Forever on the mountaIn
James M. tabor
W.W. Norton, 2007, 370 pages.
During the last week of July 1967 a prolonged, violent storm, an Arctic hurricane, struck Alaska’s Denali National Park. The storm spawned the worst climbing disaster in the history of the park and the third worst in the history of mountaineering up that time. The tragedy occurred near the summit of Mt. McKinley on the Muldrow Glacier Route. Seven of twelve climbers in what was officially known as the Wilcox Mt. McKinley Expedition died after eleven of the twelve members successfully reached the summit.
Forty years after the event, John Tabor casts a fresh eye on the events of that summer in an attempt to move beyond the controversy and establish real cause and effect relationships for the deaths. From interviews with all the surviving members of the expedition, the parents of several who perished and a few of the “officials” involved in the incident, Tabor pieces together the chronology of the climb and the ensuing disaster. But Tabor takes us beyond the known. Today’s understanding of high altitude physiology and psychology coupled with his own experience as a climber and scraps of information from radio transmissions from the team at the summit allows Tabor to crawl into the minds of the members of the ill-fated second summit team. An entire chapter follows these seven climbers to the summit and to their subsequent demise at the hands of nature.
While Forever on the Mountain includes revelations not in team member Howard Snyder’s 1973 account The Hall of the Mountain King or team leader Joe Wilcox’s 1981 account White Winds, Tabor acknowledges that there are still important unanswered questions. Join Tabor as he employs the techniques of forensic science to this most tragic, controversial and mysterious disaster in North American mountaineering history and you will begin to understand the complex bureaucracy that aided and abetted nature in claiming seven lives. The trip through this book will leave you informed, frustrated and saddened by the tragic loss of life.
Don’t Forget The Duct Tape
The Mountaineers Books, 2nd. Edition, 111 pages.
One thing becomes abundantly clear from perusing this gear-repair reference book: backpacking gear can fail in ways you never thought possible, so you’d be wise to view your stuff with suspicion. This compendium of gear-related problems, catastrophes, and dilemmas covers everything under the sun and is a good line of defense against allowing gear problems to ruin an outing.
Being the gear editor for Backpacker magazine, author Kristin Hostetter brings her considerable experience and knowledge to bear on this often overlooked subject. Backpacking gear is expensive and is subjected to harsh conditions and rough treatment. It could certainly benefit from routine cleaning and maintenance. And if that gear fails in the field, then knowing how to fix it is not only convenient, but it could potentially be life-saving.
As the title suggests, the book stresses the innumerable uses for duct tape. Scattered throughout the pages are “Duct Tape Tips” that show how this versatile product can fix almost any gear problem, at least temporarily. One caveat, though: the same quality that makes duct tape so useful-the adhesive-can also be the reason you should think twice about using it, and Hostetter is quick to point out when the residue left behind by the tape could be an issue.
Beyond duct-tape, the book addresses both classic gear, like Norwegian-welt boots, and the problems that occur with the latest trends in gear, such as hydration systems and synthetic fabrics and coatings. The contents of the book are logically and clearly organized by gear type for easy reference. The introductory chapter covers basics such as what your in-the-field and at-home repair kits should contain and a partial list of the ills that can be remedied with duct tape. Best of all, the book is small and light enough (3 oz.) to bring along in your pack for reference in the field.
Make MagazIne #11
O’Reilly Media, 192 pages
I’ve always flIpped through Make magazine and thought it was nicely designed and printed and might have some interesting articles, but, quite honestly, I’m not looking to add any more projects to my life right now. Then issue #11 hit the stands with a cover story promising “D.I.Y. Wheels” with a cover photo of a bicycle mounted mobile drive-in movie projector. Okay. I give in. That’s something I would like to make.
The magazine’s subtitle is “Technology on your time.” Each journal-size issue has 200 pages of cool things you can build yourself. Some articles cover generalities or interview world-class tinkerers. Others get into detailed specifics including blueprints, step-by-step how-to photos, and handy lists of tools and materials you’ll need.
In this issue you’ll find a bunch of cool bike projects. The cover story involves creating your own battery powered video projector from a kit made from recycled computer monitor parts. There’s also piece on making “Granny’s Nightmare Chopper Bike,” building an iPod Bike Charger, adding an electric motor to a bike, and how to ugly up your bike to deter thieves.
