Showing posts with label Exploration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Exploration. Show all posts

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.

Video: A Profile of Explorer Mike Horn

One of the expeditions we followed closely this past Antarctic season was Mike Horn's attempt to cross traverse the continent solo by kite ski. He was of course successful in that endeavor, and is now pushing forward with the second part of his Pole2Pole journey, in which he is circumnavigating the planet north to south via both Poles. In this video, we get a profile of Horn and his past accomplishment, as well as an inside look at at his Antarctic traverse. If you're not aware of what drives this man, you'll learn a lot more about him here. If you already know Mike and his ambitious journeys, you'll likely come away even more impressed.

Nat Geo Takes Us Deep into "Dark Star" – Potentially the Deepest Cave System in the World

Exploring deep caves is an activity that brings its own set of challenges not unlike scaling a high mountain. Sure, you don't have to worry about acclimatizing per se, but thin air can be an issue and carrying supplies and gear into vast underground chambers is not unlike establishing camps as you ascend a Himalayan peak. Add to the fact that you are always surrounded by darkness, and you start to get an idea of just how unique these experiences can be. Now, imagine you're exploring a cave system that may be the deepest on the planet, with a bottom that has yet to be discovered.

In a new article posted on the National Geographic website, we plumb the depths of just such a place. Dubbed "Dark Star," the cave is located in a remote region of Uzbekistan and has been dubbed the "Underground Everest." That's because eight expeditions have delved into its depths – mapping over 11 miles of passageways, caverns, and chambers – but have yet to find an end to the massive subterranean realm. So far, the deepest they have gone is 3000 feet (914 meters) below the surface, but the feeling is that Dark Star runs deeper. Much deeper.

The current record for the deepest cavern known to man is the Krubera Cave, located in the Eastern European country of Georgia. That cave drops an unbelievable 7208 feet (2196 meters), so Dark Star has a long way to go before it breaks that record. But after more than 20 years of mapping and exploration, there doesn't seem to be an end to be had just yet, and there are some indications that it goes far deeper than Krubera, its just that no one has gone down that far just yet.

The cave was first discovered back in 1984 by a team of Russians, but it wasn't explored at all until the 1990's when a group of British cavers first passed through its outer entryways. Most of Dark Star's mysteries have yet to be found, as most of the teams that have gone inside have ended up running out of rope before they've made much in the way of significant progress. Yet expeditions continue to come when they can, which isn't as often as serious cavers would like considering the remote nature of the entrance and the unstable political conditions of the surrounding region.

The Nat Geo story is a fascinating one, especially for those of us who don't know a lot about cave exploration. Author Mark Synnott takes us deep inside Dark Star, where a dedicated team of scientists, researchers, and explorers is examining the site, pushing deeper into its depths, and learning more about the underground spaces of our planet. It is an intriguing read that reminds us that not all of our adventures need to go up, nor remain on the surface of the Earth at all.

Check out the full story here or in the March issue of National Geographic magazine.

Video: Talking Tents with Explorer/Mountaineer Lonnie Dupre

Want to know what to look for in a tent when embarking on an extreme expedition? Who better to ask than a guy like Lonnie Dupre, who managed to make a solo summit of Denali last January. In this video Lonnie sits down with Petra Hilleberg to talk about the tents he uses on his various adventures, and what he looks for in a shelter in extreme locations.

Quiz: How Much Do You Know Bout Polar Exploration?

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


Reminder: Vote For Nat Geo's People's Choice Adventurer of the Year

Just a quick reminder that time is running out to cast your ballot for the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year for 2017. As we told you a few weeks back, this year's class is filled with some very worthy recipients of the title, but one will still be crowned "People's Choice Adventurer of the Year," and you get to help decide who that person is. The only catch? You'll have to cast your vote before the end of the week.

Some of the honorees this year include mountaineer Colin Haley, who put up some of the most amazing climbs in Patagonia and elswhere; Polish cave diver Krzysztof Starnawski, who discovered the deepest cave in the world; and paraglider Antoine Girard, who flew his glider from the top of Broad Peak back in July. The rest of the list is equally interesting and deserving of recognition as well, and each is eligible to win the "People's Choice" category too.

To cast your vote, simply click here, scroll down the page, and select the person you want to vote for. Yo can vote once per day, so if you think more than one person deserves the honor, be sure to come back all week and vote again. The online poll will be open through Friday, December 16, after which it will be closed down for another year. The ultimate winner will be announced in January.

