Friday, November 16, 2018

Video: Looking Out for the Human Spirit

We'll wrap up the week with this wonderful video which offers a healthy dose of inspiration and motivation. It tells the story of Philippa "Pa" Arding, who suffered two traumatic accidents in recent years that have left her with a limp and difficulty speaking at times. But that hasn't prevented her from living an active and fully life, seeking adventure in many forms as she explores the world around us. Watching this clip and learning more about her, it is difficult to complain about my own life and the relatively insignificant things that I have to deal with. She is definitely a shining beacon for those who want to get out there and live their life to the fullest.

LOOKING OUT from Greg Dennis on Vimeo.

Video: Five Days on the Kokopelli Trail

Stretching from Fruita, CO to Moab, UT the Kokopelli Trail is one of the most legendary mountain biking and bikepacking routes in the entire U.S. It takes riders across some of the most scenic landscapes in the region, promising stunning vistas around every turn. While it certainly lives up to the hype, it is also a surprisingly challenging ride as well as the two riders in this video found out when they set out to ride it end to end. What you'll see in the video below is an account of that ride, with all of the rewards and tribulations that came with it.

Video: The Future of Adventure Vehicles is Electric

Earlier this week I was privileged to be amongst the very first people in the world to see a new adventure-centric electric vehicle that will be launching in 2020. This electric pick-up truck is coming our way from a company called Rivian and it promises to be a powerful new way to access remote places that we love and send us off on adventures big and small. I can't say too much about this truck yet, as it is officially under embargo until November 26. A similarly-specced SUV will follow on November 27 as well, giving us a glimpse of what is to come. I can tell you that these vehicles have been built from the ground up for adventure, with lots of great details to help us enjoy the activities and places that we love. For now, you'll have to be patient until I can share more details, although the video below will also offer a small look at what is coming. I can promise you that it will be impressive.

Backpacker Gives Us 40 Great Gifts for the 2018 Holiday Season

Next week we'll mark the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S., which also kicks off the official start to the holiday shopping season as well. I plan on writing several gift guides to mark the occasion, but the editorial team over at Backpacker magazine have already beat me to the punch, producing an outstanding list of 40 great gifts for the outdoor lover in your life. Here, you'll find everything that your gear-obsessed friends and family members could ever want to see them safely and comfortably through any adventure.

With 40 unique items to sift through I couldn't possibly give away everything that makes the cut. I will say however that their are gift suggestions for pretty much every budget. For instance, the list begins by suggesting Kate's Real Food energy bars, which are a tasty and affordable option that most hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, and climbers will love. From there, the options expand dramatically with suggestions on water bottles, camping kitchen sets, clothing, gloves, shoes and so much more.

A few of the highlights that sick out to me include Kelty's Woobie sleeping bag for kids, Outdoor Research's Skyward II jacket, and Altra Lone Peak 4.0 running shoes, which double nicely as light hikers as well. The rest of the items you'll have to discover for yourself, but there are plenty of pieces of gear to choose from, including apparel, technology items, watches, packs, and other products. In other words, if you have a number of outdoorsy people to buy for this year, you can pretty much get all of your shopping done here.

Check out the full list on the Backpacker website.

Himalaya Fall 2018: Australian Climber Perishes on Ama Dablam

Even as the Himalayan climbing season draws to an end and we turn our attention south to the Antarctic expedition season instead, we have sad news from Nepal today. An Australian climber has lost his life on Ama Dablam, falling to his death after a freak accident on a mountain that is known for being fairly safe and frequently traveled.

According to The Himalayan Times, 33-year-old Michael Geoferey Davis was descending the Ama Dablam above Camp 2 when the ropes he was using suddenly gave way, sending him plummeting to his death. He was climbing with Top Himalaya Guides at the time and officials from that organization believe the accident was caused by a large rock that fell from above, striking the fixed ropes and damaging their integrity. All other members of the team that Davis was with are safe and fine, having descended back down the mountain.

