Friday, January 13, 2012

Casting Call: Adventure Racers Needed For New Television Show!

Television production company Pilgrim Studios is looking for participants for an upcoming reality show that sounds a bit like a made-for-television adventure race. The new series in entitled Unbreakable and will send contestants out on a three day long "outdoor obstacle course" that will feature "barriers to climb at night, trenches to swim during the day and brain-teasing puzzles striking when you least expect them."

To launch the new show, Pilgrim has teamed with the organizers of the Spartan Death Race, which is a notoriously grueling two-day event that tests endurance athletes both physically and mentally. They're looking for contestants from all walks of life and it doesn't matter if you have any experience in adventure racing or not.

To apply, simply send your name, location, phone number, and a recent photo of yourself to Be sure to also include a brief explanation why you should be included in the competition as well.

For more information on the show and the eligibility requirements, click here.

Video: Running The Green River Narrows...Backwards!

Here's a fun little paddling video that's certainly impressive to watch. It features kayaker Pat Keller skillfully navigating his way down the Green River Narrows in North Carolina backwards. Pat's friend Scott Harcke followed behind in his own boat, capturing the action on GoPro of course, and they shared the fun with all of us as well.

I think we've all ended up paddling backwards at some point, but I've never gone this long nor did I manage to do it so easily and gracefully.

Dueling Directions on the Green River from FreemanDyson on Vimeo.

Winter Climb Update: Images From K2

While things begin to wind down in the Antarctic, they're just getting started in the Karakoram. The teams in Pakistan know that they have a lot of work ahead, and while the odds are most definitely stacked agains them, they're gearing up for potentially historic climbs.

There hasn't been much word from K2 the past few days, where the Russian Team continues to work the route. If all went according to schedule, they should have established Camp 2 a few days back and are now fixing lines above that point. The team did manage to share some images from the expedition thus far, and you can check out that very impressive gallery by clicking here.

Over on Nanga Parbat, Simone Moro and Denis Urubko took advantage of the good weather over the past few days and spent some time exploring the mountain and the surrounding area. They have already built Camp 1 and spent a night there, but a few days ago they descended back to BC as part of their acclimatization process. Today the weather has taken a bit of a turn however, with fog and snow settling in at altitude. They'll watch those conditions over the weekend and decide how best to proceed from there.

Two teams are now en route to Gasherbrum I as well, as they look to make the first winter ascent of that peak. The Polish squad hasn't shared many details of their journey yet, but they do note that they hope to leave Skardu for Base Camp tomorrow. Meanwhile, Alex Txikon and Carlos Suarez left Spain a few days ago, and have already arrived in Skardu as well. They plan to start the nine day trek to BC soon as well, and hope to be in place on the mountain by next weekend.

Stay tuned for more. Most of the teams are still getting settled and prepping for the real climb ahead. The weather situation will be what dictates the pace at which they'll be able to climb however.

Antarctica 2011: The Clock Is Ticking...

The 2011/2012 Antarctic Season is starting to wind down as the teams close in on their final goals and the  days quickly march by. ALE has set the date for the last flight out at January 27th, which is just two weeks away from today. That means that a number of the explorers will be racing the clock right up until the end, and for some there is no room for error as they approach the home stretch.

One of those skiers is Norwegian Aleksander Gamme, who is attempting to become the first person to go solo and unsupported from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole and back again. He has been making good time, and covering large distances (56km in one day!), but as of Tuesday of this week, he still head half-way to go on the return trip. Still, Gamme seems to be strong, focused, and determined, and unless there is some unforeseen issue that arises, he seems poised to reach his goal. Bad weather or equipment failure could slow him down, but I believe he's going to make it back to Hercules in time for the flight out.

Aussies Cas and Jonesy are hoping to accomplish the same feat, and I'm not quite so optimistic about their chances. They have also picked up the pace, but as of this writing they still have 588km (365 miles) to go.  That means they'll need to continue to average roughly 42km (26 miles) per day on the return trip to make it back on time. As I mentioned earlier this week, that is doable, but it is going to be one tough challenge. Check out their latest video update from the ice below.

Meanwhile, one solo skier who is closing in on the finish line is Felicity Aston, who now is less than 200 nautical miles from Hercules. Felicity started her journey at the Ross Ice Shelf and is hoping to become the first woman to traverse the continent solo. She stopped by the South Pole on her journey as well, and is now making good time on her return to the coast. While she's not done yet, she does have a bit more of a cushion that some of the other skiers.

Sam Deltour and Dixie Dansercoer continue their epic traverse of Antarctica as well. They've been using kites to cover large distances, and so far, after 53 days out on the ice, they've covered more than 3345km (2078 miles). The duo took the past couple of days off to rest and recuperate, and now they're waiting for the wind to pick up again so they can resume their journey. They plan on staying in the Antarctic well into February as they pursue one of the longest expeditions ever to that cold and hostile place.

Finally, the Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race continues as the the Scott Team closes in on the Pole. As of today, they still have 63.6 nautical miles to go, but improved weather has meant that they've been able to pick up the pace some, and they now hope to be at the Pole to celebrate Robert Falcon Scott's arrival on Monday. Their mates on the Amundsen Team completed their journey a few days back, and now wait for their friends to join them.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Helmet Cams Now Stream Live Video

I think it is safe to say that over the past few years, one of the biggest innovations in outdoor adventure has been the introduction of the helmet cam. Sure, we've had the ability to record our adventures in the past, but it was usually with bulky, heavy equipment that wasn't a lot of fun to use. But now days, rugged, inexpensive, lightweight video cameras have become the norm, and as a result, we now get amazing video, captured by professional and amateur filmmakers alike, with astounding regularity.

As I write this, the Consumer Electronics Show is in full swing in Las Vegas, where hundreds of companies are unveiling a slew of new gadgets to eager customers. Amongst those new technological wonders are some upgrades to the helmet cams that we've all come to know and love. These upgrades are once again set to change the outdoor world, as the theme this year seems to focus on streaming live video from the field onto the Internet, where fans can watch and follow along.

A few months back GoPro released their new HD Hero2, which brought much higher quality video to their product. But at CES, they shared the details on their new Wi-Fi BacPac which will not only allow you to control the camera from a distance, using an included remote or a smartphone app, but will give the Hero2 the ability to stream live video over the Internet. The remote even allows the user to control up to 50 cameras at a time, which could be very interesting for event organizers looking to build an online audience. The BacPac will be available in February, although price hasn't been announced yet.

Not to be left out in the cold, one of GoPro's main competitors, Contour, has also announced a streaming video option for their excellent Contour+ helmet cams as well. Contour has joined forces with Japanese company Cerevo to introduce the "Liveshell," which connects to the camera and sends the footage directly to the Internet via Ustream. The Liveshell will be available from the Contour website starting on January 21st, at a price tag of $299. The company says that this addition makes the Contour+ the most inexpensive live streaming option in the world.

Finally, GoBandit, another company that makes compact HD helmet cams, has introduced their new GoBandit Live camera. This lightweight acton cam not only features GPS tracking and recording of speed, location, and a host of other items, it also features built in WiFi. At the moment, that WiFi is designed to quickly and easily upload clips to the Internet once you're back in wireless range, but something tells me they're already working on plans to allow the camera to stream in the future as well.

