Video: Expedition to K7 with Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Brady Robinson

While patrolling around the web looking for great videos to share, I often come across some that are little older, but still plenty interesting to watch. Take this one for example. It is a full documentary about a 2001 expedition to K7, a 6934 meter (22,749 ft) peak located in the Karakoram Range of Pakistan. In the video, we'll follow mountaineers Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Brady Robinson as they take on this massive, and incredibly difficult peak. There are some that believe that this adventure served as a warm-up for Conrad and Jimmy's attempt on Meru, which was documented in the amazing film of the same name. Give it a watch below.

Video: A World Record Kayak Run on the Rio Santo Domingo in Mexico

Want to see a wild and crazy kayak run unlike any other? Check out the video below that features Rafa Ortiz and friends as they make six drops along a stretch of the Rio Santo Domingo river in Mexico, through Class IV and V+ rapids, setting a world record for running the toughest navigable part of that stretch of water. They had one wild ride along the way to say the least, as Ortiz continues to push boundaries in kayak exploration and adventure. Don't try this at home kids.

Outdoor Brands Respond to President Trump's Immigration Ban

I try not to get too political on this blog, choosing instead to focus on exploration and adventure, and all of the things that lure us into the great outdoors. But, there are times when having a platform like this one means having the opportunity to speak your mind and share your thoughts on current events as well. This is going to be one of those times. 

As most of you no doubt know, last week President Trump used an executive order to block immigration into the U.S. from seven different nations that he perceives to be states that support and develop terrorism around the globe. This policy has sparked numerous protests across the globe, even as American lawmakers scramble to decipher the ruling and determine if it is even legal. Meanwhile, the President's actions have left thousands of people stranded in foreign countries, created challenges to determine who is allowed into the U.S. and who isn't, and have caused leaders both within the country and from abroad to condemn the action in the harshest terms possible. Amongst those speaking out against this action are prominent members of the outdoor industry as well, who like the rest of us see this as discriminatory, counterproductive, and down-right un-American. 

Yesterday, REI Co-op CEO Jerry Stritzke sent a letter to each and everyone of that company's employees sharing his stand on the Trump executive order. In that letter, Stritzke let it be known in no uncertain terms that he fears for the future of the U.S., if not the world, based on what he has seen from the Trump administration so far. In that letter, the CEO writes:
"Over the course of the first week alone, we’ve witnessed actions that conflict with our co-op values on issues including climate, the environment, women’s rights and the singling out of individuals based on nationality and belief. These issues are core to the health of the outdoors and the ideals of our nation."
He goes on to add:
"We know our employee base and our membership span the political spectrum on any given issue. And we embrace respectful dialogue and debate. But it’s important for me to be incredibly clear about the following—we are an organization, and a country, built on inclusion. We believe we are better when we come together, when we are open and when we are welcoming."
In the rest of the later, which can be read in its entirety here, Stritzke goes on to reaffirm REI's commitment to being open and accepting of all people, regardless of race, color, creed, or sexual orientation. The company is focused on applying its considerable philanthropic funding on opening up the outdoors to more people, and protecting it for future generations to follow, something that Trump's dangerous views on climate change could threaten.

REI wasn't alone in speaking out either. Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle also sent a memo to his employees yesterday as well, and he didn't mince words either. Boyle told Columbia staff that "We are here because the United States was open and tolerant enough to let us in." Which is a reference to the fact that his parents fled Nazi Germany in 1937, ended up in Portland, and founded the company a year later. Now, it is one of the biggest outdoor brands in the entire world.

You can read his entire letter by clicking here, but the gist of it is that Boyle – and Columbia – do not accept or condone the current direction that Trump is taking the country, and see it as being completely against the policies that this country was founded upon. In the note, Boyle reiterates his personal commitment for being open, tolerant, and accepting of all people, noting that those qualities seem to be in short supply at the moment.

These are powerful words from two major forces in the outdoor industry. I salute both REI and Columbia for taking a stand, and agree with everything they have said. As someone who has traveled the globe extensively, I can tell you that I have seen the best and worst that mankind has to offer. But, for the most part, travel opens your eyes, makes you more open to new experiences, attitudes, and ways of life. I am troubled, aghast, and ashamed of where my country stands on accepting immigrants and refugees at the moment, and can only hope that someone within the Trump administration sees the light and changes direction soon. This is not the country that I have grew up in, which has always had a rich history of accepting anyone with open arms.

These are troubling times, but for the other Americans that are enduring this with me, know that we are not alone. Many have already taken to the streets and protested, and more will follow. To my friends from abroad, please keep in mind that not all of us support what the President is doing, and the majority of us did not vote for him. We hope to navigate through the challenges ahead and come out in once piece on the other side. But there are indeed dark days ahead before we see signs of improvement. Lets get through this together and get back to being a country that can lead by example, rather than one that is afraid, intolerant, and close minded to the point of being closed off from the international community.

I'll close this post with another quote, this one from Emma Lazarus. I'm sure most of you have heard it before, but it is worth repeating now, more than ever.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Alan Arnette Answers Common Questions About Everest for 2017

The spring climbing season on Everest is still two months off, but as I write this there are hundreds of climbers around the world who are preparing to leave for the Himalaya in a few short weeks. While they still have plenty of time to get ready, there is always lots of gear to buy and organize, training to conduct, and daily affairs to get in order before leaving for Base Camp for two months. It is a busy, hectic, and exciting time for many of them, with a major challenge looming on the horizon.

Awhile back, mountaineering blogger Alan Arnette posted a Personal Letter to Everest climbers for 2017, in which he posed some serious questions for them to think about before they go. In that letter, Alan urged anyone who was considering making the climb to think long and hard about whether or not they were ready for such a challenge, as he pointed out that most of the deaths on the mountain since 2000 were due to lack of experience. As a follow up to that post, Alan – who has been on Everest numerous times – answered the very questions he posed, providing some insight into what you should know before you go.

One of the most common questions that people have is how high should they have climbed previously before trying Everest. Alan says that it depends on the person of course, but he recommends having at least one other 8000 meter peak under your belt before heading to the Big Hill. But, that is just one of many very specific questions on this list, which includes Alan's thoughts on regulating the flow of oxygen on the way to the summit, what kind of foods you should eat while on the expedition, how long to give fresh snow a chance to settle before moving up, and more. The blog post talks acclimatization strategy, physical conditioning, dealing with fatigue, and lots of other issues that climbers deal with on Everest.

This is one of those blog posts that provides a ton of insight from someone who has been on the mountain. While you can often read about the experience, or even watch it unfold in videos and movies, it is hard to pick up these pearls of wisdom from those sources. The questions and answers that Alan provides are useful on a different level, sometimes addressing minute details that are only learned through years of experience. That makes this an interesting read for those of us who follow the Everest climbing scene closely.

To read those insights for yourself, click here.

Antarctica 2016: And Then There Was One...

The 2016 Antarctic season is all but over. Only one skier remains out on the ice, as everyone else has wrapped up their expeditions and headed home. And true to form, the frozen continent has already started to make things more difficult, with colder temperatures, blizzard-like conditions, and thankfully for this explorer, howling winds.

