Video: Barefoot Kilimanjaro - To the Roof of Africa without Shoes

Back in 2012, a group of adventurous friends set out to climb Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa, completely barefoot. Having been there myself, this was something that I would have thought impossible, but never the less, they managed to reach the summit, hiking the entire way without shoes. Now, more than two years after their expedition, the team has released a wonderful documentary about their climb. The entire 37+ minute film can be found below, and I think you're going to love it. It is a wonderfully crafted doc that will inspire you in numerous ways. So sit back, set the video to full-screen mode, get comfortable, and allow yourself to be transported to Africa, and Kilimanjaro, for a little while.

Video: Amazing Aragón

Yesterday, I posted a great little timelapse video that took us into the Aragón region of the Pyrenees in Spain. In turns out, that video was part of a larger project from the tourism board there, who are using the hashtag #Aragónen5días to help spread the word about this amazing place. Today, I have another video that is part of the same project, and this time it takes us on a whitewater river excursion through the same area. This video has been shot in a unique style that makes everything look like it is an animated miniature version of real life. But the footage is real, and it does a good job of intriguing viewers, and hopefully luring them to come for a visit as well.

Amazing Aragón from Joerg Daiber on Vimeo.

Video: The Miner's Revenge Mountain Bike Race

If you read my post yesterday about mountain biking on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, you probably saw my mention of a unique mountain bike race held there every year. It's called, the Miner's Revenge, and it takes place in and around the Adventure Mining Company on the Keweenaw Peninsula. What makes this race so special is that the course of the race runs not just around and over the mountain, but inside it as well. Racers must negotiate a narrow tunnel left over by the copper mines that once populated the area. It certainly adds a new twist to a race, and as you'll see in the video below, the tunnel makes for a unique environment. This is a race unlike any other, and only adds to the great riding in the U.P.

Pakistan 2014: Teams Leaving Base Camp, Final K2 Summit Push Underway

The 2014 climbing season in Pakistan is starting to wind down, as most of the teams on Broad Peak, Gasherbrum II, and K2 have now left their respective Base Camps, and have started the long journey home. For most, that will involve a 70 mile (112 km) trek back to Askole, where they can finally board motorized vehicles to carry them to Skardu. Once there, some will hop a short flight to Islamabad, while others will brave a grueling two-day bus ride back to the Pakistani capital. After that, they just face a very long flight home, although most will be consoled by the fact that they accomplished what they had set out to in the mountains.

Alan Arnette's team left BC on K2 yesterday, but not before he posted an update on his condition, and some photos from the summit push. He acknowledges that the mountain is incredibly difficult, and it pushed him to his very limits. Alan admits that he wanted to stop, and turn back, on three separate occasions, but the support he felt from his thousands of readers, and his desire to push on for his cause (he climbed to fight Alzheimer's), spurred him on to the summit.

Alan also says the descent was incredibly difficult as well. Exhausted from the effort it took to get to the summit, coming down the mountain was treacherous, and only helped to sap his remaining strength. He says that he has never been more relieved to be back in BC, and he has never been prouder of his teammates.

It should be noted that Sunday was Alan's birthday, and the best gift of all was K2 summit I'm sure. He turned 58 on that day, which could give him the record of being the oldest person to ever reach the top of the Mountaineer's Mountain. Quite an impressive and inspiring record to hold.

As most of the teams abandon K2 for the season, there are still two squad seeking the summit. The Polish team preparing for a winter ascent, along with Bulgarian climber Boyen Petrov, fresh off his summit of Broad Peak, have launched their final push to the top today. Reportedly, the weather is still good, and conditions high on the mountain are great by K2 standards, so hopefully they will get up and down safely.

Finally, ExWeb has more details on the death of Spanish climber Miguel Angel Perez, who passed away in Camp 4 on K2 a few days back. Apprently, Perez was part of the initial summit push, but turned back 300 meters below the summit. Upon returning to C4, he was able to eat, rehydrate, and rest, which allowed him to regain his strength enough to go for the summit a second time. He did so on a solo effort on July 28.

Unfortunately, due to exhaustion, he was very slow on the descent, and was forced to camp out in the elements at 8300 meters (27,230 feet) over night. Following that ordeal, he managed to descend to Camp 4, where he was reportedly doing well. By that point, a rescue operation was underway, with a team of Pakistani climbers heading up to try to assist him down. Before they could reach him however, Miguel passed away in Camp 4.

This is sad news that hands like a dark cloud over what has been an incredibly successful season on K2. Once again, I express my condolences to his friends and family. Lets hope the remaining climbers on the mountain don't add any more fatalities to this season.

More updates will follow as they come in.

Go Inside Alex Honnold's Custom Built Adventure Van

As one of the premiere rock climbers on the planet, Alex Honnold spends a lot of time on the road, living out of his van, while working on a project. That means that his adventure wagon needs to be an efficient living space that he can travel and work out of for weeks at a time. Recently, Outside magazine took an inside look at the custom built van that Alex calls Base Camp, sharing some excellent photos of a surprisingly comfortable looking mobile apartment.

From the outside, the van looks like just about any other nondescript vehicle that you might pass on the highway. But inside, it is equipped with a stove, a large bed, and  hidden storage compartments filled with climbing gear. A five-gallon jug of water and a small cooler round out the kitchen, with a hidden propane tank providing the fuel necessary to cook his meals.

Alex's van isn't without its luxuries. Two solar panels, courtesy of Goal Zero, are mounted on the top, feeding power to a Yeti 400 generator. This ensures that Honnold has enough electricity to recharge his various gadgets, including a cell phone and his laptop. Other than that, the climber appears to live a fairly spartan existence, not requiring much more than what is in the van to continue the lifestyle that he enjoys.

Living out of a van while climbing is part of the dirtbag tradition that stretches back for decades. It was most definitely a part of the Yosemite culture in the 60's and 70's. That's a climbing destination that Alex knows very well, although to the climbers that started that tradition five decades ago, Honnold's mobile living space would probably seem like a luxury palace.

Video: Aragon Winter Timelapse

Nestled deep in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees, the Aragon region is a hidden gem for outdoor adventurers. Snowcapped peaks, alpine lakes, and beautiful valleys make great destinations for skiing, hiking, climbing, and more. The video below gives us a brief glimpse of what Aragon has to offer, and will almost assuredly put the place on your list of future destinations. Enjoy!

