Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts

Aussie Antarctic Solo Sailor Dimasted in Rough Weather in the Southern Ocean

Way back in January I wrote a post about Aussie Lisa Blair, a sailor who was embarking on an attempt to complete a solo circumnavigation around Antarctica along the Southern Ocean. Now, some 72 day after she set out on this epic adventure, Blair has run into trouble amidst bad weather, high winds, and freezing temperatures.

Earlier today, Blair sent out a PAN PAN, which is a signal that she was facing imminent danger and was in need of assistance. Her ship, the Climate Action, ran into trouble when it was hit with 40 knot (46 mph/74 km/h) winds, which broke a mast and knocked the vessel over at least once as swells grew to 7 meters in size.

At the moment, Lisa is no longer in any immediate danger and is preparing to make her way to Cape Town. She was approximately 895 nautical miles (1029 miles/1674 km) from that point when she ran into trouble, but according to reports Blair will now rig an emergency storm sail and motor her way to the South African city for repairs. She'll be met and assisted by another ship that is registered in Hong Kong.

When she embarked on this voyage back in January, Blair was hoping to become the first woman to sail solo and unsupported around Antarctica. She left from Albany, Australia with the intention of breaking the speed record for such an attempt. That record is currently held by Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov and stands at 102 days, 35 minutes, and 50 seconds. Lisa had set her sights on doing it in just 94 days.

By all accounts, Blair is safe and uninjured by the storm, but her ship is now crippled. Barring any more bad weather, she should be able to limp it into port in Cape Town where the damage will be assessed further. For now though, this is the end of her solo attempt. Whether or not she can repair the ship, restock her supplies, and try again at a later date remains to be seen.

At this point, it will be a number of days before she arrives back on land. Search and rescue teams in Cape Town have been notified of the situation and are standing by to lend assistance if needed.

Team Seagate Wins Adventure Racing World Championships

Last week while I was away in the Caribbean, the Adventure Racing World Championships were taking place in Australia. That's where the XPD Expedition Race played hosted to nearly 100 coed teams from around the world, all of which had come to take a shot at being crowned the champs. But after four days of racing, covering more than 620 km (385 miles) across a challenging course that included mountain biking, trekking, paddling, climbing, and more, there were some very familiar names at the top of the leaderboard once again.

The top spot on the podium was hotly contested by two of the top teams in the world, who battled it out to the bitter end. But when the dust had cleared, two hours separated Team Seagate of New Zealand, who finished first, and the second place team of Adventure Medical Kits from the U.S. Team Columbia Vidaraid – also from the U.S. finished third – while Team Painted Wolf (South Africa) and Naturex (France) took fourth and fifth place respectively.

While the race was decided this pat weekend, some of the teams are still out on the course, which is a testament to both how challenging the course was and how determined these racers are to see it through to the end. The course will close at 1:00 PM Friday, November 18 local time, with all the competitors who haven't completed the race removed from the course.

The XPD Expedition Race marks the end of another long, challenging, and successful season for the Adventure Racing World Series. Now, the ARWS will go on hiatus before starting up the 2017 season at the GODZone Adventure Race in New Zealand next February. Next year's season will be an interesting one, as it is somewhat abbreviated in order to accommodate the AR World Championships being held in the U.S. for the first time. That's when the Cameco Cowboy Tough will host the best teams in the world, with a spectacular course set to be unveiled in Wyoming next August. That should prove to be an exciting race with a big event right here in North America.

Congratulations to Team Seagate on another impressive season and championships. They continue to be in a class all of their own.


Irish Adventurer to Visit Six Poles of Inaccessibility

Irish adventurer Mike O'Shea is getting set to embark on what promises to be quite an interesting set of expeditions. Having climbed in the Himalaya, Karakoram, and other remote locations, as well as skied across the North Patagonia Ice Camps, the South Kilimanjaro Ice Camp, Greenland, and South Georgia, he now plans to become the first person to reach six Poles of Inaccessibility on the planet.

For those who are unaware of the concept, a "Pole of Inaccessibility" is the point on the map that is most challenging to reach being as far a way as possible from certain geographical features. For instance, the North Pole of Inaccessbility is found in the Arctic Ocean, at the point that is furthest from any land mass. The South Pole of Inaccessibility is located in the heart of the frozen continent that is the furthest point from any coasts. The locations are always extremely remote, challenging to reach, and typically unmarked on a map.

