Video: The Story of Place - A Journey Through Canyonlands

As we head into the weekend, this is the short film I want to close out the day on. It is an amazing video that takes us into the heart of the Greater Canyonlands region of Utah, to explore that amazing setting, while also showing us the threats that now face that iconic place. This area is not part of Canyonlands National Park, and is unprotected. Outside interests are looking to exploit the land there, while the good people at Our Canyon Lands work hard to preserve these landscapes. Truly an important story, and one that needs to be shared.

The Story of Place from Our Canyon Lands on Vimeo.

Video: XPLORE - Saving Landscapes by Capturing them on Film

This video is a teaser-trailer of sorts for a project put together by a team of filmmakers who want to capture some of the world's most endangered landscapes in order to preserve them for future generations. They took their cameras to a number of beautiful locations, many of which are threatened by a variety of things, including extreme draught, glacial melt, tectonic activity, and so on. The timelapse imagery that they captured in these places is nothing short of stunning. The clip below gives us a glimpse of their work, which will eventually comprise a 90-minute documentary that they are looking to get funded on IndieGoGo.

XPLORE - A Time-lapse Story of our World from Drew Geraci (District 7 Media) on Vimeo.

Video: The Steepest Running Race in Europe

I never thought a video would make my legs throb with pain, but this one just about did the trick. It was shot at the Red Bull 400, which is held annually in Harrachov, Czech Republic. The event covers just 400 meters, but it runs up the side of a hill that is typically used for ski jumping competitions. That means it is extremely steep, and as you'll see from the video, extremely demanding as well. You better have good lungs and strong legs if you want to compete in this race.

ExWeb Publishes List of Antarctic Expeditions for 2014

Image courtesy of Explorers Web
Earlier in the week I wrote a blog post about the impending Antarctic expedition season, which should get underway next week, provided the weather cooperates. Today, ExWeb has revealed a comprehensive list of the expeditions that we'll be following in the weeks ahead, and as usual there are a number of people skiing to the South Pole, although fewer than in recent years. 

According to ExWeb there are no skiers making solo, unsupported expeditions to the Pole this year. Their entire list features people who will be making that journey, but will receive outside support of some kind. Going unsupported is obviously more challenging, and it seems that most of the adventurers heading to the Antarctic this season will be opting to have assistance in the form of supply drops along the way. 

Amongst those making journeys in the Antarctic this year are Newell Hunter, a Brit who will travel from Hercules Inlet to the Pole along the Messner Route, and Faysal Hanneche, who will go solo from Novo Base to Hercules Inlet by kite-ski. Others include Paula Reid, who will be guided by Robert Smith, along the Messner Route as well, and the trio of Stéphanie & Jérémie Gicquel and Are Johansen, who will travel together along that same path. Canadian Ian Evans will be joined by Brits Andy Styles and Bradley Cross, for a similar expedition. 

As usual, there will be a couple of unique expeditions in the Antarctic as well, including Manon Ossevoort (aka TractorGirl), who for some inexplicable reason wants to drive a tractor to the South Pole. She'll get underway on November 21 if all of her plans come together properly. 

Mike Horn is also headed to the Antarctic as part of his Pole2Pole 360º Expedition. That ambitious undertaking will see Horn traverse the globe via the North and South Pole, while also traveling by foot through Greenland. The journey is just getting underway, and the explorer should be on his way to the Antarctica now aboard his ship, the Pangaea

The Outer Edge Polar Challenge will also embark in November, with a team attempting to set a new world record for the longest ice sailing expedition. They'll go unsupported for more than 4500 km (2796 miles) in an attempted to raise funds to battle Leukemia. 

You can check out the full list of Antarctic expeditions announced so far by clicking here. There are probably a few more that will be added over time, as more people make their intentions clear. 

Finally, ExWeb is also reporting that China is building an airstrip in the Antarctic. The new facility will assist Chinese scientists doing research on the frozen continent, and help support the four bases that the country has there. It is expected to be built near the Zhongshan Research Station on the Antarctic coast, close to the Larsemann Hills, which are found south-west of Australia. Currently, China's only access to Antarctica is via ship, and the airstrip will facilitate more efficient transportation to and from the region. Preliminary work on the new base will begin this year. 

That's all for now. I'm sure we'll have more to report starting next week. The Antarctic season is about to get underway, and teams are already gathering in both Punta Arenas, Chile and Cape Town, South Africa, as they prepare to get things underway. If the weather holds, we should see the first explorers touch down on the continent sometime next week. 

Himalaya Fall 2014: Brits Depart Makalu Base Camp, First Ascent in the Indian Himalaya

As the fall climbing season in the Himalaya slowly grinds to a halt, we continue to receive a few updates from the mountains. At this point, there are only a matter of days left before the season begins to shift, but there are still a few bits of news to share.

First up, the British Tri-Services team posted a dispatch from Makalu indicating that they have now departed Base Camp on the Southeast Ridge, and are making their way back to Kathmandu. They report that poor weather continues to be the norm, with heavy snow, and rain, making it challenging to trek through the mountains once again. They are still a few days away from KTM, and the porters carrying their gear are a couple of days behind the climbers, but they expect that they should be on their way back to the U.K. by next week.

A few weeks back, the Slovenian team of Aleš Česen, Luka Lindič and Marko Prezelj became the first men to climb a new route on Hagshu, a 6657 meter (21,840 ft) peak in the Indian Himalaya. The team completed the climb in alpine style, first making the ascent of the North Face, then traversing the mountain to the main summit. While that was the main objective of the expedition, the trio first acclimatized on two other nearby peaks, making first ascents on both Lagan (5750 m/18,865 ft) and Hana's Men (6300 m/20,669 ft). It is safe to say that this was a successful expedition, considering they made first ascents on three peaks, and did all of them in light alpine style. Well done, and congratulations to the team.

Finally, there continues to be no word from Lhotse on the progress of the Korean Team. A few days back we received word that they were heading up to Camp 4, where they intended to stash gear in preparation for a summit push to come. Since then, there have been no updates, but presumably everything is going according to plan. The team has been on Lhotse for nearly two months now, and have faced bad weather and avalanches almost since the day they arrived. But time is running short now, and if they intend to make a summit bid, it will have to come soon. Hopefully we'll get an update over the weekend.

Various reports continue to indicate that the weather has been poor in the Himalaya once again. It has been a tough season there, and not an entirely successful one. Hopefully things will improve in the spring, when more teams head to the mountains, and Everest becomes a hive of activity.

More updates coming soon, as warranted.

Video: A Journey Through Iceland

With its compelling landscapes and wonderful scenery, Iceland continues to be a source of inspiration for travelers and filmmakers. Today, we have another video from that beautiful country, with yet more footage of all of the wonderful things it has to offer. This one was shot by a filmmaker who spent some time along the southern coast near Reykjavik. The results speak for themselves.

Iceland from Ugmonk on Vimeo.

Video: Wingsuit Flying in Reverse

Here's a novel approach to the wingsuit videos that we're use to seeing. It takes the standard footage, and runs it in reverse, which certainly makes for a different perspective. Watching the parachute actually go back into the bag, as the pilot floats back up the mountain, is kind of mesmerizing, and fun to watch.

Video: Our Conquest - Inspiration for Exploration

Here's an inspiring short video that uses clips from a variety of sources, overlaid with John F. Kennedy's famous speech on why we must go into space, to inspire exploration. Many of the clips are from the early days of the space program itself, but some even include images of George Mallory on Everest as well. It is a good reminder of the importance of exploration, even in this day and age.

