Showing posts with label National Geographic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label National Geographic. Show all posts

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.

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: After the Avalanche - Corey Richards Talks About Life with PTSD

Last week I shared the powerful story of Cory Richards, a mountaineer and Nat Geo photographer who suffers from PTSD in such a way that has actually brought a cycle of self-destructive behavior to his life. The PTSD manifested itself after he was nearly killed in an avalanche while climbing Gasherbrum II a few years back, and it has made his life a struggle ever since. In this video, we get to see and hear Cory talk about these challenges and the demons he has faced along the way. It is a sobering and honest look at what it is like to live a life of adventure but still not be able to escape the things that are haunting you.

Video: A Tribute to Discomfort with Cory Richards

Earlier today I shared a link to a new article from National Geographic that discusses the challenges that mountaineer and adventure photographer Cory Richards has faced throughout his life. In that story, Richards shares some very personal revelations about the demons that have stalked him over the past few years. In this video, we get a different look at this man, who has created a lasting legacy both on and off the mountain. Here, he talks about the suffering and discomfort that comes along with pursuing your passions in the wilderness. Something that a lot of us can relate to as we go out to explore the world around us.

Himalaya 2017: Everest Summiteer Cory Richards Shares Intimate Challenges of His Life

In the mountaineer world Cory Richards is known as quite a success story. He is an accomplished climber and adventure photographer who has topped out on some of the world's tallest peaks, including Everest. Back in 2011, he was even part of the first team to complete a winter ascent of Gasherbrum II, joining Simone Moro and Denis Urubko on the summit. To all outside appearances, Richards looked like a guy who had the world at his feet, knocking off tall peaks in remote parts of the world and delivering some of the most stunning images of those places. But, as it turns out, he was also battling a lot of demons, which hid just below the surface threatening to bring it all crashing down.

In a new article for National Geographic, Richards opens up about the challenges he has faced in his personal life, revealing that he first ran into trouble as a young teenager who began using drugs and found himself homeless on the street at the age of 13. That would alienate him from his family for a time and send him on a downward spiral that would leave a lasting impression on any young person. But, he would eventually crawl out of that situation and reunite with his family.

Years later, while climbing Gasherbrum II, he would get caught in an avalanche, narrowly avoiding death. Understandably that would lead to Richards developing a case of PTSD that would begin to haunt him on and off the mountain. He started to drink, he battled addiction issues, he got married but struggled to stay faithful. The difficulties continued to mount, even as his career really started to take off. Eventually, it would all come crashing down. He lost his wife, he left the multimedia studio he helped found, he turned away from friends, and it looked like everything would implode.

Then, last year, climber Adrian Ballinger reached out to Richards to see if he would be interested in climbing Everest together. The two men traveled to Nepal and went to work on the highest mountain on the planet, using social media in unique ways to document their climb. On summit day, Ballinger was forced to turn back, but Richards continued upward, reaching the summit alone. It was then that he knew he had to confront the demons that he faced and get his life together.

In the article, Cory shares some very personal stories about his internal battles, how he got to the lowest point in his life, and what it has been like to crawl back out of that spot again. He gives us a stark, honest look at himself with the hopes that his story might help others, even as sharing the truth helps him too. It is an interest read and a cautionary tale for sure.

Check it on in its entirety here.

Video: This Amazing Video of a Viking Voyage is Made Entirely Out of Paper

The title of this post pretty much says it all. This incredible video tells the story of a wild Viking voyage, which is cool enough in and of itself. But, even more impressive is the fact that the entire clip is made from paper. You'll have to remind yourself of that throughout the short film, which is just a lot of fun from start to finish. Enjoy!

Video: Searching for the Perfect Shot with Wildlife Photographer Michel d’Oultremont

What does it take for a photographer to get the perfect wildlife shot? Patience. Lots and lots of patience. In this video we head out into the wilderness with wildlife photographer Michel d’Oultremont of Belgium. He sometimes spends days at a time in the wild hoping to get that elusive image that no one else has seen before. It is often frustrating, demanding, and even boring work, but that moment where his patience finally pays off can be exhilarating and extremely fulfilling.

Nat Geo Lists 9 Oscar-Nominated Films to Inspire Adventure

If you're a movie buff like I am, you probably already know that the Academy Awards show takes place this weekend, with golden statues being handed out to the best actor, actress, director, film, and so on. While many of us will be tuning in on Sunday night to see who takes top honors (the odds favor La La Land), others will no doubt be wondering what all of the hoopla is about, and why I'm even talking about it on The Adventure Blog in the first place. Well, the truth is, great films can inspire us in many ways, including sending us off on amazing journeys and seeking real-life adventures of our own. As a kid, I longed to visit some of the far flung places that my favorite actors were traversing through on the big screen, and when I got older I've managed to see some of those locations myself. Now, as we prepare for the Oscars to be handed out this weekend, National Geographic has posted a list of nine films that have received Academy Award nominations that will inspire you to go on an adventure as well.

