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Letters from 2000

Anatoli: Hero of the Mountains (August 2, 2000)

I first heard of Anatoli Boukreev in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. Although I enjoyed the book for its gripping narrative quality, I was a bit suspicious about Krakauer's portrayal of Boukreev as a villain.

After reading Into Thin Air, I have come across many more accounts of the 1996 tragedy. Most recently I read The Climb. It was then that I gained some clarity on the tragedy that unfolded on Everest in 1996.

I would like to strongly question Krakauer's intentions behind his portrayal of Boukreev as a villain, express solidarity with Weston DeWalt, and salute Boukreev as a true hero of the mountains. His spirit, approach to mountaineering, and empathy with the mountains is inspiring. I hope Boukreev's example finds life in others, and that his spirit lives on.

Anand Vasu
Madras, India

K2000: Professionalism and Hype in Mountaineering (July 31, 2000)

Shawn O'Fallon's dispatch regarding amateur climbers is interesting because "amateur" climbers are often some of the hardest working and fittest athletes around (compare the typical pro baseball player to an amateur climber who can climb 5.13 and the climber will be in much better shape).

However, his statement that pro climbers are "all about hype" sounds a bit petulant and misplaced. The people who I have known who are sponsored to climb rock had the sponsorship for a reason, and the reason was tied to climbing skills, not self promotion. I think it is different in the mountaineering world. Although there are very skilled climbers who aspire to Himalayan achievement, there are also a lot of "bumblies" that buy their way to 8000 meter summits. (I know Bearzi's routes in RMNP [Rocky Mountain National Park], and he has made some impressive ascents).

Please do not mix in all climbers with "peak-baggers" who lay out tens of thousands of dollars to climb steep snow and breathe bottled oxygen. That is about hype; just summiting an 8000 meter peak will get you press. The media loves it, the non-climbing world is intrigued by it, and all climbers get labeled as "mountain climbers" and have to field questions like "Do you want to climb K2 someday?"

Maybe Shawn should get out of "ABC" and go cragging with some of the pros. After you on-sight a 5.14a and free-solo Astroman, then you can start trash-talking professional climbers and slighting their climbing performance. In my opinion, Himalayan climbers love the hype and seem to repeat the same routes season after season, as long as the media and corporate sponsorship is there.

Jason Prinster
Salt Lake City, UT

Forbidden Towers: Inspiring Coverage (July 29, 2000)

Steph, Dave, Jimmy, Brady:

Way to go team! I've been following your progress on the Zone for weeks. Glad to hear you were so successful. Way to go MountainZone for the great coverage.

Tough rock, new territory, some adventure, some hardship (the gombu), some punishment (Jimmy's fall), but overall a great climb. Hearing what you were up against, the aid doesn't take a thing away from it. Hope to be reading more about you in the near future.

I started climbing about a year-and-a-half ago. Middle-age crisis stuff. I'm up to some easy 5.9s now. I climbed Mt. Whitney (Mountaineers route) and Mt. Rainier (Ingraham Direct route) this year. is one of my favorite websites. A must-read every day. Keep up the good work.

Lynn Stephens
Orem, Utah

K2000: Vital Dispatches (July 29, 2000)

Dear Mountain Zone:

Thank you so much for providing detailed information on high-altitude climbing expeditions. I enjoyed your coverage of this year's Alpine Ascents International Everest expedition, and of course last year's awesome search for Mallory and Irvine.

I'm a little disappointed that the K2000 dispatches seem to be few and far between. I keep hoping for daily updates. It's the first thing I check for on my computer, even before e-mail. But sometimes there's an agonizing four or five day interval with no news from the mountain. This isn't a criticism of MountainZone, nor of the climbers, just anxious waiting from an avid fan. I hope the weather has turned favorable and they're busy climbing, but day after day with no word is driving me crazy (it's currently Saturday in Pakistan, but we've heard nothing since Monday).

I suspect that Terry Richards' scathing exposé of Jeff Alzner's leadership style has soured the climbers on sharing more about their experiences. I don't blame them. That was "pimp journalism" in my opinion: selling out to sensationalism. How sad. Anyone with brains has to know that being cooped up together for weeks with endless foul weather and the constant threat of avalanches is going to take its toll on the individuals. Who wouldn't get cranky? I think they're all to be commended for their effort, and I wish them well. But please, oh please, can they try taking turns at jotting down a little note each day so we can follow their progress more closely? It's terribly frustrating having the available technology - and silence.

Thank you for providing this forum, and please send along my best wishes for a safe and successful climb.


Shanda McGrew
Glencoe, California

Mallory: Still a Hero (July 28, 2000)


I'm a deep ocean explorer, but follow all adventure sports. Since childhood, 50 years ago, Mallory was one of my heroes! What is the latest on a possible return to find Irvine's body?

Congrats on a great website.

The best,

Ken Clayton

Climbing: Dangerous, Rewarding Society (July 28, 2000)

Dear members,

I am not a member of the climbing fraternity, but have shared many adventures through an old friend who has been climbing for the past 20 years. Through Duncan, I have learnt of many brave people and read many gripping accounts of successful summits, as I have come to appreciate many great aborted climbs!

I write to you to share the loss of an exceptional friend, Duncan Elliott who did not survive the north face of Mt Huascaran (Peru's highest). I gather the North face is the most challenging, while the particular route Duncan was on was last climbed successfully six years ago. He, I believe, through sketchy reports, was about 300 metres from the summit when an avalanche of ice bore down on him and fellow climber Markos Lopez. Both were struck and lost their gear in the incident. Duncan was struck unconcious while Markos clung to consiousness and patched a call to base camp. Some 30 - 40 hours later, a rescue team reached them, however, Duncan had lost a great deal of blood and had succumbed to his injuries.

We (his friends and family) will mourn this brave, freindly and charming man in Cape Town, South Africa on Friday the 28th of July. Should any of you know the mountain he was on and can relate to me how, what, etc., I would be delighted to hear more of this fascinating place that has kept Duncan enthralled and obsessed for many years. If any of you have ever climbed with him it would be great to hear from you too.

Warren Green
South Africa

Anatoli: Not Forgotten (July 28, 2000)

It was with much sadness that I learned of Anatoli's passing. I have read John Krakauer's Into Thin Air and now just recently Anatoli Boukreev's The Climb. I only wish that John Krakauer would have taken more time to reflect and research before so quickly writing his book. I am grateful Anatoli took the time to tell his story. It would have been even more tragic for the truth to never be told. His courage, strength, and heroism will never be forgotten.

Jackie Van Horn

MountainZone: Superior Coverage! (July 28, 2000)

Dear Editors -

We had never been to MountainZone before our son [Walter Keller - Ed.] left for this adventure and said to check it (and Quokka) to see if you put anything on.

Well, we have become constant followers! You have everything and every type of sport. We have told many people about this site over the last few months.

A great big heartfelt "THANK YOU." This was the first time we were able to follow our son's climbing. The completeness (team bios, maps, photos, dispatches and actual calls) was nothing short of AMAZING. Some of the photos the members were able to take with your equipment were absolutely breathtaking, suspenseful and awesome, and the clarity was excellent.

Also, a special thank you to ALL the team members who climbed the normal route and the first ascent of the East Ridge of Mustagh Ata, China for allowing us and others to follow your adventures from May until July of 2000 via MountainZone.

It was so exciting to follow, we can't even imagine what it was like to have actually been there.

