Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Off to Outdoor Retailer!

I've only been home from Japan for two days and already it is time to hit the road once again. This time, I'm making the semi-annual trip back to Salt Lake City to attend the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market gear show. It will be a very busy 4 days, with lots of new products to see, friends to connect with, and meetings to attend. It is always a fun, yet exhausting, few days made all the more challenging this go around thanks to a touch of jet lag.

Visiting Salt Lake City this time will be somewhat bittersweet. The city has been the home of OR for 20 years, but thanks to a dispute over the use and protection of public lands within the state of Utah, the show will now move to Denver, Colorado for the foreseeable future. For those of us who attend the show on a regular basis, the change of venue is not unexpected, although many of us will miss our regular visits to SLC. We plan to make the most of our visit this time and enjoy our favorite restaurants and watering holes one last time.

As usual, I'll be posting updates from the show floor on social media when I can. Those updates will appear on my Twitter feed and on my Facebook page. If you'd like to get a sneak peek at some of the new gear coming our way soon, subscribe to one of those outlets to see some of the things I'll be checking out over the next few days.

I'll be back next week with more news and updates from the outdoor and adventure world.

Video: How Learning to Mountain Bike Brought One Couple Closer Together

If you're reading this blog, you probably already know how rewarding it can be to share outdoor experiences with other people in your life. But, that is something that the couple who are the subject of this video discovered when they decided to learn how to mountain bike together. Graham is a professional alpine climber, while his girlfriend Shannon is a pro ultimate frisbee player. After being together for more than five years, they wanted to find something they could to outside together. That turned out to be mountain biking, which wasn't as easy to pick up as they first thought. The video below is charming, thoughtful, and fun, as we follow these two along the learning curve that comes with picking up a new sport. We've all been there and we can all relate, which only adds to its endearing qualities. Enjoy.

Video: A Rescue on Everest

This past season on Everest a team of highly skilled and trained Sherpas conducted a high altitude rescue of two other climbers – Pakistani Abdul Jabbar Bhatti and guide Sange Sherpa – after finding them near death on the upper slopes of the mountain. The team, at great risk to themselves, made it their mission to get the two mountaineers down safely. The video below shares images and footage from that rescue effort and provides more details to the story. This accompanying article from Nat Geo, delves further into what happened as well. Thankfully, Bhatti and Sange survived the ordeal, narrowly avoiding becoming another statistic on the world's highest peak.

Cotopaxi Presents the Most Popular Hike in All 50 States

Have you ever wondered which trail in your state is the most popular? Are you looking for new places to hike when visiting other places? If so, than outdoor gear manufacturer Cotopaxi has you covered. The company recently posted a new interactive map of the U.S. to its website that offers the most popular option for hikers in each of the 50 states, often with some surprising results. 

To use the map, all you have to do is move your cursor over the individual states. It will then automatically reveal which trail made the cut, along with a bit of information about that route, in the lower left hand corner of the page. The short description is often just enough to get you more intrigued, sending you off to Google to find out more information about any of the trails you may not already be familiar with. 

While the map is interesting and fun, I would've preferred it to have a bit more information. I found myself enjoying the process of discovering which trail was the most popular in any given state, but in almost every case, the brief description wasn't quite enough. For instance, it would have been nice to known where in the state the trail is located, how long the route is, and what activities can be done there other than hiking. Instead, we have to find out most of that stuff elsewhere.

That said, it is still enjoyable to move around the map and see which trails are the most popular for the given state. Sometimes I could guess which one made the cut ahead of time, but often I was surprised to learn which trail held that distinction. Hopefully you'll have a bit of fun this too. 

Summer Climbs 2017: Updates from K2

It is starting to look like it is now or never on K2, where most of the teams have launched their summit bids with the hope that good weather will arrive in time to give them a chance at reaching the top. The forecast looks promising, but things can change fast in the Karakoram and nothing is ever assured. Currently, high winds are making it extremely difficult for anyone to move above C2, but despite those challenges the climbers still hold out hope for a window to open near the end of the week.

