Friday, October 12, 2018

Heading to Outdoor Blogger Summit

Just another quick heads up to let regular readers know that I'll be on the road again for most of next week. This time out, I'm heading to Outdoor Blogger Summit in Roanoke, VA where I'll not only get the chance to hang out with other content creators in the outdoor industry, I'll be speaking on a couple of topics too. 

I've been a part of this event for the past four years and it has been fun to watch it grow and evolve over that time. For the next version of the summit things are going to change up some, but it's too early to talk about that just yet. This time out though, attendees will learn about how to make money from their online publications, work better with editors, balance their time as a freelancer, and so much more. The line-up of speakers (yours truly excluded) are fantastic as well, with some really interesting and innovative things to talk about.

The conference runs from Sunday through Tuesday of next week, but I'll be sticking around Roanoke on Wednesday to do a little fly fishing while I'm in the neighborhood. I'm back home that evening and should be back on schedule with blog updates (and new episodes of The Adventure Podcast) after that. Until then, enjoy your weekend, get outside and have an adventure or two. As always, thanks for reading. 

Video: Climbing an Unclimbed Peak in the Indian Himalaya

Back in May o this year, three British climbers –– Malcolm Bass, Paul Figg and Guy Buckingham –– travels deep into the Indian Himalaya to attempt the first ascent of a Janhukot, a difficult and demanding peak that has turned back all attempts for decades. The three men filmed their expedition and soon we'll be getting a full documentary about their experience there, but for now we'll have to settle for the trailer below. If this is any indication of the final product, we could have the makings of another classic mountaineering film. The scenery and setting looks spectacular and there appears to be no shortage of drama either. Add this to the growing list of documentaries we'll need to see in the near future, as it looks like a good one.

Janhukot - Trailer from Pertex on Vimeo.

Tusker Trail Shares a Guide to Climbing Kilimanjaro for Beginners

Climbing Kilimanjaro –– Africa's highest peak –– is a bucket list adventure for just about any adventurous traveler. The non-technical trek to the summit is a challenge, in no small part due to the increasingly thin air as you approach the top. But, the hike is an amazing one for so many reasons, including the unique ecosystems –– five in total –– that you pass through on your way up and the amazing views you'll discover along the way.

If you've been considering a Kilimanjaro climb yourself, but aren't sure what to expect of where to being, my friends over at Tusker Trail have a blog post you may want to have a look at. It is a First Timer's Guide to Climbing Kili that shares some great information that I wish I had known before my first go at the mountain.

Some of the insights shared in the post include putting the climb into perspective with a reminder that the mountain may be daunting, but it is far from impossible to climb. The article also emphasizes that you won't be climbing alone, as others will be along to share encouraging words and provide support when things get challenging. The routes are also clearly marked, well traveled, and easy to follow, taking some of the mystery out of the trek, even for those making their first major trek.

The story also touches on the importance of training for the climb and not just in the gym. You can help increase your chances of success, and limit the amount of suffering you endure, by hitting the trail with a full pack to help your body prepare for the climb. You'll also want to wear in your boots and check out your gear prior to leaving. We're also reminded that reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro is a major life-goal for many, requiring perseverance and focus. It isn't easy, but it is very rewarding.

I've said on more than one occasion that for my money, Tusker is the best operator on Kilimanjaro. If you're considering making the climb yourself, take a look at the options that they have to offer. The company's guides are top notch, extremely well trained, and very friendly. You'll also be hard pressed to find better meals from any other guide service as well. Check out their Kilimanjaro itineraries –– as well as their other amazing trips –– at

So Far This Year the Arctic Sea Ice isn't Reforming as it Should

When it comes to climate change and warming temperatures on a global scale, one of he canaries in the coal mine has always been the Arctic and Antarctic ice. These cold regions of the planet have withstood the changes in temperature that seemed to be impacting other parts of the planet for a long time, but now they are starting to feel the impact of warming conditions as well. Case in point, the sea ice in the Central Arctic basin, which melts off during the summer and like clockwork begins to reform in the autumn and winter. But this year, that isn't happening and it could be a harbinger of the further impact of climate change.

