tlapacoyan, the kayaking hub of Veracruz; it’s
a 20- or 30-minute drive to reach most sections of the river, some mellow, some gnarly. Aventurec offers camping, cabins, rentals, and shuttles—it’ll point you in the right direction (aventurec .com). After a big day, I go to Las Acamayas, a restaurant in the town square named for river shrimp, its specialty.
Baja Bounty e
Get Pitted Freediver Christina Saenz de Santamaria My husband and I love the Yucatán Peninsula. We rent a condo in Arena Blanca (from $125; playaisfun.com) and eat ceviche every day—El Camello Jr. is a favorite. But we’re there to dive, and I’ve never experienced a more supernatural place to do it than the limestone pits—cenotes—of the Yucatán. The striking beams of
sunlight, jagged underwater cliffs, and dark caves make these some of the most beautiful natural places in the world. The Aktun Ha cenote is studded with an array of colorful water lilies, but the most spectacular cenote I’ve freedived is the Pit, near Tulum. It’s deep, with an endless labyrinth of caves at its bottom. Go midmorning to see how it captures the rays of sunlight when you look up.
a. Rafa Ortiz sends in Veracruz b. Veracruz café c. Ortiz and friends loaded up in Veracruz d. Baja’s Rancho Pescadero e. Where the Yucatán meets the Caribbean f. Descending the Pit g. Tacos at Rancho Pescadero
We brought the loaves. Jesus provided the fishes. We were trolling for Spanish mackerel, tearing hunks off a massive wheel of local olive bread, while the first mate, Jesus, unfurled the lines. We’d come to Baja for some serious relaxation, and indeed, the 28-room resort Rancho Pescadero, just south of Todos Santos, was nirvana—a beach dream of day beds, palapas, and evening driftwood blazes (from $250; ranchopescadero.com). But what got me was the food—the kind of farmto-table bounty you’d expect in Northern California, not this serene, scruffy desert. The garden decides whether the daily cocktail will include guava compote or coconut and habanero syrup, and the chefs grind cacao for yellowtail with orange-almond mole. Unsurprisingly, our angling was just as blessed: we traded two fat mackerel back to the kitchen for chile-spiked dark chocolate. Ocean to table, this time. —ELIZABETH HIGHTOWER ALLEN
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: LUCAS GILMAN (2); CHRISTIAN HEEB/LAIF/REDUX; RICK POON; CHRISTIAN VIZL/TANDEM; THINREDLINE/GETTY; LUCAS GILMAN
E D I TO R ’S P I C K
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: COURTESY OF MONTE XANIC; JUSTIN LEWIS/GETTY; ADAM WISEMAN; ARACELI PAZ; MARC DIEZ/OFFSET; COURTESY OF CUATRO CUATROS; ANTONIO DÍAZ DE SANDI; CINTIA SOTO
Climber Sarah Hueniken I first went down to El Potrero Chico on a road trip from Ontario in 1998 with an Outward Bound colleague. We drove to the border, and they wouldn’t let us through without additional paperwork or unless we were married. We wanted to go so badly, we considered the marriage thing. I’d heard it was a climber’s paradise—tons of bolted limestone
routes with easy camping and cheap beer. We ended up taking a bus across the border; the canyon was just as promised. Today it’s easy to reach. You fly to Monterrey and grab a taxi. There’s
Grape Expectations Tijuana chef Javier Plascencia Valle de Guadalupe feels like Napa Valley in the 1960—it’s still a bit rough around the edges but has its own charm. For example, some of the best wineries are at the end of dirt roads. In 2015, I bought the home I’d been renting and turned it into a B&B, Finca la Divina (from $190; fincaladivina .com). It’s got a Palm Springs vibe, with gardens and a pool. Cuatro Cuatros is also great—it’s a glamping spot in the middle of vineyards where you can ride horses and mountain bike (cabanas
cuatrocuatros.com .mx). In terms of wine, nebbiolo and tempranillo—red grapes from Italy and Spain—grow really well here. Las Nubes (vinoslas nubesbc.com) has incredible views, and Monte Xanic (montexanic.com .mx) has a great lake to relax by. I like visiting in August, at the start of the harvest. You can meet the winemakers, and there are parties and concerts. If you’ve had a big night, go to La Cocina de Doña Esthela. The woman who runs the place makes fresh tortillas and her own chorizo. She’ll have you feeling better in no time.
no need to rent a car: long and short climbs are all within walking distance from the campgrounds. All you need is a copy of the Climb El Potrero Chico guidebook, which is updated annually and available locally. You can still find down-anddirty $5-per-night camping at spots like Homero’s. But La Posada is the place for comfort, with nice, inexpensive rooms and casitas (from $46; elpotrerochico.mx). a. Monte Xanic winery b. High above El Potrero Chico c. Pacific views at Cuatro Cuatros d. Chef Javier Plascencia e. Finca la Divina f–g. Scenes from Mexico City h. High-concept taco at Pujol
E D I TO R ’S P I C K
Capital Gains At last count, Mexico City—not New York or Los Angeles—was the largest metropolis in North America. It’s also the best big-city escape going right now. There are worldclass art museums downtown and 17,000-foot mountaineering objectives off in the distance. But when I visited last spring, I was focused on breaking out of my mountaintown breakfast-burrito rut by eating as much good food as possible. My girlfriend and I rented an Airbnb in the Condesa neighborhood, a riot of pastel walls and overgrown succulents spilling onto the sidewalks. From there we started with Pujol, where the tasting menu is an ambitious take on Mexican country cooking. (The chef shares where he finds inspiration on page 57.) That was delicious, and so was the bracingly fresh octopus ceviche at the slightly more casual Maximo Bistrot Local. But the real pleasures in the Distrito Federal came on the low end, at La Ventanita in the San Miguel Chapultepec neighborhood, where we blended in with students over fresh fruit juices and baked eggs, and random street tacos overflowing with carnitas and chorizo. The perfect chaser to all this indulgence was copious quantities of light Mexican beer. Which, OK, you can get at any gas station, but you’ll have to trust me that at Salón Covadonga, a cavernous cantina popular with literary types, it just tastes better. — CHRIS COHEN
STYLE + destinations:
JOSÉ DE JESÚS BRAVO At the Patrón Hacienda, a Spanish-colonialinspired campus and distillery in the high plateaus outside the city that serves as the company’s headquarters, Bravo is a hornero, cutting up 80-pound agave hearts for baking and distilling. Rather than grow their own, Patrón buys its agave from area farmers, and hundreds of plants are delivered each week. To make tequila, the hearts are baked in large ovens, then crushed with an ancient tahona mill or a slab of volcanic rock to extract the juice. The liquid is then fermented, distilled, and, in the case of some specialty tequilas, aged in handmade barrels for more than a year. Single-Breasted jacket by John Varvatos ($598); Classic Western shirt by Levi’s ($128); Stretch Chinos ($98) and belt ($45) by J.Crew
In Guadalajara, mariachi echoes through the streets, tacos are a staple provision, and barrels of tequila are made at the nearby Patrón Hacienda BY MEAGHEN BROWN
João Canziani STYLING BY
DIEGO THOMAS COBAIN Cobain runs Patrón’s compost and recycling operations. The distillery uses the discarded fibers from agave processing— roughly 30,000 tons a year—to fertilize farms in the region and a large vegetable garden on the Hacienda property that helps feed the company’s 1,600 on-site employees. Cobain mountain-bikes in the trail systems of Bosque La Primavera— an ecological preserve 45 minutes outside Guadalajara. “It’s known as the lungs of the city,” he says. Olive Suede jacket by Polo Ralph Lauren ($1,295); Slim Fit Dress shirt by John Varvatos ($228); Brett Booted jeans by Seven for All Mankind ($169); Roland Lace Up boots by Frye ($318); Embroidered Stripe scarf by Eileen Fischer ($98); belt by Michael Kors ($59) 11.16
STYLE + destinations:
JESÚS URREA Urrea, who works for the production company Green Is Good, surfs as often as he can, especially on the Pacific breaks around Sayulita and San Pancho, an hour west by plane. The best food in Guadalajara? “I Latina shouldn’t be missed,” he says. Lovewell Mountain Quilted jacket ($158), Simms River Fair Isle sweater ($98), and Bardstown Chukka boots by Timberland ($300); 511 jeans by Levi’s ($109)
TATIANA SERUR As a sports PR agent, fitness adviser, and athlete—she recently competed in the Xterra Race in Tapalpa—Serur spends a lot of time mountain biking and trail running at Barranca de Huentitán, a nature reserve in a 16-mile-long canyon northeast of the city. Then she refuels at Tacos Providencia. “I want to teach people that they can have a healthy life, but with balance,” she says. Sophia sweater by 360 ($253); Arlington jeans by Rag and Bone ($195); Jackie Zip Short boots by Frye ($368)
TIBU SANTILLANES Santillanes has played the saxophone in jazz festivals from Montreal to Vienna. But once a week, the Guadalajara native still performs on Chapultepec Avenue, which hosts a street festival every Wednesday. Trucker jacket by Levi’s ($178); Portugese shirt by Dockers ($78)
MALCOLM WILLIAMS Williams has worked with some of the best eateries in town. He’s seen here at Hueso. “Este Norte Cafe, which offers organic products from the Villa de Patos ranch, is also worth a visit,” he says.
The Patrón Hacienda was built in 2002. The company funds two local orphanages, has an on-site chapel and a shuttle service for its employees, and supports numerous environmental initiatives, including a reverse-osmosis system that recycles water from tequila production and, earlier this year, a reforestation effort that involved planting 10,000 trees.
Denim jacket ($118) and Flagstone Henley ($59) by J.Crew; Graduate jeans by AG ($198); Roland Lace Up boots by Frye ($318)
STYLE + destinations:
DON MANUEL (LEFT) For as long as anyone can remember, Manuel worked as a jimador, harvesting agave grown around Guadalajara—where the plant is said to be larger and better tasting than anywhere else in the world— for tequila. Manuel now works in the gardens at the Patrón Hacienda.
SOL FONSECA Fonseca grew up riding horses and tending sheep in Guadalajara’s highlands. “I’m still a cowgirl sometimes,” she says, though she’s now Patrón’s executive tour host and brings restaurant owners and chefs from all over the world to the Hacienda. The company produces roughly two million cases of tequila per year.
Pick Stitch jacket by John Varvatos ($298); Connor shirt by Rails ($148); Khakis by Dockers ($58)
Draped Geometric dress by DKNY ($545); Suede Fringe boots by Polo Ralph Lauren ($398)
TILL BOREDOM DO US PART (IN FOUR CHAPTERS)
How to find a partner who shares your passion for living bravely, build a relationship fueled by adventure, and keep happiness alive through kids, career changes, and really bad wipeouts
First Dates Moonlight snowshoeing
Rent a tandem kayak
Wax each other’s boards
Watch the elk rut in Jackson
Elope to Jackson
be on the lookout
Make out in Chris McCandless’s bus
Sparks fly in the strangest places By Luke Dittrich
DA N G E R O U S LY ST U P I D
henever I tell the story of how Sara and I fell for each other, it sounds like a lie. Sometimes I rein in the details—not because they’re false, but because I know they appear to be. Like the part with the volcano. The part with the volcano always tips it from crazy to unbelievable. We’d been in the Amazon for a week, in northern Ecuador, dodging bullet ants, swimming with pink dolphins, fishing for piranhas. Friends, platonic, since childhood. On what was supposed to be the final day of our trip, we emerged from the jungle on the outskirts of Lago Agrio, a little oil town just south of the Colombian border, where we planned to drag our grimy backpacks onto a turboprop and fly to Quito. We already had two seats booked on a flight.
Read her your nature poetry
Moonlight bear baiting
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A DV E N T U R O U S LY R O M A N T I C
playing the field
swipe right FROM TOP: SERGIO VILLALBA/AURORA; JESSE MORROW/STOCKSY; ALISDAIR TURNER/AURORA; MIKE SMOLOWE/GALLERY STOCK; ALEJANDRO MORENO/STOCKSY; COURTESY OF WES SILER
YOUR INTREPID LIFESTYLE GIVES YOU AN ADVANTAGE ON TINDER. NOW DON’T BLOW IT. —WES SILER Don’t: Use clichés. Everyone likes food, music, and travel. Instead, dedicate your profile to describing what makes you unique—apart from your collection of vintage fishing lures. Do: Be social. Linking to your Instagram account lets someone get a better sense of who you are and saves them from having to Google you. Don’t: Get frustrated. It’s a numbers game. You will talk to a lot of people. You will go on a lot of dates. Most of them will not turn out as well as you’d hoped. It’s OK, you’re still a catch.
