The Accidental Extremist is now online at www.theaccidentalextremist.com


13 Epics of Woe [Hall of Infamy]

A friend from Outside Magazine, Senior Editor Jeremy Spencer, reminded us of this excellent collection of misadventures he edited four years ago. Featuring the likes of Jane Smiley and Jon Lee Anderson, it’s a ghoulish gallery of murderous hitchhikers, lightning strikes, and worse. A little something to inspire your own submissions here. The article was paired with a classic travel disaster reading list, and a rundown of the 10 worst adventure disasters of the last 200 years. Enjoy—CDB

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Over The Edge [The Abyss]

 

Sometimes the sea calls, and we answer.

Sometimes the sea calls, and we answer.

           I never thought I had a death wish, but one experience on my recent travels had me reconsidering. I’d been traveling around South-East Asia by myself on a break from my studies to see the world. One day I decided go cliff jumping and snorkeling in Thailand; I’d seen signs all over advertising guided trips.  On the same signs there were also advertisements for swimming with sharks.  At first I thought it would be quite a day to do all three, but to swim with sharks I would have to get up at 6:00am. That is just not a time of day I wake up to go jump in the water with sharks.  That’s not even a time of day I’m awake to see super models swim in the water…

 

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Ski Pants Optional [Wardrobe Malfunctions]

 

So refreshing to be outside in the snow!

So refreshing to be outside in the snow!

            Growing up, my family would go on an annual spring ski vacation. It was the pretty standard variety: each year we would choose a resort and pack into a condo for a week of skiing and kvetching (my brother and I would usually spend most of the time beating the crap out of each other. And there was one time I nearly drowned in a hotel pool. But I digress). When I was 10 years old, we made a trip to Whistler/Blackcomb in March. This trip stands out for many reasons–it was my first time skiing in Canada–but also because my aunt Martha and uncle Robert (we call him Bob) came along… Continue reading



High On Nature [Close Calls]

 

Hiking is so invigorating.

Hiking is so invigorating.

A riveting tidbit from Philip James, founder of the social networking+wine site, Snooth.com. — CDB

            I don’t talk about this too much, but in 2003 I climbed Mount Everest. My friend and climbing partner broke his leg at 28,000 feet. As a result no one in our expedition reached the summit, but we did get him down safely in what became the worlds highest altitude rescue.

 

            I’d set out to become the youngest Briton to climb the North Face of Everest and had joined a small independent expedition with just 5 other climbers. After 60 days on the mountain we ended up with a 120 hour rescue that ended with a broken leg, broken ribs, dysentery, frostbite leading to several digits being amputated as well as several fatalities and multiple medals of valor.

If you want to learn more about the expedition itself, here are some news articles about the event:

BBC News article – Everest on his knees 

Manchester Evening News – Amazing Escape of Everest Survivor

Everest News – Everest North Side Expedition ‘03

Click here to download the slide show (45mb). Finally, if you want to see it in the “Tilt Viewer” format – click here.



Is Just Like Amerika! [Off the Map]

Who needs a Eurail Pass?

Who needs a Eurail Pass?

 

In 2000 writer Brad Wetzler penned an hilarious report from the Czech Republic on a curious phenomenon, a kind of Old West mania, in Outside Magazine. Here’s a taste. Thanks Brad — CDB 

IF IT’S TRUE that you are what you eat, then I am a big, greasy kielbasa. I brought this on myself: For the past week I have been camping with a dedicated band of carnivores who favor canned meat and an alarming variety of sausages. We’re deep in the Brdy Hills, a rolling patch of beech forest as charming as a dream, about 30 miles south of Prague in the czech Republic. The air is full of the smell of honeysuckle, the buzzing of bees, the chirruping of bluebirds, and the sizzling of meat. The only human tracks within sight are our own.

            But this is a curious bunch. There is Jerry, the frequently drunk prankster who gets his kicks hiding pinecones in our sleeping bags. He whispers that his real name is Vladimir, but tramps are only supposed to go by their tramping names. Which is why “Jerry” is tattooed in boldface on his right forearm. George, a starry-eyed guitar player, can do a rendition of “This Land Is Your Land” in czech that would make anyone homesick for the hills of central Bohemia. Ace is a private in the czech army who always wears a Daniel Boone–style coonskin cap; he sucked down too much rum last night and, while dancing to George’s intoxicating music, fell into the fire. Lucky for him Sheriff Tom was still sober enough to pull him out. A one-armed bear of a man, Sheriff Tom is, at 45, the oldest hobo, and he happens to own the biggest bowie knife, making him the logical choice to be the group’s chief law-enforcement officer… Continue reading



Ne Pas Taser Moi, Bro [Dokuments Please]

          

Trains in Europe seem to move at a more stately pace of life.

Nothing beats the relaxing pace and Old-World romanticism of European train travel.

  Back in 2001, I was living in Paris, juggling language classes, a part-time job that I’d BS’d my way into and a seemingly unquenchable drinking habit. When a longtime friend — whom we’ll call Dave because he’s now a serious painter who takes himself, you guessed it, very seriously — asked to come over for a weeklong visit, I decided to add tour guide to my repertoire. With a stamp-saturated passport, a girlfriend (so what if she was my first?) living in Italy and a reputation to uphold at many a Parisian bar, I was already considering myself quite the international Casanova and so I figured, what the hell, I can show him a good time.

           The plan was to spend the first three spring days living it up in the bars, clubs and crêpe stands (real restaurants were financially out of the question) of Paris, then heading south for a long weekend of skiing in Chamonix. Following a few sleepless nights in the city of lights, including one in which I’d mistakenly lead us into a gay club in search of fine women, we made for the train station for a weekend of soul-cleansing skiing. Unfortunately, there was a train strike (one of many I’d incur the wrath of during my year abroad) and our alpine quest suddenly seemed all but hopeless….

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Twin Beds and Thin Walls [Love on the Road, Love on the Rocks]

After the wedding, all we want to do is relax by the beach.

After the wedding, all we want to do is relax by the beach.

Here, excerpts from an entertaining piece by writer Rob Story which recounts his action-packed honeymoon throughout Asia—and some of its more memorable catastrophes. —CDB

              We’re a funny couple to watch. She, all of five feet and 99 pounds, blithely swings her skis down steep mogul runs with apparent amnesty from the laws of gravity. Trying gamely to knit near misses and miraculous recoveries into a line that at least looks intentional, my 200-pound carcass hurtles down slopes with the subtlety and grace of the Hindenburg. She never, ever biffs on a mountain bike. Me, I’m attempting to become the first human to be constituted completely of scar tissue.

             I guess the sea kayaking session in Thailand presented the most interesting realationship dynamics. When M’Lissa emerged wearing an XL life jacket on her petite frame, I said something along the lines of: “Whoa, looks like Tattoo got in Mr. Roarke’s closet again.” (It was quite a clever remark, as we were in a gorgeous marine national park dotted with all manner of Fantasy Islands, but she didn’t care for it. Apparently, California kids like M’Lissa frequently grow up in an environment polluted with sports and activity, suffering from dangerously low levels of TV exposure.)

            Things only got worse on the water, because our vessels were tandem sea kayaks…. Continue reading