Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Video: New Zealand: Mountains to Sea

The landscapes of New Zealand are captured incredibly well in this short video which takes us across some of that country's most wild places on a journey from the mountains to the sea. Timelapse imagery captures the natural beauty that New Zealand is so well known for, and it puts it prominently on display for viewers. This is a visual travelogue of a place that is known for its outdoor adventures.

Mountains to Sea from Stephen Patience Photography on Vimeo.

Video: Joshua Tree - More Than Just A Park

Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most spectacular landscapes that I've ever had the honor of witnessing. It is a wild place filled with rolling desert, immense rocks, and a surprising amount of wildlife. The essence of Joshua Tree is captured oh-so well in this video, which was shot as part of the More Than Just Parks Project, in which filmmakers Will and Jim Pattiz have embarked on a journey to create a short film documenting every national park in the U.S. Beautiful and haunting, this clip will definitely put Joshua Tree on your list of must visit places.

MTJP | Joshua Tree from More Than Just Parks on Vimeo.

CheapTents Interviews Explorer Mikael Strandberg

Way back in 2008 CheapTents.com conducted an interview with Swedish explorer Mikael Strandberg. At the time, Mikael had already racked up an impressive string of expeditions that included a 3000 km (1864 mile) journey across Patagonia on horseback, as well a 1000 km (620 mile) expedition on foot across the Maasai Mara in Africa. He also had explored Siberia by skies and canoe, as well as cycled from Chile to Alaska, amongst other journeys. Now, seven years later, CheapTents has posted a follow-up interview where they discover that Mikael hasn't been resting on his laurels. 

In the interview, Mikael talks about his return to Siberia, where he traveled amongst the Reindeer People who inhabit that cold and desolate region. The explorer talks about the challenges of preparing for such a journey. For instance, he put on 20 kilos (44 pounds) of weight to better adapt to the cold, but found himself out of shape an unable to move has quickly and easily as he would typically like. Mikael also talks candidly about his experiences in this remote area, where the nomadic way of life is becoming increasingly rarer. 

Switching gears from the frozen wilds of Siberia to the hot deserts of Yemen, Strandberg also traveled by foot through the Empty Quarter. Of that journey, Mikael says "The Yemenis are among the friendliest, warmest and nicest people on earth. And it deserves better than some poor job done by Western media just looking to sensationalize things." Clearly his experience there was far different than the stories we are generally fed through traditional outlets. 

Mikael goes on to share insights on the different challenges of traveling through extremely cold and extremely hot environments, his interactions with the people that he meets along the way, and what it was like to conduct a long-distance expedition across England. All in all, it is very interesting an eye-opening interview that I'm sure many of you will enjoy. 

Kilimanjaro Climb for Valor 2015: The Route

This article is the first in a new series about my recent Kilimanjaro climb. In the days ahead, I'll be sharing several articles about the experience to help readers prepare for a potential trek of their own in the future. 

As many of you already know, there are a number of routes that trekkers can use to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. Those routes include Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe and Machame. Each of them includes unique characteristics and features which makes them stand out from one another. For instance, the Marangu route is generally considered the easiest – relatively speaking – and features a series of huts for climbers to stay in along the way. As a result, it is often more crowded as well, which can certainly have an impact on the experience. On the other hand, the Machame route is widely regarded as the most scenic, although it is is also very challenging and steep. Each of the others have their own benefits and drawbacks, depending on the experience you most want to get out of the climb.

When selecting the route for the Climb for Valor, the team at Tusker Trail decided that they wanted to do something a little different. The idea was to give the climbers on our team a complete unique look at the mountain, along a route that is seldom hiked. We began by entering Kilimanjaro National Park at the Londorossi Gate and proceeding up the traditional Lemosho Route along the western flanks of the mountain. At that stage of the climb we were passing through rainforest, with the trail meandering up to our first campsite located at Mti Mkubwa at about 2795 meters (9170 ft).

The next day we continued upwards out of the forest and entered a new vegetation zone dominated by overgrown heather. At that point, we were still following the Lemosho Route up to Shira Plateau, which afforded us our first truly great look at the mountain. From that vantage point it appeared impossibly tall and still very far away, but Kilimanjaro now loomed over us, giving us a clear idea of what we had come to do. We camped that night at Shira Camp, which is located at 3505 meters (11,500 ft).

