Japan - Nara

Japan : Kyoto - May 2015

Continue from Himeji

Our next stop from Himeji was Nara.

Whenever I ask around "What's there to see in Nara?" The replies I got were "see the deers lor".

The Nara Park is just at JR Nara Station which is very accessible. It was a quite a long walk from the station plus it started to drizzle so we decided to take a bus there.

Biscuit for deer - 150 yen

I was watching and taking pictures of this little boy feeding the deer and he was SO NICE that he offered me a biscuit to feed the deer! I was extremely surprised by his small action and his big heart.

This little cute one kept chasing its own tail lol

We often saw groups of school children having a school excursion to temples, museums and shrines. What I love most is their coordinated school uniform, bags, caps and shoes. They are all so cute!

Till the end of the Nara Park is their famous temple and landmark of Nara - Todaiji Temple.

I overheard a tour guide saying that it was a good luck thingy to climb through the hole in the standing pole.

Todaiji Temple
Entrance fee: 500 yen
nearest JR: JR Nara Station

Video: Impossible - Running a 333 km Ultramarathon in the Himalaya

There are some very difficult ultramarathons held all over the world each year, but few can compare with La Ultra - The High. The race is held in the Indian Himalaya, and features a course that is 333 km (206 miles) in length. Competitors must cover the distance in just 72 hours, starting  at the base of the Karakoram Range in Nubra Valley and continuing on over mountain passes and through deep valleys.

Due to its extreme length, dramatic elevation gains, and incredibly tough trails, The High has been called the "world's cruelest ultra." Don't believe me? Have a look at the video below, which is a trailer for a full length documentary on the race. You'll catch a glimpse of some of the suffering that comes along with this race, and gain even more respect for the men and women who run it.


Video: Ueli Steck's 2015 Year in Review

As usual, Swiss climber Ueli Steck had another busy year in 2015, climbing 82 peaks in the Alps and heading to the Himalaya looking for challenges as well. In this video, we get a visual recap of his accomplishments from last year, including some great footage of Ueli in the mountains doing what he does best. Watching Steck go to work is always amazing, as he makes it look so easy and effortless.

Gear Closet: Lowa Renegade Ice GTX Boots

In a few weeks, I'm setting off on an trip to Quebec, Canada that will see me snowshoeing, dogsledding, and generally having a good time in the snow. To say I'm looking forward to that experience would be a vast understatement, as it isn't often that I get to go play in those kinds of conditions. Knowing that I would be heading up north for a week of outdoor adventure, I figured it would be a good time to test some new gear in prime winter weather. I knew that I wanted to take some new clothing with me to try out, but I also thought it would be a great opportunity to put a new set of winter boots to the test as well. Lucky for me, my friends over at Lowa were willing to ship me a pair of their Renegade Ice GTX boots to take along on that trip. Little did I know that my opportunity to see how they would perform would come sooner than I expected.

While I wasn't completely caught up in the massive blizzard that struck the eastern United States last week, my city did see more than 8 inches (20 cm) of powder fall in a very short time. That was enough to bring the town to a halt for a couple of days, and it was a good excuse to get outside and enjoy winter weather that isn't all too common here. Luckily for me, I have all the right gear to do just that, including my new Lowa boots.

The Renegade Ice is an updated version of Lowa's Renegade GTX that has been specifically designed for use in the snow. As such, they are taller than the original GTX to provide extra support – and keep snow out – when you wade into deeper powder. They also have a Gore-Tex liner to keep moisture at bay, and a fleece lining on the interior for added warmth. The Renegade Ice also features a specially designed frame that is meant to give them added stability on snow and ice, while still keeping them lightweight and durable.

Putting these boots on for the first time, I found them a bit stiff out of the box. This isn't uncommon on winter boots in particular however, especially with the taller ankle support. It didn't take long for them to start to loosen up though, and after wearing them for an hour or so I didn't find them stiff to walk in at all, although they did continue to provide a nice level of support.

In terms of comfort, you couldn't ask for more out of a winter boot. The interior is soft and warm, and offers plenty of room for your toes, even while wearing a thicker sock. And despite all of the extra padding and thick soles, my foot still felt well connected to the ground, making it easy to keep my footing while walking across icy surfaces. In fact, these boots were practically all I wore for a three day period, which should tell you something about how well they actually feel on your feet.

Speaking of maintaining footing, the Renegade Ice incorporates Lowa's G3 winter sole, which features special lugs and fibers that are meant to hold it in place on snow and ice. While wearing them outside I experienced very little slipping at all, even when transitioning from different types of surfaces. The sole held me firmly in place when walking up and down hills too, which is often where you notice a boot struggling to maintain its footing. But that wasn't an issue at all here, as I hiked through deep powder and walked on thick ice without missing a beat.

In terms of durability, the Renegade Ice GTX boots feel extremely well made. Their leather uppers are tough as nails, and even though I wore them nonstop for three days in icy conditions, they still look like they're brand new. Judging from the time that I've spent with them so far, they seem like a boot that is built to survive in tough conditions, and I expect that a pair will see you through many winter adventures.

Because of their lightweight – yet warm – design, these boots would be perfect for snowshoeing, winter hiking, or other fast paced winter activities. In fact, the only time my feet ever got cold in them at all, was when I was standing in one place for an extended period of time. While moving, they were warm and cozy, and didn't cause any problems whatsoever.

The Renegade Ice GTX typically sell for $285, which is a competitive price for a boot that is designed for winter use. They can be found online for less however if you do a little searching. If you're in the market for a lightweight and warm boot for your active winter pursuits, this is a great option. I think you'll find they are up to just about anything that you throw at them.

Colin Haley Completes First Solo Ascent of Torre Egger in Patagonia

American climber Colin Haley continues to add impressive accomplishments to his resume. As both a skilled rock climber and mountaineer, he has completed some of the toughest routes in the world in Patagonia and the Himalaya. But on January 19 he only added to his growing list of accomplishments when he managed to complete the first solo ascent of Torre Egger, one of the most iconic and difficult towers in the world.

Located in Argentina's Patagonia region, Torre Egger is a sheer rock face that stands 2685 meters (8809 ft) in height. It is considered one of the crown jewels of rock climbing, often mentioned in the same breath as El Capitan, Trango Towers, or Torres del Paine which is also located in Patagonia. On January 19, after months of planning and preparation, Haley set out to solo that massive tower in what would become an very long day in the mountains.

Alpinist has all the details of the ascent, including the exact route Haley took to the summit, and some of the challenges he to overcome along the way. As you can imagine, it was not an easy climb, requiring 16.5 hours to complete the route. But even after reaching the summit, Colin faced more difficult on the descent. At one point his rope became hung up, and he had to spend several hours bouncing on it to get it to release a few inches at a time. Eventually it gave way, and he was able to finally finish his descent.

The solo of Torre Egger wasn't the only impressive climb Haley finished in Patagonia this month. Alpinist says that he and fellow American Andy Wyatt also completed a speed ascent of Monte Fitz Roy (3405 m/11,171 ft) on January 6, completing that challenge car-to-car in 21 hours and 8 minutes. According to the report, that would be the fastest known time for a round-trip ascent on that peak as well.

