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FEATURES

32 Run for the Sun Sure, we adore winter as much as you do, but let’s face it: somewhere deep in even the best ski powder, all thoughts turn to warmth and sunshine. Ready to take a break from the white stuff? Park your skis (just for a while) and head someplace where the latitude and the longitude require sandals and a swimsuit. By Debra Bokur

42 Dating in Dudedom The trials of being a single girl in a mountain town By Kate Siber

48 Fly Girls Women can compete in every sport in the Winter Olympics except one: ski jumping. A cadre of high-flying women is fighting to change that, but will they succeed in time for the 2010 Vancouver games? If all goes perfectly at their firstever World Championship on February 18 in Liberec, Czech Republic, they just might. By Kristin Bjornsen

cover photo: Gabe Rogel

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departments 28

64

10. The Dirt

72. Full

People, Places, and Things from Our Outdoor World Healthy retreats, the lowdown on base layers, how the cold affects your workout, yoga hybrids, skateskiing, and more

Girl in a Bubble Tales from the wilderless

30. Love on the Rocks

Thinking Outside the Heart-shaped Box How the virtues of chocolate go way beyond the decadent taste

80. Fresh from the Field

28. It’s Personal

My Pseudo-date with an Extreme Adventurer Our intrepid reporter goes on assignment to find out the truth: Can elite athletes actually make good boyfriends?

Getting off the Beaten Track Are you into lift-served skiing or hiking for your turns? Long, low-angle tours or five miles of vertical? Telemark, Nordic, or AT? If you have the answers to these questions, we have the recommendations for what to wear under your feet and what gear to take on your next backcountry adventure.

96. Editorial

Par-what? What fearless feat will you be attempting in 2009?

56. Whole Health

Power Down Think napping is just for kids? Think again. It could be just what you need to feel human again.

72

56

64. Yes, You Can Change Your Ways It’s a whole new year—and the perfect time to

kick that bad habit.

6. Behind the Story 8. Message from the Editor 94. Musings  Women’s j Adventure


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behind the STORY Founder/Publisher Michelle Theall

She hasn’t made a New Year’s resolution since she was 10, but Wisconsin-based writer Andrea Bahe still likes the idea of starting fresh on January 1. “It’s easy to be cynical about turning over a new leaf this time of year,” says Andrea. “There’s a lot of self-help literature out there right now that makes hyperbolic promises about how easy it is to change your life, yet experience tells us it’s not.” In her research for this issue’s Yes, You Can (“Change Your Ways,” page 64), she bypassed the quick fixes and instead examined how our habits are formed. “Thankfully, there are practical things we can do to nudge ourselves toward change.” Andrea is the former assistant editor at Wisconsin Trails magazine.

Editor in Chief Christian Nardi Creative Director Randi McEntee, RP Graphic Design Studio Editorial Copy Editor: Elizabeth von Radics Proofreader: Susan Gall Gear Editor: Karina Evertsen Assistant Editors: Bryn Fox, Mariko LeBaron Cycling Gear Editor: Susan Hayse Photo Editor: Corrynn Cochran Editorial queries or submissions should be sent to edit@womensadventuremagazine.com. Products for review consideration should be sent to karina@womensadventuremagazine.com. Nonreturnable samples may be sent to 1637 Pearl Street #201, Boulder, CO 80302-5447 Photo queries should be sent to photos@womensadventuremagazine.com.

When Kate Siber first moved from the East Coast to Santa Fe, she figured she’d return home in a year or two. Six years later that now seems unlikely. In “Dating in Dudedom” (page 42), Kate, now based in Durango, Colorado, writes about the trials of being a single woman in a mountain town. “The dearth of women here spurs a lot of desperate and silly behavior on the part of mountain-dwelling men,” she says. “If I learned anything from this story, it’s that if you’re a single gal in one of these areas, you really need to keep a sense of humor about dating.” Kate writes for Outside, National Geographic Adventure, Women’s Health, and the New York Times, among other publications.

Advertising Associate Publisher: Karina Evertsen West Coast/Rockies/Midwest Sales karina@womensadventuremagazine.com/303 263 2722 Northwest Sales: Michelle Theall michelle@womensadventuremagazine.com/720 635 1380 California Sales: Theresa Ellbogen theresa@womensadventuremagazine.com/303 641 5525 Eastern Sales: Susan Sheerin suesheerin63@yahoo.com/303 931 6057 Automotive/Food/Beverage Sales: Melissa Hickey melissa@womensadventuremagazine.com/303 588 4686 Advertising Managers Joanna Laubscher (Northwest): joanna@womensadventuremagazine.com Alex Ballas (Travel/Tourism): alex@womensadventuremagazine.com For general advertising inquiries, please see the posted media kit on our website or e-mail us at publisher@womensadventuremagazine.com. Office Manager: Lynne Boyle lynne@womensadventuremagazine.com Design Manager: Krisan Christensen

As someone who never clocks more than five hours of sleep per night, Atlanta, Georgia–based freelance writer Terah Shelton jumped at the chance to hit the hay (and decrease her sleep debt) in the name of research. “I’ve always underestimated the significance of getting enough sleep,” says Terah. In “Power Down” (Whole Health, page 56), she discovered the importance of keeping naps to the suggested length of 20 minutes. “I forgot to set my alarm clock and slipped into the third stage of sleep,” says Terah. “I woke feeling sluggish and irritable—worse than I did before I took the nap.” Terah’s articles have appeared in Women’s Health, Hallmark, Natural Solutions, and Every Day with Rachael Ray, among others.

Circulation Circulation Director: Rick Rhinehart If you’d like to carry Women’s Adventure in your store or would like to explore a partnership to help us grow our subscriber base, please e-mail us at rick@womensadventuremagazine.com. Subscribers and Customer Service If you wish to subscribe to the magazine, have a change of address, or have missed an issue, please contact Kable Fulfillment at 800 746 3910 or e-mail us at ddln@kable.com. Web Web Developer: Susan Hayse

The opinions and the advice expressed herein are exclusively those of the authors and are not representative of the publishing company or its members. Copyright © 2009 by Big Earth Publishing. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is expressly prohibited. Women’s Adventure makes a portion of its mailing list available from time to time to third parties. If you want to request exclusion from our promotional list, please contact us at ddln@kable.com. Outdoor activities are inherently risky, and participation can cause injury or loss of life. Please consult your doctor prior to beginning any workout program or sports activity, and seek out a qualified instructor. Big Earth Publishing will not be held responsible for your decision to thrive in the wild. Have fun!

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Editor’s Letter Here Comes the Sun I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where we’re blessed with 300 days of sunshine each year. There are a lot of reasons why I choose to live in Santa Fe, but I have to say that the high percentage of sunshine is at the top of the list. Here we are, smack dab in the middle of winter, and, yes, it gets cold here, at times brutally—but the sun is out and the sky is big and blue. A lack of sun is a nice thing not to have to complain about. I know abundant sunshine isn’t the norm during January and February, so, seeing how it’s so important to me, I present to you some rays in the form of this issue. Our travel story (“Run for the Sun”), which features eight destinations to bask in warmth in the middle of the cold season, is one obvious way. But then there is also Kate Siber’s exposé on the dating scene in mountain towns. What is it about these places that encourages arrested development when it comes to love and relationships? Even if you’re happily married and live nowhere near a mountain town, “Dating in Dudedom” will suck you in like only a good juicy story can. Considering these girls can fly, its ridiculous that there’s no women’s ski-jumping event in the Winter Olympics. Kristen Bjornsen’s article is about what it takes to be a professional in this niche sport and what the U.S. Ski Team’s women ski jumpers are doing to make sure they soar at the 2010 Vancouver games. You’ll be rooting for them by the end. Our features are guaranteed to give you a little pick-me-up for these short days. If you’re looking for a literal pick-me-up, check out Whole Health, which gives the lowdown on how power naps can do just that. And we couldn’t leave out a sweet treat: Full is about the virtues of chocolate, definitely a woman’s best friend on a cold winter day. So get comfortable, settle in, and enjoy the sunshine.

Christian Nardi

Readers’ Poll

Has our economy put a damper on your outdoor activities?

Yes, I don’t travel as far to get active outdoors: 29% Yes, I’m not buying new gear or apparel this year: 27% No, I try to economize in other ways so I can keep playing outdoors: 31% No, I’m lucky—the economic situation hasn’t affected me yet. 12%

Women’s Adventure Online Ë Check out our website’s new look at www.womensadventuremagazine.com.

Reader’s StorY When my four kids were little, it was a good day when I could go to the bathroom without someone banging on the door. I solved all their problems, from skinned knees to bruised feelings. These days the tables have turned. I’m the one knocking on closed bedroom doors and insisting the kids take a break from their friends and spend time together as a family. My oldest son, Ryan, had morphed from a good-natured, mile-a-minutetalker who loved helping with the little kids into an angry young man who balked at sitting down for a family dinner. He wanted to argue about everything. Casting about for an activity we could do together, I saw an ad for a half-marathon training team for a local charity. That was it: Ryan and I could help a good cause and in the process spend time together. After I told him the half-marathon was in Phoenix in January, Ryan’s eyes flickered. He hates East Coast winters as much as I do. He was in. Throughout the fall and early winter, Ryan and I were regulars at the neighborhood park. Most of the time, he would grunt one-syllable responses to my questions, so after a while I’d shut up and we’d jog in silence. But, still, he continued to show up every weekend. In mid-January we set off for Phoenix. Race day would eventually turn sunny and warm, but at dawn at the starting line the air was crisp and the mood was tense. Ryan wore a smile. A genuine smile that lit up his eyes— those deep, chocolate-brown eyes that used to look at me in adoration. At that moment I knew the guys up front would never catch me. I had already won this race.

—Margo McDonough

To submit your own reader’s story, go to our website.

 Women’s j Adventure


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The Dirt

People, Places, and Things from Our Outdoor World ≥ ROAR ≥ GOTTA HAVE ≥ health news ≥ The green zone ≥ ACTION ≥ OUt There ≥ Sports Clinic

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ROAR

Diving from Heaven On October 7, 2008, Carrie Holmes, 30, and a team of international skydivers became the first to skydive from above Mount Everest. With oxygen tanks and custom highaltitude jumpsuits, the 16-person team broke a world record when they jumped from above the summit and landed in the highest drop zone ever—at 12,350 feet in the nearby village of Syangboche.

When I heard about the Everest skydive, I was immediately intrigued and wanted to be a part of it. I try to have goals to further my skills on every jump. In an effort to continue to learn, I often jump with more-experienced jumpers and seek out feedback and advice from those in the dropzone. I became a part of the (Everest) jump team in December 2007. I have always been an active individual, but [to prepare] I upped the workout program, sought exercise advice from my trainer Josh Morse, and incorporated hiking on a regular basis. Because the Everest skydive required oxygen, which I had never used on a regular basis before, I took a course on aerospace physiological training that discussed the effects of hypoxia on the body. SkyDance SkyDiving in Davis, California, offered a HALO (high-altitude low-opening) program, so I traveled there to experience jumping with full oxygen equipment. I had previously lived at altitude, so I knew I was easily susceptible to altitude sickness. To acclimate, the Everest skydive team met in Katmandu and then flew to Lukla— the main starting point for treks through the Himalayas. From Lukla we trekked for eight days, stopping each night at local villages. Then we headed to the dropzone at Syangboche. It was the first time a plane had landed in Syangboche since the early 1990s. We were all staring down the valley, just waiting to see a plane. Finally, we saw a helicopter followed by an airplane, and we all cheered. Shortly after the plane arrived, a Russian M17 helicopter arrived with barrels of aviation fuel. Each solo diver did two jumps. The first jump was from 18,000 feet, with only a five-second freefall before pulling the canopy. The intent was to familiarize us with the equipment and the landing area. The second jump—the big jump—was from 29,500 feet. As the plane flew to altitude, I was trying to take in the moment and engrave the images on my brain so I would never forget. We flew close to Everest, and the scenery was jaw dropping. As we approved jump altitude, we switched from the oxygen system in the plane to our personal oxygen bottles. Chris Parsons and I were doing the first-ever two-way, meaning the two of us were linked on exit and held hands during freefall. Once Chris and I were linked, he gave a count of three and we exited the plane. We freefell for about 60 seconds before pulling our parachutes. The canopy ride was about five minutes before we reached the ground. On the 29,500-foot jump, the clouds came in after we exited the aircraft, and they covered the landing area. The moment I realized that I was going to have to find an alternative landing area was not a good feeling. I ended up landing above the dropzone on uneven terrain and sustained injuries: a compound fracture of my left ankle and a fracture in my lumbar area. The event was huge to the country of Nepal because there had never before been skydiving there. It was the farthest I had ever traveled and the longest holiday I had ever taken. It was the world record. And it was the first time these jumps were attempted. There aren’t many firsts left in the world, and it is great to be a part of something so rare.

—As told to Bryn Fox

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The Dirt PRO/CON

Base Layers Underwear. Worn next to skin, you want it to be comfy, resilient, and good for you. With the recent influx of natural fibers that give technical synthetics a run for their money, polyester is no longer our only option. So what should we wear under there? Here is a brief rundown of some of your best options.

Pro

Con

Can be soft and absorbent (great for perspiration or precipitation) with excellent temperatureregulating qualities.

Comes from sheep (vegans beware) and can be scratchy. Shrinks if you throw it in the dryer.

Cotton

Natural and durable, can be organic (look for the label). Comes from plants.

100 percent cotton wrinkles easily, stretches significantly when wet, and holds its wetness.

Bamboo

Cheaper and stronger than silk yet with a similar drape. Wrinkle resistant, shrinkage resistant, breathable, and can be washed and dried. Anti-bacterial by nature and a very renewable resource.

Bamboo manufacturing is currently done in China, where environmental practices do not always ensure healthy processing from plant to fabric.

Polyester

Can be recycled and often already has been (look for the label). Wicking, fast drying, and wrinkle resistant.

Can be scratchy, often smells when you sweat in it if it hasn’t been treated with anti-odor. Not a natural fiber.

Wool

Safety First! Chances are at least once in a while you find yourself lacing up your running shoes after the sun has gone down. Take the advice of Keith and Kevin Hansen, founders of the Hansen-Brooks Original Distance Project (ODP) and coaches to the top elite runners in the United States, to stay safe while sweating after dark:  Make yourself visible to traffic by wearing reflective clothing (flashing lights clipped to your clothes also work).  Always run against traffic so you can see oncoming cars.  Run with a buddy. Both of you can be on the lookout for traffic, and it will make it easier for traffic to spot you.

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Another Reason to Turn Off the TV A recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that when faced with images that cause us to think of our own mortality, such as watching crime shows on TV, we tend to spend more money. When our own death seems imminent, Americans start comparing ourselves with others in society, and this comparison ultimately leads us to start buying things and eating more to show our worth. So put down the remote. It will save not only your body but your bank account too.


Gotta Have

All-weather Tunes Rain or shine, you gotta have your trusty tunes. For a little zone-out time, no matter what the weather or your sport of choice, try out the new waterproof, glare-proof MP3 player from Freestyle Audio. Hitting the shelves now, the limited-edition Soundwave is totally submersible up to 10 feet, so you can use it worry-free in the pool and in the rain. This durable, skip-proof device is Bluetooth compatible, has a battery that lasts up to 15 hours, and has a cool new technology that ensures you can see the screen even in direct sunlight. The best part? This take-everywhere gadget is feather light but still holds 4 GB of your fav tunes—about 1,000 songs. So load up on whatever gets you moving. We won’t tell. What’s on your Soundwave is between you and your earbuds. $85. www.freestyleaudio.com

health news Does the Cold Affect Your Workout? Have you ever wondered about how your body handles cold weather physiologically? Is there a metabolic difference between exercising in cold weather versus warm? We asked Damian Sorce, MD, a Denver-based urologist who just completed his fourth marathon, how temperature affects the body—and how to protect yourself in colder climes. Maintain an optimum temperature. “For intense aerobic exercise, the upper forties–low fifties is an optimum temperature,” says Dr. Sorce. “When you dip below that, you worry about the risk of extremities being compromised; and when you exercise in warmer temperatures, dehydration is always a danger.” Cover your head. Mom always said that heat loss occurs mostly through the head. True? According to Dr. Sorce, it is

indeed. Research has found that at rest your body does not emit more heat through your head than any other part of your body, but once you start to exercise (shivering counts, too) circulation is increased to your brain, and it raises the amount of heat lost through your head from 7 percent (at rest) to 55 percent. The takeaway? Dr. Sorce says wearing a hat is critical when exercising in the cold. Don’t get cold feet (and hands). Physiologically, when your body needs to cool off, the blood goes to the skin and the extremities. The opposite is true when it is cold and the body needs to conserve heat. All the blood goes to the core and large muscle groups. So, if you’re exercising in cold weather, be aware of protecting your hands and feet. In addition to a hat, wear gloves and warm, dry shoes. Women’s j Adventure 13


The Dirt OUT THERE

Healthy Retreats The New Year is here, and after a season of holiday chaos you are probably craving a little “me time” to get you back on track. Whether you have an hour or a week, $20 or $2,000, a healthy new you awaits at one of these fabulous holistic retreats.

