Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Video: The Best Mountaineering Films of All Time

Looking for some great mountaineering films to watch in your downtime? Then you'll certainly want to give his video a look. It provides a brief glimpse of some of the best mountaineering films ever made, including some top-notch documentaries and Hollywood produced dramas that offer a look at life in the mountains from a perspective that many of us never get the chance to see. I think I've personally seen everything on this list, but if you haven't, you'll find some good suggestions of what to add to you DVD collection or Netflix queue.

Gear Closet: Mountain Hardwear's 32 Degree Insulated Hooded Jacket

It's no secret that Mountain Hardwear has long been one of my favorite outdoor brands. I've always appreciated their no-nonsense approach to making great gear for use in some of the most extreme environments on the planet, and over the year's I've come to rely on the company's commitment to quality and performance. But, as the company grew and found more mainstream success, it also seemed to lose some of its focus. Its products were never out-right bad, but they for a time Mountain Hardwear was no longer delivering top-notch, cutting edge products that we'd all grown accustomed to seeing from them. By their own admission, the company got a bit complacent, which is not something that sits well with its core customers.

Thankfully, that era seems to be a thing of the past, and MH is currently in the process of righting the ship and getting back to the basics that made it such an innovative brand. As a result, over the past six months or so, it has been releasing some fantastic products, including the Dragon hoody I reviewed a few weeks back, and the awesome new StretchDown Jacket that has broken new ground. Better yet, I've seen a glimpse of things to come from Mountain Hardwear, and I can promise you the company has some amazing things in the pipeline for next spring and beyond.

But, if you're looking for something in their current catalog that stands out as a great piece of performance apparel, look no further than the 32 Degree Insulated Hooded Jacket. It is an exceptional piece of gear designed to keep you warm and moving fast on the trail, that also happens to be priced great too. This high-performance soft shell carries a price tag of just $130, making it extremely affordable, even for those of us who have never worn any of Mountain Hardwear's clothing before.

Nepal to Take Action Against American Climber without Permits

Sticking with news from the Himalaya this morning, we have a follow-up story on the article I posted a couple of weeks back about American Sean Burch who claims to have summited 31 unclimbed peaks in just 21 days. That alone would be an impressive feat of course, but unfortunately Burch didn't have the proper permits to climb any mountains in Nepal, and according to The Himalayan Times, he now faces charges from the tourism department there.

The incident has been under investigation by Nepali officials for the past few weeks, and apparently they have decided to move ahead with initiating legal action against the climber. A letter was sent to both the Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation (Shankar Prasad Adhikari) and the head of the Department of Tourism (Jaya Narayan Acharya) advising them that Burch was in violation of the law, despite the American claiming that he had received permission from the Department of Immigration, which doesn't have the authority to grant that permission or issue climbing permits.

It does seem that officials are recognizing Burch's claims of making first ascents on 31 unclimbed mountains in 21 days, which would be a world record. But, since he did so without proper authorization, and entered restricted areas along the way, it appears he'll face substantial fines and mostly likely a ban on climbing in Nepal. That ban could be for up to 10 years, while the fines would normally go on a peak by peak basis.

For his part, Burch has already left Nepal and returned home to the U.S., which complicates matters in enforcing the rules. He did send out a tweet on November 30 thanking the DoT for recognizing his achievement, but he still finds himself in hot water moving forward. His fines could equal the cost of a climbing permit on Everest – the most expensive that Nepal charges – which is currently at $11,000. In theory, he could be charged that for each individual mountain that he did not have a permit for, although it is unclear just how much he could be fined.

Personally, I think Nepal needs to make an example of these kinds of actions to ensure they don't happen in the future. The country banned the Indian couple who faked their Everest summit for 10 years, and to me what Burch has done is worse. It appears that he has climbed 31 mountains illegally, and to me that should be worth 31 individual sentences. That means $11,000 per summit and a 10 year ban for each too. Too harsh? I'm not sure, but there should be zero tolerance for mountaineers that circumvent the laws.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Conrad Anker Suffers Heart Attack at 20,000 Feet

The 2016 Himalayan climbing season has pretty much wrapped up, and quite honestly I didn't expect to be sharing another story from the region until sometime next spring. But, there is one more major update from Nepal, and it is an important one.