Mike Horn is still working on completing his traverse of the Antarctic continent. He reports that the winds returned with a vengeance yesterday, saying they are the strongest he's encountered yet. Considering the fact that he is kite skiing, having strong winds is better than no winds at all. Propelled along by these gusts, he's now 92 km (57 miles) closer to his goal, but he still has 430 km (267 miles) yet to go before he reaches the coastline, and the safety of his ship, the Pangaea.

In his most recent update, Horn says that he has been facing a constant battle with the winds, which have helped get his kites in the air, but haven't always been cooperative. Any kite-skier will tell you that you want strong winds, but not too strong, as they can be unruly and difficult to maneuver in. That's what the Swiss explorer has been dealing with over the past few days, coupled with large sastrugi on the surface that have made things interesting as well.

As you may recall, Mike is attempting to circumnavigate the globe via the poles, and this is just the first of his major ice cap crossings. Once he reaches his ship, he'll actually set sail for New Zealand and Australia, before heading north to the Arctic. But, there is still plenty of work to be done before he leaves the Antarctic.

Depending on wind conditions and how well he can work the kite, Horn could reach the coast line in as few as two days. But, if he manages to maintain the pace he has had over the past couple of days, he's more likely to finish around the end of the week. Should the winds disappear however, that time could extend further.

We'll continue to follow Mike's progress until he's off the ice. That shouldn't be too much longer, but his adventure isn't over just yet. The Antarctic summer is quickly coming to an end though, and he'll be departing just in the nick of time it seems.

Video: Thru-Hiking the Grand Canyon - Between River and Rim (Part 2)

Last week we had the first video in a three part series that follows photographer Pete McBride and journalist Kevin Fedarko as they make the very difficult thru-hike across the Grand Canyon in an effort to explore the challenges that the national park currently faces. In part 2 of the series, we return to the trail, where Pete and Kevin are now 200 miles (321 km) into their journey as winter begins to set in, bringing a new set of obstacles for them to overcome. This is an amazing look at the Grand Canyon as most of us never get a chance to see it, and it is well worth your time to watch in its entirety.

Video: Adventure Racing Through the New Zealand Wilderness

The Red Bull Defiance is a two-day long adventure race held in the country that invented the sport – New Zealand. Over the course of those 48 hours, racers run, mountain bike, and paddle their way across some of the most rugged terrain imaginable, on a 142 km (88 mile) course designed to push them to the limits. As you'll see in this video, it seems that that mission was accomplished. If you're not familiar with adventure racing, this clip will certainly make a good introduction to the sport.

Nepal Fines Guiding Company for False Everest Summit Claims

Remember the story of the Indian couple who faked their Everest summit last spring? It was a husband and wife duo by the name Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod who said they had reached the top of the highest mountain on Earth, only to discover later that they had faked their summit photos and never really made it above Base Camp. The two Indian police officers would later receive a 10 year ban on climbing in Nepal, and have been suspended from their jobs ever since. Now, the Nepali government is taking action against the guiding company that led them to Base Camp for also falsifying information.

According to The Himalayan Times, the Rathods were led to Everest BC by a company called Makalu Adventure, which is now being fined $4000 for submitting fake claims to the Department of Tourism in Nepal. Representatives from the company submitted falsified documents in order to obtain summit certificates for Dinesh and Tarkeshwari. But of course, the couple never reached the summit, and that had to have been known by the Sherpa guides, who first corroborated their claims, but then later backed off as the scrutiny intensified.

Under Nepal law, the government there has the right to fine Makalu Adventure as much as much as Rs 25,000, which is roughly $230. But, in this case, the DoT has elected to keep the company's $4000 garbage deposit, which is money that guide services put down in good faith, with the idea that it will be returned to them following an expedition, provided they pack out all of their garbage.

The ruling was just made within the past few days after members of the Department of Tourism spoke with Furba and Fursemba Sherpa, who were members of the team. Those two guides have been out of contact for months, but finally were able to come forward and be interviewed about the situation. They testified that the Rathods never went above 6000 meters (19,685 ft), and therefore couldn't have summited the mountain as they – along with Liaison Officer Ganesh Prasad Timsina and Makalu Adventure – had claimed.

Initially, representatives from Makalu Adventures blamed the Sherpas for the false reports, but that doesn't actually seem to be the case. The entire incident has Nepali officials reviewing the country's current laws and policies governing mountaineering, including the use of liaison officers, who have been the subject of much scrutiny recently due to the fact that most never even go to Everest Base Camp with the teams they are suppose to be working with.

The whole affair has been a messy one from the start. Hopefully now it will be put behind us and we can start thinking about the spring climbing season ahead. It isn't as far off as you might think at this point.

Some Final Thoughts on the 2017 Winter XGames

If you've ready my blog over the weekend, you saw that I posted a couple of stories from the 2017 Winter XGames (part 1 and part 2). After an eventful day again on Sunday, I'm now back home and ready to dive into our usual updates here at The Adventure Blog, but before I did that I wanted to share some final thoughts on this amazing event held in Aspen, Colorado.

Yesterday was the final day of the competition, with only three events on the schedule. But because all three received air time on ESPN, there was plenty of energy around those competitions. The first of which was women's ski slopestyle, which was won by 14-year old Kelly Sildaru, who simply looked amazing on the slopes. At 14 years of age I was barely able to keep myself out of trouble, but this young lady is already dominating the freestyle skiing world circuit. Don't believe me? Consider this: it was Kelly's second XGames gold medal in this event in a row, which means she started winning last year at the age of 13.

From there it was on to the men's snowboard slopestyle final where an another amazing young athlete took center stage. Norway's Marcus Kleveland, who is just 17 years old, showed off moves that are going to make him a force to reckoned with for years to come as well, winning the event in impressive fashion. With just over a year to go until the next Winter Olympic Games, I think it is safe to say that we're going to see both Marcus and Kelly on that very big stage next year.

The final event of the XGames with the snowmobile best trick competition, which was won by Daniel Boden. Unfortunately, I wasn't around to see this event go down, as when it was getting underway I was heading to the airport to start my trip back home. The big story around this event was the attempt by two of the riders – Colten Moore and Heath Frisby – to do the first ever double backflip in a competition. Neither man was able to accomplish that feat however, leaving the door open for others to show off their moves instead.

So, after a very busy weekend filled with some great athletic performances – not to mention a few dramatic moments – my main takeaway from my first ever XGames competition was just how approachable and relaxed the athletes all were. Everyone was having a great time, with these world class skiers and snowboarders mingling casually with fans, speaking freely with the media, and generally having a great time. I've been to similar events in the past, and it isn't always so relaxed or easy to enjoy the proceedings, but the entire vibe of the XGames is so positive, its hard not to get caught up in what's happening there. It doesn't hurt that Aspen is a great place to hold the competitions, with plenty to offer spectators and athletes alike.

I want to thank my friends at LifeProof for inviting me to take part in the event. It was a great experience, and I was happy to be a part of the crowd that saw everything go down over the past few days. Hopefully I'll get a chance to go back again in the future.

Winter Climbs 2017: Txikon in BC After Reaching Camp 3

Spanish mountaineer Alex Txikon has set a blistering pace for himself so far on Everest this winter, but he is currently back in Base Camp after reaching a milestone in his current expedition to that mountain. And while things have been going well so far, the biggest challenges are yet to come, and he hasn't accomplished all of his goals just yet. 

