Video: The Art of Climbing

This video takes us to the Rätikon Mountains of Switzerland where we join professional climber Kilian Fischuber ons a tough route known as Headless Children. As he makes just the second free climb of this mutli-ptich 250-meter (820 ft) wall, he begins to see an intersection of his two passions, climbing and art. On this wall, he sees colors that are not unlike a painting, adding a surreal element to the entire experience.

Video: Climbing Downpatrick Head Sea Stack in Ireland

Located just 80 meters off the coast of Ireland, the Dún Briste sea stack is an indelible part of one of that country's most iconic landscapes – Downpatrick Head, where St. Patrick himself is said to have built a church centuries ago. While certainly an enticing challenge, the sea stack is seldom climbed, but last month that's exactly what Iain Miller and Paulina Kaniszewska did. In this short video, you'll see them paddle out to the rock face, make their ascent, and take in the views at the top, which include the remains of an old lookout post from World War II.

You can find out more about their experience by reading their account of the climb here. It looks like it was quite a fun adventure. Thanks for sharing Iian!

Gear Closet: Gear Aid Flux LED Light and Power Station

When I traveled to the 2016 Outdoor Retailer convention in Salt Lake City this past summer I had the opportunity to meet with a number of companies who are making great gear for use in our outdoor pursuits. As usual, there were a number of trends that shone through, including gear getting lighter, more eco-friendly, and improving performance in inclement weather. But, there was also another trend that was easy to notice with numerous gear manufacturers putting an emphasis on better lighting solutions for use around our campsites. In the weeks ahead, you're going to see some of these products begin to make their way onto the market, and several of them are truly going to revolutionize the way we illuminate the campgrounds. The first of these to cross my desk is an incredibly bright and powerful LED lantern from a company called Gear Aid, whose new Flux light will prove very handy in a wide variety of situations.

The first thing you'll notice about the Flux is that it is extremely rugged and durable. Gear Aid spared no expense in creating a light that can survive in just about any environment, including a campsite, warehouse, or garage. Housed in a tough plastic suit of armor, my test unit has survived several serious drops onto a variety of hard surfaces, and has come away without nary a scratch. On top of that, the Flux is also water resistant, which means you should have a bright source of light no matter the weather conditions.

Did I mention that this lantern was bright? With 82 individual LEDs onboard, it can crank out as much as 640 lumens of light on its highest setting. At that level of brightness, the Flux's built-in rechargeable battery – which is rated at a whopping 20,800 mAh – can power the light for up to 13 hours. Turn it down to a much more modest 20 lumens – the Flux's lowest setting – and the burn time increases to an impressive 192 hours. That should be enough to get you through just about any camp outing. And since it has 10 brightness settings, and three color temperatures, you'll always be able to find just the right lighting for to meet your needs.


That massive rechargeable lithium-ion battery can be put to other uses too however. The Flux comes equipped with 1.5-amp USB port that can be used to power-up your electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, cameras, headlamps, and other gadgets. In fact, the Flux can recharge your iPhone 10 times over, and still have some juice left to power the light.

To add yet another level of versatility to this lantern, Gear Aid has created a series of mounts that allow you use the Flux in a number of different settings. For instance, I tested a magnetic mount that comes in hand when you need to attach the lantern to a car for instance, while a claw mount clips to a pole or similarly shaped attachment. The Flux also comes with a handy built-in kickstand, and a special adapter that is sold separately allows it to work with any GoPro mounts as well.

As if that wasn't enough, the Flux has a couple of other nice tricks up its sleeve. For instance, it can be set to SOS mode to signal for help should you find yourself in trouble in the backcountry, and it ships with a hanging hook and diffuser bag for use inside a tent too. In short, it seems Gear Aid has considered just about everything when designing this lantern.

The Flux doesn't come without a few compromises however, the biggest of which is its size. It is a burly beast when compared to some other camp lights on the market, and those amongst us who count every ounce will likely want to pass on this option. It does take up a considerable amount of room in your pack, and adds some weight too. That will make some hesitate when carrying it into the backcountry, although if you don't mind a slightly heavier load, it does deliver a lot of functionality.

Personally, I like the Flux a lot because it can be used in so many different ways. Yes, it is great to have at a campsite, as it can obviously light up a large space with ease. It is also nice to have a portable power generator to keep electronic devices working too. But, this light is also really handy for working in the garage or basement too, especially if light is at a premium.

The Flux is just one lighting option in a new series of lanterns from Gear Aid. It's siblings, the ARC and Spark offer similar performance in smaller and lighter packages, with the trade-off being lower brightness and less burn time due to smaller batteries. If you like what you see in the Flux, but would like something smaller and lighter, one of those options just might fit the bill instead.

Priced at $149.95, the Flux is very competitively priced, particularly when you consider everything that it brings to the table. It is bright, extremely durable, water resistant, and has great battery life. It can also recharge your other electronic devices and thanks to a clever mounting system, it can be used in a wide variety of ways. If you're in need of a good lamp around the campsite or elsewhere, this is a worthy option to consider. In terms of pure, raw performance, it is tough to beat the Flux right now.

Adventure Racing World Series a Success in China

Earlier this week an epic adventure race took place in a remote region of China, marking the debut of the the Adventure Racing World Series in Asia. By all accounts it was a successful first race with just minutes separating the top teams in what promises to be an exciting new addition to the ARWS in the years to come.

The Xtrail Expedition race took place in the Altai Mountain region of China, not far from the border with Mongolia. The event covered 300 km (186 miles) or rough terrain, which the top teams were able to complete in just a few days time. In fact, in a sport that requires hours and days to complete, the three podium finishers were separated by less than 20 minutes, which is a testament to how strong the 28 teams competing in the race truly are. Of those 26 were international squads, while the other two were local Chinese racers.

The winners of the race were the Thule Adventure Team, which completed the grueling route in just 36 hours and 16 minutes. They were followed closely by Team Adventure Medical Kits, who were 14 minutes back, with Haglofs Silva coming in third another 4 minutes behind. The rest of the teams staggered in over the hours that followed, with the course officially closing on Wednesday of this week. Yesterday, the coed teams of four left the region and began the long journey home.

After such an auspicious debut, it seems that the Xtrail race may be a great new addition to the AR World Series. Having visited the part of the world where the event took place myself this summer, I can attest to how beautiful, rugged, and remote it truly is. With the addition of this race to the schedule, the ARWS now has events on six continents, which is an impressive feat in and of itself, and an indication of just how healthy the sport of adventure racing is at the moment.

Now, all eyes will turn towards Australia in November. That will be the host country for the Adventure Racing World Championship, where the 2016 world champs will be crowned. At the moment, it looks like it could be quite an interesting showdown between the best teams on the planet, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Summits Cho Oyu and Manaslu, Himex Cancels Expedition

As expected, the end of the week has brought a flurry of activity to the Himalaya, where the fall climbing season continues to unfold at a busy pace. A few days back poor weather conditions had stalled out most summit attempts, but just a few days later a number of teams are now finding success, with more to follow suit soon.

We'll start with news from Manaslu, where The Himalayan Times reports that at least 60 people topped out today. Of those, 25 are said to be foreign climbers while the remaining 35 are Sherpas and guides. The Seven Summit Treks squad is one of the teams that is operating on that mountain at the moment, and their latest update indicates that more than 80 climbers from their group alone have topped out today amidst good weather. With more than 151 climbers issued permits for Manaslu this fall, others are sure to follow.

