Monday, December 10, 2018

Video: How to (Mis)Pronounce Outdoor Gear Brand Names

Let's face it, in order to get more creative and distinct in the outdoor market, a lot of brands come up with some unique names. Some of them can be down right tough to pronounce if you haven't heard someone officially say them. Chances are, we're probably pronouncing a few of them wrong. Thankfully, our friends at Gear Junkie are here to help, proceeding this video that will help us sort through this challenge.

Video: Surfing Lake Superior in the Winter

It may come as a surprise to some people, but you can actually catch a wave on Lake Superior and surf along its shores. Of course, if you want a real challenge, you may want to try it during the winter, when things get really interesting. That's exactly what "Surfer Dan," the subject of this video does. Brazing the ice cold water, high winds, and extremely frigid air temperatures, he still hits the water to surf just as he would in Maui. Well, maybe not exactly like Maui. Brrr!

Gear Closet: Altra Lone Peak 4.0 Running Shoes Review

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Altra running shoes. The company's foot-shaped design and zero-drop approach have been a perfect for for my running style and and feet. Over the past few years I've tested multiple shoes from Altra and have always come away very impressed and happy with the footwear. So much so that it is actually very difficult for me to switch to another brand when testing shoes these days, which was why I was eager to give the company's new Lone Peak 4.0 model a try.

All of that said, I do recognize that shoe reviews can be very subjective in nature, particularly when it comes to running shoes. What works great for me, may not work as well for you. And what feels great on your feet may be uncomfortable and irritating on mine. So, keep that in mind when reading any footwear reviews, bot on this blog and elsewhere.

With all of that out of the way, I have to say that the prospect of a new edition to the Lone Peak line-up was an exciting one. This shoe isn't just a popular with runners but is a big hit with thru-hikers too. In fact, the Lone Peak is reportedly amongst the most popular shoes on the Appalachian Trail, which means it is a nice blend of weight, durability, cushioning, and comfort. It also offers a high level of versatility, which is always appreciated too.

I'm happy to say that the Lone Peak 4.0 lives up to the legacy of the former models, with some very nice updates that improve on them as well. For starters, this version of the Lone Peak seems more durable than ever before, with an upper that shrugs off abuse with ease. After putting more than 150 miles on these shoes, they still look –– and perform –– like new. The shoe also comes equipped with a rugged toe cap that keeps your little piggies safe from accidental bashes against rocks, roots, and other obstacles. This is something I was definitely happy to see, as I have a propensity for doing just that from time to time.

Backpacker Offers 40 Great Holiday Gifts for 2018

As of today, we are officially two weeks from Christmas, which means if you haven't started shopping yet you may be starting to run out of time. Thankfully, Backpacker magazine is here to help, offering 40 great gifts for the outdoor adventurer on your list this holiday season.

The list offers suggestions for just about any budget, starting with Kate's Real Food energy bars and continuing with a host of other products that hikers, backpackers, and outdoor lovers are sure to appreciate. You'll find everything from water bottles and t-shirts to camping and fitness gear. There are products on the list from the likes of Five Ten, Kelty, Outdoor Research, and numerous others, with options for pretty much every season and activity.

There are so many products to sift through on Backpacker's list that it is difficult to find a few favorites to single out. This also makes it easy to not spoil too much of the content along the way as well. Some of my favorite items include Altra Lone Peak 4.0 running shoes, a Klymit Double V sleeping pad, and a solar-powered USB battery pack from Tough Tested. You'll also find a great soft-sided cooler from Hyrdo Flask, a heated jacket from 8K Flexwarm, and much, much more.

If you're still looking for that perfect gift for your outdoorsy friend or family member, perhaps this list can help. Check it out here.

China Has Strict New Rules for Climbing Everest

With the winter fall climbing season in the Himalaya now behind us and the spring climbing season still a bit far off, you would think there wouldn't be much news to report from Everest or the other big peaks in Nepal and Tibet. But as it turns out, China has decided to make things interesting heading into 2019 by drafting some potentially strict new rules that could change the way teams approach the worlds highest peak. 

The new rules haven't been made official yet, but are set to go into effect on January 1, 2019 provided they are approved and finalized. Alan Arnette has received a copy of these regulations and has had a chance to pour over them to see what is in store for mountaineers. In a lengthy blog post on his website he breaks down the impact of the new regulations and what they mean for climbers considering expeditions to Everest, Cho Oyu, and Shishapangma in Tibet. 

According to Arnette, the documents that has received indicate that the new rules are focused on four specific areas of mountaineering on Tibet's 8000-meter peaks. Those areas include "Formation of Expedition, Registration Deadline, Environmental Protection, and Mountain Rescue." The regulations found in the documents focus on those areas and are long and detailed, but Alan does a great job of sifting through all of the chuff to find the ones that are most important and impactful. Some of them are truly worrisome.

I'd recommend reading Alan's report to get all of the details, but one of the biggest impacts of the new set of rules is that it appears that China is moving to lock out Nepali operators on Everest. One of the clauses in the updated rules clearly states:
“In order to ensure the healthy and orderly development of mountaineering and minimize the occurrence of mountaineering accidents, mountaineering teams which were organized in Nepal temporarily will not be accepted.”
According to Stefan Nestler, who has also reported on these new regulations, a group of Nepali expedition operators immediately traveled to Tibet to seek clarification on the rules and may have succeeded in getting some Nepali companies approved to continue operating in Tibet, but as Alan points out, China has not been opposed to closing down the border into Tibet before and could do so again, making it harder for those operators to cross over to the North Side of Everest.

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.