Antarctica 2016: Johanna Davidsson at the Pole and in Record Time!

Before taking a hiatus for the holidays last Friday, I posted a story about Swedish adventurer Johanna Davidsson, who was on the verge of reaching the South Pole, and breaking the speed record for a female skier to reach that point on the planet. Now, we can confirm that she has indeed completed that stage of her journey, and has established a new mark for the fastest time from Hercules Inlet to 90ºS by a woman.

In the original story that I posted, I wrote that Johanna was aiming to reach the South Pole by December 25 – Christmas Day. Instead, she crossed the finish line on December 24, which mean that her journey took 38 days, 23 hours, and 5 minutes. That's 10 full hours faster than Hannah McKeand did it back in 2006.

ExWeb reports that for Johanna, this was a completely unexpected record. It was never part of her plan to set a ski to the Pole in such a quick time, and had originally told the website that she planned on a 50 day journey. Instead, she found that her training and gear were more than up to the task, and while conditions were challenging at times, she was able to cover further distances than she had originally intended on daily basis.

The final stretch wasn't an easy one however. Whiteout conditions made skiing a challenge, and the snow was soft enough that it slowed Johanna's progress. But, she pushed on with her goal in sight, and was able to finish one very long day of skiing to make it the research station located at the bottom of the world, where she was welcomed by the staff there with a hot meal and champaign.

The journey isn't quite done just yet however. She'll rest briefly at the Pole before turning around and heading back to her starting point at Hercules Inlet. If she's successful, she'll become the first Swede to complete the round-trip journey.

Congrats to Johanna on an amazing job setting a new speed record. We'll be following along as you head back to the coast.

Happy Holidays From The Adventure Blog

It is that time of year again! I want to take this opportunity to with each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays in general. I'm not really sure where 2016 went, but it has come and gone in a blink of an eye, with so many amazing and fantastic experiences along the way. Hopefully it was a year filled with adventure for you, with plenty of inspirations for 2017 as well. 

Now that we're heading into the holiday weekend, I wanted to share a bit about the schedule for The Adventure Blog moving forward. Next week we'll enjoy a bit of downtime to celebrate with friends and family, so expect very few updates between Christmas and New Year. I'll share any major stories that might arise, but for the most part daily updates will be at a minimum. 

I'll return in the first week of January to get things going once again, but even then there may be a limited posting schedule. During that week, Adventure Blog World Headquarters will be relocating to a more permanent location, so there could be a bit of transition to undergo while that happens. Immediately after that, I'll be flying off to Salt Lake City for the Winter Outdoor Retailer Convention, where a host of new gear will be on display. I'll have more about that as we get closer to the day however, but expect the usual reports on what I see and learn about on social media and here on this blog. 

For now, just go and enjoy the holiday season. And get ready for an exciting year to come.

Video: Winter Climbing in Quebec

I've been fortunate enough to have visited the province of Quebec in Canada twice this year, both times traveling through the Saguenay Lac Saint-Jean region. This is a stunningly beautiful part of the world, as you'll see in this clip which takes us to that place to follow a group of climbers as they push new boundaries for winter climbing in the region. If it looks cold in this clip, it probably was. While I was there last February it was -45ºF/C at times. But, the spectacular landscapes made up for the it.

Directissima_ENG from Louis Rousseau on Vimeo.

Temperature at the North Pole Climbs 50º Higher Than Normal

It has been a record breaking year for temperatures all across the globe, as climate change seems to be wreaking havoc with our atmosphere. We got a reminder of this yesterday, when temperatures at the North Pole soared by as much as 50º above normal, reaching 0ºC/32ºF on the surface. That's the same temperature as the Arctic usually encounters during the summer months, but it is highly unusual for it get so warm at this time of year.

To put things into perspective, that means that temperatures were warm enough to melt snow and ice, even as winter is arriving in the Northern Hemisphere. That should set off alarm bells about the state of the polar ice caps, which seem to be already retreating at an alarming rate. We've had a lot of somber news from the Antarctic recently as well, but this is just another indicator that our planet is definitely in a state of flux right now, and we're running out of time to do anything about it.

It also doesn't bode well for any explorers hoping to make an expedition to the North Pole. If it is this warm in December, what will the conditions be like in March and April, or even into the summer. I know that there are a couple of expeditions planned for the Arctic next spring, but they could be dealing with unprecedented ice break up, and the largest leads of open water that have ever been seen at the top of the world.

Of course, we do have a long winter to go, and temperatures are sure to return to normal at some point. But so far, November and December have been unseasonably warm, and have climbed up close to the 0ºC mark once before as well. Worse yet, the long-range predictions are saying that 2017 could be another very warm year, with further melting of the ice caps.

I'm not sure how much longer climate deniers are going to keep their head buried in the sand. The signs are there, and we're mostly ignoring them at this point. Still, it isn't too late to try to make a change. Hopefully that will be the New Year's Resolution for some important people who are in a position to have an impact on policy and reform. Time will tell.

British Explorer to Attempt Solo, Non-Stop Row Across Pacific Ocean

We haven't even reached 2017 yet, and we already have news about a major endurance challenge set to take place in 2018. That's when British adventurer and endurance athlete Ness Knight plans to set out on a solo row across the Pacific Ocean, where she hopes to become the first woman to make that crossing non-stop.

The current plan is to depart from the San Francisco in May and begin the 7000 mile (11,265 km) journey across the Pacific with the goal of finishing in Sydney, Australia. Knight says she expects the entire crossing to take between 180 and 270 days to complete, which means she could be looking at upwards of six months, completely alone out on the water.

Some of the challenges she expects to face along the way include large waves – possibly 40 feet (12 meters) tall or higher – and massive storms. She'll also face the same problem that nearly ever ocean rower has – malfunctioning water makers. Every rower carries more than one of these devices that helps convert salt water to something that is drinkable, but it is a known issue that they break down often. Ness will also have to carry all of her supplies with her on the boat, so she'll have to ration her food to make through the entire journey as well.

Of course, Knight isn't the first woman to cross the Pacific Ocean solo. Roz Savage did that by completing her Pacific Row back in 2010. But, when Roz made the trip she did it in stages over successive years beginning in 2008. Ness plans to push on through in one go, which will indeed be a first for a female rower.

But before this daunting expedition can ever get off the ground – or leave the harbor if you will – Ness first needs to raise funds to help get her out on the water. With that in mind, she has recently launched a campaign to find sponsors to help lend a hand. If anyone out there is interested in assisting her efforts you can find out more about the possibilities by downloading and reading this sponsorship document which is in a .pdf format.

While May of 2018 seems like an awfully long way off at this point, it will likely be here before we know it. At that point, we'll of course be following Ness' Pacific Row closely. But before she ever gets underway, I'm sure we'll have some more updates to report.

Good luck Ness!

Antarctica 2016: Solo Skier Johanna Davidsson Closes in on the Pole and a New Record

Yesterday I posted an update from the Antarctic during which I shared info on a couple of expeditions I hadn't written about before, and made some quick updates on several of the skiers making their way to the South Pole. But one of the skiers I failed to post an update on was Swedish adventurer Johanna Davidsson, who is now closing in on polar history at the bottom of the world.

As of now, Johanna is just 57km (35 miles) from reaching Pole, which is still a daunting distance of course. But, in recent days she has been skiing as much as 35 km (21 miles) per day, which means that if she manages to put in a solid effort, she should reach 90ºS on Christmas Day. As quickly and as efficiently as she has been moving, that seems like a real possibility at this point.

As ExWeb points out, if she does manage to complete the journey by December 25 Johanna will set a new speed record for a woman skiing solo along the traditional Hercules Inlet to the South Pole route, which covers a distance of 1130 km (702 miles). The current record is held by British skier Hannah McKeand, and stands at 39 days, 9 hours, and 33 minutes. Since Johanna started on November 15, she even has a few days to spare and could beat that record rather soundly.