So, what are the six Poles of Inaccessibility that O'Shea plans on reaching? In addition to the South Pole, he'll also visit the POI of North America (located in South Dakota), South America (found in the Brazilian Mato Grosso region), Australia (located in the Northern Territory), Africa (located in the Congo), Eurasia (near the border with China and Kazakistan). Each of these spots will be reached by whatever means is necessary, including driving, hiking, skiing, on horseback, and so on. Several will involve full traverses of the continent as well.

The first POI that Mike will attempt to reach is in the U.S., which is the easiest of the group. He should arrive int he country soon and begin his journey from New York to Los Angeles, with a stop over in South Dakota to hit the Pole of Inaccessibility there. After that, he'll move on to South America next, which will be considerably more challenging. The POI there is located in a more remote area that will be more difficult to get to. The other POI's will follow as the expedition unfolds in the weeks ahead, with Antarctica being the most difficult overall.

You can find out more about this project at ThePolesProject.com. You'll also be able to follow' Mike's progress on that site.

Big thanks to the Expedition News for sharing this story.

Adventure Racing World Championship Set to Begin Tomorrow in Australia

The culmination of a long, and difficult, adventure racing season begins tomorrow. That's when more than 90 teams from around the world will set off on what promises to be quite a competition, with the winner being crowned the Adventure Racing World Champions for 2016.

This year, Australia's XPD Adventure Race places host to the final race in the Adventure Racing World Series for this year. Qualifying teams will duke it out on a 600 km (372 mile) course that promises to be a true classic. The coed teams of four will set out at 12:30 PM local time, with the winning team expected to cross the finish line just 4-5 days later.

The setting for this year's race will be the Shoalhaven region of Australia, which falls along that country's eastern coast, south of Sydney. According to race officials, about 70% of that region is national park or natural forests, making it an excellent venue to host an event that is designed to take place in remote areas. That area is said to be teeming with native wildlife as well, with plenty of kangaroos and wombats to be spotted on the course, and possibly even some whale out on the surrounding ocean.

As usual with an expedition-length adventure race, the competitors will have to trek, mountain bike, and paddle their way across the course. They'll also be asked to navigate from point to point using only a compass and map, and they may even have to climb, run, rappel, or swim on certain sections too. The top teams will go for more than a day and a half without sleeping, and deciding just when to rest will play an important part part of their strategy. Throughout most of the race they'll be tired, hungry, and in pain. And if you know anything about these athletes, they'll be loving ever minute of it.

The odds on favorite going into the race is Team Seagate from New Zealand. But, the field is deep and talented, with Columbia Vidaraid, Merrell Adventure Addicts, and Team Adventure Medical Kits all posing a threat to get onto the podium. In short, it should be a very competitive race to say the least.

You'll be able to follow the race as it unfolds on the XPD website. Right now, the teams are gathering at the starting point, going through mandatory gear checks, and preparing to start. They'll have to wait a bit longer, but the action will begin tomorrow.

Australia to Host the Biggest Expedition Length Adventure Race Ever

In about three weeks time, the best adventure racing teams in the world will make the pilgrimage to Australia to take part in what is shaping up to be biggest adventure race of all time. That's because this year, the country plays host to the Adventure Racing World Championship, and the entire AR community is looking to get in on the action.

The XPD Expedition Race is this year's ARWC event and is scheduled to run from November 8 - 18. It will take place in the Shoalhaven region of New South Wales, and will cover approximately 600 km (372 miles) of tough backcountry terrain. As usual, coed teams of four will have to run, mountain bike, paddle, climb, and trek through a challenging course that most will be happy to simply complete, but the teams looking to stand on the podium will finish in about 4.5 days.

Of course, this is all standard fare for the world of adventure racing, which has been staging some of the toughest endurance competitions on the planet for years. But what makes this year's AR World Championship so special is that the starting list for the race includes 99 teams – the largest field ever for an event of this kind.

According to reports, those teams hail from 20 different countries across six continents. What's more, at least three of the four members of a given team must be from their country of origin in order to claim that home country. That means that this race isn't just about winning the championship, it is truly a competition between rival nations as well. With the tops teams coming from the U.S., Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil, this should indeed be one of the most competitive races ever as well.

While the course for the race won't be revealed until just before the start of the race, we're told that it is a very straight forward affair. The course designers promise "no mandatory stops, no dark zones, no optional controls – pure adventure racing at its best!" Because of this, the race course will be open for just 8 days, making it one of the shortest and fastest World Championship events ever.

