Video: Face to Face with Kilian Jornet

It is safe to say that Kilian Jornet is amongst the very best mountain runners in the entire world. He has set speed records for running to the summit of high mountains on just about every continent, and is hoping to eventually set a speed record on Everest as well. In this video, we get a chance to meet the man and learn what drives him in his pursuit of achieving impressive accomplishments at high altitude. Most of us will never be able to run like Kilian, but he can still serve as an inspiration none the less.

Video: The North Face Invites Us to "Never Stop _____"

"Never Stop Exploring" has been the motto for The North Face for many years. But now the company is rolling out its first ever global brand campaign, and as a result it is expanding its definition of exploration. The gear company has always focused on giving people the tools they need to go on their own personal adventures, pushing themselves to their physical and mental limits along the way. In this video, we see the roots of this new campaign taking hold, as we're invited to "never stop" doing the things that we're passionate about. This may be a commercial for The North Face at its hart, but the message it delivers is a good one.

Video: Kilimanjaro Revealed - Guides, Chefs, and Safety with Tusker Trail

Back in February of this year I had the distinct pleasure of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with the Tusker Trail, the leading guide service on the mountain. While I was there, the company was in the process of creating a series of videos about the experience. Now, almost 8 months later, those videos are complete. Over the next few days I'll be sharing those clips with you, as they not only provide insight into what sets Tusker apart from the crowd, they'll give you a sense of what it is like to climb the tallest mountain in Africa as well.

In this video, narrated by National Geographic's Will Lyman, we get an introduction to Tusker, their guides, chefs, and approach to safety. You'll also start to get some glimpses of life on the mountain too.

Kilimanjaro - Guides & Chefs from Tusker on Vimeo.

Gear Closet: UCO A-120 Comfort-Fit Headlamp

It seems like these days everyone and their brother is making a headlamp. As a result, there are more options to chose from than ever before, and the list of included features is growing longer than I'd ever thought possible. That's why it is so refreshing to come across a headlamp that is focuses on getting the simple things right. For me, a good headlamp should be easy to operate, provide plenty of light, and be comfortable to wear – three qualities I found in the A-120 Comfort-Fit Headlamp from UCO.

Tipping the scales at just 3.7 ounces with its three AAA batteries installed, the A-120 is one of the lightest headlamps on the market. It features a neoprene strap that is easy to adjust to the perfect fit, and offers enough flexibility that it can rest directly against the skin, or worn over a stocking cap or helmet as well. An adjustable mount on the front of the lamp allows the wearer to tilt the light at an angle that is most suitable, while the lightweight battery pack has adjustable positioning to maximize comfort as well.

Simplicity is at the core of the A-120, and UCO made it extremely easy to operate. A single dial is used to not only turn the white LED light on, but adjust its brightness as well. Turn that same dial the opposite direction and it will activate the built-in red light mode as well. The use of the dial also makes it almost impossible for the light to be turned on accidentally while inside your pack too, unintentionally draining the batteries without you even realizing that it is on.

On its highest setting, the headlamp is capable of putting out as much as 120 Lumens of light. That's actually very bright in a dark setting, so chances are you'll actually dial it back to something a bit less intense. UCO says the burn time on a single set of AAA batteries is up 200 hours as well, making this one very efficient light to carry with you while camping, backpacking, or traveling.

I found that the A-120 definitely lives up to the "comfort" label that is found right in its name. Thanks to its lightweight design and comfortable headband, this is the kind of headlamp you can put on, and forget that you're even wearing it. It puts no strain at all on the forehead either, which means you won't get a headache from using it for extended periods of time.

The A-120 has a unique, almost retro look about it that I like a lot as well. It almost looks like a piece of vintage gear that you might have seen around the campsite back in the 1950's or 60's. Don't be fooled by the look however, as there are a lot of modern technologies and materials in this product which allow it to perform at a high level. It is even IPX4 water resistant too, bring a nice level of durability to the headlamp as well.

Priced at $39.95, the UCO A-120 Comfort-fit Headlamp is an affordable option for anyone looking for a lightweight lighting solution that is bright, easy to use, and well built. This is a real winner in all of those categories, making it very easy to recommend.

Krakauer Not a Fan of Everest Film

Everest may not have been a massive success at the box office, but it continues to generate headlines with the outdoor community. The latest story revolving the film has Jon Krakauer, author of the seminal book Into Thin Air, sharing his thoughts on the film, and lets just say he isn't a fan.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Krakauer says that the film is "total bull" and says that the film took some liberties with the story. The author was of course on Everest when the events depicted in the film took place back in 1996, and while his book was used a source material for the movie, it isn't based on that best selling account of the story. Instead, the film's producers consulted a number of people who were there – Krakauer wasn't among them – and based their telling of the tale off of a variety of different sources.

If you've seen the film you probably can understand why Krakauer isn't exactly lining up to endorse it. In one scene, Russian guide Anatoli Boukreev asks Krakauer – played by actor Michael Kelly – to help him go back out to search for missing climbers caught in a storm. In the movie, Krakauer says he can't do that because he is suffering from snow blindness. The writer says that the scene isn't only not factual, it never even happened.

In a later scene, Krakauer is heard to say that it will be tough enough for the climbers to descend the mountain on their own, let alone helping others get down safely. As a result of these two moments in the movie, he comes across as being someone who doesn't want to lend a hand during the aftermath of the disaster, and only cares about his own well being.

It should come as no surprise that Krakauer says that if we want a true account of what happened during the 1996 climbing season we should read his book instead, even though it isn't without its controversies as well. Still, it is widely considered to be one of the best accounts of the disaster, and as with all book vs. film comparisons it has the luxury of going into greater detail on the characters and events.

Video: Iceland is Simply Beautiful

When it comes to beautiful videos from a specific destination, Iceland seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. Today we have yet another stunning four-minute clip from that country, where stunning landscapes, breathtaking coastlines are the norm, and mesmerizing lights dance across the night sky. Shot with a drone, this video once again gives us unique perspectives on an incredible destination.

And if you'd like to visit Iceland yourself, my friends over at Mountain Travel Sobek have several fantastic options, including a 10-day itinerary that takes you hiking through the eastern fjords. This is a country that belongs on every adventure traveler's bucket list, and it is easy to see why.

Iceland. Aerial drone and time lapse compilation. Southern Iceland landscapes and the northern lights. from Colby Moore on Vimeo.

Video: Stand-Up Paddleboarding with Whales

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

Adventurer Swimming the Length of the Mississippi River

For me, some of the most impressive feats of endurance involve swimming long distances. The challenges that come along with such an endeavor are very different than say trekking or cycling on land. The water simply makes things more difficult, creating colder conditions and providing greater resistance. That's why I'm incredibly impressed with what American Chris Ring is doing. The 28-year old U.S. Navy vet set out in June to swim the length of the Mississippi River, and while he has already covered an impressive distance, he still has a long way to go.

This massive undertaking started in the headwaters of  the Mississippi in northern Minnesota's Lake Itasca and has continued south for more than four months. So far, Chris has covered approximately 1300 miles (2092 km) of the journey, with another 1200 miles (1931 km) left to go. He had been averaging about 15 miles (24 km) per day, but when he reached St. Louis on Sept. 24, that milage increased to about 20 miles (32 km) thanks to stronger currents pushing him along. If he can maintain that pace, Ring believes he will reach the Gulf of Mexico in New Orleans sometime in mid-November.

