27 October 2016

An Open Letter to Outside Magazine

Dear Outside Magazine,

As an Outside subscriber for the last 8 years, I'm a fan of your work. I look forward to receiving my newest magazine in the mail, and I read most of them cover to cover. I've even given a subscription to a friend as a gift. But your latest Buyer's Guide gives me pause, and I think you can do better.

In your Editor's Letter, titled "Let Her Rip", you call out the outdoor industry for not doing better by female adventurers. "...so many gear companies seem to have missed the memo. Our female ski testers unanimously complained about women-specific models that had been lightened and softened to the point of riding like overcooked noodles."

As a female who works in, and is an active participant in, the outdoor industry, I'm familiar with the industry's proclivity to pink it and shrink it. I rode men's skis for the better part of three decades, until a few companies started designing gear that could keep up. I've stood in my fair share of gear shops where employees ignored me and spoke only to my male companion, or worse started mansplaining to me. Your message is spot on.

You go on to call yourselves out for your own past grievances. "Outside, of course, is guilty of marginalizing the stuff, too. This is our first Buyer's Guide that hasn't cordoned off the women's gear in the back, for instance." I applaud this move, and thank you for ending the column with, "please, gear manufacturers: design equipment that can keep up." If anyone can make an impact on an industry that's been slow to respond, it's a national publication with 2.4 million subscribers (and Outdoor Research too, you guys rock!).

Then I turn the page. Full of excitement and glee, I see the list of your six test contributors. All of them are men.

The next five content pages are skis for men, then a page of boots (presented as gender neutral, although a cursory search shows they're men's boots), then a page of women's skis. One page. With three skis. The five pages for men feature ten skis.

Backcountry skis are presented the same way, with four pages showcasing eight skis for men, and one page jammed with eight backcountry products for women.

I think you see where I'm going with this.

Turning page after page, my excitement about your challenge issued in the Editor's Letter faded, and my disappointment in yet another empty promise grew. In reality, this Gear Guide IS different than your previous Guides. It's worse. Last year you had 12 pages of content for women. This year you have six. Your Guide is 120+ pages. Even if 40 of those pages are ads, and another 40 feature unisex gear (which I'd argue, as your photos clearly show men's products), that leaves 34 pages devoted to men. A male to female ratio of nearly 6:1.

Even your "Meet Your Maker" features - stories of influential employees at DPS, Arc'teryx, GoPro, and Hoka One One - are sexist. Is there a reason Stephan, Greg, and Chris are all photographed proudly interacting with their product, while Lindsay's photo is a closeup "beauty shot" of her face?

I know hundreds of women and girls who are getting after it: they climb and ski and paddle and hike in skirts and live in vans and pee outside and aren't afraid to get dirty. They're all hungry for stories reflecting the nuance of gender and race and sexual orientation. Look to organizations like SheJumps and the Outdoor Women's Alliance who are engaging these women. These same women who are not reading Outside magazine.

They would, but they can see right through your empty promises. You point your finger at "the industry" while publishing stories like "Train Like a Girl" and shuffling the pages of your Gear Guide and calling it progress. You jam nine female products onto a single page and reserve two page spreads for one piece of male gear. You say we will see more women's pages in the months ahead - why not now? Why not this issue?

I'm disappointed. I let myself believe you were different. You even gave it a good college try. Maybe you will change, but I won't be reading to find out.


Me, and all the other women who won't be pandered to

20 October 2016

What Your Tutu Color Says About You

So you're thinking about getting a tutu. Congratulations! This is a big step in your journey toward becoming a true outdoor enthusiast. Everyone knows: you aren't really an adventurer until you've adventured in a tutu.

Your choice in tutu color is important. Your tutu is the very first thing people will notice about you, and you don't want to send the wrong message with purple when you're really more of an orange. That could get ugly.

To help you on your journey of discovery, you'll need to know what each tutu color represents to determine if it's the right color for you. Presented below in no particular order, here are your options:

Purple: Highly psychic, you probably know what people are thinking before they open their mouth. You're seen as mysterious and secretive, and you are the proud owner of a truly intuitive mind. But inside you are full of turmoil, with two distinct camps setting up their arsenals for battle. Pull on the purple tutu and breathe easy, because you always have a soft, tender, harmonious side that just wants everyone to get along.

Orange: Well aren't you the social butterfly. Flitting from crowd to crowd, you are a roller-coaster of activity (and emotion). When you aren't busy being the center of attention, you can be charming and offer real insight for others in need. But your fuse is short. Try not to hold a grudge when you inevitably covet a different (and somehow better) tutu belonging to a friend.