ARAGON WINTER TIMELAPSE from Pau Garcia Laita on Vimeo.

Video: Indonesia By Mountain Bike

Traveling by bike is one of the most rewarding and interesting ways to see a country. In the case of the video below, mountain biker Tito Tomasi shipped his bike with him to Indonesia, and when arrived there, he simply pulled it out of the box, and hit the road. Bringing his own means of transportation allowed him to explore the country like never before, and the video takes us with him to some extremely beautiful and interesting places. What a great way to travel.

Video: Where in the World are You? Quest #19

It is Wednesday, which means it is also time to play another round of "Where in the World are You?" with our friend Richard Bangs. This time we're off to a country whose capital was once known as "Linenopolis" and is home to a ship building industry that once built the biggest ship in the world. There are a number of other clues to be had from the video as well. See if you can guess Richard's destination!

Pure Michigan: Mountain Biking on the Upper Peninsula

Photo Credit Bryen Dunn
Michigan's Upper Peninsula quite possibly may be the most remote and wild place in the eastern United States. Bordered on three sides by the Great Lakes, it is a land covered in thick forests and rolling hills, and devoid of most signs of civilization. Just how remote is it? Consider this. Michigan is home to approximately 10 million people, and yet less than 3% of them live in the U.P. If you go there, don't expect reliable cell phone service, speed Internet, or much in the way of amenities. What you should expect is some of the most down to Earth people that you could ever meet, an abundance of great outdoor activities, and plenty of adventure.

My travels in the U.P. took me to the town of Copper Harbor, which is located at the extreme north of  the Keweenaw Peninsula, directly on the shores of Lake Superior. It is a sleep little town that has just 80 year-round residents, but welcomes adventurous travelers, particularly in the summer. One of the local businesses is the Keweenaw Adventure Company, which hosts kayaking trips out onto the lake, as well as guided mountain bike rides onto the nearby trails. But those trails aren't just some run-of-the-mill singletrack with little to offer experienced riders. The network of trails in and around Copper Harbor have been rated as a Silver Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Biking Association, which means they rank amongst the top five in the world.

With that kind of a reputation, I was eager to check out the trails for myself, and one morning while I was there, a few of us grabbed some bikes, and hit the trail. After a bit of a warm-up on some flat and fast trails near town, we caught the shuttle up to the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, which is home to beautiful golf course, but also provides access to several of the mountain bike trails. Soon, my companions and I were zipping off down the road to the trail head for a route called Garden Brook, which would eventually provide access to another called Bullwinkle. Within minutes, we were flying across a trail that was both technically challenging, and incredibly fun, mixing the twists and turns of downhill, with just a enough climbing to give your legs a good workout as well.

The lush green forests that line the hills around Copper Harbor made for a great backdrop to the ride. The trails wandered through those woods as if they were meant to be there, rather than something that was carved out by human hands. The setting would have been almost serene, were it not for the breakneck speeds that were obtained on the sustained downhill portions of the ride. When you conjure up dreams about what a perfect mountain bike ride through a forest should be like, it will resemble what is found in the hills above Copper Harbor. Fast, demanding, wild, and fun.

The trail isn't the only thing that is wild in the region. We had only been on the trail for a few minutes when we came across bear scat that was fresh from that morning. Black bears are plentiful on the U.P., and there was one wandering close by. Fortunately, we never came across him on our ride, although a bear sighting would have only added to the great sense of fun that was had that morning.

Photo Credit: Hansi Johnson
Both Garden Brook and Bulwinkle are narrow singletrack from top to bottom, with the occasional wooden bridge to help cross over parts of the trails that are easily washed out, or could cause damage to the surrounding landscapes. The route is easy to follow, even for first timers, and sign posts clearly mark the intersection of trails. We passed several of them on our descent, with each giving an enticing hint as to other possible rides that were available, if only we had time to take them.

Before we knew it, our morning on the mountain bike trails were over, and we had to turn in our bikes in order to move on to other activities. But the exhilarating, adrenaline-inducing run down the Copper Harbor trails stayed with us for the rest of the day. There were so many other trails to ride, and so much more to explore. I wanted to stay for several more days just to see what other opportunities were available, and I look forward to a time when I can return, to do just that.

Our next stop was off to the Adventure Mining Company, where we would eventually walk deep under the Earth into an old copper mine. That is a completely different story for another time, but while we were there, we learned about a unique mountain biking race that takes place each year. It is called the Miner's Revenge, and it challenges riders to take their bikes over, around, and through the mountain. That's right, this race not only features a trail that wanders up and over the surrounding hills, but it actually goes into the copper mine itself, with riders traveling along the old tunnels that are still open there. Now that sounds like a crazy ride!

If you'd like to learn more about the mountain biking trails on the Upper Peninsula, and in Copper Harbor in particular, check out You'll find an interactive trail map, information on local events, and more. It is a great place to plan your own mountain biking excursion to the U.P.

And for a good look at the trails themselves, check out the video below as well. It'll truly give you a sense of what to expect.

Find out more about everything Michigan has to offer at

Pakistan 2014: Death on K2, Rescue on Broad Peak

It continues to be a very busy week in Pakistan, where a number of teams are packing up, and preparing to head home following the unprecedented success on K2 this past weekend. As of now, it seems that 35 climbers reached the summit of the "Mountaineer's Mountain" during a weather window that seems to only come along once every few years. But there is sad news from the Karakoram today, as the mountain has also claimed the life of one climber, bringing a bit of a dark cloud to the celebration that is still taking place there.

Details on the death are just now starting to come in, but Italian climber Tamara Lunger updated her blog to report that Spanish climber Miguel Angel Perez Alnarez has perished in Camp 4 on K2. She says that Miguel, who has 10 8000-meter peaks on his resume, left Base Camp on his own on Sunday, and reached the summit amidst good weather. But he was very slow on his descent, and was forced to bivouac above 8000 meters (26,246 feet) without a tent. Yesterday, the Spaniard was able to descend to Camp 4, but he died there last night.

This news has no doubt sent a shockwave through K2 Base Camp, where the teams were still enjoying their success the past few days. K2 has a reputation for being the "Savage Mountain," in part because one out of every four climbers who reaches the summit, dies on the way back down. That has not been the case this year of course, but the loss of Miguel is a stark reminder of the dangers that climbers face on that mountain.