These are some impressive accomplishments over a span of just a couple of weeks. Congrats to Colin (and Andy Wyatt!) on a job well done.

Antarctica 2015: Season Extended as Final Team Nears the Pole

The 2015 Antarctic season has now entered its final days. Weeks ago the last flight off the frozen continent was scheduled to take place yesterday – January 28, but it seems that deadline as been extended. With one team still out on the ice, that last plane out has been delayed by a few days in order to let them finish.

A few days back, Devon McDiarmid and Stew Edge completed their return trip to the Union Glacier camp. They had skied the full distance from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole along with two other explorers, but rather than hop a flight back to the coast they elected to kite-ski instead. They made good time, wrapping up their journey in less than 9 days. They've now departed Antarctica however, which leaves just Emma Kelty, and her guide Pachi Ibarra still out on the ice.

Emma has been making daily updates on her progress, and according to her dispatches she and Pachi crossed the 89th degree on Wednesday. She now estimates that they will reach the South Pole on Tuesday of next week, which is February 2. No doubt they'll find a plane waiting for them ready to whisk them back to Union Glacier, and eventually Punta Arenas.

It has been a very long, and difficult slog for Emma who started off with guide Carl Alvy and another skier. That skier was forced to pull the plug on his expedition, leaving Emma and Carl to push on without him. Last week, Carl had to depart due to other commitments, so Pachi stepped in to escort the British adventurer across the final couple of degrees to the Pole. Now, they're closing in on that point, but it hasn't been easy. They're covering approximately 12 nautical miles (22 km/13.8 miles) each day in order to wrap up the expedition early next week, and considering how exhausted Emma is at this point, that can't be easy. Fortunately, the sleds are a lot lighter than they were when they started, which makes it a bit easier to make progress.

When Kelty reaches the Pole next week, the curtain will drop on what has been a long – and tragic – season at the bottom of the world. Hopefully she reaches her goal safe and sound, and gets off the continent safely. Until then, we'll be keeping a close eye on her progress.

Video: Paragliding Through the Italian Dolomites

We've seen some amazing videos from the Dolomites in Northern Italy, but we've never seen those famous mountains from this perspective before. This video was shot on a 50 km (31 mile) flight in a paraglider that soared high above the iconic jagged peaks that are a trademark of the region. This four-and-a-half-minute clip will give us a look at these mountains that most of us will never see, and it is well worth the trip. Enjoy!

Amazing day in the Dolomites from Robi on Vimeo.

Video: Mountain Biking Through A Colombian Salt Mine

Professional mountain biker Marcelo Gutierrez knows what its like to push boundaries on his bike, but for this video he really took things to a new level. In shooting this clip, Marcelo went deep underground to ride through a subterranean salt mine in his home country of Colombia. His route started above ground in a small town, but eventually plunged under the Earth, where it came to and end in a spectacular unground cathedral. As you'll see here, it looks like it was quite an experience.

Video: An Expedition to Nanga Parbat with Simone Moro and David Göttler

In the winter of 2014, alpinists Simone Moro and David Göttler traveled to Pakistan to attempt the first ascent of Nanga Parbat in the winter. They failed in completing that objective, which is why we are closely following the teams that are on that mountain once again this year. To give you a better idea of what an expedition of this kind is like, check out the video below. It follows Simone and David throughout the course of their journey, giving us a glimpse of the conditions that climbers face on this incredibly difficult peak. After watching it, you'll understand why Nanga and K2 remain the only 8000 meters peaks that have yet to be climbed in winter.

Grand Canyon Paddling Speed Record Broken Twice in Three Days

The speed record for paddling the length of the Grand Canyon was first set back in 1983, when three river guides rowed a wooden dory down the 277.1 mile (446 km) stretch of the Colorado River in 36 hours and 38 minutes. For more than three decades that mark stood as the time to beat, although very few people actually attempted to break it. But this past weekend, that record was broken not once, but twice, by two independent teams who didn't even realize that they were both hoping to achieve the same goal.

Outside magazine has a great piece on their website explaining the entire story, and it is an interesting one. Essentially, no one really cared about this speed record until author Kevin Fedarko wrote a book called The Emerald Mile back in 2013 detailing the 1983 record row. That sparked a renewed interest in trying to beat the old record within the paddling community, with kayakers Ben Orkin and Harrison Rea trying to set a new record last January. They failed in that attempt, coming up an hour and ten minutes short.

But last week a new team of paddlers hit the water with the hope of chasing the record. Ben Luck, Ryan Casey, and Matt and Nate Klema set off on January 20, with Matt actually reaching the finish line in 35 hours and 5 minutes, shaving an hour and a half off the previous record. Of course the foursome were ecstatic over their success, but they soon began to hear rumblings of another kayaker who was about to attempt the record himself.

Ben Orkin, who had missed setting the record last year, was back out on the river on a solo mission this time. He had no idea that the other team was even trying to set the record, let alone that they had already accomplished that goal. He was preparing to put-in the Colorado on Saturday morning when he received an email from Ben Luck informing him of the new time to beat. Knowing that he'd now have to go even faster than he had previously thought, Orkin moved forward with his plans.

The paddle wasn't an easy one. Orkin grew exhausted after paddling for hours on end completely on his own. He also flipped his kayak in some of the rough rapids, costing himself precious time. But in the end, he was able to best Matt's new record, covering the distance between Lee’s Ferry to the Grand Wash Cliffs in 34 hours and 2 minutes, 57 minutes faster than the two-day old record.

You can read a lot more about this story on Outside Online, where more details of these record-setting paddles are shared. The interesting thing to watch now will be how many more people will attempt to kayak the Grand Canyon, and just how low this time can truly go.

Rare White Giraffe Spotted in Tanzania

Tanzania's Tarangire National Park is now home to an incredibly rare white giraffe. The one year old calf was spotted in the park recently, and has garnered lots of attention for her distinctive looks, which are made possible because she has a genetic condition called leucism that doesn't allow her skin to make a pigment, which results in the pale color.

The giraffe – which has been named Omo after a popular local detergent – was first spotted in the park last year as a newborn. But, she was recently seen again, making local rangers very happy. Over the course of the past year she has grown significantly in size and stature, and appears to be a healthy member of the giraffe population in every way. That is a good sign for the adolescent animal, as National Geographic says that about half of all baby giraffes die within the first six months.

But Omo isn't completely out of the woods just yet. In addition to the natural threats to her life, officials at the park fear that she could become a target of poachers. To combat this threat they have employed highly trained tracking dogs and remotely piloted drones to patrol the region. Their hope is to spot any nefarious activity long before poachers could ever get close to the white giraffe.

Tarangire is a popular safari destination amongst visitors to Tanzania. That means that some lucky travelers will get a chance to spot Omo in her natural habitat. That would be an amazing sight indeed, and on par with the rare white lions that were recently spotted in South Africa as well.