Obviously she still has quite a bit of distance to cover, and this record isn't int he bag yet. In fact, it wasn't even part of her original plan. She had just hoped to ski to the South Pole and hopefully kite-ski back to Hercules if time permitted. It seems like she should be able to do that if she still wants to. Reaching the Pole by Christmas gives her plenty of time for the return trip.

The days in the Antarctic can be long and tedious, with little to break up the monotony of skiing. Most of the skiers look forward to Christmas as they typically have saved a few special treats to enjoy on that day, and perhaps even a present or two. But for Johanna, it could mean something even more special. The completion of the first leg of her journey and a celebration at one of the most remote places on Earth.

Stay tuned!

Video: K2 By Drone!

There is no question that K2 is amongst the most dangerous and difficult mountains to climb on the entire planet. It also happens to be located in a remote and beautiful place that most of us won't have the opportunity to see for ourselves. But, thanks to this wonderful short film, you can make the journey, and get some stunning images of the landscapes around the mountain too. It was shot by drone pilot and filmmaker Petr Jan Juračka, who traveled to K2 with Czech climber Klára Kolouchová. The results speak for themselves. Check out the clip below to get a look at this incredible place.

Video: Climbing a New Route in Tibet

This past October, mountaineers Nick Bullock and Paul Ramsden traveled to Tibet to make the first ascent of Nyainqentangla South East, a tough 7046 meter (23,123 ft) peak that has seldom been visited in the past. As you'll see in the clip below, the two men faced incredible challenges and were pushed to their limits on this expedition into the unknown as they approached the climb not in a fast and light style as has become the trend, but in a more thoughtful, methodical pace that adheres to the mantra of slow and steady wins the race.

Nyainqentangla South East, Nick Bullock from MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT on Vimeo.

Men's Journal Gives Us 51 Last Minute Gift Ideas

Okay, if you're still looking for the perfect Christmas gift for someone on your shopping list this year, and my 10 last minute gift ideas, nor Nat Geo's 31 suggestions, and Outside's list of 20 stocking stuffers for under $20 hasn't been much help, than perhaps Men's Journal can be of assistance. The magazine has posted it's selection of last minute holiday gifts as well, and it is lengthy one, offering 51 options for procrastinators

Not all of the items on the list are specifically geared for the outdoors or travel, but there is still a lot of things that men (and women!) are going to like. For instance, some of the items that get the nod from MJ include a sweet cycling hat from Rothera, a fun daypack from Cotopaxi, a cool camera from Nikon, and a headlamp designed for runners from Nathan. You'll also find a number of interesting books, some useful gadgets, pants from Fjällräven, and a even a kayak from Perception

All in all, this is a fairly wide list of suggestions for gifts for just about anyone in your life. Obviously here at The Adventure Blog we focus more on the outdoor and adventure travel items first and foremost, but there are all kinds of other great ideas as well for just about any type of personality. If you truly are stumped, perhaps this will at least provide a few ideas to help you get just the right thing for your loved one. If not, you're probably going to have some problems, as obviously the clock is ticking on the holiday shopping season. 

Check out the entire list at

More Photos Emerge of Uncontacted Tribe in Brazil

A few weeks back I posted a story that shared new photos of an uncontacted tribe living deep in the Brazilian rainforest. Those images were taken by an aerial reconnaissance plane that flew over the site where the tribe lives in an effort to gauge how well they were doing in a part of the world that is becoming increasingly threatened by outside forces. Surprisingly, observers found that the tribe was not only faring quite well, but was actually thriving, with new members being added since the last survey. Now, more images have been revealed and they are just as fascinating as the first.

Antarctica 2016: New Route to the South Pole and Longest Expedition by Snowmobile

As the week draws to a close, and I begin thinking about shutting the Adventure Blog down for the holidays, I wanted to take one more opportunity to update readers on the progress of the teams currently making their way across Antarctica towards the South Pole, and other destinations on the frozen continent. It is shaping up to be a very interesting season at the bottom of the world, where in addition to the usual array of South Pole skiers, we continue to have some unique expeditions charting new ground.

One such expedition is unfolding as we speak, as a team of three polar explorers – Keith Tuffley, Rob Smith, and Eric Phillips – are working to open a new route to the South Pole via the Reedy Glacier. This remote, and largely unexplored section of Antarctica stretches for 160 km (100 miles), descending off the Polar Plateau and onto the Ross Ice Shelf. This area has mostly only been surveyed from the ski, with few humans actually putting their boots onto the ice, but it the route that these three men have chosen to make their way to 90ºS.

Keith, Rob, and Eric set out for Antarctica back on December 5, and began skiing on December 7. They spent the first two weeks of the trip traversing the glacier with some of the most stunning views on the continent. The sweeping ice and snow from Reedy feeds into the Ross Ice Shelf of course, but the team has also been traveling in the shadow of the Transantarctic Mountain Range as well, which has provided lots of beautiful scenery for them to enjoy. That isn't always common in the Antarctic, where most skiers see an endless plane of snow and ice with little change in scenery to break things up.

A few days ago, the trio wrapped up their crossing of the Reedy Glacier and have now moved onto the Polar Plateau. Their next goal is to reach the South Pole, but as of now they are focused in on passing the 87th degree. Three more to go until they're done, and a new route to the South Pole has been opened. From the sound of the team's dispatches, it has been a challenging one, with plenty of high winds, low visibility, crevasse fields, and sastrugi. In other words, business as usual in the Antarctic.

Meanwhile, ExWeb has the scoop on another Antarctic expedition that is about to get underway. A team of four adventurers that include Patrick Degerman, Pekka Ojanpää, Mika Listala, and Jón ólafur Magnusson are about to embark on a 4280 km (2659 mile) journey to the South Pole on four snowmobiles. The men will depart from Novo Station and follow a straight line along a road of sorts that has been taken by other vehicles in the past. They plan to be self supported out on the ice, and will not have a support vehicle with them at all. Instead, they'll drive independently to the Pole and then return to Novo to wrap up the journey.

Along the way they'll make nine supply drops with food and fuel, as well as one depot to refuel the snowmobiles as well. Each man is bringing about 80kg (176 pounds) of personal gear as well, including down jackets, an intense layering system, tents, sleeping bags, and so on. Their journey can be followed at

As for the other teams currently out on the ice, here are a few quick updates. The British Military team as topped out on the Polar Plateau and are nearing the Pole, but are finding it tough going. The combination of fatigue, altitude, and heavy sleds has them working very hard, even as they near the end of the expedition. They are still a number of days from the finish line, but it is now in sight and they seem happy for it.

Mike Horn is off and running, having covered 66 km (41 miles) yesterday using his kite to ski along at a brisk pace. It isn't an easy journey so far however, as their are still obstacles to overcome. At one point he lost a ski while traveling at a rapid pace, and had to find a way to come to a stop, avoid getting hit by is sled, and return to find the missing ski. Fortunately it all worked out, but it has been a wild start to his Antarctic traverse via the Pole.

Emma Kelty has crossed the 87th degree and now has three more togo before she reaches 90ºS. She's dealing with a massive sastrugi field at the moment, which is common at this portion of the journey. Once she reaches 88ºS things should start to smooth out and get better, but that will seem like a long way off at this point.

Finally, Italian kite-skier Michele Pontrandolfo has once again had to abort his expedition to the South Pole. In a message posted on his Facebook page that said he faced technical issues that would prevent him from having the time he needed to complete the journey and give search and rescue teams a safe window to retrieve him should the need arise. He is no doubt awaiting extraction now and planning on departing the frozen continent as soon as possible.