The swimmer has dubbed this challenge the Swim for their Sacrifice, and he has dedicated the journey to fallen U.S. soldier and the families they have left behind. With that thought in mind, he specifically chose June 6 – the anniversary of D-Day – to begin the swim, and along the way he has stopped to meet with numerous widows and families of soldiers who have died defending the United States. The expedition is also being conducted sponsored by Legacies Alive, an organization dedicated to improving the support for families of fallen soldiers.

If he is successful, Chris will become only the second person to ever swim the length of the Mississippi. Endurance swimmer Martin Strel also accomplished that feat back in 2002, and is has yet to be duplicated again. Ring seems on track to accomplish that, but he still has many miles to go before he is done.

You can follow Chris' progress on the Legacies Alive Facebook page. I wish him luck on the remainder of the journey and hope he gets to the finish line at Mile Marker 0 safe and sound.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Kuriki Preparing for Another Attempt on Everest

Yesterday I – and a number of other outlets –  posted the news that Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki had abandoned his attempt to summit Everest over the weekend, and was now preparing to leave the mountain altogether. That seems to have been a bit premature however, as we have news today that he has not left Base Camp at all, and is preparing to launch another summit push later this week.

At the moment, Kuriki is said to be in good physical condition, and is resting in BC. His most recent summit attempt was thwarted by deep snows, which caused him to have to turn back due to slow going while breaking trail. The hope is that conditions will be better this time around, allowing the solo climber, who is going up without supplemental oxygen, to move faster and gain access to the summit.

According to Kuriki's expedition manager he is now preparing to leave Base Camp on Thursday, October 1. That means that if he can hold to the schedule, Nobukazu will be looking to top out on Sunday or Monday of next week. Hopefully the conditions won't be quite so dangerous on this ascent, and he'll have the weather window he needs to finish the climb safely. I will of course be following very closely.

Elsewhere, the Alpenglow team on Makalu is still on the move, and climbing up the mountain. The weather is said to be quite good there at the moment, and they hope to top out tomorrow, and then make the first full ski descent of the mountain. There hasn't been a lot of updates from the team since they left BC on Sunday, but we should expect to get an update tomorrow or Thursday. Hopefully it brings good news of their success.

Finally, Ueli Steck and Colin Haley are somewhere in the Khumbu Valley. The duo last checked in from Namche Bazaar, and should be continuing on the trail to Nuptse, the 7861 meters (25,791 ft) peak that will be their target for the fall climbing season. The plan is to attempt the very difficult Babanov route, which was pioneered by Russian climbers Valeri Babanov and Yuri Koshelenko back in 2003, and hasn't been repeated since. Ueli and Colin hope to follow that route to the summit once again.

With most of the major commercial teams now departing Manaslu, the Himalaya are about to get a lot quieter. Still, there should be some interesting climbs to follow in the days ahead, so I'll keep you posted on all of the action.

Nepal to Place Climbing Restrictions on Everest?

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

The Guardian is reporting that Nepal will begin limiting access to Mt. Everest, possibly as early as the next climbing season in the spring of 2016. According to the article, government officials in the Himalayan country are looking to improve safety on the mountain, and one of the ways they plan to do that is to require all climbers to have previously summited a mountain taller that 6500 meters (21,235 ft). Officials have also said that permits would not be issued to the very young, or very old, although exactly what those age limits are remains unclear. The ban would also apply to those who are "disabled" as well.

We've seen Nepal attempt to place restrictions on the mountain before, particularly when it comes to age. After Jordan Romero summited Everest back in 2010 at the age of 13, there was a movement afoot to prevent other young children from going to the mountain. At the time, Nepal announced that no one under the age of 18 would be allowed to climb, and that older climbers would be evaluated to determine their level of fitness. Tibet followed suit with similar restrictions, but for the most part these limits have never been enforced all that closely. No one as young as Jordan has climbed the mountain, but there have been other teenagers that have gone there.

According to The Guardian, these latest restrictions would continue to ban anyone under 18 from climbing Everest, as well as anyone over the age of 75. It would also ban those with physical disabilities, such as amputees or blind climber Erik Weihenmayer, who successfully summited back in 2001. These rules would have little impact on the large number of people who attempt to climb the tallest mountain on the planet however, as very few climbers actually fall into those categories.

Of perhaps more importance is the potential ban on inexperienced climbers, which would likely be widely supported in mountaineering circles. That could limit the number of people on the mountain, but if Nepal were truly serious about making Everest safer they would require that all climbers attempting the mountain would first summit an 8000 meter peak. That isn't likely to happen however, as that would substantially limit the number of climbers, and could eat into the government's bottom line. After all, Nepal makes millions of dollars a year off of selling Everest permits alone.

It is also easy to see how these restrictions could be a knee jerk reaction to the two disasters that have occurred in successive years on Everest. In 2014, an avalanche claimed the lives of 16 porters climbing just above Base Camp, and 2015 the Nepali earthquake killed 18 more climbers. But honestly, these new rules would have had no impact on those two incidences at all. So, while these moves could improve overall safety on the mountain, they aren't going to have a substantial impact.

That said, I applaud any efforts by the Nepali government to make things safer on Everest. The issue here is that these rules don't go far enough. If tourism officials there want to get serious, they should enforce even tougher requirements. Unfortunately, that isn't likely to happen, as the government is still driven by the almighty dollar first and foremost. This is especially true post-earthquake when the economy there truly needs a boost.

It remains to be seen if these restrictions will even be put into place, or if they'd have much of an impact at all. At least there is a discussion about improving safety on Everest however, and that is at least a good place to start.

Video: A Tour of Nepal

Shot over a one-month period, this video takes us to Nepal, where viewers get a chance to experience everything from the backstreets of Kathmandu, to the remote regions in the Himalaya Mountains. The five minute clip provides a wonderful sense of the country, spotlighting not only its beautiful landscapes, but its amazing people as well. It's no secret that there is a major push to get travelers to return to Nepal this fall, and this video is as good of an enticement as any.

Nepal 2015 from Dave Dworkind on Vimeo.

Video: A Precision Wingsuit Flight for Your Daily Adrenaline Rush

We have been overdue for a good wingsuit flight video, but this one certainly makes up for lost time. It features Graham Dickinson and Dario Zanon flying through the Alps, which is of course a common theme in these types of clips. But what will amaze you as how close the get to the ground, and how they actually fly below the height of the trees, expertly maneuvering in and out of a forest on the slopes of the mountain. The video is a mere 52 seconds in length, but it'll give you the adrenaline rush you need for the day.

Everest Not Big at the Box Office

This past weekend the film Everest opened wide at the box office, expanding from its limited release in IMAX theaters last week, to more than 3000 screens nationwide this week. There were some predictions that indicated the film would pull in big money, luring in theater goers with its well known cast (Josh Brolin, Kiera Knightly, Jake Gyllenhaal), beautiful cinematography, and compelling story. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and the move ended up underperforming at the box-office.

For the weekend, Everest ended up pulling in just over $13 million, which put it in fourth place overall, and well behind the top grossing film Hotel Transylvania 2, which earned $47.5 million. That bring's Everest's total gross to date to about $23.1 million so far, which is well below what the filmmakers behind the project had hoped for.

The movie had a budget of $55 million, which means after two weekends in theaters it hasn't even reached the halfway point of making that money back yet. Conventional wisdom generally says that a film must make three times its budget to be considered successful. That's because the budget doesn't take into account marketing costs, and theaters showing the film will get a slice of the action too of course. 