Yesterday I posted an update on the current status of most of the teams on the mountain, and little has changed since then. Most of the climbers are now in a holding pattern in Camp 2 and waiting to see how the conditions shape up today and tomorrow. The current plan for most of them is to push up to C3, rest there briefly, and possibly move on to Camp 4. If they reach that point, they'll then rest further, and depart during the night for the summit on either Thursday or Friday depending on the timing and weather.

We do have a few updates from some of the teams we didn't mention in yesterday's post. For instance, Vanessa O'Brien shared the news that she was on her way to C2 yesterday with plans to push on to C3 today. There have been no further updates since then, so it is unclear whether or not she actually made it higher on the mountain today. Also, the Himex team, climbing along the Česen Route, is on the move too. They have climbed up to C2 and are preparing to go higher when the weather permits as well.

While the climbers are indeed on the move, it should be pointed out that there is a lot of work to be done before anyone can reach the summit. No one has been above Camp 3 on any of the routes so far this year, which means ropes need to be fixed and Camp 4 has to be established. Beyond that however, it is unclear what the conditions will be like higher on the mountain, meaning teams will need to break trail through potentially deep snow and there are continued risks of avalanches high on the slopes as well. In other words, as usual on K2, summits are far from a certainty and it is going to take a tremendous effort for anyone to reach the top again this year.

Of course, this being K2, this is all expected. This mountain never gives up its summit easily, and it doesn't look like it will this year either. The forecast actually says that the weather should improve in the next few days, but even that is far from a safe bet. Things can change rapidly, and for now all that the climbers can do is wait. Hopefully their patience and persistence will pay off, but at the moment it looks like a long shot.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Video: Exploring the Alaskan Range by Paraglider

In this video, we travel north to Alaska where we join Gavin McClurg and Dave Turner as they set out on an epic adventure across the Alaska Range. The two men travel on foot and by paraglider, covering some 500 miles (804 km) in the process. Along the way, they face pad weather conditions, cold temperatures, and a host of other challenges as they explore this remote part of the world.

Video: Running the Everest Marathon in Nepal

The Everest Marathon is one of the toughest races in the world thanks to its altitude alone. The race begins at Base Camp on the South Side of the mountain,  at an altitude of 5364 meters (17,598 ft), making it the highest trail running event on the planet. Of course, it only gets tougher from there. In this video, we join runner Christopher Mohn as he sets out to compete in this grueling competition. Follow him from the chaotic streets of Kathmandu to the trails of the Himalaya as he pushes himself to his physical and mental limits in the mountains.

Outside Ranks the 10 Best Climbing Scenes in Movie History

Here's a fun article that will provide a few chuckles, and likely a few groans too. Outside magazine has put together its definitive list of the 10 best climbing scenes in movie history, giving us a quick look at how Hollywood often views the sport. As you can probably imagine, that varies greatly from highly accurate to "hasn't got a clue" depending on who is in charge of the film.

The list consists of a number of scenes that we've all come to know and love, as well as a few surprise additions from as recent as this summer (We're looking at you Wonder Woman!). Each entry is also accompanied by a YouTube clip of the scene in question, along with a description and a score based on four different categories: objective, accuracy, artistry, and fun quotient. The numbers awarded from 1 to 10 are then complied to create a total that provides the final rankings. 

It's all purely subjective of course, but also done in great fun. And while it is nice to see some of the climbing scenes from popular movies on the list, there are a few left out as well. (No Eiger Sanction? Really?) Still, the videos help to relive these cinematic moments, which are often points of pure drama in the individual films. 

I won't spoil the list in any way, except to provide the video below which is from one of the entries. It's a clip we've all seen before, but it is a good indication of what you can expect here. Go have some fun with this one. 

