Monday, April 23, 2007

Choice of Equipment

Choosing Equipment: Gear That's Right for You and Your Journey

Four essential backpacking gear require serious and meticulous consideration. This lesson gives pointers on how to make intelligent choices among hundreds of options.

Your Backpack: YOUR Pack on YOUR Back

Your backpack is your bedroom, kitchen, and washroom rolled into one and riding on your back. It houses everything you will need to sleep, eat, and survive in the outback, so it must be strong enough to hold all your essentials securely, yet light enough to let you keep walking. It must straddle comfortably on your back, yet be versatile enough to adjust to your changing requirements. How do you choose the backpack that meets all these criteria? Let's start with your body.

Pack and Torso Length

The first thing you need to consider when choosing a backpack, which will effectively become an extension of your back, is the size of your torso. It doesn't matter how tall you are, it's the length of your torso that counts. You will be overwhelmed, if not teetered, by a pack that's too long for your posture; and you will hardly be optimizing your hauling capability if your pack is too small. In both cases, you will certainly look a bit uncoordinated.

The standard backpack lengths are small, medium, and large. Small corresponds to a torso length of less than 18 inches, medium for torsos 18 to 20 inches, and large for those longer than 20 inches.

To determine your torso length, have someone run a soft tape measure down the contour of your spine, from the base of your neck (the 7th vertebra) to the shelf of your hipbone (the first hip, which is about three to four inches below the waist).

Loading Capacity

The next thing to consider in choosing a pack is its volume or loading capacity. Depending on the length of your backpacking trip as well as the quantity and mass of items you want to take with you, you can choose from among four different sizes of packs:

  1. Overnight Packs. Also known as light overnight packs or day-packs, these are labeled to have a capacity of 2,500 to 3,000 cubic inches. They are ideal for quick overnight adventures in warm-weather conditions where you don't have to pack extra-thick sleeping bags and multiple layers of clothing.
  2. Weekend Packs. These are slightly larger than day-packs and ideal for three-day outings. With a loading capacity of about 3,000 to 4,500 cubic inches, weekend-packs are good to carry your basic essentials without the tendency to overload.
  3. Weeklong Packs. Ideal for longer trips, like a full week's summer hike, these all-purpose packs fall within the 4,500 to 6,000 cubic inches category. You will be able to fit your basic outdoor prerequisites, with some room to spare. These packs are the favorite among all-around backpackers.
  4. Expedition Packs. Allowing more than 6,000 cubic inches of load, expedition or winter packs will let you carry everything but the kitchen sink. You can go on extended trips and haul all your snow camping paraphernalia in a pack this size, but depending on the weight of its contents, you may have to seek the help of a llama or a donkey along the way.

Ergonomics

You will be traveling with your pack the whole time, so it better be suited to your body as well as to your backpacking activities. One of the major ergonomics options you will need to consider is if you want a pack with an internal or external frame.

External-framed backpacks allow you to attach bulky gear and other stuff to the outside of the packbag, but these can get in the way when trekking through dense forests and tight trails. Narrower and more streamlined internal-framed backpacks, on the other hand, will require you to cram everything inside the packbag, but with properly contoured frames (graphite or aluminum stays shaped to fit your back), the load becomes one with your back, permitting more freedom of movement.

When choosing the most ergonomic pack, therefore, think about the outdoor activities you will be engaging in. If you plan on going bushwhacking and exploring steep and rough trails, choose the pack that will give you enough clearance for high-stepping, arm-swinging, and head-turning. Look for optimum safety, load balance, and freedom of movement.