Breitenbush, Oregon

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Women’s j Adventure 15


The Dirt If You Are . . . on a Budget

Breitenbush, Oregon At this rustic community set among 154 acres of the Willamette National Forest, Breitenbush hosts 150 different workshops ranging in topics from yoga to singing. Nightly fees include lodging, three organic vegetarian meals, and access to the natural hot springs. Alternative way to visit: Once a month Breitenbush offers a traditional sweat lodge free of charge and open to anyone. Call ahead to reserve a space and be prepared to bring an offering to the leader of the ceremony. Lodging ranges from $50 for a bunk to $96 for a cabin with a private bath. www.breitenbush.com

If You Are . . . Ready to Pay the Price for Peace but Not Break the Bank

Ojo Caliente, New Mexico Nestled in the spiritual mecca of northern New Mexico, the Ojo Caliente resort was deemed sacred ground by the indigenous American Indians. The 1,100-acre property has trails on which to wander and mineral pools in which to soak. Get down and dirty in the mud bath, reserve a private pool for you and your honey, or get a massage. Alternative way to visit: If you don’t have the time for an extended stay, for $22 you can spend the day in the steam room, the mud bath, and the various mineral pools. Or stop in the resort’s restaurant for a delicious vegan meal made from locally grown organic produce. Lodging starts at $109. Full treatment packages start at $120. www.ojocalientesprings.com

If You Are . . . Ready to Splurge

Esalen, California Along the coast of northern California, the Esalen Institute, formerly known for teaching obscure topics to the likes of Aldous Huxley and Jack Kerouac, has evolved into the “it” spa. It is not uncommon to work on your inner peace while rubbing elbows with A-list celebs here. Though workshops are the biggest draw, you can also visit the meditation room or take a dance class. Alternative way to visit: Massage appointments are available (usually on weekdays) for $165, and with your massage you can spend up to two hours soaking in the hot springs before and after your appointment. The hot springs are also available to the public by reservation from 1 to 3 a.m. for $20. Prices start at $655 for a weekend workshop, including lodging. www.esalen.org 16 Women’s j Adventure

The spa at Ojo Caliente


Green Mountain Club

Appalachian Trail: New and Improved With the help of the Green Mountain Club, the Appalachian Trail has opened its fourth wheelchair-accessible location—the only one in Vermont. The 900-foot boardwalk descends through the northern hardwood forest to the base of Thundering Falls and then passes through the open Ottauquechee River floodplain. The project took three seasons to complete and cost $400,000, which included drilling 80-foot piers into the floodplain for the boardwalk. The 2,175-mile-long Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine. This newest section joins three other wheelchair-accessible areas, located in Falls Village, Connecticut; Vernon, New Jersey; and Shady Valley, Tennessee. A fifth location is under construction near West Point, New York. For more information about the Appalachian Trail, visit www .appalachiantrail.org. Wheelchair-accessible trail at Thundering Falls, Vermont

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The Dirt

Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health

SPORTS TREND

Yoga Hybrids Classic schools of yoga trace their roots back thousands of years, but recently a proliferation of newer forms have emerged, often fusing yoga with other established disciplines. Contact yoga, yoga with weights, even pole-dancing yoga are new forms that are offshoots of the more traditional practices. Here are three that could add a new, exciting dimension to your yoga routine:  YogaDance From Massachusetts’s Kripalu Institute, YogaDance was formerly known as DansKinetics, which began in the early 1980s. In its early form, YogaDance was more like aerobics, with steps, starts, and stops; but in 1985 Megha Buttenheim started morphing YogaDance to incorporate more aspects of yoga and dancing. Participants often work in groups of two or more, and people recovering from diseases such as Parkinson’s and forms of cancer have found the practice very therapeutic. “I think of this as a yoga of the twenty-first century; it’s about reaching out and healing through joy,” says Megha. If you are interested in YogaDance, check with a local yoga studio or visit www.kripalu.org.

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 QiYoga Started by Australian yogini Fiona Kaczmarczyk, this new form of yoga combines two ancient disciplines: qigong and hatha yoga. Qigong is a self-healing discipline from China and South Korea, which literally translates to energy (qi) skill (gong). QiYoga was created to combine the powers of qigong—attracting qi into the body for restorative energy flow and cellular healing—with hatha yoga, which promotes balance and harmony in the body. Supporters believe that QiYoga blends the best of both disciplines, bringing stress reduction, healing, peace, and balance throughout the body. For more information go to www.qiyoga.org.  Yogalates This blend of yoga with Pilates exercise was begun by another Australian, Louise Solomon. Pilates, started by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s, is known for building strength in the torso (or core strength) and increasing overall flexibility and stability. Combining the ancient spiritual practice of hatha yoga with Pilates is meant to enhance strength, stamina, aerobic capacity, flexibility, balance, and mental clarity. For more information go to www.yogalates.com.au.


THE GREEN ZONE

Ditch the Junk Direct mail adds more than 5 million tons of paper to U.S. landfills every year, according to environmental nonprofit organization Center for a New American Dream (CNAD). This translates to 1.5 trees per household per year—or more than 100 million trees. Further, according to CNAD, Americans will spend eight months opening junk mail over a lifetime and collectively spend $370 million each year getting rid of it. Here are some ways to help you green up your mailbox: Direct Marketing Association. Register with the mail preference service, and your national mail will decrease by 75 percent. This free service could take up to five months to take effect, but your preferences will be set for five years, and the organization will track your address change if you move. www.dmachoice.org Catalog Choice. If you’re unindated by masses of unwanted catalogs, this free service is for you. Start by collecting the catalogs you’re mailed that you don’t want, and then click on the Web site’s extensive list of participating catalogs to stop the mailings. It takes about 12 weeks to take effect. www.catalogchoice.org Greendimes. Matt Damon was so impressed with this service he joined the board. Sign up for a free or premium $20 membership, and Greendimes guarantees 90 percent less junk mail in 90 days. They’ll even plant a tree for every member. www.greendimes.com

n is for north

Each winter a cashmere snow blankets our 12 legendary ski resorts. The mountains of snow stand in crystalline contrast to the brilliant blue lake that they surround. It’s an unforgettable setting, where sunny slope-side days are topped by evenings of gaming, music and ski-town adventures. Log-on or call for flights and shuttle details.

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The Dirt ACTION

Ride a Bike. Save a Life. The infection rate of HIV and AIDS in Namibia hovers around 20 percent, and many of those affected by the disease have no access to medical care. The average inhabitant lives more than 12 miles from the nearest health-care facility, and without roads the difficult trip means that a vast majority of Namibians won’t get the medical attention they need. Enter the Bicycle Empowering Network, or BEN Namibia, a nonprofit organization designed to bring transportation and health care in the form of two-wheeled all-terrain bikes. BEN Namibia supplies bicycles and repair kits to various grassroots organizations to be used for things like home care for people living with AIDS. They supply bike ambulances—steel-frame bikes with removable stretchers—so patients can access health care in case

Training in bicycle ambulance repair, maintenance, and safe use in Kavango

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of an emergency, and they give bikes to children in remote areas so that they can attend school. Volunteers and staff then teach local residents the art of bike mechanics, which in turn creates new jobs in the community. Alongside the community efforts, BEN Namibia has formed a racing team of the nation’s most up-and-coming young riders to promote cycling in Africa and AIDS and HIV awareness. Through Team BEN Namibia, the nation is teaching young residents the importance of a healthy lifestyle. For more info or to send an old bike or a monetary donation, go to http://benbikes.org.za/namibia.


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windstopper.com 息 2009 W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. WINDSTOPPER速, GORE速 and designs are trademarks of W. L. Gore & Associates.


The Dirt SPOTLIGHT

Suzy Chaffee THEN: Suzy Chaffee began racing at age six. “My first coach told me I was a pretty little thing but was never going to make it,” says Suzy. “His putdown was a great gift because I wasn’t all that aggressive normally, so his words were the kick I needed.” The Vermont native set out to prove her coach wrong, and at age 24 competed as the top American skier at the 1968 Grenoble Olympics. Although she didn’t come home with a medal, Suzy captured worldwide attention competing in a silver ski suit that Mademoiselle magazine had designed for her. Suzy used her celebrity as a springboard for social activism. She championed Title IX legislation, fighting for equal opportunities for women in school sports. She was the first female to join the board of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and she served as a member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness under four U.S. presidents. Back on the mountain, she took up freestyle skiing immediately following the 1968 Olympics and went on to become a three-time World Freestyle champion. Suzy also starred in a decade’s worth of television commercials as the Chapstick poster girl and was inducted into the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame in 1988. NOW: Today 62-year-old Suzy resides in Tucson, Arizona. She devotes most of her time to the Native American Olympic Team Foundation (NAOTF), which she co-founded in 1995. NAOTF aims to welcome the tribes back to their ancestral lands to ski, snowboard, and share their sustainable wisdom. Through the organization, Native American youth will be able compete in the Winter Olympics as sovereign nations. They are currently seeking potential Olympians to participate. “These kids have a chance to develop their talent,” Suzy explains, “just like the Title IX March in 1975 gave women a chance.” And, yes, you can still find Suzy Chapstick on the slopes, teaching ski ballet, a form of skiing that she invented.

KIDS’ CORNER

Beat Cabin Fever

—Jayme Otto

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When you’re facing another day inside with your children, and your bag of tricks is running empty, stir up some icky, sticky fun. Here are some tried-and-true, make-it-at-home things to play with for those days when a certain fever is taking over your cabin. Play-dough This is a recipe for smooth play-dough that, if stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container, can last up to two weeks. When you are finished cooking the play-dough, you can divide the batch and make different colors. 4 cups flour 1 cup salt 4 cups water 4 tablespoons oil ½ cup cream of tartar Mix all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook and stir over low/medium heat until playdough is completely formed and no longer sticky. It will be stiff, so use a strong wooden spatula. Add food coloring to desired color saturation. Gak If you don’t know what gak is, think slime. It’s bouncy, squishy, and a lot of fun to play with. You can make opaque gak as well as a see-through variety with or without glitter. 2 cups Elmer’s glue* 2½ cups water Food coloring 1½ tablespoons Borax In a bowl, mix together the glue and 1½ cups of water. Add the food coloring and mix to desired color saturation. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining 1 cup of water and the Borax. Combine the two mixtures and mix well. *

White glue makes opaque gak, and clear glue makes it translucent. Both are fun!

The Perfect Layer

FREE STUFF

Free your arms! Gain mobility without losing warmth with this technical vest from Marmot. The Furlong Vest is made of a stretchy soft-shell fabric that repels rain and snow while still being breathable, so it doesn’t trap sweat inside. The light fleece liner keeps you cozy, while the abrasion-resistant fabric ensures you’ll be sportin’ your vest for many seasons to come. Don’t let the fashionable faux-fur collar fool you. This baby is ready for anything. Available in sizes XS to XL, the Furlong Vest comes in five colors and retails for $125. But you can win yours for free by going to www.womensadventuremagazine .com/marmot13 by February 28. The winner will be announced March 15.


Bead for Life BeadforLife is a nonprofit organization based in Boulder, Colorado, that works to eradicate poverty in Uganda by providing a means for women to sell a product to support themselves and their families. Sign up for a BeadforLife party and you will receive everything needed to host a gathering complete with beautiful jewelry, great food, and even music. At no cost (just a credit card to check out the supplies), you’ll receive the products to sell, a DVD featuring the beaders and their stories, Ugandan recipes to cook some indigenous dishes, and a CD with African music. All you need to choose is the wine. The beads are colorful and relatively inexpensive, ranging from $5 to $15 for bracelets and $10 to $30 for necklaces.

in thE comfort ZonE: Balancing tEmpEraturE

For more information go to www.beadforlife.org. La Sportiva Ultranord GTX® XCR® GORE-TEX® Footwear with XCR® Product Technology

When choosing lightweight trail running footwear, biomechanics are important, but we think thermal management is too. That’s why we created a footwear system that allows your feet to help manage your body temperature. GORE-TEX® Footwear with XCR® Product Technology is breathable, preventing excessive moisture buildup during intense activity. All this and you get footwear that protects you from wet ground conditions with the GUARAnTEEd TO KEEP YOU dRY® promise. Shop for trail running shoes from La Sportiva and learn more at gore-tex.com

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© 2008 W. L. Gore & Associaes, Inc. GORE-TEX®, XCR® , GTX®, GUARAnTEEd TO KEEP YOU dRY®, GORE® and designs are trademarks of W. L. Gore & Associates.

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The Dirt

SPORTS CLINIC

Lucas Gilman / Aurora Photos

Winter SKATE

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in thE comfort ZonE: pErcEption vs. rEality

Nike Air Pegasus+ 25 GTX® GORE-TEX® Footwear with XCR® Product Technology

A runner’s perceived comfort plays an important part in maintaining the strong physical and mental state needed to perform at peak. Discomfort can quickly become a distraction, potentially diverting energy and causing performance to suffer. The solution is GORE-TEX® Footwear with XCR® Product Technology. Runners of all levels need breathable footwear, which prevents excessive heat and moisture buildup during high activity and warmer conditions, while blocking all external water. The result is more focus on running, less time worrying about comfort. Shop for trail running shoes from Nike and learn more at gore-tex.com

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© 2008 W. L. Gore & Associaes, Inc. GORE-TEX®, XCR®, GTX®, GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY®, GORE® and designs are trademarks of W. L. Gore & Associates.

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The Dirt

Developed in the 1970s, skate-skiing is a fast, high-intensity workout. “Unlike classic cross-country skiing, which follows two grooved parallel trails, skate-skiing is done on a groomed track, and the skis are used in a diverging fashion (out to the side at a V angle),” says Mia Stockdale, owner of the Vail Nordic Center and a cross-country ski instructor. “It is very similar to the motion of in-line skating or ice skating but used with poles.” Curious? Here’s how to get going. Getting Started Skate-skiing is, for the most part, performed on groomed trails at Nordic centers. To find a Nordic center near you, visit the Cross Country Ski Areas Association Web site at www.xcski.org. Fitness Skate-skiing requires a good fitness base. “Cycling, running, hiking, swimming, and in-line skating will help with this,” says Mia, “basically, anything that keeps the heart rate up for a sustained amount of time.” Gear “The skis are totally different from crosscountry skis,” says Mia. “Skate-skis are fit according to your weight only, not your height. The boots have more support around the ankle and are higher than classic crosscountry boots, and the poles come up to between your bottom lip and chin. “The proper clothing is very important. Dress in light layers with clothing that breathes,” advises Mia. “Gloves, socks, and hats made specifically for cross-country skiing are great because they are the right weight and breathability.” Basics There is a lot of technique to master in skateskiing, so it’s important to take a couple of lessons at first. “Many Nordic centers offer women-only clinics and programs and are very reasonably priced,” says Mia. Until that first lesson or clinic, here are a few basics to get you started.

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Practice on dry land. Practice the skating motion statically (standing still) to get the balance, feel, and technique of skate-skiing. Put your skis in a V and then transfer all your weight onto your right ski. With a flexed ankle and knee, square your shoulders to the tip or your ski and line up your nose, knees, and toes so that they are in a straight line and your right ski is flat. Then tip your right ski on the inside edge (the left edge), flex your ankle and knee even more, and push off that ski onto your left ski. Here again, on the left ski, make sure your ankles and knees are flexed, your shoulders are square to the tip of your ski, and your nose, knees, and toes are aligned. Focus your eyes down the track. Focus on weight transfer. “Once you get the feel of your balance and weight transfer in that static exercise,” says Mia, “try the basic skating motion without poles on a flat trail. Transfer that weight to the right ski and glide on that flat ski. Then push off the right ski from the inside edge, transfer your weight to the left ski, and glide on the left flat ski. If you find it hard to get momentum forward without poles, add them for a little propulsion forward. The important thing initially is to be able to transfer that weight totally from ski to ski and to get some glide on each flat ski.” Taking It to the Next Level Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, “training as many days per week as possible is key to getting to the next level,” says Mia. “Also, video analysis is a great way to improve because you can watch yourself, and the video makes it easy to see what to work on.” Other ways to improve your skate-skiing techniques are: • Race. Pick a race or two. It makes you ski faster than you normally would and improves your fitness. They are superfun as well and are a great way to meet other skiers. For races near you, check www.xcski.org. • Intervals. Perform intervals (hard effort of one minute or more, followed by an active recovery period). Do them on the flats one day and on the hills the next. A couple days of intervals per week are plenty.

in thE comfort ZonE: GivinG fEEt a hand

Salomon XA Pro Ultra 3D GORE-TEX® Footwear with XCR® Product Technology

The engineers at Gore know that the hands and feet play a large role in managing body temperature during running. While runners can pull gloves off and on as conditions dictate, they need shoes that allow the body to achieve a thermophysiological balance across a range of conditions: cold, warm, wet and dry. The solution is GORE-TEX® Footwear with XCR® Product Technology, which allows the feet to manage temperature and humidity while remaining protected from weather and wet ground conditions. Shop for trail running shoes from Salomon and learn more at gore-tex.com

• Go poleless. Skate without poles. This improves your efficiency, and you learn to not rely so heavily on your upper body for strength and propulsion.