That said, Everest is likely to at least break even when you take into account rentals, as well as DVD and digital sales of the film. But sadly, this probably means we won't be seeing Hollywood rush to make any more mountaineering films anytime soon. Despite having a few flaws, this was one of the better movies I've seen in terms of getting the climbing aspects of the film right. After seeing it last week on an IMAX screen, I had hoped that we might see a other mountaineering flicks in the same vein. That is to say, films that told a good story, featured amazing cinematography, and treated the source material with respect. That could still happen, but in the copy-cat world of Hollywood that doesn't seem likely considering the low numbers for Everest at the box office. 

If you have any interest in seeing the film, I'd urge you to try to catch it soon. Its box-office earnings are only likely to drop off further from here, which means it will start to be removed from screens, and have fewer showings probably as early as next week. The fall movie season is typically a slow one however, so chance are it'll hang around for a bit. Still, the movie industry is a fickle one, and when a film doesn't do well, theaters are quick to cut their losses and move on. 

Gear Closet: Osprey FlapJack Travel Pack

Looking for a new backpack for your daily commute or for traveling? Need a bag that can safely carry all of your gear, while providing quick and easy access to all of the stuff inside? Than Osprey most definitely has you covered with their newly updated FlapJack Pack, which deftly mixes the company's vast experience with outdoor products with a great sense of design and functionality.

The FlapJack has been around for a number of years now, and has proved to be a good choice for commuters and travelers. But the line of packs and courier bags gets an update for the fall of 2015 that brings a cleaner, more modern design to the product, as well as new materials that are built to resist moisture, while protecting the contents of the bag more fully. The new FlapJack Pack feels more durable than in the past, which allows it to resist the rigors of daily use more fully. Putting this pack to the test, I get the sense that it can easily stand up to the challenges it'll face with frequent use, which something I value as a frequent traveler.

The interior of the pack is well designed too, providing plenty of space to bring everything you need with you. A large laptop sleeve ensures that my computer is safe and well protected, while a secondary sleeve is perfect for holding my tablet too. There is even a third interior pocket that comes equipped with a zipper, which is perfect for holding important paperwork. The volumes main compartment also has room for a light jacket, power cables, a camera, or just about anything else you might need to take with you on your excursions.

The storage options ont he FlapJack Pack don't end there however. A zippered external compartment on the front opens to reveal a nicely designed organizational space complete with key-clip, penholders, and other pockets meant to hold small items. A secure zip-pocket located under the low-profile handle on the top of the bag is great for holding a smartphone or other small valuables you want to keep close at hand, while a water bottle holder along one side is a welcome touch too. The opposite side of the pack even has a deep zippered pocket for carrying other items with ease.

All of these pockets, compartments, and sleeves come in very handy. Not only do they make it easy to keep all of the items you carry with you well organized, they also ensure that every thing has its own designated place. That comes in very handy when you're looking for something specific, as the FlapJack Pack probably has a place meant just for that item. Carrying this bag around kept me well organized while on the move, and made accessing all of the stuff inside a breeze.

It's definitely no secret that I'm a fan of Osprey packs, and I'm glad to see the company's same high quality approach and attention to detail in this bag. The zippers, buckles, straps, and belts are exactly what you'd expect from a backpack made by Osprey, which is to say they are durable, tough, and built to last. Of course, the entire pack is also backed by the All Mighty Guarantee, which means Osprey will repair or replace the FlapJack as long as you own it.

After testing the FlapJack Pack recently, it is safe to say that I have a new favorite travel pack. It is exactly what I need on my regular travels, with the perfect size to carry all of my important gear with me when I hit the road. It is also durable and versatile, two qualities that I look for in just about any product that I use. Add in the fact that it provides a high level of organization, and it is tough to find anything to not like about this bag. And if you're someone who needs to lug a laptop around with you on a daily commute, or finds yourself hitting the road often for, I think you'll agree. This is a pack that is built to fit those needs well, and it accomplishes that mission admirably.

The new FlapJack Pack is available in four colors, and should be arriving in stores now with an MSRP of $110. If you prefer the messenger bag design instead, the new FlapJack Courier sells for $100, is is also shipping now as well.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Kuriki Ends Everest Expedition, Teams Turned Back on Manaslu

As expected, it was a busy weekend in the Himalaya, where a number of teams had hoped to make summit bids on their respective mountains. But weather conditions there continue to be unpredictable, and success has remained elusive.

We'll start todays update with news from Everest. Last week, Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki moved up the Lhotse Face in an attempt to get himself into position for a summit push this past weekend. But Kuriki was forced to abandon that attempt at an altitude of around 7700 meters (25,262 feet), turning back due to deep snow on the route up the mountain. He said that the snow slowed his progress greatly, and would not have allowed him time to safely get up and down from the summit. So, he wisely chose to turn around.

You may recall that Kuriki has attempted Everest in the past, and his last expedition in 2012 ended in disaster. The young Japanese climber became stranded at altitude and had to be assisted down by a team of Sherpas. This resulted in him losing parts of nine of his fingers due to frostbite. I'm sure memories of that difficult climb still remain, and he didn't want to chance another dangerous push to higher altitudes.

It now appears that the first attempt to summit Everest following the April 25 earthquake has come to an end. All indications are that Kuriki, who was climbing without supplemental oxygen, has decided to go home. We'll now have to wait until the spring of 2016 for regular climbing operations to resume.

Meanwhile, a number of teams climbing Manaslu had set this weekend for their summit bids too, but once again poor weather put a halt to those efforts. Heavy snow fell on the mountain over the past few days, making it difficult to make any kind of progress above Camp 4. The Altitude Junkies and Himex teams were leading the way, with their Sherpas fixing lines for everyone else to follow. But the conditions were so poor higher up on the mountain that they were forced to abandon those efforts, and in the process ending any chance of reaching the top – at least for now.

Both of those squads have now decided to call it quits and head home for the season. The danger of avalanches has grown quite high, and deep snow is making it a challenge to break trail. With both Himex and the Altitude Junkies departing the mountain, the remaining teams will have to find a way to install the ropes. There aren't many teams left with the resources to pull that off, so we will likely see other teams leaving too. For instance, the Adventure Consultants said they will pull out and head home, as have the Amical Alpin team.

While the summit push was underway this weekend, one of the Sherpas from Himex fell into a crevasse after a snow bridge he was crossing collapsed. He was rescued and flown back to Kathamdnu, where he is now resting comfortably. His injuries are not life threatening, and he should be back on his feet soon.

Over on Makalu things are starting to look up. The Alpenglow team has received the green light for a go at the summit, as a weather window is expected to open over the next few days. They set off for Camp 2 yesterday, are expected to move up to C3 today, and go higher tomorrow. If everything unfolds as expected, they could make a summit push as early as Wednesday. After that, they hope to make the first full ski descent of the mountain. Stand by for updates on their progress.

Finally, Alan Arnette has posted that a small team of climbers is on the move on Dhaulagiri. The squad has gone as high as 7000 meters as part of their acclimatization rotations, but it looks like they're heading back to Base Camp for now. The team appears to be the only one on the mountain this fall. We'll watch for future updates on their progress as well.

Reminder: Everest Opens Everywhere This Weekend

Just a quick reminder to everyone that the new film Everest goes into wide release in the U.S. and other parts of the world this weekend. The film, which starts Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, and Jake Gyllenhaal, tell the story of the infamous 1996 climbing season on the world's highest mountain. The film debuted in IMAX theaters last weekend, but will now be showing on hundreds more screens starting today.