Right now, the teams that are competing in the race are in wrapping up their training, planning their travel, and packing their gear. They still have a couple of weeks before they set out for Australia, but those weeks will go by quickly, and the'll be setting off before they know it. It should definitely be a fun race for fans of the sport to follow. With so many great teams on hand, the competition should be fierce. Of course, I'll share updates once the race is underway as well.

Good luck to all of the athletes, event organizers, volunteers, and support crew who will be at the event. I know from first hand experience how challenging and demanding these races can be for everyone involved.

Nat Geo Gives Us the Best Outdoor Towns in the World

Looking for a great town to serve as base camp for your next outdoor adventure? Thinking about relocating to a place that offers more opportunities to pursue the things you love? Why not let National Geographic help with their picks for the world's best towns for outdoor thrills.
Some of the places earning a nod include towns that you would expect. Places like Moab, Utah and El Chaltén, Argentina. Others are a bit more unexpected, such as Niseko, Japan or Ely, Minnesota. It isn't as if those places weren't known for being great outdoor destinations, but to see them ranked amongst the very best (Nat Geo names nine places in total), is refreshing to say the least.

Each place is also accompanied by a nice description of why it deserves a spot on this very distinguished list with details on what it has to offer for visitors. Nat Geo even provided information on when it is the best time of the year to visit to take advantage of the opportunities that each place has to offer. For instance, summer can be hot in Moab, so September is a good time to go, although the author says not to overlook winter as well. Meanwhile, if you're planning on going to Niseko it is probably for the skiing, which is best between December and February.

Of course, with such a short list some places had to be left off, but there were a few surprises for towns that do not appear here. For instance, Chamonix, France is considered one of the great outdoor meccas of the world and yet it doesn't appear on Nat Geo's radar. Similarly, you could just as easily have substituted places like Boulder, Colorado or Jackson Hole, Wyoming, amongst other great mountain towns in the U.S. Still, the places that were selected are very deserving, and bring a nice exotic flair to the list with places like Australia, South Africa, India, and Peru enticing travelers.

To find out which places made the cut, read the entire list here. Then come back and leave a comment with the places that you think should have made the cut. After all, some of your favorite places probably didn't make it.

Video: A Drone's Eye View of Australia's Uluru

If there is one iconic image from Australia's outback that is famous the world over it is probably Uluru. This giant stone monolith rises above the surrounding landscape, etching an imposing profile against the horizon. It is a place that has been held scared by the Aboriginal people of that continent for thousands of years, and it is a wonder to behold. In this video we get a look at Uluru that we've seldom seen before – from the air. Shot using a drone, the images in this short clip are gorgeous and impressive. It's the next best thing to going to the Red Center to see it for yourself.

Belgian Adventurer Completes Solo, Unsupported Trek Across Simpson Desert

A couple of weeks back I wrote about Belgian adventurer Louis-Philippe Loncke attempt to cross the Simpson Desert in Australia on foot and without the use of a cart to carry his supplies and gear. At the time, he was just preparing to set out for Oz to begin his odyssey, but now just a couple of weeks later, the expedition has come to a successful conclusion, breaking new ground in the process.

Just as polar explorers pull sleds filled with gear and supplies behind them when they head to the North and South Pole, desert explorers often use specially designed carts. These contraptions are built to roll over sand and dirt, and have enough capacity to hold all of the important supplies – including water – that are needed on such an expedition. They are also incredibly difficult to pull for prolonged periods of time, but are a necessary component for anyone traveling "unsupported" in those types of environments.

Loncke, who first crossed the desert back in 2008, was determined to prove that it was possible to walk through the "Dead Heart of Australia" without using a cart to support his efforts. To that end, he elected to use a backpack instead. This forced him to get creative with how he packed and approached this trek, as he had to carry 40 liters of water with him for the journey.

His water alone weighed 40 kg (88 pounds), which didn't leave much room for other gear. In order to save weight he eschewed the use of a stove and carried only 8 kg (16 pounds) of food which consisted mostly of muesli bars, figs, and chocolate. He did carry a tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag however, as well as a video camera, several battery packs, and two 360º cameras that captured the Simpson Desert in a way that is hasn't been seen before. All told, his backpack tipped the scales at  60 kg (132 pounds), when he set off on the journey.

While in the desert, Loncke managed to trek 300 km (186 miles) through one of the most inhospitable regions in Australia. The walk began at Old Andado Station and ended at Poeppel Corner, passing through the geographical center of the desert in the process. He had hoped to continue another 135 km (83 miles) to Birdsville, but when Loncke reached the ranger station in Poeppel Corner he was low on food and water and didn't have enough supplies to continue pressing on.

