Monday, February 28, 2011

17-Year Old Wins Junior Iditarod

Over the weekend, 17-year old Jeremiah Klejka claimed victory in the Junior Iditarod, completing the 180 mile course in 1 day, 11 hours, and 46 minutes. The race, which is open to teens between the age of 14-17, serves as an annual precursor to the 1100+ mile Iditarod, which will get underway next weekend in Anchorage.

This was Klejka's third running of the Junior and he hopes it will be a springboard to the much bigger event in years to come. The high school junior has been mushing since he was six years old, when both he and his sister took up the sport. Sister Jessica won the event back in 2008.

Anitra Winkler came in second place, about 26 minutes behind Klejka. Third place went to Emily Krol, who finished another 22 minutes back.

In other Iditarod news, the National Geographic Adventure Blog has post today on the "Last Great Race," which not only gives a bit of detail on the event, and what it takes to compete, but also goes into musher Oswald “Newton” Marshall's techniques for staying warm on the trail. You see, Oswald is from Jamaica, which isn't exactly a hotbed of dogsledding champions. But he loves to race none-the-less, even though the cold may have a bigger effect on him than some of the other racers. To keep the blood flowing, Marshall will sometimes stay active by dancing.

The article also talks about four time winner Lance Mackey and his fight with cancer. It's an excellent read all around and a great way to prepare for the Iditarod this weekend. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Denali Winter Ascent: Heading Down For Now

Earlier this week I mentioned an expedition that is currently underway on Denali, in which Artur Testov and Christine Feret are attempting to climb Denali in the winter. When last we checked in on the two climbers, they had been stuck in a snow cave for six days and were waiting for the weather to improve. Now, a few days later, the weather hasn't gotten all that much better, so they've elected to head down the mountain and wait for another opportunity.

According to their latest audio dispatches, Artur and Christine have descended to 11,000 feet (3352 meters) where they managed to find a snow cave they had previously built at that altitude. They've now taken shelter there and are hoping for another crack at the summit, but conditions are extremely bad and the weather is always unpredictable on Denali this time of year.

From the sounds of things, the descent wasn't much of a picnic, as Christine calls it a "hell day" in her dispatch, but she did say that as soon as they dropped below 11,000 feet, the wind stopped and it became an absolutely beautiful day on the mountain. That has encouraged them to sit tight for a bit and wait for their next opportunity, but it is also a bit disheartening to find conditions so calm down below, but know what kind of maelstrom awaits up towards the summit.

Climbing Denali in the winter is one of the biggest challenges in all of mountaineering. While the peak is "just" 20,327 feet in height, it is situated at a latitude that makes for very long, and cold winters. Most climbers take on this mountain in late-June and into July, and even then it can be a bit dicey. Artur has successfully climbed the mountain in winter however, and Christine has what it takes to make it to the top too. All they need is a little luck and a proper weather window to give it a go.

Stay tuned for updates.

Introducing Explore. Compete. Live.

Fans of adventure racing and other endurance sports now have a new online resource to add to their bookmarks. The newly launched Explore. Compete. Live. is here to report on the latest AR news from around the globe, while mixing in plenty of training tips and gear reviews as well. The site is also building what promises to be a comprehensive adventure racing calendar and is already offering up great race reports from events in a number of different countries.

Content on the site is already rich and varied, with articles on the Adventure Racing World Series coming to Ecuador and a report from the Adventure Travel Show in Chicago, amongst plenty of others. There are also pages on the site dedicated to upcoming events, with the option to add your own race to the calendar too.

The site is brought to us by some of the talented folks behind Adventure World Magazine, which has recently received a facelift itself, so expect great things. I'm sure Explore. Compete. Live. will prove to be an excellent place to stay informed on the latest news in the adventure racing and endurance sports world, as it is already off to a great start.

Missing Antarctic Yacht Update: Life Raft Discovered Adrift In The Southern Ocean

For the past few days I've been following the search for the missing yacht in the Antarctic. The Norwegian-flagged Berserk ran into trouble a few days back, and hasn't been seen or heard from since. Yesterday, the ship's life raft was discovered in the Southern Ocean, damaged and adrift, giving an ominous sign of the likely fate of the vessel.

Search and rescue efforts have been ongoing since Wednesday, when storms in the region allowed ships to finally reach the area where the Berserk activated its emergency beacon on Tuesday. Two ships and a helicopter from the Sea Shepard organization have been combing the area looking for clues, and they were the ones to discover the life raft yesterday. That raft was said to have a ripped canopy and was missing both its first aid kit and survival knife. There were no indications that it has been occupied however, and it is just as likely that it drifted away from the yacht on its own as someone used it for escape.

The water temperature in the area was reportedly -12ºC (10ºF) which means that if anyone were in the water, they would probably only live for a few minutes at the most. Now that more than three days have passed since we have heard any word from the ship at all, it seems increasingly unlikely that the crew is still alive. The search will go on today however, as their is still slim hope that they are still out there, adrift on the sea currents, and without power.

If there is any further news, I'll post updates.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

World Tri Update: Charlie Is On Foot, Headed Toward Everest

I've posted updates on the World Tri a couple of times in the past, but it has been awhile since I checked in on the progress of Charlie Wittmack, the man who kicked off this adventure last summer. The World Tri is exactly that, a massive triathlon that began when Charlie swam across the English Channel last August. From there, he got on his bike and rode from France to India, which he completed a few months back, before flying home to enjoy some down time, and much needed recovering, before returning to India to complete the final leg of his triathlon on foot.

In late January, Charlie did indeed return and he is now somewhere out on the road, traveling alone, as he works on completing the final leg of the journey, which will eventually see him attempting to climb Everest this spring. The finish line for the World Tri is on the summit, and he hopes to successfully top out on that mountain for a second time in his life. Unfortunately, there haven't been any updates to his blog since he started the next phase of his journey, so hopefully all is well and Charlie is making the progress he expects.

That blog has revealed that this has not been an easy journey for Wittmack however. In one entry, he talks about lying in bed in Tibet, completely exhausted mentally, physically, and financially. He says that he had suffered cerebral edema a few days prior, and had lost the sight in his right eye, which put him at the end of his rope. At that point, he just wanted to be home, and thankfully he was not long after.

Once home, he was given the opportunity to heal and recover nicely with his friends and family. But eventually it was time to get back on the road, and that's where he is right now, making his way towards his final challenge, which will be Everest. If everything goes as planned, in a few short weeks he'll be joining the hundreds of other climbers who will be making their way to Base Camp on the North and South Sides of the mountain, hoping for an opportunity to stand at the top of the world. Most of those climbers will come the old fashioned way however, catching a flight into Kathmandu. Charlie will be making the journey on foot. Lets hope he isn't exhausted and spent before he ever gets a crack at the mountain.

Deadline For 2011 Submissions To Mountainfilm Festival Is Monday

The 2011 edition of the Mountainfilm Festival, held annually in Telluride, Colorado is set to go down from May 27-30. Over the past three decades the event has earned itself a reputation for being one of the top adventure film fests in the entire world with filmmakers, photographers, environmentalists, mountaineers and explorers all in attendance each year. As usual, the even will kick-off with the Moving Mountains Symposium, which will focus on the theme of Awareness into Action this time out.