Of course, in order to be able to take advantage of these live streaming options, you'll still need to have Internet access where ever you are. That's getting easier and easier to do as well, although it can still be a technical hurdle for many to over come. If you can make it work however, these companies are opening up a whole new way to interact with the world from remote places and share adventures as they happen.

Video: Trailer For Sheffield Adventure Film Fest

Over the last couple of years, the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival has grown into one of the premiere outdoor film events in the world. It is a top notch experience that skillfully blends adventure, travel, and extreme outdoor pursuits in a seamless fashion. This year's ShAFF will take place on March 9-12 in the U.K. and will feature more than 75 films. For a taste of what to expect at the event, check out the trailer video below.

Earn A Wild Card Entry For The UTi Rhodes Run in South Africa

Looking for a new challenge for 2012? Then look no further than the UTi Rhodes Run, a grueling 52km (32.3 mile) race through the beautiful Drakensberg mountains of South Africa. This year's race will take place on July 14, in the heart of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and as always, the course will wander through rough terrain that offers the potential for encounters with wild animals.

This will be the 24th edition of the Rhodes Run, and over the years, it has earned a reputation for being quite the challenge for long distance runners. As a result, the race sells out very quickly. But runners who are looking to take part in the event, but weren't able to get their application in on time, still have some hope. Athletic footwear company Inov-8 is giving away a "Wild Card" entry to the race and accommodations in the race village for the weekend of the run.

To enter the contest, all you have to do is send a photo of yourself, wearing Inov-8 shoes of course, to They'll choose a winner from the entries, which will earn one lucky endurance runner a free-entry into this iconic South African race.

Find out more details on the Inov-8 Facebook page and good luck!

Video: Surfing HUGE Waves Off Tahiti

In the surfing world, Tahiti's Teahupoos (pronounced cho-po) are amongst the most legendary and coveted waves on the planet. This past August, they reached epic sizes while the Billabong Pro surfers were on hand, and the results can be seen in the video below. The waves on display are immense walls of water that look as deadly as they are beautiful.

The video was shot by filmmaker Chris Bryan, who captured the dramatic action perfectly. Amazing stuff!


NPR Does Russia By Rail

It's no secret that I think rail travel is still one of the most romantic and interesting ways to travel over long distances. I'd love to take a cross continental train-trip, stopping in various places along the way, and soaking up the scenery from a comfortable car, while chatting with friends and other passengers.

Someone at NPR obviously agrees with me, as they've sent reporter David Greene and photographer David Gilkey on a 6000 mile odyssey across Russia By Rail. They two Davids started in Moscow and end their journey in Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean, covering the entire length of the famous Trans-Siberian Railway. Along the way, they got the chance to experience modern Russia in all of its glory.

This special report kicked off yesterday and will continue through tomorrow. It features a number of great stories about how Russia's tumultuous history has shaped the country even today, and takes a look at where it is headed now that twenty years have passed since the fall of the Soviet Union. Greene's words introduce us to the Russian people and give us a glimpse of their daily lives, while Gilkey's amazing photographs capture moments in time from their epic journey.

Russia By Rail is equal parts travelogue, investigative reporting, and photo journalism. It all comes together very well, and will likely inspire some thoughts of making the journey for yourself.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Winter Climb Update: Progress On K2 and Nanga Parbat

The winter attempt on Denali may be over for Lonnie Dupre, who was picked-up from Base Camp on Monday, but in the Karakoram, things are just getting started. Several teams have now settled into place and are working their routes in hopes of success during the coldest, harshest season of them all.

On K2, the Russians are methodically sticking to their plan, and going about their work, in a professional and straightforward fashion. The weather has been less than cooperative so far, but that was to be expected on the world's most challenging mountain, but despite high winds and -75ºF/-59ºC temperatures, the talented team continues to make progress.

Working in teams of two and three, they have been focused on fixing ropes above Camp 1, and according to updates on their website, C2 could be established as early as tomorrow. The climbers have taken turns installing the lines and sleeping at altitude in order to not only acclimatize, but also stay well rested for the challenges ahead. All team members and gear are now on the mountain, and many of their supplies have also been shuttled up to C1. Progress has been slow, but steady, but the real difficulties will set in above Camp 2, where the winds and heavy snows of K2 will really start to become a problem.

Meanwhile, two teams are getting settled in over on Nanga Parbet, which also remains unclimbed in the winter. Denis Urubko and Simone Moro were the first to arrive and after getting settled in Base Camp, they began their ascent. The duo has already established Camp 1 at 5100 meters (16,732 ft) and spent a night their acclimatizing, but unstable snow conditions above that point have prevented them from going higher.

Upon returning to BC, Denis and Simone discovered they had company. The Polish team that has also set its sights on Nanga this season was in camp and getting set-up as well. The two teams will no doubt share the work load of fixing the lines, although you know that they each want to be the first to claim the summit.

Denis and Simone are also releasing video dispatches of their journey, the first of which can be seen below. The excellent video shows the men as they leave Italy and make their way to Pakistan, where they organize gear and put the finishing touches on their planning, before heading out to Base Camp. Pay special attention to all the bags they have with them. It'll give you a sense of how much gear is required for one of these expeditions. Can't wait for more of these dispatches! Great stuff!

Outside Monthly Film Series: Solitaire

A few weeks back Outside Online hosted a very successful, and fun, online premiere for the mountaineering film Cold. The event was so well received in fact, that they have now decided to screen an independently produced documentary once a month on their website, with the second film debuting tomorrow night. That film will be the backcountry skiing movie Solitaire by Nick Waggoner and featuring skiers Kim Havell and Stephan Drake.

The screening will begin at 6PM Mountain Standard Time, and an online Q&A session with the filmmaker will take place from 7-9PM MST. Should be a fun and interesting event. Check out the trailer for the film below.

Gear Box: Korkers SnowJack Boots

Let's face it, innovations in snow boots are few and far between. Sure, they occasionally get warmer and more comfortable, and the designs change with both function and fashion from time to time. But there is seldom any real major changes to this type of footwear, and we usually end up buying something we need, in the price range we can afford, without much consideration for anything else.

Gear company Korkers is looking to change that with a new line of boots that features a truly innovative approach to winter footwear. Their new shoes feature interchangeable soles that can be quickly and easily switched out depending on conditions, making them one of the most versatile pair of snow boots that I've seen in a very long time.

I recently had the opportunity to test out Korker's SnowJack boots and found them to be an excellent option in every way. They are comfortable, lightweight, warm, and rugged, which makes them a great choice for any cold weather outdoor activities. The boots use 3M's Thinsulate to insulate the foot and keep your toes toasty warm, even in sub-zero temperatures, and the design is a nice mix of leather and webbing on the outside, with a waterproof bootie on the inside. The result, is a shoe that breathes well but keeps moisture out – an important combination for extended, active winter excursions.