Our Conquest from we are gods on Vimeo.

Himalaya Fall 2014: Final Numbers from Blizzard in Nepal are Sobering

It has been a little more than two weeks since the incredibly strong blizzard – spurred on by cyclone Hudhud in the Indian Ocean – hit Nepal, creating a tragic scene in the Himalaya as a result. Now that things have finally calmed down there, and mostly returned to normal, we're beginning to get a better understanding of the scope of what happened, and just how deadly the storm truly was.

According to official reports, 43 people lost their lives in the blizzard, most of whom were Nepali, although there were also casualties from Canada, Israel, India, Japan, Poland, and Slovakia as well. In the days that followed the storm, more than 70 helicopter flights were made, carrying  514 people out of the the mountains. This is, by far, the largest search and rescue operation ever conducted in Nepal, with evacuations on a massive scale. To make matters worse, there are still some Nepali's that are believed to be missing, which means the number of dead could still go up from here.

As mentioned previously, Nepal's government has vowed to make changes that will improve the safety of foreigners visiting the Himalaya. New regulations governing how trekkers travel in the mountains are expected to be announced before the start of the spring season in April, with the possible requirement of hiring a local guide, and carrying a GPS tracker, as part of the discussion. Officials have also indicated that they are seeking ways of improving weather forecasting, and more efficient means of sharing those forecasts to remote regions.

All of these suggestions sound like good ones, but the problem is that we've heard this kind of rhetoric out of Nepal before. There have been announcements in the past stating that trekkers would be required to hire local guides, but those rules have not been enforced, and many travelers still hike the Himalaya independently. There is little indication that things will be different this time, in part because Nepal's track record has been so spotty over the years.

Case in point, last year it was announced that the Nepali government would have a more active presence in Everest Base Camp following the much-publisized dispute between three high profile climbers from Europe, and an angry mob of Sherpas back in the spring of 2012. There were suppose to be more liaison officers in BC, and even a number of military and police officers as well. When the tragic avalanche hit the mountain on April 18 of this year, claiming the lives of 16 men, there were almost no government officials in Base Camp at all. Witnesses to the accident have since said that having liaison officers there could have facilitated rescue operations, but instead they were hindered by the lack of an official government presence on the mountain.

Every expedition to Everest is also suppose to be accompanied by their own assigned liaison officer, but many of those officials never make it to the mountain either. The funding to support that infrastructure isn't always there, despite the fact that mountaineers pay a fee that is suppose to specifically pay for the expenses of those officers.

Despite the ongoing problems with dealing with the Nepali government, there were other factors at play that helped create this tragedy as well. The ferocity of the snow storm so early in the fall caught many people off guard, and they simply weren't prepared to deal with it. The fall is typically a great time to be in the Himalaya, but this storm was just completely unexpected.

It also doesn't help that many trekkers show up completely unprepared for their journey. They often lack the proper gear, and level of fitness, for a challenging  hike, and have no idea what kind of weather to expect. I've witnessed this first hand while in Nepal, as people that I trekked with brought sleeping bags that weren't rated properly for the temperature, didn't have proper clothing, or even a hat. As a result, they ended up suffering along the way, even when conditions were relatively good.

Clearly, there is room for improvement all around. Trekkers need to be more knowledgeable and prepared for what they are in for, and pack for adverse conditions. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism in Nepal needs to continue to seek ways to improve safety for travelers, and actually enforce those regulations strictly.

Nepal is an amazing, wonderful country, with great culture and some of the most stunning landscapes on the planet. I would certainly encourage any traveler to visit if they have desire. But when you go, make sure you're fully prepared for the experience. In the long run, it'll make it that much better for you.

Has the Mystery of Amelia Earhart's Disappearance Been Solved?

The disappearance of Amelia Earhart somewhere over the Pacific Ocean back in 1937 created one of the most compelling and enduring mysteries of the 20th century. The pioneering aviator, along with her navigator Fred Noonan, were attempting to fly around the world at the equator when they vanished while searching for a fuel stop on Howland Island. What became of them has been open to speculation for more than 77 years. Now, with the help of a piece of scrap metal, researchers believe they have solved that mystery at last.

Yesterday, The International Group of Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) reported that they had successfully linked a piece of scrap metal discovered on the island of Nikumaroro with Earhart's plane. The piece of metal in question is 19 inches wide (48.2 cm) and 23 inches (58.4 cm) long, and was installed on her aircraft on a layover in Miami. It was part of a modification to the Lockheed Electra aircraft that would have allowed the pilot to be able to look out her window more easily so that she could navigate by the stars at night.

According to the TIGHAR report, the piece of metal was originally found on Nikumaroro, an island in the Republic of Kiribati, back in 1991. Researchers claim that by studying the part, they have determined that it not only matches the size and shape of the one added to Earhart's plane, but it made up of the same type of metal, fits consistently with shape of the Electra, and has the same unique rivet pattern as the infield modification. Those variables virtually ensure that it is a part from the missing aircraft.

Historians know that Earhart and Noonan were running low on fuel when they were approaching Howland Island. Somehow, they got off course and could not find the airstrip, but instead were forced to put down on Nikumaroro, which is about 350 miles from their intended destination. It is widely believed that they not only survived the landing, but existed on the island for a time, most likely eventually dying from dehydration. Nikumaroro has very little fresh water, and is said to be a harsh environment with extreme heat, little shelter, and not much to eat.

Examinations of radio records also show that Earhart most likely used the radio on her Electra to try to call for help, but the signals were ignored or not properly heard at all. The aircraft was most likely pulled out to sea by rising tides, which not only hid it from future search teams, but also removed the only resource that Earhart and Noonan would have had at their disposal. TIGHAR researchers believe that the plane is still there, on the west end of the island somewhere.

A few years after she crashed, a British colony was established on Nikumaroro, and existed there into the 1960's before it was abandoned due to a lack of resources. During that time, colonists discovered human bones on the island, which some now believe may have belong to Earhart or Noonan. The box of a sextant was also found there, and it was consistent with one that Noonan would have used for navigating as well. Over the years, these clues have disappeared however, so it is unlikely that they can be used to further establish a link to the final resting place of the aviator and her navigator.

TIGHAR researchers are hoping to return to Nikumaroro in the future, and search for more clues to the mystery. The group is currently seeking funding to mount another expedition, even though they have visited the island on multiple occasions in the past. Until they discover the Electra itself, there will likely always be some speculation as to the ultimate fate of Earhart. But this latest clue seems to give us the most likely ending to her historic flight.

Video: Accelerated Moments - Timelapse Landscapes From the American Southwest and Beyond

Shot over a two-year period throughout Arizona, Utah, California, and Hawaii, this video captures beautiful scenery in spectacular timelapse fashion. Locations include Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Mt. Whitney, and Monument Valley, just to name a few. The imagery is transfixing, with some fantastic shots of some of the most visually stunning landscapes found anywhere in North America.

Accelerated Moments (Timelapse) from Sean Goebel on Vimeo.

Video: Mountain Biking in the Caucasus Mountain Range

Our friends at EpicTV have brought us another great mountain biking video, as this time we head to the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia to take on some fantastic looking trails with Tito Tomasi. The ride crosses through small mountain villages, and over some spectacular passes, giving us a glimpse of a part of the world that few outsides ever venture into. The video is a great case for how mountain biking can be an amazing way to explore remote regions of the planet. This looks like it would be a lot of fun.