When the accident occurred a group of about 15 climbers –– including Nepali guides –– were descending from Camp 3 due to high winds. They had hoped to go higher on Ama Dablam, but deteriorating conditions sent them back down the mountain. It was during this descent that a very large rock dislodged itself from the face and tumbled downward, striking the rope in the process. The Australian climber fell to his death shortly thereafter.

Expedition organizers immediately called for an airlift back to Kathmandu but unfortunately Davis as declared dead on the scene. Our condolences go out to his friends and family at this time.

The 6812 meter (22,349 ft) Ama Dablam is one of the most distinctive mountains in all of Nepal, if not the world. It is known for its beautiful shape and snowcapped summit, which stands out even amongst the other Himalayan mountains. Trekkers on their way to Everest Base Camp pass through the shadow of the peak, which often serves as a good tune-up climb for other larger Himalayan expeditions. Traditionally speaking, Ama Dablam is very safe and makes for a good place for climbers to hone their skills and gain experience.

Despite this tragedy, the teams still on Ama Dablam this fall will continue upwards. The Times reports that the fixed ropes have already been repaired and teams are still preparing for a summit push when the weather permits.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Video: More Than Just Forests - Dixie National Forest in Utah

More Than Just Forests –– the latest venture from our friends at More Than Just Parks –– has released its latest video and it is an amazing one. This time out they take us to the Dixie National Forest in southwest Utah, revealing the stunning landscapes that can be found there. While we're often fixated on visiting the amazing national parks that are found in the U.S., this is a reminder to not skip out on some of the other public lands that are available. Many of the national forests are fantastic wildernesses too, providing even more opportunities for adventure.

MTJF | DIXIE from Your Forests Your Future on Vimeo.

Video: Mountain Biker Brett Rheeder is a Beautiful Idiot

This video takes us inside the mind of downhill mountain bike riders by allowing us to get to know Brett Rheeder and what motivates him on his bike. It is a wonderfully shot and produced short documentary that offers insight, inspiration, and motivation, while teaching us a thing or two along the way as well. Recently, Brett was the winner of the 2018 Red Bull Rampage, which I was lucky enough to witness first hand. This clip takes us behind the scenes to see how he trains and prepares for those kinds of events.

Ultrarunner Completes Alaska to Florida Journey on Foot

A few weeks back I shared the story of Pete Kostelnick, an ultrarunner who was in the midst of an epic journey from Alaska to Florida on foot. At the time, Kostelnick had just entered the state of Georgia and was continuing to make his way south towards his eventual finish line in Key West. On November 5, he crossed that finish line, bringing an end to one of the most impressive human-powered journeys we've seen in some time.

Kostelnick started his trans-continental run on July 31 in Anchor Point, Alaska with the intention of running all the way to Key West in 100 days. He ended up cover the distance between those two points in 98 days instead, running a total of 5384 miles (8664 km) in total. That means he covered roughly 55 miles (88 km) each and every day of the trip.

The ultrarunner's route took him out of Alaska, across Canada, and back into the U.S. in the state of North Dakota. From there, he went through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia, before entering into Florida where he eventually ran to the Atlantic Ocean at the southernmost tip of the continental United States. There, he delivered a small vial of water from the Pacific that he had carried all the way from Alaska.

To get a better perspective of what Pete accomplished, check out the short video below. It was created with the help of his sponsor Hoka One One, as Kostelnick ran in the company's Clifton 5 and Bondi 6 shoes the entire way.

Major congratulations to Pete on a job well done. This was an impressive feat to say the least. 

Winter Climbs 2019: International Squad Set for K2

A month or so back I told you about an all-start team of European climbers who were planning an expedition to Pakistan this winter to attempt a first ascent of K2 during that season. At the time, the group was still putting together their funding and making plans for how they would approach this epic challenge. Now, thanks to an interview with one of its members, we have a better idea of what their plans entail.

ExWeb has posted an interview with alpinist Artem Braun who will be a part of the team that is made up of mountaineers from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. He indicates that the team has received its preliminary permits for the expedition and are now planning on starting the climb in January. Braun says that the squad is in its final preparation stages with everyone preparing to travel to Pakistan soon. To prepare Base Camp for their arrival however, a group of porters has already reached the mountain and is setting up a base of operations there.

