Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Bora Bora Bound!

I know I've only just returned from South Dakota, but I'm already hitting the road again tomorrow, this time for an actually vacation/honeymoon. As many of you know, I got married back in July, but we delayed our honeymoon until now in order to coincide with some other family events. That means that tomorrow I'll be flying off to the South Pacific to enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation on the island of Bora Bora, a decidedly non-adventurous destination that will never the less be fun and interesting.

Because I'll be away enjoying some time with my new bride there won't be any updates to the blog for about a week and a half. I'll return to the states on Sept. 9, but will continue the honeymoon with friends and family in California for a bit. Updates will resume on Monday, Sept. 14. Hopefully you'll remain patient and bear with me until then.

The fall is looking very promising in terms of upcoming expeditions and possibilities for adventure. We'll hit the ground running again soon. Until then, get outside, enjoy the changing season, and pursue some adventures of your own.

I'll be back before you know it!

Adventures in South Dakota: Cycling Deadwood and Off-Roading in the Black Hills

Last week I had the opportunity to visit western South Dakota to enjoy some of the many outdoor adventures that state has to offer. It was five days filled with hiking, biking, and exploring the wild landscapes that make up that part of the country, which includes the legendary Black Hills, Badlands National Park, and the very impressive Custer State Park. This wasn't the first time I've been there – we held Primal Quest Badlands in South Dakota back in 2009 – but it was my first real opportunity to explore this vast outdoor playground. I did not come away disappointed.

My trip through South Dakota began with a flight into Rapid City, the hub for the region and the gateway to the Black Hills. I'd spent a considerable amount of time there back in 2009, so I was looking forward to seeing how much things had changed. We didn't stay long there however, as our first destination was Deadwood, a historic town that is probably best known for being the place where the legendary old west gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok was shot and killed.

Deadwood was a boom town due to gold mining in the area, and those roots can still be seen there today. There are various museums dedicated to the city's history, and a walk down main street features old west saloons and hotels, intermixed with modern gambling parlors, souvenir shops, and various eateries. It was equal parts charming and kitschy, but mostly all in good fun.

We arrived in Deadwood late in the afternoon, but decided there was still time to stretch our legs some before dinner. So, we headed out to a local park to hike a short trail up to the top of Mt. Roosevelt to checkout the famous Friendship Tower. The walk is not a difficult one in any way, but it does take you to the top of a nearby hill that not only reveals fantastic scenery across the region, but also a stone tower built by former Deadwood Sheriff Seth Bullock. The tower was erected back in 1919 to commemorate the passing of Bullock's good friend, former President Teddy Roosevelt. It still stands there today as a testament to their friendship, although while I was there carpenters were busy restoring the steps that lead into the tower.

Video: The Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun in South Africa and Namibia

The Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun is a five-day long, stage race that takes place in a remote region of South Africa each year. The 2016 edition of the race actually crossed the border into Namibia as well, covering some 200 km (124 miles) along a course that was both incredibly difficult and beautiful at the same time. American ultrarunner Nikki Kimball used the race as a tune-up for the Western States, which is another race that is legendary for its level of difficulty. In this video, you'll get a chance to see what the Richtersveld is all about, as we go out onto the course with runners who are pushing themselves to cross some of the toughest terrain imaginable.

Himalaya Fall 2015: More Teams Heading into the Mountains, China Rejects Climbing Applications

Yesterday we noted that the the fall climbing season was ramping up nicely in the Himalaya with teams now starting to arrive in Kathmandu, and some already making their way out to their respective base camps. While the monsoon rains are still subsiding there, and autumn has yet to officially arrive, it appears like it will be a relatively active season in the mountains. This bodes well for the return of travelers to Nepal, which is in dire need of a boost to its economy following the massive earthquake back on April 25.

The Nepalese won't be competing with their counterparts in Tibet for tourism dollars this fall, as China has rejected all applications for permits to climb there. The official party line is that Chinese officials fear for the safety of climbers following the earthquake and that they want to take time to inspect the mountains before allowing teams to return. But, the Chinese president is also planning to visit Tibet in September, so there may be political reasons as to why the permits have been denied.

The closure of the Tibetan peaks has caused a few of the commercial teams to change their plans. Cho Oyu and Shishapangma are two popular peaks during the fall season, but with their closure climbers are heading elsewhere – namely Makalu and Manaslu.

