Showing posts with label Interview. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Interview. Show all posts

Video: Meet Denis Urubko – One of the Strongest Mountaineers of All Time

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you've probably seen me mention alpinist Denis Urubko on more than one occasions. That's because I'm often covering is unique – and usually very difficult – expeditions to some of the world's toughest peaks. Denis has climbed all 14 of the 8000-meter mountains, each without supplemental oxygen. He has made winter ascents on Makalu and Gasherbrum II, and has been planning some alternate expeditions on K2 as well. In short, he is one of the top mountaineers of all time, and yet he is also off the radar for many people who follow the high altitude climbing scene.

In the two videos we get to know Denis much better. He shares his own personal story. What it was like for him growing up in Russia, how he got started in climbing, and what drives him to push new boundaries in the mountains. The two clips help us to get to know him better, and learn what spurs him on to continually return to the high places of our planet to try new things. If you are intrigued by the men and women who go on these demanding expeditions, I think you'll find his story a fascinating one.

Tip of the hat to Adventure Journal for sharing these videos. They are excellent.

The Himalayan Times Interviews Reinhold Messner

Reinhold Messner is thought by many to be the greatest mountaineer ever. His list of accomplishments is long and distinguished, including such feats as the first ascent of Everest without oxygen and the first solo climb of that mountain too. He is also the first person to successfully summit all 14 of the 8000-meter peaks as well. So any time he weighs in on the state of climbing, it is always interesting.

That is exactly what he did in this interview with The Himalayan Times. The Italian climbing legends talks about the role that Sherpas continue to play in expeditions to the big mountains, how "traditional" alpinism needs to be preserved, and his thoughts on the current mountaineering approach, which is dominated by commercial teams.

Not one to hold back on his opinions, Messner tells the Times that commercial mountaineering is basically the same as tourism, and even equated it to "climbing indoors." He notes that when he climbed the big peaks he did it much the same way as Edmund Hillary. But now, anyone with enough money can pay a commercial guide service to take them to the top. This isn't true alpinism in his mind.

Messner went on to say “During our time, we had guided the Sherpas to the top of the summit. Now, they lead the westerners and climbers from the other world to the summit point, keeping all the problems of expedition members away." He stressed that the situation was very different in the past, with the Sherpas being more teammates rather than just guides.

Currently, the Italian explorer – who has skied across Antarctica, trekked the Gobi, and gone in search of the Yeti in the Himalaya, has returned to Nepal to film a movie on Ama Dablam. The film will be the true story of efforts to climb that mountain from 1959 to 1979. He also says that he's working on a movie about Everest with Hollywood producers too.

Messner tells the Times that over the years he has fallen in love with Nepal, and has been there more than 50 times. It doesn't sound like that love affair will end anytime soon.

Adventure Blog Interview: Jeff Evans of Travel Channel's Everest Air

 Jeff Evans inside a rescue helicopter at Everest Base Camp
On Wednesday, October 26, the Travel Channel will debut an all-new show entitled "Everest Air." The six-part series, which was shot in Nepal this past spring, follows a high-altitude rescue team that provided medical assistance, support, and evacuations of climbers on and around the world's highest peak.

For two months during the 2016 climbing season, a dedicated and experienced team of Sherpas and helicopter pilots, led by experienced mountaineer and medic Jeff Evans, went to great lengths to rescue climbers, guides, and local Nepalis living in the Khumbu Valley alike. "Everest Air" will give us a glimpse of what those operations were like, and how Jeff and his squad impacted the lives of those they helped.

Recently, I had a chance to chat with Jeff to get his thoughts on the show, the Everest climbing seven, what it was like conducting high altitude medical operations, and a lot more. It was clear from our conversation that this wasn't just a television gig for him, but a chance to give back to both the mountaineering community and the Nepali people.

