Thursday, August 16, 2018

Video: Dani Arnold Sets New Speed Record on Grandes Jorasses

Swiss climber Dani Arnold has set a new speed record on the Grandes Jorasses in the Alps. Known for his fast and light ascents, Arnold was able to summit the 4208-meter (13,805 ft) peak in 2 hours and 4 minutes, besting the previous record held by Ueli Steck by 17 minutes. The video below takes us along for the riding, show us how Arnold was able to move up the mountain at lightning speed.

Video: The Otterbox Yampa Duffel Bag Makes a Good Raft

Gear companies will go to great lengths to demonstrate how tough and durable their products are, but this video certainly takes the cake. Otterbox is preparing to launch a new line of waterproof duffel bags called the Yampa. To show us just how well these duffels perform, the team behind them created a makeshift raft from the bags and then floated it down a river. As you'll see, the Yampa actually served this purpose pretty well, although I wouldn't recommend trying this at home kids.

Ultrarunner Jax Mariash Prepares for 'Triple Threat' of Races Over The Next Month

Some of us set fitness goals for ourselves and others look to raise the bar to completely new heights. Such is the case with Jax Mariash, who is about to embark on what promises to be a very busy and active month. The ultrarunner is taking on a "triple threat" of races over the next few weeks that will make the rest of us feel pretty silly.

Jax gets started with the first of her three challenges this weekend by taking part in the Leadville Trail 100 in Colorado. This iconic ultra event covers 100 miles (160 km) with the average elevation of the route hovering around 10,200 feet (3108 meters). The race is widely considered to be one of the toughest ultra competitions held in the U.S. on an annual basis, drawing competitors from around the world.

Racing in one 100+ mile race in a month usually seems like quite an undertaking, but on August 31, Jax will set out on her second such event by taking part in the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in Europe as well. This legendary race cross through three countries and circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif, covering 105 miles (168 km) en route. As if that wasn't challenging enough, the UTMB also offers 40,000 feet (12,192 meters) of vertical gain as well, making it one of the toughest footraces on the ultra calendar each season too.

Following the UTMB, Jax will then return to the U.S. to take part in the Grand to Grand Ultra, which will be held in Arizona and Utah from September 23-30. This seven-day, six-stage event covers 170 miles (274 km) starting at the Grand Canyon and ending at the summit of Grand Escalante Staircase. To make the event even more challenging, the entire race is self-supported, meaning competitors must be completely self-sufficient while out on the course, carrying the water, gear, and equipment they need when they set out on each stage each day.

Jax is is no stranger to taking on big challenges. She is the first woman to complete the 4 Deserts Grand Slam Plus, which is a series of five stage races that takes place across massive deserts on four different continents. She also finished sixth amongst the female competitors at this year's Marathon de Sables, an event that is often called the world's toughest foot race. She is even a successful entrepreneur and businesswoman, with STOKED Roasters coffee shops in Park City, UT and Hood River, OR.

As you can see, Jax has a lot on her plate in general, let alone over the next six weeks or so. But you can follow her progress in each of these events on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Nepali Government Cracks Down on "Fake Rescue" Scam Amongst Trekkers

The Nepali government says that it is cracking down on a long-running scam amongst helicopter companies, trekking operators, and hospitals that has potentially bilked millions of dollars out of insurance companies over the years. This latest corruption scandal –– one of many to come out of the Himalayan country in recent years –– has occurred with such frequency that many foreign visitors have tales to share of how they were caught up in the scheme or narrowly avoided getting scammed themselves. 

A new government probe shows that at least three helicopter companies, four hospitals, and eight trekking organizations are being investigated for their roles in a "fake rescue" scheme that sees travelers picked up by alleged rescue helicopters, flown to nearby hospitals, and submitted to a battery of medical examinations and tests. Only, those tests are largely unnecessary and only serve to run up an expensive hospital bill, which is then paid by travel insurance companies. Trekkers in Nepal are required to have travel insurance prior to setting out, making them easy targets for the scam. According to government reports on this recent investigation, more than 36 trekking companies were under review, along with ten helicopter operators, and four hospitals. 