Of course, there are plenty of excellent winter boots on the market that would match the description above, but what sets the SnowJacks apart from competitors is its sole. Or perhaps I should say soles. Out of the box, the boots come equipped with Korker's patented SnowTrac outsole, which has a solid, dependable feel. This sole is designed for keeping a steady grip in wet, snowy conditions on a wide variety of surfaces ranging from pavement to muddy trails and even powder-covered rocks. But should you find conditions worsen, and you have to deal with icy conditions instead, these boots come with a second sole that can be used be swapped out in times of need. This second sole is called the IceTrac, and it features 32 carbide studs that provide a much better grip when walking across slick, icy surfaces.

Switching between the two different soles is easy and takes just a few seconds, even while wearing gloves. Once the new sole is locked into place, you would never even know that it is removable, and other than a noticeable change in grip on the specific surface that they are designed for, you would think that they are a natural extension of the boots themselves.

Beyond the innovative system for swapping out the soles, I was also impressed with how thin these boots are while still remaining very warm. I'm not a fan of bulky boots of any kind, especially if they make me feel like I'm clumsily plodding along through snow and ice. The SnowJacks don't feel that way on my feet, and while wearing them, I actually still felt nimble and relatively light on my feet. Because of this, these boots are a great choice for winter hiking or snowshoeing.

If you're in the market for a new pair of winter boots, and you're looking for comfortable and versatile footwear for your cold weather adventures, then I definitely recommend the SnowJack from Korkers. The boots carry an MSRP of $159.95, which is actually bargain, since it feels like you're actually getting two pairs of boots at that price.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Video: Trekking The Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal

Looking for your next big hiking adventure? Than consider the Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal, which runs for more than 1700km (1056 miles) through the High Himalaya. The video below was created by someone who hiked the trail and gives a great indication of what to expect while on it. It looks like an amazing hike.

Thanks to Julian Monroe Fisher for sharing this on his Facebook page.

Antarctica 2011: More Arrivals At The South Pole

As the clock ticks toward the fast approaching end to the Antarctic season, more explorers are arriving at the South Pole, while others struggle on towards their own personal finish lines.

There were two notable arrivals at the Pole yesterday, with Mark Wood being one of them. Mark reached 90ºS after 50 days on the ice and 612 nautical miles covered on foot. He did the last 20 of those miles yesterday alone, and said that as he approached the Pole, it felt like he was dragging a truck behind him. Tired, but happy, Mark will now take a few days to rest before flying back to Hercules Inlet and then Chile, where he'll immediately head to Canada, and start planning for his solo expedition to the North Pole, an excursion that will bring an entirely different set of challenges.

Joining Mark at the South Pole yesterday was Australian Mark George, who completed his own solo, unsupported ski journey in 44 days. Today, he is enjoying a rest day and soaking up the feelings of success at having completed his goal, and while he had been considering kiting back to Hercules, he now has given up on that idea due to time constraints. Instead, he has decided to spend his remaining time in the Antarctic on a "Mystery Tour," which means he'll be skiing and kiting in what ever direction and speed the wind, or his legs, will carry him. He says he may stay for only another couple of days or he may continue his exploration right up until the last ALE flight heads out, but either way, he's going to take advantage of his remaining time in that amazing place.

The Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race has was won yesterday as well, when the Amundsen Team reached the South Pole after crossing more than 700 nautical miles to reach that point. It took them 68 days, in sometimes horrendous conditions, to get to their finish line, where they wait for the mates on the Scott Team to join them. As of this morning, they still had 110 nautical miles to go before they arrive at 90ºS, where they will no doubt be more than relieved to hang up their skis for awhile. This Antarctic journey has not been an easy one for either of these two squads.

Meanwhile, Felicity Aston continues her solo traverse of the continent on skis. Having left the South Pole behind days ago, she's now on her way to Hercules Inlet and making solid progress. She located one of her resupply caches yesterday and was happy to have plenty of food again. She's consuming more than 5000 calories per day as fuel, but reports that she has lost lots of weight on this expedition as well. One causality of the journey – one of the toenails on her right foot has completely fallen off, which is not uncommon on long distance journeys such as this one.

Finally, Cas and Jonesy are keenly aware of just where they stand. Having covered 1560km (969 miles), they still have 733km (455 miles) to go before they return to Hercules. They also have just 18 days to cover that ground, which means they'll have to average more than 40km/day (25 miles) to make it. That is certainly doable, but it isn't going to be easy. The wind at their backs, and good weather conditions, has helped, but it is going to be a real challenge. They're not giving up however and seem as determined as ever to complete their mission. Good luck boys!

New Sailing Circumnavigation Record Set

Last Friday, the Maxi Banque Populaire V sailing ship completed a circumnavigation of the globe and set a new speed record in the process. The ship, which featured a British captain and a mostly French crew, beat the previous speed record by nearly three days, and claimed the Jules Verne Trophy in the process.

The crew of 14, which was led by Captain Brian Thompson, managed to circle the globe in just 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes, and 53 seconds. (The previous record, was 48 days, 7 hours, 44 minutes, and 52 seconds.) They crossed the finish line in Brest, France at 10:14 PM Friday evening, bringing the 130-footmaxi-trimaran into port at last.

The ship managed to set a few other notable sailing records on its voyage as well, setting new marks for shortest times for reaching the equator, the Cape of Good Hope, and Cape Leeuwin in Australia. The record for fastest time equator-to-equator was also broken along the way as well.

The Jules Verne Trophy is awarded to the fastest circumnavigation of the world by any type of yacht and is named for the famous author who penned Around the World in Eighty Days. This new record is edging us ever closer to cutting Verne's vision of a circumnavigation in half, and while the next team will have shave more than 5 days off this record to achieve that feat, it no longer seems unlikely that someone will eventually find a way to circle the globe in a sailing ship in under 40 days.

Congratulations to the crew of the Maxi Banque for a job well done, and thanks to Lou-Phi for giving me the heads up on the record, even as it was about to be broken. As always, it is much appreciated mate!

Monday, January 9, 2012

LIVESTRONG Celebrates 15th Anniversary

In October of 1996, Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Shortly there after he would undergo treatment for the disease, and his subsequent recovery was nothing short of spectacular. The pro-cyclist who was all but unknown outside of his sport at the time, but he would go on to win seven consecutive Tour de France titles and become one of the most well known athletes on the planet.

In January of 1997, the Lance Armstrong Foundation was formed, with the hope of rallying people together against cancer. That foundation would evolve into what is now known as LIVESTRONG, an organization that has invested more than $275 million in cancer research and other intiaitives. That accounts for over 81% of every dollar that LIVESTRONG has raised, which is a remarkably high number for any charitable organization, and is a testament to how razor-focused Lance, and the rest of the team at LIVESTRONG, are on combatting the horrible disease.

Nearly everyone I know has been touched by cancer in their lives in some way or another, and through LIVESTRONG, we can all help find a cure. Not only can we continue to buy those ubiqutious yellow arm bands, which I'm seldom seen without, but Nike has an entire line of LIVESTRONG workout gear, whose proceeds go directly toward helping the cause. To checkout a sampling of that gear and to find 15 ways that you can LIVESTRONG, click here.

I personally own a number of LIVESTRONG articles of clothing and they are amongst my favorite t-shirts and running shorts. It doesn't hurt that I know that I'm helping to do good every time I buy one as well.