In addition to the usual challenges that the Simpson Desert poses, Loncke experienced something completely unexpected - rain! He says that it rained hard for three days and two nights, with tremendous lightning strikes across the region. The unexpected precipitation made it harder to walk each day, slowing his pace dramatically. He also reports that it led to soaked clothing and wet feet for those three days, which made for a cold, miserable experience at times. But the unexpected rain also brought a wild flower bloom, something else that was unexpected but much appreciated.

You can read more about Lou-Phi's experiences in the Simpson Desert on his blog site dedicated to the expedition. He is currently en route back home to Belgium, but will likely update it with more information going forward.

Congratulations to Loncke for achieving this impressive feat. He has potentially shown us another approach to desert exploration, and it will be interesting to see if anyone else follows suit moving forward.

Belgian Adventurer to Attempt Simpson Desert Crossing in Australia

Belgian adventurer Louis-Philippe Loncke is about to set out on another expedition across Australia's Simpson Desert. Back in 2008, he mad a similar journey spending 36 days traversing the "Dead Heart" of the continent solo and unsupported. This time out, he hopes to repeat his success, although he is taking a completely different approach.

Stretching out for more than 176,000 sq. km. (68,000 sq. miles), the Simpson Desert covers parts of Australia's Northern Territory, Queensland, and South Australian states. Marked by a dry, sandy red plain and towering dunes, it is one of the most forbidding places on the planet, and home to the longest parallel sand dunes on Earth.

When he completed his crossing back in 2008, Loncke pulled a specially built cart that carried his gear and supplies, including water, behind him the entire way. This time out, he'll leave the cart behind and carry all of his equipment in his backpack instead, something he did while crossing Death Valley last year. His route will be a bit different this time out as well, as he'll travel west to east starting from Old Andado station in the Northern Territory and ending at Poeppel Corner via the geographic center of the desert itself. All told, he expect the expedition to cover about 280 km (174 miles).

The challenges that Loncke faces on this journey are numerous. The desert is extremely hot and dry, so dehydration, heat stroke, and exhaustion are real possibilities. Since he's carrying all of his supplies and gear with him on his back, equipment failure is a serious concern too, as is the fear of potential injuries. On top of that, he'll have to contend with snakes, dingos, and wild camels too, not to mention a host of annoying biting insects. In other words, this won't be a walk in the park, but a seriously difficult expedition through an unforgiving environment.

Loncke says that if he crosses the desert successfully, and still has enough supplies to continue on, he plans to push another 135 km (84 miles) past his end point to the town of Birdville instead. That would bring the entire journey up to 415 km (258 miles), although he'll have to wait to see how he feels physically before making that decision.

Loncke departed for Australia from Belgium yesterday and will spend a few days preparing for the journey before setting out. He should get underway next week, and have quite an adventure in the desert. Stay tuned for updates on his progress.

Good luck Lou-Phi!

Video: Into the Ancient Heart of Australia

Australia's Red Center is beautiful, wild, and ancient. This video takes us on a timelapse journey through that part of the world, giving us sweeping shots of the amazing landscapes that are found there, some of which are more than 500 million years old. Throughout the clip you'll witness the changing of the seasons, watch dramatic weather come and go, and see the Milky Way sparkle overhead. This is a truly breathtaking short film that captures the spiritual essence of a place incredibly well. Sit back, enjoy, and take it all in.

Russian Adventurer Sets Record For Fastest Circumnavigation By Balloon

I'm still working hard to catch up with some of the big stories that broke while I was away in Mongolia. Most have been covered now, but there was at least one more that I wanted to share. This past weekend, Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov completed an epic round-the-world journey in a hot air balloon, covering some 33,000 km (20,506 miles) while setting a new speed record in the process.

Konyukhov first set out on his journey back on July 12, taking to the air at 7:30 AM local time at a point located just north of Perth, Australia. He touched down just 11 days later in the town of Bonnie Rock, located in Western Australia at about 5:00 PM in the evening.

In completing the journey, the 64-year old Russian becomes just one of four people to successfully circumnavigate the globe in a balloon. He is the second to do so solo. Konyukhov circled the planet in a carbon fiber pod that was not pressurized, as he cruised along at speeds in excess of 150 miles (240 km) per hour, at an altitude that often reached to 30,000 feet (9144 meters). His speed record is two days faster than the previous mark, which was set by Steve Fossett back in 2002.