An adventurer and outdoor athlete, Jeff grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where a love of the outdoors was instilled at a very young age. As he grew older, he immigrated west to Colorado where he attended college at UC Boulder where he studied medicine as he worked towards becoming a physician's assistant. While there he also continued to hone his climbing skills, which would later take him up some of the more famous routes in Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, and Joshua Tree National Parks. Later, he would branch into mountaineering as well, and eventually become a guide – and conducted search and rescue operations – on Denali in Alaska. In 2001, he even summited Everest along with blind climber Erik Weihenmayer, a long time friend that he would share many adventures with.

Last year, following the tragic earthquake that hit Nepal, Jeff returned to that country to help lend a hand. His experience as a search and rescue operator, along with his training as a medic, allowed him to play a vital role in the difficult days that came after that natural disaster. His deep love for the Nepali people, and a place that has given him so much throughout his climbing career, spurred him into action then, and was a major reason why he wanted to return once again this year to be a part of "Everest Air."


Working on a patient at EBC
"Initially, I was contacted to be a consultant for the show," he tells me when we spoke over the phone.  But after he inquired as to whether or not the production team had a medic on staff his role as part of the series evolved quickly. "They called me back the next day and asked if I could be on a plane to Los Angles. The rest is pretty much history," he says.

But before he officially took the gig, Jeff says he told the producers that if he was going to be a part of the team, they had to truly be of service on the mountain. He didn't want the show to revolve around rescuing rich, inexperienced mountaineers who found themselves out of their element on Everest. He wanted to have a meaningful impact beyond the privileged foreign climbers that showed up in large numbers in the Himalaya. He said that the show's creators agreed with his vision, and promised that they weren't going to Nepal to exploit Everest for ratings – it was a promise they stuck to throughout filming.

Jeff and the members of his team gathered in Kathmandu on April 1, and stayed in the country until June 1. During that time, they made 89 total flights and conducted 38 rescues, of which 24 of those operations were in support of locals, including assisting a Nepali woman who had suffered a miscarriage. For Jeff, this was exactly what he had hoped for – assisting mountaineers in need, but more importantly lending a hand to locals who were in dire need of medical attention.

Most of the ailments that the foreign climbers suffered typically revolved around altitude sickness, with both pulmonary and cerebral edema being very common. But, over the course of two months they also helped individuals who suffered other injuries as well, including a broken back, a bowel obstruction, and one person that had taken a 30-foot fall. "Had we not been there," Jeff says, "more people would have died on Everest this season."

Despite his experience as a medic and a climber, adjusting to flying through the Himalaya in a helicopter took some time. "At first I wasn't comfortable in the back of the helicopter," Jeff tells me. "They're just not meant to be flown at those altitudes," he adds. But over time, and as he got to know the talented pilots, he learned to trust them more. "By the end of production, I was getting along just fine."

Jeff with Bhaila Sherpa of Alpine Rescue Services
When I asked if Jeff had seen any of the completed episodes for "Everest Air" just yet, he tells me that he hasn't. But, when he was asked to do some post-production voice over work, he did get a look at the footage we'll all see on our television screens in a few weeks time. "It looks intense," he says, which should tell viewers something considering he was actually there when the events took place.

Jeff tells me that he is proud of how production went in Nepal, as he and his team stuck to the values they had hoped to adhere. Mainly, help those in need and make a difference in the local communities, something that will be evident when the show debuts. He also says that the entire production crew showed a great deal of respect for the individuals the medical team were assisting, something that runs counter to the reports we've heard from another television network crew that was operating on Everest at the same time.

With just six episodes to show us the entire spring climbing season, "Everest Air" is likely to be quite the action packed show. Obviously they won't be able to show us all of the rescues they conducted, but you can count on plenty of edge-of-your-seat moments for sure. When I asked Jeff if there were any particular rescues that stood out the most, he quickly rattled off a string of different situations that came to mind. In the end, he settled on the operations they conducted that helped the local Nepalis the most as the ones that he'll always cherish.

As viewers, we'll get to decide which of the team's adventures are the most entertaining and dramatic.  "Everest Air" will debut in three weeks time on the Travel Channel starting at 10 PM Eastern Time. Be sure to tune in or set your DVR's accordingly.