While the festival is still several months off, an important deadline for the event is looming next Monday, February 28th. That is when final submissions are due, which means if you have an adventure film you'd like to enter into the event, you have just four more days to get it entered. You'll find all the submission information on a single page, which can accessed by clicking here

The Mountainfilm Fest annually awards $10,000 in prize money to the winners in a variety of categories. Those winners are announced at the show's closing picnic, which has become a tradition in its own right each year. For more information on the event, including how to obtain passes, volunteer, where to stay, and so on, simply go to

Cape Town Edition Of FEAT A Big Success

Back in October I posted about an event called FEAT (which stands for Fascinating Expedition & Adventure Talks) that took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. FEAT was billed as TED Talks for the outdoor crowd, featuring 12 South African adventurers who were given exactly seven minutes each to share an aspect of their expeditions with the audience.

The Jo'burg event was such a hit, that it spawned a second edition that took place in Cape Town on February 12, and by all accounts that show was a fantastic success as well. Amongst the speakers at this second edition of FEAT were freediver Hanli Prinsloo, Pete van Kets, who has rowed the Atlantic Ocean, and long distance runner Braam Malherbe, who ran the entire length of the Great Wall of China.

FEAT is now building into a yearly event in SA, and plans are already in motion to expand it with a film festival in 2011. It seems that all involved had a fantastic time, and I'm just disappointed that my schedule didn't allow for me to stay in the country and attend while I was in South Africa earlier this month. It seems that it was another really great evening of discussions based around my favorite subject – adventure!

Check out a bit of what happened at FEAT Cape Town in the video below and  visit the FEAT website over the coming days to catch even more highlights and videos form the illustrious group of adventurers who spoke that night. It's the next best thing to being there.

132 Space Shuttle Launches In 132 Seconds

Later today the Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled to make its final launch before the shuttle program is mothballed by NASA. In honor of that historic event, has put together his great video which shows all 132 shuttle launches in just 132 seconds. You can also read their story on the event by clicking here.

The space shuttle has been a pivotal part of space exploration not just for the U.S., but for the entire world, for years, and I'm a bit sad to see it come to an end. NASA is busy working on a replacement program, but in these tough economic times it is a difficult sell to say the least. A new shuttle will probably cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars at the very least, and at this point it is years from becoming a reality. While the International Space Station will continue to serve as a platform for research going forward, I can't help but think that we have taken a step back in this area simply by not having a replacement for the shuttle already in the pipeline. Lets hope it isn't too long before we get back to reaching for the stars. After all, there is an awful lot of stuff out there that we don't know about, and I for one believe that we can understand a lot more about ourselves by learning more about the Universe around us.

Missing Antarctic Yacht Update: Two Crew Members Located

Yesterday I posted a story about the Norwegian yacht the Berserk which had gone missing off the coast of Antarctica. Today we have word that two of the crew have been located on the continent itself, and that they may hold some clues as to where the missing ship might be.

As reported, the ship had five people aboard when it set sail, and the intention was for two of them to be dropped off on Antarctica itself in an attempt to go to the South Pole by ATV. Apparently the delivery to the continent took place, as the ship's captain Jarle Andhøy and an 18-year old crew member were found alive and well yesterday and have reportedly been working with rescue teams to help locate the missing 14-meter, steel hulled yacht which has three other crew members still aboard, including two Norwegians and one British national.

The Berserk went missing two days ago after activating its emergency locator beacon amidst high winds and 25 foot waves. At the time, the ship was roughly 18 nautical miles off the coast of Antarctica. Since then, all attempts to contact the vessel have proven fruitless and the beacon has stopped transmitting. The bad weather, which is common in the Southern Ocean, has slowed down search and rescue operations, but there are a number of ships in the area now, including naval vessels from New Zealand and two ships from the Sea Shepard organization.

The SAR teams are still holding out hope that they might find the Berserk adrift at sea with her crew alive and well, but the longer it takes to locate them, the more unlikely that outcome seems to be. Lets continue to hope for the best as the search continues today.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Climbing and Descending Gasherbrum II In Winter

Back on February 2nd, Denis Urubko, Simone Moro, and Cory Richards completed the first winter summit of Gasherbrum II, the 13th tallest mountain on the planet at 8035 meters (26,363 ft). It was the first successful winter ascent of any of the 8000 meter peaks in the Karakoram range as well, and a spectacular accomplishment to say the least.

The trio has posted a number of video dispatches to the North Face Journal, a blog that covers athletes sponsored by the gear manufacturer. Amongst those dispatches are the two videos below, one of which shows the amazing ascent to the summit and the other is of the equally treacherous descent, during which they were beset by avalanches. Both videos are beautifully shot, which is amazing in and of itself, and both are excellent examples of what high altitude mountaineering is all about.

CheapTents.Com Interviews Polar Adventurer Chris Foot

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you no doubt recognize Chris Foot and probably followed along in his solo and unassisted attempt to not only ski to the South Pole, but then turn around and go back to the his starting point at Hercules Inlet this past Antarctic Season. Due to bad weather and a few logistical hiccups, he was forced to abandon the return trip however and settle for just reaching the Pole itself. Of course, I use the term "settle" with tongue fully planted in cheek.

The CheapTents Outdoor Gear Blog recently caught up with Chris and posted an interview with the polar explorer on their website. In the interview, Chris discusses his inspirations to explore cold places, why he abandoned the return trip from the South Pole, and his plans to return to the Antarctic to give it another go later this year. He also talks about is biggest weakness, his favorite pieces of gear, and the biggest challenges of making a solo journey to the South Pole.

As usual, this is another excellent interview form the chaps over at CheapTents. They never cease to ask the interesting questions and, as always, we really get a good sense of what their subject is all about. In this case, we get to know Chris and what drives him, and it is clear that he feels that he has unfinished business in the Antarctica and really wants to give his round trip expedition another go. I know I for one can't wait to see him return for the 2011 season.

15-Year Old Completes 45-Foot V11 Route

This video comes to us courtesy of and shows 15-year old Enzo Oddo climbing the V11 Ambrosia route along the Grandpa Peabody boulder in The Buttermilks, located in Bishop, California. The route has only been climbed on four other occasions, by the likes of Kevin Jorgeson, Alex Honnold, and Isaac Caldiero. Joreson was the first to complete the route back in January of 2009, but didn't give it a grade at the time. Honnold followed on a year later, and rated it a V10/V11 difficulty. According to however when Caldiero made the climb he actually broke off a foot hold, adding to the level of the challenge at the early part of the climb.

Being able to make these kinds of ascents at 15 is just wrong. Looks like a fun climb though.

Ship Goes Missing Off Antarctic Coast

A small sailing yacht has gone missing off the coast of Antarctica after setting off its emergency beacon yesterday amidst rough seas and high winds. The ship is believed to be carrying as many as five passengers, although exactly who was aboard at the time the beacon was turned on is still unknown.

