Thursday, December 14, 2017

Two More Dire Warnings on Climate Change

It seems 2017 has been a year filled with dire warnings about the future of our planet and the impact climate change will have on our lives. This week, two different reports were released indicating that things are changing more rapidly than we imagined and we could be on the brink of catastrophe.

On Tuesday, the 2017 Arctic Report Card was released and amidst the various messages about the loss of pack ice in the Arctic was a clear warning. The 85 scientists from 12 different countries who compile the report on an annual basis say that the Arctic shows no signs of returning to the reliably frozen region of past decades. In other words, there is less and less ice in this part of the world, and that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon.

The report goes on to say that that warming of ocean's surface and retreat of the sea ice extent is unprecedented in the past 1500 years. The researchers can determine this by examining such variables as tree rings, sediment cores, and air bubbles trapped in ice samples recovered from the arctic.

Data indicates that the Arctic had its second-warmest year on record in 2017 with an average air temperature that was nearly 3ºF above what it was on average between 1981 and 2010. The scientists are able to compare that data to temperatures recorded as far back as 1900 when measuring these trends.

Antarctica 2017: Spectre Team Heading For Home, Ben Crosses 87ºS

It has been another busy couple of days in the Antarctic where the teams continue to hit milestones on their various expeditions. By now, most everyone has settled into a routine and have hit their stride, which makes it easier to cover the miles, even if they all still face major challenges ahead.

For the Spectre team of Leo Houlding, Jean Burgun, and Mark Sedon the next stage of their journey is clear. The boys have abandoned the Gothic Mountains after achieving their goal of summiting the Spectre rock spire this past weekend and are now turning for home. They left this morning while experiencing the best weather of the trip so far. Eventually they'll deploy their kites to help speed them along back to the coast, but for now they're man hauling it while they work through an area thick with crevasses and snow bridges.

Before leaving, the team spent the past few days continuing to climb in the area. They had knocked off the Spectre, completing the second ascent of that tower from the north, and yesterday they mad a trick ascent to the summit of another rock face called Organ Pipe A. The climb was tricky over mixed terrain that included rock, snow, and ice. There were few cracks to use as holds or to install climbing aids, but they still managed to make it to the top, and rappel back down. The weather was reportedly fantastic, and it was a good way to cap the climbing portion of the expedition. Now, they're simply focused on the return trip.

Ben Saunders is a long way away from starting the final stage of his journey across the Antarctic but he did hit another major milestone today. On his march to the South Pole, the British polar explorer has now crossed 87ºS as he closes in on the bottom of the world. He now has roughly 590 miles (949 km) to go before he is done, and he knows it won't be easy.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Video: The Rhythms of Peru

For many people, the first thought that comes to mind when you think of Peru is Machu Picchu, the mountaintop fortress that was built by the Inca. That place is indeed spectacular, but the country has so much more to offer. From snowcapped peaks in the Andes to the Amazon Basin, Peru is a country filled with opportunities for adventure. In this video, we travel there to get a look at these places first hand, leaving the more well-trodden places behind to explore other destinations far off the tourist track.

RHYTHMS OF PERU from Nathaniel Connella on Vimeo.

Video: Reinhold Messner Visits Alex Txikon in Everest Base Camp

One of the major expeditions we followed closely last winter was Alex Txikon's attempt to summit Everest solo in winter. There are some rumblings that he might be headed back to try again this year, but I haven't seen official confirmation of those plans yet. This video was shot in Base Camp last winter and it features a special moment when Reinhold Messner – perhaps the greatest mountaineer of all time – came to visit Alex there. The two men share a common bond of the mountains and talk a bit of strategy for making the ascent in winter.

All-Star American Climbing Team Putting Up New Routes in the Antarctic

Yesterday I noted the success of an international team of climbers in the Antarctic who completed the second ascent of a rock spire called the Spectre. Not to be outdone by their European counterparts, a group of all-start climbers from the U.S. is also down south and has been putting up some impressive routes as well.

The very strong team of climbers includes the likes of Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, Alex Honnold, Cedar Wright, Savannah Cumins, and Anna Pfaff. The group is also joined by cameraman Pablo Durana, who is documenting the expedition to Queen Maud Land, where they are focused on opening new routes in an area rich with possibilities.

According to this story from Planet Mountain, Honnold and Wright have been exploring different routes near the famous Ulvetanna cathedral. The entire team arrived on the frozen continent on December 1, and immediately started scouting out six different peaks that surround their base camp, which includes Holtanna, Hollstind, Kinntanna, Stetind, Hel and, obviously, Ulvetanna itself.

