Video: Morocco - Gateway to Africa

With this video we travel to Morocco to get a good look at the people, culture, history, and landscapes that exist there. Located in North Africa, the country has been at the crossroads of that continent for centuries, and that lasting influence can be seen in many places found there. This short documentary film takes us to the bustling streets of its most famous cities, to the top of the High Atlas Mountains, to the Sahara Desert, and beyond. If you're in need for a travel escape today, this film will help satiate your wanderlust. Enjoy.

Morocco: Gateway to Africa from Freeze Tag Media on Vimeo.

Video: Walmart Mountain Bike Tested on a Real Trail

Those of us who ride bikes regularly tend to be a bit snobby about the brands we ride. After all, we want a bike that can stand up to our demands. In this video, pro mountain biker Phil Kmetz goes to Walmart to buy a Huffy Carnage and then takes it down a "real" mountain biking trail to see just how well it performs. Would the $179 bike be able to compete with the rides that he is accustomed to? You'll have to watch the video to find out. I will tell you though, just watching his descent was enough to make me fear for his life.

Video: GoPro's Best Bike Line Contest Returns

Last year, GoPro and Pinkbike got together to sponsor a contest in which cyclists and mountain bikers were invited to film and submit their best line. Some of the entries were truly amazing, and as a result over $25,000 in prize money was given away. The same contest returns in 2016, and this video gives us a preview of what to expect. It is filled with some great clips that were part of last year's contest, with some truly jaw-dropping rides. Even if you don't plan to enter the contest, this video is worth a look. It'll leave you awe struck at the places that people will take a bike.

Cold War Politics at the North Pole

If you read this blog regularly, you probably saw my coverage of the North Pole exploration season this past spring. While there were no full-distance expeditions to the North Pole from either the Canadian or Russian side of the ice as there has been in years past, there was still plenty of drama to be had. That's because Norway and Russian got into a bit of a showdown over who gets access to the Arctic. The pissing match between those two countries turned into a bit of a political and logistical nightmare that resulted in some polar explorers, adventurers, and researchers being left in the lurch while attempting to travel to and from the Arctic this spring. And the fallout from this exchange could have long-lasting repercussions for the future.

I reported several times on the fact that flights to the Barneo Ice Camp – the temporary base built at 89ºN each year – were delayed coming out of Longyearbyen, in Svalbard, Norway because of security issues. Those flights are for massive Russian supply planes, which are used to shuttle gear and personnel too and from the Arctic. The aircraft typically fly from Russia to Norway, where they pick up passengers and supplies before proceeding on to Barneo. But this year, this procedure caused a stir when the transport planes carried a team of Chechen soldier who were on their way to the Arctic to conduct training exercises. Norwegian officials say that the Russians didn't inform them that these commandos would passing through their country, and in retaliation they revoked all of the flight permits, and changed the procedure for how the Russian jets come and go.

All of this was further compounded by the fact that the Barneo station had one of its most challenging years ever. Each year, a team of Russian engineers parachutes out onto the ice to build a temporary base that includes a 4000-foot (1220 meter) runway. That camp is then used to facilitate travel throughout the Arctic for a month or so. But this year, the landing strip had all kinds of issues, having to be rebuilt on multiple occasions and even forcing the relocation of the base at one point.

As you can imagine, all of this led to a tumultuous season at the North Pole this year, and will dramatically impact operations moving forward. Just exactly what happened, and how it will change travel in the Arctic in the future, is detailed in this article from Outside magazine. The story goes to great lengths to lay out the facts of what happened and the dispute that it has created between the Russians and the Norwegians. If you followed the events as they unfolded this past spring, or know the logistics of Arctic travel, you'll find it to be a good read.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out in the future. At the end of the Arctic season, the team that operates Barneo said that they would shift their logistical base back to Russia and travel through Franz Josef Land starting next year. That will work of course, but it means more hassle for the people coming and going from Barneo. Whether or not that has a real impact on travel at the top of the world remains to be seen.

Karakoram Summer 2016: The Arduous Task of Climbing K2 Begins

The summer climbing season is Pakistan is now officially underway. Most of the teams have now arrived in their respective Base Camps, with some already starting their first acclimatization rotations. It'll be a good month or more before they even consider taking a crack at the summit, but the foundation for those ascents is now being put into place.

Most of the focus this summer will fall squarely on K2, where commercial operations have ramped up significantly in the past couple of years. More than 100 climbers have registered for permits on the second tallest mountain in the world in 2016, where the weather usually dictates who actually has a chance of topping out. Traditionally speaking, summit bids won't begin until the last week of July or the first week of August, but for now the climbers are taking advantage of good weather and are preparing for the challenging ascent ahead.

The Madison Mountaineering team climbed up to Advanced Base Camp yesterday, and plan to proceed to Camp 1 at 6096 meters (20,000 ft) today. Once there, they'll spend at least one night before dropping back to BC for a rest. This starts the long process of getting their bodies accustomed to the higher altitudes that will eventually culminate with a summit push. That is still a long way off at this point, but this is the first of many steps in the right direction.

Meanwhile, the International team led by Vanessa O'Brien has already moved up to Camp 2, as her squad continues to make solid progress. O'Brien is looking to become the first American woman to summit K2, and so far everything is going according to plan.

ExWeb reports that the Sherpa teams on K2 have begun installing the ropes above C2 as more teams move up the mountain. There is still a long way to go before they get anywhere close to the summit, but it seems that the team fixing the lines is taking advantage of the good weather while they can. The ExWeb article also rightfully points out that there isn't a lot of room on K2 for tents, so it will be interesting to see how the season unfolds as the climbers work through the logistics.

At the moment, there are six teams in K2 Base Camp, with at least one more yet to arrive. That will make for a crowded mountain, but hopefully one that will remain safe. Climbing K2 is much more difficult than Everest, which compounds the challenges dramatically. This is not a place where traffic jams and long waits are advisable, as this is a mountain that is far less forgiving than it's taller counterpart.

We'll be watching the season unfold with interest. The commercialization of K2 is now in full-swing, and this year will show begin to give us an idea of how wise it is to open the peak up to so many climbers. It should be fascinating to see unfold. Lets just hope everyone stays safe.

Video: Daredevils Climb the Eiffel Tower

It's been awhile since we've seen a good urban climbing video, but this one emerged yesterday. It features a couple of daredevils climbing the Eiffel Tower, and capturing some impressive footage along the way. Of course, this is extremely dangerous – not to mention highly illegal – but it sure makes for an intriguing video. Definitely don't try this at home for a wide variety of reasons. Instead, sit back and let these guys do it instead.

Video: Kilian Jornet Runs Alaska's Mt. Marathon

This video takes us to Seward, Alaska to witness one of the most unique races on the planet. Seward is home to Mt. Marathon, which is described as "one of the oldest, fastest, hardest, toughest… and shortest mountain races in the world." The race is held each July 4, and last year world-class runners Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg were on hand to take place in the event, bringing their own unique skills along with them. You'll get a first hand look at Seward, the race, and these great athletes below. It is something to behold.

On a side note, I was in Seward last year on the day of the race. To say it was an electric atmosphere would be an understatement. I enjoyed reliving it through this clip. I hope you like it oo.

Share Your Inspiring Outdoor Story with Outside TV, Win Big Prizes!

Do you have an inspiring story to share? Looking for a good outlet to do just that? The Climb to the Summit contest from Outside TV just might be what you're looking for. Not only does it give you a platform to tell your tale, you'll also get a chance to appear on the television network, not to mention some great prizes that include a trip to Whistler and a $5000 gear shopping spree.