Essentially, the scam goes like this: a trekker headed to Everest Base Camp –– or some other Himalayan destination –– may tell their guide that they are experiencing a headache or some other mild discomfort. The guide tells them that they shouldn't take any chances at that perhaps they should be checked out, as trekking at high altitude can be dangerous. They recommend that the trekkers get airlifted to a hospital to be on the safe side. A helicopter is then called in to pick them up, the travelers are then flown to a hospital where they are checked out by doctors, often running expensive tests that aren't necessarily needed. The entire operation is then charged to the trekker's travel insurance company, and the money is shared by the trekking company, helicopter operators, and the hospital itself. 

Last week, Gear Junkie posted a story that goes into great detail about how all of this goes down, including stories from travelers who have had their passports taken and held while they are examined in the hospital. Apparently, the scam has gotten so prevalent there that dozens of trekkers have filed complaints, while many more simply go along with the scheme not even realizing that it is an insurance scam. It has gotten so bad, that there are even some reports that suggest trekking companies could feed their clients tainted food in order to get them sick, requiring an evacuation. 

While Nepal is an amazing country that I think every adventurer should have on their bucket list, it is stories like these that make it difficult to recommend at times. The corruption has been taken to an art form there and quite frankly, I wouldn't be surprised to find that government officials were getting a kickback from this scam so they'll look the other way too. The problem is that the scam has been so overused now that it is starting to cut into the number of tourists who are visiting, which threatens the country's income. That means it has to be addressed at long last. Hopefully this means things will start to improve moving forward, but the cynical side of me says a new scam is likely to emerge.  

Nepal Releases Official 2018 Everest Stats with a Record 563 Summits

Today the Nepali Department of Tourism released its official stats for the spring climbing season on Everest, tabulating all of the numbers from what was one of the busiest seasons in the Himalaya to date. The world's highest peak was especially crowded this year, recording a record number of summits as interest in the mountain continues to rise.

According to The Himalayan Times, 563 climber from 39 different countries reached the top of Everest this past spring. That's a fairly dramatic increase from 2017, when 449 people reached the summit. Still, the DoT says that its records show that at 292 climbers –– including 212 Nepali high-altitude workers –– came up short in their attempt to climb the mountain.

Most of the summits took place during an unprecedented weather window that ran from May 13 to May 24. During that time, 511 male climbers from 37 countries, and 52 female mountaineers from 15 countries were successful in their bid. 18 of the women were Nepal, showing the increase in the number of local female climbers in recent years. According to Nepali records, that brings the total number of successful summits from the South Side of Everest to 5891 since it was first summited back in 1953.

These numbers fall in line with estimates made this past spring. Just making a quick head count it was clear that somewhere around 560 climbers reached the top on the South Side. Add in another 150 or so from the North, and the number of total summits on Everest for 2018 easily exceeds 700, which is another record as well.

Concerns about overcrowding on Everest in 2018 were somewhat alleviated by the unusually wrong weather window. However, had that window not remained open for more than 11 days, things could have looked very different. The number of climbers coming to Everest continues to rise each year, but for the most part traffic jams haven't been a major issue over the past three season. If the weather window tightens up however, the crowds could become dangerously slow on the mountain in years ahead.

For now though, things are going about as smooth as ever with the big operators on the mountain running a tight ship. That has made Everest into a well oiled machine, which is the only way it can accommodate so many people. Hopefully it stays that way and remains safe, because it doesn't look like things are going to quiet down there in the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Video: Nox Atacama - A Visit to the Driest Place on Earth

The Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on the planet, with rainfall exceedingly rare there. It is also remote, largely unsettled, and features some of the clearest night skies found anywhere. This video takes us to the Atacama where you'll get a chance to experience the landscapes and starscapes for yourself. It won't take long to understand exactly why the world's highest observatories call this desert home.

Video: Bikepacking Through South America (Part 2)

Yesterday we shared a video of a group of friends bikepacking their way across South America. Today, we have the second part of this short documentary as we join the riders out on the road as they complete their cycling journey across that continent. As with part one, the scenery, cultures, and places they experience along the way are fantastic. By the end, you'll start to understand why bikepacking is becoming one of the most popular modes of travel amongst active adventurers at the moment.