Chris Froome Wins Fourth Tour de France

It's a bit of old news at this point, but since I generally follow the Tour de France quite closely, I thought it was worth posting an update on the final results of the race nonetheless. Yesterday, Chris Froome rode into Paris wearing the Yellow Jersey, claiming his fourth victory in the race over the past five years, despite the fact that it was his most competitive race to date. As usual, he was fairly dominant, even though at times the British the rider showed more vulnerability than in the past. But, with his fourth win, he also stands on the edge of cycling immortality with the potential to join the sport's all-time greats with another victory in the future.

Heading into the final weekend, Froome led the race over Romain Bardet and Rigoberto Uran by 22 and 29 seconds respectively. Those were the tightest margins he's had in any of his victories so far. But, on Saturday, a 22 km time trial left little doubt who was the better rider. Both Bardet and Uran would surrender time to their rival on that stage, with the two men actually swapping spots in the standings. In the end Uran finished 54 seconds off the pace, while Bardet was 2 minutes 20 seconds back.

When I posted an update following week 2, it appeared that sprinter Marcel Kittel had a commanding lead in the Green Jersey competition awarded to the Tour's top sprinter. But, he ended up having to abandon the race on Stage 17 following a nasty crash, and surrendered his jersey to eventual winner Michael Matthews instead. The Polka Dot Jersey for the best climber in the race was awarded to Warren Barguil, while the White Jersey for the best young rider went to Simon Yates. As has been typical over the past six years, Froome's Team Sky won the team competition as well.

With the race now over, the riders will look ahead to the rest of the season before thinking about the next Tour in 2018. At that point, Froome will be looking for his fifth win in the event, which would put him in rarified air with the likes of Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, and Miguel Indurain, the true greats of the Tour de France. It remains to be seen if the can get that fifth win however, as the race is always a grind and can be very unpredictable. Plus, some of Froome's rivals will come better prepared and more willing to challenge him after sensing a bit of vulnerability on his part this year. Still, he remains the man to beat heading into next year's event too. We'll just have to wait to see if he can pull off another win and in the process make history.

Just 49 more weeks until the next Tour de France gets underway.

Summer Climbs 2017: Teams Launch Summit Bids on K2 Amidst Dicey Weather

The end of the summer climbing season in Pakistan is almost in sight. Traditionally speaking, most teams wrap up their expeditions by the final week of July or the first part of August, and that looks like it will be the case once again this year. With that in mind, the climbers on K2 have launched their summit bids at long last, despite the fact that weather conditions are far from stable. Still, there is a chance that a window could open in the next few days, allowing teams to reach the top for the first time in several years.

According to alpinist Fredrik Sträng, the most likely days for a summit are on July 26 or 27. He and his team left Base Camp yesterday and are now moving up the mountain in an attempt to get themselves into position to make a dash for the top should the window actually materialize. It isn't clear that such a window will open at this point however, but those two days appear to have the best opportunity for good weather.

Two of the main commercial operators – Destination Dreamers and Furtenbach Adventures – have sent their squads up the mountain. But, the amount of damage done to the route by the avalanche that occurred last week is also bringing a measure of uncertainty to the proceedings. It is believed that Camp 3 was totally swept away, but it is unclear as of yet if that is the case. That also means that Camp 4 has not been established as of yet, nor have any fixed ropes been installed above that point. Still, the teams are eyeing a potential summit bid on Thursday, provided everything goes as planned.

Amongst those headed up the mountain is Polish mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel, who hopes to not only summit K2, but also ski down its flanks, something that has not been accomplished before. He's joined by a team of his countrymen, who are also preparing for a winter attempt on the mountain later this year.

Monday, July 17, 2017

On the Road Again: Tokyo Bound!

I've been mostly home over the past month and a half, save for a few short trips here and there. But, the next couple of weeks will be busy ones, as I leave for Tokyo, Japan tomorrow morning and will return on Sunday, July 23 just long enough to do some laundry, collect my thoughts, and repack to travel to Outdoor Retailer on the following Tuesday. It's a grueling job, but someone has to do it. Right?

