Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Video: Kilimanjaro Revealed - Been There

I may be on my way to Jackson Hole for the Outdoor Blogger Summit and SHIFT Festival today, but I wanted to share the final Kilimanjaro video from Tusker Trail. This clip gives you an overview of the whole climb, while revealing how the mountain stays with you long after you have left. Kili is a special place, and a true adventure destination. Once you've stood on its summit, you'll feel a kinship with the place, and those who have climbed it, that lasts forever. Take from me, I've been there twice, and have strong connection with the mountain that is hard to explain.

If you've missed any of the Tusker videos, you can view them all on the Kilimanjaro Revealed Vimeo page. All are worth a look!

Kilimanjaro - Been There from Tusker on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Heading to Outdoor Blogger Summit and SHIFT Conference

Just a quick note to let everyone know that there won't be many updates to The Adventure Blog for the rest of the week. I'm on my way to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to take part in the first ever Outdoor Blogger Summit, and attend the SHIFT Conference on environment and adventure.

I'm looking forward to not only catching up with my friends who are also writers and bloggers, but meeting a host of new people as well. The Blogger Summit will be a chance to meet, connect, and share tips with one another, while the SHIFT Conference will open up an important dialog about how climate change is impacting the outdoor spaces that we love so much. Anyone who is a regular skier can tell you how spotty the ski seasons have been in recent years, and as we continue to record warmer and warmer seasons, it could potentially continue to get worse. Will those same kind of environmental issues begin to impact some of our other favorite outdoor activities as well? That's what SHIFT is all about.

If you're in the Jackson Hole area, and have an interest in these kinds of discussions, take a look at the schedule of events to see if anything interests you. There is a lot going on over the next few days, and there will definitely be some outdoor luminaries on site. For instance, Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia will be in attendance, as will New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, skier Angel Collinson, and snowboarder Lucas Debari.

I won't be gone too long however. The conference lasts just through the weekend, which means The Adventure Blog will be back up and running as usual again next week. In the meantime, enjoy the fall weather. Get outside and take advantage of the changing season.

Video: India - Land of Kings

India is a nation with a rich history, deep culture, fascinating people, and beautiful landscapes. In this video we travel there, visiting places like Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer while getting a look at the manmade and natural wonders that the country has to offer. It is a place of of contrasts, deep spiritualism, and vibrant colors that any traveler will find both challenging and rewarding.

If you've always dreamed of visiting India yourself, Mountain Travel Sobek has a number of unique itineraries to help you make that dream a reality. For instance, their 13-day journey through the Sikkim region takes you into the shadow of Kangchenjunga on foot, and to then home of legendary Everest climber Tenzing Norgay himself.

India - Land of Kings from Neftali on Vimeo.

Video: Kilimanjaro Revealed - The Summit

The next installment of Tusker Trail's excellent seven-part video series on Kilimanjaro takes us to the summit of that mountain – the tallest in Africa. As you'll see in the clip, the summit provides awesome views of the surrounding countryside, but it is anything but a sure bet that you'll reach the top. While the climb is not a technical one, it is still very challenging due to the high altitude. A surprisingly high number of trekkers don't make it, even ones that are in excellent shape and have experience at altitude. The route that is taken has a lot to do with that success rate, and Tusker's clients have a better chance of summiting than most others. If you've ever dreamed of climbing Kili, this video will help you to understand the challenges.

Kilimanjaro - The Summit from Tusker on Vimeo.

10 Ways Climbing Mountains Will Enrich Your Lives

Here at The Adventure Blog we don't need to be told just how climbing a mountain can have a positive impact on your life, but it is nice to have it reaffirmed by other sources now and again. This morning while making my usual rounds on the Internet I came across an interesting list of 10 reasons why climbing mountains can enrich your life, and thought it was worth sharing here as well.

The list comes our way courtesy of a site called Sherpa Holidays, an adventure travel company in Nepal that can arrange trekking excursions to Annapurna and Everest, as well as jungle safaris and even expeditions to climb Ama Dablam.

