Our culture’s (or human kind’s?) obsession with the gladiator is fascinating. Rednecks enjoy NASCAR and boxing. Cultural elites sniff, then snap up books by John Krakaur and Aron Ralston like they’re going out of style. The risks our gladiators take are interesting — sometimes inspiring — but most often involve somewhat self oriented urges for adventure or adrenaline highs (not to mention money). Such motivations are usually fine — sometimes noble expressions of the human spirit — but risk can transcend self when it involves helping others.
Thus, while I’ve enjoyed and admired the antics of everyone from Mount Everest survivors such as Beck Weathers, who literally rose from the dead, to Aron Ralston, who carved his own hand off with a dull knife to preserve his life, they pale in comparison to guys like Dan Walker.
Dan went backcountry skiing in Colorado with his family. They became lost in a blizzard. He left some of his clothing with them, then set off by himself to find help. His wife and daughter survived — Dan did not.
Who are your role models?
I’m amused (and inspired) by our gladiators, and read their books. I value my own brief career as a gladiator. But when it comes to my role models, it’s guys like Dan I look to. They usually can’t go on the lecture circuit, because they’ve made the ultimate sacrifice. So we must speak for them — and remember them.
A fisherman wrote this about 2,000 years ago and people have been reading it ever since: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
And love is what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Tired of spendy athletic drinks? Cytomax does work (increasing endurance and speed), but unless you’re tapped out the benefit is minimal. At the Outdoor Retailer show, Lisa found another drink called Ultima that the booth salesman likened to “birthing fluid,” but we tried it anyway and like it — though it’s expensive as well.
You can save money by using homebrew athletic drink. We’ve always been partial to diluted orange juice (about 50/50 with water). Didi from Austria recently emailed this idea: “…In Austria there is a common belief, that the best drink is apple juice, diluted 1 part water 1 part juice for 2 hour or shorter trips, and up to 8 parts water to 1 part juice for trips of a day or longer. Per liter one should add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt (ordinary cooking salt). The recipe was developed by European cyclists, but is used by backcountry skiers with great success.”
Got any homebrew backcountry skiing athletic drink ideas? Email me so we can blog them (and don’t get cute, I’ve already experienced a boda bag.)
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.