Walking the road toward town, we smelled the burning tires before we saw them. There were several smoking piles and hundreds of protestors. As we got closer, a few of them started chanting that they should throw the gringos into the fire. Sara’s Spanish was rusty, and she asked me what they were saying. I told her I’d tell her later. The airport was shut down, as were all major roads. Foreign oil companies had bled the area for decades, giving little in return, and the locals were fed up. Most of the nearby wells and pipelines had just been sabotaged, cutting into Ecuador’s oil output. We found a cheap hotel with a nervous desk clerk and an empty room and waited for
Do: Ask questions. Be interested in what the other person does instead of dwelling on what’s so fascinating about you—save that for the therapist. Don’t: Chat endlessly. If the conversation hits ten messages, you have enough to talk about over drinks. Do: Take it on the road. Upgrade to Tinder Plus (from $10 per month) and, when traveling, change your location so you can begin the swiping, messaging, and asking people out before you arrive. (Or continue to find dates at home while you’re away.)
the inevitable crackdown. The military arrived. We watched the clashes from our window, saw Molotoved banks burn, inhaled lungfuls of tear gas. At some point we discovered what I imagine has always been true: when things fall apart, people fall together. As chaos subsided, we tried to get out of town. We hitched a ride with a cop, then thought better of it when we saw a police car in flames. We called our embassies—she has Canadian citizenship—but they couldn’t do anything. Eventually we found a television news crew that was determined to get its footage back to Quito, and we asked if we could tag along. They said we could. The protestors let them through. They wanted their message out.
Don’t: Screw up the photo. Physical attraction is the first step, so you need to get this right. 1. Good: Close crop, so people can actually see what you look like. 2. Bad: Whatever this is.... 3. Good: Outdoorsy but not overly aggro. The idea is to be intriguing and inviting, not intimidating. 4. Bad: Selfies. Bribe a friend to take your photo; that’s what everyone else does. 5. Bad: Multiple people in the shot—especially if your friends are tools or better looking than you. 6. Good: Dogs! For obvious reasons.
The last hurdle was a partially dismantled bridge. We stopped and hauled just enough of its scattered pieces of steel back into place. As our vehicle inched across, I looked up the riverbed and saw that we were on the flanks of a volcano— El Reventador—and that it was in the process of reventando, belching smoke and ash. That was 11 years ago. The short-lived Lago Agrio uprising had only a modest effect on world oil prices, but it changed our worlds completely. Our daughter just turned O ten. LUKE DITTRICH IS THE AUTHOR OF PATIENT H.M.: A STORY OF MEMORY, MADNESS, AND FAMILY SECRETS.
marmot.com Photo Gabe Rogel
Cutting the Rope
stay the course
Calling it quits with a dirtbag, ski bum, or some other adventurous fellow can be difficult—especially when he’s dependent on you for a place to sleep, store his gear, and stream comps. Here’s how to end it using language he’ll understand.
Relationships demand compromise. But always hold on to your dangerous habits.
b y S t e v e n R i n e l la
hen I started dating my wife, Katie, I ached for her from my knees to my throat. My desire to keep her close tempted me to cancel trips, tell my buddies to buzz off, and turn down jobs that I’d normally be thrilled to get. A specific recollection has me climbing into the nosebleed section of a giant Sitka spruce that was leaning over my friend’s home in order to knock out the top with a chainsaw. I’d done this a bunch of times while working as an arborist during graduate school. I always loved the thrill of riding that bucking tree amid the rush of air created by the severed trunk racing toward a collision with the earth. But this time, as I inched my way up, I suffered a collection of
worries about a climbing rope that suddenly seemed vulnerable and insufficient. One wrong move with my chainsaw or an errant placement of my climbing spurs and I might not live to touch Katie’s thigh again. The only sensible thing to do was rappel down and leave the tree to some sucker who was less in love. But I kept climbing. I was driven by thoughts of many friends who had given up some vital part of themselves in the early stages of a relationship—solo climbs, annual fishing trips, plans to cross the continent on a bike—and their girlfriends grew to love them in the absence of such things. Later, when my friends tried to resume their old behaviors, they realized that they had inadvertently placed them out of reach. A buddy of mine describes this phenomenon as “the screwing CONTINUED ON PAGE 73
“I always thought of this relationship as more of a . “REI has a great deal . “My kombucha mother . likes everyone. “Our sleeping bags just never zipped together . “I think it’s time we both .
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ties that bind SOMETIMES OUR OBSESSIONS BRING US CLOSER…
HANDLE ALL KINDS OF BAGGAGE
Your Place or Mine? MOVING IN WITH YOUR GEARED-UP, HYPER-FIT SIGNIFICANT OTHER IS THRILLING—AND PERILOUS. PROCEED WITH CAUTION. —KATE SIBER Those Who Sweat Together Stay Together Joint workouts help cement your growing bond. “It gives you time to talk and connect in ways you wouldn’t if you were sitting around at home,” says Becky Lavelle, a pro athlete and triathlon coach in Rio Del Mar, California. But you have to plan thoughtfully. If you have vastly different paces, then meet up for swims, recovery days, or track workouts where your differences won’t pull you apart. And while a little competitiveness is healthy, don’t be that training partner who always has to be just a little bit ahead.
Food Is for Sharing Having dinner together every night may sound great—unless one of you is a paleo CrossFitter and the other a carb-needy ultrarunner. “It’s unrealistic to think that we would all eat the same foods,” says Carol Cottrill, a nutrition counselor and author of The French Twist: Twelve Secrets of Decadent Dining and Natural Weight Management. Cottrill suggests focusing on one meal a day that finds a middle ground. Above all else, avoid lecturing your partner about his or her diet. “Being told what you can eat is a real turnoff,” says Cottrill.
Nobody Likes a Messy Gear Cave When you first shack up, have a candid conversation about your living standards and agree on how often you’ll clean. “If you’re skiers and it’s dumping snow for four days, no one’s going to put their stuff back neatly every night,” says Jill OjaJohnson, a professional organizer in Jackson, Wyoming. “Discuss whether you’ll get everything back in its place every week or every month.” An organizational system is also crucial. Gather your gear in one place, separate it by sport, then designate the best places for everything.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: ISTOCK (6); LUCA SAGE/ GETTY; MICHAEL HANSON; GALLERY STOCK
you get for the screwing you got.” That’s not good for anyone—not for you, your girlfriend, or your relationship. When Katie and I were going through that love-drunk phase, I kept right on doing extended hunts in the mountains of Alaska and traveling to some of the remotest corners of the world for work. Instead of feeling threatened by these activities, she learned to take pride in my ability to navigate danger. “I want my guy to be capable,” she’d say, “and to remain dedicated to what he’s doing even in the face of big risks.” Just don’t push it to the point of selfishness. Katie knows that I’m not carousing in bars at night. She knows that she can count on me in tough times. She knows that our family is my top priority. Because of all that, she’s OK with me turning up in the top of a big tree, attached to life only by a thin rope. When I come down, it’s like our first date all O over again. CONTRIBUTING EDITOR STEVEN RINELLA IS THE AUTHOR OF THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO HUNTING, BUTCHERING, AND COOKING WILD GAME.
making the commitment
No Risk, No Reward The best way to show your willingness to go the distance? Follow them anywhere. B y S u sa n Ca s e y
t’s only three miles, I told him. You can swim three miles. I’ve got some fins in your size, and the group stops every 500 yards. The water’s warm! Usually there isn’t much current. Right now the Southern Hemisphere is quiet, and the Northern Hemisphere hasn’t kicked in yet, so there won’t be any swell. We’ll see turtles! Fish. Manta rays. Across the coral reefs it’s a kaleidoscopic trip, and in the deep water… well, you can still see the bottom. You’ll love it! You’ll be fine. He was game. He was from Manhattan by way of northern Italy, in Hawaii for the first time, and he had flown to the middle of the Pacific Ocean to visit me. We were a new couple, feeling our way through early turbulence and geographic complications, and more than anything, I wanted him to stay for a while. In matters of the heart, I’ve learned that it pays to address the heart directly, so I set out to share what I love most: Maui’s offshore waters. Here’s what I didn’t share: that a thriv-
ing population of tiger and oceanic whitetip sharks love these waters as much as I do. Two years earlier, in fact, while swimming the same course, three friends and I ran into a feeding 13-foot tiger. I’ve seen my share of large marine life, and this was for sure the crankiest. A tattered sea turtle with a chunk out of its shell lay below us as we treaded helplessly, watching the shark roll its eyes back, tuck in its pectoral fins, and prepare to attack. But something gave the animal pause, and after a few long, menacing minutes, it snatched up the sea turtle, gave the carcass a warning shake, and swam slowly away. Since then there have been other shark encounters around here, several bites and two fatalities. I didn’t see the upside in mentioning this. We waded out from the beach, adjusted our goggles. I was nervous. This was a moment of reckoning. Until now we’d gotten along easily in our fledgling relationship, but reality would eventually descend—and here was a dose of it. Could I love someone who didn’t handle himself well in the ocean? The short answer was no. But I
also realized that it’s a pretty tall order to ask someone from New York City to plunge into 70-foot-deep salt water and stay there for two hours comfortably. My worries were wasted. He swam well; if anything, he’d understated his skill. The ocean was crystalline that day, everything glowing and luminous. But when we arrived at the turnaround point, a rocky cliff studded with sea caves, the water abruptly turned oily and murky. Looking down, I saw a severed ahi head lying on the seafloor and realized, with a jolt, that the fishermen on the rocks above had been chumming. A lot. Before I could suggest that we get out of there, another swimmer yelled: “Shark!” We ducked our heads in time to see a ten-foot oceanic whitetip, sleek as a fighter jet, swim past us right below the surface. The shark’s mouth was open, teeth clearly visible, and it was heading out to sea as if spooked. “I think we’d better go,” I said. He agreed, and in that moment I saw that he hadn’t panicked, hadn’t freaked out, and that, if anything, he was awed by the whitetip—which, by the way, is one of the more aggressive models. We got engaged six months later. Now when he tells the story of his first open-water swim in Hawaii, there’s pride in his voice, and happiness. A man who loves the wildest fish in the O sea? That’s what I call a keeper. SUSAN CASEY IS THE AUTHOR OF VOICES IN THE OCEAN: A JOURNEY INTO THE WILD AND HAUNTING WORLD OF DOLPHINS.
COURTESY OF SUSAN CASEY (2)
Casey and her husband (right) in Maui
it’ll never work …AND SOMETIMES THEY’RE A TOTAL DEAL BREAKER
THE CAR SEATS NEVER DRY
“STOP USING MY RAZOR!”
Love is a Trip
GETTING HITCHED IS THE ULTIMATE EXCUSE TO GO BIG ON A VACATION. DON’T WASTE IT. —K.S. Island Escape For seclusion in the Caribbean, head to Saba, a reef-ringed, rainforestdraped volcano with a population of 1,600. At the 12-suite Queen’s Gardens Resort and Spa, you can book an entire floor, with views 1,200 feet above the sea. Don’t expect to see many other people hiking past the wild fruit trees and orchids on the jungle trails or diving Saba’s famed underwater pinnacles.
Cowboy Romance At the swanky Smith Fork Ranch, a dude operation in Colorado’s remote West Elk Mountains, you can immerse yourself in wilderness while being very, very well taken care of. The hardest decision you’ll make is what to do first: ride horseback through aspens and alpine meadows, fish in private streams, or mountain-bike up trails to epic vista points. Meals come from the ranch’s organic gardens, and you’ll have the run of the more than 400-bottle-strong wine cellar. Cabins from $1,150, including meals; smith forkranch.com
NOTE TO POTENTIAL MATES: HE GETS (MOSTLY) BETTER WITH AGE Illustration by Tim Tomkinson
DIY Baja Getaway After a wedding, simple is good—empty beaches, cheap beer, and fish tacos. In other words, Baja. If you have weeks, road-trip your four-wheel-drive car to surf breaks like the remote Seven Sisters. (Be sure to pack the Baja California Almanac.) For a quicker trip, fly to Cabo San Lucas, rent a jeep, and roll to San Jose del Cabo to pick up a surfboard ($25 per day; costa-azul.com.mx). Then head up the coast along the empty dirt road to
Cabo Pulmo, where you can camp on the beach, catch waves, and snorkel among the fish.
The Ascent of Adventure Man
DIRTBAG Desirability: Low Dependability: Low
At the resort, enjoy a meal on a private dining platform in a hundredyear-old mango tree, then take a dip in your suite’s hot tub, where you can see the lights of the tiny capital. From $260; queensaba.com
WEEKEND WARRIOR Desirability: Moderate Dependability: Moderate
$500 technical shell $500 raw denim
PRO BRO Desirability: High Dependability: Low
Free-range child named Makalu
HERO DAD Desirability: Moderate Dependability: High
Peruvian scarf scored on a guided “expedition”
GENTLEMAN EXPLORER Desirability: High Dependability: High
going long advice
Dear Annie When it comes to the nature of attraction, essayist and novelist Annie Dillard—whose dozen books include The Maytrees, about lifelong love on Cape Cod—has learned a thing or two. So when we asked her for some practical wisdom, she didn’t hesitate to dish out a little radical honesty. On Sex “For a man, the best evolutionary strategy is impregnating as many young women as possible. For a woman, the best strategy is to stick around to ensure that her children survive infancy and childhood. Consequently, the people alive on earth today— whose genes have survived this long—are horny men and nurturing women. You may have noticed this.”