Sadly, the Himex team will not be amongst them. Expedition leader Russel Brice made the move to cancel the entire expedition two days back after the team was turned around between Camp 3 and 4 due to very deep snow along the route. With a narrow weather window only open today and tomorrow, he felt that it was too risky to go for the summit, especially since there were several avalanches taking place over the course of the past few days. The entire squad will depart for Kathmandu tomorrow.

Over on Cho Oyu the Adventure Consultants report a successful summit bid as well. Heavy snow on that mountain caused several teams to turn back from C3 yesterday, but three members of the AC team – including two Sherpas – waited in Camp 2, then went directly for the summit from there. They report absolute calm and quiet on top of the mountain, which has emboldened several other members of the group to make a second summit bid later today.

Other teams on Cho Oyu have been waiting out the weather. For instance, the IMG squad says that they "pumped the breaks" on a summit bid with their clients waiting at Camp 1. Reports of sketchy conditions between C2 and C3 have slowed progress for now, but with the news that things are improving, they'll likely be back on the move today as well. Look for more summits over the weekend.

It has been a few days since the Altitude Junkies posted any news from Dhaulagiri, but that might be a good thing. The last we heard, the weather was dicey but a summit window was expected to open at the end of the week, giving them safe access to the top. If all goes according to plan, the team should summit tomorrow. Look for an update after that.

That's all for now. More news soon.

Video: Welcome to the Birthplace of Extreme

This video takes us to the French town of Chamonix, which is widely regarded as one of the best outdoor playgrounds in the entire world. Renowned for its exceptional skiing and mountain biking, Chamonix is also the launching pad for trekking and climbing expeditions in the Alps, as well as the most popular BASE jumping and wingsuit flying destination on the planet. Here, we'll see a group of wingsuit pilots taking flight over the iconic village, while some work to overcome their fears. Chamonix is quite an impressive place to do just that.

Video: Mountain Biking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal

As a mountain biker myself, I can't imagine a better place to ride than in the Himalaya. In this video, we travel to the famed Annapurna Circuit where riders go from Manang to Mustang, passing by Tilicho Lake – the world's highest at 4920 meters (16,141 ft) and crossing over the Mesokanto La Pass at 5121 meters (16,801 ft) as well. As you can imagine, the scenery is spectacular and the riding looks exceptional, even if the trails aren't specifically made for a bike. I'm going to need to add this to my every-growing bucket list of things to do at some point, and after watching this you probably will too.

MTB Lines of Tilicho from Bimal Gurung on Vimeo.

Adventure Tech: goTenna Extends Backcountry Communication with New goTenna Mesh

Earlier in the year I took a look at an innovative method for staying in communication while in the backcountry called goTenna. This simple, but effective device, connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth technology, and allows you to send text messages and share your GPS location with others who are equipped with a goTenna of their own. In a sense, the device creates its own data network for use in places where shell service is nonexistent, and while it doesn't facilitate voice comms, I found it very useful for staying in touch nonetheless. Now, the team at goTenna is back with a new product, and while it works in much the same way as its predecessor, it has the potential to extend the range of the device much, much further.

Dubbed the goTenna Mesh, this new unit launched on Kickstarter yesterday. A bit smaller than the original model, this new device brings some interesting new technologies to the table that should make it more useful to travelers, backpackers, climbers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. For instance, the Mesh now operates on UHF radio frequencies, which have brought it's out-of-the-box range down slightly, but make it more adaptable to a wider variety of environments, including both the outdoors and interior spaces. Switching to UHF has also allowed goTenna to bring their product abroad too, opening it up for sale in foreign countries where the previous generation's VHF radio waves were not allowed.

But more importantly, as it's name implies, the goTenna Mesh brings "meshing" technology to users as well. This allows the device to relay data that is sent to it on to other users, thereby extending the range almost indefinitely. Where as the original goTenna simply blasted out the messages that it broadcasted to all other goTenna users in range, the Mesh can analyze the data, and then rebroadcast it to others too. In this way a message that is sent can potentially reach a recipient, even if they weren't in range of the original sender.


The first generation goTenna has a range of about 1 mile in urban settings and 4 miles in rural areas, although greater ranges can be achieved depending on elevation and so on. The goTenna Mesh has a similar range when used for peer-to-peer communications, with 1 mile in cities and 3 miles in the backcountry. But, since it has the ability to relay data, a message can hop from one device to the next, provide there are several of them working within range of one another. So while two Mesh devices might have a range of roughly three miles, three or four units working together could stretch that range considerably further.

When goTenna launched the Kickstarter campaign for the new Mesh model it was with the hopes that it would generate $150,000 in crowdfunding to help get the device into production. Just 24 hours later, the campaign has generated $132,000 and climbing. That means that the new product should begin shipping in December as expected, with a price tag of $179 for two units. Of course, a third goTenna Mesh is really needed to see the true benefits of this second generation model, but this is certainly a good start. Early-bird contributors can reserve their goTenna Mesh units for as little as $129 by pledging to support the Kickstarter campaign now however.

In addition to revealing the Mesh, the company is also launching a new service called goTenna Plus. Users who sign up for this plan receive additional benefits from the goTenna app that is installed on their iPhone or Android device, including improved topographic maps for sharing your location, tracking of speed and distance while out hiking, and even sharing your current location with a designated individual on a set schedule, much like a SPOT Satellite Messenger. goTenna Plus users can also take advantage of network relaying which allows a device that is connected to a cell network to pass along goTenna messages to other users in that way too.

goTenna Plus is normally priced at $29 for a year, but is currently available at an introductory price of just $10. Seems like a pretty reasonable rate to me.

Find out more about goTenna and all of its gadgets at goTenna.com.


World's Deepest Underwater Cave Discovered in Czech Republic

Earlier this week a team of explorers discovered the world's deepest underwater cave in the Czech Republic. The group – led my Polish diver Krzysztof Starnawski – located a limestone cave that had previously been unplumbed, determining that it reached a depth of 404 meters (1325 ft). That's 12 meters (39 ft) deeper than the previous record holder, which was found in Italy.

For Starnawski it was a return to a cave that he had first dove into back in 1999. While there he had noticed that the limestone formations in the interior of the cave had formed in a unique and unusual way. This led him to believe that it might drop to a great depth, although he had no idea that it would be a record breaker. The cave was apparently created by hot water, rich with carbon dioxide, that was bubbling up from below. This makes the interior of the cavern unlike most others that he has explored in the past.

Over the past two years, the Polish diver has spent time searching the cave for clues as to just how deep it truly went. He discovered a narrow passage that gave him a glimpse of the deepest recesses of the cavern, but it wasn't until another diver found that that passage had widened that they could actually go further down. On Tuesday, the team dropped an automated ROV into the cave and maneuvered it to the bottom, accurately determining its depth in the process.

National Geographic has posted an interview with Starnawski about the process of exploring the cave, and what he and his team discovered inside. You can read his thoughts on the this 25+ year odyssey and just how he went about recording the depth of the cave, here.

It is stories like this one that remind us about how little we truly know about our own planet. I'm sure there are plenty of other discoveries just like this that we have yet to stumble across. It is also a reminder of how important exploration remains, even in the 21st century.

Blind Adventurer Erik Weihenmayer Scales El Cap in a Day

Just when we think we've seen it all from blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer, he comes up with new ways to surprise us. Yesterday, we learned that he not only managed to climb the iconic El Capitan in Yosemite, but he did so in under 24 hours, an impressive accomplishment with or without sight.