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• Hit the gym. Work out at the gym. Core work (abs and lower back) is key. Also, creating upper-body balance and strength will help you progress quickly on your skis. Work all the upperbody muscles—back, chest, shoulder, biceps, and triceps—but keep in mind that your front and rear shoulder and triceps get the most use.

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The Dirt is reported and edited by Bryn Fox and Mariko LeBaron.

© 2008 W. L. Gore & Associaes, Inc. GORE-TEX®, XCR® GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY®, GORE® and designs are trademarks of W. L. Gore & Associates.

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it’s personal

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Girl in a Bubble Tales from the wilderless

Jack Zuzack

By Kristin Bjornsen

The writer, front, steps over a crevasse while descending Peru’s Mount Huascaràn.

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“I don’t want to take Diamox,” I told my climbing partners before we headed to Peru to climb Huascaràn, the country’s highest peak, at 22,200 feet. Diamox, aka acetazolamide, accelerates your breathing rate and helps prevent or treat altitude sickness. My declaration was met with silence, then outrage. If I had wanted to ascend the peak naked, using a giant candy cane for an ice ax and a Victoria’s Secret thong as a climbing harness, their reaction couldn’t have been much different. “Why wouldn’t you use Diamox?” they asked incredulously. “It’ll help you acclimatize to the altitude.” I felt that for all my 27 years, my body had acclimatized fine on its own. Using a drug prophylactically seemed like cheating, à la steroids. My six partners, however, felt that I was being pigheadedly principled and possibly jeopardizing the success of the team by not using every tool at hand. Amazingly, the small Diamox pill fomented gallons of bad blood between us. (One partner, even now after the trip, barely speaks to me.) I’m not sure who was right. Is it cheating to use a drug that speeds up acclimatization? What about, on bigger peaks, using supplemental oxygen, fixed lines, and porters to carry everything, including the kitchen sink? What bright line separates clean ascents from sleazy ones? I won’t pretend to answer that. Mountaineers debate these questions ad nauseam, and the same gray area exists in every sport: baseball, cycling, track and field—you name it. Yet these questions point to a larger trend: a growing mistrust of the body’s ability to adapt. We rely on high-tech bling instead of innate coping mechanisms. Functions the body has performed dandily for thousands of years are outsourced to technology. The question is, As the body becomes obsolete, are we losing these adaptive abilities? I think I am. A typical Saturday hike: My temperature-controlled car takes me from my temperature-controlled house to the trailhead. I button up my windproof, waterresistant, breathable, zip-pit jacket; throw on my ergonomic, extralightweight backpack with internal CamelBak; and slather on SPF 75 noncomedogenic sunscreen. Our trekking poles click-clacking with an insectlike noise, my friends and I trounce up the trail (itself perfectly groomed except for a few muddy patches, at which spots people have cut to the side of the trail to avoid dirtying their boots). With my friend’s GPS-equipped, e-mail– capable, heart-rate-monitoring cell phone, we could, if so inclined, ascend blindfolded and, at the summit, order a low-fat, gluten-

free, one-third pepperoni, one-third veggie, one-third pineapple-but-no-onions pizza to be delivered to the trailhead. All dogs met on the trail are kept docile and perfectly well behaved on leashes, their puppyish exuberance tethered to our yeomanlike trudge. No wonder

What happens when technology fails: the GPS goes haywire, the camp stove breaks, and the down jacket falls in the river? the Sherpas in the Himalayas call us “butter people” for the way we melt at the first sign of inclement conditions. We don’t confine our domestication efforts to just ourselves either: a 2007 Science study found that less than 17 percent of the earth’s land remains wild. And with all that, still, my gear geekiness pales in comparison with that of most outdoorsy people I know. That’s not to say today’s adventure athletes are weaker than those of the wool-and-leather, pre-Gore-Tex days of Edmund Hillary. On the contrary, every day athletes are inventing new and remarkable ways to suffer—everything from climbing El Capitan’s Nose twice in 24 hours, to running 250-mile marathons, to hucking off enormous waterfalls, to someday being the first (toddler/ centenarian/potbellied pig) to ascend Everest (on a unicycle/while talking on an iPhone/ while naked—oh, wait, that last one already happened). Clearly people are as hardcore and masochistic as ever. But we may be too bionic for our own good. What happens when that technology fails: the GPS goes haywire, the camp stove breaks, and the down jacket falls in the river? Of course, wilderness survival skills—also often forgotten in the high-tech whirligig—come in handy. More than that, the body itself habituates amazingly well. At altitude, red blood cell production and breathing rates amp up, allowing us to survive at Mount Everest’s base camp, for example, with 50 percent less oxygen than

at sea level. In the cold, muscles warm the body by shivering, which doubles or triples the basal metabolic rate. In the heat, our millionplus sweat glands can produce 2 to 3 liters of sweat per hour. Without food, the body can often live for two months on fat reserves. Most of these adaptations get more efficient with repeated exposure and practice, although they still require time to kick in and the mental fortitude to grunt it out until they do. Gary Neptune, a climbing icon in Boulder, Colorado, gave a talk at a winter mountaineering class I took. Some of his advice? This winter, don’t wear gloves when scraping your windshield. On your next hike, don’t GU it, don’t gorp it, don’t eat anything at all and see how you do. Go barefoot for a day. These and other deprivations that take you out of your comfort zone help you trust your body and its ability to deal. Adding credibility to Gary’s words was the slideshow on his technical winter ascent of the Diamond of Longs Peak with only a can of mandarin oranges for sustenance. While I’m not sure I’m hardcore enough to follow the Neptune Way (I have a fetish for food), I’m trying to mimic it somewhat, especially after the Peru trip. I felt like a princess, with the porters jackknifed under the weight of our gear. The luggage contained essentials like tents and carabiners, but it also contained a glut of coffee filters, spare socks, and novels. Okay, maybe I didn’t feel like a princess—more like a pig. On one occasion, the porter, Juan, 55, was worried about another porter, Tito, who had stayed back with our teammate, Brad, to show him the trail through thick eucalyptus trees. Juan fretted about where the two of them were. “Do you want to call them on the radio?” we asked in pidgin Spanish. This idea was to fail majestically. He looked at the contraption suspiciously and then shouted into it as if calling down a long hallway: “Tito! Tito!” No matter how we tried, we couldn’t, with our Spanglish, get him and Tito to work the buttons right. They pushed the talk button when they should have released it, and they released it when they should have pressed it. After several frustrating tries, Juan abandoned the radio in disgust, climbed atop a boulder, and whistled for Tito. An answering whistle came from above. Problem solved. No batteries required. As for the Diamox? I ended up taking it. Prophylactically. I’ll always wonder if I still would have made the summit without it. But what can I say? Everyone was doing it. And the first pill was free.

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love on the rocks

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My Pseudo-date with an Extreme Adventurer Our intrepid reporter goes on assignment to find out the truth: Can elite athletes actually make good boyfriends? By Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan Andrew Skurka is a horrible boyfriend. I know this because of something he said about halfway through our first date, a hike up one of the pointy foothills framing Boulder, called Bear Peak: “I’m a horrible boyfriend.” This is a shame because Andrew Skurka is smokin’ hot. Not just looks-wise (he’s been compared to Tom Cruise, but it’s more like Mark Wahlberg with a dash of Eagle Scout); he’s hot because he’s a true adventurer. This is a guy who’s so great at wilderness travel that he actually gets paid to backpack—a guy who’s hiked upward of 19,000 mind-boggling miles in the past four years and who runs ultramarathons when he’s not plotting to rescue the world from climate change. He’s as inspiring as he is drool inducing. If you want to get technical, we weren’t on a real date. I was there as a writer, not a girl, and anyway he does have a girlfriend (Anya, a lovely lady whose taste in men must tend toward the masochistic). Andrew, 27, had agreed to take me on one of his typical first dates to help me ponder a double-edged question: Can obsessed, high-achieving adventurers really be fantastic boyfriends too? And, if not, why are they still so damn attractive? (C’mon, who among you hasn’t met a climber/ skier/mountaineer/whatever whose muscled excellence made you bite your lip and sigh?) That’s how I found myself following his Grecian-sculpture calves up a brutally steep trail one Sunday afternoon. The fact that he’d placed second in the Leadville 100 (as in 100 miles) a week before had slowed him down enough to give me a fighting chance of matching his pace. As we hiked it became clear that dating über-athletes isn’t like dating bankers or teachers or even the dude who works at the bike shop. First, there’s the worrisome fitness quotient: How can I ever keep up with him? Do cardio all-stars like Andrew even look twice at women without freakish VO2 maxes? His take: sure—what’s important is a love of the outdoors and a willingness to go out and play. But Andrew does employ a rigorous vetting process, and he likes to start on the first date. Turns out I’m the fourth girl he’s marched up this very peak. Pass the athletic prowess test, though, and you’ve still got to deal with a sticky truth:

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to a guy who pours everything into being an exceptional adventurer, you will always come in second. Andrew, at least, doesn’t deny it. “Sometimes I feel like I’m throwing a Hail Mary with women,” he said. Every last one of his relationships has hit the skids because of his all-consuming hunger for unexplored terrain, and we’re not talking the your-bodyis-a-wonderland variety. Part of it is that he’s simply gone most of the time. In the four months he’s been with Anya, he’s traveled to the Sierra Nevadas, Iceland, Seattle, Yellowstone National Park, Portland, and British Columbia. Even when he’s around, he’s obsessing over his next big project. “At heart I’m a good guy,” he said, “but it’s difficult for women to carve themselves a piece of this lifestyle.” And Anya? “Anya is a girl who deserves to be treated like a queen, and I’m not the guy to do it.” Hmm. Does this mean it’s best to steer way, way clear of these extreme adventurers? Anya told me to check back in a few months: “Maybe then I’ll say, ‘Don’t bother.’” Oh, but you know we will bother. The qualities that make elite athletes hard to love are

the very same ones that suck us in like magnets. They’re passionate, exciting, and dazzlingly good at what they do—a potent combination. And when that single-minded intensity turns its high beams on you, well . . .

C’mon, who among you hasn’t met a climber/ skier/mountaineer/ whatever whose muscled excellence made you bite your lip and sigh? Reaching the treeline, we scrambled for the summit. Boulder hummed beneath us; the Indian Peaks soared just ahead. Even after

all Andrew had told me, the spark between us was undeniable. No, seriously. “What’s that sound?” he asked. I heard it, too: my shoelaces were buzzing with electricity—the kind that portends a lightning strike, not imminent romance. As we turned tail and dashed for the safety of the trees, the hair around my face reached for the sky. “Wow,” he said when we found a sheltered spot. “That’s never happened to me before.” Oh, me neither, Andrew. As the high-voltage cloud passed us by, I realized: That’s just it. That’s why these guys are irresistible: it’s the possibility, however remote, that lightning will strike, that you’ll be the one who finally tames his wanderlust and outranks the adrenaline fix on his priority scale. “We very rarely stop this lifestyle on our own,” Andrew had mused earlier that day. “It’s always a woman. Some guys are just sucker-punched by a woman.” So date an obsessed adventurer if you must. He’ll probably break your heart, but maybe, just maybe, you’ll be his suckerpunching woman—and that’ll be an adventure for you both.

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Run for the

From left: climbing in Red Rock country, Nevada; Miami Beach; Saint Lucia, Caribbean

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Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport

SUN


Sure, we adore winter as much as you do, but let’s face it: somewhere deep in even the best ski powder, all thoughts turn to warmth and sunshine. Ready to take a break from the white stuff? Park your skis (just for a while) and head someplace where the latitude and the longitude require sandals and a swimsuit. By Debra Bokur

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WHERE: Miami, Florida Thanks to those steamy Latin influences, it’s always hot in Miami. What a lot of people don’t know is that this vibrant city in the sun is really a collection of neighborhoods. Decide beforehand if you prefer easy ocean access, trendy South Beach, an animated city address, or a hip, quieter spot like Coconut Grove.

The Coast

Local tip: You’ve got to have a car. Taxis are expensive, and the bus system remains largely an unsolved mystery, even to residents. Play here: Water-related activities, from sailing and kayaking to swimming and diving, are plentiful (www.playtimewatersport.com). In addition to the Atlantic Ocean bordering the east side of the city, there’s also Biscayne Bay, inland waterway systems, and the enigmatic Everglades close by. Even if it sounds hokey, the Swim with Dolphins program at the Miami Seaquarium is actually pretty cool (www.miamiseaquarium.com). Before you meet the dolphins or get your feet wet, you’ll take a short course on safety (for the dolphins and you), etiquette, and issues faced by dolphins in the wild. Plan a leisurely stroll through the Art Deco area and Little Havana, with their colorful architecture and kitsch décor. In Little Havana pause at one of the countless Cuban cafés for a bowl of beans and rice, served up with freshly baked rolls. For a different take on the city, sign on for a Moonlight Garden Tour of Vizcaya Museum & Gardens (www.vizcayamuseum.org). Eat this: Wander over to Green Street Outdoor Lounge and Restaurant in Coconut Grove for Steve’s banana pancakes or a serving of chocolate French toast (www.greenstreetcafe.net). It’s an area favorite, and you’ll know you’re there when you see the sofas and easy chairs on the sidewalk in front. For something completely different, check out Afterglow for dinner (305 695 1717). Located in South Beach, it’s known for its Greek-Egyptian beauty cuisine and eclectically healthy cocktails. Try the Beautiful Mind Salad with goji berries, coconut meat, and chai seed jelly. Sleep here: $$$ Luxury: The Mayfair. Surrounded by shops, galleries, cafés, and restaurants in Coconut Grove. www.mayfairhotelandspa.com; 800 433 4555 $$ Midrange: Blue Moon Hotel. Mediterraneanstyle boutique hotel in the Art Deco district, close to South Beach. www.bluemoonhotel.com; 800 553 7739 $ Budget: Indian Creek Hotel. One block from the beaches, close to South Beach and the Art Deco district. www.indiancreekhotel.com; 305 531 2727 More info: www.miamiandbeaches.com

Condos overlooking Miami Beach

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Note: Our lodging price breakouts follow this general rule per room per night: $ Budget, less than $100 $$ Midrange, $100 to $199 $$$ Luxury, $200 and up


WHERE: Tulum, Mexico Calling all chicas: Part of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, this friendly coastal town, south of Cancun and across the water from Cozumel (perfect for day trips), is more than a beachy haven. There are also plenty of nightlife and attractions plus some pretty amazing archaeological sites. Get details on easy, cheap bus service to Tulum from the airport in Cancun at www.travelyucatan.com/ tulum_mexico.php. Local tip: Mexico’s service people get a big kick out of being tipped with U.S. $2 bills, which they view as special. Because it seems to encourage better service, bring a stash with you. Play here: The Mayan ruins and temples at Tulum Archaeological Park are area highlights, but it can get crowded. Go early in the day, which will allow you to miss both the crowds and the peak heat, and enjoy El Castillo (the Castle) and Templo del Dios Descendents (Temple of the Descending Gods) to the max. Once you’ve had your fill of history, walk directly down to the beach to swim, snorkel, or just take a long, warm nap. A short ride from Tulum, Sian Ka’an Biosphere is a magical blend of lagoons, tropical forests, mangrove wetlands, and a 70-milelong barrier reef. The area, under federal protection, is great for getting a true sense of the place. Just south of the Biosphere, there are great beaches for diving, swimming, and sunbathing. For clothing-optional sunbathing, head to Tulum Beach north of the Biosphere on the road to Boca Paila, where you can rent cabanas upon arrival and refresh yourself at small food stands that set up here each day. Eat this: For Mexican fare in a rustic rain forest setting, head for Tun Tun, the beach bar at the Cabanas Copal Hotel, about a mile and a half from the ruins (www.cabanascopal. com). Besides the standards, the bar serves

