Stone Skipping Is a Lost Art. Kurt Steiner Wants the World to Find It.

Step — or skip — into the world of a fascinating character, charmingly portrayed in this piece for Outside. Kurt Steiner is the world’s greatest stone skipper, and it has cost him a lot to get there. Sean Williams tells his story with genuine affection and respect.

Skipping has brought Steiner respite from a life of depression and other forms of mental illness. It has also, in part, left him broke, divorced, and, since the death of his greatest rival, adrift from his stone-skipping peers. Now, in middle age, with a growing list of aches and pains, he must contemplate the reality that, in his most truthful moments, he throws rocks not simply because he wants to, but because he has no choice.

Source: Outside
Published: Sep 20, 2022
Length: 26 minutes (6,616 words)

They Call her Lamb Mom

A gentle essay, that still manages to be gut-wrenching. AC Shilton tells this story of two sickly lambs with compassion and beauty.

For a single day, though, I showed a disabled lamb the freedom of movement, one of the greatest joys of my former life as an endurance athlete. More importantly, in Sebastian’s last hours, my body offered up comfort, safety, and love—all the things this body has ever craved about motherhood.

Author: AC Shilton
Source: Outside
Published: Sep 13, 2022
Length: 13 minutes (3,364 words)

I Loved Bike Touring—Until I Got Paid to Do It

A humorous account of Caitlin Giddings’ time as a bike tour guide. She expected to find freedom — what she got were the worst parts of human nature.

The outdoor industry calls this getting paid in sunsets—which wouldn’t actually sound so bad if those sunsets weren’t being blocked by a pair of full-grown adults fighting over whose turn it was to wash the group spatula. I had wanted freedom and adventure. What I got instead was too much responsibility.

Source: Outside
Published: Dec 30, 2019
Length: 12 minutes (3,068 words)

I Woke Up With an Allergy to Cold

How can someone become allergic — full-on, allover hives allergic — to cold? This essay from Alison Espach unfolds like a slow walk along a precarious ridgeline: You feel the discomfort, but you also trust the journey enough to enjoy it. There’s a practiced sense of pace here, an easy deliberation that pairs well with the subject matter. Press past the pedestrian headline; you’ll be glad you did.

Matt is concerned. I’ve been inside too long. He is worried that he is losing me to the internet, to myself, to my fears. He has always thought that I am too afraid of things. How I clutch the door when he’s taking a turn in the car. How I panic when we are on a narrow mountain road. He’s right. One month ago, I was excited to pack up and road-trip north with my boyfriend, and now I’m afraid to eat ice cream.

Source: Outside
Published: Jul 12, 2022
Length: 14 minutes (3,687 words)

One Woman’s Wholesome Mission to Get Naked Outside

Gloria Liu finds unexpected beauty in being naked outside, after a lifetime of resisting.

Part of the fun is the sense that you’re getting away with something, she acknowledges. But the other part, she says, is reversing the shame around nudity that many of us, especially women, learned growing up.

Author: Gloria Liu
Source: Outside
Published: Jun 13, 2022
Length: 12 minutes (3,036 words)

Picking Up the Pieces After Angela Madsen’s Death on the ‘Row of Life’

Soraya Simi gives a powerful first-person account of her struggles after the subject of her documentary passes away.

We spent a year filming together around her home in Long Beach, California, before she surreptitiously launched her 20-foot ocean rowing boat, Row of Life, in the heart of 2020’s global COVID lockdown. After she was about eight weeks at sea, we exchanged what would be our final satellite messages. The next day, she drowned while attempting to fix the bow shackle on her boat.

Source: Outside
Published: Jun 7, 2022
Length: 13 minutes (3,339 words)

“I’m Still Alive but Sh*t Is Getting Wild”: Inside the Siege of the Amarula

In March of 2021, a village in northern Mozambique was attacked by a local ISIS-affiliated group called Al Shabab. Dozens were killed, and 200 people found themselves huddled in a hotel used by imported military contractors and construction workers, trying desperately to arrange rescue as Al Shabab waited outside. Rescue didn’t arrive. What happened next can barely be contained in a single tale.

The choice now was between dying where they were, or driving, unarmed and without air cover, into a raging battlefield. There was no debate: with any prospect of a rescue gone, they were leaving immediately. Nelson Matola said one contractor told him: “It’s better to die trying to escape.”

Author: Alex Perry
Source: Outside
Published: Jun 1, 2022
Length: 80 minutes (20,187 words)

Navigating Aches and Aging on the Best Trail Running Route in the World

Nine days of running through the Alps, soaring above the treeline and plunging into flower-filled valleys, refueling with incredible food at night? Sure, it might take a pronounced masochistic streak to count that as a bucket list experience — the trip averages nearly 17 miles a day, with thousands of feet of climbing thrown in — but once you get to the end of Christopher Solomon’s teeth-gritted travelog, you might just decide the wonder is worth the wincing.

As we gained altitude, the Via Valais uncorked the first of its many lessons: trail running here isn’t like trail running back home. Often it isn’t running at all, because the paths are so steep. How steep? I’ve been on escalators with less pitch. But aren’t there switchbacks? No, these apparently are the invention of lazy Americans. The Swiss favor the diretissima, the most aesthetic and uncompromising line straight up the mountain. On trails like this, a runner’s pride will ruin him faster than any blister. He must find a humbler rhythm to match the terrain.

Source: Outside
Published: May 16, 2022
Length: 17 minutes (4,286 words)

Vail Resorts Sold a Record Number of Passes. Now, Their Ski Areas Are Facing a Logistical Nightmare.

“But employees say that Vail’s wages are well below livable, especially in mountain towns experiencing soaring real estate prices and ever more second homes and vacation rentals.”

Author: Max Ufberg
Source: Outside
Published: Feb 7, 2022
Length: 9 minutes (2,476 words)

I Choose to Remember the Bike Ride

“I took his calls for a while, but then, like everyone else, started ignoring him. Even as his alcoholism grew worse, no one did what my mom kept threatening to do: stage an ­intervention. We were all too hopeful, maybe. Too stupid, probably. Uneducated about the disease, definitely.”

Author: Tracy Ross
Source: Outside
Published: Nov 29, 2021
Length: 30 minutes (7,700 words)