Climbing with some of the sport's biggest names – including Hans Florine, Timmy O’Neill, Geoff Tabin, and Charley Mace, Weihenmayer went up the East Buttress route. While that is the shortest path to the top of the famous wall, it still involves 11 pitches and 1500 feet of climbing. He told National Geographic  “I wanted something I could free climb, and the length of East Buttress made me feel somewhat confident that I could do it in a day.” That turned out to not be a problem at all, as the squad finished the route in about 8 hours, even passing another team along the way.

This is just the latest in a series of impressive accomplishments by Weihenmayer. His resume also includes a successful climb up Mt. Everest – along with the rest of the seven summits – and a descent of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon by kayak. Over the years he has climbed numerous mountains, competed in adventure races, mountain biked some tough trails, and generally did a number of very adventurous things that even those of us with full use of our eyes would be lucky to do. He has also served as an inspiration for millions around the world, who have seen the boundaries of what a blind person can accomplish redefined again and again.

This isn't even the first time Weihenmayer has climbed El Cap. He did it 20 years ago with Florine as well. But that time they went up The Nose route, taking four days to complete the 32-pitch, 3000-foot wall. This is the first time any blind climber has knocked off El Cap in a single day however, which is pretty much the mark that all climbers are looking for when they take on the massive wall.

At the top of the East Buttress, the team was met by friends who had cold beer and snacks waiting. It didn't take long for Erik to start talking about his next Yosemite climbing adventure, with Florine chiming in that they should try The Nose again, but this time do it in a day as well. Perhaps that will be the next major challenge for Weihenmayer to undertake. We'll just have to wait to see how he surprises us next.

Video: Moments in the Italian Dolomites

This video takes us to the Italian Dolomites with professional photographer Gürel Sahin as he captures some of the beautiful landscapes that exist in that place. Over the course of the clip, he shares with us his love for nature and passion for photography, two things that come together to create lasting memories of the places he visits in his journeys. Those are the moments that stay with us for the rest of our lives, and are captured in the images that he takes. He finds plenty of them in these mountains.

MOMENTS with Gürel Sahin - Dolomites, Italy from Palatina Media Group on Vimeo.

Video: Mountain Biking Revelstoke

Primarily known as a ski destination, Revelstoke has quickly become a great place to mountain bike too. In this video, we travel to British Columbia with our friends from Teton Gravity Research to explore the possibilities of riding the many trails that can be found at the mountain resort, and beyond. If you love beautiful scenery and great mountain biking, you'll certainly appreciate this clip. And remember, it's not winter yet. There is still time to ride Revelstoke this season.

British Explorer Walking the Length of the Zambezi River in Africa

British explorer and adventurer Chaz Powell has embarked on quite an expedition. The experienced traveler and guide is in the middle of a journey during which he is attempting to walk the entire length of the Zambezi River in Africa - covering some 1600 miles (2574 km) in the process. His journey began in August in the Kalene Hills in North Western Zambia, where the source of the Zambezi lies. From there, his route will take him through Angola, Zambia and Mozambique where the river empties into the Indian Ocean.

British Explorer Walking the Length of the Zambezi River in Africa

Men's Journal Gives Us the 50 Most Adventurous Men

If you're looking for something to read today that is equal parts inspirational and educational, than have a look at Men's Journal's list of the 50 Most Adventurous Men on the planet. You'll find more than a few names that get mentioned here on The Adventure Blog on a regular basis, as well as some that you may not have encountered before.

The list reads like a "who's who" of adventure, with guys like Alex Honnold, Kilian Jornet, and Conrad Anker all making the cut. Others who earn some recognition from MJ include Ueli Steck, Eric Larsen, and Mike Horn, all of which I've written about and covered their expeditions extensively on this very website.

Of course, those well known names are just the tip of the iceberg so to speak, with numerous other interesting, daring, and downright visionary individuals making their way onto the list as well. The article spotlights mountaineers, rock climbers, ocean rowers, explorers, and more. Each of the profiles includes a brief introduction to the person's accomplishments, some insights into their career highlights, and a glimpse of where they may be headed next. All in all, it is a pretty great way to learn about some of the men who are shaping the way we explore the world today.

While 50 individuals is a fairly lengthy list, there are always some who are left off. I'm sure that like me, you'll be able to think of a few individuals that probably deserve to be mentioned with this group such as Simone Moro for instance. There are others as well, but this is still a pretty interesting list and well worth a look for sure.

Now, when is someone going to do a list of the 50 most adventurous women?

Elon Musk Unveils Ambitious Plans to Colonize Mars

Yesterday was an interesting day for those of us who dream about space travel. Thats because Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk unveiled his plans for the future, which include sending humans to Mars within a decade and establishing a colony on the Red Planet before the end of the century.

Musk took the stage at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico to share his vision of where SpaceX – and manned space travel – is headed in the years to come. It was an ambitious one to say the least.

Getting to Mars will involve a multi-stage rocket not unlike the Falcon 9 that Space X is currently using, although much larger in size. A second stage booster will help catapult the so called "interplanetary module" – which could carry as many as 100 people – out of orbit and on towards its eventual destination on Mars. Other booster rockets could also be placed in orbit for future use, allowing the module to refuel and make multiple journeys throughout the solar system. For Musk, Mars isn't the only place he sees humans eventually heading.

For the visionary billionaire this isn't just some frivolous ego project. He sees the potential future of the human race on the line. He said the human race now faces two different paths. “One is that we stay on Earth forever and then there will be an inevitable extinction event. The alternative is to become a spacefaring civilization, and a multi-planetary species.”

Musk says that he believes manned mission to Mars could begin as early as 2022, which is sooner than his previous estimates had indicated. SpaceX is dedicated towards building and testing the rockets and other technology that will allow that to happen, but he admits there are some big obstacles to overcome, not the least of which is cost. Musk says he estimates that it will currently cost about $10 billion per person for a manned flight to Earth's neighbor. Where the funding will come from to pay for such a journey remains a bit of a mystery.


SpaceX has made significant inroads in the commercial space industry, but it hasn't come without setbacks. The company has seen its reusable rockets crash miserably in some of its tests, and a recent explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket on a launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida has left some wondering about the reliability of its equipment. Still, the technical team has been able to stick the landing of the rocket with more regularity in recent months, and the company is working out the problems that caused the malfunction that destroyed a $100 million satellite that was in its cargo hold.

As someone who would love to have the opportunity to travel in space, Musk's plans sound very exciting. I'm glad someone – anyone – is pushing forward with a space program in a time when NASA seems hamstrung by budget issues and societal pressures to stay grounded on Earth. But sending a crew to Mars in just six years sounds awfully optimistic to me, especially when you consider SpaceX hasn't had a manned launch of any kind just yet. I'd love to be proven wrong, and I would be the last person to bet against Elon Musk, but I believe we are a lot further away from going to Mars than this plan would indicate.

That said, I'm ready to sign up when Elon calls.

Video: How Would You Describe America's National Parks?

In this video, photographer and filmmaker Corey Arnold traveled to America's national parks where he challenged the next generation of travelers and explorers to describe the landscape there. Some of their responses were surprising, others were revealing, and some were downright insightful. The result, is this short clip which not only includes lovely shots of the landscapes they saw, but these individuals sharing their thoughts on the natural spaces around them.

Video: Adventure Travel in the Alaskan Arctic

I came across this video on Richard Bang's YouTube Channel and thought it was worth sharing. It is a short film made be adventure traveler Connor Callaghan, who takes us along with him to Alaska where we enjoy a taste of some of the amazing scenery and activities that are available there. Alaska happens to be one of my favorite destinations, as it is brimming with great opportunities for outdoor adventure. Take a look at the clip, then put it on your list of places to see.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Summit Pushes Begin, No Liaison Officers on Manaslu, Climber Missing After Avalanche

As the fall climbing season continues to unfold in the Himalaya, there isn't a lot of new news to report today, although what we do have is certainly interesting. As the weather improves, teams are about to go back on the move with summits in sight, while we also learn that the more things change in Nepal, the more they stay the same.

