Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Video: Rise - Exploring Oregon by Drone

The state of Oregon is an incredibly beautiful place, but it never seems to get its proper due, in part because it is competing for attention with other western states like Colorado, Montana, and Utah. But in this video, Oregon gets the attention it deserves, as it is four minutes of spectacular footage captured by drone. The results are some impressive landscapes that reveal some of the best hidden gems in the American West.

RISE - Oregon Aerial 4K from Michael Shainblum on Vimeo.

Video: Ice Climbing Helmcken Falls in Canada

At 140 meters (459 feet) in height, Helmcken Falls is the fourth tallest waterfall in Canada. During the winter, it doesn't freeze solid, but it creates enough of a spray to freeze the cliffs that surround it. In this video, we follow climber Klemen Premrl as he attempts to go up the ice walls along a route known as "Interstellar Spice." Along the way, he'll find out why this is considered one of the toughest mixed routes in the entire world.

Gear Closet: Sherpa Adventure Gear Tsepun Zip Tee

If there is anyone who knows what gear works best in the outdoors, it is probably the Sherpas of Nepal. They are the backbone of pretty much every major expedition to the Himalaya, and without them most climbers would never reach the summit of their respective mountains. In order to be on the leading edge of those expeditions, the Sherpa guides need top-notch gear to get them safely up and down the mountain, as more often than not they are tasked with the thankless jobs of fixing ropes, breaking trail, and scouting conditions high on the slopes. A lot of demands are placed on these highly skilled, dedicated, and hard working men and women, so of course they demand a lot from their gear as well.

The team at Sherpa Adventure Gear have brought that same sensibility to the products that they make. Founded in 2003, the company is based in Kathmandu and was originally started to pay tribute to the heroes of Everest, the dedicated climbers who have gone up and down that sacred mountain. Since then, the company has also focused its attention on creating jobs for Nepali citizens, and last year it played a crucial role in helping rebuild the country following the massive earthquake that struck the region in April of 2015. Now, Sherpa Adventure Gear employs more than 1500 people, all dedicated to turning out some of the best products in the outdoor industry.

Recently, I've been testing a number of items from Sherpa, and have found all of them to be of exceptionally high quality. The various products that I've used have all been made extremely well, displaying durability, versatility, and a high level of performance. Of course, they also show the influences of the rich history and culture of Nepal as well, which helps to distinguish them from other outdoor brands.

One of the items that I've been using regularly now that temperatures have started to drop is the impressive Tsepun Zip Tee. This mid-weight baselayer is made from highly technical fabrics that are great at pulling moisture away from the body and drying incredibly quickly, keeping you warmer and dryer during your favorite outdoor pursuits. This makes it an ideal choice for hiking, mountain biking, trail running, skiing, or just about anything else that takes you outside during the cooler months of the year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Antarctic Base is Being Relocated Because of Massive Crack

It seems we've been hearing a lot about the shifting ice sheets in the Antarctic lately. Last week we learned that climate change is causing those sheets to collapse into the sea, and a few days ago I posted a story about a 300-foot (91 meter) crack that was causing another ice shelf to begin its inevitable drop into the ocean as well. Now, we have yet another story of the ice breaking apart on the frozen continent, and this time it is threatening an actual research station that will now be relocated to avoid disaster.

Yesterday, the British Antarctic Survey announced that it was relocating its mobile Halley VI research station due to the possibility that the ice shelf it is resting on could break off and fall into the sea. If that were to happen, the station currently finds itself on the wrong side of the crack that is developing across East Antarctica, and it would end up floating off into the Southern Ocean along with the massive iceberg. To avoid this, the base – which was designed to be moveable – will be towed 23 km (14 miles) inland to a safer position.

The Halley VI has been in its current position since it was first constructed on the ice back in 2012. It rests on the Brunt Ice Shelf, where it has been conducting research on climate change, the ozone layer, and various other environmental projects over the past few years. One of the things that scientists have discovered is that a nearby crack in the ice – believed dormant for more than 35 years – has begun to widen, and the entire shelf could calve off into the ocean.