Entry into the contest is easy and straight forward. Simply visit the Climb to the Summit website, fill out the entry form, and upload a video that is 30 seconds to two minutes in length, that tells your personal story. Then, share your entry on social media, getting your friends and family to vote for your short film. Those votes will count towards the final tally, which will also include a panel of judges who will score the entries based on creativity and storytelling.

The contest runs from June 22 to August 16, after which the winners will be chosen. The grand prize for the contest includes a 4 day/3 night VIP skiing experience in Whistler, British Columbia, as well as a $5000 shopping spree courtesy of Mountain Hardwear. That seems like something worth going for.

Find out more, and enter the contest, by clicking here. And checkout the video below for some insights. Good luck!

13 Pieces of Gear Every All-Around Adventurer Should Own

This article is nearly a year old, but it recently came to my attention when Alastair Humphreys shared it on Facebook. It comes our way from the website Semi-Rad and it provides us with a list of 13 pieces of gear that every all-around adventurer should have in their arsenal. Consider this an inventory of items that all outdoor enthusiasts should have at their disposal.

The list is a comprehensive one, although most of the items are exactly what you would expect. In fact, I suspect that many of you reading this already have a good portion of these pieces of gear. Still, it is a good reminder of the things we should have at our disposal before setting out on an adventure, and as I read through the article, I was also doing a mental inventory of my own gear to make sure I had each of these things on hand.

Some of the items that make the list include a two-person backpacking tent, 30- and 60-liter backpacks, a rain shell, and a down jacket. Author Brendan Leonard also shares his picks for a proper sleeping bag, a headlamp, water bottles, and a variety of other gear as well. If you're looking to build a collection of solid gear to keep you safe and comfortable in the backcountry, this is a good place to start.

So, what do you think of the list? Did Brendan leave anything out? Do you have anything that you would add? Personally, I know I never leave home without a Buff or two, and I think a good watch – such as the Suunto Ambit – is an important piece of gear to have with you as well.

Find out what else made Semi-Rad's list by clicking here.

Did This Indian Couple Fake Their Everest Summit?

By most accounts, the 2016 Everest climbing season was one for the record books. After two years of cancellations, and several years of unusual activity on the mountain, this was about as close to a "normal" year as we've seen in some time. Of course, that doesn't mean that everything went exactly by the book, as we're now discovering. Reports now indicated that one Indian couple may have faked their summit photos, calling into question the validity of their claims.

This story broke on Buzzfeed yesterday, where the captivating story of Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod has been called into question. The couple said that they had reached the summit of Everest back on May 23, realizing a lifelong dream that both had shared. The duo were married back in 2008, and reportedly delayed starting a family until after they topped out on the tallest mountain on the planet. Their story, which includes both serving as police officers back home, garnered headlines across the planet. 

Now, just a few weeks later, cracks have started to appear in their story. The photos that were used to document their summit appear to be doctored, faked, or stolen. One image that was used to show their approach to the summit appears to have been taken directly from the International Mountain Guides website, while others seem to have been obviously photoshopped. As if that wasn't enough, the clothes that the couple are seen wearing on their way up the mountain are different from the outfits that they have on in the summit photos. Anyone who follows Everest closely knows that you don't change your clothing during a summit push.

Even more curious, even though Dinesh and Tarkeshwari claimed to have summited on May 23, they didn't declare their success until June 5. They also reportedly did not arrive in Base Camp until May 4. That isn't nearly enough time to acclimatize and prepare for a summit push, unless they had already done so on another major peak in the area. That doesn't appear to be the case here.

Apparently, there are even indications that the couple have faked summits in the past too, which the Buzzfeed article goes into as well. This all seems to point at yet another Everest fraud, indicating that things have indeed gotten back to normal. 

Video: Living Alone at the End of the World

This video brings us the unique story of Heraldo Riel, a gaucho who has lived alone in Chile's Patagonia region for more than 70 years. He has a simple life, but one that is rewarding in its own way. Surrounded by one of the last great wild places on the planet, he has carved out an existence that is connected to nature in some unique and wonderful ways. This is a beautiful video that you shouldn't miss.

The Last Colonizer | DJI World from Brent Foster on Vimeo.

Video: Nat Geo Takes Us to to the World's Most Magical Places

In this video we travel the world with National Geographic to visit some of the most magical places imaginable. These places might not be what you expect however, although they all hold an undeniable allure. These are all destinations that have a natural phenomenon that is unlike anything found elsewhere on the planet, making them unique and wonderful for travelers.

Gear Closet: Dakine's Oakridge Flannel and Dropout Jersey Cycling Shirts

Summer's here and if you're not spending time on the back of a bike, you're not making the most of the season. Of course, the clothes we wear on our rides can have a significant impact on our comfort, which is why the right apparel can make a huge difference in how much we enjoy those outings. Fortunately, we live in an era where outdoor gear is the best it has ever been, and that extends to cycling and mountain biking too.

Dakine makes plenty of great gear to help you get the most out of your rides, including some great cycling shirts that perform well but don't necessarily look like they are meant for the bike crowd. Recently, I had the chance to test out a couple of items from their line-up, and think they'll both make a good addition to your wardrobe as well.

Oakridge Flannel Shirt ($80)
Searching for a good looking, durable shirt to wear both the trail and off? Dakine's Oakridge Flannel looks like something you could wear just about anywhere, but includes some nice features that mountain bikers are sure to appreciate.

For instance, the shirt is made of durable fabrics that provide plenty of coverage, which anyone who has ever had a mishap out on the trail knows can be extremely useful. If you ride often enough, sooner or later you're going to crash, but this shirt can survive those incidences and help protect your arms at the same time.

Made from quick-drying polyester materials, the Oakridge features Dakine's very own Polygenie Odor Control Technology, which is designed to fight off the funk that comes with getting heated up on the trail. The shirt breathes very well, and can wick moisture too. Still, I found it to be a bit warm for my summer rides, as the flannel material is thicker than I'd like in the heat and humidity of my home trails. That said however, I can't wait to wear it in the fall, when things cool off a bit, and the crispness returns to the air.

One of my favorite things about this shirt is that it looks like just about any other flannel shirt you might find someone wearing while just wandering around town. It has a stylish, athletic cut that is form fitting without being overly restrictive, and it there is very little about it that indicates that it is a piece of performance gear designed for mountain biking. That makes it easy to transition from the trail to the pub after a ride, or just wearing it when you want better performance from a flannel shirt. With its classic good looks, the Oakridge doesn't feel like it would be out of place in just about any environment, which is the kind of versatility that I particularly appreciate.

Priced at $80, the Oakridge Flannel is a great option for cool weather rides, hikes, or just running errands on your day off. It is comfortable to wear, looks fantastic, and offers solid performance. I know that come fall, this will be one of my go-to shirts for the days that I want to hit the trail.

Dropout Bike Jersey ($40)
Dakine's Dropout Bike Jersey is a more traditional looking shirt made specifically with mountain bikers in mind. It uses similar materials as the Oakridge flannel, using 100% polyester fabrics that are quick drying, wicking, and very breathable. The shirt also includes the same Polygenie Odor Control Technology that keeps it smelling fresh even after a tough day on the trail. That comes in handy when you grab a beer after your ride, but don't want to drive away the other patrons at the bar.

The Dropout has relaxed fit that makes it a good choice for a wide range of riders. It also features raglan sleeves and a built-in soft sunglass wipe for keeping your shades clean while out on the trail.