The Central Arctic basin is a stretch of the Arctic Ocean that covers an area of about 4.5 million square kilometers (1.7 million sq. miles). Typically by late August, this section of frigid water has usually reached its lowest point of the year in terms of the amount of ice that is found in that region. Warm temperatures throughout the spring and fall causes the ice to retreat to a degree before temperatures begin heading the other direction late in the summer and the ice rapidly starts to regenerate. That isn't happening this year and usually warm weather is to blame.

At the moment, temperatures over the high Arctic have been hovering around 18ºF (10ºC) above their normal readings for this time of year. That is preventing the ice from forming and filling in this large area as it has typically done in the past. According to meteorologists, a massive high pressure front that stretches across Alaska all the way to the North Pole is keeping the warmer temperatures in place, This is having an adverse effect on the regrowth of the ice. But climatologists are also quick to point out that ocean temperatures are also warmer than usual, which isn't something that changes quickly with the weather. That is the result of years of climate change slowly bringing water temps up. The two factors –– warming oceans and an Arctic heatwave –– are stalling out the ice growth.

According to historical records, the Arctic sea ice is at its second lowest point ever recorded for this time of the year. Back in 2007, conditions were also warmer there and the ice failed to regenerate as quickly as it should. If the heat wave moves on and temperature return to normal, the growth of the ice should pick up again. Just how much of it will rebound remains to be seen and of course it could have an impact on anyone who is considering skiing to the North Pole early next year. I know of at least one or two such expeditions that are in the planning phases, but the lack of ice could make such a journey all but impossible.

Again, this isn't solely the work of climate change, as a massive weather front is playing its part too. But, clearly the warming ocean temperatures are having an impact on the Arctic. Hopefully this is just an anomaly, although as more and more data continues to mount, it is starting to look more like a trend.

Outside Magazine Posts 2019 Winter Gear Buying Guide

If you're in need of new gear to keep you warm, dry, and moving during the cold months of winter, then you'll definitely want to head on over to Outside Online, the website for Outside magazine A few days back the publication posted its 2019 Winter Gear Buyers Guide, and as usual it offers a cornucopia of new products to sift through as we inch closer to that season here in North America.

This time out, the team at Outside sifted through hundreds of pieces of outdoor gear to narrow down their buyers guide to a mere 331 items. They've conveniently broken down those products into a few broad categories to make it easier for the rest of us to pour over. For instance, readers will find a Ski & Snowboard section that is further subdivided not only into the actual skies and snowboards themselves, but also boots, bindings, poles, helmets, goggles, and more. Similarly, there is a Layers section that contains jackets, base and mid-layers, ski pants, and even a category for "adventure blankets."

Next up, we have the Essentials category, which is a broad one that covers things like backpacks, winter travel gear, cameras and drones, camping equipment, hats, gloves, safety gear, and a bunch of other items that don't necessarily fit into the regular headings. As you would guess, the Fitness heading offers running shoes and gear, fat bikes for riding on snow, hiking equipment, snowshoes, watches, workout clothing, and cycling equipment. Finally, the Après category provides insights into the best sunglasses, clothing, grooming products shoes, and other items you'll need while hanging out at the lodge.

As usual, this guide is deep, well designed, and fun to read. There are so many things to go through here that you can easily lose a few hours chasing your gear fix down the rabbit hole. As such, you'll definitely want to set aside some time to check out everything that made the cut, as there are too many interesting and promising items to even begin to list them all here. Gear nerds are going to love it however, so head on over and start shopping here.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Video: GoPro Takes Us to the Great Barrier Reef

One of the more intriguing technologies that GoPro has been touting in its Fusion camera is something called Overcapture. Essentially, this is the action camera company's take on shooting 360º video, but up until now we haven't seen a lot of great clips that take advantage of this feature. But the video below illustrates its effectiveness nicely, taking us to the Great Barrier Reef to shoot some spectacular underwater footage. Throughout the video you'll glide through the pristine blue waters of the GBR while colorful fish and other sea life swim around you. It is a stunningly beautiful clip to be sure and a good reminder of how GoPro became so well recognized in the action camera space.

Video: Alex Honnold Writes a Note to His Teenage Self

Climber Alex Honnold continues his media blitz in support of Free Solo, the documentary that shares his amazing climb up El Capitan last year without the use of ropes. In this clip, made for CBS This Morning, Honnold talks about that feat while also sharing a bit of advice for his teenage self in a segment that the show calls "Note to Self." As usual, it is an interesting bit that offers some insight into the mind of this groundbreaking athlete.