From top to bottom, left: Dining al fresco in the Miami Art Deco district; a Tulum, Mexico, white sand beach; right: Miami beach from above; Mayan ruins at Tulum Archaeological Park

great margaritas—practically a requirement for any authentic Mexican getaway. Casa Banana’s, on the road to the Biosphere, has tasty takeaway but accepts only cash. At Zamas’s Que Fresco, you can enjoy local specialties, seafood, and wood-fired pizzas (www.locogringo.com/tulum/zamas.htm). Next door to the Zamas Bungalows on the road to the Biosphere, the restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Oh—and have we mentioned the margaritas? Sleep here: $$$ Luxury: Maya Tulum Wellness Retreat & Spa. Lush landscape, sandy beach, yoga,

ecotours, and a choice of garden rooms, ocean-view rooms, or beachfront cabanas. www.mayatulum.com; 888 515 4580 $$ Midrange: Om Tulum Hotel Cabanas and Beach Club. Nature’s the theme, along with affordable beachside harmony. www.tulumplaya.com; +52 984 114 0538 $ Budget: Zahra Hotel. Low-key ecoresort with 22 basic rooms and thatched-roof cabanas, set between two sandy beaches. www.zahra.com.mx; 1 888 898 9922 More info: www.travelyucatan.com/tulum_ mexico.php Women’s j Adventure 35


Larry Brownstein / getty images

The Desert

Taking a ride over the Palm Springs desert

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Palm Springs photo: Steve Casimiro / the image bank

WHERE: Palm Springs, California If you think Palm Springs is just the default address for poodle-toting socialites recovering from their latest plastic surgery, think again. With 350 days of sunshine each year, this desert oasis is a pretty great base for experiencing local natural hot springs, exploring serious desert terrain, and perfecting the art of pool lounging. Local tip: Palm Springs is located within the Coachella Valley Preserve, an area covering 13,000 acres. Besides the sand dunes, mesas, and hot springs located here, there are also networks of trails for hiking, cycling, and riding. Play here: If you start missing the snow (really?), take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up the slopes of Mount San Jacinto for a glimpse or to access the 54 miles of hiking trails of the Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness (www.pstramway.com). For a bird’s-eye view of the landscape, Fantasy Balloon Flights offers sunrise and sunset champagne adventures in balloons flown by champion pilots (www.fantasyballonflights. com). Prefer terra firma? Bighorn Bicycles has electric bikes for rent (760 325 3367); you can pick up a map of bike trails at the Visitors Center (800 347 7746). Or take a jeep tour along the San Andreas Fault with Desert Adventures’ Jeep Eco-Tours (www.red-jeep. com). You might just feel the earth move. Eat this: Azul, downtown on North Palm Canyon Drive, is the place to go for tapas (www.azultapaslounge.com). Try the spinachartichoke flatbread and chicken pot stickers. There’s also a brunch menu and plenty of sandwiches and wraps. For dinner Zin American Bistro on South Palm Canyon Drive has a good wine list and an interesting menu that includes braised free-range rabbit and tempura-battered squash blossoms stuffed with goat cheese (www.zinamericanbistro.com). Sleep here: $$$ Luxury: Andalusian Court. A Spanish Revival inn, this historic property is located in the heart of downtown. www.theandalusian court.com; 888 947 6667 $$ Midrange: Chase Hotel. Near the posh shops on Palm Canyon Drive, with a heated saline pool and complimentary continental breakfast. www.chasehotelpalmsprings.com; 877 532 4273 $ Budget: El Rancho Lodge. Close to town, with a pool, standard rooms, cottages, and studios with kitchens. www.elrancholodge. com; 866 762 2465 More info: www.palm-springs.org WHERE: Las Vegas, Nevada Not a high roller? Not a problem. There’s actually quite a lot to do in this glitzy oasis without the need for cards, heels, or feathery headgear. And, no, we can’t promise that will involve either George Clooney or Brad Pitt.

Local tip: Nearly all Las Vegas hotels regularly run last-minute discounts on unbooked rooms, so check websites for super, lastminute deals. Play here: Winter temps hover in the lowto mid-sixties by day and drop to a chilly 40 degrees F once the sun disappears over the sandy horizon. Desert outfitter Hike This! offers guided treks (private and group) through the nearby red rock country as well as rock-scrambling adventures with environmentalist and Nevada terrain veteran Neil Sobelson (www.hikethislasvegas.com). Take a swing through the desert landscape with Pink Jeep Tours, with excursions to Red Rock Canyon, Hoover Dam, the Valley of Fire, Death Valley, and Zion National Park (www.pinkjeep. com). There’s also some pretty good rock climbing nearby. For guides and rental gear, Desert Rock Sports on West Charleston Boulevard can hook you up (www.climbvegas.com). Later enjoy the full charms of Vegas with the free Fremont Street Experience, where a stroll among 12.5 million lights gives you access to free concerts, street-side shows, and numerous special events year-round. You already know about the casino options, but Vegas is also a regular tour stop for major music and theatre acts. Check out show offerings before you go, as tickets disappear quickly and you’ll want to book in advance. Eat this: The Peppermill Restaurant & Fireside Lounge (on the north side of the Strip, close to the Riviera Hotel & Casino) is vintage Vegas at its best. Besides the giant fishbowl cocktails (share only if you want to), the restaurant’s firepits, neon lights, and ’70s vibe are yours to enjoy from breakfast through late, late night. It’s diner food but with a more interesting backdrop. If you like it hot, Lotus of Siam (also near the Strip) is the place to go for authentic, award-winning Thai food. Don’t be put off by the shabby exterior—even Gourmet magazine has given this restaurant accolades.

From top: feeling strong on the trails around Palm Springs; Red Rock Canyon; the Hoover Dam

Sleep here: $$$ Luxury: The Bellagio. Home to those famous dancing fountains. www.bellagio.com; 888 987 6667 $$ Midrange: Red Rock Resort & Adventure Spa. Eight miles from the Strip, this resort sits at the edge of parkland and offers hiking, climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, rafting, and kayaking. www.redrocklasvegas .com; 866 363 2872 $ Budget: Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino. Centrally located with easy access to the Strip. www.goldennugget.com; 800 634 3454 More info: www.visitlasvegas.com Women’s j Adventure 37


The Islands

Sunset over Soufrière Bay St. Lucia with Petit Piton and Gros Piton in the background

WHERE: Maui, Hawaii If you equate the Hawaiian Islands with paradise, we completely support your definition. While Maui may have a rep as the ultimate wedding/honeymoon getaway, it’s also a pretty amazing destination for a low-key winter retreat for solo travel or an escape with friends. Local tip: You can take a dedicated whalewatching cruise, or, for a fraction of the cost, buy a ferry ticket for a day excursion to the nearby island of Lanai. You’ll cross the same channel of water where the whale-watching boats cruise, and you’ll see the same whales. 38 Women’s j Adventure

Plus, you’ll get to spend the day snorkeling or swimming on the crowd-free beaches of Lanai, where it still feels like “old” Hawaii. Play here: Drag yourself out of the ocean long enough to head inland to hike ‘Iao Valley State Park (www.hawaiiweb.com/maui/html/ sites/iao_valley_state_park.html). The park’s lush landscape surrounds the ‘Iao Needle, a tall rock pinnacle that was used as a sacred altar by early Hawaiians. Seasonal whalewatching cruises are offered by the Pacific Whale Foundation’s Eco Adventures (www .pacificwhale.org). Wherever there’s a beach, you’ll find a host of concessionaires offering

kayaks, canoes, surfboard rentals or lessons, and scuba and snorkeling gear. Eat this: For dinner head to the old whaling town of Lahaina. Make reservations in advance for the waterfront restaurant I’O— owned and operated by chef James McDonald, who sources his own organic farm on the island’s slopes for kitchen ingredients (www.iomaui.com). At Jawz Fish Tacos in Kihei on the southwest shore facing Ma’alaea Bay, you can watch an endless loop of surf videos while savoring an ahi taco and the best mango smoothie on the planet (www .jawzfishtacos.com).


Clockwise from top left: swimming with a sea turtle off the shores of Maui; Diamond waterfall on St. Lucia; Maui’s palm-tree covered beaches

WHERE: St. Lucia, West Indies Part of the Windward Islands in the West Indies’ Lesser Antilles, St. Lucia may be best known to Americans from the opening shots of the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, which features the island’s famous twin peaks—the volcanic cones known as Petit Piton and Gros Piton. It’s also a friendly, lesshectic alternative to Jamaica, with plenty of options for relaxation. English is the official language, and currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$).

Sleep here: $$$ Luxury: Wailea Beach Resort & Spa. Situated on the south side of the island, with two wonderful swimming beaches. www.waileamarriott.com; 808 879 1922 $$ Midrange: Hotel Hana-Maui. Located toward the end of the long and winding coastal road that leads to Hana, past all those breathtaking waterfalls. Rooms have views of Hana Bay. www.hotelhanamaui.com; 808 248 8211 $ Budget: Maui Seaside Hotel. Oceanfront property in central Maui on Kahului Bay. http://seasidehotelshawaii.com/HotelMaui .aspx; 800 560 5552 More info: www.visitmaui.com

Local tip: You don’t necessarily need a car once you arrive, as the island’s minibus service covers the 27-mile-long, 14-mile-wide landscape—not that this makes negotiating the many blind, hairpin curves any easier on your nerves, but at least someone who’s more familiar with them is behind the wheel. If you do rent a vehicle, you’ll need to remember to honk often so that those on the other side of the curves will know you’re there. You’ll have to purchase an on-island driver’s license at the airport (about EC$55) before picking up your rental. Play here: Because St. Lucia is an island, all the usual water-related options are available, including great sea kayaking, scuba diving, and windsurfing. You can climb the Pitons and hike the 19,000 acres of rain forest, mountains, and valleys. More than 29 miles of established trails wend their way through this terrain, and guided hikes are available via the Forest and Lands Department (www .slumaffe.org/Forestry_Department/Rainfor est_Trails/rainforest_trails.html). There’s also a drive-in volcano that’s home to natural

sulfur springs, plus plantation tours and the Diamond Waterfall and Mineral Baths in the island’s southwest area. Jungle biking provides a different point of view of the terrain, with varying levels of difficulty (www.bikest lucia.com). The capital city, Castries, and the town of Soufrière (near the Pitons) offer plenty in the way of cafés, dining, music, and nightlife, and each May the famed St. Lucia Jazz Festival hosts top acts from around the world (www.stluciajazz.org). Eat this: The island’s French-Creole history has a strong influence on the cuisine, so be sure to explore the many dining options. The Green Parrot above the harbor in Castries has a menu of West Indian–Creole dishes, plus belly dancing and limbo (758 452 3399). For Caribbean fare and an extensive rum bar, try Tilly’s 2X4 in Rodney Bay (758 458 4440). For fresh seafood JJ’s Paradise in south Castries is relaxed, affordable, and frequented by locals—always a good sign (www.jj-paradise .com/dining.htm). Sleep here: $$$ Luxury: Anse Chastanet. Two beaches and romantic treehouse-like rooms. www.ansechastanet.com; 800 223 1108 $$ Midrange: La Mirage. Family-run guesthouse in Soufrière, just two blocks from the Soufrière Waterfall. 758 459 7010 $ Budget: Oasis Marigot. Located on the hill above Marigot Bay. Rooms have kitchens, and there’s a PADI dive center on-site. www.oasismarigot.com; 800 263 4202 More info: www.stlucia.org Women’s j Adventure 39


The City

The Santa Monica pier at night

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Zilker Park Photo: Richard Cummins / Lonely Planet Images

WHERE: Austin, Texas Bring your boots to Austin and kick up some Texas dust. Renowned for its music scene, this lively city is also a great destination for outdoor sports and fabulous food. Local tip: Austin has more than 200 music venues, hence its nickname: the Live Music Capital of the World. Vouchers to attend the famous television show Austin City Limits (which is taped in the Texas College of Communications Building B) are free on a first-come, first-served basis. Tapings are held irregularly throughout the year. To find out what’s going on and when, call the Austin City Limits Hotline at 512 475 9077. Note: vouchers get you into line but don’t guarantee entrance, as seating is limited. Play here: Austin is a haven for strolling and is replete with cafés, music venues, great restaurants, and quirky shops. In the Warehouse District (Fourth and Fifth streets), buildings have been converted into chic nightspots. Head to nearby Sixth Street for dining, dance clubs, and live-music venues. Take a walk through the Catherine Lamkin Arboretum Trail of Trees along Boggy Creek, showcasing 35 different species. For cycling or hiking, head to McKinney Falls State Park or Pedernales Falls State Park (www.tpwd .state.tx.us). Within the city 15 miles of hiking and cycling trails border Ladybird Lake. The Barton Creek Greenbelt area is an 8-mile stretch that includes cliffs, rocky terrain, and plenty of swimming holes. There’s also the Veloway, a 3.1-mile loop for inline skating, cycling, and jogging (www.texasoutside.com). Eat this: We bet you’re thinking barbecue, so head to the County Line Bar-B-Q, where the “everything’s bigger in Texas” concept presides over the servings (www.countyline .com). You’ll swear the ribs came from a tyrannosaurus. For even more atmosphere, Ranch 616 has Texas-style barbecue, plus vegetarian options and live music with no cover charge (http://ranch616.ypguides.net). Try the crispy oyster sandwich on focaccia with field greens, or the Gulf fish tacos with chili lime and aioli.

From left: looking up at downtown Austin; the Botanical Gardens in Austin’s Zilker Park

Sleep here: $$$ Luxury: Driskill Hotel. This historic downtown property is swish Texas at its best. www.driskillhotel.com; 800 252 9367 $$ Midrange: Hyatt Regency Austin. Resort ambience, close to the entertainment district. www.austin.hyatt.com; 512 477 1234 $ Budget: Austin Motel. This family-owned motel is nicely located for city jaunts or access to the hiking and cycling trails. www.austinmotel.com; 512 441 1157 More info: www.austintexas.org WHERE: Santa Monica, California Nothing says sunshine quite like southern California. The relaxed, beach-town atmosphere of Santa Monica offers sand, surf, and plenty of active options. Local tip: Feel like flying? The Santa Monica Pier boasts aerial acrobatic views of the sea à la the resident Trapeze School New York (http://losangeles.trapezeschool.com). Play here: The long paved path running along the beach between the sea and Ocean Avenue is populated with joggers, strollers, and skaters. The pier is popular with residents as well as visitors and houses an arcade, a carousel, shops, and an aquarium located just beneath the carousel at beach level. Just south of the beachside volleyball courts, you can check out the original Muscle Beach, where acrobats and gymnasts still work out in the spot made famous by Jack LaLanne and other bodybuilders. Schlepping your surfboard cross-country via the airlines can be pricey, so rent one instead at Perry’s Cafe & Sports Rentals on the Promenade (310 485 3975). You can also rent inline skates instead of packing them. Try Rip City Skates

(www.ripcity.net) or Sea Mist Rentals (310 395 7076), both close to the beach. For a more cerebral workout, head to Chess Park, just south of Muscle Beach along Ocean Front Walk. Besides a human-sized chessboard, there are plenty of permanent chess tables free for public use. Santa Monica also has great, year-round farmers’ markets located on Main Street (Sundays), in Virginia Park (Saturdays), and on the Third Street Promenade (Wednesdays and Saturdays). Eat this: Before heading to the beach, check in at Cora’s Café on Ocean Avenue, just before you reach Pico Boulevard. The coffee shop interior is cramped, but there’s great outdoor patio seating. Order your orange pancakes and freshly squeezed OJ from there. For lunch or dinner, head over to the Library Alehouse on Main Street for burgers, friendly service, and one of the 29 brews on draft (www.libraryalehouse.com), or try Buddha’s Belly on Broadway for sweet chili shrimp or Singapore seafood noodles (www.bbfood.com). Sleep here: $$$ Luxury: Casa del Mar. Star-worthy, steps from the beach, and with a spa and gourmet restaurants on-site. Go ahead and pretend you’re there to option your latest script. www.hotelcasadelmar.com; 310 581 5533 $$ Midrange: Hotel California. The surfboard headboards on the beds may make you smile, but the beach access will have you grinning from ear to ear. www.hotelca.com/losangeles; 866 571 0000 $ Budget: Sea Shore Motel. Located on Main Street, within easy walking distance of the Pier, beach, and Promenade. www.seashoremotel.com; 310 392 2787 More info: www.santamonica.com Women’s j Adventure 41


