Friday, December 07, 2018

Video: The Way of Manaslu

The eighth highest mountain in the world is Mt. Manaslu in Nepal, a beautiful peak that draws climbers and trekkers a like each year. This video takes us deep into the Himalaya to visit the mountain ourselves, taking us on a four-minute journey that is beautiful, fascinating, and enthralling. The short clip is a great way to end the week with an adventurous look into a remote corner of the planet.

The Way of Manaslu | Nepal - Himalayas from Eaglewood Films on Vimeo.

Video: The Logistics of Climbing Everest

While a bit sensationalist and over the top at times, this short documentary on the logistics of climbing Everest is a solid introduction to what it takes to climb the world's highest peak. The clip begins by acknowledging that Everest is often seen as the pinnacle of mountaineering success, despite the fact that there are much more difficult climbs out there. But once it finds its rhythm, this video becomes a solid look at why climbers flock to Everest in the first place and what it takes to get to the summit. 

Outside Magazine Names 2018 People of the Year

As we near the end of 2018 we're likely to see a number of articles, videos, and lists reflecting on the year that has passed. Some of these will be fun and interesting, others a bit more predictable and safe. Either way, it's always nice to be reminded of all the good things (and bad!) that have gone down over the past 12 months. As I come across some of the more interesting stories of this nature, I'll be sure to share them here. Take for example the latest from Outside magazine, which lists the people of the year for 2018.

Outside has broken this list down into a number of categories, including the top outdoor entrepreneurs, most accomplished athletes, and the boldest activists. Some of the individuals who make the cut include Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, and Andrezj Bargiel. Other names that may not be quite so familiar include BioLite cofounder John Cedar, Tyler Haney from Outdoor Voices, and Mona Caron, an artist with an impressive vision.

I'm a fan of Outside's approach here. Rather than trying to name a single person of the year, or focusing solely on high profile adventurers, they've got a great mix of both famous outdoorsmen and women, as well as some lesser known individuals that we should have on our radar. The profiles are short, but informative, with some great insights and information on why these people belong on a "people of the year" list.

So? Did Outside miss anyone? Who would you have liked to have seen on this list? To find out who made the cut, read the article here.

First All-Female Crew Set to Race in the 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

History is about to be made in the upcoming 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which is scheduled to get underway on December 26. That's because this year, an all-female team of racers will take to the water for the first time, with a very strong, talented, and experienced crew ready to leave their mark on the event.

The newly formed Team Ocean Respect Racing is made up of 13 women who are led by Skipper Stacy Jackson. The team derives its name from their efforts to spread a message of understanding and mutual respect amongst the sailing community not just in Australia, but the world over. They'll be competing on a 66-foot yacht dubbed the Wild Oats X as they help promote the idea of protecting the planet's oceans too. All told, the team has a combined  experience of 68 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Races and 17 Volvo Ocean Races under its belt, making them serious contenders in the upcoming event.

In a press release announcing the formation of the Ocean Respect team Jackson said, "Sailing with a fully professional, all-female crew to Hobart is a wonderful opportunity and we are proud to build on the work of non-professional female crews who have previously raced. We are excited to promote and encourage women in the sport and engage with the Australian public on ocean health issues that are affecting us daily, both locally and globally. We are working with environmental organizations, as well as local yacht clubs, to further educate ourselves, be proactive in mitigating our impact on the ocean, and inspire our fans and communities to become ocean stewards.”

Ocean Resect is working in conjunction with Vestas 11th Hour Racing, which has also carried a strong message of protecting the planet and its oceans. Jackson has been a strong and important member of that crew in addition to taking the reins for the all-female squad too.

In addition to Jackson, the Ocean Respect Racing team is made up of the following sailors: Carolijn Brouwer, Helm (NED/AUS), Katie Spithill, Tactician (AUS), Dee Caffari (UK), Bianca Cook (NZL), Sue Cafer (AUS), Jade Cole (AUS), Keryn McMaster (NZL), Sophie Ciszek (AUS), Faraday Rosenberg (USA/AUS), and Katie Pettibone (USA).