ExWeb posted an update today that has provided us with more information on climbing teams in the Himalaya this fall. They report that a French squad is currently en route to Annapurna where they hope to attempt a new route along that mountain's notorious South Face. The team will first acclimatize to the altitude, than split into two groups. One of those groups will go up the new route in alpine style along the Japanese Spur, while the other will attempt to summit along the normal route.

Exploring 10 Myths About Everest

As we draw closer to the release of the Everest film on September 18, the tallest peak in the world is likely to be the subject of much discussion once again. Some of that discussion will likely be about the challenges of climbing the mountain, and what it is actually like to be there. But popular media can sometimes present a skewed view of Everest, and perpetuate some long held misconceptions from the general public. To help set the record straight, Alan Arnette has written a thoughtful post that examines 10 common myths about Everest, with reasons why those myths are either true or false.

Alan has covered the Everest climbing scene for 13 years, and has been on the mountain on five separate occasions as well, so if anyone knows what it is like there, it is probably him. He was even in Base Camp last spring when the earthquake struck, so he saw first hand the impact of that disaster. Over the years, the climate and culture on Everest has changed, and evolved, but some of the challenges have remained the same. It is still a difficult climb, despite the fact that hundreds go to Nepal and Tibet to attempt it each year.

Amongst the commonly held beliefs that Alan addresses are whether or not Everest is filled with trash (false), how much climbers pay to attempt Everest, and perceived difficulty of the climb. He also touches on how prepared people are for the expedition, and the role that the Sherpas play in getting their clients to the summit.

If you routinely follow the events that unfold on Everest, there isn't much here that will come as a surprise. But for those who are fed a stream of information about the mountain from the mainstream media, Alan's article helps to debunk some of the more commonly held misconceptions, and provide real insights into what it is actually like on the mountain. This helps to put things into perspective, and should be kept in mind as the Everest media blitz begins in a few weeks. The film promises to do some very important things right, but it will also turn a spotlight on a place that is generally not well understood by the mainstream audience. Hopefully the movie will manage to be authentic and real, while also entertaining. We shall see.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Video: Exploring Alaska by Inflatable Kayak

In the spring of 2014, a trio of adventurers set off to explore the Tatshenshini River in Alaska by inflatable kayak. They spent 12 days in a remote wilderness that began at their put-in at Dalton Post in the Yukon and ended in Dry Bay. Along the way they found some of the most spectacular landscapes imaginable in a place that few people ever visit. You can get a taste of that expedition in the video below, which takes us down the Tatshenshini with them. You can also read more about the experience here.

Tatshenshini from Fluid Glass Productions on Vimeo.

Video: Close Encounter with a Grizzly Bear

I think most of us agree that we don't really want to come across an aggressive grizzly bear while out in the wild. While its true that these creatures are amazing to watch, they can also be dangerous at times. But if you'd like to get up close and personal with a grizz, than take a look at the video below. It captures a curious bear checking out a GoPro camera before taking a swipe at the unknown device that was placed in his territory. Thankfully, the camera came out unscathed, and the clip was posted online for us al to enjoy.

Back From South Dakota!

As you can probably tell by the resumption of updates here at The Adventure Blog today that I have returned from my trip to South Dakota. It was a brief visit, but a very good one, as the state is filled with the kind of natural resources that outdoor loves enjoy so much. Case in point, we were told that there are more than 400 miles (643 km) of single track mountain biking trails within a half-hour drive of Rapid City alone. That's an impressive number when you think about how hard it can be to find a good trail sometimes. 

Of course, while there I paid a visit to the amazing Badlands National Park, and dropped by Mt. Rushmore to pay homage to the four presidents on display there. We also traveled to Custer State Park as well, a place that is so strikingly beautiful that it could easily be a national park itself. We even spent one morning hiking to the summit of Harney Peak, South Dakota's high point at 7242 feet (2207 meters). 

This was not my first visit to South Dakota, so I had a bit of an idea of what to expect for arrived. But the state always finds ways to surprise you, and this time it was with its diversity of wildlife. Over the course of the five days I was there we came across bison, elk, deer, mountain goats, marmots, rabbits, prairie dogs, countless wild turkeys, and a variety of other creatures. The rugged forests and mountains of the western part of the state make a perfect home for these animals, and it was a lot of fun to see them while hiking or driving through the region.