Reportedly, Honnold and Wright first joined forces with Cumins and Pfaff to climb the 2650 meter (8694 ft) Holtanna, before they moved on to establish three new routes in the region, including a 400 meter (1312 ft) line up Mount Fenris. Meanwhile, Anker and Chin have been focused on a project of their own which involves a new route up Ulvetanna.

As you can imagine, we'll be keeping an eye on their progress for the rest of the season. It should be interesting to see what this incredibly talented group can do. Hopefully we'll get some awesome video footage out of it.

Outside Gives Us 100 Things to Do This Winter

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we're about a week away from the official start of winter. Where I live, we've been experiencing some icy temperatures and frosty winds for awhile now, but technically we haven't even reached winter yet. But all good outdoor adventurers know that winter is just another season to head outside and enjoy the activities, just be sure to bundle up with some good layers first. 

To help us make the most of the season ahead, Outside magazine – working in conjunction with Columbia Sportswear – has published a guide for things to do and places to go during the colder months ahead. The story is called 100 Days of Winter, which is ironic since winter isn't even 100 days long, and is filled with suggestions on how you can embrace the cold and the snow to have the best winter ever. 

Some of the suggestions that make the list include going camping in the snow, riding your bike in poor conditions on purpose, and take a polar plunge in a cold lake or river. Outside breaks down each of the activities by providing suggested dates to undertake them, and offers options based on locations across the U.S. too. Each entry on the list can also be conveniently shared to social media or email, and has an option to add the event to your calendar too. Reader's can even build their own personal lists of the things they want to do most, with festivals, outdoor events, winter races, and more to choose from. 

Too often I hear people say that it is too cold to be outside or they don't enjoy their favorite activities during the winter. As I've said many times on this blog, having the right gear can make a world of difference. If you invest in a proper layering system, grab a good pair of winter boots, and embrace everything the season has to offer, I think you'll find it is just as rewarding – if not more so – to be outdoors in the winter. The solitude alone is usually worth the effort. 

Check out Outside's entire list of winter activities here

Want to Become a Polar Explorer? Apply for this Scholarship to Learn From Eric Larsen!

Over the past month or so, I've been writing extensively about the unfolding expedition season down in Antarctica. As I write this, adventurous men and women are making their way across the frozen continent on skis while pulling sleds filled with supplies and gear behind them as they go. Some are headed to the South Pole, other are traversing to different places, but they are all crossing one of the most dramatic, demanding, and spectacular wildernesses on the planet. If you've ever dreamed of doing that same thing, then I definitely have a tip for you.

In January of 2018, polar explorer Eric Larsen will be conducting a Level 1 Polar Training course to help others follow in his footsteps. The course will be held on Lake Winnipeg in Canada and will consist of a week of intense training that will help you to become more adept at winter travel or even prepare you for your own journey to the North or South Pole.

The course will consist of three days of indoor training, which in turn leads to four days of practical experience out in the field. Students will actually embark on a traverse around Lake Winnipeg in conditions that will replicate those found near the poles. They'll travel on skis, pull their sleds, sleep in tents, and learn every aspect of what it is like to survive in arctic conditions.

If this sounds like your kind of adventure, you can actually apply for a scholarship to attend the program. Allied Feather & Down and Helly Hansen have teamed up to give one lucky recipient the chance to travel to Lake Winnipeg to take part in the course, which is taught by Eric himself. The scholarship covers all the costs, including required gear, travel expenses, course fees, and more.

You can find out a lot more about the training program – including a full itinerary – by clicking here. And if this sounds like something you'd like to take part in, you can apply for the scholarship by clicking here.

If you've ever had dreams of skiing to the South Pole but weren't sure how to get your expedition off the ground, this course will certainly put you on track. You'll not only come away with some valuable skills for use in polar conditions, you'll also get the chance to learn from a guy who has spent a lot of time in very cold places. This will be the chance of a lifetime for some lucky adventurer and I'll definitely be jealous of whomever gets the opportunity.

Find out more here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Video: To the South Pole with the Energy Challenge Team

I've written about Rob and Barney Swan a couple of times during the current Antarctic expedition season, but this video does a good jog of sharing their story. This father and son team are skiing to the South Pole to help raise awareness of renewable and clean energy sources. But in this clip, it's more about the relationship between the two men, who are spending weeks out on the ice together on their journey to 90ºS.