The Adventure Podcast Episode 30: An Interview with Mountaineer and Filmmaker Ben Clark

On this week's episode of The Adventure Podcast we sit down with mountaineer, skier, endurance athlete, and filmmaker Ben Clark to talk about Everest, skiing the Himalaya, and ultrarunning. We also talk about Ben's amazing film The Snowman Trek, which was shot when he and a group of endurance athletes traveled to Bhutan to attempt a speed record on one of the most challenging trails in the entire world. Ben has led quite a life of adventure and has plenty of great stories and wisdom to share.

Of course, this being The Adventure Podcast, we also start the show out with some adventure news stories, including a debate over who picks up the tab for search and rescue operations and the winners of this year's Piolets d'Or awards for achievement in climbing and mountaineering. We also wrap the show up with some gear picks, including a lightweight solar powered lantern and a sleeping bag built for those who like to go light and fast in the mountains.

As usual, you can listen to the latest episode –– to mention all back episodes –– on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, and Spotify. I've also embedded the show at the bottom of this post for those who prefer to listen directly from their browser. Any questions, comments, or feedback can be sent to us via our Facebook page, Twitter account, or via email. We appreciate hearing from you and that you take the time to listen. 

Red Bull Heavy Water Promises to be the Toughest SUP Race in the World

Courtesy of Tom Servias
Red Bull is no stranger to putting on tough athletic competitions. From mountain biking to trail running to adventure racing, the company best known for its energy drinks has organized some of the most grueling events imaginable. Later this year, it will also put on one of the toughest stand-up paddleboard races ever conceived as well.

Red Bull Heavy Water will take place at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, California and will pit 36 of the world's top SUP boarders ––both men and women–– against one another on a course that is tough and demanding. The open route covers 12 km (7.5 miles) and competitors are expected to face 3 meter (10-foot) tall waves while battling the unpredictable weather that is common in the Bay Area.

The course begins in San Francisco Bay with racers paddling out into the open water, and under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Once they have completed the open water crossing, they'll then turn towards Ocean Beach, where they competition will turn into a surf battle instead with the athletes racing towards the finish line along the shore.

"Red Bull Heavy Water was hands down the most extreme and challenging SUP event I have ever competed in,” 2017 Red Bull Heavy Water champion Casper Steinfath says. “The conditions last year pushed me to new limits both mentally and physically." 

Now in its third year, the 2018 edition of Heavy Water is attracting an even bigger field of top SUP athletes, including some of the best female paddlers and surfers in the world. Amongst them is Candace Appleby, whom ESPN described as "Abby Wambach, Serena Williams, Brittney Griner and Danica Patrick all rolled into one." She'll be joined by the likes of Nicole Pacelli, a top Brazilian SUP racer who plans to be in the San Francisco area the entire month of October to prepare for the event. 

The Red Bull Heavy Water event is scheduled to take place from October 15 - November 2. To find out more, visit the event's official website

Welsh Adventurer Set to Begin Year-Long Yangtze River Trek

Way back in April of this year I told you about Welsh adventurer Ash Dyke's plans to trek the entire length of the Yangtze River. At the time, Dykes was expecting to set out on his journey sometime in July, but a few unforeseen delays caused him to reschedule for August instead. Now, he's ready to get started at long last on what promises to be a year-long journey through the heart of China.

Dubbed Mission Yangtze, the expedition is expected to cover approximately 6437 km (4000 miles) as Dykes walks along the river from source to sea. The Yangtze holds the distinction of being the longest river in the world that falls completely within one country, wandering through tall mountain meadows, thick forests, dense jungles, and even arid deserts on its way to the sea. The Welshman will have to overcome all of those challenges if he hopes to become the first person to ever walk its length.

Dykes has said that this expedition will be one of the most technologically advanced ever. He plans to release regular updates on his progress via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets. He'll also release weekly videos and the entire journey is being filmed for a documentary series too. To that end, he'll be followed by a film crew for much of the trek as well.

According to reports, Ash is now very close to actually launching the expedition and should get started in the next few days. His most recent social media updates have indicated that one of his cameramen was suffering from altitude sickness, but that he was recovering and preparing to start as well. Hopefully we'll get an update indicating that Mission Yangtze is underway at long last, as this should be an interesting adventure to watch unfold.

Watch for regular updates to Ash's website, particularly as things get rolling along soon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Video: Bikepacking Through South America (Part 1)

Bikepacking is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to travel and have an outdoor adventure. For those who don't know, bikepacking is a bit like backpacking, but instead of walking and carrying all of your gear in your pack, you ride a bike with your equipment stored in panniers instead. This video takes us to South America, where we join a group of friends on a bikepacking trip across the continent. Along the way, they experience some unique and beautiful places, people, and cultures. It looks like a truly great way to explore a new place.