If you haven't read my review on the film yet, you'll find it by clicking here. You can also watch the trailer for it below. If you're still undecided about seeing the film, I'd say that if you are a regular reader of this blog, and enjoy the mountaineering coverage I provide, it is worth it for you to check the movie out in the theater. The cinematography alone make for quite an experience on the big screen.

Video: Surfing Trails in Bali

The Indonesian island of Bali is largely known as a tropical paradise with some amazing surfing opportunities. But, it turns out it has some fantastic mountain biking as well as you'll see in this beautiful video. The riders in the 3+ minute clip shred single track, plummet down the side of a volcano, and generally find surprisingly good places to ride wherever they go. I doubt that mountain biking will supplant surfing as a top adventure sport in Bali anytime soon, but it is nice to know that there are opportunities available there.

::: SURFING TRAILS - IN BALI from ION on Vimeo.

Gear Closet: LuminAid PackLite 16 Inflatable Light

If you're a lover of outdoor gear like me, you have to realize that we're living in a great time in terms of the products that are available to us. Not only are many of the major gear manufacturers making some of the best boots, packs, tents, and sleeping bags ever, there are a number of smaller companies that are producing really interesting and innovative stuff as well. Take for example the LuminAid Packlite 16, an inflatable light that is designed to go with you anywhere, and provide plenty of light along the way.

In terms of what we typically look for in an outdoor gear product, the Packlite has it all. As its name implies, it is incredibly lightweight, tipping the scales at just 2.9 ounces. It also packs down to a small footprint, taking up very little room in your backpack, and it is powered by an integrated solar panel that allows it to produce up to 30 hours of light on a single charge.

Made from a surprisingly durable TPU material, the Packlite is essentially an inflatable bag that contains LED lights, a solar panel, and not much more. While not inflated it measures 8.5" x 12" in dimension, but can be easily folded up and stuffed in a pocket on your pack or even your pants. When fully inflated, it creates a lantern that can be easily carried around or hung from a guy line to provide illumination in your tent or around your campsite.

The light has four settings: low, high, extra bright, and flashing. On its highest brightness level it is capable of putting off 65 lumens, with a burn time of around 6 hours. On high it can achieve 10 hours or light, and on low it will reach the aforementioned 30 hours of burn time. Recharging takes just 7 hours of exposure to the sun using the built-in solar panel. A small light on the outside of the Packlite serves as a battery indicator, letting you know when it is time to make sure you power it up once again.

On top of that, the Packlite 16 is waterproof to help protect it from the elements, and it can even float on water. This helps to make it a versatile product that you can carry with you on your outdoor adventures without fear of it being easily destroyed.

I'm impressed with the design and function of this light. It packs a lot of innovation into a small product, which is very affordable ($24.95), easy to carry, and very useful in the field. LuminAid says that the Packlite is capable of 10,000+ hours of light over the life of the product, and it can sit on your shelf for two years without losing its charge. That means that it should be ready to go when you are, and it makes it a good option for a lantern to keep around in case of emergency.

If you're looking for something that looks a bit more like a traditional lantern, LuminAid has you covered there too. Their Packlite 12 and Packlite Spectra models have much of the same functionality as the Packlite 16, but resemble a lantern, complete with square design and a handle to carry them around.

These make great products for camping trips, travel, or just for use in the backyard. It is tough to beat the versatility and price, and I have been pleasantly surprised with the overall design and performance. They'll even make great stocking stuffers for the outdoor enthusiasts in your life during the holiday season ahead. Pick one up for yourself while you're at it, as I think you'll find it to be as handy to have around as I do.

Mountaineer and Ultra-Runner Ben Clark Attempting Nolan's 14 This Weekend

Mountaineer and ultra-runner Ben Clark is once again gearing up to face a challenge that has proved to be more difficult than summiting Everest. Today, Ben has launched another attempt to complete the Nolan's 14 endurance challenge, an incredibly tough endeavor that has eluded him in the past, and has become one of the benchmarks for long distance ultra-running over the past couple of years.

To complete Nolan's Challenge a runner must reach the summit of 14 different mountains in Colorado's Sawatch Range between Mt. Massive and Mt. Shavano. The route they pick between those two mountains is entirely of their own choosing, and they can begin or end on either peak as well. This versatility and freedom is part of what makes Nolan's great, as it allows the runner to approach the challenge any way they like, but in order to get official credit for completing the challenge, they must finish in 60 hours. During that time, they'll cover a distance of about 100 miles (160 km).

This isn't the first time Ben has attempted Nolan's, as we have followed several of his attempts in the past. Most of those attempts were ended by poor – sometimes potentially dangerous – weather, which only helps to underscore another one of the obstacles that must be overcome for an endurance athlete to have a chance and completing the route.

Nolan's 14 gained wider exposure earlier this summer when Anna Frost and Missy Gosney were successful in their attempt back in August. But controversy soon followed when a debate broke out on where exactly the challenge ends – the summit of the final peek or the trailhead. The ladies apparently celebrated too long at the end of their run, and didn't reach the trailhead until after the 60 hour time cut-off. I'm sure if Ben reaches that point, he'll be sure to leave little room for questions on whether or not he was successful. (For the record, the rules on this unofficial Nolan's 14 page say that it is 60 hours to the final summit.)

I want to with Ben good luck on this latest attempt. I hope he finally knocks of this challenge. It is one that he has been working on for some time, and has even made a film about. You can check out the trailer for the film below to get a better sense of what Nolan's 14 is all about.

Nolan's 14 from Pheonix and Ash Productions on Vimeo.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Kuriki Moves Up on Everest, Manaslu Summit Bids Begin

There is more news to share from the Himalaya today, as the weekend ahead starts to shape up as a very busy one. The weather still remains a major concern, but several teams are now putting themselves in a position to make their final push to the summit on their respective mountains as a potentially good window opens at long last.

Today we'll start on Everest, where Nobukazu Kuriki has shared his plan for the next few days. The Japanese climber isn't posting too many details about his solo climb of the tallest mountain on the planet, but he is updating his schedule to keep us informed of his progress and where he is headed. Today, Nobu will push up from Camp 3 at 7000 meters (22,965 ft) to Camp 4 located at 7600-7700 meters (24,934 ft - 25,262 ft). From there, it seems he plans to spend a day in C4 resting, regaining his strength, and preparing his gear. If all goes according to plan, he'll launch his summit bid on Sunday, with the hopes of completing the climb then. We wish him the best of luck in this effort, and hope that he gets up and down safely.

The weekend is shaping up to be a busy one on Manaslu too, where a number of commercial squads are now preparing to make their final push to the top as well. The Altitude Junkies, Himex, and Mountain Experience teams have all targeted tomorrow – Saturday, Sept. 26 – as their summit day. That means they should be in position later today, and will be setting off early to reach the top. Amongst them will be Nick Cienski of the 6 Summits Challenge expedition. You may recall that earlier this year Nick announced plans to climb six 8000 meter peaks in a single year. But the Nepal earthquake on April 25 put an end to all attempts in the spring, and the exceptionally poor weather in the Karakoram this summer turned back his efforts there as well. Now, he's hoping to bag Manaslu, and end a bit of his frustration.

Meanwhile, other teams seem to be eyeing the summit of Manaslu early next week. The Adventure Consultants plan to launch their attempt tomorrow, which will put them on track to top out on Monday or Tuesday depending on the weather and the strength of the team. Other squads are likely to follow suit.

