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She's History
Steph Davis's persistence paid off in Patagonia

Steph Davis's mother couldn't have been more pleased when her
daughter called her in Green Valley, Ariz., last month to say
she'd become the first U.S. woman to summit the Fitz Roy massif,
the crown jewel of the Fitz Roy range and the Patagonian Andes.
"I'm so happy you're alive, Stephanie," Connie Davis said. "Does
this mean you're going to quit climbing now?"

Among die-hard alpine climbers, Mount Everest is a walk in the
park compared to Patagonia. "It's a real intimidating place to
climb because the weather is pretty horrendous," says Jimmy Chin,
a big-wall specialist. "It's such a significant accomplishment,
because you can spend your whole life there and never climb
anything. It really says something about Steph's persistence."

Davis spent five seasons, a total of 10 months, attempting to
climb Fitz Roy. She had topped the six other major peaks in the
Fitz Roy range, including a treacherous new route on Aguja
Poincenot. Howling winds and severe storms had kept her waiting
in a forest at the base of Fitz Roy for two weeks before she and
German climber Philip Flaemig gunned for the Franco-Argentine
route (rated 5.10+) of the 11,073-foot massif in a 20-hour push
that began at 2 a.m on Jan. 15. "It was torturing me," she says.
"I wasn't going to stop going down [to Argentina] until I climbed
that stupid mountain. It turned out to be one of the most
satisfying moments of my life."

Davis had already earned her mark as one of the most accomplished
female climbers in the world. She is the only woman to have
free-soloed at the 5.11+ grade and over the last six years she
has cranked six first ascents, including peaks in Kyrgyzstan,
Pakistan, Patagonia and Baffin Island with big-wall specialists
Chin, Keenan Harvey, Russell Mitrovich, Dean Potter, Brady
Robinson and Seth Shaw.

"I always thought I'd be a concert pianist," says Davis, who
still plays expertly. "I didn't play sports as a kid." She
started climbing 11 years ago while living outside Washington,
D.C., and her involvement in the sport grew after she moved to
Fort Collins, Colo., where she received a master's in American
and British literature at Colorado State. The following semester
she enrolled at Colorado law school but dropped out after five
days to devote herself to climbing. She spent the next six years
living out of an Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra and a Ford Ranger
pickup with her dog, Fletcher, before she upgraded to a
two-bedroom house in Moab last April.

While that may have been a sign of settling down, it's not enough
for her mother. "It was amazing to us that she was so interested
in climbing," Connie says. "We're a traditional, conservative
Midwestern family. It fills me with anxiety. I wish she had a
more regular job." --Yi-Wyn Yen

indoor Adventure

Last August, coming off a last-place finish and mired in a
disastrous preseason, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick
took his sinking ship of a team to see the IMAX film Shackleton's
Antarctic Adventure, which details the plight of Sir Ernest
Shackleton, whose own famously leaky vessel, the Endurance,
brought him and his crew to death's door during their attempted
Antarctic crossing in 1915. The Patriots not only drew
inspiration from the harrowing flick, but by season's end one
could also draw numerous parallels between Belichick's and
Shackleton's ultimately triumphant crews.


SKIPPERED by brilliant, stoic leader looking to escape shadow of
famed explorer Robert Falcon Scott.

GIVEN LITTLE CHANCE of success. Two years earlier Scott had
perished while attempting to traverse Antarctica.

RALLIED around life-threatening injuries and illnesses to
numerous members of expedition.

SPENT nearly two years trapped at bottom of planet.

NEAR POINT of no return in snow and cold, miraculously rescued by
whaling ships that helped them reach home.

HOLLYWOOD ending in which millions of viewers recently flocked to
theaters to see shocking Shackleton tale on the big screen.


SKIPPERED by brilliant, stoic leader looking to escape shadow of
famed coach Bill Parcells.

GIVEN LITTLE CHANCE of success. "In the preseason they were an
awful, awful football team," says New York Giants defensive end
Michael Strahan.

RALLIED around death of quarterbacks coach Dick Rehbein and
life-threatening injury to star QB Drew Bledsoe.

SPENT first month of season trapped near bottom of AFC East.

NEAR POINT of no return in snow and cold, miraculously rescued by
ref's call that helped them reach AFC title game.