Video: Sean Disney & Vaughan de La Harpe Talk Mountaineering Adventures at FEAT Jo'burg

A few weeks back, the annual FEAT event took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. FEAT stands for Fascinating Expedition & Adventure Talks, and it is features a number of very interesting men and women who have just seven minutes to share a tale from their adventures. In the video below, climbing partners Sean Disney and Vaughan de la Harpe take to the FEAT stage to introduce some of the interesting people that they have met on their expeditions to climb the Seven Summits, most notably Everest. Their seven-minute presentation is particularly humorous, as they introduce us to a number of unique individuals that they have encountered along the way. There are definitely more than a few laughs to be had over the course of their talk.

2014 Antarctic Season Set To Begin

As the fall climbing season begins to wind down in the Himalaya, the attention of the exploration and adventure community will soon turn away from the mountains in a decidedly more southern direction. The 2014 Antarctic season is about to get underway, and at the moment it looks like it is going to be a relatively quiet one.

Starting each November, the austral summer opens a window for travel in the Antarctic, with hardcore adventurers making the long, arduous journey to the South Pole on foot, or attempting to climb Mt. Vinson, the highest peak on the continent. Those expeditions are incredibly demanding endeavors, and they often make for high drama for those of us who follow the proceedings closely. In recent years, there have even been a few ground breaking expeditions that have managed to not only ski to the Pole, but also make the return journey back to their starting point on the coast. For many, Antarctica remains one of the last truly unexplored places on the planet, and while logistically it is easier to get to the frozen continent these days, it still remains a harsh and unforgiving place.

As I write this, teams of explorers, scientists, researchers and adventurers are preparing to head to the Antarctic. Some will be staying at permanent research stations, which will be ramping up their staff as the new season gets underway. Others are preparing to visit more remote locations, as they go in search of new challenges in a place that continues to have an undeniable appeal to explorers, even a century after the first teams reached the South Pole.

There are two locations that offer access to Antarctica – Cape Town, South Africa and Punta Arenas, Chile. Both are used by adventurers heading to the bottom of the world, although Punta Arenas sees more traffic, in part because of Adventure Network International's (ANI) ability to provide the logistics necessary to get people on and off the continent, and support them in their expeditions. ANI maintains a camp located at Union Glacier, which serves as base of operations in the Antarctic for many private expeditions. That camp is reportedly just about ready to go, as the team has been stocking it withs supplies, and preparing the blue-ice runway that will begin welcoming flights as early as next week.

The first Antarctic adventurers are scheduled to head out on November 4, weather permitting. The past few years, the weather has delayed the start of the season, and it could happen again this year as well. The first few weeks of November can be a bit tumultuous, but South Pole skiers like to hit the ice as early as possible, as every day counts when you're skiing for hundreds of miles across a frozen desert.

In the days ahead, we will be following the action in Antarctica closely. As in years past, I'll do my best to share progress reports and updates from the field. There may not be as many expeditions heading south this year, but there will still be plenty of adventures to share. Stay tuned for more soon.

Himalaya Fall 2014: Korean Lhotse Team Prepares For Summit Push

While only one team remains on an 8000-meter peak in the Himalaya this fall, the season isn't quite over yet. The Korean squad on Lhotse continues to battle poor weather, and unstable conditions, in an attempt to reach the summit on that mountain. The clock is ticking however, and after nearly two months in the Himalaya, time is starting to run out. With that in mind, the team is in the final stages of their preparation, with the hopes of summit bid to come.

Information on the team's current status has been hard to come by in recent days, but according to ExWeb, the Korean climbers set off up the mountain once again today with the hopes of establishing Camp 4 at 8200 meters (26,902 ft). This will be their final camp on the mountain, and will serve as their launching pad for the summit. It is unclear whether or not they'll attempt to go straight to the top, or will instead descend back to Base Camp, and wait for a proper weather window.

Considering the length of time they have been on the mountain (they arrived in the first week of September), and the patience that they have shown thus far, it seems likely that they will wait for the proper window to allow themselves the best opportunity of topping out. That said, temperatures have begun to drop across the region, and Lhotse has reportedly gotten much colder following the recent blizzard brought on by cyclone Hudhud.

Avalanches remain a concern as well, as they have all season long. The team has already faced several significant slides, and have been extremely careful in their approach so far. They could find even more unstable snow as they move up above C4.

Meanwhile, Canadian climbers Jason Kruk and Ian Welsted are still in the Himalaya as well, and attempting to summit Nuptse, the 7861 meter (25,791 ft) peak located in the Khumbu Valley, not far from Everest itself. A few days back, Kruk posted to his Facebook page that they duo were taking one last crack at the summit along the South Face before they pack up camp and head home. If everything is going according to plan, they should top out sometime over the next few days, but we'll have to wait for a new dispatch to report on their success.

The fall climbing season is nearly over, and in a few days, I'm sure we'll be wrapping up the last of these reports. It has been a strange autumn in the Himalaya to say the least, but there were some good success stories, most notably on Manaslu and Cho Oyu. Hopefully we'll have a few more summits to add to the list by this weekend. Stay tuned.

Update: In other Himalayan news, climbers Mick Fowler and Paul Ramadan have completed a new route along the Northeast Face of Hagshu, a 6515 meter (21,374 ft) peak in the Indian Himalaya. The mountain had been previously climbed back in 1989, but despite several attempts, has remained unclimbed ever since. 

Video: A Journey on the Trans-Siberian Express

The Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the most classic train journeys in the entire world, covering 9289 km (5771 miles) between Moscow and far-eastern Russia, with branches reaching all the way to Beijing. The video below charts filmmaker Stanislas Giroux's three-week long odyssey on the railway, as he passed through Russia, Mongolia, and China. It is three minutes of amazing footage from a three-week long journey that is unlike any other. Truly a fantastic way to see that part of the world.

Seat 22 — Trans-Siberian Odyssey from Stanislas Giroux on Vimeo.

Video: Descent into Marum Crater on Vanuatu

This short-film follows a team of adventure photographers/explorers as they descend into the Marum Crater, located on Ambrym Island in Vanuatu, to become the first men to stand at the edge of the lava lake that fills the bottom of that location. It is quite an adventure, which eventually puts them face to face with one of the most destructive forces on our planet. This is amazing footage, all captured on the new GoPro Hero4 Black, with some of it used in the promo video that launched that new camera.

Video: Extreme Unicyclist Races Truck Down A Mountain

So here's something you don't see everyday. An extreme unicyclist – thats a mountain biker with just one wheel – racing a truck to the bottom of the mountain. I've said it before, and I'll say it a gain, I have a hard enough time on these trails with two wheels. I'm certainly not going to try it with just one. Still, it's a fun video to watch, even if I do think the rider is nuts!

Nat Geo Expedition Goes Peak Bagging in Myanmar

Myanmar isn't exactly a country that leaps to mind when you think about major mountaineering expeditions, but the country is starting to become a hotbed for adventure, in part because it has allowed limited access to outsiders for some time. Now, a team of climbers sponsored by National Geographic and The North Face, has traveled to the Southeast Asian country to not only climb several peaks, but to also chart their true heights in an effort to determine the highest mountain in the region.

The team is made up of an all-star cast of adventurers, including expedition leader Hilaree O'Neill, photographer Cory Richards, adventure filmmaker Renan Ozturk, writer Mark Jenkins, climber Emily Harrington, and video assistant Taylor Rees. The group is in Myanmar now, and has released its first dispatch to the Nat Geo Adventure Blog. Over the next seven weeks, they will continue to share updates from the field, as they travel to parts of the country that have only recently opened up to westerners.