Walt & Chris Keller

Everest: History Inspires Students (July 25, 2000)

Hello from The Upper Yarra Valley, east of Melbourne, Australia,

I am a teacher of Geography, at a high school. Recently we had that wonderful video on the finding of Mallory on our ABC TV. I taped it and showed it to the students. They were fascinated. They sat riveted, speechless, looking at the screen. I have since planned a whole unit of work called "Climbing Mount Everest." I found you while I browsed through material thrown up by the keywords "George Mallory."

I have only climbed one tiny peak on New Zealand's South Island. I am a Kiwi and proud of the Hillary's, of course. This week I have re-read a 1920's book on the 1924 expedition, plus Hunt's account of the 1953 expedition, and I am also re-reading James Ramsay Ullman's book on Tensing. Is Tensing still alive?

I am too old now to climb mountains, and I do not have the finances, but I can photograph them, and teach about them, and I can hopefully travel among them as much as possible. I am delighted to receive the updates.


Barbara Russell de Vries

K2: Just Climb! (July 24, 2000)

Aw Heidi...for Christ's's an avalanche. Either climb, quit, bitch, or do all three, but shut the f*&# up! I'm sick and tired of your stupid grasps to relate any act of nature to the meaning of all mankind.

Lew Turner

Dave Hahn: Humble Hero (July 24, 2000)

Kudos to David Hahn for his article on Everest Fame. Written with humility and truthfulness.

You are one of my heroes!

Kevin Shilka

MountainZone and K2: Winning Combination! (July 24, 2000)

I discovered your website when a neighbor of a good friend of mine became a team member of the K2 climb that you are currently highlighting on your site. I absolutely love visiting your website, not only to get updates on the climb, but to tap into the adventures that are most definitely out there to be had.

In regards to the K2 climb, I would like to pass along my best wishes to all involved; their commitment is simply amazing! I would like to tell Heidi that I am in awe of her writing. She truly allows me to "be there;" in a small way, to experience the mountain.

Thanks for this look into the dreams of others!

Jane Smyth

MountainZone: Salve for the Soul (July 20, 2000)

Dear Sirs,

I love your website. I get such a feeling of calm and serenity, it is really Zoloft for the soul. I recently had cancer and I am in remission. Your website and everything about it has been therapy. I thank you. My goal in life is to take a trip to Base Camp of Everest, not as a tourist, but as a human being connecting to something in life that has given me great pleasure and a will to live. I hope this letter makes sense.


Kevin D. Johnson

K2: Hi Wayne! (July 18, 2000)

To the Editor,

Please accept my thanks and praise for a fine job of reporting on the K2 expedition. In spite of (or maybe because of) all the drama, I've been glued to the browser.

I would like to send a personal message to Wayne Wallace, if possible:

"Wayne, hang in there!"


Steve Graham

K2: Howkins Supporters Unite! (July 17, 2000)

Hi friends,

I'd like to say to you (and to Heidi) how much I enjoy her dispatches. Once in a while someone writes for you who is a fresh voice, who seems to grasp some of the wider context of "getting to the expedition's goal". A couple of seasons ago, Dave Hahn wrote with a humanity unusual among the other dispatches. Now Heidi, who is funny, and reflective, and all else. Her "Dear Mom" dispatch went to half of my friends.

Thank you for your services to expeditions and to us armchair mountaineers.

Chris MacIntosh
San Mateo, California

Anatoli: Not Forgotten (July 17, 2000)

To me Anatoli was the greatest climber in the world. I almost never cry, but when reading about his death in the book "The Climb" I teared up and cried. I felt like I knew Tolya personally, though I've never met him. Anatoli risked his own life in May of 1996 so that he could save those lost climbers. He didn't have to do that. Anatoli is my hero!

I'll always think about him as I climb mountains, how his life touched a 15-year-old's heart. Anatoli said in his book: "Mountains have the power to call us into their realms, and there left forever are our friends who's great souls were longing for the heights. Do not forget the mountaineers who have not returned from the summits."

Savannah Collins
Lincolnton, GA

MountainZone: Somebody Loves Us! (July 14, 2000)


I just took a close look at your web site! It rocks! I think it is awesome! All the info I was looking for was right there and it is really one of the greatest sites. Don't change a thing!


Mustagh: Heavenly State of Nature (July 10, 2000)

Dear Editor and all those putting together the progress of the Mustagh Ata (East Ridge) Team currently there,

I've been reading with great joy about the team's progress and magnificent photos of the Mustagh Ata. You guys are doing a great job! Thanks for making it happen.

I can't help thinking about the team in the extreme, but heavenly states of nature, every time I look up at the top of the Central Plaza building in Hong Kong. I would appreciate if you could pass on my best wishes to all the team members, especially Walter Keller.

Thank you,

Best Regards from Hong Kong,
Angela Lau

K2: Hurrah for Howkins (July 7, 2000)

I am unaware of exactly how I might send an e-mail to Heidi Howkins, who is currently climbing K2 as part of Jeff Alzner's team. While each of the dispatchers has done a magnificent job of capturing both the drama as well as the day-to-day mundaneness of climbing the mountain, I just wanted to say that Heidi's eloquence has been most appreciated by me as an armchair follower of the expedition. I would appreciate it if that compliment could be forwarded to her along with my wishes to the entire team for a successful summit bid.

Jon Caless

K2: Dissention is De Rigueur (July 6, 2000)

Salut from Canada!

I have followed the American K2000 Expedition on religiously. Most recently I have been reading about the Oregonian article and its subsequent fallout. What is so surprising? Stress, boredom, details, danger, altitude and egos are the ingredients for a nasty cocktail. I read all the time about fist fights in and around El Cap - and that's back home in America - so why would disagreements at ABC in the middle of the Karakoram seem so strange?

Mountaineering/Summiting/Failing/Dying is ultimately a solo endeavour and not a team sport. Whatever the case, it makes for good reading and that's good news for the Oregonian and MountainZone! And for Alzner, Ziel, Howkins, Mountain Hardwear, and even the Pakistan Tourism Industry...

All that being said, I wish Heidi would write more dispatches. Hers at least show some creativity and cleverness. In fact, I think she is the best mountain correspondent I have ever read and I can't wait to read more. Viva Heidi! After all, can you imagine hanging out with all those guys, all the time? (As a male, I can't imagine spending that kind of time at that kind of endeavour in that kind of place with that many women!!!!!!).

Stay free and play nice,

Billy Collins
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Iditarod: Norwil is Local Hero (July 3, 2000)


After reading through some of the letters to the editor, I was particularly struck by the many nasty comments about Pat Norwil. The letter of 3/14 about the Iditarod and Pat was especially disturbing. First of all, I don't consider anything a sport in which not all participants are willing participants, such as the sled dogs, many of whom die every year. There is surely not much joy in the life of a sled dog, many are abused and are strictly considered a cash crop. In the same letter V.V. of Alaska dares to trash Pat Norwil, who is only punishing himself, not some helpless dogs, on that trail.

Those of us who've worked with Pat at Crystal Mountain know him only as an extremely hard worker who was well liked and admired by everyone at the mountain. You go, Pat, don't listen to those idiots. You are a hero! Thanks for not looking for glory by abusing animals!

