Mountain Hardwear Is Giving Away Free Campsites This Summer

Mountain Hardwear is so committed to helping us get outside this summer that they're actually giving away free campsites. The gear company has joined forces with Hipcamp to provide free access to three amazing camps located in California, Wyoming, and New York, with visitors able to reserve a spot for two consecutive nights.

The three campsites include Clear Creek Ranch in Northern California, Grand Tetons Climber's Ranch in Wyoming, and The Gunks in New York. Each is of these private campsites offer beautiful outdoor settings that are perfect for a short escape to the backcountry, particularly during the warm summer months.

Reserving the sites is incredibly easy. Simply go to this website and look for the location that you are interested in visiting. Then, select the dates that you would like to stay at that location, and check to see if they are open. From there, you can book the site absolutely free.

If the dates you are looking for aren't available, don't fret. Mountain Hardwear plans to open more dates throughout the summer, and will send emails to campers to alert them that they are available. Announcements of new open dates will also be made on MHW social media, including Twitter and Facebook.

You can find out more at the Mountain Hardwear Blog here.

China - Where to visit in Beijing

Beijing - Dec 2014


Other than the must go place - The Great Wall of China. Below is the list of places that I recommend to go in Beijing for its rich history and culture.


1) Beijing Hutongs


Hutong refers to lane or alley. Beijing Hutongs consists of many rows of old alleys formed by traditional courtyard residences lived by old Beijing residents.


Trishaw services is available to drive visitors around. 





2) Qianmen Street 前门街


Located in between Tiananmen Square and Temple of Heaven is the oldest and most famous ancient pedestrian shopping street: Qianmen street 前门街.


It has undergone a year of renovation and just reopened before 2008 Beijing Olympics. Although it has many international brand store, there are still many preserved ancient Beijing buildings.

It has been a prosperous area for more than 600 years and has accumulated some long-standing stores like Tong Ren Tang.

Dang dang tram

It has the snowy look right! It gave a very christmasy feeling! WHY DIDNT IT SNOW??

Having matcha ice cream at near 0 degree weather was indescribable.








3) Wang Fu Jing 王府井



Basically this is just like our Orchard Road with all the big international brands.

So pretty at night.

This was the only time we felt so relaxed walking around without time constraint as tour guide gave us all the time to shop, have dinner ourselves and take cab back to hotel as it is very close by. 


I have craving for steamboat because winter is the best time to eat steamboat! So, we went back to our hotel as our tour guide told us there is a famous eating street just a street away from our hotel.


 We over ordered partly because we were too hungry and the waitress didn't warn us about the super big plate of beef. It was too reasonably priced (only around S$10) that we did not think of the size at all. 

4) Wangfujing snack street


This is the street that you must not missed when you are in Wangfujing. 

Wangfujing Snack Street is conveniently located just adjacent to Wangfujing Street. However it is over commercialized and touristy, the prices are not as low as other places. Tons of snacks from all corners of China can be found there.


Even insects...






Just next to Wangfujing snack street is Laobeijing snack street. They pretty much sell the same kind of food. 









They looked so yummy and sinful lol..

4) Beijing National Stadium (Bird's Nest 鸟巢)


Beijing National Stadium was the main venue of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.



Tour guide was right. It looks better at night when it lights up.




Off to Alaska for ExpeditionAK!

Tomorrow I'll depart for Alaska, where I'll be serving as part of the team that is putting on the 2015 Expedition Alaska adventure race. As I write this, we're still more than a week away from the start of the event, but it is time to begin prepping for the arrival of the teams, wrapping up scouting of the course, and getting ready for gear and skills checks. There is a lot to do before the start of this epic event, which promises to be an amazing experience for everyone involved.

For those who aren't familiar with Expedition Alaska, it is a 7 day race that will take place in the wilds of Kenai Peninsula. We'll have 25 teams of elite adventure racers competing on a course that will stretch for more than 350 miles (560 km). They'll be competing against one another in a wide variety of stages that involve trail running, mountain biking, kayaking, climbing, and more. The action is non-stop, which means once the gun sounds at the start of the event, the clock will be constantly running, and it will be up to the teams to decide when they stop for a rest, when they press on, and just how they navigate from one checkpoint to the next.

Expedition Alaska is also a part of the Adventure Racing World Series, and a qualifying event for the AR World Championships that will be held in Brazil this November. As you can imagine, we are pretty excited to be a part of that organization, and we're hoping to put on a great race that it worthy of the ARWS.

While I'm in Alaska, I will be posting regular updates on the progress of the event, and sharing some of the things that are happening there. But, as is typical with an AR race, time may be in short supply, so blog articles may not come as regularly as I would typically like. On top of that, I won't return home until July 6, which is just five days before I get married. That means there could be further disruptions to the blog content for a few weeks. Please be patient with me until I can get back to a more typical schedule.

Thanks and stay tuned for lots of great things to come!

Video: Itatiaia National Park Timelapse

Brazil's first national park is a place called Itatiaia, which was established back in 1937. Known for its rocky, mountainous terrain, the park offers a remote sanctuary for wildlife and a wonderful retreat from the bustling cities of Rio and São Paulo. This video takes us into that amazing place and gives us a great tour of the landscapes that can be found there. The timelapse images on display begin with some general shots of the flora in the park, but later we see the mountains and clouds, and eventually the stunning starscapes that can be found overhead, all set to some peaceful music that fits the mood perfectly.