Now that the Antarctic summer has arrived, a team of engineers has traveled to the base to begin uncoupling its 8 different modules, and start the slow process of relocating the station. While they do that, scientists will continue to conduct research at is current site in temporary facilities before moving back into the Halley VI next year.

I had two take aways from this story. First, this seems like yet another sign of climate change having a dramatic impact of the Antarctic with the third story of massive chunks of ice potentially calving into the sea in less than a week. And secondly, I'm impressed at the foresight of the engineers who designed and built the station to be able to move it relatively easily. Yes, it is a massive undertaking to relocate the base, but in doing so they are saving millions of dollars and allowing important research there to continue. It is a pretty impressive feat of engineering to put this base together in such an extreme place, and to move it is no less impressive.

It appears that Antarctica is going through a dramatic shift right now, and there probably isn't a thing we can do to stop it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Video: 15 Things You (Probably) Never Knew About Antarctica

Here's a fun and informative little video that I thought many of you would like. It is a "list" of sorts, counting down 15 things you might not have known about Antarctica, the most remote and unexplored continent on our planet. Of course, I know a lot of the readers of this blog follow the continual exploration of the frozen continent, and some of you have even been there yourselves, but all that said, you'll probably still learn a few things about the place that you didn't know before simply by watching this short clip. I know I did, and I write about the Antarctic on a regular basis.

Video: The Best Mountaineering Films of All Time

Looking for some great mountaineering films to watch in your downtime? Then you'll certainly want to give his video a look. It provides a brief glimpse of some of the best mountaineering films ever made, including some top-notch documentaries and Hollywood produced dramas that offer a look at life in the mountains from a perspective that many of us never get the chance to see. I think I've personally seen everything on this list, but if you haven't, you'll find some good suggestions of what to add to you DVD collection or Netflix queue.

Gear Closet: Mountain Hardwear's 32 Degree Insulated Hooded Jacket

It's no secret that Mountain Hardwear has long been one of my favorite outdoor brands. I've always appreciated their no-nonsense approach to making great gear for use in some of the most extreme environments on the planet, and over the year's I've come to rely on the company's commitment to quality and performance. But, as the company grew and found more mainstream success, it also seemed to lose some of its focus. Its products were never out-right bad, but they for a time Mountain Hardwear was no longer delivering top-notch, cutting edge products that we'd all grown accustomed to seeing from them. By their own admission, the company got a bit complacent, which is not something that sits well with its core customers.

Thankfully, that era seems to be a thing of the past, and MH is currently in the process of righting the ship and getting back to the basics that made it such an innovative brand. As a result, over the past six months or so, it has been releasing some fantastic products, including the Dragon hoody I reviewed a few weeks back, and the awesome new StretchDown Jacket that has broken new ground. Better yet, I've seen a glimpse of things to come from Mountain Hardwear, and I can promise you the company has some amazing things in the pipeline for next spring and beyond.

But, if you're looking for something in their current catalog that stands out as a great piece of performance apparel, look no further than the 32 Degree Insulated Hooded Jacket. It is an exceptional piece of gear designed to keep you warm and moving fast on the trail, that also happens to be priced great too. This high-performance soft shell carries a price tag of just $130, making it extremely affordable, even for those of us who have never worn any of Mountain Hardwear's clothing before.

Nepal to Take Action Against American Climber without Permits

Sticking with news from the Himalaya this morning, we have a follow-up story on the article I posted a couple of weeks back about American Sean Burch who claims to have summited 31 unclimbed peaks in just 21 days. That alone would be an impressive feat of course, but unfortunately Burch didn't have the proper permits to climb any mountains in Nepal, and according to The Himalayan Times, he now faces charges from the tourism department there.