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Race will get underway in 18 days, just after Christmas and features some of the best sailors in the world. Good luck to Team Ocean Respect on their debut event.

Antarctica 2018: Southbound Skiers Face Slow Going Early On

The last time I did an update on the current Antarctic season a few days back it mainly focused on the two attempts to traverse the continent and Eric Larsen's speed crossing to the South Pole. At the end of that report I promised to share news of how the other South Pole skiers are doing and while there are now quite a few of them out on the ice, they all continue to struggle with the conditions.

When traveling in the Antarctic, the skiers generally expect it to be cold, windy, and harsh, even in the austral summer. But, the continent is also a dry one, so snow tends to be a minimum and while whiteouts do occur, they are somewhat infrequent. That isn't the case this season however, as the ground is covered in deep, soft snow that makes skiing very slow and difficult. Whiteout conditions have been an almost daily occurrence as well, which makes navigation very hard and tends to sap the spirits too. So far, in the early going of their journeys, that has been what most of the skiers have been encountering.

Antarctic newcomer Masatatsu Abe from Japan has been getting the full experience thus far. His initial plan was to ski just a few hours each day in the early going, and slowly ramp up to full speed once he had become accustomed to the situation and pace. The soft snow has made the extremely hard to do and he now finds himself behind schedule and traveling at a slower pace than he expected. Fortunately, he seems prepared for this and is taking it all in stride right now. But eventually things will need to improve  and he'll need to start covering much longer distances. Abe trains by pulling a rickshaw, so he is use to the hard work that comes with manhauling, but so far he hasn't been covering a significant amount of miles each day.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Video: Learn to Be an Adventure Photographer From Jimmy Chin

If you're looking to become an adventure photographer, why not learn from one of the top professionals working in the field today? We all know that Jimmy Chin is a master at his craft, while also combining his skills as a climber, skier, and elite outdoor athlete too. Now, you can pick up tips from the man himself in a new online course offered by MasterClass. I haven't taken the course myself, but judging from the trailer below and the subject matter itself, I have to imagine its a pretty amazing way to learn about Jimmy's process and approach to this inspiring profession. Check it out!

Video: Pro Runner Nick Symmonds Takes on Mt. Kilimanjaro

Professional runner Nick Symmonds has had two goals in life –– compete at the Olympics and climb Mt. Everest. He's already capped one of those goals by making two Olympic squads and now he's turning his attention to scaling the world's highest peak too. But he isn't just going after Everest, he'll be attempting all of the Seven Summits as well, starting with Kilimanjaro. In this video, we join Nick on his way up the tallest mountain in Africa as he learns a lot about himself and the challenge ahead along the way.

Thanks to ENO for Sponsoring The Adventure Blog

I wanted to take a moment to send a big thank you out to Eagles Nest Outfitters (aka ENO) for sponsoring The Adventure Blog. Over the next week and a half, the company is running some excellent holiday specials and we thought that they might appeal nicely to blog readers who are not only looking for new gear for themselves, but possibly gifts for the outdoor enthusiast on their shopping list this year too. To help with that process, ENO is putting different products on sale between now and the end of next week, so hit this page regularly to see what is available.

For those not familiar with ENO, the company makes some of the best hammocks and hammock related accessories on the market today. The Double Nest Hammock in particular is a real fan-favorite, offering everything you need for a comfortable night's sleep out on the trail or for just lounging around in the backyard. But, there is more to the ENO catalog that just hammocks, as the company also makes excellent chairs, shelter systems, blankets, and a whole lot more.

I'm happy to be working with the good folks at Eagles Nest Outfitters on their 12 Days of Christmas Sale. If you enjoy reading the content here on The Adventure Blog, do me a favor and click on over to see what ENO is offering as part of this holiday promotion. Chances are, you'll find some things you'd like to find under your tree this year.

