Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Video: Searching for Christmas Tree - Looking for an Iconic Ice Climb in China

Here's a beautiful and inspiring story of adventure in an unexpected place. It tells the tale of He Chuan, a college professor in China who spends his days in academia and his free time searching for some of the most challenging ice climbs his country has to offer. In this case, he goes looking for a challenging and remote wall that is 140 meters (460 ft.) in height that is called Merry Christmas. What he finds is so much more than just another problem to conquer.

Searching for Christmas Tree from Lie Feng on Vimeo.

Video: Trail Running the Longest Fjord in the World

At 303 km (188 miles) in length, the Sogenfjord in Norway is the longest fjord in the entire world. Ultra-runner Malene Blikken Haukøy lives on the shores of that fjord and has always wanted to run its length. A few weeks back she did just that, taking on more than 20,850 vertical meters (68,405 ft) along the way. This video takes us along for the run, with some stunning scenery to take in en route.

Gear Closet: Altra Duo Running Shoes Review

Lightweight and agile running shoes are fairly common in the athletic footwear industry with nearly all of the major players offering something that fits into the category. But often times designers shave ounces at the expense of comfort with the idea that runners who want to go fast are willing to sacrifice a little to achieve their goals. That isn't the case with new Altra Duo, a shoe that manages to be nimble out on the road without making you pay the price. 

If you're already familiar with Altra, you probably also already know that the company has made a name for itself by designing shoes that have a shape that conforms to the natural contours of the foot. This includes a toe box that allows the toes to splay out as you run, increasing power and stability in a more natural way. Altra athletic shoes also feature zero heel drop too, which keeps the foot in a more neutral position and lessens the impact of foot strikes. This approach can feel a little unusual at first, but most runners who have given Altra shoes a go come away as complete converts, this reviewer included. 

The Duo sticks closely to the Altra formula and as a result, the shoes feel great on the foot. This is of course a bit subjective, but for my money the company delivers the most consistent fit and support of any running shoes that I've tried, and I've pretty much tried all of them.

Built for the road, the Duo tips the scales at just 7.9 ounces, although they often feel lighter than that on foot. The cushioning is perfectly shaped and places as well, providing plenty of shock absorption without loss of stability. Surprisingly, even after running 10+ miles, my legs and feet still came away feeling refreshed and strong. That hasn't always been the case when I've tested minimalist shoes in the past. 

Backpacker Shares Tips For Hiking the Summer Heat

We're in the dog days of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere and if where you live is anything like my home, it is hot, humid, and challenging to be outside at the moment. Of course, that won't keep us inside for very long, it just means we have to be a bit smarter about how we approach our active adventures during the hotter months. To help out with that, Backpacker magazine has published some tips on how hike in the summer heat, offering up some good reminders to take care of ourselves on the trail.

Backpacker's article is actually filled with some really useful information, even for those of us who think we have summer hiking all figured out. For instance, the story provides tips on how to properly acclimate to the heat, suggesting that much like climbing we should slowly get use to the change in temperature 10-14 days ahead of any planned long-distance hikes. The best way to do that, unsurprisingly, is to train in the hot conditions and even wear extra layers to help the body adapt.

Other useful tips include not just to stay hydrated, but how to do so effectively. Backpacker even suggests eating carbs as they convert to much-needed energy at a faster rate. Also, don't be afraid to get wet when you can, as the water will help keep your body cooler and more comfortable. The article also reminds us to protect our skin, take breaks, and watch for the symptoms of heat stroke.

It is extremely easy to overlook the challenges that excess heat brings on, but it can be just as dangerous and deadly as extreme cold. Obviously we want to carry plenty of water with us on a hike, as well as food to keep our energy levels up. Sunscreen is a must if you're going to be outdoors for any length of time, although clothing with built-in sun protection is an even better choice. Regular rest breaks will help the body to recover too, making it easier to cover all of those trail miles, even when things get hot.