Congrats to Lance and the crew for an amazing first 15 years, and here's to many more to come.

Winter Climb Update: Dupre Off Denali

It was a rough weekend on Denali for Lonnie Dupre, who was hoping to make the first solo ascent of that mountain in January. After establishing his high camp last week, the weather took a turn for the worse, with temperatures dropping dramatically and winds increasing to dangerous levels. Despite those conditions however, the weather forecasts called for a potential weather window that would allow him to go to the summit sometime over the weekend . But that window never opened, and after spending several days stuck inside a snow cave, he elected to pull the plug on the entire expedition.

Lonnie spent the weekend descending the mountain in horrible conditions. Updates to his website say that the visibility was almost non-existent and winds topped out at 97 mph (156 km/h). Additionally, temperatures fell to a bone-numbing -72ºF/-58ºC, and with a revised forecast saying the weather pattern had settled in for at least a week, the climber made the wise decision to head home.

This marks the second year in a row that weather has halted Dupre's attempt at history on North America's tallest peak. Last year, under similar conditions, he was left stranded in a snow cave for moe than a week, while a blizzard raged outside. I'm sure he wasn't eager to repeat that scenario, which is why he left the relative safety of his cave and headed down this time out.

As of this morning, Lonnie was in Base Camp at 7200 feet (2194 meters), where he'll wait for a plane to come pick him up. That won't happen until the weather improve either, but at lower altitudes the conditions can be quite different. Hopefully he'll be safely extracted over the next day or two, and on his way home soon there after.

Sahara Challenge 2012: Solo Across The Sahara

While we're on the topic of very long runs today, an epic new run just got underway last week. Finnish ultrarunner Jukka Vilijanen is attempting to run solo across the Sahara Desert, covering 2000km (1242 miles) in just 35 days. Jukka calls this run the Sahara Challenge 2012.

The run officially began last Friday, with Vilijanen knocking off 50km (31 miles) in his first day. Since then, he's been maintaining a steady pace in widely varying conditions, and allowing us to track his progress as he goes. Jukka is using the Sports Tracker mobile app to broadcast his position, which is a very cool approach. Not only does it keep us connected to his run, it is something we could use ourselves in our own workouts.

If you recognize Jukka's name, it could be because we followed his Trans-Kalahari run back in 2010, when he a couple of friends ran across the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. This time he's going it alone however, which will make for a completely different, and more challenging, experience. Throughout the next month, while on the trail, he is expected to consume between 5000 and 7000 calories per day, and will be running 40 marathons in that time frame. It's always nice to have someone to chat with and share the hardships with, but for a solo runner, these long expeditions can be very lonely indeed.

Good luck to Jukka. We'll be following along!

World Run II Update: North American Leg Begins

For the past couple of years we've been following endurance runner Jesper Olsen on his World Run II, which began back 2008, when Jesper set out from the northernmost point in Norway and started running south. He ran across Europe and into Africa, crossing more than a dozen countries in the process. And when he hit South Africa, and ran out of land, he simply hopped across the Atlantic to South America, and started running north instead. 
After running through Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia, Jesper is now preparing to leave South America behind and enter the next, and final, leg of his epic 40,000km (24,854 mile) run. According to his last report, he has been waiting in Bogota for a visa for the past week so that he can start the North American leg of the run. If all goes according to plan, he should have boarded a plane for Miami yesterday, which is where he'll start running once again.

According to the World Run II website, Jesper will resume running in Key West, Florida and hopes to reach the Canadian border by mid-April. After a short break, he'll then run New Foundland, reaching the end point sometime around early July. The total distance for the North American section, a mere 5600km (3479 miles). When he's done, Olsen will have completed the longest fully documented, and GPS tracked, run in history, which follows-up his World Run I, which saw him covering 25,000km (15,534 miles) as he circumnavigated the globe. 

Entering North America is a major milestone for an excursion like this one. While the physical demands won't necessarily get any easier, the infrastructure is much improved, allowing athletes like Jesper to follow clearly marked routes, find food and accommodations much more easily, and generally proceed at a better pace. While he isn't quite done yet, it does appear that Jesper is about to start the home stretch of his expedition. 

Thanks to Darrell for keeping me in the loop with Jesper's progress. 

Video: Adventure Athletes Answer "Why?"

This week the annual Consumer Electronics Show will take place in Las Vegas, where thousands of new gadgets will be revealed to the public, who will be eager to get their hands on the new technology. At the show, Nikon will introduce their new D4 camera, which, with a reported price tag of $6000, is anything but "consumer" focused. To celebrate the launch of their new toy, and to show what it is capable, of filmmaker Corey Rich used the new camera to create the video below. It features a number of our favorite adventure athletes (Alex Honnold, Rebecca Rusch, Dane Jackson) doing what they do best and explaining why it is they do those things.

It is a beautifully shot 7 minute film, that captures the spirit of adventure in these athletes very well. It'll also have the photographers and videographers amongst us drooling over the D4, which looks like it is capable of some great things.

WHY - Nikon D4 Release Video from Corey Rich on Vimeo.

Friday, January 6, 2012

American Alpine Club Hands Out $12k To Fund Climbs

The American Alpine Club has announced the winners of the 2012 Lyman Spitzer Cutting Edge Awards, which are given annually to small teams making first ascents or other challenging climbs on some of the toughest mountains on the planet. This year, the bold climbers who have earned this recognition seem keenly focused on objectives in Pakistan and China.

The winners each receive grants to help fund their expeditions, and the 2012 honorees certainly have some ambitious plans. The list includes the following:
• Stan Price & Rusty Willis the storied, oft-tried North Ridge of Latok 1.
• Hayden Kennedy & Kyle Dempster for K7 and the Ogre II.
• Graham Zimmerman, Scott Bennett, and Blake Herrington for Tahu Rutum, a stunning 6,651m tower in the Karakoram.
• David Gottlieb & Chad Kellogg for China’s unclimbed Karjiang (7,221m), the 3rd highest unclimbed peak in the world.
 In total, $12,000 was given to these four teams, which Paul Gagner, the chair of the Lyman Spitzer Cutting Edge Award committee, called the best he has seen in the years that he has held that position.

Each of those is indeed an ambitious challenge, but those are also some excellent and highly skilled climbers on that list as well. It'll be interesting to follow their progress later in the year, when the Karakoram climbing season gets going.

Congratulations to all the winners and good luck on your projects.

Climber Becomes First To Climb "Second Seven Summits"

Earlier this week, Italian mountaineer Hans Kammerlander became the first person to climb the "Second Seven Summits," which are the mountains that are the second highest on each of the seven continents. Kammerlander complete his quest in Antarctica, where he reached the top of the 4851 meter (15,916 ft) Mt. Tyree. According to the Adventure Journal, Hans is just the eighth person to nab that summit in the past 15 years.

Kammerlander climbed his first "second-seven" back in 2001, when he successfully topped out on K2, the second tallest mountain in Asia, and the world for that matter. At the time, he wasn't even considering the other second-tallest peaks, but in 2009 he summited Ojos del Salado, a 6893 meter (22,614 ft) mountain in South America. With that one under his belt, Hans began to form the idea of climbing the remaining "second-seven" summits.