Lean on me Whatever the trail throws at you, you can handle it, step by step b y w. h o d d i n g ca rt e r
he first date that my wife, Lisa, and I went on was a bug safari in Central Park in the summer of 1992. Dressed in khakis and penny loafers, we wandered the woods and hillsides with magnifying glasses and entomology books in hand. Two weeks later, we pitched a tent for three nights in Adirondack Park. Soon afterward, we camped in New York’s High Peaks Wilderness Area and hiked 5,344-foot Mount Marcy. As our relationship grew, our outings got more ambitious. Later that year, we strapped a canoe on top of Lisa’s Saturn and drove from Boston to Everglades National Park to paddle the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway. We conceived our first children—twin girls—while back-
On Domesticity “Ordinary chores consume whole lives, and since few people can believe this, couples spend their whole lives fighting about the massive amounts of housework living entails, each blaming the other for not doing a fair share.” On the Golden Years “Maybe old couples are so happy—so very much happier each decade—because almost all their decisions are over. It’s This Person or it’s No One. You wonder why you ever shed a tear over anyone else.”
FROM LEFT: GALLERY STOCK; RAYMOND MEEKS
On Ownership “Marriage is fine, but joint ownership of property is no fun, and neither is joint renting. Keep your hovels. The happiest couple I know live on separate Florida keys. Weekends apart also work; I’ve done that. By the time my husband came back, I was wildly eager to see him.”
packing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and eloped in the summer of ’95, with Lisa gathering a bouquet of wildflowers and vegetables on the way to the courthouse in Lewisburg, West Virginia. Some couples hike hand in hand. Not us. Lisa kicked my ass. She walked faster. She was never out of breath. And she always— and I mean always—prepared and packed better than I did. She was the quintessential adventure partner. And then her body started falling apart. First to go was her shoulder. So we stopped doing triathlons together. A few years later, around 1998, she broke her right big toe. For some reason it never healed, and so while she could still hike glaciers in Greenland faster than me, each of us carrying a twin on our back, she was hurting every other step. Yet
she soldiered on because it was our thing. We were the outdoors couple. And then it got worse. By 2007, she started to experience excruciating pain in her hips on simple walks on our neighborhood nature trail. We didn’t know it, but she had a hereditary condition, shared with her brother and two sisters, in which the tissues that held her joints together were simply no longer strong enough for the job. Between the four siblings, they’ve now had four hips, five shoulders, and three knees replaced. Watching Lisa hobble around our house, first on a cane and then on a walker, I assumed our outdoor life together was over. But about two years back—and I remember the exact look, words, and location—she turned to me and said, “I miss being in the outdoors with you and the kids too much. I want to go on hikes with you until the day we die.”
Keepers of the Flame
FROM TOP: PEATHEGEE INC/GETTY; MICHAEL HANSON/AURORA; BARBARA TALBOTT/STOCKFOOD
THE KEYS TO LASTING ROMANCE? MORE EXERCISE, SURPRISING MEALS, BACKCOUNTRY ESCAPES, CHILLING OUT, AND SPICY YOGA. —GRAHAM AVERILL Work it. A 2010 study published in the British Journal of Psychology showed that working out together—whether running or going to the climbing gym—helps couples enhance their romantic connection through nonverbal mimicry, or performing the same actions simultaneously. “Couples who train together are finding a new way to bond,” says Jeff Fine, a psychotherapist and fitness coach. Do it in the kitchen. Yes, ginseng and maca promote energy, stamina, and a sense of wellbeing, and garlic stimulates blood flow to the sex organs. But the best way to really ramp up excitement is to try something totally new—say, tongue-tingling Szechuan buttons or exotic durian fruit. “Maybe it’s the adrenaline or psychological thrill, but
preparing and eating foods that have a hint of danger can be a turn on,” says Meryl Rosofsky, professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University. Get away. Planning a day trip or backcountry weekend together gives couples something to discuss besides who’s picking up the kids from soccer practice. “You talk about the adventure, you do it, then you talk about how it went. It’s a healthy distraction,” says Jordan Hall, director of Rock Your Marriage, a Colorado-based company that offers counseling and marriage retreats. Bonus: if the adventure involves a tent, you might even get lucky. Fully 95 percent of couples interviewed by tent manufacturer Olpro in 2013 said they were more likely to have sex while camping than at home.
Say ommm. A series of Harvard University studies found that regular meditation decreases stress, improves mood, and increases arousal. “The less stress you have, the more open and free you’ll be for your loved ones,” says Mandy Cavan, a psychotherapist and former national soccer player. Strike a pose. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that an hour of yoga a day can lead to better sex. A number of poses improve blood flow and tone pelvic muscles, which increases desire and performance, according to Rachel Allyn, a psychiatrist, sex therapist, and yoga instructor. What’s more, practicing yoga with your partner can amplify the effect. “Couples communicate on a deeper level, connecting to each other’s breath, touch, and intuition,” she says.
We learned that her “good” hip had endstage osteoarthritis, and her bad hip was far worse. Her doctor couldn’t believe the destruction—bone had been grinding on bone for quite a while. Last winter she got dual hip-replacement surgery. Then, in the spring, a reconstructed big toe. Her right second toe was so disfigured by arthritis that she chose to have it amputated. A few months into her recovery, it’s a relief just to be able to walk with her to the end of the driveway to get the paper. Or to arrive hand in hand, out of breath, at an outdoor wedding. We have a tough climb ahead, but as long as there’s a trail before us, we’re going O to follow it, together. CORRESPONDENT W. HODDING CARTER IS THE AUTHOR OF A VIKING VOYAGE AND OFF THE DEEP END.
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 CASE WIDE OPEN.
PETER F R I C K-W R I G H T PHOTOGRAPHS BY
Illustration by Robert Harkness
mechanics sent to reassemble it were so altitude-sick upon landing in La Paz that several days passed before they could do any work. When they did get it flying, bad weather at EASTERN AIR LINES FLIGHT the summit kept everyone in the chopper. One Bolivian climber, Bernardo Guara9 8 0 W O U L D H AV E B E E N J U S T chi, apparently made it up to the wreckage on foot two days after the crash but then said A B O U T R E A DY T O L A N D . almost nothing about his findings. When the Bolivian government filed an official— but inconclusive—crash report a year later, Guarachi wasn’t named in it. It was unclear Beverage carts stowed, seat backs upright, edge of Bolivia’s Altiplano region, towers who’d sent him in the first place. tray tables locked. The 29 people on board over La Paz. The Andean mountain is so texTwo months after the crash, in March would have just heard the engines change tured by ridgelines, high peaks, and shadows 1985, a private expedition of Bolivian alpinpitch and felt the nose dip slightly, seat belts that, viewed from the city, it seems to move ists commissioned by Ray Valdes, an Easttugging at their stomachs. and change shape throughout the day. ern flight engineer who would have been on One imagines a focused cockpit. Pilot Flight 980 hit nose first on the back side of board if he hadn’t swapped shifts, successLarry Campbell was responsible for the Illimani, just below the summit. It probably fully navigated the treacherous mix of rock safety of everyone on the flight, and this was cartwheeled forward, the fuselage bursting and ice. The small team encountered wreckjust his second landing in the Bolivian city of and splattering across the mountain like a age and luggage, but they couldn’t locate the La Paz. Copilot Ken Rhodes was a straight- dry snowball hitting a tree. Nearby villagers plane’s black box. Stranger than that, no one forward military man. No foolishness, es- said it shook the whole valley. The airport’s found any bodies at the crash site. Or blood. pecially when descending through a moun- radio registered only a single click. Another private expedition went up in tain valley in bad weather. Sitting behind July 1985, followed by NTSB investigators in both, flight engineer Mark Bird was a retired IT TOOK A full day to locate the wreck- October, but neither was able to spend more fighter jock. In the Air Force, he was known age. Once the Bolivian air force saw it on than a single day at the crash site. for buzzing the tower and other hijinks, but the peak, it mobilized a team to get to the In all, at least five expeditions have he’d joined Miami-based Eastern only a few crash site, but a storm had dumped several climbed Illimani in search of the wreckage months before, and during a tricky approach feet of snow, and avalanches turned them over the past 30 years. None of them found in the middle of a thunderstorm would not back. The Bolivian team was soon followed any bodies or flight recorders, nor could by representatives of the U.S. embassy in anybody establish what brought down the have been the moment to chime in. On January 1, 1985, the mostly empty La Paz and those from the National Trans- plane. Officially, it was designated a “conBoeing 727 was headed from Asunción, Par- portation Safety Board trolled flight into terrain,” aguay, to Miami, with stopovers in Bolivia (NTSB) and the Airline Piwhich means it couldn’t be A team of and Ecuador. Landing in La Paz was always lots Association (ALPA), blamed on a bird strike or difficult. Ground controllers there had no the two organizations reengine malfunction or alpinists couldn’t an radar—and what navigational equipment sponsible for investigating hijackers. The NTSB ultilocate the they did have was spotty—so they relied on crashes by U.S. airlines. mately filed its own report the cockpit crew to track their own position. But none of them were acto supplement the Bolivian plane’s black At 13,325 feet, El Alto International, which climatized enough to do one, but it came to the same box. Stranger serves La Paz, is the highest international any climbing. The agencies flat conclusion: the plane airport in the world. The air is so thin that asked to borrow a highthan that, no one was destroyed because it planes land at 200 miles per hour because altitude helicopter from ran into a mountain. found any bodies they would fall out of the sky at the usual Peru, but Bolivia wouldn’t As time passed, however, 140. Air brakes find less purchase here, so allow it inside the country. details emerged that invited at the crash site. “The Bolivian governthe runway is more than twice the normal speculation among South Or blood. length. The airport is so high that, as the ment did not want the world American journalists, the plane dropped toward La Paz, the pilots to know that the Peruvians families of the victims, and would have worn oxygen masks until they had a better heli copter anyone else still following reached the gate, per FAA regulations. Pas- than they did,” says Bud Leppard, chairman the story. The flight crashed because of an sengers would have felt the altitude’s effects of the ALPA Accident Analysis Board, who equipment malfunction; no, the crew was as the cabin depressurized: increased heart departed for La Paz immediately after hear- new to the route and flying in bad weather; ing about the crash. Eventually permission no, the Paraguayan mafia blew it up because rate, deeper breaths, fuzzy thoughts. The last anyone heard from the jet was at was granted, and Leppard devised a plan to the country’s richest man was on board; no, 8:38 P.M. Eastern time. According to ground reach the crash site by jumping off the heli- Eastern Air Lines was running drugs; no, it controllers, the flight was about 30 miles copter as it flew above the ground at 21,000 was an attempted political assassination— from the airport and cruising on track at feet, then skiing down to the plane. Better someone took down the flight to get at the roughly 20,000 feet. It was cleared to de- judgment prevailed when he realized that U.S. ambassador to Paraguay, Arthur Davis, scend to 18,000 feet when it plowed straight the chopper couldn’t hover at that altitude. who was supposed to be aboard but changed into a mountain. Sikorsky Aircraft shipped an experimental his plans at the last minute. Mount Illimani, a 21,122-foot mass of high-altitude helicopter to Bolivia that could The thing is, even the more outlandish rocks and glaciers rising from the eastern drop Leppard off at the crash site, but the theories had some ring of truth. Five mem-
BY THE TIME IT CRASHED,
Dan Futrell (left) and Isaac Stoner in Cambridge, Massachusetts
bers of Paraguay’s prominent Matalón family, who built an empire selling home appliances, were on the flight. The wife of the U.S. ambassador to Paraguay—Marian Davis, who had continued on without her husband—died in the crash. In 1986, a criminal indictment against 22 Eastern baggage handlers revealed that, for three years, the airline had indeed been used to deliver weekly shipments of 300 pounds of cocaine from South America to Miami. (Eastern declared bankruptcy in 1989 and dissolved in 1991.) So the mystery deepened. Theories festered and grew. Where were the flight recorders? Where were the bodies? One of the more comprehensive explanations came from George Jehn, a former Eastern pilot who published a 2014 book about the crash called Final Destination: Disaster. In it he theorizes that a bomb went off, depressurized the plane, and sucked all the bodies out of the cabin. Then he speculates that either Eastern or the NTSB hired Bernardo Guarachi to get rid of the flight recorders as a way of halting further inquiry into the crash, for fear that a full investigation would have revealed that the airline was running drugs for President Ronald Reagan. It’s a convoluted plot, too far-fetched to take
seriously, but seductive as hell to those looking to explain the inexplicable. “Not one body, not one body part, no bloodstains. Why not?” Jehn said when we spoke in May. “It’s the single greatest aviation mystery of the 20th century.” But the case of Flight 980 is about as cold as they come. Any remaining clues have been locked in the ice of a Bolivian glacier for decades. Trying to solve it would combine the dangers of high-altitude mountaineering with the long odds of treasure hunting— a losing hand almost every time. So here’s another question worth asking: What sort of foolhardy seeker suddenly takes an interest in a 30-year-old plane crash? DAN FUTRELL IS an affable, loud, heart-onhis-sleeve kind of guy. Impulsive. Persistent. In college he was the Gonzaga bulldog mascot at basketball games, dancing and making costumed mischief during time-outs. After graduating in 2007, he served two tours in Iraq. He completed Army Ranger School but decided to move on to civilian life. Now 33, he manages people and spreadsheets for an Internet company in Boston, where he lives. To say that he misses the physical challenge of soldiering is an understatement,
but that’s his preface when you ask him what kicked off his interest in the crash. Since leaving the Army, he’s made a habit of regularly scheduling sufferfests—he once took aim at all seven peaks in New England named after presidents and bagged them in one day. A little more than a year ago, he stumbled across a Wikipedia list of unrecovered flight recorders. Next to Eastern Air Lines Flight 980, the article listed “inaccessible terrain” as the reason the flight recorders had never been found. “Challenge accepted,” he wrote on his blog. Isaac Stoner, Dan’s roommate, was the first to hear his let’s-go-find-it sales pitch. Though they’ve known each other only two years, they act and argue like brothers. But where Dan has dark hair, weary eyes, and an expressive face with many angles, Isaac has the blond hair and classically handsome features of a small-market news anchor. Dan is spontaneous and emotional; Isaac is calm and analytical. After the Army, Dan attended grad school at Harvard; Isaac worked in biotech and then went to MIT. Finding the box sounded pretty good to Isaac. And it took priority over their other screwball ideas, like running a marathon in a suit or attempting to set the world record in