In the interview, Braun gives ExWeb an update on how the team's prep work is coming along, indicating that things are going well but there are a lot of moving parts to manage prior to leaving for the Karakoram. He also discusses the challenges they expect to face, what it's like to manage a large team of international climbers, and their plans for how they intend to tackle the monumental task of climbing K2 during the harshest, most difficult season of all. He also touches on the expectations the team has for itself, as well as those of their friends, family, and countrymen back home.

Reading this article there are two things that strike me. First, by not starting to climb until January the team is already limiting its time on the mountain. K2 will only give them a limited number of days to get work done during the winter months and in my opinion you need to be there as early as possible to start the process of installing ropes, scouting the route, building high camps, and so on. Winter technically begins on December 21 here in the Northern Hemisphere, and in order to be successful I believe you need to be in Base Camp by that date and start climbing immediately.

The other thing that stood out is that the team intends to climb without the use of bottled oxygen. I respect that choice and any mountaineer's decision to climb with the "fairest means possible." That said, the team is once again limiting its chances of success by choosing to not use supplemental oxygen. K2 is a hard enough mountain under the best of conditions and the winter conditions only amplifies those difficulties. To not use bottled O's seems like they're dooming the expedition from the start.

I hope that I'm proven wrong. This is a very strong team of climbers with a lot of experience and I'll be cheering them on for sure. But for the first winter ascent of the mountain, I believe you have to set yourself up for success, and these decisions seem like they are limiting the chances of that happening.

Of course, we'll be following their progress closely in the weeks ahead and I'll be ready to apologize and eat this words if and when they are successful.

Antarctica 2018: Whiteout Conditions Hit O'Brady and Rudd

When we posted our last Antarctic update a few days back, American Colin O'Brady and Brit Lou Rudd had just run into their first seriously challenging conditions in the form of large and relentless Sastrugi. Today they've added a new element in the form of whiteout conditions, which make things orders of magnitude worse. 

It is important to point out that both men have taken up the same journey –– a solo, unsupported crossing of the Antarctic continent. But, they are following the same route, so whatever conditions one is experiencing, chances are the other one is enduring those conditions too. Since the two were dropped off on the ice 12 days ago they have provided similar reports on their progress as they intend to run parallel to one another from the Ronne Ice Shelf to the Ross Ice Shelf, via the South Pole. In order to maintain their "solo" status however, they won't be able to come in contact with one another at any point and they can't lend a hand to one another either, as that would negate their "unsupported" status too.

Today both men have been giving their followers a bit of insight into what it like to ski through a whiteout. On his Instagram, O'Brady had this to say: 
"Day 12: WHITEOUT! Imagine waking up at your house. After eating breakfast, you sit down in a dimly lit room at a table and you look down at a compass never taking your eye off it for the next 12 hours. Maybe try that tomorrow, if you want a taste of what my day was like today 😉. In my TEDx talk I described Antarctica as white in every direction, feeling like “standing inside the belly of a ping pong ball.” However today went deeper than that. When the sun is out, this place is expansive beyond imagination. But today, not being able to see the ground at all, I was forced to tune into my compass, to feel for and anticipate the ever changing ground. It’s challenging with all this sastrugi. Needless to say I fell hard a few times. However as the day wore on my body intuitively managed the repetition. Another hard and cold day in the books."
Meanwhile, Rudd went into some detail on his very long day out on the ice in a Facebook post.  He described the challenge of pressing forward today as:
"It was basically I knew I was going to be in for a day of essentially tackling an icy obstacle course, blindfold, dragging a bathtub behind me. And that’s kind of what it boiled down to. I was in two minds whether to travel today, I wasn’t thinking I’d make that much progress in these kind of conditions; it’s the kind of day where you can easily injure yourself, fall over, dislocate a shoulder, break a binding. But I decided to go out and give it a go anyway, with the reasoning that any distance I made would be a bonus."
In other words, it was a rough day dealing with the whiteout and having to continue to deal with the sastrugi, which are the bane of an Antarctic skiers existence. These hard ridges made of ice and snow collect form on the surface as the wind blows, creating very difficult obstacles for the skiers to either go over or around. This won't be the last time the two men will encounter them either, as they are abundant as they get closer to the South Pole as well.