First off, now that the weather forecast has begun to improve teams on both Cho Oyu and Dhaulagiri are gearing up for their summit bids. Earlier today, the Adventure Consultants launched their push to the top of Cho Oyu and safely arrived at Camp 1 where they were enjoying a break and airing out their gear in preparation for heading to C2 tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Altitude Junkies – the only team on Dhaulagiri – has announced their schedule as well. The team will leave Base Camp for C1 tomorrow with an eye on topping out on Saturday, October 1 weather permitting.

Other teams are no doubt getting ready to do the same on Manaslu and Shishapangma too. I'll be keeping a close eye on their progress to see how things unfold.

Meanwhile, we have another story from The Himalayan Times that remind us once again just how inept the Nepali government truly is. As you may or may not know, all climbing expeditions that take place in that country are assigned a liaison officer with them that serves as a regulatory advisor and a communications conduit to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. This is a role that should be taken very seriously, as the "LO" is expected to play a part in organizing rescue operations and coordinating with medical and search and rescue staff back in Kathmandu. Unfortunately, in the past most LO's never bother to go to Base Camp with their expeditions, who are charged a fee that pays for his services.

Historically speaking, most expeditions to the big mountains never even see their liaison officer at all. This became a major issue on Everest in 2014 and 2015 when massive avalanches claimed the lives of 16 and 22 people respectively. The lack of LO's in BC made it more challenging to coordinate search and rescue operations, and helped to expose this problem, which had been a well-known secret in mountaineering circles for a very long time.


You would think that in the wake of those two disasters on Everest that things would change, but apparently that hasn't been the case. In the Times article linked to above, it is reported that none of the 18 liaison officers assigned to Manaslu this year have reported to Base Camp. Yep, that's right. There are currently 18 teams on the mountain with 151 clients and an additional 209 guides, porters, and BC staff. But there are zero liaison officers there.

It should be noted that each of those teams was charged $2000 to pay for an LO to be in camp, and yet they still aren't there. Nepal has a lot of work to do in terms of cleaning up its reputation and promoting mountaineering within its borders, but just getting its assigned staff to report for duty, and enforcing the regulations that it has set in place would be a good start. God forbid another accident would occur on Manaslu this year and there wouldn't be a single LO there to help lend a hand. Lets hope it doesn't come to that, and lets hope that the Ministry of Tourism gets its act together soon.

Finally, there is sad news from Himlung Himal, a 7126 meter (23,379 ft) mountain in western Nepal. Earlier today it was announced that a climber is missing following an avalanche on that peak. Mingmar Sherpa was working with a small team that is attempting to climb the mountain when he group was hit by a small, but powerful avalanche that caused minor injuries to the others, and left him missing.

At this time, Mingmar Sherpa's fate is unknown, but it is likely that he was knocked down the mountain and lost his life in the process. Search efforts are still underway however, with teams concentrating on the area between Camp 1 and 2, as that is were the expedition was when the avalanche hit. Hopefully this will have a happy ending, but it seldom does in these cases.

That's all for today. More soon.

Nat Geo Gives Us the Best Outdoor Towns in the World

Looking for a great town to serve as base camp for your next outdoor adventure? Thinking about relocating to a place that offers more opportunities to pursue the things you love? Why not let National Geographic help with their picks for the world's best towns for outdoor thrills.
Some of the places earning a nod include towns that you would expect. Places like Moab, Utah and El Chaltén, Argentina. Others are a bit more unexpected, such as Niseko, Japan or Ely, Minnesota. It isn't as if those places weren't known for being great outdoor destinations, but to see them ranked amongst the very best (Nat Geo names nine places in total), is refreshing to say the least.

Each place is also accompanied by a nice description of why it deserves a spot on this very distinguished list with details on what it has to offer for visitors. Nat Geo even provided information on when it is the best time of the year to visit to take advantage of the opportunities that each place has to offer. For instance, summer can be hot in Moab, so September is a good time to go, although the author says not to overlook winter as well. Meanwhile, if you're planning on going to Niseko it is probably for the skiing, which is best between December and February.

Of course, with such a short list some places had to be left off, but there were a few surprises for towns that do not appear here. For instance, Chamonix, France is considered one of the great outdoor meccas of the world and yet it doesn't appear on Nat Geo's radar. Similarly, you could just as easily have substituted places like Boulder, Colorado or Jackson Hole, Wyoming, amongst other great mountain towns in the U.S. Still, the places that were selected are very deserving, and bring a nice exotic flair to the list with places like Australia, South Africa, India, and Peru enticing travelers.

To find out which places made the cut, read the entire list here. Then come back and leave a comment with the places that you think should have made the cut. After all, some of your favorite places probably didn't make it.

Karl Meltzer Sets New Speed Record on Appalachian Trail

Last week while I was away, the news broke that ultra-runner Karl Meltzer had broken the record for the fastest time on the Appalachian Trail, besting the time set by Scott Jurek just last year. The two top endurance athletes are both friends and rivals, so naturally they would compete against each other on the AT too. This was Meltzer's third attempt at a record, and this time he finished at 45 days, 22 hours, 38 minutes, which put him roughly at 13 hours ahead of Jurek.

According to Outside, Meltzer began his assault on the record book back on August 3, starting on top of Mt. Katahdin in Maine. That's the northernmost terminus of the Appalachian Trail, which stretches for 2190 miles across 14 states before ending on Springer Mountain in Georgia on September 20. That means that Karl had to average roughly 47.6 miles each and every day just to get into the conversation with Jurek, something he was able to do on his way to setting the new mark.

Amongst ultra-runners, Meltzer is considered one of the most successful endurance athletes of all time. Over the course of his career he has racked up more than 38 wins in races of 100 mile (160 km) distances or longer – including 5 in the legendary Hardrock 100 ultra-marathon. That's more than anyone else in history. Still, he did want to take on the AT and nab that record too, something he was finally able to do last week.

Considering that it takes most of us a good six months of hiking to complete the AT, doing it in just 45 days is quite an impressive feat. Congratulations to Karl on pulling off this accomplishment. I am in awe of the strength, stamina, and speed necessary to set this kind of record.

Video: Unclimbed - Reaching the Summit in the Himalaya (Episode 3)

We continue the excellent series of mountaineering videos from Discovery Canada entitled Unclimbed: Reaching the Summit today with episode 3. As you may recall, this set of clips follows mountaineers Gabriel Filippi, Elia Saikaly, and Pasang Kaji Sherpa as they prepare to take on two unclimbed peaks in Nepal this autumn. In this episode we see how Gabriel and Elia train for the high altitude conditions that they'll face on their expedition. Extreme may not be a good enough word to describe their approach.

Video: Introducing the GoPro Karma

Last week, just before I left for my backpacking trip to Bryce Canyon, GoPro introduced its first drone, the Karma. I barely had enough time to share some thoughts on this new UAV before I skipped town, but this video does a great job of showing off what it can do. While it doesn't look like a revolution in drone technology, it does appear that it will be an affordable solution that has a lot to offer those looking to add a drone to their collection of gear. From what I've heard, the footage that it captures is quite good, and the fact that it can fold up and be easily transported makes it a good choice for use in remote locations. Looking forward to learning more about it in the days ahead. It should go on sale on October 23. Here's a sneak peek at what to expect.