(All photos courtesy of Jeff Evans)

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.

Forbes Interviews Blind Adventurer Erik Weihenmayer

It is always a good thing when someone from the world of outdoor adventure gets a bit of mainstream press. It is even better when that someone is as inspiring at Erik Weihenmayer, the blind adventurer who has competed in endurance racing events, gone mountain biking, paddled the length of the Grand Canyon, and reached the summit of Mt. Everest. To say that Erik is a great source of motivation and inspiration would be an understatement.

Recently, Forbes magazine sat down with the mountaineer to talk shop, and they discussed everything from his previous life as a middle school teacher and wrestling coach, to how he prepares mentally and physically for his adventures. Erik also touches on the technologies that have helped him to achieve his goals, how he "sees" the world around him, and how he mitigates risk in the backcountry.

Weihenmayer also talks about his next adventure, which will take him climbing again with his No Barriers organization. The foundation works with injured U.S. servicemen, and helps them to regain confidence and strength by organizing an expedition to the mountains. The team will train in Colorado throughout the summer of 2016, before heading to Gannet Peak (13,809 ft/4208 m) in Wyoming.

If you'd like to know more about Erik, check out his personal website and be sure to read his book, Touch the Top of the World, which chronicles his attempt to become the first blind person to summit Everest. I'm sure you'll find both very inspirational.

Outside Gives Us an Inside Look at Everest

We're still several weeks off from the release of the major motion picture Everest, but already the hype-train is leaving the station. Over the next few weeks I'm sure we'll see a steady stream of press events, interviews, and sneak previews all leading up to the film's arrival in theaters on September 18.  Outside magazine is already leading the charge however with an interview with cast and crew members from the blockbuster movie that could redefine mountaineering films to come.

The article takes us behind the scenes to get a look at the production of Everest, which reportedly cost $55 million to make. That is relatively small change in Hollywood these days, particularly when you consider the cast of the film. Josh Brolin portrays one of the climbers, with Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kiera Knightly, Robin Wright, and a host of other notables on playbill.

The film is based upon the 1996 climbing season on Everest, famously chronicled in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. It has been nearly two decades since those events took place, and considering the last two seasons on Everest have been tragic in their own right, it will be interesting to see how the events unfold on the big screen. But the producers spared no expense in filming the movie, with such luminaries as David Breashears, Guy Cotter, and David Morton onboard to provide video footage and advice. They even traveled to Nepal to film some of scenes, although much of the principle photography was done in the Italian Dolomites, which stood in for the Himalaya.

It has taken years to get this film into theaters, and the story of that production is a fascinating one. Outside takes us through the early efforts to convince Hollywood to make the movie, and what it took to get a director, cast, and crew onboard. Those deeply involved with making Everest also share their insights into the characters from the story, challenges of filming on location and much more.

If you're interested in Everest, the 1996 season, or big Hollywood films, this is an interesting article to read to say the least. While I am personally trying to be cautiously optimistic about the film, I am eager to see it for myself and see how it turns out. Considering the talent that is involved with the movie, and the heritage of those who helped produce it, I suspect it could be one of the most realistic mountaineering films we've seen in a long time, if not ever. Judging from the trailer, the scenery alone will probably be worth the price of admission.

We have to wait another month before we know for sure, and advance reviews will probably give us some hints of what to expect. But hopefully the film will be entertaining and insightful. If it educates a larger audience about what happens on Everest each spring, all the better.

Video: Reinhold Messner Talks Mountaineering, Adventure, and More

Reinhold Messner is a true legend in mountaineering. He is the first man to climb all 14 8000-meter peaks, and he pioneered the idea of climbing without the use of supplemental oxygen. As you can imagine, he has seen and done a lot of amazing things throughout his career. In the video below, he shares his thoughts on a number of topics, and offers some advice to young climbers today. If you're not familiar with Messner, this video is a great introduction. If you already know all about him, it is a good reminder of the impact that he has had on mountaineering. Great stuff as always from National Geographic.

