Showing posts with label skiing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label skiing. Show all posts

Video: Skier Falls into a Crevasse, Records it All on GoPro

Ever wonder what its like to fall into a crevasse? If so, this video will help quell that curiosity. It features skier Jamie Mullner, who fell into a big crevasse while skiing this past December. Fortunately for him he had his GoPro recording and everything turned out okay, but it is a bit of a scary situation, especially as his friends work to find him and get him out. Definitely a place that most of us want to avoid. Check it out below.

North Pole 2017: Still Waiting in Resolute Bay

Just a quick update from Resolute Bay in Canada today. That's where the two teams planning on skiing to the North Pole continue to wait for a good weather window to begin their journey. The three men (and one dog!) who collectively make up these expeditions have been in town for more than week now, and continue to wait patiently for the start of their adventures, each knowing that each passing day could make things just a bit more difficult.

Martin Murray, who will be traveling with a dog named Sky, hasn't updated his status since last week, at which time he had sorted and weighed his gear in preparation for departure. But, The Last Great March team of Sebastian Copeland and Mark George shared news of their status yesterday. With nothing to do but wait, the two men retrieved their sleds from the aircraft and made use of their time by pulling them around for two hours in preparation for what they'll encounter out on the ice. Those training sessions will help them to get prepared for the long grueling days they'll face once they are dropped off at their starting point – either on Cape Discovery or Ward Hunt Island, which hopefully will happen sometime soon. They are poised and ready to get on the plane once they are given the green light.

Unfortunately for both squads, each day that they delay is like a clock ticking away. The Arctic ice now melts at a much faster pace than it did in the past, which means that while it is now at its thickest point, it will also be unsteady and constantly breaking apart. That makes their journey all the harder and will have a significant impact on their eventual success or failure.

At this point, it is unclear when they'l be flown out to their drop off points. As is usual with these kinds of expeditions, Mother Nature sets the schedule. Everyone involved will be watching the weather closely, and as soon as they see an opportunity to depart, they'll go. That could come as early as today, or it could be another week. For now, they'll just have to play the waiting game.

ExWeb Interviews North Pole Skiers Ahead of the Start of the Season

Traditionally, the end of February brings the start of the Arctic Expedition season, although over the past couple of years conditions at the top of the world have prevented anyone from covering the full distance to the North Pole. Not since Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters completed that journey back in 2014 no one else been able to repeat it. As climate change impacts that part of the world, the Arctic ice gets thinner, more challenging, or completely nonexistent. This year, there are two teams who will be attempting that very difficult journey, and over the course of the past week or so, ExWeb has interviewed members of both squads. 

Last week, the site posted an interview with Sebastian Copeland, who along with Mark George, will be one of the teams heading to the North Pole this year. During their chat, Copeland discussed the logistics of skiing to the top of the world, how long they expect to be out on the ice (50+ days), how he and George trained for the upcoming expedition, and his thoughts on the record breaking warmth that has hit the Arctic recently and how it will impact their journey. 

Similarly, the ExWeb interview with Martin Murray discusses his partner as well, who in this case happens to be a dog named Sky. The canine explorer will help Murray pull a sled and will provide companionship on the long days out on the ice. He also talks about logistics, when he'll start (after February 27) and potentially end (first week of May), how long he's been planning this expedition, and how a major expedition works when you have a dog along with you. 

Both interviews are very interesting for anyone who is interested not only in North Pole expeditions, but the logistics of exploration in general. The two teams will set off at the end of February and will begin at either Ward Hunt Island or Cape Discovery in Canada. We'll of course be following these journeys closely once they get underway. 

Video: Sliding Fire - Skiing and Snowboarding on an Active Volcano in the South Pacific

We've seen a lot of skiing and snowboarding films over the years, but none like this one. In this short documentary we travel to Vanuatu in the South Pacific where we join freeriders Xavier de le Rue, Victor De Le Rue, and Sam Smoothy as they test their skills on the side of an active volcano in a place where there is no snow. As you would expect, it turns out to be quite an adventure in a place that looks like paradise on Earth.