In other news, Eric Larsen should arrive in Punta Arenas, Chili today to begin the prep work for his attempt at a speed record skiing to the South Pole. The plan is to spend the next week in the city before flying out next week to embark on the challenge. He hopes to complete the crossing from Hercules Inlet to the Pole in just 22 days, carving as much as two whole days off the current record. We'll be watching that expedition closely as well.

More to come soon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Video: The Highlands of Iceland

If you're in need of a little escape today, look no further than this video. It takes us to the highlands of Iceland where we get some truly breathtaking views of the landscapes there. We all know that Iceland is one of the best destinations for outdoor adventure and that there is no shortage of scenery to be had, and yet every time we get one of these videos we continue to be amazed by what we see. Beautiful stuff for sure.

Highlands of Iceland | DJI Mavic 2 Pro from Eaglewood Films on Vimeo.

Video: Alex Honnold - What If He Falls?

We all know that Alex Honnold set a new standard for climbers by free soloing El Capitan in Yosemite last year. That endeavor brought a lot of challenges, not just for Honnold, but the climbers and filmmakers who followed along with him. The question is, did those cameramen make things more dangerous for Alex? More importantly, what would have happened if he fell? This video asks those intriguing questions and more, with stunning footage of Honnold doing his thing thrown in for good measure.

The Adventure Podcast Episode 40: The Best Gear of Winter Outdoor Retailer 2018

If you like outdoor gear then you're going to love this week's Adventure Podcast. My co-host Dave Adlard and I are back from Denver, Colorado where we attended the 2018 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market and saw lots and lots of new products that will be heading our way in the near future. With so many backpacks, boots, jackets, and other products to sift through, it is tough to pick our favorites, but we did manage to narrow our list down to six items that became the first winners of our "Best of Show" awards. Which pieces of gear impressed us? You'll just have to listen to find out.

Because we spent the majority of the episode talking outdoor gear we skipped our regular gear segment this week. But, we did start the show as we usually do by talking about the biggest stories in adventure and exploration from the past week. Those stories include an attempt at the speed record for skiing to the South Pole, a record-setting swim around the United Kingdom, and a potential ban on non-electric vehicles at Everest Base Camp.

You can download the latest episode of the show from Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Sticher, and Spotify or alternatively you can listen to the embedded version in this post below. If you like what you hear you can connect with us on Facebook and Twitter or send us your feedback, suggestions, and questions by email too.

As always, thanks for listening. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Video: Pobeda - Climbing the Coldest Mountain in the World

Tamra Lunger and Simone Moro are no strangers to climbing tall, impossibly cold peaks. But this past winter they traveled to Sibera to take on a mountain named Pik Pobeda, which holds the distinction of being the coldest peak on the planet. To put things in perspective, temperatures on the mountain reached -71.3ºC (-96.3ºF), turning it into one frigid excursions to say the least. In this video, we get an inside look at what it was like to climb in that environment, in a place that is about as remote and rugged as it gets on our planet.

Video: A Veteran Finds Peace and Solace on the Appalachian Trail

When Will Smith returned home to New Orleans after serving 5 years in the U.S. Army, with tours to Iraq, he found the transition a difficult one. Will was suffering from post-traumatic stress and soon found solace in alcohol and prescription medications. But he knew that he had to get his life together and find a way to deal with his demons, so he took up hiking. It helped him to get outside, commune with nature, and escape the hustle and bustle of daily life for awhile. This past summer he hiked the entire length of the 2100+ mile (3380 km) Appalachian Trail, where he found a bit of peace and solace at last. This video tells his story and it is an inspiring one.

The 12 Best Jobs in the Outdoor Industry and How to Get Them According to Backpacker

Working in the outdoor industry in some capacity is a dream job for many people, after all you get to be outside in some amazing places and you get to do some pretty great things along the way. But breaking into a field that lets you take advantage of those perks isn't always easy, often requiring years of patience, determination, and dedication. Now, Backpacker magazine is offering up its selection of the 12 best jobs in the outdoor industry, with some interesting tips on how to land them.