Good luck to all of the members of the 2016 class. It's tough choosing which one is most deserving of this honor.

British Stand-Up Paddleboarder Embarking on Expedition Down Sri Lanka's Longest River

Stand-up paddleboarding continues to be an interesting sport that is growing in popularity and presents some unique opportunities in the world of outdoor adventure. While most of us are content to paddle out on our local lakes and rivers, some intrepid individuals are using SUP boards to explore remote corners of the world. Take for example British adventurer Kev Brady, who is Sri Lanka and preparing to paddle down that country's longest river.

Kev arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanka yesterday and is now preparing to embark on what promises to be quite an experience. He'll begin by hiking 2200 meters (7217 feet) up into Horton Plains National Park where he'll go in search of the source of the Mahaweli River, a remote waterway that runs for 335 km (208 miles) that runs through lush forests populated mostly be wild animals, like elephants, crocodiles, leopards, monkeys, and snakes. He'll then drop his trusty Red Paddle Co. Explorer SUP board into the water, and begin his long journey, which will also include 1287 km (800 miles) of Sri Lankan coastline as well.

The entire journey is expected to take roughly four months to complete, and since he's only taking a SUP board for transportation, Kev will need to travel light along the way. He's taking little more than a hammock and some basic supplies to help get him through the journey, with plans to restock food and other items as he passes through villages and towns in the later stages of the trip.

Much of the upper Mahaweli River remains unexplored, and at this point Brady isn't sure what he'll encounter early on. He is prepared to portage around waterfalls and possibly whitewater, although the wildlife in the area may dictate when and where he'll be able to proceed. But, he says he's excited about the exploration aspects of the trip, with just his paddleboard, meager supplies, and his own wits and skills to see him through.

Brady should be setting out on the actual expedition in the next few days, but at the moment he is in Colombo and taking care of less minute logistical challenges before he sets off. You can follow his progress on both Facebook and Twitter as he heads out into the unknown. This should be quite an adventure indeed.

Mike Horn's Pole 2 Pole Expedition is About to Truly Get Underway

If you've been reading my updates from the Antarctic so far this season, you've probably seen me mention Swiss explorer Mike Horn on more than one occasion. That's because not only does he have an impeccable adventure resume ( climbed four 8000-meter peaks without oxygen, explored the Arctic during the winter, swam the length of the Amazon), but he is also about to embark on one of the most ambitious expeditions of all time. Horn is attempting to become the first person to circumnavigate the globe north-south (rather than east-west), passing through both Poles along the way. And soon, he'll launch the first critical phase of that journey, which will see him traverse Antarctica on foot.

Currently, Mike is aboard his ship the Pangea just off the Antarctic coast. According to his dispatches, he and his crew are slowly making their way through the ice to his drop-off point on the Antarctic continent. Remember, most of South Pole skiers are dropped off at Union Glacier, prior to flying to their starting points at Hercules Inlet, by the professional crew at ALE. In Mike's case however, he's sailing independently as part of his round-the-world journey.

The Pole 2 Pole expedition – as Mike calls it – has been a long time coming. I first told you about his plans back in 2014, but it has taken two years to get this adventure truly underway and off the ground. The journey began when the South African-born explorer set out from Monaco back in May, and began sailing out of the Mediterranean Sea and down the coast of Africa.

Along the way, he spent some time exploring the Namib Desert and visiting the Okavango Delta, before traveling overland to Cape Town, where he dove with sharks and conducted research on those ocean-going predators. Now, he has ventured across the Southern Ocean on his way to the Antarctic. Once there, he'll don a pair of skis and pull a sled across the frozen expanse just like all the other skiers heading to the South Pole. But after he reaches 90ºS, he'll continue on to the coast once again (possibly to Hercules Inlet) where Pangea will be waiting to pick him up.


The expedition hardly ends there however. As tough as his Antarctic crossing will be, it is nothing compared to what lies ahead. After he finishes at the bottom of the world, he'll set sail for the top. Heading north through the Pacific Ocean, where he'll first spend some time traveling in New Zealand and Australia, before continuing on into Asia. After that, Horn will continue heading north, where he'll then set his sights on traversing the Arctic on foot as well, an endeavor that is far more difficult and dangerous than crossing the Antarctic.

If he succeeds with that plan – one that has become increasingly more difficult in recent years – he'll then move south once again, traversing Greenland on foot, before sailing back to Europe and ending his expedition back in Monaco where it began.

