Ueli Steck Dies on Nuptse

Incredibly sad news to report from Nepal today. The Himalayan Times has posted a story this morning that indicates that Swiss climber Ueli Steck was killed while climbing on Nuptse. He was apparently making a solo ascent of that mountain as part of his acclimatization process prior to an attempt on an Everest-Lhotse traverse later in the season. It is believed that he slipped and fell more than 1000 meters (3280 ft).

Dubbed the "Swiss Machine," Steck was known for his fast and light approach to mountaineering. He often climbed solo and was incredibly athletic, even at higher altitudes. His daring style made him a favorite amongst mountaineers and non-climber alike, who were often amazed at his exploits in the Alps and the Himalaya. The Everest-Lhotse traverse was to be just his latest big expedition.

According to The Times, Steck's body was shredded into several pieces due to the impact of the fall. Those remains were reportedly taken to Camp 2 on Everest where they were airlifted back to Kathmandu. His wife, who is at home in Switzerland was alerted to his death not long after the accident occurred.

As you can imagine, the mountaineering community is grieving today. Ueli was one of the brightest and most talented climbers of his generation, pushing the boundaries of what could be accomplished in the mountains. His death will cast a long shadow over this season on Everest, no matter what happens from here forward, and the Swiss Machine will be missed on that mountain and his personal playground – the Alps – back home.

I only met Ueli one time, but he came across as a genuinely humble human being. I have always enjoyed following his exploits in the mountain and wondering what he would do next. This is an incredibly sad ending to an incredibly rich life. My condolences go out to his friends and family.

Traveling to California - The Lost Coast Trail with Tepui Tents

As we round out the week, just a quick note on blog updates for next week. I'll be starting the month of May with a quick trip to California where I'll be testing out a Tepui Tents rooftop tent while spending a couple of days hiking on the Lost Coast Trail. This gives me the opportunity to not only see a place that I've heard so much about, but also test out some gear as well. I've been wanting to checkout Tepui's shelters for some time now, and this will be a great chance to do just that.

Traveling to California - The Lost Coast Trail with Tepui Tents

I depart early on Monday and will be back early on Thursday, so there is a good chance there won't be any updates until next Friday. But should a big story break, there is a chance I'll be able to post something to the blog before then. In the meantime, have a great weekend, enjoy the spring weather, and I'll be back before you know it. After this trip, I don't have anything planned for a few weeks, which means I should be around for summit season in the Himalaya. Always an exciting time of year for sure.

Video: Life at Camp 2 on Everest

In my update on Everest from earlier in the day, I mentioned that a lot of teams were heading to and from Camp 2 as part of their acclimatization efforts. So what exactly is it like at C2 on the mountain? This video gives us a glimpse of what the place looks like and what staying there for a few days is actually like. While there, climbers tend to rest a lot, but also walk around, sometimes even going higher up the mountain, as their bodies adjust to the thin air. It is all part of the process that gets them ready for an eventual summit bid, which is still a couple of weeks off at this point.

Which Countries are the Most Adventurous? One Company Thinks it Knows

Ever wondered which countries in the world have the most adventurous citizens? A new study by a company called ShareaCamper claims to have figured out the answer to that question by studying the online search patterns for more than 40 countries and ranking the results. The winner, at least on this criteria? The Netherlands. According to a press release put out yesterday, ShareaCamper – which as the name implies is an RV rental service – chose eight different adventurous actives, such as skydiving, skiing, and caravanning (aka overlanding) to be the basis of its research.

Everest Climbing Gear - Then and Now

National Geographic has another interesting article and photo gallery up today, this time taking a look at the past and present gear used on Everest. The slideshow contains a number of fantastic images, and each one focuses on a particular topic, such as "communications" and "insulation layers," with information what was used when Hillary and Norgay completed the first ascent, versus the gear that the rank and file mountaineers are using now.

Today's climbers are outfitted with highly technical apparel, a host of gadgets, and gear that offers an amazing weight-to-performance ratio. Everything from the boots they wear to the tents they stay in have improved dramatically over the past 60+ years. With all of the advanced fabrics and space-age materials at our disposal, it is easier to climb lighter, faster, and more comfortably than ever before, which is part of the reason so many more people are making the attempt.

So just how different was it back in 1953? In the Nat Geo article we learn that Hillary and Norgay couldn't use wireless communications higher up on the mountain, so they communicated by laying out their sleeping bags in a particular pattern that could be seen below. Today, walkie-talkies, sat phones, satellite messengers, and even cell phones can be used to communicate from any point on Everest, including the summit.

Similarly, the tents used on the first ascent where heavy and bulky. Those shelters were made from cotton, and were often crowded, uncomfortable, and very heavy. In contrast, today's tents are surprisingly strong, lightweight, and warm, even at higher altitudes. Every aspect and component of a tent has been upgraded, making them easier to carry and assemble, even when the weather turns bad.

The story is a fun one and well worth a read for Everest fans and gear junkies alike. Lots of good information here comparing climbing now to then. You're likely to come away with even more respect for those early Everest climbers.

Himalaya Fall 2017: Rest and Recovery, Base Camp Pups, and Acclimatization on Everest

It has been a busy week on Everest. Reportedly, the weather has been quite good there over the past few days, allowing a number of teams to send climbers up to Camp 2 to continue their acclimatization efforts as they prepare for the challenges ahead. At this point, most of the teams have now spent at least a little time at that point on the mountain, with some now planning to even higher over the next few days. It is a lot of work, and rest and and recovery in Base Camp are much appreciated at this stage of the game, when summit bids are still a long way off and the grind can begin to take its toll.

The IMG team will be one of the first to head up to Camp 3 for their rotation. Their first squad will begin the ascent to that point on the mountain today, even as another team descends back to BC after spending a couple of days at C2. Sherpas have been steadily shuttling gear up to that point as well, and as a result there is now a wall of bottled oxygen in place there, waiting to go higher. The IMG clients have all been undergoing oxygen mask and goggle training over the past few days in anticipation of the summit push in a few weeks time. All part of the process as they get read for what is to come.

The Adventure Consultants are back in Base Camp after a few days at altitude as well. The team is recovering nicely and enjoying the fine weather after going up to Camp 2 and staying there for a few nights. Unfortunately, on the descent, one of the members of the team – New Zealander Mike Davies – slipped and fell while crossing the Khumbu Icefall. This resulted in a broken wrist and as a result he's now on his way home. Thankfully, the injuries weren't serious, but it was enough to keep him from continuing the climb. The team has also adopted a dog that is living in Base Camp and named him "Blizzard." He has apparently been keeping the group company and playing off the sympathies of the ladies in the group to enjoy some food and water too.

The Mountain Professionals have checked in from C2 on Everest as well, where they report good weather all the way up the Western Cwm. In fact, according to their dispatch, it was downright hot on the ascent as the sun reflected off the ice. The group will now rest for a few days in their current position before moving up to "tag" C3 on Sunday. After that, it is back to BC for some rest. The latest dispatch from the team also indicates that Sherpas are working away on fixing ropes to the summit, and may accomplish that feat by as early as Monday of next week.


The #EverestNoFilter team of Corey Richards and Adrian Ballinger are back in BC as well, where they're spending three days of rest and eating before going up. They're joined by Adrian's Alpenglow team, which are just arriving on the North Side of the mountain. Reportedly the jet stream is hitting the summit there at the moment, making things difficult, but duo have started their acclimatization and are feeling good about their no-O's ascent of the peak.