Amongst the list of ten ways that climbing can enrich our lives are such benefits of improved fitness and health, as well as the bonds that are forged with the people you share your adventures with. The list also says that the mountains will help teach you how to be positive, and will show you how to be patient, persistent, and grateful as well. But perhaps my favorite entry on the list is that every mountain will teach you something, which just about any climber can attest to.

I won't spoil the whole list, but would encourage you to read it for yourself. It is fun, insightful, and inspirational all at the same time. It is also a good reminder in many ways why we love the outdoors in general, and the adventure and excitement that they bring to our lives.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Kuriki Moves Up on Everest, Summit Bid Incoming?

There isn't a lot of new news to report from the Himalaya today, but I did want to post about a couple of ongoing expeditions that are still unfolding there. Most namely, the attempt on Everest by solo-Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki.

Yesterday we knew that Kuriki was moving up the mountain and had reached Camp 3, where he rested for another day before planning to move up to Camp 4 today. According to his website, that is where he should be now, in C4 and preparing for a summit push. The question now is, will that summit push come tomorrow or on Thursday.

According to his plans that were revealed prior to moving up the mountain, the 33-year old climber had intended to reach Camp 4 by Sunday. He then hoped to spend yesterday breaking trail before descending back to C4 for a rest. That means he had originally hoped to be making the attempt on the summit today. Obviously he is now off that schedule, which begs the question of whether or not he has encountered worse than expected conditions, or if he is moving slower than planned.

Either way, we should know within the next day or two whether or not he finds success on the mountain. After today, he'll be in striking distance of the summit, and it will all come down to his physical condition and whether or not the route to the top is safe and accessible. For now, we'll just have to sit tight and wait for more news to break.

Over on Dhaulagiri another expedition is waiting for its chance to summit as well. The team is led by French climber Yannick Graziani, who reports that the squad is currently in Base Camp and watching the weather closely. They are now acclimatized and ready to go, but they'll need a four day window for their summit push. At the moment, they are considering when they should move up from BC to ABC to put themselves in position to launch their summit bid. Right now, there isn't a suitable window in the forecast, but they are watching the skies intently with the hope that they'll get positive news soon. So far, heavy rains and high winds have thwarted their efforts.

Finally, Ueli Steck continues to wait for his climbing mate Colin Haley to recover from illness. The two are preparing to take on the very difficult Babanov route on Nuptse, and while Ueli says he is feeling strong and ready to go, Coin was forced to descend to the Khumbu Valley to recover. Hopefully he'll be back on his feet and ready to go soon.

While the fall climbing season is far from over, most of the commercial squads have now left the Himalaya for the season. Manaslu saw the bulk of their attention this year, and last week numerous teams found major success on that mountain. Now, most have packed up and departed, which means moving forward there won't be as much news to share. The remaining teams are doing very interesting climbs however, so there is still plenty of action to follow.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Video: Paragliding Through the Dolomites

The Italian Dolomites are some of the most spectacular mountains on the planet, and what better way to explore them than through the air on a paraglider? In this video we go high up with a group of gliders who give us a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape. While I'd personally prefer o be hiking or climbing in this environment, it is hard to deny how beautiful it looks from the air.

Follow Me - Dolomites from Cloudbase Productions on Vimeo.

Video: Kilimanjaro Revealed - The Journey

We continue our video journey up Mt. Kilimanjaro today with the amazing team from Tusker Trail. This is the next clip in a series of videos the company has produced to help introduce the mountain to those who may want to trek to its snowcapped peak. In this video we get a sense of what it is like to be hiking on Kilimanjaro, and catch a glimpse of the five different climate zones you pass through on the way to the top. Part of the challenge of a Kili climb is dealing with each of those environments along the way, as well as the thinning air from the increased altitude.

Kilimanjaro - The Journey from Tusker on Vimeo.

Sarah Outen Forced to Abandon Atlantic Crossing

If you've been following Sarah Outen's London2London via the World expedition over the past few years, you know she's faced some tough challenges in her attempt to circumnavigate the globe completely under her own power. This weekend she may have reached her biggest hurdle yet however, as the 30-year old adventurer saw the final stage of that journey hit with a major setback. One that threatens to put an end to the entire project.