Even though we're well into July at this point, there are still more than two months of summer to go. If you've got some good hikes coming up on your schedule, be sure to give this article a look before hitting the trail. As I said, a lot of the information is stuff we probably already know, but there are some good tips and reminders nonetheless.

Read the entire story here.

Karakoram Summer 2018: Summits on Gasherbrum II, K2 Push Begins

It seems that it is now "go time" in the Karakoram with teams on the move all over the region. Yesterday we had word of summits on Broad Peak, and today there is news of successful climbs on Gasherbrum II. Meanwhile, the first attempts at the summit of K2 have begun with the chance of possible summits as early as Friday of this week.

Following up on yesterday's news of summits on Broad Peak, Furtenbach Adventures reports that all the members of their squad got up and down the mountain safely and are now back in Base Camp. The climbers who summited as part of this push include Fredrik Sträng, Mark Mueller, Afi Gigani, and Davide Roeske. Their support crew included Mingma Sherpa, Ram Nurbu Sherpa, Nima Sherpa, Delaware Hussain Adil, and a guide identified as Hassan. Now, most of the team will move over to K2, where after a bit of a rest they'll attempt that peak as well.

Jumping over to Gasherbrum II, Alan Arnette is reporting that Adam Bielecki and Felix Berg topped out on that mountain yesterday. Their companions Jacek Czech and Boris Dedeszko turned back short of the top however. All members of the team were climbing without the use of supplemental oxygen. Bielecki and Berg traversed the peak, going up the West Face and descending along the normal route. They were back in Camp 3 last night and will likely descend back to BC today.

In other news from the Gasherbrum massif, Dávid Klein and Szilárd Suhajda launched their summit bid a few days back as well and are now approaching the summit. If all goes as planned, they should complete their climb today, although their has been no word from them yet. Meanwhile, two other squads –– one French, the other Ukrainian –– have abandoned their attempts on the mountain.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Video: Nat Geo Shares One Woman's Fight to Protect Lions in Africa

Today we get another inspirational video courtesy of National Geographic. This time, it comes in the form of a short documentary that introduces us to Moreangels Mbizah, a lion conservationist who lives in South Africa, works in Zimbabwe, and continues to pursue her education in England. Her goal is to find ways to protect lions and conduct research in Hwanga National Park, and as one of just a handful of female scientists in sub-Saharan Africa, she faces a number of challenges.

Video: Peter Sagan Describes 2018 Paris Roubaix Win (Without Words)

This video is actually a short commercial that debuted at the Tour de France over the weekend. It shows world champ Peter Sagan describing his win at the Paris Roubaix spring classic back in April, without using any words. For those that don't know, this race is notorious for it's incredibly difficult cobblestone roads, which present a number of challenges to riders. The Tour visited those same roads yesterday and the results were carnage. Today's rest day couldn't have come at a better time, although they'll likely be feeling the effects for a fews days to come. Sagan, in his typical funny fashion, shares his experience here.

Outside Tells Us How to Save Money on Gear on Amazon Prime Day

On last week's episode of The Adventure Podcast we dedicated an entire show to tips on how to save cash when buying outdoor gear. Two of the tips we shared included buying strategically and buying online. Today's a day where you can do both, because it is Amazon Prime Day, which means big savings on tons of things on Amazon.com, including products we can use on our outdoor adventures. To make the most of this once-a-year occasion, Outside magazine has put together some helpful hints of their own, explaining what makes Prime Day so special and how you can use it to your advantage.

Before we jump in too far, it is important to point out that Prime Day is for Amazon Prime subscribers only. In other words, you need to be a Prime Member to take advantage of the big deals. A Prime subscription costs $119, so the barrier for entry is a little price from the get go. But, members receive free shipping and better deals throughout the year, making it a very good option for regular Amazon users. Plus, you get access to Prime Day, where you can easily save that money back depending on what you order.