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Dating in Dudedom The trials of being a single girl in a mountain town By Kate Siber Illustrations by Britt Udesen

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C

ommon wisdom around Durango, Colorado, holds that there are three main roads into town but only two ways you wind up moving here: your car breaks down on a cross-country trip or a boyfriend imports you. I wish I could say that I moved here because of the mountains rising straight from the valley or the wide river that carves through town or the dozens of miles of trails I can run to right from my front door. I wasn’t aware of all that when my boyfriend Jeff moved here from Santa Fe and convinced me, a born Bostonian, to come along. Perhaps that’s why when we broke up and he moved away, I had no inkling of what lay in store in the singles scene. In Durango it seems that if you are an athletic single woman between the ages of 18 and 45 and don’t resemble a hedgehog, you’re in constant, ego-inflating demand. And insisting on staying single makes you no less attractive. I could hardly take credit for the newfound attention with my own moderate looks and charms. It seemed as if I were the only single woman in town. Not that the attention was always flattering. During my year of steadfast singlehood, I discovered that the oftrepeated mountain-town adage The odds are good, but the goods are odd has more than a grain of truth to it. There was the barista who cried in my car when I told him I didn’t want to make out with him. There was the sensitive artsy type who, after we had a good hike together, got sloppy drunk in my house, climbed into my bed (uninvited), and barfed all over it. Then there was the financial adviser who refused to dig during avalanche practice because he forgot his gloves but then delivered the most nauseatingly cheesy line about how he’d forgo gloves gladly if it were me down there—wink wink. I can’t forget the guy who called

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me a snob while we were chatting in the hot springs then inexplicably brought me flowers the next day or the climbing partner who nearly edged me over a small cliff because he wouldn’t stop trying to spoon me, sleeping bag to sleeping bag. I wondered: Were all the men in Durango so utterly weird and clueless? And was this the plight of mountain-town women across the West? I decided to make a thoroughly unscientific investigation into what caused such ridiculous boy/girl relations. My objective: to see if there were any hope for a sharp, independent, athletic gal looking for a like-minded guy to share her outdoor nirvana. During my informal interviewing process, which more or less involved calling up friends to discuss their love lives, I quickly discovered that I wasn’t alone. Heather, 33, an acupuncturist in Crested Butte who has also lived in Texas and San Francisco, reported that men in her mountain abode appear to exhibit more risk-taking behavior than their urban counterparts—and not only on the ski pistes. “You get so much attention here,” she says. “There are times I get asked out four or five times a weekend, sometimes by the same determined guy.” She credits the tiny size of Crested Butte, population 2,000, with breeding a familiarity among its inhabitants that eases inhibitions. “I think there’s a familiarity and a comfort of being in a small town,” she says, “but at the same time it can get you into a lot of trouble.” One overzealous suitor, for example, cheered her on enthusiastically—embarrassingly—at her softball game before ever meeting her, then asked her out, ever so tactfully, by interrupting her while she was on a date with someone else. Some of my research subjects suggested that perhaps this lack of fear of rejection has something to do with the nature of mountain towns themselves. These pint-sized bubbles are havens of recreation dedicated to the pursuit of fun—Never Never Lands for grown-ups, where responsibilities, social strictures, and consequences are looser than in cities, where there are more police officers you don’t know. “It’s sort of a fantasy world,” says Natalia, 22, a ski instructor in Sun Valley. “There are no real responsibilities, no consequences for certain things. A lot of the time you work all night or party all night and then ski all day. So it’s not surprising that a lot of the guys here never grow up.” Tara, 33, a television host for a local station in Sun Valley, agrees that the Animal House–like capers accepted as daily drunks-willbe-drunks fare in her town would never fly in larger towns. Sure, it makes good fodder for entertainment, she says, but it doesn’t make the town prime potential-husband habitat, if that is what one is looking for. For example, her ex-boyfriend came home to find an inebriated man he was unacquainted with sleeping in his bed—and the man was just as alarmed as he was to find himself sleeping there. She has also walked out of her bedroom some mornings to find naked people she barely knew passed out on her living room floor. “People just go to the wrong houses after the bars; that kind of stuff happens all the time,” she says. “All rules that apply to normal society don’t apply here.” Perhaps it’s because there are less strict social norms in these recreation-happy towns that chivalry is often neglected if not outright tossed out the window. One Durango friend, who wished to remain anonymous, reported her last straw: when her Peter Pan boyfriend, in a fit of romantic ingenuity, told her for the first time, “I love you, dude.” Another single Durangoan friend, 38, told me that she agreed to go on a date with one fellow only to be asked whether she could pick him up because he was under DUI restrictions. “Talk about a turn-off,” she says. “Jackson is a great place to date because you can go backpacking and skiing and all of that, and there’s this great group of guys,” corroborates Sarah, 27, a public relations rep. “But I think they’re a little behind the curve when it comes to dating. Don’t expect them to remember to call you on your birthday—and big pow days take priority over everything.” And dinner dates? On a good night, she says, expect ramen noodles or mac and cheese with hot dogs. On the other hand, if the promise of untracked powder fields and buffed singletrack lured and kept these boys here, perhaps we


shouldn’t be so surprised that their athletic endeavors take priority over culinary feats or courtly cleverness. Besides, their athletic talent is often their most appealing asset. “Mountain men are attractive because they have so much passion for their sports,” says Tammy, a tutor who lived in Telluride for more than a decade and who has dated all manner of fine-looking, several-years-younger-than-their-age guys, such as the one who decided to live (literally) in his bike shop and another who cheated with a climbing partner. “They’re typically very good at them, but they don’t want anything or anyone to get in the way of what they do. Things start to go south as soon as you want more time, attention, and understanding of why there doesn’t seem to be an equal giveand-take.” Or, for some, just sleeping in on Sunday morning. Shanti, 37, a writer in Sun Valley, Idaho, said that one mountain-town male she dated was so dedicated to skiing he insisted on skiing alone. “On Sundays he would leap out of bed and be like, ‘Well, I gotta go now’!” she says. “He’d go ski by himself. I’d see him on the mountain a few hours later and be like, ‘Um, hi.’” But let’s be honest: we women can be just as passionate about our sports—and just as competitive. Isn’t that why we love these towns after all? While we might not want to be ditched on the hill by our men, we also don’t want to be able to smoke them—at least not too humiliatingly. “I’ve tried dating guys who don’t ski, and although it wasn’t the main reason the relationship didn’t work out, it was always lingering there, like a bad smell I couldn’t get over,” says Megan, 27, an editor in Boulder who has skied and raced since the days when boys had cooties. “I know I could never get that serious with someone who

didn’t at least share my passion for the mountains.” While Megan couldn’t “give a rat’s ass” what her wedding will look like, her hon-

During my year of steadfast singlehood, I discovered that the oft-repeated mountain-town adage The odds are good, but the goods are odd has more than a grain of truth to it. eymoon is in the bag: Chamonix with long, hard days of skiing and long, hard wine-and-fromage-soaked nights. “I told someone that once, and they said, ‘What if you marry a guy who doesn’t ski?’ and I answered, ‘I won’t.’” For example, Megan took a prospect, outfitted head-to-toe in shiny straight-from-thestore Gore-Tex, out on the ski hill one morning only to discover that he could barely snowplow. It ended up not working out for the unsuspecting schlub.

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Despite all our collective complaints, mountain towns are great places to live; and though dating in them may offer more funny stories than happy endings, they are also fun places to date. Here guys and gals get to know each other against a forest backdrop—backpacking or skiing, biking or kayaking. A date could be checking out

These pint-sized bubbles are havens of recreation dedicated to the pursuit of fun—Never Never Lands for grown-ups . . . a new trail or drinking wine from a familiar nook on top of a local crag. Sure, many mountain-town men reportedly exhibit an aversion to commitment and have pathetically little sense of chivalry. But the upside is that they at least tend to be hot and single and have low standards. To be fair, I consulted a gaggle of Durango’s most eligible menfolk about their perspective of the singles scene. To my surprise they had similar complaints of mountain-town women: they were too aggressive, they were too fixated on their own sports, and that the good women were always taken. It also seemed that they just wanted to be appreciated for who they were—smelly socks, funny haircuts, squawky bike-race talk, and all. Greg, 30, a contractor and mountain-bike racer, fell in love with a woman whom he said rode the up phase of their courtship with gusto then high-tailed it when it started to become more real. “She was strong and fit and pretty,” he said. “She was totally on her own. I was so infatuated with her. But the second she saw weakness in a guy, she’d dump him. The next guy she dated was the same. It was great until she found his flaws.” Could it be that we are too hard on our men? Then I realized, Maybe the doofuses we tend to meet are just the most obvious ones. “Chicks come to town, and within days the hawks always go for them right away,” says Jeremy, 30, who owns an outdoor store. “We [the good ones] turn around and are like, ‘Where are all the chicks?’ Turns out these guys are dating them.” In fact, despite many women’s reporting a drastic surplus of single men in mountain towns, the U.S. Census Bureau has a different take on the ratio. According to the people counters, towns across the West, from Taos to Durango to Jackson, have about equal numbers of single men and single women. So even if there’s a disproportionate number of Peter Pans, drunks, and narcissists among the single men, there must be a few keepers in the mix. Jeremy was right: they hide in the most inconspicuous places. After nearly a year of my own misadventures in singledom, I decided to stop simply avoiding Durango’s ample population of doofuses and put some effort into charming a keeper. My first target was Hot Yoga Boy, a tall, tanned guy with a big nose and a shock of curly brown hair who frequented my hot vinyasa class. I decided to approach him after class only to discover my own laughable dating incompetence. “I think you look familiar,” I said. “Do I look familiar to you?” In defense of possibly the world’s lamest come-on line, he did look familiar in that small-town sort of way. “Um, no,” he responded and walked away. But a few classes later, Hot Yoga Boy, never ditching his cooler-than-thou aloofness, which of course made me more curious, asked for my number. Several days later he invited me to go backcountry skiing, my favorite activity. We hadn’t been skinning up Anvil Mountain near Silverton, Colorado, for very long when I realized that he was ridiculously slow. 46 Women’s j Adventure

Was this guy just trying to put me at ease or was he a closet lard ass? By the time we made it halfway down, despite the snowy skies and powdery chute we had all to ourselves, he asked if I wanted to do another lap. I considered it a no-brainer. “Well, I think I’m good so, um, want to just ski down? Okay, uh, let’s go,” he said, before I could argue. We clambered into his truck, and he bee-lined it into town, screeching to a halt at his house. He muttered something before dashing in and dashing back out, barely letting me meet his roommates. It was more than a year later when Hot Yoga Boy, whom I now call Andrew, told me why he was so curt when I approached him after that first yoga class: he didn’t have his glasses, so he couldn’t see me. And the reason why he was being such a weirdo on our first backcountry ski date? He had been doing a cleansing fast the entire week beforehand, and his digestion was a bit, shall we say, uncooperative. “If I had known you better, I would have just gone and taken a crap,” he said. “But I was like, I don’t even know this girl.” I had been tempted to write Andrew off as just another funny story; I never would have guessed that over a year and a half later the story still hasn’t ended. Sure, he’s a stereotypical mountain-man type in some respects. He tends to have a layer of scruff on his face and doesn’t own a pair of nice shoes. He often eats with his elbows on the table and shovels dinner into his mouth miner-style. He devolves into bro-speak when hanging out with the boys, and he prefers his Coors Light in cans. But he’s also smart, honest, and unfailingly open-minded. Best of all, he tolerates my own abundant idiosyncrasies with incomprehensible patience. He knows not to try to convince me to go biking when I have apocalyptic bouts of PMS. He always cleans his plate when I serve him my botched kitchen experiments—bowties with kale, onions, strawberries, and lemon-ginger sauce, anyone? He listens intently to my dorky jokes that slow down our hikes, and he uncomplainingly adds five or 10 minutes to any time I tell him I’ll be somewhere. He fixes my bike and tunes my skis without my asking, and, let’s be honest, he turned out to be a killer ski partner.


Socializing at Altitude The wild and woolly mountain town social scene is much easier to navigate if armed with this information: No instruction. Hot Tele Guy might be able to help you perfect your turn, but try tutoring his bouldering moves? Forget it.

Y

On most dates, dogs are encouraged.

Y

“You have your wallet, right?” is not a good start to the night.

Y

Time it takes for a small town to start gossiping about you and your blind date: one hour (think twice about dating multiple men simultaneously).

Y

What’s worse, working at the bar or living at the bar? We’ll call it a tie.

Y

The sooner you embrace the “no friends on powder days” mountain-town policy, the happier you’ll be.

Y

Y

Good friends are better than water-cooler stories (exception: seasonal imports, like the hot Australian ski instructor who’s here only for the winter).

If he offers to help you with your Eskimo roll, chances are he’s not just being nice.

Y

Y

Leftovers are permissible in small towns, with adequate grace periods. For every month of the previous relationship, allow one to two weeks.

High-quality men hide in unexpected places. The bar is not one of them. The yoga studio, however . . .

Y

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Women can compete in every sport in the Winter Olympics except one: ski jumping. A cadre of high-flying women is fighting to change that, but will they succeed in time for the 2010 Vancouver games? If all goes perfectly at their first-ever World Championship on February 18 in Liberec, Czech Republic, they just might. By Kristin Bjornsen 48 Women’s j Adventure

Doug Pensinger / getty images sport

Fly Girls


Lindsey Van jumps at the Women’s K114 USA Ski Jumping Championship in Steamboat Springs, Colorado; March 2007 Women’s j Adventure 49


The ski jump in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

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Neither can Deedee Corradini, mayor of Salt Lake City from 1992 to 2000 and president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA, a nonprofit organization that works to support female jumpers. As mayor and as executive board member of the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee, Corradini helped get women’s bobsleigh and skeleton into the 2002 games and is now a powerful advocate for the female jumpers. “It’s clearly discrimination to keep women jumpers out of the Olympics,” says Corradini. “The girls thought they’d get into the Nagano games in 1998 and were told no. Then they hoped to get into the Salt Lake games in 2002, then the Torino games in 2006, and now the 2010

Jumping has been almost exclusively the domain of men. The sport was considered too extreme, dangerous, and unladylike for women. Vancouver games—and were told no for all three. How much longer do they have to wait?” In protest Women’s Ski Jumping USA and other groups worldwide are racing the clock to get the IOC’s decision reversed, with one lawsuit already filed against the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (see “The Road to Vancouver” sidebar). The Litmus Test

Meanwhile the women did receive some good news in 2006: the International Ski Federation (FIS), the sport’s governing body, established the first Women’s Ski Jumping World Championship, to take place February 18 to March 1, 2009, in Liberec, Czech Republic. This marks the highest level of competition currently available to them. It also will be an important test. “All eyes, including FIS’s and International Olympic Committee’s, will be on the event, watching to see how it goes,” says John Farra, Nordic director of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. For a successful comp, Farra says, several things must happen: the women must demonstrate world-class jumping skills; the competition should be tight, rather than having a few women dominate; and the event organizers need to promote it with the same fervor as men’s jumping. “If all that happens, there’s no way the IOC can deny the path women’s jumping is on.” So, while Lindsey may cast an occasional longing eye toward Vancouver, she—along with top American contenders Jessica Jerome and Alissa Johnson—is mostly focusing on the World Championship. The first job for Lindsey was rehabbing her blown knee. During her surgery last March, doctors drilled tiny holes in her kneecap to increase blood flow and speed healing. Then for eight solid weeks, Lindsey sat on the couch, watching the snow fall in Park City, her leg in a machine that slowly and continuously changed the knee’s angle to keep fluids moving.