It is going to be a crazy schedule for sure, but it should be a fun one as well. But, it means there will likely be limited updates to The Adventure Blog while I'm on the road. I'll still keep an eye on some of the big stories that are developing – including potential summits on K2 – and I'll have some articles posted on the two days leading up to the start of OR, but otherwise news is likely to be scare through July 31.

But, I'll be back before you know it, and we'll resume our regular coverage of the outdoor adventure and exploration world. Until then, don't forget to schedule some time for a few adventures of your own. After all, that's ultimately what we're all about around here.

Back soon!

Video: Alex Honnold Interview on the Jimmy Kimmel Show

At the end of last week, rock climber Alex Honnold appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show here in the U.S., giving a large, mainstream audience an introduction to a man that many of us have been following for years. In the interview, Honnold talks about his recent free solo up El Capitan in Yosemite of course, but also how he got started in climbing in the first place, what his mom thinks about his exploits, and much more. Definitely worth a watch if you haven't seen it, as its nice to see Alex in a relaxed environment like this one.

Video: Footage of the Massive Crack on the Antarctic Ice Shelf Prior to Iceberg Breaking Away

Last week we shared the story of a massive iceberg breaking off from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in the Antarctic. The creation of the 1 trillion ton iceberg didn't come as a surprise, as researchers have been following a huge crack as it developed along the ice shelf over the course of the past few months. Now, we have footage of what that crack looked like as it grew and spread for miles, eventually giving way altogether. As you would expect, it is quite the sight. Check it out in the video clip below.

Kilian Jornet Wins Hardrock 100 with Dislocated Shoulder

By now, it's hard for any of us to be surprised at the things Kilian Jornet pulls off while training, competing, or climbing in the mountains. But this past weekend, the trail runner/mountaineer added yet another chapter to his growing legend when he not only one the Hardrock 100 trail race for the fourth straight year, but he did so with a dislocated shoulder.

Heading into the race, Jornet was once again the favorite. He as been running well this year, despite taking time off to travel to the Himalaya where he managed to summit Everest without oxygen within a span of five days, and set a new speed record in the process. But, it looked like his fourth title might be in jeopardy early on when he fell 13 miles into the race, dislocating his shoulder. Jornet says that he was able to pop it back into place on his own. Later, he received some assistance at an aid station, where the arm was wrapped in a sling, but he received no medication.

For most of us, such an injury would have been enough to put us out of the competition, but for Jornet it was just another challenge to overcome. In the end, he managed to complete the 100.5 mile (161 km) course in a time of 24 hours, 32 minutes, and 32 seconds. That was enough to finish ahead of Mike Foote, who shadowed Kilian much of the way, but ended up finishing in second place 23 minutes back.

Summer Climbs 2017: K2 Reminds Teams Why it is 'The Savage Mountain'

The Pakistani climbing season is continuing at a steady pace, with most of the attention now shifting to K2 as the end of the season creeps into sight. Most of the teams still climbing in the Karakoram have now shifted their attention to that mountain, and while some are preparing for the first summit bids of the season, they're getting a reminder of why it has been labeled "the Savage Mountain."

Late last week a major avalanche occurred high on the Abruzzi route of K2, potentially wiping out Camp 3 and the fixed ropes above 7315 meters (24,000 ft). It is unclear how much damage the avalanche inflicted, but the guides there believe that C3 may be completely gone. If so, they'll need to rebuild the campsite and potentially fix ropes once again before anyone can go higher. That also means shuttling gear back up the mountain, which can be an arduous task, even for Sherpas use to operating in those conditions.

This past weekend was suppose to be the final round of acclimatization rotations on the Abruzzi, with some teams heading up to C4 before returning to Base Camp for a rest ahead of the first summit bids. But, once again poor weather conditions reared their ugly head, with high winds and heavy snow preventing anyone from going above C2. That means that now, a few days after the avalanche, it is still unclear how much of Camp 3 remains and how much was swept off the mountain.