The Prime Day deals are hidden until the event actually launches, which won't take place until about 3:00 PM ET here in the U.S. today. But, as Outside points out, some of the deals from last year were pretty outstanding. For instance, the Garmin Fenix 3 HR watch –– which normally sells for $450 –– went for $385. Luggage was also on sale for 30% off and there were great deals to be had on a variety of fitness products, tents, backpacks, and more. The hardest part is actually trying to sort through everything, as the deals do start to come fast and furious.

As this post publishes on the blog, there will still be two hours to go before Prime Day officially begins, but it is your cue to start getting ready. There is no telling what Amazon has in store for us, but chances are there will be saving on drones, electronics, clothing, and a host of other things that can come in hand during our travels. To find out what will be available at a discount, watch the official Prime Day webpage. If I come across any especially great deals, I'll be sure to share them here as well.

Update: Here's a link to all of the sales going on in the Outdoor category. Some big brands have good specials going on, including Yeti, Garmin, and others.

Trekker Completes Epic Journey From Patagonia to Alaska

Here's a story that I missed while I was off in Africa a couple of weeks back. In November of last year, I shared the tale of long-distance hiker Holly Harrison –– aka "Cargo" to his friend. Harrison was in the middle of an epic walk that had started in Ushuaia, Argentina at the very southern tip of South America and wouldn't end until he reached Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, covering a distance of roughly 22,530 km (14,000 miles) while en route. Well, it seems Cargo has completed that journey at long last, becoming just the second person to do and setting a record time in the process.

It took Harrison 530 days to make the journey, which has only been done by British adventurer George Meegan. It took Meegan six year from 1977 to 1983 to finish his hike, but Harrison did it in a fraction of that time.

Harrison originally set out to make this walk back in 2015, but an injury sidelined him and sent him home to North Carolina. But he didn't give up on the idea of finishing this expedition, so once he was healed he returned to the project. But rather than starting where he had left off, he actually returned to Ushuaia and restarted the trek from scratch. He knew that he could go faster than Meegan had, but he wanted to do it in a single push.

In order to cover the distance between the tip of South America and Prudhoe Bay in just 530 days, he needed to average 26 miles (42 km) each and every day. That's a fast and challenging pace to be sure, particularly day-in and day-out. That alone put a strain on his body, causing issues with strained tendons and pulled hamstrings. He also suffered a mild heart attack while en route, but persisted through nonetheless.

ExWeb has posted an interesting profile of Harrison and his journey and shares some of the details from the trip. For instance, he actually trekked across the treacherous Darien Gap along the border of Panama and Colombia, a place where the Trans-American Highway even routes around. This place has been called one of the most dangerous areas in the world due to the guerrilla insurgents, drug runners, and hostile indigenous people that live there. But Harrison found that he had a warm welcome, with a local guide hired to see him safely through.

This is a fascinating story and I'm sure Cargo so a lot of really unique things on his hike. He has reportedly already been contacted about a potential book deal, so I'm sure more of the story will come out over time. I know I'm a couple of weeks late on reporting the successful conclusion of the expedition, but I wanted to congratulate him anyway and share the news. Amazing stuff.

Karakoram Summer 2018: Summits on Broad Peak, Missing Climber Found by Drone

While the teams on K2 sit, wait, and watch the weather, things have been progressing in other parts of the Karakoram. In our last update from the end of last week we knew that a couple of teams were preparing to launch summit bids on nearby Broad Peak, where things have seemingly stabilized and improved in recent days.

One of the teams preparing to make a second summit bid was Furtenbach Adventures, who were thwarted in their earlier attempt on the summit due to unstable conditions above Camp 3. But at the end of last week they announced that the team was fully rested and ready to give it another try. This morning we learn that an unknown number of clients, guides, and Sherpas reached the top after fixing the ropes from Camp 3. As of this writing, the team is now descending and will likely be back in C3 later today and Base Camp tomorrow. From there, at least some members of the squad will head over to K2 to attempt that mountain as well.