Special Features

Aside from pack length, capacity, and ergonomics, you also need to look into other desirable features, such as:

  1. Durability. Examine the materials and construction of the pack. Check the labels; although thicker materials are often more durable, many lightweight fabrics are now manufactured to withstand considerable stress and duress. Be sure the buckles, zippers, straps, and attachments are of good quality. Inspect the stitching and the reinforcements at stress-prone areas.
  2. Versatility. The pack should be easy to adjust, which means that if your load changes during the trip, you can instantly alter or re-calibrate the belt and strap tensions to conform to your new circumstances. Many packs offer interchangeable hipbelts, contoured and padded shoulder straps for women, moveable sternum straps for a comfortable fit, and multi-purpose straps and buckles.
  3. Convenience. Your taste will play a major role in your choice of the most convenient pack to carry. Some models provide numerous pockets and several access panels and compartments; they may be more convenient in terms of organizing your stuff, but they also weigh a lot more than no-nonsense minimal packs. There are packs that open up via a zipped panel in front (panel-loading), those that open only from the top (top-loading), and those that have separate bottom compartments. Before deciding on which pack to buy, try out the zips, latches, and openings and see if they provide the accessibility and loading-unloading ease that you prefer.

Reminders

Probably one of the first investments you will make as an outdoor enthusiast, the backpack you choose should be custom-fitted to your body and outdoor circumstances as much as possible. Before closing the sale on a pack that meets your fancy, strap it on for size. Load it with 20 lbs of weight and see how it agrees with your back and arm/leg movements.

If you're getting an internal frame pack and it doesn't "feel right", have an experienced packfitter reshape the frame stays for you.

Remember to care for your backpack well -- clean it out and air-dry it after each trip, inspect and repair as needed, and store it safe from pests, mildew, and UV rays. A well-chosen and well-maintained pack will keep you good company through many long years of outdoor adventures.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Survival of the Fittest

Survival Basics: Will You Outlive Your Outdoor Adventure?

When you head out for the outdoors, towards the backcountry, and into the wilderness, it’s important to remember this take-off from Murphy's law: "What can go wrong, can kill you."

Cell phones could be out of range in the deep woods, so that takes care of 911; Mother Nature could suddenly change her mind, and give you that 5% chance of rain in the form of a nasty storm. What if some wild animal having a bad day just happens to cross your path, and vent by chasing you deep into the rain forest, along the edge of a cliff, or out in the desert, leaving you spending the weekend under the stars? Are you ready for these eventualities when you leave the comforts of home for that ultimate backpacking adventure? Here's a survival checklist – see if you’re sure to come home alive!

Expect the Unexpected

The best way to be prepared is to expect the unexpected. The most common cause of death in the wilderness is unpreparedness. Death from snakebite, hypothermia, a fall, or an avalanche, is most often attributed to the lack of preparation for what might happen in the wild. Always expect that something unexpected can and will happen.

Improve your chances of coping with unexpected circumstances by carrying a map and compass, checking the weather forecast, getting acquainted with the terrain and native flora and fauna, and packing adequate and reliable gear. A good way of emphasizing the point: people don’t die from snakebites -- they die from not expecting the presence of poisonous snakes.

Brush up on your first aid skills – no one expects to get hurt, but strange things can happen in the wild. Experts advise that no one should dare hike in the forest or go on a camping trip without the basic knowledge of how to treat insect bites, dress open wounds, and handle fractures, allergies and shock. Be sure you have a first aid kit, and fresh knowledge of first aid techniques (don't forget CPR!), before you head out for an outdoor expedition.

Bring Essential Gear

Never leave for the outdoors without the three backpacking essentials: a knife, a lighter, and a large trash bag. A basic Swiss knife will suffice; a plastic cigarette lighter will be more convenient than matches; and yes, a sturdy garbage bag, which will not necessarily be just for your trash. Gary Kibbee, a Navy SEALs veteran says, “You can use [a trash bag] as a bivy sack for an unplanned bivouac. You can use it as a rain jacket when you’re caught in a storm. You can use it as an insulating layer by putting it on, then stuffing it with leaves or grass. It also works well for carrying water.”

Carry other important items in your backpack: full water bottles, map, compass, high-energy food, rain gear, extra warm clothes, whistle, mirror, first aid kit, flashlight, and water treatment pills.