Video: A Full Cloud Inversion in the Grand Canyon

In this video we get a look at a rare phenomenon in the Grand Canyon – a full-cloud inversion. What is that exactly? It occurs when cold air is trapped in the canyon itself with warmer air moving overhead. The result is a build-up of clouds below with clear skies overhead. Those standing on the canyon rim can watch the clouds below them as they move like waves. It is quite a sight to behold as you'll see in this clip.

SKYGLOWPROJECT.COM: KAIBAB REQUIEM from Harun Mehmedinovic on Vimeo.

Download The Adventure Podcast on Your Favorite Platform

As I write this, I am busily working away at editing the second episode of The Adventure Podcast. We hope to have the second episode out very soon. But before we release it, my cohost David Adlard and I wanted to let everyone know that the show is available on your favorite platform for listening to podcasts now. So, no matter if you enjoy listening on an iOS device, Android phone or tablet, or just on your computer, you should be able to subscribe to our feed and automatically get new episodes. 

For those who want to listen to our new little venture, here's where you can get the episodes:

  • Subscribe in iTunes/iOS Podcasts by clicking here
  • On Android use Google Play Music to get the show here
  • If you listen on Stitcher, you'll find The Adventure Podcast here.
  • We also have an RSS feed set up for the show here.
Also, if you've had a chance to listen to the show, we'd love your feedback. We can be reached on Twitter at @adventure_pod or by email at theadventurepod@gmail.com. You can also leave comments, suggestions, and questions on our Facebook page as well. 

Thanks to everyone who sent us feedback on Episode 0. We learned a lot while making it and the first  real episode will be better for it. We have some big plans for the show moving forward, and Dave and I hope you'll come along for the ride. 

OutdoorX4 Mag Presents First Ever Gear Issue

If you haven't had your fill of holiday gear guides just yet, I have another very good one one to share. OutdoorX4 magazine – an outlet that I contribute to on a regular basis – has released its first ever Gear Issue, and it is filled with great reviews of some of the best products around. While the magazine does have an off-road/overlanding slant, it is aimed at outdoor enthusiasts of all types, and the gear that is found within this issue is perfect for hikers, backpackers, adventure travelers, and more.

There are literally dozens of pieces of gear to sift through in this issue, so it is almost impossible for me to list them all here. But, you'll find reviews of sleeping bags, portable charging stations, camp cookstoves, tents, hiking boots, and much more. I personally contributed 5 or 6 reviews, but have also found numerous other items that I want to add to my gear closet for use on my own adventures, both on and off-road.

Unlike most of the other gear guides we've seen in the past few weeks, the OutdoorX4 gear issue actually offers insights into why these items are a good choice, either for yourself or someone on your shopping list. This isn't a superficial list of products that make great gifts, but is instead a comprehensive look at each and every product that was included. The reviews (other than mine!) are well written and informative, helping you to decide if the gear is indeed what you're looking for.

You can read the entire Gear Issue online by clicking here. And if you like what you see, you can also subscribe to OutdoorX4 here. Digital subscriptions start at $20 with the print mag edition priced at $25. We promise we'll make it worth your time.

Antarctica 2017: Spectre Team Summits and Antarctica Without Sound

More news from the Antarctic today, where the expedition season continues to unfold at a fairly fast pace. The explorers who are making their way across the continent this year seem to continue to hit milestones on their way towards their own individual objectives. And while the season still has a very long way to go before it ends, it seems like it will be one of the more interesting years on the frozen continent in quite some time.

Will begin with an update on the Spectre team, which consists of Leo Houlding, Jean Burgun, and Mark Sedon. This trio of adventurers set off across the Antarctic via kite ski to reach the Gothic Mountains. Their plan was to climb a challenging rock spire called the Spectre by making the first ascent via the South Spur. Unfortunately, when they finally arrived there, they discovered that route that they had indeed to use for their descent was incredibly difficult, consisting more of blue ice and snow than rock and solid ground.

When we checked in with the team last week they were setting off on a traverse of the tower to look for alternate ways of getting back down. What they discovered that this rock face presented more challenges than they had first anticipated, so they had a quick change of plans and decided to change up their route and climb the North Side of the Spectre instead. That route was originally climbed by Mugs & Edmund Stump back in the 80's and remains the best approach to the top.

On Sunday, the trio of climbers set out to complete their objective and while it was hardly an easy ascent, they did manage to top out. Along the way they had to deal with cold temperatures, unexpected winds, and a complex rock face that was tougher than they thought it would be. You can read their account of the climb here.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Video: Climate 101 - Nat Geo Educates Us on Glaciers

There as been a lot of talk all year long about the collapse of the ice shelfs in Antarctica and the impact that will have on the glaciers there. This phenomenon has the potential to have long and lasting consequences for hundreds of millions of people around the globe, but just what does this mean for climate change? In this video, National Geographic provides some insight into what is happening to the world's glaciers and how this could impact all of us in the future.