Ueli Steck has been scouting Everest and Lhotse for his upcoming traverse attempt. He's going solo at the moment as partner Tenjing Sherpa is suffering from minor frostbite and has descended to allow recovery. Ueli says that all is good, and everything is progressing as expected, although high winds are arriving at C2 now, making things a bit more challenging. He reports that the West Shoulder is in good condition at the moment, and hopes that it remains so for the next few weeks.

That's a quick and dirty round-up of where everything is at on the mountain right now. As mentioned a few days back, the season is unfolding very well so far with few problems. The weather has been fairly predictable so far, and teams are acclimating nicely. We're still a few weeks away from a summit bid, but at the moment it has been a textbook season for sure.

Video: A FlightLapse Through the Night Skies

If you're looking for a relaxing video to give you a nice sense of calm, you've come to the right place. Shot by a pilot as he flew from the night sky, this "flightlapse" gives us a stunning view of the Milky Way overhead while some prominent cities are passed by underneath. The music give is a serene feeling and the visuals only add to that experience. This is a truly breathtaking 2+ minute clip that shouldn't be missed.

FlightLapse #01 - MilkyWay from SkyProduction on Vimeo.

Video: Rare Drone Footage of a Blue Whale

Blue whales are amongst the rarest and most elusive animals on the planet, and while they had been brought to the brink of extinction, they seem to slowly be making their way back from the edge. This video gives us an amazing look at one of these creatures from a drone's eye view. The clip shows us how the blue whale eats as it goes about its life in the ocean. As the largest creature ever known to inhabit the Earth, it is quite a sight, and one that I was fortunate enough to see on my recent visit to the Southern Ocean. Check it out for yourself below.

Gear Closet: EcoFlow River Portable Generator Review

The options available to us for keeping our electronic devices charged while in remote regions continue to grow. A couple of weeks back I took a look at the Renogy Phoenix Solar Generator and found it to be a powerful and full featured – if a bit heavy – method for staying charged while on the go. Now, I've gotten my hands on another portable generator called the EcoFlow River that will be available soon, and it brings some more intriguing possibilities to the market.



Reinhold Messner on the Future of Climbing Everest

Italian climbing legend Reinhold Messner has weighed in on the current state of affairs on Everest, and where mountaineering on the world's highest peak is headed, and as usual his thoughts are quite fascinating. Messner recently spoke with The Diplomat about these subjects and more, bringing his years of vast experience and knowledge to the table. In his typical style, the iconic climber doesn't mince too many words.

In the interview, Messner talks about the crowded conditions on Everest, and the guided climbs to the summit that are now very different than when he made his famous ascents on the mountain. In describing what it is like there, the Italian says that it is not alpinism but is instead tourism. A very different game than previous generations. He also says that with the path more well prepared and set out for the climbers to follow, the sense of adventure and exploration is gone. It is simply a guided trip to the top of the world.

The Italian also discusses the growing sense of resentment amongst Sherpas and how that has led to more locally owned trekking and climbing companies in Nepal. Those companies are able to offer less expensive trips into the mountain, and as a result they are slowly but surely eroding the business of foreign operators. That will have a dramatic impact on the future of climbing on Everest. Those same Sherpa are also now very experienced and talented mountaineers in their own right, and no longer need to follow the foreign climbers up the slopes.

Messner goes on to touch on the dangers of climbing the mountain, the fact that no one listens to the danger signs until it is too late, and the fact that so man inexperienced climbers are traveling to the Himalaya. He also talks about his relationship to Buddhism and his hopes for a free and autonomous Tibet, amongst other topics.

Most of what Messner talks about isn't especially new, and anyone who follows the climbing scene on Everest probably is aware of the things that are going on there. Still, it is always interesting to hear a man of his prominence and stature share his opinion on where mountaineering was, where its at now, and where it is heading. Check out the full text of the interview here.

Missing Trekker Survives 47 Days in the Himalaya

The Himalayan Times has published quite a story of survival. The newspaper is reporting that a trekker who had been missing in the mountains of Nepal has been found after 47 days, although his 19-year old companion has died. The duo were traveling in the Langang region of the country without a guide when they disappeared, leading to what must have been a harrowing month and a half in the wilderness.

21-year old Taiwanese traveler Liang Shang Yuen and his companion Liu Chen Chun had come to Nepal to trek in the mountains there. On February 21, they had gained the permits necessary to enter Langtang National Park, and were part of a home stay program for three days in early March, before setting off on the next phase of their trip. Unfortunately, heavy snow set in and the duo hadn't been seen since.

According to the story, it seems that the two young men took refuge in a cave, and may have gotten disoriented and lost. Over time, they ran out of food and were surviving just on drinking water, while they waited for rescue.

Search and rescue teams spotted Liang a few days back laying unconscious on the banks of a river. The body of Liu was nearby, with rescuers saying they believed that both travelers had fallen from a cliff. Liang is understandably in poor condition, but has been airlifted to Kathmandu for treatment. His family will be arriving there from Taiwan tomorrow.

At the moment, the young man can't recall much of what has happened over the past 47 days. His story is likely to be quite a tale of survive however, as it isn't easy to live in the mountains without food for so long. It must have been quite the ordeal to say the least. Thankfully, at least one of the trekkers was found alive and he'll be going home soon.

Video: The Colors of Africa

It's no secret that Africa is one of my favorite places to visit, and if you wonder why, you only need to  watch this video. It is a colorful, majestic place that is filled with life and energy. In this clip, you'll catch a glimpse of the people, landscapes, and wildlife that make Africa such a special place. Just watching it makes me long to go back. Enjoy.

Colors of AFRICA by Avichai Wechsler from אביחי וקסלר צילום on Vimeo.

Video: Traversing the High Sierra with Kalen Thorien

What do you do in the off season if you're a professional skier? In the case of Kalen Thorien, you set out on an 18-day, 270-mile solo traverse across the High Sierra Mountains. In this video, we join Kalen on this adventure as she goes in search of adventure and solitude. She finds all of that, and a lot more, as she makes the hike through some very remote and ruggedly beautiful landscapes.

Gear Closet: Eddie Bauer Cloud Cap Flex Rain Jacket Review

Over the past few years there has been a very noticeable trend in outdoor apparel. Most of the big name manufacturers have begun offering products that are less "technical" in appearance in favor of a more natural look that blends in nicely when not on a trail. This clothing offers the same high level of performance and comfort, but it doesn't look like traditional outdoor gear, extending its appeal beyond the traditional outdoor market. When I received the new Eddie Bauer Cap Flex Rain Jacket, my first thought was that it looked like something I would wear around town or while traveling, rather than on a tough hike on the trail. But, as it turns out, those looks were a bit deceiving. While this jacket does indeed give off the appearance of being designed for city slickers, it is actually a solid solution for use in the backcountry too.

Made from 100% nylon, and sporting an athletic cut, the Cap Flex fits snugly without being restrictive. The jacket comes with an adjustable hood, waterproof zippers, secure hand pockets, adjustable hem and cuffs, and pit zips for venting excess heat. Individually, each of those features isn't especially groundbreaking in any way, but together they add up to a nicely equipped jacket designed for use in the rain when temperatures aren't especially hot or cold.

While putting this jacket to the test, I've worn it as a rain jacket while running errands around town, hiking trails, and even running. In most cases, it worked exceptionally well, keeping moisture at bay with its sealed seams and DWR coating. In fact, despite getting caught in some serious downpours, the interior of the jacket stayed exceptionally dry and comfortable, which is a good testament to how well it performs.