Your friends at Crystal

Liz Enger
Enumclaw, Washington

K2: Altitudes, not Attitudes (July 3, 2000)

I'd first like to say what an incredible job you and the team are doing on the web site covering the American K2-2000 North Ridge Expedition. The up-front, in-depth information provided about the team, SupPorters, the mountain history, maps, etc. is a great way to introduce us low-landers to the expedition and the people involved. I especially enjoy the daily dispatches with accompanying photos. I just viewed the photos taken on June 30th of the climb from Camp 1 to Camp 2. Some of the best climbing shots I've seen. I also enjoy the writings of Heidi Howkins. Her ability to relate the hardships of the expedition with her wonderfully witty sense of humor is an invaluable asset to your web site. It would be a shame to lose her due to some of the uncontrolled egos on the mountain.

Secondly, I am fortunate to live in the Portland metro area. Each Sunday, Pulitzer winning journalist Terry Richard provides an article in the Oregonian with a slightly different slant on the climb. Because he is climbing no higher than base camp, and he has been following the organization of this climb for the past two years, he can step back and view the team and their mission from a different perspective. Thus, I was disappointed to read in yesterday's (Sunday Orgeonian, 7-2-00) article about the dissention among the team members. If anyone (and I'm sure most of the team members have) has read Jim Wickwire's account of his first attempt to summit K2 in 1975 (Addicted To Danger) then they know that the attitudes and egos that are currently prevailing on the mountain will destroy this teams attempt to reach the top. I'm not sure what your response to the team was regarding their "vote" to remove Heidi form the spokesperson position. But when you get word to those boys, tell them to cool their heels and concentrate on climbing. She obviously has taken it upon herself to go above and beyond the call of duty to provide informative reporting from the mountain. The whole point of having several people providing dispatches is to realize the different perspectives of the individuals. For them to try to stifle Heidi is a shame. If they have something to say, let them write their own dispatches and leave the others to theirs.

Again, excellent web site. Keep the reports coming and encourage cooperation and tolerance and pray for success.


Rob D. Amsberry
Milwaukie, Oregon

K2: Brats! (July 2, 2000)

As reported by Terry Richards in The Oregonian, Sunday, July 2nd, the members of the K2 Expedition sound like a bunch of spoiled rich brats. Most of us who spend our days working just to pay the bills would feel so lucky to be included in a multi-million dollar adventure like their expedition. Somebody needs to whack these guys over the head and give them a reality check....they seem to have lost their perspective.

Dave Stalker
Bend, OR

K2: Greetings from Home (June 28, 2000)


I wanted to say thank you for doing such a great job with the K2 expedition coverage and sponsorship! I have a personal interest 'cause one of the climbers is our next door neighbor.

Say hi to Wayne Wallace from neighbors Dee, Mike Nelson, Larry, and Ryan. Tell him his house is still standing and all is well there. And please add our congratulations for your success so far, and extra good luck for the remainder of your journey.

Thank you!


National Champion Recovers from Crash (June 27, 2000)


This letter is for Lucas Kane regarding his article on the Mount Snow NCS. I was reading your article and saw that you mentioned my crash during the Pro Women's Downhill qualifier. Just wanted to let you know that even after the crash, I was able to finish my qualifying run and actually qualified in 33rd position.

I was checked out by the race doctors on site and basically they said that I probably compressed my spine, but didn't appear to have broken anything. I was packing up and getting ready to leave the race when a fellow competitor told me I qualified for the final. I was undecided on whether to race or not, but decided to go for the points for the series. I figured that if I was hurt that bad I could always pull off, but I really wanted to try to race. Through the help of my sponsor, White Brothers, and my mechanic, Stephen Porraro, we were able to get my bike back into rideable condition for the final run.

As I sat in the start gate, I thought I might be doing something really stupid by racing, but once I started, I actually felt good. I didn't race fast, but I did hit every line I wanted to, even riding down the ledges (with one break in my flow to change direction). I was able to complete the course in 7:51 (not a fast time, but considering my crash I was thrilled). In retrospect, I'm glad I did the race because instead of going home defeated, I felt like I conquered the mountain.

I want to thank my sponsors Avalanche Downhill Racing, White Brothers, Azonics, and Spectro for all their assistance, and for making it possible for me to compete. Some personal info: I'm the reigning Masters 40+ World and National Downhill Champion and this is my second year competing on the pro circuit.

See you on the trails,
Kathi Krause

Robb on Denali (June 26, 2000)

Well Mr. Knowall, Scott Darnsey, calls us "Avalanche Poodles". He says we didn't know any better, or is he just trying to be the big media hero? He wasn't up there on the slopes so he didn't know what the conditions were like. He went up the next day, so had the conditions changed so much, or was he a fool as well? His team appears to have taken over 10 hours to summit whereas we had summitted and were back to top camp in under that time. Who is more foolhardy? It was -50 when we summitted whereas his team says it was -80. I know which day I'd rather summit on! Let me be a "poodle" any time in preference to having a mouth 10 times too large and an insatiable appetite for inappropriate media coverage!

Geoff Robb

Alex Lowe (June 25, 2000)

First and foremost, I'd like to congratulate you on an informative and entertaining web site. Secondly, I was wondering if there was any way to obtain a video copy of your tribute to Alex Lowe. I only met him once but that one encounter is an experience I will always remember, and I wish that I could have introduced him to my little brother. That said, I would assume all funds would go to the trust fund for his family, so if there is any amount, let me know.

Thank you in advance for your time,
Rob Trauscht

Editor's Note:

The video was created for the internet and Real Player G2 only. Prior to Alex leaving for Shishapangma, he left us a CD that contained his favorite climbing pics from his life's endeavors.

Epic Colorado Plateau Hike (June 24, 2000)

Dear Sir/Madam,

I'm writing about the ongoing story regarding the 700-mile hike around the Colorado Plateau. Last September, I took a vacation through much of the same area, driving to many of those same national parks and hiking the various trails. Your accompanying photographs allowed me a chance to remember and reflect on the extraordinary topography of the region. I just wanted to thank you for publishing such a story on-line. Utah succeeded in expropriating a piece of my soul!

Christopher F. Gaspar

Dissatisfied Ex-Fan (May 22, 2000)

You used to be the best adventure/outdoors etc. web site in the world. Now with the sale to Quokka, we do not find the stories as well presented, it is full of bells and whistles that take away from the story, a lot of links crash Netscape... I was an early follower from France and I see once again that greed which seems the only value of America and Americans has taken over. What don't you buy Everest while you are at it ?
So long,

Olivier Pilley

Goran Kropp (May 22, 2000)


I want to vote on the polartec challenge. Goran Kropp gets my vote. He bicycled with all climbing gear from Sweden to Nepal, climbed the summit solo, and then back to Sweden on the same bicycle. State of thr art. The superman on the mountains. The reason Goran Kropp is the only name for the price is that he set a new lightweight style standard.

Bjorn Svensson

Anatoli Boukreev (May 18, 2000)

I never knew Anatoli, but I miss him . We need more men of his courage, passion, and conviction on this Earth. I have read all the books and articles, but just today came upon the audio of him singing. The sadness of his songs and his singing broke my heart. I can imagine the pain his dear friends must feel. Ms.Wylie must be an extraordinary woman. I would like to know her. I hope some day she will write an article or a book. But I suspect she never will, as her memories of her adventures with Anatoli must be private and personal. I am glad Anatoli is still on Annapurna. He should always be in the mountains. My deepest sympathy,

Patsy Rowell McClure
San Jose, California

The Whittaker Brothers (May 5, 2000)

Dear Mountain Zone,

Just a thought: it would be great if you could get BOTH Jim and Lou Whittaker in the same room and just turn on the microphone and listen to them BS about their mountaineering thoughts and experiences. Two brothers, two legends: priceless.