Sarah was 143 days into her Atlantic ocean crossing in a rowboat this weekend when she was forced to call for help by a passing boat. The seas had become incredibly turbulent and winds as high as 60 knots (69 mph/111 km/h) were being recorded as hurricane Joaquin took aim at her position. The storm, which is raging in the North Atlantic now, put Sarah in jeopardy, forcing her to call for assistance even as she was closing in on London, the starting point for this epic round-the-world adventure that began more than four years ago.

On Saturday, Sarah was safely retrieved by a passing ship called the Federal Oshima. That vessel is currently bound for Montreal, Canada and is scheduled to arrive there later in the week. Unfortunately, Sarah's rowboat – Happy Socks – was damaged in the rescue and had to be left behind on the Atlantic Ocean. That leaves her now heading in the wrong direction, and without a boat to complete the journey home.

The expedition first started back in the spring of 2011. Sarah paddled under the London Bridge on the Thames River, than set out across the English Channel to France. From there, she rode her bike across Europe and Asia, eventually returning to her kayak long enough to reach Japan, where she intended to row across the Northern Pacific Ocean. Her first attempt to complete that stage met with a similar setback when a major storm hit the region, forcing the British woman to call for a rescue, and abandoning another rowboat. She was able to recover from that challenge, and returned a year later to finish the crossing of the Pacific, reaching the Aleutian Islands in Alaska in 2014. Sarah than paddled the Aleutians to the mainland, returned to her bike, and rode across the U.S. and Canada, arriving in New York City this past March. After waiting for spring to arrive, she set out on the last leg of the journey – the crossing of the Atlantic.

It's hard to say where this puts Sarah's circumnavigation attempt now. As you can imagine, she is heartbroken over having to call for assistance, and leaving her boat behind. Whether or not she'll be able to raise the funds to buy another boat remains to be seen, but I have no doubt that she'll still want to see this undertaking through to the end.

We should know more once she reaches Canada in a few days. It'll probably take some time to sort out the logistics, but I suspect she'll find another way to overcome this obstacle in time as well.

Woman Preparing to Trek the Length of the Americas

29-year old Bethany Hughes is no stranger to long distance hiking. After all, she has already completed the entire length of the 2650-mile (4264 km) long Pacific Crest Trail. But now, she is preparing to set out on an expedition that will make that one pale in comparison. One that will cover more than 20,000 miles (32,186 km), and take upwards of five years to complete.

In December of this year, Bethany will head to Ushuaia, Argentina – the southernmost city in South America, and will begin trekking north. Her goal is to become the first woman to travel across the entire length of the Americas completely under her own power, eventually reaching Barrow, Alaska. Along the way, she'll face endless miles of challenges, including crossing over mountain ranges, passing through dense forests and jungles, and hiking arid deserts. She'll also be visiting regions that are no necessarily safe for travelers, man or woman, as she makes her way across two continents.

The plan is to embark from Ushuaia with a friend. The duo will first trek through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. At that point, Bethany's companion will head home, while she continues on bike through Central America and Mexico. Once back in the  U.S., she'll elect to bike, hike, or paddle depending on weather conditions. She hasn't ruled out using a dogsled team in parts of Canada and Alaska as well.

Hughes has a great deal of experience living in a various parts of the world, and her adventures have taken her across the globe. As a child, her missionary parents lived in places like Chile, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic. She has also spent time in Spain, and studied at Oxford as well. And while her experience on the PCT will prove invaluable on this major hike, nothing can quite prepare her for everything she'll face walking from one end of the South America to the other end of North America.

Bethany says she's making the trek to not only inspire others to go out and chase their own adventures, but to open up opportunities for women too. She says she'll stay in local villages along the way, and document the way of life that she encounters as well. You'll be able to follow her progress, and learn more about the journey, at the official website for the expedition –

Good luck to Bethany on this amazing excursion.

Himalaya Fall 2015: More Summits on Manaslu, Progress on Everest, and Makalu Ski Expedition Ends

There was lots of news from the Himalaya this weekend where the climbing season continues to unfold. It is October now, so most of the major commercial teams will be wrapping up operations, but the good climbing opportunities should continue to exist for another month or so. But for the most part we should start to see most of the groups start heading for home.