That's all for now. More updates as we get important news.

Video: The Evolution of Kite-Skiing

If you read my updates from Antarctica with any regularity, you've no doubt seen me mention kite-skiers on more than one occasion. These are explorers who use a large kite and the power of the wind to pull them along across the snow and ice, often at a fairly rapid pace. But, the practice isn't just confined to the frozen continent, as there are kite-skiers found all over the world. This video gives us an idea of how the sport has evolved over time, and why it has become popular with skiers. It is a beautifully shot, short documentary that will leave you impressed with the skills that these skiers possess, and wondering if you're ready to give it a try yourself.

Video: 7 Terrain Tricks From Ski-Mountaineer Greg Hill

In terms of skiing backcountry terrain, there are few people more experienced than Greg Hill. He's the guy that managed to ski 2 million feet (609,600 meters) of vert in a single year. That tells you that he knows a thing or two about surviving treacherous conditions in the mountains. As the ski season really starts to ramp up here in North America (today is the first day of winter after all!), this video arrives to help us be a bit safer out in the snow. It features Greg's 7 terrain tricks to help you get up and down the mountain, and come back home in one piece.

Video: Polaris RZR and Brantley Gilbert Bring Holiday Cheer to Veterans

With Christmas just a few days away at this point, it's hard not to share some of the more heartwarming stories we've come across recently, and this one definitely falls into that category. Below we have a video put together by Polaris RZR and featuring country singer Brantley Gilbert, who came together with the Disabled American Veterans organization to make the dreams of three families come true. The families – each of which has a disabled vet as part of the group – were brought in under the guise of helping to film a promo video for Polaris. But, it turns out they got quite a surprise that they'll no doubt remember for a lifetime. Check it out below.

How Much Does it Cost to Climb Everest? (2017 Edition)

As I already mentioned today, as 2016 grinds to an end, it is time to start looking ahead to 2017 and adventures yet to come. A bit part of that will be what happens on Everest next spring, and to get ready for the start of another season of climbing on the Big Hill, Alan Arnette has once again posted his annual look at the cost of climbing Everest. If you've ever wondered how much you'd have to spend to go up the highest mountain on the planet, Alan breaks it down nicely for us, and explains where all of the cash goes. He also takes a look at the trends impacting pricing, and where we're headed in the future too.

As usual, there is a lot to sift through in Alan's report, and he does a much better job of breaking everything down than I could ever possibly hope to do. But, there are a few things that stick out as you examine the price of climbing on Everest in 2017. First, and unsurprisingly, costs are increasing, particularly on the Chinese side of the mountain in Tibet where Alan says the average price of an expedition has gone up 22% over last year. That is largely in part because of higher costs of permits from the North Side this season.

The price of a standard supported climb now ranges from $28,000 to $85,000, with the level of "support" varying greatly of course. The top end of spectrum stretches out to $115,000 for a custom climb, while those who want to mostly go it alone can get by for as little as $20,000. Alan points out that most of the lower-end prices come from Nepali companies who have been competing on price to win customers in recent years, but even their costs are starting to inch up as they realize there is more money to be made. But, if you still want to get a great deal, they are more willing to haggle than their Western competitors.

Following the highly successful 2016, which came after two very tumultuous seasons in 2014 and 2017, the demand for climbing on Everest is expected to be higher than ever. More climbers are now coming to the mountain from China and India, as well as other parts of the world, which is pushing the need for more guides and more options. In the wake of this vacuum, new companies are stepping up to provide services for all of these clients, and as a result pricing is in flux at the moment. In also calls into question the safety of climbing on the mountain, as it continues to become even more crowded. How this impacts things going forward should be interesting, and hopefully not tragic.

Other interesting elements from Alan's price guide include a breakdown of how much each element of the climb costs – including permits, travel, insurance, gear, and so on. He also has a complete list of operators and their expected costs for 2017, as well as some answers to common questions. In short, it is a great primer for understanding the basics of a climb, and just why it costs so much.

If you're thinking about making the climb yourself, you'll definitely want to give this a read. And start saving your pennies of course. Even a "low-end" Everest climb is still quite an investment.

Ueli Steck Gearing Up For Lhotse Traverse in Spring 2017

It is hard to believe that 2016 is quickly drawing to an end, and soon we'll turn the page to a new year. That means lots of new opportunities of course, and a time to start look ahead to some big adventures to come, including the spring climbing season on Everest, which is sure to be a busy and interesting place after a return to normalcy this year. One climber who is already anticipating his expeditions to the mountain is Ueli Steck, who as usual has some big things planned.

Steck, who climbed Everest without bottled oxygen back in 2012, only to return the following year and find himself embroiled in a high-profile brawl with Sherpa guides, is now gearing up for a very ambitious expedition in the spring of 2017. The Swiss climber will return to the South Side of Everest to attempt what he calls the Lhotse Traverse, which will start with a summit of Everest and continue with him – and his climbing partner Tenji Sherpa – continuing across the saddle ridge to the summit of Lhotse, Everest's closest neighbor and the fourth highest mountain in the world at 8516 meters (27,940 ft). As with his last expedition to the world's tallest mountain, Ueli plans to make the climb without supplemental O's.

Recently, Steck sat down for an interview with journalist Stefan Nestler, during which he talked about this upcoming expedition, which he has already started preparing for. In that interview, Ueli says that he hopes to climb the Everest along the tough West Shoulder, and then after summiting, continue on to Lhotse in a single long, and difficult push. But, that said, he has also acknowledged that conditions might not be right for such a route, so he may shift to the normal route of Everest first, and complete the traverse that way instead. But, he says that this project is one of his dream expeditions, so there is a likelihood that if he does have to take the normal route, he may return in the future to try the West Shoulder again.

In the interview, Ueli also touches on the 2013 brawl, saying that he has now put that ugly incident behind him. It impacted him greatly immediately after the incident, leading to him not trusting other climbers quite so much and taking a different approach to his expeditions. He says that it has shaped his perspective moving forward, but that he is at peace with what happened and is ready to just concentrate on climbing in the High Himalaya instead.

As he prepares for the altitude he'll face on Everest and Lhotse, Ueli says he has begun picking up the volume of his training to get ready for the challenge ahead. Dong lots of vertical climbing at a rapid pace – something he is well known for – allows him to stay in the Alps and still prepare for the Himalaya, and while the start of the expedition is still more than three months away, he is already getting his body ready.

If successful, Ueli will be the first person to complete the Lhotse Traverse without the use of bottled oxygen. He seems very confident that he can pull this off, and knowing what I know about the "Swiss Machine," I wouldn't bet against him.

Video: The Maui Boys Take the Onewheel for a Spin

The Onewheel is one of the coolest gadgets I've seen in awhile. It is a high-tech, self-balancing, single-wheeled skateboard of sorts that is controlled by leaning forward and backward, or side to side. Fast and fun, the Onewheel is a joy to ride. In this video, you'll get to see a group of pro-surfers – Dege O'Connell, Albee Layer, Tanner Hendrickson, Kai Barger and Hank Gaskell – put the Onewheel through its paces. The clip is less than a minute in length, but it gives you an idea of what the device is like. It isn't too late to get Santa to put one under your tree this year.

The Maui Boys from Onewheel HQ on Vimeo.

Video: Stand-Up Paddling the Length of the Mississippi River

A few weeks back I posted a story about British adventurer Kev Brady, who was just about to embark on a 1200 km (800 mile) journey by stand-up paddleboard along the length of the longest river in Sri Lanka and up its coastline, which is expected to take 4 months to complete. But, it turns out that this isn't the only long distance SUP expedition that Kev has undertaken. Back in 2013 and 2014, he also paddled the length of the Mississippi River too, covering some 3781 km (2350 miles) in the process. The video below chronicles that journey, taking us source-to-sea on one of the longest rivers in the world. Quite an adventure indeed.