Itatiaia National Park Time Lapse from Marcius Clapp on Vimeo.

Video: NBC News Discovers Wingsuit Flying

It is always interesting when the mainstream media discovers an outdoor or extreme sport, and gives it some exposure. Last night, NBC News did just that with its brief exposé on wingsuit flying, which you'll find below. While this video, which features the GoPro Bomb Squad, was part of the nightly news, it was also part of a documentary that aired on CNBC last night entitled "The New High: Extreme Sport," which took a look at a number of the activities that many of us follow or participate in. The one-hour special not only examined wingsuit flying and BASE jumping, but also obstacle course racing, kiteboarding, and other "extreme" activities. The show is likely to air again over the weekend, so if you get a chance, give it a look. I haven't seen it myself, and I'm curious as to how it came out. In the meantime, you can get some solid ariel footage from the clip below.

Gear Closet: Canada Goose Trenton Jacket

Cold weather gear is essential for anyone who enjoys being outdoors all year round. Being able to stay warm during the winter, or when visiting cold weather destinations, brings a sense of freedom that can be exhilarating, and provides an opportunity to pursue our passions, even when conditions aren't exactly at their best. 

That is exactly what the Trenton Jacket from Canada Goose was designed for. This is a soft-shell that was made for adventure, and designed to keep you warm and dry when the weather is at its worst. If you frequently play outside in cold conditions, than this will be an article of clothing you'll want to add to your own gear closet. 

If you're not already familiar with Canada Goose, they are a company that has been making high quality outdoor clothing – mainly jackets and parkas – for nearly 60 years. Their gear has been worn on expeditions to the North and South Pole, climbs up Everest and other major mountains, and in extreme winter conditions across Alaska, Canada, and many other parts of the world. Over the years, Canada Goose has built itself a reputation for creating innovative gear that performs well in the coldest environments, and that is a legacy that is richly deserved. 

The Trenton Jacket displays much of that heritage in a decidedly high-tech, modern manner. It features water resistant fabrics that remain breathable, something that is vital for maintaining temperature control in challenging environments. The jacket is made of two-way stretch materials that are form-fitting without hindering motion in any way, and its athletic cut is meant to provide warmth without restrictions of movement. Four zippered pockets – two hand, two on the chest – help to keep small items close when needed, and a protective hood, complete with two adjustment points, prevents wind, rain, and snow from ruining your day out. 

This is a jacket that has a lot of nice touches, some of which are not always noticeably at first glance. For instance, the adjustable Lycra cuffs include thumb holes for covering the wrists and lower part of the hand. It also has twin zippers to provide access to the interior of the jacket, while still maintaining a maximum level of warmth. An interior media pocket, complete with headphone loops, will keep your smartphone or other valuable electronics safe and warm as well. Meanwhile, the exterior of the Trenton has several reflective tape highlights that help to enhance the visibility of the wearer in low-light, or poor visibility, conditions. 

Made from fabrics that are meant to be warm, breathable, and durable, this is a jacket that is made for outdoor adventures. Lined with high loft fleece, it is incredibly comfortable to wear, while bringing a good blend of performance and weight for what ever outdoor activities you enjoy. In my opinion, this is about as good as a lightweight, cold-weather, waterproof shell gets, particularly when used on days when you're going to be especially active such as when climbing, snowshoeing, and so on. 

Canada Goose rates this jacket for use in temperatures down to about -5ºC/23ºF, although in my opinion it is warm enough for even colder conditions. I happen to run a bit warm in temperature most of the time however, so your mileage will probably vary. Also, paring this jacket with good base layers will extend its usefulness in colder conditions too. 

This is a serious jacket meant for use in extreme environments, and as such it carries a serious price tag. The Canada Goose Trenton soft shell has an MSRP of $525, although it can be found online at discounted prices. Obviously that price will turn a lot of people off, but if you require a high level of performance out of your gear, particularly in cold weather conditions, than you'll also understand the importance of getting the very best clothing possible. This isn't a jacket that is meant for running errands around town – although it would serve well in that capacity. It is meant for outdoor exploration and adventure, and as a result it delivers performance that matches those expectations. 

Canada Goose has made an amazing product with this jacket, and while it certainly isn't meant for everyone, those who need this type of soft shell will most definitely appreciate what it brings to the table.

Summer Climbing 2015: ExWeb Updates All Team Positions

The summer climbing season is nearly set to begin in Pakistan, and the teams there are now starting to move into position. We're still a few days away from the first squad reaching Base Camp, but it won't be long now until we'll start to see a steady stream of updates from the mountains. In preparation for the season officially getting under way, ExWeb has posted a comprehensive round-up of where each of the teams is currently located, and what their objectives are for the weeks ahead. As is usual for this time of the year, the focus will be squarely on Gasherburm I and II, Broad Peak, and of course K2.

It looks like the Swiss team of Mike Horn, Fred Roux and Köbi Reichen will be the first into BC on K2. The team has been in country for a couple of weeks now, and were delayed by bureaucratic issues, but finally started the trek earlier in the week. They are now three days away from reaching the mountain, which should put them in on Monday of next week. The team reports that conditions are very warm there at the moment.