Hiker Preparing for Unsupported Solo Crossing of Death Valley

An adventurous hiker is preparing to cross Death Valley solo and unsupported and is looking to raise funds for a great cause along the way. The expedition is set to get underway next week, with the trek taking the intrepid adventurer from the southernmost point in the national park to its northernmost terminus, crossing through some of the most remote and desolate areas that Death Valley has to offer.

Roland Banas says that he isn't an extreme adventurer or explorer, but is instead "just a regular dad and small business owner." In fact, he tells me that he thinks "there is a disconnect between extreme adventurers and the rest of us and I want to show that one does not have to be exceptional to complete tough adventures." In order to do that, he is embarking on this journey, which Banas says he expects to take about eight days to complete.

While hiking through Death Valley he'll be carrying all of his gear, supplies, and water on his back. His backpack will reportedly weigh in the neighborhood of about 90 pounds (40 kg) at the start, although it will get lighter as the days pass. Still, the difficult and unforgiving terrain will be a challenge, even as the load lightens.

Long-Distance Swimmer Ben Lecomte Suspends Attempt to Cross Pacific Ocean

Since last June we've been keeping a close eye on the progress of long-distance swimmer Ben Lacomte as he attempts to become the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean. That undertaking has not been an easy one as the Frenchman has had to deal with a number of unexpected challenges ranging from poor weather, mechanical issues with his support ship, and gear failures along the way. Today he made the tough decision to suspend the swim as dangerous storms bear down on his position.

When Lecomte began this undertaking he estimated that it would take him roughly six to eight months to complete the 8850 km (5500 mile) swim. But difficult conditions and several delays have slowed his progress considerably. So much so that we're now nearly to the six month mark and he hasn't reached the halfway point as of yet. In fact, in the past month he's covered just 800 km (497 miles).

Worse yet, two major typhoons are now bearing down on his position in the Pacific, making it extremely dangerous to be out on the water. Because of this, he has decided to press pause on the Pacific swim and return to his starting point in Yokohama, Japan.

In a statement regarding the halting of the journey Lecomte seems realistic about what is happening."The weather, there's nothing I can change about it,"he says "I'm not going to stress about it. I'm not going to put thought into it. It is what it is, and that's all."

Lecomte, who has already successful swum across the Atlantic Ocean, undertook this challenge in an effort to raise awareness of the threats to the Earth's oceans. While crossing the Pacific he and his team have remarked often about how much garbage and plastic they see on a daily basis. The Pacific in particular has been a dumping ground for trash for decades and now it is dramatically impacting the environment there. Efforts are underway to try to address this issue, but it could also take decades to clean it up too. Meanwhile, the micro-plastics in the water are being consumed by all kinds of sea life, great and small. 

There is no word as to if or when Lecomte will resume swimming once again, although he says that he remains as determined as ever to continue the crossing. If the the weather clears and the major storms move on, he may return to his starting point and begin again soon. But my feeling is that it could be some time before he returns to the water. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Video: Higher Truths –– Skiing, Climbing, and Suffering in the Himalaya

Sometimes you have to suffer for what you love. No more is this evident than when climbing and skiing in the Himalaya, a place that can test a person's resolve like no other. In this video, we join Cody Townsend and Chris Rubens as they head to the Tibetan Plateau in pursuit of adventure. What they find there is a challenge that pushes them to their very limits as they seek their own higher truths in the mountains. Beautiful and inspiring, this is a wonderful short documentary.

Video: The First Ascent of Lunag Ri with David Lama

A few weeks back we reported that David Lama had completed the first ascent of Lunag Ri, ending a quest that had spanned three expeditions and several years. After the news broke however, there was very little information about the climb. Now, thanks to this fantastic video, we can join David on that expedition and watch him reach the summit on this daring solo mission.

The Adventure Podcast Episode 42: Adventure News and the Ethics of Exploration

After a two week hiatus The Adventure Podcast returns with an all-new episode this week, during which we catch up on some of the bigger news stories that took place while we away. Some of the topics we touch upon include updates on the progress of Antarctic skiers, a new winter expedition to K2, and the introduction of some amazing electric adventure vehicles that will be hitting the road in 2020.