On Day three we began to divert from the Lemosho Route at last and ventured out onto the all-but abandoned Northern Circuit of the mountain. At this point, we left all other teams behind and had the trail completely to ourselves. While we weren't exactly overwhelmed with crowds along the trail, it was refreshing to have the place to ourselves. After a full day of hiking to the Moir Camp (4164 meters/13,660 ft), Kili seemed much closer. It became abundantly clear that the summit was indeed an obtainable objective, and soon we would start to head up in ernest.

Alan Arnette Officially Announces Lhotse Expedition, Shares Gear For Everest

Back in early January, Alan Arnette announced his intention to become just the second American to climb all 14 of the world's 8000 meter peaks. Having already successfully topped out on Everest, Manaslu, and K2, he will now set his sights on the remaining 11 mountains starting with Lhotse this spring. The initiative is part of Alan's ongoing efforts to raise awareness and funds to fight Alzheimer's, an affliction that he has a very personal connection with having lost his mother to the disease a few years back. To date, his efforts have reached more than 50 million people, and he had raised $250,000 for the Cure Alzheimer's Fund. With Project 8000, he hopes to raise those numbers to 100 million and $1 million respectively.

This spring Alan will travel to Nepal where he'll be attempting to summit Lhotse, the 8516 meter (27,940 ft) neighbor to Everest. In fact, the two mountains are so close that they share much of the same route to the top, as mountaineers go up the Lhotse Face before diverting in separate directions. Much of the climb will be very familiar to Alan, who has spent plenty of time on Everest in the past. This should make his climb a bit easier, as he won't be facing a completely new experience while scaling this Himalayan giant.

Alan will depart the U.S. on March 30 and soon there after he'll begin blogging about his adventure both from the trail, and Everest Base Camp. Throughout the spring, we'll be able to get some very candid and personal dispatches from the climb, which should make for a very enjoyable experience for those that follow along. Alan writes with an engaging style that makes it fun to follow his efforts, and I'm sure he'll keep readers posted about any and all developments on the mountain.

Speaking of Everest, we're now just a month away from climbers setting out for Kathmandu, and in the days ahead they will be frantically packing all of their gear and preparing for the challenge ahead. Just what equipment they bring with them is crucial to their comfort on the mountain, and eventual success on a summit bid in late May or early June. With that in mind, Alan has also written a very interesting blog post about the gear that he takes with him on his expeditions. The story includes his selections for warm sleeping bags, boots, gloves, packs, and more. If you've ever wondered about what gear is best for an Everest climb, than you'll certainly want to give this article a read. He also shared the video below, which is a couple of years old, but also gives us some insights into the gear situation for climbing in the Himalaya.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Video: Exploring the Himalaya by Motorbike

Looking for a dose of inspiration to pursue your adventurous ambitions? Then look no further than this video, which features five French women who set out to traverse the Himalaya by motorbike. What started out as a whim turned into a grand adventure, taking them into some very remote, and spectacularly beautiful, areas. This is just Part 1 of their story. If you like what you see, you can check out Part 2 and Part 3 as well. Truly great stuff.

L'équipée en Himalaya - Episode 1/3 from l'équipée on Vimeo.

Video: Wingsuit Flight Over Kilimanjaro

In keeping with our Kilimanjaro theme today, we have this video which features wingsuit pilot and BASE jumper Valery Rozov flying off the top of Africa's highest peak. As you can imagine, the views are spectacular, and the flight is an impressive one. Hard to believe I was just on this mountain a few days ago. Enjoy!

Aconcagua Speed Record Smashed Again!

It seems I missed quite a bit while I was away.

Back in December, Spanish mountain runner Kilian Jornet impressed us all with his amazing run up and down Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America at 6962 meters (22,841 ft). At the time, Jornet destroyed the old record by more than three hours, posting a total time for the roundtrip at 12 hours and 49 minutes. As impressive as that effort was however, the new speed record was short lived, as it has already been broken by another very talented mountain athlete.

According to reports, Ecuadorian-Swiss sky runner Karl Egloff shaved nearly an hour off Jornet's time, by running to the summit and back in a mind-blowing 11 hours and 52 minutes. Both men used the same route up and down the mountain, covering some 40 km (25 miles), and notching up 4062 meters (13,327 ft) of vertical gain in the process.

While not quite as well known as Jornet, Egloff continues to add to his impressive resume. Back in 2013, the Spaniard ran up and down Kilimanjaro in just 7 hours and 14 minutes. Egloff would later break that record as well, besting Jornet by more than 30 minutes.