Gear Closet: Merrell Capra Venture Hiking Boots

As many of you know, last week I traveled to Bryce Canyon in Utah to test out a bunch of new gear from my friends at REI. I knew that while I was out there we would be backpacking through remote sections of the national park and camping in the wild. I saw that as the perfect opportunity to try out some new hiking boots as well, thinking that a couple of days on the trail would make the perfect testing grounds. Turns out the weather we encountered in Bryce was wild too, ranging from light rain to heavy downpours, followed by hail, gale-force winds, flash floods, tornadoes, and the occasional bout of sunshine. In short, it was exactly the kind of weather you need to see just how good your gear truly is. Thankfully, I made a good decision when it came to footwear.

For this trip, my boot of choice was the new Capra Venture from Merrell. These lightweight and very comfortable boots are a new addition to the company's line-up this fall, and being a big fan of the footwear that Merrell produces, I was eager to see how well they performed on what was expected to be a challenging, but dry, hiking trail in Bryce. It was far from that however, and over the course of two days of backpacking, we encountered conditions that would test the resolve of any boot. Thankfully, the Capra Venture met that challenge nicely, and kept my feet well protected the entire time.

This boot features a couple of new components to the outdoor industry that I was looking forward to putting to the test. Those included the new Gore-Tex Surround materials and the Vibram Megagrip outsole. Gore-Tex Surrounded as been specifically designed to create a more breathable, yet still waterproof, boot that can be worn in warmer environments. That's exactly what I had in mind when I chose it to take with me to Bryce Canyon, but due to heavy rains and cooler temperatures, my Capra Ventures were forced to deal with far more water and moisture than anticipated.

So how did they hold up? Very well for the most part. The shoes kept my feet warm and dry for the bulk of the trip, which included crossing through swollen streams, walking in lots of mud, and hiking in incessant rainstorms. Late in the afternoon on our first day out in Bryce my feed did start to get a little damp, but considering the amount of moisture we were facing on the trail this was more of a case of the boots soaking out, and possibly getting some moisture in over the top from y saturated shell pants, more than anything else. Either way, it wasn't a great deal of water that made its way inside of the boots, but it was worth noting nonetheless.


In terms of traction, the Vibram Megagrip performed extremely well too. Walking on slick trails throughout both days in the park, I was able to keep my footing without too much trouble at all. That is to say, when the outsoles had a chance to actually grip the ground. There was so much mud collecting on the bottom of the boots that it was difficult to keep them clean. This happened to everyone on the trip, no matter what type of boots they were wearing at the time. But when the soles of the Capra Venture actually touched the surface of the ground, they held firm and reliably, instilling a great deal of confidence in the guy wearing them.

Aside from these two new innovations, Merrell has brought a great deal of other design elements that I appreciated greatly. For instance, the boot has a nice low profile that looks good and feels very comfortable on your feet. It also happens to be fairly lightweight when you consider the level of protection it brings to the table. While the ultralight backpacking crowd are sure to prefer something else, those of us who would rather hike in boots will certainly enjoy the lack of bulk and weight here. Best of all, Merrell has still built the shoe to provide plenty of protection and cushioning, as at the end of the day my feet and legs still felt strong and ready to go.

Built with a bellows tongue to help keep debris out of the interior of the boot, the Capra Venture also comes a nicely molded footbed to provide comfort and support. As a result, these boots were comfortable on my feet immediately and required a very minimal amount of break-in time before they were ready to go. I experienced no hotspots, blisters, or abrasions after two hard days on the trail, and thankfully I didn't end up getting any mud, dirt, rocks, or any other unwanted debris inside the shoe. At the end of the trek, my feet were in just as good of condition as they were went they set out, which is about all you can ask for out of a pair of boots.

In terms of durability, the Capra Venture once again impresses. I wouldn't expect a boot to show much wear and tear after just a couple of days on the trail, but my pair was put through the wringer and still managed to come out looking practically brand new. That is, after I hosed off all of the mud and dirt that had accumulated along just about every surface. Once cleaned and dry, I was hard pressed to be able to tell that they had not been just taken out of the box, despite miles of hiking in poor weather conditions.

If you're in the market for a new pair of backpacking or trekking boots, and you're looking for something that can provide plenty of protection without a lot of weight, the Merrell Capra Venture is a great choice. It not only comes packed with the latest fabrics from Gore and a new outsole from Vibram, it has decades of Merrell's heritage behind its design too. The result is a boot that is meant for those of us who hike longer distances while carrying a sizable load in in our backpacks. On the Bryce Canyon trip my pack was stuffed with all kinds of gear, including a new three-person tent that I was carrying by myself, but these boots still kept me fresh, moving fast, and feeling strong.

Priced at $230, the Capra Venture is about inline with what I would expect to pay for a very good backpacking boot. The fact that they are so lightweight and comfortable however puts them in a bit of a class all their own, and in my eyes makes them well worth the cost for someone who needs this level of performance. This isn't a boot designed for a short hike on a perfectly groomed trail on a Saturday morning – although it would do just fine in that environment. Instead, this is outdoor footwear built for adventures in rough and tumble places. It's meant for hiking longer distances and for trekking in remote places. If that's where you find yourself heading on a regular basis, the Capra Venture is definitely a boot for you.


Couple Completes a Year of Living in the Wilderness

Remember Dave and Amy Freeman? They're the couple that not only were named Nat Geo Adventurers of the Year back in 2014 for their 11,000 mile (17,700 km) journey across North America, but last year they embarked on a 12-month odyssey that saw them living in the wilderness in an attempt to raise awareness of threats to the environment in Voyageurs National Park. I even wrote about the start of that adventure last September. Now, a year later, they have emerged from the wilderness at last, bringing an end to this stage of their project.

Last Friday, September 23, Dave and Amy paddled their canoe up the Kawisihiwi River in Minnesota, finishing their epic 12-month journey near a sulfide-ore copper mining operation, which is exactly the threat they've been battling. Those mines have the potential to spoil the natural environment of the Minnesota Boundary Waters, something they've shared a great deal of information about on their Save the Boundary Waters website.

During their year in the wilderness the Freemans travelled more than 2000 miles (3218 km) by canoe, dogsled, on skis, snowshoes, and by foot. Over that period, they paddled more than 500 lakes and rivers, and called 120 different campsites home. Along the way they faced steamy hot days in the summer, and frigid nights in the winter, when temperatures dropped to -30ºF (-34ºC). Those extremes were to be expected of course with the changing of the seasons, but it was a challenge for them to maintain the correct gear and stay focused nonetheless.

Now, the married couple will begin reintegrating back into normal life, where they'll welcome being home for a while and enjoying the luxuries of civilization. But they weren't completely cut off during their year in the wilderness. They often made blog posts while they were exploring the Boundary Waters, and more than 300 visitors helped to keep them fully supplied or spent a few days traveling with them as well. Still, the return to the daily life will be both welcomed and challenging at the same time.

Of course, their fight against the mining companies is far from over, and the duo are urging government officials to not renew the leases for the Twin Metals company that is operating in the area that the Freemans are trying to protect. To that end, they'll head to Washington, D.C. today to talk with lawmakers, and are already planning both a book and a documentary about their experience. After a year in the wilderness, I'm sure they have some good stories to share.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Bad Weather Delays Summit Bids, Sad News From Manaslu

When last we checked in with the big commercial teams in the Himalaya this fall most were in the process of wrapping up their acclimatization efforts and had started planning their summit bids. Some were even expected to top out on their respective mountains by the end of last week. But as usual, mother nature had other plans, with bad weather hitting the region and delaying any attempts to reach summit on several of the big peaks. But, the forecast calls for improved conditions in the days ahead, and details are starting to emerge on a new schedule.