My condolences to the friends and family of the fallen climber.

Meanwhile, over on Broad Peak, there is news that the Polish team climbing there have saved the life of a Taiwanese climber who was stranded, and dying in Camp 4. The details on the rescue are a bit fuzzy at the moment, but it seems that he or she was left alone in C4, where the Poles discovered the unnamed climber who was asking for help. The Polish team then called for assistance from other members of the team in Camp 3, and assisted in getting the Taiwanese climber down the mountain. Hopefully the stranded climber is receiving the medical attention they need, and are on the road to recovery. I'm sure we'll hear more about this story in the days ahead as well.

Finally, while we're still sifting through all of the successful summits on K2, and across the Karakoram, this past week, there was at least one record set. When our friend Alan Arnette reached the summit of K2 on Sunday morning, he became the oldest person to ever achieve that feat. Alan is 58 years old, and while he took up mountaineering later in life, he has certainly made the most of his time in the mountains. He is also an inspiration to all of us.

Video: More Alaskan Beauty

If you haven't gotten your fill of the breathtaking landscapes of Alaska just yet, then check out the video below. It was shot by a couple of travelers making their way through that amazing destination, and capturing their adventures along the way. It can't be reiterated enough just how beautiful Alaska truly is, and this video may leave you wanting to pay a visit yourself.

Alaska from Caleb & Shawn on Vimeo.

Video: Summer Solstice in Alaska

This beautiful video was shot using a Phantom 2 drone and GoPro camera on the Summer Solstice in Alaska, the Land of the Midnight Sun. It features some amazing footage from of wilderness there and reminds us why it is such a great destination for adventure. Truly breathtaking stuff, and great use of the drone to capture images that simply weren't cost effective just a few years ago.

Solstice from STURGEFILM on Vimeo.

Adventure Tech: Iridium Go! Satellite Hotspot Now Shipping

Back in February of this year, I posted a story about a new product from satellite communications company Iridium called the Iridium Go! At that time, the device was newly announced, and we were just getting an early look at what it could do. The relatively small gadget would allow explorers and outdoor adventurers to stay in contact with the rest of the world while visiting remote places. Acting much like a portable WiFi hotspot, it would provide both data and voice communications, allowing a variety of devices to connect to Iridium's' network, with the Go! acting as the bridge. Thus, you could use your iPhone, tablet, or computer to send messages, post social media updates, and make phone calls from just about anywhere on the planet. The Go! promises to revolutionize the way we communicate from the field. Yesterday, Iridium announced that the device has begun shipping, and is available to consumers for the first time.

Designed for use in the remote corners of the planet, the Go! is rugged and durable. Once configured and powered on, it provides a WiFi network with a range of up to 100 feet (30 meters). This can allow users to set the device up in a location that has a clear view of the overhead sky, while they take shelter in a tent or close to natural protection. Their devices can then connect to the Go!, even though it isn't in the same physical location that they are. This helps to extend the versatility of the device for use in the backcountry. The Go! is even capable of connecting to up to five devices at the same time.

Iridium has created two free apps for use on smartphones and tablets. They include the Iridium Go! app, which is used for placing satellite phone calls, while the Iridium Mail & Web app serves as a portal for getting email, surfing the web, and connecting to social media. Additionally, Iridium has released an SDK for the platform, with other companies signing on to develop apps for the Go! as well.

The Go! carries an MSRP of $895, although there are already a few early adopter discounts being offered. Considering the amount of versatility it brings to our satellite communications from remote places, I'd say that is a reasonable price to ask. The fact that it allows you to use your existing devices, such as an iPhone or iPad, means that you can carry less gear into the field, and use a single device no matter where you go. Iridium as even future-proofed it, as the Go! is already compatible with their next generation of higher speed satellites that will begin coming online next year.

If you've been waiting for the Go! to arrive, now's your chance to pick one up, and put it to use in the field. It looks like a great little device, and I can't wait to hear how it performs.

Great Pacific Race Update: Rowers Arriving in Hawaii

It has been a few weeks since I last posted about the Great Pacific Race, and over that period of time, the crews aboard their boats have been making steady progress towards the finish line in Hawaii. In fact, the first teams began arriving there last week, becoming the first to complete the inaugural edition of the race, which promises to become one of the most challenging endurance events on the planet moving forward.

For those who haven't been following along with the race, it began back on June 7, with 13 teams setting out from Monterey, California for Honolulu, Hawaii. Ahead of them sat 2400 mile (3862 km) of open ocean, with choppy seas, big swells, and difficult storms to overcome. A few of the entrants didn't make it very far, dropping out of the race while just a few days in, but others have pressed forward. Now, nearly 50 days into the race, two boats have come home, a third should arrive today, and the remaining rowers continue pressing on.

Last Tuesday, the first team reached finish line when the four-man crew known as Uniting Nations arrived in Hawaii after 43 days on the water. Two days later, the second team, named Battleborn, also wrapped up their row. That squad, which is also a four-person crew, arrived on July 24. The third team, Noman Is An Island, is expected to arrive sometime today.

That leaves five teams still out on the water, with most expected to arrive over the next few weeks. All of them are making great progress towards their goal, although on solo rower, Elsa Hammond, seems to be struggling to get her boat out into the ocean currents that will help carry her to Hawaii. She is far behind the others, and will undoubtedly be the last rower to reach the finish line.

Considering that this is the first ever GPR, it seems that the race has been a remarkable success so far. Despite a rocky start due to some poor weather, the crews have made excellent progress crossing the Pacific. This bodes well for future editions of the race, which looks to be the Pacific's version of the Talisker Atlantic Challenge. While there are no plans to hold the event again next year, race organizers are already gearing up for another edition to take place in 2016.

Congratulations to everyone who has already finished their Great Pacific Race, and good luck to those still out on the water.

Pakistan 2014: More From K2 and Gasherbrums, Masherbrum Expedition Over

If you've been following the climbing scene in Pakistan over the past few days, you know that it has been a very busy time in the mountains there. This past weekend, more than 30 people reached the summit of K2 amidst good weather and great climbing conditions. The weather window hasn't closed on that mountain yet, and other teams have now launched their summit bids, with an eye on reaching the top by the end of the week. Elsewhere, teams have started packing up to head home, as the end of the summer climbing season is now in sight.