the pieathlon, a 3.14-mile race in which you eat a whole pie. Most people still tracking this plane crash have deeply personal, often tragic reasons to care about it but very little capacity for travel and risk. Dan and Isaac had no reason but the adventure. They had no sponsorships, benefactors, or Kickstarter funding—just a crazy plan, a bit of money in the bank, and two weeks’ vacation. The first step was to divvy up the responsibilities. Dan was in charge of learning about the crash and its history, figuring out where to start searching, and blogging about the trip. Isaac researched the altitude, weather, skills they’d need to learn, and contingencies if things didn’t go smoothly—in short, he was tasked with keeping them alive. They embarked on a five-month training plan that consisted of running stairs at the Harvard football stadium and sleeping in a Hypoxico altitude-simulation tent. Four weeks before wheels up, a friend of a friend sent me a link to their blog and relayed that they’d be happy to have me along. Two days ert Rauch, has fallen asleep in his camping later, I was on the phone ordering my own chair. Fifty-nine years old, born in Germany altitude tent. but living in Bolivia for the past 20 years, Our primary search area was not the crash Robert has pioneered more than a hundred site itself, but a roughly one-square-mile routes in the country, including three on patch of glacial moraine 3,000 feet below Illimani’s south side. His house has an enit. Flight 980 hit a saddle on the south tire room devoted to equipment for different side of Illimani, near the top, and for the kinds of pull-ups. He does not own a couch. past 31 years plane parts have been sliding Dan calls him “the most interesting guide down the mountain in icein the world.” falls, plunging over a cliff, Rauch had taken an in“Not one and then slowly grinding terest in the crash as well. downhill toward a glacier He’d traveled through the body, not one at the bottom. debris field while scoutbody part, no The Bolivian summer ing routes on Illimani and and fall of 2016 (the Norththought that a concerted, bloodstains. ern Hemisphere’s winter methodical search of the Why not?” said and spring) had been warm area might turn up the reand rainy, and we were told corders and bodies. “The former Eastern that the glacier had melted whole area will lie in front pilot George far up the mountain. The of us like a Google map,” moraine—and the wreckhe’d written in an e-mail. Jehn.“It’s the age—was more exposed A few minutes later, our single greatest than ever. We planned to expedition’s cook, Jose spend four days searching Lazo, shows up. He’s Ayaviation mystery the debris field at about mara—one of Bolivia’s inof the 20th 16,000 feet, then another digenous peoples—and he searching the original crash and Robert are soon tellcentury.” site at 19,600 feet. ing stories about the time Which is how we find Jose was chased by a bear, ourselves standing amid a heap of rental gear the time Robert was chased by a condor, the in a climbing shop in La Paz, three days after time an angry mob chased the two of them leaving the U.S. Off to one side, I’m nauseous out of Jose’s village and they fled 300 miles and dizzy from climbing a single flight of in seven days, crossing jungles and alligatorstairs. We’re at 13,000 feet, but to me it feels infested rivers to get back to La Paz. Dan calls like the summit of Everest. Isaac says it looks him “the most interesting cook in the world.” like I got hit by a large bus. He says he got hit Back in the store, Isaac is trying to conby a smaller one. vince Dan to rent warmer snow pants; Dan Meanwhile, our climbing guide, Rob- is rolling his eyes. Robert is down to his
Futrell and Stoner spent five months preparing for the expedition.
skivvies, having dropped trou in the middle of the shop to rub his sore left knee with an herbal balm he bought on the street. I’m still feeling queasy, resting on a box of something or other, when a climber with a man bun sits next to me and says that a week of wind sprints before we start will help me adapt to the altitude. “When do you leave?” he asks. “Tomorrow morning.” TO GET TO Mount Illimani, we tie our bags to the roof of a rented Land Cruiser and tell the driver to head south from La Paz, following the Irpavi River all the way down to 3,000 feet, where the air feels soupy and rich and our pulses finally find the low side of 70. I feel remarkably better. Then we cross the river and drive to 12,000. At least it’s a rest day. Our only responsibility is riding in a car and then unloading our overstuffed backpacks and duffel bags at Mesa Khala, an abandoned tungsten mine at 15,400 feet that’s a 45-minute hike from the lower debris field. As we drive up the other side of the steep valley, past an active uranium mine, we round a corner and see 50 yards of impassable rock blocking the road. “What if we just drive faster?” Dan says. We’re still two miles and about 3,000 vertical feet below our base camp at Mesa Khala, and we’re going to have to hike it. So much for the rest day. Dan and Robert walk to the uranium mine and return ten minutes later. “Cinco porters-o,” Dan tells us, exhausting his knowledge of Spanish. “They’ll carry our shit-o. Up the mountain-o.” This is great news, except we packed like
we were driving all the way to base camp, so even five porters won’t be enough. “This is how Livingstone traveled,” Isaac says, surveying the explosion of gear as we hastily jettison nonessential items—candy, notebooks, an extra stove, more candy—to send back in the 4x4. The ascent doesn’t kill us, but it tries. Jose sets the route, and it turns out that Aymarastyle climbing consists of walking straight up the fall line. By the halfway point, I’m resting every few steps. Four hours later, we’ve covered the two miles to Mesa Khala. Setting up camp among the ruins, we find plane parts that locals must have brought to the mine from the debris field. Scrutinizing and discussing each one in detail, we’re transfixed, as if this random piece of aluminum tubing or that tiny drive shaft or the mechanism from an inflatable life vest might shed light on what brought down the aircraft. The next morning, we hike to the steep glacial moraine that marks the edge of the debris field and find more parts on the ridge. It’s exciting. This is exactly what Dan and Isaac spent five months imagining a Bolivian mystery adventure would be like—scattered clues leading to a search area laid out in front of them like a Google map. In fact, it was only recently that this trip went from being a simple treasure hunt to something heavier, a story about tangible grief and unexplainable loss. Only recently did they meet Stacey Greer. GREER HAS a few very specific memories of her dad, flight engineer Mark Bird. Talking on his radio. Eskimo kisses. The two of them
Warm winters have exposed debris previously obscured by ice.
snuggling in his recliner. She was three years old when the plane crashed. “My mom didn’t really talk about it a lot,” Greer told me when I called her at her home in Fort Benning, Georgia, a few weeks before we left for Bolivia. “She just said that he had been in a plane crash. As a kid, your imagination runs wild. You always ask yourself, Why couldn’t he just jump out of the plane? Crazy stuff like that.” She didn’t fully understand what had happened until she watched the video of his memorial service as a teenager. “It was just my dad’s flight helmet and a picture of him. It clicked,” she said. “There was no casket. There was no body.” In the past few years, Greer, now 34, has started questioning the official narrative that the crash site was too difficult and dangerous to reach. She read George Jehn’s book and contacted him by e-mail; he sent her a link to Dan and Isaac’s blog. A former Army nurse who met her husband in Iraq, she forged a quick connection with Dan, who was also in the Army and raised by a single parent. But where Dan carefully avoids any mention of conspiracy, favoring a more straightforward interpretation of the crash, Greer seems to have embraced the idea. “It’s the only plane crash that has never been properly investigated by the NTSB,” she said. “And then a few years later, Eastern goes under.” In total, Flight 980 carried 19 passengers and ten crew. Eight were Americans, five of whom worked for Eastern, and seven were Paraguayans, five of whom were part of the Matalón family. There were also nine Korean
passengers and five Chilean flight attendants. With seating for 189 passengers, the crash could have been far more deadly, and Greer never heard from any of the other families. To her it felt like everything was immediately swept under the rug. The missing bodies aren’t so much a mystery as a sign that the general public stopped caring. “People need closure,” she said. “Imagine one of your family members on the mountain for years, and their body has been frozen over and over and over again.” ROBERT FINDS the first body part. It’s a femur, roughly 14 inches long and so dry that it’s almost mummified. You can see skin, muscle, and fat still attached. “That’s pretty gruesome,” Dan says. “It just sheared right off in the crash.” Encased in ice for more than a quartercentury, the bone likely spent several years sliding down the mountain from the crash site, several seconds falling over a 3,000foot cliff, and—judging by the milky white marrow still visible inside the bone and its location at the base of a rapidly melting glacier—perhaps only months in the sun before being found by us. It’s 1 P.M. on our first day of searching. “Shall we say some words?” Isaac asks. Sure, but no one can really think of anything. “Shall we bury it?” Dan says. They dig a small grave, stacking rocks as a marker. Not long after, we find another bone—probably a tibia. Then, a few feet away, cervical vertebrae with frayed nerves still visible down the spinal column. As we search, the temperature swings wildly between T-shirt weather in the sun and down-jacket weather in the shade. Every hour or so, a massive block of ice— possibly carrying more plane parts—drops off the saddle and roars toward us before disintegrating into a sugary white cloud. Our plan was to walk a precise and thorough grid. But the search area is longer and thinner than we anticipated, a lifeless alpine moraine filled with boulder gardens and ice fields, walled off on three sides by vertical rock. Sixty-foot-tall glacier fragments and ten-foot-deep canyons force us off our pattern. So instead we spend the morning scrambling between pieces of wreckage on our own, congregating whenever anyone finds something interesting. This happens quite a bit. There are plane parts everywhere. First we discover pieces of fuselage and a jet engine, then wiring and toggle switches and seat belts and children’s shoes. Then Robert finds a black plastic box. “That’s a black box,” Isaac says when Robert holds it up. “Not the black box.”
IN LA PAZ, the theories surrounding Flight 980 have less to do with missing bodies and cover-ups and more with the dubious rumor
Oddly, though, Jehn never actually attempted to find Guarachi, even though he’s a fairly prominent climbing guide in Bolivia and is open to being interviewed when I contact him. Born in Bolivia but raised in Chile, Guarachi returned to La Paz to look for work when he was 19. After being taken in by a more experienced guide in Bolivia, he went to Germany for formal training as a mountaineer and came home looking to make his name. He introduced himself at various organizations and said he was available if they ever needed help in the mountains. He tells me that a man named Royce Fichte from the U.S. embassy contacted him after a Bolivian plane spotted the wreckage of Flight 980 the day after the crash. They met at the airport on short notice—Guarachi didn’t even have time to grab a camera—and took a helicopter toward the mountain. By the time they arrived at Puente Roto, a base camp on the west side, there were already teams assembling from the Red Cross and the Bolivian military. The team stayed there that night, and the next day Guarachi and two assistants climbed to the crash site while Fichte stayed behind. Partway up, someone on the radio told them to turn around—he wasn’t sure who it was—but Guarachi insisted and finally got permission to keep going. After climbing to the saddle beyond the summit, he could tell they were getting close from the overpowering smell of jet fuel, but he couldn’t see the plane. It was only during
We see an astonishing number of con- that Enrique Matalón—then the richest man traband crocodile and snakeskins, which in Paraguay—supposedly carried $20 milwere probably being smuggled to Miami to lion on board in a duffel bag. be made into black-market goods like shoes In 2006, a Bolivian climbing guide and handbags. named Roberto Gomez got wind that plane Dan gets on the radio to tell us that he parts were turning up in the glacier below found a roll of magnetic tape. “This is either the crash site. If the wreckage was turning from one of the black boxes,” he says, “or it up, he thought there might also be a bag of has a great 1985 movie on it.” money. Gomez and his team spent three days Isaac and Dan also both find a few chunks searching the glacier. of orange metal, which is “The strangest thing we exciting because—despite found was lizard skins,” We find the name—flight recorders Gomez says when we meet are painted international in his office in La Paz. “But another bone— orange to help investigators it was a really sad scene, probably a locate them. But the pieces because we found a lot seem too trashed to have of children’s clothes, and tibia. Then, come from supposedly inmany pictures.” a few feet destructible boxes. As Gomez tells his story, Most planes carry two it’s clear that the Bolivian away, cervical flight recorders: the cockand American versions of vertebrae with pit voice recorder, which this mystery diverge fairly documents conversation quickly. The only place they frayed nerves among the pilots and the overlap is at the beginning, still visible engineer, and the flightwhen Bernardo Guarachi data recorder, which notes made it to the crash site and down the the status of the plane’s then clammed up about spinal column. mechanical systems several what he saw there. times per second. In his book, George Jehn Current specifications has a lot of questions for require that a flight recorder’s metal case Guarachi. “Was he paid? If so, who paid be capable of withstanding temperatures him?” he writes. “What was his specific misof 2,000 degrees, underwater depths of sion? What did he discover? Did he take pic20,000 feet, and impacts up to 3,400 times tures? Did he see or recover the recorders? the force of gravity. To hit these marks, the Why didn’t the NTSB demand answers to outer shell is made from a blend of titanium these important questions?” and steel. It also must have an underwater locator beacon that emits a ping for 30 days. These standards weren’t so rigorous and uniform in 1985, and we couldn’t nail down which type of recorders were on Flight 980, in part because the airline has been shuttered for 27 years. Most of Eastern’s planes used a model of flight recorder manufactured by Fairchild that recorded via magnetic tape. But not all of them. So aside from the color, we aren’t really sure what the black box will look like. Dan is adamant that the orange metal Jose Lazo in pieces are part of the flight recorders—but front of Mount Illimani they’re aluminum, not titanium or steel. The metal must be a piece of something else on the plane; the tape could just be a home video, stashed in luggage. It feels like our discoveries have only prompted more questions: What happened on all those other expeditions? Why didn’t they find any body parts? And could you believe all those snakeskins?