Meanwhile, Fredrik Sträng and his team launched a summit bid at the end of last week too. Presumably they were also able to top out today, but so far he hasn't updated his Facebook page with any information. Sträng and his squad also turned back on Broad Peak early last week due to high risks of avalanche danger above C3. When they're done on BP, they'll also jump over to K2.

Alan Arnette is reporting an interesting story from Broad Peak involving a drone that was used in the rescue of a lost climber. It seems that famed Alpinist Rick Allen had attempted a solo summit of the mountain and went missing on the descent. He, and a group of other climbers that included Casper Tekieli, Sandy Allan, and Stanislav Vrba were attempting a new route and apparently were successful in their bid, reaching the summit a few days back. But after that, things start to get a bit nebulous.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Video: Ultrarunner Hillary Allen Finds Strength After Near Fatal Accident

If you're looking for a healthy dose of inspiration as we head into the weekend, look no further than this video. It features ultrarunner Hillary Allen, who fell off of the edge of a cliff while competing in a 100-mile (160 km) race in Norway. Badly injured, she was lucky to be alive, let alone ever run again. But during her road to recovery, she learned a lot about herself and what true strength is all about. Now, she shares that story with others, helping us all to understand ourselves a bit better too. This is the first in a series of "Mentor" videos coming our way from The North Face, and if this clip is any indication, I'm already looking forward to the next one.

Video: The Tour de France Explained

Regular readers of The Adventure Blog know that I'm a big fan of the Tour de France and follow it closely each year. Inevitably, I find myself explaining the race to those who don't follow it and don't really "get" what it is all about. The video below does a really good job of introducing new viewers to  Le Tour, which can be a bit confusing to figure out if you don't know the terms, the various jerseys, the race strategy, and so on. The animation used in the clip is a lot of fun, and while the narrator's voice is a bit difficult to understand at times, the video does a great job of bringing newbies up to speed. If you've ever wanted to know what the big deal over the Tour was all about, this will give you an idea.

Adventures in Malawi: On Safari in Liwonde National Park

Over the first two stories I've written about my recent trip to the African country of Malawi I've done my best to stress how different this destination is compared to the other places found on the continent. For instance, I found the people of Malawi to be exceptionally welcoming and friendly, even by African standards. The country certainly lives up to is moniker for being "the warm heart of Africa," making it easy to recommend to travelers looking for new adventures. Beyond that however, I also shared my experiences on Lake Malawi, a massive lake that provided tranquil waters, warm beaches, and a sense that you had left Africa behind for the Caribbean. That was certainly an unexpected detour that truly helps this country stand out from some of its neighbors.

All of that said, Malawi also offers some traditional travel experiences you would expect when visiting sub-saharan Africa, most notably a true safari experience. And while I was absolutely delighted by my early days in the country, I also couldn't wait to get into the bush for some encounters with the wildlife that Africa is so well known for. I found that, and so much more, Liwonde National Park, a game preserve located not far from the Mozambique border.

Established in 1973, Liwonde is located just south of Lake Malawi along the Shire River. It covers roughly 548 square kilometers (212 sq. miles) and is home to an abundant amount of wildlife, including elephants, antelope, baboons, warthogs, monkeys, and crocodile. Over the past few years, black rhinos have also been added to the mix, and last year cheetahs were reintroduced to the park as well. And just a few months ago –– in May, 2018 –– lions were brought back too. The big cats remained elusive while I was there, but we did hear them roaring in the forests and other travelers did catch a glimpse of them on their game drives.

One creature that isn't in short supply in Llwonde is the hippo. The banks of the Shire River are swarming with them, with dozens to be spotted at any given time. The creatures thrive in the environment found there and it was not uncommon to see six or eight of them huddled together in the water, escaping the warm sun. At night, they'll wander up on to the shores as well, sometimes even sauntering into the safari camp itself. On all my trips to Africa, I've never seen so many hippos in one place and if you have a particular affinity for these creatures, Malawi has to be on your list of places to visit.