The 14-meter steel hulled Berserk is operated by Berserk Expeditions and conducts small, private sailing adventures in various parts of the world. The yacht was believed to have visited the Antarctic continent where it may have dropped off two passengers who are attempting to drive ATV's to the South Pole. If that event did take place, then three passengers could still be aboard the ship, including the Norwegian skipper Jarle Andhøy. The boat was believed to have possibly four other passengers, including three more Norwegians and a British national.

Rescue ships have been dispatched out of New Zealand to the Southern Ocean to search for the missing yacht, but the bad weather in the region hasn't made the search easy so far. All attempts to contact the ship have also failed and the emergency beacon is no longer transmitting either. Weather reports indicate that 75 knot winds and 6 to 8 meter swells are hitting the area at the moment, although conditions are expected to improve later in the day.

The last known location of the Berserk was approximately 33 nautical miles off the coast of the Antarctic continent, just north of the Scott Base. The current outlook of finding the ship, and her crew, in good condition is a bit grim, but rescue teams are holding out hope none the less.

Book Review: Running Dry: A Journey From Source to Sea Down the Colorado River

As global climate change continues to change our planet in ways that we are still struggling to understand, one of the things that has become clear is that our conservation and usage of water is going to play a big role in our long term survival. Weather patterns are clearly changing, and as they do, once reliable sources of water are now struggling to keep up with the demands that we put on them. It seems that man has an unquenchable thirst for water and not just for drinking. We use it to irrigate our farms, water our lawns, clean ourselves and our possessions, and oh so much more. What effect is our usage, and climate change, having on our water supply? And what does it mean for our future?

That is the overriding theme of the book Running Dry: A Journey From Source to Sea Down the Colorado River by Jonathan Waterman. The book follows Waterman has he makes a spectacular 1450-mile journey along the length of the Colorado River, spending five months exploring those waters, while examining the effects of prolonged drought, climate change, and over usage by man on the river. What he found was an environmental catastrophe just waiting to happen, as the flow of the river is shrinking dramatically, leaving the lands surrounding it in desperate need of moisture.

Despite the fact that this is a book about water, it starts out awfully dry. Waterman spends the first chapter filling us in on the history of man's use of the river and explaining some of the complex issues that are facing how that usage is governed. It can be a bit of a slow way to start a book, but it pays off later when the actual adventure begins, as having that deep background helps us to understand and relate to what the author encounters once he starts his epic paddling journey.

That journey does become the core of the book however, and when Waterman begins to share his aquatic adventure with us, the story picks up quickly. Running a massive river like the Colorado is no small accomplishment, but he manages to do it and share tales of the people he met along the way and the things he saw in his weeks upon the river. Where Waterman excels in his writing is weaving those tales so deftly with the history and law of water rights management in the Western United States. He gives you just enough of both to keep you knowledgable about the important issues at hand while still enjoying a grand kayaking adventure at the same time.

Ultimately however this isn't an adventure book, but a call to action for those who live along the Colorado and beyond. The river is being altered dramatically, and in some ways irrevocably, and this book hammers that message home in some important ways. While the author remains hopeful that we can save the river, and there by save ourselves, the message is one of urgency, as precious time, and water, is slipping away.

Running Dry is an excellent read for environmentalists and paddlers alike. It is also an eye opener for those of us who were unaware of how several factors (climate change, drought, over usage) were conspiring to destroy one of the great natural wonders of the American West. Read it for the adventure but never lose sight of the overall message. You'll be glad you did on both accounts.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Outside Investigates The Death Of Hendri Coetzee

Back in December, the outdoor adventure community was stunned by the news that paddling guide Hendri Coetzee was killed while guiding a team of professional kayakers down the Lukuga River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Coetzee, along with American paddlers Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic, had just completed a tough section of whitewater, when a large crocodile approached them from behind. In an instant, the croc attacked, pulling Coetzee from his boat, and pulling him under the water, never to be seen again. It was a shocking and brutal reminder of how deadly Africa can be, but it still came as quite a shock.

In the latest issue of Outside magazine, the entire incident is explored in detail, and the article is quite a story to read. What we didn't know back in December was that Coetzee was planning on hanging up his paddle and bring an end to his very productive career as a guide and professional paddler with some very impressive first descents under his belt. But as the story says, a predator in the water had a different ending to the story.

The article is entitled Monster in the River, and the entire thing can be read online here. The story is more than just about the tragic end of Hendri's life, but it also about the way he lived it with a passion for what he did, exploring Africa's most spectacular rivers and finding adventure in many different ways. He was truly an inspirational person who just happened to have met an untimely end in a most unexpected way. I highly recommend this story, as it is well told and offers a lot of insight into the man himself.

Another great job from the staff at Outside.

Sherpa Climbs Seven Summits In 42 Days

Way back last March of last year I posted a story on Ang Chhiring Sherpa, who at the time was attempting to set a speed record for climbing the Seven Summits. Fast forward a year, and he has accomplished his goal and in highly impressive times.

According to this story, which is in French, (use Google Translate), A.C., as he has known, managed to knock off each of the seven summits in just 42 days of accumulated climbing. That's the amount of time he actually spent on the mountains itself, and not his his total time from start to finish of all of the mountains. The individual times for each of the peaks looks like this: Mount McKinley- 12 days; Kilimanjaro - 16 hours, 37 minutes round trip!); Elbrus - 8 hours, 14 minutes; Kosciusko - 2 hours, 32 minutes; Aconcagua - 7 days; Vinson - 4 days;  and Everest - 19 days.

A.C. actually finished off his quest last may when he completed his climb of Everest, but I hadn't seen confirmation of his final time until this story was send my way by Louis-Philippe Lonke earlier today. While the news might be old, it is still a very impressive time and accomplishment that deserves a salute.

It should also be noted that A.C. wasn't making the climb just to achieve a record. He was also raising funds and awareness for the Himalayan Women & Children Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping to educate women and provide basic health care and other services for those living in the Himalayan mountains.

A worthy cause to say the least.

Denali Winter Ascent: In A Holding Pattern, Waiting For Weather To Improve

Climbers Artur Testov and Christine Feret have returned to Denali this year to challenge that formidable mountain in the winter. The duo made the attempt in 2010 as well, but were forced to turn back due to bad weather, and while it may be a new year, their old foe has returned to challenge them once again.

This expedition actually got underway back on February 1st, but due to my travels, it slipped off the radar a bit. But, there is still plenty to report, as both Artur and Christine have made good progress, despite the extremely cold temperatures and generally poor conditions. The two are currently huddled in a snow cave on the headwall while they wait out the high winds that are causing whiteouts on the mountain. They've been in that cave for four days already and yet they remain optimistic and confident in their approach to the climb. Temperatures are said to be hovering around -60ºF (-51ºC) so they'll also wait for warmer temps before moving up as well.

A winder descent of the 20,327 ft (6,196 m) Denali is one of the toughest challenges in all of mountaineering. The feat has only been accomplished a hand full of times, with weather usually being the biggest obstacle. Throughout the winter, the mountain is shrouded in darkness while high winds, heavy snow, and frigid temperatures punish anyone who attempts to claim the summit. The mountain is a challenge even in June and July, the prime climbing season, which makes a winter attempt all the more daring. 