National Geographic Adventure is sharing an exclusive story about legendary alpinist Conrad Anker, who suffered a heart attack while climbing in the Himalaya a few weeks back. The 54-year old Anker was at 20,000 feet (6096 meters) on Lunag-Ri – a 22,600-foot (6888 meter) mountain – when the medical incident occurred. He was assisted down by his climbing partner David Lama, who led the rappels back to the start of the climb, where Conrad said he was suffering pain in his arm and numbness in his lips. From there, he was picked up by a helicopter and flown back to Lukla, before proceeding on to Kathmandu, where he received medical attention. A cardiologist at the Siddhartha Hospital had to perform emergency surgery to remove a blockage, potentially saving Anker's life.

Now, Conrad is back home and resting comfortably in Bozeman, MT. That's where Mark Synnott reached him to conduct the interview for Nat Geo. In that interview, Anker goes into more detail about what happened, the rescue procedure, how he got home (Vanity Fair, the parent company of The North Face – whom Conrad is a sponsored athlete for – helped with that process), and much more. We also learn that Anker is extremely healthy for a man his age, and has good medical indicators all around, but he suffered a heart attack none the less.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Video: Iceland - Here's to the Travelers

Need another amazing look at the country of Iceland? This video provides that, and much more. It is a tribute to the wanderlust that mean of us feel. That inexplicable need to explore the world that only seems to grow in intensity the more you see. If you understand what I'm talking about, this video is definitely for you. Here's to the travelers who boldly venture out to see this big, beautiful world around us.

ICELAND // Here's to the Travelers from Tobi Schnorpfeil on Vimeo.

Video: Fatbiking Through Western Mongolia

This past summer I was fortunate enough to spend the better part of July riding on horseback through the Tavan Bond National Park in Mongolia on what turned out to be one of the best trips I have ever taken. But, if riding on horses through this part of the world sounds a bit daunting, my friends over at Round Square Adventures have an alternate means of transportation – fatbikes! Yep, that's right, you can visit the same region of Mongolia that I did, but on a bike instead. The video below will give you an idea of what these excursions are like, while also providing an amazing look at the landscapes you'll be traversing. After watching the clip, you may want to get on your bike and start training, because you're definitely going to want to do this.

Fatbike Trips through Tavan Bogd National Park, Mongolia from Kirsten Scully on Vimeo.

Gear Closet: Lander Powell iPhone Case

Lets face it, there are literally hundreds of smartphone cases to choose from these days and it has gotten to the point where it is impossible to see them all. But, there aren't very many of them that are slim, light, and still manage to provide a high level of protection. Those are exactly the characteristics I'm looking for when I want to buy a case for my iPhone, as the device is already quite thin and lightweight on its own and I don't want to mess with that. Because, I'm very particular about the case that I put on my mobile device, particularly when I'm traveling. Recently, the one that I've found myself using the most is the Lander Powell, which is a good looking suit of armor that doesn't detract from the looks of the phone.

The feature-set on the Powell is what you would expect from a good iPhone case. It is tough and rugged, and includes a raised bezel that helps protect the screen from accidental drops. It also has a nice textured feel to it that makes it easier to grip, which is a common issue for Apple's sleek gadgets.  It even has a sleek, modern look to it that helps to set your phone apart from the crowd, which is a refreshing change in a sea of cases that often look exactly alike.

But beyond that, the Powell has been certified to meet military 810 drop-test standards. That means the case was built to survive a fall of up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) without causing any damage to the phone. That might not seem like very much, but it is enough to keep your device safe from most common accidents.

As someone who has owned an iPhone since the very first day the became available, I've always been drawn to its nice sense of style. Thankfully, the Powell doesn't detract from that style, but instead compliments it. In face, Lander even makes a version of the case that is translucent, which allows your chosen color of iPhone – not to mention the iconic Apple logo – to be seen even while the case is in place.