Stay Fit

In an outdoor survival situation, the physically fit have the best chance of coming out alive. Nature and the environment can be very harsh, so experts recommend that mountaineers, hikers, and campers honestly assess their physical fitness before engaging in hazardous and potentially fatal activities.

While outdoors, stay fit by avoiding aggravating situations like dehydration and hypothermia. Maintain proper pacing -- never move so fast that you sweat profusely. Move at a moderate pace and take a five- to ten-minute break every hour. Resist the temptation to rest longer because lactic acid build-up in the muscles will make it harder to get going.

Never pass up water. Next to oxygen, water is the most essential requirement for survival. Fill up your stomach and your water bottles at every opportunity. In a survival situation, water is more important than food. Cases have been reported where people survived a month without food, but when hiking in moderate weather, without water, one can die in just three days. In hot weather, a person will die from dehydration within 36 hours. The minimum amount of water one must drink in a day’s hike outdoors is one gallon -- more in hot areas. If you are reasonably fit and not injured or ill, and have water, even with no food, you can cover five to eight miles a day for a week.

Avoid getting into a potentially fatal hypothermic situation. Hypothermia, the cooling down of the body’s core temperature to below normal, can happen in cold, windy weather as well as in prolonged exposure to wetness. The initial symptoms are uncontrollable shivering, stuttering, stumbling, sleepiness, and incoherence. At the first sign of impending hypothermia, replace wet with warm and dry clothing. Drink warm, sweet drinks and maintain body warmth by seeking shelter, huddling, and building a fire.

Don’t Panic

Know how to find your way even without a compass. On a clear night, the Big Dipper's North Star will give you your bearing. During a sunny day, a makeshift sundial can tell you which way you're going. Shove a stick into the ground and mark the tip of its shadow. After an hour, mark the tip of the new shadow. If you draw an arrow from the first mark to the second mark, that arrow points to the east.

Use your common sense. In a survival situation, common sense is more important than physical toughness and high-tech equipment. Brian Horner, a former US Air Force survival instructor says, “The ability to use common sense – staying calm and collected – is paramount. However, they aren’t the same. Staying calm is holding your fear in check. Being collected is accurately assessing what the real hazards are.” In other words, stop, stay calm, and size it up.

Summary

Here’s the survival checklist once again:

  1. Do your homework – know what to expect, and expect the unexpected.
  2. Brush up on first aid skills.
  3. Bring all the essential backpacking items.
  4. Be sure you’re physically fit to embark on an outdoor adventure.
  5. Avoid potentially dehydrating or hypothermic situations.
  6. Know how to find your way.
  7. Use common sense, and don’t panic.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Are u ready

Lesson 1: Preparing Yourself: Before You Plan Your Trip

The first lesson asks you to evaluate yourself. Are you fit enough -- physically, emotionally, and mentally -- to put yourself "out there," away from everything you associate with comfort, and at the mercy of the elements? Let's discuss the role of fitness and survival skills before even thinking about mapping the first nature trip.

Fitness Exercises: Are You Fit for the Outdoors?

Backpacking is a physically demanding activity -- much of the success and fulfillment you get out of the adventure depends largely on how your body is prepared to meet the challenges of the outdoors. Sometimes you discover too late how physically ill-prepared you are -- when you buckle under your pack’s weight after walking just a couple of meters; when you gasp for breath at the slightest incline; when you miss the marvelous sunrise because you can’t lift your aching body off the sleeping bag.

Picture yourself in a backpacking trip, amid the natural elements. You will be carrying a pack that contains all of your life essentials; you will be walking with that weight the whole time; you will have to pitch your tent, cook your food, and maybe even fetch water; you will be traversing dirt, mud, rocks, hills, and streams; you will be hot, cold, wet, hungry, thirsty, tired, and in pain. Is your body ready to deal with these extremes?