After arriving in Nepal a little over a month ago, and spending the first week and a half of the expedition trekking to Everest Base Camp, Alex and his climbing partner Carlos Rubio, along with a small but very dedicated team of Sherpas, began their expedition in the early part of January. Since then, the squad has completed a route through the difficult Khumbu Icefall, and shuttled gear up to several high camps as part of their acclimatization efforts. With good weather aiding the cause, things were evolving rapidly and surprisingly well early on.

But as we learned last week, Rubio was forced to leave the mountain when he developed a medical condition that was serious enough to prevent him form continuing the climb. That dealt a severe blow to the team's morale, but Alex is a seasoned alpinist and has soldiered on without his friend. In fact, while Carlos was getting evacuated from the mountain, Txikon was on his way to Camp 3, and even higher. Last week he reached that point, and 7300 meters (23,950 ft). Once there, they deposited some gear and spent the night, allowing their bodies to grow accustomed to the thin air. Later, they went up even further, reaching 7800 meters (25,590 ft), before returning to Base Camp for a much deserved rest. 

Since then, Alex has stayed in BC and is regaining strength while watching the weather closely. He also wrote a blog post in which he discusses the team's efforts so far, and provides some insights into what they've been going through. While from the outside, it seems they've had a fairly successful and relatively easy go of it so far, the reality is that climbing Everest is hard work, and doubly so during the winter with limited support. The mere fact that this team has to build and maintain its own route through the Icefall speaks volumes of the challenges that they've faced. During the regular climbing season in the spring, an entire team of very experienced Sherpas are dedicated to that very task. 

Alex also expressed his appreciation of the team that he has around him. It isn't large, but it is very dedicated, with everyone working very hard and focused on achieving their goal – a summit of Everest in winter without the use of supplemental oxygen. 

As of now, there is still more than a month and a half to go to achieve that goal. To do that, they'll need to overcome extremely cold temperatures, poor weather conditions, and sheer physical exhaustion. Can they do it? We'll just have to continue watching and waiting to see if it happens. If Alex and his team do summit however, it'll be the first time in decades anyone has done without oxygen during the most difficult season of all. 

Winter XGames 2017 Day 2: A Well Oiled Machine

Yesterday was my second day at Winter XGames 2017 in Aspen, Colorado and much like Day 1, it was filled with lots of energy and excitement, not just from the athletes, but from the spectators too. With great weather, relatively warm temperatures (25ºF/-3ºC), and lots of things to do in and around the XGames arena, the fans turned out in large numbers to cheer on their favorite actions sports athletes, who didn't disappoint.

The first competition of the day got started early was some of the best skiers in the world hitting the slopes for the men's slopstyle skiing final, which was won by Øystein Braaten of Norway. He started a bit slow on his first run, crashing out early on some rails. But but his second attempt was nearly flawless, giving him a solid win agains some great competition, which weren't far off in terms of scoring.

Next up, was women's snowboard slopestyle finals, which went Julie Marino of the U.S. This competition wasn't quite so hotly contested as the men's ski final, but the ladies did put on a good show, with a large crowd starting to gather in the XGames village. With music, food, contests, entertainment, and plenty of fun booths to visit, the fans had a lot to do between competitions.

The big draw for the daytime events was without a doubt the snowmobile freestyle final. This is the crazy event in which snowmobile riders attempt to push their powerful - but heavy and ponderous – machines through some amazing stunts in the air. Each year, this competition seems to get more intense, and 2017 was not different. This is one of those sports where I'm much happier watching than actually participating, as on more than one occasion I thought to myself "these guys are crazy."

As the event rolled along, the riders continued to push the envelope, with Colten Moore setting the pace with some high-flying stunts that wowed the crowd. But at the end of the day, the gold medal went to Joe Parsons, who on his final run strung together an impressive set of tricks that impressed the judges enough to just edge out his rival.


Following the crazy antics on the snowmobiles, we had a bit of time to catch our breath before the start of the next competition. During that period, I had the chance to chat with a couple of different athletes, including skier Kevin Rolland and snowboarders Sebastian Toutant and Christy Prior, who wasn't on hand to compete as she recovers from injury. The take away I got from chatting with each of them was that the XGames are as big for these athletes as the Olympics, and that they all look forward to competing with their friends in Aspen. This is a tightly knit group of friends who also happen to be rivals, and it was clear that they all knew each other well and enjoyed going head to head with one another.

In speaking to with Rolland in particular we chatted about the number of crashes that had been occurring on the superpipe over the course of the week. I mentioned this yesterday, and said that it marred the competition to a degree, as not everyone got the chance to truly shine. Kevin told met hat the edges of the pipe were not quite what the athletes were use to, and it was making it very difficult to stick the landings after coming off some of their high flying antics. He had crashed badly on one of his runs the night before, but fortunately was just a little bruised and shaken up the next day. After we chatted, he was getting on a plane to fly to Europe, where he would be skiing at the World Cup next week. Fortunately, he should be ready to go for that competition.

Early in the evening, the focus of the games shifted back to the slopes, where the ladies gathered once more for the ski Big Air finale. That competition was won by German Lisa Zimmerman, who is amongst the best big air competitors in the world. She edged out the competition with some serious height and tricks that had the crowd cheering, even as they regathered for the evening's events.

After that, the snowboarders returned to the superpipe once again, with the ladies final in that event. American Elena Hight took her first ever gold in that event, fending off some stiff competition from a who's who list of female snowboarders. Fortunately, there were fewer crashes in the pipe for this event, although the same problems that had caused the men issues the night before were still somewhat common for the ladies too.

The final event of the night was the men's skiing Big Air final, which got off to an auspicious start when Swiss rider Luca Schuler crashed badly on his first run of the night. That accident brought a hush to the crowd, which looked on with obvious concern as medical staff slowly stabilized him, placed him on a stretcher, and rushed him off the snow. The prognosis later would be that Schuler suffered a concussion, and he spent some time in a local hospital where tests were negative and he was later released. It seems like he'll be just fine, but it was a scary moment for the games for sure.

Once the competition resumed, the rest of the field put on quite an aerial show. The skiers flipped, tumbled, soared, and spun through the thin Aspen air, quickly reenergizing the crowd. In the end, it was Brit James Woods who took home the gold, the first person form his country to earn that honor at the XGames.

After the competitions wrapped up for the evening, the crowd moved over to one of the music stages to listen to some of the bands booked to entertain them at the XGames. For me, it was time to head home and get some rest. It had been another fun, but long day, during which I had yet another chance to see these athletes not only shine in their field, but interact with their fans too. The one thing I'll definitely take away from my XGames experience is how down to Earth and grounded all of the athletes are, and how happy the are to be here. That includes meeting and greeting their fans, who find them accessible and accommodating at every turn. There are other pro athletes that could learn a thing or two from that.


The XGames Bring Winter Fun and Excitement

I'm on the ground in Aspen, Colorado at the moment, where I'm attending the 2017 Winter XGames. After a full day of watching a wide variety of competitions, it is easy to see why this event has grown into one of the premiere skiing and snowboarding showdowns on the winter sports calendar each year. But beyond that, there is plenty of other fun to be had in the snow too, including a new event that looks to have a big future, both at the XGames and beyond. 