Its slim design hugs the body of the iPhone nicely, giving you the extra protection you need but without turning the phone into a brick. That's something I appreciate greatly, because I now take my phone pretty much everywhere, including to some pretty remote places. This year alone, my iPhone has gone to Utah (multiple times!), Alaska, Colorado, North Carolina, California, Spain, the Caribbean, the Adirondack Mountains, Quebec, and Mongolia, and each time it was used extensively in all of those different places. That means that every time I hit the road I run the risk of damaging the device. But, with Lander's Powell case I don't feel like that is much of a legitimate concern, and I suspect you won't either.

Sure, there are other case options to choose from, some of which extend the level of protection to making the phone waterproof as well. But, those cases usually add a significant amount of bulk to the phone, and can create some other challenges too, not the least of which are poor audio performance and difficulty taking them on and off. While the Powell won't make your iPhone waterproof, it will provide all the protection it needs against drops and hard impacts, which is what we generally need for our backcountry excursions and adventure travels to the far side of the planet.

Lander makes the Powell for both the iPhone 6/6S and the iPhone 7, as well as the "Plus" editions of each of those models as well. Priced at $34.95 for the standard model and $39.95 for the "Plus" version, this is an excellent case at a great price. If you need plenty of protection in a thin package, this is a case you'll want to have on your list. It'll perform admirably without dramatically changing the look of the device.

Find out more at Lander.com.

NASA Discovers 300-foot Rift on Antarctic Ice Shelf

Last week I posted a article about how climate change was causing the collapse of ice sheets in Antarctic, and today we have another sobering story to share. It seems that NASA has found a massive rift on the Larsen C Ice Shelf on the frozen continent which will eventually cause a massive chunk of ice – the size of state of Delaware – to break off and fall into the ocean.

The crack, which measures 300 feet (91 meters) across, was discovered on November 10 as NASA researchers were making a flyover of the region as part of a survey of the shifting ice in Antarctica. This is the eighth consecutive year that the so called "IceBridge" team has traveled to the bottom of the world to measure the impact of climate change on the Larsen Ice Shelf, and their findings were startling even to them. The crack extends for more than 70 miles (112 km) and is a third of a mile (.5 km) deep.

The massive rift doesn't go entirely across the ice shelf – at least not yet. But once it does, the chunk of ice will collapse, sending it into the ocean. For the researchers studying the changing area, this isn't a matter of "if" this will happen, but "when." It seems to be only a matter of time at this point, particularly since the crack has only continued to get wider and longer since the survey was there last year.

As mentioned in the article I posted last week, the collapse of the ice shelf itself won't lead to increased sea levels since they are already displaying massive amounts of water. But the removal of this ridge will clear the way for other sheets of ice on the Antarctic continent to flow into the Southern Ocean, which will cause water levels to rise globally. In this case, a sheet of ice roughly the size of Scotland is behind the Larsen C Ice Shelf. That entire section of ice will then become vulnerable and start melting into the sea.

This section of Antarctica has seen both air and water temperatures rise in recent years, which is of course having an impact on the ice there. The alarming thing in these photos isn't necessarily the size of the rift, but how quickly it is growing. Climate change seems to be out-pacing some of the predictions and models that we've seen in the past, at least in this area of the world. What that means for the future remains to be seen, but it is sobering to say the least.

Antarctica 2016: Skiers Find Their Rhythm

As we start another week here at The Adventure Blog, it is once again time to check in with the Antarctic skiers and see how they are progressing. The first wave of explorers have now been out on the ice for nearly three weeks, and have really started to find a rhythm on their way to the South Pole, with more than a few already putting up impressive distances on a daily basis.

We'll start with an update on the six-man British military squad, who are now nearly halfway to the Pole, having reached 84.5ºS. But, that's only about a third of their total journey as they will turn back towards the coast once they have hit the very bottom of the world. They've now been out on the ice for 20 days, and have started to feel their sleds lighten as they consume food, fuel, and other items along the way. As a result, they're now averaging more than 30 km (18.6 miles) per day, which is a solid pace for this stage of the expedition.