On Makalu the Alpenglow team continues to wait in Base Camp for another opportunity to move up. After getting turned back by extremely cold temperatures and waist deep snow above 7620 meters (25,000 ft), they are currently regrouping and waiting for another shot at the summit. The plan is to top out, and then make the first full ski descent of the mountain. Hopefully they'll get their shot again starting sometime next week.

Finally, Ueli Steck and Colin Haley arrived in Nepal and are already on their way to Nuptse for a challenging climb. The duo checked in from Namche Bazaar where they report poor weather in Khumbu. They seem unconcerned so far however, as they are just starting their trek and will take the time to acclimatize. Ueli also reports that Namche is very quiet, with few tourists in the area. That could be an ominous sign for the tourism industry there as we head into the normally busy fall trekking season.

That's it for now. Watch for updates on Monday with news on summit attempts. Hopefully all will go well this weekend.

Video: Switzerland in Timelapse and 4K

With all of my regular postings about the Himalaya, Andes, and other far flung places it is often easy to forget just how beautiful Europe can be as well. This video is a good reminder. Shot in the southern Swiss Alps, it is a timelapse video that captures the landscapes landscapes found there in dramatic fashion. Sit back and enjoy, this one is definitely worth the trip.

Switzerland 4K | Timelapse from One Lidless Eye on Vimeo.

Video: Rare Rhino Calves Caught on Video

It is well known that rhino populations across the globe have seen significant declines over the past few decades, mostly due to illegal poaching. In fact, there has been little good news in the rhino conservation department for quite some time. But now, the World Wide Fund for nature (WWF) has released this great video which was captured by a camera trap on Java. It features an extremely rare female rhino with a baby in tow. Better yet, there have been three calves spotted in the Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park in recent months, and the population there has risen to 60 animals, twice what it was just a few decades ago. That is cause for celebration, although these animals are far from out of the woods just yet. Still, it is great to see them starting to edge back from the brink of extinction.

Video: Meet Sufferpup, the Dog that Climbers Cedar Wright and Alex Honnold Rescued On An Expedition

Cedar Wright and Alex Honnold are two of the best climbers around. They have teamed up on numerous expeditions, including an attempt to climb all 15 of the highest peaks in California. While out on one of those trips they came across and abandoned puppy, and since they tend to label their expeditions as "sufferfests" they dubbed the dog "Sufferpup." The adorable creature latched on to the two men, and hung with them throughout the journey. Now, he's all grown up, but this video gives  you a glimpse of when they first met.

All-Female Team Summit Unclimbed Peak in Zanskar Region of India

Alpinist has a great story up about a team of three female climbers who traveled to the remote Zanskar region of India this summer to attempt an unclimbed peak. The women discovered a place that is beautiful, very wild, and mostly unexplored. They also found success along the way.

The team consisted of Rachel Spitzer, Lisa Van Sciver, and Anna Pfaff, who originally set out with a specific peak in mind but quickly had to shift objectives when they discovered that they were in the wrong valley, and the peak they had come looking for was nowhere in sight. But, they found plenty of other challenges all around them, and set off to take on a mountain called Tare Parvat instead.

You can read all of the details on their ascent at Alpinist, but suffice as to say it was a grand adventure. The trio of climbers had to overcome a 600 meter (1968 ft) rock wall to reach the top, a route they completed in alpine style and without the use of bolts. When they did top out, they named the new route Unattached and celebrated their success in suitable fashion on September 5.

The story isn't remarkable because it was an expedition of three female climbers. There are plenty of great women exploring the mountains all over the planet. It is remarkable because there are so many places like this remote valley in Zanskar that have yet to be explored, with lots of unclimbed peaks to overcome. Sure, the Himalaya gets most of the attention, and everyone wants to bag one of the 8000 meter mountains. But there is still plenty of challenge and joy to be had in these places where hardly anyone goes, and true exploration is still part of the process.

Congratulations to Rachel, Lisa, and Anna on a fantastic and successful expedition.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Turned Back on Makalu, Moving Up on Everest

The fall climbing season continues to unfold in the Himalaya where teams have been pressing ahead with their expeditions despite the challenging weather. While some are stuck in Base Camp at the moment, others are on the move and hoping to make progress over the next few days.

We'll start today's update on Makalu where the mountain has turned back a summit bid from the Alpenglow squad. According to the team's most recent dispatch, the team was in Camp 3 at 7467 meters (24,500 ft) after discovering waist deep snow, white conditions, and fresh avalanche activity above that point. The five member group was hoping to top out and make a ski descent of the mountain, but they weren't even able to reach Camp 4. They have since descended and are waiting for a better weather window before trying again.

Meanwhile, over on Everest, solo Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki has updated his blog to share his movements. While no details are shared, it does appear that he'll climb up from Camp 2 to Camp 3 today, putting him at 7000 meters (22,965 ft). Whether or not he feels acclimatized enough to move up to C4 remains to be seen, but if he does, we could be looking at a summit attempt this weekend, weather permitting of course.

The Adventure Consultants have checked in from Manaslu, where the team is now in BC and resting for their upcoming summit bids. They expect to start heading up the mountain on Saturday which would put them in position to top out early next week.

The Himex team appears to be a bit ahead of that schedule. They plan on summiting on Saturday instead. This tells us that the weather must be stable on Manaslu at the moment, with a wide weather window open. In Base Camp, conditions have been less than ideal, but the forecast says things are better up top. So, they'll set out for the summit and hope for the best.

The Altitude Junkies are on the same schedule, and will be joining in on the fun, as their Sherpas are working closely with Himex and the Mountain Experience to get fixed ropes into place. According to their update, the weather is far from settled, and the teams are taking a bit of a gamble that things will work out. But if the gamble pays off, they'll all summit this weekend.

Finally, Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters have returned to Kathmandu after making the first ascent of the 6000 meter Jabo Ri. The duo are preparing to head home now after their successful expedition, but couldn't leave town without first checking in with Ms. Elizabeth Hawley to share the details of their expedition. Their climb was proof that there is plenty still to do in the big mountains, as there are literally dozens of unclimbed peaks waiting to be explored.

That's it for today. I'll be keeping a close eye on summit bids over the next few days. Hopefully we'll have news of success very soon.

Video: Snapshot of the Wakhan Corridor

The Wakhan Corridor is a remote region in the Pamir Mountains that falls along the border of Afghanistan, and runs to China, forming a buffer zone between Tajikistan and Pakistan. It is wild place that remains well off the beaten path, and far from any typical tourist destinations. It is also one of the places that I would most like to visit. In this video, we get a glimpse of this far off place as an adventurous traveler rides through the area on an epic cycling journey. Enjoy the ride through this place that few outsiders ever get to see.

Snapshot Wakhan from Blanche on Vimeo.

Video: What Happens When Kilian Jornet Meets Karl Egloff

Kilian Jornet is widely considered to be the best alpine runner in the world, setting all kinds of records on big mountains across the planet. On the other hand, Karl Egloff is the guy who is most often breaking those records. What happens when these two men meet? Why, they go for a run of course? Check it out in the video below.

The Pursuit Zone Adventure Podcast Reaches 100 Episodes

Looking for another source of adventure new and inspiration? Than checkout The Pursuit Zone  a podcast dedicated to all of the things we love to talk about here at The Adventure Blog as well. The show debuted back in 2013, and has been going strong ever since. In fact, it just reached a major milestone by releasing its 100th episode. 