John Darrell Van Horn, Ph.D.

Editor's Note:

This year, we actually had Jim and Lou in the same room — but different times. Both remarked on the upside and downside of their inextricably intertwined lives as twins. Jim Whittaker's recent books expounds on that topic a little, so if you haven't read it you might want to.

All the best,

Peter Potterfield
Editor & Publisher

Marathon Kit List (May 5, 2000)

I found your site quite by chance and enjoyed a lot of it. However, when I saw your kit list I did not know whether to laugh uncontrollably or be appalled. This race can be done in trainers, with a down jacket, thermal underwear, jeans, a couple of polo necks, a sweatshirt, some good socks and a good sleeping bag. Take a medical kit if you are paranoid, listen carefully to what the Himalayan Mountain Association says to you, drink lots and enjoy the scenery. What would I know, I only invented this race.

Jan Turner

Turning Back (April 25, 2000)

I admire so much the courage that Viesturs and his crew showed in turning back on Annapurna from a climb that would have unnecessarily endangered people's lives beyond reasonable risk. It takes a different sort of courage to admit to one's limitations and to know how to live successfully with those limitations. I'm so glad to hear of common sense and practicality being exercised, even in a situation that must have been very disappointing for them.

Merindy Zoschke

Ed Viesturs Expedition on Annapurna (April 22, 2000)

I live in Alaska and I'm a 66 year old woman who thoroughly enjoyed and looked forward to listening every day to Ed Viesturs on Mountain Zone. I would love to be able to go to Base Camp and see those magnificent mountains — this media makes it possible in my mind's eye. Thank you and thanks to Ed Viesturs. I hope he will talk to us again on his next endeavor.

Lita Lewis in Anchorage, Alaska

Ed Viesturs (April 21, 2000)


I was thrilled to see Ed when he gave his slide show in Minneapolis and have been following his attempted climb of Annapurna with his Mountain Zone dispatches. I was more than impressed with his courage and intelligence, when he decided to call off the attempt because there was no safe route on the North or Northeast face of the mountain. More than ever, he is a mountaineering hero and icon and is to be greatly respected for his integrity. He is a shining example of mountaineering at its best.

Mary Long

Exodus (April 21, 2000)

Wake up call!

Anyone over there notice that about two dozen of your major climbing/mountain forum contributors just packed up their tents and left? You folks need to get on the stick about this server/software problem. Don't get me wrong, Mountain Zone is or was a great site, in that it offered a lot of features, but there are two alternative sites, on the same server, that offer more combined features than your entire operation, and they work!

For those of us with no aspirations to win the America's Cup, or run across France or Morocco sponsored by Speedo, it has become clear that your merger with Quokka has simply given them more of our server capabilities. We did not want to leave, but the continual frustration of dead links, error responses to a thread you'd just left, failed or lost posting threads, and a blind focus on moral content, instead of function, has taken it's toll.

When and if you get the warp drive back online, please contact me at this email address, and I will begin regathering the clans. Again, we regret this forced move, but there was really no choice.

Peggy Swainston

Mitch and Mike — Day 37 Encounter (April 19, 2000)

While hiking along the Beamer Trail between Palisades and Tanner Rapid, we ran across Mitch and Mike on Monday, April 17. They were heading to Palisades and were about an hour away; we were heading back to Tanner Rapid. We stood on the blazing hot trail, heavy-laden with packs, and talked of their adventure for nearly 30 minutes. They looked well and were freshly resupplied from Horseshoe Mesa. Evidently, their cache failed to contain razors and shaving cream — of course, they fit right in with our group. They, along with us, were unsuccessful in getting any river trip to throw us beer. We will be watching for further updates as they have time and occasion to get word out of the Canyon. We were happy to see such enthusiastic sponsorship of their trip.

Steve and Debbie Kenny
(with hiking partners Roger Young, Stephanie Nichols-Young, Karen McCreary and Steve Rayle)

Quokka (April 19, 2000)

Namaste Gang!

I've read some of the letters regarding Quokka and was quite prepared to dislike it myself (the devoted 'Zoner that I am), but I have to say that I'm really delighted by the way the Ama Dablam expedition has made a point of featuring the Sherpas and letting us see their faces, hear their voices and know a little bit about them. So often they're treated as peripheral to the Western expedition members while they do all the hard, dangerous, dirty work. So, to Quokka, "Thuche che" and to the Ama Dablam expedition members — no, you didn't fail, you made the right choices and behaved sensibly and well. Congratulations! The mountain will still be there when you come back.



Where's the Info? (April 19, 2000)

I just read your news on the Phoenix Bouldering Comp. I was chucked to see a friend, Erik Harrison, took 2nd place, beating a gaggle of the country's best boulderers. Yet, your article only mentions Erik once. Obe Carrion (who didn't even place in the top eight) got more press. Knowing Erik, he probably doesn't care about the press, but at least give credit where credit is due.


More Variety (April 17, 2000)

Dear Mr. Editor

Whenever I get a chance to surf the web, which unfortunately is not frequently enough, I first look at Mountain Zone to see what's happening in the big world of outdoor adventure. More often than not, it's a new or continuing story on Everest. Now don't get me wrong, Everest is indeed a story, but what about all the other outdoor adventures that the rest of our country or world is having?

How about a little more about those people? I live in a small community outside of Bishop, CA. It is quite the gathering spot for climbers. Mr. Sharma is a resident and is perfecting his climbing skills with only a five-minute drive to world class bouldering. How about a doing little more about the great athletes that are alive, not waiting until they pass away in an unfortunate accident?

How about stories like The North Face that has filed Chapter 11 or 13? What's going to happen to them? Hmm, now that's a story. How about little Gregory Bretz, an awesome nine-year-old snowboarder who just placed 2nd in the Nationals in New Hampshire? Now that's a cute story. What about the amazing Search and Rescue team in Scotland that has a waiting list of extremely qualified mountaineer types? What about Yossi who died in an avalanche last year in South America? How about a survey of the top outdoor retailers in the country? What's Lynn Hill doing these days? How's Bird Lou climbing these days?

I am sure that you have your own endless list of adventure stories. How about sharing them with us? Everest isn't going anywhere.

Thank you for the opportunity to share thoughts with you.

Dori Leyen

Men Only Site? (April 13, 2000)

I landed on your site while searching for weather info for local ski resorts in my area. I couldn't help noticing that you had absolutely no women showcased on your front page and that men predominantly featured every article mentioned. I hope this isn't an ongoing trend on your site and that you have the fortitude to acknowledge your obvious bias or interest towards female athletes. I'm tired of hearing about how liberated and equal women are in all aspects of our world when I see sites like yours.

Editor's Note:

Hi Kathy,
Mountain Zone is certainly not a men-only site, but the reality is that a lot more guys are involved in these sports than women — especially at the pro level. I guess some could say that equal coverage would actually be biased toward women.

Nevertheless, we've got many cool stories about amazing women who are pushing limits.

Interviews here with:
— Snowboarder Barrett Christy
— Rock wonder Katie Brown
— Big wall pioneer Lynn Hill
— Everest survivor Lene Gammelgaard
— Queen of the Hill Julie Zell...and others.

And we've got interviews with skiers Alison Gannett and Kim Reichhelm in the wings, just to give you an idea.

Thanks for the feedback. Keep it coming...