In the weeks to come, the group will focus on climbing to the top of Hkakabo Razi, a remote peak that is roughly 5800 meters (19,140 feet) in height. They'll carry with them a specially calibrated GPS system, that will allow them to take precise measurements of the altitude of the mountain. The hope is that they'll be able to summit, and determine where the peak falls in relation to its height as compared to other mountains in Southeast Asia. If they have time, the team will also attempt to summit Gamlang Razi nearby.

Just getting to these mountains will be quite an adventure. According to the Nat Geo description of the expedition, the team will travel by plane, train, bus, and motorbike, just to reach the start of a trail that will take them on a 300 mile (482 km) round-trip trek through dense jungle, where they can set up Base Camp for their operation. It will be an incredibly demanding journey just to get to their starting point ahead of the start of the climb.

To give you a sense of what they are experiencing, upon setting out on the trail, they immediately encountered a white-lipped pit viper, one of the most venomous snakes in the entire world. A bite from this snake can deliver enough venom to kill a person in just one hour. When you are days away from assistance, that is an incredibly scary animal to come across. Fortunately, the team is carrying anti-venom with them, but I'm sure they would prefer to not have to use it.

Stay tuned to the Nat Geo Adventure Blog for more updates in the days to come.

It's Happening! Primal Quest Returns in 2015, Registration Opens Saturday!

There has been a lot of rumors circulating over the past few months about the possible return of Primal Quest, one of the biggest events ever in the sport of adventure racing. After disappearing from the AR landscape for more than five year, it seemed the possibility of PQ's resurrection were quite dim. But not only will the race be back in 2015, registration for the event opens on Saturday.

When the news first broke about Primal Quest's return back in June, there was a lot of speculation about who was behind the race, and whether or not it was actually going to happen. That was an understandable reaction at the time, as we've been teased more than once about a potential new Primal Quest race. Yesterday, I exchanged emails with Maria Burton, the new CEO of PQ, and she assures me that the event is moving ahead, and that there is a lot of excitement and momentum behind it.

At this point, we know that PQ will return to its original format, which pits coed teams of four against one another in standard adventure racing disciplines, such as trail running, mountain biking, and paddling. The event will take place August 22-29, 2015 in the Lake Tahoe area. We're promised a 7-day, non-stop race, covering more than 400 miles (643 km) through the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Race management is hoping to attract as many as 40 teams from around the world to compete.

As a fan of adventure racing, its great to see Primal Quest finally returning next year. But it should be pointed out, that while Maria has ties to the original event, this isn't the same team that brought you the previous PQ's. In fact, she tells me she is still putting her team together, but that the staff will be ramping up in the weeks ahead in preparation for the race next summer. The goal is to create an event that is the spiritual successor to past Primal Quests, with the hopes of creating a sustainable race that will be with us for years to come.

Hopefully we'll learn a lot more about this new incarnation of Primal Quest in the days ahead. But for now, teams interested in racing in the event should start making their plans. That includes registering for the race on Saturday.

Video: A Journey Through Iceland

Join two friends, Kerrin and Gaston, as they set off for adventures in Iceland. This video captures their journey across the beautiful landscapes of that country, and gives us a sense that we're along for the ride. The short film is yet another example of why Iceland is one of the best adventure destinations on the entire planet.

A Journey Through Iceland from Humanity on Vimeo.

Video: Bear Encounters in the Tongass National Forest

Located in Alaska, the Tongass National Forest is a vast wilderness that spreads out across more than 17 million acres. It is a wild, untamed, and temperate rain forest that is home to numerous species of wild animals, including the majestic brown bear. Those creatures lured filmmaker Ben Hamilton to the forest, where he captured some amazing footage of the bears in their natural habitat. The video below, which comes our way courtesy of National Geographic, shares some of those encounters, and as you can probably imagine, they were pretty amazing.

Video: Mountains of Dreams

This video doesn't bring us some intricate story, or clips of insane outdoor athletes doing "extreme" things. Instead, it delivers some spectacular footage of amazing mountains from all over the planet. The scenery is enhanced with dramatic music, which helps to set the mood, but really, it is the alpine settings depicted in these beautiful shots that are the true star of the show. If you love mountains as much as I do, you won't want to miss this one. It is 4+ minutes of pure bliss.

Mountains of Dreams from Watching Eye Productions on Vimeo.

Gear Closet: adidas Terrex Swift R Mid Women's Hiking Boot

The search for the perfect hiking boot can be a daunting proposition at times. When we're plunking down our hard-earned cash, we of course want boots that are comfortable, provides plenty of support, and fit our feet properly. They should also be durable enough to survive many adventures in the backcountry, and it doesn't hurt if they look good too. For us men, the challenge of finding something that meets all of those qualifications can require a great deal of patience, even though we tend to be less concerned with what we put on our feet. Imagine how difficult it can be to find the right hiking show for a woman, many of whom put far more thought into their footwear than we ever will.

Recently, my better-half has had the chance to test out the Terrex Swift R Mid women's hiking boot from adidas, a company that is more well known for its basketball, soccer, and running shoes. But over the past few years, adidas has quietly built a great collection of outdoor gear, some of which is incredibly innovative, and delivers a high level of performance.

The designers at adidas have taken their extensive knowledge of sports and athletics, and brought some of that sensibility to the outdoor gear market as well. As a result, their hiking boots and apparel tend to be lightweight, performance focused, and incredibly well built. I have met with reps from adidas several times over the past few years while attending the summer Outdoor Retailer show, and each time I've come away very impressed with what they have in the pipeline. In fact, I've wanted to get my hands on a pair of their Terrex hiking boots for some time, but jumped at the chance for them to outfit my fiancé instead. She has been in need of a good pair of hiking boots for some time, and was struggling to find something that fit her needs. Fortunately, adidas had something that provided the fit she was looking for, as well as comfort that rivaled the sneakers that they are so well known for.
Just one look at the Swift R Mid, and you can tell that you're not going to encounter anything else like them out on the trail. They definitely have a unique design, and the color combinations are unique and attractive, without becoming overly obnoxious. With a background that is deeply rooted in the athletic shoe market, adidas could have easily gone overboard with their color combinations, but I feel they managed to strike a good middle-ground with giving these shoes a distinct look that shouldn't immediately turn off most hikers.

Out of the box, the Terrex boots are a bit stiff, and it has taken some time to break them in. In fact, my SO had a difficult time even getting her foot in the shoe at first, as the portion of the boot that provides high-ankle support didn't provide a lot of give. But after wearing them for a bit, they've loosened up some, providing better access over time. That same portion of the show does help to keep the ankle from rolling on uneven ground however, and it seems these boots are a good fit for anyone who requires that extra support.

Built with a number of adidas' own proprietary fabrics and materials, the Terrex Swift is built to be very breathable, while also remaining extremely durable as well. The company did use a lightweight Gore-Tex liner however, which makes the interior of the shoe waterproof, while still managing to wick moisture away from the foot. The same liner should provide a level of warmth on cool-weather, or early winter hikes, too.

Built like a lightweight hiking boot, but with the soul of an athletic shoe, the Swift performs well on the trail. Its outsole is built to provide a solid grip on a variety of surfaces, even in wet conditions. It is also made designed to be agile and fast on the trail as well, which makes this shoe a great choice for everything from light hiking to fast packing to adventure travel. Its level of comfort is unmatched, and because it is lightweight, it is also very packable.