Physical preparedness for backpacking can be summed up in three words: strength, endurance, and skill. Inadequacy in any of these areas means only one thing: bad news.

Strength

Traversing jagged and unforgiving terrain is a given in backpacking, which makes the ability to carry one’s own weight (plus the burden of outfit and gear) up a vertical, a basic physical requirement. How can you tone your body to meet the demand? Strength exercises.

Months before you engage in a serious backpacking adventure, assess your strength -- honestly. Can you haul your body out of a hole if you fell in one? Can you lift an unconscious person? How many steps can you take before you both drop to the ground? If your answer is "I don't know," then it’s time to hit the gym.

Sign up for a strength-training program. Diligent workouts with free weights and machines can effectively boost your body’s overall strength. You may want to focus on the specific muscle groups that you will need for your backpacking activities -- your legs, back, shoulders, and arms. Seek the guidance of a professional trainer so that you don’t end up hurting yourself in your eagerness to strengthen your muscles and tendons.

Strength building doesn’t happen overnight; so the sooner you start a serious workout, the better.

Endurance

When you embark on an outdoor adventure, you don’t lift your pack and just stand there – you have to lug the load with you for many hours over long distances. That is why aside from strength, endurance is an essential physical fitness requirement for backpacking.

Endurance is being able to perform a physical activity repeatedly for extended periods. Undeniably, backpacking is principally hiking – staying on your feet, under your pack’s weight, dodging harsh elements, for long hours. Therefore, the best exercise for trekking endurance is one that will require extended, persistent, and energetic leg action. Ballroom dancing comes to mind, but running is universally preferred.


Start with a running schedule that will require you to negotiate at least a couple of miles per session, every other day. Go slow at first – give your body time to adjust to the stress. When you notice yourself panting, in pain or losing coordination, grind down to a brisk walk, then slowly pick up the pace again. Gradually "improve" your routine by running faster or farther.

Another way to build endurance is to acclimate your body to the activity that will dominate your backpacking trips. For example, if you expect to be trekking up and down steep inclines, train your body to endure ascents and descents by including stair-climbing exercises (try hill-running and wall-climbing, too) in your workout routine. You will know that your body is ready for a climb if you can run up and down a decent flight of stairs at least fifteen times without getting a heart attack.

Skill

The third physical fitness requirement for a successful backpacking adventure is skill. The ability to perform physically challenging activities specific to the backpacking sport is essential, not only to ensure optimum appreciation of the adventure, but also to prevent untoward accidents or mishaps that unskilled outdoor enthusiasts tend to suffer.

Hiking, trekking, and camping means imminent encounters with violent weather and brutal terrain. Aside from being physically strong and durable enough to carry yourself across these harsh conditions, you must also possess the skills that will ensure that you can come through unscathed and whistling a tune.

One of the skills you need to brush up on is how to maintain your balance under the weight of your pack as you walk up and down rough trails, jump across rocks, or tread on slippery surfaces. Another is how to lift yourself up, or slide yourself down, a rope. Scrambling on all fours should be second nature to you; so should swimming and tree-climbing.

After all, being one with nature means knowing how to act and adapt to the most unusual situations.

Summary of Fitness Routines

Here’s a quick summary of the fitness routines you must imbibe in order to be physically prepared for your backpacking trips:

  1. Lift weights to boost your muscles’ capability to support your own plus your pack’s combined load. Remember that you may have to move a boulder to save your life.
  2. Run (or substitute with intensive aerobic exercises) to improve your heart rate and blood circulation, and to enhance your body’s capacity to endure vigorous activities without getting unduly exhausted.
  3. Stair-climb; swim; try martial arts, contact sports, and other physically demanding activities that will hone your outdoor skills. Consider digging trenches, chopping firewood, or harvesting coconuts.
  4. Stretch and flex before (warm up) and after (cool down) each workout so as not to cramp or injure your muscles.
  5. Eat a balanced diet for optimum health; fitness routines won’t do you any good if you don’t eat right. Eat your veggies.
  6. Rest; give your muscles at least 48 hours to recover from strenuous workouts; sleep up to eight hours a day for complete recovery and rejuvenation.