You can read more about the expedition on their official website, where you'll also find plenty of audio dispatches to help keep you informed of Artur and Christine's progress. Keep your fingers crossed that the weather clears and gives them a crack at the summit.

More Expedition Idaho Adventure Race Details

Adventure racing fans have a lot to look forward to in 2011 as the calendar of big international races is as full as it has been in several years. One of the top events for the year is scheduled to take place beginning on August 14th, when Expedition Idaho 2011 gets underway at the Silver Mountain Resort in that state. Organizers of the event have begun to leak some details of what teams can expect with a lot of exciting things on the horizon.

For starters, they've announced a cooperative program with the Raid the North Extreme race, which takes place in the in the West Kootenays of British Columbia, Canada this July. Teams who races in both events will receive a $400 discount on the Expedition Idaho race.

It seems that the sponsors are lining up for Expedition Idaho as well. Gear manufacturer Gramicci is on board and will be outfitting each of the teams with a full set of clothing from their new lifestyle-performance line of clothing. Black Diamond has also signed on and will also serve as the technical advisors for the ropes course. More sponsorships are also in the works, and the ExpId 2011 swag bag is already shaping up to be an excellent one.

Perhaps most importantly, online registration for the 600+km, seven day event will open soon. Organizers are looking to have it online in March, allowing teams to quickly and easily sign up for the race and join in on all the fun in Coeur d' Alene this August.

To find out more about this great event checkout the race's home page, which can be found here, or join the ExpId 2011 Facebook page by clicking here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Halo Effect Trailer Offers More Beautiful Kayaking Goodness

As another very busy week comes to an end, I thought we'd go out on a high note with the trailer for a kayaking film that is currently making the rounds. The film is called Halo Effect and it follows three paddlers who traveled to Iceland and Norway in search of the best white water they could find. Judging from the video below, they not only found some spectacular rapids to run, they had a heck of a time doing. This video is extremely well done and simply beautiful to watch. Enjoy!

Apply For The Copp-Dash Inspire Award

Climbers looking for a few sponsorship dollars for their next big climb may want to apply online for the the second annual Copp-Dash Inspire Award. The prize will be awarded to help support small teams that are taking on unclimbed peaks in remote regions of the planet. The challenges will likely require a high skill level to complete, with an emphasis on going in a fast and light style. Those applying should also demonstrate a plan to personally document and share their ascents through a multimedia blend of storytelling elements that could include photos, video, blogs, magazine articles, and so on.

The award is named after American climbers Jonny Copp and Micah Dash, whose spirit the award embodies. The two men were killed, along with filmmaker Wade Johnson, while climbing in a remote region of China back in 2009. They were two of the most respected climbers in the world and they continue to inspire even after their deaths.

This award is sponsored by Black Diamond Equipment, La Sportiva, Mountain Hardwear and Patagonia, with in-kind support from Adventure Film Festival, Alpinist Magazine, American Alpine Club, Sender Films, and the Jonny Copp Foundation.

You'll find more details on the award as well as the application form by clicking here.

American Explorer Prepares To Walk Across Africa

American explorer and anthropologist Julian Monroe Fisher is preparing for his next big expedition, one that will see him cross the African continent on foot, covering more than 4000 miles (6437km) in the process.

The expedition has been titled Equatoria - A Walk Across Africa and it will get underway this spring from the town of Pemba, Mozambique, located along the continent's eastern coast. From there, Julian will head west, crossing through parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, before eventually crossing into Angola, and finishing up in the town of Lobito, which falls along that nation's Atlantic coast.

While walking across Africa will be a great adventure in and of itself, Julian has some loftier goals in mind as well. He is undertaking this expedition to raise awareness of the Mines Advisory Group, an organization that works diligently in former danger zones across the globe in an effort to clear not only landmines left behind following the end of major conflicts, but other small arms, missiles, grenades, and so on. Their efforts safe lives in many nations that still have the remnants of conflict still littering their environments.

Once the expedition gets underway, you'll be able to follow progress and receive updates from the field on Julian's Facebook page, which you'll find by clicking here. You can also find out more about the project on the expedition's website, found at and more about Julian as well on his personal website at

This looks like it is going to be an epic and wonderful journey across my favorite continent. I can't wait to follow along with the adventure. Good luck Julian!

Propellor Powered Cross Country Skis Look Like Fun!

Okay, so we all enjoy going out to play in the snow, and cross country skiing is a great excuse to do just that. It also happens to be a fantastic workout as well. That is unless you do what this Russian man did, which is to strap a paragliding propeller to your back. Then cross country skiing isn't as much of a workout, but it sure does look like fun!

Alan Arnette Explains The Routes Of Everest

As I mentioned a few days back, the Everest 2011 season isn't as far off as you would think, and as I write this, dozens of mountaineers across the globe are preparing to head to the Himalaya in a month to start their epic climb up the world's tallest mountain. While there are more challenging and hazardous peaks to scale, Everest is the one that holds the attention of the mainstream audience for sure. As most of you know, the bulk of the summit attempts come along two routes, one from the North Side, which falls inside Tibet, and one from the South Side in Nepal. Despite the fact that the two routes are on the same mountain, they both vary a great deal from one another. Fortunately, Alan Arnette has written an excellent, and informative, blog post to help us sort out the various routes up Everest.

The article breaks down both the North and South Side routes, explaining where each of the camps are located and sharing the distances traveled and the time it takes, on average, to reach those points on the mountain. He also shares the more famous landmarks on the climb as well, such as the Balcony and the Hillary Step, both of which are found along the South Side route. Those points of reference are often used when explaining where teams are at on the mountain, especially on summit day when they are making their final push. If you're new to following the Everest season, this information will help you put everything into perspective when the action begins later this spring.

Alan also shares the positive and negative aspects of climbing from either side as well. For instance, on the North Side you can actually drive to Base Camp and you'll find smaller crowds on the way to the top, but you'll also have to deal with colder temperatures and higher winds as well. Meanwhile, the South Side has nearby villages for acclimatizing and recovery and tends to be slightly warmer, but climbers have to pass through the dreaded Khumbu Icefall every time they leave BC.

Finally, Alan wraps things up with a discussion on which side of the mountain is the most deadly. Statistically speaking, the North earns this dubious distinction, and he explains some of the reasons why that might be, such as lower costs leading to more independent climbers, more technically challenging aspects to the climb, and so on.

This article is an excellent primer for those looking to learn more about what goes into an Everest climb and how the various routes differ from one another. It is also a nice reminder for those of us who have been following the annual spring climb for some years too, and it helps to prepare us for the season ahead.