Gear Closet: Suunto 9 Fitness Watch Review

As an avid runner, cyclist, and outdoorsmen in general, I love wearing a watch that can keep track of my activities levels on a daily basis, but especially during a workout. For me, my day-to-day timepiece of choice is an Apple Watch, in part because it does a great job of reminding me to stay active, but also because of all of the other features it brings to the table, most notably displaying notifications, granting me access to my calendar, allowing me to respond to texts, and a host of other things. So when I got the opportunity to test out the new Sunnto 9 fitness watch, I was worried that I'd miss all the things that Apple Watch provided for me. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about at all, as the 9 offers much of the same functionality, along with more features for fitness tracking and much better battery life.

Suunto is well known for creating excellent watches for use in the outdoors, and the 9 is no exception. It is built tough enough to survive in the harshest of conditions and still keep on ticking. This device is waterproof down to 100 meters (328 ft) as well, which means you don't have to worry about using it in or around water. I've worn this watch on numerous workouts while running, mountain biking, and hiking and it has come away with nary a scratch. I've even taken it on a number of trips where its dual time and auto-adjusting features have come in very handy.

At its core, the Sunnto 9 is a fitness-focused watch that was built for outdoor athletes. It comes preloaded with more than 80 sport modes, allowing it to track a run at the gym, on the road, and the trail, just as easily as it monitors a swimming, cycling, or rowing workout. The watch's built-in GPS is fast, accurate, and easy to use, tracking distance, speed, location, and a variety of other features, while the onboard barometer does a fantastic job of measuring vertical gain and loss along the way. Of course, the 9 is also equipped with a heart rate monitor as well, which plays an important role in determining the intensity of a workout, calories burned, recovery time, and other important factors.

While the Suunto 9 doesn't compete directly with the Apple Watch in terms of "smart" features, it is by no means lacking in the area of connectivity. The watch pairs with a smartphone and can provide wrist notification for text messages, app alerts, phone calls, and a variety of other info. This helped me to get past my reliance on my Apple Watch while testing, and while Suunto's device doesn't offer all of the features of Apple's, most of the time I never missed any of the functionality. I suspect dedicated outdoor athletes and fitness focused individuals will feel the same way, trading a bit of tech features in favor of improved tracking and onboard GPS navigation, complete with route info displayed right on the screen.

Jax Mariash Finishes First in Female Division at Grand 2 Grand Ultramarathon

Courtesy of Grand 2 Grand Ultra
I'm a little late in posting this news, but I haven't seen it shared too many other places and I definitely thought it was worth a mention. Back in August, I shared the news that ultrarunner Jax Mariash was gearing up for three extremely difficult challenges over the course of the following month or so. Those tests of her endurance included the Leadville Trail 100 in Colorado,  the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in Europe, and finally the Grand 2 Grand Ultra, which was held in Arizona and Utah at the end of September. After surviving that demanding gauntlet of difficult races over such a short period of time, she also managed to write her name in the history books as well, taking first place in that final event.

The Grand 2 Grand Ultra is a 170 mile (273 km) race that begins at the rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona and ends at the summit of the Grand Staircase in Utah. The event is broken up into six stages over seven days, with competitors remaining self-supported for the entire race. It is not only a test of any runner's strength, speed, and agility, but also their mental toughness and determination too. Of the eight ultra events that Jax has participated in, she says that this one was the most difficult.

Mariash completed the race back on Saturday, September 29, in seventh place overall and becoming not only the first female to cross the finish line, but the first American as well. She dominated the women's division, completing the course 3 hours and 20 minutes ahead of her next closest competitor.

This year's Grand 2 Grand saw 135 runners take to the starting line with 111 eventually finishing. The demanding course includes more than 18,000 feet (5480 meters) of vertical gain with the temperatures ranging from 80-95ºF (26-35ºC). Altitude plays a major part as well, as the entire route runs between 5200 and 8100 feet (1584-2468 meters). To get a sense of what this ultra is all about, check out the video below. You'll find the scenery is remote and spectacular, but very demanding too.

9-Time Everest Summiteer Lhakpa Sherpa Seeks Sponsorship for Next Expedition

This past spring, Lhakpa Sherpa summited Everest for the ninth time, extended her own world record for the most summits of a woman on that mountain. In fact, she was recognized by the Guinness Book of Worlds Records for her achievement, which put her in rarified company even with the male Sherpas in Nepal. Now, she's gearing up to make her tenth summit on Everest in 2019 and yet she still doesn't have a proper sponsorship despite her accomplishments in the Himalaya.