Not everything was rosy with these boots however. After our initial hike, my fiancé came home with a few blisters, even though she was wearing excellent hiking socks. Of course, everyone's foot is different, and blisters can occur for a variety of reasons, but it is important to point out that they did occur. I've found that over time, hiking boots tend to loosen up some, and blistering tends to go away, but as with any athletic shoe, it is important to get the right fit, and wear appropriate socks too.

Overall, the adidas Terrex Swift R Mid gets a thumbs up with my favorite female gear tester. Lightweight and comfortable, they bring a unique styling to the trail, while also offering solid performance that belies their athletic shoe heritage. With a price tag of $160, they fall squarely into the mid-range level of hiking shoes, but provide plenty of high-end amenities. If you're in the market for a good pair of hiking boots (adidas makes a men's version of the shoe as well), and you're looking for something that is built for speed, then take a look at the Terrex Swift. Chances are, you won't be disappointed.

High-Altitude Skydiver Breaks Felix Baumgartner's Record for Highest Freefall

Remember Felix Baumgartner? He's the man who made that epic skydive from the edge of space a few years back, captivating the Internet in the process. At the time, he set a new record for the highest freefall skydive, jumping from a height of 127,852 feet (38,969 meters). Last Friday, October 24, a little over two years after Felix set that amazing record, it was broken with little fan-fare by an exec from Google named Dr. Alan Eustace.

Much like Baumgartner, Eustace used a small capsule, carried aloft by high-altitude balloons, to reach his exit altitude. He lifted off from an abandoned airstrip near Roswell, New Mexico and spent two hours climbing to a height of 135,890 feet (41,419 meters), at which point he stepped out of sealed capsule, and plummeted back to Earth. It took him just 15 minutes to touch back down, as he reached speeds of 822 mph (1322 km/h) on the descent.

Eustace's jump bested Baumgartner's in total height by more than 7000 feet (2133 meters). But perhaps the most remarkable element of the project is that Eustace kept it a secret from just about everyone, and didn't create a media circus around this jump. In fact, it wasn't until after he completed the skydive that news broke of the new record. He even reportedly self-funded the endeavor, even turning down money from Google to complete the project on his own.

The Google exec did work with a company called Paragon Space Development Corp, which designed his specially made space suit, and helped with the logistics of the balloon, and the flight. The high-altitude skydive had been planned for more than three years, which means Eustace started his project after Baumgartner had announced his intentions, but it still took two years to beat Felix's record.

The video below highlights some portions of the jump. While not as flashy as Bumgarner's videos, which were part of a full-on multi-media blitz sponsored by Red Bull, the clips give you a good understanding of what Eustace went through on his ride up, and fall back down. Amazing stuff.

Video: The Most Epic Flight Safety Video Ever Made

You have to hand it to Air New Zealand, they sure no know to make a safety video that will capture your attention. They released this Hobbit-themed video a few days back, and it is certainly filled with all kinds of great Lord of the Rings references, including some familiar faces. Of course, what more would you expect out of an airline that is actually taking you to Middle Earth? Great stuff, and it's fun to see the company have a little fun with this.

Video: Mountain Biking the Kootnays

The Kootenay Mountains of British Columbia make for a striking backdrop to this video, which features current Enduro World Champion Jared Graves exploring the region on the back of his bike. He may be amongst the best mountain bikers in the world, but just like the rest of us, when he hits the trail, he wants to have fun. It looks like he found it on these trails, which simply look amazing. What an incredibly beautiful place to go for a ride.

THE KOOTENAYS x PROVEN HERE from Yeti Cycles on Vimeo.

How to Become an Adventure Photographer

Last week I shared a cool video that gave us some insights into what it takes to be a climbing photographer, a job that requires a great deal of skill in both disciplines. Yesterday, tech/gadget website Gizmodo published a similar story about how to become an adventure photographer, truly a dream job for many outdoor enthusiasts and frequent travelers.

The lengthy piece offers helpful tips on everything from what gear to carry, getting started in the business, and how to get published. It is packed with insights into the trade that are provided by adventure photographer Chris Brinlee, Jr.,  who is currently traveling around the world, and snapping great photos as he goes. Brinlee talks about what cameras to take with you on your adventures, including the trusty DSLR, as well as the new breed of mirrorless options and action cams like the GoPro. He even shares his thoughts on "mobile" photography using your smartphone, as well as which lenses to have in your arsenal, while also offering insights into memory cards, extra batteries, tripods, and so on.

The gear tips don't end there however, as Chris also discusses how to keep everything charged (Goal Zero of course!), which computer and software to use, storage options, and more. He even offers up some suggestions for dry bags should your adventure become one of an aquatic nature.

With the gear suggestions out of the way, the author moves on to discuss the profession itself, and how to get started on the path to becoming an adventure photographer. He recommends starting close to home, and shooting plenty of photos on local adventures before heading out on one that spans the globe. Look for nearby state or national parks that provide opportunities to shoot great photos, and start participating in the various outdoor activities that you want to shoot as well. Brinlee wraps up the story by discussing post-production activities for editing the photos, as well as options for getting images published.

All-in-all, an interesting read for anyone who enjoys photography on any level, but especially for those of us who wouldn't mind becoming professional photographers ourselves. There are plenty of insightful tips throughout the article that I'm sure that photographers of any level will find useful.

And once you've wrapped up reading this article, head over to Mashable to find out how you can win an outdoor photography package, complete with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 DSLR and lens.

Outside Magazine Announces Winter Gear of the Year for 2015

Winter may still be a couple of months off, but it is never too early to start thinking about the gear you'll use to stay warm on those cold-weather outdoor activities. With that in mind, Outside magazine has announced its picks for their Winter Gear of the Year heading into 2015.

Some of the items that make the list include a pair of Atomic Vintage Ritual skis, the new North Face Brigandine Jacket, and snow-ready running shoes from Salomon. A pair of ski boots from Scarpa, and a great looking pack from Deuter also earn a place amongst the best gear for winter adventures.

In addition to the items that earn "Gear of the Year" status, Outside has also published a Winter Buyer's Guide that contains even more great gear for the season ahead. The Buyer's Guide is broken down into categories, offering the editor's choice for best outdoor equipment based on activity. For instance, there is one category for Nordic Skiing, and another for Winter Hiking. There is even a category that specifically focuses on winter gear for women as well.

If you're in the market for some new gear to help you enjoy the winter season, than you'll want to take a look at what Outside recommends. I live by the old adage that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear, and if you have the right equipment, you can enjoy your time outside no matter what the conditions are. Of course, Outside doesn't always take into consideration that we tend to have more modest budgets, but is is always nice to dream about some of the exceptional equipment that they get to play with.

Notebook From Ill-Fated Antarctic Expedition Discovered in Ice

A notebook belonging to a photographer on the 1911-1912 Terra Nova Expedition to the Antarctic – famously led by British explorer Robert Falcon Scott – has been discovered frozen in the ice. The century-old book offers a glimpse of what conditions on that expedition were like, as Scott and his team attempted to become the first men to reach the South Pole.

The notebook belonged to a British scientist named George Murray Levick, who was a part of the Northern Party on the Scott expedition. The hand written notes are said to still be legible, although the binding has been worn away after being exposed for more than a hundred years to the elements. It was discovered outside of a cabin that served as Scott's last base before setting off to the Pole. Last year's ice melt exposed the book for the first time.