It seems that Jornet has a rival to keep him on his toes at long last. The Spanish runner is busy preparing to attempt a speed record on Everest this spring, and is probably completely focused on that  effort. Both of these men are supreme mountain athletes of course, and I'd love to see them compete head-to-head on a trail with one another. For now though, we'll probably have to be satisfied with each of them pushing harder on these speed record runs.

Winter Climbs 2015: Bad Weather Thwarts Summit Bid on Nanga Parbat

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

While I was off climbing the tallest mountain in Africa, the combined international team of Alex Txikon, Daniele Nardi, and their Iranian and Pakistani companions have continued to work very hard on completing the first ever winter ascent of Nanga Parbat. Overt he weekend, the team launched a summit bid at last, but true to form, bad weather set in, forcing the entire squad to return to Base Camp, with at least a few of the climbers deciding to head home.

According to a report from ExWeb, the team abandoned their summit push on day two after finding the route was altered dramatically by a recent snowstorm that dumped plenty of powder on the mountain. The mountaineers were able to proceed above Camp 1 but discovered waist-deep snow and encountered several small avalanches, which convinced them it was time to turn back at 5300 meters (17,388 ft).

With unstable conditions prominent on Nanga Parbat at the moment, Alex and Daniele have decided to wait for another weather window before attempting a second summit push. Exactly when that attempt will begin remains a mystery at this time however.

Discretion being the better part of valor, the Iranian team consisting of Reza Bahadorani, Iraj Maani and Mahmood Hashemi have decided that Nanga is simply too unsafe to proceed this year. After surveying the intended route up the mountain, the trio have elected to pull the plug on their expedition and are now preparing to head home. With excessive amounts of snow and the growing threat of avalanche danger, they feel that it is simply too unsafe to proceed.

Meanwhile, over on Manaslu, Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger are stuck in Base Camp as they wait for the weather to clear as well. They arrived on the mountain amidst good conditions a few weeks back, and were quickly able to establish Camp 1 at 5220 meters (17,125 ft), but since then the weather has taken a turn for the worse, preventing them from moving upwards. Heavy snows continue to fall on the mountain, making it very difficult to proceed.

For each of these winter climbs the click is now ticking. With the calendar now officially turned to March, there are just three more weeks of winter remaining. That is plenty of time to launch another summit bid on Nanga Parbat, but on Manaslu conditions are going to have to be exactly right for Simone and Tamara to have a crack at the top. Their late start has put them behind schedule, and now it seems unlikely that they'll get the chance to actually make a summit push. Of course, anything can happen, and three weeks is still plenty of time, but the weather will have to stabilize dramatically for them to have a true chance.

Stay tuned for more updates soon.

Back From Kilimanjaro!

After a two-week absence, I returned home from Africa this past weekend, and have been trying desperately to shake both a nasty cough and persistent jet lag. That said, the trip was an excellent one,  that culminated with a successful summit of the Kilimanjaro a week ago. You'll be hearing a lot more about this trip in the days ahead, but for now just know that it was an amazing experience in large part because of my friends at Tusker Trail, the biggest operator on Kili that clearly demonstrated why they are the best option for climbing the mountain.

It should be noted that this was my second go around on Kilimanjaro, and while I have nothing bad to say about the previous company I climbed with, Tusker was head and shoulders above the competition. There were a number of small touches that set Tusker apart from the crowd, including twice-daily medical checks to ensure that the team was in top form, and some of the best food you could ever ask for while on a high-altitude trek. It's no secret that loss of appetite is one of the major side effects of hiking in the mountains, but thanks to consistently delicious, and surprisingly complex, meals, it was definitely a lot easier to take in the calories you need to push your way up to the summit.

I was fortunate enough to be a part of Tusker's first ever Climb for Valor, which was used as a fundraising effort for the Duskin & Stephens Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to creating scholarships for the children of fallen U.S. servicemen that have served in the special forces. On the climb I joined two active-duty soldiers who suffered wounds while serving their country, as well as three widows who lost their husbands in the line of duty as well. Hearing their individual stories only magnified my perception of these very brave men and women, realizing that each of them has sacrificed a great deal for their country.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Adventure Blog on Hiatus, Heading to Kilimanjaro!