Alan will actually be on Everest for the fourth time this spring as he continues his Seven Summit Climbs for Alzheimer's. This will be the third of his seven summits, having already knocked off Vinson in Antarctica and Aconcagua in Argentina.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Andrew Skurka's Alaska-Yukon Expedition Detailed In Nat Geo

Last year long distance trekker Andrew Skurka set off on his most ambitious and challenging expedition to date. He was already a legend in the thru-hiking community, but his 4679 mile (7530km) Alaska-Yukon Expedition set a new standard for all others to follow. The route passed through some of the most remote places in the U.S. and Canada, crossing eight national parks and several mountain ranges in the process. As is typical, Andrew went alone and spent 176 days on the trail hiking, skiing, and rafting his way through the unforgiving wilderness. Now, his full story is finally being told in the pages of National Geographic Magazine, which will feature Skruka's adventure in the March issue that will be hitting newsstands soon. Fortunately, we can all read the story online now, simply by clicking here.

The piece is written by Dan Koeppel, who does an excellent job of getting Andrew to open up about his trek through the Alaskan wilderness, which included a challenging traverse of the Brooks Range, which remains one of the most untouched and wild places on the planet. But this story isn't just about the journey, but the man behind the trek as well. Skurka comes across as a very the kind of guy that you'd love to share the trail with and you get the sense that while he's had plenty of adventures, this one touched him in unique ways and changed his outlook on his long distance hikes forever.

In typical Nat Geo style, this isn't just a story about a hike through the wilderness. It's much more than that, and I recommend that you give it a read. Andrew truly is one of a kind and his approach to life is one that should be applauded. This is a very good read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The Green Way Up: From Australia to Norway on Biodiesel

Here's a cool project that was sent my way a few days back. It seems a group of Aussie boys have come up with the idea of driving from Hobart, Australia to Norway using nothing but biodiesel. Now that, in and of itself, sounds like a fun road trip adventure, but not necessarily all that out of the ordinary. But the four travelers don't plan on stopping at a single petrol station along the way.

Dubbed "The Green Way Up," the plan is to get underway in March from the southernmost tip of Australia and the project won't end until they reach the most northerly tip of Norway. Along the way, they'll cross through 30 countries and cover more than 45,000km (27,961 miles), making this the longest car trip on alternative fuels ever.

The aim of the project it to spotlight those alternative fuels and how important they are to the future of our planet. The four men built a special processor that can turn waste oil and animal fat into fuel to power their vehicle, so as they drive they'll be stopping at local places, such as restaurants and pubs, to collect their cooking oil and other products that can then be converted into fuel for the car. They're even building a biodiesel fueled boat to carry them from Darwin to Singapore, stopping off on islands in East Timor, Indonesia and Malaysia along the way.

The entire journey is being made into a documentary film that is expected to be released later this year as well. That film will not only cover the trip, but highlight important sustainable project that are being conducted on he local level along the way. The message is clear  – alternative fuels are important and viable for generating power and we need to find more ways to incorporate them into our lifestyle.

If everything goes according to plan, the journey will begin in just a few weeks time. Follow along with Oscar, Justin, Chuck, and Bob on the expedition's website once they hit the road.

Thanks to Jess for the tip on this one! :)

Green Way Up from Jo Melling on Vimeo.

Kayaking From Vancouver to Alaska: No Experience Required

I came across this video earlier while perusing the Canoe & Kayak Magazine website. The short film chronicles a group of friends who set out to kayak from Vancouver to Alaska along the Inside Passage without any paddling experience at all. Over the five weeks they were on the water, they covered 500 miles and found plenty of great scenery and adventure along the way. Enjoy!

No Experience Required_Full HQ from StuntBeaver Productions on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Doping Charges Against Contador Dropped, He's Free To Race

In other cycling news, doping charges against Alberto Contador have been dropped and he is now free to race in the Tour of Algarve which began today. His one year ban from the sport is lifted and he'll continue to be regarded as the 2010 Tour de France winner as well.

As you no doubt recall, Contador tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol while riding in the the Tour last year. He claimed that he picked up the trace amounts from eating tainted meat. The drug is sometimes used, illegally, in bulking up cattle before they are sold to stock houses. The meat in question was brought to France, from Spain, by a team chef on one of the rest days last year. 

The Royal Spanish Cycling Federation investigated the positive test and issued the ban a few weeks back, allowing Contador time to respond to the ruling and present evidence of his innocence. At the time of the initial ban, the RSCF said they felt that Contador might indeed have taken the substance accidentally, but they had to ban him none the less. It is unclear if the rider presented such evidence or if the RSCF simply elected to reverse their decision. 

Contador isn't completely out of the woods yet, as the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency could still challenge the decision. The UCI says they'll take up to 30 days to review the case and ask for a ban on an appeal.

For his part, Contador has always maintained his innocence and says he is relieved to have this all behind him so he can get on with racing. But fans of the sport aren't necessarily in his corner. According to this story at VeloNews, while Alberto is getting plenty of support in his home country of Spain, officials in other countries are dismayed by the ruling, calling in unprecedented and wondering as to the cause of the sudden change in direction. Speculation is that there was pressure on the RSCF to change their ruling to protect a popular athlete in their country and that Contador received special treatment for what would otherwise have meant an automatic ban from the sport.

Something tells me we haven't heard the last of this, but for now, Contador will ride. 

Lance Armstrong Retires - Again!

Lance Armstrong has moved on to what he calls Retirement 2.0, officially announcing that he is stepping away from competitive cycling, this time for good. Armstrong road in his final race last month when he raced in the Tour Down Under, held annually in Australia. He finished 65th in his last hurray on the bike.

The rider's legacy is of course well known. He battled back from cancer to not only ride again, but win an unprecedented seven straight Tour de France titles before going into retirement 1.0 back in 2005. In 2009 he came back out of retirement and has ridden well in a number of events, including Le Tour, but has never been as competitive as he was back in his prime. His career was also dogged by allegations of performance enhancing drug use, and although he has been tested hundreds of times, he has never tested positive for anything.

The announcement of his second retirement comes as no surprise. We always knew that Lance was committed to ride in the Tour Down Under again this year, but he also has said that he is finished with the Tour de France as well. It was just a matter of time before he made it official once again. He'll now go on to focus on his Livestrong charitable foundation and other business ventures, while also preparing to face a possible Grand Jury investigating his use performance enhancing drugs while riding competitively.

Lance has always been a great ambassador for the sport, especially here in the U.S. where the majority of sports fans don't care about cycling when he isn't riding. Ratings numbers for the Tour de France with, and without him, have shown this to be true. Hopefully the general public will get past that and support a sport that has fantastic athletes and plenty of high drama, even when Lance isn't riding.

Gearing Up For Everest 2011

It hardly seems possible that we're on the verge of another Everest climbing season, but a month from now the climbers will be hurriedly putting the final touches on their preparations before setting off to the Himalaya. One of those climbers will be Alan Arnette, who is already preparing for his own attempt on the mountain and has shared some pre-season information with us on his latest blog post.

First off, Alan reports that he has heard from the good folks at Everest ER, who will once again be setting up their medical facilities in Base Camp on Everest's South Side. Organized and run by Dr. Luanne Freer, Everest ER provides all kinds of medical services for the climbers who can suffer a number of ailments while on the mountain. Most are fairly minor in nature, but obviously there can be some very serious health related issues when you're dealing with altitude. Dr. Freer noted that the group would once again be accepting $100 donations from each non-Nepali climber to help offset costs, and she also noted that there will be a third doctor in the camp this year, extending their capabilities even further.