Always remember: outdoors, the physically fit have the best chance of coming out of a survival situation alive. They have more fun, too!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Scubaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Diving

A fairly new comer to the dive world (mid-1990’s) is the DIR or Doing it Right methodology. DIR grew out of dissatisfaction with the state of the dive industry as far as training, specifically in the realm of cave and overhead environment diving. Depending on the instructor who provided the initial training a diver could be excellent or dangerous to themselves and other divers. The DIR methodology consists of a philosophy of proper equipment configuration, proper training, a team mentality and a generally healthy lifestyle. DIR is promoted by the Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) organization their website is if you want to get more detailed information than I am able to provide in this short article.

DIR uses the Hogarthian equipment configuration utilizing a back plate and wing, a one-piece continuous web harness with specific D-ring placement and a crotch strap. The entire concept is gear minimalization and elimination of points of failure. The configuration includes a long (5 to 7 foot) primary hose, a shorter (22 inch) backup hose with a bungeed backup regulator worn around the neck, properly sized inflator hoses for dry suit and wing and a simple pressure gauge. The configuration allows for either a single, or double, tank configuration and the use of either an K, H or valve manifold with isolator in the case of doubles. A K-valve is the standard single tank valve, an H-valve allows two primary regulators off of a single tank and a manifold with isolator consists of two-K valves connected by a pipe containing an isolator valve. The Hogarthian system also allows for the use of a proper exposure suit, solid (non-split fins) and minimal volume masks. Non-split fins are suggested because they allow easier use of kick methods such as the back kick.

Gear standardization also extends to the use of canister lights (a light where the battery is a rechargeable pack contained in a waterproof canister with a waterproof cable leading to a light head which provides a minimal wattage) cutting devices, backup lights and the placement of gear on the harness D rings and drysuit pockets. This standardization is designed to allow team members to rapidly assist other team members without having to search for their or others, gear.

In addition to gear and configuration, training is a key component of the DIR methodology with multiple levels and specific tasks and grading criteria that ensures the diver has the proper skills to dive safely in a team. A review of the DIR Standards 2006 Version 4, shows very specific requirements for all levels of DIR qualifications. The standards also allow for removal of certification as well as disqualification of instructors, something the other qualification agencies such as PADI could do well to emulate. Some additional links to find out more about DIR are:

Scuba Board

DIR Quest

CIS Atlantic

In short, the DIR methodology provides disciplined, qualified divers who follow standards and know how to work as a team. These are all qualifications that all divers, no matter their training affiliation should emulate.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

An inroad into Rock Climbin...........

Rock climbing in India can be a culturally enriching experience quite apart from the exhilarating experience of climbing on virgin solid granite.

The climber moves up, the run out is now ten meters, pinching tiny quartz crystal while the belayer pays out the rope. Nearby a shepherd passes by with his sheep. The climber is now almost near the top. A few more hard moves and then its all over as another new route is completed.

Rock climbing in India, as in the other parts the world, started off as training for mountaineering. As a sport it took off only about 15 years ago. As the climbing standards reached greater heights in the rest of the world.

India too was introduced to sticky rubber, chalk, lycra modern protection and redpointing and higher climbing standards and development of many superb climbing areas by local climbers. Some of the areas are superb and can easily be compared to some world class climbing areas. The climbing areas usually being close to interesting historical sites and unique monuments can provide a pleasant distraction.

Bangalore is situated in South India. Within a radius of 60 Kilometers there is possibly the biggest concentration of granite in the country. The rocks range from two kilometer long boulder fields to rock domes rising 300 meters.