A team of forensic scientists painstakingly restored and preserved the pages, which contain details of the photos that Levick took while part of the expedition. The notes offer hints on the subjects, dates, and exposure details for the images that he shot. Levick himself was not a part of Scott's South Pole team, but he and others faced challenges of their own, spending the winter in ice cave while they waited to depart the harsh Antarctic climate.

The tale of Scott himself is well known at this point. After several failed attempts, he found himself in a race to become the first man to reach the South Pole with Norwegian Roald Amundsen. Both men actually achieved their goal, but Scott arrived just a few weeks behind his rival, missing the glory of being first by a narrow margin. On the return trip to the coast, Scott and his men faced numerous hardships before being caught in a massive blizzard. Tent bound, they ended up freezing to death, as they waited out a storm that lasted ten days. They perished just a few miles from a supply cache that would have saved their lives.

While this newly discovered notebook doesn't offer much insight into what Scott and his men faced on their final, dreadful, march, it does offer some insights to the expedition as a whole. Levick's team stayed along the coast, exploring a section of the Antarctic that remained unknown at the time. When winter pack ice made it impossible for the team's ship to retrieve them from the ice, they were forced to spend the winter in an ice cave that they dug themselves. They also ate seals and penguins in order to survive.

After restoring the notebook, the team of New Zealand researchers who found it have now returned it to Scott's cabin at his base camp on Cape Evans. Over the past few years, the same group has been meticulously restoring other artifacts from the expedition, and creating a make-shift museum of sorts in the Antarctic.

Video: Mystical, Magical, Machu Picchu

At just over a minute in length, this video is just long enough to give us a glimpse of the wonder that is Machu Picchu, the famous Incan fortress that sits atop a mountain in Peru. The clip gives us some amazing shots not only of the ancient structure itself, but of the surrounding mountaintops, while the clouds and fog roll in across the Andes. It is an amazing place, that remains as mysterious today as when it was re-discovered by Hiram Bingham more than a century ago.


Sponsored Video: The Greatest Lightshow on Earth - Norway's Northern Lights

We all know that Norway has some of the finest landscapes on the planet. This video, which comes our way courtesy of Visit Norway, demonstrates this once again in fine fashion, while giving us a fantastic look at one of the most amazing natural phenomenon on our planet – the Northern Lights. Norway is simply one of the best places on Earth to see the Aurora Borealis in action, particularly as the winter approaches. If you've never had the chance to witness this light show for yourself, it should definitely be on your bucket list to visit someplace where it is possible to see the Lights. You won't be disappointed.

Video: Swimming with Icebergs

You don't typically think of swimming as an "extreme" sport, but in this video we're introduced to some swimmers who just might change your mind. The clip features Stig Severinsen, a world-class free diver who can stay submerged with just a single breath for minutes at a time. He then uses this ability to go swimming under icebergs, creating a scene that is unlike any you've seen before. The first part of the video, which comes our way courtesy of National Geographic, discusses how Stig, and other swimmers, are able to control their bodies as they prepare for the conditions they'll face in the cold water. But later, it transitions to just watching him swim through these glass-like structures. It is amazingly beautiful to behold.

Trio of Adventurers Ready to Launch New Zealand 9 Expedition

Last year, a trio of adventures – Ben Southall, Luke Edwards, and Pat Kinsella – took on an incredible feat of endurance by trail running and climbing to the top of the highest peaks in each of the eight Australian states in just eight days. It was a tough challenge not only for the physical aspects, but also the logistical ones as well.

In June, the same team announced that they were preparing to take on a similar challenge, this time in the land of Kiwis. They call their latest expedition the New Zealand 9, as they'll not only be attempting complete all nine of New Zealand's "Great Walks," they'll try to do it in just nine days.

All told, the journey will cover more than 545 km (338 miles), as Ben, Luke, and Pat trail run for more than 400 km (248 miles), and travel by kayak an additional 145 km (90 miles) along the Whanhanui River. They'll begin the challenge in the extreme south of New Zealand, where they'll kick things off on the Rakiura Track (32km/19.8 miles) located on remote Stewart Island. From there, they'll head to the Routeburn (32km/19.8 miles), Milford (53.5km/33.2 miles), Kepler (60km/37.2 miles), Heaphy (78.4/48/7) and Abel Tasman (55.2km/34.2) tracks on the South Island. Once finished there, they'll then take on the Whanhanui River Journey (145km/90 miles), Tongariro Northern Circuit (43km/26.7 miles), and Lake Waikaremoana (46km/28.5) on the North Island.

If successful, the NZ9 team will set a new speed record for completing all of the Great Walks. It won't be easy however, as they'll have to average more than a marathon per day on foot, and that doesn't even include the kayaking leg of the expedition.

You can follow the team's progress at, and learn more about them, as well as the challenge ahead, in the video below.

New Zealand 9 - Where adventure lives from Ben Southall on Vimeo.

Himalaya Fall 2014: Season Ends on Makalu

Just a brief update from the Himalaya today, where we have received word that the British Tri-Services team has canceled their summit bid, and are now preparing to depart the mountain. It seems conditions on the upper slopes above Camp 4 were too dicey, and the team is exhausted from their efforts. They have retreated back to Base Camp, and are now preparing to head home.

The squad was expected to launch a summit push today, with the hope of topping out sometime over the next three days. The weather on the mountain is said to be very good following last week's storm, and according to yesterday's dispatch, the team was feeling fine and optimistic. Unfortunately, it seems that as they went higher, the discovered that the route to the top along the Southeast Ridge was not as stable as they would like. This is a long, and exposed, path, which would have been extremely difficult, even when conditions are good.

According to their most recent dispatch, the team has now been working the mountain for seven straight days, and are physically wore down. Typically, they could retreat to BC and rest for a few days before giving it a go, but the men are on a bit of a tight schedule, and there is no longer any time left for another summit push. With bad weather expected to arrive once again this weekend, the group made the decision to pull the plug, and go home.

Staying on Makalu, but jumping over to the Northwest side of the mountain, we have finally gotten confirmation from the Madison Mountaineering team that they to abandoned their summit bid. They launched their attempt to reach the top last weekend, and while there were rumors that they had turned back amidst poor conditions, those are now confirmed with the team's latest dispatch as well.

Apparently, they made it as far as  Camp 2 at 6858 meters (22,500 ft) before deciding to turn back. At that point, they discovered deep snow deposited by the recent blizzard, that was just too unstable, and nearly impassable as well. They immediately descended back to BC, and are now preparing to depart for home.

It has been a tough fall in the Himalaya. There was some early success on Cho Oyu and Makalu amongst commercial teams, but both Shishapangma and Makalu have proven too tough to crack. The Korean team is still working on Lhotse, but they have been on that mountain for nearly two months, and have struggled to make meaningful progress. Their last report indicated they were hoping to install Camp 4, and prepare for a summit push, but it is unclear if they have accomplished that task. Still, they are a persistent bunch, and until they say the expedition is over, we'll keep monitoring their progress and hope for the best.

It now appears that the fall season is just about over. Soon, everyone's attention will turn towards preparing for the spring, and a return to Everest.

Video: Way Up East in Myanmar

With its turbulent past, Myanmar (aka Burma) is not a country that many people consider as a travel destination. But it is a place that has become more intriguing in recent years, as it has begun to lift the veil of secrecy and seclusion. This video takes us there, and while it shows many of the landscapes the country has to offer, much of the focus is on the amazing, friendly, and accommodating people that live in Myanmar. After all, when we travel some place new, it is often the people that leave the most lasting impression.