Our main topic of the week stems from the story of John Allen Chau, an American missionary who was recently killed on a remote island off the coast of India. Chau wasn't suppose to be on the island at all, as visiting the place is illegal. An isolated tribe calls the island home and they have been existing there for nearly 5500 years, continuing a way of life that stretches back for millennia. Any outside contact can threaten their very existence, which is why no one is allowed on the island. Chau went anyway, determined to bring the word of God to the tribe, who ended up killing him when he trespassed on their land. Was Chau a modern day martyr or did he overstep his bounds. You can bet that my cohost Dave Adlard and I have some strong opinions and we're here to share them.

Of course, we wrap up the show with some gear news and reviews. I take a look at a couple of heated jackets that I've been testing recently, while Dave shares his favorite headlamp for active endeavors.

If any of that sounds interesting to you, you can listen to the episode using the embedded player that is attached to this post below. Alternatively, you can also download and subscribe to the show from Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Sticher, or Spotify. If you have any feedback, suggestions, or questions, you can also reach out to us through social media, connecting through our Facebook pageTwitter, or email. As always, thanks for listening!


Everest Winter Commercial Expedition Postponed to 2019

Back in October I shared the news that a commercial expedition to Everest during the winter was gearing up for a possible attempt this year with five clients reportedly signed up to have a go at the mountain. At the time, very little was known about the expedition, other than that it was being organized by Seven Summit Treks and that Spanish climber Alex Txikon made a passing mention of it in an interview about his plans for the winter. Fast-forward a couple of months and we now know that Txikon is headed to K2 and the winter commercial expedition to Everest has been pushed until next year.

Multiple outlets, including Alan Arnette and Stefan Nestler, are reporting that the expedition has been postponed because two of the clients were forced to withdraw. Originally, the winter Everest attempt was set to begin on December 1 and run through February 28, which means the teams would have arrived in Base Camp and had a chance to start their acclimatization prior to the start of the winter season. That schedule would have also afforded them plenty of time to reach the summit –– if that were even possible considering the weather conditions –– before the end of winter arrived in March.

Throughout the history of climbing on Everest, only about 15 successful summits have been recorded in winter, with the most recent of those occurring some 25 years ago. That doesn't necessarily bode well for a commercial expedition, but Seven Summit Treks is determined to give this expedition a go in 2019-2020. The SST team gained a lot of valuable experience supporting Txikon on Everest these past two winters, and although he was unsuccessful in his attempt to climb the world's highest peak without oxygen, they seem to see the potential for a small, but profitable, market for winter mountaineering.

Will this venture ultimately be a successful one? We'll just have to wait until next year to find out.

Antarctica 2018: O'Brady and Rudd Reach Polar Plateau, Larsen Struggles with Whiteouts

Two of the Antarctic skiers reached major milestones yesterday on their way to the South Pole, while others continue to experience poor conditions and whiteouts in their struggles to make significant progress. In other words, it is business as usual at the bottom of the world, where things are never easy, even when the weather is cooperating.

Colin O'Brady and Lou Rudd, both of whom are on solo missions to become the first person to make an unsupported traverse of Antarctica, are smiling today. That's because the two men have now reached the top of the polar plateau, having now climbed some 9300 feet (2834 meters) from their start at sea level. This is important because the rest of their journey should now be relatively flat all the way to the South Pole. After reaching that landmark, they'll continue skiing to the far Antarctic coast, but that will be downhill, allowing them to make significant progress at a fast rate.

O'Brady is already approaching the 88th degree, while Rudd will get there in the next day or two as well. That means they have just two degrees of latitude to cover before reaching the Pole and at their current pace they should arrive at that point before Christmas. It won't be completely easy from here on out however as they are both approaching another major sastrugi field, which could slow progress once again and make for rough going. Considering they've been dealing with sastrugi almost from the start however, chances are they'll be well prepared.

