Mark’s pick: Specialized Don’t Boost
My pick is the story we ran on how Specialized have shunned Boost 148 on their Stumpjumper range, with the exception of the 6Fattie, where they told us the choice of the new rear axle and hub standard came down to one of tyre clearance rather than any wheel stiffness benefits. I think it’s an interesting reflection of the whole ‘standards’ issue that two of the giants of the bike industry clearly have differing philosophies on bike development at the moment. If it really was just a matter of cash generation then surely Specialized would be all over the new standard like a rash too, just like Trek. The fact they aren’t suggests to me that there’s more thought going in to at least some of these new standards than just how much cash they can generate. I’m an optimist and I think it’s healthy that there’s differing approaches from different companies. I’m looking forward to seeing how the whole Boost148 thing develops.
Two news stories stood out for me this week. The first is this opinion piece from the New Statesman, in which Jan Morris suggests that Everest is returned to the state of holiness and dignity in which it existed before it became the ultimate adventurer’s tick. Morris was sent by the Times to cover Edmund Hillary’s successful Everest expedition in 1953; while she acknowledges that she’s played a part in mythologising the mountain among climbers, she now believes that it should be returned to its Sherpa keepers and be universally respected as a deity, as well as a memorial to the thousands of people who died in the recent earthquakes in Nepal. If, as Mallory claimed, we climb mountains simply “because they’re there”, then it’s just as easy not to climb them – especially when, as is the case with Everest, that climbing exacts a heavy toll on the environment we want to experience. Interesting stuff.
My second pick is not a single piece but an event which dominated the outdoor media: the deaths of Dean Potter and Graham Hunt during a wingsuit flight in Yosemite. While both men were well-known BASE jumpers, Potter was also famous for his free climbing and high-lining exploits, which brought him to the attention of a much wider audience – and that’s how I knew of him, too. When a well-known personality dies while doing something like wingsuit flying – which, superficially at least, appears to be one of the most dangerous things you can do with your time – there will always be news stories along the lines of ‘sad but unsurprising’. What struck me about Potter’s death – and it’s what I admired most about him in life, too – is that there have been just as many pieces which sidestepped the maudlin inevitability of his death and instead focused on the calm and analytical way in which he approached the irresistible draw of free and often dangerous movement in the mountains, described in this piece by Alpinist editor Katie Ives as “singular luminous moments, separate from the regular course of existence and difficult to describe“.
Mortality is a given. It’s what you do before you get there that makes life count.
And here are some gloriously over the top jumps! There is no reason – they’re just ace.