The list of the 12 jobs in question is presented in a slideshow format, with an image depicting someone working in that career. Each slide is accompanied by a brief description that not only announces the name of the occupation that earned a spot on the list, but also a line or two about what the job entails. Each entry also includes a link to another page that offers much more detail on the job, the basic requirements, schedule, and so on. Backpacker even provides information about the prospects of job growth in that field over the next few years, as well as the starting salary, perks, prerequisites, and challenges.

So what jobs made the cut? You'll have to read the story to get the full list, but some of my favorites include adventure travel leader, wilderness guide, and cartographers. The other careers in the slide show are equally interesting however, with each offering options for individuals to work outdoors on a regular basis, often for extended periods of time. My profession didn't make the cut, but I'd add outdoor writer/blogger/podcaster to the list, although breaking in isn't easy.

If you've been dreaming of getting a job in the outdoor space, but weren't sure what your choice entailed or how to get a foot in the door, this article should be of interest. You can read it in its entirety by clicking here.

The Best New Gear From Winter Outdoor Retailer 2018

Last week I attended the 2018 Winter Outdoor Retailer gear show in Denver, and while the event was smaller and quieter than most other OR shows, there was still plenty of good equipment and new products on display. In fact, my podcast partner Dave Adlard and I gave out the very first Adventure Podcast "Best of Show" awards. Who won? We'll be sharing the results in our episode that comes out a bit later today. But, we weren't the only ones handing out awards and giving accolades, as some other great media outlets also offered their picks for the best new gear as well.

First up, Gear Junkie handed out their awards as well, spotlighting ten different items that they felt stood out from the crowd. We agreed with them on a couple of those products too, so you'll see a bit of overlap when our winners are announced. Some of the highlights from Gear Junkie's list include a new mountaineering boot that can be used to ski as well, waterproof blue jeans from Duer, and a new base layer from from Smartwool. The other seven items I'll leave for you to discover on your own, but they include three Adventure Podcast award winners as well, not to mention some really great products that you'll probably want to have in your gear closet.

Next up, Outside magazine wasn't handing out awards like they usually do, but they did produce the video below to share their favorite new gear items. The three-minute clip gives viewers a sense of what it is like to attend OR, while also highlighting a couple of the more impressive pieces of gear that stood out to the Outside team.

Most of the gear in each of these round-ups won't be available until next fall, but it is always fun to get a sneak peek at what's coming.

Antarctica 2018: Sastrugi Slows O'Brian and Rudd

We are now ten days into the 2018-2019 Antarctic expedition season and while most skiers are only now just preparing to get underway, both American Colin O'Brady and Brit Lou Rudd are finding their stride out on the ice. The two men are traveling solo but chasing the same goal –– the first unassisted crossing of the continent –– and unsurprisingly, so far they're on a similar trajectory in terms of conditions –– both weather and surface. Today, the two men used a word that every polar explorer dreads and it won't be for the last time I can assure you.

The word that O'Brady and Rudd used in their updates was "sastrugi," which are incredibly hard ridges that form from blowing snow and ice. These ridges can actually grow quite large, often a meter or more in height, forcing skiers to go over or around them, but in any case slowing their progress greatly. They are a fact of life when traveling in the Antarctic however, and both men are likely to pass through a large section of sastrugi as the get closer to the South Pole. A massive field of them is known to exist between 87ºS and 88ºS, which for many skiers is the final major hurdle before the get to the Pole. For these two however, it will only mark the halfway point of their journey.

O'Brady posted an image of what the sastrugi look like on his Instagram to give us an idea of what they are like. He also reminded readers that the Antarctic is far from flat and he and the other skiers must go from essentially sea level up to 9000 feet (2743 meters) while dragging a heavy sled behind them. That is no easy feat, but it also one of the major challenges that skiers face on their way to the Pole. For a good section of the journey they are climbing uphill all day, every day, until things level out on the Antarctic plateau.