This story as brought to my attention by the Expedition News, which reports that this past spring climbing season, Lhakpa received some support from Black Diamond, which provided gear and money for her climbing endeavors. But for 2019, she is seeking additional support from the outdoor industry, as well as management and public relations assistance too. So far, there hasn't been many takers.

When not climbing in Nepal, Lhakpa lives in Hartford, Connecticut here in the U.S. where she works at Whole Foods earning $11.50/hour. Her duties include washing dishes and taking out the trash, and while the job provides enough to help support herself and her two daughters, it leaves little money –– or time –– to dedicate to training and climbing. The challenges that Sherpa faces in her day-to-day life were chronicled in detail in a recent profile done by Business Insider, which offers some insights into why she loves to climb. In the story, Lhakpa says that she believes that women are better climbers than men, in part due to their patience and demeanor.

It hasn't been until recent years that female Sherpas (known as Sherpani) have been allowed to play more pivotal roles in terms of guiding and expedition leadership. To that end, Lhakpa has launched her own company known as Cloudscape Climbing. The organization offers expeditions to "any mountain in Nepal," with detail intermarries available for Everest, Manaslu, and other major peaks. She also offers guided hikes in the New England area as well for those looking to take a walk with a famous mountaineer.

The odd question to me is, why doesn't Lhakpa Sherpa have more prominent sponsors in the outdoor industry? Would a man who has summited Everest nine times have difficulty getting support for his tenth attempt? In an era where we're looking for more female role models and leaders, she is an example of someone who has persevered through many challenges and continues to pursue her dreams. That seems like someone who deserves more support and attention in my opinion. Hopefully she'll get the sponsorships she needs to return to the mountain once again.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Video: Saying Goodbye to Hayden Kennedy

One year ago to the day the climbing community was shocked and saddened by the death of Hayden Kennedy and his partner Inge Perkins. The loss was felt far and wide, opening deep emotional scars in those that knew them. In this video, fellow climber Josh Wharton sets out to honor their memory by climbing a new line in Eldorado Canyon. This is the story of that climb and perhaps finding a bit of peace.

Video: Climbing in Antarctica Brings a Sense of Awe

The North Face continues its series of videos about the team of climbers that went to the Antarctic last year with another short, but sweet, clip giving us a glimpse of their experience. This time out, we get a sense of the awe and wonder they felt in this expansive place, far from civilization, and about as remote and wild as you can get on our planet. The sense of scale is incredible, even in the short clip. Most of these videos are just a tease for what will likely be a much longer documentary, but they are still wonderful to watch. Check it out below.

The Adventure Podcast Episode 36: An Interview with Joel Einhorn of HANAH

If you're looking for your midweek dose of audio adventure, then The Adventure Podcast is here to accommodate. As usual, we talk about all kind of things in the outdoor and adventure world, including the latest news from the Himalaya, an update on an epic swim across the Pacific Ocean, dire new reports on the impact of climate change, and the latest on the return of a legend to the sport of adventure racing. We also share a couple of new pieces of gear that we've been using recently, giving listeners some thoughts on how these products can be of use in their own adventures.

Our main topic of the week is an interview with Joel Einhorn of HANAH, a company that makes nutritional supplements based on centuries old formulas that use natural ingredients, most of which have been sourced from India and Bhutan. Joel tells us about how he was in a serious accident while training for an Ironman triathlon that left him unable to sleep and about at the end of his rope. Doctors were unable to help him, but he turned to an ancient approach known as Ayurveda to find relief. This led him on a life-altering journey that not only set him on the path to recovery, but has helped him to remain healthy, strong, and vibrant ever since. It is fascinating tale that I think a lot listeners will really appreciate.

I've embedded the audio for the show in this blog post so you can listen to it straight from your browser. You can also find us on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Sticher, and Spotify if you prefer listening on one of those platforms. You can also reach out to us directly via our Facebook page, Twitter account, and by email. Drop us a note to let us know what you think, ask a question, or provide a suggestion. We always enjoy hearing from our listeners.