The Himex team headed to both K2 and Broad Peak this summer is about to start their trek. They were scheduled to travel to Askole by jeep today, which is where the trail actually begins. It typically takes about 7-8 days to reach BC, so don't expect them to get settled on the mountain until next weekend. Five-time Everest summiteer David Tait, who is climbing with the squad, has been posting regular dispatches about his experience in Pakistan so far. He has done a good job of keeping readers up to date on their progress.

The other major commercial team on K2 and Broad Peak this summer will be led by Madison Mountaineering. ExWeb indicates that the team is still gathering in Islamabad, and has yet set out for Skardu, the regional town that serves as the launching point to those mountains.


Vanessa O'Brien is in Pakistan and preparing to launch her efforts on K2. She's schedule to begin the trek to Base Camp next week as she goes in search of her 5th 8000-meter peak. If she reaches the top of K2, she'll become the first American woman to do so.

Some other climbers of note include Al Hancock, who ExWeb says is still in Nepal but is planning to head to Pakistan on June 25. He's climbing Broad Peak this summer. Also headed to BP is Oscar Cadiach, who will lead a team of Spanish climbers up that mountain. A second Spanish squad is heading for K2, and will be led by Carlos Suárez. French climber Phillippe Gatta is waiting on his permit for K2, but will be setting out for Pakistan shortly.

These expeditions are just the tip of the iceberg for what will be happening in the Karakoram and Himalaya this summer. ExWeb has a far more comprehensive list of what will be happening there, including reports of a Polish team that plans to ski the Gasherbrums, attempts by Ecuadorian and Peruvian climbers on K2 and GI respectively, and much more. To see the entire list, click here.

It feels like it is taking a long time for the 2015 summer season to crank up, but that is no doubt in part because of the shut down in the Himalaya of Nepal and Tibet this past spring. Everything is going according to plan however, and we should start to see news begin to filter out from the mountains as early as next week. The teams will spend the first few weeks acclimatizing of course, with the first possible summit bids coming in late July and early August depending on schedules, weather, and conditions on the mountain. Stay tuned for regular updates on the progress of these climbers, as it should be an exciting time in the days ahead.

Video: Winter Cave Diving in Sweden

First discovered back in 1979, the Dolinsjö Cave is located underwater, making it extremely difficult to explore. But each year, a team of divers visits the cave during the winter, continuing to map out its depths in an attempt to determine just how large it actually is. So far, they've gone as deep as 1.7 km (1.05 miles), and have yet to locate the end of the cave. In this video, those divers take us along on one of their expeditions, giving us a look at the efforts they make in the name of exploration. It is a fascinating experience for sure, and I give these men a lot of respect for what they do. It can be very dangerous, and yet they press ahead into the unknown none the less.

Underground Movement: Cave Diving in Jämtland from Klättermusen on Vimeo.

Video: Utah's Stunning Landscapes in Timelapse

Utah has some of the most amazing landscapes in the entire western United States, if not the world. Its rocky, wind-swept expanses, are truly beautiful to behold, often creating an almost otherworldly feel. In this video, you'll get the chance to see some of those iconic places captured in timelapse in stunning fashion. This short video is a marvel to behold, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Remnants from Nate Atwater on Vimeo.

Video: The Land of the Long White Cloud

Shot over an amazing week of hiking in New Zealand, this wonderful video introduces us to all the possibilities for adventure that that country holds. Everything from dramatic landscapes, to tranquil skies and flowing rivers are on display, while thoughtful narration by Alan Watts plays over the entire three-miune clip. It is quite a powerful video with some truly spectacular scenery.

 

The Land of the Long White Cloud from Tim Eddy on Vimeo.

Nepal Lays Out Plan For Tourism Revival


Less than two months after a devastating earthquake rocked the country, Nepal is already attempting to plot a course for the recovery of its vital tourism industry. Earlier this week the government there formed a committee to lead the revival of Nepal's travel industry, although the group faces significant challenges in that endeavor. 

The 36-member panel includes some notable names within the tourism and business development sectors within Nepal. The committee has already determined that it will take roughly Rs 21 billion ($205 million) to get recovery efforts back on track, and to that end they are seeking investments both locally and internationally. Those funds will go to repairing damaged infrastructure, including rebuilding some important cultural and heritage sites that were devastated by the April 25 earthquake. 

The committee has also been charged with the important task of attempting to right the ship on Nepal's mountaineering industry as well. Climbing expeditions on Mt. Everest and other major peaks ceased this spring due to the quake, which caused an avalanche near Everest Base Camp that claimed the lives of 18 people. That follows on the heels of last year's disaster in which 16 Sherpas were killed in an avalanche higher up the mountain. That tragedy abruptly ended the 2014 season as well, leaving the entire climbing sector in disarray. 

Part of what the recovery team hopes to accomplish is to get the word out that most of trekking routes and mountains are completely safe in the wake of the earthquake. Only parts of Lantang and the Manaslu Trail remain effected by the disaster. That means that most of Nepal is safe for travelers, and ready for foreign visitors to return. Unfortunately, not all of the infrastructure is in place, and fully operational just yet, although efforts are being made to correct that. 