Meanwhile, Eric Larsen continues to experience the worst conditions imaginable when you're trying to set a speed record for skiing to the South Pole. The snow has been deep and soft, which is slowing down his progress and sapping the legs of strength and persistent whiteout conditions have navigating a constant challenge.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Video: The Way North By Mountain Bike

When it comes to mountain bike videos, there aren't many that are more beautiful than this one. It takes us to Norway with riders Thomas Vanderham and Remi Gauvin to explore some of the breathtaking trails that are found there. It is hard to tell which is better, the outstanding riding or the fantastic scenery, but either way we all win. Simply stunning from start to finish.

Video: Lessons From the Edge - Running the Great Himalayan Trail

Earlier this year, endurance runners Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel completed the grueling undertaking of running the entire length of the Great Himalaya Trail. The two men covered more than 1400 km (870 miles) in just 28 days through some of the most rugged and remote terrain imaginable. Now, we'll get a chance to join them out on the trail in a three part series entitled Lessons From the Edge. The documentary will debut later this month, but you can get a preview of what to expect in the trailer below. Judging from what we've seen here, viewers are in for one heck of an adventure.

Backpacker Offers 12 Big Adventures for 2019

We still have most of December –– not to mention the holidays –– to get through before embarking on the new year, but for those of us who like to get a jump on our travel planning, Backpacker magazine is here to help. The editorial staff there has put together a list of 12 big adventures to plan for 2019, offering globetrotters, adventure travelers, and hikers some intriguing options to consider for their next excursion.

As usual with these kinds of lists I won't spoil the big surprises. I will say however that the treks that Backpacker recommends can be found in numerous corners of the globe. In fact, you'll find some amazing adventures that take place on five different continents, starting in the U.S. with trip through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and stretching out to Europe, South America, Australia, and Asia.

Some of the highlights include backpacking through the highlands of Scotland, hiking a classic trekking route in Peru, and exploring remote regions of Tasmania on foot. As you would expect, the trips focus heavily on traveling through wilderness regions under our own power with some of the most stunning areas of the planet on display. Those regions include the Himalaya, the Andes, the Alps, the Rockies, and more. In other words, you won't lack for options to go trekking in the mountains with Backpacker's list of best trips.

With the New Year squarely in sight, I suspect we'll see more of these kinds of lists in the days ahead, not to mention more than a few "best of 2018" lists as well. These types of articles are always fun and interesting and serve to provide some good ideas for our next big adventures too. While my December currently looks like a quiet one, my schedule for next year is already starting to get busy too. If you haven't started planning your 2019 escapes, perhaps this list will give you some ideas.

Read the entire article here.

Patagonia Donates $10 Million Tax Cut to Environmental Groups

It's no secret that Patagonia is a company that puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to protecting the environment. The prominent outdoor gear manufacturer has routinely stood up for numerous environmental groups and has been a champion for protecting public lands. Last week, Patagonia demonstrated its commitment to these causes once again by announcing that it would donate the money that it gained from a Trump administration tax cut –– a sum of more than $10 million –– to aid important organizations that share its concern for the health of the planet.

One of the first moves that Donald Trump did after becoming president was to cut taxes for businesses and wealthy Americans. That resulted in Patagonia paying $10 million less in 2018 than it did the previous year. Rather than pocket the money however, the company thought that it was better used by donating it to environmental groups who are working to protect the planet.

In a press release announcing the move, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard said "Our government continues to ignore the seriousness and causes of the climate crisis. It is pure evil. We need to double down on renewable energy solutions. We need an agriculture system that supports small family farms and ranches, not one that rewards chemical companies intent on destroying our planet and poisoning our food. And we need to protect our public lands and waters because they are all we have left.”

According to reports, prior to the recent tax cuts, Patagonia paid roughly 35 percent in taxes each year. Now, that number has dropped as low as just 21 percent, greatly altering how much money is dropped into government coffers. The reasoning behind such a large tax cut is that businesses will use the extra money to stimulate growth and economic development. Clearly, the gear manufacturer had other ideas in mind.