Held each year at Buttermilk Mountain, the XGames attracts some of the top winter athletes from all over the world. The resort is a good one to serve as host, as it has all of the facilities needed for the wide variety of events that take place over the course of this long weekend. That makes it a popular place not just for the athletes, but also the fans in attendance, who turned out in droves last night for the women's Ski Superpipe final,the LifeProof Ski Superpipe men's final, and the men's Snowboard Big Air final, despite the fact that the temperatures hovered around 0ºF (-17ºC), with windchills dropping it even further. 

Likewise, Aspen is a great host city as well, in part because it is such a popular winter playground. The quintessential mountain town, Aspen is well situated right in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and has plenty of hotels, restaurants, and other amenities to keep skiers, snowboarders, and XGames attendees very happy. 

When I arrived at Buttermilk yesterday afternoon, the XGames village was already jumping. Crowds were already gathering to watch snowboard qualifying runs, while also visiting various booths, tents, and interactive displays from event sponsors. A steady stream of music played throughout the area, and there was an electric excitement in the air. Blue skies and a warm sun made it very comfortable to enjoy watching the athletes, although it was just as fun to watch attendees compete in various games, cheer on their favorite XGames personalities, and queue up for athlete autographs. 
One of the first competitions that I had the opportunity to watch in its entirety was the first ever Snow BikeCross final, which was one by Brock Hoyer. During this event, the competitors ride Snow Bikes, like the Timbersled that I had the chance to ride and write about last year. For those not familiar with these machines, they are a cross between a dirt bike motorcycle and a snowmobile, with some of the best elements of both of those vehicles. 

As I mentioned last year when I had my test ride, these bikes are fast, agile, and fun, which is what the crowd saw yesterday during a wild and crazy final. I think it is safe to say that the snow bikes were very popular with XGames attendees, and I could see them taking a more prominent role in future editions of the event. 

I had the chance to talk to one of the riders – Darrin Mees – following the event, and it was clear that he was excited about the possibilities of the sport. He told me "This is just the beginning. The future looks really bright for snow bikes, which are just incredibly fun to ride." Judging from the crowd's reaction to the race, I think that is very astute prediction. 

After the Snow Bike Cross final, I had some time to before the evening's festivities. During that time, the afternoon crowds began to swell to larger numbers, but once the sun dropped behind the mountain, the temperature plummeted. By the time the ladies Ski Superpipe competition got underway it was getting down right chilly. That event was won by Marie Martinod in an event that set the tone for things to come. 

Most of the attention on Friday night centered around the superpipe, which several athletes indicated was the fastest half-pipe they had ever skied on. That speed and challenge was evident, as there were a number of missteps and outright crashes for both the men and women, which marred the competition to a degree. The winners were certainly deserving, but it quickly became evident that the medals for the evening would be won by the athletes who could survive.

This was especially the case for the Lifeproof Ski Superpipe men's final, which was won by Aaron Blunck, who definitely put down the best run of the night. But some of his competition took themselves out of the running with frequent crashes. I think the crowd would have liked to have seen the skiers get a chance to show off their skills without so many missed maneuvers. 

The evening was rounded out with the men's Snowboard Big Air competition, which is a rapid-fire event that involved the 8 competitors pulling off their biggest and boldest tricks, then racing back to the top of the mountain in an effort to get as many runs down the slope as they could in a 25 minute time limit. This event turned into a highlight reel with the boarders pulling off some amazing stunts, many of which had never been done in competition before, including 17-year old Marcus Kleveland of Norway completing the first quad-cork ever completed in competition. 

This event was eventually won by Max Parrot, but it was certainly a spirited event that also featured a number of crazy, and painful, looking crashes. In this case however, it was more due to the athletes pushing the envelope as far as they possibly could in an effort to win the event, rather than the course being too fast or icy. 

This was my first day ever at an XGames event, and it was a lot of fun. These winter athletes are incredibly gifted, but all of the ones I met and talked to are also very down to Earth, accommodating of fans, and are just happy to be here. They are great ambassadors for their various sports, and the kind of person you'd enjoy spending a day exploring the backcountry with. 

I can't think of a higher compliment than that. 

Heading to Aspen for the Winter XGames

Just a quick note as I get ready to head out on another brief, but exciting adventure. Tomorrow morning I'll leave for Apsen, Colorado to attend the Winter XGames, which means there will probably be no normal update to round out the week. But, that said, don't be too surprised if I don't post a few things over the weekend about my experience. It should be an interesting one.

While in Aspen, I'm hoping to get the chance to chat with some of the athletes, attend several of the events, and take in the spectacle that is the XGames. This is the first time I've attended the event, and I'm really looking forward to it. I want to thank the folks at LifeProof for inviting me. It should be a busy couple of days, but a lot of fun too. If you want a first hand account of what the games are like be sure to follow my social media feeds. (Facebook - Twitter - Instagram)

This is a short trip. I'll be back home by Sunday evening, and usual updates will resume on Monday. While I'm away, I hope everyone heads out to enjoy some weekend adventures of their own. Back soon!

Video: The Problem of the Wilderness in Alaska

Take a scenic journey through Alaska with this video, which is set to a famous quote from Bob Marshall called The Problem of the Wilderness. His words are extremely fitting as we wander through some of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth. Alaska is an amazing place, with a wilderness like no other. It is a place that anyone who values truly wild places should see but for today, we'll just have to settle for this video. Enjoy.

The Problem of the Wilderness from Tom Welsh on Vimeo.

Video: Emily Harrington and Alex Honnold Free Climb "Solar Flare"

It's always a joy to watch two amazing rock climbers ply their trade, and that is exactly what we get in this clip. We'll follow Emily Harrington and Alex Honnold as they free climb Solar Flare, a 5.12d route in the High Sierra mountains of California. As usual, these two make it look easy, but make no mistake, this is rock climbing at its finest.

National Geographic Announces People's Choice Adventurer of the Year

Way back in November National Geographic announced its selection for the 2016 Adventurers of the Year, with ten very worthy individuals earning that title. But of course, that still left the winner of the  People's Choice Adventurer of the Year, which is awarded to the person from the original list who earned the most online votes from general public. That voting took place through mid-December, and now all of the ballots have been counted and the recipient can be named at long last.

This year's Nat Geo People's Choice Adventurer of the Year is none other than Mira Rai, a trail runner from Nepal who is blazing her own route. The naturally gifted runner didn't even begin competing seriously until two years ago, when she inadvertently found herself taking part in the Kathmandu West Valley Rim 50k race. But having grown up in the Himalaya, and spent her whole life adapting to the challenges of those rugged mountains, running was simply part of life there. In that first race, she ran further than she had ever gone before. She was also the only female participant, and yet she managed to finish even though she didn't have fancy gear, equipment, or even food and water.

Since then, her career has taken off, and Mira has attracted the attention of sponsors. But, in 2016 she suffered a ruptured ACL that kept her from running as much as she would like. So, to refocus her energy elsewhere she organized the first race to take place in her home village, a simple outpost where most people are content to just eek out a subsistent living. More than 100 people came to participate, and the always-jubuliant Rai proved once again that she could beat the odds.

Now, she has done that yet again. Bolstered no doubt by a lot of votes from back home, the Nepalese runner now stands alone as the People's Choice Adventurer of the Year. Read more about her story here, and check out the video below to get a more personal look at this inspiring trail runner.