The incident has been under investigation by Nepali officials for the past few weeks, and apparently they have decided to move ahead with initiating legal action against the climber. A letter was sent to both the Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation (Shankar Prasad Adhikari) and the head of the Department of Tourism (Jaya Narayan Acharya) advising them that Burch was in violation of the law, despite the American claiming that he had received permission from the Department of Immigration, which doesn't have the authority to grant that permission or issue climbing permits.

It does seem that officials are recognizing Burch's claims of making first ascents on 31 unclimbed mountains in 21 days, which would be a world record. But, since he did so without proper authorization, and entered restricted areas along the way, it appears he'll face substantial fines and mostly likely a ban on climbing in Nepal. That ban could be for up to 10 years, while the fines would normally go on a peak by peak basis.

For his part, Burch has already left Nepal and returned home to the U.S., which complicates matters in enforcing the rules. He did send out a tweet on November 30 thanking the DoT for recognizing his achievement, but he still finds himself in hot water moving forward. His fines could equal the cost of a climbing permit on Everest – the most expensive that Nepal charges – which is currently at $11,000. In theory, he could be charged that for each individual mountain that he did not have a permit for, although it is unclear just how much he could be fined.

Personally, I think Nepal needs to make an example of these kinds of actions to ensure they don't happen in the future. The country banned the Indian couple who faked their Everest summit for 10 years, and to me what Burch has done is worse. It appears that he has climbed 31 mountains illegally, and to me that should be worth 31 individual sentences. That means $11,000 per summit and a 10 year ban for each too. Too harsh? I'm not sure, but there should be zero tolerance for mountaineers that circumvent the laws.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Conrad Anker Suffers Heart Attack at 20,000 Feet

The 2016 Himalayan climbing season has pretty much wrapped up, and quite honestly I didn't expect to be sharing another story from the region until sometime next spring. But, there is one more major update from Nepal, and it is an important one.

National Geographic Adventure is sharing an exclusive story about legendary alpinist Conrad Anker, who suffered a heart attack while climbing in the Himalaya a few weeks back. The 54-year old Anker was at 20,000 feet (6096 meters) on Lunag-Ri – a 22,600-foot (6888 meter) mountain – when the medical incident occurred. He was assisted down by his climbing partner David Lama, who led the rappels back to the start of the climb, where Conrad said he was suffering pain in his arm and numbness in his lips. From there, he was picked up by a helicopter and flown back to Lukla, before proceeding on to Kathmandu, where he received medical attention. A cardiologist at the Siddhartha Hospital had to perform emergency surgery to remove a blockage, potentially saving Anker's life.

Now, Conrad is back home and resting comfortably in Bozeman, MT. That's where Mark Synnott reached him to conduct the interview for Nat Geo. In that interview, Anker goes into more detail about what happened, the rescue procedure, how he got home (Vanity Fair, the parent company of The North Face – whom Conrad is a sponsored athlete for – helped with that process), and much more. We also learn that Anker is extremely healthy for a man his age, and has good medical indicators all around, but he suffered a heart attack none the less.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Video: Iceland - Here's to the Travelers

Need another amazing look at the country of Iceland? This video provides that, and much more. It is a tribute to the wanderlust that mean of us feel. That inexplicable need to explore the world that only seems to grow in intensity the more you see. If you understand what I'm talking about, this video is definitely for you. Here's to the travelers who boldly venture out to see this big, beautiful world around us.

ICELAND // Here's to the Travelers from Tobi Schnorpfeil on Vimeo.

Video: Fatbiking Through Western Mongolia

This past summer I was fortunate enough to spend the better part of July riding on horseback through the Tavan Bond National Park in Mongolia on what turned out to be one of the best trips I have ever taken. But, if riding on horses through this part of the world sounds a bit daunting, my friends over at Round Square Adventures have an alternate means of transportation – fatbikes! Yep, that's right, you can visit the same region of Mongolia that I did, but on a bike instead. The video below will give you an idea of what these excursions are like, while also providing an amazing look at the landscapes you'll be traversing. After watching the clip, you may want to get on your bike and start training, because you're definitely going to want to do this.