A week ago it seemed that things were looking grim on Manaslu. That was where the bulk of the climbers had convened this fall, and after three major commercial squads (Himex, Adventure Consultants, and Altitude Junkies) left the mountain, it appeared that there might not be any successful summits. But last week the climbers finally broke saw some good weather and improved conditions, and as a result ExWeb now reports that there have been more than 80 people who have reached the top between September 30 and October 2. Than means that thanks to a little patience and perseverance, the bulk of the Manaslu expeditions were successful this fall.

There was a bit of sad news on the mountain however. According to reports, a member of the Summit Climb team died in Camp 4 last Thursday. The diseased as been identified as Zoltan Benedek of Australia, who apparently took ill after descending from the summit. Benedek's climbing partner also had to be helped down from C4 to C3 before being flown off the mountain. Apparently, both men were climbing without support above Base Camp.

Over on Makalu, the Alpenglow Expeditions climb and ski squad has officially pulled the plug on their attempt on the mountain. The talented group of athletes had hoped to become the first to make a full ski descent of the mountain, but unstable conditions high on the slopes prevented them from topping out last week. Now, they're all off the mountain safely and preparing to head home.

The team did have one very scary moment while on their summit push. While up above 8000 meters (26,246 ft) one of their guides – Mingma Chhiring Sherpa – was caught in an avalanche and fell quite a distance. Luckily he didn't suffer any major injuries and was ultimately okay, but that was the fifth avalanche the team encountered, which convinced them it was time to go home.

Over on Everest there hasn't been much word from Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki over the past few days, although his website has been updated with the word that he reached Camp 3 on Saturday, and spent the day there yesterday while acclimatizing. That means he should move up to C4 today, which would put him in position to potentially summit tomorrow or Wednesday depending on conditions. His last proposed plan indicated that he might try to break trail above Camp 4, than return to that point for a rest, before setting off for the summit. Either way, we should know the result of his efforts within the next few days.

Finally, Ueli Steck is fully acclimatized and ready to climb on Nuptse, but unfortunately his climbing partner Colin Haley is having a more difficult time of it. Haley apparently got sick, so he made the decision to descend down to Deboche in the Khumbu Valley. Hopefully this will allow him to rest and regain his strength before heading back to Nuptse Base Camp so that the expedition can truly get underway.

That's it for now. I'll keep an eye on Everest over the next few days. Hopefully we'll have good news there soon.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Video: Trekking to the End of the World on the Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago is a 540 mile (869 km) long trekking route that begins in southern France and continues across northern Spain. Each year, thousands of pilgrims hike the trail for spiritual, physical, and emotional reasons. Some simply come for the adventure, while others are looking for a transformative experience.

Earlier this year, filmmaker Hank Leukart spent six weeks hiking the Camino, encountering all kinds of interesting people and places along the way. This fantastic video shares his journey, giving us an all-too-brief glimpse of what it was like to trek this historic route. The 35 minute short film is not only enthralling, but very inspirational as well. You're going to want to get comfortable for this one.

And if you'd like to hike a section of the Camino yourself, my friends at Mountain Travel Sobek offer an 11-day trek along the route that highlights its key points. After watching this video, I guarantee you'll be thinking about making this journey yourself.

To the End of the World from Hank Leukart on Vimeo.

Video: Mission Everest 2015 Official Teaser

This video came out a few weeks back, and serves as the official trailer for an online series being run on YouTube. It follows two climbers from India who followed their dream of climbing Mt. Everest in Nepal last spring. With high hopes and lots of optimism they set out to tackle the tallest mountain on the planet, but as we all know the April 25 earthquake put an end to those dreams.

This series of videos, entitled Mission Everest 2015, takes us to the Himalaya, where we watch the entire story unfold. So far, there are five episodes to watch, with new ones coming every week or so. This is a very personal look at what the spring climbing season was like this past year, and how everything came to an abrupt and tragic halt.