Congratulations Mira! This honor is well deserved.


Antarctica 2016: Two More Skiers Complete Their Antarctic Expeditions

The final days of the 2016 Antarctic season are truly upon us now, as the last plane scheduled to leave the frozen continent – weather permitting of course – will fly out today or tomorrow, bringing an end to an eventful few months there. As the final days tick away, two more skiers have completed their expeditions at long last, and are now preparing to head home.

Finnish adventurer Risto Hallikainen has finished his return journey to Hercules Inlet, arriving back at that point on January 24, 71 days after he began his round-trip journey via the South Pole. Along the way, he covered 2260 km (1404 miles), becoming the first Finn to make the there-and-back-again Antarctic trip. After camping at Hercules briefly, he was picked up and flown back to Union Glacier, where he should be on the last flight out to Punta Arenas, Chile.

Similarly, ExWeb is reporting that Polish solo skier Malgorzata Wojtaczka has reached the South Pole as well, brining an end to her expedition, which also began at Hercules Inlet. She started on November 18, and reached 90ºS on yesterday, on January 25. Her expedition took 69 days.

I tried to follow Malgorzata throughout her journey, but didn't end up reporting on her progress much, mostly because updates were few and far between. It is good to know that she has now arrived safely, and will be flying back to Union Glacier from the Pole as well.

Also awaiting the final flight out is the British Military Team, which also completed a traverse of the Antarctic continent. The boys arrived back at Union Glacier a few days ago, and are now eager to start making their way home. They spent 67 days out on the ice, covering the journey to the South Pole and the return trip across the Shackleton Glacier. After resting up, they're eager to return to the U.K.

Finally, Mike Horn will soon be the last of the skiers out on the ice. As everyone else prepares to leave aboard an ALE aircraft, he continues to kite-ski across the continent to meet his waiting ship. The winds have returned to help push him along, but he still has some miles yet to cover before he's done. From there, he'll sail into the South Pacific where other adventures await. Eventually he'll make his way north though, where he hopes to traverse the Arctic icecap in similar fashion. You know we'll be following that adventure closely too.

That's all for today. More updates over the next few days as the news warrants.

Video: Getting the Shot - What it Takes to be an Adventure Photographer

Ever wonder what it takes to be a great outdoor and adventure photographer? As you can imagine, it is a fun, rewarding job, but one that is also incredibly tough too. That is especially true for a woman, as there aren't many in the industry. But Erin Hogue is one of those ladies, and in this video she talks about what it takes to get the perfect shot. Erin will also be the only woman participating in the inaugural World of X Games: Zoom Photography Contest next week, which is awarding prizes for the best action sports images as well. If you're an aspiring photographer, you'll want to check out this clip, and subscribe to her YouTube channel to catch the ongoing series starting soon. 

Video: A Flood in Yosemite National Park

January has been a rough month for much of the American West. It has dumped untold inches of snow across many parts of the region, while areas of California have seen an incredible amount of rain. That includes Yosemite National Park, which as you'll see in this clip, has seen its streams and rivers swell, waterfalls overflow, and parts of the valley flood. California has been in a drought for sometime now, but this isn't necessarily the way you would want to see it come to and end. Still, the water as a whole is welcome sight to much of the state.

10 Compact Cameras Specifically Built for Travelers

Photography is an integral part of travel. It not only helps document where we've been, but it captures a moment in time from our adventures that might otherwise have been lost. It is for those reasons that so many avid travelers and outdoors enthusiasts are also aspiring photographers too. But choosing the right camera to take with us on our adventures can be a real challenge. You want some that fast and responsive, with great image quality and color reproduction as well. It doesn't hurt if it is rugged enough to survive in the outdoors either, and if it can also be small and lightweight, it would pretty much be the perfect option. But does such a camera actually exist?

National Geographic has compiled a list of the top ten compact cameras built for travelers, and if you're in the market for a new model – or simply want to see what's new – the article is definitely worth a look. You'll find everything from durable point and shoot models to full-fledged DSLRs, with pretty much everything in between, including the mirrorless options that are so popular today. What's more, most of the major brands are represented on the list, so no matter if you're a fan of Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, or something else, chances are you'll find something to your liking while still being able to maintain your brand loyalty.

So which cameras earned a spot on the Nat Geo list? The Fujifilm X-T2 was a particular favorite, as was the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8. The Olympus TG-4 took top honors for ruggedized point and shoots, while Sony's A6500 earned praise for being for its all around performance as well. Each of the cameras on the list is accompanied with an explanation of what makes it especially good for travel, as well as technical information on its sensor size and other features. There are also handy "Pro Tips" to help users get the most out of that particular model as well.

Over the years, I've been able to pair down my travel gear in some impressive ways, cutting a lot of weight and learning to leave nonessential items at home. But, a good camera remains a must and by the time you add a body and a lens or two, the weight adds up fast. I'd love to find a camera that helps me shed some weight, without compromising performance and image quality along the way. These new options are a step in the right direction, with 4K video, full-frame sensors, and fast performance. One of these days it's going to be time to get serious and invest in a new unit, and this article will certainly be helpful when that time comes.

Cotopaxi Just Might Be Hiring for Your Dream Job

Looking for a job that will allow you to travel and play outdoors? Are you savvy with social media, technology, and blogging? Then Cotopaxi just might have an opportunity for you. The company is currently hiring  new Road Warrior to join the team for the upcoming year.

And what exactly are the duties of the Road Warrior? They'll be tasked with driving the company's mobile pop-up retail store throughout the U.S. as Cotopaxi expands its Questival adventure race series in 2017. The person hired for the job will also share their experience in a variety of social media outlets, while crisscrossing the U.S. on a 30+ city tour. The job won't be easy, but it should be fun. And it will be a great opportunity for someone who is looking for a creative outlet that involves adventure, gear, and exploring the country.

How does the job break down in terms of statistics? Cotopaxi has crunched the numbers and here's what they've come up with: Over the course of the year, the Road Warrior will take one truck and trailer, drive more than 25,000 miles, visit more than 30 cities, cross 88 state borders, spend 370+ hours on the road, and pass through numerous state, national, and city parks in the process. Oh yeah, they'll also get the chance to meet tens of thousands of like-minded people along the way.

Sound like something you'd be interested in? Than click here to start the application process. And good luck! You're probably going to need it!

Indian Expedition to Re-Measure Everest this Spring

The Indian government has announced plans to send an expedition to Mt. Everest in Nepal this spring to re-measure the height of the mountain. A team of surveyors will head to the Himalaya in two months time, where they will use high tech equipment – including satellite data, GPS devices, and other observational gear – to detect if the 2015 earthquake had a measurable impact on the peak.

The last time an Indian survey team visited Everest with the intention of measuring the height of the mountain was back in 1955. That's when the current most accepted height of 8848 meters (29,029 ft) was recorded. A more recent survey by the National Geographic Society took place in 2003, which recorded the height at 8849 meters (29,035 ft), although the Nepali government never formally adopted that data to reflect the height of the mountain. This new survey should help to determine which number is more accurate.

But beyond that, the plan is to see what the impact of the April 25, 2015 earthquake had on the height of Everest. It is believed that the mountain lost an inch or more of altitude due to the massive quake, which caused widespread devastation throughout the country, killing more than 9000 people and injuring thousands more.