At this point, all of the teams are pretty much ready to go, but they're waiting for a proper weather window. That could happen later this week, as the forecast calls for improved conditions in the days ahead. But, the upper sections of the mountain are still covered in deep snow, some of which may be unstable. Avalanches are likely to be common over the next few days, but hopefully things will settle after that.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Video: A Sea to Summit Ski Expedition on Mt. St. Elias in Alaska

If you're looking for a great video that follows an impressive expedition, look no further. In this clip, we join Janelle and Mark Smiley, along with Jed Porter, as they travel to Alaska to climb and ski Mt. St. Elias. The mountain is known for having one of the longest vertical ski runs in the entire world, as the peak rises 18,008 feet (5488 meters) from the sea. On this journey, the trio actually skied more than 13,000 feet (3962 meters), which is an impressive amount of vert on a single run. Check it out below.

Mt St Elias - A sea to summit expedition from Mark Smiley on Vimeo.

Video: Sri Lankan Navy Rescues Elephant Swept Out to Sea

Here's an amazing video of a daring rescue conducted by members of the Sri Lankan navy rescuing an elephant that was swept out to sea. While elephants are excellent swimmers, this one was fighting currents and was having a difficult time making it back to shore, to an operation was conducted to make sure the animal survived. It's a pretty amazing story and great to see unfold. Hats off to the team that made the rescue.

Tour de France Recap Week 2: Ladies and Gentleman, We Have Ourselves a Race!

As we entered the second week of the Tour de France, it appeared as if there wouldn't be much in the way of drama. As has been the case for three of the past four years, Chris Froome was in yellow and his Sky Team looked like it was in complete control of the race. Froome's primary challengers – namely Nairo Quintana and Richie Porte – hadn't put up much of a fight in the first week. Quintana looked tired from his recent ride in the Giro and Porte was lurking right up until he crashed out of the race last weekend. It seemed another Froome win was almost a sure thing, provide he didn't make a mistake.

But things can change fast in Le Tour as we found out yesterday. That's when on the final climb up Peyragudes that we finally saw something we hadn't seen out of Froome before. The defending champ cracked, allowing Italian champ Fabio Aru to pull away and claim the Yellow Jersey for his own.

It was a surprising result that opens up the drama for the days to come. In fact, we saw the battle continue today, with Froome testing Aru on several occasions, and proving to the field that he is still the man to beat. Other riders who have been aggressive and riding well include Roman Bardet who now sits in third place behind Aru and Froome, and Rigoberto Uran, who is perhaps the surprise of the race so far, hanging in fourth. Dan Martin has also been racing incredibly well, and would be amongst the leaders had he not been caught up on the crash with Porte on Sunday. That account took a minute off his time, sending him down the rankings.

15 Great Pieces of Gear for Summer Backpacking

Looking for the very best gear to take on your summer camping, hiking, or backpacking trip? Your in luck, because Backpacker magazine has put together its list of the 15 best pieces of gear for use in the summer season with products designed to perform well, while also keeping us cooler and drier in hot weather.

You'll find a little of everything on this list, starting with coffee to get your day started and ending with a lantern to keep the campsite illuminated at night. In between, you'll discover Backpacker's picks for sunscreen, energy bars, shorts, shoes, hats, and more. You'll find gear from brands we all know and love, and a few that you may not have heard of before. You'll also find an excellent warm-weather backpack, sunglasses, and even a tripod for your smartphone, complete with a remote control.

Personally, I love the focus of this list, which not only says it has summer gear for use in our outdoor adventures, but delivers on that promise too. Many summer gear guides simply offer the best new gear being released during that season, but Backpacker's actually offers products that are highly functional for use in the heat.

Check out the entire list here.