Obviously there is a lot to accomplish before he is done, but it certainly will be interesting to follow along. I'm particularly interested in Horn's attempt at crossing the Arctic, which we've seen many people try and fail at in recent years. He has all the credentials, and I'd never bet against him, but the Arctic has become an unforgiving place with little margin for error, and it will probably be the toughest expedition of his life skiing to the North Pole and onward.

For now though, Antarctic awaits. If things go according to plan, he should hit the ice in the next couple of days. And then that stage of his adventure will truly begin. I'll be posting updates throughout the season on his progress. It should be interesting to follow for sure.

Video: Just Breathe - Searching the Mayan Underworld (Part 2)

Today we return to the depths of an underwater cave in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, where explorers Robbie Schmittner and his partner Toddy Waelde continue to explore the sunken Maya underworld. This time out, not everything goes as planned however, and we see the challenges of trying to assist a diver who runs into trouble while deep within these caves. Scary stuff for sure.
(If you missed part 1 of this series, you'll find it here)

Video: Places of Fear - Searching the Mayan Underworld (Part 1)

A few days back I shared the trailer for a new series of short films coming our way from GoPro that followed a team of divers as they plunged into a cave on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico in hopes of finding the largest cavern in the entire world. Now, we have part one of that series which gives us an introduction of an entirely new kind of exploration – underwater, in mysterious caves, where there are remnants of the Mayan civilization yet to be discovered. It is a fascinating look at this incredible place that will definitely leave you wanting more. I'll have part two tomorrow.

Video: The Harsh Conditions of the Antarctic

Ever wondered what it is like to live and work at the bottom of the world? If so, this short video will give you a few clues. In it, Tom Arnold – a field trainer for the Antarctic – tells us what it is like to conduct research and explore the seventh continent. It is one of the harshest environments on the planet, but it is also an incredibly beautiful and untouched place. You'll get a glimpse of that, and more, in this two minute clip.

Meet the 2016 Nat Geo Adventurers of the Year

In what has become a bit of an annual tradition, National Geographic has revealed its selections for the 2016 Adventurers of the Year. As usual, the list consists of a group of people who have mad unique contributions in the area of exploration, conservation, and pushing the boundaries of human endurance. On top of that, these men and women just happen to be downright awesome. This year, ten individuals – and an entire ship's crew – were honored with this distinction.

Some of the people who made the list include climber Colin Haley, who put up some of the most demanding and impressive climbs of the entire year, paraglider Antoine Girard, who wowed us with his high altitude flight from Broad Peak, and cave diver Krzysztof Starnawski, who spent 20 years exploring a submerge cave only to discover it is the deepest on the planet. They're joined on the list by the crew of the Hōkūle‘a, a Polynesian voyaging canoe that is sailing around the world using only the starts for navigation. 

As usual, I won't spoil the entire list, because part of the fun is learning who made the cut and earned the title of "Adventurer of the Year." Needless to say however, the group is made of individuals who are all deserving of that honor, as each has done some amazing things throughout 2016. 

Of course, there is still the matter of determining the "People's Choice Adventurer of the Year" as well. This is determined by online vote, with the polls closing on December 16 and the official winner being announced in January of next year. Choosing which of these individuals is most worthy of that honor is tough too, but thankfully we can all vote once a day through the deadline next month, so we can spread our support around some. To place your vote, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

I am fortunate enough to get the chance to nominate some adventurers for this award each year, and it is always fulfilling to see some of the ones that I selected get the nod when the final choices are announced. I want to congratulate everyone who made the list. You are an inspiration to us all.  


Video: Scenes from the Arctic

The Arctic is one of those places on our planet that few of us ever get the opportunity to see in person. But, thanks to this video, we can all travel to this frozen region of the Earth and experience for ourselves. The scenes shown here are beautiful, tranquil, and amazing to see. It is quite an experience and one that I think you'll enjoy greatly. Sit back and soak this one in, as it is indeed a wonderful short film set in remote place.

Video: What Was the Last Place on Earth to be Discovered?

Here's an intriguing question. What do you think was the last place on Earth to actually be discovered by man? Most researchers now believe that human life on our planet can be traced back to Africa, with man spreading out across the planet from there. Over thousands of years we migrated across the planet, settling in various places along the way. But have you ever stopped to think what part of the planet was the last to actually be found by humans?