Matthias Schrader/epa/Corbis

February 2008: It’s just a small competition in the little-known town of Rastbuchl, Germany. Lindsey Van, 24, sits on a metal bar at the top of the ski jump, perched like a human cannonball above the steep ramp. She looks intently at her coach. When a nearby light flashes from yellow to green, he flags her with his arm, and she fires off the bar. Barreling downward in a tuck position, wind whipping by, Lindsey quickly reaches some 50 miles per hour. At the lip of the jump—the critical moment—she launches into the air, skis whipping to the side in a V formation, her body arrow straight. The air buffets her upward for as long as it can, then Lindsey gently sails to the ground. Her skis touch, her legs lunge . . . and then she feels her right knee explode. At least that’s what it felt like, Lindsey says. It turns out she had pulverized all the cartilage in the back of her knee, the coup de grâce after years of cumulative damage. “I could feel quarter-sized chunks of cartilage under the skin and could push them around,” she says. Come March she was in surgery and starting months of rehab. A frustrating setback, yes, but Lindsey is no stranger to the vicissitudes of the ski-jumping world. Lindsey began jumping when she was seven in Park City, Utah, where she grew up, and has been competing internationally since 1995—longer than any of the other six women jumpers on the U.S. Ski Team. She’s also one of the most accomplished jumpers, having snagged 13 National Championships and several podium finishes in the Continental Cup (an international competition circuit), not to mention holding the North American distance record, with a jump of 171 meters. Still, Lindsey knows that the clock is ticking. Calling herself the “grandma of the team,” she realizes that the body puts up with such pounding for only so long, and her teammates are all in their teens and early twenties. But before she even thinks about hanging up her skis, one burning goal remains: to compete in ski jumping at the Olympics—the crowning event in a jumper’s career and one in which women have never been allowed to participate since the founding of the Winter Olympics in 1924. So it was with heartbreak and disbelief that Lindsey and her teammates learned in May 2006 that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would once again not allow women ski jumpers to compete in the 2010 Vancouver games—on the grounds that women’s ski jumping doesn’t have enough competitors, participating countries, or international experience (although proponents point out that the sport has more participants than several other Winter Olympics events). “We’d all gathered at a teammate’s house, waiting for the call,” says Lindsey. “And when the ‘no’ came, it was mind-blowing. I still can’t fathom why we’re not allowed in.”


Doug Pensinger / getty images sport

TheJessica ski jump in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, January, 2008 and Jerome, Lindsey Van, and AlissaGermany, Johnsonopened at the U.S. Ski Jumping Nordic Combined Championships in Steamboat Springs, Colorado; March 2005 Women’s j Adventure 51


Hulton Archive/Stringer

Ski jumping in the French mountains, circa 1935

“It was terrible,” says the normally unflappable Lindsey. “I wanted to shoot myself in the head from sheer boredom.” Afterward it was PT, PT, some yoga, and then more PT. Standing 5 feet 3 inches tall (her skis are 7 feet 3 inches long), Lindsey has chestnut hair, legs like pistons, and a slender upper body. She also has a wry sense of humor and a matter-of-fact way of speaking. On her right foot is a tattoo that says “starboard” (her twin brother has one that says “port” because he was on the left side of his mom’s womb while Lindsey was on the right). And in September she got a tattoo of a ski jumper on her hip. (“It got infected and looks terrible,” she says.) After six months of rehab, Lindsey heralded her first day back on skis since the injury on September 9, and just five days later she finished fourth at a Continental Cup competition in Lillehammer, Norway. When describing the Lillehammer comp, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the American women kicked butt. Alissa, 21, placed first—her first time on the podium—and Jessica, 21, grabbed second. About 100 women from 15 countries compete at these elite, international comps, with Norway, Austria, Germany, Japan, and the United States being the principal powerhouses. The girls had little time to savor their success, however, because the next week it was off to Germany and the Czech Republic for more comps and then to New York for the National Championships (where Lindsey scored her thirteenth title). A Hopp Back

The chance for women to compete internationally like this has been a long time coming. The origins of ski jumping date back centuries to Norway, where the main mode of winter travel was skiing. People would “hopp” (as they called jumping then) off knolls and roofs for fun. In 1860 Sondre Norheim, the “father of ski jumping,” set a

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record of 30 meters, which held for more than three decades. The first competition took place in Trysil, Norway, in 1862. Later, at the first Winter Olympics in 1924 in Chamonix, France, ski jumping was one of the eight sports included. Through it all, jumping has been almost exclusively the domain of men. The sport was considered too extreme, dangerous, and unladylike for women. One of the first trail-blazing women to change that was Isabel Patricia Coursier. Born March 21, 1906, in Revelstoke, British Columbia, Isabel grew up with skis on her feet. Although she never received formal coaching, the sheer fun of jumping lured her. By age 16 she was stomping 80-foot jumps and, later, 100-foot jumps—a huge distance in the 1920s. Importantly, she did the jumps solo. At that time, on the rare occasion when a woman would ski jump, a man would—no joke—ski beside her down the ramp, holding her hand. In 1923 Isabel performed exhibition jumps on Mount Rainier before a large audience that included then-president Warren Harding and received a standing ovation and a medal. Isabel—who, according to records, never married—went on to teach physical education, skiing, and art in the United Kingdom and Canada and died on October 16, 1980. Not until the 1970s and ’80s did a significant number of women start jumping, albeit with little formal support or organizational backing. Momentum was building, however, and in the 1990s it reached a tipping point. Women’s ski jumping was added to the national competition circuit in 1995 and to the Continental Cup in 2004. Scores of ski-jumping clubs and camps for girls started sprouting up nationwide. Though there are no hard statistics on how many girls in the United States ski jump, “things have changed dramatically,” says Lindsey. “There were hardly any female ski jumpers in the world when I started doing it,” she says. “Now it’s much more accepted.” One reason why more girls are flocking to the sport, says John Farra, is that “there’s now a future in the sport, such as scholarships


The Road to Vancouver water, citing as support the following facts: • During the 2006–2007 season, 89 women ski jumpers from 14 countries competed at the elite Continental Cup competitions. That’s more competitors than participated in bobsleigh (which had 26 women from 13 nations), snowboard cross (34 women from 10 nations), and the just-added event ski cross (30 women from 11 nations). • In 2007 the IOC removed from its charter the requirement that a sport must have had two World Championships before it can be added to the Olympics. People haven’t accepted the IOC decision quietly, though. In 2008, 10 female ski jumpers from around the world—including Lindsey and Jessica—launched a gender-discrimination lawsuit against the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VanOC). (Canadian law firm Davis LLP is

handling the case pro bono.) Their argument is that because the 2010 Olympics will use government funds and public equipment, it must provide equal opportunities to men and women or be in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. VanOC declined to comment for this article because the lawsuit is still before the courts. In a statement released last summer, however, Cathy Priestner, executive vice president of sports and games operations for VanOC, said that the Vancouver games “could support [ski jumping] from a logistical and operational standpoint” but that “the final decision lies with the IOC, and we respect and accept the IOC’s decision regarding women’s ski jumping. We encourage the women ski jumpers to focus their efforts on 2014.” Corradini expects a ruling on the lawsuit in spring 2009, soon enough for women to jump at the games. “It’s absolutely still possible for them to be at Vancouver—and there’s no reason for them not to be.”

JOHN MACDOUGALL / getty images

Women ski jumpers haven’t waved the white flag on the 2010 Winter Games just yet. In many ways, women have made great strides toward equal representation at the Olympics. In fact, in 1991 a new Olympic rule stipulated that any new event must have a men’s and women’s competition. Ski jumping, however, was “grandmothered” out of this rule, says Deedee Corradini, president of the nonprofit Women’s Ski Jumping USA, because it wasn’t a new event, as it had been part of the games since 1924. But pressure has been growing to add women’s jumping, and in May 2006 the International Ski Federation voted 114 to 1 to petition the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to admit it into the 2010 Vancouver games. That November the IOC denied the petition, saying women’s ski jumping had neither enough competitors nor participating countries and hadn’t yet had two World Championships. Corradini says these reasons hold no

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Lindsey Van

54 Women’s j Adventure Doug Pensinger / getty images sport


and international competitions and, hopefully soon, the Olympics.” The sea change of the past 10 years is epitomized by one major event: the addition of women jumpers to the U.S. Ski Team in the 2005–2006 season. This enabled women to receive the support and the infrastructure of the team. Previously, funds were raised through Women’s Ski Jumping USA and at international comps. “The men would stay in hotels while the women had to grovel for a place to stay, sometimes sleeping in barns with leaky roofs, freezing to death,” says Corradini. Now that they’re on the U.S. Ski Team, however, they get a travel budget; they train on Park City’s Olympic-class jumps, both in the winter (on snow) and in the summer (on plastic); and they have expert coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists, and even a sports psychologist. In fact, they have many of these resources to themselves because currently there’s no men’s ski-jumping team: the two best American male jumpers retired in 2006, and so far no other guys have been ready with the world-class skills needed to make the team. Prepare for Takeoff

Lindsey, Jessica (who first jumped when she was seven), and Alissa (first jump at age five) put these newfound resources to intense use. They train six days a week—three days on the hill for about four hours and three days in the gym for three hours, lifting weights and doing endless plyometrics such as jump squats, box jumps, and hurdle jumps with weighted vests. Although all three are students at Salt Lake–area universities, they often take a reduced class load or semesters off to accommodate their competition schedules. Then there’s nutrition. Ski jumpers have a saying: Fat don’t fly. Consequently, anorexia and other eating disorders have long plagued the sport. “People would be extremely thin, exhausted, and weak, but they were still winning World Cups,” says Jessica. “They were so light, they flew.” To combat this the FIS adopted weight minimums in 2004. Lindsey, for example, at 5 foot 3, has to weigh at least 112 pounds. The team’s nutritionist helps the women achieve this lean but healthy balance with guidelines tailored to each athlete. For Lindsey the main rule is no junk food. “It can be so hard sometimes, when all you want is ice cream or chicken wings.” Initially, she was told to count calories as well, but she stopped doing that. “It was driving me crazy. You shouldn’t obsess about food that much,” she says. Along with physical fitness, mental toughness plays an equally important role. Hurdling yourself into the ether at 50 miles per hour takes a certain mind-set. What racks the girls’ nerves, however, isn’t so much the fear of falling but the fear of failing. Competition anxiety translates to bad jumps: muscles fire at the wrong time, focus drifts, and mistakes get made. To relax they use a variety of tricks: not looking at result sheets between jumps, breathing deeply, and treating each jump like any other. Soar or Be Bored

Most of their physical and mental training goes toward mastering one critical moment: the takeoff at the end of the jump. Lindsey, Jessica, and Alissa unanimously agree that the hardest part isn’t beelining down the jump, perfecting the landing, or holding the V position while soaring through the air. (Actually, “This flight position comes together very easily,” Jessica says, which is surprising considering it took them 100-plus years to discover it. Instead, in the early days people jumped with their skis parallel and their bodies ramrod straight, like a plastic action figure tossed into the air.) No, the hardest part, they say, the few milliseconds that make or break a jump, occur at the lip, when the person launches into the air. The lip actually slants downward, not upward, so the skier must explode up and out to keep her height and momentum. In this very powerful and technical move, everything must be dead on: the direction of the hips, the timing of the jump, and “the angle of everything—face, shoulders, shins, and spine,” says Jessica. If it goes badly, you know it immediately, and it’s pretty much game over. Alissa adds that you can try to compensate in the air by holding your head lower and your arms closer, “but then you’re in a much more aggressive, less stable stance. They call it ‘pushing negatives’ when you’re teetering over your skis instead of on top of them.” In contrast, when you have a perfect launch it’s the equivalent of a

musician’s hitting the right note, a writer’s turning the perfect phrase, or an archer’s striking the bull’s eye—times 10: “Even if you’ve had 100 bad jumps, that one good jump changes everything,” says Jessica. A good takeoff also lets you fly really far—as far as men, in fact. Which may be part of the problem.

Along with physical fitness, mental toughness plays an equally important role. Hurdling yourself into the ether at 50 miles per hour takes a certain mind-set.

The X Factor

Although women sometimes need more speed or a longer in-run (the length of the jump) to go the same distance as men, ski jumping is one sport in which there isn’t a large gap between men’s and women’s performances. Unfortunately, this may explain some of the resistance to letting women jump. “Ski jumping was one of the first extreme sports, and it’s sort of an old boys’ club,” says Lindsey. “Women entering it takes away some of the ‘extreme’ value for some.” Despite the extreme nature of ski jumping, it has an impressive safety record and is, in fact, much safer than most alpine racing. For example, of the past 3,000 ski-flying jumps, there have been only eight falls, none of them serious. Partly this is because ski jumping is very regulated—the landing zones, the slope of the hill, and the size of the in-run are so precisely calculated that serious accidents rarely occur. Accidents do happen, though, and Lindsey, Jessica, and Alissa have all sustained injuries. Take Alissa, for example. In 2003 she caught an edge and fell—the icy slope tore the skin off one side of her face and gave her a concussion. She wore a baseball hat to school to hide her face until a teacher told her to take the hat off. “When I did, one of the kids in class started screaming, and I ran out of the room crying,” she says, laughing. Then, in 2004 she tore her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament); and in 2007, after she landed a jump, her ski tip got caught in the grass stopping area. Her body rotated 360 degrees around her trapped foot, tearing three ligaments in her ankle and bruising the bone. Lying there, waiting for help, “I felt very scared, hurt, and lost,” she says. What keeps them coming back despite the injuries—and the bureaucratic resistance to female jumpers? This too the girls unanimously agree on: the feeling of flight. Ask them what that’s like, however, and they grope for words, eventually settling with, “It’s indescribable.” Alissa nails it down the best: “I love how when you let go of the bar, you’re in it 100 percent—you can’t stop and there’s no going back.” Then when you launch into the deep blue above, you leave the red tape, the frustrations, and even the Olympics behind, on the ground, and you’re free to just fly. Women’s j Adventure 55


Uwe Kirsten / getty i mages

whole health

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POWER DOWN Think napping is just for kids? Think again. It could be just what you need to feel human again. By Terah Shelton

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whole health

A

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we all could use a little more sleep. Of 20,000 subjects surveyed, 30 percent said they had gotten sufficient sleep during the preceding 30-day period. Ten percent reported they had not gotten enough sleep on any of the previous 30 days. In a related study, the CDC looked at sleeping habits of Americans in 1986 and 2006 and found that more Americans now are sleeping less than six hours per night compared with 20 years ago. Longer hours at work—with even longer commutes—threaten sleep most, according to a new study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “Cumulative loss of sleep causes considerable cognitive impairment, putting people at risk of performance impairment, errors, and accidents,” says Dr. Van Dongen, a widely recognized scientist in the area of sleep and performance. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute warns that

Gary John Norman / getty i mages

lthough many of us would love to take a nap in the middle of the day, it’s a great idea few of us put into practice. But maybe we should. Researchers state that taking a power nap is a great way to reduce stress, increase productivity, and enhance learning. You may think naps are for children, but the positive effects from just a 20-minute snooze are enough to convince anyone. So, what is a power nap? Coined by Cornell University social psychologist James Maas, PhD, a power nap is shortened sleep designed to quickly refresh and rejuvenate the body while not interfering with the ability to sleep at night. “A power nap typically in the order of 10 to 20 minutes is reputed to have high recuperative power relative to the short duration one needs to sleep,” says Hans Van Dongen, PhD, an associate research professor and the assistant director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University.

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every day is an adventure

e e e V ] ` \ g b ] O R  Q ] [


whole health compromised sleep elevates stress hormones and impairs metabolism, which can lead to depression, obesity, and life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Research conducted at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that power naps can lower stress, lift productivity and mood, and improve memory and learning. The researchers also found through magnetic resonance imaging scans of nappers that brain activity of those who nap stays high throughout the day. “Power naps can restore alertness and cognitive performance quickly when there is no opportunity to have a longer sleep period either because it’s the wrong time of day or because there is pressure to get work done,” says Dr. Van Dongen. Additionally, power naps help erase sleep debt—the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep. Sleep is based on two different systems: the homeostatic drive for sleep that is often referred to as a sleep pressure (the sleep-inducing adenosine that accumulates and builds

Napping Like a Champ Ready to snuggle up for a snooze? To make the most of your power nap, the conditions need to be right. Here are Dr. Michael Breus’s seven quick tips to optimize your power nap.  Control your environment and get as comfortable as possible. Turn off cell phones and choose a place where you will not be disturbed.  Find a dark, cool, and quiet place to catch your ZZZs.  Purchase or create a napping kit of eyeshades, earplugs, and maybe an iPod with meditation music.  Keep power naps to less than 20 minutes to prevent sleep inertia.  Set an alarm for the desired duration.

throughout the day) and a circadian rhythm—the internal biological clock that tells your body when to sleep and when to eat. When these two systems are in sync, the body will function normally, sleeping and eating along a predetermined schedule. “By getting only six hours when you really need seven hours, you don’t diminish your sleep pressure, which continues to build throughout the day,” says Michael Breus, PhD, sleep expert and author of Beauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep. “But you can take a short power nap to reduce that sleep pressure.” The National Sleep Foundation’s 2008 Sleep in America poll found that a surprising 34 percent of respondents reported that their employer allows them to nap during breaks and 16 percent of employers provide a place to do so; 26 percent of U.S. workers said that they would catch

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 Avoid caffeine and other stimulants that can interfere with your ability to sleep.