Summer Climbs 2017: The Challenges of a Double Summit on K2 and Broad Peak

Over the past few years, we've seen an increase in commercial climbing in the Karakoram, most notably on K2, arguably the toughest most dangerous mountain in the world. Part of the strategy for many of the mountaineers who come to that part of the world is to first acclimatize on Broad Peak, make a summit attempt there, then jump over to K2 with an eye on quickly scaling that mountain too. But, this strategy has met with limited success, in part because of the unpredictable weather on K2, where the mountain can go several years without a single summit, thanks in no small part due to the high winds, heavy snow, and crazy conditions.

Alan Arnette has written an excellent blog post that takes a look at the history of mountaineers making double – and sometimes triple – summits in a single season. The article discusses what it takes to complete such a difficult undertaking, and then takes a look at both the Everest-Lhotse and K2-Broad Peak doubleheaders, with the latter being especially important as it is playing out at this very moment in the Karakoram.

So how realistic is it for a climber to summit both peaks within a few weeks of one another? According to Alan's article, it has only been done four times in the past, as compared to 84 successful summits of Gasherbrum I and II in the same season. What makes it so difficult? Arnette goes into detail on that topic too, listing the weather, the timing and schedule of the expedition, as well as the fitness and attitude of the alpinist attempting to pull off such a feat.

After reading the article, it is clear that we shouldn't expect too many of the climbers who summited Broad Peak a few days back to also pull of another summit of K2 in the days ahead. Some may actually be able to do it, but historically speaking it is a long shot.

Speaking of K2, progress is continuing on that mountain as teams prepare for the summit push ahead. A few days back we learned that Camp 4 had been established on the Abruzzi Route, and now we have an update from Česen Route as well. That's where Himex has set up shop and has been slowly but surely working away as well. They have been able to build and supply Camp 3 at 7200 meters (23,600 ft), but as usual, the weather has not been an ally. The team has set a departure date from Base Camp for August 4, so there is still plenty of time on the schedule however.

For now, we wait and watch. The climbers are putting in the hard work, acclimatizing, and preparing, but it remains to be seen if the mountain will cooperate. We'll know soon enough.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Video: Wild Kimberley of Australia

Travel to Western Australia in this video to visit the Kimberley region, a vast stretch of wilderness that has few inhabitants, only a handful of settlements, and miles of open territory running from the Indian Ocean to the very heart of the continent. This timelapse clip shares glimpses of some of the striking landscapes that can be found there, including some impressive shots of the night skies.

Wild Kimberley from Juergen Freund Visuals on Vimeo.

Video: Mountain Biking Through an Abandoned Mine

What do you do if you discover an old, abandoned mine while mountain biking through the backcountry? Why, explore it by bike of course! That's exactly what Kilian Bron and his friends did when they had that exact same scenario present itself to them while out on a ride recently. The result is a great video that follows them into the depths of the Earth while on their bikes. Check it out below.

Gear Closet: Lowa Alpine Pro GTX Hiking Boots Review

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Lowa boots, having tested and reviewed several of their products in the past, including the awesome Renegade Ice GTX. With that in mind, you can imagine how excited I was when I recently received a pair of the new Alpine Pro GTX models to try out as well. This boot is Lowa's new flagship product for use in alpine environments, and promises to deliver a new level of performance for the company, which already has a legacy of fantastic footwear for use in the mountains.

The Alpine Pro GTX was designed to be a minimalist mountain boot, which is to say that it is built to be lighter and more comfortable than the competition in this market space. But, we're still talking about footwear for use in rough and tumble alpine conditions, so a pair of these shoes still tips the scales at 3.6 pounds (1650 grams). That may sound like a lot for anyone who doesn't venture far off the beaten path and usually walks in trail running shoes. But for serious trekking that is a fairly lightweight boot, and it shows out on the trail, keeping your legs and feet happier on longer excursions and remaining nimble while scrambling over rough terrain too.