Forbes Interviews Ueli Steck

It isn't often that a mountaineer gets mainstream press from a source like Forbes, but then again, not every mountaineer is Ueli Steck. The magazine recently conducted a nice interview with the "Swiss Machine," which you can read in its entirety here.

In the interview, Ueli – who is one of the 2015 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year – discusses his admiration for Reinhold Messner, how he compartmentalizes fear on his climbs, and his now legendary solo-summit of Annapurna. He also talks about his approach to speed-climbing in the Alps – comparing those efforts to a game – and his thoughts on the events that went down on Everest this past spring, including the use of helicopters to reach Camp 2.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the interview is in Ueli's discussion of his post-Annapurna plans. He says that immediately following that climb, he felt no motivations what so ever, and he didn't even do much climbing or training last winter at all. He felt like he had achieved the ultimate climb he had been searching for, he was left rudderless afterwards, searching for a new challenge. Fortunately he seems to have found one, although he doesn't say exactly what that challenge will be. It will involve Everest however, although we'll have to be patient to see what he has planned.

As one of the highest profile mountaineers in the world, Ueli always seems to be working on some interesting projects. He has been rather quiet for awhile now, so I suspect he's been working out the logistics of his next big expedition. Perhaps he'll be heading back to the Himalaya in the spring. Considering the events that took place on Everest in 2013 when he, Simone Moro, and Jonathan Griffith got into a very public brawl with the Sherpas, it would be good to see him go back. At the time, a lot of harsh words were said, but it seems that the hard feelings have mellowed some.

To read more of Ueli's thoughts on these topics, and others, click here.

Winter Climbs 2014: ExWeb Talks To Simone Moro About His Plans

As the winter climbing season inches closer, there is more and more intrigue surrounding the plans of Italian climber Simone Moro. As a veteran climber who has put up first winter ascents on three Himalayan peaks, it is not unusual for Moro to be planning a big climb during the coldest, harshest season of the year. But this year Simone is keeping his cards close to the vest, and has not yet revealed his plans. We do know however, that he does not intend to attempt Nanga Parbat or K2, the only two remaining 8000 meter peaks to be climbed in winter. Recently, ExWeb caught up with Moro, as he shared some thoughts on the expeditions that will be taking place beginning in just a few weeks.

In the interview, Simone talks about the re-emergence of winter expeditions on the big peaks, and the Polish squads returning to prominence in that area. ExWeb credits Moro for reinvigorating winter climbs, but as you would expect, Simone says that he is happy to see others join him on the big mountain quests. He also reminds the interviewer that while he isn't going to K2 or Nanga Parbat, he still has some big plans for the winter ahead.

One of Simone's favorite climbing partners is Denis Urubko, who will be focused on K2 this winter. When asked why Moro did not join his old friend, he reiterated the now often-shared story about his wife having a bad dream about him dying on K2. She asked him not to climb that mountain in the winter, and he agreed. So it would seem that if K2 is to be summited during the harshest season of all, it will be by someone other than Simone.

Other topics that are discussed in the interview include Moro's thoughts on competition in high altitude mountaineering, what approach he would take to climbing K2 in the winter, his ideal team size for winter expedition, and some of the logistical differences between climbing in the winter vs. the summer. He also shares some thoughts on avoiding frostbite at high altitude, the chances of future shutdowns like the one on Everest this past spring, and much more.

If you're interested in high altitude mountaineering, particularly in the winter, than this is a good interview from a man who is extremely experienced in both areas. Simone is one of the best mountaineers in the business, and it will be interesting to hear about his winter plans this season. He says those plans remain confidential, so for now we'll jus have to wait. I expect we'll hear something definitive in the next few weeks, and then we'll be following Moro's efforts throughout the expedition, no matter where it takes him.