Corey Rich / Aurora Photos

More Americans now are sleeping less than six hours per night compared with 20 years ago.

 Eat foods high in calcium and protein, which promote sleep.


whole health

some ZZZs during the workday if their employer permitted it. Power naps have also played a critical part in Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France training, and U.S. Marine commanders have required power naps before patrols.

Research found that power naps can lower stress, lift productivity and mood, and improve memory and learning. So how does it work? Sleep comes in five stages: 1, 2, 3, 4, and rapid eye movement (REM). Power naps include only the first two stages. The first stage is when you’re sinking into sleep while eye movement and muscle activity slow. The second is a light but restful sleep in which eye movement stops and brain waves become slower. Stages 3 and 4 are referred to as deep sleep. In the REM period, eyes jerk rapidly, limb muscles are temporarily paralyzed, and breathing becomes more rapid, irregular, and shallow. Experts recommend using various short durations for power napping. These short spurts are designed to prevent 62 Women’s j Adventure

nappers from entering a normal sleep cycle without being able to complete it. Complete sleep cycles take an average of 90 to 110 minutes, with stage 1 lasting up to 10 minutes and stage 2 until the twentieth minute. For one to attain maximum postnap performance, it’s important that a power nap be limited to the beginning of a sleep cycle or the first two stages, to take full advantage of stage 2’s restorative benefits of alertness and stamina. “You appear to go into deep sleep at about 45 minutes after sleep onset,” says Dr. Breus, “so there are actually several types of naps: the power nap between 25 and 35 minutes (to be safe and not get into deep sleep) and the longer 90-minute nap, where you will get a full sleep cycle.” There are some pitfalls to power naps, however. “Typically, power naps do not include any deep sleep [sleep stages 3 and 4],” says Dr. Van Dongen. Entering a normal sleep cycle but failing to complete it or if you sleep too long can result in a phenomenon known as sleep drunkenness or sleep inertia, a groggy and disoriented feeling people experience when they wake from a nap. This condition often leaves someone feeling worse than before the nap. “For people who need to be alert immediately after waking up from a nap, such as first responders, this may be a problem,” he says. To avoid sleep inertia, keep naps to 20 minutes or less. The best time to take a power nap is between 2 and 4 in the afternoon, says Dr. Breus. “At this time of day the body has a natural dip in core temperature. The temperature drop is a signal to the brain to begin producing melatonin, the key that starts the engine for sleep.” Overall, Dr. Van Dongen says there is no substitute for getting enough sleep. “But, as a rule of thumb,” he says, “when time for sleep is limited, some sleep is better than no sleep at all, so power napping can be very useful.”


yes, you can

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Change Your Ways It’s a whole new year—and the perfect time to kick that bad habit.

George Doyle / getty images

By Andrea Bahe

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yes, you can

J

anuary 1 is a good day to kick a habit. At least that’s the idea behind that too-familiar cultural cliché, the New Year’s resolution. Though self-improvement seems to always be in season, the gray days of midwinter are still marketed as the best time of year to get out of debt, go green, switch to decaf, or revamp your relationships. But true lifestyle change requires more commitment than a hasty holiday season promise. At their core most New Year’s resolutions are about developing or dismantling a habit. And even if you don’t have the best resolution track record, you can change your ways by skipping the quick fixes and learning to cultivate habits instead. Habits Defined The word habit comes with baggage—images of nail biting, procrastination, smoking, saying “like” too much—in short, bad habits. But despite its negative rep, a habit can be either bad or good. “Habits govern our lives,” says Frank Farley, PhD, psychologist and professor at Temple University. “They’re responses that are rewarded and get repeated.” In short, most habits are repeated behaviors that our brains have learned to do on autopilot—or at least with little prodding. Because of the mind’s ability to habituate, we don’t have to consciously and deliberately think about everything we do. It’s why we’re able to drive, talk, and listen to music simultaneously. Usually, however, we think of habits as the things about ourselves we’d like to change. That brings us back to January 1. We’ve all been there. We decide to give up a vice or ingrain a discipline—swear off coffee, get up earlier, run every day. But then we lose momentum or just quit, and we chalk it up to lack of willpower. We think we should be able to do whatever we put our minds to, and if we can’t, it’s because we’re apathetic or slackers or, worse, failures. It turns out we just missed a biology lecture or two. Individual circumstances aside, there are biological reasons why it’s tough to change our ways. Research suggests that developing new habits is akin to rewiring our brains. Rewiring takes time, but there are ways to help the process along.

contract is that it disappears. It’s gone,” says Dr. Farley. “If it’s documented, someone can hold it up in front of you and say, ‘Look at this,’ and that helps.” Ryan favors

True lifestyle change requires more commitment than a hasty holiday season promise.

Check your focus. For starters, keep your focus on the new behavior you’re trying to cultivate, not on the old behavior you’re trying to change. M. J. Ryan, life coach and author of This Year I Will . . . How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True, says that when it comes to habit change, “You’ll learn that the process is not about getting rid of bad habits—the pathway to your current behavior is there for life—but building new, more positive ones. Even stopping a bad habit, like smoking, is really about creating a new good habit, nonsmoking.” Let’s say that you’re trying to rein in your spending habits. How do you see it? Are you denying yourself a daily chai, or are you saving money for a weekend trip? As trivial as it sounds, how you frame your new behavior matters because it will affect your attitude in the days ahead. You’ll be more likely to see the behavior change as an opportunity instead of a deprivation.

written contracts because they’re a way for people to “signal intention” to themselves. Even better, have a friend be your witness and co-sign your contract.

Write it down. Whether it’s a sticky note on your bathroom mirror or a more formal contract, a written record can be a meaningful ritual and a tangible reminder of your commitment. Psychologists say that written contracts tend to be more powerful than verbal ones. “The trouble with a verbal

Don’t go solo. Everyone needs a sounding board, a cheering section, or a role model. Based on your personality and past successes, determine what kind of help you’ll need from others. Do you need a friend to call you once a week, or are you better off when you’re part of a group of people with the same goal?

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yes, you can experience and its accompanying dopamine rush, our desire for dopamine drives us to seek those experiences, which the brain now recognizes as rewards. That’s why creating your own rewards can help when you’re cultivating habits that don’t produce this natural dopamine rush. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to break out the credit card every time you make progress. “There are actually two types of rewards: psychological, such as support and verbal encouragement, and a material reward like a chocolate bar,” says Dr. Farley. “Support can be a form of reward.” But, he cautions, “Rewards work most effectively with simpler habits, not complex ones.”

Does it make more sense for you to connect with someone who’s already achieved what you’re attempting? Even if it’s difficult to ask for help, make a point to tell at least one

In short, most habits are repeated behaviors that our brains have learned to do on autopilot—or at least with little prodding. friend your plan for change. She can help remind you of your intention when things get tough. Reward yourself. Small rewards at regular intervals help the brain associate a specific action with a reward. There is a chemical in our brains called dopamine to thank for that. Dopamine works as a neurotransmitter, sending messages cell to cell. “Dopamine is involved in our feeling of reward, in what feels good,” says Monika Fleshner, PhD, associate professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “In humans and animals, there’s a (neural) pathway to the region of the brain where dopamine is released. When we eat we activate that pathway. When we do drugs we activate that pathway. When we exercise we activate that pathway, too.” To oversimplify, dopamine is released in response to pleasure-producing experiences. And once we’ve had the 68 Women’s j Adventure

Prepare for lapses and relapses. Somewhere along the line, you’re going to blow it. You’ll be on time for work on Monday and Tuesday but late on Wednesday. So you’re late Thursday and Friday too. In psychology this is known as the abstinence violation effect: a person stops a particular behavior, then slips up once, and it leads to uncontrolled relapse. In This Year I Will . . . , Ryan describes a time when she was trying to give up soda. On a business trip, she ended up drinking a soda for an energy boost. Because she drank one, she went ahead and had six more during the rest of her trip. Rather than berate herself for the slip-up, Ryan says she had to acknowledge that she had still made progress. In 66 days she drank only six sodas (instead of her usual 66). If you prepare for lapses ahead of time, they’ll be less likely to derail your entire effort when they do happen. Give it time. Any behavior that you’d like to make a habit requires repetition. After all, that’s what a habit is. And though it’s always difficult at first, it won’t be after a few weeks. Most behavior experts claim that it takes about three weeks for a behavior to become a habit. Based on her research in the physiology of exercise, Dr. Fleshner says that it requires about three weeks for exercise to have an impact on the brain and activate reward pathways. “From a habit perspective, I would suspect that it requires that same number of weeks to cause those kinds of changes in neural circuits,” she says. “And that’s what you’ve got to have to have an enduring behavior, right?” Whether or not three ends up being your magic number, you can still be assured that, one day soon, waking up at 6 a.m. (or any other habit) will come more naturally.

Making S.M.A.R.T. Changes The acronym has fuzzy origins, but everyone from project managers to fourth-graders has used S.M.A.R.T. when setting goals. If you want a better chance of success as you start a new habit, make sure your plan fits these criteria: ≥ Specific ≥ Measurable ≥ Achievable ≥ Relevant ≥ Time-bound


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Thinking Outside the Heart-shaped Box How the virtues of chocolate go way beyond the decadent taste By Radha Marcum

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D

o you remember when chocolate’s worth was determined by how big the heart it came in was? When it was See’s or Hershey’s and it was purely an indulgence? Who had ever heard of organic or fair trade or antioxidants? Now I can hardly enter the chocolate aisle at my local market without some trepidation: Should I choose the Endangered Species Milk Chocolate with Cherries or Dagoba’s Xocolatl dark chocolate bar? There’s chocolate for a cause, ethically produced chocolate, chocolate infused with exotic fruits and spices, chocolate of distinct origins . . . there’s even raw chocolate (cocoa nibs). Why so many choices? Our taste buds are obsessed, and hundreds of chocolate companies have sprouted up all over the map—from Belgium to Oregon—to satisfy our passion. Chocolate, the delicious end product of dried, fermented, and processed cacao beans, is still an indulgence, true, but it has some bona fide health perks too. (And who hasn’t selfmedicated with chocolate at least once?) “It’s only a matter of time before chocolate becomes prescribed,” says Heather M. Walters, PhD, author of Desserts That Heal: Desserts Are Good Medicine. Chocolate’s health perks come from its cacao origins; the cacao bean contains a number of health-enhancing phytochemicals. One recent study published in September 2008 found that moderate dark chocolate consumption (approximately 6 to 7 grams daily) lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease. “Just 1 ounce of dark chocolate [72 percent cocoa content or greater] can lower blood pressure,” says Dr. Walters. This is because the arginine in cocoa converts to nitric oxide in the body and relaxes the blood vessels. Antioxidants in chocolate can also help favorably alter your HDL “bad” and LDL “good” cholesterol levels. So what’s not to love? Well, most chocolate is made with saturated fat, so anything more than an ounce and you might actually be raising your cholesterol levels. And if you’re sensitive, the caffeine content could potentially cause insomnia. Dr. Walters recommends enjoying one 1-ounce serving of a high-quality chocolate per day. When Spanish explorers first encountered xocolatl in the New World, it was a bitter-tasting beverage of ground cacao beans mixed with water and spices such as vanilla or chili powder—not at all the palate-pleaser it was to become. Over the centuries chocolate has evolved from an unsweetened drink to a sweetened drink to the “eating chocolate” we now

associate with the term. But before it’s poured and molded and done up in a tantalizing wrapper, chocolate starts out as raw cacao beans, which are harvested, fermented, dried, and then shipped to be roasted, ground, and refined. There are four main types of cacao cultivated around the globe, all with distinct flavor profiles and characteristics. “Depending on how the bean was grown—which crops it was grown with, such as bananas or tree nuts—the chocolate

Our taste buds are obsessed, and hundreds of chocolate companies have sprouted up all over the map—from Belgium to Oregon—to satisfy our passion. that ends up in your bar may taste fruity, smoky, bitter, or earthy, among other subtle flavors,” says Susan Fussell, spokesperson for the National Confectioners Association. Aside from the usual cocoa butter, milk, and other “carriers,” the cocoa may be paired with nuts, dried fruits, spices, and other enhancements to augment—or tone down—its flavor. Here are four tips for selecting the very best. 1. Know the cocoa content. Almost any chocolate bar worth your purchase will include a cocoa percentage on its label. “This is the most important thing to consider when buying chocolate,” says Fussell. This number indicates the amount of cocoa content—cocoa solids plus cocoa butter, which are separated during processing

Noteworthy Chocolatiers Chocolove: Smooth and rich. Excellent gift choice for people whose chocolate preferences you don’t know intimately. Dagoba: High-quality light to dark chocolate infused with unusual flavors such as chili, lavender, and chai tea. Endangered Species Chocolate: Good chocolate for a good cause. Green & Black’s: Classic chocolate bars; widely available in organic. Theo (also 3400 Phinney Chocolate): Single-origin bars as well as a variety of exotic flavors, including Coconut Curry Milk Chocolate and Fig, Fennel, and Almond Dark Chocolate.

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full and then reunited in the final product. But numbers can be confusing. For example, “milk chocolate” could go up as high as 65 percent cocoa content, says Fussell. That’s because the total percentage doesn’t tell you the ratio of cocoa butter (which gives a creamy consistency but far less chocolate flavor) to cocoa solids (in which the strong chocolate flavor resides). “Taste preference is entirely personal,” says Fussell. “The higher the cocoa mass, the stronger the flavor. But cocoa butter gives the melt-in-your-mouth quality.” Keep in mind that the more cacao the chocolate contains, the less sweetener is used.

4. Let your taste buds be your guide. “For a long time, I thought I liked dark chocolate,” says Fussell, “but I’ve learned that what I really like is a high percentage cacao milk chocolate. The milk rounds out the flavor experience.” As an experiment, try buying milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate with similar cocoa percentages. Which do you prefer? Beyond that, says Fussell, there are lots of unusual ingredients being mixed into chocolates these days—chili, cayenne, salt, wasabi. “All in their own way complement and change flavor profile.”

Sean McEntee

2. Get the lowdown on origin. Cacao grows only within 10 degrees north or south of the equator. Where the cocoa was grown—it’s origin, such as Ghana, Venezuela, or Madagascar—affects the flavor profile of the chocolate. “The soil, the trade winds that might come to that region, what it’s grown with—all affect the cocoa’s flavor profile,” says Fussell. You’ll see some chocolate bars labeled “single origin,” which means all the cocoa used to make the bar came from one country. But most often chocolate is a blend, Fussell explains, and for good reason. “Madagascar is one of my favorites, but when you mix it with cocoa from other origins you get a completely different taste. Often they’re better together: one might taste nutty or like coffee and when mixed the blend is a really amazing piece of chocolate.”

3. Favor fair trade and organic. Although these last two considerations don’t necessarily contribute to flavor, they might affect how you feel about your purchase. Like coffee, cocoa tends to be grown in economically challenged communities in the third world. “The World Cocoa Foundation is making efforts to establish more sustainable crops,” says Fussell. “Cacao is a tender crop that needs care and attention, and it really grows best on small farms, where farmers know each tree. To be sure the people and the communities who grew and prepared the cocoa that went into your truffle were paid fairly for their efforts, look for TransFair USA’s Fair Trade Certified label on chocolates such as Shaman’s Visions. Chocolate labeled USDA Organic, such as Green & Black’s, must contain 100 percent certified organic ingredients, including cocoa produced without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

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full What’s a “Nib,” Anyway?

Thomas Barwick / getty images

Nibs are 100 percent chocolate. They’re made from the unprocessed cocoa bean and have a lovely nutty taste. They taste more like a strong-flavored nut than a bitter chocolate bar. All the fats are still intact, so there’s a flavor balance. They also aren’t typically roasted (roasting can make chocolate more bitter). It’s a good idea to eat them with something sweet—by themselves nibs are a bit intense. They add a wonderful kick when sprinkled on things, such as a raspberry smoothie, or when tossed into muffin or zucchini bread batter.