In Rudd's update he mentions a milestone of sorts, hitting double-digit distances for the day for the first time. That is an indication that he's getting his legs under him and is starting to move a bit faster. He's also happy to have the first ten days behind him as that means his sled has dropped 12kg 26 pounds) in weight from the food he has eaten. Considering the sled started at about 150 kg (330 pounds), that is only a small amount, but it is a start and it means he'll begin to get faster as more weight comes off.

The next flight out to the Antarctic from Punta Arenas is scheduled to take place next Sunday, November 18. It is likely to deliver more skiers heading to the South Pole. When that happens, we'll have more individuals to follow, but for now we'll continue to keep a close eye on O'Brady and Rudd.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Video: Why is Arc'teryx Gear so Expensive and Is It Worth It?

There is no question that Arc'teryx makes some of the best outdoor gear on the planet, but if you've ever shopped for any of the company's products, you know that they tend to be on the pricer side. That has left many to wonder why Arc'teryx gear costs so much and whether or not it is worth the money. This video attempt to answer that question by taking an in-depth look at the design and materials that goes into making our gear. While Arc'teryx is certainly the subject of the clip, it is a good overview of the outdoor industry as a whole, which now spends a lot of time and money researching and developing new materials, fabrics, insulators and other items that not only perform well but are eco-friendly too. Pretty fascinating stuff.

Video: Watch This 11-Year Old Shred the Mountain on His Skis

At the age of 11, Kai Jones may not be able to do everything that the "big kids" can do, but he can certainly out ski most adults. In this fun, creative, and highly entertaining clip, we catch Kai having a frustrating start to his day, although things certainly do pick up when he hits the slopes in Jackson Hole. Most of us wish we could ski as well as this kid, who tears up the hill and carves fresh powder with ease.

Gear Closet: Eddie Bauer Microtherm Stretch Down Jacket

With cooler weather upon us, and even colder temperatures coming soon, more than a few of you are probably on the look out for a new jacket to keep you warm on your winter outdoor excursions. Recently I've been testing the new Microtherm Stretch Down Jacket from Eddie Bauer, the company that practically invented the down jacket in the first place. I've found it to not only be warm and comfortable, but stylish too, making it a great option for use on the trail, while traveling, or just exploring around town. 

Designed to be a lightweight insulation layer, the Microtherm Stretch Down Jacket is built for use in cool weather when your activity level is low and cold weather when you're really working up a sweat. Eddie Bauer says that it is rated for use at 45ºF (7ºC) when you're not being particularly active and -5ºF (-20ºC) when you're on the move. That's a very broad range of temperatures to say the least, so knowing if this jacket is the one for you depends on your own tolerance for cooler conditions. Personally, I felt plenty comfortable in the Microtherm Stretch Down in temperatures lower than 45ºF, even when I wasn't being especially energetic, but it also warmed up quite nicely when I went on a hike or a light jog. At the moment, I can't imagine wearing it on a long run however, as my outdoor temperatures simply haven't been that cold yet and the jacket is simply too warm to use in weather that isn't below freezing. 

Of course, warmth is what we're looking for after all and the Microtherm Stretch Down uses 800-fill goose down as its insulator. As you would expect, that down has been harvested as part of the Responsible Down Standard, which means the birds that provided it were cared for and handled in an ethical and humane way. The jacket even ships with a code that you can scan to see where that down was harvested and how it made its way through the supply chain to Eddie Bauer for use in production. This is something that outdoor industry is taking very seriously these days and it is good to see that newer products aren't just being made more eco-friendly but are also using methods that don't harm animals too. Of course, you can always go with a jacket that uses synthetic insulation instead, but down remains the warmest insulator available for the weight. 

Eco-Challenge 2019 Accepting Team Submissions Soon?

If you follow the adventure racing scene at all you probably already know that the legendary Eco-Challenge race will return next year with realty television producer Mark Burnett back at the helm and Bear Grylls severing as the point man. The return of this high-profile event was officially announced a few months back, although since then there has been few updates. We do know that Burnett and Grylls have partnered with Amazon to deliver a 10 episode television show that follows the teams throughout the competition, but we don't know when and where the race will take place yet. Still, as the days roll by we are starting to get a bit more information and apparently teams will soon be able to submit their information in order to join the race.