Video: Kilimanjaro Revealed - The Challenge

We continue our 7-part video series on Kilimanjaro from Tusker Trail today with a look at the challenges climbers face when going up the mountain. Kill is not a technical climb at all, but its high altitude (5895 m/19,341 ft) still makes it a true challenge for sure. This video shows what it is like to ascend the tallest peak in Africa with scenes of numerous climbers heading up. Eagle-eyed viewers might even catch a glimpse of yours truly approaching the summit at one point. 

Across Yellowstone on Horseback to Heal Deep Wounds

We all know that escaping into the wilderness can be an incredibly therapeutic thing. There is something about nature that not only calms us, but helps us to heal as well. That is the basis of a five-part series of stores that are currently being revealed on the National Geographic Adventure website, where a powerful tale is unfolding about how an adventure in the backcountry can heal deep wounds.

The story begins with Ray Knell, a former Green Beret who suffers with PTSD. Seeking peace and solitude, Ray decided he wanted to undertake a 1000 mile (1609 km) journey on horseback across Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana along the Continental Divide Trail. Before setting off, he consulted with horseman Ben Masters, who made a 3000 mile (4828 km) ride of his own to support wild mustangs. That effort was chronicled in the new documentary Unbranded.

Ray set out on his journey earlier in the year, but part way through the expedition his horse and pack mules ate poisonous plants that put their health in serious jeopardy. Fearing for their safety, the U.S. Army vet immediately had the animals pulled off the trail so they could recover. He then called Ben and asked for advice, with Masters saying he would lend him some horses to continue the trip, provided he could join Ray on a ride across Yellowstone.

Just as they were preparing to start that epic journey, one of Ben's friends took his own life, leaving the rancher heartbroken, bewildered, and with a lot of questions. It seemed that both men would have a lot of healing to do on the trail, and lots of time to think about the challenges that life can throw our way.

Thus starts the five-part series from Nat Geo, where two of the articles have already been published. The first part, which you can read here, sets up the story, going into further detail on the outline I provided above. The second part of the tale, which you'll find here, starts the wild backcountry adventure as Ray and Ben meet at last, and start their shared journey that will not only take them through the vast Yellowstone wilderness, but on the road to recovery as well.

The remaining three parts of the story have yet to be published, so bookmark the Nat Geo Adventure page and watch for more to come. This promises to be a great read, and one that will probably leave a deep impression.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Lots of Summits on Manaslu, Kuriki in Camp 2 on Everest

It was a banner day on Manaslu yesterday where all of the hard work and patience from the past few weeks has finally paid off. Meanwhile, over on Everest, the second summit push is underway.

According to the Himalayan Times, more than 73 climbers have now summited Manaslu, which is a dramatic leap in numbers since we reported on the first successful summits of the year yesterday. On Wednesday, 15 members of the Seven Summits Treks team topped out in good conditions, and yesterday several more squads followed suit. A total of 58 people reached the top yesterday, of those 38 were foreign climbers while 20 were Sherpas working in support of the commercial teams.

This success comes after a number of large teams – including Altitude Junkies, Adventure Consultants, and Himalayan Experience – abandoned the mountain last weekend when conditions were not quite so conducive to climbing. These summits mark the first success on an 8000 meter peak in Nepal since the earthquake back in April.

Meanwhile, over on Everest the second summit push has started. According to various reports, Nobukazu Kuriki has left Base Camp on the world's highest peak and has started back up the hill. He is expected to reach Camp 2 today and is eyeing a final push to the top next Tuesday, October 6.

Unlike his summit bid last week, the Japanese climbers is going up alone this time. A support crew followed him to C2 on his first attempt, but almost everything he needs for the ascent is already in place. He is climbing without the use of supplemental oxygen, which makes things more challenging at the higher altitudes, but after reaching  7700 meters (25,262 ft) he should be more acclimated to conditions this time around.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Video: Scenes From Southeast Asia

Take a picturesque tour of Southeast Asia with the help of this video, which takes us to Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, giving us many beautiful images of the landscapes, cultures, and people that exist there. Be warned however, the clip has a way of inspiring a sense of wanderlust, providing a strong incentive to want to go see these places in person.

Want to go there yourself? Mountain Travel Sobek offers numerous trips to Southeast Asia, including this week-long excursion through Laos and Cambodia that includes visits to Luang Prabang and Siem Reap, as well as a journey up the Mekong River and a stop at the famous caves of Pak Ou.