Patagonia's CEO Rose Marcario announced the bold move last week, saying "Instead of putting the money back into our business, we’re responding by putting $10 million back into the planet.”

It's hard not to be impressed with Patagonia's commitment to the causes that it believes in. Many companies would have simply pocketed the extra money and moved on, but Chouinard and his team found a way to put the cash to good use and score some major PR points while they are at it. I for one salute them for their choice and will remember it the next time I go shopping for some new outdoor apparel.

Himalaya Fall 2018: Another Climber Perishes on Ama Dablam

It has been a difficult and challenging end to the 2018 autumn climbing season in Nepal, where another climber has perished on Ama Dablam. A few weeks back we shared the news of the passing of Australian mountaineer Michael Geoffrey Davis who was killed when a falling rock stuck the rope he was descending on, and now comes word that 47-year old American Steven Biem succumbed to altitude sickness on November 28.

According to reports, Biem was descending the mountain the day after he and his teammates reached the summit of the 6812-meter (22,349-foot) mountain. The group reached Camp 2 and spent the night there, but in the morning the American was found dead. It is believed that he was suffering from high-altitude pulmonary edema, which led to his death.

Shortly after discovering Biem's body an operation was conducted to retrieve it from the mountain. He was flown back to Kathmandu and presumably has now been transported home for burial. Our condolences go out to friends and family in this time of sadness.

This is a tragic note to end the fall climbing season on. Now that December is here, pretty much all of the climbing expeditions to the Himalaya are wrapped up until next spring. It has been a long and busy season in Nepal, with autumn mountaineering expeditions stretching out over the past three months. As usual, the winter looks like it will be a quiet time in the Himalaya, but come spring things should get very busy once again. At the moment, there are no winter attempts on 8000-meter peaks in Nepal, with most of the attention going to K2 once again.

We'll be ramping up our coverage of the winter K2 expeditions in late-December or early-January as the teams begin arriving in Pakistan. It should be another fascinating season to watch unfold.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Video: Paws and Wheels –– A Salute to Adventure Dogs Everywhere

If you have a dog of your own, or just happen to love these four-legged friends, then you're going to want to watch this video. It features a pup named Balu who loves to run the trails with his owner, even while he mountain bikes. The four-minute clip is pure joy for dog lovers and a reminder of why they are "man's best friend." (With apologies to the cats in our lives too!)

Video: Introducing the Rivian Electric Adventure Vehicles

A couple of weeks back I had the pleasure of visiting Plymouth, Michigan to catch the unveiling of two new electric vehicles designed with outdoor adventurers in mind. One of those vehicles is a fantastic pickup truck, while the other is an all-new SUV. Both come our way from a company called Rivian, who are looking to meld technology and off-road capabilities into one awesome driving experience. The truck is dubbed the Rivian R1T while the SUV is called the Rivian R1S. Both have an all-electric drive system that provides a range of more than 400 miles, with acceleration of 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) in 3 seconds. But that is just the start of what they have to offer and if things go well, we should be hearing a lot more from Rivian in the future. For now, take a look at what they have to offer in the preview video below.

Gear Closet: Helly Hansen LifaLoft Insulator Jacket Review

Winter is nearly here, which means we're all looking for the best ways to stay warm during out outdoor adventures. That usually means developing a good layering system designed to be functional and comfortable at the same time. One of the key components of any such layering system is an insulating layer, which often comes in the form of a puffy jacket. This year, Helly Hansen is redefining exactly what that jacket looks like thanks to its new LifaLoft Insulator, which is designed to provide a high level of warmth without a lot of bulk.

If you've ever gone shopping for a puff jacket you probably already know that there are a number of options available when it comes to the insulation that is found inside that jacket. Down is of course the most common choice for gear manufacturers, although there are a number of synthetic options too. LifaLoft is one such synthetic option that was made in conjunction with the team at PrimaLoft and is proprietary to Helly Hansen itself. The big draw here is that the material reportedly offers a 20% increase in warmth compared to its weight, allowing it to be warmer with the same level of insulation or better yet give users the ability to stay just as warm with less insulating material. The result is a lighter, thinner jacket that performs at the same level.