Video: Kilian Jornet Takes on Seven Summits of Romsdalen

We haven't heard much from Spanish mountain runner Kilian Jornet since he returned from his speed attempt on Everest this past fall. But of course we all know he wasn't just standing still and resting on his laurels. In this video, we follow him as he attempts to complete the Seven Summits of Romsdalen in Norway in a single day. This tough 77 km (47.8 mile) route features 9000 meters (29,527 ft) of vertical gain and takes mere mortals like the rest of us the better part of a week to finish, particularly in the winter. Can Kilian conquer the course in record time? You'll have to watch the video below to see how he fares.

Lonnie Dupre Headed Back to Alaska for Winter Climb of Mt. Hunter

Polar explorer and mountaineer Lonnie Dupre has announced his next expedition, and it will once again take him to the extremes of Alaska during the winter. Dupre famously climbed Denali – the tallest peak in Norther America at 6190 meters (20,310 ft) – solo and in January in 2015, and now will head back to Denali National Park to climb yet another difficult mountain.

In January, Dupre will travel to the Alaska Range to attempt to scale Mt. Hunter, perhaps the most technical of all the peaks within the national park, and one of the toughest in North America. The 4441-meter (14,573-foot) mountain is known for its very steep slopes and heavily corniced ridges, which can make an ascent at any time of the year treacherous. In winter, climbers also face harsh weather conditions as well, including heavy snow, high winds, and subzero temperatures.

Those conditions are nothing new for Dupre however, who has traveled in many of the extreme locations of out planet during the winter. His experience on Denali (it took him several attempts to complete that climb) will pay off here as well, although he'll be facing even more difficult climbing conditions, although the Mt. Hunter isn't nearly as tall.

Dupre has dubbed this expedition "Cold Hunter One," and he aims to head toward the mountain in the first week of January. From there, he'll begin making the ascent in alpine style, carrying all of his gear and supplies with him as he goes. Of the expedition he says: “This project is the culmination of all my years of experience wrapped into one challenge, where every ounce of food, fuel, gear and clothing matters.” He goes on to add, “All calculations are based on the absolute minimum my body needs to survive. I’ve allowed 4 days for storms; weather will be a leading factor to the success of the climb."

We can add this expedition to our list of major winter climbs this year, along with the just announced attempt by Alex Txikon on Everest without bottled oxygen. Both should be interesting to watch unfold.

Antarctica 2016: One Skier Abandons South Pole Attempt, Another Gets Underway

As we approach the first full day of winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, down south the Antarctic skiers continue to press on towards their goals. The current South Pole ski season has been underway for more than six weeks, and the faster teams are now starting to near the finish line, although there is still some miles yet to be covered before they are through. But the big news this week is that one skier has abandon his attempt to ski to 90ºS, while another is now on his way to that point.

One of the expeditions that we've been following closely this season is that of sit-skier Aron Anderson, a paraplegic who was attempting to travel to the South Pole. But unfortunately, Aron was forced to abort that attempt last week when he took ill. He had been suffering from a stomach bug that was zapping his strength, and after 20 days of struggle, he finally felt it was best to end the full distance expedition. ExWeb says that he may still try to reach the South Pole however, but will ski the last degree instead, provided his health allows.

Meanwhile, Mike Horn is now officially underway on his kite-ski expedition to the South Pole. So far, the winds have been favorable, helping him to cover solid distances in a relatively short period of time. Just yesterday alone he managed to cover 45 km (28 miles), but had a scare when he broke through a snow bridge, which put a bit of a scare into him. For now, he is proceeding with caution as he makes his way through the early stages of the journey. Remember, Horn will be traversing the continent as he continues his attempt to circumnavigate the world via the Poles.

Elsewhere, the six-man British Military team is now closing in on the South Pole. They estimate they could be just one week away from reaching that point. After 34 days out on the ice, the squad is now nearing the top of the Polar Plateau, and even though they've been covering excellent distances, they expect the pace to pick up nicely over the next few days as well. Yesterday, the group crossed the 88th degree, which means just two degrees remain until they are at the bottom of the world.

Emma Kelty continues to press on towards the Pole as well, and now she is racing a deadline. She has said that if she doesn't reach the Pole by the New Year she might not be able to complete her return journey back to the coast. Right now, that looks like it could be tough, although it isn't out of reach just yet. First, she'll need to get past the 86th and 87th degrees, which are home to a large sastrugi field, which will obviously test her strength and commitment.

Johanna Davidsson reports that temperatures have dropped dramatically as she has climbed higher in altitude. At the moment, she says that it is -35ºC (-31ºF), although inside the tent is is quite warm. She has now been out on the ice for 36 days, and while it has been a challenge, she seems to be enjoying herself quite a bit. When she reaches the South Pole, she also intends to kite-ski back to Hercules Inlet, so she is racing the clock to a degree as well. 

The other skiers currently on the ice are making good progress in a variety of weather conditions. Most are still lagging a bit behind these skiers, but they are on track to reach 90ºS well before the end of the season in January. For now though, the press forward each day, and will soon celebrate the holidays on the frozen continent. 

More updates to follow as we learn more. 

Video: How Hard is it to Climb Everest?

This video comes our way courtesy of BuzzFeed, which isn't a website that I'm particularly fond of, but I still found myself enjoying this clip nonetheless. In just over two-minutes of footage, it shares some fairly interesting facts bout the tallest mountain on the planet, mixing in some great historical photos and beautiful video. Seeing as how we're about to follow an ambitious expedition to the mountain, I thought this was worth sharing. It does provide some context about an Everest climb, and what it takes to get to the top.

Video: Free Skiing Through A Mountain Glacier

It takes a lot to get met o post a ski video, mostly because there are a ton of them out there, they often do very little to distinguish themselves from one another. But, this one is special, so it was definitely worth sharing. It features pro skier Sam Favret as he free skis through the legendary Mer de Glace in the Mont-Blanc region of France. At a bit over three minutes in length, it is pure ski porn, with amazing visuals and some of the best skiing I've seen in a clip in a long time. Really an amazing way to take advantage of the terrain and create something special.

Ice Call - Sam Favret / Backyards Project from PVS COMPANY on Vimeo.

10 Last Minute Travel Gift Suggestions from The Adventure Blog

Christmas is now in sight and the clock is most definitely ticking. If you find yourself still scrambling to find the perfect gift for the adventure traveler or outdoor enthusiast on your holiday shopping list this year, we have some suggestions for what they might like. Here are 10 list minute gifts that are sure to make them happy, all of which are under $100.