Our friend Alan Arnette checked in from K2 Base Camp yesterday after he topped out early Sunday morning. While he hasn't posted a summit report just yet, he did update his Facebook page with some details of the climb. Alan, along with the rest of his team, set out from Camp 4 at 10 PM local time on Saturday evening, and topped out around 8:30 AM the next morning. Part of the delay was due to a slight shift in the route following an avalanche on the Bottleneck, one of the more treacherous portions of the climb. Alan says that the entire climb to the top was incredibly steep as well, generally 60-70 degrees, but stretching up to 80-90 degrees on the Traverse. This only adds to K2's difficulty of course, and further cements its reputation as the toughest mountain on the planet.

If that wasn't enough, a meter of fresh snow fell on the slopes to the summit on Saturday, and the team had to take turns breaking trail on the way up. As a result, Alan reports that he was quite exhausted by the time he summited, and was experiencing some symptoms of dehydration and high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). Fortunately, his teammates watched over him closely, and he was able to get up and down safely.

Now, the entire squad is back in BC and preparing to head home. After an exhausting climb, they face a 70 mile (112 km) trek back to Askole, where they'll be able to drive to Skardu, before catching a plane to Islamabad, and eventually home. They are all exhausted, but relieved to have completed their expedition safely and successfully. I'm sure an enormous sense of satisfaction will follow, once they have had time to reflect on their accomplishment.

Over on Gasherbrum I and II, Turkish climber Tunć Findik has updated his status, and is now preparing to head home as well. After a successful climb on GII last week, the team has decided to pull the plug on an attempt on GI as well. It is starting to get late into the season, and conditions on the mountain were already treacherous, so they are packing up Base Camp and departing soon for Askole as well. You may recall that Findik was late getting to the mountain due to the changes in regulations that say all teammates must travel together at all times. That delay may have ended up costing him a chance at a second summit.

Finally, David Lama has updated his status on Facebook as well, announcing that he, and his squad, have abounded their attempt to summit Masherbrum. Apparently, the new route they were attempting to open on that mountain was just too difficult with the weather and conditions that were presented to them. David indicated that the team was feeling "devastated and relieved at the same time."

There are still a few on going expeditions in the Karakoram at the moment, and I'll be keeping a close eye on them over the next few days. For the most part though, the season is starting to wind down. It has been a successful one for sure, particularly on K2. Hopefully the teams that remain will find success as well, and get back down safely. More to follow.

Video: Wingsuits Over New York City

Often times when we get a video of wingsuit pilots flying through the air, they are doing so in some lovely, remote mountain locations. That certainly isn't the case here, as a team of wingsuiters zip over New York City, before attempting to land on a barge floating in the Hudson River. This may have been filmed in an urban setting, but the sport still looks exhilarating none the less.

Video: Zion Traverse - Running 53 Miles Across Zion National Park

Ultrarunners love finding beautiful, but difficult, terrain, and then doing what they do best – namely running across said terrain. That seems to be the case in this video, which follows some ultrarunners as they make a traverse of the stunning Zion National Park in Utah, covering a total of 53 miles in the process.

Zion Traverse: Ultrarunning from Jerry Armstrong on Vimeo.

Video: Paddling Solo Through the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River

In January and February of this year, adventurer and filmmaker John Nestler paddled solo, and unsupported, through the Grand Canyon. He spent 27 days kayaking through that iconic landscape, documenting the journey as he went. The short film below is the result of that expedition, and features some fantastic scenes from Canyon, as well as some of the people that Nestler met while on his adventure. It is perfect inspiration for the start of a new week.

Why Rush Through Paradise from Fluid Glass Productions on Vimeo.

Tour de France 2014: Nibali Claims Victory in Paris

Yesterday was the final stage of the Tour de France, and as expected, Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali finished the race in the coveted Maillot Jaune, making him the champion for 2014. It was a dominating win for Nibali, who finished more than seven and a half minutes ahead of his nearest rival. All told, he wore the Yellow Jersey for all but two days of the Tour, and even put in a great performance in the individual time trial on Saturday, even though he already had the race won. As is usual on the final day of Le Tour, no riders attacked the race leader, and Nibali was able to ride into Paris to receive the adulation he deserved for such a dominating performance.

Of course, the final Sunday of the Tour de France isn't just about the ceremonial ride into Paris. The sprinters lined up for one last mad-dash on the Champs Élysées, with Marcel Kittel nipping Alexander Kristoff at the line. As usual, it was a crazy day on the cobbles of the streets of Paris, with plenty of fireworks as the riders pushed towards the finish line. But Kittel is now amongst the elite sprinters in the sport, and he proved that once again.

Saturday's individual time trial was also intriguing to watch. While Nibali put in a good performance, climbing fourth on the day, the rest of the Peloton was simply no match for world champion Tony Martin, who averaged 48.8 kph (30.3 mph) over the length of the 54 km (33.5 mile) route. His time was by far the fastest of the day, and proved why he remains the best time trialist in the sport at the moment.

Yesterday was a historic day in Paris, with two Frenchmen joining Nibali on the podium. Second place went to Jean-Christophe Péraud, who rode well on Saturday to take over the position from third place finisher, Thibaut Pinot. But Péraud nearly lost that second place finish when he was involved in a crash on the Champs Élysées on Sunday. Fortunately, it occurred far enough from the finish line that he was able to get back into the main group in time. Out of respect for his positioning, the peloton also slowed down to allow him to rejoin.

As for Pinot, he saw his position fall from second to third on Saturday, but he has a lot to be proud of. He went home in the White Jersey as the Tour's best young rider, and it appears that he has quite a career ahead of him. At the age of 24, he is already show ing flashes of brilliance, and may be France's best hope for an overall winner in the year's ahead.

Cannondale's Peter Sagan went home with the Green Jersey as this year's top sprinter. It is the third year in a row that he has earned that honor, and it may be some time before anyone challenges him in that category. Meanwhile, Rafal Majka held on to the Polk Dot Jersey, becoming the first Polish rider to be named the King of the Mountains.