Just a quick note to round out the week to let everyone know that The Adventure Blog will be going on hiatus for a couple of weeks. Tomorrow I'll catch a flight to Tanzania, where I'll be returning to Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa at 5895 meters (19,341 ft). As you can probably imagine, I'm looking forward to being back in Africa – always one of my favorite places to visit – and taking a hike up Kili. It should be an amazing trip to an amazing part of the world.

This time out, I'll be climbing the mountain with Tusker Trail as part of their Climb for Valor. This very special climb is being conducted to raise funds and awareness of the Duskin & Stephens Foundation, an organization dedicated to support the families of fallen members of the U.S. special forces. The team that I'll be trekking with has worked hard to raise more than $100,000 for this cause,    and now they'll celebrate by going on one of the toughest, yet very rewarding, hikes in the entire world.

I am very fortunate to be a part of this group, and when I return I'll be sharing stories from the climb, as well my own personal experiences on Kili. I am familiar with the mountain from a previous visit, but I am looking forward to going back and taking on the challenge once again.

For those not familiar with Tusker, they are one of the trekking companies in the world, and have been leading groups up Kilimanjaro for nearly 40 years. I'll actually be climbing with Tusker's founder, Eddie Frank, who has more than 50 Kili summits on his resume. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to climb to the Roof of Africa, and I can't wait to share the experience with readers once I get back. You can be assured that I'll have plenty to say about the trip upon my return.

In the meantime, I hope everyone gets outside and has a few adventures of their own in my absence. I'll be back before you know it, and with plenty of stories to tell I'm sure.

While I'm gone, I'll be turning off comments on this blog. It never fails that while I'm away someone ends up posting hundreds of spam comments that I have a difficult time tracking down when I return. To avoid that, I'll switch off the ability to comment on posts for the time being, but will turn them back on once I'm home.

Take care, and talk to you all soon!

Video: Day+Dream Nepal

Ever wonder what a day spent trekking the Himalaya of Nepal is like? Than this video is definitely for you. It encapsulates that experience very nicely, boiling it down to a two-and-a-half minute clip that captures the essence of a hike in the big mountains oh so well. Shot in the Khumbu Valley on the trek to Everest Base Camp, this is a wonderful little slice of life from that region of the world.

day+dream (NEPAL) from Brian Lewis on Vimeo.

Video: Valentine Wingsuiting in the Alps of France

To celebrate Valentine's Day a bit early, professional wingsuit pilots Sam Hardy and Nate Jones scaled a 2525 meter (8284 ft) peak at the Brevent in Chamonix, France. They then proceeded to leap off the cliff, and sailed back down the mountain in grand style. This video is the record of that flight, which includes some fantastic views of the surrounding countryside covered in winter snow. It is a beautiful part of the world, and it is understandable why Chamonix is so popular with BASE jumpers and wingsuiters.

Controversy Brewing Over Alleged South Pole Speed Record

There seems to be some controversy brewing over an alleged speed record for skiing to the South Pole. ExWeb is reporting that adventurer Martin Szwed has made claims to various media outlets saying that he broke the speed record for skiing solo across Antarctica. Apparently, Szwed is saying that he not only beat the current record held by Christian Eide, but that he did so by nearly ten days. The problem is, there doesn't seem to be any record of this amazing feat.

According to recent claims by Szwed, he was in the Antarctic this past season to climb Mt. Vinson and ski to the South Pole. His summit of Mt. Vinson has been confirmed to ExWeb by officials at ANI/ALE, who supported him on that venture. But after he finished climbing, Szwed says that he then launched his ski expedition – presumably from the Russian Novo station – which he was then able to complete in 14 days, 18 hours, and 43 minutes. Eide's amazing record, which was set back in 2011, is an impressive 24 days, 1 hour, and 13 minutes.

To further cast doubt on his expedition, Szwed has told various media outlets that he skied 1192 km, 1280 km, and 1300 km. Those varying distances have further helped to call his story into question. He also claims to have used three supply depots along the way, which as ExWeb points out would invalidate his "solo" claim to any speed record.

To put this in perspective, in order to cover the distance that Szwed is claiming, he would have to cover more than 86 km (53 miles) each and every day in tough conditions, while pulling a heavy sled. That would be an incredibly difficult task for sure. ExWeb calls it "herculean," which seems fitting.