That is exactly the subject of this video, which uses an animated map to show you exactly when certain destinations were discovered, with the timeline for many of them actually being quite surprising. For instance, who would have thought that North America was reached before Portugal for instance? There are plenty of other interesting little tidbits like that to be learned along the way too, with some remote places obviously taking longer to find than others.

So just what was the last place found by humans? I won't spoil the answer, but I will say that it will be quite logical once you learn where it is. There is definitely a lot of interesting things to learn here.

Video: The North Face Athletes Question Madness - Conrad Anker and Alex Honnold

Yesterday, I shared a video that launched a new brand campaign from The North Face that invited us to "Question Madness." The campaign celebrates the 50th anniversary of the company, which has become synonymous with outdoor adventure and exploration. Today, I have two more videos from that exemplify what the company is going for by introducing viewers to some of their sponsored athletes. In this case, those two people are mountaineer Conrad Anker and rock climber Alex Honnold. Check them out below.




World's Deepest Underwater Cave Discovered in Czech Republic

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

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

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

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

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

Men's Journal Gives Us the 50 Most Adventurous Men

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

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

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

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

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

Belgian Adventurer Completes Solo, Unsupported Trek Across Simpson Desert

A couple of weeks back I wrote about Belgian adventurer Louis-Philippe Loncke attempt to cross the Simpson Desert in Australia on foot and without the use of a cart to carry his supplies and gear. At the time, he was just preparing to set out for Oz to begin his odyssey, but now just a couple of weeks later, the expedition has come to a successful conclusion, breaking new ground in the process.

Just as polar explorers pull sleds filled with gear and supplies behind them when they head to the North and South Pole, desert explorers often use specially designed carts. These contraptions are built to roll over sand and dirt, and have enough capacity to hold all of the important supplies – including water – that are needed on such an expedition. They are also incredibly difficult to pull for prolonged periods of time, but are a necessary component for anyone traveling "unsupported" in those types of environments.

Loncke, who first crossed the desert back in 2008, was determined to prove that it was possible to walk through the "Dead Heart of Australia" without using a cart to support his efforts. To that end, he elected to use a backpack instead. This forced him to get creative with how he packed and approached this trek, as he had to carry 40 liters of water with him for the journey.

His water alone weighed 40 kg (88 pounds), which didn't leave much room for other gear. In order to save weight he eschewed the use of a stove and carried only 8 kg (16 pounds) of food which consisted mostly of muesli bars, figs, and chocolate. He did carry a tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag however, as well as a video camera, several battery packs, and two 360º cameras that captured the Simpson Desert in a way that is hasn't been seen before. All told, his backpack tipped the scales at  60 kg (132 pounds), when he set off on the journey.

While in the desert, Loncke managed to trek 300 km (186 miles) through one of the most inhospitable regions in Australia. The walk began at Old Andado Station and ended at Poeppel Corner, passing through the geographical center of the desert in the process. He had hoped to continue another 135 km (83 miles) to Birdsville, but when Loncke reached the ranger station in Poeppel Corner he was low on food and water and didn't have enough supplies to continue pressing on.

In addition to the usual challenges that the Simpson Desert poses, Loncke experienced something completely unexpected - rain! He says that it rained hard for three days and two nights, with tremendous lightning strikes across the region. The unexpected precipitation made it harder to walk each day, slowing his pace dramatically. He also reports that it led to soaked clothing and wet feet for those three days, which made for a cold, miserable experience at times. But the unexpected rain also brought a wild flower bloom, something else that was unexpected but much appreciated.

You can read more about Lou-Phi's experiences in the Simpson Desert on his blog site dedicated to the expedition. He is currently en route back home to Belgium, but will likely update it with more information going forward.

Congratulations to Loncke for achieving this impressive feat. He has potentially shown us another approach to desert exploration, and it will be interesting to see if anyone else follows suit moving forward.

Video: Nat Geo Shares Earliest Archival Footage

Want to see the earliest archival video footage from National Geographic's extensive vault of films? The video below provides a glimpse of just that as it gives viewers a look at the 1903 Ziegler North Pole Expedition. The explorers that made up that team set out from Norway with plans to reach the North Pole. But, their ship got trapped in the ice and the group ended up stranded for a year. This video gives us a look at a bygone era in exploration and a sense of what it was like for that team as they set off into the unknown. Interesting stuff to be sure.

New Monument Discovered in the Ancient City of Petra

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

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

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

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

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