Likewise, solo-skier Johanna Davidsson has really found her stride as well, which is even more impressive since she's going it alone. She's also hitting the 30 km/day mark at this point, as she looks to ski to the Pole then kite back to her starting point at Hercules. On day 19, with visibility low, Johanna decided to take a half-day of rest, change her socks and underwear, and refresh her self some. As a result, she's ready to hit the ice with some renewed strength and vigor today.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Video: Alive in the Himalaya

To wrap up the week, take a three-and-a-half minute journey to the Himalaya in northern India courtesy of this video, which captures the amazing landscapes of that part of the world in spectacular fashion. Shot during a three-week journey from Himachal Pradesh to Kashmir, the clip gives us a glimpse of the towering mountain peaks, the lush forests, and remote valleys that are found there. But more than that, it shows us the people and culture that exist there, not to mention one adorable pup. I'm not particularly wild about the narration at the beginning, but once it gets going, the video is mesmerizing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Alive from Alessandro Rovere on Vimeo.

Video: Yab Yum - Searching the Mayan Underworld (Part 3)

Today we have the third, and final, installment of a series of videos we've been sharing all week long that take us into the Yucatan in Mexico in search of some of the world's deepest caves. The series has followed explorer Robbie Schmittner and his team as cave dive into some amazing settings, where they discover remnants of the Mayan civilization that occupied the area centuries ago. In this episode, the crew descends into Yab Yum, a giant sinkhole where they make discoveries that date back to the last ice age.
(Note: If you've missed the first two parts of this excellent series, you'll find them here and here.)

Gear Closet: Char-Broil Portable Grill2Go X200

One of the biggest challenges for any camping trip is creating tasty meals while on the go. This can be especially difficult if you're backpacking into remote backcountry, where you're looking to travel fast and light. But, if you're car camping instead, and weight is not an issue, your options open up tremendously, giving you the ability to cook tasty meals no matter where you go. That is exactly the case with the new Char-Boril Portable Grill2Go X200, which is a surprisingly great cooking option for camping, overlanding, tailgating, or even just the backyard.

Obviously there have been portable grills around for quite some time, and many of them bring a lot to the table (pun intended!) in terms of how they perform. But what helps set the X200 apart from the crowd is that it is a portable infrared grill, which is something I hadn't come across before. For those who don't know, infrared grills use metal and ceramic pieces to allow them to heat up much faster and cook at higher temperature levels. This means the grill is ready to go much more quickly, and food prep doesn't take nearly as long.

In this case, the Grill2Go is powered by small canisters of propane fuel, which are of course a breeze to fire up and get cooking, even in colder temperatures and windy environments. It is quick, fairly efficient, and makes grilling a simple affair, which is usually what you want when you sit down to make a meal outdoors.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Evacuated From the South Pole

The legendary Buzz Aldrin is reportedly resting comfortably and recovering in a New Zealand hospital today after being evacuated from the South Pole yesterday for medical reasons. The 86-year old former astronaut and second man to walk on the moon, had been visiting Antarctica as a tourist when he took ill.

Aldrin was traveling with White Desert luxury tours and had hoped to visit the South Pole research station while in the Antarctic. Fortunately, he did make it to 90ºS before he became ill. Doctors say that he began collecting fluid in his lungs, which prompted the evacuation. While he is being kept in the hospital for observation, he is said to be doing fine and should have a full recovery.

Despite his age, Aldrin continues to be very active, and is a tireless advocate for exploration – particularly in space. He has been a major supporter of plans to go to Mars, and has spoken frequently about the importance of continuing to push boundaries beyond our own planet. He recently visited NASA for the unveiling of a new astronaut exhibit at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, before he left for Cape Town, South Africa to join the White Desert tour.

On November 28, Buzz and the rest of the group he was traveling with set out for the frozen continent on an itinerary that was expected to last about a week. But Aldrin took ill during the journey, with his condition getting worse as he reached the Pole. Once there, the decision was made to evacuate the moonwalker, and a specially equipped LC-130 aircraft was dispatched to fly him back to the coast where he caught another flight to New Zealand where he is now recovering.