With his new goal clearly defined, the Italian went on to climb Mt. Kenya (5199m/17,057ft) in Africa, Mt. Logan (5959m/19,550ft) in North America, and Dychtau (5204m/17,073ft) in Europe, as well a Oceania's Puncak Trikora (4730m/15,518ft) in Indonesia. That left Mt. Tyree has the lone obstacle to completing the Second Seven Summits, and now that is finished as well.

Congrats to Hans on a job well done. This wasn't exactly a highly publicized expedition and he deserves a tip of the hat for the accomplishment.

Mikael Strandberg Gives Explorers Club President A Show of Support

Prior to taking a holiday-hiatus, I had written several times about an ongoing conflict that was brewing inside the Explorers Club. The gist of the story, which you can read about here, here, and here, was that some members of the club, particularly those on the prestigious Flag and Honors Committee, were dissatisfied with the leadership of the organization, with EC President Lorie Karnath receiving the brunt of the criticism. I won't rehash the entire story again, but would urge you to check out the links above to get the full background.

Today, EC club member Mikael Strandberg, who I coincidently wrote about yesterday, has written a message of support for the club, and President Karnath, on his blog. In an effort to offer a fair look at  both sides of the controversy, and because I respect Mikael greatly, I wanted to share a link to what he wrote and some of his thoughts on the current leadership at the EC.

In the post, Strandberg talks about his first impressions of the Explorers Club (they weren't good), and how those impressions changed after he became a member. He also talks about Karnath getting elected as President and all of the positive things she has done for the EC since she took over. He feels that Lorie has helped raise the level of awareness of the club internationally and has gone to great efforts to improve the financial status of the organization as well. Mikael goes on to share an internal e-mail from Barry Moss that went out to members of the British Chapter of the EC. That note gives a different perspective on some of the happenings inside the club and accuses Karnath's critics of trying to keep the club "more insular, conservative and New York centric."  He also says that they are undermining the club's integrity and hurting its reputation as a whole.

If you've been following this ongoing saga, which has been picked-up and documented by several other media outlets, you'll want to read Mikael's post as well, as it does provide a different perspective on some of the things that we've already heard.

Gear Box: Cushe Surf Slipper Chuka

A comfy pair of shoes is one of the great joys in life. When you find a pair you really like, you tend to hang on to them – sometimes for far too long. That will likely be the case if you ever put a pair of Surf Slipper Chukas, from Cushe, on your feet. The soft, comfortable shoes may not be designed for hiking or other hardcore outdoor pursuits, but you'll love them for travel or casual outings around town.

Made of soft sandal suede, these slip-on shoes feature an integrated microfiber sock that comfortably wraps around your foot and makes these shoes fun to wear, even for extended periods of time. The Chukas are lightweight and feel more like a slipper than an actual shoe, but Cushe's rubber soles help ensure a secure grip, even on slick, wet surfaces. With a snug fit and flexible design, you'll want to wear them just about everywhere.

As mentioned above, these shoes aren't meant for hiking rugged trails or climbing mountains. They're designed for comfort and convenience, which makes them an excellent choice for travel. Because they are lightweight, and highly packable, the Chukas are easy to carry in a backpack or carry-on bag, and are equally useful lounging around a cabin in the woods, as they are shuffling about town. They're tailor made for relaxing outings to the far side of the globe or just a quick jaunt to the local grocery store, and I think after you wear them a time or two, you'll agree.

I'm impressed with the quality and design that Cushe put into these shoes, and even though they weigh next to nothing, they feel like they will last a long time. Over the holidays, I wore them regularly while running errands about town and visiting with friends, and despite that frequent use, they still look like they just came out of the box.

Even as they do age and show a bit of wear however, I get the feeling it will only add to their character and charm. Long after you've worn them to the far corners of the planet, the Chukas will continue to be amongst your favorite shoes, even if they should have been retired a long time before.

MSRP: $90

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Ouray Ice Festival Begins Today

One of the biggest and best ice climbing festivals in the world gets underway today, when the Ouray Ice Festival kicks off in Ouray, Colorado. Held annually at the Ouray Ice Park, the event begins with a party tonight and the actual competitions, demonstrations, clinics, and so on, starting tomorrow.

Over the course of the next few days, some of the top ice climbers in the world will be competing against one another on Ouray's famed frozen walls. The man-made ice park features more than 200 different routes, some a mix of ice and rock, others pure ice all the way, all contained inside a natural gorge that serves up the perfect conditions for ice climbing.

For a complete schedule of events, click here and for a full list of competitors, click here. The event promises to be a fun one, so if you're in the area, be sure to drop by and checkout all the activities. It's a great place to learn about the sport and maybe pick up a few skills yourself.

Mikael Strandberg Explores Yemen By Camel

If you don't read Mikael Strandberg's blog on a regular basis, you really do need to add it to your list. Not only does he share plenty of insights into the world of exploration and adventure, he also posts some excellent stories on his own expeditions to the far flung corners of the globe. If you're not aware of Mikael's resume, he has traveled by bike from Chile to Alaska and Norway to South Africa. He has also explored over 3000km (1864 miles) of Patagonia by horseback and traveled down the remote Kolyma River in Siberia by canoe and on skis, just to name a few of his many adventures. He also happens to be a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers Club as well.

Mikael's latest expedition saw him traveling through Yemen on camelback from Zabid on the coast to the capital of Sanaa. The journey is roughly 380km (236 miles) in length, and offered a number of challenges ranging from the physical tot he political. Yemen is a country that he has come to know and love, and while it now struggles with internal conflict, not to mention misrepresentation in the western media, Mikael hoped to go there and with the hope of changing perceptions about the place.

Starting last week, Strandberg began posting a series of articles about his adventures in Yemen to his blog, sharing the details of what it was like to travel through the country by camel. The first of his posts, which can be found here, talks about the genesis of the plan and some of the logistics he had to overcome to get things started. The second post, which went up a few days ago, is focused on his first week in Sanaa, which was a challenge to get to in and of itself. Over the course of the coming days, Mikael promises to share two posts per week on his adventure, with about 13 additional articles to come. If the first two are any indication, they should be excellent to read.

Winter Climb Update: Waiting For A Weather Window On Denali

There continues to be a lot of activity on the major winter climbs that are now taking place in Alaska and Pakistan. As is typical this time of year, the climbers are hoping to take advantage of any break in the weather that they get, but they also know that they have to continue their work, despite the conditions.

On Denali, it seems that Lonnie Dupre is now waiting for a weather window to make an attempt at the summit. He has now climbed as high as 5242 meters (17,200 ft) as part of his acclimatization process and to shuttle gear to High Camp. He has since returned to Low Camp at 4328 meters (14,200 ft), where he is keeping a close eye on the weather and hoping for a window that will allow him to go to the summit.

Yesterday, he awoke in his snow cave and was getting dressed for the climb, when the winds suddenly grew in intensity, so rather than risk it, Lonnie elected to stay put, rest up, and wait for another opportunity. Essentially the stage has been set for him to make his summit bid, all he needs now is a weather window long enough to give him access to the top. His home team says that they are anticipating such a window in the next few days. When it comes, we could see the first ever solo summit of the mountain in January.