Ledlenser SEO 7R Headlamp
Every outdoor adventurer can use a good headlamp, and Ledlenser's SEO 7R is one of the best I've seen in awhile. Powered by either a rechargeable battery pack or standards AAA batteries, this lamp is capable of putting out as much as 220 lumens and is built to be water resistant too. It is comfortable to wear, lightweight, great for travel, and comes with a 5 year warranty as well. Price: $90

Dog & Bone LockSmart Travel Bluetooth Padlock
Keeping your valuables safe and secure while on the road can be a challenge, but Dog & Bone's LockSmart Travel high-tech padlock can help. This Bluetooth enabled lock connects to your smartphone for keyless unlocking from anywhere in the world. It also has location tracking properties and is TSA compliant, meaning you can place it on your bad and not worry about nefarious individuals gaining access to your belongings. Price: $59.95

LifeStraw Go Water Bottle
Everyone can use a good water bottle of course, but the LifeStraw Go isn't just a handy way to stay hydrated, it also features a two-stage filtration system that removes 99.99% of all harmful bacteria, protozoa, and viruses that could be lurking in water. This makes it a great choice for both backcountry excursions and travelers who might be visiting countries where finding clean drinking water might be a challenge. Price: $49.95

Power Practical Luminoodle Plus Camp Lighting System
Keep the campsite well lit with a Luminoodle light rope from Power Practical. Flexible and waterproof, these lights are easy to hang in a tent, on branches, or just about anywhere else you need them, delivering 180 lumens of light without blinding anyone in the process. The Luminoodle Plus kit comes complete with a 5-foot set of lights and a 4400 mAh battery to keep them powered on. Price: $39.95

Global Entry
Frequent travelers know how long it takes to get through security lines at the airport, and customs when returning to the country when traveling abroad. But a Global Entry membership from the Transportation Security Administration lets them bypass those bottlenecks quickly and efficiently. The process does require an interview and a bit of a wait time, but it is worth it. Price: $100

Champion Duofold THERMatrix Baselayers
Baselayers are always handy no matter what outdoor activities your favorite adventurer is into. They provide the first line of defense in keeping us warm and dry in the backcountry, and are an indispensable part of any gear closet. Champion makes high quality baselayers that are also affordable and good looking too. Price: $23.99

Yaktrax Cabin Socks
Soft and warm, the Yaktrax Cabin Socks just might be the most comfortable sock your outdoor lover will ever put on his or her feet. If the cold chill of winter is leaving their toes a bit chilly, get them a pair of these to help them recover. They are so comfortable (and affordable!) that you'll even want a pair for yourself. Price: $12.99

Stacked iPhone Wireless Charging System
For the traveler looking for a convenient way to keep their iPhone charged while on the road, the Stacked wireless charging system is a godsend. Modular in design, this iPhone case uses powerful magnets to connect with chargers, portable battery packs, and a handy car mount that is fantastic for navigating on long road trips. Buy the Stacked bundle for $99.99 or individual pieces as needed.

Dry Guy Warm 'n Charge
The cold weather isn't just hard on our bodies, it's hard on the batteries in our electronic devices too. That's why Dry Guy invented the Warm 'n Charge, a battery operated hand warmer that is also capable of recharging a smartphone too. The device uses a 4400 mAh battery for up to five hours of warming or two phone charges. Price: $40

Stanley Pocket Steel Adventure Flask
Let's face it, we all like to rough it in the woods on occasion, but that doesn't mean we have to be completely uncivilized. The Pocket Flask from Stanley is a lightweight and compact way to carry a little extra something into the backcountry with us for those celebrations when you bag a peak or are just toasting to your good fortune. Price: $18

Spanish Climber to Attempt Repeat of Fitz Roy Crossing Solo

Back in February of 2014, climbers Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold completed what many thought was an impossible climb by linking up Cerro Fitz Roy and its surrounding peaks in southern Patagonia. The route was dubbed the "Fitz Traverse" at is involves climbing Aguja Guillaumet, Aguja Mermoz, Cerro Fitz Roy, Aguja Poincenot, Aguja Rafael Juarez, Aguja Saint-Exupery and Aguja de l'S, all in one go. This once-Holy Grail of rock climbing hasn't been repeated since, but a Spanish climber is about to give it a go.

Last week, Pedro Cifuentes set out for Patagonia, where he hopes to make the same climb as Caldwell and Honnold in solo fashion. Going in alpine style, and completely alone, Cifuentes estimates it will take him about 40-50 days to finish the traverse, which is considerably longer than his predecessors, who finished it in just 5 days. But, having a partner makes a huge difference, and the Spaniard admits he isn't up to climbing at the same level of speed that the two Americans can achieve. Instead, he'll look to be self-sufficient and travel in alpine style, carrying a 90kg (198 pound) pack with him filled with his supplies, food, and gear.

In total, the distance he'll travel will be a mere 5 km (3.1 miles), but it will also involve 4000 meters (13,123 ft) of rough vertical climbing to overcome. That climbing is where Cifuentes will slow down, as doing every pitch by himself will be time consuming and demanding.

This won't be Pedro's first go around with a significant rock climbing challenge. In 2013 he become the first person to solo all three Towers of Paine in succession in Patagonia as well. That expedition took 29 days to wrap up. Later that year, he also attempted a solo climb on Nameless Tower in Pakistan, but was forced to retreat due to incredibly poor conditions.

Cifuentes admits that his solo attempt on the Fitz Traverse is a long-shot, but he enjoys the challenge and hopes that his skill, planning, and determination will help get him through. He says, "I'm not looking for summits, but for experiences. It is not my first expedition, nor will it be the last. I do it for me, to enjoy, for the experiences, for what you see, for what you learn .... it is very difficult to convey what it means to face alone an escalation like this ... every second is very intense, thousands spend Of things, you're out of the world ... The top is fine ... but it's not what I'm looking for. If so, there are easier ways to get it. "

Pedro is on his way to the start of the climb now and should get started shortly. Hopefully he'll reach his goals in the mountains of Patagonia, but if not, perhaps he'll at least get the experiences he's looking for.

Everest Winter Expedition Revealed - Alex Txikon without Bottled O's

Last week I mentioned that I had heard it through the grapevine that a major expedition was gearing up for Everest this winter, but that I hadn't quite heard all of the particulars just yet, even though I suspected who might be involved. Well, it turns out my hunch was correct, as we now know more about the impending climb, who's involved, and how it might unfold.

On Friday, Spanish climber Alex Txikon announced that he is indeed leading a small team to Nepal to attempt a winter summit from the South Side. The 35-year old Txikon be joined by 28-year old Carlos Rubio, who is a talented extreme skier in his own right. The expedition will also include Aitor Barez and Pablo Magister, who will both document the climb. They'll also be accompanied by 5 Sherpas who will handle route fixing duties through the Khumbu Icefall.

A winter expedition to Everest is challenging enough with weather that is bone chilling to say the least. In January, high winds and brutal temperatures will likely test the team's resolve. Alan Arnette says that the average temperature on the summit during the month is -36ºC (-33ºF), although it has dropped as low as -60ºC (-76ºF) in the past, with windspeeds topping out at 280 km/h (174 mph).

But, the altitude, weather, and deep snow won't be the only obstacles that Txikon will be looking to overcome. He says that he also intends to make the climb without the use of bottled oxygen, which will add an entirely new level of danger and difficulty to his quest. Presumably, Rubio will be attempting to ski the mountain as well, but those plans have yet to be clarified.

The team will leave for Kathmandu on December 23 and arrive on Christmas Eve. Winter will have officially started by then, so they'll be looking to spend the next two months on the climb. The team will first have to trek to Base Camp however, which will help start the acclimatization process and get them acquainted with the current weather conditions. Reportedly, there has been heavy snow in the region thus far this year, so how that impact the climb remains to be seen.

Txikon is now stranger to climbing in the big mountains during the winter. In recent years he's made several visits to Pakistan to climb in the Himalaya and Karakoram there during the harshest time of year. Earlier this year he was part of the team – which included Simone Moro, Tamara Lunger, and  Ali Sadpara – who completed the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat. Now, he'll take everything that he learned on that journey and apply it to Everest as well.

We will of course be following this expedition closely in the weeks ahead. It should be interesting to see the first true winter expedition to Everest in a number of years. Good luck to everyone involved. Stay safe!

Video: A Little Holiday Cheer Courtesy of WestJet

We're now just a little over a week away from Christmas, and while this isn't the type of video I normally share, I thought it was worth posting nonetheless. 2016 has been a challenging year for the citizens of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada. A forest fire destroyed a large portion of the town, claiming many homes and consuming lots of valuables in the process. But, the holidays won't be quite so grim there thanks to Canadian airline WestJet, which has made a habit out of making Christmas miracles over the past couple of years. In this video, you'll see what they did for the people of Fort McMurray, and if it doesn't warm your heart heading into the holiday season, I don't know what will. Have a great weekend!