I've always been a big admirer of Buzz Aldrin. Sure, Neil Armstrong got all the credit for being the first man to walk on the moon, but Buzz was only a couple of steps behind him. On top of that, Armstrong retreated from public life, seldom making appearances in his later years before passing away in 2012. But Buzz has always been a larger than life figure who isn't afraid to speak his mind or tell you his thoughts on any subject. He has used his position in the public eye to promote science and education, and has remained a staunch supporter of exploration in all its forms. Even now, at the age of 86, when most people are looking to slow down, he's still traveling to remote places on our planet. I hope that when I reach his age, I'm still half as active and vital as he is.

Get well soon Buzz. We're not ready to say goodbye to you for a very long time yet.

Mike Horn's Pole 2 Pole Expedition is About to Truly Get Underway

If you've been reading my updates from the Antarctic so far this season, you've probably seen me mention Swiss explorer Mike Horn on more than one occasion. That's because not only does he have an impeccable adventure resume ( climbed four 8000-meter peaks without oxygen, explored the Arctic during the winter, swam the length of the Amazon), but he is also about to embark on one of the most ambitious expeditions of all time. Horn is attempting to become the first person to circumnavigate the globe north-south (rather than east-west), passing through both Poles along the way. And soon, he'll launch the first critical phase of that journey, which will see him traverse Antarctica on foot.

Currently, Mike is aboard his ship the Pangea just off the Antarctic coast. According to his dispatches, he and his crew are slowly making their way through the ice to his drop-off point on the Antarctic continent. Remember, most of South Pole skiers are dropped off at Union Glacier, prior to flying to their starting points at Hercules Inlet, by the professional crew at ALE. In Mike's case however, he's sailing independently as part of his round-the-world journey.

The Pole 2 Pole expedition – as Mike calls it – has been a long time coming. I first told you about his plans back in 2014, but it has taken two years to get this adventure truly underway and off the ground. The journey began when the South African-born explorer set out from Monaco back in May, and began sailing out of the Mediterranean Sea and down the coast of Africa.

Along the way, he spent some time exploring the Namib Desert and visiting the Okavango Delta, before traveling overland to Cape Town, where he dove with sharks and conducted research on those ocean-going predators. Now, he has ventured across the Southern Ocean on his way to the Antarctic. Once there, he'll don a pair of skis and pull a sled across the frozen expanse just like all the other skiers heading to the South Pole. But after he reaches 90ºS, he'll continue on to the coast once again (possibly to Hercules Inlet) where Pangea will be waiting to pick him up.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Video: Ethereal - Iceland by Drone

This beautiful video was shot over some of the most spectacular landscapes in Iceland. You'll see snowcapped peaks, tranquil rivers, flowing waterfalls, and much more. But, what was most striking to me was the incredible skies that can be seen over the various shots. There are colors in the clouds that are rare and fleeting in most places, but here they are natural and breathtaking. Sit back and enjoy this three-minute clip, which features some of the best footage I've seen in some time.

Ethereal: Aerial Motion Timelapse in 4K60 from Henry Jun Wah Lee / Evosia on Vimeo.

Video: Just Breathe - Searching the Mayan Underworld (Part 2)

Today we return to the depths of an underwater cave in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, where explorers Robbie Schmittner and his partner Toddy Waelde continue to explore the sunken Maya underworld. This time out, not everything goes as planned however, and we see the challenges of trying to assist a diver who runs into trouble while deep within these caves. Scary stuff for sure.
(If you missed part 1 of this series, you'll find it here)

Adventures in the Caribbean: Opportunities Abound on Nevis

Yesterday I shared my experiences hiking and biking on Nevis as part of a series of posts based around my recent visit to the Caribbean island, which is extremely accessible both on foot and bike. But those opportunities for adventure were just the tip of the iceberg, as there are still plenty of other things to do there for those who prefer to be a bit more active while visiting this little slice of paradise. In fact, I think you'll find a surprising number of adventurous things to keep you busy.