One thing that did not surprise me was the warm welcome that visitors receive while in South Dakota. The people that live in the state are incredibly friendly and accommodating, often greeting travelers with a smile and a greeting. Everyone I met along the way was happy to talk about the wonderful opportunities their state affords to visitors, and offer suggestions of more things to see and do while there.

You'll hear a lot more about this trip in the days ahead. For now, I'm happy to be home, even if it is for a short while. In two days I'll depart on my honeymoon in Bora Bora, so updates will be interrupted once again. That will be an adventure of a completely different kind of course, but one that I am looking forward to greatly. 

Himalaya Fall 2015: Teams En Route to Base Camps

The fall climbing season in the Himalaya is set to begin as teams have now begun to arrive in Nepal, and are already making their way out to their respective Base Camps. In fact, it is shaping up to be a typical fall season in the big mountains as climber return to the region following the devastating earthquake of this past spring. That's good news for the tourism sector and economy of Nepal, although it remains to be seen how many mainstream travelers return as well. 

Amongst those heading into the mountains this fall are a pair of Japanese climbers, including Nobukazu Kuriki. This will be his fifth attempt to summit the mountain, with his last climb nearly ending in disaster. Kuriki attempted a solo-summit a few years back, but got stranded on his descent and ended up spending an extended amount of time above 8000 meters. This resulted in severe frostbite that claimed all but one of his fingers. He has already departed for Base Camp and is now starting his acclimatization process. 

Nick Cienski is also trekking to his Base Camp in the Himalaya at the moment. Nick, who launched the 6 Summits Challenge this past spring, is headed to Manaslu to try to get his expedition back on track. He had originally set a goal to summit six different 8000 meter peaks in a single calendar year, but has not had much luck so far this year. His spring expeditions were cut short due to the earthquake, and his summer plans in the Karakoram were thwarted due to the weather there. He hopes to continue working towards his goal with a successful summit of the 8163 meter (26,781 ft) Manaslu this fall. 

Mt. McKinley Officially Renamed Denali

Yesterday, President Obama announced that he would use his executive powers to rename the tallest mountain in North America back to its original Inuit name of Denali. The 20,322 foot (6194 meter) peak had been named after President William McKinley, but in recent years there has been a movement afoot to switch the name back to its original title, which means "the great one" amongst the native tribes of Alaska.

The move comes just as the president sets out on a three-day visit to Alaska, where he will address some moves that the administration will take to combat climate change. During his time in office, Obama has also sought to improve relations between the U.S. government and Native Americans as well.

McKinley has long been referred to as Denali in mountaineering circles, so this change will be a welcome one for the men and women who climb the mountain. It is known as a challenging climb, with unpredictable weather often preventing teams from reaching the summit. It is also used as a warm-up of sorts before heading to Everest, as climbers can get valuable experience and technical skills while on Denali's slopes.

The mountain officially received the name of McKinley back in 1917, but there have been efforts to change it back for the past 40 years. In 1980, the land surrounding the mountain was named Denali National Park as a compromise of sorts. But Native Americans in Alaska have pushed to have the mountain's name restored in recent years, although those attempts had been rebuffed by the U.S. Congress thus far. In using his executive powers, Obama has circumvented congress altogether, and renamed the mountain completely on his own. By doing this, he has already raised the ire of more than a few senators.

Personally, I feel this name change is a long time coming and I'm glad to see that it has been made official. I don't think I've called it "McKinley" in years, except when talking to someone who doesn't know anything about its history and mountaineering legacy. Now, we can all call it by its rightful name as is fitting for a peak of such prominence.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

On the Road: Heading to South Dakota

The Adventure Blog will see a bit of down time over the next few days as I am headed to South Dakota on assignment. While there, I'll be exploring a state that I already know that I enjoy based on previous visits, but this time out I'll be hiking, mountain biking, and visiting some fantastic national and state parks. It should be a wonderful time in a place that has a lot to offer outdoor adventurers. 

If given the time, I will post updates while on the road, but considering the fact that the schedule looks fairly full, I'm not sure if that will be an option. But make no mistake, I will definitely be posting updates on the trip at some point, as I know that South Dakota is a place that many of you would enjoy visiting yourself. The Badlands and Black Hills are both worth the trip in and of themselves.

