Deadly Thirst
Drought, especially in the West, is changing the summer outlook
for both fun and profit

In Santa Fe, where resplendent waterways have turned into beds of
mud and rock, business, too, has dried up for Russell Dobson. May
is the beginning of whitewater rafting season, but at Dobson's
Santa Fe Rafting Company store, it might as well be the dead of
winter. As nearby rivers run at a mere 200 cubic feet per
second--scarcely one eighth the rate that's normal for this time
of year--Dobson looks out on his nearly empty store and sighs.
Business is down 90% from a year ago. In 2001 Santa Fe Rafting
Company serviced 6,250 rafters. This year, Dobson says, he'll be
lucky to handle half that many. "I've been doing this for 15
years," he says, "and things have never been this bad."

The more than yearlong drought that has hit much of the nation
is putting a serious crimp in outdoor sports and recreation
activities, particularly in Western states (though major canoe
and kayak races have been canceled as far east as New England).
According to the latest federal reports, significant areas of
Colorado, Montana and Texas and nearly all of New Mexico and
Wyoming are in the midst of a drought categorized as severe to
extreme. Last week in New Mexico, where the risk of wildfires
has reached extreme levels, the 1.6-million-acre Santa Fe
National Forest--which some 1.2 million campers, hikers,
anglers, bikers and rafters use each year--was closed
indefinitely. The only major piece of public land in the state
still open for recreation, the 1.5-million-acre Carson National
Forest, could be declared off-limits by the end of the month.

Wildfires have also posed serious threats to hunting, a $1
billion industry in some Western states. In Nevada, where in the
past three years fires have consumed three million acres of
rangeland, helping to cause a 50% drop in the deer population,
wildlife officials have called for a 25% cut (70% in northern
areas of the state) in the number of hunting licenses for mule
deer issued. A recent Nevada study found the lowest spring
sampling of deer since surveys began in the mid-1970s. "The
current habitat simply cannot support the wildlife populations
we've had in the past," says the New Mexico Game and Fish
Department's Martin Frenzel, who foresees his state's hunting
industry taking a major hit this year. "The rivers, the
forests--we're dry all over."

Because of this spring's lack of rain and the winter's sparse
snowfall (in Colorado, for example, the statewide snowpack was
less than 40% of the 30-year average), anglers in many parts of
the country are having trouble finding good fishing spots. "The
lakes around here have gotten so low that there are simply no
fish in them," says Jeff Obrecht, an information officer for the
Wyoming Game and Fish Department. "It's still early in the
season, but the situation doesn't paint a very good picture for
the future."

With the start of summer still a month away, the worst of the
drought and wildfires could be yet to come. Given that, there's
only one thing Dobson says he can do: "A lot of praying for
rain." --Albert Chen

For Real

Who summited Mount Everest this spring? Who didn't? For the
second straight year favorable weather produced a fresh burst of
firsts. Among those to hit the roof of the world were the first
married couple to complete the Seven Summits (Phil and Susan
Ershler of Bellevue, Wash.), the first U.S. woman to scale the
summit from the north and south faces (Ellen Miller of Asheville,
N.C.), the first known cancer survivor (Sean Swarner of
Jacksonville), the oldest man (65-year-old Tomiyasu Ishikawa of
Kanagawa-ken, Japan) and the oldest woman (63-year-old Tamae
Watanabe of Yamanashi-ken, Japan). On May 16, 54 climbers reached
the peak, eclipsing the single-day record of 37 set on May 22 of
last year.


Nautical miles sailed by the yacht Illbruck Challenge between
8:02 p.m. GMT on April 29 and 8:02 p.m. on April 30, the greatest
distance ever covered by a monohull in a 24-hour period. The
Atlantic run beat the previous 24-hour mark of 460.1 nautical

Good Surf
For more adventure, go to and check out these

--For repeat's sake: Lance Armstrong's domestiques
--Tested waters: Field & Stream's top 25 fishing spots
--Trail guide: complete U.S. National Parks info database.

indoor Adventure

Cherry: A Life of Apsely Cherry-Garrard
By Sara Wheeler/$26.95, 297 pp.

Apsely Cherry-Garrard was a wealthy and very nearsighted English
bachelor of 24 when, in 1910, he joined Robert Falcon Scott's
famous South Pole expedition as an untrained "adaptable helper."
When a blizzard pinned Scott and two other men in their tents
near the Pole (they would die there, most likely of starvation),
Cherry, the nearest expeditioner to them, was 12 miles away. Had
Cherry driven his dogs one way (toward the Pole) instead of the
other (toward camp), he might have saved them.

The genius of Cherry is that it uses this single, ill-fated
decision as a prism through which the rest of his life is
refracted. Cherry did not realize how close he'd been to Scott
until 10 months later, when he and a search party uncovered the
yellowed, frostbitten bodies inside their tent. From then on
Cherry, who died in 1959, was plagued by self-doubt and dark
ruminations, even after writing The Worst Journey in the World,
an eloquent account of the trip that was edited by his good
friend George Bernard Shaw and which National Geographic called
the finest adventure book ever published.

Wheeler writes exceptionally well and renders the extraordinary
expedition--the one in which Scott loses the race to the Pole to
Roald Amundsen--in a fresh perspective. Her achievement lies in
showing that, for all the physical demands of enduring
-66[degree] cold and dodging killer whales, some of the
journey's most compelling challenges took place in Cherry's
mind. --Kostya Kennedy

out There

Denali, Pikes Peak...the Brooklyn Bridge? As soon as next
summer, climbers could be taking guided ascents of the
276-foot-high New York City landmark. The walks to the top of
the 109-year-old span would be led by Bridgeclimb, an Australian
organization that conducts popular tours up Sydney's Harbour
Bridge (above) for about $125 per person. Because climbers must
wear suits that are attached to a cable, says New York City
mayor Michael Bloomberg, there is no security issue. "Even if
you wanted to jump, you couldn't fall," he says.... The body of
California climber R.D. Caughron, who avoided harm during a
confrontation with Maoist guerillas on Nepal's Mount Makalu last
month (SI, April 29), was discovered some 4,000 feet from the
27,824-foot peak during the last week of April. The 58-year-old
Caughron is believed to have gotten caught in a heavy
snowstorm.... Lance Armstrong's quest for a fourth straight Tour
de France title has received a boost. Two weeks after he was
cleared of doping allegations stemming from a police raid at the
2001 Giro d'Italia, Jan Ullrich dropped out of this summer's
Tour, citing a nagging injury to his right knee. "This is very,
very annoying for me because I came through this winter in
better form than I had in a long time," said the 28-year-old
German cyclist, who won the 1997 Tour and has finished second
three times, including the 2000 and 2001 races won by Armstrong.

COLOR PHOTO: KAREN KUEHN BURNED OUT Drought and the threat of fire closed the Cibola Forest in New Mexico. COLOR PHOTO: RANDOM HOUSE COLOR PHOTO: BRIDGECLIMB COLOR PHOTO: JERONIMO OPORTA/AFP Wipeout ASH-WHUPPIN' On a run down Nicaragua's Cerro Negro volcano on May 13, France's Eric Barone set the world record for highest speed reached on a bike (107 mph)--and then bit the volcanic dust. The so-called Red Baron suffered a sore shoulder and severe hand burns; his bike fared worse, cracking in half.