This being the the Caribbean, both snorkeling and diving are certainly two great choices for keeping you occupied. In fact, the island has a five-star PADI certified dive center located near Oualie Beach, and there are plenty of great spots to hit the water located not far from shore. In fact, their are abundance of dive sites that sit within a 5 mile radius of Nevis, which means it doesn't take long to reach them, and they usually aren't very crowded.

As you would expect, these dive sites offer visitors a chance to spot hundreds of different tropical fish, as well as sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, and other aquatic animals. There are a number of large coral reefs in the region as well, which provides some excellent opportunities to explore those ecosystems as well. There are even several ship wrecks not far off the Nevis coast, which are always interesting and attract a lot of sea creatures as well. One such dive includes a tug boat that is submerged in just 20 feet of water, which makes it very easy to reach and swim around as well.

In addition to good hiking and biking on Nevis, you can also choose to explore the landscapes there on horseback. Travelers can elect to take a ride along historic trails that wander through some of the villages on the island, while passing by the remnants of plantations that date back to the 17th century. And for a romantic end to then day, considering taking a ride on the beach at sunset. The views are spectacular and sublime.

Examining Adam Ondra's Dawn Wall Climb

It has now been a week and a half since Czech climber Adam Ondra made history by completing the second free ascent of the Dawn Wall in Yosemite. While his expedition didn't get nearly as much media attention as Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson's first ascent back in 2015, Ondra's climb was certainly followed closely by the outdoor and adventure crowd. Now, we're already starting to look back on his accomplishment and trying to give it its fair place in history.

National Geographic Adventure has an interesting article up entitled "How Adam Ondra Crushed Yosemite's Hardest Rock Climb." This story tries to put things into perspective by comparing Ondra's ascent to that of Caldwell and Joregeson, who spent 7 years scouting the wall and 19 days trying to link all of the pieces together to get to the top. In contrast, Ondra was able to do it in just 8 days, although he himself says that he benefited greatly from following in his processors footsteps.

That said however, it should be noted that Caldwell and Jorgeson had years of experience climbing in Yosemite Valley. For Ondra, this was his first visit to that iconic place, and yet he was able to adapt to it fairly quickly. In a little over a month he went from never touching rock in Yosemite, to scaling its most difficult face. Along the way, he also became the first person to lead each of the 32 pitches on the Dawn Wall as well. Tommy and Kevin took turns doing that, while Adam mostly went it alone. He was joined by climbing partner Pavel Blazek, but he was only there to belay Ondra.

In the Nat Geo article Ondra is quoted as saying “What Tommy and Kevin did was even much more impressive than what I did." He goes on to add, “I arrived with all the information, they told me the beta, and all I had to do was climb.”

A Mysterious Expedition with a Telepathic Tribe in the Amazon

Looking for a really interesting story to read this morning? Then look no further than this article from National Geographic. It tells the tale of a famed explorer by the name of Loren McIntyre, who worked with Nat Geo in the past on various projects. He was known to be a dedicated, hardworking guy who could "surmount all obstacles with ease," according to one editor. He journeys took him all over the world and sent him on many adventures. But one such expedition turned out to be stranger than most.

McIntyre spent a lot of time in the Amazon region of Peru, exploring its many mysteries and plumbing deep into its depths. In fact, he was the man who discovered the headwaters of the mighty Amazon River, which begins as snow melt in the Andes, that then pools into a small lake – now called Laguna McIntyre – before spilling down the slopes of the mountain to begin what eventually forms the largest, longest, and most powerful river in the world.

That expedition was a significant one of course, but it isn't the subject of Nat Geo's article. Instead, the story focuses on an expedition that McIntyre made back in the 1960's. One that he seldom talked about. It seems that at one point, the explorer set out to reach an uncontacted tribe living in the rainforest called the Mayoruna. He began the journey by being dropped off on a Amazon riverbank, and following the tribe into the jungle. But, along the way he became lost and couldn't find his way back to his pick-up point. He ended up living with the tribe for two months, and he says that during that time his companions were able to communicate with him telepathically.