A frayed nest of wires found in the ice of the glacier
PETER FRICK-WRIGHT (2)
Digging out a metal beam
a tiny break in the weather that he caught a glimpse and hiked over. There was wreckage scattered everywhere. The team found open suitcases, papers from the cockpit, crocodile skins, and shoes. Fichte had described where the fl ight recorders should be, but everything was a mess. “When you went to the crash site, did you see body parts?” I ask him. “No bodies,” he says. “Not even a finger. But there was blood. The plane hit the mountain dead-on. Everything disintegrated.” They slept at the crash site and the next day got word that they would be resupplied from the air and possibly joined by another investigator, who would drop out of a highaltitude helicopter on skis—probably Bud Leppard. But during test runs, the maneuvers were deemed too dangerous, and the supplies never came. Guarachi and his team had to descend. On the way back down, they saw footprints at their previous camp. They had been followed, but whoever it was didn’t continue to the crash site. They just stopped at the camp and left. “I don’t think their intention was to rescue us or see what happened to the plane,” Guarachi says. “They were monitoring us.” At base camp, Guarachi’s team was detained by the Bolivian military, separated, and taken to three different tents. “They searched us all,” Guarachi says. “My backpack, even our clothing. They got us naked.” He told them that all he’d found were plane parts and snakeskins. They were taken by helicopter to the airport and interrogated again. The official Bolivian crash report states that there were no bodies or blood,
but Guarachi says that’s because he was too scared to talk about what he saw. “One of the men threatened me,” Guarachi says. “He said, ‘Careful telling anyone about this. I will ruin you.’ ” WE START HIGHER on the search field the
next day, marching with purpose toward the glacier. Yesterday it felt like the plane parts were in better shape the higher we climbed, so we start by searching the melting ice itself. Soon we’re finding wheels, pistons, switches, hydraulics, another engine, life jackets, an oxygen tank, cables, alligator skins, and tangled clusters of wires. Dan and Robert find a piece of metal lodged in ice, chip it out, and then decide not to do that again—there’s not enough oxygen up here to swing a pickax around. By midmorning we’re all thoroughly exhausted, and the novelty of new plane parts has worn off. Back at camp, it felt sort of miraculous to discover wreckage on a mountain, like each piece deserved our attention. But here, in the newly melted ice, there’s an almost comical number of parts. “I think something happened here,” Isaac deadpans. “Maybe a plane crash of some kind?” Dan responds. You can hardly sit and rest without finding something aviation-related in the rocks at your feet. Jose and Robert find a pilot’s jacket half buried in the glacier and start digging it out. Twenty minutes later, I find the cabin’s altimeter. On the way back to our packs for lunch, Isaac spots a lump of green cloth tied off with thick white yarn and begins to unwrap it. “I hope it’s not a body part,” Isaac says,
embracing the gallows humor that has become a mainstay of the trip. “No body, no body, no body…” I point out that it’s more likely to be cocaine. “Cocaine!” Isaac says, comically hopeful. “Cocaine, cocaine, cocaine!” It isn’t cocaine. It’s a brick of papers in a ziplock bag. And a 1985 Baltimore Orioles schedule. And a plastic toy. And some crayons. And pages from a diary? Oh. No way. This belongs to Judith Kelly. IN JULY 1985, Judith Kelly made the second private expedition to the crash site. Her husband, William Kelly, had been director of the Peace Corps in Paraguay and was on Flight 980, headed back to the U.S. When the NTSB’s immediate response was stymied by weather and logistics, Kelly began preparing for her own trip. She devoted three months to getting in shape, took a mountaineering course in Alaska, and then went to Bolivia. Kelly declined to be interviewed for this article, but she told her story to George Jehn. In his book, Jehn describes how she met with NTSB investigator Jack Young, who died in 2005. Young reportedly told her to move on and put the loss behind her. “Perhaps you could say that to someone with a broken arm or leg,” she told Jehn. “But not a broken heart.” Kelly took a few weeks to acclimatize in Bolivia before hiring Bernardo Guarachi to take her up the mountain. They arrived at the wreckage on July 5, and Kelly spent a day reading letters she had written to her husband since the crash. She had also collected letters from the family of other victims.
When she was done, she wrapped the package and buried it in the snow, where it began the same slow descent as the plane parts. Back home, Kelly lobbied Eastern to conduct a more thorough investigation. She’d reached the crash site without any problems, she argued, so there was no reason not to send another team. When that failed, she appeared on the Today show and said the same thing. A few days later, the NTSB announced an expedition, which embarked in October 1985, after the Bolivian winter, with logistical support from the Bolivian Red Cross. According to a report by lead investigator Gregory Feith, the mission was nearly its own disaster. It describes how, on the first night, porters delivered their supplies to the wrong base camp. When the two parties did connect, they found that the porters had brought tents for only four of the seven people and no stoves or fuel. “We were able to melt enough snow to make one pot of cold noodle soup that allowed each of us one cup,” Feith wrote. One investigator developed signs of pulmonary edema—a life-threatening accumulation of fluid in the lungs—and had to descend the next morning; another developed
altitude sickness at the crash site. Feith’s team spent a day digging through deep snow around the plane and located the portion of the tail where the flight recorders should have been but weren’t. It would be decades before anyone went looking for them again. AFTER FINDING so much—wreckage, body parts, Judith Kelly’s memorial—Isaac starts to think that the flight recorders have to be here somewhere. “A couple days ago, I would have told you—I think I did tell you—that I don’t really care about finding the black box,” he says. “But I find myself becoming more and more obsessed.” The next day, Dan is low-energy, but Isaac’s on fire, scrambling around the debris field trying to cover it all. We crawl through glacier ice melted into curious spires. We hop over crevasses and peer into glacial caves, because we’ve exhausted all the safest places to search. “Have you found it yet?” Dan and Isaac ask each other every few minutes. “No, but I’m about to,” the other invariably responds. At one point, Dan finds a human neck
WHEN WE GET back to La Paz, Dan and Isaac
call Stacey Greer. “Why didn’t anyone find it before?” she says. “It just feels like there are so many unanswered questions.” Indeed. Why didn’t anyone find the flight recorders on the first, second, or third expeditions? Who threatened Bernardo Guarachi and why? Who was smuggling reptile skins to Miami? What brought the plane down in the first place? Flying home, we thought we still might have a shot at answering the last one. We had that roll of magnetic tape Dan found on the first day of searching. And based on nothing more than photos we could find online, it looked pretty similar to what would have been inside a flight recorder. Before we found anything, the plan had been to turn all notable materials over to the U.S. embassy in La Paz. But with orange metal in hand, giving them to a bureaucrat
PETER FRICK-WRIGHT (4)
Clockwise from top left: Robert Rauch with a life jacket; an engine; Futrell and Stoner with the black box; the cabin altimeter
with what looks like a dog tag embedded in the flesh. But when he digs the metal out, it turns out to be just another piece of aluminum. “I was hoping I could get an ID,” Dan says. “But this unlucky guy just took some plane metal straight to the neck.” By midday we’re beat. Isaac walks 150 yards to his gear and barely makes it back to the group; Dan sits down next to an engine. I can’t stand without feeling like I’ve stepped onto a merry-go-round. We give up. Jose and Robert head back to camp to start dinner; Dan and Isaac say they just want to search a little longer. But instead of searching, they start digging up a metal beam angled out of the ground. When I ask them why, Isaac says, “I don’t know, I just started digging.” Just as we’re beginning to accept that we’ve failed, that we still don’t know whether the flight recorders were stolen or destroyed or maybe still covered in ice, that we’ve given up and will have nothing to tell Stacey Greer and George Jehn and all the other people who are still following the crash... Just as we’re coming to terms with all that, something amazing happens: Isaac finds the cockpit voice recorder. It’s on the ground, ten steps from where we ate lunch, a chunk of smashed metal sitting orange side down in the rocks. Isaac picks it up. Dan comes over to examine it. There’s a wiring harness on one end, with a group of cables leading inside, labeled CKPT VO RCDR . It’s bright orange, crushed almost beyond recognition. Like many recorders manufactured before the mideighties, its outer shell is made of aluminum. “This is it, this is the black box,” Isaac says. We’ve been finding pieces of it—of both flight recorders—the entire time.
seemed like a good way to get them locked you’re solving mysteries, the simplest exaway forever. planation tends to be the right one. After we When Dan and Isaac got home, they told got back from Bolivia, we knew that Guaraa friend who had worked at the FAA about chi didn’t steal the flight recorders and that what they’d found, and he said, “I just hope a bomb didn’t suck all the bodies from the you didn’t bring it home.” plane before it hit the mountain. As we reBy taking the flight recorders and tape evaluated the facts about the flight, a plauback to the U.S., they discovered, they had sible story began to emerge. violated Annex 13 of the Convention on InThe descent into La Paz, for example, was ternational Civil Aviation, a document that even more difficult than we first realized. In lays out the rules for international air travel. addition to the lack of radar at the airport, It says that wherever a plane crashes, that language problems sometimes plagued country is in charge of the investigation. communication between flight crews and Moving evidence to a different nation could controllers on the ground. When Eastern be seen as undermining that authority. purchased the routes to South America, it The NTSB told Dan and issued a memo warning Isaac that the Bolivian govpilots to exercise a “dose There’s a ernment would have to of pilot type skepticism” request the agency’s assiswhen in contact with the wiring harness tance before it could get tower. There was little on one end, involved, and it’s the only training on how to do this, agency with equipment to however. Before going into with a group analyze the tape. La Paz, the captain was reof cables Unfortunately, relations quired only to watch a video between Bolivia and the about the landing. Then, leading inside, U.S. are pretty frosty. In on his first trip, a check labeled CKPT 2008, Bolivian president pilot—someone who had Evo Morales accused both flown the route before— VO RCDR . It’s the U.S. ambassador to would ride in the cockpit. bright orange, Bolivia and the Drug EnFlight 980 crashed on forcement Administration what would have been pilot crushed of plotting a coup and exLarry Campbell’s second almost beyond pelled them from the counlanding in La Paz. Check try. Then, in 2013, Morales’s captain Joseph Loseth was recognition. personal plane was forced aboard but had been seated to land in Austria because in first class. of a rumor that Edward Snowden was on What’s more, the navigation technology board. Morales was so mad he threatened to at Campbell’s disposal was rudimentary. close the U.S. embassy. Nine months after the crash, Don McClure, I tried reaching out to retired crash inves- the chairman of the ALPA’s accidenttigators at Boeing and to various aviation investigation board, was part of a separate museums, hoping that someone might help inquiry into the overall safety of flying in us figure out whether the tape was from the South America. His report details a numblack box, but no one would touch it until ber of shortcomings, particularly with an the legal situation was resolved. Meanwhile, onboard navigation system called Omega. we couldn’t get any answers out of La Paz or He noted that on flights between Paraguay the Bolivian embassy in Washington. From and Bolivia, the system steered aircraft four June to September of 2016, we made phone miles off course in the direction of Mount calls that weren’t returned, sent e-mails that Illimani—though this alone wouldn’t have weren’t acknowledged, and mailed certified caused Flight 980’s impact. letters that went unanswered. Meanwhile, the aircraft’s other navigation “This surprises me not one iota,” George system, called VOR for very high frequency Jehn wrote in an e-mail when I sent him an omnidirectional range, relied on localized update. “It’s like that crash is toxic. Nobody radio transmitters that told pilots only where wants to go near it.” the beacons were, not where the plane was. “All the navigation facilities on this route CONSPIRACIES breed in the spaces between are so weak and unreliable that there is no solid facts, and unless the NTSB decides to good way to cross-check the Omega,” Mcfurther strain diplomatic ties with Bolivia or Clure wrote. Even if the pilots suspected that gets permission to look at the tape and finds they were off course, it would have been imusable information—and both scenarios possible to verify. seem pretty unlikely—there will always be Maybe none of this would have mattered gaps in the story of Flight 980. But when if there wasn’t also a storm southeast of the
airport. Maybe a more experienced crew would have gone south around that storm instead of north, toward Illimani. (Or maybe not—other airlines had maps of the valley with terrain hazards labeled prominently, but Eastern didn’t.) We can speculate that the storm, combined with lackluster navigation equipment, inexperience, and bad luck, led Flight 980 straight into the side of Illimani, but it’s still conjecture. Instead of case closed, it’s case slightly less open. Or maybe that’s missing the real point. In July, Stacey Greer was in Boston for a week of classes and met up with Dan to talk about the expedition and look at pictures of the debris field. He also brought a couple of small plane parts and gave them to her. “This is my dad, right here,” Stacey said as Dan clunked the pieces down on the table. “This is the closest thing I have to the last time I saw him.” When her young kids called at bedtime, she had them talk with “the man who found Grandpa’s plane.” Then she and Dan called her mom, Mark Bird’s widow. “Do you have any idea what happened?” she asked. “We have lots of ideas,” Dan said. “The problem is we’re no better than anyone else at picking the right one.” But now that there’s evidence of the bodies and flight recorders, and any notions of mysterious journeys to the summit have been dispelled, the questions we’re left with seem much less nefarious. Did a storm push the flight off course, or was it a problem with the navigation systems? Did the cockpit crew spot the mountain and try to make a frantic emergency turn? Or were they calmly pulling on the oxygen masks that they would have worn all the way to the gate? Were they sitting in nervous silence as lightning flashed around them and weather beat at the cockpit? Or was Mark Bird wishing everyone a happy new year and telling a joke? If his voice is on the magnetic tape sitting in Dan and Isaac’s O kitchen, will anyone ever hear it? PETER FRICK-WRIGHT ( @FRICK WRIGHT) IS THE HOST OF THE OUTSIDE PODCAST. HE WROTE ABOUT THE JOGGING BAN IN BURUNDI LAST APRIL.