Michelle Quigley
Ski Editor

Mike and Mitch (April 11, 2000)

Mitch Levitts and I were finishing up dinner the evening of April 7th. We were on the Colorado River in The Grand Canyon at 94 — Mile Canyon. We hadn't seen any other hikers since the morning of the 4th. Over the noise of the rapid, we heard some whooping. We looked up to see two fellows skipping into camp. These guys were Mike Coronella and Joe (Mitch) Mitchell on their happy way from Zion to Moab. What's the odds of Mike and Mitch meeting up with Mike and Mitch?

We spent the next couple of hours getting acquainted and comparing hike itineraries. We thought we were doing a monster trip, (Phantom-Crystal Loop) but what these two were up to was fantastic. The next morning, Mitch (Levitts) and I got an early start and hiked over to Phantom Creek for the night. Mike and Mitch(ell) stopped at Trinity. We met again the next day at Bright Angel Campground and enjoyed the hikers stew dinner at Phantom Ranch.

The next morning, Mitch and I hiked out the Bright Angel Trail and headed home to Tucson. The other Mike and Mitch were planning a layover day before continuing their trek on the south side of the river. They plan to cross again at the Little Colorado in the middle of next week.

Another cute thing — when they picked up a cache at Teddy's Cabin in Muav Saddle last week, they saw a note in the register book that read "Hi Mike and Mitch. Laura". They thought the note was written by a ranger named Laura and was for them.

What a strange world.

Mike Coltrin

Annapurna from Space (April 11, 2000)


I am a Nepali student going to school in Santa Barbara, CA. I like your site, I visit this page everyday and refer it to everyone I meet. Links like the Everest expeditions, the Khumbu treks, and especially Ed Viesturs' updates from his Annapurna expedition are very exciting. More so, because I was born and raised around the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri (Dhawalagiri) region.

Today, while going through your site, I came upon a photo titled, "Annapurna from space." This was a whole new perspective of looking at my country. First, I got lost, because Nepal was not mentioned anywhere. The exact words at the bottom of the page called the photo a "Satellite image of the Himalayas with the locations of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna indicated. Nangla Ringco Lake is in Tibet (or north of Annapurna). India is south (or left) of the mountains." These words shook me in anger. Suddenly my country's identity was taken away.

If I were to title this picture for you, it would probably say something like, "Nepal - succumbing once again to the ignorance and lack of respect of the West." Clearly you must see the irony in this - taking from us what is of benefit to you and then stripping us naked of our pride and dignity. Why? Because of Nepal's poverty, size, shape, political pressures, bias, and prejudice? Or is it just complete ignorance? Perhaps we are a Third World nation, but that doesn't mean we should be deprived of the respect we deserve, especially when Nepal is your prime, central source for articles and stories that benefit and other similar sites.

Anyone who sees this photo assumes that these mountains are located in India or Tibet. There is no argument about comparing Nepal's physical size to its huge neighboring countries - China on the north and India on the south. Nevertheless, a country should get another country's respect and its people should be respected for their pride of their country. When describing Mt. Whitney would you write, "North of the mountain is Canada and on the southwest is Mexico?" I am sure you are aware of the fact that most of the famous Himalayan peaks are located in Nepal. I want to ask you why doesn't recognize this fact?

No empire - Chinese, Indian, British, or any others were able to deprive us of our identity. We spilled a lot of blood and withstood the test of time to maintain our sovereignty. So, I request that you show respect to the past and to the Nepali people, by being a bit more conscious of the truth next time you report on something in Nepal.

I would like to leave with a saying by the famous Nepali climber, Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, "Foreigners see our mountains, we only see ourselves. We are the mountains: The mountains are our bones, we are the blood." He was the first to climb Mt. Everest (Sagarmatha) along with Sir Edmund Hillary. By the way, Mt. Everest is also located in Nepal.

On behalf of all the Nepali people,
Sazan Kshetri

Editor's Note:

We do indeed have the utmost respect for Nepal and its citizens. Throughout the Viesturs Endeavor 8000 site and throughout, Nepal is prominently featured. We intended no slight with the "Annapurna from Space" map, and it was merely a clerical oversight that Nepal was not listed on the page. The caption has been corrected.

Thank you for your thought-provoking letter,

Matt Stanley
Climbing Editor

Mountain Zone Thing (April 4, 2000)

I like's coverage much better than Quokka's. Quokka is trying so hard to be edgy and trendy that they don't provide basic information and navigation aids. Please keep doing your Mountain Zone thing!


Hey (April 3, 2000)

Hey! I'm an avid mountain climber/biker/skier and everything else that will give me an adrenaline rush. I just want to say thanks. You make the internet worth having.

Tyler Willis
Age 14
Heber, Utah

Sketched Without a Beacon (April 2, 2000)

Using the number of days you ski is no justification for glorifying stupidity. A month of skiing in Europe and this crazy story about forgetting your beacon is the best you can come up with? Stop kissing your own ass; you have enough high school kids and sponsors doing it for you. Give us something worth reading. Maybe talk about a good route or powder; do not glorify your actions.

I would have been much more impressed with the story if it ended with you skiing the ridge down to get your beacon. It's probably Gordy's fault, right? How does your mother like that story? When I meet you I think I'm going to kick you in the shin. You're in an influential position and your not taking responsibility to help instruct the less informed. Instead you're helping to destruct the less informed. All you new school punks need a wake up call. I guess Alex wasn't enough; respect the mountains and their old school attitude.

Peace and Powder,
Kyle Smedick

Note: Scroll down for Dave Swanwick's explanation.

RE: Swanwick's Close Call (March 30, 2000)

Dear Zane,

I appreciate your response to my article. I wrote it realizing I would get heckled for my behavior, but did it anyway to show that sometimes I make mistakes.

I just got home after a month in Europe. I came close to dying three times and I came out unscathed. The reason I am still here is because of the small decisions I made that seemed inconsequential at the time, but were due to a life in the mountains and having a sense and an understanding of what to do.

If you ski more than 150 days a season, year after year you are going to forget your beacon. Everyone I know has. You can then go home and forget the day, or you can mitigate the hazard and walk the line. I chose to walk the line.

I never put myself in a situation where I was going to be buried. The line I spoke of in my column was the line to take. Vance, the cameraman below, knew the line I wanted to ski (we had discussed it prior), so he showed me exactly where my left exit was, and I was fine.

It was Gordy's desire to change my line to the skier's right that would have killed me (from a rock thrashing, probably not burial).

The fact that I could have taken someone else's advice (even from one of the best skier's in the world) and then suffered a thrashing was the proximity to death — not my decision to ski that day or that line.

As a guide with other people's lives in my hands, I act differently than when it is solely my own life and I am with close friends I trust. In a guided situation we would have gone home to get a beacon for anyone in the group and we would have skied mellow non-exposed lines all day.

I hope this clarifies my reasons for skiing that day.

Cherish life, for it is sweet.


Go for it Ed! (March 28, 2000)

Just a note of support:
Here's hoping that #13 will be lucky! I've become captivated by climbing/adventure stories, upon reading Krakauer's Into Thin Air -- incredible journeys they all are, going up above 8,000 meters! Coincidentally, I am now reading Annapurna, after finding a yellowed paperback copy in a stack of discarded books recently. I will be thinking of you, as I read Maurice on my trips to and from work on the subway. What pioneers they were!

Another thought:
Climbing is to you as triathlons are to me -- part of the reason I do it is A) because I can and B) I do it for those who can't. Without getting too philosophical about raising humanity or any of that, I root for you, because I know I'll never go to those heights, regardless of how hard I were to try.