Video: Lansdcapes Caught in a Timestorm

This video serves as a showreel for a company called Timestorm Films. It is some highlights of their best work, which includes a number of spectacular landscapes captured in timelapse fashion. You'll find everything from majestic alpine settings to beautiful urban environments on display here, each more spectacular than the last. The two-minute clip is a great example of some of the impressive work that is being done by filmmakers who are using some impressive tools and technology to create amazing projects.

Timestorm Films 2016 Showreel from Martin Heck | Timestorm Films on Vimeo.

Video: Paragliding with the Northern Lights

The Aurora Borealis (aka the Northern Lights) are one of the most spectacularly beautiful natural phenomenons in the world. Lighting up the night sky in a variety of colors, they are a humbling sight to behold, and what better way to experience them than from the seat of paraglider? That's exactly what pilot Horatio Llorens did when he traveled to Trømso, Norway recently, and his experience is captured in the video below. As you can imagine, it was quite a flight.

Gear Closet: Enevu CUBE Utility and Mood Lights

One of the most interesting and fun trends in outdoor gear over the past year or so is the increasing number of lighting options that are coming our way from a variety of companies. Sure, we've all worn headlamps forever, but now a number of gear manufacturers are working on innovative and fun ways to light up our campsite. One such product is the new CUBE utility light from Enevu, which brings some unique features that will come in handy both outdoors and around the house.

As the name implies, the CUBE is a perfectly square light measuring 2" (5 cm) on a side). It also weighs just 3.42 oz. (97 grams), which makes it highly packable and easy to carry with you just about anywhere. And since it has an IPX4 splashproof rating, it can survive a bit of rain, although I wouldn't want to submerge it completely in water.

On its highest setting, the CUBE is capable of putting out 100 lumens of light, which is plenty bright for just about any dark setting. In fact, I actually found that I preferred using the light on its medium or even low settings, as it not only prolonged its battery life – which is over 100 hours on its most efficient level – but also provides a softer light for enjoying your time around the campsite.

In addition to its three different brightness settings, the CUBE also has the ability to change colors. When put into multicolor mode it will slowly cycle through the entire range of the rainbow, and then some. This makes for great mood lighting, particularly when you're enjoying some time outdoors with friends. And if you come across a color that you prefer, a simple click of the button locks the CUBE into that color only for as long as you'd like.

As a safety measure, the CUBE also has a beacon mode, which can be activated in an emergency. When placed in that setting, the light will flash every three seconds for up to 48 hours, indicating that someone is in need of assistance. Hopefully that is one mode that you'll never need to use, but it is nice to have it just in case.

The CUBE ships with 3 AAA batteries to power it, and even comes with a hook to hang it in your tent or from a tree branch. It has been drop tested from 1 meter too, which means that it has been built to take a beating and continue to function.

My wife and I have been using the CUBE light for sometime now, both indoors and out. We not only really enjoy it for use around a campsite, but also in our backyard or just in the living room when we want some mood lighting while enjoying a glass of wine. The color changing mode has been especially popular around my house.

This little light is handy and versatile. It's great for travel, camping, backpacking, or as a useful source of illumination around the home too. And with a price tag of just $29.90, it is highly affordable too.

If you're looking for a fun, inexpensive, and easy to use lighting system for your next camp outing, the CUBE is a great option. And like me, you'll probably find you'll have plenty of uses for it elsewhere too.

Winter Climbs 2016: Nanga Parbat Teams Prep For Blizzard

What a difference a week can make. Last week at this time, several teams on Nanga Parbat were working to put themselves in a position to make a summit push. A weather window had opened on the mountain, and a couple of the teams were hoping that they could take advantage of the situation to complete the first ascent of that mountain. Now, just a few days later, the climbers who remain are back in Base Camp and waiting out a massive storm that promises to drop heavy snows and high winds on their positions.

In preparation for the arrival of the storm, Alex Txikon and Ali Sadpara went out in the bad weather to place bamboo poles along their route from BC to the moraine that leads up the slope. They are predicting that heavy snow will fall in that area in particular, and the poles will help them find their way once the storm clears, avoiding potential hazards that include some large crevasses. The duo, working in conjunction with Daniele Nardi, have fixed their ropes up to 6700 meters (21,981 ft), and have fully acclimatized, so now they are simply waiting for the weather to clear up before launching a summit bid of their own. When that could happen is anyone's guess at this point however, as the weather looks bleak for the next few days at the least.

Meanwhile, ExWeb is reporting that Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger may be changing up their plans. The two climbers have been on the mountain for a month now, and have managed to establish C2, but have struggled to get any higher on their chosen route. In order to acclimatize before a summit push, they need to establish more camps and spend some time at altitude. According to reports, Moro and Lunger have retrieved the gear that they had cached on the mountain, and are now rethinking their strategy. They are not prepared to go home just yet, but are possibly exploring other routes. Considering they are sharing BC with Alex, Ali, and Daniele, perhaps the five climbers will join forces and work together. (Update: that appears to be exactly what they'll be doing!)

Over on the Rupal Face, the Polish Justice For All team is back in Base Camp and taking a breather. They've managed to climb as high as 7500 meters (24,606 ft), but it is now unclear what their plans are. At one point, the team had said that it was prepared to stay through the entire winter, but ExWeb says that they could be planning to pullout and head for home – and Stefan Nestler agrees – as some of the members of the team are running low on time. The squad hasn't said this is the case just yet however, so we'll have to wait to see if they are indeed wrapping things up.

There is apparently a late newcomer to the mountain however, as reports indicate that American climber – by way of Brazil – Cleo Weidlich has arrived on Nanga Parbat with a support team. She's looking to have a go at the first winter ascent too, although starting this late in the season seems like quite a risk. She is in BC on the Rupal Face, and will begin her acclimatization efforts once the weather clears as well.

That's it for now, but I'll have more news from the mountain when there is anything to report.

All-Female Rowing Team Completes Pacific Crossing

On Monday of this week, a team of women rowers completed an epic crossing of the Pacific Ocean, arriving in Cairns, Australia after spending more than nine months at sea. The Coxless Crew, as they are known, set out from San Francisco back in April of 2015, and although they took longer than expected to complete their journey, they did manage to set a couple of records along the way.

The team's boat – named Doris – was designed for a four-person crew, and three of the members of the team stayed aboard for the entire crossing, while three others rotated in and out three different legs. The permanent members of the crew included Laura Penhaul, Natalia Cohen and Emma Mitchell, with Isabel Burnham, Kizanne van Vuuren, and Meg Dyos, each taking a turn at the oars. Burnham rowed from San Francisco to Hawaii before giving way to van Vuuren, who was part of the team from Hawaii to Samoa. Dyos took over from there, and was with the Coxless Crew when they arrived in Australia this week.

As is typical with a four-person crew, two members were at the oars at all times. In this case, they would row in two-hour shifts, and sleep 90 minutes at a time. In this way, they were able to cover the 14,800 km (9200 mile) journey, although it did take about three months longer than they had anticipated.