Without a doubt, this tourism committee faces an uphill battle in reviving the industry in the near future. In addition to the challenges they face with mountaineers and earthquake recovery, the country is also still reeling from another natural disaster last fall. That's when an unusually powerful blizzard hit the Himalaya, killing more than 40 people – including foreign trekkers – and stranding hundreds along Nepal's trekking routes. Each of these events has given many the perception that Nepal simply isn't safe at the moment, which is causing some travelers to go elsewhere. 

The recovery process is certainly going to be a long one, but considering the natural resources and beauty that Nepal possesses I'm sure it'll get back to normal in time. Until that happens however, a lot of people that work in the travel industry there are going to struggle. 

American Woman Ends Bid to Row Across the Pacific

An American woman has ended her attempt to row solo across the Pacific Ocean just eight days into the attempt. Sonya Baumstein launched her bid back on June 7, departing from Choshi, Japan with the intention of reaching San Francisco, covering a distance of 6000 miles in the process. But last weekend she put out a distress call after her boat experienced several mechanical failures that put the entire journey into jeopardy.

According to a report from the Associated Press, Baumstein began her Pacific row by first experiencing sea sickness. That kept her close to the shore for a few days as she acclimated to her conditions. After that, she was able to find the Kuroshio current, which crosses the Pacific west to east, and would have aided her progress. At that point, all seemed to be going according to plan.

On Saturday, June 13, Sonya sent out a distress signal calling for assistance. At that point she was 250 km (155 miles) from shore. That is about the limit for a Japanese coast guard boat to conduct a rescue, and as she started to have issues with the boat, Baumstein decided it was too dangerous for her, and potential rescuers, to continue.

At some point early on the steering system on her row boat failed, and she was facing a very long journey without precise controls. Furthermore, the weather forecast looked ominous as well, so it seemed that the better part of valor was for her to pull the plug altogether. A passing freighter picked up her distress call and hauled her out of the water, and later handed her over to the coat guard.

As of Monday, Baumstein was on her way back to Japan. There is no word yet on whether or not she'll have another go at the crossing.

It should be noted that a number of reports indicated that Sonya was attempting to become the first woman to row across the Pacific solo, which we all know isn't true. Roz Savage completed that feat back in 2010, although she traveled east to west, and made the crossing in stages along a longer route.

Video: Traveling Through the Antarctic

Shot over a 16-day period spent in the Antarctic, this video gives viewers an amazing look at what it is like to visit the frozen continent. It contains spectacular shots of the landscapes found there, as well as some of the wonderful wildlife that exists on, and around, the Antarctic Peninsula. If you've ever wanted to visit Antarctica yourself, this will give you a tantalizing glimpse of what to expect there. With a running time of just over 8 minutes, it seems far too short. I hope you enjoy.

Antarctica from Kalle Ljung on Vimeo.

Video: Mountain Bike Race Course Feature 999 Steps

The 2015 Red Bull Sky Gate mountain bike race, held in Tianmen Mountain National Park in China, features a course unlike any other. What makes it so unique you ask? Well, for starters it includes 999 steps to go along with the typical series of ramps, walls, and other obstacles. As you'll see in the video below, it isn't an easy course to navigate, testing the skill of riders often. Some weren't luck enough to come out unscathed, although for the most part it looks like they had a good time trying.

Thanks to Gear Junkie for sharing.

Video: Chris Sharma Climbs a Giant Redwood

We all know that Chris Sharma is one of the most talented climbers on the planet, but just in case you needed further proof, check out this video of him free climbing a giant redwood in California. The tree in question stands 252 feet (76.8 meters) in height, and was specifically selected because it lacked many lichens and moss growing on its trunk, and it was fire scarred from a natural fire that occurred in the past. Before making the climb, Sharma first consulted with biologists at the University of California, Burbank to ensure that he wouldn't damage the tree in anyway. With those hurdles cleared, he set out to make the ascent. As you'll see below, it was pretty spectacular.

Adventures in Egypt: Alexandria

Over the past few weeks I've been sharing some stories from my recent travels through Egypt as part of an itinerary hosted by G Adventures. During my visit there, I explored Cairo, walked in the shadow of the Great Pyramid, visited the ancient site of Abu Simbel, and hiked into the Valley of the Kings and Queens. I also wandered through the White Desert and visited the charming Siwa Oasis. For the final leg of the journey, my traveling companions and I left the remote regions of the Western Desert behind and traveled to Alexandria, a city with a long history that is also modern and vibrant.

I have to admit, I was a bit sad to leave Siwa Oasis behind when we set out for Alexandria. As much as was looking forward to seeing the city that was once the capital of Egypt under the rule of Alexander the Great, Siwa was such an enchanting place that even after spending a couple of days there, I wasn't quite ready to move on. Still, there were things to see and do elsewhere in Egypt, and our 2300 mile (3700 km) journey wasn't done just yet.

We struck out from Siwa in the early morning, as there were many miles to cover before we reached our destination. Traveling north out of the desert, we eventually reach Egypt's Mediterranean Coast. It was a revelation to see that body of water after spending days wandering through the dunes of the Western Desert. To celebrate, we stopped in the city of El Dabaa to not only stretch our legs on the long (8+ hour) journey to Alexandria, but to get a good look at what Egypt had to offer in terms of beaches. Unsurprisingly, those beaches were beautiful, giving us a great look at a section of the North African coastline that was simply gorgeous.