This will be a relatively short trip. I'm back home by the weekend. But, I'll once again only be there for a few days. On Wednesday of next week I – along with my lovely new bride – are off to the South Pacific for our honeymoon, and some much needed RnR. That said, I will be posting again to start next week before getting on a plane once again. In the meantime, enjoy some time outdoors, have a few adventures of your own, and spend some time in pursuit of your passions. I'll be back before you know it!

Video: Earth Porn - Forests and Mountains

This video is filled with images of the things we love – namely snowcapped mountains and lush forests. What more do you need to know beyond that? It is two minutes of beautiful landscapes shot in Alberta and Alaska. Now, just sit back and enjoy it.

EARTH PORN // VOL 4 // FORESTS & MOUNTAINS (ALBERTA TO ALASKA) from Christiaan Welzel on Vimeo.

Video: Azerbaijan - The Land of Fire

Azerbaijan is not a country that most people consider visiting when escaping on their holidays. Those people are not adventure travelers however, and judging from the amazing landscapes on display in this video, it is a destination that we should all have on our bucket lists. Remote, wild, and untamed, this video takes us to beautiful places that have to be seen to be believed. Much of the footage was captured by drone, giving us ariel shots of some stunning locations.

Azerbaijan - The Land Of Fire from Iftikhar Shabanov on Vimeo.

Mountaineer Beck Weathers Reflects on Everest

If you've read the book Into Thin Air, or know about the events that took place on Everest back 1996, the name Beck Weathers is one that you're no doubt familiar with. Beck was on the team that was led up the mountain by Rob Hall, the same team that Jon Krakauer was a part of. On the way up the mountain, Beck had difficult seeing, and was told to wait on the Balcony at 27,000 feet (8230 meters) for Hall's return. The guide planned to assist him in descending after he had taken his other clients to the top. Rob ended up losing his life high on the mountain, and Beck was later assisted down by another guide, but as a massive storm descended on Everest, he became disoriented and lost, stumbling off into the night. During that time Beck was exposed to the extreme winds and cold, as he bivouacked alone, high on the mountain. His face and hands were exposed, and as a result he suffered severe frostbite that would later claim parts of right arm, his left hand, and both feet, as well as his nose.

Weather's survival story is well known in mountaineering circles, and he was lucky to get off the mountain alive. He has also become an integral part of the Into Thin Air story, which will of course be told once again in the upcoming feature film Everest, which will be released in theaters in a few weeks time. In that film, Beck will be played by actor Josh Brolin, and judging from the trailer, he will be integral to the plot.

Recently, Beck sat down with Outside magazine to talk about the film, his Everest experience, and where he is at in his life now. In the interview he talks about the movie which he says is impressive and about as good as any mountaineering film can be. He also weighs in on having Brolin play him on the big screen, the challenges of making a good film about Everest, and some issues he has with the way the story is told.

Perhaps more importantly however, Weathers talks a bit about what the film does right. He points out certain areas of the movie that are moving in a very tragic way. Particularly when Rob Hall's wife gets the phone call from him on the mountain, or Beck's own spouse receives a similar call informing her the had died. He says that those personal moments in the film will leave a mark with audiences, and were done very well.

Like Krakauer said recently, Beck carries the physical, emotional, and psychological scars from that fateful day back in May of 1996. They have shaped him into the person he is today. While that incident has had a dramatic impact on his life, he has also found ways to move on and continue with living it to the fullest. He told Outside that the real story is what happens when you get back home, which is something that is seldom told.

Read the full interview here.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Everest Officially Reopens

Last we received word that Ice Doctors has arrived in Everest Base Camp to begin fixing the route through the Khumbu Icefall ahead of the arrival of fall expedition to the mountain. But this past Sunday, Kripasur Sherpa – Nepal's tourism minister – officially issued a climbing permit to Japanese mountaineer Nobukazu Kuriki and declared the mountain open for business, a significant step in starting the process of luring back travelers and climbers following the April 25 earthquake that killed more than 9000 people there.

The permit was given to Kuriki in a ceremony held in Kathmandu. That ceremony was as much about letting the world know that Everest is accepting teams again as it was to grant the permit to the Japanese climber. An avalanche caused by the earthquake killed 18 people in Base Camp on the mountain, bringing an abrupt end to the climbing season for a second year in a row. In 2014, another avalanche claimed the lives of 16 Nepali's working on the mountain.