Recent guests on The Pursuit Zone have included Dave and Amy Freeman, who just launched their year of living in the wilderness of the Boundary Waters, adventurer Angelo Wilkie-Page, who is circumnavigating the planet under his own power, and Sarah Outen who is nearing the end of her round the world adventure as well. 

Common topics on the show include mountaineering, hiking, paddling, trail running, and a lot more. Like I said, The Pursuit Zone covers a lot of the same territory that we love so much here at this blog, it just happens to present it an audio format. You can add it to your iTunes library by clicking here

Congratulations to host Paul Schmid for putting together such a well done podcast, and for reaching the 100-show milestone. Well done and keep up the great work. 

13 Travel and Language Blogs You Should Be Reading

A company called SC Travel Adventures has compiled a list of 13 travel and language blogs that they feel we should all be reading. The list contains a number of suggestions of websites that offer practical travel advice, insights into fantastic places, and ideas on how to travel smarter. For some reason, they've even deemed this little corner of the web as being worthy of inclusion on their list. Yep, that's right, The Adventure Blog has earned a mention alongside some other terrific sites that worth worth taking a look at. 

Amongst the websites that get a mention are personal blogs from travel writers such as Susan Shain and Ryan Barry, as well as sites dedicated to getting you Off Track. There are sites that will inspire you to travel the world, and others that will encourage you to see adventure in your own back yard. Others will help you get started on your travels, while others will invite you to explore the world with them. It is a very diverse offering, and I'm honored to be listed amongst them.

If you're looking for new websites to inspire your own travels, give the list a look. It has more than a few that will probably strike a chord with you thanks to their engaging content. Not all of them share the same sense of adventure that we do here, but they all have their own things to offer, which helps to set them apart from the crowd. 

Thanks to SC Travel for including me on the list. I'm glad I can provide a bit of inspiration for adventure from time to time. 

Couple Begins Year of Living in the Boundary Waters

Back in July I told you about Dave and Amy Freeman's plan to spend one year living in the wilderness in an attempt to raise awareness about challenges to the environment in Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota. The couple are hoping to rally support to prevent sulfide mining from taking place too close to the Boundary Waters, which could have a potentially dramatic impact on the region. Today, the Freemans – who are former National Geographic Adventurers of the Year – will set off on their 365 day adventure with the hopes of saving the place they love.

Dave and Amy will be joined by a gathering of family, friends, and supporters who will join them for the start of their journey. A flotilla of canoes and kayaks are expected to escort them into the Boundary Waters following a brief discussion about their why they are embarking on this expedition. They plan to set off from Ely, Minnesota at about 2:15 PM local time.

In the weeks and months ahead, the couple will travel on foot, by canoe, and dogsled as they explore northern Minnesota's remote and rugged wilderness area. They will make regular dispatches from the field, and will share their findings about the potential impact of sulfide mining on the region. While those mines haven't opened just yet, the leases have been granted and operations are expected to begin soon. It is believed that pollution from those mines will flow directly into the boundary waters, spoiling the pristine environment that currently exists there. You can find out more about this project at

This isn't the first time Dave and Amy have embarked on a long expedition. In the past, the couple have traveled across North America under their own power, covering some 11,000 miles (17,700 km) and more recently they paddled to Washington D.C. to protest the sulfide mines as well. Spending a year living in the wilderness will simply be their latest challenge, and one that they hope will have an impact on a part of the world that means a great deal to them.

Find out more about this project in the video below.

A Year in the Wilderness - Bear Witness from Save The BWCA on Vimeo.

Video: More Than Just Parks Project - Visiting Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park, located in northern California, is home to the magnificent trees from which it derives its name. But it is also home to a stunningly diverse number of wildlife species, as well as a surprising array of landscapes that include lush forests, beautiful coastline, and rocky cliffs. This video is the latest from the More Than Just Parks project, the brainchild of brothers Will and Jim Pattiz who are working to shoot a video of each of America's national parks. This is their fourth video of the project, and each of them has been stunning. Hopefully you'll love this one as much as i do.

MTJP | Redwood from More Than Just Parks on Vimeo.

Video: Face to Face with Ueli Steck

As I write this, Swiss climber Ueli Steck is on his way to Nepal to attempt the very difficult ascent of Nuptse along the Babanov route. In this video, you get to know Ueli a bit more and learn about his philosophy of going solo, as well as a light and fast, in the mountains. He won't be taking on Nuptse by himself, he'll be joined by American Colin Haley, but that climb will require considerable patience and skill. Ueli gained those skills as a young man climbing the Swiss Alps, and today he is amongst the best alpinists in the world. Find out why thanks to this clip from our friends at Suunto.

Video: GoPro Highlights From the 2015 La Vuelta a España

One of the best parts of this year's Tour de France was the fact that many of the riders had GoPro cameras strapped to their bikes. This allowed GoPro to assemble some amazing highlights from the race, which showed the action as we've never seen it before. Now, they've done the same thing with clips from the Vuelta a España – the Tour of Spain – as well. The 23-day long race was won by Fabio Aru, and this video will show you what it was like out on the road, complete with crashes, close calls, and fantastic riding. Enjoy.

Gear Closet: Hi-Tec V-Lite Flash Force Low Hiking Shoes

Now that fall is officially upon us, and the cooler weather of that season has returned, it is definitely time to head back outside and enjoy your favorite trail once again. This is particularly true as the autumn colors begin to tinge the tops of the trees in shades of gold and crimson. If you're in need of a new hiking shoe to comfortably see you through the season ahead – and beyond – than look no further than the new V-Lite Flash Force Low from Hi-Tec, a boot that offers a high level of comfort to go along with a wide variety of features designed to keep your foot protected out on the trail.

New for Hi-Tec's Spring 2016 collection, the V-Lite Flash will actually be available later this fall. The shoe is a real eye-catcher with its vibrant colors and aggressive Vibram outsole that is designed to maintain traction in a wide variety of terrains, including wet, slippery surfaces. Despite what appears to be a very dense sole, these shoes remain quite light. While they won't compete with a trail runner in terms of weight of course, they are still a lightweight alternative that offers better traction and all-around protection for the foot.

Hi-Tec has also integrated Vibram's RollinGait system into this shoe, which is designed to roll with the natural movement of the foot. This not only improves the comfort of the shoe, but reduces fatigue over time. As a result, you should be able to wear these shoes for longer periods of time, and over rough terrain, without your feet and legs getting quite so tired.

The shoe's upper is will remind you a lot more of a trail running shoe rather than a hiking boot. The synthetic fabrics are designed to breathe, helping to keep the foot cooler while out on a hike. Those fabrics are also easy to keep clean, shrugging off dirt and mud with ease. Despite these features however, I found my feet getting quite warm in them while testing. So much so that I found that in the hot conditions of the summer my feet were actually getting a little too warm, which makes me think the Flash Force shoes are better suited for cooler temperatures of the fall, and possibly even the winter, at least for me personally.

Overly warm feet aside, these are some extremely comfortable hikers to wear on the trail. The Ortholite insert that Hi-Tec includes with the Flash Force feel great on the foot, and they are also designed to improve your recovery following a long day on the trail. That same insert has anti-odor and anti-microbial properties, which meant that even though my feet were overly warm at times, my shoes didn't end up smelling horribly after a long hike. In fact, after putting these shoes to test in the field on numerous occasions, they still look like they just came out of the box, which is a testament to how well they handle wear and tear.