In terms of its impact on the climb, an inch difference in height is imperceptible to anyone heading to the summit, but in geological terms it is a large increment. If the mountain did indeed move by that much in such a short time, it is an indication of just how powerful the earthquake truly was.

Meanwhile, the Nepalese government says that they have not approved an Indian survey team to operate in and around Everest this year, and that they are planning to conduct their own research on the current height of the mountain. Unsurprisingly, researchers from within the country say that while Everest may have shrunk during the quake, there are some that believe it may have gotten taller too.

No matter which team conducts the survey is expected to take about a month to collect all of the data and another two weeks to examine it. They'll observe the mountain both from the ground and the air, and will likely want to send someone to the summit carrying a GPS device as well. Either way, by summer the new measurement should be complete, and we should have an idea of how tall Everest truly is.

Video: The Seasons of Norway in Timelapse

We all know that Norway is home to some incredibly beautiful landscapes, but in this amazing timelapse video we get to see some of those places as they are transformed by the passing of the seasons. The timelapse images are incredible to behold, as spring turns to summer, which passes into fall, heralding the arrival of winter not long after. This is one captivating clip to watch unfold, and well worth a few minutes of your day.

 
SEASONS of NORWAY - A Time-Lapse Adventure from Morten Rustad on Vimeo.

Video: Watch a Helicopter Pilot Land on the Summit of Everest

Back in 2005, French helicopter pilot Didier Delsalle did something that most people thought was impossible – he landed a helicopter on the summit of Mt. Everest. And when people questioned if he was actually able to pull of that stunt, he did it again for good measure. In this video, we see one of those landings, in footage that I hadn't ever come across before. Considering the fact that most helicopters won't go much higher than Base Camp, this remains an impressive bit of flying indeed.

The Best Travel Photography of 2016

Few things can inspire us to want to travel to a new destination like a great photo. Those of us who are lucky enough to hit the road on a regular basis for our adventures often have a desire to capture the places we visit in stunning images that we can share with friends and family. In my case, I'm happy if I just don't screw up the shot or inadvertently get my finger in front of the lens. Thankfully, there are others who are far more talented than I am to make up for my lack of skill. 

Some of the most talented of those photographers have submitted their images for the 2017 National Geographic Photo Contest, of which the finalists have recently been revealed. As you can imagine, the images are beautiful – sometimes haunting – with great shots captured at some of the best destinations around the globe, ranging from Botswana and South Africa, to Rio de Janeiro and Northern Ireland. Some of the images are landscapes, some are of the wildlife, and others are candid shots of the people that inhabit these places. All are colorful and mesmerizing. 

For those of us who aspire to be better photographers ourselves, the photos are a good reminder that taking a great shot isn't just about the technical details. It's also about capturing the moment, framing the image properly, and recognizing what is truly interesting about that snapshot of a moment in time. Too often we get caught up in just pointing and shooting with our cameras that we forget to truly take in the moment. But I've found that my best photos over the years have been taken when I slow down, observe the world around me, and look for the right combination of elements. My patience is usually rewarded at some point, and the image is one that means more to me long after I've returned home. 

The winners of the travel photo contest will be officially announced on February 28. To check them all out before that, click here

National Geographic Offers the Best Backcountry Ski Huts in the U.S.

Now that the holidays have come and gone, a new year has started, and winter is in full swing it is definitely time to start thinking about retiring to our favorite outdoor adventures. And to help out with that endeavor, National Geographic is offering a list of the best backcountry ski huts in America. These are places you can stay while out exploring untouched powder along remote trails that are far from the crowded slopes that most people visit. And just because you're in a remote place, that doesn't mean you can't have a cosy place to relax at the end of the day.

In all, ten huts make the list, ranging from places like Baxter State Park in Maine to the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska, with plenty of amazing places in between. Most of the huts are found in the western states, with Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho well represented.

Each entry onto the list offers some insights as to why that particular lodge stands out from the crowd. Those descriptions give skiers an idea of what to expect in terms of the hut itself, but also the trails they'll get to ski while visiting. You'll also learn how to get to these places, some of which aren't exactly just off the parking lot. But of course, that's part of the fun, isn't it? This is backcountry skiing after all.

If you're looking for some amazing places to find fresh powder his winter – and by most accounts there is plenty of it to be had – than this list will give you some ideas of where to go and where to stay. The huts are all impressive places to seek refuge after a hard day of touring, but after a good night's sleep you'll be ready for more in the morning. And since it is only January, there is still plenty of time to plan a winter escape. Perhaps one of these lodges is just what you've been looking for.

Read the full story here.

Antarctica 2016: Wrapping Things Up on the Frozen Continent

It has been an eventful season in the Antarctic, with a number of impressive accomplishments along the way. Way back in November, when things first started to ramp up, the end of the season seemed like a long way off. But now, with just a few more days to go before the team at ALE closes the Union Glacier camp for another year, the final squads are finishing up their expeditions and reaching their goals at long last.

We'll start with an update on the British Military Team, which consists of Lou Rudd, Oliver Stoten, Chris Brooke, Alex Brazier, and James Facer-Childs. We've been following the five men all season long as they spent 67 days out on the ice, first skiing to the South Pole and then continuing on back to the coast. Last Saturday – January 21 – they reached that goal at long last, covering some 1100 miles (1770 km) along the way.

Yesterday, the team posted an update to its blog, reporting that they had arrived back at Union Glacier on Sunday, where they received a warm welcome indeed. They are scheduled to fly back to Punta Arenas on Thursday of this week, so for now they get to relax and enjoy being in the Antarctic for a few more days. Once they arrive in Chile, it'll be on to the U.K., where there friends and family await. By the time the get home, it will have been nearly three months since they've seen them.

From all reports, it seems the entire group is in good health and good spirits. It has been a long and grueling expedition, but they always worked well together and the companionship they shared helped to get them through some very tough days out on the ice. Especially near the end, when poor weather and surface conditions made the final few days more difficult than anticipated. Now, they are relaxing, regaining some strength, and preparing to go home.


Canadian solo skier Sébastien Lapierre arrived at the South Pole back on January 9, having spent 42 days skiing to the South Pole. He shares his story in an interview with ExWeb that you can read here. In the interview, Sébastien talks about the pace of his journey, what it was like arriving at the Pole, the weather conditions he faced along the way, his favorite pieces of gear, and much more. Definitely worth a read if you want to gain some insights on an expedition across Antarctica.

Finally, Swiss explorer Mike Horn continues his traverse of the Antarctic continent via kite ski. Well, he continues when he has some wind to help propel him along. It has been feast or famine in that department lately, with some days passing without much in the way of movement at all, while on others he's knocking off as many as 211 km (131 miles) at a time.

Horn's ship, the Pangaea, has now circled the continent and is waiting to pick him up on the far side, where he'll sail into the South Pacific to pursue some adventures in New Zealand and Australia before proceeding north for an eventual attempt at crossing the Arctic ice cap via the North Pole as well. This is all part of his Pole 2 Pole expedition, during which he is attempting to circumnavigate the globe in a north-south direction, rather than east-west.