Himalaya Fall 2018: More Updates From the Mountains as Season Winds Down

There is no doubt that the bulk of the autumn climbing season in Nepal and Tibet is behind us, with most of the teams already come and gone. But there is still news to share from across the region as a few squads continue to wrap up their expeditions and take advantage of a few good remaining weeks before the onset of winter. With that, here are a few news items worth mentioning from the past couple of days. 

ExWeb is reporting that a Polish team on Manaslu has pulled the plug on their climb. The group has stayed on the mountain long after the big commercial squads have completed their expeditions and have gone home. Nepali officials say that more than 220 foreign climbers summited the peak this fall, but the eight Poles who were currently there won't be among them. 

Shifting weather conditions and increased avalanche danger are to blame for the end of the expedition. Apparently, more than a meter of snow fell on the mountain earlier in the week, which is making it very difficult to climb. The team reports that it took more than 15 hours to reach Camp 2 a few days back, while experiencing several close calls from avalanches. That was enough to prompt them to go home, likely bringing an end to season on Manaslu. 

Speaking of Manaslu, The Himalayan Times has a story about Jeanette McGill, a geologist from South Africa who recently climbed that mountain. In doing so, she became the first woman from her home country to summit the 8163 meter (26,759-foot) peak. It was her first 8000-meter peak, but you get the sense it won't be her last. Perhaps we'll see McGill on Everest next spring or sometime in the near future.

ExWeb also has a story about a team of Austrian climbers who have completed the first ascent of an unclimbed peak in the Indian Himalaya. The group consisted of Hansjörg Auer, Max Berger, Much Mayr and Guido Unterwurzacher, who spent three days climbing the 6050 meter (19,849 ft) peak after acclimatizing in the region for several weeks. The squad made their final push in alpine style, climbing a 3200 meter (10,498 ft) wall on their way to the summit. Once at the top, they rappelled back down the same route to wrap up their adventure late last week.

Finally, if you read Alan Arnette's blog with any regularity you probably already know that he suffered a major accident while training in Colorado a few years back. During that accident he broke his leg, setting back his plans to climb in the Himalaya. It has been a long road to recovery for the former Everest and K2 summiteer, but he has finally gone back to Nepal, where over the next couple of weeks he'll be climbing Island Peak. You can follow his progress through his regular updates

That's all for now. More news to come I'm sure. 

Couple Plans to Drive Solar Powered Electric Vehicle to the South Pole

Now that the fall Himalaya climbing season is starting to wind down, we'll turn our attention south to Antarctica where in a matter of a few weeks the first skiers will be setting out for the South Pole. As with every Antarctic season there will be a number of fascinating expeditions to follow, some more traditional than others. But this year, there will be an interesting vehicle-based journey to follow as a husband and wife team set out to drive an electric vehicle to the very bottom of the world.

Dubbed the Clean2Antarctica expedition, the plan is for Liesbeth and Edwin ter Velde to travel 2400 km (1491 miles) on a round trip journey that begins at the Antarctic coast, goes to the South Pole, and then back again. They are expecting the entire trip to take about five weeks to complete, with plans to get underway sometime in November, which is traditionally when the Antarctic season truly gets underway.

But what makes the Dutch couple's adventure such a unique one is that they'll be driving in an electric vehicle dubbed the Solar Voyager. This unique machine was custom built to survive in the Antarctic while creating its own source of fuel along the way. The team will use large solar panels, mounted on trailers pulled behind the main vehicle, to generate the power they will need to push the Solar Voyager along. And since it will be 24 hours of daylight throughout the drive to and from the South Pole, they should be able to collect energy at a constant pace.

The Solar Voyager's main component is a buggy that has been designed to roll over the ice and snow with relative ease. But adding two trailers carrying the solar panels does increase the length of the vehicle to 16 meters (52 ft). That's fairly long and could be quite ponderous, particularly when trying to avoid crevasses or even sastrugi, which can grow quite large and thick too. How the Voyager handles the conditions in the Antarctic will be interesting to watch.

While driving in an electric vehicle to the South Pole is a big enough adventure in its own right, the duo aren't doing it solely for that experience. They are also hoping to raise awareness of the impact climate change is having on the frozen continent. That's a big reason they've launched this "zero waste" expedition, along with drawing attention to renewing the Antarctic Treaty by 2048, which if allowed to expire would open continent to commercial development.

Find out more about this undertaking on the Clean2Antarctica website and thanks to my friend Lou-Phi for sharing this story. 