Video: What is Canyoneering?

One outdoor sport that is often referenced, but not always clearly defined or explained, is canyoneering. Essentially, this activity involves rappelling down into a slot canyon and either hiking or climbing your way back out. In this video, brought to us by our friends at REI, we learn more about the sport, not to mention the skills and equipment needed to take part in it. The clip starts the REI Trailheads, who are a group of brand ambassadors who are usually a lot of fun to watch on their adventures. They don't disappoint here either.

The North Face, SmartWool, Other Outdoor Brands Move Headquarters to Denver

It's starting to look like Colorado's bid to host the Outdoor Retailer convention is beginning to pay off in a big way. When the outdoor industry took umbrage with some of the state of Utah's approaches to protecting public lands, Colorado rolled out the red carpet, luring the lucrative convention away from Salt Lake City to Denver instead. Now, the city is becoming an even bigger epicenter for the outdoor world as more brands relocate to the area, including some of the biggest names in the industry.

Yesterday, VF Corporation announced that it was moving its world headquarters to Denver. While many of you probably haven't heard of VF Corp before, I guarantee you've heard of some of the brands that it owns. For instance, The North Face falls under the VF corporate umbrella, as does SmartWool, JanSport, and number other high profile companies.

Naturally, Colorado officials are excited to welcome this Fortune 250 company to the state. "We are thrilled to welcome a new partner that embodies the values that define Colorado,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “VF’s move underscores the critical driver that the outdoor recreation industry plays in our economy where business meets lifestyle.”

The relocation process is expected to take about two years to complete, with more than 800 VF employees moving to Denver. The new global headquarters building is expected to open in mid-2019, although the exact location hasn't been revealed yet. Employees will start arriving soon thereafter, including about 70 from SmartWool, which currently operates out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

All told, VF Corp and its subsidiaries employ about 70,000 people worldwide, operating in 170 countries. In 2017, it generated $11.8 billion in revenue. Obviously, only a fraction of those employees will be moving to Denver, but it is still a significant coup for the city and state, which have always emphasized the importance of outdoor activities and adventures. Once the relocation is complete, the company will be Colorado's most valuable publicly traded company as well.

The Rebelle Rally is the Off-Road Adventure Just for Women

Female adventurers looking for a unique new challenge should look no further than the Rebelle Rally. This off-road navigation rally raid is the first of its kind in the U.S., with only women allowed to compete. This wild adventure will take competitors deep into the wilderness on an 8-day driving adventure that is more about skill, patience, and precision rather than speed.

The Rebelle Rally will take place from October 11 - 20, with the start taking place in Tahoe, California and the finish line located in Southern California. As is common with an event such as this one, the exact route is shrouded in secrecy, particularly since finding checkpoints and navigating through the wilderness is a big part of the adventure. We do know however that the route will cover some 2000 km (1242 miles) through California and Nevada, with the final stop in San Diego.

As you would expect, GPS devices are not allowed. Instead, the two-woman teams will have to navigate using just a compass and a map, with some roadbooks used for some of the challenges. The competitors will be tasked with locating checkpoints along the course, some of which will be well hidden along the dirt roads, double tracks, and even open desert that must be explored in order to find them. Live tracking will allow fans to follow along from back home once the race is underway.

Teams taking part in the rally can compete in two different vehicle classes. Some will drive 4x4 vehicles with a low-range, two-speed transfer case throughout the rally, while others will use unibody crossover vehicles. The 4x4s include a variety of Jeeps, Land Rover LR4s, and a Ford Rubicon. The crossover options include a Jaguar F-Pace, Honda Ridgeline, and Subaru Outback. And if potential teams don't have a vehicle of their own, they can be rented prior to the start of the rally.

The entry fee for a team is $12,000, which includes meals, drinks, a nightly base camp, and accommodations prior to the start and following the end of the race. Meals are prepared by Michelin-starred chef Drew Deckman each day as well, and there will be pre- and post-rally celebrations in Tahoe and San Diego.