Kuriki won't be waiting around long to get his expedition started. He reportedly left Kathmandu via helicopter today for the Khumbu region and will trek into BC to start his climb. He hopes to make a summit bid by mid-September, well ahead of the typical fall climbing schedule. That would also indicate that he has been acclimatizing somewhere else ahead of the start of his expedition.

The Japanese climber is no stranger to Everest. He attempted a solo fall summit a few years back, but was forced to turn back do to bad weather. He ended up getting stranded on the mountain and required the assistance of a team of Sherpas to help him down, and as a result he suffered severe frostbite that eventually cost him nine of his fingers. When he makes this second attempt on the world's tallest peak he'll be doing so without the use of those digits.

We will of course be keeping a close eye on the emerging climbing season in the Himalaya. Not only is this team heading to Everest, but others are on their way to the big mountains as well. There should be a lot to report on in the days ahead, and it will be interesting to see how the tourism sector in Nepal rebounds following the earthquake.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Video: Spaciousness in the Făgăraș Mountains of Romania

Need a little break from the challenges of a tough day? Feeling like you could use an escape to the mountains? If you're unable to actually head out yourself today, than perhaps this video can help. Shot in the Făgăraș Mountains of Romania it features some great timelapse and ariel footage from a spectacular setting that looks rugged and wild. This is five minutes of fantastic imagery from a part of the world that remains largely unknown to those of us in the west. Simply spectacular.

Spaciousness from Fourth Dimension on Vimeo.

Video: Ice Climbing in Montana with Conrad Anker and Kris Erickson

One of the more beautiful and thoughtful climbing videos I've seen in sometime, this short film takes us to the backcountry of Montana where Conrad Anker and Kris Erickson attempt to complete a new route called Nutcracker in the Hyalite Canyon region near Bozeman. The winter ascent follows a path that is mixed rock and ice along a beautiful line amongst stunning scenery. The 12-minute video follows the team as they climb, with some good insights and introspection thrown in along the way. Definitely a great piece of work, and well worth a bit of your time today.

Always Above Us from The North Face on Vimeo.

Movement Afoot to Reclaim Glen Canyon in Utah

Over the past few years there has been a number of successful attempts to remove dams on some of the larger rivers in the American west. The results have generally been improved environments, more natural habitats, and better flows of rivers throughout the region. Now, environmentalists are turning their attention to Glen Canyon Dam in Utah, which could have a similar impact on the Colorado River, and improve conditions further down river, including in Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon itself.

The gist of the story is laid out in an article written by Tim Gibbins on a post to the O.A.R.S. blog. Essentially, the Glen Canyon Dam was built in a time period when a lot of other dams were being built in the west as a way to control the flow of the river as a method to help create environments suitable for farming and provide water to areas that were typically very arid. But when the dam was completed, it also created Lake Powell, which filled in a landscape that is spectacular enough to be considered on the same level as many national parks. The Glen Canyon has sat mostly under water – and unappreciated – ever since.

As Tim points out in his article, Lake Powell reached its hight point back on July 15, 1983. Today, it sits at just 50% capacity, and the dam that created it may be doing more harm than good. Worse yet, climatologists believe that neither Powell, nor Lake Mead, will ever fill to their capacities again.

This has led to a movement to decommission the Glen Canyon Dam, which could help to fill Mead, and restore the Glen Canyon region to its former glory. Beneath all of that water is a natural landscape filled with twisting gorges, rock spires, and other natural wonders just waiting to be rediscovered. Removing the dam would allow that to happen, and would have a positive impact downstream as well.

We are a long way from the dam being dismantled, but there is at least a conversation brewing about the positive side effects it could bring. As more people pick up on this story, it could gain enough momentum to being the process at long last.

Two Climbers Die in Fall Inside Grand Teton National Park

Two female climbers fell to their death while climbing inside Grand Teton National Park over the weekend as a strange, and tragic, summer season continues throughout the U.S. national park system.

Tyler Strandberg and Catherine Nix, both of Jackson, Wyoming, fell 200 feet while attempting to climb to the summit of Teewinot Mountain on Saturday. They were taking what is described as the standard route to the top along the East Face of that mountain when the accident occurred. The two women, along with a third climbing partner named Rebecca Anderson, were ascending a steep section without ropes when Strandberg and Nix fell. Anderson was the person who placed a 911 call to authorities to report the incident.

