In the summer of 2011, I began reporting a feature about performance-enhancing drugs in mountaineering, particularly a powerful and dangerous steroid called dexamethasone. The piece just came out in the April issue of Outside magazine.
This was a fascinating, highly complex, and, ultimately, very human issue to investigate. There are no rules in mountaineering. Say what you will about fame and glory and money; the ultimate goal is always to survive, which makes the performance-enhancing drug conversation as murky as it is emotionally charged.
I interviewed nearly 40 sources before pitching this idea to Outside, then another 20 after it was assigned. Most of the opinions I heard and read never made it into print, but I'm grateful to everyone for sharing their perspective and stories on what is a sensitive subject to discuss. That goes particularly for Jesse Easterling, one of the main characters in the story, who opened up some painful wounds to ensure others realize the dangers involved with taking dex.