Those looking to get a sense of what the Rebelle Rally is all about can check out the excellent highlight reel from the 2017 edition below. You'll also find all of the info you need at the official website. Personally, I'm excited to see what this event is all about and I'm glad to see more opportunities for the ladies to have their own adventures too. This is going to be wild.

First Ascent of North Face of Latok I Completed After 40 Years

Big news from the Karakoram today where we learn that not only is the climbing season there not completely wrapped up, but a team of alpinists have solved one of the great challenges of mountaineering. Slovenian climbers Ales Cesen and Luka Strazar, along with British climber Tom Livingstone, have knocked off the North Face of Latok I, a route that has evaded completion for more than 40 years.

Standing 7145 meters (23,441 ft) in height, Latok I has been seen as one of the toughest peaks in the world for decades. It has been summited exactly one other time when a team from Japan managed to scale its south side back in 1979. Prior to that however, an American team consisting of Jim Donini, Michael Kennedy, Jeff Lowe and George Lowe gave the North Ridge a shot back in 1978 but were turned back after 100 pitches due to poor weather and illness on the team. Since then, the face has grown to almost mythical status amongst mountaineers, with numerous attempts over the years.

News of the first ascent first broke on the Camp-Cassin Facebook page, who are sponsors of the expedition. The news then rolled out across the climbing community with other websites picking up the story. Not a lot of details have been revealed just yet, but more are expected when the team returns home next week.

Typically, the Karakoram climbing season has come to an end by mid-August, but Cesen, Strazar, and Livingstone have continued their expedition there despite most other teams having left for home. That could be an indication of shifting climate conditions, as the Alpinist article linked to above quotes Thomas Huber from Stephen Nestler's adventure sports blog as saying that global warming may have changed the ideal climbing season from early August to mid-August instead. It's tough to know if that is true or not at this point, but the climbers certainly found good weather that allowed them to complete the climb.

It should also be noted that Latok I was the sight of the recent dramatic rescue of Russian climber Alexander Gukov, who was stranded on the mountain when his climbing partner fell to his death. Those two men were descending when the accident occurred after coming within 100 meters of the top too. Conditions were so difficult at the time that Gukov had to spend nearly a week on the mountain alone before a SAR team could get to his position.

Congratulations to Ales, Luka, and Tom on finishing off a line that many thought would never be climbed. Well done! Now get home safely.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Video: Climbing the Abruzzi Spur Route on K2

If you've ever wondered what it is like to climb K2, the second tallest mountain in the world, this video will certainly be eye-opening. It takes us to that mountain and up the famed Abruzzi Spur route, one of the toughest and most technically challenging ascents in the world. The video was shot this past summer in the Karakoram and gives viewers a glimpse of the conditions and challenges that come along with taking on "the Savage Mountain." It is both beautiful and intimidating at the same time.

Video: Running Around the World Episode 2 - Ultra Trail Running in Yunnan, China

Trail runners Jason Schlarb and Meredith June Edwards travel to Yunnan, China in this video, which is part of an ongoing series from our friends at Altra Running, to take on a 55k (34 mile) trial run and set an FKT on the Haba "Snow" Mountain, a 5395 meter (17,703 ft) peak located there. The two endurance athletes discover an unexpected culture of adventure that provides them with more of  a challenge than they bargained for.

Video: Everest Base Camp 360º VR Trailer

Virtual reality and 360º filmmaking is holds some exciting possibilities for telling stories and transporting viewers to new places. Such is the case with a new documentary film that my friend Milosz Pierwola is creating as he has taken a 360º camera to Everest Base Camp to capture the sights and sounds of what it is like to be there. The video below is a the trailer for the full documentary, which will be released at a later time. If you're using a browser that supports 360º films, you'll get a great look at the Himalaya in Nepal as Milo made his way to EBC. This is the next best thing to being there yourself and well worth a look, not only for the subject matter, but the technology involved too. This looks amazing and I can't wait for the full film.

Backpacker Lists the Best Budget Tents of 2018

One of the the biggest investments an outdoor enthusiast makes when purchasing gear for use on their adventures is buying a tent. Today's tents come in all shapes and sizes and are often made of lightweight, high-tech fabrics and come with carbon fiber poles. This makes them lighter, more comfortable, and roomier than ever before, but it also tends to make them more expensive too. If you're in need of a new camping shelter, you don't necessarily need to break the bank however, as Backpacker magazine has put together a list of its favorite budget tents, proving you can get a good model without shredding your bank account.