Video: 13-Minutes of Footage From the New Speed Record on the Nose

Back in October, rock climbers Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds set a new speed record on The Nose in Yosemite, zipping up the most iconic climb in the world in a blistering 2 hours, 19 minutes, and 44 seconds. That's 4 minutes faster than the previous record held by Hans Florine and Alex Honnold. In this video clip we get a look at the two men on the wall, as they're making their way up. This isn't some stylized, highly produced climbing documentary, but is instead raw footage captured on their way to the record. That makes it all the better.


Volvo Ocean Race Resumes as Teams Head to Southern Ocean

Stage 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race got underway yesterday from Cape Town, South Africa as the teams head into the Southern Ocean for the first time. This next leg of the race promises to be a challenging one, as strong winds appeared just prior to the restart.

The seven ships taking part in this year's edition of the round-the-world sailing event departed Cape Town and are now under sail for Melbourne, Australia. This stage of the race will cover approximately 6500 nautical miles (7480 miles/12,038 km) and will include a trip round the infamous Cape of Good Hope before the crews take a hard left turn and plunge south to the Souther Ocean. The route will take them through the Westerly Storm Track, a section of water that is notorious for its bad weather, before heading north once again to cross the Great Australian Bight and the Bass Strait on their way into Melbourne. They are expected to arrive there sometime around December 27.

On Saturday, just prior to the teams setting out on Stage 3, the "Cape Doctor" arrived in South Africa. This strong southeasterly wind brought sustained 40 knot (46 mph/74 km/h) winds with gusts up to 60 knots (69 mph/111 km/h). By Sunday, those winds had died down some but were still hitting 25-35 knots. That made for a blistering start with the ships finding plenty of breeze to help push them along. A high pressure front arrived today however to provide a bit of calm before facing the challenges that await.

The wild Southern Ocean will now test the crews. Known for its big waves, terrible storms, and high winds, this body of water surrounds Antarctica but has no other land masses to impede the progress of its winds and weather. That leads to some absolutely massive storms at times and cold, biting Antarctic winds are the norm. This will certainly not be a pleasure cruise for the members of each of the teams as they battle to be the fastest team to arrive in Melbourne.

You can follow all of the action and get regular updates on the Volvo Ocean Race website. The team there does a great job of not only providing plenty of news and insights into the race, but offering video and photos too.

How Much Will it Cost to Climb Everest in 2018?

Alan Arnette has compiled his annual examination of the costs of climbing Everest and as usual the post is filled with lots of interesting information. If you're thinking of joining an expedition to the highest mountain on the planet sometime in the near future, you'll definitely want to give this article a look. For those going in 2018, here's what you can expect to pay.

So how much will it cost next year? Alan says it will be a minimum of $30,000, with most climbers paying somewhere in the neighborhood of about $45,000. That's an increase over 2017, with prices climbing both on the lower end of the spectrum and the premium high-end as well.

In 2018, the price range for an Everest climb starts at $28,000 and goes up to as much as $85,000. You can have a completely custom climb for $115,000 as well, although few take that option. At the bottom end, if you want to mostly go it alone, with some support, you can get away with spending as little as $20,000, although as Alan points out, this is for the extreme risk takers only.

In recent years we've seen a rise in the number of low-cost expedition options on Everest, which is what is fueling the larger numbers of climbers on the mountain as more alpinists from India and China rush to make the climb. Even though more of these inexpensive options exist, prices have continued to climb. Alan says that over the past five years companies have increased their prices by 6% on the Nepal side of the mountain and 12% on the Tibetan side.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Video: Start Your Impossible - The Inspiring Story of a Man Who Climbed Everest Without Arms

This video comes our way as part of a new campaign from Toyota that invites us to #startyourimpossible. It is the inspiring story of Sudarshan Gautam, who lost both of his arms in an electrical accident in Nepal, but then went on to become the first person to climb Everest without arms. Just a little something to think about as we headed into the weekend.

TOYOTA - START YOUR IMPOSSIBLE from Oliver Würffell on Vimeo.

Video: The Bears Ears - A Living Museum in 360º Video

There has been a lot of talk about the Bears Ears National Monument this past year, and particularly in the past week. What makes this place so special? Why it is of such importance to so many people? This fantastic video will help you sort it all out, and it does so by giving viewers a 360º view of the surrounding landscape. You'll need a browser that supports that type of video to get the full effect, but even if you watch it and just listen to the narration, you'll get a better understanding of why this is such a special place.