As it turns out, neither McIntyre nor the members of the tribe spoke any common languages, which would typically lead to some problems, particularly over a two-month span. But the explorer claimed that the elders of the tribe were known amongst its members to be able to speak what they called "other language." McIntyre himself would later call it "beaming."

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Video: Places of Fear - Searching the Mayan Underworld (Part 1)

A few days back I shared the trailer for a new series of short films coming our way from GoPro that followed a team of divers as they plunged into a cave on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico in hopes of finding the largest cavern in the entire world. Now, we have part one of that series which gives us an introduction of an entirely new kind of exploration – underwater, in mysterious caves, where there are remnants of the Mayan civilization yet to be discovered. It is a fascinating look at this incredible place that will definitely leave you wanting more. I'll have part two tomorrow.

Video: Expedition Alaska Adventure Race Trailer

Last year, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the team that organized and ran the Expedition Alaska Adventure Race, a 300+ mile (482+ km) multi-sport, multi-day race that attracted 20 teams from across the globe. It was an amazing event with some of the best endurance athletes on the planet taking on a course that ran through some remote and rugged areas. The entire race was filmed by a dedicated and tough team, and a full-length documentary about the event has now been completed. It will be making the rounds of the adventure film festival circuit and will eventually be available to purchase as well.

To get a taste of what Expedition Alaska was all about, and what I was working on up north last summer, check out the trailer for the documentary below. It will give you a sense of what adventure racing is all about, while showing off the amazing landscapes in Alaska. It's pretty epic, and well worth a watch.

EXPEDITION ALASKA TRAILER from Hyperion XIII Productions on Vimeo.

Adventures in the Caribbean: Hiking and Mountain Biking Nevis

Yesterday I posted the first part in a series of stories I'm writing about my recent visit to the island of Nevis in the Caribbean. That article was meant to serve as an introduction to the place, which is rich in history and culture. If you haven't read that piece already, you may want to take a look at it first before proceeding with this one, as it does provide a bit of context. That said, these stories are also meant to be self-contained so readers can enjoy them without needing too much backstory. So, without further ado, here's a bit more about my recent travels in the vary intriguing country.

When most travelers think about a visit to the Caribbean, they usually conjure up images in their mind of white sandy beaches, relaxing in the warm water, and enjoying fruity beverages in the sun. Of course, you can do all of those things on Nevis too, but there is so much more to see and do there that you'll miss out on a lot of you confine yourself to the lovely beaches alone.

For example, the island actually has a couple of unique and challenging hiking trails. As mentioned in my previous story, one of the most difficult is a tough climb to the top of Nevis Peak, which stands at 3232 feet (985 meters) in height. Remember, you'll be starting at sea essentially sea level, so while the altitude isn't all that serious, the amount of elevation gain can make it tough. There are also some ropes involved in getting to the top, and you'll definitely want to take a guide if you go.

Unfortunately, do to scheduling I wasn't able to make this hike, so instead I trekked another route known locally as the "Source Trail." The path gets its name because it passes through some lush cloud forests on the way to the island's main source of fresh water, located high in the mountains there. Now days, a series of pipes have been installed to carry that water to the towns below, but it wasn't all that long ago that the inhabitants of Nevis had to make this hike daily to fetch fresh water for use around their homes. It remains a popular walking path with visitors and locals alike, and is a good way to stretch your legs.

Expedition 1000: Dave Cornthwaite Scoots His Way Around Japan

If you've read my blog with any regularity over the years, you've seen me cover the exploits of British adventurer Dave Cornthwaite on more than one occasion. About a decade ago, Dave came up with the idea of jumpstarting his life by undertaking 25 major journeys of 1000 miles (1609 km) or more by non-motorized transportation. Over the years, this has led him to undertake such excursions as crossing Australia on a skateboard, stand-up paddleboarding source-to-sea on the Mississippi River in the U.S., and paddling from Oslo, Norway to Helsinki, Finland. Along the way, he has inspired thousand of others to embrace a more adventurous, active, and open lifestyle as well.