Alan also posted a note on the success rate of climbing Everest and noted that the Russell Brice, who operates the Himalayan Experience guide service recently posted his company's numbers. Himex offers guided expeditions on Everest and a number of other big peaks, and Brice has years of experience in the business as one of the top services in the region. So how did Himex perform? From 2001-2010 the company has a 74% success rate of their clients, guides, and Sherpas. If you factor clients alone, that average is at 70%, which is a pretty respectable number all things considered.

Finally, Alan writes about the potential changes, or lack there of, in the way communications are handled on Everest. Back in October, we were all excited by the news that 3G cell towers were now in place near Base Camp which would allow the climbers and trekkers to make and receive phone calls, texts, and even use data while on the mountain. Turns out that while service is there, most will still need to use a satellite phone for reliable communications back to the world. Alan cites this article from ExWeb which received word directly from the cell company that service only extends up to 5600 meters (18,372 ft), which is slightly above BC. Those heading up to Camp 1 or higher will still want to bring their traditional comms equipment with them.

That's all for now, but as usual, you can expect a major upswing in the amount of Everest news as we inch closer to the spring. It won't be long now until the streets of Kathmandu are even more crowded with trekkers and climbers, and another season will begin in full force. I can't wait!

Patagonia Expedition Race: Brits Claim Third Straight Title

The Wenger Patagonia Expedition Race came to an end last night with the defending champs of Team adidasTERREX/Prunesco claiming their third straight title and securing their place amongst the elite adventure racing teams on the planet. They were followed across the finish line by Team and Vaucluse Adventure Evasions in second and third place respectively.

The Patagonia Expedition Race has proven to be quite a challenging start to the big international adventure racing calendar over the past few years, but the 2011 edition may just have been the hardest yet. The race began over a week ago in the Torres del Paine region of Chile with sunny skies and fantastic weather. That weather degenerated quickly however, and the notoriously nasty storms of Patagonia arrived on the scene to play havoc with the teams. When the race started, there were 14 four-person, coed teams in the running, at the end there were just six left. Worse yet, the heavy rains forced the cancellation of a trekking leg that became far too dangerous, and three teams had to be airlifted from the course due to dangerously high rivers.

The three remaining teams that are out on the course, Croatia's Ad Natura - Karibu, East Wind of Japan, and the international team of erdido en el Turbal are all expected to reach the finish line later today. At this point, it is a matter of pride that they finish what has become one of the most challenging races in recent memory, and I'm sure the post-race party to be held in Punta Arenas will be a wild one.

Congrats to adidasTERREX/Prunesco on another fine showing and to all the teams for competing so hard under such challenging conditions. It seems that the 2011 adventure racing season is off to a fine start already.

Rookie Musher Wins 2011 Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race

A rooke musher, with a very familiar name, has won the 2011 Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race by crossing the finish line in Fairbanks, Alaska last night. The race, which got underway on February 5th from Whitehorse, Canada, stretches for more than 1000 miles along trails used by prospectors when the gold rush hit the region at the turn of the 20th century.

23-year old Dallas Seavey finished the race at approximately 11:05 PM local time last evening, beating out second place finisher Sebastian Schnuelle by 33 minutes. Seavey, who is the son of 2004 Iditarod champ Mitch Seavey, became the youngest musher to ever win the Yukon Quest, taking home $28,395 in prize money.

The Yukon Quest serves as a precursor to the Iditarod each year and often gives us a look at the top sled dog teams before they hit the trail in that 1161-mile monster of a race. But success in the Yukon Quest has not always translated over to the Iditarod, as only Lance Mackey, a legend in the sport, has managed to win both races in the same year. The Iditarod gets underway on March 5th this year, and as usual, I intend to cover the event as best as I can.

As for Dallas Seavey, he has already proven himself in the Iditarod, and this win confirms what many have felt about him. He shown that he has quite a knack for the sport, and there are high hopes for his future in dogsledding. Expect him to be in contention when the Iditarod turns toward Nome in late March.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Adventures in South Africa

So I've been home from South Africa for nearly a week, and I haven't had much of a chance to share my experiences from while I was there. You'll definitely be hearing a lot more about my time in SA in the days ahead, as I will be writing a number of stories about what I did there. Of course, I visited Kruger National Park, one of the greatest places in the world to spot wild animals, and while we did go on game drives, I wasn't there to go on safari per se. In fact, I was actually there to learn how safari guides are trained and to observe the process of how they are evaluated so that they can take us out into the field in a safe, fun, and educational manner. I spent five days at the Makuleke Camp, operated by Eco-Training, watching potential guides of all ages be put through their paces as they worked towards certification and eventual opportunity to go to work in field in a number of countries across Africa.

Like I said, you'll hear much more about that in the days to come as I start to write stories about the training process. But I'll also share some thoughts on Kruger itself, the amazing creatures that live there, and some of the unbelievable experiences I had there. I'll even share the storyof the Makuleke Tribe, who were forced off their land back in 1969, but had it restored to them in the 90's. Part of that land falls within Kruger, which has made for a unique opportunity for the tribe and an unusual relationship between them, the South African government, and safari companies that operate within that area.

For now, I've put together a photo gallery with a few images from the trip. You can access them by clicking here. They give a bit of insight into what it was like for me there. I hope you enjoy, and stay tuned for much more.

22 Essential Adventure Skills We All Need

Outside Online has a great article on their website listing the bare essential skills that all adventurers should have in their arsenal, no matter where they are headed. They are designed to be a baseline for any outdoor enthusiast who finds themselves off the beaten path from time to time and on adventures, both planned and unexpected.

This list really does have a little of something for everyone, from the backpacker, long distance trekker, or adventure traveler. The skills vary greatly, but they all have one thing in common – making us all safe while we're on the go and making our journeys a lot easier.

In total, there are 22 skills listed on this "bare essentials" list and even if you already know most of them inside and out, it's nice to have a reminder. Most of the entires on the list include anecdotes or stories that explain when and why they are necessary, as well as some helpful tips on how to brush up your own skills in that particular area.

Examples of these essential skills include "Never Get Caught Empty-Pocketed" which means make sure you have the gear you need to survive on you at all times. The "Pack Like A Pro" section offers helpful hints on selecting the right clothing for your trip and packing it all properly, while the "Pull Off a Big Trip" section gives advice on how to organize that adventure you've always wanted to take.

Some of these things may seem elementary upon first glance, but as I said, reminders are always a good thing, and even if you're an old pro, you may find some new tips in this list. Apparently this is just part 1 of a four part series on "essentials" so we'll have plenty more to come it seems.

Nice tips from a great source and an especially helpful article for beginners or those just in the planning stages of their first big adventure.

Ski Video Fun!

Looking to add a little fun to your Tuesday routine? Then check out the video below that is brought to us courtesy of, a sight that delivers the best ski photo and video contests on the web into one place. The best part of this video is that it is shot from a helmet cam most of the time and the skiers look like they are just plain having fun while they shred the mountain. Beware: This video may induce sudden urges to head to the slopes. You have been warned.