This is the type of shirt that is more appropriate for a warm summer ride. With its quick-drying and wicking performance, you'll stay cool and comfortable even while working hard as you climb hills and bomb down the other side. It even pairs well with a hydration pack to keep you comfortable throughout your ride, allowing you to go further and faster, while staying out for extended periods of time.

The Dropout is a bargain at just $40. At that price, you might want to add two or three of them to your wardrobe, because it is likely to become your new favorite mountain biking shirt. This kind of performance shouldn't come at such a low cost, but you'll definitely be glad that it does.

Find out more about both of these shirts and the full line of Dakine products at

Outside Presents the 2016 Summer Gear Buyers Guide

Just in case you still need some help selecting the best gear for your summer outdoor adventures, Outside magazine has released its 2016 Summer Buyers Guide, outlining 369 items that will keep you safe, comfortable, and happy while pursuing your favorite activities.

The Buyer's Guide is broken down into multiple categories, including Float, Hike, Bike, Run, Fitness, and Travel. Each of those listings is further divided into subcategories that include lists of great gear that is applicable to the activity. For instance, under hiking you'll find the best tents for 2016, as well as the best hiking shoes. Meanwhile, under the bike category you'll discover the best mountain bikes and accessories for a summer ride.

Naturally, with this many items to explore, it can take you quite a long time to sift through all of the options. But, if you're in the market for a new sleeping bag, kayak, camera, or other equipment, the experts at Outside can help you find exactly what you're looking for. There are some really great products to check out here, each of which has been curated by testers who have put these items through their paces over the past few months.

Check out the full list of items on the Outside Online website by clicking here.

Tour de France to Use Thermal Cameras to Thwart Mechanical Doping

Just as the 2016 Tour de France is set to get underway, officials at the world's most famous bike race have announced new plans to thwart potential cheaters in this year's event. Along with the battery of drug tests that they'll be given, riders will also face an array of high tech gear – including thermal cameras – that will be on the look out for "mechanical doping" as well.

In recent years there have been some allegations that certain riders – including two-time TdF winner Chris Froome and world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara – have been competing with a hidden motor in their bikes. The accusations come following impressive individual performances by those riders, although there has been no proof so far that anyone on the pro cycling circuit is actually using such a device.

Earlier this year, Belgian cyclist Femke Van den Driessche was caught using such a motor at the cyclocross world championships. The 19-year old looked to have a promising career, but she now faces a six-year ban from the sport. Now, the Tour is looking to avoid a similar scandal while also trying to dodge another major black mark on a sport that has had so many controversies over the years, including countless doping scandals.

The thermal imaging cameras will allow judges to look for heat signatures on the bikes of competitors. A hidden motor will generate plenty of heat, which should stick out like a sore thumb on these special cameras, making it obvious who is using such a device.

These small motors don't create a ton of power, but they do assist already great riders, allowing them to pedal faster with less effort. This comes in handy when climbing hills or out racing sprints for instance, while keeping riders fresher throughout the race.

TdF officials say that the use of these motors may be the greatest threat to the sport ever. In fact, they claim that they are fighting for the very future of cycling itself at the moment. Those are strong words  when you consider the number of doping scandal that these officials have seen over the years. Still, they are stressing how serious they are taking this issue, and how they are moving forward with efforts to prevent it from happening.

By sharing the news that thermal cameras will be employed to prevent mechanical doping, the riders have been warned. But, this being cycling, I wouldn't be surprised if someone tried to get away with using one anyway. We'll just have to wait and see what comes of this. Hopefully it'll be a good race this year completely free from controversy.

Video: Blue Whales Off Iceland

This short, but sweet, video takes us off the coast of Iceland where we get the opportunity to spot one of the rarest and most elusive animals on the planet – the blue whale. At almost 30 meters (98 feet) in length, and weighing over 150 tons, this is the largest creature ever known to inhabit the Earth. Seeing one is a rare treat indeed, but we get to watch one thanks to this clip. Enjoy!

The blue whale of Iceland from Arnaud Muller on Vimeo.

Video: 61 Wingsuit Pilots Take Flight Together

Recently, 61 wingsuit pilots took flight over Perris, California to set a world record for the most people in such a formation. This video captured that moment in beautiful fashion, as these men and women drifted effortlessly through the air. Quite an impressive sight to see indeed.

Risky Antarctic Rescue Mission Completed Successfully

Before I left for Utah last week, one of the stories that we were watching closely was a daring and risky evacuation flight to the South Pole. At the time, all we knew was that a staff member at the Amundsen-Scott research facility had taken ill, and the situation was so desperate that two Twin Otter Aircraft has been scrambled from Kenn Borek Air in Canada to evacuate them. While it took some time to complete, that rescue operation did go off successfully, with everyone involved making it back safely.

Due to the fact that it is currently winter in the Southern Hemisphere, the flight was an incredibly risk one. Weather conditions are unpredictable and very dangerous in that part of the world this time of year, making it risky to come and go from the South Pole. Typically that means that anyone at the South Pole research station has to stay there until spring arrives in November. But in this case, the medical situation was so dire that it was deemed necessary to take the risk to bring out the patient.

That's exactly what happened last week, with the flight carrying not one, but two, South Pole staffers arrived back in Punta Arenas, Chile on Wednesday. That successful return followed several very long day, during which the pilots flew from Canada to South America, than crossed the Southern Ocean to reach the British Rothera Research Station, than continued on to the South Pole, and back again.

Two aircraft were required to complete the rescue with one making the full fight to the Pole, while the other stood by to lend a hand if needed. Fortunately, the entire mission came off without a significant hitch, and the two sick workers are now receiving medical attention. Their names and afflictions haven't been announced.

I'd love to hear more about this story and find out all the details behind it. Hopefully someone will do an in-depth article about what this adventure was like for the pilots. I'm sure there is quite a story to be told.

Karakoram Summer 2016: Teams Arrive in Base Camp, Moving Up Soon

When let we checked in on the teams looking to climb in the high mountains of Pakistan this summer they were mostly still gathering in Islamabad and preparing to fly out to Skardu to begin their journey to the various Base Camps spread out across the region. Now, more than a week later, those teams are now settling into BC and preparing to go higher.

Madison Mountaineering has checked in from K2, where the team has reportedly settled into Base Camp and is now preparing for its first rotation up the mountain. The weather is reportedly very good at the moment, and the Sherpa teams are already busy establishing ABC further up the mountain. The forecast looks good into this week, so it looks like the team will be on the move for a few days to take advantage of the situation. 

Similarly, the international team led by Vanessa O'Brien arrived in BC late last week. They've spent the weekend getting settled on the mountain and will likely be taking advantage of the current weather window to start their acclimatization as well. 

The Kobler & Partner expedition team also arrived in Base Camp last Thursday. That squad, which is made of very experienced 8000-meter climbers – quickly went to work getting settled as well, and are now looking upwards towards ABC and their first rotation up the mountain. 

Over on Broad Peak, the Mountain Professionals team has already finished their work to get settled and have now begun their first acclimation rotations as well. They're headed up to Camp 1 today where they'll spend two nights to allow their bodies to start to get use to the altitude. As of now, they are the only team on the mountain, although they have noted the steady stream of climbers making their way to BC on K2. It is unclear if any other teams will come to Broad Peak, so as a safety precaution the guides have ordered more rope and other climbing gear from Skardu just in case they have to go it alone. 