This latest achievement is just one of many for the Russian, who has scaled Everest twice, climbed the rest of the Seven Summits, and has skied to both the North and South Pole. He has even visited the Pole of Inaccessibility in the Arctic Ocean, and crossed the Pacific Ocean in a rowboat. An accomplished sailor, Konyukhov has sailed around the world four times, a skill that served him well in the balloon too.

Some of the challenges that he faced while flying around the globe in a balloon included bad weather, a frozen valve on his oxygen tanks, and a storm that froze over the balloon, adding enough additional weight that the flight was in serious jeopardy for a time. At one point, he even strayed far enough south that he was nearing Antarctica, just as his onboard heater was struggling to continue working. This put him into "survival mode" as he strayed into serious jeopardy for a time. Thankfully, he was able to overcome all of those obstacles, stay in the air, and still set the new speed record.

Congrats to Fedor on such an impressive accomplishment. Truly a great adventure for the modern age.


Video: Introducing the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride 2016

Looking for a good cycling challenge and a fun adventure for 2016? Why not join the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride held in Australia each year. The nine-day event features more than 5000 riders, who roll along a 550 km (341 mile) course that not only passes through the Grampian region of Oz, but rolls along the Great Ocean Road as well. The video below gives you an idea of what to expect in this fully supported ride. Adults can join in on the fun for $995, which includes meals, luggage transport, support out on the road, and a host of other benefits. Looks like a great event. I need to head back Down Under to join the peloton at some point.

Adventure Tech: Land Cruisers Used as Wireless Network in the Outback

Staying in communication with the rest of the world while traveling through a remote landscape can be difficult and expensive. But a new project sponsored by Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia,  automaker Toyota, and a communications and advertising agency called Saatchi & Saatchi shows off a new concept that uses a fleet of Land Cruisers as mobile WiFi network that can keep travelers in contact, even when miles away from an Internet connection or cell network.

The Land Cruiser is one of the most popular expedition and adventure travel vehicles on the planet, often found in remote places where few other motorized vehicles can go. That's true in the Outback of Australia too, with travelers using them to wander far from civilization. Recently, Toyota equipped some of those SUV's with a new device that creates a network between other vehicles in the area, with data being shared between these mobile hotspots until it can be handed off to a unit that is also within range of a permanent Internet connection.

These high-tech communications devices have a range of 25 km (15.5 miles) and can handle both voice and data. That makes them useful for making emergency calls from a remote place, or sharing social media updates while in the field. It uses standard WiFi, UHF signals, and Delay Tolerant Networks (DTN) to help pass along the data. The information can hop from Land Cruiser to Land Cruiser until it finds one with an Internet connection, at which point it is send out to the rest of the world.

The video below gives you an idea of how the whole thing works. It seems like it has a lot of promise for communications in remote places. 


Video: Blessed in the (Australian) West

There is no question that Australia is a country blessed with amazing outdoor environments. From sprawling deserts to dense rainforests to wild coastlines, Australia has it all. This video takes us to the Australian west where we get a beautiful look at some of those places. If you haven't been "Down Under" yet, this will give you a little more incentive to go.

Blessed in the West from Thurston Photo on Vimeo.

The Last Great March Will Take Explorers Across Simpson Desert and to the North Pole

As the 2016 Arctic exploration season starts to wind down, we now get word of yet another attempt to ski the full distance to the North Pole. Adventurers Sebastian Copeland and Mark George are planning on making that journey in 2017 as part of what they call The Last Great March, a project that also includes a self-supported journey across Australia's Simpson Desert as well.

The two men – who has extensive exploration and adventure credits on their resume – first plan to set out from Ellesmere Island in Canada next February in an attempt to ski 775 km (481 miles) to the Geographic North Pole at 90ºN. They'll travel on skis over the ice, dragging their sleds filled with gear and equipment behind them as they go, with the hope of finishing the journey in under 49 days. Along the way, they'll face unpredictable weather, ice rubble fields, large open leads of water, and possibly even polar bears. If they can actually pull it off, they'll be the first team to complete the full journey to the North Pole since 2014, and quite possibly the last to do so.