Even though I grabbed this issue for the bike content, the one project I wanted to drop everything and do right now wasn’t a bicycle. It’s called “Ball of Sound,” a “low-cost spherical speaker array” made out of bright-red Ikea salad bowls. This I need.
Another great piece in this issue is a brief retrospective piece on Paul MacGready’s Gossamer Condor, the plane that made the first human-powered flight in history and inspired an Oscar-winning short documentary.
Make comes out quarterly and by the time you read this issue 11 may be off the newsstand. No worries. You can order this issue (the cover price is $14.99) from their website www.makezine.com. While you’re at it you might want to check out their sister magazine Craft, too. That is of course if you got some time for few cool projects in your life.
Book Reveiws, Magazine Article |
One of the things I love about cycling in Spokane is the fact that we have four distinct seasons. Fall is a great transition season here: you get cool days and some mornings are downright cold. After the long, hot days of summer, I enjoy the bit of rain and the shorter, cool days. I love cozying up in many layers of thin wool and enjoying the crisp air on early morning rides.
Fall is also the time where I put fenders and lights back on all my bikes. In the summer, I have at least one fendered and lighted bike at the ready. But this time of year, I get all of my bikes nerded out so I can ride any time of day and in any weather.
For lights, I have evolved over the years to using generator hubs. As the name implies, a generator hub is a front hub where a magnetic generator spins inside the hub shell and creates an electrical current. You can connect an incandescent or LED light (or multiple lights) to the hub. Although expensive, at about $200 per bike for the hub and lights, setting up a generator lighting system is probably the easiest solution for lighting because once installed, it just works. You never have to worry about being caught out on a ride in the dark and having your batteries die.
A front generator-driven light along with a couple red lights in the rear, and plenty of reflective bits on my bike and clothing keep me visible for city riding. Because the city is pretty well-lit, I think about lights for my bike as “be seen” lights for the majority of my riding. My main front light is bright enough to pick up potholes and crud in the road, but its main purpose is to help me be seen by drivers and pedestrians. It’s not bright enough to go into a dark forest and do a bunch of technical single-track. For that kind of riding, you need a “see” light.
“See” lights have come a long way in the last decade or so. The combination of LED, halogen, and battery-life improvements has made for some impressive strides in bicycle lighting. Nearly every bike shop in town will have a suite of super-bright battery powered lighting systems that you can evaluate and buy. I don’t know of a bike shop in town that has a generator hub and wheel set up with a light, though any shop can order them.
Both the generator solution and the super-bright battery powered lighting systems are expensive. If you ride daily, spending a bunch of money on a good lighting solution is money well-spent. Otherwise, there are a bunch of small battery powered lights that you can choose from for about $35. If I’m not running a generator system then I’ll attach two lights: one blinky light and one solid light focused on the road in front of me. Or, I’ll use my lit helmet. My lit helmet has a camping headlamp zip-tied to the front and a red blinky attached on the rear. A lit helmet is a great solution as camping headlamps have really gotten cheap, small, light, and bright in the last few years. By running lights on your helmet, the front light tracks where you turn your head, which comes in very handy if you have to change a flat or otherwise fuss with your gear in the dark. And having a light on your head allows you to shine the light directly at car drivers and pedestrians so they are sure to see you at intersections.
With fall, also comes rain. In Spokane, we don’t have a ton of rain, but we have enough in the non-summer months to warrant keeping fenders on your bike most of the year. This is true especially if you are using your bike for commuting, grocery shopping, or just general transportation. You wouldn’t dream of buying a car that sprayed road gunk on you every time you drove it in the rain, but many bikes intended for practical transportation do not have fenders. Even for recreational riding fenders make sense: just as a courtesy to cyclists that ride behind you, where the rooster tail of water shoots off the back wheel. Fenders also keep the black stripe off your back and they keep the muck out of your drive train and off your shoes. Be sure to get full fenders; the little clip-on fenders barely keep the stripe off your back, let alone your shoes, legs, and drive train.
John Speare grew up and lives in Spokane. He rides his bike everywhere. Check out his blog at http://cyclingspokane.blogspot.com.