Thanks to Don Watkins for sending this my way! Great stuff as always!

Earlyups Takes Skiing. Seriously. from Earlyups on Vimeo.

Patagonia Expedition Race: Weather Delays, Alters Race

As I mentioned last week, one of the toughest adventure races around is currently underway in Chile, where the Wenger Patagonia Expedition Race is near its conclusion. With the top teams currently on their bikes, and racing towards the finish line, it seems that this year's event lived up to its billing and has been challenging the athletes at every turn.

This year's course was more focused on the northern regions of Patagonia, with the start taking place in the shadow of the Torres del Paine mountains, not far from the Southern Continental Ice Field. As I've mentioned on more than one occasion however, it isn't just the terrain that teams must deal with in this race, as the legendary Patagonia weather can bring its own form of punishment. That has proven to be the case once again this year, as the weather got so bad at one point that the race had to be suspended, something that rarely happens in adventure racing. Heavy rains in the area also forced the cancellation of a trekking leg as well.

As of this writing, the defending champions of AdidasTERREX/Prunesco (UK) continue to lead the race, with Team in second place and racing hard. On the leaderboard it says the teams are just a half-hour apart, although it seems that GearJunkie failed to sign into one of the checkpoints and as a result they've been assessed a 10 hour penalty which will surely break their hearts in the end. Team Vaucluse Adventure Evasions of France is the third place team, and the only other one out of the PC13 at this point.

The final leg, which the teams are currently on, is a 188km (116.8 mile) mountain bike ride. That should keep them occupied for the better part of the day, but expect the first teams to cross the finish line later today. At this point, it's hard to imagine anyone catching the leaders, but this is adventure racing after all, and anything can happen.

Adventure Racing World Championship Preview Video

I've said it on more than one occasion, and I'll say it again. 2011 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for the sport of adventure racing with a number of fantastic events on the schedule. One of those events is the AR World Championships, which will be held on the west coast of Tasmania in Australia. That race will take place beginning on October 31st (Halloween! Seems fitting!) and will run through November 11, covering more than 700km (435 miles) in the process.

In preparation for the race, the organizers released a preview video to give us all a few insights into what to expect later this year. Check it out below.

Atacama Extreme: The Final Video

I know that yesterday I promised to update my post on the Atacama Extreme endurance expedition with the video from the final day, but that video wasn't posted until a bit later in the evening last night, so I thought I'd start off the day today by adding it to the blog.

As most of you know, the Atacama Extreme chronicled Ray Zahab's journey as he ran for 20 days covering the length of the Atacama Desert in Chile. Due to an unusual rain shadow between the Andes Mountains and the Chilean Range, it is the driest place on the planet, and offers up a significant challenge for anyone who ventures there. Over the course of the past three weeks, Ray has been running, mostly solo, through those conditions, covering 1145km (712 miles) in the process.

The video below shows the final day of the run, which also happened to be Ray's birthday. As you can tell, he is happy to reach the finish line at last. Congrats Ray!

Day 20 - Atacama Extreme from GOi2P on Vimeo.

Monday, February 14, 2011

12,500 Mile 'All-In Trek' Is Underway

Way back in September I told you about Samuel Gardner and his "All-In Trek." It was around then that Samuel first announced his plans to hike the North Country Trail, Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Pacific Crest Trail, all back-to-back. On January 1st of this year, he set out to do just that, and now, a month and a half in, he's started to receive a great deal of attention for his efforts.

If successful, Gardner will cover more than 12,500 miles (20,117km) on his adventure. He began his journey on the North Country Trail, which stretches 4600 miles from New York to North Dakota. At the moment, he is 45 days into that march, and when you consider that it is still deep winter in the states he's crossing through, you begin to have an appreciation for what he has undertaken. In fact, the weather has been down right awful for him on the trail thus far, but he was well prepared for that and has made solid progress thus far.

Once he finishes off the North Country Trail, Gardner will move on to the 2650 mile (4264km) Pacific Crest Trail, which he'll travel south to north, ending at the Canadian border. Then it's off to the Continental Divide Trail (3100 miles/5000km) which he'll tackle going north to south, before finally heading over to the Appalachian Trail, which is 2175 miles (3500km) in length, and will cap the expedition. The plan is to complete the journey in just one year, which means that Sam will have to average roughly 34 miles per day to achieve that goal.

National Geographic Adventure recently did a brief interview with Gardner, which you can now read on their Adventure Blog. In the interview, Sam talks about his inspirations for the trek, what weather conditions have been like so far, as well as his favorite trail foods. You can about his thoughts on those subjects, and a whole lot more, by clicking here.

You can also read daily updates on Sam's progress on his website's Journal section, which offers plenty of great insights into what it is like on the trail.

Good luck Sam!

Blind Hiker Preps For Continental Divide Trail

This was my story over at this morning, but definitely worth sharing here as well. The current issue of Expedition News reports that blind hiker Trevor Thomas will attempt to thru-hike the entire length of the Continental Divide Trail, covering more than 3100 miles (5000km) from the Canadian border south to the Mexican border.

The trek is set to begin in June, when Thomas will set out with three companions who will assist him through some of the more challenging, harder to navigate, sections of the CDT. As the name of the trail implies, the route runs along the Continental Divide, the line from which rivers on one side of the Rocky Mountains head east, while those on the other side travel west. The trail passes through five states, including Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.

The CDT makes up one third of the "Triple Crown" of thru-hiking in the U.S., with the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail rounding out the list. Those trails are 2175 miles (3500km) and 2650 miles (4264km) in length respectively, and Thomas has already covered both of them. He went solo on the AT back in 2009 and had some assistance through deep snow on the PCT in 2010.

Find out more about Trevor and his team at and expected updates on that site once the expedition officially gets underway in a few months time.

Atacama Extreme: Ray Conquers The Desert!

The Atacama Extreme long distance endurance run that we've been following over the past few weeks came to an end over the weekend when Ray Zahab completed the expedition that saw him running the length of the Atacama Desert north to south. Ray crossed the finish line on Saturday, covering 87km (54 miles) in one last, long push. His total time in the desert was 20 days, 2 hours, 59 minutes, and his final distance total came in at an eye popping 1,145km (712 miles).

Crossing the Atacama on foot is just another fantastic accomplishment for Zahab, who already has an adventure resume that includes running across the Sahara Desert and traveling on foot to the South Pole, amongst others. Traditionally he has been joined by his partner Kevin Vallely on those expeditions, but due to a family illness, Kevin was forced to drop out of this run, leaving Ray to face the Atacama alone. Face it he did, overcoming a number of obstacles and challenges along the way to cross a desert that is considered to be the driest on the planet.

Updates to Ray's Facebook page indicate that he has already left Chile for home, where he'll take a much deserved rest following the expedition. Expect a video of the final day to be released later today, which will no doubt offer more insights into what it was like out on the trail. I'll add it to this post when it become available.