Finally, on Nanga Parbat the teams have started to gather as well. Spaniards Fernando Fernandez Vivancos and Jose Saldana Rodriguez have been on the mountain for several weeks now, and have had a good start to their acclimatization process. Other groups are still trickling in however, and will officially begin their climbs soon. 

The Karakoram climbing season is now officially underway, and over the next 4-6 weeks we'll be watching events unfold in the mountains of Pakistan. It looks like it will be one of the most interesting seasons in recent memory, with more teams on K2 than ever before. How that impacts the climb remains to be seen, but the notoriously difficult peak won't give up its summit easily. It should be fun to watch how things unfold. 

Ultrarunner Robert Young Abandons Attempt at Speed Record for U.S. Crossing

It was a busy time while I was away in Utah attending PressCamp last week, with one of the big stories coming from the world of long distance running. Over the past month or so, we've been following British ultrarunner Robert Young as he attempted to set a new speed record for crossing the U.S. on foot. But last week, the grind of that endeavor finally caught up with the endurance athlete, forcing him to withdraw from the attempt 2000 miles (3218 km) into the run.

Young launched his bid at the speed record – which was set back in 1980 and still stands at 46 days, 8 hours, 36 minutes – back on May 14. He set out from Huntington Beach in California with the hope of reaching Times Square in the fastest time possible. In order to break that 36 year old record, Young would need to cover more than 60 miles per day, each and every day, for a month and a half.

Last week, the grind of that challenge finally caught up to him. While heading into Indianapolis, the British runner developed soreness in one of the toes of his right foot. X-rays confirmed that he had developed an infection and a fracture. Young was treated by medical professionals, and attempted to use ice to lessen the pain, but in the end, he decided it was best to pull the plug altogether.

The move comes after Young began to fall off the pace needed to cross the U.S. in record time. The toll of the run seemed to wear on him in recent days, even as some questions arose about whether or not he was actually running all the miles he claimed to be. That question is now moot, as the speed crossing attempt is now over.

Covering 2000 miles on foot is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Young was able to cross California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, and part of Indiana before he was forced to withdraw. That's pretty impressive, even if he did come up a bit short in the speed attempt.

Commercial office market shines in real estate sector

Although the residential market continues to dip, stable lease rentals, high absorption levels, worldwide investor’s interest and insufficient supply have paved the way for commercial real estate market. Unlike the disintegrated residential sector, a few distinguished developers, with the support of investors, are building quality office spaces in the central cities.

On The Road Again - Headed to PressCamp!

Next week The Adventure Blog will go back on hiatus once again as I travel to Park City Utah to take part in Outdoor PressCamp. The event is designed to pair outdoor and adventure travel journalists with some of the top brands in the industry to check out their latest gear and test it in the wild. I expect it will be a busy, fun, and eye opening week for all of us involved.

While away, it seems unlikely that I'll have the chance to update with any frequency, but should anything interesting arise, I'll do my best to post an update. In the meantime, I'm sure I'll come home from PressCamp with lots of good news and information to share on some cool gear that we can all use in our outdoor pursuits.

I will be back and updating the blog again the week of June 26. I'll be around for about a week and a half before disappearing again. Thanks for your patience and for reading. I couldn't do this without you.

Video: Alaska in Timelapse

I've been fortunate enough to visit Alaska a couple of times, and when I return home I always struggle to convey just how beautiful and wild this place truly is. In terms of destinations that are wild and untamed, there are few that match what Alaska has to offer. This video helps to give viewers a sense of what it is like there, giving us nearly three minutes of beautiful landscapes captured in timelapse. If you have't been to Alaska yet, put it on your list. After watching this, you'll understand why you need to go there.

Alaska - Timelapse Film 4K from Toby Harriman on Vimeo.

Outside Gives Us 100 Reasons to Love the National Parks

As most of you probably know, 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service here in the U.S. To celebrate, the NPS is holding a number of special events throughout the year, and visitors to the parks throughout the summer will likely see all kinds of signs reminding them of the centennial year.

A few months back I wrote a piece that offered 100 Reasons the National Parks Remain America's Best Idea.  Well, it seems I'm not the only one who had that idea, as Outside magazine has also published a similar piece, this time giving us 100 Reasons to Love the National Parks. Their list includes some of the same things that mine did as well, but there are plenty of unique items as well.

Amongst the reasons that Outside says we should love the parks is the way they inspire us to get outside and seek adventure. But other reasons range from the fact that there is an oasis to be found in the heart of Death Valley to the otherworldly views that can be had in the Badlands. The list goes on to highlight hikes, activities, locations, and a wide variety of other things that are linked to the National Parks in some way, giving us a good idea of just how important and influential these iconic places actually are.

Now that summer is here, the parks tend to get extremely busy. In fact, President Obama and his family are planning to visit Yellowstone next week. This will no doubt bring some complications for travelers, in a park that is already crowded. But despite those challenges, the national parks are well worth the effort. There are few places that can compare to these beautiful and wild places, and we should all be lucky enough to visit as many as we can. 

The Everest 2016 Climbing Season in Numbers - 450+ Summits on the South Side

The spring climbing season in the Himalaya came to an end a few weeks back, and to say it was a successful season would be an understatement. But just how successful was it? We now have some numbers from Everest to help put things in perspective.

According to The Himalayan Times, the Department of Tourism for the Nepali Government has released its climbing numbers for Everest this year, and it was an astounding rebound following two years of interrupted operations on the mountain. This year, there were 456 successful summits from the South Side of the mountain, of which 199 were foreign climbers from 29 different countries. The other 257 climbers were Sherpas who were part of the support teams that assisted in getting clients to the top. Sadly, there were also five deaths this spring season as well.

In a sure sign that things are returning to normal on the world's highest peak, tourism officials issued permits for 289 expedition climbers, and 457 high-altitude porters and guides. Those permits were spread out across 34 different teams. That means, of the foreign climbers who came to Nepal to attempt Everest this year, about 90 were unable to make it to the top.

The youngest climbers to summit in 2016 were Balkar Singh and Stanzin Laskit, who are 19 and 18 respectively. The oldest climbers were Young Heo of South Korea who is 62, and New Zealander Lydia Margarate Bradey, who topped out at the age of 55.

The report goes on to say that there were 45 successful summits by female climbers, with Maya Sherpa being the lone woman from Nepal to summit. Furthermore, the busiest day of the season was May 19, when 209 people reached the top.

For the commercial teams that operate in Nepal, this was a much needed successful season that can best be described as "normal." In 2014 the season was canceled after an avalanche claimed the lives of 16 porters, and last year the April 25 earthquake killed another 21 people on Everest, while bringing widespread devastation to the rest of the country. In terms of sending a message to climbers that Everest is safe, secure and open for business, the guide companies couldn't have asked for a year that was so free from drama. Lets hope the trend continues.

Swedish Explorer to Walk From Mongolia to the Caspian Sea with Camels

ExWeb has posted an interview with Swedish adventurer Christian Bodegren on his next expedition, which is scheduled to get underway soon. The man who once paddled the length of the Amazon River will next travel by foot across a vast expanse of land-locked territory. Bodegren is currently in Mongolia, where he is planning to walk overland across that country and Kazakhstan, eventually reaching the Caspian Sea.

The Swede says that he is still ramping for this expedition to get underway, with part of the process finding camels to accompany him on the journey. Those creatures will serve as his mounts and pack animals as he travels for weeks on end. When he reaches the border with Kazakstan he'll sell of his Mongolia camels to purchase new ones. Christian says he learned a hard lesson about crossing international borders with camels when he made a trek across the Sahara a few years back, and that he doesn't want to repeat those problems once again.