Fast forward to 2016, and Dave has recently set out on the 12th of his 25 planned expeditions. This time, he has traveled to Japan, where he is riding a kick scooter for 1000 miles. He left Tokyo back on November 17, and is now undertaking a massive loop through the southern Honshu and Shikoku regions of that country. On this particular journey Dave has no set route, but has instead decided to let instinct and fortune take him where he needs to go. Ultimately, he'll return to his starting point in Tokyo on December 19, after having explored yet another part of the world under his own power.

Throughout the course of the trip so far, Dave has been posting regular updates, photos, and videos to his Facebook page. As I write this, he has arrived in Kyoto, where he has been overwhelmed by the history and culture of the place, but even more so by the vast number of tourists visiting the area. Most of his journey has been spent interacting with the locals, learning about the various places he is visiting from their perspective, and experiencing Japan in a more authentic fashion. In that regard, Kyoto seems to have been a bit too much of a tourist trap for Dave's liking.

Throughout the journey he's been spending roughly 5-9 hours on his trusty kick scooter – lovingly dubbed Swifty – making his way from one destination to the next. Nights are generally spent camping in the wild and even soaking in local hot springs. The idea is to immerse himself deeply in the culture, while exploring the countryside in a non-motorized way.

For Dave, this is his first Expedition 1000 excursion in a few years. He says that he hurt his back and left leg in 2013 and has struggled at times to undertake his ambitious efforts. But while hiking through Palestine and Jordan last year the injury got worse, forcing him to use crutches and a therapeutic boot on his foot for awhile. After two months had passed, he discovered that things started to improve dramatically, allowing him to finally get back into action. From that experience, the idea of scooting around Japan was born.

You can follow his progress over the next few weeks on Dave's official Facebook page. It is sure to be inspiring, amusing, and down-right fun to watch the remainder of the trip unfold.

Himalaya Fall 2016: More Nepali Peaks Climbed Without Permits

Last week I posted the story of American climber Sean Burch, who is under investigation in Nepal for climbing as many as 31 peaks without obtaining a permit first. It turns out, he may not be the only one who has thumbed his nose at authority in the Himalayan country. Today we have word that three Spaniards have also made first ascents of two mountains there without first obtaining permits as well.

According to The Himalayan Times, Santi Padrós, Oriol Baro and Roger Cararach claim to have summited Mt Karyolung (6530m/21,423 ft) and Mt Numbur (6958m/22,828 ft) earlier this month without government permission. The three men reportedly organized and planned the expedition completely independently, and were doing so in honor of a fallen comrade. They dedicated the two ascents to Domen Kastelic, a Slovenian climber who perished on Mont Blanc recently.

Unfortunately, as Burch has learned, climbing a mountain in Nepal without the proper permits is a serious offense, and officials there are now investigating the trio's claims. If they are found to have violated the laws, the three men will face a ten year ban from climbing in Nepal, and a substantial fine. The law stipulates that anyone climbing without a permit must pay "a fine equal to twice the royalty fixed for Mt Everest." The cost for climbing Everest currently stands at $11,000.

While Everest is obviously the crown jewel for climbing in Nepal, obtaining permits for smaller mountains below 7000 meters (22,965 ft) cost just $700 apiece. Expeditions are also generally required to have an assigned liaison officer as well, and are encouraged to employ high-altitude porters, although some independent teams go it completely alone.

According to The Times, all three of the climbers made it to the summit of Karyolung back on October 31, but Padrós says he topped out on Numbur on his own. Both mountains were climbed along completely new routes, as the team said they were looking to explore the region and scout it for potential new climbs in the future. Instead, they decided to summit a couple of mountains while they were in the area as well.

What exactly will happen to these three men remains to be seen, but one thing is certain. Nepali officials don't like to not get paid, so it seems likely they'll face that impending fine and suspension. The government isn't going to take these kinds of reports lightly, and will probably make examples of them to prevent future incidences as well.