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Video: Meet the 97-Year Old Who is Still Running Mountains

Yesterday we had the inspiring story of a 91-year old man who climbed Devils Tower in Wyoming. Today, we have an amazing video about George Etzweiler, a 97-year old runner who summits Mt. Washington in New Hampshire every year, even though the challenge only continues to grow. Why does he do it? You'll just have to watch the clip below to find out.

Video: Climbing Helmcken Falls in British Columbia with Dani Arnold

Last February, speed-climbing phenom Dani Arnold traveled to British Columbia in Canada to attempt a new route on the frozen Helmcken Falls. This video takes along for that adventure as Arnold makes his way through a frozen wonderland. We know that he is good at setting speed records in the Alps and on other big peaks, but here we see his skill on ice too.

Gear Closet: Jackery Explorer 160 Portable Power Station Review

If you read this blog with any regularity, you probably already know that Jackery makes some of my favorite portable battery packs and power stations for keeping our devices charged on the go. In fact, I reviewed the company's Explorer 240 back in June and found it to be one of the lightest, toughest, and most versatile chargers around. But just when I thought they couldn't make a more appealing portable power station, along comes the new Explorer 160, an even smaller and more affordable option that doesn't compromise on performance.

I first got a look at the Explorer 160 at the Outdoor Retailer show back in August. When I laid eyes on it the first thought I had was "its so small!" At first glance, the Explorer 160 looks a lot like the Explorer 240, and that's by design. Jackery is creating a family of products that share many of the same features and capabilities, but in varying degrees of sizes and batteries. To that end, the 160 weighs in at just 3.7 pounds and comes with a battery pack that offers 167 watt-hours (46,400 man) of power. That's enough to recharge a smartphone in the neighborhood of 18-20 times, meaning you'll have plenty of juice to keep you going on your outdoor adventures.

In terms of power ports, the 160 is equipped with a built-in AC wall outlet that accommodates just about anything you want to plug into it. With up to 100 watts of power available, it can recharge laptops, drones, cameras, or even run small LCD televisions. The power station also includes two standard USB-A ports, a USB-C port, and a DC 12-volt 6mm port as well. Each of those charging ports can be active at the same time too, allowing you to power multiple devices at once.

Apparently one of the biggest uses for these portable power stations is for CPAP users who want to be able to go camping in the outdoors but still get a decent night's sleep. The Explorer 160 has no problem running a CPAP device I'm told, making it a great option for those who need such a device to assist with sleeping. And since the 160 is so small and light, it is ultra portable, making it easy to take car camping or even into the backcountry provided you aren't lugging it too far.

Our Outdoor Gear Gets Eco-Friendly

It's no secret that the outdoor industry is looking to get more eco-friendly. Gear manufacturers big and small have launched initiatives to make their products better for the environment by using fabrics made from recycled materials, employing manufacturing processes that require less water, and launching initiatives to repair and recycle older gear. Heck, I even wrote a whole piece on eco-friendly gear for Popular Mechanics recently that included 13 unique items from across the industry.

Now, Backpacker has followed suit, posting an article on the best eco-friendly gear for hikers as well. Their list isn't quite as extensive as the one that I put together, offering up just five choices. But, the products that they selected are good ones that deserve a spot in your closet.

Without giving too much away, the Backpacker story includes a set of hiking boots from Keen, a shell jacket from Marmot, a shirt from Vaude, pants from Fjällräven, and an environmentally friendly backpack from Trew. Each of the different pieces of gear was selected not only for being good for the planet, but for also offering a high level of performance too. It is not enough for our gear to be eco-friendly, they also have to provide the same level of quality that we've come to know and expect from the brands that we trust too.

Moving forward, it's likely that we'll continue to see these initiatives take center stage in the outdoor industry. The companies that make up this space are highly committed to ensuring that our outdoor playgrounds are well protected and around for future generations to enjoy too. That starts with making good gear that doesn't leave a lasting impression on the planet, and I salute their efforts in this area.

All-Star Team of European Climbers to Attempt K2 in Winter

The autumn climbing season in the Himalaya isn't even officially over yet and already we're turning our attention towards the winter. The harshest season of all requires a tough, determined team on pretty much any mountain, but when it comes to climbing the last 8000-meter peak to be summited in winter, it demands a higher level of focus and the ability to endure plenty of suffering.