When I met with Hi-Tec at Outdoor Retailer last month, I was impressed with how great these low-cut hiking shoes felt on my feet. That same feeling continued after I received my pair to test as well, and they only got more comfortable after a short break in period. The lacing system on the Flash Force allow you to make them as snug as you'd like, while the overall fit and design cradle my feet perfectly, keeping them very comfortable even when walking on uneven, rocky terrain. And the athletic design of the shoe makes it easy to move fast on the trail as well, without your legs and feet feeling overly fatigued later. All qualities that I greatly appreciate in a good hiking shoe.

I'm looking forward to breaking these shoes out even more in the cooler months ahead. Other than them being a bit overly warm for summer hiking, they are a fantastic shoe in every other way. And I suspect as the season grows colder, I'll actually come to appreciate that warmth quite a bit.

If you're in the market for a new pair of light hiking shoes, and you want something with more of an athletic look, than the V-Lite Flash Force boots just might be exactly what you're looking for. I can't stress enough just how comfortable they are to wear, and how impressed I am with their overall build quality. This feels like a shoe that can accompany you on many hikes, and still continue to maintain their support, traction, and good looks.

The Flash Force will begin shipping this fall with an MSRP of $140. That is a highly competitive price for a shoe that offers so much performance. Check them out when you get the chance. I think you'll like what you find.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Update From Everest!

Yesterday I shared some updates from around Nepal on the ongoing climbing season there. Poor weather is expected in the mountains once again this week, so chances are there will be little movement over the next few days. But, we do have news from Everest, were the lone Japanese climber is now getting ready to his first attempt at reaching the summit.

According to this story from the Himalayan Times, the Icefall Doctors are working very hard to maintain the route through the treacherous Khumbu Icefall. As usual, that stretch the mountain is proving very tricky, but their efforts are helping to earn them the money they need to rebuild their houses following the April 25 earthquake.

The docs are working in support of Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki, who is reportedly now on the move on Everest, despite fresh snowfall across the region. According to the article linked above, Kuriki was expected to climb up to Camp 2 yesterday with a support team in tow. From there, he plans to climb to C3 today, then on to Camp 4 tomorrow, with the intention of launching his summit bid from that point on Thursday. If all goes as expected, he could top out and be back down by Friday.

But, as Alan Arnette points out in his latest blog post, it would be very unusual for someone who hasn't fully acclimatized to go straight for the summit. Kuriki did warm up on nearby Lbouche, but only went as high as 20,000 feet (6096 meters). In order for his body to be ready for the challenges it'll face above 8000 meters (26,246 ft), he really should make one more high altitude rotation, then return to Base Camp for a rest, before setting out for the summit.

There were some indications that the Japanese climber had gone up the mountain last week, so perhaps he completed a rotation at that point. We'll just have to wait to see how he performs over the next few days.

Meanwhile, Swiss climber Ueli Steck is setting off for Nepal today. He, along with climbing partner Colin Haley, will be attempting the very difficult Babanov route on Nuptse, a 7804 meter (25,603 ft) peak that is another popular mountain in the Himalaya. The Babanov route hasn't been done since it was first completed by Russian climbers Valeri Babanov and Yuri Koshelenko back in 2003 however, something Steck and Haley are hoping to change. Expect to hear a lot more about that expedition in the days ahead.

That's it for today. Now we wait and watch Everest to see how Kuriki does. Good luck to him on this summit bid. Hopefully he gets up and down safely.

Video: The Wild Kimberley Region of Australia

Remote and wild, the Kimberley region of Australia was first settled by aboriginals over 40,000 years ago. Today, that place remains a destination that is beautiful and pristine, with some of the most spectacular landscapes that you could ever hope to see. This video takes us into the heart of the Kimberley area, showing us why it is a special place. If you haven't been there yet, this clip will more than likely make you want to go. Enjoy.

Wild Kimberley from Richard Sidey on Vimeo.

Video: Slacklining on a Mountain Bike

Here's a good way to jump start your week. This video features mountain bike rider Kenny Belaey as he rides a bike 112 meters (367 ft) over a slackline suspended 2700 meters (8858 ft) above the ground in the French Alps. It is a white knuckle ride to say the least, and is almost guaranteed to get your heart pumping.

Colorado Trail Remains Closed Because People Are Taking Too Many Selfies With Bears

Remember earlier in the summer when I wondered just what was going on in America's national parks? At the time, there were several high profile accounts of people getting attacked by bison in Yellowstone because they were too busy taking selfies with the animals that they didn't even notice that they were annoying the creatures. It was starting to turn into a major problem, as more than a half-dozen attacks had occurred by mid-summer. Well, it turns out the stupidity isn't just reserved to the national parks, nor just people interacting with bison.

A popular trail in Colorado has been closed since late August because too many people were stopping to take selfies with the bears that are roaming the area. The Waterton Canyon portion of the Colorado Trail was shut down on August 28 after numerous bears – including two females with two cubs each – were spotted in the area. But the problem isn't the bears, who are frequently sighted in the canyon. It is the hikers who insist on taking a selfie while in close proximity with the animals.

"We’ve actually seen people using selfie sticks to try and get as close to the bears as possible, sometimes within 10 feet of wild bears," Brandon Ransom, Denver Water’s manager of recreation said while discussing the closure of the trail. "The current situation is not conducive for the safety of our visitors or the well-being of the wildlife.”

As if that wasn't bad enough, apparently the hashtag "#bearselfie" was a trending term for awhile too, indicating that numerous people were willing to risk their own safety to get a shot of themselves with a wild animal. 

Much like the people who were getting attacked in Yellowstone by the bison, these folks don't have a whole lot of respect for the creatures they are getting so close to. These animals are wild and unpredictable, and can do a lot of damage if they want to. Fortunately, the Yellowstone bison didn't end up killing one, and there have been no reports of bear attacks in Waterton, but it seems like only a matter of time if visitors to these areas, and others like them, don't learn to give the animals the respect they deserve, not to mention a wide berth. 

There is no word yet on when the trail will reopen, but now that fall is upon us the trail will likely be less crowded anyway. Hopefully those who want to legitimately hike the canyon, and the Colorado Trail, will be able to return to it soon. 

Movie Review: Everest Gets It Right - Mostly

Hollywood has a along history of making mostly bad movies about climbing and mountaineering. Sure, there have been some entertaining films in the past. Sylvester Stallone's Cliffhanger and Clint Eastwood's The Eiger Sanction come to mind. But for the most part, dramatized climbing films are a poor substitute for a good documentary on sport. For my money, few films can hold a candle to Touching the Void for instance. But now, the big blockbuster production Everest is set to get a wide release in theaters this week, and if you're looking for well made, at times harrowing, film about high altitude climbing, you certainly could do a lot worse.

The film is based on the actual events that took place back in 1996, when one of the biggest disasters in mountaineering history took place. The story is a well known one in mountaineering circles of course, with Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air most famously telling the tale. I won't spoil the details for those who don't know the story though, suffice as to say the film takes us on an emotional journey at times, some of which is tough to watch unfold on the big screen.

Krakauer himself is a character in the film, although his role is a relatively small one. Played by Michael Kelly of House of Cards fame, you know that he is there to chronicle the event of the climbing season on Everest for Outside magazine, but he really isn't one of the main characters. Instead, the story focuses on New Zealand climbing guide Rob Hall, who pioneered commercial guiding on Everest. Played by Jason Clarke, Hall is portrayed as a strong climber who cares about his clients, sometimes to his own determent. Hall's chief rival – American Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal), is also a prominent player in the story, although his character is definitely not as fleshed out.