I first wrote about the Coxless Crew back in 2012 when they were planning to depart the following year. Obviously they hit a few road bumps along the way, delaying their start and changing their plans a bit. But they stuck with their goals and pushed forward with the challenge they had set for themselves despite adversity. Pernahul in particular was keen to take on the Pacific, and she seems to be the only member of the original crew who made the crossing.

By arriving in Australia on Monday – 257 days after the set out – the ladies became the first all female crew to cross the Pacific, and the first four-person team to do so. Along the way they faced massive storms, crushing waves, encounters with whales, and extreme heat in the South Pacific. Their adventure wasn't just for the challenge however, as they also raised funds for the Walking with the Wounded and Breast Cancer Care charities.

Congratulations to the six ladies who worked together on this fantastic achievement.

Video: Beautiful Mountain Vistas

Shot mostly in Canada, Oregon, and California (with a brief visit to the Himalaya) this video is three minutes of pure eye-candy. As its name implies, it features some fantastic shots of mountain landscapes that are simply breathtaking to behold. The clip is likely to inspire a sense of wanderlust, spurring you on to go in search of these places for yourself.

A word of warning though. While I find the visuals in this clip to be utterly spectacular, I'm not a huge fan of the choice of music that accompany the those images. I had to turn it down, but hopefully you'll enjoy it more than I did.

Vista from Leif Smith on Vimeo.

Video: High Spirits in Nepal - Climbing Lunag Ri with David Lama and Conrad Anker

This past November, David Lama and Conrad Anker – two of the top mountaineers in the world – traveled to Nepal to attempt the first ascent of Lunag Ri, a 6907 meter (22,660 ft) peak found on the border with Tibet. The duo put in a valiant attempt, becoming the first climbers to reach the mountain's headwall, but ultimately they were turned back by high winds and freezing cold temperatures.

In this video, we get a look at that expedition, and what it was like to attempt this big mountain. You'll see two of the best climbers in the world plying their skills on a formidable Himalayan peak, and while they were thwarted this time out, Lama says they already have plans to return and give it another go. Looking at this beautiful and eye-opening video, you can understand why they are inspired by this challenge.

Video: Jimmy Chin Talks Risk and Responsibility in Climbing

Last week I posted a video from the Nat Geo Live series that feature photographer/climber Jimmy Chin and filmmaker Elizabeth "Chai" Vasarhelyi talking about the making of the film Meru. In that clip they talked about the particular challenges that Jimmy, along with teammates Conrad Anker and Renan Ozturk, faced in capturing footage for the documentary. Today, we have another video from that same session, this time with Jimmy discussing the risks and responsibilities that mountaineers and climbers face when embarking on an expedition. As he says, it is a balance between pushing your own personal ambitions, while maintaining the safety of the entire team. It is an interesting look at where that line falls, from a man who has walked it on more than a few occasions.

Polar Exploration Community Responds to the Death of Henry Worsley

As you can imagine, the community of polar explorers that have visited the North and South Pole is an extremely small, and close knit one. Most of the men and women who have traveled extensively in the Arctic or Antarctic know each other to some degree, and they are shocked and saddened by the loss of Henry Worsley over the past weekend. 

Some of them have issued statements expressing their grief over the situation. For instance, yesterday the team at Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions issued a statement that shared more information. That statement reads as follows:
It is with great sadness that we report that polar expeditioner Henry Worsley died at a hospital in Punta Arenas, Chile yesterday after complications caused by bacterial peritonitis. Henry returned from Antarctica on January 23 after nearly completing his Shackleton Solo Expedition. 
Henry began his expedition in November 2015 in support of The Endeavour Fund, an
organization that supports wounded soldiers in the UK. He was attempting the first unsupported and unassisted solo crossing of the Antarctic landmass, a journey from Berkner Island to the Ross Ice Shelf via the South Pole. The route was expected to take him 75-80 days and at the time of pickup, he had been in the field for 71 days and travelled over 900 statute miles. 
ALE maintained daily communication with Henry throughout the expedition on scheduled satellite phone calls. On January 22, Henry contacted ALE asking for pickup and was subsequently transported by Twin Otter aircraft to ALE’s Union Glacier camp. Upon arrival, he received treatment for extreme exhaustion and dehydration by two ALE doctors trained in remote emergency medicine.
Early on January 23, he boarded ALE’s Ilyushin-76 intercontinental aircraft and received
treatment from an ALE doctor for the duration of the flight to Punta Arenas, Chile. Upon landing, Henry was transported by ambulance to hospital, where he was diagnosed with peritonitis and admitted for surgery. He was subsequently transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit where he passed away on January 24. ALE remained in close contact with the hospital throughout and continues to work closely with the family. 
Henry was an experienced polar expeditioner and recently ended a 36-year career in the British Army. He had a strong passion for the pursuits of the early Antarctic explorers including Shackleton, Scott, and Amundsen and had completed two previous Antarctic expeditions, one in 2009 celebrating Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition and one in 2012 that recreated the Amundsen route to the South Pole.
The entire ALE team sends its deepest condolences to Henry’s wife, Joanna, children, Max and Alicia, and extended family at this very difficult time.
Meanwhile, the Race Against Time team, who are preparing to set out for the North Pole from the Russian side of the ice in a few weeks knew Henry well. In fact, he was serving as one of the patrons for their journey. They said:
The Race Against Time 2016 Polar Expedition Team comprising of Mark Wood, Mark Langridge MC and Paul Vicary MSc has learnt today that their Patron Lt Col Henry Worlsey has died whilst crossing Antarctica.

Both Mark Langridge and Paul Vicary have both served alongside Henry and were part of the six man team that successfully reached the South Pole in 2012 following Robert F. Scott’s route as part of the 100 year anniversary of this iconic explorer. 
“This is terrible news and we are all devastated. We have had many friends especially in the military that die at a young age or doing their job. Henry was doing something that he loved. He was a respected, admired, inspirational leader and the world has lost a great explorer. We have lost a dear friend. Our hearts and prayers are with Joanna and Henry’s family at this time.”
Devon McDiarmid and Stew Edge, who just wrapped up their Antarctic expedition earlier today, called Henry's death a "tragic end to Shackleton Solo expedition," while Britain's Prince William – who himself was a Patron of Henry's expedition – said “Harry and I are very sad to hear of the loss of Henry Worsley. He was a man who showed great courage and determination and we are incredibly proud to be associated with him. We have lost a friend, but he will remain a source of inspiration to us all, especially those who will benefit from his support to the Endeavour Fund. We will now make sure that his family receive the support they need at this terribly difficult time.”

Alexandra Shackleton – the granddaughter of Earnest Shackleton – told the BBC News “Henry will be a huge loss to the adventuring world. The fact that he very nearly made it, only 30 miles short of his goal, makes it in some ways even worse.”

This is just a camping of the outpouring of emotion that surrounds Henry's death. He was a strong spirit and a major inspiration for many, and he will certainly be missed. 