While at Outdoor Retailer last week I received an email that contained the trailer video for Eco-Challenge 2019 that you'll find below. That email also indicated that teams could now submit their information on the Eco-Challenge website, although I don't actually see a place where they can do that just yet. The site looks pretty much the same as it did when the revival was announced back in the summer, including a form to receive more information as it is revealed. That form allows readers to indicate if they want to compete or not, but as of this writing I don't see any place for teams to submit their data.

It is possible that the email that was sent out last week was a bit premature and that website update is coming soon. We are expecting to learn the dates and location of the race at any time, as Burnett and Grylls have said that those two pieces of information will be revealed before the end of the year. With the clock ticking on that deadline, we should expect to learn a lot more soon.

What makes the return of Eco-Challenge so exciting is that this was the race that got many of us interested in adventure racing in the first place. Starting in the mid-1990s and running to the early 2000s, Eco was the biggest and baddest race in the planet. It built an audience in no small part thanks to Mark Burnett's awesome television specials that captured the essence of the sport so well. It didn't hurt that the race took place in destinations like Fiji, Morocco, and Argentina as well, creating a lush and dramatic backdrop to the competition that was unfolding before our eyes. Later, Burnett went on to create Survivor and became one of the biggest names in Hollywood. Now, he's returning to his roots somewhat by bringing Eco-Challenge back. How it fares in the modern age remains to be seen, and adventure racing has changed a lot since the last race took place. That said, there is still a lot of excitement amongst the AR community as we wait to learn more.

To get updates on all things Eco-Challenge, visit the race's official website and fill out the form.


Antarctica 2018: Eric Larsen to Attempt Speed Record to the South Pole

While I was away at Outdoor Retailer last week, another polar explorer has announced his plans for the 2018-2019 expedition season in Antarctica. American Eric Larsen will set out for Punta Arenas, Chile this week with the intention of once again skiing to the South Pole. But this time, he's got his eyes on setting a new speed record for covering that route while also raising awareness of climate change at the same time.

Larsen expects to leave for South America on Friday in preparation for his journey, which will cover roughly 700 miles (1126 km) starting at Hercules Inlet and ending at the South Pole. For Eric, that journey is a familiar one, as he has skied that route in the past, along with a full-distance expedition to the North Pole and climbing Everest within one year. He also guides in both the Arctic and Antarctic, leading "last degree" ski expeditions to the North and South Pole. What's different this time, is that he is hoping to complete the entire route in under 24 days, setting a new speed record in the process.

Back in 2011, a Norwegian South Pole skier named Christian Eide set down an impressive mark when skiing across the Antarctic. He covered the same route that Larsen is attempting in just 24 days time, an astounding record to say the least. The American thinks he can do it in 22 days or less however and plans to ski for 12-16 hours a day to ensure that he hits his required quota of miles. In order to do that, he'll need to cover approximately 32 miles (51.4 km) each and every day, which is about double what most of the skiers will do. To achieve that kind of speed, he'll drag a sled weighing about 135 pounds (61 kg) which will carry all of his supplies and gear. That is considerably lighter than most Antarctic skiers, which should help him to go faster than most others too.

One of the key components of the Last South expedition is to raise awareness of how climate change is impacting the polar regions of the planet. When Larsen skied to the North Pole back in 2014 it was an incredibly difficult challenge due to the breaking up of the Arctic ice. Now, nearly five years later, that expedition has become nearly impossible, and no one has been able to finish it since.

“Unfortunately, my expeditions are no longer about being first, but rather being last, and I truly believe that time is running out for these types of adventures,” Larsen said in a press release announcing his journey. The statement is an indication of how much he believes that global warming will change the environment to the point that these types of adventures may not be possible in the future. 

We'll be following Eric's expedition very closely in the days ahead as it will certainly be interesting to see if he can set the new speed record. Personally, I never thought anyone could challenge Eide's mark, but if anyone can, it will be Larsen. Stay tuned for updates.