All in all, it was another good year for the Tour de France, although that was mainly due to some amazing efforts on individual stages. With Chris Froome and Alberto Contador crashing out of the race early, Nibali was simply too powerful for anyone else to challenge. He was so good, that I'm not sure that either Froome or Contador could have beaten him either, but it sure would have been fun to watch them try. Hopefully next year we'll get some real competition for the Yellow Jersey, as the battle for the Maillot Jaune lacked any real sense of drama in 2014.

Still, Nibali earned the win and now has victories in all three of cycling's Grand Tours. Only five other men in the history of the sport can make that claim. Congratulations to him, and the entire Astana team, for such an impressive show out on the roads of France.

We'll see you next year Vincenzo.

Pakistan 2014: Historic Weekend on K2

It was a very busy, and successful, weekend on the world's toughest mountain. As predicted, a good weather window stayed open through yesterday, allowing numerous teams to reach the summit of the mountain on both days, and it doesn't seem that that window has closed just yet, as other climbers are still on the move.

Yesterday, a team of international climbers that included Alan Arnette topped out on schedule. The team set out from Camp 4 at 10:40 PM Saturday evening, and reached the summit around 5:45 AM on Sunday morning. Joining Alan on the top of K2 were Matthew Dupuy, Garrett Madison, Kami Rita Sherpa, Fur Kancha Sherpa, and Kami Tshering Sherpa. There hasn't been a dispatch following the news of the successful summit, although I would expect one soon. Alan did follow up on Twitter however, simply saying "K2 summit unbelievable hard."

Alan did release an audio dispatch while he was on the summit, and you can tell from the sound of his voice that it was an incredibly moving and personal moment for him to reach the top. He has been using his various mountaineering expeditions over the past few years to raise money for the Cure Alzheimer's Fund – a cause that is very near, and dear, to his heart – and this climb was a culmination of all of those efforts. I expect that we'll get another dispatch from Alan soon that will share the details of his climb.

Meanwhile, a host of other climbers also reached the top on Saturday, including Adrian Hayes and Al Hancock. In an audio dispatch, Al noted that it was a 15 hour roundtrip for the climbers who summited on Saturday, with most of them all topping out within a short time with one another. Adrian and Al are already back in BC, and it sounds like the descent was just as challenging as the climb. But, it seems that climbers are getting up down the mountain safely this season, which isn't always the case on K2.

Also reaching the summit of K2 was Chris Jensen Burke, who now has some decisions to be made about what her next move is. You may recall that she, along with Lakpa Sherpa, acclimatized on Broad Peak before moving over to K2 for the summit bid. While on BP, the conditions were not right for a summit, so they never topped out on that mountain. Chris and Lakpa are now discussing returning to Broad Peak to have a go at the summit there. Since they left, rope fixing has been completed, several teams have topped out, and things are much more settled there. If they have the energy, I would assume that they'll head back to give it another go.

ExWeb has posted a complete list of K2 summiteers as we know them so far. The names of all the mountaineers who topped out this weekend are still coming in, but in addition to those mentioned above, the following climbers also reached the summit this weekend:

  • Tamara Lunger (Italy)
  • Nikolaus Gruber (Italy)
  • Radek Jaros (Czech)
  • Travnicek Jan (Czech)
  • Hassan Jan (Pakistan)
  • Ali Durani (Pakistan)
  • Rahmat Ullah Baig (Pakistan)
  • Ghulam Mehdi (Pakistan)
  • Ali (Pakistan)
  • Muhammad Sadiq (Pakistan)
  • Michele Cucchi (Italy)
  • Dawa Yangzum Sherpa (Nepal)
  • Pasang Lhamu Sherpa (Nepal)
  • Maya Sherpa (Nepal)
  • Giuseppe Pompili (Italy)
  • Amin Baig (Pakistan)
  • Ferran Latorre (Spain)
  • Tsering Sherpa(Nepal)
All told, there were 28 confirmed summits so far, but that number is expected to go up. When everything is confirmed, there is a chance that this will go down as the most successful couple of days on K2 ever. 

As mentioned however, the season isn't over just yet. ExWeb is also reporting that the Polish squad training for a potential winter K2 expedition will have a go at the summit this week, and will set off from BC today. Joining them on the mountain will be Bulgarian Boyan Petrov who already topped out on Broad Peak a few days back. If all goes according to plan, this third wave of climbers hope to summit on Friday, August 1. Stay tuned for updates on their progress.

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone who reached the summit this weekend. Climbing K2 is no small feat, and they should all be proud of their accomplishments. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the various expeditions in the days ahead. 

What could be the causes of Realty Project delays?

What could be the causes of Realty Project delays? And what can real estate developers do to correct this issue?. Take any newspaper, or online forum, or discussions among stakeholders within the property circle, one would notice that project delays have become the endless talking point with no solution to it. There seems to be no dawn for this darkness which has engulfed the entire real estate spectrum. Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bangalore, Kochi, Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Noida, Greater Noida, Kolkata, Chandigarh, and other parts of the country continuously witness rising cases of project delays by real estate developers.

Video: Turkey in Timelapse

Sitting at the juncture of three continents, Turkey is a country that is rich in history and culture. This video serves as a lovely travelogue of that nation, sharing images of the people and places that make it such a special place. Intermixed with those shots are some amazing timelapse scenes that are as beautiful as any we have seen. This excellent five-minute video seems like a wonderful way to end the week. Enjoy!

In Turkey - 2014 from Vincent Urban on Vimeo.

Video: Alex Honnold Free Soloing Mt. Watkins in Yosemite

The title of this post says it all. Video footage of Alex Honnold free soloing Mt. Watkins in Yosemite. As usual, Alex is pushing the limits of climbing, taking on big walls with little, or no, safety gear. This clip will certainly get your heart rate going.

Noida Extension in the fast track of realty development

Noida Extension part of Greater Noida (part of the state of Uttar Pradesh) has come under the realty radar. The four sectors which comprise of the Noida Extension are governed by the Greater Noida Development Authority. This area was essentially dedicated to affordable homes but things are starting to change now. Noida Extension will be transformed into a new residential hub in the National Capital Region. Several new projects are launched in the area getting a good response from residents in and around Noida Extension. The Dadri Main Road connecting Noida Extension provides better connectivity along with the upcoming expansion of the metro in the National Capital Region. The area is mostly occupied by small scale and medium scale industries. In terms of social infrastructure, the area has a good stronghold with a number of entertainment avenues.