After spending a brief time in El Dabaa we were back on the road to Alexandria, although for the remainder of the journey we never wandered far from the coastline. To the south of us the desert still stretched into infinity, but to the north the Mediterranean Sea glistened blue in the mid-day sun. It was a spectacular contrast to behold, in a country that is full of contrasts.


It took anther couple of hours to reach Alexandria, and after spending a few days in the quiet and peaceful Siwa Oasis, it was a bit of a shock to the system to arrive back in civilization. Much like in Cairo, the traffic in Alexandria is insane, with far too many vehicles on the road, and a constant dine of horn blaring at one another. It was a startling shift from the quiet time we had spent in the desert, and it took a bit of time to adjust properly.

Once we had acclimated back to the hustle and bustle of a big city, it was easy to see the appeal of Alexandria. This modern, and very cosmopolitan, town clearly has its roots in Egyptian culture, but also exhibits influences from around the Med and Europe as well. The streets are lined with shops and restaurants, thousands of people are moving to and fro, and the city has an energy about it that I didn't experience anywhere else in the country. The mood and setting there is just so different from a place like Cairo.

That isn't to say that Alexandria lacks in ancient wonders for visitors to take in. For instance, the Citadel of Qaitbay is an impressive structure built back in the 15th century on the site of the old lighthouse that was once considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This fortress was built by a Sultan back in 1477, and still stands guard over the Eastern Harbor to this day.

Other things to do in Alexandria include touring the Catacombs of Kom ash-Suqqafa, a large Roman burial site that was discovered back in 1900. Pompey's Pillar is also worth a look, as the 30 meter (98 foot) tall column is a great reminder of Egypt's amazing architecture and ingenuity. The pillar was named after Pompey Magnus, a Roman leader who was supposedly killed in Egypt not far from the site. But in reality, it is part of the remains of a temple that was constructed decades after that incident.

Of course, Alexandria is well known for once having a vast repository of ancient knowledge stored at the famous library that once stood there. That structure was destroyed by a series of fires and attacks, with its ultimate demise coming in the third century AD. When the library was completely destroyed, it took a great deal of information with it, creating a bit of a dark age that followed. It is believed, for instance, that the library had important information about how the pyramids were built, something that confounds us even to this day.

Today, there is a modern library in Alexandria that is still quite a sight to behold. The massive building continues to hold an impressive amount of information and knowledge, although much of it is now contained on computers, DVD's, and other modern storage mediums. Still, there are a tremendous number of books in the library. The site also hosts many conferences and seminars too, making it one of the top destinations in the world for scholars, students, and travelers alike. For my part, I wandered the halls there in awe and wonder of the incredibly modern building that is dedicated to learning.

Alexandria is a bit of an anomaly in Egypt in that it has a solid night life to go along with the other attractions that you find there. Because of its Mediterranean influences, there are a number of good restaurants and clubs, and it isn't too hard to find a place to enjoy a drink at the end of the day. This isn't necessarily the case in other Egyptian cities, where alcohol is at a premium.

Shopping is another area in which Alexandria stands out. While I'm not much of shopper myself, it was hard to ignore the streets lined with all manner of shops, not to mention street vendors hawking various other wares. Prices seemed quite reasonable too, although the city is more expensive than other parts of Egypt in terms of food and drink.

For me, Alexandria was the perfect way to end my trip to Egypt. It is a bustling city with plenty to see and do, even through the crowds and traffic could be a bit overwhelming at times. Still, the blend of history, culture, and modern sensibilities, along with a dash of Mediterranean flare, gives it a unique feeling that is all its own. The city is unlike any other place in the country, which makes it very special. Any visit to Egypt isn't complete, without first dropping by Alexandria.

After a few days in the city, it was back to Cairo to catch a late flight home. After 16 days of travel, over a wide range of destinations, I was ready to depart. But Egypt is a place that stays with you for a lifetime, and I've been fortunate enough to go there twice now. It is a special country to be sure, and with a history that dates back nearly 10,000 years, it is easy to understand why it holds such an appeal for travelers.

I want to thank my friends at G Adventures once again for hosting me on this amazing trip. We traveled by bus, plane, train, boat, camel, donkey, and bike on this tour of Egypt's wonders, and it was an incredibly fulfilling experience all around.

Mt. Everest Moved 3 cm by Nepal Earthquake

As Nepal continues to rebuild and recover from the deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake that took place there back on April 25, we are starting to get a better understand of just how powerful this seismic event actually was. According to new reports, the earthquake was so strong that it actually moved Everest 3 cm (1.2 inches) to the southwest. That might not sound like it is very far, but when you consider the size of the mountain – the tallest in the world – and the slow pace of geologic movement, it is an incredible shift.

Precise measurements of Everest's movements have been observed since 2005 when the Chinese placed a satellite tracking system on the summit. Since then, they have seen the mountain move about 4 cm (1.5 inches) to the north each year, and grow at a rate of about .3 cm (.11 inches). But the earthquake not only reversed the direction of the movement, it also shifted the peak nearly an entire year's distance in one sudden, jarring motion. That motion caused avalanches to occur on Everest, with 18 people losing their lives in Base Camp on the South Side.