Adventure Tech: goTenna Mesh Gets Even Better With New Update

I've been a big fan of the goTenna Mesh for awhile now, first writing about it when it was announced nearly two years ago. But thanks to a new update, this off-the-grid communications device is getting even better, bringing new features to users looking to stay in touch while in the backcountry or traveling in foreign countries.

For those not familiar with goTenna, it is a device that pairs with your smartphone via Bluetooth technology, allowing it to send text messages, GPS coordinates, and other information to other goTenna users in the area. The gadget creates a local peer-to-peer network that doesn't require cell phone data or satellite connection to send messages. The second edition model added mesh networking, which greatly extended the range by allowing messages to skip off other goTenna devices until it reached the intended recipient.

According to Gear Patrol, goTenna has updates the software that runs the Mesh model, bringing a couple of nice new features to the gadget. The first of those features is the ability to send an SOS alert out to anyone else using the device in the area, letting them know that someone is in need of help. This could obviously come in very handy in the backcountry, although the goTenna has proven itself useful in urban settings too, particularly in emergency situations.

The update also brings a new beta feature that will definitely be appreciated by Mesh users. The new software upgrade the device allowing messages to "hop" six times, rather than three, effectively doubling the range that data can be sent. Previously, any text messages sent could pass through three Mesh units in search of the proper recipient. With this new feature, it will be able to go much further, at least in theory.

I've found the goTenna to be a great device for use not just in the backcountry, where cell networks don't exist, but also when traveling in other parts of the world. If you don't want to pay for a costly cellphone connection, the goTenna will allow you to stay connected with others in your group for free. This can come in very handy when looking to meet up or just making plans.

The goTenna Mesh sells for $179 and includes two units. Find out more here.

Karakoram Summer 2018: K2 and Broad Peak Summit Schedule Begins to Take Shape

It has already been a long and challenging season in the Karakoram, where poor weather and heavy snow have made things challenging so far. This is especially true for the Japanese team led by Akira Oyabe, who were the first ones to reach the mountain this year and have been waiting the longest for a clear weather window. But if the forecasts are to be believed, things will start to improve late next week, clearing the way for potential summit bids at last. 

Our clearest picture of the schedule ahead comes from Dawa Sherpa at Seven Summits Treks. He tells us that the support Sherpas have fixed the ropes up to Camp 4 today after coming within 150 meters (492 feet) yesterday. The weather has reportedly been very good over the past few days and is expected to remain that way for two more days, after which things get a bit unstable again. 

Looking into next week however, the forecast calls for high winds reaching 60-80 km/h (37-50 mph) higher up on the slopes. Those conditions are expected to last through the weekend before things start to calm down a bit at the start of next week. By next Thursday, the weather looks to improve dramatically, potentially opening the door for the summit push to get underway. Dawa says that all summit bids will take place no earlier than the July 19, setting the stage for the traditional late-July, early-August window.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Video: Kilian Jornet Runs the Bob Graham Round in Record Time

A few days back we shared the story of Spanish mountain runner Kilian Jornet breaking a 36 year old running record in the Lake District of the U.K. Rounding into form after suffering a broken leg this past spring, Jornet managed to cover the 62 mile (100 km) route, which features 42 individual peaks, in 12 hours and 52 minutes. In the video below, we'll join him out on the trail as he goes for this impressive record. You'll get a chance to see Kilian in action and see the terrain that he took on as part of this adventure. If I didn't already have the utmost respect for his accomplishments, this clip would certainly add to it.

Video: A Wingsuit Flight Through A Cloud Cave

It's been awhile since we've seen a good wingsuit video, but this one is certainly worth a look. In part because it features some great views and action, but also because it was captured using the new GoPro Overcapture feature. This technology allows filmmakers to use the GoPro Fusion camera to capture footage in all directions, than stitch it together to create a seamless experience. This means you'll never miss a shot, and can result in some amazing footage as you'll see here. Impressive technology for sure.