Winter Climbs 2015: Nanga Teams Retreat to BC, Moro Departs for Nepal

There is more news from Nanga Parbat today, where the combined international team of Alex Txikon, Daniele Nardi, local climbers Muhammad Ali "Sadpara" and Muhammad Kahn, along with the Iranian squad, have retreated back to Base Camp after establishing Camp 3 on the mountain. The group had been working for five straight days to establish the route and shuttle gear, and are now ready to rest and regain some strength before heading up again.

According to reports, C3 was installed at 6700 meters (21,981 ft) where at least three of the climbers spent the night as part of their acclimatization. They then fixed ropes above that point, but were unable to reach Camp 4 before deciding it was time to descend. The entire squad is still working on acclimating to the altitude, with the exception of Nardi who has been on Nanga for more than a month now.

Dispatches indicate that Txikon and the other late arrivals are in need of some rest, so they'll spend at least a few days in BC now to let their bodies recover. The forecasts indicate that the weather should be good through the weekend, with storms arriving on the mountain on Sunday. That means that there is no weather window for the next few days, which will limit their efforts. In fact, the forecast calls for poor weather for most of next week, with possibly a meter of snow being dropped on the slopes of Nanga Parbat. For now, the teams will just have to wait to see if and when they'll get another chance.

Meanwhile, Italian climber Simone Moro is preparing to set out for Nepal. He'll leave tomorrow to begin his winter expedition in the Himalaya. He will be joined on the climb by talented alpinist Tamara Lunger, who summited K2 without oxygen this past summer.

The duo have set their sighs on the 8163 meter (26,781 ft) Manaslu, which they hope to link with Manaslu East, a peak that is an impressive 7992 meters (26,220 ft) in height. The hope is to complete the climb before the end of winter, which means they'll have roughly 35 days to top out. Both are said to have already been acclimatizing prior to their departure, with the plan of eventually making an alpine style attempt on the two summits once they have scouted the route.

Finally, there have been no updates yet from Andy Kirkpatrick, who had intended to set off for Denali to complete a solo summit of that mountain in February. The latest updates to the Brit's Facebook and Twitter pages indicate that he was heading off on an expedition, but there has been radio silence for the past eight days. Hopefully he is now in Alaska and prepping for the climb, but at this point it is unclear what his plans are.

That's all for today. It looks like things will be kind of quiet for the next few days at least as the weather on Nanga sorts itself out, and Simone and Tamara make their way to the mountain. We'll have more updates soon as the news warrants.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Video: Mountain Biking the Blue Derby Trail in Tasmania

If this video is any indication, the sleepy little town of Derby – located in Tasmania, Australia – is about to see an influx of visitors. In recent months, trail builders have been working hard to complete the first set of mountain biking trails in the area, and the results look spectacular. The new Blue Derby Trails are already world-class routes, and are only going to get better from here. The short clip below will give you an indication of just how good they are, and will leave you planning a trip to visit Derby yourself.

Video: A 10k Timelapse Demo

Remember when we all use to get excited about 1080p HD video? Now, while everyone is busy talking about 4k resolutions, the filmmakers behind this demo have made the leap to 10k. Shot with a camera that is capable of collecting 80 megapixel images that provide a stunning resolution of 10327x7760 pixels. In the short film we get a glimpse of what this looks like with some fantastic timelapse images shot in and around Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. The sense of scale is very impressive, with details that will blow you away. If this is the future of video, I can't wait for it to get here.

10328x7760 - A 10K Timelapse Demo from SCIENTIFANTASTIC on Vimeo.

Video: 50 Great Things About Northwest Rivers From a Kid's Perspective

A few days back American Rivers, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the waterways of the U.S., released this great video. It features a young man by the name of Parker who shares his 50 favorite things about the rivers of the Northwest. It is filled with fun images that I'm sure many of us can relate to, and for some of us the outdoors still make us feel like children from time to time. That is a special feeling indeed.

Freya Hoffmeister Reaches Rio in South American Circumnavigation Kayak Expedition

It has been far too long since we last checked in on the progress of Freya Hoffmeister, the German paddler who has spent the better part of the past four years kayaking around South America. A few days ago Freya reached a major milestone on her quest to circle her second continent when she reached Rio De Janeiro in Brazil. She is now ready to start the final leg of the journey, which will return her to her starting point in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Freya reached Rio on February 8 and has already returned to the water as she continues her slow, methodical march towards the finish line. So far she has spent 775 days on this expedition, of which roughly 550 have been spent out on the water. To date she has covered approximately 24,400 km (15,160 miles), averaging roughly 45 km (28 miles) per day. It has of course been grueling at times, with plenty of unique challenges, but the latest leg of the journey has seen improved conditions. She now finds herself with beautiful beaches to camp on most nights, and the heat and humidity has dropped in recent days as well. 