For an expanded podcast version of this story with the latest updates, visit outside online.com/podcast.
[ ] pussies galore
There is an evolutionary death match under way in Hawaii, where half a million feral cats, some of them infected with a terrifying zombie parasite, are wreaking havoc on endangered . people call them the â€œkitties of . will do anything . P A UL KVIN T A .
word of a Hawaiian monk seal in distress in a . was “logging,” or drifting aimlessly, rather than chasing fish, flopping around on the beach, or doing any of the happy-go-lucky things associated with a nearly two-year-old monk seal. Such reports were not unusual for Barbieri. As the chief medical staffer with NOAA’s Pearl Harbor–based Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, she monitors the health of the species’s 1,300 individuals, the most critically endangered marine mammals in the United States, all of them found in the waters around Hawaii. She receives updates from dozens of beach-roaming volunteers who serve as her eyes and ears across the islands. Barbieri recognized the juvenile female logging in Ala Wai Harbor as RN36, the identifier on the tag attached to her tail flipper. But the volunteers called her Uilani, “Heavenly Beauty,” and she was something of a celebrity. The New Hope Canoe Club had adopted her as its unofficial mascot, both for her goofy antics and for her possible spiritual significance. When she appeared beneath a double rainbow at the club’s outriggercanoe-blessing ceremony, some called her an aumakua, a deified ancestor providing the team good fortune. Barbieri reviewed video of Uilani logging and considered the dangers monk seals face: Had someone fed her and made her ill? Had she swallowed a fishhook or been thwacked by a propeller? The next day, Barbieri’s team captured Uilani and trucked her to NOAA’s monk seal facility, where they took X-rays and drew blood. As Barbieri ruled out various maladies—no fishhook, no shark bite, no boat-related trauma—the vet began entertaining her worst fear: toxoplasmosis. The disease is caused by a parasitic protozoan, Toxoplasma gondii, and the resulting bodywide tissue inflammation means excruciating pain for the patient, followed by certain death. There is no treatment. Barbieri had flashbacks to RB24, another seal suffering from toxo a few months earlier. That case delivered a double blow to species conservation. Before triggering massive organ failure in RB24, toxo caused the pregnant seal to
abort her late-term fetus. Three days later, Uilani too was dead. A necropsy confirmed toxo. The demise of Uilani rattled Barbieri and her boss, Charles Littnan, the program’s lead scientist. Her death was the third from toxo in 12 months—not counting RB24’s fetus—and the eighth since 2001. Those numbers are significant when your population is declining each year in the face of global warming and other perils. Now toxo was nailing females of pup-bearing age. There was something else about toxo that made it especially creepy, in a Walking Dead kind of way. For starters, the perpetrating protozoa, T. gondii, can sexually reproduce only in the gut of a felid, a member of the cat family. An infected felid excretes the protozoa in the form of microscopic oocysts, and a single felid can poop out hundreds of millions of oocysts, although only one is needed to infect another animal. If a rat then consumes an oocyst, the protozoa can take over the rat’s brain and make it lose all fear of cats. Studies report toxo-infected rats cavorting in cat urine. Cats consume such rats easily, enabling T. gondii to replicate again. Barbieri and Littnan had no evidence that toxo was zombifying monk seal brains. Rather, the seals seemed to be collateral damage in an evolutionary death match among cats, rats, and T. gondii. But that was another mysterious thing about toxo—plenty of insect, bird, fi sh, and mammal species could acquire and carry toxo oocysts without manifesting any symptoms whatsoever. Why toxo killed monk seals nobody really knew. Nor did they know why, beyond Hawaii, toxo killed sea otters, spinner dolphins, kangaroos, and even humans. An estimated 23 percent of Americans have had toxo, and in some countries that figure reaches 95 percent. Occasionally, it produces muscle aches and other flu-like symptoms, and even more occasionally it can cause blindness and epilepsy in newborns, behavioral changes in adults, and increased miscarriages in pregnant women. For people with compromised immune systems, toxo can be fatal.
When I meet Barbieri and Littnan in Honolulu after Uilani’s death, we discuss the fact that Hawaii has no native felids. What Hawaii does have is feral house cats, lots of them. By some calculations, Oahu alone has 350,000, but Littnan calls that a “gross underestimate.” His program struggles to accurately count 400-pound seals on the beach. “Cats are small, elusive predators living in the forest,” he says. “And there’s been no systematic effort to count them.” Whatever their number, they produce billions of oocysts, and these wash down watersheds and into the ocean, where seals consume them through the food chain. “There’s a lot we don’t know,” says Littnan. “What we do know is that cats poop and monk seals die. You’re only going to reduce toxo by reducing the definitive hosts—cats.” IT’S DUSK WHEN I pull into a county park
on the island of Kauai, and cats materialize immediately. A gray tabby approaches warily from the shadows and parks itself 15 feet to my left. An orange cat squats off to my right, stares at me, then craps on the pavement. In seconds this pair becomes six cats, then ten. When Basil and Sue Scott arrive in a small SUV, even more cats slink forward. Basil works as an electrical engineer, and Sue is a retired graphic artist. But this evening they’re in volunteer mode for the Kauai Community Cat Project (KCCP), a nonprofit that cares for feral colonies on the island, with Basil serving as president. Sue, 71, has short red hair, and Basil, 61, has a salt-andpepper beard and intense hazel eyes. We strap on headlamps, and Basil retrieves a five-gallon bucket of wet cat food from the vehicle. “Let’s go,” he says. We troop across a field toward a stand of trees, Sue yelping, “Here, kitty kitty!” Glowing eyes appear everywhere. Had T. S. Eliot been juiced up on meth and YouTube cat videos, even he couldn’t have imagined the circus awaiting us in those woods: fat cats, skinny cats, black cats, spotted cats, darting in and out of the light, tearing through the undergrowth, rubbing against my jeans, sharpening claws on tree trunks, swirling about Basil. I count 50—no, 53. It’s hard to tell with all the coming and going. “There are 45 cats here!” Basil declares definitively, perturbed by my overestimation. How can he know? It’s raining cats. He and Sue begin spooning great globs of food onto plastic plates scattered about the forest. Cats swoop in, boxing each other out, hissing, gobbling up the smelly victuals as soon as the Scotts can slop them onto the plates. They introduce me around. I meet Forest and Badass. I meet Fluffy Tail. “This Siamese is new,” Sue says, examining a recent arrival that’s likely
Clockwise from top left: NOAAâ€™s Michelle Barbieri in Turtle Bay, Oahu; Hob Osterlund (left) and Makaala Kaaumoana in Hanalei, Kauai; Andre Raine heading to a bird-burrowing site; Bill Lucey at work in Kapaa
been abandoned. Grub distributed, we exit the forest with a dozen cats still swarming about our feet and parade to the next feeding station, 30 yards away, to shovel out more food. There are an estimated 20,000 feral cats on Kauai, and Basil insists that the best way to manage them and reduce their numbers is through a practice called TNR—trap, neuter, return. TNR requires caregivers to feed a colony regularly and make sure all members are sterilized, which means trapping each one individually, having it fixed by a vet, then returning it to the colony. Over time, through natural attrition, a TNR colony should disappear or dramatically decrease in size, or so the theory goes. The great thing about TNR, Basil assures me as we schlep through the woods, is that it suppresses not only cat numbers but also cat predation on wildlife, since a fed cat is less likely to hunt. He reckons that 3,000 cats are under TNR management on Kauai. His organization monitors 25 colonies, and he says that 90 percent of those cats are fixed. “It’s hard to get them all,” he admits. “People are constantly abandoning cats. That’s the major problem.” (It might explain why Oahu, with nearly a million human residents, has substantially more feral cats than Kauai, which has just over 70,000 people.) We visit a colony on the other side of the park, and Basil points to a nearby hotel. The parking lot there is a dumping ground for unwanted pet cats, and they keep streaming into his colonies. “The hotel won’t let us on their property,” he grumbles. “They say they want them gone. Well, they’d be gone if they’d let us spay and neuter!” He’s equally bitter about a grocery store that stopped him from feeding cats in the parking lot. Basil and Sue tried to attract those cats to a neighboring field, but locals ran them off, too. Now they feed the colony by luring cats through a hole in a fence behind an adjacent fast-food restaurant. Basil shakes his head. “These people just don’t get it.”