The one exception to this was when I wore it on a run in a big rainstorm. The Cap Flex did a great job at keeping the water out, but it unfortunately didn't breathe as well as I would have liked, resulting in a warm and sweaty interior. The pit zips helped to mitigate this somewhat, but if you're searching for a jacket to wear during high-intensity aerobic workouts, I'd suggest looking elsewhere.

Tipping the scales at a mere 11 ounces, the Cap Flex won't bring a lot of undue weight to your backpack. That's definitely a plus in its favor, as is the ability to compress it down into one of its pockets for storage. That's a feature that I love in my travel gear in particular, and I was happy to see it implemented here. Despite the fact that it is a bantamweight, this jacket remains highly durable. I've worn it numerous times, with and without a pack, and it shows no signs of scuffs, rips, or abrasions. That bodes well for its longterm survival.

I'm also a big fan of the Cap Flex's adjustable cuffs, which use velcro to dial in just the right fit. Most cuffs have this feature these days, but I found the ones found here were especially good, and remained comfortable even when cinched up tight. On similar jackets I've struggled to find the exact right dimensions for it to fit my arms without being too restrictive, but on this jacket it was a simple affair to set and forget the cuff fittings, even while on the run.

Perhaps the best feature of the Cap Flex is its price. With an MSRP of $129, this is a rain jacket that performs well without putting too much of a crimp on your wallet. Sure, there are others out there that breathe better or can hold up to more abuse. Some are better suited for use in colder conditions, and others are more versatile and offer higher technical ratings. But all of those are going to come at a higher price point, and in most cases a much higher price. In terms of what this jacket brings to the table it is a real bargain, making it a no-brainer for anyone who is looking for rain jacket that can be used in a variety of settings.

With the Cap Flex, Eddie Bauer has hit on a winner that balances style, performance, and cost very nicely. Find out more at EddieBauer.com.

Men's Journal Names the 25 Most Adventurous Women of the Past 25 Years

Here's another list for those of you who enjoy these articles. This time, it comes our way from the good folks over at Men's Journal, and it names the 25 most adventurous women of the past 25 years, giving us a look at a group of ladies who are tough, determined, and downright inspiring too.

Each profile of the ladies includes a few paragraphs about why they are deserving of a spot on the list, as well as a brief rundown of their noteworthy accomplishments. These women are explorers, pioneers, athletes, and activist, and in most cases they are all of those at once. I have written about the exploits of many of them right here on this very blog, with more than a few pulling off some of the most daring and impressive accomplishments we've seen in the outdoor world.

So who made the cut? As usual, I won't spoil the list too much, but I will reveal a couple of the women who earned a place on MJ's honor roll. That list includes the likes of polar explorer Sarah McNair-Landry, Nepali climber Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita, and Appalachian Trail hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis. They're joined on the round-up by filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow and mountaineer Melissa Arnot Reid, just to hame a few.

To find out who else is part of this hall of fame, and to learn more about the ladies mentioned above, check out the full article by clicking here. Chances are, you'll come away with a few new heroes to follow and a lot of respect for some of the most impressive women who are out their pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

Himalaya Spring 2017: Season Progressing On Schedule

So far, the spring climbing season in the Himalaya has been a textbook one, with schedules and plans unfolding exactly as expected. That's good news for all of the expedition teams, which are now spread out at various points along their respective mountains working on their acclimatization process. For the most part, things are going about as smoothly as one could expect with some squads already eyeing summit bids in the days ahead.

We'll start with an update on Ueli Steck and Tenji Sherpa, who are preparing to make an attempt at an Everest-Lhotse Traverse. Ueli has been in Nepal for several weeks now, and has been focused on training for the upcoming climb. According to reports, he and Tenji climbed as high as Camp 2 on Everest and spent two nights there before April 12, which is two weeks ago at this point. We're still awaiting a new dispatch to give us an indication of what they've been up to since then, but it is safe to say that the duo have now spent more nights at altitude and may have even touched Camp 4 at this point. It is believed that Ueli will want to begin the traverse ahead of the massive summit push that will come around mid-May so that he can avoid the traffic jams, although the weather will ultimately decide when that happens.

Also on Everest, the big commercial squads are spread out across the mountain. International Mountain Guides has three different teams moving on the mountain with the first descending from C2, while another moves up to that point, and the third treks up to Camp 1. Likewise, the Adventure Consultants team went up to C2 this past weekend and touched the Lhotse Face, while RMI's climbers are currently safe and sound in Camp 1.

On the North Side of Everest, Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki is getting settled in and will be making his sixth attempt on the mountain. Previously he has climbed solo in the fall, but due to shifting politics on permits he's back for a go in the spring. The #EverestNoFilter team of Corey Richards and Adrian Ballinger are also climbing from that side of the mountain and have now been as high as 7010 meters (23,000 ft).


Over on Annapurna, the mountain is being as stubborn as ever. ExWeb is reporting tough conditions for climbing so far, including a series of Avalanches that struck C2 last week. That forced some of the teams to retreat to BC to regroup and wait for some stability to set in. The mountain is well known for being extremely dangerous with avalanches occurring frequently, but over the past few years teams have attempted early summits while the slopes were still frozen. That doesn't seem to be the case this time out however.

Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger are in BC on Kangchenjunga have begun fixing rope up the mountain. They report high winds on the mountain so far, with one gust even picking up Simone's tent and depositing it down the mountain with the climber still in it. Still, the duo seem to be in good spirits and are plugging away at getting acclimated while establishing the first of their high camps. Their plan is to traverse the entire Kangchenjunga massif this season, which is an incredible 5.5 km (3.4 miles) in length.

Finally, David Göttler and Herve Barmasse are no enroute to Shishapangam Base Camp after completing all of the paperwork needed to make their climb. The two men hope to open a new route along the South Face of the mountain and are now trekking to the start of their climb. Previously they've been climbing in the Khumbu region and topped out on Island Peak to help with acclimatization.

That's all for now. More updates soon.

Video: The Life and Legacy of John Muir

John Muir was a tireless advocate for protecting and preserving outdoor spaces for others to enjoy. In fact, without his efforts, we might not have places like Yosemite and Yellowstone designated at national parks. Muir was a forward thinking naturalist in a time when that wasn't a popular thing to be, and yet he wrote about the need to ensure that our wild spaces didn't vanish completely from the Earth. In this video, we learn more about the man and his work, and we see first hand the places that he worked to protect. It is a powerful and inspiring tribute to that legacy.

John Muir - The Last Oasis from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.

Video: Scary Footage From Everest Base Camp During 2015 Earthquake

Today marks the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake that rocked Nepal, killing nearly 9000 people and leaving countless others injured. The disaster leveled homes and building, leaving thousands without a place to live, with food, water, and other supplies difficult to find. Even now, we're still hearing new stories about what it was like on that day, and in this video we get some new footage, including shots from Everest Base Camp, where more than 20 people were killed in an avalanche. Nepal, and the mountaineering community in general, are still struggling to recover from this event, which has left an indelible mark on everyone connected with that place.

Adventure Elevated in Coeur d'Alene

It has been such a busy couple of weeks that I've barely had time to get caught up from all of my recent travels. Having only just returned from the Southern Ocean in March, I was home for only a couple of weeks before heading out to Idaho to attend the Adventure Travel Trade Association's (ATTA) AdventureElevate event in Coeur d'Alene. I got back from there, only to hit the road once again this past week on a kayaking trip in Oregon. This week, I'm staying in one place at long last, and taking the opportunity to share some stories, starting with my experience with the ATTA.