Turquoise: Like the calm serenity one finds off the coast of Fiji, your soul is always seeking calm. You long to escape your life - your friends, your family, your job, your annoying neighbor, and that guy who will just not get a clue! - and dash away to a place far, far away. Independence is important to you, and yet you allow yourself to be tied down by so many things. Stop taking on so damn much, buy a freaking tutu, and go outside already!

Dark Blue: Take a deep breath in. And out. And in. And out. Like a hot vinyassa flow yoga class, you are level-headed and balanced. You're a peacemaker, and value truthfulness and direct communication in all of your relationships. You're nearly perfect in every sense of the word. If only you would shower more.

Pink: Strong and confident, you are wearing a tutu and don't care who sees! You're creative and generous, and will fight to the death for the people you care about. You love the peaceful bliss of spending time in nature but are always sure to bring the party with you. Who cares if your flamboyant ridiculous is off-putting? You're making the world a better place for you.

Yellow: Quiet and happy, you find contentment in the simple pleasures of life. You take the high ground, and would never debase yourself in a confrontation about something silly like who are we voting for the next President - Clinton or Trump? You're analytical and a good reader of people, but frankly you aren't all that much fun because you tend to be what we call "book smart". The tutu will help change this reputation. Avoid the tutu when you are feeling overwhelmed by others, because people WILL talk to you whether you want them to or not.

Red: Like the fire and brimstone that created this great hunk of earth we call home, you are not someone to be messed with. You are full of enthusiasm and energy, and you're adventurous with food, travel, and sexual partners. You feel called to action by a strong force, and can find yourself in hot water often. But most people love your fiery spirit. Keep on being you. Be careful not to wear the tutu when your Saturn is in orbit - it will bring imbalance to your Chi.

Green: Work work work work work, you are responsible to a fault and frankly it's amazing you found any time to buy a tutu and take it outside at all. You choose your people - and your adventures - with great care. You're popular, admired, and respected, but can be too strong at times. People appreciate your practical advice, and your penchant for bringing tasty treats. Order a tutu with extra tulle so you can make some snack pockets.

White: Like the Virgin Mary, your soul and spirit are clean. Wait, who are we kidding? What are you hiding under all those layers of fluffiness?

Rainbow: Wow, you just can. not. make. up. your. mind. Pick a goddamned color, it's really not that hard. You are like a tornado, hurricane, typhoon, and Seattle #Stormapocalypse2016 all rolled into one. Just...stop.

Black: Are you kidding me? Do you think you're the black swan or something? You know that's not a real thing, right? This is not an acceptable tutu color. Don't even think about it.

Order your tutu* now as a way to show the world your commitment to all things awesome and ridiculous. Bonus points if you buy crazy leggings and leg warmers to match.  

*Note: You can add the word NEON to the front of any of these colors to prove you have extra flair. You also get extra points for making your own.

13 October 2016

Vacation Planning vs. Vacation Reality


Spend two-glorious-weeks enjoying tropical paradise in Central America. You've never been there and have no idea about the actual geography, weather this time of year, or available sights to see, but this is going to be fun because you can plan later! Anticipate time for activities like hiking and spelunking and exploring the Mayan ruins and hopping around from city to city. Also schedule down time to read and relax and roast yourself under the sun like a rotisserie chicken. Buy tickets flying into Guatamela City and out of Belize City.


Look at a calendar and realize your trip is actually only 8-days long, including travel time. Google 'map of Central America' and realize those countries are bigger than you thought, and those pictures from your friend's trip where she did all the fun things that you wanted to do is not going to happen. Lambaste yourself for not doing any planning before booking flights, other than spending an inordinate amount of time agonizing over Zika and whether or not it's safe to go (it totally is). Cross 'hiking' and 'spelunking' off your list. Also cross 'relaxing in the sun' off because it's hurricane season. What? You didn't think to look that up either?

Beg your friend who just went there to plan an actual, achievable itinerary for you. She does a great job, but it's still....ambitious. Why the hell didn't you just book a trip to Hawaii you idiot?

Decide you are going to skip the whole cultural immersion experience at the lake down south. You're sure everyone is exaggerating about the great food anyway. Opt to do a quick turnaround in Guatemala City instead and fly north shortly after you arrive. Buy more airline tickets.