Despite this massive shift, it does not appear that the mountain lost or gained any altitude. Instead, it appears that it shifted horizontally, without moving vertically in any way. Furthermore, the 7.5 magnitude aftershock that occurred on May 12 had no impact on the mountain at all in terms of movement.

The initial quake in April claimed the lives of more 8000 people, and destroyed hundreds of buildings throughout the Kathmandu Valley. It also brought an abrupt end to the spring climbing season, with most major expeditions taking place in Nepal shutting down in the aftermath of the disaster. It is unclear whether or not there are any plans to return to the mountain this fall, but numerous trekking teams have already canceled their trips that were scheduled to take place in the post-monsoon months.

In the greater scheme of things, this shift in Everest's location would have gone unnoticed were it not for the precise instruments installed on the summit. But, that said, in terms of geological forces at work, it does give us an indication of just how powerful this earthquake truly was. When mountains are literally shifting it is easy to understand why the destruction was so widespread and massive in its scope. Thankfully, recovery efforts are well underway, but it is going to take years for Nepal to fully get past this disaster.

Video: Trailer for An American Ascent

In June of 2013, a team of of all African-American climbers traveled to Alaska to climb the highest peak on the continent – Denali. That team would be the first of its kind on the mountain, and hoped to inspire others to follow in their footsteps in seeking outdoor adventure. A documentary film was made about that expedition called An American Ascent, and it is currently screening across the country. The video below is the trailer for that film, and will certainly give you the gist of what it is about. It will also compel you to seek out the film for yourself. Hopefully this comes to Netflix, as I'd very much like to see the whole thing.

 
An American Ascent - Film Trailer from Distill Productions on Vimeo.

Video: Mountain Biking Nepal

We all know that Nepal is an amazing destination for climbing and trekking, but it is also becoming much more mountain bike friendly as well. As you'll see in this video, there is a lot to like for riders looking to explore the Himalaya from the seat of a bike. The video was shot in Shivapuri National Park on a ride hosted by Himalayan Single Track. It looks like it would be one fantastic way to see the country.

Video: Watch a Chilean Volcano Erupt in Timelapse

We've seen some impressive timelapse videos in recent months, but it is tough to compete with this one. It was shot back in April when the Chilean volcano Calbuco erupted dramatically. That event is caught beautifully in this short two-and-a-half minute clip which gives us a humbling display of the Earth's power. If you have a 4k monitor at your disposal, the video is also available at that resolution. I can only imagine how impressive that must look.

CALBUCO from Martin Heck | Timestorm Films on Vimeo.

Summer Climbs 2015: 6 Summit Challenge Continues in Pakistan

Earlier this year I told you about Nick Cienski and his 6 Summits Challenge. At the time, Nick was just about to embark on a massive undertaking that would see him attempt to climb six different 8000-meter peaks in a single year. He had hoped to knock off Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu this spring, but unfortunately the Nepal earthquake put an end to those ambitions. Now, Nick has shifted gears some, and identified three other mountains that he will attempt instead. With that goal in mind, he is now ramping up for an ambitious summer in Pakistan.

Following the April 25 earthquake that devastated Nepal, Nick and his team went to work lending support and aid to the country. As with many other climbers, their efforts have helped to rebuild the country that still has a very long road to navigate before any sense of normalcy returns.

In July, Nick will travel to Pakistan to relaunch the 6 Summits Challenge. He will now focus on climbing Broad Peak (8051 meters/26,414 ft), and both Gasherbrum I (8080 meters/26,444 ft) and II (8035 meters/26,362 ft). Together, these three mountains are the 11th, 12th, and 13th highest mountains in the world, and will make for a significant undertaking in the weeks ahead.

This isn't Nick's first time climbing in the region. In fact, he has climbed on Broad Peak twice in the past, reaching the summit back in 1990. He is likely to find that things are a bit different on the mountain now, with more teams visiting on an annual basis. The two Gasherbrum peaks will be a new challenge for Cienski, although after acclimatizing on BP, he'll probably go for a traverse that links the two summits in one long climb.

Following his Pakistani climbs, Nick will travel to Tibet in the fall, where he'll than attempt to summit Shishapangma (8027 meters/26,335 ft) and Cho Oyu (8201 meters/26,906 ft). After that, the plan is to travel back to Nepal to complete the challenge by summiting Manaslu (8163 meters/26,781 ft). Those expeditions are expected to take place immediately after he wraps up the summer triple-header, beginning sometime in late-August.

One thing that hasn't changed with the 6 Summit Challenge is that Nick is using it to raise funds for his Mission 14 organization. This nonprofit is dedicated to stamping out human trafficking, which continues to be a major issue in just about every corner of the globe.

I said it before, and I'll say it again. Summiting six 8000-meter peaks in a single year is going to be tough. Now however, it'll be even more challenging as Nick needs to complete the climbs in a smaller window of opportunity. We'll soon see if he is up to the task. You can follow his progress on Facebook and Twitter as he pushes forward in the weeks ahead.

Video: In Current - Rowing the Grand Canyon

This video isn't just about rowing a boat down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. It is also about pursuing a dream. In order to earn a spot on the crew of a dory boat in the Canyon one must first pay their dues. That can take years to accomplish, and requires a great deal of experience. For Amber Shannon, the subject of this short film, it has been a nine year struggle toward achieving her goal of joining the team on the dory. This documentary shares that experience, along with what it is like to explore the Grand Canyon in a small wooden boat. Amazing stuff.