Nat Geo Posts 2017 Spring/Summer Gear Guide

Now that April is all but behind us, it is pretty safe to say that spring is in full swing and summer isn't all that far off either. Of course, that means it is time to head back outside an enjoy all of the activities that the warmer months have to offer. Of course, the changing of the seasons is also the perfect excuse to add some new gear to your arsenal as well, and National Geographic is here to help.


North Pole 2017: Barneo Closes for the Season, More on Polar Bear Shooting

The 2017 North Pole expedition season has come to a close. The Barneo Ice Camp, which is temporarily built on an ice floe in the arctic each year, shut down once again over this past weekend, with all staff, visitors, gear, and supplies now evacuated from the ice. By all accounts, it was another successful season, with a number of teams using the base as a gateway to and from the Arctic. And while there were no full-distance skiers to the North Pole this year, there were plenty of "last degree" expeditions that covered the final distance to the top of the world.

For the most part, the Arctic season came and went without too much to report. It was generally business as usual this season, with only groups of travelers and some researchers coming and going from Barneo. But, if you read this blog with regularity, you may recall that last week I wrote a story about an incident that left a polar bear wounded (and potentially dangerous) in the Arctic. That story had now blown up into a full-fledged controversy with clients accusing the guide of wrongdoing, contradictory statements from those involved, and a lot of questions as to what actually happened.

When I posted the article last week, the news was that a bear had wandered to close to a last degree ski team and that in an attempt to scare it away, they actually shot the animal, leaving it injured. A wounded bear can be extremely dangerous, and there were conflicting reports as to whether or not the guide for the expedition – polar vet Dixie Dansercoer – actually reported the incident to the team at Barneo, who could then relay that info on to other teams on the ice. At the time, the base manger Irina Orlova claimed that Dansercoer had failed to disclose the info fully, creating a bit of a stir as a result.


Now, the story has become a full-blown controversy. Dixie told his story to ExWeb, relaying the incident has he saw it. But one of his clients, a woman named Evelyn Binsack, shot a video of the entire incident, and it apparently contradicts much of what Dixie claimed. Binsack says that Dixie only fired a single warning shot at the animal and urged another member of the team to shoot the creature directly without giving it much of a chance to leave on its own. She also says at the time the bear was behind an ice block about 30 meters away and was not being aggressive at all.

According to reports the bear was shot in the shoulder, head, or possibly the jaw, and fled at a high rate. Dixie attempted to follow, but couldn't keep up and was unclear at the time whether or not the animal had been wounded. He claims that he reported the entire story to Barneo at his regularly scheduled sat phone call later that evening.

Apparently, Binsack has turned over the video to the police and an investigation into the matter is being conducted. Dansercoer has spoken with officials and has admitted that her video footage contradicts some of the statements he made early on. Where the story goes from here is anyone's guess, as there are no hard and fast rules with how to deal with a polar bear in the Arctic. Still, the situation is a precarious one, as the animal was clearly injured and could have been dangerous to others as well. The International Polar Guides Association is investigating the story and will likely try to suggest new rules and guidelines moving forward.

Video: A Relaxing Hour in Yellowstone

Have you had a rough start to your week? Did Monday come way too quickly? Perhaps this video can help. It comes our way courtesy of National Geographic and is just over an hour in length. I'm sure that sounds way too long, but it is an hour of life in Yellowstone National Park, which is always a place worth visiting, either virtually or in real life. So, if you're in need of a bit of relaxation, sit back and soak it all in. You won't be disappointed.

Video: Alex Megos Completes First 5.15 Climb in Canada

Rising rock start Alex Megos has just completed an epic and historic first ascent in Canada. The German rock climber has completed a route that he calls Fight Club, which is rated as a 5.15b on the Yosemite Decimal System. For those that don't know, that's hard. Really, really, hard. In the video below, you'll learn more about this climb and what it took for Alex to complete it. It was quite an impressive accomplishment as you can probably imagine.

Himalaya Spring 2017: Kilian Jornet Reveals Plans, Sherpa Injured on the Everest

It has been a very busy couple of days since I last shared any updates from the Himalaya. The spring climbing season is proceeding pretty much according to plan, with teams now settled in their respective base camps across the region and now diligently working away at becoming acclimatized. This particularly true on Everest, where the squads are stretched out from BC to Camp 2, and everywhere in between. This is all part of the process of course, and later in the week I'll provide a more detailed update on where some of the bigger teams currently stand, but in the meantime we have some other news that is of particular interest.

I know a lot of people have been waiting to hear what Kilian Jornet is up to this spring. We know that he intends to go for a speed record on Everest, and that due to permit issues on the North Side he was forced to move his expedition up from late summer as he had originally planned. But other than that, we haven't heard a lot of details. Over the weekend, that changed some.

In an email sent out to members of the media yesterday, the Spanish mountain runner indicated that he would first travel to Cho Oyu with partner Emelie Forsberg where the pair will attempt a summit on that 8201 meter (26,906 ft) mountain. This will serve as acclimatization and training for Kilian, who now intends to head to the North Side of Everest in mid-May to attempt his speed record. The benefits of doing it from that side of the mountain being smaller crowds and a more direct route that doesn't include the Khumbu Icefall.

Jornet just left for Kathmandu yesterday after competing in one last race before setting out to the Himalaya. He and Forsberg will likely spend a few days in the Nepali capital before heading out to the mountains.


Meanwhile, The Himalayan Times is reporting that Sherpas working on the South Side of Everest have now fixed the ropes all the way up to the South Col. That means teams are now free to goal high as Camp 4 once their bodies are prepared to handle the altitude. It also means that everything is on schedule to complete rope fixing up to the summit ahead of the final push that will begin in a few weeks time.

The Times is also indicating the a Sherpa was injured in an avalanche on the South Side as well. Climbing guide Furba Rita Sherpa was struck by ice when a serac collapsed near Camp 1 as he and several other porters were making their way up to C2 to drop gear and supplies. He reportedly suffered a broken hand and multiple injuries to his head and wrists as well. Fortunately, others were there to immediately lend a hand and Furba was quickly evacuated back to Kathmandu for treatment. He is reportedly doing well and already recovering nicely. 

That's it for today. More detailed info to come once I've caught my breath from returning from Oregon. 

On the Road in Oregon

I've been home just three days, but its already time for me to hit the road again. This time, I'm off to Oregon to spend a few days paddling with some fellow journalists on a sponsored trip from Oru Kayaks. This time, I'll only be gone until the weekend, and should resume regular updates next Monday.

I first wrote about Oru Kayaks back in 2012, when the company launched its first foldable boat. Since that time, I've always been intrigued with how their kayaks performed out on the water, since they promise to give paddlers the speed and agility of a hardshell with the convenience of an inflatable. In a few days, I'll get a chance to find out for myself, as we'll be paddling a 47 mile (75 km) stretch of river in one. That means I should have some good stories to share when I get back next week.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a great end of the week and has some good adventures of their own planned. Spring is here in the northern hemisphere, and its time to be outside and enjoying it. If you haven't taken advantage of the shift in seasons just yet, now is the time for sure.

When I get back, we'll get caught up on everything happening in the Himalaya. Considering how the season has gone so far, there should be plenty of interesting things to talk about.

Video: Get a Whale's Eye View of Antarctica

As part of a research project to study and protect whales in the Southern Ocean, researchers have attached noninvasive cameras and sensors to some humpbacks. This has allowed them to track the animals and learn more about their habits. It has also allowed them to capture footage like that found in this short clip, which follows a whale as it zips through the water just off the coast of Antarctica. It is a unique and beautiful way to get a look at that part of the world as only a whale sees it.