Adventures in Malawi: The Hidden Gem That is Lake Malwai

If you read the first part of the account of my recent trip to the African country of Malawi, you know that I was struck by how friendly and accommodating the country is. I've been to Africa numerous times, and while the people in the other countries I've been to have always been extremely welcoming, Malawi took that friendliness to a whole new level. In the early days of the trip, as I was still getting introduced to the country, it was one of the best takeaways.

When I left off in my story, we had left the capital city of Lilongwe behind and were making our way through the countryside, which was surprisingly green, diverse, and lovely. Our destination for the day was a place called the Blue Zebra Island Lodge, located on Marelli Island archipelago. Our guide from the Malawi Department of Tourism explained all of this to us when we had set out from our hotel that morning, but none of us really knew what to expect. As it turns out, we were in for another big surprise.

Stretching more than 350 miles (560 km) in length, Lake Malawi resembles one of the great lengths in the U.S. in terms of size and scope. It is the ninth largest lake in the world and the third largest in Africa, making it a resource that few other countries on the continent can match. Because of this, travelers come from all over to enjoy the setting, which includes crystal clear water, stunning sunsets, and refreshing water temperatures, even during the austral winter.

After a couple of hours drive out of Lilongwe, we arrived on the shores of the lake where a boat waited to pick us up and whisk us off to the Blue Zebra. After wading out into the water, hopping on board, and getting settled, we were off. It took about 15 minutes to reach Marelli Island, with some surprisingly choppy waves making for a fun trip across the lake. Before long however, we were exiting the boat onto a wooden dock and walkway taking us to the lodge where once again we were greeted warmly.

Long Distance Swimmer Lewis Pugh Attempting the Length of the English Channel

Literally hundreds of people have made the swim across the English Channel, the stretch of water that separates the U.K. from Europe. At its narrowest point, the channel is just 21 miles (33 km) wide, making it a formidable, but surmountable challenge. So when I heard that long distance swimmer Lewis Pugh was attempting to swim this iconic body of water I wondered what the big deal was. After all, Pugh had already taken on plenty of other swimming challenges, many of which are considerably longer than the Channel. It was right about then that I learned that he wasn't swimming across the English Channel, but the length of it instead. Knowing what I knew about Pugh, that made much more sense.
Today, the endurance swimmer launched what he calls The Long Swim, during which he will attempt to cover the entire 560 km (347 miles) of the Channel in just 50 days. In typical Pugh fashion, he'll do so wearing just his swim cap, goggles, and a pair of speedos. If you're not familiar with his previous swimming endeavors, Lewis makes it a habit to swim in the coldest water wearing the minimal amount of gear imaginable. This has led him to take chilly dips in the Southern Ocean and even a glacial lake in the shadow of Everest.

Pugh began his swimming challenge by jumping in the Channel near Land's End in the U.K. Over the next few weeks he'll make his way towards his finishing spot in Dover. Along the way he'll face cold water, plenty of shipping traffic, strong waves, and dangerous currents. In order to meet his goals, he'll need to cover roughly 11.2 km (7 miles) per day –– each and every day –– to finish on time in August.

The purpose for Pugh's long distance swim is to raise awareness for the challenges that face the Earth's oceans. Between climate change and increasing amount of plastics and other trash, the oceans are reaching a critical phase. Sea creatures are being threatened, habitats are being destroyed, and the impact of humans is stretching to the most remote corners of the globe. Pugh would like to see that changed and his ultimate goal it to have 30% of the planet's oceans receive protected status. That's a pretty tall order, but one that is certainly worth fighting for.

You'll be able to follow Pugh's progress throughout his swim on his website. If all goes as planned, he should wrap up the expedition in late August.