In Current from YETI Coolers on Vimeo.

Video: Mountain Biking Beat Down

This video is a few months old, but I hadn't come across it before and thought it was definitely worth sharing. It comes our way from Camp 4 Collective, who always make high quality outdoor adventure videos. In this case, the video features two mountain bikers racing down a difficult trail while pushing each others skills to the extreme. I won't spoil what happens in the end, but suffice as to say it is pretty cool. The video also includes a heavy metal soundtrack, some adult language, and a random pair of boobs for some reason. But it is all in good fun, and the behind the scenes clips near the end are good too. I hope you enjoy.

BEAT DOWN from Camp 4 Collective on Vimeo.

Video: Lucky Rabbit Survives Avalanche in the Kamchatka Mountains

This video was shot on a mountain in Kamchatka, a remote area of Russia where a team of heliskiers were filming a snowboarding movie. During production an avalanche occurred on the mountain, sweeping down the slopes. The snowboarder featured in the video was able to easily out run it, but a white rabbit actually runs into the avalanche and manages to avoid getting crushed. As you'll see in the clip, he is one lucky bunny who manages to stay above the tumbling snow, and make it to the other side in one piece.

Avalanche! Run Rabbit Run! Original Video By Helipro. from HELIPRO on Vimeo.

The Annual Race Across America Bike Ride Begins Tomorrow

For many cyclists the RAAM (aka the Race Across America) is one of the best annual events to take place in the sport. The ride begins in Oceanside, California and proceeds 3000 miles (4828 km) across the United States before ending in Annapolis, Maryland. Typically it takes about a week to ten days for the solo and team riders to complete the journey. Challenges along the way include climbing over the Rocky Mountains, battling unpredictable weather, and dealing with endless miles of open road on your own.

Tomorrow, the RAAM solo start will take place in the morning, and teams will get underway from the same starting point on Saturday, staggering the different categories to allow single riders to have a bit of a head start. Tomorrow will also mark the start of RAW (Race Across the West), which is a shorter race that covers 860 miles between Oceanside and Durango, Colorado. That event serves as a qualifier for the much longer RAAM.

This year there are approximately 45 teams taking part in the event, as well as 41 individuals. They'll all be competing in their various categories, while also helping the RAAM organizers raise funds for charity. 

Amongst the teams is a four-woman squad from Australia called Team Veloroo who are riding in support of the Amy Gillette Foundation, which is dedicated to ending cycling deaths on the road. The 'Roos will also be a part of a documentary about their RAAM experience, as they push themselves to ride all the way across the U.S. as quickly as possible. You'll be able to follow their progress on Facebook as they launch their journey, and get a taste of what the ride is actually like. The video below also gives you an idea of how the four ladies have trained in preparation for this epic challenge.

Good luck to Team Veloroo and the rest of the riders setting out on the RAAM and RAW over the next few days. It will be an amazing experience for sure. 


Veloroos Training-Day from NothinButShorts International on Vimeo.

Summer Climbs 2015: Climbers Arriving in Pakistan

The summer climbing season is ready to begin in ernest, as teams of climber have begun to arrive in Pakistan. It will take them some time to reach their respective Base Camps in the Himalaya and Karakoram, but we will soon see some action in the big mountains once again.

One of the first arrivals in Islamabad is David Tait, who flew in over the weekend. Tait, who is a 5-time Everest summiteer – is in Pakistan to climb K2 as part of the Himex squad and should be heading out shortly. He'll be filming a POV documentary for Discovery while he is there, capturing his expedition from a first person perspective.

Also climbing with Himex is Bili Bierling, who often writes dispatches for the expedition company while on various climbs. She left her home in Nepal last week and should be in Pakistan already, but there have been no updates in recent days. She'll be attempting Broad Peak this summer. In her pre-climb dispatch Bili indicated that the team would fly to Skardu tomorrow, than take a jeep caravan to Askole where they would begin the 8-day trek to BC. That would put them on the mountain next Tuesday if all things go as planned.

This being Pakistan, things rarely go as planned however. The trio of Mike Horn, Fred Roux and Köbi Reichen discovered this after arriving in the country back in early June. The climbers have been stuck in Askole themselves while they wait for their security clearance to be processed. Presumably they would be able to head out tomorrow as well if they don't proceed sooner. This summer they'll be focused on K2.


American climber Venessa O'Brien will be attempting K2 as part of the Madison Mountaineering team. Neither she, nor the company, have posted any updates so far, so it is unclear where she is at exactly. Presumably her team is now in country and making their way to the mountain, but we'll have to wait for an update to know for certain.

Al Hancock wil be attempting Broad Peak this summer as part of his bid to become the first Canadian to climb all 14 8000-meter peaks. He nabbed K2 last year when a historical number of people summited that mountain, and this year he'll return to finish BP too. There is no word on when his expedition will begin, as Al has not posted any updates yet, but presumably he is en route to Pakistan or already there as well.

Similarly, Chris Jensen Burke has rumored to be returning to Broad Peak as well, although we have yet to hear about her plans either. She did post an interesting story to her blog that rebutted a recent article that called mountaineering the "height of empty egoism" however which is well worth reading.