Meanwhile, over on K2, the Russians have continued their work fixing the lines up the mountain, and have completed their work up to 6050 meters (19,750 ft). That is the altitude at which they've established their Camp 1, and a trio of climbers (Iljas Tukhvatullin, Andrew Mariev and Vadim Popovich) have shuttled the first round of gear up to that point today. They'll place a tent at C1 and spend the night there, before descending back down the mountain tomorrow, when another three climbers will rotate up the face and continue fixing ropes above that point.

The weather forecast on K2 isn't very enticing. Yesterday they toiled away in -51ºC/-60ºF temperatures and those are expected to go lower in the days ahead. The high winds at altitude are expected to drop some over the next few days though, which should make the working conditions a bit better, despite the colder temperatures. Such is winter on the world's second tallest peak.

Gear Box: Keen Howser Wool Shoes

Keen has built a reputation for creating comfortable and versatile shoes for hiking, paddling, cycling, and more. But their most comfortable shoes of all are reserved for the end of the day, when you're finished playing on the trail, and you're ready to kick back, take it easy, and lounge around a bit. When that moment comes, you'll want to slip your feet into a pair of Howser Wool slippers.

Billed as a "sleeping bag for your feet," the Howser Wools are lined with super-soft microfleece that is both amazingly warm and comfortable. The exterior of the shoe is created out of recycled felt that has been quilted to give them a distinctive look that is not unlike a pair of bedroom slippers in design. But where these shoes separate themselves from those slippers is in the rugged rubber soles, which make the Howsers an appropriate choice for hanging out at home or heading out for a night on the town.

Wearing these shoes is a bit like having a cloud wrapped around your feet, which will make you appreciate the fact that you can wear them just about anywhere, without worrying about ruining them. The water resistant nylon upper keeps the interior of the shoe, and your feet, dry in all but the wettest conditions, and helps to protect them from the wear and tear of regular use outside the home.

Over the holidays, the weather in Austin was both cooler and wetter than normal. In fact, we had a string of gray, gloomy, misty days that were not ideal for doing much of anything outside. On several of those days, I found myself naturally slipping into these shoes and heading out to run errands, meet friends, and go about celebrating the season. During that time, the interior of the shoe continued to change and mold itself to my feet, which actually made them even more comfortable than when I first took them out of the box. The warm microfleece was perfect for the weather as well, keeping my little piggies toasty warm.

Obviously these shoes aren't meant for active pursuits, but they are perfect casual use. I'd recommend bringing them along as a second pair of shoes when traveling or backpacking. They're great for kicking around the cabin at the end of the day or gathering around the campfire before bed. With a price tag of just $65, they also won't break the bank, which makes them an even more attractive for travelers and professional loungers alike.

Order your Keen Howser Wools from

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Winter Climb Update: More Expeditions Head To Pakistan

The Russian team attempting to climb K2 this winter will soon be joined in the Karakoram by a few other teams who are setting their sights on other big peaks in Pakistan. All told, there will soon be two teams on Gasherbrum I and two others on Nanga Parbat, all of whom will be attempting to notch first winter ascents on those mountains.

A Polish squad led by Artur Hajzer is amongst those hoping to top out on GI this season. They team is now en route to the mountain, where they expect winds to be in excess of 100 miles per hour and temperatures falling down to -70ºC/-94ºF. Located on the border of Pakistan and China, Gasherbrum I rises 8080 meters (26,509ft) in height, and has turned back 16 previous attempts to climb it during the winter.

Explorers Web is also reporting that Simone Moro, Denis Urubko, and Matteo Zanga will make up one of the teams on Nanga Parbat this winter. The other squad will consist of the Polish team of Piotr Strzezysz, Marek Klonowski, Lukasz Biernacki, Tomasz Machiewicz and Bartosz Malinowski. Denis, Simone, and Matteo are currently trekking to BC and are acclimatizing as they go. They hope to be reach Base Camp in the next few days, and start the climb in earnest.

You may recall, Simone and Denis were part of the team that climbed Gasherbrum II last winter, bagging the first winter ascent of that mountain and the first winter ascent of any of the 8000 meter peaks in Pakistan. To say they have plenty of experience in the cold weather is an understatement.

Look for more updates on these expeditions in the days ahead. It looks like most of the winter action is in the Karakoram this year.

Freya Hoffmeister Paddles Around Cape Horn

Back in September, the queen of long distance paddling, Freya Hoffmeister, set out on an epic quest to circumnavigate around South America in a kayak. Starting in Buenos Aires, Freya began paddling south, following the Argentine coast, and over the past few months, she has continued to make great progress. Yesterday she reached a major milestone in the journey, as she rounded Cape Horn and turned her kayak north for the first time.

Anyone who knows anything about sailing or geography knows that Cape Horn is one of the more treacherous regions in all the world. The area is well known for incredibly bad weather, and the waters, which mark the boundary between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, are frequently turbulent to say the least. It is for that very reason that Freya chose to start her journey in Argentina, timing her arrival at the Cape with the austral summer, which is when the weather is at its calmest and most predictable.

Having now successfully navigated what is likely the most challenging and dangerous portion of the journey, she can now concentrate on the incredibly long distances she still has in front of her. The entire journey is expected to take about two years to complete and will cover more than 24,000km (14,913 miles). That means she still has roughly 20 more months of paddling ahead of her, but considering she has already kayaked around Australia, I don't expect she'll be put off by the challenge.

Thanks to Outside Online for sharing the news of Freya rounding the horn.

Jordan Romero On Today Show

Teen-age Seven Summiteer Jordan Romero appeared on the Today show this morning to talk about his recent climb of Mt. Vinson in Antarctica, and the successful completion of his goal to become the youngest person to climb the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. In case you missed the interview, you can watch it in the video below, where you'll see a remarkably mature and composed young man who has stayed focused on his dreams and has worked very hard to achieve them.

In the interview, Jordan also talks about what adventures he might be pursuing in the future. He indicated that while he would like to take a little time to relax and reflect for now, he also wants to continue inspiring other kids to go after their own goals through his Find Your Everest initiative. The 15-year old also hinted that a journey to the South Pole may be in his future as well. As you can tell from the video, he seemed to really enjoy his time in Antarctica, which he calls the most beautiful place he's ever visited.

Gear Box: Tech4o Accelerator Pro Plus Watch

Every new year brings a host of new resolutions. For many, that includes getting into better shape and generally living a more healthier life. If you've made that one of your goals for 2012, then you're going to want to take a look at the new Accelerator Pro Plus watch from Tech4o, as it just might be the best training partner you've ever had.

As you would expect from any good training watch, the Accelerator Pro Plus offers countdown timers, a 50 lap chronograph, alarms, and more. It is waterproof down to 100 meters and it even tells time – in two timezones no less! But Tech4o managed to pack in some other great features that you don't find on a lot of other time pieces of this type, especially in this price range.