The list consists of six different tents in total, with each entry broken down into several categories. The tents are rated for their livability, weatherproofing, features, and durability, all of which are important factors to consider when shopping for a new model. And to put things in perspective, these tents range in price from as little as $120 to as much as $250, which even at the high end is still fairly reasonably priced.

I won't give away all of the tents that made the cut, but I will say there are some nice options available from brands that you know and trust. When making a "budget" list of outdoor gear, it is easy to choose products from companies that no one has ever heard of. The problem is that those pieces of gear don't tend to have a proven track record from companies that have been making outdoor equipment for years. That isn't the case here, as all of these tents come from companies that you probably already know and trust.

For example, the best all around tent was awarded to the Sierra Designs Meteor 2, which got good marks for livability and weatherproofing, while the Mountainsmith Morrison EVO 2 earned a spot on the list thanks to its features and livable space. The other four tents offer similar options and strengths and weaknesses depending on what you're looking for and how much you want to spend.

You can check out the full list here.

Endurance Athlete Attempting 50 Ironman Triathlons in 50 Days

We've seen some pretty tough and grueling fitness and adventure challenges before, but endurance athlete Ashley Horner may have just taken things to a completely new level. The 34-year old has embarked on what has to be amongst the hardest physical challenges ever as she sets out to complete 50 Ironman triathlons in 50 days, across Haiti and the 48 contiguous United States.

The attempt got underway last week when she completed the first of those triathlons in Haiti. From there, she'll continue knocking out one Ironman a day until she's done one in every U.S. state, other than Alaska and Hawaii. Then, to wrap things up, she'll return to Haiti to finish her 50th Ironman in 50 days.

A standard triathlon is challenging enough and doing 50 in 50 days would be a true test of stamina. But an Ironman requires even more determination and dedication. Rather than just swimming .9 miles (1.5 km), an Ironman requires that athlete to swim 2.4 miles (3.8 km) instead. From there, its on to the bike leg, which is 112 miles (180 km) in length, before wrapping things up with a full 26.2 mile (42.1 km) marathon. Typically completing one of these races is enough to put most athletes on the couch for some serious recovery time afterwards. Horner won't have that luxury however, as she'll be doing 49 more back-to-back.

Why start in Haiti you ask? Because Horner is hoping to raise $100,000 for the Maison Fortuné orphanage, which is based in that country. Located in Hinche, Haiti, the orphanage serves as a shelter and primary school for more than 85 girls and 150 boys who otherwise wouldn't get much of a chance at having a good life. Here, they get an education, form friendships, and are cared for, giving them opportunities that might not come their way otherwise.

Horner is no stranger to these types of grueling challenges. The fitness queen has already completed a 1350 mile (2172 km) bike ride and run 230 miles (370 km) in 72 hours. Still, this will be an entirely different type of challenge as the daily grind starts to wear on her throughout the 50 days. She is determined to see this through however and tells ESPN "Guaranteed, I'm going to get it done."

You can follow Ashley throughout the challenge on her Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Video: War and Poetry - Climbing Big Walls in Greenland

Greenland is one of those raw, untamed countries that inspires the idea of a big adventure simply by uttering its name alone. This video takes us to this sprawling, wild country with a group of climbers who set off to make a three-day ascent of a route called War and Poetry (VI 5.12c) on the South West face of Ulamertorsuaq in the Tasermiut Fjord. The expedition was one that went light and fast, free climbing the massive wall along the way. But the story is more than just overcoming the mountain itself, with a sense of adventure pervading the entire expedition.

Video: The Best of the 2018 Tour de France

This year's Tour de France was one for the record books, bringing some of the most competitive riding we've seen in the past several years. Of course, with 21 stages and more than 3350 km (2081 miles) of riding, it's tough to see everything that went down. That's why a video like this one is so much fun. The clip gives us the best of this year's race, mixing in everything from mad-dash sprain finishes to grueling mountain climbing and painful crashes. Along the way, there is plenty of beautiful scenery to soak up too, reminding us why we love this race so much. It is a long time until the start of next year's Tour, so for now this will have to tide us over. Enjoy cycling fans!