There are other climbers and teams heading to both K2, Broad Peak, and the Gasherbrums. I expect we'll start to see some dispatches from them all very soon. The pre-climb trek will take a few more days, but after that we should see a steady stream of updates keeping us posted on the progress of the teams. Until that happens, we'll need to remain a bit patient. The summer climbing season is just about to truly get underway, and than things should get very interesting indeed.

Video: Drones Over Jordan

Jordan is a country filled with culture and history. It is a place that is incredibly beautiful, with ancient wonders that match anything else found on Earth. This video captures a bit of what that country has to offer with drone shots of some of its most iconic places, including the desert of Wadi Rum and the amazing site of Petra. Having visited these places myself, I can tell you that they are as extraordinary as they appear here, and well worth having on your bucket list of destinations.

Jordan from the Air from Matador Network on Vimeo.

Video: A Tribute to Denali the Dog

A few years back photographer Ben Moon faced the challenge of his life when battled cancer. Through all of that, his dog Denali stayed by his side, and the two shared a bond that was incredibly deep. Later, Denali would contract the same disease, and battle it as well, eventually losing his life. Now, Moon has created an incredibly touching tribute to his friend in the form of this short film. It is told from Denali's perspective, and is filled with wit and wisdom that we can all gain by watching it. But be warned, this video will likely leave you in tears, particularly if you've ever had to say goodbye to a pet yourself. As we all know, our animal companions become part of the family, and it is never easy to let them go.

Denali from FELT SOUL MEDIA on Vimeo.

Video: New Footage of Amelia Earhart Emerges

Rare film footage of Amelia Earhart has been revealed after being kept secret for decades by the man who shot it. The film was made back in 1937, not long before Earhart began her attempt to fly around the world, which would eventually end with her disappearance somewhere over the South Pacific Ocean. The aviator met with photographer Al Bresnik and his brother John at a small airport in Burbank, California when she was preparing for her historic flight. Al was to do a photoshoot of the pilot, while John tagged along and captured the encounter on film. The 16mm footage then sat on a shelf for 50 years until it was discovered by John's son following his death in 1992. The son, also named John, put the film in his desk and didn't get around to looking at it for another 20 years. Now, it is being revealed to the public for the first time. You can see this small slice of history for yourself in the AP News clip below. Amazing.

Ski Mountaineers Complete Goal of Skiing Colorado's 100 Highest Peaks

How's this for completing an epic challenge? Ski mountaineering legend Chris Davenport, along with friends Ted and Christy Mahon of Aspen Colorado, have become the first people to climb and ski the 100 tallest peaks in the state of Colorado. That includes the 54 "14ers" – mountains that are more than 14,000 feet (4267 meters) in height – as well as the 46 next highest mountains, all of which are over 13,000 feet (3962 meters) themselves.

The project started nine years ago when Davenport became the first person to ski all of the 14ers in a single year, a feat that remains unmatched to this day. The Mahon's would ski each of those mountains as well, with Ted nabbing his final 14er in 2007, while Christy would follow suit in 2010. The idea for the trio to attempt "The Centennial" wouldn't come for another couple of years, when they were all climbing volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest.

In 2012, they launched their bid to get Colorado's next highest 46 peaks. It wasn't easy, as some of the mountains are well off the beaten path, and Devenport and the Mahons sometimes had to work very hard just to reach their targets. To make things even more interesting, many of those mountains lacked any real intel on ski routes, so they were also scouting them for their descents too. It was an extreme adventure in a place that is remote and rugged as you'll find in the lower 48 states.

Earlier this spring, Chris, Ted, and Christy completed their quest at long last. Their final mountain wasn't an easy one, as it took three days roundtrip just to go there, climb it, ski back down, and hike back out. But in the end they had accomplished something no one else had ever done, climbed and skied Colorado's Centennial, and set an impressive new feat in the world of ski mountaineering.

You can find out more about this mission by reading this article at National Geographic Adventure. It is quite a tale to say the least.

National Geographic Announces 2015 Emerging Explorers

National Geographic has announced its selection for the 2015 Emerging Explorers program. Each year, the iconic organization selects a group of talented and driven scientists, conservationists, storytellers, and innovators who are making an important contribution to their chosen field, even at the early stages of their career. Each of them gains a good deal of recognition for the honor, as well as $10,000 to devote to their projects.

This year's class of explorers include Salam Al Kuntar, an archaeologist who is working hard to protect important sites inside Syria, Leslie Dawn, a nuclear scientists working on improving the way reactors function, and Innocent Mburanumwe, a ranger who protects the extremely endangered gorillas in the Virunga National Park of Democratic Republic of the Congo. They're joined on the list by wildlife conservationists, medical engineers, a biophysicist, and a number of other extremely bright men and women.

In total, there are 14 men and and women who have received the distinction of being named an Emerging Explorer this year. Their interests and passions vary greatly, but they all hold a common trait in that they are trying to make the world a better place in some way or another. One has helped create the largest shark sanctuary on the planet, while another is attempting to stamp out illegal trafficking of wildlife. Still others are focused on preventing climate change, exploring the human mind, or preventing the spread of disease. These are the new explorers for the 21st century, and their work is as vital and important as ever.

To find out more about these men and women, check out Nat Geo's Emerging Explorers page, and watch the video below.