Video: Ed Viesturs - The Will to Climb

This video is part of the Nat Geo Live program, and even though it is a couple of years old, it is still worth sharing. It features alpinist Ed Viesturs – the only American to climb all 14 8000-meter peaks – sharing his philosophy on climbing, risk, and life in the mountains. There is a lot of wisdom and knowledge to be gained here, from a man who has pushed himself to the limit in the high places of our planet. If you want to truly know what it is like to climb the highest peaks in the world, Ed can tell you.

Outside Gives Us 20 Stocking Stuffers for $20 or Less

With a little more than a week to go until Christmas, our shopping days are running short. Hopefully you've wrapped up all of your gift buying for the season, but if not, Outside magazine is here to help. The staff there has compiled a great list of 20 stocking stuffers for under $20 that any outdoor enthusiast is sure to love. 

With 20 items to choose from, I wouldn't think of giving away everything on the list. But, there are some really great suggestions for those still struggling to find the perfect gift, or are simply looking to add one more item that won't break the bank. Amongst the things that Outside recommends are a classic Swiss Army Knife from the folks at Victorinox for just $17, running socks from Balega for $8, and a new Nalgene bottle, which start as low as $3.50. Other options include traction cleats from Yaktrax ($14), a travel pillow from Therm-a-rest ($12), and a classic Petzl Tikka headlamp for $20. 

A lot of the items on this list are things that active outdoor athletes use all the time and will appreciate receiving in their stocking. Many are thoughtful items that most gift-givers wouldn't think about picking out for the people on their list, which makes them all the more special to the person receiving it. I can't speak for everyone, but I'd personally rather have a utilitarian gift that I can actually use than an item that just doesn't suit my needs. Of course, it's always the thought that counts, but it is very nice to get things that we actually want too. 

If you're looking for a few last minute ideas on what to pick out for someone, check out all of Outside's suggestions by clicking here

Pursuing a Speed Record on the Hardest Mountain Trek in the World

A few months back, a team of endurance athletes set out to Bhutan to attempt to set a new speed record for trail running along the Snowman Trek, largely considered to be one of the toughest trekking routes in the entire world. The goal was to complete the entire route in less than 14 days – fave days faster than the previously best known time. Along the way they faced tough trails, lots of altitude gain and lost, the thin air of the mountains, altitude sickness, brutal weather conditions, and more. Now, a few months after the expedition wrapped up, National Geographic Adventure has the story of this daring adventure in the High Himalaya.

The team that set out to run the length of the Snowman Trek consisted of endurance athletes Ben Clark, Anna Frost, Tim Olson, and Chris Ord. They had a support team with them as well to help carry gear and supplies, but even getting a group of locals to help with the logistics was a challenge. No one wanted to join the team, as all of the experienced guides in Bhutan thought that their plan was impossible to complete in the time that they had set for themselves. The original trek leaders and support crew quit right before the team was preparing to embark on their quest, leaving them scrambling to find others who were at least willing to try.

But the finally did get underway, and the details of their story are fascinating and at times harrowing. I don't want to spoil too many of the details, as the Nat Geo story – written by veteran endurance athlete Mat Hart – is incredibly well done. I will say this however, the group did manage to set a new speed record on the Snowman, and in the process redefined what can be done on that intensely demanding route.

Read the entire story here. It is a good one, and well worth a look. I'll be thinking about this group of runners when I set out for my own nightly run later today.

Two Young Adventurers Are Kayaking 2000-Miles Across the Caribbean to Miami

Two American adventurers are in the middle of an epic paddle that will see them travel more than 2000 miles (3218 km) across the Caribbean Sea in a tandem kayak. The journey began back on October 1, but is now nearing completion as the two young men close in on their finish line. 

Dubbed The Golden Arc Expedition by Will McCreadie and George Parry – both 21-years old – the trip began on the island of Grenada and will end when the pair reach Miami, which they hope to do by the end of the month. That will end about two months of island hopping as they've made their way across the Caribbean. Along the way, they have stopped in Nevis, Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic, and  Puerto Rico. Currently, they are paddling through the Bahamas on their way to Florida. 

Throughout the course of the journey, McCreadie and Perry have faced some serious challenges. As you might expect, the ocean hasn't always been kind, as the two men have had to deal with high seas and strong winds. They've also suffered dehydration, heat exhaustion, and sleep deprivation, as they have sometimes paddled for as much as 30 hours straight during open ocean crossings. Still, reading their dispatches they remain upbeat and determined to reach the end of their journey on schedule. 

The two men undertook this challenge to raise funds for the Get Exploring Trust, an organization that awards grants to get people outside and pursuing activities that they are passionate about. It encourages people from all kinds of backgrounds to step out of their comfort zone and encourage them to explore the world around us. The grants are not particularly large, but they may cover costs such as purchasing a good pair of hiking boots, paying for an outdoor training course, or transportation to reach a destination. The whole point of GET is to simply help young, adventurous people to go after their dreams. Something that we at The Adventure Blog can obviously get behind. 

As far as this particular adventure, I could think of worse places to kayak through than the Caribbean Sea. Still, having just been there recently myself, I do know how hot it can get under the blazing sun, and kayaking 2000 miles is an impressive accomplishment no matter where it is done. Will and George haven't had to rough it completely however. During their stop over in Nevis for instance, they stayed at the Four Seasons while they recuperated some. We should all be so lucky on our own expeditions. 

Video: A Beautiful Journey to Everest

In need of an escape to the mountains today? If so, have a look at this amazing video, which takes viewers on a beautiful journey through the Himalaya in Nepal to Everest. That journey begins in Kathmandu, continues out to the Khumbu Valley, and passes into the shadow of the tallest mountain on the planet. The entire thing was shot in 4K resolutions, and looks simply stunning. At nearly a half-hour in length, you'll want to get comfortable before you embark, but it is worth the ride.

Video: Above Bellingham - Drone Footage From an Adventure City

Bellingham, Washington is a city that has a lot to offer in terms of outdoor adventure, much of which you'll see in this video, which was captured using a drone to stunning effect. The clip starts a bit slow, and you'll probably wonder why it is worth sharing, but as it goes along the landscapes and opportunities for adventure reveal themselves. By the end, you'll be wanting to visit Bellingham yourself.

ABOVE BELLINGHAM - 4K Drone Film from Kjell Redal on Vimeo.

Quiz: How Much Do You Know Bout Polar Exploration?

If you're a fan of polar exploration like I am, and enjoy the history that surrounds the famous expeditions that ventured into those remote places, we have a real treat for you today. National Geographic has posted a fun quiz designed to test your knowledge, and perhaps teach you a thing or two at the same time. As someone who writes about the history of polar exploration from time to time, I still picked up a couple of nuggets of information along the way. There are ten questions in total, and I managed to score an 8. Not bad, but still room for improvement. Take the quiz below and see how you fare.

Men's Journal Suggests Six Winter Adventures to Take Advantage of the Cold

If you live in the U.S. right now, chances are you're experiencing the "polar vortex" that has brought cold conditions to just about every part of the country. Winter is still technically a week away, but temperatures have dipped well below freezing, and in some place are even dangerously frigid right now. But, as any dedicated outdoor enthusiast will tell you, the winter is just another season to play outside, provide you have the proper gear and the right motivation. To that end, Men's Journal has shared a list of six adventures that make the most out of the cold.

Some of the suggestions – like visit Yosemite in the winter and Fat Biking in Sun Valley, Idaho– are specific to certain locations, but most of them are things you can do just about anywhere there is a bit of snow. Those options include learning to ice climb, cross-country skiing under the stars, go backcountry skiing, and learn to dog sled. MJ has some good suggestions on where to do all of those things as well, but those adventures are a bit more flexible, with opportunities to embark on those winter escapes in many different places.