ExWeb is reporting that a team of all-star climbers from Eastern Europe are preparing to travel to Pakistan in December to make an attempt on the first winter ascent of K2. The squad will be led by Vassily Pivtsov from Kazakhstan who has summited all 14 of the 8000-meter peaks. He'll be joined by fellow Kazakhs Vitaly Akimov and Ildar Gabbasov, as well as Russians Roman Abildaev, Vitaly Akimov and Eugeny Glazynov of Russia, and Mikhail Danichkin from Kyrgyzstan.

The group is filled with veteran climbers who have not only spent a lot of time on big mountains all over the world, but have endured some cold winter climbs too. They'll need all of that experience if they want to summit the world's second tallest peak in winter, as conditions are notoriously bad on K2 during that time of year. Climbers who have ventured to the mountain during the coldest months have experienced prolonged periods of weather during which temperatures drop to -40ºF/C, with high winds and heavy snow making it difficult to launch a summit bid or making any meaningful progress at all.

The team's biggest challenge at the moment may not be the mountain however. In a press release announcing their intentions to climb K2 it is also noted that they are still seeking sponsorship to defray some of the costs. It is likely they will secure the funding, but it could mean they will have to scrub the attempt before even leaving for Pakistan.

ExWeb also indicates that there are rumors that Spanish climber Alex Txikon will forego another winter attempt without oxygen on Everest to give K2 a try instead. If that's the case, we could see two teams in Base Camp this winter. Txikon has had plenty of experience the last two seasons on the world's highest peak in winter as well, which should translate nicely to K2, even though the climbing is much more technical on the Pakistani peak.

Looking beyond 2019, we already know that the Poles intend to return during the winter of 2020 to have another go at the first ascent, that is if no one else has cracked the mountain first. This is one of the last great prizes in all of mountaineering, and it seems that there are a number of alpinists who are getting serious about solving it.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Video: Climbing in Antarctica with The North Face Team

Last year, The North Face sent a team consisting of the world's top climbers –– including Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anker, and Alex Honnold –– down to Antartica for an expedition. The group managed to notch 15 summits on an array of peaks found in Queen Maud Land, including some first ascents. Now, the company is releasing a series of videos that bring some insights into what this expedition was like, the first of which you can find below.

The first video serves as a teaser of sorts, showing off the team and the landscapes that they're dealing with. This being Antarctica, things are cold, harsh, and unforgiving. Still, these are six of the best mountaineers and rock climbers on the planet, so they're ready to go.

The second video gives us some insights from TNF athlete Savannah Cummins, who describes what it was like for her to travel to the Antarctic to climb as part of this team. To say she was a bit nervous visiting such a remote and wild place would be an understatement. 

Video: Louis-Phillipe Loncke Completes Tasmanian Winter Traverse

A couple of weeks back we shared the news that our friend Louis-Phillipe Loncke had completed his first-ever winter traverse of Tasmania. This was an epic journey that left him exhausted, pushed to his limits, and 15 kg (33 pounds) lighter than when he set off. The video below is from a new report aired in Australia that caught up with the Belgian adventurer just as he was crossing the finish line, providing some insights into what this journey was like.

91-Year Old Man Sets New Record Summiting Devils Tower

If you're one of those people who thinks age is just a number, I've got a great story to help support that line of thinking. A couple of weeks back a man by the name of Bill Weber set a new age record for climbing Devils Tower in Wyoming, completing the challenging ascent at the age of 91.

Weber, who is a retired veterinarian from Florida, said that he had read an article earlier in the year about an 87-year old man who had made the climb, setting a new record in the process. Afterward, he thought that he could complete the same climb himself and started planning a trip to the Devils Tower National Monument not long after.

The climb came one day after Weber's 91st birthday. He and his two sons had come to the tower for a training session a few days earlier with the hope of making the ascent on the birthday itself. But his guides recommended he take a day off and rest before starting the 16 hour climb to the top of the 5112 ft (1558 meter) laccololithic butte. After the three men had recovered, they embarked on the record-setting climb, completing the 5.7+ route back on September 20.

Weber and his sons have climbed together regularly in the past, but they hadn't all been on the rock together since 1988. At the time, the two younger Webers were living and working in Wyoming, and the three men climbed most of the Tetons. When it came time for the Devils Tower expedition, Bill told his sons that he wanted to go on "one last adventure."