Arrive in Guatemala City at 9:30pm. Get into a cab with a driver and his son who was holding a sign with your name on it because today is Dia de los Ninos so the cabbie brought his son to work despite the fact that it's well after his bedtime. It's still adorable. Arrive at your hotel after passing through guarded, locked gates surrounding the entire neighborhood. Crime is bad here. Say a silent thank you for your friend who told you to book a place and a driver in advance. Plug in the mosquito repelling device, take a shower, and set your alarm for 4am.

Take the 6:30am flight to Flores where you're accosted by cab drivers when you walk out of the terminal. Finagle a ride to Tikal to see the large, impressive Mayan ruins there. Say a silent thank you to the universe for letting you hop onto a guided trip with an Israeli family who really didn't want you to join at first. Asking directions to a bathroom comes with unforeseen benefits.

Spend 4+ hours exploring Tikal. Marvel at the power of the jungle to cover every square inch of earth, then marvel at man's ability to take it back. Listen to Howler Monkeys while standing above the jungle canopy. They're unbelievably loud and sound really aggressive. Be glad they're so far away. Wow, it's so incredibly green here. And hot. You're sweating in places you didn't know you could.

See a moncĂșn out of the corner of your eye and think it's a monkey. "Hey, everyone, I found a monkey!" You'll exclaim. It's not. It's a Central American racoon. Whatever. You still saw it first!

See and hear more animals: monkeys, toucans, and more moncĂșns. Look unsuccessfully for tarantulas. You aren't too disappointed when you don't find them. Finish your tour with the satisfaction of knowing you had a really great experience and enjoyed a historic place free of many other tourists (it's the low season afterall. Did you know it's hurricane season?).

Drink your first beer of the trip. Ahh, now it feels like vacation. Order a second beer to enjoy with your "nachos": a plate of delicious tortilla chips over a spoonful of refried beans dribbled with queso.

Leave Tikal and stop on the way to go for a Canopy Zipline ride. It's cheap and sounds like fun. On your way up the first ladder you  see why it's so cheap, but cross your fingers the jungle hasn't eaten all of the tower completely and that they can support the weight of you, your travel companion, and the two guides.

Go for your first zip. Do 7 more, half of which you spend hanging upside down and the other half of which you spend in the "superman" position. To achieve this position the guides will remove your harness and put it back on you backwards while you're standing 50' above the ground. Try not to let this "safety oversight" bother you too much.

Stay in a lovely hostel in El Remate. Wander the tiny town and discover a glorious dock adjacent to an empty restaurant. Everything is empty actually. You've come during low season.

Enjoy a beer on the water. Then a second. Decide food is probably a good idea and send your capable travel partner to order something to share. He'll think he ordered Ratatouille for $40 GUA (roughly $6.50 USD), when really he ordered three giant shrimp for a much higher price. This explains why the waitress/chef/owner was so giddy...

Walk back to the hostel. Ask the helpful woman at the front desk to help you book a bus to the "totally awesome, absolutely must do" cave tour the next day. Realize, yet again, you will not be able to make it to the tour on time in the morning. Sulk for a minute. Give up on the tour entirely, and book a 5-hour bus/water taxi ride straight to Caye Caulker outside of Belize City. Sleep.

Board the bus to Belize. Drive 2ish hours in relative discomfort through the countryside. Marvel, yet again, at the incredible power of the jungle. It's everywhere.

Arrive at the border crossing. Gather your stuff and wait in line, where apparently pants are optional. Get stamp #2 in your brand new passport and walk into Belize to board a new bus. Cars don't really cross the border here. You have Guatemalan cars and Belizean cars, but not both. Now it's time for the Belizean bus which has been sitting idle. It's so hot it makes you nauseous. Power through.

Arrive, at last, on Caye Caulker (pronounced key). You won't find cars here - only golf carts and incredibly rusty cruiser bikes to help you navigate this tiny atoll. It's the best thing you never knew you wanted.

Wander "up" the island toward The Split, a small waterway between the north and south islands created by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. Find a hotel with reasonable prices and an amazing view for two nights. Book it.

Watch your first tropical island sunset from the roof with a beer in hand. You could get used to this.

Wake up in paradise to go on a snorkeling trip. With 7 stops you'll see everything: manatees, turtles, eels, sting rays, fish of all kinds - including Tarpin who don't have teeth but are 2-3' long and jump like crazy out of the water - and one seahorse. Bring your waterproof GoPro to capture the magic, but it won't turn on because GoPros are like that sometimes. Whatever. Who needs photos when you have memories? You also have a sunburn.

Move to a new hotel two days later. A cabana further south, away from "the city". On the second floor, it has a fresh breeze and a water view. It's incredible. Lay at the end of the dock under the thatched roof of the palapa. Enjoy. At lunch time a man comes by selling fresh chicken tamales. Order one. Regret eating it for the next week.