I turned green in the thin air skiing at 12,000 feet a couple years ago in Colorado -- I simply can't imagine what it would be like to go twice that distance and then some! God bless you for having the strength to do it!

Godspeed and safe home!

Jeremy Dill

Ed Viesturs and Everest: This is what it's all about! (March 24, 2000)

I just want to let you know that this is the time of year that I love your site. You've got Ed Viesturs, one of the nicest and best climbers alive, getting one step closer to attaining his life long goal, and then you have all the Everest coverage. This is great!!
I love it!!!

Joe Abel

Conrad Anker (March 22, 2000)

Having read Conrad's book with David Roberts, I would like to convey to him how impressed I was by his sensitivity to the Sherpas, the monks, and to the remains of George Mallory. If this sentiment could be forwarded to him, it would be sincerely appreciated.

At the other end of the spectrum, I must say that I found David Hahn's photograph of Conrad at the gravesite of GM - the latter stretched out full-length - profoundly disturbing, much more so than any others of the body I have seen. I am not squeamish, but an anthropologist by training, with an interest in bog bodies. Perhaps the difference lies in being aware of the anguish such a photograph must certainly have caused the Mallory family.

I appreciate that books are not the sole product of authors, and that this inclusion is likely at the behest of the marketing department at Simon & Schuster, but it is regrettable nonetheless.

Kelly Joyce Neff

Dave Swanwick (March 14, 2000)

I'm sure that Dave Swanwick is a skier par excellence, but to publish his no beacon article smacks of irresponsible publishing.

Backcountry travelers with a lot less experience than Mr. Swanwick turn to your web page for information and advice. Seeing an article that applauds extreme angle skiing while avalanches pour down slopes of similar angle and aspect, as well as a finish of, "glad I went left" shows Mr. Swanwicks' lack of respect for the mountains as well as playing up his bonehead quotient.

Less experienced backcountry travelers may see this as an endorsement or encouragement to travel in avalanche terrain during high instability sans beacon, sans brains. His article reeks of the attitude of growing numbers of backcountry users - the avalanche won't get me. How let his copy stand is beyond my comprehension - unless your staff is filled with reckless risk takers. Your article by Gary Brill shows much more responsible cyberjournalism and I encourage your staff to weed out articles by risk takers that may increase accidents in the backcountry.

I'm aware that extreme sports are undergone by people willing to assess the risks themselves but many newcomers to backcountry winter sports don't have the knowledge or ability to assess hazards accurately. Midwest college students in Jackson Hole for their first out west trip or first time snowshoers going out to Mt. Rainier for their first winter foray may see Mr. Swanwicks' article and say "Hey, he can do it, so can we. There's avalanches coming down right in front of us, but hey, don't fall and be aware and we'll be okay" How can endorse that?


Iditarod Coverage (March 14, 2000)

I had to write to say that I am so disappointed in your lack of coverage of some sports. A new record is about to be set in the Iditarod and your latest mention of it is three days old (and do you think it's asking too much to have your correspondents check their spelling?). Trying to find coverage of Nordic skiing is worse: I know what happened in the last Winter Olympics. How about something a little more recent?

While attempting to find coverage of these events, I stumbled upon the reports of Pat Norwil. My initial impression, based on his reports, was that he was an arrogant and selfish man, and not accurate in his reporting. The lack of accuracy I can attest to, having been on the same trail for a day or two. I checked back in to read updates, hoping to find the semblance of a decent human being. Instead I find someone who has the audacity to mock Col. Norman Vaughn and to complain about people messing up the trail. He needs to remember that the trail was not put in by him. It was put in by hundreds of people over the years for other purposes, among them sled dogs and iron dogs. He is the guest here, and a poor one at that. He seems to have no respect for the people here, or this land that demands respect from all (and he of all people is in a position to see that if he could break out of his self-absorption for a short while).

Pat Norwil may be an athlete, but I never had much admiration for an athlete without sportsmanship. If he is a sportsman, then he needs to leave the reporting to others. It's bad enough to see reporters goad tired and frustrated athletes into saying things they don't mean to say, or wish later that they hadn't said. But he does it to himself.


Hello Quokka! (March 12, 2000)

I was glad to see you took the helm of Mountain Zone. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your coverage of the America's Cup Challenge. I was thoroughly impressed. Looking forward to great things at Mountain Zone!

Dave Foran

Screen Your Correspondents for Depression (March 11, 2000)

Dear Mountain Zone,

Your coverage "Iditarod on WHEELS" by Pat Norwil has to be one of the least objective and most pessimistic pieces of work I've read on your site. What a disappointment!

Granted, Mr. Norwil (your correspondent) may have been fatigued and/or depressed by his own endeavors, but regardless, his coverage and reports lacked any true insight or reflections into the energy and beauty of the North. In fact, I'd say Mr. Norwil should shake his head - look around - open his eyes and hopefully, find a new career. If you do retain his employ, I'd suggest you send him to the Yukon again, and have him spend some time with the knowledgeable First Nations Peoples, research geographical facts that may encourage him to reflect and look a little harder - rather than limiting his impressions based on his lack of endurance and coping skills.

Stanley Noel, Yukon Resident

Quokka and MountainZone (March 10, 2000)

Just saw the news on your acquisition by Quokka. I have been climbing about a year now, and loving it. I try to read everything I can get my hands on. I've especially enjoyed the coverage at Mountain Zone. And while I have the Quokka coverage of Great Trango Tower book marked, I find Quokka's web page in general is difficult to maneuver in, and sometimes crammed with too many little bits of information crammed in too little a space. Mountain Zone's elegant and simple approach is just so much better. I echo the sentiments of others when I say, "Don't mess with the MZ web page." Besides, not only do I use the page for beta on climbing, I also buy a good deal of equipment through the auctions.

I wish you the best of luck in mixing the two companies. I hope Quokka can learn a few things from you guys. Keep up the good work.

Mr. Lynn M. Stephens
Orem, Utah

Iditarod 800 (March 10, 2000)


I am afraid that I must take offense at your correspondent Pat Norwil's attitude online, to his fellow competitor Mike Curiak. First of all, I have known Mike for about seven years now and though he is a lone wolf, he is the last person in the world that I would wish one moment of grief on. He has been pursuing long distance cycling events all the time I have known him and while he has never had a stellar performance, he has always done his best and never whined. This is not his first Iditasport race by any means.

He has always maintained a level of intensity that has amazed me. The fact that he has sponsors and is at the race is due solely to his own initiative and bravado. I saw him about a month before he left for AK and he was going out to Gothic to do an overnight test run at 9500 feet in elevation. Suffice it to say that he was going alone as no one else wanted any part of it!

If Mike wins the 800 I will be really happy for him. If he doesn't, I will still be happy for him as long as he comes home in one piece, safe and sound and ready to prepare for his next adventure.

You may do well to solicit his memoirs of this race as he is easily a better writer than your current correspondent.

Bob Poor
Crested Butte, CO.

Quokka and (March 9, 2000)


Today (6 March 2000), I read my e-mail from regarding the purchase by Quokka with great dismay. I have only been a user for the past six months or so, but appreciate the ease with which I can find the articles I want to read and the user-friendly site. I fear that the acquisition by Quokka will destroy all that. I am an AVID CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) fan and looked forward to the new site done by Quokka. That was until I tried to read articles and find information on the new site. All of my racing friends, whom attend a good number of CART races every year, avoid the official CART site because Quokka, in their attempt to be ultra cool, made it impossible to find the simplest of information. I used to be on their subscription list but unsubscribed recently because I couldn't handle the frustration that resulted in an attempt to find a story.