Teewinot is a 12,326-foot (3756 meter) peak that is generally climbed without the use of ropes. It is a mostly non-techcnal ascent, although there is a challenging Class 4.0 scramble to the summit near the end. The route up the East Face is also unmarked and requires good pathfinding skills to stay on course. The three women wandered off course on their way up the mountain, which led them into a much more challenging section that was very steep and rocky. Those conditions eventually contributed to the death of Strandberg and Nix, and also stranded Anderson who had to be airlifted off the mountain by helicopter.

My condolences to the friends and family of the two women who lost their lives. It is a sad story that reminds us of the dangers of climbing and the need to be extra cautious, particularly on a route that isn't well known.

Columbia Sportswear Wants to Pay You to Test Gear

Do you love being outdoors? Do you enjoy trying out new gear? If so, than Columbia just might be looking for you. The gear company is looking for two Directors of Toughness to put their latest and greatest outdoor clothing to the test, and they're willing to pay handsomely for the right candidates. 

The job requires a six-month commitment out of the two hires, although they will be paid $26,000 as compensation. On top of that, whoever gets the job will also be sent off on several exciting expeditions to some of the most iconic places in North America, and other parts of the world. Benefits include health insurance and paid housing in Portland, Oregon as well. And of course, the Directors of Toughness will also be outfitted with all of the gear that they could ever hope for to help them survive their adventure too.

Where exactly these gear testers will go has yet to be determined, but the plan is for them to follow the weather. In other words, those who are hired for these positions will probably be spending a lot of time in places that are less than ideal in terms of the conditions. That is to be expected of course, as the best way to see if a piece of gear performs well is to take it to places that are cold and difficult.

Applications for the DoT positions are being accepted through the end of August. If you think you have what it takes to join the Columbia team, click here to fill out the application. And good luck!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Video: Beautiful Azores in 4K

Want to end the week with a beautiful escape to someplace lovely? Than this short video ought to do the trick. It features timelapse imagery from the Azores that is simply too stunning for words. These beautiful islands located off the coast of Portugal are well known for their beauty, but this clip gives us a first-hand look at just how spectacular a destination the Azores truly are. Enjoy.

Açores 4K from Lukas Unterholzner on Vimeo.

Swiss Mountain Runner Bags Five Peaks in Record Time

Swiss mountain runner Andreas Steindl has set an impressive new record in the Alps. A few days back, the 26-year old endurance athlete and mountaineer managed to bag the summit of five different 4000 meter (13,123 ft) peaks on his way from Zermatt to Saas-Fee in a stunning time of just 7 hours and 45 minutes.

Steindl's quest began in the church square in Zermatt and ended the church square in Saas-Fee. In-between he ran a route that crossed the summits of Alphubel (4206 m/13,799 ft), Täschhorn (4491m/14,734 ft), Dom (4545 m/14,911 ft), Lenzspitze (4294 m/14,087 ft), and Nadelhorn (4327m/14,196 ft). His sub-8 hour time ended up being 77 minutes faster than his previous record along this route.

The video below captures the run and gives you an idea of what Andreas was up against. This was no easy run in the mountains by any means, requiring speed, strength, and sure footing to achieve his goal. Watching these mountain runners go about their business never gets old, as they are indeed some of the best athletes in the world today.

July Was the Hottest Month Ever According to Researchers

There was disturbing news for environmentalists earlier this week as a new report indicates that July was the hottest month ever recorded. According to research conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the average temperature across the planet in July was 16.6ºC/61.9ºF, which .08 degrees higher than previous marks, and has been deemed a "significant" margin in terms of weather.

Scientists are blaming global climate change and the El Nino phenomenon for the spike in temperatures, and sadly July wasn't the only month to see a bump. In fact, the seven previous months for 2015 have also set records for the warmest period recorded as well, with official records dating back to 1880.

Jake Crouch, a scientist at NOAA, says "Now that we are fairly certain that 2015 will be the warmest year on record, it is time to start looking at what are the impacts of that? What does that mean for people on the ground?"