In the interview, Bodegren talks logistics and his inspirations for undertaking this journey. He says that after paddling the Amazon back in 2012 he tried to return to a normal life, but after awhile he started to get anxious staying in one place for too long. Slowly he started to think about some other potential challenges that he could undertake. This Mongol expedition slowly started to come together.

At this point, it is unclear exactly when Christian will start the walk, or how long it will take him to complete it. But, on his official website the dates for the walk are 2016-2017, so he at least expects it to extend into next year. Similarly, there aren't a lot of details on his exact route, which is probably going to be decided as he moves along. He does plan to cross the Gobi Desert though, which gives us some indication of where he'll be.

Christian is posting occasional updates to his website. If you'd like to follow him as he proceeds, that would be a good place to stay up to date on his current situation. It should certainly be an interesting expedition to watch unfold.

Video: Yosemite Half Dome in 360º

One of the more exciting innovations in technology over the past year or two has been the rise of 360º videos. These clips are made with special camera set-ups that can shoot footage in every direction at once. Than, when viewed in a supported browser, the viewer can actually pan around the video to get a look at the scene from different angles. The effect is even more enhanced if viewed with a set of virtual reality goggles, such as the Oculus Rift.

The video below is a good example of this type of technology, as it takes us on a climb up Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. The result is quite an experience, particularly if you view it in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Opera. Enjoy!

Video: Rock Climbing in South Africa

South Africa is one of the best countries in the world for those seeking outdoor adventure. We're reminded of this by the video below, which follows North Face climbers James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini as they go searching for some great lines to scale, discovering sport, trad, and bouldering routes across spectacular landscapes in the Rocklands area. They also took time to deliver some much needed climbing equipment to a local climbing school as well, giving their South African adventure a different mission as well.

British Adventurers to Paddle From Greenland to Scotland

Two British adventurers are preparing to set out on a challenging kayaking expedition that will take them across the Arctic Ocean and North Sea as they travel from Greenland to Scotland. Their journey is set to begin this Sunday and is expected to take upwards of six weeks to complete.

In just a few days time, Olly Hicks and George Bullard will leave the U.K. for Greenland where they will launch their In the Wake of the Finnmen expedition. This journey by sea will cover more than 1200 miles (1931 km) as they travel from the Denmark Strait to Iceland, follow the coastline of that country before daring the waters of the North Sea to head towards the Faroe Islands, a remote place located north of the British Isles. After that, they'll turn south to paddle 50 miles (80 km) to reach the tiny island of North Rona before pressing on with the final leg, which ends at Cape Wrath in Scotland.

All told, the two men expect to be padding for six weeks, with 12 nights actually spend out on the water in the open seas. The first three of those nights will take place on the crossing from Greenland to Iceland. The paddlers will then take their time kayaking along the shores of that country, regaining their strength and preparing for the challenges ahead. During that section of the expedition they'll cover about 20 miles (32 km) per day before pushing on to the Faroe Islands, which will force them to spend another six nights at sea. The final three nights will be when they make the final push across the North Sea to Cape Wrath. 

Olly and George will be paddling a modified Inuk Duo 6.8m sea kayak, which is designed to withstand the challenges and rigors of open water in remote seas. It has also been made for long distance paddling expeditions, with plenty of storage for gear and supplies. The kayak even has sealable cockpits, allowing the men to squeeze inside its hull to catch some sleep on those long nights at sea. 

The aim of the expedition is to prove that the Inuit people of the Arctic could have made a similar journey to populate island that are found in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Hicks has called it the “Arctic Kon-Tiki expedition" in a nod to the famous Thor Heyerdahl expedition from 1947. Olly and George's boat is much smaller than Heyerdahl's however, with some very different challenges. 

This won't be be the first waterborne journey for Hicks. Back in 2005 he became the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean at the age of 23. In 2008, we followed his attempt to row around Antarctica as well, and while other expeditions have taken him across the Tasman Sea and around Great Britain. In the future, he hopes to row around the world, taking another crack at the Southern Ocean off the coast of Antarctica once again. 

New Monument Discovered in the Ancient City of Petra

Archaeologists and researchers using satellite imagery and drones have reportedly uncovered a new monument in the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. This structure is said to be massive in size, and unlike anything else found at the site before. It also hints at possible other discoveries yet to be made.

The new find was identified by archaeologists Sarah Parcak and Christopher Tuttle, who used a variety of high tech tools to locate and unearth it. The new structure is said to be roughly 184-by-161-feet (about 56-by-49-meters) in dimension, which makes it about the same length as an Olympic size swimming pool, and twice as wide. It is a large platform that surrounds a smaller platform which was once paved with flagstones. A series of pillars lined the outside, with a massive staircase on the interior.

What exactly this platform was used for remains unclear, and it doesn't match anything else that has been seen inside Petra so far. But, the ancient city is massive in size and scope, covering 102 square miles (264 sq. km), with the main city center covering about 2.3 square miles (6 sq. km). Many people who have not visited the site often believe that Petra is only made up of the Treasury, the iconic building that is seen in so many photos and movies. But the site is sprawling, with hundreds of buildings and structures spread out across the area.

Speculation on the newly found platform leads researchers to believe that it was a public building of some kind, but its exact use remains a mystery. It is thought that when it was intact, it was the second highest structure in the city, which was abandoned in the 7th century, and revealed to the outside world when it was located by explorer Johann Burckhardt in 1812.

This is another great example of an amazing discovery found in a place that we thought we already knew very well and had explored top to bottom. Petra is visited by millions of travelers every year, and it continues to amaze even in the 21st century. But it is even more fascinating to think that we are still finding new things there, and it makes you wonder what else is at the site, waiting to be uncovered.

Karakoram 2016: American Woman Going for Speed Record on K2?

Teams of climbers are now arriving in Islamabad as the climbing season on K2, Broad Peak, Nanga Parbat, and other big mountains in Pakistan get underway. It'll be a couple of weeks before things really ramp up, but we are now starting to get a sense of what to expect in the season ahead, including a potential speed record attempt on K2 itself.

It has now been revealed that British-American climber Vanessa O'Brien is on her way to K2, where she hopes to become the first woman from the U.S. to summit the peak, as well as the fastest ever too. She already holds the speed record for a woman climbing the Seven Summits, having accomplished that feat in 295 days.

O'Brien is an experienced mountaineer, but she has not faced a challenge like K2 before. This will certainly be a test of her skill and determination, although a healthy dose of luck will be involved too. The weather on K2 is very unpredictable, making it hard to predict when a summit push can begin. We're a long way from that point right now however, although she says she hopes to make her summit push in about six weeks time. Late July and early August are the traditional timeframe for reach the top of this very difficult mountain.

(Update: It isn't clear from the article linked above doesn't make it clear what, if any, speed record Vanessa may be going for. It is possible that the headline is misleading and based on her speed record on the Seven Summits.)

Vanessa says she is climbing to raise awareness of the incredibly natural environment that is found Gilgit-Baltistan region, as well as to improve relations between the West and Pakistan. She's also championing the rights of women in that country and across the globe.

Meanwhile, other teams are assembling and preparing to depart for the mountains as well. It typically takes several days to journey from Islamabad to Skardu if they go overland, and more than a week to trek to Base Camp, depending on their ultimate goal. That means we won't see anyone officially starting their climbs until next week, but there should be more interesting stories to tell as the teams press forward. More to come soon.