showing that cats continue to hunt even when fed. Add to that toxo’s deadly effect on monk seals and at least two species of Hawaiian birds. Plus, all of this is happening in Hawaii, where 78 percent of extinctions in the U.S. have occurred. More than half the state’s 130 native bird species are gone, and most of those that remain are endangered. “Approaches like TNR are ultimately designed to keep cats on the landscape, not to reduce their population,” wrote Chris Lepczyk, an ecologist at Auburn University, in an op-ed in the Honolulu Star Advertiser. “Cats are neither wildlife nor part of Hawaiian ecosystems; by any scientific standard, they are an invasive species.” And they should be managed, he argues, like rats, mongoose, and feral pigs, all introduced species that have devastated Hawaii’s native wildlife. But rats, mongoose, and pigs don’t have well-funded support groups. Cats do. On the Facebook page of the Hawaiian Humane Society, TNR supporters called S.B. 2450 “evil” and insisted that its authors were
THE OTHER PEOPLE who just don’t get it,
apparently, are scientists. Three weeks before I arrived, in March, state legislators held a hearing on a bill introduced by Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) that would have outlawed feeding feral cats on state land. Senate Bill 2450 received support from scientists and conservationists across the country. The case they made in favor of a ban seemed compelling. For starters, there’s not one scientifically verified instance of TNR ever eliminating a cat colony anywhere, not in more than 30 years of practice. Then you’ve got the peer-reviewed studies, lots of them,
Honolulu have ordinances against feeding cats in certain parks, but they’ve tolerated TNR colonies pretty much everywhere. After the senate bill’s death, attention shifted from the statehouse on Oahu to Kauai, where an unusual process was unfolding. The island’s county council had decided to tackle its feral-cat problem head-on, assembling a task force to investigate the issue and then a committee to draft an ordinance based on its findings. With more species of endangered birds on the island than in the rest of Hawaii, species found nowhere else, Kauai has been dubbed Noah’s Ark. A lot was at stake. If Kauai got it right, the ordinance might serve as a model for the entire state. I arrived on Kauai as the drafting of the ordinance, a year in the making, was careening toward an uncertain end. Everyone was pissed off, including Basil, the committee member at the center of the escalating vitriol. Before I part ways with him and Sue at the park, he tells me that, despite his bestfaith efforts, the ordinance process has been
the cat stops and looks directly into the camera for a second, its chin smeared with gore, feathers dangling from a corner of its
“involved with the devil.” When state lawmakers invited public comment at a meeting in February, more than 100 cat advocates flooded the legislative hearing room and delivered two hours of emotional testimony. One woman explained that she lovingly cared for 400 feral cats. She didn’t want politicians starving her kitties to death. Lawmakers killed the legislation. Had it become law, S.B. 2450 would have clarified the muddled legal situation regarding feral cats in Hawaii. On federal and state lands, officials have the authority to euthanize cats that harm wildlife, but with limited resources they target out-of-the-way wilderness areas abundant in high-priority species. They don’t focus on parks and beaches abundant in picnicking families. “You’ve got a big public interface at those places,” one state biologist told me. “You start talking about killing cats, people get upset.” At the municipal level, cities like
a disaster, and the committee had it in for feral cats from the start. He’s not optimistic that TNR will be allowed to continue. But that doesn’t mean he’s giving up. “The alternative is killing cats, and that will build resentment and anger on this island,” he insists, before leaving me with this: “Believe me, there’s a bunch of junkyard dogs out there ready to pounce. We will bare our fangs and make life very difficult for them. My side is famous for that.” THE DOMESTIC CAT, Felis catus, like all
domestic species, has no native geographical range. It goes where we go, and ever since it evolved from the Near Eastern wildcat 9,500 years ago in the Middle East’s Fertile Crescent, it has been on the move. Cats spread across Europe with the expanding Roman Empire as both pets and mousers, and they reached China via the Silk Road 2,000 years ago. With the establishment of European
trade routes and settlements in the 1700s, cats began crisscrossing the Pacific on ratinfested ships as indispensable crew members. By the 1800s, cats occupied islands throughout the Pacific. Prolific breeders, with females capable of producing two litters a year—up to six kittens per litter—they quickly metastasized. From the handful that reached Hawaii with European explorers, the population expanded so much that Mark Twain described their abundance in Honolulu in 1866 as “companies of cats, regiments of cats, armies of cats, multitudes of cats, millions of cats.” This global diaspora has exacted a gruesome toll. Felis catus has contributed to 14 percent of modern bird, mammal, and reptile extinctions. In the U.S., where the number of feral cats is ultimately unknown (some scientists speculate that the population rivals that of pet cats, roughly 86 million), the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute estimated that cats kill 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals annually. The problem is most severe in warm-weather areas
every inch of Hawaii, I spend a day trudging up a ridge through the jungle in a steady drizzle with Andre Raine, the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project coordinator. There’s not much of a trail, and we need ropes to traverse the mud-slicked vertical bits. But we arrive at the edge of a 4,000foot cliff in the Hono O Na Pali Natural Area Reserve, one of the most inaccessible spots on the island. It is in these soaring cliffsides that Newell’s shearwaters, an endangered species numbering fewer than 40,000 birds, dig their six-foot-deep, subterranean burrows. Equally endangered Hawaiian petrels dig their burrows atop the ridgeline just above these cliffs. We install motion-activated video cameras at several of these holes, giving Raine the ability to monitor bird activity during the upcoming nesting season. Later, in his office, we watch footage from last season. In one video, a gray tabby waltzes up to the camera, sniffs around, then dives into the burrow. It drags out a Newell’s chick and, pinning it with its front claws, rips it to pieces with its teeth. The next night it returns
live-trap and then shoot them in the head (methods deemed humane by the American Veterinary Medical Association). What’s never been attempted on Kauai, or anywhere in Hawaii, is an island-wide eradication effort, which isn’t to say that such efforts haven’t been successful on islands elsewhere. They have, on at least 83. Those campaigns rendered islands cat-free by employing some combination of leg-hold traps, cage traps, dogs, poison, hunting, fumigation in holes, and, according to one scientific article published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), “clubbing with sticks.” The article also notes that 19 campaigns did not succeed, listing such reasons for failure as “staff at the resort hid cats in their rooms” and “unable to kill animals faster than they reproduced.” After many of the successful campaigns, however, bird species returned or were reintroduced to the cat-free islands. Unlike global warming, deforestation, or any of the intractable problems decimating global biodiversity, scientists actually view the feral-cat dilemma as lowhanging fruit, a potentially easy thing to fix that could help wildlife significantly. UnforA juvenile tunately, even if Kauai’s rugged albatross at terrain didn’t make island-wide a nesting site cat eradication nearly imposnear Kauai’s Moloaa Bay sible, the IUCN article notes that, along with funding problems, “social issues appear to be the main factor limiting many eradications occurring.”
RIGHT: COURTESY OF NOAA
Monk seal RN36, a.k.a. Uilani, before dying of toxoplasmosis
plentiful in endangered species, like California and Florida, although Hawaii’s situation dwarfs all others. Toxoplasmosis has added a scary new dimen sion, and not just for monk seals. Starting in 1993, with only 12 Hawaiian crows, or alala, left in the wild, scientists released 27 captive-raised birds tagged for satellite tracking in a last-ditch effort to rejuvenate the population. But 21 of them died over the next five years, at least five from toxo. The remaining tagged birds were returned to captivity. The last known wild alala disappeared in 2002. To fully appreciate how cats have affected
and similarly destroys an adult. At one point during this slaughter, the cat stops and looks directly into the camera for a second, its chin smeared with gore, feathers dangling from a corner of its mouth, kinda like, “What the fuck are you going to do about it?” Adding insult, the tabby later moved into the burrow and birthed four kittens. “I have footage of them going into other burrows,” Raine says. “She’s teaching them how to hunt.” In 2014 and 2015, Raine’s team discovered the bodies of 48 Newell’s shearwaters and Hawaiian petrels killed by cats in the reserve. In backcountry areas like this, rangers target cats with fast-acting kill traps, or they
TO COMPREHEND Basil Scott’s pugnacious opposition to cat eradication, it helps to understand the rapidly expanding national TNR movement he desperately wants Kauai to join. There are an estimated 250,000 practitioners of TNR in the U.S. At least 430 municipalities have officially embraced the practice, including big cities such as Jacksonville, Florida, and San Jose, California. The crusade is led by several well-funded nonprofits like Alley Cat Allies and Best Friends Animal Society, the latter receiving $80 million in contributions in 2015, including donations from industry giants PetSmart and Petco. PetSmart Charities has given tens of millions to animal-welfare groups, and it has supported workshops on how to lobby local governments to adopt TNR. The message pedaled by this movement can seem enticing to local governments looking to do right by their feral cats. Given that more than 1.5 million cats are euthanized
in shelters each year, the mantra on the Best Friends website must seem heaven-sent: “In the long term, TNR lowers the number of cats in the community more effectively than trap-and-kill.” And it calls TNR “the humane alternative.” Before Scott commandeered the TNR mantle on Kauai, the island’s main feralcat advocate was a woman named Margaret Hanson, president of an organization called Kauai Ferals, to which both Basil and Sue belonged. In 2011, Hanson appeared before the Kauai County Council and urged members to endorse TNR. Not surprisingly, the council balked. Previously, the county had pled guilty in federal court to failing to protect Newell’s shearwaters, a plea that, among other things, led to a ban on nighttime high school football games, to the seething displeasure of almost everyone. (Stadium lights confuse Newell’s fledglings and cause them to fall from the sky, making them easy pickings for cats.) With those legal troubles fresh in their minds, the council members decided to consider more aggressive action. The Kauai Feral Cat Task Force first met in 2013, and Hanson was asked to participate. Hanson, 59, a gracious and practical woman, quickly found common ground with wildlife advocates on the task force. This didn’t sit well with folks in her own organization. As it was, she already had philosophical differences with Basil and Sue. Hanson had come to view the Scotts’ approach to TNR as flawed. For the method to work, to make cat colonies disappear, Hanson felt that all new arrivals (abandoned cats, new litters of kittens) must be removed permanently. You had to take them to shelters, some of which practice euthanasia. “Over time, Sue grew more impassioned that every cat needs to be saved,” Hanson says. “She and Basil were running open-air shelters, not TNR colonies. They were stockpiling cats.” Hanson says their colonies were increasing in size, not decreasing. This tension culminated one day in a vote by the Kauai Ferals board on whether to remove newly abandoned cats from colonies and take them to the Kauai Humane Society, the island’s only shelter. As an open shelter, KHS accepts all animals and euthanizes cats that aren’t reclaimed or adopted. No-kill shelters, on the other hand, don’t euthanize, but they do turn animals away, which can lead to them cherry-picking the most adoptable cats. The no-kill movement works hand in hand with the TNR movement, with groups like Alley Cat Allies promoting no-kill. “Alley Cat Allies says you should remove newly abandoned cats from established colonies,” Hanson says. But “the dirty little secret,” she continues,
is that many of those cats aren’t wanted by no-kill shelters. “What happens to old cats and sick cats if the shelter doesn’t take them?” Hanson voted in favor of taking cats to KHS. Everyone else on the Kauai Ferals board voted against. As a result, Hanson quit the organization she had founded. Basil Scott took over and renamed the group the Kauai Community Cat Project. Meanwhile, the Kauai Feral Cat Task Force issued its final report in 2014. It recommended a goal of zero feral cats on the island by 2025. To get there, it advocated a robust, county-operated TNR program with all colonies registered and monitored by certified managers. New litters and arrivals would be promptly removed for adoption or euthanasia. Registered colonies on private land would need permission from the property owner. After 2020, all colonies would be relocated to private property and then fenced off completely. The recommendations frustrated Scott. He blamed Hanson for capitulating to the
University when he studied electrical engineering there in the 1970s. But he wants to show me something, so he keeps it in first gear as we hoof it south from the Kapaa public library along an ocean-side trail. “This is all supposed to be critical bird habitat,” he scoffs as we run. “It’s a joke!” We lope past manicured lawns, past hotel gardeners with weed whackers, past ten women on yoga mats on a grassy rise, all of them in warrior pose, gazing out to sea. Scott stops briefly at a putting green. “Do you see any birds in those holes?” he asks, pointing at the miniature flags. “Wedge-tailed shearwaters nest in burrows in the ground. But I don’t see any wedge-tailed shearwaters, do you? Not in those holes. Ha!” Scott unfolds a small color-coded map of Kauai entitled “Sensitive Bird Habitats 2015.” Included among such habitats is the area where we’re currently running. The map is the work of the committee Scott sits on, charged with drafting a county ordinance based on the findings of the Kauai
On Facebook, the cat supporters alleged that the Kauai Invasive Species Committee could steal onto private property . . . .