I realize it is good for or you wouldn't be undertaking this deal, but please, for the sake of all of your loyal users, don't let them touch your web site!

Thank you,
San Francisco

Swanwick's Close Call (March 8, 2000)

Right or left, life or death. Sounds so simple, but the reality of Swany's close call is, "What the heck was he thinking skiing in high avalanche hazard with no transceiver?" Is the money or prestige of skiing "for the camera" worth a life?

I wasn't impressed and should add that a guide, who takes their work and responsibilities seriously, would never have participated in this demonstration of willful ignorance and Russian Roulette. You only go round once - don't let bad judgement be what people remember about you.

Zane Russell

Iditarod on Wheels (March 7, 2000)

GO PAT GO!!!!!!!
Team Spam, Team Spam,
You're our man!

Good Luck on the way to Nome.
Great cybercasts on

Cassie & Brad

Quokka (March 7, 2000)

Hey Zone,
I realize e-commerce is just like the Nasdaq stock market and all that, meaning we all have to expand, but please don't lose HIKING as one of your departments as you "expand" the entertainment possibilities in your acquisition by Quokka....

Hiking Jane, forum-participater and happy 'Zoner for over a year

Antarctica (March 5, 2000)


I am curious what kind of environmental track record the current expedition to Antarctica has? In other words, what are they doing about disturbing the fragile ecosystems and animal life while indulging in their fantasy winter sports?

I have made two trips down there, in '84 and '88 and I know compared to then, the peninsula (in particular) is completely overrun with human beings.

Fifteen years ago, about four ships with 100 passengers each visited that site on the planet annually. Now it's more like 20,000 people and the surrounding areas cannot possibly handle that traffic, and the dumping of garbage into the water when no one is watching, and so on.

I'm glad they're getting their jollies off, just like the traffic on Everest, except that Everest can take care of itself. Antarctica and its precious, unique milieu can't.

I'm glad I got there when it was still special.

Charles Rosenberg

First Full Free American Ascents (March 5, 2000)

I'm disappointed to see Tommy Caldwell claim the first American full free ascent of the Salathe Wall, according to your review of Big Stone. Shall we also disparage Warren Harding for not making the real, full first ascent of the Nose because he didn't lead every pitch? Apparently, whoever was the first back then to do that didn't need to make a big deal of the fact as people intent on proving they're better than others or making a buck seem to know. As Salathe himself said (with a Swiss inflection), "Why can't we just climb?"

Keep up the great site!
Bob Palais

Triple Threat (March 5, 2000)

Dear Ms. O'Connor,

Thank you for your article on triple threats, covering instructors with multiple certifications, but it seems your research is a bit incomplete.

In your article on Gonzalez, you make it sound as if there are only three disciplines to PSIA. Please don't forget the Adaptive discipline! Teaching people with disabilities is often PSIA's forgotten stepchild.

Not to dismiss Ms. Gonzalez's abilities, but can she teach a blind student to ski bumps from a mono ski, or a three-tracker to ski steeps?

Sounds as if Ms. Gonzalez loves challenges. Try teaching all six disciplines of adaptive: blind, developmental delayed, three track, four track, monoski and biski to an intermediate level. That's only LEVEL II!

A "normie" instructor (a not so generous name for regular ski school) exam candidate might memorize three progressions for each of the four skills for a total of twelve. Adaptive Level II candidates better prepare 12 for each discipline or risk failing his/her exam. Imagine running around with 72 progressions in your head!

As an adaptive instructor you have to know all the teaching and technical aspects of the normie exam, plus information on the disciplines disability and medications involved. Our skiing is tested with the normie exam.

While Ms. Gonzalez worked hard to get to Level III in those disciplines, I wonder how many instructors have Triple Threats that include Adaptive. They are out there! We have an instructor that has his Level III in Adaptive and Alpine and he teaches from a monoski.

Thank you for coverage of skiing instruction and the shining stars that are out there. Ms. Gonzalez, go for that Level I Adaptive!

Jan Douglas Hess
PSIA Level 2 Adaptive, Level 1 Alpine
Tahoe Adaptive Ski School
Disabled Sports USA

Quokka Merger (March 2, 2000)

Although I hope Quokka's acquisition of really does work out well, I am concerned about this development.'s reporting and attitude are far superior to that of Quokka's. has always had a bit of an edge and been a bit quirky. Quokka, on the other hand, is bland, much more mainstream, perhaps even boring.

Perhaps this difference stems from the fact that's reporters, unlike those of Quokka, have distinct personalities and are actively involved in the activities about which they write.

I implore you to PLEASE make certain that, despite the merger,'s voice remains independent. Although I also look at Quokka occasionally, I have come to rely on for my daily fix of all things mountain, except during those frequent days that I too, am out pushing myself to the limit in the mountains, and enjoying their simple beauty.

In short, the current simply rocks (or rocks simply), but if's reporting starts to resemble Quokka's, I will have little choice but to start going elsewhere for mountain news.

Matt Ikle
Alamosa, CO

Why? (March 1, 2000)

I am very disappointed to hear about the merger with Quokka, IF you merge web sites! I have been to the Quokka web is one of the worst sites for bandwidth and content on the net. Quokka is five years ahead of the curve in the attempt to deliver "immersive," interactive content. Until Quokka improves the site, I refuse to go there. I understand the economic synergy that can be created, but I hope you maintain your own distinctive web site. is the best site for adventure coverage. It is actually my home page, but that may change if every time I boot, I spend five minutes waiting for lackluster links that lead to another five minute wait...and all this on a 56K modem. Looking forward to your Everest 2000! :)

Thank you,
Shawn Stanley

P.S. After reading the press release a second time...I really do not see the synergy created...mixing mountain sports with oceanic sailing-motor sports...and I even sail...just seems my future expectations of what could have been, are lower. Well anyway, I wish you luck in the endeavor.

Quick Thanks, You Helped Me Start to Ride and Gave Me Life (March 1, 2000)


Several months ago I worked in Telluride, lived in Ouray, and was with my dream girl. After the girl left, it seemed hopeless to me what I was doing even thinking about taking another breath of pure Colorado air. Last day and work and time for me to run somewhere and hide, I came across your publication. Was it the pictures or the writing? It kicked something inside of me that wanted to be better, stronger, and find some peace within.

After returning to Las Vegas (she owned the car) I when out and bought a cheap, no-suspension mountainbike. Along with the pain, I found a new love for hurting. Although my heart is still sad without Alicia in my life, I ride on/off road everywhere I see, humping my bike on my shoulder, running up hills that I cannot ride up, and trying the suicidal down hill after the climb. I'd guess 40-100 miles a day. I wanted to thank all of your members and contributors for what I consider SAVING MY LIFE, and giving me some hopes and dreams.

I am interested on how to begin competing?

Thank you with all my heart,
Dave Dowden
Las Vegas, NV.

Is There a Kinder, Gentler Pat Norwil? (February 28, 2000)

As a former (and hopefully future...the event is too fun to pass up) participant in the foot division of the Iditasport 100 in Big Lake, Alaska, I found the two "reports from the field" posted by Pat Norwil to be very condescending to athletes whom he views as not as blessed with the superior skills and conditioning he assumes he has. His remarks were laced with subtle jabs, "For the first time we got to watch the big comic show at the back of the pack," and not so subtle digs, "And that's 20 hours of pulling a sled with a bunch of s**t in it, and that's like no fun at all. Most of these runner were totally hobbled by the 60 mile mark."