Nat Geo Celebrates National Parks Week With 10 Big Adventures

This week is National Park Week here in the U.S., which is dedicated to recognizing the amazing places that have been set aside as protected spaces for the public to enjoy. Those locations include iconic destinations like Yosemite and Yellowstone, as well as some lesser known spots like the Dry Tortugas and Isle Royale. To help us celebrate the occasion, National Geographic has posted a list of the top 10 national park adventures, giving readers a seres of challenges and epic activities, all of which take place inside one of the parks.

Video: The Atacama Night Sky in Timelapse

The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is the driest place on Earth. It also happens to be one of my favorite places on Earth. It is an amazing destination filled with stunning landscapes and fantastic opportunities for adventure. The Atacama is also home to the most breathtaking night skies I have ever seen in all my travels. This video gives us a glimpse of this special place and what it is like there at night. Nothing can truly prepare you for the sights that you'll discover in the desert, but this clip comes about as close to anything else that I've found, save going there yourself.

ATACAMA from Adhemar Duro on Vimeo.

North Pole 2017: Skiers Shoot and Wound Bear Near the North Pole

It has been a relatively quiet and non-eventful season at the North Pole. With no full distance skiers on the ice, the expeditions to the top of the world have been limited to first and second degree ski journeys to 90ºN. But, just as the season is starting to wind down, comes some disturbing and potentially dangerous news out of the Barneo Ice Camp.

According to an update posted to the Barneo Facebook page, a team of skiers on their way to the North Pole encountered a polar bear while en route. That isn't completely uncommon, as the bears have been known to stalk explorers in the Arctic. One of the skiers was carrying a gun and felt threatened enough to shoot the bear, which is pretty unusual for these kinds of circumstances. Usually just firing into the air is enough to scare off most bears that wander too close. In this case however, the skier in question pointed the gun directly at the animal and shot it. The bear then limped off, wounded but not fatally so.

Nearly everyone knows that a wounded bear is a dangerous one, and there are now reports of others in the area seeing bear prints and blood on the snow. The animal appears to still be following teams as they make their way north, and could cause a potential safety hazard to others. To make matters worse, the guide for the group that shot the bear – Dirk Dansercoer – failed to inform the Barneo team, which could have warned North Pole skiers to be more vigilant while on their way to that destination.

At the moment, the incident is still under investigation, which is made all the more challenging since Dansercoer has already depart the Arctic for the season. Hopefully the teams that are still skiing will stay safe as they wrap up the remainder of their journey.

Encountering polar bears is one of the challenges that comes with travel in the Arctic. The creatures live and hunt in that environment, and nearly every veteran explorer of that part of the world has at least one or two tales to tell of encountering the massive animals in the wild. Guns are often carried to scare them away, but rarely are they used to actually shoot the creatures. This is a very rare case where the bear was actually shot for one reason or another.

In other news, Barneo is getting close to wapping up for the season. According to ExWeb, the team there has begun breaking camp and disassembling unused tents, packing gear, and so on. That means that the season is nearly at an end. That may be a good thing with a wounded bear in the area.

Video: Spring Cleaning with Pro Kayaker Dane Jackson

We all have our approach to spring cleaning around our homes, but pro kayaker Dane Jackson has taken it to another level. He recently traveled to my backyard in Tennessee to spend some time on a river there cleaning up trash and other debris to help make it a better environment for everyone. The early spring trip meant cool weather and fast water, but the results were pretty great. Jackson was able to help motivate a number of other paddlers to come out and join him and work to clean up the area. Check out their efforts in the video below.

Video: How Adrian Ballinger and Emily Harrington Climbed Cho Oyu in Just 14 Days

Somehow I missed this video when it came out a few months back, but it's still incredibly interesting and relevant now as the climbing season ramps up on the Himalaya. Last fall, Adrian Ballinger and Emily Harrington climbed Cho Oyu (8188 m/26,863 ft) in just two weeks thanks to some revolutionary training methods. This clip shares how they did it and takes us along on the expedition. It is fascinating stuff and a look at what could be the future of mountaineering.


LIGHTNING ASCENT - Climbing Cho Oyu (8,188m) in 14 Days from Louder Than Eleven on Vimeo.

Gear Closet: Altra King MT Trail Running Shoes Review

If you're in the market for a new pair of trail running shoes this spring, and you're looking for something lightweight and very comfortable, I have a suggestion for you. The new King MT from Altra pairs the company's trademark natural fit with a flashy new design and a grippy sole, to deliver an excellent new option for runners. Provided you don't mind a minimalistic approach to cushioning.

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Altra's products. In the past, I've tested the company's Superior 2.0, Lone Peak 3.0, and the innovative StashJack jacket, which has become a mainstay on spring runs. In each case, I came away impressed with the durability, quality, and design of each of those items, and in the case of the footwear, the fit and comfort level as well. Altra uses a more natural foot shape when developing their shoes, and as a result they feel much better on my feet. This translates to enjoying my workouts a lot more, as I stay much more comfortable over extended distances.

I am happy to say that the King MT holds true to form and feels fantastic on my feet too. The wider toe box on the front of shoe provides my toes with the space they need to splay out and move naturally while running. This helps maintain better footing when moving across uneven terrain and allows me to move more agilely as well. This leads to a great sense of confidence on the trail, allowing me to move faster too.

The King MT comes with a Vibram MegaGrip outsole that holds its traction nicely on a wide variety of surfaces. Add some 6mm lugs mix as well and you really have a shoe that was made for running in what would otherwise be awful conditions. I've taken these shoes on snow, mud, and silt and have been impressed with how secure I feel on all of those surfaces. The last thing you need out of a trail running shoe is a sole that won't grip the ground properly. You have nothing to worry about in that regard with the King MT.


Other nice features of these shoes include a wrap around rock plate and a synthetic upper, which protect the feet while out on the trail. The Altra EGO midsole helps to maintain that protection, while also keeping the shoe light and responsive too. The lacing system also includes a Velcro strap that helps to dial in a nice fit, and comes in handy for keeping the laces tied, especially when things get wet and sloppy. That has always been a pet-peeve of mine, but Altra solves it nicely with this shoe.

In terms of weight, the Altra King MT tips the scales at 10.2 ounces (28g), which makes them fairly light, but they don't quite fall into the minimalist category. Personally, I love that these shoes are comfortable without being bulky, although I wouldn't have minded a bit more cushioning for my longer runs. Altra rates these as a lightly cushioned shoe, and there were times where that was evident. As a larger runner, my legs sometimes take a pounding when I'm stretching the distances out, although on shorter runs (read: 6-8 miles) it wasn't as much of a concern. Still, this would be an almost perfect running shoe for me if it just had a bit more shock absorption.

As it stands, these are still an amazing pair of running shoes, and if you're not quite as bulky as I am (6'3"/200lbs), you'll probably find the level of cushioning is more to your liking. In terms of comfort, fit, traction, and design, the King MT delivers on all levels. And priced at $140, they're quite a bargain compared to some other trail running shoes on the market. If you need a lightweight option for your spring running, this is a shoe to have on your radar for sure.

Find out more at altrarunning.com.

The Top 50 Adventures in the World According to Elite Traveler

Here at The Adventure Blog we're always on the lookout for exciting new opportunities to get out and explore the amazing world that we live in. Now, thanks to a magazine called Elite Traveler, we have a bunch of new ones to add to our bucket list. The periodical recently announced its Top 50 Adventures, providing readers with some fantastic suggestions of where to go and what to do on their next active escape.