ExWeb Interviews Steve Jones of Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions

With the 2014 Antarctic season quickly approaching, it will soon be time to ramp up coverage of the men and women who will be skiing to the South Pole this year, or exploring some other little known region of Antarctica. Ahead of the start of that busy period on the frozen continent, ExWeb has posted an interesting interview with Steve Jones, one of the main points of contact for expeditions at Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE) about the rules and regulations for traveling at the bottom of the world.

In the interview, Jones addresses a number of topics, including the use of drones in the Antarctic, the requirements for carrying not one, but two, satellite phones, and why other replacement devices won't always suffice. He also talks about the challenges that skiers face on their way to the South Pole, as their gear breaks down and deteriorates over time – something that hasn't changed in a hundred years, when the first expeditions to the Pole were finally completed.

Jones, who is a veteran Base Camp manager and guide in the Antarctica, also offers some good tips for those considering an expedition to the world's coldest, windiest, driest, and highest desert. He stresses the importance of planning, working closely with ALE, and the challenges of adapting to fluid situations as things inevitably go wrong. Steve also offers tips on getting funded, and how ALE can provide advice and even gear for those who need it.

Finally, the ALE point man also talks about the company's new trip to Mt. Sidley, the tallest volcano in Antarctica. This was the point of another story earlier int he week, and you can find out more about it here.

As the fall climbing season in the Himalaya comes to an end, the focus of the adventure world will turn to Antarctica once again. It will be interesting to see how many people will be embarking on expeditions to the South Pole this year, and if there will be any unique, unusual stories to tell.

Audio Interview: The Adventure Magazine Interviews Levison Wood

A few weeks back I gave a couple of plugs to a new radio program entitled The Adventure Magazine with Monroe and Gigi. Each week, it is hosted by my friend Julian Monroe Fisher, and his wife Gigi. They talk about all manner of topics, including exploration, gear, adventure travel, and so much more. Each week, they also have an interview with a prominent guest, which gives listeners an opportunity to learn about an expedition or adventurer first hand. This week, they interviewed Levison Wood of Walking the Nile fame. As you probably know, Lev wrapped up his attempt to walk the entire length of the Nile River a few weeks back, and while he was in Cairo, he took some time to talk with Monroe and Gigi. In the interview, which you can listen to below, he talks about the journey, his missing miles in South Sudan, the death of Matthew Powers, and much more. Definitely a good interview, and if you want to hear more from The Adventure Magazine, all of the back episodes are available on the show's website.

Reinhold Messner Interviewed on the Eve of his 70th Birthday

German journalist Stefan Nestler, who always does an excellent job of covering the world of mountaineering and other outdoor sports, has interviewed Reinhold Messner on the eve of his 70th birthday. The Italian climbing legend, who is the first to climb all 14 8000-meter peaks, amongst a number of other feats, will reach that milestone tomorrow, and indications are that he is both philosophical and pragmatic about his advancing years.

When asked how he'll celebrate his birthday, Messner says he'll have a private party with close friends, where he'll invite them to bivouac with him under the stars one last time. He says it will be the last night that he spends in a sleeping back outside, which is a surprise for a man who has spent a lot of nights outside over the course of his life.

Nestler asks Messner about his level of happiness at this point in his life, how he spends his time in his private castle, and what his goals are for the next decade of his life. To that Messner says he'll concentrate on his mountaineering museum, ensuring that it has a lasting legacy beyond his lifetime, and that he'd like to work on some films, in addition to his farms.

Perhaps more importantly, Reinhold discusses his thoughts on Carlos Soria still climbing 8000 meter peaks at the age of 75, how the events on Everest this past spring will impact climbing there, and his advice for young mountaineers heading to the mountains today. He closes the interview by discussing the state of his own personal climbing ambitions, saying that he still routinely goes above 6000 meters (19,685 feet), and actually feels better at that altitude than he does in normal life. He says that might serve as incentive for him to visit Nepal more regularly over the next decade, as the altitude seems to make him feel better. He is quick to point out however, that he has no intention of climbing the big mountains again, adding "I don't want to die in the mountains."