The Best Gear for Your Summer Adventures

With August now upon us we've turned the corner on summer and we're heading down the homestretch towards fall here in the northern hemisphere. That said, there is still plenty of warm weather to enjoy before the seasons begin to change and to help us do that, Backpacker magazine has compiled a list of the best summer gear for outdoor adventures

The 14 products that make the cut are designed to keep us cool and comfortable, even as the heat and humidity rise. Some of the items that made the cut include a pair of Chaco Z/2 Classic sandals, Eddie Bauer Guide Pro shorts, and Native Eyewear Wells sunglasses. You'll also find the MSR Trail Base water filter kit to help you stay hydrated on the trail and the women's Orvis Outsmart Biscayne quarter-zip shirt to regulate temperature and protect your skin from sunburn.

Surveying the list you'll definitely find a common theme –– staying safe and comfortable during your hot weather pursuits. All of the clothing, footwear, and other gear have been carefully selected not only because they are durable and perform well, but also because they are made to be used in warmer temperatures, when breathability and moisture control are still important factors to consider. All in all, this is a solid list of summer outdoor gear, mixed in with some suggestions for sunscreens, meals, and drinks to help you enjoy your time in the outdoors. 

I know certain parts of the world will start to cool off more quickly than others, but where I live the warm weather will continue well into the fall. That's why it's never too late stock up on good gear for use in the heat. In fact, as summer starts to some of these items are likely to be on sale. Pick them up now and add them to your gear closet, because next summer is only 10 months away. 

Check out the entire list here

An Adventurous Duo Rode Kick Scooters Across the U.S. From Canada to Mexico

If there is anything I've learned while writing this blog over the years, its that adventure can come in many forms. Take for example the journey that British adventurers Gil Drori and Bex Band just wrapped up. In May, the duo set out on a 1500 mile (2414 km) excursion that saw them cross the U.S. north to south using kick scooters and their own legs as their sole mode of transportation. Yep, that's right, they traveled from Canada to Mexico using only these simple scooters to propel them along.

The journey began way back on May 17 when the duo set out from Vancouver, Canada on what they call the Kicking the States expedition. They estimated that it would take about three months to wrap up the challenge, averaging about 30 miles (48 km) per day on their way to the finish line in Tijuana, Mexico. They stuck fairly close to that schedule, finishing just ahead of schedule, by reaching the end of the journey earlier this week.

Bex wrote about the entire journey on a blog that can be found here. Here stories from the road are both fun to read and offer a glimpse into their lives while on the road. Traversing the U.S. by kick-scooter may not be as impressively big of an accomplishment as some of the other adventures we cover here on The Adventure Blog, but it was still a tremendous undertaking and a reminder that you can find adventure just about anywhere if you truly go looking.

Kicking the States wasn't just about the adventure however. Gil and Bex also used the expedition as a fund raiser to collect money to assist a school in Tanzania too. The couple set a goal of bringing in $10,000 and are more than 80% to that goal. The money will go towards building a new classroom that could dramatically change the lives of young people in Africa.

Congratulations to Gil and Bex for finishing up this long journey. It couldn't have been easy riding kick scooters for all of those miles and now that its done, they probably won't want to see another scooter for the rest of their lives. The journey looks like it was rewarding one however and I certainly can appreciate the good cause. Now, they turn their attention to some much needed rest, including a visit to Disney Land, before heading home to catch up with friends and family.

Read more about their experiences here.

Free Solo Trailer Gives Us First Glimpse of Alex Honnold on El Cap

One of the biggest stories in outdoor adventure last year was Alex Honnold's free solo climb of El Capitan in Yosemite. Even now, more than a year after he completed this epic climb,  it is difficult to put Honnold's accomplishment in perspective using just mere words. Thankfully, soon we'll have another way to gauge exactly how massive this achievement was.

The video below is the first trailer for a film called Free Solo, which will release later this year. Directed by E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, the same team that brought us Meru, the documentary promises to not just take us up the rock race with Alex, but give us the story behind what drives him to attempt just such an ascent and how it impact those around him. As you'll see in the clip, even Honnold's close friends –– many among the climbing elite themselves –– had a hard time with this project.

As you would expect, the footage is stunning, heart-pounding, and at times difficult to watch. This is a climbing film like any other we've seen before. Thankfully, we know it has a happy ending, but this is going to be edge-of-your-seat stuff when it hits theaters this fall.