Of course, none of these activities are going to be especially enjoyable if you don't have proper gear to keep you warm. Make sure you have a good layering system, as well as boots, a hat, and a good pair of gloves. If you're well equipped, winter can be just as enjoyable as any other season to be outdoors, and often times it is even more rewarding. There is nothing quite like hitting the backcountry and finding you have the place all to yourself.

One of my all-time favorite trips was a winter excursion to Yellowstone National Park a few years back. The place is utterly spectacular – and completely deserted – in the winter months. And yes, it was indeed cold, with temperatures dropping well below 0ºF (-17ºC), it was still an amazing place to be. If you haven't done that adventure, definitely put it on your list. You won't be disappointed.

Stay warm, stay active, and enjoy the season. It has a lot to offer.

The 2016-2017 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Rowing Challenge is Underway

One of the great annual endurance events in the world got underway yesterday as the 2016-2017 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge began in the Canary Islands off the coast of northwest Africa. Over the next two months, 12 solo, two-person, and four-person teams will row across the Atlantic Ocean to the finish line on the island of Antigua in the Caribbean Sea, covering some 3000 nautical miles (3452 miles/5556 km) in the process.

The rowing crews departed at 9:30 AM local time from the harbor of San Sebastián de La Gomera with a large, and loud, crowd to see them off. As you can imagine, the teams were pretty excited to get underway, but they didn't leave without a bit of trepidation. Most won't see their loved ones for awhile, as the two-person teams are estimated to take roughly 50 days to cross the Atlantic. Of course, the four-person squads – which includes an all-women's team from the U.K. – should go a bit faster, while the solo racers will take longer.

One of the teams from the U.S. consists of brothers John and Kurt Suchwartz, who managed to catch some media attention when it was learned that they would row the Atlantic naked. Of course, experienced rowers know that this isn't completely uncommon, as it helps to lower the level of friction and reduces blistering. Still, it made for a salacious headline or two leading up to the start of the race.

Now that they're underway, the teams will face everything from perfectly calm, lovely weather, to potential tropical storms, heavy waves, and high winds. It's all part of the challenge of course, but that won't make it any easier to complete.

You can follow the progress of the teams in the weeks ahead at race's official website.

Video: Where Have All the Stars Gone? - How Light Pollution Affects the Night Sky

One of the great joys of travel for me is visiting places where it is so dark that you can see the night's sky completely unobstructed. Watching the billions of stars overhead is an incredibly humbling experience. But, not everyone gets to feel that thanks to light pollution, which can block the heavens, even on the darkest of nights. In this video, we see just how much of an impact the urban lights can have as we walk through the various levels of light pollution and how they affect our enjoyment of the stars overhead. These timelapse images will put everything into perspective and help you appreciate our dark zones even more.

Video: Meet the People of Rainier

Standing 14, 411 feet (4392 meters) in height, Mt. Rainier isn't the tallest peak in the U.S., and yet it still casts a very long shadow over the mountaineering community here. It is perhaps the most iconic mountain in the lower 48, and it remains a proving ground for climbers everywhere. In this video, we get a beautiful look at that mountain, and share the experiences of some of its most famous climbers, including Lou Whittaker, George Dunn, Bronka Sundstrom and Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa. If you've ever wondered why this mountain has held such a sway over the hearts of so many climbers, this video will shed a bit of light on the subject.

Gear Closet: Sherpa Adventure Gear Ananta Hoodie

Last week I took a look at the Tsepun Zip Tee from Sherpa Adventure Gear, and came away very impressed with how comfortable that baselayer is and how well it performed. This week, I'm going back into the Sherpa catalog to take a look at yet another one of their garments, this time putting the Ananta Hoodie to the test.

Where as the Tsepun is a mid-weight shirt meant to be worn close to the body, the Ananta Hoodie is an insulating layer that works best between your baselayer and your shell. Made from Polartec Thermal Pro fabrics, this pull-over is warm, quick-drying, very breathable, and surprisingly light weight. All of those elements add up to a fantastic piece of clothing for use in the outdoors or just around home.

While this hoodie performs amazing well, and is both water and wind resistant, the first thing that strikes you when you put it on is just how incredibly soft it is. The outer fabric on the Ananta feels fantastic to the touch, almost to the point where you think that it can't possibly be durable as well. But, I've been wearing this mid-layer quite a bit recently, and it has held up to daily use in a variety of environments without a single sign of wear and tear. In fact, it still looks exactly the same as when I first received it, which means it should survive quite nicely in the outdoors.

The Ananta Hoodie features a trim, athletic cut that hugs the body closely. This helps it to trap warm air close to the body to provide extra warmth over a form-fitting baselayer. But, if you prefer a fit that is a bit less snug, you may want to move up to a larger size. Personally, I like the way it fits, and since the Polartec fabrics have a stretchy quality to them, it isn't difficult to get it on or off as needed. Plus, the body-hugging design helps it to feel more natural under an outer shell too.

Simple in design, this hoodie nevertheless has some notable features. For instance, the hood is spacious and provides solid protection from the elements. A pair of cinch cords allow you to tighten up the fit as needed, although for the most part it works fine without having to do so. There is also a single zipped pocket on the left shoulder which is handy for stashing small items in pinch. Although I rarely use it for storing anything, it is large enough to fit a smartphone and is nice to have for those "just in case" moments.

Where I live, winter hasn't officially arrived yet, but we've had some cold, damp days already. During this time, I've found myself reaching for the Ananta on a regular basis, both when heading outside and for staying warm around the house. It is extremely comfortable, looks great, and provides a nice layer of warmth too. There have been times however when I've felt my hands instinctively reaching for a front pouch pocket that doesn't exist. If there were one thing that I'd like to see added to the Ananta in the future, it is just such a pocket. It feels like it should be there, even though it isn't.

Just like the Tsepun shirt, this hoodie was obviously built with quality and care. Everything about it feels well made and crafted to a higher level than some of the garments I've seen from Sherpa's competitors. That is once again a testament to its durability, and since it happens to look great and perform well, I know that this will be a regular companion on my future travel adventures.

Priced at $110, I once again see this as another Sherpa product that comes across as a bargain. You'll be hard pressed to find anything like the Ananta Hoodie anywhere else, and its blend of warmth, wicking, and breathability are tough to beat. It makes a wonderful addition to any layering system, or can be worn with a t-shirt and jeans for nice casual look. Just don't be surprised if you're stopped by strangers on occasion asking where you got it, because that's happened more than once to me as well.

Find out more at Buy at

31 Last-Minute Outdoor Gift Ideas from National Geographic

Still wondering what you should get that outdoor and adventure lover on your list this holiday season? Are you starting to stress out as time begins to run short? Never fear, because National Geographic is back today with yet another extensive list, this time providing 31 gift ideas to help us get outside more.

As you can imagine, this particular list is filled with some wonderful suggestions for outdoor gear that your adventurer is sure to love. For instance, you'll find the Rumpl Down Puffy blanket on the list – which is something I recommended in my holiday shoppers guide a few weeks back. Nat Geo also recommends The North Face ThermoBall Hooded Parka for the ladies, as well as Smartwool's awesome mountaineering socks, which were created in conjunction with Conrad Anker. Other items that get the nod also include Osprey's Raptor 14 hydration pack, Gear Aid camp lights, and the GoPro Hero 5 camera.

All in all, this is a really diverse list of gear with suggestions for just about every kind of activity or outdoor gear lover. Whether they enjoy hiking, biking, running, or travel, there are plenty of suggestions on what gifts to buy this year. Check out the full list by clicking here.

I'm working on my own last minute shopping guide as well with even more suggestions for what to get your favorite adventurer. Look for that in a couple of days, hopefully with enough time to round out your shopping before Christmas.