In the year 2011 we saw 2.5 lakh homes launched here out of which 1.5 lakh homes were bought in the pre constructions stage itself. The construction work came to an abrupt halt with the farmer protesting on land acquisition issues. However this has been resolved now. Property in Noida Extension turned out to be a good investment option after all.

“The housing demand in Noida Extension is going to be very high after National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) approval, while supply is very weak. Prices are bound to increase because of various factors such as hike in compensation to farmers and rising input cost. Prices were Rs. 2,100-2,200 a sq ft in this region last year. Now we expect the same to go up to about Rs. 2,600 per sq. ft. “Amrapali Chairman, Anil Sharma told PTI.

However if you look at flats for sale in Noida, they do not fall under the affordable housing bracket anymore. With the increase in land acquisition cost and construction cost including cost of raw material in the recent past, builders are struggling to deliver the dream of affordable housing to the common man. "We were selling homes at Rs. 2,300 per sq ft in May last year when farmers protest started on land acquisition issue. Now, we will launch projects at Rs. 3,200 per sq ft in Noida Extension," R K Arora said, Chairman Supertech said to NDTV Profit.

"This area has been considered as region of affordable homes. Lot of burden has to be borne by the developers. So there will be little bit of price increase," JLL India CEO (Operations) Santosh Kumar said to NDTV Profit. With the steady increase in demand, prices of property in Noida Extension are said to go up. This will further affect the current scenario including the purchasing power of an individual.

Today Noida Extension is planned by the development authorities in such a manner that it has become a haven for urban dweller. The prices are still comparatively lower compared to the rest of the National Capital Region. Following the PPP Model – Public Private Partnership, the development authorities need to chart out future infrastructure developments here.

This is a guest post by Sulabha Kulkarni who is a freelance writer and an avid blogger. Her areas of expertise are finance and real estate sector in India.

Typical Property Registration Process in India

Author: Sachin Gupta | Find me on Twitter

Buying or leasing a property requires that one has to go to through the process of registration at district’s Registrars/Sub-registrar’s office. Under Section 28 of the Registration Act, documents relating to immovable property should be registered in the office of Sub-Registrar of sub-district within which the entire or some portion of the property is situated.  Under Section 30(1), a Registrar is empowered to accept a document which can be registered with the Sub-Registrar who is his subordinate.

Any property that is sold, bought or rented, under certain circumstances, requires to be registered inclusive of:

  1. A valuable sale or purchase of immovable property.
  2. If a property is rented for a period of more than 11 months, then the agreement needs to be registered.

Buyer and seller of a property enter into a sale agreement. This sale agreement typically defines the guidelines and conditions that govern the sale of an immovable property. The sale agreement will also include the details of buyer and seller, property details, location, price, payment structure. Once the sale agreement has been created and signed by both the parties, then this agreement is registered with the registrar according to India’s registration act of 1908.

Once the sale agreement is registered with the registrar, the buyer will also have to pay the applicable stamp duty. Find more about stamp duty and registration charges in various states across India.

Here we present the step by step procedure for registration of property. The procedure remains same whether you buy the property from an individual or from a real estate developer.

Have any Questions?

Cambodia Day 4 (Phnom Penh) : Royal Palace + Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)

5D4N Cambodia Feb 2014 : Phnom Penh. I realised Cambodia focus greatly on their services line which boosts their tourism sector. Tourists can plan their itinerary and book tuktuk services online before the trip. Convenient! Fast! Good attitude! Helpful! Comes with reasonable prices! *thumbs up* #neighbourcountrypleaselearnok. We booked our driver for around 6 hours today for 3 places: Royal Palace, Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21) and Russian Market including our dessert break at Toto cafe. He quoted us U$15. Royal Palace

What are the various kinds of property disputes in India? What are the laws to resolve these property disputes?

Since time immemorial, property disputes of various kinds have resulted in tension and altercations among parties involved. The parties involved could be family members fighting for ancestral property, buyer and a real estate developer, illegal authorization of a property by someone who does not possess the property titles, cooperative housing society, or buyer and a lender, etc.

What are the key takeaways for real estate sector from Indian union budget 2014?

Author: Sachin Gupta | Find me on Twitter

Last week in India was all about union budget. Since the new Modi Government came into power in Delhi, most political and economic commentators were looking forward to the Budget 2014. The media and and coffee shop discussions were all about speculating and making projections as to what will or not be included in Minister Arun Jaitley's maiden budget. The budget, which is expected to signal the dawn of socio-economic revival or “acche din” by Modi Government, was the most talked about event.

Railway budget 2014 was presented first, and then the general budget. While the industry has welcomed the budget presented by union finance minister Arun Jaitley, the opposition has slammed it. However, with this budget, one thing is given, that a common man will be able to save more. And these savings when circulated in the eco-system can boost investments and thereby GDP growth.

Among all the sectors, it seems, real estate sector was given maximum attention by Finance ministry. There were slew of measures to revive the sector and boost the confidence of both home buyers as well as real estate developers.

What are the key takeaways for realty sector from union budget 2014? Here we present them.

  • Tax relief available for housing loan interest payment

We all know that home-ownership continues to be the lifelong dream of most middle class and lower middle class people in India. And financing this dream has become expensive due to high interest rates. While, interest rates are not the domain of Finance ministry, the ministry has increased the deductions on interest on home loan from present Rs. 1.5 Lacs to Rs. 2 Lacs. How does this help the buyer? We present the explanation below.

If Gross Income Rs 9 Lacs If Gross Income Rs 15 Lacs
Before Budget          After Budget   Before Budget          After Budget
Gross Total Income 900000 900000 1500000 1500000
Less Interest Paid on Home Loan 150000 200000 150000 200000
Gross Taxable Income 750000 700000 1350000 1300000
Less Deduction under Section 80C 100000 150000 100000 150000
Total Taxable Income 650000 550000 1250000 1150000
Tax Payable 60000 40000 205000 175000
Education Cess 3% 1800 1200 6150 5250
Total Tax Payable 61800 41200 211150 180250
Savings 20600 30900

  • Relaxation in FDI for real estate sector

With a view to catalyze investments in development of townships and infrastructure, 100 per cent FDI is allowed under the automatic route in townships, housing and construction development projects and hospitality sectors such as residential complexes, shopping centers, malls, multiplexes, Cineplex’s, commercial offices, hotels/service apartments, resorts, hospitals, educational institutions.