Over on Cho Oyu, the Adventure Consultants report heavy snow over the past few days. But yesterday, the storm finally broke, and it now appears that they will have five solid days of good weather ahead which should serve as summit window. No word on exactly when they'll depart Base Camp, but it would seem that the team is ready to go and may leave as early as today. That means they should reach the summit over the next few days provided the forecast is accurate and the weather holds. The entire squad is rested, acclimatized and ready to go.

On Manaslu, the teams have pretty much wrapped up their acclimatization rotations and are now preparing to summit as well. That includes the Seven Summits Trek squad and the contingent of Himex climbers too. Interestingly enough, it appears that the teams haven't finished fixing ropes to Camp 4 yet, and there is some dispute over how that process is being handled. Typically, the Himex team – which is amongst the most experienced on the mountain – takes the lead, but with Seven Summits becoming more prominent, their Sherpas have played a role too. Unfortunately, they apparently got lost in whiteout conditions last week and installed ropes to the wrong location – something that has annoyed Himex boss Russel Brice. You can read about that here. Otherwise, the teams seem to be well acclimated and ready to go once the weather improves.

There was some sad news from the Manaslu region last week when it was reported that a landslide claimed the lives of three Nepali citizens and a Spanish traveler trekking in that part of Nepal. Amongst the dead was Dorjee Lama Sherpa, who was a mountain guide that had summited Everest eight times. He also served last the president of the Nepal National Mountain Guide Association as well. My condolences to the friends and family of those who were killed.

The Altitude Junkies have checked in from Dhaulagiri, where they report mostly dry conditions. This has caused some problems of their own, including cracked and melting glaciers and challenges with fixing ropes. The team ordered six ladders to be delivered from Kathmandu, which will allow them to safely cross over large crevasses that have opened up along the route, but until those ladders are put into place, the team can't move forward with any summit plans. Hopefully that will happen soon.

Shishapangma is seeing its usual share of visitors this fall, and progress is being made there as well. High winds forced the RMI team to retreat back to BC a day early however, but otherwise everything is going about as smoothly as possible. No summit bids in sight at the moment though.

Finally,  Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki continues his solo Everest expedition, although there have been few updates. He has been acclimatizing as expected, but heavy snows on Everest are making things difficult. This is his sixth attempt at a solo summit in the fall. Hopefully things will go his way this year.

That's it for now. Expect more news later in the week once summit bids truly get underway. Both Cho Oyu and Manaslu should see teams on top in a few days time.

Seventh Pay Commission and its impact on the real estate sector

The Union Cabinet’s implementation of much-awaited Seventh Pay Commission has given public sector employees and pensioners a big occasion to celebrate. The Central Government Employees will receive a hike of about 23.5% in their salaries. This increment in the earnings of the Government employees is bound to have a positive impact on the Indian real estate sector. The hike in the House Rent Allowance (HRA) is expected to increase the residential demand further.

On the Road Again - Backpacking Bryce Canyon



It seems I've been home for an all-too-brief stay, but its time to go on the road again. This time, I'm headed for Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah where I'll be backpacking for the rest of the week with the fine folks at REI Adventures. This trip was actually organized by the REI retail team, so over the next few days I'll be joining some other outdoor writers in testing some of the latest and greatest gear from that company.  That means I'll be off the gird for the rest of the week, with no updates to The Adventure Blog in the meantime. But, I should be back at it next week. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to seeing Bryce, a national park I haven't visited yet. I'm sure I'll have a story or two to share from the experience as well.

Video: Meet the World's First All-Female Anti-Poaching Team

The Balule Nature Reserve in South Africa a team of women called the Black Mambas has been training for the past three years to combat illegal poaching in the region. They are the first all-female squad to take on such a mission, with their main goal being to protect the wild elephants that roam the area. In this video, brought to us by National Geographic, we join the Mambas as they go out on patrol, searching for the hunters who are looking to kill the animals in the preserve where they work. The short film is an inspiring look at this team of dedicated and tough women who are looking to make a difference with Africa's wildlife. It is really an interesting story.

Adventure Tech: GoPro Unveils the Karma Drone at Long Last

It seems like we've been waiting a very long time, but today GoPro finally took the wraps off of its highly anticipated Karma drone, giving would-be filmmakers yet another tool to help them create their outdoor and adventure travel masterpiece. By now, we all know what a drone is, and how it can be used in a variety of ways. Over the past few years, the drone market has matured dramatically, with companies like DJI leading the way. But this is GoPro's first foray into UAV's, and in order for the company to make a dent in the industry – and possibly reverse its flagging fortunes – it knew that had to deliver something different and unique. Was the Karma worth the wait? We'll have to hold on a bit longer to know for sure, but it certainly is intriguing.


Gear Closet: Osprey Manta AG 28 Daypack

If you're a regular reader of my "Gear Closet" stories here at The Adventure Blog, you probably already know the I have a habit of going on at great length about the product that I'm writing a review for. That is likely to be the case with the Manta AG 28 from Osprey as well, but for those of you who would rather get to the bottom line on this bag, I thought I would save you some time. So, for those folks wondering whether or not this pack will get a good review, let me just tell you now. It is amazing. Go buy one. Thank me later.

For those of you who are still around, we can now get into the details.

The Manta line of packs have been a part of the Osprey catalog for some time. But this pack, which was released this past spring, adds a nice new dimension that truly helps to separate it from the crowd. The "AG" in the bag's title stands for "Anti-Gravity" which is the name given to Osprey's innovative suspension that not only helps the pack to sit more comfortably and naturally on your body, but it can effectively carry more weight over a longer distance too.

The Anti-Gravity suspension was first introduced on Osprey's Atmos series, which is designed for backpacking and adventure travel. But now, it has trickled down to these daypacks as well. The suspension really does make a noticeable difference, and the integration of the mesh backpanel plays a big role in keeping you cooler and drier while hiking.

I have to say that I was a bit skeptical that the AG system would have as big of an impact on a daypack as it does on the larger backpacking models. But, after putting this bag to the test in the field, I can honestly say that my doubts were unfounded. The suspension is remarkable, and I think you'll find yourself coming off the trail at the end of the day feeling much better than you would with a traditional daypack without AG integration.


The Manta comes in three sizes – 20L, 28L, and 36L. (There is also a women's specific model called the Mira that comes in 18, 26, 34-liter models.) For me, the 28L version is the sweet spot for a daypack, offering plenty of room to carry everything you need, without getting so large that its starting to infringe on the small backpacking pack level. Of course, your particular needs may be a bit different than mine, but I found the 28L Manta to be just right.

As you would expect from a pack from Osprey, the Manta comes with a wide variety of pockets to store all of your gear. From its cavernous main chamber to the front pocket with mesh organizational sleeves – complete with key fob – this pack has plenty of ways to keep all of your important items organized and close at hand. There are also two surprisingly large pockets on the hipbelt as well, which I always appreciate for storage of small items such as snacks or my phone.

In terms of staying hydrated, the Manta comes with dual water bottle holders that can be found on each side of the bag, as well as a dedicated hydration sleeve. Osprey even throws in a high-quality 2.5 liter hydration bladder, which is a nice addition considering many companies require you to buy one separately. Considering the price of this pack, and all of the features it brings to the table, it was really nice to open the hydration sleeve and find the bladder tucked away inside.