In other words, there is definitely a trend forming, and it is not a good one. The Earth is getting warmer and it will have consequences for how we live within our lifetimes. As the polar caps melt, and the oceans rise, coastlines will be altered dramatically. Droughts will become more frequent and severe, and powerful storms are likely to become more common in their ferocity and duration. Looking around, it is easy to see some of these things already starting to happen, and chances are it is only going to get worse.

Primal Quest Adventure Race Underway in Tahoe

A legendary adventure race has risen from the ashes, and is currently underway near Lake Tahoe in California. The 2015 edition of Primal Quest began yesterday, with 11 coed teams of four setting off on a 400+ mile (643 km) expedition-length course that is expected to take up to seven days to complete. The start of the race marks the return of one of the truly epic brands in the sport.

If there are two races that have epitomized adventure racing in the past, it is the Eco-Challenge and Primal Quest. Both were considered the toughest, most grueling races on the planet back in the day. Eco-Challenge – which was created by TV mogul Mark Burnett – was the event that brought adventure racing to a world stage, making a much larger audience aware of the sport for the very first time. It drew millions of viewers who mesmerized by the amazing athletes who spent days racing through some of the most challenging environments on the planet. But the race folded up shop back in 2002 and passed the torch on to its spiritual successor – Primal Quest. That even ran from 2002 to 2009 with some truly epic courses of its own. 

Despite a few rumblings of a possible return over the years, PQ remained off the AR schedule for a long time. It has returned at last however, with a new race management team that hopes to rebuild the brand back to its original status. 

Right now, the teams taking part in the race are into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where over the next few days they'll be running, mountain biking, paddling, and climbing their way along the route. As I write this, the lead teams are through the early checkpoints and are well into the competition. Team Bones from the U.S. is running in first place through CP 8, while Team GodZone of New Zealand is currently in second through CP 6. They're being chased by the Team Too Much Fun Club, who are in third through CP 6 as well. Considering there are 31 total checkpoints in the event however, there is a lot of racing yet to come. 

As someone who served on the staff of the previous two Primal Quest races, I'm glad to see PQ back on the schedule. Hopefully it continues to be a successful event in years to come. Good luck to all the teams racing this week as well. Have fun and stay safe. 

Controversy Brews Over Nolan's 14 Run

Yesterday I posted the news that two women – Anna Frost and Missy Gosney – became the first female ultrarunners to complete the grueling Nolan's 14 challenge. This very difficult endeavor requires athletes to cover more than 100 miles, and bag 14 different 14,000 foot (4267 meter) peaks in Colorado's Sawatch Range in under 60 hours. The duo had apparently completed that task on Tuesday of this week, but now there is some controversy brewing as to whether or not they finished at the proper location in the time required.

Outside Online has the scoop on this story, but essentially there is debate in the ultrarunning community over just where Nolan's 14 ends. Some say it is at the final summit, while others say it is at the trailhead. Frost and Gosney reached their final summit on Mt. Shavano in 57 hours and 55 minutes, and then took time to celebrate at the top. By the time they actually descended down to the trailhead, the 60 hour time limit had expired.

Matt Mahoney is the unofficial record keeper for Nolan's 14, and his site indicates that the run ends on the final summit. But most other ultrarunners who have attempted the challenge have listed their times from trailhead to trailhead. It is also argued that the intent for the original creators of the event were for it to go from trailhead to trailhead as well, beginning and ending at the Fish Hatchery near Leadville or Blank Cabin near Salida, depending on which direction you are traveling.

Frost told Outside that she and Gosney were perfectly happy with their effort, and that they felt they had completed the run according to the rules. The ladies would have had enough time to descend to the trailhead had they departed from the summit of Shavano more quickly, but instead they elected to stay on top and celebrate with their support team. In her mind, they completed Nolan's 14 according to the official rules.

Mahoney's website doesn't have Frost and Gosney's run listed just yet, although past attempts are recorded on the site. Each of those includes the number of peaks that a runner notched in the time allowed as the indicator of how much of the run they managed to complete. So, for instance, a runner may have bagged 8 peaks in their attempt at the challenge before they ran out of time or retired from the chase. If this method of recording the run holds true, than Frost and Gosney will be credited with achieving 14 summits, which should equate to success. But, it seems there will always be those who question their effort since they didn't reach the trailhead in the specified time.

Either way, it was a fine effort on what has become one of the truly great challenges in ultrarunning.