Stark joins the ranks of hands-on journalists who willingly, shamelessly, risk life and limb at extreme sports, all because it keeps them where they like to be: out in the cold and over their heads. Lyons & Burford seems to have a direct pipeline to Outside magazine, publishing collections by David Quammen, Randy Wayne White, Jon Krakauer, Michael McRae, all crackingly good writers. Add to that list Stark, also an Outside contributor, a man deeply smitten by snow and ice, who likes his wintry doings on the wild side, the endorphins going full tilt. Although the approach of middle age has slowed his step (he graduated from college in 1976), you'll still find him on the black diamond slopes, flashing the crux down the radical chutes (translation: skiing hell for leather down boulder-strewn, shoulder-width, near-vertical canyons), sandpapering the back of his skull on Lake Placid's luge run, or planting his face rather than his skis in the landing zone of a ski jump called Pesticide. Stark sometimes slips into a more contemplative mode, brooding over sleds, mesmerized by snow types, trying to render the lunarscape of central Iceland. And he really does drive (well, much of the way) to Greenland; his account of that trip is one of the best pieces in the collection: unpretentious, tack-sharp writing that clearly summons up a place and a people, travel literature as it ought to be. Best of all, and very rare in this breed of daredevil writer, he doesn't let his ego crowd out the surroundings; rather, he melts into the landscape like a flake into a snowbank. Stark brings you to places you never dreamed of going, takes all the lumps, and gets you home safe and sound. A more self-sacrificing guide an armchair traveler never had.