Antarctica 2015: Running Out of Time

Following the sad news of the passing of Henry Worsley yesterday, there are still two teams out on the ice in the Antarctic, struggling to reach their respective finish lines. But the clock is most definitely ticking as the season grinds to a halt later this week. The last flight out is scheduled for Thursday – weather permitting of course. But depending on conditions, that deadline could get extended, although once this weather window closes, it doesn't open again for 10 months.

At the Union Glacier camp the staff and crew are busy packing up and preparing to leave the Antarctic once again. It has been another long and challenging season as they support the teams out on the ice, and no doubt more than a few of them are feeling the loss of Henry. But they are also a very professional team, and they know that there is a job to do before they head home once again.

South Pole skier Emma Kelty is still trudging ahead, slowly but surely making her way towards her goal. She's running a bit behind schedule, and feeling the pinch of time slipping away, but is also doing her best to reach 90ºS before the season runs out. As of her most recent update, posted on Friday of last week, she still had two degrees to cover before she reaches her goal. That equates to 222 km (138 miles) which is an awful long way to cover with such little time left on the clock. Personally, I'm not sure how she gets it done before the deadline, but we'll watch closely and hope for the best.

At the end of last week she not only received a resupply, complete with all kinds of goodies to help get her to the finish line, but she is now skiing with a new guide too. Apparently her pervious guide – Carl Alvy – had to depart Antarctica, so a new guide – named Patchi – has stepped in to take his place. The duo are now pushing hard to reach the finish line, and we'll just have to wait to see if they make it.

Meanwhile, elsewhere Devon McDiarmid and Stew Edge arrived back at Union Glacier earlier today. You may recall, the two men skied to the South Pole along with Mostafa Salameh, and Shahrom Abdullah, reaching that point back on January 17. While their companions hopped a flight back home, Dev and Stew used kites to travel back to their starting point. Their final push was an 18-hour day that ended with their arrival at the ice camp, which means they managed to ski the full distance back in less than 9 days. That's pretty impressive to say the least. They'll now get a few days rest before flying out to Punta Arenas, Chile.

As you can see, the 2015 Antarctic season is quickly coming to an end. In another day or two things will be wrapping up for the season, with everyone heading home. Hopefully Emma gets a chance at reaching the South Pole. She's worked very hard to get there, but time is definitely no on her side.

Video: An Arctic Timelapse

Shot in the Arctic region of Finland, this video captures some of the stunning landscapes and scenery from that part of the world in a beautiful timelapse fashion. Covered in a blanket of snow, with the Northern Lights flashing brilliantly overhead, this clip makes Finland look like quite the destination for outdoor adventurers who don't mind a little cold weather as well. Simply mesmerizing.

ARCTIC | Timelapse from Riku Karjalainen on Vimeo.

Video: Vote for the 2016 Nat Geo Adventurers of the Year

Even though the official slate of National Geographic's 2016 Adventurers of the Year were announced back in November, there is still one prize left up for grabs. The coveted People's Choice Award is given out based on a fan vote that is conducted online, and with less than a week to go before the polls closed, you still have a chance to help decide who will go home with this honor.

This video serves as an introduction to these amazing men and women, and it is filled with Nat Geo's customers great imagery too. Take a peek at this year's class of adventurers, then head over to the NG website to cast your vote for who you feel is most deserving. Voting runs through January 31st, and the ultimate winner will be announced in early February.

Gear Closet: 5.11 Tactical Taclite Anorak Jacket

This past weekend was an interesting one where I live. While we weren't caught up in the massive blizzard that hit the East Coast, we did catch the edge of the storm and ended up receiving 8 inches (20 cm) of snow, which was enough to set a new record for my location. For many of my friends and neighbors, this was a good opportunity to hunker down at home and enjoy a few snow days with a break from work and school. But for me, it was a chance to test out some of the winter gear that has been sent my way, and enjoy a bit of winter weather that I don't get a chance to play in as much as I'd like.

One of the pieces of gear that I had the opportunity to try out is the new Taclite Anorak Jacket from 5.11 Tactical, a versatile and surprisingly warm pullover that comes with that company's trademark high quality design and construction.

I've reviewed a couple of products from 5.11 Tactical in the past, including their Rush 12 backpack and awesome Stryke Pants. The company makes products that are popular with the military and law enforcement agents, but have elements that make them a great choice for civilian outdoor enthusiasts too. For instance, the Taclite jacket has a nice, clean cut to it, and is designed to allow the wearer to move unimpeded. That is something we can all appreciate, regardless of what activities we have planned for the day.

Another indication of 5.11 Tactical's focus on versatility for both the military and civilian population is the inclusion of what it calls "Quixip" side vents. For most of us, this is a nice feature that allows us to vent out heat when things get a little active. But for some of the company's other customers, it also provides quick and easy access to a firearm. Not something that most of us have to worry about, but definitely a feature that 5.11's core audience appreciates.

One of the most impressive things about this jacket is just how durable it is. It uses proprietary "Taclite" fabrics which are designed to take a beating and yet not show the wear and tear that you would associate with daily use. This is the kind of jacket you can wear out and about around town, on a trail, or on your daily commute, and it will continue to look good and perform well for years to come. Those fabrics are also treated with a Teflon coating, which helps to repel moisture and makes the jacket easy to keep clean.

Despite its rugged exterior however, the Taclite Anorak has a soft, and very comfortable, cotton liner that feels great against the skin, and provides plenty of warmth too. This helped to make it cozy to wear on chilly days, and when paired with a good baselayer, I was more than comfortable even when the mercury took a plunge.

The Taclite Anorak includes some other nice features too. For instance, its spacious pass-through kangaroo pocket is also quite warm and offers a good amount of storage. Two document pockets located on the chest are also very handy for keeping important items – such as a smartphone or passport – close at hand, while their Velcro seals allow for quick access of the interior. Even the three-panel hood shows that a lot of thought went into the design of this garment, providing extra comfort and warmth where a lot of other gear manufacturers would have just added a hood as an afterthought.

Having used some of 5.11 Tactical's other products in the past, I was already a fan of their gear. They often take a no-frills approach to the design of their gear, but they still manage to put plenty of thought into the fine details and offer high quality construction too. This jacket is no exception, as its uses metal buttons, a YKK zipper complete with a leather pull, and exceptional stitching to hold everything together. The result is an Anorak that doesn't try to be the lightest or most breathable on the market, but instead offers excellent all around performance, durable protection from the elements, and classic good looks that will make it feel right at home just about anywhere you want to wear it.

If that wasn't enough, I was also impressed with the Taclite Anorak's price tag too. At just $140, it feels like quite a steal. Considering everything that went into making this jacket, and what it brings to the table, I wouldn't have been surprised to if it cost over $200. But 5.11 Tactical has managed to deliver a great product at a great price, and if you happen to fall into their core customer base, you're absolutely going to love it. If you haven't tried 5.11 Tactical gear before, this is a great product to serve as an entry point as well. You won't be disappointed.