Antarctica 2016: Celebrating 50 Years of Mountaineering on the Frozen Continent

There isn't a lot to discuss today in terms of progress for the South Pole skiers since I posted an update yesterday. Presumably, explorer Mike Horn has started his traverse of the Antarctic continent, although he hasn't posted a dispatch as of yet. Meanwhile the other teams have put another day of hard work out on the ice behind them as they inch ever closer to their goals. But that doesn't mean there aren't interesting stories to share today as well, including an article that looks back at the history of mountaineering at the bottom of the world and a somber visit to the Antarctic by the family of a fallen hero.

First up, I wanted to share a rather interesting story that comes our way from the Adventure Travel Trade Association. The ATTA publishes a website called Adventure Travel News that mainly focuses on information that is of interest to its members. But, yesterday the site also posted an article entitled "Celebrating 50 Years of Antarctic Mountaineering," which takes a look back at the milestones for climbing on the frozen continent. That story begins with a 1966 American expedition that included alpinists Pete Schoening, Bill Long, John Evans, and Barry Corbet. That team went to the Antarctic to knock off the four highest peaks there, including Mount Vinson, the tallest mountain on the continent at 4892 meters (16,050 ft).

That might not seem like an incredibly high altitude when we routinely discuss expeditions to the Himalaya and Karakoram on this blog, but back in 1966 just getting to the start of the climb was a logistical challenge. On top of that, when you add in the extreme latitude of Vinson, it actually ends up climbing like a much taller mountain. And of course, the high winds and brutal temperatures experienced there create a challenge unlike any other.

As the article points out, climbing in Antarctica remained a strictly private affair for a couple more decades. It wasn't until 1983, when Dick Bass and Frank Wells climbed the mountain as part of the original Seven Summits bid, that anyone thought about making a commercial climb up the mountain. In 1986, those operations began as more people sought Seven Summit goals.

Over the years, Adventure Network International – now Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions – handled the organization of most of those teams, and continues to do so today. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first mountaineering expedition to the continent, ALE has organized five different climbs on Vinson this year. The first one completed last week, and the second is already underway and scheduled to wrap up on December 18. The three reaming expeditions will begin on December 18, December 29, and January 9 respectively.

Explorers Web has one other story of interest today. As you may recall, last year British polar explorer Henry Worsley lost his life in an attempt to ski solo and unassisted to the South Pole and back to his starting point on the coast. At the time, he was the hoping to become the first person to accomplish that feat, setting out with a sled filled with 150 kg (330 pounds) of gear and supplies. But, unfortunately he was never able to complete that mission, as he took ill while out on the ice. An emergency evacuation team picked him up and flew him to Chile, where he later passed away in a hospital there. It remains a truly sad story from a place that has has always been incredibly brutal on the explorers that travel there.

Now, ExWeb reports that Worsley's family has made the pilgrimage to Antarctica to experience the place that he loved so much. Over the course of his travels there, Henry made three full-distance expeditions to the Pole, and felt at home in the Antarctic. While this is obviously a somber experience for this family members who are now visiting that place as well, hopefully it also brings them some peace and solace too.

More updates as the news warrants.

Video: Climbing Kilimanjaro with a Drone

Want to get a great look at what it is like to climb Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak? Take a look at this video, which comes our way courtesy of Madison Mountaineering. It follows a group of trekkers as they go up the mountain, capturing some outstanding footage with a drone as they go. The group took the Machame Route, which is one of the most popular paths to the summit, and along the way they had some amazing views of the mountain and the surrounding landscape.

Video: Behind the Scenes on a Danny MacAskill Video

Over the past few years we've all watched in awe as pro rider Danny MacAskill has done things on his bike that most of us didn't think was possible. After watching one of his videos, have you ever wondered how those amazing clips get made? This video takes us behind the scenes to show us how things are plotted and planned. In this case, it involves the final jump on his Cascadia film, which ends with him leaping off a 27 meter (88 foot) ledge to land in the water. It's all fascinating stuff. Check it out below.

Gear Closet: Thermacell Heated Insoles for Your Winter Boots

It's amazing how much technology has started to pervade into our outdoor gear these days. As someone who gets dozens of pitches in my email each and every day, I've seen a sudden rush of gear that uses battery packs to bring warmth to the wearer. In the past few weeks, I've seen jackets, shirts, pants, and even slippers. Do all of these gadgets work as advertised? It's hard to say, but at the moment heated gear seems to be one of the biggest fads on the fringe of the outdoor industry. I say the fringe, because until someone like The North Face or Columbia joins the fray, it will remain a feature for companies that are looking to find a way to distinguish themselves from the competition.

But, I have had one piece of gear that does heat itself waiting in the wings for testing once cold weather had arrived. That happened last week where I live, with more to come in a few days. That made it the perfect time to give the new Heated Insoles from Thermacell a test run. After all, no one likes cold feet in the winter, right?

As with most insoles, Thermacell's offering is designed to slip inside your boots and provide a little extra cushion while walking. But more importantly, these insoles are meant to keep your feet warm too. They have a heating element that runs throughout the product, and a small rechargeable battery that slides into place to supply the power necessary to keep them functioning. When activated, the soles do indeed provide a steady supply of warmth that can keep your feet comfortable, even in very cold conditions.

The mode of the Heated Insoles that I tested are also equipped with Bluetooth technology, which when paired with your smartphone (iOS or Android), can be controlled remotely. When connected to your mobile device, a special app allows you to set the exact level of warmth that you would like for each foot individually. That way if you need a little extra warmth on your right food, you can simply crank up the heat. And if you find that one of your feet is getting warmer than you need, simply dial back the temperature. The app also allows you to monitor battery life of each of the insoles too, so you'll know just how long you have before they quit working and need a recharge.

Speaking of battery life, Thermacell says that the lithium-ion batteries are good for as much as 8.5 hours between charges. That's when the temperature of the insoles is set to low of course, so the warmer you run them the faster the battery will die. Fortunately, it only takes about two hours to recharge the batteries completely once they are fully drained, which means they'll certainly be ready for you overnight or even if you come in from the cold for a brief break from your winter adventures. So far, in my testing I haven't completely run the batteries down yet however, so I can safely say that the estimates of their charge are fairly accurate. On top of that, Thermacell offers additional battery packs for $59.99 if you're unable to charge them as often as you'd like.

Thermacell also claims that the insoles are highly durable, saying they are rated for over 1 million steps. I'll have to wait awhile to get to that loft number, but I can say that they do indeed feel very durable in hand. Chances are, you'll be able to slip them into place and forget they're in your boots, except when you want to warm things up. Over time, they'll even mold to your feet, making it even easier to forget they are there.

So, how well do they work? Extremely well actually. The Heated Insoles are very easy to use, warm up quickly, and stay warm for an extended period of time.  In fact, they'll make your feet feel incredibly cosy no matter what you're doing outside in the cold conditions, allowing you to stay out longer than you ever expected.

The one knock I have against the Heated Insoles are the price. At $199.99 they are fairly pricey, and probably out of the budget for most outdoor enthusiasts, some of which may not even have spent that much money on their boots. But, it is important to point out that Thermacell does offer a more basic version (without Bluetooth for instance) for $134.99. That's still pricey, but a bit more palatable.

Now, that said, if you're someone who spends a lot of time outdoors in cold weather, or whose feet get cold easily, the Heated Insoles are definitely worth the investment. Polar explorers, mountaineers, and hunters who stand around a lot will probably call this product their new best friend. For those folks in particular, I'd recommend picking up additional battery packs too, as you never know how long you'll have to go between charges. Yes, $200 is a lot to spend on a pair of insoles, but for the right market segment, these are going to be extremely popular.

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