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Inside Alex Honnold’s Tricked-Out New Adventure Van

Back in 2014, pro climber Alex Honnold gave us a tour of the 2002 Ford Econoline E150 he used as his mobile base camp. That van served him...

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Showing posts with label outsidemagazine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label outsidemagazine. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

You're Going to Want the Cake Kalk E-Dirt Bike

Setting a Speed Record from Patagonia to Alaska

Only two people have made the hike from Ushuaia, Argentina, a town at the country’s southernmost tip called the “End of the World,” all the way north to Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay. The first was 35 years ago, when British explorer George Meegan finished in six years and 236 days. The second? Holly “Cargo” Harrison. On May 30, the 58-year-old completed the 14,481-mile trek in 530 days, 1,895 days faster than Meegan’s record and quite possibly one of the most substantial (time-wise) FKT takedowns ever.

Cargo’s relentless 27.3-mile daily average took its toll on his body. Raising his crutches in triumph at the Arctic Ocean last week, he proved there are still big FKT records out there for the taking—you just might have to survive a heart attack and tussle with a bear to beat them.

Before his hike, Cargo, who is from North Carolina, reached out to Meegan with his biggest concern: “I’m getting really old and don’t know if I can do this.” Meegan set him at ease, emailing back: “You’re probably the perfect age. Practiced determination is what will carry you through.” And it did—all the way up South America, through the FARC-infested Darien Gap into Panama, through Central American countries reeling with violence, and north through Mexico.

When Outside reported on Cargo’s arrival into the United States last November, it seemed like the last leg of his trip would be the easiest. It wasn’t. “Coming up through Arizona and Nevada,” Cargo says, “there were long stretches where I was alone, without any shops, and eating terribly.” On a freezing night near Reno, still without a sleeping bag, the lifestyle of the ultralight hiker caught up with him. “I woke with this terrible pain in my arm.” After popping some aspirin, he hiked in a daze through the night. The next day, in the relative safety of a motel room, Cargo had a major heart attack.

Emergency rescuers helicoptered Cargo to a hospital, and doctors inserted a stent into his coronary artery. Against his doctor’s advice, Cargo was out hiking within five days. “I want to say I built up slowly, but within another five days I was back up to my 30-mile daily target.”

A few habits may have caused the heart attack. Cargo was eating mostly junk food, like cheese, hot dogs, bread, and chocolate, all of which were easy to find along the trail. He’d also picked up an unhealthy habit on the hike. “I’m not a smoker or anything,” he says, “but down in Mexico, I was in such a hurry that I developed the strategy of having a cigarette just to force myself to rest.”

Then, in British Columbia this March, an injured hamstring delayed him for ten days. Tired of waiting for his body to heal and winter to end, Cargo set off into the snow on crutches. The four-limbed thru-hiker had already honed this injury-cheating technique on both his successful thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2011 and during a previous, aborted attempt at the Patagonia-to-Alaska record in 2015. As Cargo walked 2,000 miles through the Yukon, his trick worked again. Later, he converted the crutches into litter pickers, which, because his brother-in-law was now tailing him in a camper van, Cargo used to collect discarded beer cans, earning up to $47 a day to help cover gas.

By May 28, with just 15 miles separating him from Prudhoe Bay, Cargo was alone again. “People had been stopping me on the road for days, telling me the bears were waking up.” A couple had even jumped out of their car, warning Cargo that grizzlies would use his crutches as toothpicks. Spurning advice to pack bear spray, the thru-hiker took shelter from the wind by bedding down in the lee of a remote outpost.

“I just had a bear encounter,” Cargo begins a video he uploaded to Facebook. He goes on to say how a grizzly “sat up on his haunches right in front of me…started snorting, shaking his head and moving his paw…at me.” The bear was after his food, and Cargo says he picked up a crutch and gave the animal a quick swat across the nose. Then he lowers the camera to show a trail of feces left by the fleeing bear. “I think I knocked the crap out of him, although I haven’t checked my own pants yet.”

When asked about Cargo’s FKT, Meegan told Outside that “his achievement and speed are extraordinary and aren’t likely to be bettered.” But the new record holder is not so sure. “Consistency is key,” Cargo says. “You’ve got to get up and walk 12 to 15 hours every day for 17 months. But without injury, it could be done a month quicker, maybe even more.”

Now that he’s finished, Cargo says he’ll write up the adventure in a book. While he’s glad to be done, he says there was something very soothing about walking all day that he’ll miss. Life, Cargo says, “is going to be more complicated now.”


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19 Lessons I Learned from Extreme Sports Pros

Global experts on how outdoor athletes stumble, trip, twist, crash, snap, pop, tear, and occasionally croak in hard-to-reach places convened in Boulder this month, courtesy of the University of Colorado’s sports medicine department. The mission? Bring practitioners up to speed on the many methods we’ve invented to destroy our bodies, so they can be prepared when they wheel in another human pretzel in a helmet. Here’s a primer.

Deep Diving

At a depth of 30 meters, a diver’s lung volume is a quarter of what it is at the surface and, like a sperm whale, continues to compress the deeper you go. For a dive of 100 meters, your tank is a complicated mix of gases that’s only 10 percent oxygen. If you breathed that same air at the surface, you’d die. Dive deeper than 400 feet and you need a battery of tanks with specific gas mixture recipes. Get it wrong and you die. All of which is why, while 100-meter dives are now routine, only three people have dived deeper than 800 meters and lived.

Heard: “With freediving, consciousness is the key to success.”

The Velodrome

The biggest risks for track cyclists are to the clavicle and wrist, thanks to what the Brits call “argy-bargy,” the elbowing and headbutting employed to fight for position in a sprint. Also, track cyclists have a hard time buying pants.