This is a pretty impressive story and we should all be lucky enough to be fit and strong enough to take on major adventures like this one while in our 90s. Congrats to Bill on this impressive and inspiring accomplishment. Now, are they're any 93 year olds out there who want to take up the challenge?

Ultrarunner to Attempt Greenland Ice Sheet Crossing

Even in the 21st century a crossing of the Greenland ice sheets is a significant undertaking. At more than 2400 km (1500 miles) in length, the ice sheet is the second largest body of ice in the world, behind only Antarctica. Traversing such a wild and challenging place requires stamina, skill, and determination on par with skiing to the South Pole. But now, a Finnish endurance athlete is hoping to complete such a crossing on foot, running the entire way.

Adventure runner Jukka Viljanen has announced that he will attempt to run across the ice sheets eschewing the use of skis to travel on foot instead. If successful, he'll become the first person in history to accomplish such a feat. In doing so, he hopes to shine a spotlight on the impact that climate change is having in the polar regions of our planet, including Greenland where rising temperatures is already starting to have an impact on the lives of the individuals living there. 

Viljanen intends to set out on this journey in April of 2019. He has partnered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in his home country of Finland for support on the project. Since Finland is currently the chair of the Arctic Council, it seemed like a good fit for all involved. The expedition will serve as a call for action against climate change, with thousands of runners and adventure junkies following Jukka's progress throughout the traverse online. 

This certainly isn't Viljanen's first major expedition. We've followed his adventures in the past here on The Adventure Blog as he has run across the Sahara and Kalahari, and traveled to the North Pole and through the Antarctic. Traversing the Greenland ice sheets will be a challenge on par with those undertakings, and perhaps even more challenging. It is a difficult and demanding place, with frigid temperature, harsh conditions, and difficult terrain. 

For now, we'll have to wait until 2019 to learn more about this undertaking. But it should certainly be an interesting one to follow next spring. 

Himalaya Fall 2018: Teams Leave Dhaulagiri and Annapurna Due to Poor Conditions

The fall 2018 climbing season has turned toward the finish line. While there are still a number of teams in the region that are focused on making their ascents up various big mountains, the bulk of the commercial squads have now wrapped up their expeditions and are heading home. Last week was a successful one on Manaslu, Cho Oyu, and Shishapangma, with dozens of climbers topping out across those three peaks. Now, those teams are heading home, as are a few squads that weren't quite so successful this autumn.

Over on Dhaulagiri the mountain is now all but deserted. As we've mentioned several times throughout the season, heavy snowfall and generally poor weather conditions kept the climbers in Base Camp for much of September, prevented them from properly acclimatizing. So when October arrived, and summits were being recorded on other 8000-meter peaks in Nepal and Tibet, Dhaulagiri was still getting blasted with high winds, heavy snow, and unstable conditions. Eventually this caused the squads to give up on the summit this year, with most heading home at the end of last week.

Amongst those on Dhaulagiri who were forced to abandon their attempt was Spaniard Carlos Soria. He was on the mountain for the ninth time, still struggling to reach the top. Unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards and it is unclear if the 79-year old will ever get another shot at scaling this elusive peak. At the moment, he has 12 of the 14 8000-meter peaks on his resume, with only Dhaulagiri and Shishapangma remaining. The word is that most of his sponsors bowed out of this fall expedition, so this may be his Himalayan swan song. We'll have to wait until spring to see if he returns once again.

Dhaulagiri isn't the only mountain that has seen climbers pull the plug in recent days. Annapurna hasn't exactly been busy this fall, but it was the target of Russians Vitaly Lazo and Anton Pugovkin. The duo had hoped to summit and ski the mountain this fall, but once again poor weather conditions have put an end to their attempt. Annapurna is legendary for its dangerous slopes and this fall has been particularly bad with heavy snow creating the potential for avalanche danger. As a result, Lazo and Pugovkin have announced that they are leaving the mountain and returning home.

Updates from the Himalaya are likely to get a lot more infrequent moving forward. As mentioned, there are still a few teams climbing in the region and there is likely to be more news to report straight through into November. But things will be a bit quieter now for awhile, with just a few weeks remaining until things shut down until Spring. Such is the cyclical nature of climbing in the big peaks of Nepal and Tibet. We'll continue to keep an eye on things of course and as important news arises, we'll keep sharing.