Video: Being There - The Importance of Wild Places

Have you ever had a place become so special and important to you that it actually crawls into your very mind and soul? If so, this is a video for you. It is a good reminder of why wild places are so incredibly important to us, and how they can change our perspective on the world around us. How these unique places play a role in shaping who we are, and how we feel when we are there. Beautifully shot and very thoughtful, this is the kind of clip that sticks with you long after you've seen it. I hope you enjoy it as much as did.

BEING HERE from Outdoor Research on Vimeo.

Video: Running Downhill in Iceland

One of the most exhilarating experiences for trail runners is topping out on a summit or ridge, and turning down hill at long last. It is then that they can let go, and just allow their legs to carry them down the trail as quickly as possible. In this video, we travel to Iceland, where British runners Ricky Lightfoot and Tom Owens go in search of great downhill opportunities. As you might expect, they find them amongst the amazing landscapes there.

Gear Closet: WoolPRO Performance Base Layers

When it comes to high performance fabrics, merino wool has become the defect standard by which all other materials are judged. Based on the performance of merino it is easy to understand why. Not only is it warm and comfortable, it also features natural wicking properties, it is highly breathable, and it has antimicrobial attributes that help to fend off odors too. This of course makes it a great choice for outdoor apparel, where this level of performance is most appreciated.

The down side of merino wool is that it can sometimes be expensive, which can make it a cost prohibitive option for some outdoor enthusiasts. But recently I had the chance to test out some great merino base layers made by a company called WoolPRO, which makes a number of outstanding products on par with those that I've found elsewhere in the industry, but at a more affordable price. 

Spring isn't always a great time to test base layers, but on my recent trip to Alaska I found plenty of weather where they still came in handy. I used WoolPRO's Scout mid-weight merino half-zip top ($84.99) and Thor mid-weight bottoms ($49.99), while my wife had the chance to try out the Agena mid-weight tops ($69.99) and tights, each of which proved very useful while exploring the icy waters of the Inside Passage.

All of the garments fit snugly, but moved naturally with our bodies so as to not hinder motion in any way. Considering the fact that our trip was an active one, this was much appreciated. On top of that, the base layers were incredibly comfortable to wear, and it didn't take long for the Scout to become my go to pullover when I was simply lounging around on our ship or heading out for a hike or kayaking excursion.

With their trim, athletic cut, these base layers seem like they were designed with the outdoor athlete in mind, but little details like a dropped tail and raglan sleeves help to make all the difference. Those features, combined with well-placed stitching, help to create a piece of clothing that you'll feel comfortable in for hours on end. That's due in no small part because of the company's patented Activeseam, a stitch that was created specifically for active apparel that is strong, soft, and barely noticeable on the garment itself.

I'm told that WoolPRO spent several years creating the lightweight blend of merino that it uses in its products, and it shows. The company also knits and dyes its own wool, which is then used in short production runs on clothing that the owners and employees themselves want to wear on their outdoor adventures. All of the production is done right here in the U.S. in Fall River, Massachusetts, where the WoolPRO line was first conceived and designed. The WoolPRO line has only been around for a couple of years, but it is already gaining momentum with amongst outdoor athletes looking for affordable gear that still offers excellent performance.

Having tried a wide variety of base layers. merino wool shirts, and various other products over the years, it is safe to say that WoolPRO's offerings are amongst the best I've seen in the lightweight category, particularly for the price. They deliver all of the performance you would expect from merino, and manage to look and feel good at the same time.

The WoolPRO base layers that I used performed beyond my expectations, making them a great option for travelers. Lightweight and highly packable, these are the type of garments you can throw in your pack and use numerous times throughout a single trip, always knowing how reliable and comfortable they will be. They are also durable enough to withstand the rigors of the road, shrugging off punishment and continuing to look great.

Beyond travel however, these base layers can be put to good use in variety of other activities too. I wouldn't hesitate to use the Scout top while trail running or mountain biking for example, while the Thor bottoms are a good choice for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or cold weather hikes. That level of versatility is always welcomed in my gear, and it is nice to know you have these products at your disposal when you need them.

As impressive as these products perform, one of the best features of WoolPRO's products are the prices. Just about everything in their line-up is priced very competitively, which makes it easy to recommend them to anyone who is looking for great performance without breaking the bank. The items that I've used are definitely on par with the competition in terms of how well they function, but are offered at a price point that is more palatable for the mainstream audience. That's a winning combination that is tough to top. 

Nat Geo Gives Us 10 Places That Deserve More Visitors

Still looking for a good destination for your next travel adventure? National Geographic is here to help. Travel writer Tara Isabella Burton has put together a great piece that shares 10 destinations that deserve more travelers, with some familiar and surprising places making the list. Amongst the more unusual places that get a recommendation are Armenia, which is lauded for its history, rich culture, and natural attractions, and Kosovo, which offers fantastic hiking opportunities. Meanwhile, Uzbekistan lures visitors with its beautiful landscapes and restored ancient palaces, while Georgia is a growing outdoor sports mecca in Eastern Europe.

Evacuation Operation Underway in the Antarctic

The National Science Foundation has initiated an evacuation procedure from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Research Station as one of the winter staff members there has taken ill. The nature of the medical emergency hasn't been divulged, but it is clear that it is serious enough for the NSF to call in help.

Canada's Kenn Borek Air has scrambled two Twin-Otter Aircraft, which are currently en route to South America before making the leap over to the Antarctic Continent. One of those planes will serve as a support aircraft should search and rescue operations become necessary, while the other will make a 1500 mile (2414 km) flight from the British Rothera Research Station to the South Pole.

The time table for this rescue operation will be heavily dependent on current weather conditions in the Antarctic, but it is believed that June 19 will be the earliest that plane can reach the South Pole. It is currently winter in the Southern Hemisphere, which makes for some incredibly inhospitable weather in Antarctica. Conditions can change very quickly, and it is not uncommon to have high winds and incredibly cold temperatures, sometimes falling to more than -100ºF/-73ºC. That could complicated an evacuation procedures over the next few days.

Because it is winter at the South Pole, the Amundsen-Scott station has a greatly reduced staff on hand to maintain the base. Typically those crew members are on duty there until November or so, when the regular crew returns to ramp up seasonal research operations. The winter staff usually knows that once they are in place there is usually no way for them to return home, so the nature of this medical evacuation must be fairly serious. Not only is the NSF risking the lives of the pilots performing the dangerous flight, but they're also risking the safety of their crew.

Hopefully everything will go off without a hitch in the next couple of days, and both the flight crew and the NSF staff member will be safely evacuated. It should be an interesting story to follow to say the least.

Video: Two Years of Travel in Two Minutes

This wonderful video was shot over two years using just a GoPro camera as filmmaker Harry Van Durme traveled to 12 different countries, capturing his adventures along the way. He's now distilled those two years of travel down to just two minutes, taking us along with him to some amazing places. If this doesn't inspire you to want to see the world, nothing will.

Travel - 2 years in 2 minutes from Harry Van Durme on Vimeo.

Video: To The Summit of K2

Over the next couple of months we'll be following the proceedings on K2 very closely. Want to know what it looks like when you approach the summit of that mountain? This video will give you an idea. As you'll see, it is very steep and technical, which is why this peak has earned the moniker of "the mountaineer's mountain." Not a place for the inexperienced, this is a far different climb than Everest.