I first got the chance to try out a pre-production model of the jacket last winter when Helly gave me an early model to test at the January Outdoor Retailer show. I wore it well into the spring and found it to be comfortable and warm, just as you would expect from a technical mid-layer. But a month or so back I was also sent a final version of the jacket, which is no on sale for customers to buy. It sports a bit of a redesign that looks great in my opinion. More than that however, it seems to be more functional too, as I've found the consumer version to be even warmer than the original test model I was using earlier in the year.

Alex Txikon to Attempt First Ascent of K2 This Winter

For the past few years we've followed Alex Txikon's attempts to make a winter ascent of Everest without the use of bottled oxygen, with the Spanish mountaineer proving his winter climbing chops even without reaching the summit. But this year, Txikon has elected to go elsewhere for his cold weather fix, choosing instead to make an attempt on the only remaining 8000-meter peak that hasn't been climbed in winter –– K2.

Txikon is preparing to travel to Pakistan in early January to begin his expedition. He'll be joined by climbing partner Felix Criado from Galicia, Spain, as well as eight very strong Sherpas. That group includes Nuri Sherpa, Chhepal Sherpa, Geljen Sherpa, Hallung Sherpa and Pasang Sherpa.

The team has not announced which route they'll be using just yet, but they have indicated one way that they'll be taking a different approach to the climb. Rather than staying in four-season tents as most mountaineering teams do they'll instead build igloos to serve as their shelters. This is a bit of a novel approach, but snow is a good insulator and should prove very sturdy for this task.

Txikon and company won't be alone in Base Camp of course, as we already know that an all-star team of Russian, Kazakh, and Kyrgyzstan climbers will be attempting K2 this winter as well. Both groups are hoping to be in Islamabad by January 2, giving them time at home with their families for the holidays before setting off to the Karakoram.

On these recent winter expeditions there has been a lot of debate over exactly when winter begins and ends. I've always taken the seasonal tact, with it starting on December 21 and ending on March 20, but that isn't necessarily the case depending on where you live and the traditions of that region. Alan Arnette, reporting on these winter climbs, does a good job of breaking it down in a recent blog post. Needless to say, there are a lot of different opinions on the subject, which could have an impact on whether or not these climbers succeed and if it will be recognized by others.

We'll obviously be keeping a close eye on these two expeditions over the coming weeks. For now, they are in final preparation and planning mode as they get set to leave for Pakistan sometime around the start of 2019. Until then, we'll just have to wait and watch for updates, as it is about to be another very busy season on the world's second highest peak.


Antarctica 2018: More Skiers Begin South Pole Ski Journey

Last week I was off to take care of some family business and didn't get the chance to post any updates, but a lot has happened while I was away, particularly down in Antarctica where the expedition season is in full swing at this point. In addition to the skiers we've already been following, a few more explorers have launched their expeditions too with a host of individuals now making their way to the South Pole.

We'll start with an update on Colin O'Brady and Lou Rudd, both of whom are attempting to become the first to ski solo and unassisted across the frozen continent. Both are now 30 full days into their journey and after a month out on the ice they've certainly found their rhythm but continue to struggle with the conditions. Because they are traveling in parallel to one another their updates tend to sound rather similar with whiteout conditions and sastrugi dictating their speed and distance each day. O'Brady has been knocking out more than 17 miles a day recently, which has allowed him to open up a slight lead over Rudd, who reports that he is now just 1500 feet (457 meters) from reaching the polar plateau. Conditions don't necessarily get much easier once the skiers are at that point, but at least they aren't going up hill any more.

Both O'Brady and Rudd still have a long way to go to reach the South Pole and that's just one of their checkpoints. From there, they'll continue on to the Ross Ice Shelf as they look to finish the traverse sometime in January. There is some good news for the men, as they are now a month into their expeditions and the sleds are starting to get lighter as they consume food and fuel. That should make things easier and allow them to go faster over the long run.