Two Explorers Launch Arctic Extreme Expedition in Canada

Two ultrarunners are about to embark on a challenge expedition through the Canadian Arctic to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday. Today, ultrarunners Ray Zahab and Stefano Gregoretti set out on an adventure that will take them through three separate regions of the country, covering approximately 1000 km (621 miles) during the coldest, harshest conditions of the year.

Dubbed the Arctic Extreme Expedition, the two men will begin their journey in the Torngat Mountains of northern Labrador and Quebec, where they will traverse this amazing landscape – Canada's newest national park – on foot. The endurance runners will be running and fast packing their way through the wilderness, hauling all of their needed supplies behind them on sleds as they go. Along the way, they'll face Canada's brutal winter weather conditions, snow, winds, cold temperatures, and perhaps the occasional polar bear.

From here, Ray and Stefano will head to Unavut to traverse Baffin Island on skis. Once again, they'll carry their gear behind them on sleds, hauling all of their needed equipment and supplies with them as they go. During the heart of the winter, they'll face extreme weather once again, as well as very long nights and incredibly short days as they traverse one of the most remote and rugged places imaginable.

For stage three of the expedition, the two men will head to the Northwest Territories where they'll ride the length of the Arctic Ice Road on custom made fat bikes. During that stage of the journey they expect to face temperatures as cold at -60ºC/-76ºF as they travel along on a route covered in ice that will require studded tires just to keep them upright.

The expedition is set to get underway today – Feb 1 – with Ray and Stefano hitting the trail this morning. You'll be able to follow their progress – which will include live updates most days – on the team's official website for this adventure. If you like to follow challenging expeditions through extremely cold places, you won't want to miss this one.

Some Final Thoughts on the 2017 Winter XGames

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter XGames 2017 Day 2: A Well Oiled Machine

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The XGames Bring Winter Fun and Excitement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heading to Aspen for the Winter XGames

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full story here.

Antarctica 2016: Wrapping Things Up on the Frozen Continent

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Video: Kite Skiing in Alaska

If you've read my updates on the progress of the explorers in Antarctica this season, you've no doubt seen a few mentions of kite skiers out on the ice. What is kite skiing actually? It is the use of a large kite to catch the wind, and pull you along across the snow and ice. If wind speeds are good, it can provide a lot of speed, allowing skiers to cover surprising distances in a short amount of time.

In this video we travel to another frozen landscape, as we follow skier Damien Leroy to Alaska where he does some kite-skiing of his own. In the two-minute clip you'll get a chance to see how kite-skiing works, and just how fast it can propel someone along. The results just might surprise you.

Video: Nordic Skiing in Norway with Karoline

Meet Karoline. She isn't a world-class athlete with a bushel of sponsors. She's simply a woman who loves the outdoors, particularly when she is cross-country skiing in her home country of Norway. In this video, we join her out on the trail in one of the most beautiful winter landscape you could ever hope to see. If you've never thought about Nordic skiing before, this clip will certainly leave you intrigued and wanting to try it yourself. Enjoy.

Antarctica 2016: Two More Skiers Close in on the Pole

With time starting to run short at the bottom of the world, the teams skiing to the South Pole this season – and possibly beyond – are starting to feel the pinch. Most still have plenty of time to reach their final destination, but some are now altering their plans. With just three weeks to go until the season wraps up, it is crunch time on the Frozen Continent, and we should expect more arrivals at 90ºS shortly. In fact, two of the explorers should be at that point today.

First up, Emma Kelty expected to arrive at the Pole either yesterday or today, but she hasn't posted an update on where she is at just yet. She was closing in on her destination a few days back, but elected to slow down and savor her final days on the ice instead. Now, she should be at the Amundsen-Scott Research Station, although we're still awaiting word confirming that arrival.