Himalaya Spring 2017: Kilian Jornet Moves Up Speed Record Attempt as Chinese Play Politics with Permits

As expected, the spring 2017 Himalayan climbing season is delivering all kinds of interesting stories and plot lines to follow. In addition to a record number of climbers on Everest, there are plenty of other expeditions to follow throughout the region. But just as many teams are getting settled into their respective base camps in the mountains, the Chinese have begun imposing permit restrictions that are causing some climbers to rethink their plans and make last minute adjustments to their schedules.

ExWeb has posted more details on the latest move by the Chinese government to impose restrictions on climbing permits in Tibet. In a nutshell, the authorities on that side of the Himalaya have announced that there will be no post-monsoon permits issued for Everest or Shishpangma this year, and only a limited number for Cho Oyu. In addition, the government is also refusing permits to any climber who has visited Pakistan in the past three years as well, causing a number of teams to alter their intended plans for this spring.

We already knew that Kilian Jornet has moved his speed record attempt to this spring, where he'll have to contend with more crowds, and now we know why. Last year, Jornet went to Everest in the late-summer/early-fall, but ended up being turned back due to poor weather conditions. It was expected that he would probably do the same this year, as the mountain is all but deserted during those months. But, since the Chinese won't be issuing permits for that timeframe, the mountain runner is now forced to attempt his speed record in the spring instead.

ExWeb is reporting that the change in permitting has also had an impact on climbers Adam Bielecki and Felix Berg, who were planning to attempt a new route on Cho Oyu. Both men visited Pakistan last year however, so neither is allowed to enter Tibet. Instead, they'll now go to Annapurna in Nepal and attempt a seldom climbed route on that mountain with partners Louis Rousseau and Rick Allen.

All across the Himalaya other teams are now arriving in BC. In addition to large numbers trickling into Base Camp on Everest, others are now getting settled on Annapurna, Makalu, Dhaulagiri, and Kangchenjunga. Most have been acclimatizing in the Khumbu Valley or on smaller peaks already, and thus are arriving in good shape to start their first rotations. It won't be long now and we'll start to receive word of teams moving up as they begin building their high camps, fixing ropes, and generally becoming accustomed to the altitude.

Weather is already playing a part early in the season. Reports indicate that high winds have been common so far, particularly on Everest, Lhotse, and Annapurna. But, that is not unusual for this time of year, and things tend to calm down a lot as the season progresses. Right now, we're about a month away from major summit bids, give or take a week. The plan moving forward will be to slowly acclimate to the conditions and begin preparing for the challenges ahead.

More to report soon.

Video: National Parks Week (April 15 - 23, 2017)

This week is National Park Week in all of America's National Parks, which means free entry into each of those amazing places. To remind us of all of the awe inspiring landscapes that exist within those parks, the National Park Service produced this short (just 35 seconds!) but sweet clip that will leave you longing for a visit soon. Spring is here. Lets take advantage of this opportunity.

Video: Paddling Carnage Rapids in Spain

Spring rains and melt-off always cause rivers to swell and bring some challenging rapids to a lot of waterways. Case in point in this video, in which pro paddler Anil Serrasolses takes us on a tour of Carnage Rapids in Spain. Just how wild and dangerous is this run? Aniol starts the video by saying "I'm pretty stoked I did not drown." That pretty much says it all. Crazy stuff.

Gear Closet: Renogy Phoenix Solar Generator

Need to keep your electronic devices charged while at base camp? Do you often find yourself in remote places but need power for your projects? The new Phoenix Solar Generator from Renogy just might be the solution you've been looking for. This stand-alone power station has everything you need to stay functional in the backcountry, provided you don't mind carrying a bit of extra weight.


Ueli Steck's Groundbreaking Expeditions Called into Question

Controversy has once again reared its ugly head in the world of high alpine mountaineering. Last week, while I was away in Idaho, an article was published in Wider magazine that calls into question the exploits of Ueli Steck, widely viewed as one of the most talented and influential climbers of his generation. The article is in French, but Google Translate makes it easy to get the gist of what is suggested.


Himalaya Spring 2017: Record Year on Everest Confirmed

In the months leading up to the start of the spring climbing season in the Himalaya there was a lot of speculation that it would be a record-setting year throughout the region, but on Everest in particular. After two tragic and incredibly bad seasons in 2014 and 2015, last year marked a triumphant return to form in Nepal. Now, more climbers than ever are on their way to the world's highest peak, and of course that is sparking some serious concerns.

According to an article in The Himalayan Times, 41 expeditions from 44 countries have applied for permits to climb Everest this year, which adds up to 376 foreign climbers on the mountain, with more expected to come. That alone doesn't sound too high when you consider about 550+ summited last season. But, as Alan Arnette points out, those are just the foreign climbers, and when you factor in the Sherpa support teams, the number actually rises to about 730 in total.

Alan also says that approximately 200 climbers will be on Lhotse this season as well, which will add to the congestion on the route up. Everest and Lhotse share much of the same route, only splitting off in opposite directions as the teams near the top. That route will be extremely crowded come mid-May, when summit bids traditionally begin. So much so, that current estimates are at about 1000 climbers in the Khumbu Icefall and climbing in the days ahead.

This will obviously cause traffic jams on the mountain. It could also lead to potential problems should the weather take an unexpected turn. That is a lot of people who will potentially be making their attempts on the summit at the same time, and since teams have often tried to get out in front of one another to avoid these problems, we could see some groups setting out early to take advantage of weather windows. Needless to say, its going to be a very interested spring on the Nepali side of the Everest.


The Times article also states that the big teams in Base Camp met this past Saturday to discuss the plan for fixing the ropes, which is traditionally handled by the larger, more experienced squads in a cooperative manner. This year, the Ministry of Tourism in Nepal has allowed helicopters to fly all of the ropes and other equipment up to Camp 2, which cuts down on the number of trips that need to be made through the Khumbu Icefall, making things safer in general.

Speaking of the Icefall, last week there was a partial collapses of the route that prevented some of the early climbers from shuttling gear up to Camp 1. It was a temporary setback however, and within a couple of days the Icefall Docs had repaired the route and things were flowing once again. But, the incident does underscore the dangers of traveling through this very treacherous section of the climb. Apparently, a large serac collapsed, taking part of the route down with it. This happens regularly throughout the season, and the Sherpa teams usually are quick and efficient about repairing it.

That's all for today. We'll have more updates soon on the current status of teams on the mountain. Most are now getting settled in BC and working on acclimation as they start their first rotations higher up the mountain. It should be interesting to see how things unfold in the days ahead.

On the Road in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

After spending a few very nice weeks back home following my trip to the Falklands and South Georgia, it's now time to hit the road once again. This time I'm not going quite so far, but it will still be an interesting trip. Today, I head out to Coeur d'Aline, Idaho to attend the AdventureElevate conference put on by the Adventure Travel Trade Association.


Video: The Trek to Everest Base Camp

Earlier today I posted an update from the Himalaya on the progress of the climbing teams there. Most of those teams are now en route to Everest Base Camp on the South Side of the mountain. If you've ever wondered what that trek is like, or what the mountaineers see on the way, this video is a great example of that experience. It was shot last year in April and should be a good representation of what is happening in the Khumbu Valley at this very moment. Having made this trek myself, this video brings back some great memories. This is a special, beautiful part of the world and I recommend that everyone visits it at some point.

Video: Beautiful South Africa by Drone

If you want to know why I love Africa so much for a travel destination, all you have to do is take one look at this video. Shot using a DJI Mavic Pro, this short but sweet clip provides an amazing look at an amazing country. From landscapes to wildlife to breathtaking sunsets, this has it all.

SOUTH AFRICA - A Mavic Tale from Rind-Raja Picture Company on Vimeo.