This is another intriguing and insightful interview with Messner, who is always an interesting guy. I like that he doesn't hold back on his thoughts and opinions, and is always happy to share his perspectives. At the age of 70, clearly his best days of climbing are behind him. But I'd venture to guess he could still teach today's mountaineers a thing or two, and many of them would not be where they are today if it weren't for Messner breaking trail for them. On this milestone birthday, I salute his accomplishments. Happy birthday Reinhold!

Curious Animal Interviews Mountaineering Legend Reinhold Messner

On the eve of his 70th birthday, mountaineering legend Reinhold Messner sat down with adventure travel magazine Curious Animal for an eye-opening interview. As usual, Messner has strong opinions on life, death, and the mountains, and he isn't shy about sharing those thoughts with the world.

In the interview, Messner talks about the challenges he sought as a younger man, both in rock climbing and high altitude mountaineering. He also discusses how testing your own limits helps you to learn about yourself, and your own possibilities when faced with survival in extreme environments. The Italian climber, who many believe to be the greatest mountaineer of all time, emphasizes that danger is an essential element of mountaineering, and without the chance of death, it just doesn't hold the same appeal. He says that mountaineering is "...not a sport. It’s a play with nature, a serious play with nature."

Messner goes on to discuss his preference for climbing and traveling solo, as it allows him more freedom to do what he wants, on his own terms. He also touches on whether or not climbing is "worth it" considering the number of people who have died in the mountains over the years, and shares his approach to an expedition prior to setting out.

One of the more interesting aspects of the interview are when Messner gives a nod to several of the exceptional young climbers today. For instances, he mentions David Lama's free climb of the Cerro Torre in Patagonia as an amazing feat that he could never have accomplished, and he calls Ueli Steck's solo-summit of Annapurna one of the most impressive climbs in recent memory.  He also salutes Sandy Allan and Rick Allen for their impressive first ascent of the Mazeno Ridge on Nanga Parbat from a few years back, calling it one of the greatest, and most intelligent, ascents of the past few years.

Finally, Messner talks about his ongoing efforts in the mountains, which have slowed down in recent years, but his love for remote places keeps driving him to go back. He shares his thoughts on the Yeti, and mentions his efforts at setting up a charitable foundation, following in the footsteps of Edmund Hillary, who he says he respects "more for his social work than for his climbing." He wraps up the interview by discussing his time in office as a politician, which seemed to leave him a bit frustrated by the process.

All in all, a good interview from a man whose reputation and legacy are certainly secure. For me, Messner is indeed the greatest mountaineer of all time, and I always enjoy reading his take on climbing, adventure, and life in general. He remains a very interesting man, and I'm not sure there will ever be another one like him.

Esquire Interviews 5-Time Everest Summiteer Melissa Arnot

Esquire magazine has posted an interview with Melissa Arnot, one of the most accomplished and respected mountain guides on the planet. For those who aren't familiar with Arnot's resume, she has summited Everest five times, and has topped out on Rainer more than 100 times. She has had multiple expeditions to Aconcagua, Cotopaxi, and Kilimanjaro, and she's even been up Denali once. In short, she's incredibly accomplished in the mountains, and it is great to see her get some mainstream publicity.

Calling her "the most badass woman in mountain climbing," Esquire talks to Melissa about how she prepares to climb Everest. Arnot says that her workout routine involves 4-5 strength and endurance training, mixed with Yoga, several times a week. This year, she even added training for a marathon to the mix, which she ran right before she left for Nepal. She also discusses how she dealt with the disappointment of the season being can called, saying she returned home, and went on a long bike ride from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park, and back again, covering some 700 miles in the process. Arnot says it still didn't feel like it was enough to get her over not being able to climb.

Speaking on the tragic accident that claimed the lives of 16 Sherpas on Everest this past spring, Melissa says that she thinks continuing the expeditions would have helped a lot of people to heal. She says she understands the plight of the Sherpas, and their demands for better pay/insurance, but she also feels they were "shooting themselves in the foot" by closing down the mountain. She emphasizes that the season didn't end because the mountain was too dangerous, but because of a political fight between the Sherpas and the Nepali government.