You may recall that Freya became the first woman to kayak around Australia a few years back, completing that expedition in record time no less. She was able to complete that voyage in 322 days, of which 245 were spent paddling. That journey included a 575 km (371 mile) open water crossing across the Gulf of Carpentaria that managed to shave days and kilometers off of her time. The only other person to have completed a circumnavigation of Australia is New Zealander Paul Caffyn, who did it 361 days.

After wrapping up that impressive expedition, Freya took some time off before deciding what she wanted to do next. She didn't stay at home for too long however, and in August of 2011 she set out on her attempt to circumnavigate South America. The journey first took her south along the Atlantic Coast, where she eventually rounded the treacherous Cape Horn. From there, she passed into the Pacific and turned north, eventually passing through the Panama Canal. She has since been making her way back along the Atlantic side of the continent as she pushes towards Buenos Aires once again.

At this point, she is approximately 2300 km (1430 miles) from the finish line. If she maintains her average speed, she should return to her starting point in early April. We will of course keep an eye on her progress as she nears the end of what is turning out to be yet another impressive padding expedition. 

Nat Geo Names Aleksander Doba 2015 People's Choice Adventurer of the Year

The votes are in and the results have been tabulated. Yesterday, National Geographic announced that Polish kayaker Aleksander Doba has been named the 2015 People's Choice Adventurer of the Year. The 67-year old earned international acclaim after he spent 6 months alone in a kayak paddling from Lisbon, Portugal to New Smyrna Beach in Florida, covering some 7700 miles (12,390 km) in the process). In doing so, he became the only person to kayak across complete a fully journey by kayak across the Atlantic completely alone and unassisted.

Doba was one of 14 people who earned the honor of being named National Geographic Adventurers of the Year. Other honorees for 2015 include mountaineer Ueli Steck, skier Kit DesLauriers, and rock climber Tommy Caldwell, who recently was a part of the team that made the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall in Yosemite. Others include blind kayakers Erik Weihenmayer and Lonnie Bedwell, as well as long distance swimmer Lewis Pugh.

The 2015 class of Adventurers of the Year were announced back in December, when an online poll was placed on the National Geographic Adventure website asking readers to weigh in with their thoughts on who should get the People's Choice Award. Since then, more 521,000 votes have been cast, Doba receiving the most of any of the nominees.

The Polish paddler started kayaking at the age of 34, and has already completed one crossing of the Atlantic. Back in 2010-2011 he traveled from South Africa to South America by kayak as well. This time out his intended course was expected to cover 5400 miles (8690 km). But severe storms and equipment failure pushed him off course, extended the journey further than he had expected.

Congratulations to Aleksander on earning this honor. His story is a good one, and I can see why it appeals to so many people. All of the nominees were very worthy of being called Adventurers of the Year, but he was able to rise above the competition and take home the People's Choice Award.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Video: Ingress - Transitions in Joshua Tree

This short, but very beautiful, video was shot in Joshua Tree National Park and features some stunning transitions from various time periods throughout the day. The movement of shadows and light across the landscapes are wonderfully displayed in timelapse, giving viewers a nice sense of the place. If you have never been to Joshua Tree, it should be on your list of National Parks to get to at some point. It is a lovely place filled with opportunities for adventure.

Ingress – Beginning of a Transit from kai.gradert@gmail.com on Vimeo.

Video: Bouldering in Swaziland

South Africa is an amazing country for climbers, and over the past decade or so has become well known for its bouldering too. Apparently that reputation extends into nearby Swaziland as well, as this video takes us there to show us its amazing potential. The video was shot in the summer of 2014, when climbers Nalle Hukkataival and Jimmy Webb went to Swaziland to explore its climbing options for themselves. What they found was very impressive indeed.

Video: I Lived in Aconcagua

While back I posted a video from filmmaker Guido Patrignani in which he trekked through the Himalaya while Counting Stars. Now, he's back with another fun video, this time taking us on a hike up Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in South America. As in his previous video, Guido is singing all the way, while the fantastic scenery of Argentina is revealed around him. Check out his latest fun clip below and get a sense of what it is like on one of the Seven Summits.