Unlike the rest of the teams that have been exploring the Antarctic this season, Horn doesn't have to come and go on ALE's schedule. With his own mode of transportation, he isn't racing the same clock as teams arriving back at Union Glacier. Still, the weather will start to take a turn for the worse in the weeks ahead, and he will want to be gone before winter returns. That shouldn't be problem however and it won't be too many more days before he wraps things up either.

We'll still be keeping an eye on the Antarctic for awhile yet, watching to see how things unfold. But, for the most part the season is now at an end.

Video: Thru-Hiking the Grand Canyon - A 650-Mile Challenge (Part 1)

Throughout 2015 and 2016, photographer Pete McBride and journalist Kevin Fedarko set off to make a sectional thru-hike of the Grand Canyon in an effort to document the threats that that National Park now faces. Along the way, they faced more challenges than they had anticipated, as the journey was more difficult and dangerous than they had ever impinged. This video takes us along with them into the canyon, to experience much of what they saw while they were there. It is Part 1 of a 3 part series, which promises to be an amazing adventure with some important revelations to be had along the way.

Video: Ultralight Camping - How to Minimize Your Pack Weight

Want to know how to shed some weight from your pack before setting out on your next outdoor adventure? Why not let professional skier and mountaineer Hilaree O'Neill help? In this video, she shares some great tips for how to pack smartly for any trip into the backcountry, conserving weight by bringing items that can be used for multiple purposes and just examining more closely the things that you take with you. Even if you have a fairly light pack already, chances are you can still learn a thing or two from Hilaree's tips and tricks. And while not all of us want to go completely ultralight on our adventures, it never heard to trim some extra ounces from our gear.

South African Adventurer Crossing the Atlantic on a SUP Board

This story was sent my way by a reader a couple of weeks back (Thanks Brian!), but it got lost in my inbox while I was at Outdoor Retailer. Still, it is such an amazing adventure that I just had to share.

Back on December 6, South African adventurer Chris Bertish set out on what promises to be one of the most challenging and wild waterborne expeditions of all time. That's when he hit the water in Agadar, Morocco on his attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a stand-up paddleboard, an undertaking that he has embarked upon to raise funds for charity.

Now, more than a month and a half into the voyage, Bertish has now paddled past the Canary Islands, and is making his way into the open ocean on his way to Antigua in the Caribbean. He is covering about 25 miles (40 km) each and every day, and at that pace he expects the journey to take roughly 120 days to complete, covering a total of 4500 miles (7500 km) in the process. Once he arrives in Antigua, weather permitting, Chris hopes to continue northward across the Caribbean Sea to end his adventure on the coast of Florida.

Of course, Bertish isn't paddling a typical stand-up paddleboard. He has a custom-built model that was designed for use on the open water and has a small, but comfortable cabin for him to take refuge in when he needs a rest. The vessel has four water-tight storage containers for keeping all of his gear, food, and other supplies protected from the elements. It also has a tank for storing 50 liters of water too, and is equipped with a para-anchor, which is a specially developed parachute that is deployed under the SUP board to hold it in place. The craft is about 20 feet (6 meters) in length, and reportedly weighs about 1335 pounds (600 kilos) too. Chris' SUP board also comes equipped with solar panels to help power his radios and satellite communications equipment, which allows him to stay in touch with those of us following along back home.

Bertish is paddling across the Atlantic to raise funds for the Signature of Hope Trust, Operation Smile, and The Lunchbox Fund, all of which are nonprofits that work to improve lives of the underprivileged in various ways. In this case, Chris is hoping to build schools, provide medical attention, and food for children in need. So far, he has raised nearly 5 million South African Rand, which is about $370,000.

We may be a month and a half into the SUP crossing, but there is still plenty of distance to be traveled before Chris is done. You can follow his progress at TheSUPCrossing.com, where you'll find live tracking and daily updates.

Good luck Chris.


Nat Geo Gives Us the World's Best Via Ferrata Hikes

We've all seen videos purporting to be of the "world's most dangerous hike." More often then not, those clips usually show us a terrifying via ferrata – or "iron way" – which has been built onto the side of a mountain somewhere, often in some state of disrepair. But most via ferratas are completely safe and offer unique experiences to hikers looking to visit some beautiful destinations. These paths usually find their way up climbing routes, where fixed ladders, cables, chains, suspension bridges, and other manmade structures offer access to a place that would otherwise be unreachable by all but the best rock climbers. They can be thrilling, exhilarating hikes to say the least, and aren't often for the faint of heart.

Now, National Geographic has compiled its own list of the 10 best via ferrata routes in the world, with locations such as the Italian Dolomites, the Canyon Des Étroits in France, and Catalonia, Spain all represented. Each is accompanied by an equally impressive photo and description of what makes these places so special as well.

Having done a few via ferratas in my travels, I can attest to how they are both scary and exhilarating. Of the few that I've done – none of which are on this list – they have all been more physically challenging that a traditional hike, but had amazing payoffs in the way of outstanding views and a sense of a rewarding accomplishment at the end. That makes them completely unique from any other more traditional hike I've ever done.

If you've always wanted to try a via ferrata for yourself, give this list a look. These are some of the very best in the entire world. I know I want to give several of these a go now.

Winter Climbs 2017: Carlos Rubio Leaves Everest, Elisabeth Revol Departs Manaslu

The list of winter mountaineering expeditions continues to get smaller and smaller this year, as one team has completely abandoned its attempt to summit a Himalayan giant, while another loses one of its climbers due to illness.

We'll begin with an update from Elisabeth Revol, who had been hoping to summit Manaslu this winter. The last we heard from Revol and her teammate Ludovic Giambiasi they had arrived in Base Camp on that mountain, where heavy snow had been falling for the better part of the month of January. It turns out, that snow didn't let up much, and high winds only made the experience worse. According to The Himalayan Times, the duo were able to climb as high as 7300 meters (23,950 ft) as part of their acclimatization efforts, but the weather simply didn't cooperate enough to allow them to continue past that point. Worse yet, the long term forecasts indicate the rest of the winter could very well maintain the current weather pattern, making their attempts fruitless. Revol and Giambiasi have already depart the mountain and are on their way home.

Meanwhile, over on Everest, the team of Alex Txikon and Carlos Rubio have had their own brand of drama. Yesterday, Rubio had to be evacuated from Everest Base Camp due to a severe lung infection. The young ski-mountaineer shared a video update from a hospital in Kathmandu where he assures everyone following the expedition that all is well and that the issue isn't serious. Still, it was bad enough that he did have to seek treatment and abandon his attempt to climb and ski Everest this winter.

While the news of Rubio's departure is a sad one for the team, Txikon has continued climbing at a regular and steady pace. On Sunday, he reached Camp 3 at 7400 meters (24,278 ft) on the mountain, and is acclimatizing nicely so far. Unlike on Manaslu, Everest has been relatively calm thus far, with manageable winds and snowfalls. Txikon is hoping to summit the mountain without the use of supplemental oxygen and so far things are progressing about as well as could be expected. 

With Revol's withdraw from Manaslu and Lonnie Dupre's departure from Mt. Hunter in Alaska, Txikon's Everest expedition is the last major winter climb that we're following this season. Hopefully it will continue to unfold in a safe manner, otherwise we'll be waiting for the spring season for any significant news from the Himalaya. 

Good luck to Alex and the remainder of his support team as the continue to press forward on the Big Hill. 