Outside Gives Us the 40 Most Important Pieces of Gear Ever Designed

Outside magazine continues its 40th anniversary celebration with a new article that takes a look at the 40 most significant tools and toys ever designed for use in the outdoors. Essentially, this list consists of the most iconic pieces of gear that the magazine's editors have seen over the course of its existence, and as you might expect it is filled with some amazing products, most of which changed the industry.

Some of the items earning a spot in the line-up include the DJI Phantom Drone, which pretty much revolutionized outdoor filmmaking over the past few years, especially when paired with a GoPro Camera, which also made the cut. Other important breakthroughs in gear include Sierra Designs DryDown, which ushered in the era of hydrophobic down jackets and sleeping bags, as well as the MSR WhisperLite Stove, which is lauded for making backpacking stoves incredibly lightweight and more efficient.

Himalaya Spring 2017: Teams Arriving in Base Camp on Everest

For the past couple of weeks I've been posting a number of pre-season updates from the Himalaya, essentially setting the stage for the next couple of months of climbing in Nepal and Tibet. But now, its time to get down to business with most mountaineers now having arrived in Kathmandu and are either preparing to head to their respective mountains or are already en route. Some, are even now arriving in Base Camp, particularly on Everest.

The most prominent squad to reach EBC at this point is International Mountain Guides (aka IMG). The company's first team reached Base Camp last Friday and are now settling in, while they await the arrival of two other IMG teams that are still further down the Khumbu Valley and trekking up to that location. The climbers who are already there have been spending the past few days getting settled and resting up, while also working on their skills in a special obstacle course that was set up to prepare them for what they'll face on the mountain, especially as they cross through the dreaded Khumbu Icefall.

The first team has also gone through its Puja ceremony, which involves a Buddhist lama and several monks asking the local mountain gods to protect the climbers as they prepare to head up the mountain. During the ceremony, the mountaineers all receive blessings, as does their gear. They also ask for safe passage up and down the mountain as well.

While the Puja may sound like a superstitious ritual, it is also tradition on Everest and other Himalayan peaks. The Sherpas in particular are reluctant to step food on any mountain without first getting the blessings from the lama, and over the course of the next few weeks, every team will have their own ceremony in anticipation of the start of the climb.


Now that the IMG team has gotten settled, their next step will be to head back down the Khumbu Valley today to trek to Lobuche Peak. This 6118 meter (20,075 ft) mountain will serve as a warm-up climb and acclimatization trek before they start on Everest. Over the past few years many teams have chosen to acclimate on other mountains as a way to avoid passing through the icefall too many times, and it has proven to be a safe and effective way to get accustomed to the altitude before heading up to Camp 1 or 2.

Meanwhile, there are a number of other teams that are still making their way up the Khumbu to BC and are now at various points along the valley. For instance, the Adventure Consultants are on their way to Kongma La after climbing Chukkung Ri as part of their acclimatization efforts. They expect to be in BC by Thursday of this week. RMI has several trekking teams in the area as well, as does Mountain Professionals, who last checked in from Lobuche, which means they should probably reach Base Camp today.

In other news, Ueli Steck should now be in Nepal after departing from Europe this past weekend. He'll spend a bit of time in Kathmandu before heading out to the Khumbu, where he'll undergo his own acclimatization training. From there, it'll be on to EBC before the start of his much-anticipated Everest-Lhotse traverse. There are some rumblings that if all goes well, he may extend that traverse to include Nuptse too. We'll have to wait to see, as it is already a very ambitious project.

On the other side of Everest in the north, the Tibetan border has now reportedly opened and the first teams are driving to EBC in that country. While the mountain is much easier to reach on the North Side, climbers still have to take their time and allow their bodies to become accustomed to the altitude. Most make several stops along the way to try to slowly adjust, but they don't have the same kind of acclimatization trek as the teams on the South Side do. Still, we should see the first climbers trickling into camp on that side of the mountain over the next few days too.

That's it for now. More new from the Himalaya soon.

Video: Rare Snow Leopards Caught on Film in the Wild

Snow leopards are amongst the most endangered creatures on the planet, and spotting them in the wild is a rare feat indeed. In this clip, we catch a glimpse of these incredibly elusive cats thanks to camera trap footage captured by National Geographic. These leopards were found in the Altai Mountains of Russia, not far from the border with China and Mongolia, a place I was fortunate enough to see last years. Sadly, there were no snow leopards to be found on my journey, but this video makes up for that.

Video: Karl Meltzer - Made To Be Broken Official Trailer

Last year, ultrarunner Karl Meltzer set a new record for the fastest time on the Appalachian Trail, covering the full 2190 mile (3524 km) distance in 45 days, 22 hours, and 38 minutes. That's averaging roughly 48 miles per day for those keeping tack at home. Now, a full-length documentary film about his experience is about to be released, and we have the trailer for it below. This just gives you a glimpse of what to expect from the film, which his entitled Karl Meltzer: Made to be Broken. The doc will officially debut next Thursday, April 13. But you can find out more about Karl, this tremendous achievement, and the film itself by visiting its official website. It looks amazing and I can't wait to watch the full thing.

Alex Honnold and Renan Ozturk To Attempt One of the Toughest Free-Climbs in North America

While we're obviously still gearing up for a very busy Himalayan climbing season in the days ahead, there are other interesting expeditions in the planning stages as well. Take for example the new project from Alex Honnold and Renan Ozturk, which will send them to Alaska to take on one of the toughest free-climbs in all of North America.

According to Men's Journal, the two climbers will attempt the first free ascent of Wine Bottle Tower on the East Face of Mt. Dickey in June. In terms of altitude, Dickey is a modest climb at best, topping out at a mere 2909 meters (9545 ft). But, its East Face is a spectacular big wall built to test the skills of any climber, including ones as talented as Honnold and Ozturk.

The route they'll take up Wine Bottle Tower is extremely technical, requiring plenty of skill and talent to even consider undertaking. It also happens to be 1600 meters (5250 ft) of sheer vertical granite, which makes it about 609 meters (2000 ft) taller than El Capitan in Yosemite.

The first – and only – ascent of this route was done back in 1988 by Austrians Thomas Bonapace and Andreas Orgler. But those two men made the climb using aid to help them up the incredibly difficult rock face. Honnold and Ozturk will try to free the wall instead, something they attempted back in 2013 with Freddie Wilkinson, only to turn back less than 15% of the way up the route.

Men's Journal says that the two men haven't shared their exact plans yet, but it seems likely that in June they'll have to ski to Mt. Dickey to begin the climb and decide from there what their strategy will be. Since the route is mostly unscouted by either of the climbers, it seems likely that they'll spend several days on the project, setting up portaledges as they go. A straight shot up the wall in a single, massive push seems very unlikely, even for two guys as talented as this.

Either way, it should be interesting to see how this one develops. We'll have to wait for June to get further updates.

Want to Take Part in A Groundbreaking Study on Kilimanjaro This Year?

Kilimanjaro is one of the most alluring challenges for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers from around the globe. Each year, thousands flock to its slopes in an effort to reach its lofty summit – the highest in Africa at 5895 meters (19,341 ft). But, many of those climbers never make it to the top, and some even experience serious health issues along the way. There are even a surprisingly high number of deaths not he mountain each and every year, usually due to complications with altitude.

This year, a the University Hospital of Gießen and Marburg in Germany is conducting a study of how our bodies react to altitude in an effort to learn about how to threat this suffering from altitude sickness. To do that, researchers are looking for 25 people to participate in a study that will take place on Kilimanjaro this September. But, the study isn't looking for just your average trekker. Instead, they would like to find mountain bikers or mountain runners who are willing to join them on the mountain and consent to being tested throughout the climb.