Winter Climbs 2016: Summit Bid Denied, Another Team Departs Nanga Parbat

Heading into this past weekend we were keeping a close eye on the proceedings on Nanga Parbat, where the first summit bid of the winter was underway. Climbers Elisabeth Revol and Tomek Mackiewicz were on a light and fast attempt to become the first team to complete a winter ascent of that mountain, and when we last checked in they were at 7400 meters (24,278 ft). But as we all know, nothing is certain on an 8000 meter peak, and according to ExWeb the duo turned back and are now preparing to leave the mountain altogether.

According to reports, Elisabeth and Tomek never climbed any higher than the 7400-7500 meter mark that we tracked them at last Friday. At that point, they determined that while the weather conditions were stable, the temperatures were simply too cold to push any higher. So, they decided that the best course of action was to spend the night at 7200 meters (23,622 ft) and then descend back to Base Camp the following day.

Once they arrived back in BC on Saturday, they shared the news that they would be leaving the mountain. The duo are now short on time and resources, and were expecting to return to Chilas – a nearby village – yesterday or today. From there, they'll begin the trek out and start the long journey home. For Tomek, this is the end of his sixth winter attempt on Nanga, and it was the third for Elisabeth.

Meanwhile, the trio of Alex Txikon, Daniele Nardi, and Ali Sadpara have pressed forward with their efforts. Over the weekend they completed fixing ropes up to Camp 3, which located at 6700 meters (21,981 ft). They also cached some gear and supplies there before returning to C2 for an overnight stay and dropping back down to BC the following day. They now have their route in place and are ready for a summit bid of their own, but they are waiting for a good weather window to make the attempt.

In his most recent update, Alex says that if conditions remain the same they won't need to fix any ropes above C3. The three men now believe they have completed the most complex and challenging section of the climb, and simply have to wait for good weather to have a go at the top. Currently the conditions include high winds and cold temperatures, which is keeping them in BC. They are hoping that only a minimal amount of snowfall will hit the mountain before they get the chance to launch a summit bid however, as more snow would cause them to have to reopen certain sections of the route, potentially burning important resources and energy.

Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger are reportedly still in BC after they went up the mountain last week. The last update we had on their progress indicated that they had descended and were planning on resting for a few days and watching the weather. It is unclear whether or not they are now ready for a summit push too, but it would seem that they should be close at this point. Again, it will be the weather that determines when they can go back up.

Finally, the Polish Justice For All team has now reached 7500 meters (24,606 ft) and have set up Camp 4 at that point on the mountain. They're all back in Base Camp at the moment awaiting a weather window of their own. They are prepared to stay on the mountain as long as possible, so patience is the key to success for this team.

If you'd like to catch a glimpse of what it was like for them on the hill, check out the video below. It was shot on their most recent slog up the mountain, and has some scenes that give us an indication of what it like there. In a word – cold!

Nanga Dream 15/16 Justice for All! from Michał Obrycki on Vimeo.

Antarctica 2015: British Explorer Henry Worsley Dies Following Evacuation From the Antarctic

There is very sad news to report from Punta Arenas, Chile today. British polar explorer Henry Worsley has passed away from exhaustion and other ailments as a result of his attempt to complete a solo and unsupported crossing of Antarctica. He was 55 years old. 

Worsley set out on his journey back in early November with the goal of becoming to the first to traverse the frozen continent alone and without assistance. He was out on the ice for more than 71 days, and had covered over 900 miles (1448 km) completely on his own. He was just 30 miles (48 km) shy of reaching his goal when he called for evacuation last Friday, January 22. At that point he was exhausted beyond measure, and couldn't find the strength to push on any longer. A flight was dispatched to retrieve him, and he was flown back to the Union Glacier camp before continuing on to Punta Arenas.

Once he arrived back in Chile, Worsley was taken to a hospital where he was diagnosed with peritonitis, which is an inflammation of the peritoneum, a thin later of tissue that lines the inside of the abdomen. The condition is generally caused by a bacterial infection in another part of the body. 

Henry's wife Joanna flew from the U.K. to join him, and doctors performed surgery in an attempt to save his life, but the condition was too advanced and his exhausted body had no strength to fight off the attack. Joanna released a statement saying she was "heartbroken with sadness" and that her husband had passes away due to "complete organ failure."

We've been following Henry's progress in the Antarctic here at The Adventure Blog since before he even set out on his journey. It was a difficult endeavor to say the least, but when he reached the South Pole back on January 4th he seemed strong and in good spirits. In recent days it became evident that he was struggling however, as the long journey truly took its toll. He skied in near whiteout conditions his last few days on the ice, and photos of him in his tent showed a man who was gaunt and weary beyond measure. 

I never met Henry in person, but I followed his expeditions closely and cheered him on in his adventures. With this Antarctic crossing I read his expedition updates nearly every day, and wrote numerous times about his progress. When I read the news that he had passed away I felt incredibly sad. He was strong, adventurous spirit who challenged himself to amazing things, and he will continue to serve as an inspiration to many of us. 

Worsley's story will also serve as a reminder. Despite what we might think, we haven' quite conquered the planet just yet. There are still some tasks that remain incredibly difficult, and Mother Nature is the most formidable opponent of all. 

I want to express my sincerest condolences to Henry's wife Joanna, and all of his friends and family. We lost a great man today, and he will be missed. 

Video: 4 Hours - A Timelapse of Iceland's Winter Days

During the winter, Iceland receives just four hours of daylight each day, which makes it difficult to enjoy the snow covered landscapes to any degree. This video gives us a timelapse of one four hour stretch, showing us just how beautiful a single winter day can be there, even if the light is fleeting.

Four Hours from Zangs Films on Vimeo.

Video: Taking Flight Over Moab

This beautiful video takes us high above the rocky landscapes of Moab, Utah where eight different disciplines of flight (proximity flying, wingsuits, skydiving, etc.) all converge to show us what is possible when humans take to the air. The landscapes around Moab make a great backdrop for these scenes, which look incredible from every angle. After watching this, you'll believe that a man can fly.

Video: BMX Bike Tricks Like Nothing You've Seen Before

Think you've seen some riders do some impressive things on a bike in the past? Well, be prepared to see somethings you've never seen before. In this video, BMX rider Tim Knoll pulls off some stunts that are unbelievable to say the least. Throughout the 3+ minute clip he makes his bike do things I didn't realize were possible, and he makes it look effortless in the process. I'm not about to run out and try these myself, but it is certainly fun to watch someone else do it.

Climb to the Summit of Mont Blanc with Google Street View

Over the years Google Street View has continued to expand, taking us from the familiar avenues of our hometowns to such iconic locations as Machu Picchu in Peru, Petra in Jordan, and even the Khumbu in Nepal. Now, you can add one more location to that list, as earlier this week the tech giant brought one of Europe's most famous mountains online when they added Mont Blanc to their library of virtual destinations.

To capture these amazing places in full 360º images, Google uses a special backpack called the Street View Trekker. This special pack comes equipped with a device that includes 15 different cameras, each snapping images at the same time. Once the data is collected, software is used to stitch the data back together, creating a seamless experience of the various locations that the Trekker records.