Karakoram Summer 2018: Climber Perishes on Gasherbrum IV, Progress on K2

There is more sad news to report from the Karakoram today as it was revealed that Italian climber Maurizio Giordano has died on Gasherbrum IV. He was part of a team of four who were attempting the 7925 meter (26,001 ft) peak this summer and was struck be a large piece of ice that broke free above him and tumbled down the mountain. Giordano was pronounced dead on the scene, although his teammates escaped without serious injury.

The group was apparently making an acclimatization rotation when the accident occurred at 6300 meters (20,669 ft). They had been preparing to attempt a repeat of the same route used by Walter Bonatti and Carlo Mauri in celebration of the 60th anniversary of that historic climb along GIV's Northeast Ridge.

Our condolences go out to Maurizio's friends and family, as well as the other teams still on GIV. Several teams remain on that mountain, including a squad consisting of Adam BieleckiJacek Czech, and Felix Berg who are attempting a new route along the East Face, and David Göttler and Hervé Barmasse hope to do the same on the Southwest Face.

Meanwhile, over on K2 progress is being made. The Sherpa teams have established Camp 3 on the mountain and have begun fixing ropes up to C4 as well. The Madison Mountaineering team checked in from Base Camp yesterday where the entire squad is resting following their acclimatization rotations up to Camp 2, but they also report their support team is busy shuttling gear to the high camps in preparation for summit bids. When the summit push will begin remains anyone's guess, but Dawa Sherpa of Seven Summits Treks reports a window of stable weather in the forecast for July 19-23, which may be when teams go on the move.

Speaking of K2, extreme mountain skier Andrzej Bargiel has arrived on the mountain and has begun his preliminary rotations up the mountain to scout the slopes. As you may recall, Bargiel is hoping to make the first ski descent of the world's second highest peak. Last year he made the same attempt but was turned back due to poor weather and significant avalanche danger. He's hoping to have more luck this season.

Finally, Fredrik Sträng checked in from Broad Peak yesterday where he was making a summit push of his own. The team climbed directly to C3 carrying loads of gear with the thought of resting there prior to going for the top. But deep snow above that point on the mountain changed their minds. The group descended back to BC where they are now resting prior to departing for K2.

That's all for today. More news soon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Video: The Secrets of Nahanni Expedition Teaser Trailer

This intriguing two-minute clip takes us into an incredibly remote – almost forgotten – region of Canada to explore a way-off-the-beaten-path section of that vast country. In the video, we join a team of expedition paddlers who embark on a journey through a place called the "Valley of the Headless Men" in search of myths, legends, and actual history as kept alive by the oral histories of the local indigenous tribes. What we get here is an all-too fleeting glimpse of this largely unexplored region, with the promise of more to come when a full documentary is released soon.

Video: Crossing the Sahara Desert by Rail

Trains have been a staple of travel and commerce for more than 150 years. So much so, that today we almost take them for granted. But one railway through Mauritania remains a workhorse, carrying iron ore through one of the most remote sections of the planet. This video tells the story of this unexpected train system, taking us to the wilds of the Sahara Desert where the landscapes are stark, beautiful, and harsh.

The Adventure Podcast Episode 25: How to Save Some Cash When Buying Outdoor Gear

For this week's episode of The Adventure Podcast we thought we would tackle a topic that all of us can appreciate – how to save some cash when buying new gear. Everyone loves new equipment for use in our outdoor adventures, but replacing our dependable old gear with new stuff costs a lot of money. We offer some good tips on how to keep a little of that cash in your bank account when it is time to go shopping.

Before we get into that subject however, we also talk Tour de France, climbing in the Karakoram, and driving an electric vehicle across Africa, amongst other topics. Of course, we also wrap up the show with some new outdoor products to have on your radar, including a great new photography-focused backpack and a high-tech water bottle.

As usual, you can find the show on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, and Spotify. I've also embedded the episode at the bottom of this blog post for those who want to listen to the show directly from their browser.