Gear Closet: Lowa Innox EVO Lo and Renegade GTX Mid Boots

Finding the right footwear to see you through your outdoor adventures is essential to enjoying your time outside. After all, if you're feet aren't happy, the rest of you probably isn't going to have a good time either. Fortunately, we live in a time when there are many good choices when it comes to shoes for our outdoor pursuits, with Lowa making some of the best options for a wide variety of activities, including hiking, backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, travel, or just kicking it around town. Recently, I had the chance to test two very different shoes from the company, coming away very impressed with both. Here are my thoughts on these two boots.

Lowa Innox EVO Lo Light Hiking Shoes
Lightweight and comfortable is the best way to describe these fantastic shoes, which have the soul of a trail runner and the sole of a hiking boot.

At first glance, the Innox EVO Lo resembles an athletic shoe more than a hiking boot, and since they weigh just 22 ounces for a pair, it would be easy to think they wouldn't offer all of the support you would need. But this hiking shoe has a stiff midsole that helps to protect the foot from jarring impacts, while still managing to maintain a level of flexibility that makes it an ideal choice for a wide variety of outdoor activities.

Lowa has packed quite a few features into these fairly simple looking shoes. For instance, the Innox EVO comes equipped with a Gore-Tex waterproof liner that helps keep moisture at bay. This makes them a great choice for use in damp environments, as the quick-drying and highly breathable fabrics that make up the shoe keep your feet dry and comfortable throughout the day. That's a great combination of performance features to have in any athletic shoe, let a lone a light hiker.

For me, these shoes have a bit of a snug fit, which is something that I happen to like. When it comes to athletic shoes I like to have a good feel for the surface benefits my feet, and these shoes provide that experience nicely. This helps to provide good footing in changing conditions, and gives a nice sense of agility and balance. And since the Innox EVO has a nice, aggressive sole, it feels like you could wear them just about anywhere without fear.

Perhaps my favorite thing about these shoes is there level of versatility. They are great for day hikes of course, but they could also be used for trail running in a pinch. But, they also make a great shoe for travel since they can be used both on the trail or walking around town. If you're someone who likes to travel light, this is an excellent option, as they just might be the only pair of shoes you need to take with you on you travels.

The Lowa Innox EVO Lo hiking shoes are priced at $175, which probably seems a bit pricey when compared to similar shoes from the competition. But because they are so comfortable, durable, and versatile, it actually feels like a true bargain. A pair of these shoes will definitely last you a long time, and see you through a wide variety of adventures. The fact that they look good too is just icing on the cake.

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
Switching gears from the low-profile, light hikers of the Innox EVO, the Renegate GTX which is a completely different boot with a completely different purpose in mind. This is Lowa's best selling shoe of all time, and after wearing them on the trail it is easy to understand why. The combination of support, protection, and comfort they provide to your feet is exceptional, making them one of my favorite pairs of boots I've ever worn.

Whereas the Innox EVOs are great for day hiking and travel, the Renegade GTX is specifically built with trekking and backpacking in mind. These boots are made from Nubuck leather and feature a Vibram Evo outsole that provide great traction on mud, snow, ice, and other wet surfaces. A Gore-Tex liner does an excellent job of keeping water out, while a climate control footbed helps to keep your feet warm and dry. All of this really helps to keep your feet comfortable on longer hikes, making it much easier to trek for miles over a number of days as well.

One of the key elements you look for out of a good pair of backpacking boots is durability, and Renegade excels in that category too. I've worn these boots on a number of hikes, putting some decent mileage on them in the process. Other than getting a bit dirty and muddy, they actually still look brand new and fresh from the box. I've taken them on trails in Alaska, the Adirondacks, and closer to home, and so far there isn't a scratch, cut, or scuff on them anywhere. In fact, when I wash the mud and grime off of them upon returning home, you'd never know that they've ever hit a trail at all. This speaks well for the long-term life of these boots, which will likely serve you well for years of outdoor adventures.

The other thing that I really like about the Renegade GTX boots is that they are very comfortable, even after a long day on the trail. There are a lot of boots on the market that are durable and offer good traction, or can keep your feet protected and safe from the elements. But few boots can do all of that, plus are comfortable enough to wear all day long too. Lowa has made that boot, which is why it has been such a hit with their customers.

The Renegade GTX is a bit of overkill for short, local day hikes. But if you're an adventure traveler who treks mountain trails or goes backpacking through national parks, these are a great options for those more demanding outings. They are perfect for multi-day camping trips or even light mountaineering expeditions. Warm, comfortable, and very durable, these are boots that will see you safely through a wide variety of environments and challenges, with your feet completely protected the entire way. I fully endorse the Renegade boots for those types of experiences, as I know that they'll offer all of the support you'll need, and then some.

Lowa sells the Renegade GTX Mid for $230, which in mind is a very competitive price for this type of boot. When you consider the fact that a good pair of hiking boots is an investment in future adventures, I think you'll find these are a real bargain. This is a pair of shoes you'll have in your closet for years to come. There isn't much more to say than that, other than you can't go wrong with these boots.

Questions Arise Over Robert Young's Attempt to Run Across the U.S.

Last month I told you about ultrarunner Robert Young, and his attempt to set a new speed record for traveling across the U.S. on foot. Young is currently in the middle of that attempt, and is trying to beat the previous record which has stood at 46 days, 8 hours, and 36 minutes for 36 years. To do that, he needs to run more than 60 miles per day, every day, for a month and a half, something he's being doing as he is currently on pace to beat the old record. But now, questions have begun to arise as to whether or not he is actually running all of those miles.

Outside magazine first broke the story, which involves a fellow runner tracking Young's movements on his official website. That person – named Asher Dermott – posted his story to saying that on June 4 he followed Young's GPS tracker as he passed through Dermott's hometown of Lebo, Kansas. Seeing that the ultrarunner was close by, he decided to head out to meet him, and perhaps run a few miles with him along the way. But when he tracked down Young's support vehicle, the runner was nowhere to be found.

To support these claims, Dermott has video and photos, along with time-stamped images of the tracking page on Young's website. He claims that he watched Young's support vehicle for an extended period of time, and that there was no runner to be seen at any time. The vehicle was moving along at roughly the same speed as a runner, with the implication being that Young was inside the RV resting, while the GPS tracker was used to trick anyone following along with his progress into believing that he was actually out on the road, covering all of those miles. Because Young mostly runs at night – it was 1 AM when he passed through Lebo – it would be unlikely that anyone would notice.

For his part, Young has denied the accusations and says that the accusations have had an impact on his already flagging spirits, causing his performance to drop. Over the past few days his daily distances have dropped to 50 miles (80 km), which puts him off the pace he needs to break the record. His support staff says they have been spending a great deal of time attempting to refute these claims and fight the allegations, which has cut into Young's rest and recovery periods.

Young's team also said that on the night in question, the runner fell of his pace and was left behind by his support van. In fact, they say he had to borrow a cell phone from a stranger to call one of the members of the team to ask the van to stop and wait for him. They also say that ultrarunner can be spotted in security footage that Dermott obtained, but he is actually nine minutes behind the support vehicle, which is why he wasn't spotted initially. The updated video is reportedly going to be released soon to support these claims.

As you can imagine, the ultraruning community has been up in arms over these revelations. There are some who are willing to give Young the benefit of the doubt, while others are siding with Dermott. Some are going back to look at previous tracking data to search for anomalies. All of this scrutiny is of course taking its toll on the runner himself. Whether or not he'll be able to overcome these challenges and continue on to Times Square in New York to break the record remains to be seen.