Way Up East from Paul Wex on Vimeo.

Video: GoPro Cam Catches 70-Foot Drop Over Outlet Falls

Ever wondered what it feels like to go over a 70-foot waterfall? If you're a sane person, the answer to that question is no! But, just in case, we have this video to help us experience that feat from the safety of our homes. It features pro kayaker Rush Sturges as he drops over Outlet Falls in in Washington state. At the time the clip was shot, it appears that the river was swelling with the spring melt off, and the water is rushing at a fast pace. Paddling a freezing river over a big waterfall isn't my idea of fun, but I'm glad Sturges had his GoPro along for the ride.

Video: GoPro Camera Mercilessly Killed by Grizzly Bear

It never ceases to amaze me what a well-placed video camera can capture these days. In this case, it is some amazing footage of numerous grizzly bears near Glendale Cove in British Columbia. The cameras were set up by ecologist John Kitchen, who was accompanied by bear biologist Melanie Clapham at the time. They managed to catch the massive creatures as the wandered on to a bridge that allows the bears to look into the river below, and spot the salmon as they run upstream. At one point, one of the bears gets overly interested in John's GoPro camera, and decides to play with it a bit. The footage is both humorous, and frightening at the same time. There are truly some great shots of these magnificent animals throughout the four-minute video. If you love wildlife, you'll certainly get a kick out of this.

Ready to Go on a Global Scavenger Hunt?

Travelers looking for a unique adventure that will challenge them both physically and mentally will be interested to learn about the Global Scavenger Hunt, a competition that sends participants around the globe in a quest to be crowned the "World's Greatest Traveler."

The GSH pits 15 teams of two against one another in an event that is unlike any other. Competitors face unusual challenges, solve puzzles, and decipher clues, all while racing around the globe on a route that is revealed as the scavenger hunt is take place. They visit secret locations, immerse themselves in fascinating cultures, and try to stay one step ahead of the other teams, while circumnavigating the planet using their wits and skills.

The Global Scavenger Hunt is gearing up for its 11th edition in 2015, and is set to take place April 10 through May 2. It will begin and end somewhere in North America, but exactly where has yet to be revealed. The route around the planet promises to be an exciting one, although exactly what path it takes will only be released as the competition unfolds. Reportedly, there will be ten countries on the docket for next year's competition.

The event is a bit like the television show The Amazing Race, although I'm told that it doesn't rely so much on speed and agility, as it does thoughtful immersion in the cultures of the places the teams visit along the way.

Organizers for the GSH are now taking applications for next year's event, and it does come with a hefty entry fee. The two-person teams must pony up $25,000 to join in on the fun, although that does include all airfare, hotel rooms, 40% of the meals, and some sponsored gear.

The competition isn't just about racing around the world however. There are breaks in the competition that give travelers an opportunity to spend a half-day volunteering locally, and some of the proceeds go towards building schools in remote places. Each year of the GSH has been able to fund a co-ed school in a developing country, such as Kenya, Ecuador, and India.

While the entry fee is a bit pricey, this does look like a fun event. If you've got he time, and the funds,  this would certainly be the challenge of a lifetime. Find out more at

Himalaya Fall 2014: Summit Bid Underway on Makalu, New Rules for Trekking in Nepal

The fall climbing season in Nepal is rapidly coming to a close, and as such, teams are making final preparations for their summit bids, particularly on Makalu. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of that massive blizzard that claimed the lives of more than 40 people in the Himalaya last week, the Ministry of Tourism has announced new regulations designed to help keep trekkers safer in the mountains.

We'll start today on Makalu, where the British Tri-Service team has put a team of climbers in place high on the mountain with the hope of reaching the summit as early as tomorrow. Climbing along the very long, and difficult, Southeast Ridge the designated 4-man summit team has now reached Camp 4, where they are currently resting before setting off for the top tomorrow morning. The weather forecast indicates three good days ahead, and they hope to take advantage of that open window if possible. The team is reportedly in good spirits, and fine health, and expectations are riding high as they begin the final stages of the expedition. A support team is standing by to lend aid should the summiteers need it, but they are anticipating a good approach to the top of the mountain. Heavy snows may have created unstable conditions however, and break trail to the top could be exhausting and time consuming. Still, they are ready to proceed in alpine style above C4. Watch for more updates over the next few days.

There is still no word from the Madison Mountaineering team, which was also attempting Makalu along the Northwest side of the mountain. They launched a summit bid last Saturday, but have not posted any status updates since. There have been some rumors that indicate that they were turned back high on the mountain due to unstable conditions, but we have not received confirmation of that at this point.

Over on Lhotse, the Korean team is back in Base Camp after another rotation up the mountain. Conditions on the mountain continue to be challenging, but they are forging ahead with their plans. There are no indications of when the team will launch its summit bid, but they have been on Lhotse for weeks now, with slow progress being made. Fortunately, the squad seems very patient, as they wait for their opportunity.

Finally, in the wake of the disastrous blizzard that swept through the Himalaya last week, Nepal has announced some changes to help protect trekkers visiting the country. They have once again reiterated that all hikers will need to be accompanied by a local guide, which is something that they have said in the past, but seem to not enforce all that tightly. Representatives from the Ministry of Tourism have also said that trekkers will be required to carry GPS tracking devices, which will make them easier to locate should another emergency situation arrive. Furthermore, the government is promising better weather forecasts to help more accurately report conditions prior to trekking groups setting off. All of these efforts are designed to keep travelers safer of course, while continuing to allow access to the best trekking routes the country has to offer.

Anything that helps make the experience safer is, of course, a good thing. It is important to acknowledge that this was a freak and unexpected storm, and while I'm sure there were some poor choices made on the parts of guides and trekkers, the blizzard that hit the Himalaya last week was not in any way typical for this time of year. Still, these moves will hopefully ensure a safer environment traveling in Nepal. The country has seen its share of tragedy this year, and its tourism industry could take a hit because of it. That would be a shame however, as the country is beautiful, accommodating, and filled with wonderful adventures.

That's all for today. More to come from Makalu in the next day or two.

Video: The Colors of Home in Timelapse

This video features some of the spectacular landscapes – both natural and manmade – in the Czech Republic caught in timelapse. It shows a little of everything, including mountains,. forests, waterfalls, and cityscapes, giving viewers a nice taste of what the country has to offer. The clip is also another great example how relaxing and tranquil a timelapse video can be. Enjoy.

Colors of home from EMproduction on Vimeo.

Video: A Tour of Norway From 10 Meters Off the Ground

What do you get when two friends speed-fly their way along the West Coast of Norway? This awesome video which features some great paragliding, along with some amazing views of the Norwegian landscapes. Truly a beautiful way to explore the countryside.

10m TOUR. from malachi templeton on Vimeo.

Video: Kayaking the Verzasca in Switzerland

Here's a fun little paddling video that features kayakers Sam Sutton and Sven Lämmler taking on the wild whitewater found on the narrow confines of the Verzasca River in Switzerland. It gives us a great view of this roller coaster ride through the Swiss mountains. The Verzasca is a mere 30 km (18.6 miles) in length, but it offers plenty of excitement for such a short river. Looks like a blast!

Verzasca from Sven Lämmler on Vimeo.