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fresh from the field

Are you into lift-served skiing or hiking for your turns? Long, low-angle tours or five miles of vertical? Telemark, Nordic, or AT? If you have the answers to these questions, we have the recommendations for what to wear under your feet and what gear to take on your next backcountry adventure. By Krista Crabtree

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Lisa Seaman / Aurora Photos

Getting off the Beaten Track


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fresh from the field SKIS Black Diamond Joule It’s no wonder the Joule shines on adventures that involve big mountains and savory snow. The 95 mm waist is ideal for surfing soft untracked snow in the backcountry, using either AT or telemark bindings. But the Joule is no slug on hard snow—it holds an edge and carves powerfully. Dampening technology helps calm the ski at high speeds and in less-than-perfect conditions. $599. www.bdel.com

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Karhu XCD Guide You can’t mention Karhu women’s skis without bringing up Bertha, Betty, and Jil— all noteworthy telemark and AT skis for women. Bertha is a big 100 mm underfoot, followed by a slimmer Jil and Betty at 90 mm and 80 mm, respectively. But if you pine for a lightweight Nordic backcountry ski, the XCD Guide will make a good touring partner. This cross-country downhill (XCD) ski has metal edges and a waxless grip (scales on the base help grip the snow), so you can leave your skins at home. At 78 mm underfoot, it’s wide enough to handle variable snow conditions yet narrow enough to be agile and forgiving. $380. www.karhuskico.com

K2 Dawn Patrol If telemark skiing is your tour de force, the Dawn Patrol is your secret weapon. With an ample 88 mm waist, the Dawn Patrol offers stability in powder and crud. It prefers the soft snow, but when you encounter hard snow the ski’s wide tip helps it enter the turn and hold throughout it. K2’s Bioflex core—lighter weight and softer flexing to make turning easier for women—contributes to this hard-charging ski’s softer side. $575. www.k2skis.com


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Völkl Kiku Aggressive alpine skiers will appreciate the wide platform of the Kiku (105 mm underfoot) and the lightweight construction, thanks to the strips of über-thin yet strong balsa wood integrated with other woods in the ski’s core. Powder skis can be heavy and cumbersome, but the Kiku is easy to flex and floats effortlessly in soft snow. Pair it with the Marker Baron— a lightweight all-terrain (AT) binding— for a versatile all-mountain setup. $825. www.volkl.com

Salomon Snowscape 7 Siam The Snowscape 7 Siam is a classic waxless cross-country ski that’s thin enough to fit within the tracks at the Nordic center but wide enough to float when you’re making your own tracks in the backcountry. A lightweight foam core makes these skis fast, stable, and easy to maneuver in variable snow conditions. The Snowscape 7 Siam is shorter by design to make the skis easy to handle. It was developed with the Pilot Sport Classic binding, which contributes more power and control to the ski. $119. www.salomonsports.com

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fresh from the field SNOWSHOE Atlas Elektra 12 Series

Michael DeYoung / aurora photos

If the sequel to Sex in the City were called Sex in the Snow, the Elektra 12 Series snowshoes would be on all the women’s feet. Its sleek and stylish profile is the most visible perk, but it has a deeper benefit: a narrow waist and a tapered tail complement a woman’s natural stride. Backcountry enthusiasts will value the durable yet lightweight aluminum frame, the heel lifts for travel in steep terrain, and the stainless-steel prongs and heel crampons for snow penetration. It’s more oriented toward high-mountain adventures like a hut trip over low-angle hikes, so if you’re coming from the city, pack your energy bars. $259. www.atlassnowshoe.com

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fresh from the field Boots

Salomon Siam 7 Pilot Don’t let the warm faux-fur and fleece lining or the lace-covered design fool you: this cross-country boot offers control, stability, comfort, and warmth. The Siam 7 Pilot comes chock full of features such as an ergonomic flexible cuff and a women’s-specific fit, which means it accommodates a narrow heel and a wider forefoot. Your feet may last longer outside than you do. $90. www.salomonsports.com

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Gabe Rogel / aurora photos

Scarpa Domina The Domina comes with two tongues— a rigid ski tongue and a softer touring tongue—which can be inserted according to your turn-versus-tour ratio. If you enjoy hiking for your turns or even heading out the backcountry gate, the Domina will deliver both downhill performance and AT comfort. The Domina’s rubberized sole can be used in both alpine and AT bindings. $699. www.scarpa.com


Garmont Radium Garmont’s female testers demanded a ski mountaineering boot that’s as stiff as a man’s, and the result is the hardcharging, high-performance Radium. A new overlap shell design, similar to alpine boots, offers better downhill performance for hairy couloirs and runouts. The shell’s contoured shape fits closely to the foot, with the exceptions of typical hotspot areas such as the big toe, the instep, and the anklebone, which are punched out for a more comfortable fit without sacrificing performance. The Radium is compatible with Dynafit and other AT bindings. $760. www.garmontusa.com

Garmont Electra Make no mistake—the Electra is an aggressive, stiff telemark boot designed for speed and steeps both on- and off-piste. The women’s-specific liner has less volume in the forefoot and more around the ankle, where women typically need the support. The shell allows for customization because women have such a huge range of leg and foot shapes. The buckles can be moved 18 mm in either direction and are micro-adjustable. There’s an optional spoiler on the back that can raise or lower the cuff according to calf size. This boot is for the woman who waits for the boys. $680. www.garmontusa.com

Scarpa T1 Inbounds or out-of-bounds, the T1 (T for telemark) performs well in a wide range of terrain. Its women’s-specific fit addresses comfort issues by including a narrow heel pocket, to accommodate women’s lower-volume ankles, plus a wide forefoot area and a lower cuff, which help maintain circulation on women’s calf muscles. It comes with Intuition liners, which are heat-moldable for an accurate fit. The T1 also features a tour/walk mode, which allows the upper cuff to pivot, offering full range of motion for touring, but it can also be fixed in one position for downhill skiing. $649. www.scarpa.com

Black Diamond Stiletto Stiletto heels may have a stigma, but this boot doesn’t care what other people think. The Stiletto is a four-buckle telemark boot with a stiff-yet-forgiving feel. For deep powder in places like the Wasatch, the Stiletto’s more aggressive stance angle offers rock-solid performance. The women’s-specific liner and thermo-formable foot bed help cure fit issues. This beefy boot can power big skis on big mountains. $679. www.bdel.com

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fresh from the field GEAR

G3 SpadeTECH elle When G3 saw that women were gravitating toward the SpadeTECH shovel because of its compact design and small blade size, they created the SpadeTECH elle just for her. This durable and versatile shovel fits well into women’s-specific backcountry packs and also favors finesse and technique over brawn. It’s sleek, stylish, and strong. $68. www.genuineguidegear.com

Deuter Cruise 26SL An ill-fitting pack can nearly ruin a backcountry experience. That’s why Deuter designed the 26-liter capacity Cruise 26SL with a women’s-specific padded hip belt and contoured shoulder straps to better fit a woman’s torso. Its plethora of pockets on the inside accommodates a shovel, probe, and hydration bladder, and there are also side mesh pockets on the outside. Straps allow you to easily attach your skis, snowboard, or ice ax. Best of all, the Cruise 26SL weighs in at fewer than 3 pounds, so you can tour the backcountry without extra weight. $129. www.deuterusa.com

Backcountry Access Low Fat Climbing Skins When it comes to skins, low fat doesn’t mean not as good. The low means thin and compact, and the fat means that they can accommodate today’s fat skis. Because the skins are not bulky, you can put them in your pocket between laps out of the backcountry gate or stash them easily into a pack. They’re lightweight for travel and easy to pull apart, so you can spend more time burning calories after your high-fat treat. $120–$150, depending on the width (60–130 mm). www.backcountryaccess.com

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Corey Hendrickson / aurora photos

BCA Tracker In the world of avalanche beacons, the Tracker is a venerable favorite among both professionals and recreationists. The reason? It’s simple and easy to use. In the heat of the moment, simplicity can mean precious moments in an avalanche rescue. BCA designed the beacon so that it could be taken out of the box and used to save a life with little training. The slim profile is easy to hold, and the LED display makes numbers easy to read even in difficult weather. $289. www.backcountryaccess.com

Garmin Oregon 400t The Oregon 400t is a new line of handheld GPS devices from Garmin. Wireless capabilities allow unit-to-unit transfer of waypoints and routes, so you can mark your location and send it to your partner to decrease the chances of getting separated. The touch-screen technology makes this device more userfriendly than past models. The highresolution 3-inch screen helps you see all the U.S. topographical maps that are already preloaded. The waterproof device comes with a carabiner to clip onto a jacket or pack. $599. www.garmin.com Women’s j Adventure 89


fresh from the field Backcountry Basics Leslie Ross, founder and director of Babes in the Backcountry, offers her top tips for women who haven’t spent much time in the backcountry but want to journey there. • Educate yourself about what questions you should be asking. Find a one-day intro class, see if you like it, and then go from there. • Arm yourself with tips and knowledge about how to travel safely in the backcountry. • Find equipment that fits you and is appropriate for the activity you are undertaking. • Think smart, trust your instincts, and speak your mind—your thoughts and opinions are important to share. • Know yourself and your body— such as what you need for layers, food, and gear. • Go with people you trust and with whom you feel comfortable. • Take it one step at a time. Start small with reasonable objectives like getting comfy with your gear, your ski partners, and your skills.

Whit Richardson / aurora photos

• Arm yourself with tools to allow you to be prepared in the case of an emergency. Round up the tools and then round up your knowledge about how to use them.

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fresh from the field BACKCOUNTRY BINDING 101 Bindings are as important to your backcountry ensemble as a seatbelt is to your car. But a trip to a ski or mountaineering shop can be daunting because there are so many unique models on the shelves. To make your way through the myriad choices, decide first what kind of backcountry adventures you will have. If you are most comfortable in an alpine or high-performance AT boot (see page 86) and ski primarily at a resort with trips out of bounds, the Marker Baron ($435; www.markerusa.com) is the right choice. Billed as the “sidecountry adventure” binding, the Baron suits lighter-weight big-mountain skiers who want alpine performance with the ability to unlock the heel for more freedom and mobility in the backcountry. Also compatible with AT or alpine boots, the Swiss-designed Fritschi Diamir Explore ($369; www.bdel.com) favors longer tours in the backcountry with features such as a four-position climbing post, which helps support you on ascents. If you enjoy skinning up mountains for the powder stashes, you’ll appreciate the Explore’s lightness (it weighs fewer than 4 pounds) on the uphill and its durability on the downhill. If your idea of the backcountry involves lots of miles into the wilderness and more touring than turning, try the Dynafit FT 12 Binding ($569; www.dynafit.com). What makes the Dynafit system unique is that the toe unit has two pins that engage with the dimples on the front of all Dynafit-compatible AT boots, such as the Garmont Radium (see page 87). This technology sheds excess weight (the FT 12 weighs a mere 2.2 pounds), making it the lightest backcountry touring binding on the market. For hundreds of years, telemark skiing has been the traditional mode of backcountry travel. Free-heel bindings allow you to use telemark technique on the downhill (dropping one knee) while offering up freedom of movement for touring. Because telemark boots are softer-flexing than alpine boots, the telemark setup makes for a more comfortable all-day backcountry experience. What makes the G3 Targa Ascent S/S elle ($269; www.genuineguidegear.com) a women’s-specific touring telemark binding is its smallersize offerings, lightweight materials, and biomechanically engineered design for a natural and efficient stride. Because of the vast distances you can travel, crosscountry skiing feels inherently like trekking through the backcountry even if you’re in a Nordic center. If you’re looking for a fast and light way to tour or an aerobic winter workout, choose a Nordic ski, boot, and binding combination. Salomon’s Pilot Sport Classic Binding W ($45; www.salomonsports.com) provides an easy and convenient step-in and step-out system. The pivot point for the binding and the boot is placed 1 cm behind the toe to help transfer power and control so you can focus on moving through the mountains.

Marker Baron

Fritschi Diamir Explore

Dynafit FT 12 Binding

Targa Ascent S/S elle

Pilot Sport Classic Binding W

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WOMEN’S ADVENTURE (ISSN 1945-1946), Volume 7, Issue 1, January/February 2009, is published bi-monthly - Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, May/Jun, Jul/Aug, Sep/Oct, Nov/Dec - for $17.95 per year by Big Earth Publishing, 1637 Pearl Street, Suite 201, Boulder, CO 80302-5447. Application to mail at Periodicals Postage Prices is pending at Boulder, CO. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to WOMEN’S ADVENTURE, PO Box 408, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0408.


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editorial Par-what? By Michelle Theall

M

y ankle pops. I go down. I hold it for a while. Then I get back up and vault over a 4-foot wall. My left glute cramps somewhere way down deep beneath layers of muscle and fat. I favor my right leg to compensate. I am 42 years old, and I am taking parkour classes. Parkour is a combo of gymnastics, climbing, and free running that uses the world and its obstacles for a playground. If you’ve watched the opening chase sequence in Casino Royale, you saw parkour at its finest. But you’ve also seen it if you’ve watched any children during recess who were under the age of 10. Monkeying around on all fours (quad-ped movement), I understand just how much of my brain I’ve let atrophy since childhood. No wonder I can’t do a crab walk or a cartwheel. I haven’t tried to do one since I was five. It’s the same way with everyone else in our class, too. Women from their early twenties to mid-forties all comparing sore spots and bruises, like we’ve just discovered a secret Fight Club, and we’re proud of it. Yet everything we’ve done so far we achieved in elementary school. We just forgot about it. When I come home from a class, I teach my three-year-old the latest moves, contortionist stunts called the cat balance, duck walk, and monkey vault. He doesn’t wait and analyze like I do, doesn’t think about whether his right foot or left hand should be in front first. And, even more notable, he doesn’t look to see if there’s a soft mat or a hard floor beneath him. He watches me and leaps right into it. And his movements seem natural, unlike mine, which are awkward and stiff. From day one, kids know no fear. Their curiosity overrules everything else: light sockets, traffic, stairs, heights, storms, deep water, and animals five times their size. Why? They don’t know pain well yet. But pretty much the second we arrive on the planet, we start racking up owies. We learn the word no-no before rainbow or magic. Knowing consequences and boundaries is important—but also stifling. Fear keeps adults alive but also keeps them from living full lives. Because of fear, we don’t tell people we love them or try for a job promotion or ask someone if something is wrong. We avoid discomfort and delays in favor of the easy and familiar. We worry about money instead of enjoying a few of the indulgences it might afford us. I’ve come to believe in two statements that remain simultaneously true: Life is precious and fragile and it takes a lot of effort and bad luck to lose one’s life. If I count up my own near misses, I’ve been assaulted in a train station in Turin, Italy; carjacked at gunpoint in Albuquerque, New Mexico; knocked to my knees by lightning on Colorado’s 14,000-foot Torreys Peak; trampled unconscious by my own quarter horse; and run off the trail by a grizzly. I’ve seen mountain lions, polar bears, snakes, cheetahs, and even a poisonous frog. I’ve been to at least one place where if you drank the water it likely would have killed you. But if I really stop to think about it, the most scarring events in my life happened in my own tiny neighborhood more than 30 years ago. So, parkour is just one of the fearless new things I’ll be trying in 2009. I’m directing our staff in a redesign of Women’s Adventure (the results of which you’ll see in our next issue). I’ve started a lowcholesterol diet (which for a girl raised on steak is more adventurous than one might think). Though I’m scared of bikes (go figure), I’ll be testing electric hybrids for our May/June issue (because if you’re afraid to go cycling, why not add a motor to it?). Finally—and I say this every year, but this time I mean it—I want to grab the end of 96 Women’s j Adventure

my board on a jump in a terrain park, a solid, speed-carrying leap with a few seconds between me and the snow. I want big air. Scream-like-a-little-girl air. Because what we find when we stretch our limits, beyond a few bumps and bruises, is the unadulterated joy of our youth and the recurring belief that anything might be possible. After all, we still have our whole lives ahead of us. Coming up in the March/April issue: Spring Gear, Apparel, and Accessories Review: For women only. We test more than 1,000 pieces of new stuff for runners, hikers, paddlers, and campers and give our picks for the very best. Don’t go shopping without this handy guide. Adventure Panama, Anyone? Emerging (and previously unlikely) adventure travel destinations such as Rwanda, Nicaragua, Panama, Libya, and Serbia/Montenegro are experiencing unprecedented popularity. Why you should go now—and what those countries must do to protect their culture, land, and ideals as they reap an unexpected financial influx. The Green Action Hero: Big-mountain pro skier Alison Gannett makes one helluva solar margarita. Meet the woman who’s straw bale house and 100-miles-per-gallon converted SUV make Al Gore seem a bit chartreuse instead of a true green. Love on the Rocks: Fearless columnist Elisabeth KwakHefferan tells WAM readers why a hike through the woods just might be the perfect first date. Plus: The mental side of recovering from injury, excerpts from Terry Tempest Williams’s new book, information on anemia, a 10-minute sports makeover, parkour, setjetting, Beth Rodden and Tommy Caldwell at home, wolves, fly-fishing for kids, good-for-you juice bars, wildflower gardening, urban escapes, travel to Croatia, and so much more. Everything you need to Thrive in the Wild is coming soon.


January 2009 Women's Adventure Magazine