Tactical white rhino!

Tactical White Rhino 450x299 Tactical white rhino!

A four man anti-poaching team permanently guards a Northern White Rhino on Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, 13 July 2011. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is an important “not-for-profit” wildlife conservancy in the Laikipia District of Kenya and the largest sanctuary for black rhinos in East Africa. It is also the home of 4 of the world’s remaining 8 Northern White Rhino, the worlds most endangered animal. (img Brent Stirton/Getty)

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“The moment it feels extreme, you fucked up.”

5794561710 64a81486a6 b The moment it feels extreme, you fucked up.

Cropped out: 91 centimeter drop to hard, hard concrete. (img by Beth Jusino)

The (arguable) epitome of climbing is free soloing: climbing without any safety equipment, harness, etc. Just you, your chalk bag, and the rock. On the one hand, you’re free. On the other, a slip means you probably fucking die.

I’ve seen dozens of amazing free solo climb videos… including Alex Honnold’s ~2,000ft Half Dome ascent, but, like parkour videos, it’s tough to get a sense of how much preparation goes into a free solo climb.

I finally found a video that at least tries to tell you how much preparation a free solo climb takes.

You can skip to about 4:00, but don’t skip further than that. Peter Croft has some very important things to say about the huge amount of preparation (5+ years) that went into a 2 minute climb that he makes look dead easy.

A lot of the contemporary soloing media… will show a lot of jaw-dropping images without any sort of backstory to it, without any sort of caveats… The big thing about this route is there’s a whole bunch that went into it. And that the moment it feels extreme, you fucked up, basically, right? So it’s like it should feel really easy,and that’s the reason it did take me… I mean, I could have soloed it five years ago, but it would have felt weird.

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Overland adventures as self improvement

Emb frontend1 450x300 Overland adventures as self improvement

History rarely happens in convenient places; unfortunately for most historians there is a great deal of value in actually being on the ground. It’s one thing to imagine the desolation and hardship of the Oregon Trail. But your imagination pales in comparison to the experience of actually going to the middle of nowhere Wyoming in June; watching a hail laden thunderstorm bear down on you, and knowing it is impossible to outrun and there is nowhere to find shelter. That kind of experience allows you to empathize with the settlers in a way that is simply not possible from the comfort of a reading chair. I think this is why so many of my motorcycle trips revolve around historical places or events. I am trying to place those into a context.

It appears that the same is true for historian/adventurer Emily Lethbridge. After converting a Landrover ambulance into an RV, the Cambridge based researcher embarked on a year-long research project in Iceland studying medieval Icelandic sagas.

While the history is interesting, I was impressed by Emily’s approach to the whole endeavor. Before her trip she was neither a mechanic, nor experienced off-road driver. Her earlier posts describe the process she undertook to address those issues. To me, that self evaluation and education process is the essence of Die Less.

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Wildfire Tees

donate a shirt 450x523 Wildfire Tees

You don’t actually have to care about wildfire people these tees are that sexy.

All of our time, designs, and efforts are donated so that 100% of our proceeds go to support victims of Colorado wildfires through the following charitable organizations (50% to each):

Care and Share Food Bank (50%)

Colorado Red Cross (50%)

Both organizations have recently requested monetary support so they can prioritize and address the most pressing needs.  We’d like to help in a big way.

Ah, wildfire season. When sunsets are all gorgeous and asthmatics go all hypoxic and blue in the lips… Remember this year’s wildfires by donning these stylish tees the profits of which go help people who are getting boned by wildfires, ($20).

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Surefire Minimus tactical headlamp

MinimusVision 450x349 Surefire Minimus tactical headlamp

Batteries included! (img by SureFire)

Flashlights. Always handy. Hands. Always busy. Headlamps! The more tactical, the better. Seriously, if you don’t own a headlamp, reconsider your inventory of illumination. You never know when you’re going to be infiltrating a missile silo, and it pays to be prepared.

SureFire is a big name in weapon lights, so these headlamps definitely have a tactical pedigree. Running on a CR 123 battery the Minimus has between 1.5-50 hours of runtime depending on what you set its variable brightness to, from 1-100 lumens. It’s water- and shock-proof and has a wide beam lens that projects white light to match your field of view. It also has a red light option if you’re just going to switch it on so that you can preserve your night vision. The beam has 90 degrees of rotation. The Minimus even has an SOS beacon setting with a several-day runtime. It weighs 3.3 ounces and includes a headband if you don’t have a helmet. These really are kings of the headlamp world, ($111).

SureFire also makes a Minumus that runs on AA batteries, ($140) and the Maximus, which runs off an internal rechargeable battery and has a variable output up to 500 lumens, in case you wanted a headlamp that can start a fire, ($185).

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4 stages of fear

OCTtK 450x606 4 stages of fear

Sadly, Rat Mountain would be forever closed upon the discovery that the rats were actually squirrels in costume. (img by Marcos267)

Your brain does screwy stuff when it’s under stress. As if you really needed to know you do strange and stupid things under pressure. What’s interesting is how. There are actually four stages of fear, all of them instinctual, evelutionary responses to threats and danger.

You probably know that the first thing that happens is a cortisol/adrenaline dump, which causes your heart, lungs, and muscles to ready themselves. When bad shit does happen, parts of your brain shut down while other, more basic parts, start to take over, which is why people sometimes don’t remember what, exactly, they went through; their hippocampus turned off, it wasn’t a priority.


The Mancos River rises in southwestern Colorado and flows through the Ute Mountains on its way to New Mexico, where it empties into the San Juan River three miles shy of the Four Corners intersection. Over millions of years, the river and its tributaries have carved a fanlike rill of dramatic canyons out of the ancient sediments of the Mesa Verde tablelands, a maze of vertiginous stone walls. The rugged, arid landscape of juniper forest proves a rich habitat for wildlife.

At 25, Sue Yellowtail was just a few years out of college, working for the Ute Indian tribe as a water quality specialist. Her job was to travel through remote areas of the Ute reservation, collecting samples from streams, creeks, and rivers. She spent her days crisscrossing remote backcountry, territory closed to visitors and rarely traveled even by locals. It’s the kind of place where, if you got in trouble, you were on your own.

On a clear, cold morning in late December, Yellowtail pulled her pickup over to the side of a little-used dirt double-track, a few yards from a simple truss bridge that spanned a creek. As she collected her gear, she heard a high-pitched scream. Probably a coyote killing a rabbit, she thought. She clambered down two steep embankments to the water’s edge. Wading to the far side of the creek, she stooped to stretch her tape measure the width of the flow. Just then she heard a rustling and looked up. At the top of the bank, not 30 feet away, stood a mountain lion. Tawny against the brown leaves of the riverbank brush, the animal was almost perfectly camouflaged. It stared down at her, motionless.

She stood stock-still.  (more…)

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