For those who are completely unfamiliar with the story, back in 1996, Hall was leading a team of climbers to the top of Everest. Commercial guiding was in its infancy at that point, and while the mountain was crowded by the standards of the day, it is nothing like it is today. While high up on the mountain, a massive storm hit the area, and as a result 8 people died. The events that led up to that disaster are crux of the film, but again I won't spoil too much of the story. Those who know it however will also know what is coming, which in my case actually made some of the scenes even more difficult to watch.

I saw the film in 3D and on a massive IMAX screen. For me, the 3D added very little to the film, but the size and scope of the IMAX theater did help to convey a sense of the scale of the mountain. This is a film that is beautifully made, and seeing sweeping shots of Everest, and the Khumbu Valley that leads up to it, was breathtaking. Having been there myself, it was a bit like being transported back, as I recognized a number of well known landmarks along the way. The cinematography alone makes this a film worth seeing in the theater.

Everest was shot in Nepal, Italy, and a Hollywood sound stage, and for the most part it looks fairly seamless. There are times when you can definitely tell that the actors are on a set, but for the most part, things look authentic and well filmed. I even got a kick out of the vintage 1990's gear that the actors used in their roles, although there were one of two items that showed up that didn't exist at the time the film takes place in, but I doubt most viewers will even notice those kinds of details.

The film got off to a bit of a rocky start for me, as it used a bit of cliched dialog and spotty acting in the opening moments of the movie. But some of that was meant to get non-mountaineering viewers up to speed, and before long I found that things settled down nicely, and the story unfolded at a better pace. It wasn't long before I felt my criticism of the acting was a bit unfounded, as the actors settled into their roles and delivered solid performances across the line, including some high profile players in smaller roles.

The one exception to this, at least for me, was Josh Brolin's portrayal of Beck Weathers. In the film, he comes off as very bombastic and over the top, which seems a bit counter to the personality that Beck actually had at the time. While I'm sure he had sense of bravado to a degree, in the film he comes across as loud and obnoxious, yet still likable. It seems to me that those aspects of his character were exaggerated for effect to some degree.

The first half of the movie focuses on building the characters and setting up the task at hand, which is climbing the highest mountain on the planet. There is a lot of ground work set down in the first hour, with the payoff coming later when the climbing action gets underway. The second half of the film focuses on summit day, and the disaster that followed. And since you came to care about these characters early on, it packs a more emotional wallop as a result.

It is hard to walk away from a movie like Everest with good feelings, after all we are watching climbers march to their doom. But I was happy to see that Hollywood had treated the source material with respect, and went to great lengths to try to make it as realistic as possible, while also making it approachable to an audience that doesn't understand mountaineering all that well. Personally, I feel that just about anyone can walk into this movie and know what it is going on, and since they probably won't be as distracted by the climbing aspects as I was, they may even be free to enjoy it more.

Probably my favorite aspect of the film was Jason Clarke's portrayal of Rob Hall. He did a great job of selling the character, and was the centerpiece of the entire movie. The other actors all had an important role to play as well of course, but Clarke was the lynch pin that held it all together for me. If you know Rob's story, you also know how crucial it was to get this aspect of the film right. Thankfully, they were able to do just that.

On Friday, Everest will be available in a much wider release, arriving in theaters across the U.S. and some international territories. If you read this blog with any regularity, you'll probably want to put it on your "must see" list, and make sure you take the time to catch it on the big screen. It is a great effort on the part of Hollywood to make a good mountaineering movie, and I think you'll come away moved by the story and the portrayal of the characters in it. Even you already know what is going to happen, it is still challenging to watch everything unfold. It will also make you think about what these mountaineers go through on their way to the top, and you'll probably come away with a greater appreciation of what they do.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Summit Success on Jabou Ri, Movement on Manaslu

It has been a slow, challenging start to the fall climbing season in Nepal. Until recently, poor weather had kept teams from moving as freely as they'd like, and as a result acclimatization efforts were a bit behind schedule. But last week a weather window opened on several mountains, allowing teams to finally get back to work. As a result, most of the climbers were on the move this weekend, with one team even finding success on an unclimbed peak.

We'll start with the duo of Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters, who have been attempting to make the first ascent of Jabou Ri, a 6000-meter peak located in a remote region of Nepal. Last week the two explorers made two other summit bids but were turned back do to poor weather conditions. But last Wednesday they were finally able to break through and move to the top. The duo are currently in the village of Thame, and they shared the story of their summit in more detail yesterday. You can read about it here. Eric and Ryan managed to take advantage of the good weather and get up and down safely, but they were certainly exhausted by their previous efforts, making their 13-hour round-trip trek quite the slog. Now they're resting in the village while they decide their next move, which could involve another climb, or simply calling it quits and heading home. Either way, it has been a successful expedition.

Meanwhile, over on Manaslu, the Adventure Consultants resumed their efforts to climb that mountain. Over the weekend they climbed up to Camp 2 at 6200 meters (20,341 ft) as part of their acclimatization efforts. After spending a night there, they descended back to Base Camp yesterday, where they now plan to rest for a few days while watching the weather forecasts. If all goes well, the team could be on the move back up the mountain later in the week.

The Altitude Junkies have also checked in from Manaslu, and report plenty of snow and rain in BC. Their squad hiked up to Camp 1 over the weekend, but have been keeping themselves busy with other treks in the region. Their latest dispatch indicates that Camp 3 has now been established on the mountain, and while some of the other teams may be ready to move up to that point shortly, the AJ squad is still working on their acclimatization process.

The Himex squad just returned from Camp 2 within the past few days as well, and they had information to share on the upcoming weather forecast. Apparently teams should expect relatively good weather to start the week, but heavy snows could return soon. That means they may be sitting in BC again for a few days while they wait for improvements. This is all typical of expedition climbing of course, but it can be frustrating none the less.

Over on Makalu, the Alpenglow team is resting up in preparation for their summit push. The small team hopes to top out soon, and then make the first full ski descent of the mountain. Alpenglow founder Adrian Ballinger shared his thoughts on the expedition with Outside magazine last week. Read about it here.

Finally, there has been not update from Everest yet where we wait for news on the progress of Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki. He is making a solo climb of the world's tallest peak, and was expected to head to Camp 2 to start his summit push last Thursday. Where he is at on the mountain now is unclear. He could be in the middle of that push, but poor weather may have delayed his summit as well. For now, we'll just have to wait for news.

That's it for the start of the week. More to come soon as the season unfolds.

Video: The Mountains of Brazil

We'll end the week with this fantastic video shot by a drone in the Pedra Selada region of Brazil. It features some fantastic imagery shot from the air of remote landscapes that are simply breathtaking. It is a short three-minute clip that gives us an all-too-brief glimpse of this pristine wilderness, and will almost assuredly leave you wanting more.


Video: Climbing Freerider on El Capitan

The Freerider route up El Capitan is rated as a 5.13a, which means it is an extremely challenging climb. Recently, a team of three rock climbers took on that route, and filmed their experience on the iconic rock face in Yosemite. This video is there result of their efforts, taking us to the mountain with them, as they make their ascent. It features some dizzying shots of the spectacular landscapes that surround El Cap, as well as some impressive images of their climb. If you've ever wondered what it was like to go up the most well known rock climbing wall in the world, this will give you an idea.

Freerider from Jacob Cook on Vimeo.