If you've been following Emma's expedition you may be asking yourself why these are her "final days" on the ice. That's because she has decided to pull the plug on her efforts to ski back to Hercules Inlet. Because of a late start to the season – mostly due to weather delays – she simply doesn't have enough time to cover the 1285 km (700 miles) to get back to her starting point. On top of that, she has been battling a lung infection, which she has recovered from now, but it also served to slow her down some. Add in the fact that her supplies are dwindling too, and you can understand why she has given up on the idea of the return trip. Hopefully she is resting comfortably at the Pole right now, and awaiting a return flight to Union Glacier.

Emma isn't the only skier who is closing in on the South Pole. Mike Horn has made short work of his kite-ski journey, finding favorable winds over the past few days. Yesterday he covered 170 km (105 miles) alone, and is now within the last degree. That means that if he has any kind of wind today, he should arrive at the Pole in short order. Of course, this is just the midway point of his expedition, as he'll continue on to the coast where his shim – the Pangea – will be waiting to pick him up. Unlike most of the other skiers, Mike isn't working on a set timeline because he has his own lift off the continent. That said, if he continues at his current pace, it won't take him long to reach the coast again and continue on his Pole 2 Pole journey.


Finally, the Reedy Glacier Team of Keith Tuffley, Rob Smith, and Eric Phillips are also nearing the South Pole, although they still have a couple of days to go. The trio of explorers have opened up a new route to 90ºS by becoming the first people to traverse the glacier. They are also within the last degree of the Pole, and now expect to finish next Monday, January 9. The final days aren't going to be easy however, as the three men report bitterly cold conditions as the near the finish line.

That's it for now. I'll post another update sometime next week as we check in to see where everyone is at. The return skiers should be heading back at top speed now, while others will be wrapping up their expeditions altogether. It is a busy time as we near the end of the season.

Gear Closet: Dynafit Cho Oyu Down Jacket

If there is one piece of gear that every outdoor enthusiast needs to have in their closet for winter, it is probably a good down jacket. This is the insulating layer that keeps us warm when the temperature starts to plummet, and it plays a vital role in allowing us to play outdoors longer, even when the weather is less than favorable.

Over the past couple of weeks – as the temperature has been on a roller coaster ride where I live – I've had the chance to test out a new down jacket from Dynafit that I've found to be exceptionally warm and comfortable. In fact, I'd say that the Cho Oyu Jacket is easily amongst the best that I've ever worn, and if you're in the market for something new in this category you'll want to have it on your list.

Made with a durable ripstop fabric covered in a DWR finish, and insulated with DownTek hydrophobic down, this jacket is built for use in a wide variety of conditions. In fact, I've worn in cold temperatures, freezing rain, freezing fog, drizzle, flurries, and even outright downpours, and it has performed fantastically in all cases. The water-resistant down never loses its loft, and continues to perform well even as the jacket gets wet, although the DWR coating also plays a big role in ensuring that you stay warm and dry no matter what's happening around you. 

With its athletic cut, the Cho Oyu – named for the 8000 meter peak – hugs the wearers body snugly, which helps in keeping warm air trapped inside. But, at the same time, the jacket doesn't impede movement in any way, allowing you to stay fully in control on the slopes or on the trail in the backcountry. I personally hate feeling like my layers are restricting my motion in any way, but with this jacket I don't have to worry about that. In fact, aside from perhaps the new Mountain Hardwear StretchDown puffy, this might be the best jacket I've worn in terms of not getting in the way of your natural athletic motion. 

Other nice features of the Cho Oyu include a comfortable hood that is helmet compatible, and an adjustable hem that makes it easy to adjust the fit. This comes in especially handy for keeping cold winds and snow from reaching the interior of the coat, which is obviously something we all can appreciate. The jacket also has four pockets, including two hand-warming pockets and a zippered chest pocket on the front, and an interior pocket that doubles as a stuff sack when packing for a trip. 