Congratulations to Ray for a job well done. You continue to inspire us all!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Rest of Everest Goes 3D!

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows that I'm a big fan of the video podcast The Rest of Everest. Over the past few years, no other outlet has given us more information on what it takes to trek and climb around the world's tallest peak, and the show has brought its fans endless insights into not only high altitude climbing, but also the culture and history of both Nepal and Tibet, the two countries on which Everest sits.

The show has been on a bit of a hiatus since it ended the last "season" which was focused on the trek to Everest Base Camp on the South Side of the mountain. But a new season was launched in a big way yesterday, when a new episode of the podcast hit the web in a big way. While the show has always been special to me, this new episode happens to have been filmed in 3D, which gives us it a new dimension (pun fully intended!) in its coverage of the mountain.

In order to watch the episode in 3D you'll need a pair of the traditional red and blue “anaglyph” glasses, which unfortunately I don't own, so I can't comment on good the 3D effect is and how everything looks. But if the quality is up to the usual ROE standards, I suspect that it looks quite nice and really adds something to the show.

If you watch the video without the glasses it is likely to give you a splitting headache, but if you jump ahead to the middle of the show, the entire episode is re-aired in plain old boring 2D. That will save you a lot of eye strain and still allow you to enjoy the episode, which kicks off the fifth season of the Rest of Everest. This episode serves as a bit of an introduction to the mountain's seldom visited East Side, also known as the The Kangshung Face.

Get your Rest of Everest fix, either in 2D or 3D, by clicking here. Glad to have you back Jon!

Kayker Drops 128-Feet Over Falls In Mexico

Paddler Rafa Ortiz made the second highest drop over a waterfall ever last month when he went down the 128-foot tall Big Banana Falls in Mexico. Fortunately for all of us, someone was on hand to shoot photos and video of it, from multiple angles no less. Ortiz also went on NBC a few days back to talk about the experience. Check out all the craziness in the video below, and remember kids, don't try this at home.

Climbers Make First Winter Ascent of Gasherbrum II

Another major event in the world of mountaineering went down while I was away in Africa, as climbers Simone Moro, Denis Urubko and Cory Richards completed the first winter ascent of Gasherbrum II, the 13th highest peak in the world.

The team had been working the mountain for several weeks, but once prepared, they completed the climb in just three days. The trio finished their summit push on February 2nd, reaching the top of the 8035 meter (26,363 ft) mountain. While climbing any Himalayan peak in the winter is always a challenge, the descent wasn't all that easy either. The three men faced increasingly bad weather on the descent and according to the Outside Blog, the team was also hit by an avalanche on the way down, but managed to escape without any serious injuries. They returned to Base Camp last Friday, February 4th, bringing an end to a very successful expedition.

This winter ascent marks the first time that any of the five 8000 meter peaks located in Pakistan's Karaoram range has been climbed during the winter. GII is considered the easiest of those mountains to scale, with the other four, which includes Gasherbrum I and K2, ramping up significantly in challenge.

Congrats to Simone, Denis, and Cory on a job well done. Conquering any major peak in the winter is a significant accomplishment, but knocking off an 8-thousander in the coldest month of the year is impressive indeed. Well done chaps!

Paddler Makes First Solo Descent of Australia's Fitzroy River

Aussie paddler Lachie Carracher has completed the first solo descent of his country's largest volume river, the 733km (455 mile) Fitzroy located in the remote West Kimberly region of Western Australia. The entire journey took six days to complete, with a number of obstacles to overcome, including raging Class V rapids, precipitous waterfalls, and crocodile infested waters.

According to Outer Edge Magazine, who named Lachie their Young Adventurer of the Year, the paddler  completed the expedition on Wednesday of this week. Once off the water, he immediately contacted his father and began to consider making another run on the Fitzroy, which is one amongst the top whitewater challenges in the world.

Making a solo descent of the river is no small feat. According to Outer Edge, the Fitzroy has an astounding water flow that measures 21 times that of the Colorado River as it passes through the Grand Canyon. That flow generates plenty of dangerously rough waters and lots of speed as well.

This is certainly an impressive first descent for any kayaker, and I want to join my friends at Outer Edge in extending a hardy congratulations to Lachie on a job well done. To read more about the paddler and his adventures on the Fitzroy, check out his website at

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Patagonia Expedition Race Is Underway!

I'm still working on catching up on news from when I was away, and one of the big stories is the start of the Wenger Patagonia Expedition Race, which got underway on Tuesday of this week. The race, which has become the unofficial kick-off to the big international adventure racing season in recent years, pits coed teams of four against one another in one of the most beautiful, yet extreme, environments on the planet.

When the race began, there were 15 teams in the field, including defending champs Adidas TERREX (UK) (Formerly Helly Hansen-Prunesco). Since then, four teams have dropped from the event, and Patagonia's legendary weather has arrived on the scene to torment the remaining athletes. According to updates on the race's news page, heavy cloud cover, strong winds, and rain have hit the course, making an already challenging event even more difficult.

As of this writing, the defending champs continue to lead the event, but with seven days remaining in the race, it is still very much up for grabs. This year's course takes the adventure racers through the more northerly region of Chile's Patagonia, near the Southern Continental Ice Field. The race got underway in the shadow of the Torres del Paine mountains, with the teams chasing a herd of horses on their bikes down a dirt path to begin the opening mountain biking leg. From there, they'll navigate, trek, bike, and paddle their way across some amazing landscapes toward the finish line, some 500km later.

One of the teams that is participating in the Patagonia Expedition Race is Team, which is led by none other than the Gear Junkie himself, Stephen Regenold. The team is posting updates from the field as they progress through the race, which appears to be off to an impressive start.

Check back for updates over the next few days. As usual, this is a wild and tough race, where anything can, and usually does, happen.

Atacama Extreme: Still Running In The Desert

One of the big adventures that had just gotten underway before I zipped off to Africa was the Atacama Extreme. For those who may have lost track of that adventure while I was away, this is the expedition during which endurance athlete Ray Zahab is running the length of Chile's Atacama Desert, a place that is considered the driest place on Earth. The initial plan was to cover 70km per day but conditions have not made that easy to achieve, and the journey is now taking longer than expected.

When we last checked in with Ray, he was suffering with some nasty blisters on his feet and was forced to not only take a day off, but go slow on his return to the trail. The harsh desert hasn't helped to ease the suffering either, as 50ºC (122º F) temps have been the norm and high winds have challenged Ray's progress in the past few days.

The Atacama Extreme is just the most recent expedition to fall under the impossible2Possible umbrella. The organization reaches out to thousands of students, in hundreds of classrooms, around the world. Their aim is to educate and inspire those students through adventure, while showing them some of the most amazing places on the planet. Previous i2P projects have taken those students to the Amazon, Tunisia, the South Pole and beyond. It is a great organization that really does a fantastic job of reaching out to schools.

Ray still has a ways to go before he is done, although he is indeed closing in on the southern point of the Atacama. Check out the video below, which is actually from a few days back, to get a sense of what he has been dealing with while he has been running.

Day 14-15 Atacama Extreme from GOi2P on Vimeo.