Some of the places that make the list don't seem particularly adventurous. For instance, the aforementioned La La Land takes place in Los Angeles, while Danzel Washington's Fences is set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Of course, those places still have a lot to offer visitors in terms of culture, history, food, drinks, and even outdoor attractions too. But, some of the other destinations on the list may feed your need for adventure better. For instance, the locations used for shooting the movie Arrival are found near Bozeman, Montana; one of my favorite places on the planet. Similarly, the critically acclaimed Hell or High Water takes place in West Texas, not far from the spectacular, but seldom visited, Big Bend National Park.

As usual with a list of this kind, I won't spoil all of the entires. Needless to say, they offer some interesting places to visit for those who like to travel. In some cases, watching the films alone will inspire you to want to go there. La La Land is lauded for being a visual love letter to LA for instance.

Every one of the films on Nat Geo's list are from this year's crop of Oscar contenders. But, it would also be fun to put together a similar list of classic films from the past as well. For instance, Lawrence of Arabia served as the inspiration for me to visit Jordan, while Raiders of the Lost Ark sparked an interest in Egypt as well. Seeing Rick wander the streets of Casablanca in the film of the same name will certainly lure fans of that movie to Morocco, while Out of Africa is a good way to convince anyone that going on safari might be a good idea.

What are the films that have inspired you to see various parts of the world? What movies have you intrigued about some place you haven't gone yet? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Video: How the U.S. National Parks Are Attempting to Lure More Minority Visitors

The national parks in the U.S. are some of the most dramatic and breathtaking landscapes found anywhere on the planet, and as such they draw millions of visitors each year. Unfortunately, most of those visitors are white, with few minorities sprinkled in here and there. But the Park Service and its partners are trying to change that by creating a more inclusive atmosphere for everyone. In this video, we see how those efforts are being conducted with the hopes of getting more people of color to experience the outdoors as well.


Just in Time for Valentine's Day Nat Geo Lists the 17 Most Romantic Destinations in the World

World travelers listen up! If you're looking for a place to visit with your significant other, National Geographic is here to help. Just in time for Valentine's Day (Yes, that's today fellas'!) the experts at Nat Geo have given us a list of the 17 most romantic destinations on Earth

As you can imagine, the places that made the cut for this list are all pretty spectacular for a number of reasons. Most offer amazing views, some have a fantastic mix of history and culture, and pretty much all of them have an ambience about the setting that makes them special in very unique ways. You'll recognize some of the usual suspects, but others are a bit more off the beaten path and lesser known, which gives them an allure all their own.

So which destinations earned a spot on this list? As usual, I won't spoil the fun of finding out for yourself, but some of the highlights include the French Riviera, Bruges, Belgium, and Hamilton Island in Australia. Of course, the images that accompany the description of the places are all outstanding and will only increase your desire to visit these places even more. And as usual with any far-flung destination, there should be plenty of adventure to be had along the way too.

The 17 romantic destinations were paired down from a much longer list that is part of National Geographic book The World's Most Romantic Destinations, which is filled with even more suggestions of where to go and what to see with your Valentine. Speaking for myself, quite frankly I can't think of anyone I'd rather explore the world with. 

View the entire list here

Video: Thru Hiking the Grand Canyon - Thirst and Threats in the Godscape (Part 3)

Today we have the third – and final – video in the National Geographic series that follows photographer Pete McBride and journalist Kevin Fedarko on 650 mile (1046 km) thru-hike of the Grand Canyon, as they explore the threats that that place now faces. They've discovered that amongst those threats are environmental issues, climate change, encroaching commercial interests, and more. As their journey nears and end, the two men face a challenge of their own – potentially running out of water in a remote corner of the national park. Find out how their expedition wraps up in this installment of the series.

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

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

National Geographic Announces People's Choice Adventurer of the Year

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

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

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

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

Congratulations Mira! This honor is well deserved.


10 Compact Cameras Specifically Built for Travelers

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

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

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

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

The Best Travel Photography of 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full story here.

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

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

Video: Ultralight Camping - How to Minimize Your Pack Weight

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video: Explore the Underwater Kaleidoscope of Cortes Banks

Located 100 miles off the coast of San Diego, Cortes Banks has become a refuge for a stunning array of wildlife. In this video, we travel to that place, and dive with underwater explorer Brian Skerry, who takes us into this amazing place of vibrant colors and beautiful sea creatures. It is an extraordinary spot that few people ever get the chance to see, but you can spend three minutes there with his video.