I Lived in Aconcagua by guidopat

Prominent Mountaineers Making Plans For Spring Himalayan Expeditions

The winter climbing season is still in full swing, but already some of the more prominent mountaineers are looking ahead to the spring season in the Himalaya, which will once again be a busy one. Everest will of course be at the epicenter of those efforts, but there will be plenty of action to follow on other major peaks as well. While many climbers have yet to reveal their plans just yet, here are a few that we know about already.

Last week it was revealed that 76-year old Carlos Soria will attempt a double-header in the Himalaya this spring. In fact, he will actually depart for Nepal this Saturday so that he can get started on his acclimatization well ahead of his climbs. Carlos hopes to make an early attempt on Annapurna (8091 m/26,545 ft) and then jump over to Dhaulagiri (8167 m/26,794 ft) afterwards. If all goes according to plan, he'll add two more major peaks to his already impressive resume. As he prepares to depart, the Spaniard says that he is feeling good and looking forward to the challenge ahead.

Despite having been to Everest on six previous occasions, Ralf Dujmovits isn't quite done with the mountain just yet. He tells Stefen Nestler that he plans to return to the Big Hill this spring to attempt to summit without oxygen. Ralf has climbed all of the 8000 meters peaks, and with the exception of Everest back in 1992, he has done so without the use of supplemental oxygen. He aims to return this year and remedy what he now sees as a blemish on his climbing record.

Ralf will be climbing from the North Side this time out, and he is saying that this will definitely be his last expedition to Everest. He is far from finished climbing or pursuing other adventures, but at the age of 53 he is now seeking challenges elsewhere.

Of course, the other major event to take place on Everest this spring will be Kilian Jornet's attempt at a speed record. After setting impressive new marks on both Denali and Aconcagua in 2014, he'll have his work cut out for him on Everest. There is no question that Jornet is an impressive athlete, and I suspect he'll put in an impressive show on the tallest mountain on Earth. But he has never operated at an altitude like he one he'll experience on Everest. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain the level of performance that we've seen out of him in the past when he gets above 8000 meters (26,246 ft).

There will of course be plenty of other expeditions to follow in the weeks ahead. We're about six weeks off from the start of the spring season, and it is already shaping up to be an interesting one.

Winter Climbs 2015: Nanga Parbat Teams Unite at Last, Simone Moro Reveals Plans

There is more news from Nanga Parbat today, where the climbers have started to make some progress once again after being stalled out by the weather. Better yet, it seems that all of the remaining teams have now joined forces, and are working together to try to reach the summit for the first time in winter.

Earlier in the week, Italian climber Daniele Nardi had gone as high as 6100 meters (20,013 ft) on the Mummery Rib. He had hoped to solo that section of the climb and potentially make a summit bid. But unstable conditions on the mountain made it unsafe to continue up out of fear of avalanches. This forced Daniele to return to Base Camp to rethink his strategy, although he didn't stay there for long.

Apparently Daniele has decided to abandon his own plans and join the other teams that are currently on the mountain. In fact, he has already gone back up to Camp 2 with Spanish mountaineer Alex Txikon. They were joined by Pakistani climbers Muhammad Ali "Sadpara" and Muhammad Kahn, and together the team was able to establish Camp 2 on the Kinshofer Route at 6100 meters. The entire squad is hoping to continue up to Camp 3 today as they continue to fix ropes and shuttle gear.

Meanwhile, the Iranian team that is on the same route attempted to take a more direct route to C2 but were unable to complete that section of the climb. ExWeb reports that they were forced to turn back and ended up in Base Camp. Presumably they will attempt to go back up to C2 as well as they continue their acclimatization efforts.

This newly combined team is now as strong as any that we've seen on Nanga Parbat this year, and could potentially lead to the first winter ascent. We'll have to wait to see if they'll be able to work together to reach the top, but there is a great deal of experience and skill in place. There is no question that this group can summit, provided the weather cooperates and allows them to. Like the climbers themselves, we'll have to wait to see if that happens.

Finally, Italian climber Simone Moro has revealed his Himalayan climbing plans at last. After teasing us for the past couple of months, Moro has revealed that he and Tamara Lunger will be attempting to summit Manaslu. ExWeb says that more details will be forthcoming but the plan is to apparently link Manaslu East (7992 meter/26,220 ft) with the Main Summit at 8163 meters (26,781 ft). He is expected to hold a press conference today to share further details.