Everyday Cyclist, Magazine Article |
Carol Dellinger did not start running with lofty goals in mind, but you better believe she’s found them along the way. As a recreational softball player in her twenties, “I thought I should start working on endurance so I could turn some of my singles into doubles,” she says. One new pair of shoes and a couple miles later, and Dellinger was a runner for life.
Running gave her a feeling of empowerment, knowing she was making a conscious decision to live healthier. “After my first Boomsday, I felt so empowered, it was like, I am woman, hear me roar! It was better than any home run I ever hit.”
“After so many team sports, I decided I wanted to do something for myself,” she says. Now she runs five days a week, traveling to complete a marathon every three to four weeks. Over the last twenty years, she’s crossed the finish line an astounding 212 times, one of only four women in the nation who competes so actively. “It’s a nice, healthy way of life,” she says. Here’s a peek at the gear that keeps her on her feet.
Shoes: Saucony’s Grid Hurricane model. Somewhere around Dellinger’s 100th marathon, Saucony’s reps realized they’d seen her around a time or two at the pre-race conventions, and they offered her a sponsorship.
She may not be the fastest marathoner, but the people she talks to at conventions can relate to her: “I’m an every day person, I work and support myself in addition to running,” she says.
Dellinger represents the brand in her frequent races and a few times per year at conventions in exchange for all the free Hurricanes and running attire she can use. She usually gets a new pair of her favorite model after each marathon: “I find that wearing the same model of shoe eliminates the need to break in the new pairs,” she says.
Socks: Wigwam’s Ultimax socks. Dellinger loves Wigwam’s socks so much, she begged the company to send her socks she could wear all year round in the steel-toed boots she wears to work.
For Dellinger, socks are the key to happy feet. “I can’t remember the last time I had a blister on my feet, except at a wedding this summer.”
Clothes: All provided by her sponsor, Saucony, which provides her with race and training gear, often made by Hind, a subsidy of Saucony.
“They have a whole line of loose-fitting running tights that I love. They’re my number one favorite article of clothes.”
Dellinger races in the Saucony compression shorts. “I can’t remember the last time I ran in cotton anything,” she says.
Accessories: “As long as you’ve got your shoes and socks, some shorts and a bra that won’t rub you raw, then you’ve got to make sure you’ve got your hydration in line for the race,” she says. Dellinger uses a pack provided by GU, another sponsor, that allows her to carry up to ten packets of GU in two flasks that fit in its holsters.
Over her marathon career, Dellinger has accumulated three pieces of jewelry that now she won’t travel or race without: earrings, a ring and a necklace that each say 26.2. “I’ve been halfway through the airport, realized I forgot my ring, and had to go home and get it.”
She also wears a Timex Ironman watch, but no other gadgets. She doesn’t listen to music while running, she says, “for safety reasons, and I like to say hi to everyone I see while I’m out running during lunch.”
For Dellinger, those 26.2 miles are practically a walk in the park, but, she says, “I still get nervous and excited before each race, and as long as I still get that feeling, I’m going to keep on going.”
Magazine Article, What's Your Gear? |
There are over 250 Trader Joes locations across the country, four more opening soon and 20 locations that are “coming soon.” Rumors of a Spokane location have floated around for the last three to four years, but, sadly, to many in the area, Spokane is not currently on the list of upcoming stores.
Spokane resident, Sarah Bain, has been actively trying to bring Traders Joes to Spokane for close to three years. Regularly writing letters by hand to the corporate headquarters before the website accepted emails, Bain at one point urged friends and family to write the store regularly requesting a Spokane store. She says interest in a location for Spokane is growing and over 30 folks have expressed interest in a “Trader Joes contingent of sorts.”
“I was talking to a lady on my corner, just last week; she had a Trader Joes’ bag and she said that they just got back. She said that they make trips specifically to Seattle to go to Trader Joes. Mostly people just want to know-are they coming or not?” says Bain.
While Trader Joes sells organic foods, according to Bain it is not accurate to equate it with Huckleberry’s Natural Market. Bain sees the closest comparison in Spokane to being the Cost Plus World Market on Division Street.