In order to capture Mont Blanc in all of its glory, Google decided to enlist some specialists to help them out. They brought in mountain athletes Kilian Jornet, Ueli Steck, and Candide Thovex – amongst others – to get a streamlined version of the Trekker to the summit. The results are nothing short of spectacular.

The video below gives you a bit of insight into the project that brought Mont Blanc online. To explore it for yourself in Street View, simply click here.

Winter Climbs 2016: Revol and Mackiewicz at 7200 Meters on Nanga Parbat

Over the past week, we've been watching the events unfold on Nanga Parbat very closely, mostly because the weather is reportedly good right now and one of the four remaining teams hoping to reach the summit this winter has launched a summit bid. Now, as the weekend arrives, that squad is ready to have a go at the top, and possibly make history in the process. As you probably already know, the 8126 meters (26,600 ft) Nanga Parbat is one of just two 8000 meter peaks that has yet to be scaled during the winter months, with the other being K2.

Winter Climbs 2016: Revol and Mackiewicz at 7200 Meters on Nanga Parbat

Video: Scenes From Machu Picchu

One of the most spectacular displays of ancient architecture found anywhere in the world, the mountain fortress of Machu Picchu needs little introduction. But this beautiful video takes us high into the Peruvian Andes to share some amazing views of this spectacular place. The wonderful music gives the clip a tranquil feeling that makes it a joy to watch, so just sit back and take it all in.

And if you haven't been fortunate enough to visit Machu Picchu yourself just yet, my friends at Mountain Travel Sobek can make that journey are a reality. Check out all of their options for visiting Peru and start thinking about your own adventure in the Andes.

Machu Picchu from irenaVision on Vimeo.

Video: Flying a Drone Through a Crevasse

There is no question that personal drones have been one of the real game changers for filmmakers over the past few years, but now these small flying machines are starting to see use elsewhere. Aside from the idea of using drones to deliver packages, they are now being employed in a number of other interesting ways, including mountain rescue operations. In this video, we see an experimentation flight, during which a drone was flown into a crevasse to explore the ways it could be used to search for missing climbers or skiers. The test footage was shot by a company called Flyability, who was working in conjunction with the mountain rescue team in Zermatt, Switzerland. As you'll see, there are still some fine control aspects that need to be worked out, but the drone does indeed give us an inside view of the crevasse itself.

Video: Riding Whistler's Mountain Bike Trails on a Cyclocross Bike

We've seen some epic mountain bike videos over the years here on The Adventure Blog. We've even seen some set in Whistler, Canada before. But this one is a unique breed to say the least. The clip follows pro-rider Yoann Barelli as he takes on Whistler Bike Park's A-Line and Dirt Merchant trails, which in and of itself would be fun to watch. But in this case, Yoann is actually riding a cyclocross bike, which is certainly not designed for this kind of abuse. Check it out below.

Gear Review: goTenna Personal Communications System

One of the biggest challenges we face while traveling in the backcountry is how to stay in touch with our companions in a place that has unreliable or completely nonexistent cell service. But a new product called the goTenna is looking to change that by giving us the tools we need to create our own personal cell data network that can facilitate messaging between mobile device.

In its purest form, the goTenna is a small, lightweight, portable antenna that connects to your smartphone or tablet (iOS or Android) via Bluetooth technology. Once paired with a mobile device, the goTenna then uses its own custom app to send text messages to other goTenna users who are either in your personal address book, or with the option to broadcast to any other goTenna devices that are within range. It is a simple and elegant solution that actually works quite well in the field.

Paring your smartphone or tablet with the goTenna is a simple affair. Modern Bluetooth connectivity is very easy to use, and it only takes a few seconds to get the two devices communicating with one another. After that, you simply hang the goTenna from your belt or backpack, or perhaps on the exterior of a tent, so that it can start sending and receiving messages.

The goTenna is powered by its own built-in, rechargeable lithium-ion battery. When in use, the device can stay in stand-by mode for approximately 20 hours. Stand-by mode means that it is listening for incoming messages, but isn't sending any out. Once you start communicating with it, the battery life does go down, but not at such a rate that I ever felt like it would run out of juice before the end of the day. Like you're smartphone, you will need to charge it each night however, which means on longer trips you'll need a portable battery pack or solar charger to keep it working.

Many backpackers and campers use two-way radios to stay in contact with one another in remote places, and obviously those devices have their advantages too. But the goTenna has a couple of nice options that help set it apart from those communications systems. For example, when you send a message to someone else using a goTenna you'll also receive a return receipt that lets you know that it was delivered. That way you can be sure that your companion is within range, and has gotten the note that you sent them.

Speaking of range, the powerful little antenna can broadcast to other devices over a surprisingly long distance, although it does have some limitations. In a city, where radio waves can cause interference, the range is limited to about 1 mile (1.6 km), although that can vary depending on your location. In the backcountry, that range extends to 4 miles (6.4 km), and possibly further depending on elevation and obstructions. Generally speaking that should allow you to stay in contact with traveling companions provided you don't wander too far apart.

The goTenna has another trick up its sleeve that could come in handy in the backcountry as well. The device can also share your location, providing others with your GPS coordinates. The goTenna app even has downloadable maps that can display that position, making it easier for you to find the other members of your party in a pinch.

It is important to point out that if you are completely off the grid, and without cell service, the goTenna won't provide the ability to make voice calls or pull data from a satellite or any other source. It is strictly used for direct communication with other goTenna devices, in a sense creating a personal network for you and your friends, as well as anyone else who might be in range. But if you can accept that limitation of the device, and realize that it is actually an affordable method for staying in contact in remote places, you'll find the system works quite well.

The device is built to be rugged enough to withstand the challenges of adventure travel, although as with most electronics some care is needed in handling it. The units themselves are lightweight, but durable, with solid protection from the elements. Having tested the goTenna myself, I'd be more worried about the survival of my iPhone in the backcountry than I would this product.

The goTenna is sold in pairs and is currently available for $199. Out of the box you have everything you need to get it up and working, including two charging cables. In terms of simple and effective communications solutions, they don't come any better than this.

Outside Probes False South Pole Ski Record Claims

Last January the world of outdoor adventure and exploration was shocked to learn that a little-known German Antarctic skier had set a new record for covering the distance from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole. The old record had been set back in 2011 by a Norwegian explorer by the name of Christian Eide. He managed to cover the 1175 km (730 mile) route in a blazingly fast 24 days, 1 hour, and 13 minutes. But a man by the name of Martin Szwed seemingly came out of nowhere to claim that he had shattered that record by nearly 10 days, skiing to the South Pole in just 14 days, 18 hours, and 43 minutes. It was heralded as a triumph at the time, with Szwed's sponsors and social media trumpeting his accomplishment.

But then, something funny happened on the way to the South Pole. It all started to fall apart as holes appeared in Szwed's stories of where he was at certain times, and how he managed to get there. His photographic evidence of reaching 90ºS appeared to be photoshopped, and his claims of previously summiting Mt. Vinson were also proven false. Just as quickly as he had shot to the top, Szwed came tumbling back down.