Rather than dampening the achievement with your disparaging remarks of runners and bikers who were out on the course enjoying themselves, why not compliment the mid pack and back of the pack participants? They were not necessarily competing against anything other than the difficulty of the course and their own desire to sit and sleep or drop out.

Pat, I think you need a humbling experience yourself. I hope the moose don't stomp you nor that the wolves don't eat you during the Iditasport Extreme.

Doug McKeever

Your Web Site Rules! (February 20, 2000)

To whom it may concern,

Today I was thumbing through an old Time magazine and found your web site address. Since I had nothing to do at work, and longing for some adventure, I looked you guys up.....WOW! I printed so many stories and adventures that the printer ran out of ink. Anyway, I live in Michigan and try to get to Colorado or some sort of a rocky structure to climb and mess around, but there are many a boring day here. I plan on visiting your webster daily as the quest for adventure runs rampant in my veins. Thank you for making my day - my tax return will now go to great use!!!

Yours in adventure,
Adam Bearup
Adrenaline Junky #7

P.S. When you have more time, I will tell you about jumping monstrous waves on Lake Michigan to keep my spirit in check.

Endeavor 8000 Slide Show (February 18, 2000)

Just wanted to pass on to the ZONE subscribers: if the Ed Viesturs' Endeavor 8000 slideshow is anywhere around you, take the time to go see this awesome show presented by one of the premier mountaineers of our generation. I'm an armchair mountaineer and can't get enough material on the subject. I drove 100 miles to see the show in Atlanta at the Rialto theater and it was worth every penny. After the show he had a question and answer session and then autographed posters for all. Eight dollars well spent on an enjoyable evening.

Jim Eager

Happy Ski Fan (February 14, 2000)


As you are likely aware, coverage in any press, print or TV, of World Cup skiing is close to non-existent. Thanks for providing any coverage, but especially for providing good and timely coverage. Between your e-coverage and Outdoor Living Network TV coverage (which is also good), I can now finally keep up with a sport I love without having to hold my breath for four years at a time, to wait for the Olympics to see a glimpse of what is going on.

Ski Fan in West Virginia, USA

Alex Lowe — An Inspiration to All (January 26, 2000)

Dear climbers, friends and Mrs. Lowe,

When I heard Alex had died, I felt a cold silence which I will never forget.

Many may not understand the reasons why a great man like Alex would risk it all to climb, but as friends, family and good humans, we can only support someone else's dreams, not judge them. I know you all can understand.

I'm the wife of an extreme climber and every climb, I fear. I fear for myself and for my husband. Though, we may not understand, we support - because we love them. It is a way of life to some, undeniably - a consuming passion.

Mrs. Lowe, there are no words enough to express how sorry we are for your loss. Alex was a great man and an inspiration to so many. He has touched so many souls.

Thank you for sharing him, as hard as it must have been.

Alex dared to dream...and dared to live.

God bless you.
k a pierce

Classy Portrayal (January 24, 2000)

The Shishapangma special for North Face was tastefully handled. Thank you Mountain Zone for being a sponsor both for the expedition and the TV show. It was wonderful to see that the members were having fun and to see so many great pictures of Dave and Alex. It was not easy to portray such a tragedy but the show was done with class. We appreciated seeing it and following their adventure.

Sue B.

North Face Expeditions/Alex Lowe (January 23, 2000)

As a climber who has watched the growing attention to the sport explode since the 1996 Everest debacle, I realize that the lure of the dollar has all but swallowed the climbing world. I am saddened by the death of any climber, yet the risk is always there. I was in Aspen when Dave Bridges died alongside Alex Lowe last October. The reaction locally was with great compassion for two people who died doing what they loved. And that is as admirable as anyone can ask of their departure from this world.

Yet, as I watched the NBC presentation of the 1999 Shishapangma Expedition, I couldn't help but think there was a bit of arrogance for the mountain's power simply to mark a mountaintop ski run. In fact, the presence of the cameras there for the television show invited the same kind of on-field antics of other professional athletes chasing pigskin and cork-filled balls. Yes, the corporate jingle has stretched even to the Himalaya.

I own a North Face tent, they make great gear, but as I watched the climbers in this docu-mmercial, I wish the fate of Lowe and Bridges had simply sold us on the adventure instead of them losing their life in front of a lens. To simply want to ski down this mountain was a pretty cool idea, but my fear is the general public will now have this perception that climbers are no better than million dollar players in other sports. Let's hope not. Alex Lowe and every climber like him deserves better.

My thoughts are with the families of Alex, David and even Conrad, who stood helpless. My honesty here is meant to make us all think of why we climb mountains. I sure hope next time the cameras stay away for a while.

David Morgan
Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Rebuttal of Jack Murray Hailey's Comment (January 21, 2000)

This letter is in reference to the absurd comments made by Jack Murray Hailey of Idaho, and serves as defense for the sport of mountaineering. Among the pastimes of today, no other sport generates so great an appeal, attraction and camaraderie among it's climbers and observers. Furthermore, no sport is as rewarding, challenging and satisfying as climbing.

To say that mountaineering, which is inherently dangerous, should be "banned" or prohibited, though, is complete stupidity, and anyone saying this should be chastised to the fullest extent. Despite the dangers and hazards associated with climbing, great numbers of people flock to it, due to its universal appeal. Climbing is hardly suicide, as it generates an intense love and appreciation for life in the hearts of climbers. Serious climbers would never allow this climbing lifestyle to be suspended.

High altitude mountaineering, specifically on Everest, is the culmination of climbing achievement, and the symbol of the elite climbing in most cases. Those who undertake such challenging quests are fully aware of the dangers, and understand the risk involved in their love of mountaineering. Essentially, it is quite foolish to suggest banning a sport, which has such high regard and importance in the climbing community. My suggestions Jack, are to quit criticizing a sport which you appear to know very little of, and get out and actually try it. Start off on a climb in Washington State with Mountain Madness, perhaps. Then maybe return and speak of your opinions.

Sean Elliot Constine
Salt Lake City, Utah

American Extreme (January 18, 2000)

I just wanted to comment on how one of the folks you quoted said that the BC free ski comp course was the best in the world. They were tooting their own horn. Brevant of Chamonix Red Bull comp is by far a different situation. Then again, most Americans make a mockery of ski mountaineers in Europe. So what is a quote regarding the BC course being the toughest in the world to say? It simply proclaims the ignorance which the Frenchies/Euros so love to rag on.....AMERICAN EXTREME

I just have to laugh at the whole free ski thing. It is a joke. There are a bunch of little Euro dudes who never will be on film/still photos who do things that make the best "free skiers" look like [sic]. That is how it goes. Nothing like folks who ice/rock climb many pitches to ride hanging glaciers just to wait for sunbakage to hit their 55-60 degree sustained order to lay lines on pitches that would make 99.9% of the sickest ski/board-heads of the world (poster boys) [sic] in their pants. This is how the media goes. The silent sickos ride just that, silent. Life is a joke and make the best of it. Sometime, maybe the States will move to Euro big mtn exposure......YEAH RIGHT! I know this is going nowhere, but had to give a little bit of input on the quote I saw stating that BC was the [sic] for competitions. What a joke.

Todd Ogden

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