Lowa has armed the Alpine Pro with a Vibram Alp Trac outsole that provides excellent traction and grip on a variety of surfaces and offers an expanded climbing zone for those tough descents. The lugs are aggressive, but not overly large, and offer a self-cleaning profile that helps to keep mud and other debris from collecting along the bottom. As with most boots however, that only goes so far, and thick, dense mud will still collect on the boots if conditions are particularly nasty.

The sole also offers a lower profile when compared to other boots of this kind, which is particularly helpful for getting a good feel for the ground underneath. Personally, I prefer a boot that allows me to feel more connected with the trail, as it helps me to maintain footing and remain safe when passing over difficult or dangerous terrain. These boots deliver that feeling quite nicely, making them a good choice for mountain excursions.

Japanese Blogger Further Discredits Amelia Earhart Photo

Remember that photo that was revealed last week that purportedly showed Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan on a dock in the Marshall Islands after the famous aviator went missing? A few days after it was revealed, experts immediately began poking holes in the story, but now it seems that it can be put to rest once and for all. A Japanese blogger has discovered the image in the national archives of his country and according to his findings, it was published nearly two years before Earhart embarked on her fateful flight.

According to National Geographic, Japanese history blogger Kota Yamano wrote a post on July 9 on his search for answers regarding the photo. Apparently he visited the National Diet Library and did a simple search for "Jaluit Atoll," which is the only text that accompanied the photo when it was found in the U.S. national archives. Yamano says that “The photo was the 10th item that came up,” in the search results, which showed that it was published in the book The Ocean's "Lifeline": The Condition of Our South Seas, which was published in October of 1935. The caption of the photo mentions the lively port and the ships that often stopped by there.

This should put an end to the speculation of whether or not it is Earhart and Noonan in the photograph, although they mystery of what happened to them remains. The History Channel probably wishes they had done a bit more research before creating a special on the Earhart story that centered around the photo however. That program aired this past weekend, with the main assertion being that the two missing explorers fell into Japanese hands and died while in custody, something that the Japanese have denied on more than one occasion.

According to Yamano, it took him less than 30 minutes to find the photo and learn more about its origin. I guess the lesson here is that we should all do our homework and a bit of research before racing toward a conclusion that we already think we know. Meanwhile, the search for Earhart, Noonan, and their missing plane will no doubt continue.

Christian Maurer Wins 2017 Red Bull X-Alps

That crazy adventure race unfolding in the Alps that we've been following for the past couple of weeks isn't over just yet, but we do have a winner.

Recently, I've posted a few updates on the Red Bull X-Alps, which I find to be one of the most unique competitions on the planet. In the event, racers trail run and paraglide across Europe, starting in Salzburg and ending in Monaco. Over the course of the race, they must pass through a series of checkpoints, by first running to the top of a mountain, then deploying their paraglider, sailing from the summit and traveling as far as they can, before doing it all over again. While in the field they must also be completely self supported, carrying everything they need to survive on their backs.

Today, the first two competitors crossed the finish line, with Swiss racer Christian Maurer arriving in Monaco first, followed a few hours later by French athlete Benoit Outters. It took Maurer, who has won this event in the past and was clearly the man to beat all along, 11 days, 23 hours, and 23 minutes to cover the entire course, which is 1138 km (707 miles) in length.

One of the more unique rules of the X-Alps is that after the first 48 hours, the last place racer is eliminated from the event, with another to follow every 48 hours after that. This has the effect of whittling down the field and giving the competitors an incentive to keep moving and staying ahead of everyone else. The race also has a tight cut-off for the finish too, which is at 10:53 AM tomorrow morning, local Monaco time. Right now, there are four or five other athletes who are scrambling to try to beat that cut-off, but it is unclear how many of them will actually make it. As many as six could cross the finish line, which would be a record for the event.

Congrats to Maurer for claiming victory in Monaco. You can learn more about the Red Bull X-Alps, and follow the remaining racers live, on the race's official website.