Using its built in accelerometer, the watch can accurately measure your pace and distance, which is fantastic for tracking performance over time. It also keeps track of total exercise and moving times, calories burned, personal best speeds and distances covered, and much more. And when paired with the included heart rate monitor, which fastens comfortably around your chest, it can measure your pulse throughout your workout and provides critical data regarding performance and recovery. The Accelerator Pro Plus even allows you to customize your personal profile to provide visual and audible alerts throughout your run, which can help you stay on pace and alert you when your heart rate moves into the red zone.

All of that data can be extremely helpful for runners looking to increase their speed and distances over time or simply increase their overall fitness. But the Accelerator Pro Plus as another trick up its sleeve in the form of PC-Link, which allows the watch and heart rate monitor to wirelessly upload the data to your computer. The PC-Link software, which is rather basic, yet still quite functional, stores your running logs and allows you to chart your progress over time. It also displays heart rate charts, tracking your minimum and maximum pulse and giving you an average heart rate for your individual runs. It is an excellent addition to the package, which can be a very useful tool for beginner and experienced runners alike. Sadly though, the software is only available for Windows PC's (Win 98/XP/ME/Vista/Win7), keeping Mac users from fully tapping the watch's abilities.

I was impressed with how easy this watch is to use. Similar time pieces can be a bit cryptic in their interfaces, but after just a couple of runs,  I found that I was using the Accelerator Pro without thinking twice. That's a major plus for runners who just want to hit the trail and not have to fiddle with their technology while focused on their run. I also found this watch very comfortable to wear, even when not working out. The face isn't overly large and it isn't heavy either. Considering I pretty much wear a watch of sometime at all times, I appreciate both of those features.

Now for the best part of all. Tech4o managed to bring this fully-functional training watch to the market at a price that is difficult to argue with. The MSRP on the Accelerator Pro Plus is just $129.99, including the heart rate monitor and wireless PC-Pod for connecting to your laptop. That's a great deal, and I've paid similar prices in the past for watches with the half the functionality.

If you're looking for a great new training tool, then look no further. The Accelerator Pro Plus will give you everything you need in one great, affordable package. Now's the perfect time to grab one as well and start using it to realize all those New Year's Resolutions you've made.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ten Travel Adventures For 2012

Awhile back, when posting on Nat Geo's selection of adventure travel destinations for 2012, I indicated that I would also be sharing a similar list in the near future. That list has just gone live over at, and you can read it by clicking here.

When compiling my list of travel adventures for the year ahead, I wanted to do something a bit different this year. Rather than sharing a generic rundown of great destinations - which we all probably know about already - I thought I would share some very specific trips instead. So, for instance, one of the adventures that earned a spot on my list is a last degree journey to the South Pole. But rather than just write about that experience, I also posted a link to the Adventure Consultants page where you can actually book that trip for yourself. I figured that rather than just recommend some amazing trips, I'd also give readers the opportunity to go out and do it for themselves.

Other options that earned a spot on my list this year include visiting Yellowstone in the Winter (one of my personal favorites!), cycling the Silk Road, and climbing Pumori with the Peak Freaks. Obviously this list is made up of some of my own personal picks for great travel adventures, but I tried to find a little something for everyone and unique experience that some people might not have even known was possible.  Some of the trips are incredibly demanding, others a bit more laid back. Some are quite expensive ($52,500 to go to the South Pole!) and others relatively cheap. But each is a trip that most would consider a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that will spawn stories for years to come.

So? What are your plans for the year ahead? Have you decided where you would like to travel in 2012 and what adventures you would like pursue? I'm still considering my options at this point, although I have a few thoughts on where I'd like to end up. For now, I'm going to see where the winds take me, but may make more concrete plans in the very near future. I like that approach and I think it fits well with the optimism that comes with the start of a new year.

Circling The Globe In A Wheelchair

Looking for your daily dose of inspiration? Then look no further than this interview with Andy Campbell from the Adventure Journal. Campbell, who broke his back in a climbing accident eight years ago, has big plans for 2012, as he plans to circle the globe in his wheelchair, covering more than 30,000 miles in the process.

In the AJ interview, Andy says that he intends to travel from the U.K. to China via "arm-powered" transport, then skip across the Pacific to Alaska, and proceed south to Chile. He'll undertake this incredible journey in order to raise £1 million for the Chutkara Initiative, a new charity that is dedicated to funding outdoor gear and equipment for disabled people who want to continue leading healthy, active lives, despite their disability.

Andy goes on to discuss the gear he'll be taking on his expedition, including a specially designed off-road wheelchair that has been built to handle the rigors of the trail. He also shares insights into his training regimen, and some thoughts on the challenges that he'll face on his journey.

The plan is to launch the circumnavigation by wheelchair attempt in June of this year, when Campbell and his support crew well set out from London to take on the world. He estimates that it will take him roughly two years to complete his adventure, which will cross four continents and take on diverse natural environments ranging from deserts, to mountains, and much more.

Freedom from andy campbell on Vimeo.

Antarctica 2011: More Updates From The Ice

In yesterday's update I mentioned a number of teams that had reached the South Pole at last, but also noted there were plenty of of other updates to come. Today I'll touch on a few of the other explorers out on the ice who are continuing their own expeditions through the Antarctic.

One of those explorers is Norwegian Aleksander Gamme, who is attempting to become the first person to make the journey from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole and back again. Aleksander completed the first leg of that journey on December 26th, but he didn't linger long at the Pole and started the return journey the next day. He knows that he is racing the clock and is hoping to get back to where he started before the last plane leaves on January 27th. He is currently covering roughly 30km (18.6 miles) per day and is feeling good. You may recall that Cas and Jonesy are also hoping to make a there-and-back-again journey from Hercules, but they are currently running a few days behind Aleksander. The two Aussies reached the Pole on New Year's Day, and have already started their return trip as well.

The two teams in the Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race continue their long, slow trek to the Pole. The Amundsen squad are actually starting to close in on their target, and now have less than 95 nautical miles to go until they hit 90ºS. At their current pace, they'll likely reach the finish line early next week, while their mates on the Scott Team are now looking at an arrival around the 18th or 19th of the month. Both teams report horrible weather today, with high winds creating complete whiteout conditions. Typically that would be a good excuse for a rest day in the tent, but since they're running behind schedule, rest days are now at a premium. Supplies are a bit light as well, and they'll be rationing their remaining food until the very end.

One team that has long since come and gone from the Pole is Dixie Dansercoer and Sam Deltour. The boys are now 43 days into their planned three month long expedition, and now have covered more than 2695km (1674 miles) in their traverse of the continent. They've hit a spell of high winds, which are the bane of the skiers but are very welcome to the kiters, so they've picked up their pace quite a bit and are now covering as much as 120km (74.5 miles) per day. Yesterday was cause for celebration, as Sam turned 27 and the men shared a couple of candy bars in his honor.

Finally, Felicity Aston is well on her way to Hercules Inlet after starting on the Ross Ice Shelf and swinging by the South Pole. She has crossed the 86th parallel and is making good progress, although high winds and rough sastrugi have been physically punishing of late. Hercules is located at 80ºS, so obviously she still has a long way to go before she's done, but the Brit remains upbeat and undaunted in her efforts to become the first woman to traverse the continent solo.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Video: Backpacking Around The World In Five Minutes

In 2011, Kien Lam spent 343 days traveling around the world, visiting 17 countries in the process. Along the way, he took 6237 photos, and now has compiled them into the five minute timelapse video below. The video now serves as a great reminder of the year that has just passed, and an excellent inspiration for the finding our own adventures in the year ahead. Enjoy!