But the expedition to the North Pole is only one phase of the Last Great March project. Sebastian and Mark are also planning of trekking for 520 km (323 miles) across the Simpson Desert, the driest place on the Australian continent. To do so, they'll need to pull specially built carts carrying 400 pounds (181 kg) of gear and equipment, much of which will consist of the water they'll need to survive in this inhospitable place. While out in the desert they'll face intense heat, dehydration, massive sand dunes, and a variety of poisonous snakes.

The goal of The Last Great March is to not only push the boundaries of human endurance in remote and difficult settings but also to record the impact of climate change on these places. It will be interesting to see how these expeditions play out, particularly in the Arctic. We had one team announce a full-distance expedition to the North Pole this year, and that didn't end so well. Will this team have more success next year? We'll have to wait to see.

Video: A Two-Minute Journey Through Beautiful South Australia

If you're looking for an escape to some place exotic, but just don't have the time to get away at the moment, perhaps this video from National Geographic can help. It takes us to South Australia where we get a glimpse of some of the stunning landscapes, amazing wildlife, and wonderful people that can be found there. It is a two-minute journey through one of my favorite places.

And when you're ready to go see what Australia has to offer for yourself, check out the tours of that country that Mountain Travel Sobek has to offer.

Video: Slacklining Over Kanangra Falls in Australia

Slacklining a few feet above the ground seems challenging enough, but what about 100 meters up, and over a massive waterfall no less? That's exactly what the team of adventurers in this video did when they made the first slackline crossing over Kanangra Falls in Australia's Blue Mountains. Along the way, they also made a beautiful video that captures not only the landscapes around them exceptionally well, but spirit of their challenge too. Attempting something like this is a bit too far out of my comfort zone, but watching them do it is an amazing sight to behold.

SLACK from The Runaways Production House on Vimeo.

Final 2015 Adventure Racing World Series Rankings Revealed

With the Adventure Racing World Championships being held in Brazil last month, another season of the AR World Series has come to a close. Earlier in the week, the final rankings for 2015 were released, and for those of us who follow the sport closely there are some familiar names at the top. 

The rankings are a result of how teams finish over the course of the entire season, which began last February at the GODZone Race in New Zealand and wrapped up at Pantanal Pro in Brazil. Each team receives a point value based on their performance, although sometimes their overall score is skewed by how often they race. Still, the best teams do tend to gravitate to the top of the list, and the best team in the world is definitely ranked number one in my opinion. So, without further ado, here how the top adventure racing teams stacked up, along with their point totals for the season:
1 - Seagate - 700
2 - Columbia Oncosec - 556
3 - Adventure Medical Kits - 458
4 - Haglöfs Silva - 398
5 - Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Team - 371
6 - Raidlight-Naturex - 364
7 - Merrell - 355
8 - GODZone Adventure Team - Expedicion Guarani - 338
9 - Peak Performance 306
10 - YogaSlackers - 275
11 - Estonian ACE Adventure - 223
11 - France Green Caffte Costa Rica - 223
13 - R'ADYS Team Switzerland - 218
14 - Ecuador Movistar - 183
15 - Arverne Outdoor - 176
16 - Bivouac Inov-8 - 160
17 - Sweco Adventure - 150
18 - Fenix Multisport - Adidas - 133
19 - DART Nuun - 108
20 - Chimpanzee Bar - 105
20 - Kailash Brou Aventuras - 105
The 2016 season will begin in February at the Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge in Belize, and the ARWS will have another full schedule of events planned for the months that will follow. It should be another interesting year, with some great races set to take place on five continents, including the World Championships being held in Australia.

Video: The Snowy Mountains of Australia

When one thinks about Australia, snowcapped peaks generally don't come to mind. But winter in Oz can be just as beautiful as it is elsewhere int he world. Don't believe me? Have a look at this video fro proof. It features two minutes of stunning landscapes captured in timelapse, with some amazing winter scenery. It'll give you a new perspective of Australia, and provide a hint at some of the fantastic outdoor adventure opportunities that exist there.

And when you're ready to explore Australia yourself, consider joining the Wonders of Australia itinerary that is offered by Mountain Travel Sobek. It is 11-days of amazing experiences down under, ranging from the Great Barrier Reef to the Outback.

My Snowy Mountains from Ben.Coope on Vimeo.

Video: Stand-Up Paddleboarding with Whales

Shot near Esperance, in western Australia, this beautiful video was captured using a drone flying above the crystal clear waters found there. It features a lone stand-up paddleboarder having the encounter of his life as two whales swim alongside him. It must have been quite an experience to be so close to those amazing creatures on such a tiny SUP board. Definitely a once in a lifetime encounter.