HOLLYWOOD ending in which millions of viewers recently flocked to
living room to see shocking Patriots upset on the little screen.


On Jan. 26 Debra Veal of Great Britain became the last competitor
to complete the Atlantic Rowing Challenge (SI, Dec. 3), 112 days
after she set out from the Canary Islands and 73 days after the
winners arrived at the finish in Barbados. Two weeks into the
2,963-mile event, Veal's husband and rowing mate, Andy, began to
suffer exhaustion and panic attacks and was taken away by a
safety yacht. Rather than quit, Debra covered the final 14 weeks
and 2,363 miles by herself.... Though it has not wreaked the
havoc it did in 1997, when one sailor drowned and numerous others
nearly arrived at the same fate, the Southern Ocean is again
taking its toll on the eight boats in the Volvo Ocean Race. News
Corporation of Australia was severely damaged when it barreled
into an iceberg at 21 knots during the 10th day of the 24-day
leg. Some 24 hours later, severe winds caused the mast to break
on the Swedish craft SEB. "I'm bloody worried," said News
Corporation conavigator Ross Field, whose crew suffered no
serious injury and resumed racing after repairs to the rig.
"There are icebergs everywhere." ... Neither Lance Armstrong
(above right) nor the nine domestiques on his 2000 Tour de
France-winning team answered a summons to appear in a French
court last week to address an inquiry into whether they used
doping products in 2000. "He refuses to be a guinea pig for any
experts who want to make a name in legal medicine," says lawyer
Georges Kiejman of his client Armstrong.

out There
Whitewater to go? That's the idea behind the new Wave Box

Riding the flume at the local amusement park is the closest most
Americans come to churning whitewater. Confluence Watersports,
though, is working to make whitewater more accessible with its
Wave Box, a portable kayaking hole that measures 32 feet long, 17
feet wide and five feet deep. In the hole kayakers can perform
cartwheels and other tricks in the spin-cycle conditions, much as
they might on the Snake River. So far Confluence has manufactured
only one Wave Box, which will be used only for demonstration
purposes, with the intent of producing more of them by early next
year for use in parking lots, in front of gear shops and in other
easy-to-reach spots. "It's like an indoor climbing gym," says
reigning world champion rodeo kayaker Eric Jackson, a company
consultant. "Say you live in the city and like to climb. Well,
chances are you're not going to make it to El Cap every weekend,
but you can make it to a climbing gym during your lunch hour and
train. Think about it; you're a kayaker working in Rockefeller
Center. Maybe during lunch you go out and train in whitewater
right there in the middle of New York City. Pretty wild idea,
isn't it?"

COLOR PHOTO: COREY RICH Before making her final push on Fitz Roy, Davis (here climbing Gorilla Warfare in Needles, Calif.) holed up in a forest for two weeks to wait out the brutal weather.





COLOR PHOTO: ERIK AEDER Biff of the month Toehold Although the wind has been taken from his sail, windsurfer Pascal Hardy clings to his board by the skin of his feet after falling into the foamy drink off Maui's Ho'okipa Beach Park.

For Real

Man-versus-horse races have a rich history, with competitors
ranging from Jesse Owens to the 18th-century Welsh runner Guto
Nyth Bran, who upon beating a horse in a cross-country event,
legend has it, dropped dead after receiving a congratulatory slap
on the back from a well-wisher. Striking the latest blow for the
nonequine world is U.S. endurance runner Tom Johnson, who edged
out the horse Al Baraaq by a mere 10 seconds in a 50-mile race in
Abu Dhabi on Feb. 6. "It was a challenging course," said Johnson,
who finished in five hours and 45 minutes. "I had to battle over
the heat, sand, hills and the wind." So too did the losing nag,
who was done in by two long rest stops totaling nearly an hour.


Million dollars, the total gross of the movie Snow Dogs, starring
Cuba Gooding Jr. (and eight furry friends), through last weekend.
While adventure-sports flicks have had a rough winter (can you
say Out Cold?), the more family-oriented Snow Dogs has been
red-hot, finishing in the top five at the box office for four
straight weeks. Must be the mushy story line.

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

--Gear: 2002 Buyers' Guide to Skateboarding
--Destinations: Banff and Whistler on a shoestring budget
--Photo gallery: Field and Stream goes around the world