After wearing this jacket in a number of different capacities over the past few weeks, I've come away very impressed with how well it performs in pretty much every capacity. Not only is it very warm, but it is super-comfortable to wear too. On top of that, it is also incredibly durable too, shrugging off wear and tear and with ease. I've also found that it is easy to keep clean too, and does a good job of venting excess heat and moisture when things start to get active. 

One of the aspects of this jacket that has been both pleasant and confounding at the same time are the zippers. On the one hand, they may be the smoothest, easiest pulling zippers I've ever used, but at times I've found myself struggling to get the jacket closed too. That's because the Cho Oyu uses a double-zipper system on the front, which is handy when you want to keep your chest warm, but vent out excess heat at the same time. But, when first closing up the jacket, it can be a bit of a challenge to get things started, in part because of the second zipper. Sometimes it works like a charm, and at other times I find myself working hard to get it seal up properly. After wearing this coat many times, I think I've finally got it down to a science, but it was a bit vexing at first. Most of this challenge probably was the result of user error, but it is important to point this out nonetheless. 

The Dynafit Cho Oyu down jacket is an exceptional piece of gear, and one that I recommend without question. But, it also comes with a steep price tag. The jacket sells for $319.95, which makes it amongst the more expensive coats that I've reviewed. That probably puts it out of reach for the average consumer, but if you're an outdoor athlete who doesn't want to compromise performance in the winter, this jacket should be in your closet. It is a fantastic layer for skiers, snowboarders snowshoers, or anyone else who likes to play outdoors in the cold weather. Yes, it is an expensive piece of gear. But it is also worth every damn penny. 

Purchase the Dynafit Cho Oyu at CampSaver.com

Video: The Evolution of Kite-Skiing

If you read my updates from Antarctica with any regularity, you've no doubt seen me mention kite-skiers on more than one occasion. These are explorers who use a large kite and the power of the wind to pull them along across the snow and ice, often at a fairly rapid pace. But, the practice isn't just confined to the frozen continent, as there are kite-skiers found all over the world. This video gives us an idea of how the sport has evolved over time, and why it has become popular with skiers. It is a beautifully shot, short documentary that will leave you impressed with the skills that these skiers possess, and wondering if you're ready to give it a try yourself.

Video: 7 Terrain Tricks From Ski-Mountaineer Greg Hill

In terms of skiing backcountry terrain, there are few people more experienced than Greg Hill. He's the guy that managed to ski 2 million feet (609,600 meters) of vert in a single year. That tells you that he knows a thing or two about surviving treacherous conditions in the mountains. As the ski season really starts to ramp up here in North America (today is the first day of winter after all!), this video arrives to help us be a bit safer out in the snow. It features Greg's 7 terrain tricks to help you get up and down the mountain, and come back home in one piece.

Video: Kilian Jornet Takes on Seven Summits of Romsdalen

We haven't heard much from Spanish mountain runner Kilian Jornet since he returned from his speed attempt on Everest this past fall. But of course we all know he wasn't just standing still and resting on his laurels. In this video, we follow him as he attempts to complete the Seven Summits of Romsdalen in Norway in a single day. This tough 77 km (47.8 mile) route features 9000 meters (29,527 ft) of vertical gain and takes mere mortals like the rest of us the better part of a week to finish, particularly in the winter. Can Kilian conquer the course in record time? You'll have to watch the video below to see how he fares.

Video: Free Skiing Through A Mountain Glacier

It takes a lot to get met o post a ski video, mostly because there are a ton of them out there, they often do very little to distinguish themselves from one another. But, this one is special, so it was definitely worth sharing. It features pro skier Sam Favret as he free skis through the legendary Mer de Glace in the Mont-Blanc region of France. At a bit over three minutes in length, it is pure ski porn, with amazing visuals and some of the best skiing I've seen in a clip in a long time. Really an amazing way to take advantage of the terrain and create something special.

Ice Call - Sam Favret / Backyards Project from PVS COMPANY on Vimeo.