Video: Exit Glacier in Alaska - A Tale of Shifting Fortunes

Located in the Kenai Fjords of Alaska, Exit Glacier has been a beautiful fixture for adventurers for decades. But, the glacier is now in full retreat, and as you'll see in this video it is doing so at an alarming rate. What once took years to accomplish now takes just months, and the changing nature of the surrounding area is having a profound impact of the environment there. At this rate, Exit will shrink to a mere fraction of its former size well within our lifetime, and there doesn't seem to be much we can do about it.

This video seems appropriate for Inauguration Day, when a President who isn't exactly committed to stopping climate change is taking office.

GLACIER EXIT from Raphael Rogers on Vimeo.

Video: Under an Arctic Sky - Surfing Iceland in Winter

When you think of great surf spots, Iceland is not a place that typically comes to mind. But, when a team of adventurers – led by photographer Chris Burkard and filmmaker Ben Weiland – traveled to that beautiful and wild country, they discovered that there was indeed some terrific waves to ride along the north coast. This was especially true when one of the most brutal storms of the past 25 years made landfall there, creating a surreal environment for an arctic adventure. As you'll see in this video, they got everything they were looking for, and more.

Under An Arctic Sky - Official Trailer #1 from Chris Burkard on Vimeo.

Gear Closet: ECOXGEAR EcoBoulder Bluetooth Speaker

In recent year, I've been fortunate enough to test a number of small, compact, and amazing sounding Bluetooth speakers designed to carry with you on your travels. I want to start this review by saying that the EcoBoulder from ECOXGEAR is not one of them. Don't get me wrong, the EcoBoulder does sound amazing, but it is anything but compact and lightweight. However, what it sacrifices in mobility it more than makes up for in other ways.

Somewhat resembling a carry-on suitcase, both in shape and size, the EcoBoulder includes a set of durable wheels and a telescoping handle that help to make it easier to move about. This large, wireless speaker features 100 watts of total power, which allows it to crank out impressive levels of sound. When used indoors, it can fill a large room or even a house with music, while outdoors it easily overpowers any ambient sounds that might be in the area. And with a massive battery to go along with its massive size, the EcoBoulder can keep the party rocking for up to ten hours without needing a recharge.

Often times with large Bluetooth speakers, you're forced to sacrifice audio quality in favor of higher levels of volume. That isn't the case here however, as the Boulder does a fine job of not just recreating impressive sounding bass, but also showing off its ability to share mid- and high notes too. The result is excellent sounding music, even when the volume is cranked up incredibly high. I have yet to hear distortion of any kind, and at the full audio spectrum comes through very cleanly.

As with all of ECOXGEAR's products, the EcoBoulder is built for use in the outdoors. It features an IP67 rating, which makes it completely waterproof and dust proof, as well as ruggedized against accidental drops. In deed, this speaker is built like a tank and could certainly take a lot of punishment if it had to. It can even float in water, which allows it to be used in environments where other speakers wouldn't dare to go.


Chances are you won't abuse it too much, although it could certainly survive just fine at your next campsite, provided that campsite is not too far from the car. At 27 pounds (12.2 kg), this is a speaker that lives up to its name, both in size and stature. But thanks to its wheels and handle, you can move it about very easily. Mine has transported smoothly between two houses while moving, and in and out of my backyard with any difficult at all.

The EcoBoulder utilizes Bluetooth 4.1 technology to quickly and easily pair with a smartphone, tablet, or other device. Once connected, those gadgets can stream music, podcasts, audiobooks, or whatever else you care to listen to from up to 100 feet away. And if you happen to have a device that isn't Bluetooth compatible, the speaker also has a standard 3.5 mm audio jack to plug a source into it directly.

Other nice features include two built in USB port for charging mobile devices, both of which are found inside a waterproof compartment designed to keep your smartphone safe from the elements. The EcoBoulder also comes with backlit buttons and a bright screen that make it easy to use even in the dark, and it has a microphone-in port to use it as a PA or karaoke system too. The speaker even has a built-in AM/FM radio to listen to local stations as well. And as with all new speakers from ECOXGEAR, two of the units can be paired to one another to produce even more sound.

Obviously this is not a speaker that you'll be taking with you into the backcountry or when traveling to the far side of the planet. It is a fantastic speaker for use around the house however, and it sounds amazing in the backyard. It is also fantastic for car camping excursions, while tailgating, or at other  outdoor events. Thanks to its built in wheel and handle, the EcoBoulder is surprisingly portable, despite its size. Which ultimately means you'll probably find more places to use it than even you first thought.

If you're in the market for a big Bluetooth speaker with big sound, the EcoBoulder is your best choice. It is loud, clear, and impressive sounding in every way, and it is built to survive just about anything short of a nuclear blast. On top of that, this is a versatile speaker with a host of extra features that you don't always find elsewhere. Fully water and dust proof? Check! USB charging ports? Yep! Microphone and auxiliary in? Uh-huh! This speaker has it all, and it more.

Priced at $249.99, I feel the EcoBoulder is even a good bargain. Sure, you can find other Bluetooth speakers for less money, but none that offer all of the features listed above, and such outstanding sound. This is an impressive beast, and I think you'll come to love it as much as I do.

Find out more at ecoxgear.com.

2016 Was The Hottest Year on Record

Stop me if you've heard this one before...

According to NASA and NOAA, 2016 was the hottest year on record, breaking the previous mark for the third consecutive year. And if that wasn't sobering enough news, the latest report on climate change also indicates that 16 of the 17 hottest years ever have taken place since 2000.

Studies indicate that the average temperature across the planet increased by 1.1ºC (1.98ºF) last year, which may not sound like much but it is enough to have a dramatic impact on large sections of the globe – especially in the polar regions. It also means that we're already well on our way towards surpassing the 1.5ºC goal set by the Paris Climate Agreement from 2015.

The cause for the increased temperature remains the same as it has for the past two decades, or longer. The burning of fossil fuels increases carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, and the continued deforestation of rainforests – often referred to as the "lungs" of our planet. These harmful processes seem to be continuing to accelerate, despite efforts to reverse their effects.

Historical records of temperatures have been kept as far back as the 1880's, which means we have more than 130 years of data to compare the current trends to. It is also becoming increasingly more difficult to deny the impact of humans on the environment. As part of the report, Michael Mann, the director of the Earth Science Center at Pennsylvania State University,  said "The effect of human activity on our climate is no longer subtle. It's plain as day, as are the impacts -- in the form of record floods, droughts, superstorms and wildfires -- that it is having on us and our planet."

To make matters worse, the Arctic seems to be warming at a faster rate than the rest of the planet, with temperatures now climbing to 3ºC (5.4ºF) higher than they were a decade ago. That means an increased rate of melting of the ice caps, which in turn leads to raising sea levels around the world. That will have a big impact on coastlines, eventually putting areas that are now inhabited potentially under water.

But, there is cause for some hope. Scientists believe that 2017 won't be warmer than the previous years thanks to El Nino keeping things a bit cooler. This is probably a temporary state of affairs however, even if it does buy us a brief respite.

How anyone can continue to deny climate change is beyond me. Whether or not humans are having an impact doesn't matter any longer. It's happening, and we need to do whatever we can to halt it. It's not too late, but time is running out.