Use the kitchen in your cabana to soothe your sour stomach. Start your day with eggs and pancakes. Make pasta one night and bake a cake the next day. Eat the cake for days. It's delicious. Savor all of the good choices you've made and ignore the 'eating tamale' oversight.

Discover the island bakery. Eat all of the things. Why didn't you look for this sooner? These ham and cheese pastries are devine! Drink fresh pineapple juice. Eat fish for dinner every night, sometimes while sitting in a swing-chair. Enjoy another beer...err, wait, did you say 'Rum Punch'?

Catch your own yellow snapper using only a line (no pole), some stinky sardines, and your glowing personality. Take it to your favorite restaurant and have them cook it for you. Somehow it tastes even better than the other fish you've eaten. More authentic. You're surprised they left the eyeballs in this time though. Even more surprising is that they're hard just like a tiny marble.

Realize it's been sunny your entire trip. How did this happen? Isn't it hurricane season? Take the double kayak around the island to celebrate. Take it back to The Split to watch the sunset another day.

Commit to staying forever...or at least until the end of your trip. You love it here. Why go anywhere else? Use your bikes and your snorkels and read your books. Lay in the sun. Let the happiness that comes with not having anything to do or anywhere to be wash over you, and be thankful you finally relaxed enough to embrace this whole "no plan" thing.

Ask yourself, "Who needs Hawaii?"

06 October 2016

Turns All Year: Month 59

It's hard to believe October will mark my 60th month - 5 years - of chasing snow every month. It's not always glamorous, but it is always skiing, and a day skiing is better than a day doing anything else.

Theresa and I had very low expectations when we left Seattle at 6am on Sunday. Good thing, because poor T-Town was dragging from the plague, a sickness she got after completing the Crystal Mountain Marathon the weekend prior.

After 20 minutes in the Enumclaw Safeway, Theresa was finally ready to shuffle back to the car for the beautiful drive up HWY 410 to Paradise. It takes a bit longer, but avoiding South Hill in Puyallup is worth the price of 13 minutes to take the "backside" route. We pulled into the parking lot just before 9am. Theresa was immediately stung by a bee. In the ass. Because: of course.

Obligatory parking lot photo.

We just so happened to park next to Nikki, an Instafriend I was really excited to to finally adventure with. Along with her husband Corey, we set off and made it to Pebble Creek in about an hour. Another 400' and we were ready to put on skins. Nikki was wearing incredible tights, and I enjoyed the view ;-)

Nikki is a personal trainer. That fact will not surprise you when you check out those glutes!

After an hour of skinnig, we'd reach 8400' and Theresa and I had had enough. It was beer:thirty, so we called it and said goodbye to our friends. We broke out the Rainier Beer.

I also broke out Rosie the Riveter. I was stoked to finally introduce Theresa to Rosie, and of course introduce Rosie to Rainier. She felt right at home.

Don't mess with Rosie. She's a Rainier expert now.

The ski down was better than expected - but remember our expectations were in the toilet. New snow fell in early September and white traces still remained, but the old, crusty, dirty, terrible snow was still better than the sticky new stuff. We made some good turns actually. Look, there was corn!

September corn.

Normally things are pretty anticlimactic on the way down. You came, you skied, and you just want to get the hell off zee mountain and get home to a shower and maybe another cold beer.

But the universe had other plans.

First we had to jump start my car. Someone left the lights on and the battery was completely dead (okay, it was me). Jumping seems simple enough, but when my jumper cables wouldn't reach the other battery, we had to push my car out of the spot and block the entire drive-thru lane. It took a full 5-minutes to get the battery charged enough to start, then just getting out of the parking lot was a full on 'government operation'.

Fall colors. No Filter.

Finally back on the road (we took 410 again), we encountered a rollover accident. How someone managed to flip their car sideways up against a tree on a two-lane, 45 mph road is a mystery to me.

THEN we got to Enumclaw and needed some cheese (for a girl's night potluck post-skiing), and ALL of Enumclaw was out of power. The store had entire aisles closed off, and big plastic sheets over the cold-sections to keep them cold (presumably so they wouldn't have to throw all the food away). NOT surprisingly, they still had enough power to accept our credit cards....

But that was it. We made it to our potluck. We drank wine and ate chili and ate cake and drank wine. Then I finally got a shower. I can't imagine a better Sunday.


When you see bad skiing form, blame bad snow, not the skier.

Stoked on my new Deviator hoody. Thanks for the contest win Outdoor Research!