Polar Bears Force Halloween Celebration Indoors in Canadian Community

Halloween is suppose to be a fun, and slightly scary, holiday for kids of all ages. But one Canadian town is taking measures to ensure that it isn't too frightening this year, following an invasion of polar bears to the community. The Inuit village of Arviat has decided that it will hold its annual Halloween celebration indoors in order to avoid bumping into ursine visitors, which are said to be hanging out in record numbers this year.
Polar bears are not new to the tiny town of just 2000 inhabitants, located on the northernmost coast of Nunavut territory. The village sees numerous bears in the region in any given year. But this year, the population has increased dramatically, and they have been wandering into town with more frequency as a result.

With this in mind, the town council held a special meeting last week to discuss what they should do about Halloween. With 1200 kids in town, they didn't want to disappoint the young trick-or-treaters, so they came up with the idea of holding the holiday indoors at the local community hall. A shuttle bus will even pick up the children and safely deliver them to the festivities. This should greatly reduce the chances of a bear encounter, which could easily end in tragedy.

Animal experts say that shrinking ice caps in the arctic are reducing the size of the polar bear's natural habitat, and forcing them into a smaller area. That is the reason that Arviat, and other villages along the Arctic Ocean, are seeing more of the bears in their area. Warmer weather is causing the Hudson Bay to take longer to freeze this year as well, preventing then bears from making their annual pilgrimage back north. Once the bay has frozen over for the season, the animals will leave Arviat behind.

While some of the ghosts, ghouls, and zombies of Halloween can indeed be scary, I can think of few things that would be more terrifying than coming face-to-face with a hungry male polar bear weighing more than a thousand pounds (450 kg). This is a wise move on the part of villagers.

Antarctica 2014: Prep Teams at Union Glacier

The 2014 Antarctic season is still a couple of weeks away from getting started, but the prep work for the support teams on the frozen continent have already begun. ExWeb is reporting that ANI flew the first support team to Union Glacier last week, where they are now prepping for the arrival of the South Pole skiers, climbers heading to Mt. Vinson, and the various other expeditions that will be taking place in the weeks ahead.

ANI's advance team arrived at Union Glacier on October 17, where they promptly went to work preparing for the new season. That prep work includes setting up the permanent camp facilities there, which serve as a logistical base for everyone that comes and goes from the Antarctic on ANI flights. The team is also preparing the company's blue ice runway and ensuring that it is ready for the big Ilyushin-76 aircraft that serve as shuttles from Punta Arenas, Chile to the facilities on the frozen continent.

In order for this first ANI staff to get to Union Glacier, they must first charter a flight with Kenn Borek Air, who uses smaller, shorter ranged Twin Otter aircraft for flights throughout the Antarctic. Their flight path took them from Punta Arenas to the Rothera Research Station – a British scientific outpost located on Adelaide Island. From there, the flight hops over to Union Glacier to drop off personnel and supplies.

Over the next couple of weeks, the ANI team will stock the Union Glacier camp, and make it as comfortable as possible before the arrival of the first wave of South Pole skiers. Usually, those adventurers start arriving around the first of November, although the weather actually dictates when they can get to the camp, and start their expeditions. Most spend only a short time at UG, before they are flown out to Patriot Hills, the traditional starting point for a journey to 90ºS.

ExWeb also points out that there is one other base that supports Antarctic expeditions, although it isn't used quite as often as ANI's Union Glacier camp. It is located at the Russian science station Novolazarevskaya, with flights arriving out of Cape Town, South Africa. The first flight due for that camp is scheduled to take place on November 4, and is reportedly fully booked.

It looks like another busy Antarctic season is about to get underway. As usual, I'll be following the progress of the teams closely.

Video: The Isle of Skye in Scotland

The Isle of Skye is one of a number of islands that are part of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Skye is a wild, mountainous place, with some amazing landscapes, some of which you'll get to see for yourself in the video below. The use of black and white imagery, and wonderfully atmospheric music, helps to set the scene. This looks like a beautiful place.

Skíð : 'Cloud Island' from Fourth Dimension on Vimeo.

Video: John of the Forest

Here's a wonderful short film that has some good messages for all of us. It features a man named John who is a retired organic farmer that lives in New South Wales, Australia on Mount Warning. His land is covered in dense, beautiful forest that looks like a spectacular place to call home. John shares his philosophy of connecting with nature, and the importance of recognizing that we are all part of the environment, with the need to work towards protecting it. The short video is thoughtful with its narration and imagery.

John of the Forest from PALATE on Vimeo.

Video: Kayaking Kerela, India

Earlier this year, kayakers Sam Sutton, Bradely Lauder, and Mire Kodada traveled to the remote Kerela region of India to explore opportunities to go kayaking in the largely unexplored and untouched part of that country. What they found was some of the best whitewater that they had ever seen, on rivers that few – if any – other paddlers had ever descended. The video below shares some of that adventure, with some amazing footage from this beautiful part of the world.

Fears of Ebola Crushing Africa's Safari Tourism Industry

A month ago I wrote an article about why now is a good time to go to Africa. When I wrote that piece, Ebola was making headlines, and fear over the deadly virus was just beginning to set in with the general public. I argued then – and continue to do so now – that a downturn in travel to Africa was coming, and that opportunistic travelers could take advantage of the fear and ignorance over the disease to book a once in a lifetime journey at a fraction of the normal cost.

Since then, the bottom has fallen out in the safari tourism industry, with bookings dropping off to almost nothing. Countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, and Botswana are all seeing their economies damaged by fear over Ebola, even though they are thousands of miles away from the countries that have suffered the epidemic. In fact, there are European nations that are closer to West Africa, where the virus is most prevalent, than the countries that I've named above.

New reports indicate that safari operators are seeing a 20-70% drop off in new bookings for the rest of this year, and into 2015. This is an alarming number for many countries in Africa, who had seen tourism rise dramatically in recent years. In fact, 2014 was poised to have the best travel numbers of all time, as more people planned holidays on safari. But now, fear over Ebola has put the breaks on the tourism economy, most due to a misunderstanding of the geography of Africa.

Make no mistake, Ebola is a dangerous virus, and those traveling to West Africa should take caution, particularly if they are visiting Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. But the disease has not spread to other parts of the continent, and thus travelers are safe from coming in contact with someone who is infected. Still, there is a misperception that Africa is just one big place, and that all of it is rampant with Ebola. As a result, the entire continent is being lumped together, with dire consequences for the economy there.

As Ebola cases have started to turn up in the U.S., it seems that fear and uncertainty over the virus have reached an all time high. There have been several incidences of planes being diverted due to panic over potential Ebola exposure onboard, none of which have proved to be true as of yet. The general misconceptions over the disease continue to grow, and it seems that there are major concerns amongst the public, even though the chances of contracting the disease are practically nonexistent. It has been sad to watch the reaction people who don't understand how it is spread, and are deathly afraid that they'll be exposed to the virus.

All of this leads me back to the premise of the article I wrote last month. Now is a good time to go to Africa, as the predicted drop off in tourism there is happening. That means there will indeed be good deals on flights to the continent, as well as on safaris, Kilimanjaro climbs, and other adventure activities. If you've ever wanted to go to Africa, now is the time to start planning. I think if you do a little research, remain a bit patient, and plan properly, you'll be able to find some incredible deals that will be too good to pass up.

Don't let fear over Ebola stand in the way of visiting some of the amazing places in Africa. You'll be just as safe there as you would be back home, and you'll get an experience of a life time. Definitely take advantage of this opportunity to visit some of my favorite places on Earth. You won't regret it.