The bigger domes are similar to the slab climbs of Tuolomne meadows, steep slab climbs with sparse protection. There are smaller towers 60 meters to 100 meters which perfect cracklines from finger to off width. The granite can at times have loose flakes and cleaning the rock on new routes becomes essential. Savandurga is the biggest dome near Bangalore which has been developed. The main dome is 300 metres high and has eight routes on it. The routes generally follow cracklines with some long run out slab sections. The most exciting classic climb is "Bangalore Bill" which sports a 90 meter crux pitch on thin protection but the moves never get harder than French 5c (5.70).

There have been some exciting climbs added recently which are primarily face climbs with protection from bolts plced while leading. Double ropes are highly recommended while attempting these routes. The descent is usually made down the less steep side of the dome. Apart from the main dome there are numerous smaller pillars ranging from 60 meters to 90 meters with good crack and face routes on them and are ideal for dodging the sun on a hot day.

Ramanagram is another very popular climbing area situated 50 kilometers from Bangalore on the road to the historical city of Mysore. The concentration of rock here is amazing. There are two main climbing areas here, the Ibraham farm area and the Ramgiri pillar area. The Ibrahim farm area lies on the west side of the railway station and is very extensive. The farmhouse canbe a useful and convenient base to climb from. The climbs range four pitch French 4b (504) to French 7a (5.11).

The massive face of Handi Gundi (Elephant's head) is still unclimbed though the first pitch has eight bolts and is a popular climb. The Ramgiri pillar area has seven 100 meter high pillars leaning against each other, seven routes exists to the top of the pillar. The climbs follow cracklines some of which are horrendous offwidths. There are two good face climbs protected by bolts at 6b (French grade) 5.10-5.11 The main attraction of climbing in Bangalore, apart from the big domes, is the excellent boulders. The awesome boulder fields are two kilometers to three kilometers long, with boulders ranging from five to 20 meters in height and requiring a lot of time to explore. Turalli, 10 kilometers south of Bangalore, and Raogudlu - 20 kilometers on the same road - are good places to work on problems. The granite is perfect though the rock can be rough and the skin doen not last more than a couple of hours. The problems usually involve hard crystal pinching and balancing moves on sharp flakes.

Hampi "City of Rocks" 350 kilometers north of Bangalore is another very interesting place. The capital of the 14th Century Vijayanagar empire it is now a paradise for climbers. There are an endless number of boulders strewn ranging from four meters to 60 meters as far as the eye can see. The interesting ruins of this ancient capital city are spread over an area of 14 sq. km. One can spend days exploring this labyrinth of rocks. Amazing boulder problems can be attempted, on sharp aretes and thin crimping horros seem to be the hall mark of a true problem in Hampi. The landings can be difficult and lot of the interesting problems are top roped. There are some good crack lines which have been done and also bolt protected hard overhanging face climbs at french 6a to 8a + (5.8 to 5.13b). The flakes are sharp and positive on very steep faces. There is an endless potential for new routes at all grades.

There are some other interesting areas to climb in India such as Dhauj, situated 50 kilometers South west of Delhi. The rock is steep quartzite with 250 routes from 4a (French grade) 5.3 to 7b 5.12). It's a worthwhile stop for visiting climbers. The Climbs at Dhauj are generally one pitch and take good protection. Few of the climbs have fixed protection apart from a few pegs on the harder routes. This is strictly a traditional climbing area with the no bolt ethics strictly adhered to.

Other areas with great climbs are at Mt. Abu (Rajasthan), Pachmarhi in Central India. Th Gangotri Gorge 400 km. north of Delhi has immense possibilities of big wall climbing on walls ranging from 200 meters to 1,000 meters in a mountain environment. The town of Badami and its environs north of Hampi is another beautiful area with potential for new routing on the overhanging sandstone.

Summer Trialz

Picture yourself whizzing across the whitecapped ocean on a wind-powered sailboat as the saltwater splashes your face and the sun blazes down and pinkens your cheeks. The sail rustles in the breeze as the boat rocks and sways in the ocean swells. Or if you'd like to become more intimate with the ocean, maybe this scenario is for you...