Fifty-two percent of climbing injuries are to the fingers.

Seen: An image of a “sheathed” finger was presented, in which all the skin and much of the meat from a central digit were unrolled past the knuckle and tucked up by the fingertip like a baggy knee warmer.


Horses are prey animals, so when a predator climbs on an unbroken horse’s back, the horse gets scared and flips over to try and squash it. Other common rodeo injuries include being stepped on hard enough to rip paisley and crack ribs, blowing an ACL while wrestling a steer to the ground, suffering an “open book pelvis” fracture from sliding forward on the spine of a thousand-pound beast, and a new one, thanks to helmet use: When a bull’s horns strikes the helmet, it spins on the head, shredding ears like a juicer. A rodeo doc’s common refrain: “It hurts because it’s still broken, but you’re riding anyway.”

Heard: “We determined the patient was titanium deficient.”

Formula 1 Racing

The average Formula 1 driver is 5'9" and weighs 145 pounds, withstands more Gs than a space shuttle astronaut, and will peg his heart rate at 180 beats per minute for two hours at a time. Shorter stature is a plus, because the head is the highest part of the car, but it’s still only three feet off the tarmac, where it’s exposed to deadly flying debris from wrecks.

Kite Sports

According to a crack team of European researchers, most deaths in kite sports are attributed to gusts.

Extreme Swimming

Three ways you might die:

1. You get too close to a cargo ship’s wake, which churned up cold water from below, causing hypothermia—and you drown.

2. You drink Gatorade instead of plain water on an open-ocean swim, and the excess salt in your system stops your heart—and you drown.

3. You forget to load buckets of blood on the chase boat to keep the piranha behind you. They catch up—and you drown.


An orthopedist once jumped from a plane, hit terminal velocity of 120 miles per hour, and deployed his chute, and the forces dislocated his shoulder. While avoiding “browning out”—it’s common to toy with a loss of consciousness when the canopy decelerates you—he popped (the technical term is “reduced”) his shoulder back into place mid-flight and landed safely.


Injury rates in racing are directly linear with speeds. The downhill is more dangerous than the super-G, which is riskier than the GS, and so on. That’s weirdly obvious to a layperson, but the slalom can be rough on knees, so it took some sussing out. Also: It took 20 years for researchers to prove that ski helmets reduce head injuries by 75 percent because the early adopters of helmets were more safety conscious than most skiers.

Heard: “Engineers are better than doctors because they fix problems, whereas doctors fix people hurt by problems.”

Endurance Sports

The medical brief for the Leadville 100 is 30 pages long, includes detailed descriptions about what to do in cases of acute mountain sickness and hyponatremia (too much water, too little salt), and helps responders know the client: Type A personality; fetish-like desire to finish.

Heard: “What happens when you tell a runner not to run? They find another practitioner.” (This joke killed it with the physical therapists.)

Olympic Ski and Snowboard Cross

At the Seoul Olympics, competitors suffered 14 season-ending injuries and four potential career-enders.

Heard: “I fixed the tar out of that clavicle.”

X Games

After a surgeon wired a freestyle snowboarder’s jaw shut, the athlete informed him that he was returning to competition. The problem? A subsequent crash could make him unable to breath. So the surgeon made him a necklace with miniature wire cutters as the pendant.

Heard: “These are not preferred postoperative management techniques.”

Seen: Video of motocross star Eli Tomac (the son of Mountain Bike Hall of Famer John) stuffing the front wheel of his machine so hard that the twisting action of the handlebars dislocated one shoulder to the anterior and the second to the posterior.

Heard: “Ooh.”

Mixed Martial Arts

“The main goal of MMA is to induce a head injury,” said a doc with mad jujitsu skills. On average, MMA fighters sustain 2.5 severe blows to the head—after they’ve been knocked out.

Field Management

A famed orthopedic surgeon with a background in wilderness medicine who has worked at Everest Base Camp once learned how to do a tooth extraction—via sat phone. “My Leatherman tool came in handy that day.”

Swimming with Naegleria fowleri

Head to a stagnant pool in Texas or Florida, drink the tepid water, and the brain-eating bacteria won’t bother you. Get a little of that water in your nasal passages, though, and you’re in trouble. That’s where the little amoeba passes through to the skull cavity and eats your brain. Symptoms show up one day to two weeks after exposure—and then you’re dead within three days. Naegleria fowleri has killed at least 300 Americans and is all over the otherwise deadly hot springs in Yellowstone. It’s also been found in Minnesota. “The CDC likes to say it’s rare, but it’s not,” says the doc who has helped raise awareness of the killer globally. “In Africa, thousands are dying from it, but the cause of death is misdiagnosed.”

Wilderness Medicine

Even the experts get it wrong. What one wilderness doc thought was a simple rash or possibly the shingles on the top of his foot was actually a horde of cutaneous larva picked up while playing beach volleyball on the banks of the Amazon.

Seen: An image of the little critters burrowing around.

Heard: “Eww.”


Forty-eight percent of yoga injuries happen to those under age 18. Teenagers and kids, Canadian researchers say, should not be doing yoga. So what then? Hockey?

First Aid

A new device called a REBOA holds the promise of saving lives from rapid blood loss. To use it in the field, simply insert a catheter into the femoral artery and up to the heart, where you occlude the aorta.

Seen: Full-screen image of a man with a stick as thick as a rattlesnake penetrating his neck.

BASE Jumping

Seventy-two percent of BASE jumpers have witnessed a death or a severe injury.

Heard: Reporter had to depart before the question “are BASE jumpers insane?” was resolved. But we’re going with “yeah.”