wildlife crowd. “Margaret never argued a single point,” he says. Scott viewed Hanson as more than just a lousy advocate. In his view, she was one of the worst things a person can be—a cat murderer. After Hanson left the organization, Scott alleges that, out of spite, she trapped five cats from one of the colonies she was managing and brought them to the Kauai Humane Society, where four were euthanized. When I tell Hanson this, she produces a weary sigh and says: “Basil and Sue are going to say whatever they want. That’s what they do. I am not going down that hole with them.” I AGREE TO MEET Basil Scott one morning
for a run along Kauai’s east coast, although I have some trepidation. Scott’s not the type to do anything less than full bore, and despite middle age he’s trim and taut and competes in masters-level races around the country, having run cross-country for Duke
Feral Cat Task Force (which, to be clear, Scott didn’t sit on, and whose recommendations he despises). The map indicates that most of Kauai is sensitive bird habitat, a notion that Scott finds preposterous. “The conservationists on the committee literally argue that the Walmart parking lot should be designated a wildlife conservation area,” he says. “It’s unreal.” One of Scott’s main arguments is that feral cats living in remote areas are different than those living in or near towns. The well-fed “community cats”—as Scott calls them—in places like where we’re running simply aren’t the wildlife-destroying menace that their jungle cousins are. Sure, he says, remove the bloodthirsty kitties from remote mountaintops, but leave the town cats alone. If, through some fate of twisted mapmaking, town areas get labeled “sensitive bird habitat” (he acknowledges that our running route and the Walmart parking lot
have been so labeled because they are fallout areas for Newell’s shearwaters), then TNR is needed more than ever. That’s his other big argument—TNR works. Despite what Margaret Hanson says, Scott claims that his colonies have all decreased in size over the years. It’s hard to reduce them more than 50 percent, he admits, because of constant dumping, but you can’t blame that on TNR. “We need a public education campaign on responsible pet ownership,” he says, “not an eradication campaign.” More curious is his next argument—cats aren’t the main driver of toxoplasmosis. “The parasite sexually reproduces in cats,” he concedes, “but it also asexually reproduces in other species.” For example, he tells me that a couple of years ago, a nearby sewage-treatment plant overflowed into the ocean. “Toxo was in it, because people have toxo,” he says. “That dumped at least a couple of years’ worth into the environment.” The problem with Scott’s arguments—aside from the pet-abandonment issue, which everyone agrees needs addressing—is that the majority of the evidence doesn’t support them.“Basil’s an engineer, so he knows all the lingo,” says Bill Lucey, who heads up the Kauai Invasive Species Committee and also sits on the ordinance-writing committee with Scott. “But basically he takes a lie and he repeats it over and over. ‘TNR works, TNR works, TNR works,’ like if he says it enough it will come true.” Consider one study that analyzed TNR in two Florida county parks for a year, “Trap/ Neuter/Release Methods Ineffective in Controlling Domestic Cat ‘Colonies’ on Public Lands,” which appeared in Natural Areas Journal in 2003. Researchers found that reductions in cat numbers were offset by new arrivals, both abandoned cats and strays lured by the food. During the study period, they observed that 47 of 128 cats at the two parks were new arrivals, along with 36 dumped kittens. But rather than conclude that dumping had undermined TNR, the researchers determined that the “high number of cats and kittens that were dumped … confirms that the establishment of cat colonies on public lands with unrestricted access encourages illegal dumping of cats.” In other
words, the TNR colony likely caused the dumping. TNR fails to reduce cat colonies, the researchers concluded. Such studies are numerous. Research on a TNR colony in London showed no population decrease after four years. A study on a countywide program in San Diego showed no decrease after ten years. Scientists in
global warming, there’s no legitimate debate here. Without cats, say scientists, toxo cannot harm monk seals. “Only cats release it in their feces,” says Barbieri, the NOAA veterinarian. “Infected humans, pigs, seals— whatever the species, if it’s not a felid, the infection exists only in the tissues of their body. It does not make eggs and isn’t excreted
Basil and Sue Scott in their newly built “cat-zebo”
Rome found a 16 to 32 percent decrease in population size across 103 colonies after ten years but concluded that TNR was “a waste of time, energy, and money if abandoned cats couldn’t be stopped.” In 2002, after determining that TNR doesn’t work and harms wildlife, the U.S. Navy outlawed feral colonies on all installations. As for Scott’s contention that colonies near human habitation are relatively harmless, such cats are regularly accused of avian massacres on Kauai. In the summer of 2013, cats killed 60 wedge-tailed shearwaters near popular Shipwrecks Beach, the carnage stopping only after officials removed a nearby feral-cat feeding station. From 2012 to 2015, officials at Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge collected the cat-ravaged carcasses of 237 endangered waterbirds. Many were found at the northern end of the refuge, which is located across the street from a shopping center, a fire station, condos, and a population of strays fed by nearby residents. (Scott says there’s no hard proof linking colony cats to bird deaths in the Hanalei refuge.) Finally, toxoplasmosis. Like evolution and
in the feces of any other species.” To sum up: if I had toxo, a monk seal could get it only by eating me, not my poop. THE PH.D.’S AND other wildlife experts on the ordinance-writing committee explained this to Scott repeatedly in meetings, to no avail. They all complained to me that Scott was clearly using a different playbook. “He filibusters and obfuscates,” says Hob Osterlund of the Kauai Albatross Network. “It’s the same strategy climate deniers use,” says Lucey. “His initials are ‘B.S.,’ ” says Makaala Kaaumoana, of Hanalei Watershed Hui. “Don’t think we don’t use that.” Scott denies employing any of these tactics. Nonetheless, he could have had a supporter on the committee in Penny Cistaro, director of the Kauai Humane Society and a TNR sympathizer, had he not helped lead a withering—yet unsuccessful—public campaign to have her fired from the KHS. Cistaro has the unfortunate task of overseeing the euthanizing of several hundred cats each year, which continued on page 100 >
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FERAL CATS continued from page 95
she finds gut-wrenching. But Scott, who wants the KHS to end euthanasia, calls her the “queen of kill.” “Basil has made my life hell,” Cistaro says. In countering Scott’s argument that TNR is more humane than euthanasia, Cistaro and the rest of the committee had an unexpected ally—People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA loathes TNR. It views euthanasia as unfortunate but necessary. In graphic detail, its website lists the tragedies that have befallen feral cats across the country. In Doylestown, Pennsylvania, for example, a feral cat had to be put down after it was found with framing nails in the top of its head. In Elkhorn, Nebraska, a homeless kitten was discovered with its leg frozen to a storm drain. A vet had to amputate the limb. In Pittsburgh, a man was arrested after spraying bleach in the faces of two feral cats and then beating them to death with a hockey stick. This horror show continues on PETA’s website for 56 pages. As the ordinance committee reviewed the evidence on TNR, Scott could see the writing on the wall. The committee determined that most of Kauai’s 57 known feral colonies were too close to sensitive bird areas. In fact, there seemed to be few places not on private land suitable to relocate a colony. The committee set about establishing the strict rules regarding where and how TNR could occur. Realistically, though, it didn’t matter if Scott lost on the science. All he needed to do was elicit outrage from his group’s members and those of other pro-cat organizations in Hawaii; ultimately, the county council would hold public hearings on the ordinance, probably in the fall. Perhaps in preparation for that, Scott began providing TNR groupies with red meat. One KCCP Facebook post compared conservationists to Hitler and the killing of “outdoor community cats” to the Holocaust. In a front-page story in Kauai’s daily newspaper, The Garden Island, Scott alleged that the ordinance-committee meetings were being “held in secret.” Although the committee chairperson explained that the group needed freedom to brainstorm ideas, the paper sided with Scott in a sub-
sequent editorial and wondered if the committee was hatching “extreme, drastic ideas.” Then there was the KCCP post alleging that Lucey’s team, the Kauai Invasive Species Committee (KISC), could steal onto private property to confiscate peoples’ pet cats. Facebook mayhem ensued. “They have no idea of the passionate and dedicated cat advocate warriors they are dealing with!” howled one respondent. Others threatened violence. “They come on my property and there will be NO warning shot!!” posted one woman. Another declared, “Over my dead body. Time to get a gun.” That last response came from Martha Girdany, the vice president of the KCCP. Lucey was furious. His crew works doorto-door across Kauai to identify and remove invasive species of all kinds, and he accesses private property only with owner permission. “These are violent threats from unstable people with guns,” he says. “We’re rolling into people’s yards in KISC trucks. If we get one of these cat folks who’s been up all night reading Basil’s posts, that’s a potentially dangerous situation.” At the next committee meeting he got in Scott’s face. “Don’t you dare threaten my people again, understand?” he said. “You take that post down.” The post is still up. SCOTT INSISTS that all this could have been avoided had the rest of the ordinance committee not conspired against him. He suggests that if I want to see how real collaboration works, I should contact Inga Gibson, policy consultant for the Humane Society of the U.S. in Hawaii. For years, Gibson headed a cat-wildlife group on Oahu. “She was able to get Fish and Wildlife and DLNR and cat people to sit down and say, ‘Cut the crap! Let’s talk in a constructive way,’ ” Scott says. “Unlike our group, it actually got some good things done.” The idea of positive fellowship between cat people and conservationists seems refreshing, so I take Scott’s advice and seek out Gibson. Her informal group began meeting in Honolulu in 2009. There was no mandate, no pressure, just an effort to find consensus. “We didn’t have a facilitator,” says Gibson, who became the group’s ad hoc chairwoman. “But the meetings were rarely contentious or unprofessional.” For a while, members did find areas of overlapping interest. They agreed on the need for fewer cats on the landscape. They worked on a public-service video about responsible pet ownership. Then, in April 2012, a biologist named Eric VanderWerf discovered two nests of an endangered forest bird, the Oahu elepaio, in a strawberry guava tree near the head of the Aiea Loop Trail, ten miles from downtown
Honolulu. There are 1,200 Oahu elepaio left on earth, and the sparrow-size birds typically occupy Hawaii’s high mountain ranges. VanderWerf was thrilled to find a lower-elevation nest. He was less thrilled to find a cat colony 100 yards from that nest. When Gibson’s group learned about this, it adopted the situation as a case study. The kumbaya quickly evaporated. The cat people stressed that rats are the top threat to elepaio, not cats. True, said the wildlife people, but cats kill them, too. One cat advocate suggested feeding the cats more so they wouldn’t hunt. That’s a terrible idea, countered the wildlife people. Cats hunt; that’s what they do. The wildlife people suggested moving the colony closer to a nearby neighborhood. The neighbors might balk at that, argued the cat people, who instead pushed for a risk matrix—a probability model for discerning threat levels to the nest. Is the threat not crystal clear, asked the wildlife people? They wanted the cats removed. The cat people wanted TNR. No, said the wildlife people, TNR won’t work. So the group did nothing. That July, VanderWerf found the remains of a predated chick in one of the nests, and he hasn’t seen the adults since. He can’t prove cats did it, but he figures there’s a decent chance. The episode infuriated him. “If we can’t agree that was not the place for a cat colony, a stone’s throw from highly endangered birds, then we can’t agree on anything,” he says. Adds Chris Lepczyk, an ecologist who was part of the group: “When it comes to a head, cat people always walk away. They want the status quo. We were used as patsies.” Gibson’s promising cat-wildlife group subsequently disbanded. Curious, I decide to check out the Aiea Loop trailhead myself. I arrive at dusk. About 100 yards from the trailhead, near some picnic tables, I count 14 cats eating from plates hidden partially beneath bushes. At another spot, a couple hundred yards from the trailhead, I pull into a parking lot where seven cats are hoovering up fresh fish someone has dumped next to a pickup truck. The truck is occupied. I knock on the driver’s side. A woman slowly rolls down the window. She has a long blond braid and a deep tan, and looks to be in her forties. She’s wary. I’d be wary, too, if a stranger beat on my vehicle after sundown in a park. “I had some extra mahi-mahi,” she says, explaining the splattered fish at my feet. When I mention my interest in TNR, her demeanor changes. She becomes chatty. Her name is Julie Anderson. For 15 years she practiced TNR regularly and quit only recently. She had to. She was spending $300 a month on pet food. She was paying for
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mange and lice treatments. Her traps cost $90 apiece, and she had 15 of them. She was spending $5 a pop on spay-neuter, and she had trapped and fixed some 500 cats. “It’s super addictive,” she says. “I was on a mission.” She kept thinking that if she could just trap one more cat, the colony would be completely fixed, and it would eventually disappear. Her work would be done. “But there’s never just one more. People would dump more cats. It was overwhelming.” Her partner financed everything. “After a while he couldn’t pay the mortgage,” she says. “We lost the house.” He moved in to her condo. “We thought we would lose the condo, too, unless we pulled ourselves together. All the money was going to the cats.” NOT SURPRISINGLY, the questionable be-
havior of some TNR advocates has caused at least one member of Kauai’s ordinance committee to point to toxo. Research has linked toxoplasmosis to all manner of psychological issues, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, neuroticism, and suicidal tendencies. Toxo increases production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, scientists say, which can promote reward seeking and risk taking. A study this year found that adults with intermittent ex-
plosive disorder, which involves impulsive outbursts of verbal or physical aggression, were twice as likely to be infected with toxo. Makaala Kaaumoana, of Hanalei Watershed Hui, says that before serving on the task force and the ordinance committee, she wasn’t familiar with TNR advocates. “Some display very bad behavior,” she says. “Why would perfectly reasonable people in other aspects of their life act like that?” For his part, Scott says that he has tested negative for toxo. He’s simply a fighter, he insists. “I’m like Rocky in those committee meetings,” he says. “But it’s like one Rocky fighting seven Apollo Creeds.” By the end of the summer, the fight had only escalated. Scott had joined with five national TNR groups to help draft an altogether different, TNR-centric ordinance, one he submitted to the county. Wildlife advocates, on the other hand, had linked their cause to arguably the most powerful cultural force on the island—the return of Friday-night high school football. If banning TNR and removing feral cats successfully lowered colony numbers, the argument went, then maybe stadium lights could shine again. There’d be far fewer cats waiting to pounce on fallen Newell’s fledglings. One afternoon I visit Scott at his home. He and Sue live with 36 cats—12 indoor,
9/6/16 10:05 AM
12 free-roaming, and 12 inside a backyard “cat-zebo,” a ten-by-twelve-foot shelter constructed of wood, chicken wire, and corrugated plastic, with a pastel paint job. Cats lounge on perches and hammocks. Behind the cat-zebo, Scott is constructing a larger “enclosed rescue area,” a fenced facility capable of holding 40 cats. He says that he and others are setting up shelters like this across Kauai. They’re not surrendering the fight, he explains, but they do want a fallback strategy to save as many cats as possible in a worst-case scenario. “You’ve got colony cats that someone has spent his life caring for,” he says. “We can take those cats. Then we’ll tell the county, ‘Now it’s your turn to manage the O situation. We tried. Now it’s on you.’” CONTRIBUTING EDITOR PAUL KVINTA WROTE ABOUT HUMAN-KANGAROO CONFLICTS IN DECEMBER 2015. Volume XLI, Number 10. OUTSIDE (ISSN 0278-1433) is published monthly by Mariah Media Network LLC, 400 Market St., Santa Fe, NM 87501. Periodical postage paid at Santa Fe, NM, and additional mailing offices. Canadian Goods and Services Tax Registration No. R126291723. Canada Post International Publications Mail Sales Agreement No. 40015979. Subscription rates: U.S. and possessions, $24; Canada, $35 (includes GST); foreign, $45. Washington residents add sales tax. POSTMASTER: Send U.S. and international address changes to OUTSIDE, P.O. Box 6228, Harlan, IA 51593-1728. Send Canadian address changes to OUTSIDE, P.O. Box 877 Stn Main, Markham, ON L3P-9Z9.
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