Prior to budget 2014, the FDI in real estate sector in India was subjected to certain conditions.
    • Minimum area requirements, in case of
      1. Development of serviced housing plots - 10 hectares.
      2. Construction-development projects - built-up area of 50,000 sq. mts.
      3. A combination project, any of the above two conditions will suffice.
    • Investment
      1. Minimum capitalization for wholly owned subsidiaries - US$ 10 million; for joint ventures with Indian partners - US$ 5 million, to be brought in within 6 months of commencement of business.
      2. Original investment cannot be repatriated before a period of three years from completion of capitalization.
      3. The investor may exit earlier with prior approval from Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).

Post Budget 2014, some of these conditions have been relaxed. The relaxed conditions are:
    • Minimum area requirements, in case of
      1. Construction-development projects - built-up area of 20,000 sq. mts now from 50000 sq. mts.
    • Investment
      1. Minimum capitalization for wholly owned subsidiaries - US$ 5 million now from US$ 10 million.

These relaxations will hasten the growth of real estate development in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, because with new rules, small scale developers can also have access to FDI.

  • Incentives for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
Real Estate Investment Trusts are investment vehicles which are used to pool in investments from retail investors and the money is invested in real estate projects with steady stream of rental income. REITs are successfully used in many developed and developing countries. Mr. Arun Jaitley has announced that REITs will qualify under certain tax provisions to become a pass-through entity that distributes to its shareholders substantially all of its earnings in addition to any capital gains generated from the sale or disposition of its properties.

This will ease the pressure on banking system and provide liquidity for the real estate sector. 

  • Focus on affordable housing
With the objective of providing housing for all by 2022, the government has increased the Rural Housing funds allocation to Rs. 8000 crore for this financial year. At the same time, Rupees 4000 crores have been provided to National Housing Bank (NHB) to provide cheaper credit for the urban households belonging to low income groups.

All of this will add substantial value to the development of affordable housing in financial year 2014-15.

  • Development for 100 smart cities
This is a long term vision and by allocating the corpus of Rupees 7060 crores, Finance minister has set the stage for improvement of infrastructure in Indian cities. While, it may take years to realize the development of 100 smart cities, but nonetheless, it is a welcome step. It has been argued that the allocation is paltry in relation to the levels of investment required to realize a Smart City. Minister Jaitley's speech was marked by a silence about raising investment in this sector through the Public Private Partnership (PPP). Overall, this move signifies a positive intention in the right direction.

Have any Questions?

Cambodia Day 3 (Phnom Penh) : Crocodile Sunset Cruise + Dine in the Dark Restaurant

5D4N Cambodia Feb 2014 : Phnom Penh

After a super long tiring day the previous day spent at Angkor temple tour and horse riding, we woke up at 6 am to catch 7.30am coach to travel from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh.


Distance from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh is 314km just like Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We wondered why the former journey time was almost twice than the latter. Thank god for the smooth expressway Malaysia has.

We booked Mekong Express bus online before our trip to secure a seat. Different from Malaysia's coach, Mekong Express bus provides breakfast (1 bun and 1 donut), one mineral water and free wifi. Not only that, they even provide a small cool towel when you get on the coach. How good their services was!

The night before, we were planning to catch up our sleep on the coach since it takes 6-7 hours to reach our destination. We totally regretted our decision due to the rocky uneven roads. After our first but only stop, they switched on the TV and played Avatars! This would be my third time watching after first time on theater and again with 3D. Just nice when it finished, we reached Phnom Penh!

Mekong Express Coach
Price: U$13/pax
Siem Reap Office Phone: (+855) 63 963 662 (+855) 12 31 58 58 
Address : #14, Siwatha st., Phum Mundul 1, Khum Svay Dangkum, Siem Reap province

We finally reached Phnom Penh around 2 in the afternoon. Took a tuktuk to our City Centre Hotel. After settling down, we walked around the vicinity to look for lunch before we head for our evening cruise.

Green curry (left) and red curry (right)

This is my favourite dish in Cambodia! Amok fish! It tasted a little like our otah fish but less spicy and bigger fish meat! I am actually swallowing my saliva now lololo

Here we were at our Crocodile Sunset Cruise! Yea... There was no crocodile... it is just the company name.. How disappointing is that..

We started our 1 hour 15 minutes on our sunset cruise on the south along the Phnom Penh Riverfront and North East over the Mekong Delta.

Other people were holding beer but look at us..... lololo

Skyline of Phnom Penh

I adore sunset more than sunrise. 

Then we slowly cruised over to Vietnamese floating village...

Crocodile Sunset Cruise
Address: Sisowath squay opposite corner street 90/ Saigon city Riverside dock , Phnom Penh 
Tel: 012 981 559/ 069 666 861
Opening hours: 4.45pm to 6.15pm
Price: U$10/pax

We were discussing where to have dinner during lunch while browsing through the guide we gotten from the hotel, then we saw this! I know Singapore has a branch but is way too expensive to have such experience. The prices here was so much cheaper relatively so we decided to give it a try~

Dine in the Dark is a fine dining concept restaurant in which there are no lights inside the dining area. This pitch-dark restaurant provides guests an unique experience to discover local Khmer or international dishes without seeing them! Without the use of sight, hence heightening all non-visual senses to indulge in a culinary guessing game. 

The whole place was lit in purple to soften your sight so as to prep you for pitch dark later on.

Dishes will only be revealed only after the dinner. Believe the staff was explaining the dishes. 

One more thing, this concept has a social purpose and supports the principles of equal employment and job opportunity. Waiters and waitresses are actually visually impaired. This is a form of raising awareness about the daily challenges that a person with vision impairment may face.

The only two questions the restaurant would ask you are:
1) Do you have any dietary restriction?
2) Local Khmer or International cuisine?