Trader Joes stores seem to be loved for their pre-packaged fresh and frozen gourmet meals, unique snack items and exotic wine collection-high quality items at good prices. Owned by a pair of billionaires from Germany, Trader Joes touts itself as “your neighborhood store.”
In July of 2006, the Spokesman-Review reported that Trader Joes, “is looking for property to open its first Eastern Washington store.” The store reportedly looked at three downtown sites as potential locations and visited Spokane in response to a formal pitch by the Downtown Spokane Partnership. Since then, Trader Joes appears to be no longer talking about Spokane.
Kaaren Bloom, another local Traders Joes activist, who, at one point, regularly checked in with stores on the west side of the state to see if there were Spokane plans says, “At one point about a year and half ago, they had Spokane on the map. They said, ‘yes, they are looking at locations right now in Spokane.’ And then a few months after that, they said, ‘it is temporarily on hold.’” Bloom has since then concluded, “that the whole thing that Trader Joes is coming to Spokane is an urban legend.” Plus her husband, has refused to continue inquiring at west side stores.
Sarah Bain’s informants seem to be on the same page as Bloom’s. Bain, however, is starting to believe that there is a conspiracy going on.
“Their latest story was that they were coming. What my neighbor Colleen said, was, ‘the cashier at the Trader Joes on Queen Anne told me was that it was really weird that they ususally say right away why they are not going to a city and what is stopping them. But no one is talking about Spokane.’”
Bain’s most recent information, that she admits is hard to know whether, “it is just gossip or not” said that, “there is some business in Spokane that is trying to keep Trader Joes out.” Exasperated, Bain, exclaims, “we are not talking about Wal-Mart!”
Whether it is the rumored 3-store minimum, the need to find an existing building that is 10,000 square feet or a corporate conspiracy, the Inland Northwest appears to be, at least in the short term, Trader Joes-less.
Bain adds, “The last time I was in Seattle at Trader Joes, I think I might have seen Sasquatch there.”
Rumored TJ sites:
Excell Foods, South Perry
Main Floor of 809 West Main Condos
City Project, Main Floor of the Ridpath
Main Floor of the Morgan Lofts
Safeway on Third
“Somewhere in the Spokane Valley”
Manito Shopping Center
Lincoln Heights Shopping Center
Havermale Park Development
Editorial, Magazine Article |
I was goIng to wrIte about the need to pass the Conservation Futures advisory vote. Then, as we were going to press, came the news of the death of Spokane residents Otto Vaclavek and his 12-year-old son Max on a hiking and climbing trip near Leavenworth, Washington. I can only begin to fathom what it must be like for their friends and family to have lost not one, but two family members, one a child, to this terrible tragedy.
A scenario played out in my mind. What if you were the father of a young child? At an early age you see yourself in this kid; filled with adventure, curiosity barely limited. You see a chance to pass on something you love about the world, your love of the outdoors. You find that the kid loves the outdoors too, it challenges him. You are enthralled watching your son have experiences in the natural world for the first time. He’s the new, improved version of you, with a chance to have more outdoors skills and a better knowledge of our environment.
You go beyond car-camping to hiking, climbing, and fishing in near-wilderness terrain. You’re helping create an outdoorsman. You are helping yourself comprehend whole worlds of nature taken for granted until you saw them through a young child’s eyes.
Meanwhile your son’s peers are struggling to have a single unmediated experience outside. The vacant lots next door, a ubiquitous fixture in neighborhoods of your youth, are gone. Video games, once so simple they struggled to keep a kid’s attention for ten minutes are now so powerful they keep them glued to a screen for weeks. Fear about physical safety, stranger danger, and the wilderness are keeping kids indoors. They are more likely to be sedentary, eating foods far removed from the natural world and more likely to contract a whole range of life-threatening ailments that begin with diabetes and end with obesity.
I didn’t know the Vaclaveks I don’t know the circumstances of their death. I’m sure some will question the activity that lead to their demise just as they would if my daughter and I were killed on the bicycle that I ride her through town with almost everyday. When I see the joy my daughter gets on a bike, speeding downhill in the open, air it’s hard to imagine love of the outdoors being more life-threatening than life-giving.
p.s. A memorial fund for the Vaclaveks has been set up at STCU.
Editorial, Magazine Article |