Pictures of South East Asia from Janis Brod on Vimeo.

Video: America's National Parks - Yeah, We're Beautiful

Yesterday the U.S. National Park Service released this fantastic video. It not only shares beautiful imagery from some of the amazing landscapes that make up America's national parks, it also tells a tale of why those places are so important, and how they are part of fabric of this country. The video also emphasizes and celebrates diversity, and tells us exactly how important that is to the national parks as well. As the Park Service prepares to celebrate its 100th year, this is a good reminder of what that organization stands for, and how it benefits us all.

Video: Kilimanjaro Revealed - The Highest Solitary Peak

We continue our seven-part video series from Tusker Trail on climbing Kilimanjaro today by taking a look at the mountain itself, and the beginning of the trek to its summit. At 5895 meters (19,341 ft) in height, Kili is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. That makes for quite an imposing sight when you're approaching it from the African plains. This clip, narrated by Nat Geo's Will Lyman, serves as an intro to the climb, and what trekkers can expect on their way up.

Kilimanjaro - The Highest Solitary Peak from Tusker on Vimeo.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Summits on Manaslu, Kuriki Launches Second Summit Push on Everest

It has been a tough fall season in the Himalaya so far. Poor weather has stymied numerous climbs, and even sent a number of commercial teams home without success. But we finally have our first summits of the season, as teams topped out on Manaslu yesterday, with potentially more reach the top today.

According to ExWeb, 15 climbers from the Seven Summits Treks team were successful in their bid on Manaslu yesterday. The group got up and down, and were safely back to Camp 4 when they shared the news. The squad consisted of 9 clients from France, Italy, Bulgaria, China, Peru, Australia, and Ecuador, as well as 6 Sherpa guides. They should be descending back to Base Camp today. Congratulations to the everyone!

Hoping to repeat that success today, the Summit Climb team set off this morning amidst good weather and trail conditions as well. With any luck, we'll have a successful update from them later today as well.

The Alpenglow Expeditions team that had been hoping to summit Makalu and make the first full ski descent of that mountain was turned back on their final push yesterday. They reportedly climbed above 8000 meters (26,246 ft), but found unsafe snow conditions and regular avalanches, so decided to pull the plug. Team leader Adrian Ballinger wrote the following on Twitter:
"Push is over and no summit reached. We did ski from a new high point. And everyone safe after some very real avys above 8k. #skimakalu2015"
It is unclear if the team will descend and rest for another attempt, or if they'll decide to go home instead. They may be weighing their options and the moment, and haven't quite decided themselves.

The 20 Best Hikes in the World - According to Nat Geo

Looking for a new hike to add to your bucket list? National Geographic Adventure can help. The website has just published a list of the 20 Best Hikes in the World, with suggestions that will take you to the far corners of the globe to trek in places that will leave a lasting impression to say the least.

Every trail on the list is impressive and beautiful. Some of the routes that made the cut include the El Caminito Del Rey in Spain, which is only 2 miles in length but is an adrenaline inducing walk for sure, and the Devil's Path in New York, which stretches for over 23 miles, crossing over several mountain peaks in the process. Papua New Guinea's Kokoda Trail gets a nod for its jungle setting and historical significance, while Granite Peak in Montana makes the list for its technical challenges.

Additionally, Nat Geo also polled 20 outdoor personalities to ask them what their favorite trails are as well. Such luminaries as long distance hiker Andrew Skurka and explorer Julian Monroe Fisher weighed in on the subject, each sharing their favorite hikes as well. Skurka's choice was the Sierra High Route in California, while Fisher nominated the Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail in Africa. Other suggestions include the Pacific Crest Trail by ultra-runner Scott Jurek, and the Everest Base Camp Trek by Jim Whittaker.

Nat Geo's resources for hikers doesn't end with these awe inspiring trails however. There is also an extended list with top trails in the U.S., and a guide for picking out new backpacking gear to accompany you on your treks.

There are enough suggestions and tips here to keep any hiker going for a long time. Some of the trails  are well known, and others are likely to be completely new. Either way, your feet will be ready for a long walk after reading all of this.