Bears Ears - A Living Museum from Patagonia on Vimeo.

Gear Closet: Cauldryn Fyre Mobile Heated Water Bottle

One of the things that I've l liked most about the continued advancements in technology is that it has forced us to improve the batteries that go into our various devices. These more powerful and long-lasting rechargeable power cells have made their way into a wide variety of other product that either didn't use them before or didn't exist at all. Such is the case with the new Cauldryn Fyre Mobile, a heated water bottle that will redefine the way you think about hot beverages and cooking around the campsite, while on the go.

At first glance, the Cauldryn Fyre looks like a lot of other water bottles you might find on the market, It is sleek, made of stainless steel, and uses the vacuum-insulated design that has proven to be a winner in countless other models over the past few years. The 16-ounce bottle even has two openings for sipping a beverage or for pouring out more liquid depending on your needs.

But look a little closer, and you'll start to see how this product differentiates itself from the competition. For starters, it includes a built-in heating mechanism that allows it to warm a beverage completely on its own, or keep liquids hot for hours at a time. This heating element is so powerful in fact that it can even boil water all on its own. Simply plug the bottle into a USB outlet and set it to the temperature you need.

The Cauldryn Fyre comes in two different models, the standard version and the Mobile. The difference between the two is that the Mobile edition comes with a battery pack that allows it to function while away from a power source. An included battery pack means that you can have hot beverages on the go, even if you're venturing far off the beaten path. Taking a morning hike to the top of your favorite peak, but would like some hot coffee along the way? The Cauldryn Fire Mobile can handle that. Snowshoeing or backcountry skiing and want some hot cocoa? Check!

Men's Journal Presents the 20 Best Gifts for Adventurers

I may have shared my picks for the best holiday gifts for outdoor adventurers a few weeks back, but as we get closer to Christmas there are sure to be others. For instance, Men's Journal has posted its picks for the 20 best pieces of gear for the adventurer in your life, with some really great items we'd all like to find under our tree this year.
The list gets off to a rocky start – at least for me – by suggesting a rifle from Ruger, but I know plenty of people who wouldn't mind receiving that as a gift. Other items include awesome rain pants from Kuhl, iPhone cases from OtterBox, and a tent from Big Agnes, amongst plenty of other things. In fact, it is safe to say that pretty much whatever your favorite outdoor pursuits are, you'll find something you can use here, including a folding kayak from Oru and a waterproof duffel from Yeti (which also made my list!).

I won't spoil the rest of the items on the Men's Journal list as there is plenty to discover. Check out all of their picks by clicking here.

Patagonia Sues Trump Administration Over Bears Ears Reduction

Earlier in the week we talked about the Trump administration's plan to reduce both the Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in size. That proposal was officially announced on Monday, calling for the greatest reduction of public lands in the history of the U.S. Now, a coalition of activist groups that includes gear manufacturer Patagonia is banding together to sue the President to prevent this move from happening.

The day after the announcement was made to reduce the size of the monuments the lawsuits started to be filed. At least three came on Tuesday alone, with others following throughout the week. By Wednesday, Patagonia had replaced its usual website homepage with a warning message saying "The President Stole Your Lands," which remains in place as of this writing. The company has also created a second page with information about this topic, including maps showing the new monuments before and after the reduction. There are also links that allow concerned visitors to express their concerns by sharing the info on social media, although those efforts have done nothing to convince Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to change course. In fact, he may be preparing to announce reductions to to other monuments as well.

Patagonia has been at the forefront of the movement to protect Bears Ears for years, and applauded the efforts of the Obama administration to protect the area last year. The company was also one of the first to step up to fight the President's move to review national monuments when it was announced earlier this year. Patagonia was also instrumental in getting the industries Outdoor Retailer trade show to relocate from Salt Lake City to Denver in large part because of Utah's actions against public lands.

The outdoor apparel manufacturer wasn't alone in filing lawsuits this week. A number of conversation groups, including The Wilderness Society, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and seven other groups are all part of one lawsuits, while at least five Native American tribes are taking part in others. These lawsuits are expected to take years to sort out, with the potential to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court as judges decide where the limits of executive powers lie. That will be a matter of debate for some time, with some arguing the President doesn't have the authority to make this move, while others say it is well within his jurisdiction.

For now, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante will remain unchanged while this issue gets sorted. What they will look like when it is all said and done will be very interesting.