That isn't the only nice little detail that Osprey has included on this pack. It also comes with its own integrated rainfly, which should be a common practice these days, but surprisingly isn't. There is also a helmet attachment loop for when you're cycling or climbing, and stretch mesh front pockets for quickly storing away extra gear, including a spare pare of shoes. Of course, Osprey has made always been good about paying attention to details, but it is nice to see that tradition continue here.

All of these features aside, the best thing about this pack is just how comfortable it feels when you're out on a hike. I can load it up with just a few small items, or stuff it to the brim with way more gear than I'll need, and it not only happily swallows up everything I throw at it, it feels good on your back too. The AG suspension is a true revelation, and a welcome addition to the daypack line. And of course, this being Osprey, the pack is very durable too, but still comes backed with the All Mighty Guarantee, which says the company will repair or replace the bag for its lifetime. You can't ask for better coverage than that.

As if all of that weren't enough, the Manta AG 28 costs just $165, which is a relative bargain when you consider everything this pack brings to the table. It is filled with excellent design decisions, includes the best suspension system on the market, offers lots of carrying capacity, and it is durable enough to survive just about anything you throw at it. It also comes with a built-in rain cover and has an excellent hydration sleeve that you'll want to use in all of your other packs as well. All of that adds up to an excellent daypack that you'll certainly want to have with you on your future hikes and adventure travel excursions.

This is the best daypack I've ever used, bar none. I think you're going to love it too. But it now at REI.com, CampSaver, or Backwoods.


Osprey Packs | Manta/Mira AG™ Product Tour from Osprey Packs on Vimeo.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Manaslu the Most Popular Peak of the Season

The numbers are in for the fall climbing season in Nepal, and Manaslu is far and away the most popular peak in the country. Over the weekend, the Nepali Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation released some statistics for the number of permits issued to foreign climbers, and as usual those numbers share some interesting insights.

According to The Himalayan Times, Nepal has issued 277 climbing permits for the fall. Those permits are spread out over 19 different peaks within the country. Of those 277 climbers, 151 have are attempting Manaslu, the 8th highest mountain in the world at 8163 meters (26,781 ft). For some, it will be a testing ground before moving on to Everest in the future, while others are there to add an 8000-meter peak to their resume. In all, there are 16 teams heading to the mountain this fall.

Sherpa teams have finished installed the fixed ropes up to Camp 3 on Manaslu over the past few days, which means the teams on that mountain – including Seven Summit Treks and Himex – will be wrapping up their acclimatization efforts there soon and will begin thinking about summit bids. That could happen as early as next week. Traditionally, the summit push comes in the final week of September or early October, depending on weather conditions.

The Himalayan Times also reports that Amadablam, Saribung and the Putha Hiuchuli are some of the other peaks that have been issued permits this year as climbers look for other challenges in the region that aren't 8000-meters or taller in height. For instance, 39 climbers have obtained permits for Himlung Himal as well, a peak that is 7126 meters (23,379 ft) in height, and a good introduction to Himalayan climbing.


All told, it seems that Nepali officials are happy and impressed with the number of expeditions that have come to the region this year. In addition to the all of the climbers in Nepal, more than a dozen teams have also traveled to Tibet, most to take on Shishapangma or Cho Oyu. While Everest is seeing very little traffic – just a single climber at the moment – business is good elsewhere.

Speaking of Cho Oyu, the weather has been good over the past couple of days, allowing the Adventure Consultants to climb up to Camp 2 as they continue to acclimate as well. They will return to ABC tomorrow for a brief rest before starting another rotation later in the week. That's where the IMG is currently residing as they prepare to head back up the slopes as well.

Over on Dhaulagiri, the Altitude Junkies also report good weather, with nary a cloud in the sky. That made for warm conditions while scaling the glacier, but it allows them to climb up to Camp 2 over the weekend as well. Their Sherpa teams are hurriedly attempting to fix the ropes, while high altitude porters shuttle gear up to the higher camps. If everything goes as scheduled, and the weather continues to cooperate, they'll make their summit push between September 25-30, wrapping up the season on that mountain.

That's all for today. More news as it comes in. The season is proceeding along as expected, with few major issues so far. There are lot of expeditions that are just getting underway though, so there should be a lot to share int he days ahead.

Video: A Highliner Talks About Fear While Suspended 2800 Meters Up

This short, but beautiful video, takes us up to 2800 meters (9186 ft) as we join highliner Hayley Ashbury as she walks a thin rope across two spires on Torri del Vajolet, a peak located in the Italian Dolomites. While doing so, Hayley shares a quote from the book Dune by Frank Herbert about controlling her fear, something that seems very fitting considering where she is at in the clip. This is 90 seconds of pure terror wrapped up in an incredibly well shot video.

Highlining 2800m in winter.'Hayley'- 90 seconds about fear. (Dir. Stian Smestad Music by Nils Frahm) from Stian Smestad on Vimeo.

Video: Kilian Jornet's Everest Summit Dreams Live On

Yesterday the news broke that Kilian Jornet has abandoned his plans to make a speed attempt on Mt. Everest due to very poor weather conditions on the mountain. Deep snow made him cancel that attempt, but while his dream of a speed ascent may have been postponed, they are no over. Clearly he will return again in the future to have another go at the world's highest peak.

In this video we get a bit of a recap of what Kilian has been up to over the past couple of years. It is a review of his Summits of My Life project to date, with a bit of inspiration to help us all move forward. It is a nice tribute to one of the greatest mountain athletes on the planet today, and definitely worth a look for those who follow his exploits.

Colorado Adventures: Fly Fishing in Crested Butte

Earlier in the week I shared a post on my recent trip to Crested Butte, Colorado where I had an amazing time exploring the mountain biking trails there. If you read that piece, you already know that CB is considered one of the birth places of mountain biking, and as such there are plenty of trails to ride. In fact, there are more than 750 miles of trail, spread out over 150 different routes. That's enough to keep even the most dedicated rider busy for awhile.

But, Crested Butte isn't just a great mountain biking destination, as it has a lot to offer other visitors too. For instance, in the winter it has excellent skiing both at the Crested Butte Mountain Resort and backcountry options for the more adventurous. There is also plenty of great snowshoeing and nordic skiing too, if you prefer your winter adventures with a bit less adrenaline-fueled downhill action. During the warmer months, the hiking and trail running routes are spectacular, and the most of the mountain bike trails can be done on horseback too. This being Colorado, there also plenty of options for camping, climbing, and paddling as well, with even some good whitewater to run.

While I didn't have the chance to try each of those activities while I was in town, I did get the chance to do a little fly fishing. And while I'm mostly a beginner at that sport, I found it to be a relaxing, yet still engaging, way to explore the local culture.

For my fly-fishing experience we drove about 20 minutes outside of Crested Butte to reach the Three Rivers Resort, located in the small town of Almont. Three Rivers not only has a some wonderful rooms, cabins, and houses for visitors to rent, it also offers some active day-trips for those looking for some adventure. In addition to guiding rafting and kayaking excursions, travelers can also book stand-up paddleboard sessions, and skiing and snowboarding outings during the winter months. They also have a knowledgable and friendly staff in a well-stocked tackle shop for local and visiting anglers, as well a guide service that can get you out on the water and reeling in fish in no time.


We dropped by one morning to find out what fish were biting (trout and salmon it turns out!) and to hire one of the guides to take us out on the Taylor River. His name was Patrick, and he brought years of experience and excellent knowledge not only about the best places to fish in the area, but the different ways of setting up your pole to try to land a few big ones. As someone who has fly fished before, but is still relatively new to the sport, he proved to be an invaluable asset out on the water.