Melissa also notes that she is returning to Nepal this fall with the Juniper Fund, a nonprofit that she started. She has been raising money to help the families of some of the Sherpas who lost their lives on Everest, and other Himalayan peaks, and will be visiting them to start delivering those funds.


As I mentioned above, it is always great to see someone that we follow on a regular basis here on The Adventure Blog to get some mainstream recognition. This interview is mostly a collection of quotes from Melissa, but they do help to convey her story, and her feelings for life in the mountains, and the tragic set of events that took place in Nepal this season. But, since this is the mainstream press, there are a few inaccuracies in the story. For instance, the writer says that Arnot holds the record for the most summits of Everest by a female climber. Melissa herself would tell you that that is not true. Yes, she has climbed the mountain more times than any other western woman, but Lakpa Sherpa is believed to have six summits, one more than Arnot. If things had gone according to plan, Melissa would have tried to summit twice this past spring, earning her the distinction of holding the record. As it stands, she'll go back next year to add to her total.

The writer also describes a climb up Everest as "trek" at one point, which is hardly the case. True, you can trek to Everest Base Camp, but I don't know that I've ever heard of the climb to the top referred that way. She also mistakenly referred to Glacier National Park as "Glacial," which may sound like I'm nitpicking, but I would expect the writer to at least get that correct.

Still, Melissa does most of the heavy lifting, and it is good to get her read on the situation in Nepal, and her approach to high altitude mountaineering. The article is worth a read for that alone.

Alastair Humphreys Talks "Microadventures" with Adventure Journal

A couple of months back I reviewed Alastair Humphrey's new book Microadventures: Local Discoveries, Great Escapes, and found it to be a great read for anyone looking to add a regular dose of adventure to their daily lives. Over the past few years, Alastair, who has quite a few big adventures under his belt, has been championing the idea of microadventures, which are short, cheap, and easy to accomplish adventures that are close to home. The idea is that there are plenty of great things to do right in our backyard for those times when we can't be off on some globe-spanning expedition. With a little creativity, and an open mind, we'll find that there are adventures all around us.

Recently, Alastair sat down with the Adventure Journal to talk about adventure in all of its forms, including the microadventure. In a 10-question interview, Humphrey's talks about how adventure has evolved over the past 200 years, and how it has changed for him personally over the past decade. He also talks about how the concept of the microadventure has taken on a life of its own, particularly as it grew into a hashtag on social media. Alastair goes on to to reveal his toughest adventure yet, the gear he can't live without, and what its like to turn adventure into a job.

I have been saying for some time now that I really like Alastair's idea of promoting microadventures. We all get caught up in the routine of our daily lives, and it is easy to get stuck in a rut. But just by changing up your schedule a bit, and finding new ways to get outside and enjoy the world around us, you can add a dose of adventure to your life. That can have a major impact on how you live, and open your eyes to all the possibilities that exist around us.

Of course, we all enjoy those big adventures that send us off to some remote corner of the globe. Those are fantastic escapes from regular life as well. But we don't always have the time, or the money, to take those kinds of trips. A microadventure sprinkled into the routine on a regular basis won't necessarily replace that kind of escape, but it will at least provide a dose of excitement that can continue to fuel your passions while you wait for the next big adventure to come along.

Here at The Adventure Blog I tend to cover the really big expeditions that are taking place all over the world. But, I also feel that adventure is where we find it, and anything we can do to promote others to pursue their passions, whatever they may be, is a good thing. That's what microadventrues are all about, and that's why they can play a much larger role in our lives than their "micro" name implies.

Go find your adventure, big or small.

CNN Interviews Lance Armstrong

Former seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong continues to be a polarizing figure, both amongst cycling fans and the general public, with whom his story took on a larger-than-life aspect that transcended the sport that made him famous. Since admitting to using performance enhancing drugs more than a year-and-a-half ago, Armstrong has tried to get on with his life as best he can. Over that period, he has lost all of his sponsors, been dismissed from Livestrong, the organization that he founded, and publicly vilified on a number of occasions. In a new interview with CNN, Armstrong talks about life in the aftermath, and where he hopes to be headed in the future.