No bags nor any lighted devices are allowed to bring it with us. We were introduced to our waiter. We stood in single line and placed our hands on the person in front of us with the waiter leading us towards our table. We were told to close our eyes, trust and follow the person in front of us. After a narrow curvy flights of stair which led us to the second level and going through few layers of thick curtain, we finally reached our table. At this time, we opened our eyes. It was darker than pitch dark, we could not even see our fingers, not even we put our finger close to our eyes. Thinking that our eyes sight would adjust to the absolute darkness and regain some sight but it did not happen.

"Basically, there is no 
difference between 
opening and closing our eyes"

What even more stressful was the glasses which we used for drinking water was actually real wine glasses...The waiter then gave us clear orientation of what was on our table. "On your right, are the spoon and knife. On your left, are the fork. There is a glass for your water on your top right. Also, there is a rose on your left. Happy Valentine Day~!" I went "awwww" when I heard the "happy valentine day" lol

The waiter slowly served us appetizer one by one and he could remember our names easily. He usually would call out our name before he serves. Without our sight, we were all very messy and made alot of squeaking noises between our cutlery and the plates.

"Hey I think I just ate a bread kind of bread"
"Tomatoes! Tomatoes!"
"Why I have not eat the potato yet?"
"I finish the food already anot ah?"

LOL!! Recalling the conversation we had during the course really made me laughing my ass off..

After appetizers, next starter, followed by soup, then main course and lastly desserts. It was a five course meal.

We were brought down by the waiter after the dinner. Surprisingly, our sight came back to us slowly and comfortably. This is what purple lighting is for! When we finally gotten our phones, we then realized we spent nearly 2 hours for this 5 course meal. Probably due to all the funny conversation and singing session we had with the waiter and the table next to us.

Many would think that by dining in the complete darkness, taste buds will become more senstivie to all flavours and textures. However, this logic does not apply to us. We all went "Oooohhhhh" when the staff revealed the dishes to us. I am not revealing here to spoil the fun =D

Dine in the Dark
Opening hours: 6pm to 10.30pm
Reservations are highly recommended
Price: U$25 (If I remember correctly)
Tel: +855 (0)77 589 458
Address: #126 Street 19 (Preah Ang Yucanthor) Phnom Penh 855, Cambodia

Affordable Housing Projects on a Rise in India

In the recent past, affordable housing projects are on the rise in India. The government has also taken several measures in order to promote affordable housing. The following post explores the same. Introduction. India has been a land of stark contrasts when it comes to the real estate and property market. At one side, impenetrable metro areas have witnessed some of the highest property rate increases and have attracted new dwellers from all over the country; on the other side, the overall property trends for the country have experienced a much lower uniform growth and investors have been complaining that they are not getting expected returns on the money that they put in the real estate market.

Joint Venture agreement and registration process

In one of our earlier post, we covered the topic of joint venture agreement between landowner and the real estate developer. Keeping in mind the interest shown by audience in that article and the number of emails that we received about a sample joint venture agreement, we have decided to write another post covering sample agreement and registration process between a land owner and the real estate developer. Joint Venture agreement and registration process between a land owner and the real estate developer in India.

Cambodia Day 2 (Siem Reap) : Happy Ranch Horse Riding + Red Piano restaurant

5D4N Cambodia Feb 2014 : Siem Reap

Second part of Valentine day was spent with 白马王子!

I almost fainted when she initially suggested to go horse riding 5.30 in the morning.. It was a straight NO answer from me. Either she wants to watch sunrise while riding the horse (I highly doubt so) or she wants to see me fall off from the horse..

Anyway.. We booked our horse riding in the late afternoon 4pm for 2hour countryside trail ride just nice to watch the sunset ^.^ They provide tuktuk services from your hotel but there is no free lunch in this world. U$3 to U$5 each way depending on the distance. They quoted us U$10 both ways but we decided to take Sam tuktuk services as their price was lower (U$7 both way).

I was sharing with my friends earlier that I was hoping to ride a white horse just like the one in Cinderella then she totally crashed my dream by saying I might look like Tang San Zhang from Journey to the West. 

This horse quite cool.

Our horses were getting ready~

Coincidentally, I got what I wanted! 
From left to right: Oli, Diamond, Cisco and Barney 

There was one assistant assigned to each of us to take care of us during the whole ride. My assistant was a little boy who only around 15 years old.

Each horse has their own personality:
Barney likes to be the second in the lead with the tour guide and his horse in front. He is a follower, not a leader.
Cisco is a very lazy horse. No matter how hard my bf kicks or click his tongue to make the horse trots, he got nothing.
Diamond is a cool and calm horse. His eyes only himself and himself. He is not easily distracted by other horses or human being around him.
Oli is a greedy pig. He only moves his butt when there is food. My assistant has to feed him with nearby grass or fruits to lure him to walk.. probably that was why I was arranged to be the last, afraid to prolong the ride from 2 hours to 3 hours.

This horse tour takes us on a journey to unreachable places by tuktuk or walking, eg. local countryside villages, scenic rice fields and tourist-free temple ruins. This is a good way to experience the real Khmer lifestyle and see the places where the locals stay. Some of the Cambodia children were so used of seeing tourists on horses that they do high five with us when passing them.

Our tour guide was sharing stories during the whole ride but he was so far away from me that I could barely hear his voice.

My Oli~

We stopped for 20min at an open field before we return back to the ranch. 

Back to the ranch.

The Happy Ranch
Address: Group 4, Svay Dangkum, Siem Riep Angkor, Kingdom of Cambodia
2hour countryside trail ride for U$46

We then proceeded to the famous Red Piano for dinner. We made reservation online thinking it will be crowded but it was quite alright. The waitress's attitude was a little unfriendly when I told her we have made reservation online. Either she could not find our online reservation or she could not understand my english or she was having bad hair day. I chose to believe it was the first reason.

This restaurant was famous because of Angelina Jolie went there for filming for Tomb Raider.

It totally tarnished the good reputation of the restaurant for the waiting time and the food quality.

Tomb Raider Cocktail...... it looked like the lime juice in the background but only tasted more fizzy...

The Red Piano
Address: No 341, 50 m Northwest of the Old Market, Svay Dangkom, Mondul I, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Opening hours: 7am to 12.30mn
Email: [email protected] 

We returned to our hotel and went for leg massage again opposite our hotel. This time, the shop blacked out again twice during the massage and the masseuses still continued to massage us like nothing happened...

Angkor literally 
"Darkness Capital City".