For those who have never fly fished, there is a bit of skill involved with learning to cast, letting your line drift, setting the hook, and bringing a fish to shore. All that can be picked up fairly quickly however, and after a brief refresher course, I soon found myself casting relatively efficiently. Patrick provided good tips on how and where to cast our lines, and he gave plenty of encouragement as we stood hip-deep in the refreshingly cool river.

It is often said that fly fishing is a bit of a zen-inducing activity, and after spending a couple of hours out on the water, I began to understand why. There is certainly a skill to getting the casting motion down, and the patience required to lure in a fish requires a sense of calm. Add in a dramatically beautiful back drop like the ones found in Gunnison County, and you have all the ingredients for a great day. Standing in the middle of that river, watching salmon swimming upstream around you, while learning to cast efficiently was an amazing experience, and even though we didn't end up landing any fish that day, it was still a terrific way to spend the morning.

That isn't to say we didn't have several bites. On more than one occasion our lures were stuck hard by a salmon or trout, and just like that we found ourselves with fight on our hands. On some occasions, the fish would leap clear out of the water in an effort to free themselves from the line, while others escaped just before we could get them into the net. Considering this was a catch-and-release stream, we didn't end up minding too much, and half the fun was just getting them to strike our lures in the first place.

One sure sign that you're having a great time on any outdoor adventure is when you look at your watch and are shocked to see how much time has passed. That was exactly the case during our fly fishing excursion. Before I knew it, several hours had gone by and it was time to move on to another activity. But, after even that brief time in the water, I think it's safe to say I'm hooked (ha!) and I'm already looking forward to my next opportunity to give it a go again. It will be tough to match the landscape I was immersed in while visiting Crested Butte though, as the surrounding mountains looming overhead were exactly what you'd expect for a fantastic fishing trip.

If you're headed to CB and you're looking to take a break from mountain biking or hiking, or you're simply looking to go fly fishing while you're in the area, the Three Rivers Resort will certainly do a great job of helping you land some fish. Even if you don't hire one of their guides to lead you out on the water, drop by their tackles shop to pick up any items you might need, and get some hints and tips on where to go and what is biting. They'll be more than happy to help you out. Check out the resorts website here.

After my all-too-brief fly-fishing experience, it was time to move on to more mountain biking. Obviously that was not something that I would object to, but the next time I visited Crested Butte, you can bet that fishing will be back on the agenda. If you're headed that direction, it should be on yours too.

Are You the 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year?

Listen up all aspiring photographers out there. National Geographic has begun accepting entries into this year's Nature Photographer of the Year contest, and is giving away some great prizes to winners. If you've taken an outstanding photo of nature in 2016, they want to see it. And it could send you off on an impressive adventure of your own.

The contest website says "We’re looking for photos that showcase the awe-inspiring and diverse natural world around us. That could be a powerful wildlife shot, a stunning landscape, or a look at a complicated environmental issue—whatever nature means to you." In other words, there is a pretty broad interoperation out there of what exactly Nat Geo means by "nature." I'm sure more than a few have you have captured some great images over the past 12 months that you can submit to the contest. Entries are begin accepted until November 4, after which a panel of judges will decide which photos are worthy of making the cut.

Of course, there are some great prizes for those who win the contest. Each of the categories – Landscapes, Animals, Action and Environmental – will have three winners. First place will be awarded $2500 in case, while second place will get $750 and a signed National Geographic book. The third place winner goes home with $500.  But best of all, the Grand Prize finisher will receive a 10-day trip for two to the Galapagos Islands courtesy of Natural Habitat Adventures. I can't think of a better place to take more photos of nature than that destination.

As you would expect, competition is sure to be tough in this contest, but you just might have the wining photo sitting on your hard drive right now. Pick out your best and submit them for consideration. Who knows, you just might be on your way to the Galapagos in the near future.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Commercial Teams Planning Summit Attempts, Nobu Alone on Everest

With Kilian Jornet announcing his departure from Everest yesterday, I felt it was time to take a look around at the other expeditions currently going on in the Himalaya to check the status of their progress. In some cases, teams are already starting to look ahead to summit bids, which could come as early as late next week in some cases.

First off, now that Jornet has left Everest, Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki is the only one on that mountain this fall. He reports that he has now climbed up to 7000 meters (22,965 ft) and his acclimatization process is moving along about as well as can be expected. From the reports we've heard from the mountain, that won't be the challenge for him this year. Instead, it will be the deep snow that seems to be piling up on Tibet's North Side. Kilian mentioned the heavy snows as the main reason for his departure from the mountain, but for Nobu it is just another challenge to overcome as he attempts to climb solo, unsupported, and in alpine style without oxygen. For now, he'll just have to continue acclimating and waiting for his opportunity to push higher.

Alan Arnette is reporting that two climbers are taking an interesting approach to attempting a summit on Cho Oyu. Adrian Ballinger, who owns Alpenglow Expeditions, and his partner Emily Harrington are currently training in Tahoe, and are sleeping in altitude tents as they acclimatize as much as possible before they head to the Himalaya. Once they've wrapped up their preparation, they'll head to Tibet and try to climb the mountain in just two weeks total time. This holds true with the company's philosophy for climbing faster by preparing more ahead of time, which is used on other peaks too. A strategy that has come under fire from mountaineering purists from time to time.

Speaking of Cho Oyu, that continue to be a popular mountain this fall. There are currently no less than six commercial teams there, Base Camp has been a bit crowded this season. Most of those squads have now wrapped up their first round of rotations, with the next coming in a few days when they'll move up the slope to Camp 2.


On Manaslu, the Seven Summits Treks Team is proceeding on a quick schedule. The team is currently in the process of wrapping up its final acclimatization rotation after spending the night at C3. Sherpas from that team are working on fixing ropes to the top, and the large group of clients they brought with them are now preparing for a summit push. It has been rainy on the mountain, but there hasn't been a lot of snow. That bodes well for a potential weather window in another week or so.

Over on Dhaulagiri, the Altitude Junkies have started their acclimatization with a move up to Camp 1. They report several days of rain, but good weather moving into the picture now. Their Sherpa teams are now fixing ropes between C2 and C3, which they hope to wrap up in the next day or two. The team is feeling good, and are now eyeing a summit push on Sept. 25 or 26 depending on weather and wind conditions.

An RMI-led expedition reported to BC on Shishpangma a few days back, after driving to the mountain. They have already moved up to Camp 1, where they are finding conditions on the mountain to be quite good at this stage. It is early in the acclimatization process, but everything looks good so far.

As you can see, it is getting to be quite a busy season in the Himalaya. While not much is happening on Everest, there is a lot going on around the rest of the region. Of course, none of the big commercial teams are trying anything new this year, there are some smaller squads who will be pushing the envelope on some unclimbed peaks. We'll be keeping an eye on those expeditions moving forward too, and bring updates on the entire season as it unfolds. Stay tuned.

Video: The Last Rhinos - Would Legalizing the Sale of Their Horns Save Them?

Here's an intriguing video to say the least. It follows the efforts of John Hume, a man living in South Africa who happens to own five percent of the world's rhino population. Hume sued the government in South Africa to legalize the sale of rhino horns, arguing that if you sold them on the open market, it would bring the number of rhinos killed by illegal poachers down dramatically. It seems that when removed safely and properly, the horns will grow back, and the animal won't be killed. Could this be the answer to saving Earth's engendered rhino species?

National Geographic - The Last Rhinos from Brian Dawson on Vimeo.