Antarctica 2011: Jordan Romero's Summit Photos!

As I mentioned last week, on Christmas Eve, teen-age mountaineer Jordan Romero reached the top of Mt. Vinson in Antarctica, completing his quest to climb the Seven Summits. In the process, Jordan became the youngest person to ever achieve that feat and has served as an inspiration for others around the world. Jordan and his family have now returned home to Big Bear in California and a much deserved rest, but I thought you might be interested in seeing a couple of summit photos from his final Seven Summits climb. Check them out below.

Thanks to Clay at No Boundaries for sharing these!

NY Mets Pitcher To Climb Kilimanjaro Against Team's Wishes

R.A. Dickey, a pitcher for the New York Mets baseball team, will set off tomorrow to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, despite the wishes of the ball club. Dickey will be making the climb as part of a fundraiser for Bombay Teen Challenge, organization dedicated to rescuing and saving young sex slaves that are put to work in brothels in India. He will be joined on the trek by Dave Racaniello, a bullpen catcher for the Mets, and Colorado Rockies pitcher Kevin Slowey, who is a former teammate.

When the Mets got word of Dickey's intentions, they sent a letter to his agent objecting to the player's plans to climb Kili, the tallest mountain in Africa at 5895 meters (19,340 ft). The team wanted to go on record with their concerns in case something were to happen to Dickey, which would prevent him from playing for the team next season – a season in which the 37-year old pitcher is scheduled to earn $4.5 million. In the letter, Met's management stated that they reserve the right to terminate his contract should something go wrong while on the climb.

Of course, this is mostly just posturing on the part of the Mets, who don't want to see one of their players injured and unable to play before Spring Training even gets underway. But climbing Kilimanjaro isn't exactly fraught with dangers. Yes, it can be a physical challenge, and yes there are some risks involved, but thousands of people climb the mountain each year without any problems, and the likelihood of anything happening to Dickey is remotely small.

As the Adventure Journal points out, the Mets are actually missing out on a good opportunity for PR with this climb, and instead are coming off looking a bit like jerks. Professional sports are always about the money of course, and as I mentioned, they're out to protect their investment. It just seems like they could have found a better way of handling the entire situation.

Winter Climb Updates: Russians In K2 BC, Lonnie To High Camp

While I was away enjoying a break for the holidays, I still managed to keep a close eye on the two major winter climbs that I've been following this season. Both are impressive expeditions to say the least, and both are now in full swing, as winter is underway in ernest.

The Russian team that has set its sights on climbing K2 this winter started working the route today and now have fixed the lines up to 5600 meters (18,372 ft). That means they still have a LONG way to go, but it is a solid start to their efforts. They report that there is little snow on the mountain, at least at this point, but that the temperatures are bitterly cold, as one would expect on the second highest mountain on the planet.

The climbers arrived in BC over the weekend, after being shuttled in by a Pakistani military helicopter, and immediately went to work building their base of operations, organizing their gear, and preparing for the work ahead. It took three flights of the large MI-17 helo to deliver all of the men and their gear to BC, but after waiting out several weather delays, they were happy to finally be on the mountain at last. They now have until March 20th to successfully complete the first winter ascent of K2.

Meanwhile, Lonnie Dupre has been a very busy man on Denali, where he hopes to complete the first solo climb of that mountain in January. He has been building a series of snow caves on the mountain, which will serve as his camps as he goes, and had already shuttled much of his gear up to 4876 meters (16,000 ft). He plans to carry those supplies up to 5242 meters (17,200 ft) tomorrow and establish his High Camp there, before returning to his Low Camp as part of the normal acclimatization process.

Having reached those heights so early in January bodes well for the success of the expedition, but that said, as always on Denali, the weather will decide if and when he can go to the summit. High winds and extremely cold temperatures (-60ºF/-51ºC) have been the norm so far. The mountain is notorious for its bad weather, particularly in the winter, and blizzards can rage for days on end. With that in mind, I'm sure Lonnie wants to take advantage of the current conditions as long as he can, so that he can squeeze through any weather window that is presented.

These two climbers are going to present some amazing drama in the days and weeks ahead. Stay tuned for plenty of updates as both the Russians and Lonnie go after their respective summits.

Antarctica 2011: More Teams At The Pole!

It has been a busy New Year at the South Pole, where more teams have begun to arrive, bringing an end to an epic journey for some, while others will continue on. The season is starting to run short however, and the clock is ticking for those explorers who hope to make a return trip to Hercules Inlet.

One of the teams that we have been following closely are the two Aussie boys Cas and Jonesy. They've had a rough go of it almost since the start, but they reached a major milestone yesterday by finally getting to 90ºS. It took them 62 days to make the journey from Hercules to the Pole, but at long last they reached that point, which was cause for some celebration. The won't take long to revel in their achievement however, as they have to turn around and start heading North today. They hope to become the first team to make the unsupported round trip journey from Hercules and back, but the final plane off the continent is scheduled for January 27th, which leaves them a little more than three weeks to get back. They do have a few things working in their favor that can help them move a bit faster. Their sleds will be lighter on this leg and they'll be moving down hill most of the way. Still, it'll be a real challenge for them to reach the finish line in time.

Also reaching the Pole since our last update is Richard Weber's team, which hit 90ºS on December 29th. The skiers managed to cover the last two degrees, the equivalent of 120 nautical miles, in just six days, which is quite impressive under any conditions. They had hoped to kite ski back to Hercules along with South African Howard Fairbank, who completed his own solo and unsupported trek to the Pole last week. Howard decided that that journey took a bit too much out of him, so he has now decided to fly back to Hercules instead. Weber and one of the remaining team members still intend to kite ski back, and have already started the 1000km (620 mile) return journey to the coast.

Australian solo-skier Mark George is closing in on the South Pole as well, although he still has a few days to go before he's done. As of this morning, Georgie is at 88.13ºS and battling sastrugi has he makes the long slow journey south. Mark expressed frustrations at his current pace in his latest dispatch, as conditions haven't been conducive to making good time the past few days, but that is all part and parcel with travel in the Antarctic, and the explorers know that before they ever start out. Today is Mark's 38th day on the ice, and it seems likely he'll finish off his journey in about 40 days total. Not a bad pace at all.

Mark Wood estimates that he is roughly 8 days from the Pole, as he has now crossed 87.5ºS. He continues to battle white out conditions and sastrugi as well, and his broken ski bindings continue to give him problems nearly every day. For the first time in nearly a month and half, he did have contact with other humans today however. Mark ran into a group of Norwegian kite-skiers who left the Pole a few days ago and are now kiting back to the coast. They spent a few minutes chatting with one another before me moved on, but after 42 days on the ice, it must have been good to see another person.

There are still plenty of other teams to post updates on as well, but I'll reserve them for tomorrow. The Antarctic season is now starting to wind down, but there will be a lot of action before that last plane flies out at the end of the month.