Imagine paddling through ocean swells perched onto of a fiberglass surfboard covered in wax to allow your feet to grip the board. As you sit amongst a group of fellow surfers, your eyes scan the horizon in search of the perfect wave. Your feet dangle over your board as you straddle it. Gazing into the crystal clear blue water, you cautiously watch the sea life lurking below, aware that a shark could make you his next meal. Then, slowly, you look up and see a swell headed your way. It gets bigger and bigger as it approaches. You frantically paddle, hoping to catch it as it gets closer. The force of the wave launches you like a rocket through the water. You stand up and precariously balance on your board, knowing that a wipe out on this size of a wave would hurt. Water splashes your face and you can taste the salt on your lips. Adrenaline rushes through your body. Then the wave putters out and the ride is over. What a thrill.

Or if water is not your forte, how about this scene...

As you speed down the ramp, you hit the lip at the top and catch huge air. You spin around in the air, grasping your skateboard with one hand so as not to lose it and fall to the bottom of the ramp. Fellow skaters cheer at your accomplishment. As you hit the ramp again, you land a perfect trick and continue this fast-paced, airborne ride all afternoon.

Whether you're looking for a way to spend a hot summer or day or a new hobby to do during the warm summer months, the Web can be a great place to find information to get you started.

If you fancy sailing, check out "http://www.latitude38.com/", "http://www.sailing.org" or "http://www.sailingworld.com" for a list of sailing events, photos of recent regattas, to take a sailing class or find a a yacht club nearby.

Another great way to spend the summer is to catch a wave. Here are some sites that will help you find used equipment to buy, check out the latest surf report, or see a video of your favorite surfer getting barreled:

Holy Literatures of Adventure Sports

Don't have time to get involved in any adventure sports? Then curl up with a book and live vicariously through those that do have the time, money and gumption to live on the edge.

Reading a good adventure book is almost as exciting as being there in person, but even better because you don't have to work up a sweat.

Here are some books I recommend:

Over the Edge: A Regular Guy's Odyssey in Extreme Sports by Michael Bane- Now this guy is crazy. He was a self-proclaimed couch potato who decided to try to do 13 very dangerous sports including deep cave diving, Iditarod bike race in Alaska, climbing Mt. Denali, and running across Death Valley.

He doesn't say how long this adventure sports list took to complete, but his story is truly inspiring. He talks about the grueling training involved with preparing for each sport and the mental fear and exhilaration he feels as he competes and finishes each event.

It's all about pushing yourself, mentally and physically, to the limits. He discovers that the rush is addicting.

Lessons from the Edge: Extreme Athletes Show You How to Take on High Risk and Succeed by Maryann Karinch & David Brooks- This book teaches athletes how to live up to their full potential and really push themselves to the edge. There's a lot of step-by-step information on how to prepare and train for extreme sports. It's an interesting look into the mind of extreme athletes.

Danger! True Stories of Trouble and Survival by James O'Reilly, Larry Habegger and Sean O'Reilly- This book is filled with adrenaline junkies that encounter near-death experiences. A bicycle ride across Bulgaria, rescuing a boat in a storm, mountain climbing in Pakistan, and many other gripping tales of people daring to take the road less traveled.

Adrenaline 2000: The Year's Best Stories of Adventure and Survival by Clint Willis- This book is full of unbelievable stories that will keep you on edge. From shark hunting to cannibalism to cruising the Amazon and encountering many deadly creatures. This is the excitement and adventure that you might not want to experience in person.

Here are a few other books that might be of interest:
In Patagonis by Bruce Chaptwin
Keep Australia on Your Left by Eric Stiller
Getting There: Journeys of an Accidental Adventurer by Sue Williams
Last Trout in Venice: The Far-Flung Escapades of an Accidental Adventurer by Doug Lansky

Hopefully these books will inspire you to do an adventure sport that you find thrilling.