The Kilimanjaro Summit Challenge will take place from September 24 through October 1, and will begin with a three-day training camp prior to the start of the climb. This will allow participants to acclimatize to the altitude and for the researchers to study how the altitude is impacting their bodies.

Rainer Braehler, who is organizing the event, tells adventure sports journalist Stefan Nestler "Up to now, pursing sport seriously on a mountain like Kilimanjaro was a dream limited to just a few elite athletes,but with this study, ambitious amateur athletes can now test their limits at very high altitudes – with the reassurance of full medical supervision.”

If you think you'd be interested in joining the study, you can find all of the information you need, including price, dates, and full agenda, and how to apply by clicking here. Not only will you be going on an adventure of a lifetime, you'll also be helping science find ways to help us be more efficient at altitude. 

Himalaya Spring 2017: ExWeb Provides Yet More Expeditions of Note

Yesterday I posted an article sharing some of the more interesting expeditions that will be taking place in the Himalaya this season, most notably on Cho Oyu and Shishapangma. Later in the day I also shared the reveal of the Kangchenjunga Skyline Expedition that will send Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger on an epic high-altidue odyssey unlike anything that has ever been done before. Today, we have another list of interesting climbs set for this spring courtesy of Explorer's Web.

ExWeb's round up includes some of the expeditions that I've already posted about, including Ueli Steck's ambitious Everest-Lhotse Traverse. But, it also includes brief looks at a lot more projects that I haven't mentioned yet. For instance, the article has an overview of everyone who is attempting Everest without bottled oxygen this year, including names like Ralf Dujmovits, Ferran Latore, Adrian Ballinger and Cory Richards. Ballinger and Richards are back once again to share their antics on social media, which was closely followed last season as well. The article also mentions that Nobukazu Kuriki will be back on Everest this spring as well, this time making an attempt on the North Side without O's. Kuriki is famous for his solo attempts on Everest in the fall where he has sometimes run into trouble in the past.

The story also mentions that Min Bahadur will be back on Everest this spring as well as he looks to set a new record for the oldest person to summit the mountain. If successful, he'll have reached the top at the ripe-young age of 85.

Elsewhere, Peter Hamor is looking for his 14th – and final – 8000 meter peak without supplemental oxygen as he takes on Dhaulagiri this spring. Carlos Soria will also be on that mountain searching for his 13th eight-thousander at the age of 78. They'll be joined by several other teams as well. Italian climbers Nives Meroi and Romano Benet are returning to the Himalaya too. They're already Base Camp on Annapurna and looking to nab their final 8000-meter mountain as well.

Finally, a four-person team made of Polish climbers is already in pace on Makalu and making steady progress. According to ExWeb they reached Camp 1 at 6400 meters (20,997 ft) on April 4. The plan is to acclimatize and summit that mountain first before moving over to Lhotse later in the season.

As you can see, we'll have plenty of action to follow all spring long. There are probably even a few big expeditions that have yet to be revealed. One thing is for sure, it'll certainly be an interesting season as usual.

Video: Black Diamond Introduces the HonnSolo 11 Free Soloing Airbag Pack

Typically I'm not a fan of April 1 on the Internet. It's filled with all kinds of fake news (we have enough of that already!) and it seems that sites go to great lengths to try to pull one over on their readers. But occasionally someone does something that is genuinely funny and its hard not to share. That's the case with Black Diamond Equipment and climber Alex Honnold, who unveiled the new HonnSolo 11 climbing pack. To give much more away would be to spoil the fun, so just sit back and watch. If you missed it last Saturday, you'll probably still get a good chuckle out of it now.

Gear Closet: Mountain Hardwear AC Long Sleeve Henley Review

It has been quite an impressive year for Mountain Hardwear. Over the past 12 months or so, the company has been squarely focused on creating a gear renaissance by setting its sights on getting back to the things that made it one of the trend setters in the outdoor space for so long. In recent years, MH has been criticized for not being as innovative as it once was and for releasing products that fell below the loft expectations that its core customers has come to rely on. But over the past year the Mountain Hardwear design team has been hard at work putting out some of its best products ever. I've been especially impressed with the Stretch Down jacket for instance and I love the new Scrambler waterproof backpacks. Now, you can add the AC Henley shirt to that list too.

Himalaya Spring 2017: The Kangchenjunga Skyline Expedition - 3 Miles Across the Death Zone

Earlier today I posted a story about some interesting expeditions to follow in the Himalaya this spring the aren't taking place on Everest. Not long after that story went live on The Adventure Blog, we got news of yet another very interesting climb that is set to get underway soon as well, with one of the most difficult mountains in the world as the target.

This morning, Simone Moro took the wraps off of his next project which is called the Kangchenjunga Skyline Expedition. As has been the case in most of his recent expeditions, he'll be climbing with Tamara Lunger on what promises to be one of the most difficult endeavors of their careers – which is definitely saying something.

The plan is for the the duo to attempt an incredibly difficult and high altitude traverse without the use of supplemental oxygen or Sherpa support. They'll start on the Kangchenjunga plateau and cross over four massive peaks along the way, starting with Yalung Kang (8505 m/27,902 ft), then on to the third highest peak on the planet in Kangchenjunga itself at 8586 meters (28,169 ft), before proceeding on to Kangchenjunga Central (8482 m/27,828 ft), before proceeding to Kangchenjunga South (8476 m/27,808 ft). Along the way, they'll cover more than 5.5 km (3.5 miles) above 8300 meters (27,230 ft), all the while trekking above the so called "Death Zone" without bottled oxygen.

Once acclimatized, Simone and Tamara will spend seven days on the traverse, completely unsupported along the way. If they are successful, it will be the longest traverse at altitude ever.

To learn more about this impressive expedition, check out the announcement video below.


North Pole 2017: Barneo Opens for Business

The Barneo Ice Camp in the Arctic has officially opened for business. According to ExWeb, two flights have already reached the floating base of operations that is temporarily constructed in the Arctic each year. That base will now serve as a gateway too and from the North Pole and the surrounding area over the next few weeks.

The process for building the Barneo Camp is a fascinating one in and of itself. First, the team behind the base flies to the Arctic to search for an ice floe large enough to support the base and its blue ice runway. Then, a team of skydivers parachute onto the ice with supplies and construction materials to begin setting up the ice station. That includes clearing and smoothing out a large section of the surface to allow large Antonov-74 aircraft to land their. Once that happens, the Barneo begins receiving visitors.

ExWeb reports that the first two flights have arrived at the ice floe, which currently sits at roughly 89º18'N, 038º29'E. Apparently, two groups of North Pole skiers, who will traverse two degrees to the Pole, have already been flown in as well, and are likely already on their way towards 90ºN.  Another team of skiers is expected to arrive as part of the third flight tomorrow.

In order to reach this very remote place, flights are channeled through Svalbard in Norway. Last year this caused some political problems when a team of Chechen special forces passed through the area without permission from the Norwegian government. For a time, it looked like the support flights would need to find an alternate route passing through Franz Josef Land instead. But, the two sides have worked out their differences and are now working together as usual.

If you've ever wondered what it looks like to land a plane on an Arctic ice floe, have a look at the video below. Approaching the white, mostly featureless surface looks like a real challenge, but these pilots manage to pull it off without much difficult each year.

The base will remain in operation until the end of April, at which time everything will be cleaned up and removed once again. It is an impressive piece of engineering, all to grant access to one of the most inhospitable places on earth for a short time each year.