For now, all we can do is follow along with Young's efforts and see how the evidence plays out. This could be a simple mistake on the part of Dermott, or a much larger conspiracy by Young and his team.

Canadian Adventurer To Row Across the Atlantic Solo

A Canadian adventurer who was the first person from that country to summit Everest without the use of oxygen is now preparing to embark on his next big challenge – a 4500 km (2796 mile) solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean to raise funds to fight cancer.

This month, Laval St. Germain will set out from Halifax Habor on what he calls the Confront Cancer Ocean Row. His hope is to arrive in France in a few months time, braving big waves, hundreds of miles of open water, and potentially dangerous storms along the way. Traveling west to east across the turbulent North Atlantic will test his stamina and determination with cold water and icy seas as well.

St. Germain is making this solo Atlantic crossing to raise funds for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. He hope to pull in $200,000 in donations to help support that organizations cause, which is to work towards the cause of curing cancer and bringing an end to the disease which 43 Albertans are diagnosed with on a daily basis.

But Laval has another inspiration for rowing across the Atlantic too. In July of 2014, his oldest son drowned in a canoe accident on the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territory of Canada. He was 21-years old at the time, and had been attempting to lend assistance to a girl who was panicking while swimming in those waters. The young man lost his life, which as you can imagine had a dramatic impact on his family's life.

According to his Twitter feed, Laval will launch his epic crossing starting tomorrow – Wednesday, June 15. His specially designed rowboat has been placed in the water, and has been stocked with supplies, and the weather looks good for the start of the journey.

If you want to follow this adventure as it unfolds, it looks like Laval's Twitter is the best way to go. I wish him godspeed on this expedition. It should be a challenge unlike any other.

Video: Take a Hike Through the Highlands of North Carolina

When we think about the beautiful landscapes of the U.S., the western states tend to get an inordinate amount of attention. Those places are spectacularly beautiful of course, but sometimes other parts of the country get overlooked. Case in point, this video takes us to the highlands of North Carolina, where we get a good look at some of the amazing things that state has to offer visitors and outdoor lovers.

HIGHLANDS from Patrick Clement on Vimeo.

Video: Wingsuit Pilot Flies over Active Volcano

In this video we travel to Chile with stuntwoman Roberta Mancino where the wingsuit pilot makes a dramatic flight over Villarrica, an active stratovolcano in that country's Andean mountain chain. The results are some spectacular views and a close approach to one of nature's most awesome displays of power.

An Un-Cruise Adventure in Alaska

I've been so busy over the past couple of weeks that I haven't had a chance to share any stories from my recent trip to Alaska, a place that remains one of the best wilderness destinations on the planet. In terms of outdoor adventure and vast sections of land that remain widely unexplored, it is tough to top Alaska. Whether you like skiing, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, or kayaking, you'll find some  amazing places to pursue those activities. But my trip was a different kind of Alaskan adventure, one that many take on an annual basis, the very popular Alaskan cruise.

Now, before you start to think that this adventure blogger has gone soft, let me quickly point out that this wasn't your typical Alaskan cruise. Far from it in fact. I was invited to take part in a cruise through the Inside Passage with Un-Cruise Adventures, a company that does things a little differently than the mainstream cruise lines that most people use while visiting the area. How so you ask? Well, for starters the Un-Cruise fleet is made up of small ships, which means rather than sharing the vessel with hundreds – if not thousands – of other passengers, there were only about 70 travelers aboard my ship, the surprisingly well equipped Wilderness Explorer

This small ship experience allowed everyone on board the ship to interact with one another, getting to know everyone else to some degree. This was especially enhanced when we shared stories around the table during meal time, but also when travelers joined one another on some of the active excursions that are a part of the Un-Cruise itinerary as well. Unlike other Alaskan cruises, passengers don't just stay onboard the ship the entire time, often heading on shore to take a bushwhack hike or to board a kayak to paddle the clear, crisp waters that are found throughout the Inside Passage. Other options for exploring the area included guided walks along the beach, stand-up paddleboarding outings, and skiff tours aboard Zodiac inflatable boats.

Personally, I'm not much of a cruise traveler. If you've read this blog for any length of time, you probably already know that I enjoy being active during my travels and prefer visiting places that I can explore under my own power. On an Un-Cruise you can do just that, thanks to the challenging hikes and great sea kayaking opportunities that actually allow you to get closer to the breathtaking Alaskan landscapes that are such a big draw to visitors.

Speaking of which, the Inside Passage delivered beautiful views at an astounding rate. Before going, I knew that the southeast section of Alaska was well know for its beautiful coasts, but even with that knowledge in mind, I was still surprised and astounded at what I found there. Snow capped peaks, rocky coves, icy fjords, towering waterfalls, and dense rainforest are all part of what you'll find there, with those elements coming together to create a place that is utterly unforgettable. More than once, I remarked that the places we were visiting looked like the should only exist in photos, but yet there they were splayed out in front of us.

Glacier Bay National Park was one of the crown jewels of the trip of course, giving us a chance to get close to some massive walls of ice that still exist in this part of the world. Most of the glaciers there are in full-retreat, but they remain impressive nonetheless. But over the course of the week, we continually came across gorgeous landscapes that are only accessible by boat. Some of those locations were so amazing that they easily rank amongst the most beautiful places I've ever seen, which is saying a lot when you consider some of the great places I've been privileged enough to visit over the years.

In addition to breathtaking landscapes, Alaska is also known for its great wildlife, and my Un-Cruise adventure didn't disappoint in that area either. On our second day out of Juneau for instance, we spotted a pod of orca whales that we watched for nearly an hour. Over the course of the week, we also had encounters with bears (often with cubs!), moose, mountain goats, seals, sea lions, mink, sea otters, bald eagles, and countless other species of birds. If you're like me, and love wild animals in their natural environments, the Un-Cruise won't disappoint in this department either.

Another example of how Un-Cruise differs from the standard Alaskan cruise is that while there is a detailed plan and itinerary for your travels with them, that plan often changes on a moment's notice. For example, one of our days out on the water our captain made the decision to travel 85 miles out of our way just to track down a pod of humpback whales. This was much to the delight of the passengers aboard the Wilderness Explorer of course, as we spent a great deal of time watching these amazing creatures swim through the area. We even witnessed several impressive breaches, as the whales leapt from the water to give us an even better view. It was a memorable experience to say the least, and one that we all appreciated.

My wife – who accompanied me on the trip – and I also had another memorable encounter with an animal while on a guided sea kayak excursion. One afternoon we went out on the water for a couple of hours, and while we had the opportunity to watch a brown bear and her cubs grazing in the grass along the shore, we later had an even better moment with a member of the local wildlife. While paddling, we had a harbor seal following us around for 45 minutes or an hour, occasionally poking his head out of the water to see what we were up to, and even swimming directly under our kayak. He was a cute and curious little fellow, and it was one of the highlights of our entire trip.

As you can no doubt tell, I had a wonderful time in Alaska, and a lot of that has to do with how professional and prepared the team from Un-Cruise were. The staff on our ship kept us well informed at all times of what was happening, and did an outstanding job of organizing our active excursions. On top of that, our cabins were always impeccably clean and the meals were delicious and plentiful. In short, it was tough not to come away impressed, and if I were recommending a cruise through the Inside Passage, I can't imagine doing it any other way than with Un-Cruise. Anything else is just sitting on a ship and watching the world go by.

Un-Cruise doesn't just operate in Alaska. The company also offers departures to the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, Panama, Mexico, and beyond. To check out all of their options, visit