Now, Outside magazine is taking a look at the controversial story, with none other than Eric Larsen writing a piece about the whole affair. Larsen probes into Szwed's claims using flight manifestos from Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions, the company that supports most expeditions to the frozen continent, to further discredit his story. Eric, who is an accomplished polar explorer himself, even talks to other members of the close-knit community to get their take on the situation, with most saying they knew it was a false story from the beginning.

The article is an extensive one, with lots of details on how the situation unfolded, the reaction from the media, and Szwed's own denials. Within a few days the disgraced explorer's sponsors started to backtrack, and in-depth examinations of his claims started to punch holes in the story. There was even a public exchange between Szwed and Eide.

When writing the piece for Outside, Larsen when directly to the source, contacting Szwed himself. The German says that he has GPS tracking information that will serve as proof of his claims, but if he releases it he could face jail time and a substantial fine in his home country. The one-time mountain guide is under investigation for claims of fraud and possibly visiting Antarctica without proper authorization.

The whole story is a sordid one, but well worth a read. For my part, I wrote about the controversy last year and at the time thought that the story was suspicious from the start. For one thing, as someone who follows the Antarctic ski season closely, Szwed hadn't even shown up on my radar in the reports I was writing. That isn't necessarily proof that his claims are false of course, but it is a bit unusual to not know about a speed-record attempt of this kind.

The sad thing is, that Szwed's story isn't the only one like this. There have been others who have also falsified reports and records. This probably won't be the last time it happens either.

Video: Hiking Europe's E5 Trail

The E5 trail in Europe runs for more than 3200 km (1988 miles), starting from the Atlantic Coast in Britany and stretching across parts of France, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany before finally ending in Verona, Italy. It is, by all accounts, a stunning hike through the Alps that can takes months to hike end to end. In this video, we get a brief taste of what that trek is like, as two intrepid travelers spend 10 days walking 120 miles along the E5. As you'll see, the route takes them deep into the mountains, past pristine alpine meadows, and into lovely mountain villages.

If this doesn't get your feet itching for a little walk in the mountains, I'm a afraid we'll have to check you for a pulse.

Video: The Making of Meru

Earlier this year, the acclaimed climbing film Meru was released, giving us an incredible look at two expeditions by Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk to climb the infamous Shark Fin on Mt. Meru in India, with the trio finally completing the first ascent of that massive rock wall in 2010. If you haven't had the chance to see this documentary yet, you should do so as soon as possible. It is simply amazing, with some of the best mountaineering and climbing footage you could ever hope for.

If you have seen the film, you probably have wondered how it was made. Obviously the three climbers, and in particular Jimmy, did most of the shooting, which was later compiled together to make Meru. But there was more to it than just that, as you'll see in this video which is part of the Nat Geo Live series.

In the clip, Chin and filmmaker Elizabeth "Chai" Vasarhelyi discuss how the film came into being, and the process it took to put it altogether. Truly fascinating stuff, particularly if you've seen the movie and want to know how it was made.

Video: Adventure Highlights From 2015

Now that 2015 is squarely behind us, we can look back at the year that has passed an think about some of the amazing adventures that took place over the course of those 12 months. There were some amazing expeditions, challenges, and accomplishments for sure. In this video, Redbull reviews their own very adventurous year with some great clips of climbing, BASE jumping, mountain biking, and so much more. It is a good video retrospective of some of our favorite activities. Here's to another adventurous year in 2016!

100 Reasons Why the U.S. National Parks are Still Amazing

As you may already know, 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of America's National Park Service. Over the course of the year, there will be a number of celebrations of this milestone, with the NPS gearing up to make this one of the most memorable 12 month periods in the history of the parks. In honor of this auspicious occasion, I wanted to share a piece that I wrote for About.com that is my own personal way of saluting not only the Park Service, but the amazing national parks that it washes over.

Last week I put the finishing touches on an article that is called 100 Reasons the National Parks Remain America's Best Idea. As the title implies, I shared 100 interesting, unusual, and down-right cool facts about the NPS, as well as the numerous national parks, monuments, memorials, and other units that it presides over. In writing this piece I tried to have a bit of fun with each of the items I shared, while hopefully providing some new bits of trivia that even long-time national park visitors might not have known. Here's a sampling of just a few of the things that I wrote:
14. The National Park Service employees more than 22,000 people on a permanent, temporary and seasonal basis. It also has over 220,000 volunteers working in parks across the U.S.

31. Like to hike? Cumulatively, the national parks have more than 18,000 miles of trails.

66. Famous naturalist John Muir once famously said "No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite."
If you'd like to read the other 97 reasons the national parks are so amazing, you'll have to click over to About.com to read the full post. Needless to say however, I am a big fan of America's national parks, and I'm looking forward to celebrating the completion of the Park Service's first century throughout 2016, and preparing for the start of its second in 2017. 

Winter Climbs 2016: Summit Push Underway on Nanga Parbat

The weather conditions on Nanga Parbat seem surprisingly good for this time of year. That has given hope to the four remaining teams hoping to complete the first winter ascent of that mountain. While nothing is ever a sure thing when it comes to high altitude mountaineering, there is a weather window that is currently open and is expected to last into the weekend, and with two teams currently high on the Nanga's slopes, we could be about to see history made.

The team that we know the most about includes Tomek Mackiewicz and Elisabeth Revol. They set out a few days back, and while they aren't exactly sharing tons of information, we do know that they reached Camp 2 at 6500 meters (21,325 ft) on Monday, and are now pushing further up the hill. They should have at least reached Camp 3 by now, which could put them within striking distance of the summit over the next few days.

Meanwhile, Italian climbers Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger also set off on an alpine style ascent a few days back, but true to form they're staying mostly off the radar. There have been no updates on their progress since late last week, so they could also be ready to complete a summit push. We'll just have to wait for their next update to know for sure.

It should be noted that while the weather conditions on Nanga Parbat are listed as good, that is a relative term at best. During the winter, "good" still means high winds and extreme cold, which are simply par for the course during this season. At the moment, temperatures at the summit are said to be about -40ºC/F, so even if the current weather window holds, it won't be an easy ascent.

Elsewhere, the Polish Justice For All team has now reached 6650 meters (21,817 ft) and have established Camp 3. They're watching the winds very closely as well, and report that at least on their side of the mountain (Rupal Face) things are calm at the moment. They could potentially be getting ready to launch a summit bid of their own, although they haven't fixed ropes above their current position yet.

Finally, there has been no updates on the progress of Alex Txikon, Ali Sadapara, and Daniele Nardi over the past couple of days. We know that Txikon and Sadapara were planning to descend to Base Camp to rest after fixing ropes up to 6500 meters, and that Nardi was recovering from some minor injuries. It is likely that they are all still in place, and waiting to start their next rotation up the mountain as well.

I'll be keeping a close eye on the proceedings over the next couple of days. Lets keep our fingers crossed that one of these squads gets a chance at the summit, and that they all get back down safely.