Have thoughts, comments, or just want to share a good story? You can reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter, or by email. We love hearing from our listeners and we greatly appreciate you tuning in to check out what we're up to. Thanks a bunch!

UNESCO Names 19 New World Heritage Sites

The U.S. may have withdrawn from UNESCO, but the organization tasked with overseeing cultural, scientific, and educational efforts, continues to pursue those efforts nonetheless. One of the major parts of the program is to designate UNESCO Heritage Sites around the world, spotlighting locations that hold significant historical, cultural, or natural importance. Recently, the committee tasked with naming those sites met in Manama, Bahrain for their 42nd conference where they designated 19 new additions to the list, bringing the total number to more than a thousand across the globe.

National Geographic has a rundown of each of these 19 new World Heritage Sites, with photos included of course. Some of the new sites include a chain of volcanic peaks in France, a 4200-year old archaeological site in Greenland, and a series of Buddhist monasteries found in Korea. Other locations include Fanjingshan – the highest peak in the Wuling Mountains of China – and a spectacular national park in Colombia, as well as Germany's Naumburg Cathedral and hidden Christian sites in the Nagasaki region of Japan.

As usual, these places are all fascinating in their own right. Many are spectacularly beautiful, while others offer stunning insights into our past. Protecting these places for future generations seems like a no-brainer and it is always interesting to see what new locations earn the UNESCO designation. Many of these places are unknown to most of the rest of the world, so when recognized by the organization they often receive a level of protection that they wouldn't have otherwise. They also tend to become popular destinations for travelers, which can help generate income for local communities as well.

Check out Nat Geo's coverage of the new World Heritage Sites here.

Trio of Explorers Attempting First Summer Traverse of the Arctic Ocean

Three explorers have set off on a difficult, but potentially groundbreaking, expedition that has them attempting to sail across the Arctic Ocean at the height of summer. The team left Alaska a few weeks back and if successful they hope to cover more than 3000 km (1864 miles) en route to Spitsbergen in Norway.

Dubbed the Quest Through the Poles expedition, the team is made up of veteran explorers Vincent Colliard, Sébastien Roubinet and Eric André, each of whom has plenty of experience wandering the remote places of our planet. For instance, Colliard has embarked on an ambitious project with polar legend Borge Ousland that will see the two men ski across the 20 largest ice caps in the world. Roubinet has spent plenty of time out on the water in the Arctic Ocean, having sailed the Northwest Passage and attempted this particular journey on two previous occasions. Meanwhile, André has explored large sections of the world by bike and was part of the Northwest Passage journey too.

The expedition has several goals, not the least of which is to demonstrate that the Arctic Ocean is almost completely navigable during the summer these days, thanks to climate change and global warming. It also remains the only ocean that hasn't been crossed in a sailboat, and the team hopes to do that, passing by the North Pole while on their way to their final destination. Along the way, they plan to collect samples of the ice for analysis of the impact of changing atmospheric conditions.

The three men are traveling aboard a custom made catamaran that was built to survive in the Arctic. The hull of the ship is built from innegra and basalt, which is said to make it strong enough to take on the cold, ice-choked waters that are found at the top of the world. Roubinet also reportedly created a new method for generating power while traveling too, which in theory should keep their communications systems and other devices working throughout the journey. The vessel is also light enough that it can be dragged across the ice if need be as well.

According to ExWeb, Roubinet first attempted this journey back in 2011 but he and his partner Vincent Berther turned back when their onboard power system failed. He and Colliard than tried again in 2013, but their ship got stuck in the ice at 82ºN and they had to be rescued by a Russian icebreaker. They're hoping that now they'll be able to complete the full journey in what is sure to be a bittersweet success story. They'll go into the record books as the first men to sail across the Arctic Ocean, but in doing so they'll demonstrate just how much damage climate change has actually done.

You can find out more and get updates to the Quest Through the Poles expedition on the team's official website.

TEASER - La voie arctique from Aloest on Vimeo.