The interview with Armstrong is just the first of a two part series that takes a look at whether or not redemption is an option for Lance. In it, Armstrong says that he never encounters vitriol from the general public in his day-to-day life. He maintains that not a single person has ever said anything to him directly about the scandal, even though he has sensed that some have wanted to from time to time. He also notes that the characteristics that made him a great cyclist – the drive to win, the intensity, etc. – have also been part of his undoing in the wake of the revelation that he used PED's while riding in the Tour. That combative attitude served him well as a professional athlete, but not so much when he has tried to reconstruct his public image.

Over the months since he admitted to doping, Lance has attempted to apologize, both to the general public and to those that he hurt along the way. That includes the likes of Greg LeMond, the former Tour de France winner who doggedly accused Armstrong of using PED's, even when the rest of the world was willing to believe he was clean. LeMond has not accepted Armstrong's calls. On the other hand, Frankie and Betsy Andreu, former friends of Armstrong who spoke out about his use of performance enhancing drugs, did accept his call. Lance says that his first apology was to Betsy, and she accepted, but now he feels that she has revoked that acceptance, and continues to carry a grade. While combatting all those accusations over the years, Armstrong was vicious and unrelenting in his counter attacks on those who questioned his story. That is something I'm sure is almost impossible to forgive.



Armstrong goes on to say that he won't pass the blame on to anyone else. He is responsible for his actions, and is owning up to the decisions that he made. He also says that he's ready to re-emerge in the public eye, although in a more understated fashion. He wants to relaunch the Lance Armstrong Foundation, his original cancer-fighting organization, and he is planning to write a book to tell more of his side of the story. Whether or not anyone wants to read it remains to be seen.

The interview is a long, and comprehensive one, and a good read for cycling fans, or those who have ever had an interest in Lance's story. He is still a complicated figure, and it is often hard to reconcile feeling for what he has done. But, Armstrong recognizes this, and seems like a man who just wants to set the record straight, try to make some amends, and get back to doing the the things he loves.

The second part of CNN's Armstrong story takes a look at the people that he stepped on as he was on his way to the top, and again when he came tumbling down. People like the Andreus, who say Armstrong still isn't coming completely clean with his story. Betsy says that she and Lance had arranged to meet, so he could not only apologize in person, but he could look them in the eyes, and hash out some of the things he did and said. But she claims Armstrong cancelled that meeting at the last minute, and has spun the story to make it seem like she was the one who rebuffed him.

Greg LeMond talks a bit about his side of the story as well. When he first spoke out against Armstrong, he was helping to design bikes at Trek – a major sponsor of Lance. Trek would abruptly end their teal with LeMond which would put the former Tour champ – the only American to be recognized with that title – in serious jeopardy. With his business in ruins, and Armstrong's lawyers coming after him with a full-court press, LeMond faced dramatic financial problems. That has all changed now, and he is weighing his options for suing Armstrong as well.

The gist of this second article is whether or not Lance can be forgiven for his bullying tactics. For years he went after those who spoke out against him, only for us to find out later that what they said was true. I've often said that while I was not surprised by the doping – it was part of the culture of cycling during Lance's era – it was his behavior of attacking those who spoke up that disturbed me the most. He was heartless in his attacks, often running careers, and those are the actions that are most unforgivable.

Where the Lance Armstrong story goes from here remains to be seen. I applaud him for his efforts to get his life back on track, and continue to do good things to combat cancer. But I'm not sure he'll ever be able to redeem himself completely. Lance Armstrong is a determined guy however, and I would never count him out of anything.

It should be noted, that the Livestrong Foundation has also donated $50 million to the University of Texas to help fund a new cancer research unit there. It is the organization's biggest donation since Armstrong left, and it is a sign of his continued legacy as well. Something that should offer at least a little hope for forgiveness.