Fatbike Trips through Tavan Bogd National Park, Mongolia from Kirsten Scully on Vimeo.

Gear Closet: Lander Powell iPhone Case

Lets face it, there are literally hundreds of smartphone cases to choose from these days and it has gotten to the point where it is impossible to see them all. But, there aren't very many of them that are slim, light, and still manage to provide a high level of protection. Those are exactly the characteristics I'm looking for when I want to buy a case for my iPhone, as the device is already quite thin and lightweight on its own and I don't want to mess with that. Because, I'm very particular about the case that I put on my mobile device, particularly when I'm traveling. Recently, the one that I've found myself using the most is the Lander Powell, which is a good looking suit of armor that doesn't detract from the looks of the phone.

The feature-set on the Powell is what you would expect from a good iPhone case. It is tough and rugged, and includes a raised bezel that helps protect the screen from accidental drops. It also has a nice textured feel to it that makes it easier to grip, which is a common issue for Apple's sleek gadgets.  It even has a sleek, modern look to it that helps to set your phone apart from the crowd, which is a refreshing change in a sea of cases that often look exactly alike.

But beyond that, the Powell has been certified to meet military 810 drop-test standards. That means the case was built to survive a fall of up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) without causing any damage to the phone. That might not seem like very much, but it is enough to keep your device safe from most common accidents.

As someone who has owned an iPhone since the very first day the became available, I've always been drawn to its nice sense of style. Thankfully, the Powell doesn't detract from that style, but instead compliments it. In face, Lander even makes a version of the case that is translucent, which allows your chosen color of iPhone – not to mention the iconic Apple logo – to be seen even while the case is in place.

Its slim design hugs the body of the iPhone nicely, giving you the extra protection you need but without turning the phone into a brick. That's something I appreciate greatly, because I now take my phone pretty much everywhere, including to some pretty remote places. This year alone, my iPhone has gone to Utah (multiple times!), Alaska, Colorado, North Carolina, California, Spain, the Caribbean, the Adirondack Mountains, Quebec, and Mongolia, and each time it was used extensively in all of those different places. That means that every time I hit the road I run the risk of damaging the device. But, with Lander's Powell case I don't feel like that is much of a legitimate concern, and I suspect you won't either.

Sure, there are other case options to choose from, some of which extend the level of protection to making the phone waterproof as well. But, those cases usually add a significant amount of bulk to the phone, and can create some other challenges too, not the least of which are poor audio performance and difficulty taking them on and off. While the Powell won't make your iPhone waterproof, it will provide all the protection it needs against drops and hard impacts, which is what we generally need for our backcountry excursions and adventure travels to the far side of the planet.

Lander makes the Powell for both the iPhone 6/6S and the iPhone 7, as well as the "Plus" editions of each of those models as well. Priced at $34.95 for the standard model and $39.95 for the "Plus" version, this is an excellent case at a great price. If you need plenty of protection in a thin package, this is a case you'll want to have on your list. It'll perform admirably without dramatically changing the look of the device.

Find out more at Lander.com.

NASA Discovers 300-foot Rift on Antarctic Ice Shelf

Last week I posted a article about how climate change was causing the collapse of ice sheets in Antarctic, and today we have another sobering story to share. It seems that NASA has found a massive rift on the Larsen C Ice Shelf on the frozen continent which will eventually cause a massive chunk of ice – the size of state of Delaware – to break off and fall into the ocean.

The crack, which measures 300 feet (91 meters) across, was discovered on November 10 as NASA researchers were making a flyover of the region as part of a survey of the shifting ice in Antarctica. This is the eighth consecutive year that the so called "IceBridge" team has traveled to the bottom of the world to measure the impact of climate change on the Larsen Ice Shelf, and their findings were startling even to them. The crack extends for more than 70 miles (112 km) and is a third of a mile (.5 km) deep.

The massive rift doesn't go entirely across the ice shelf – at least not yet. But once it does, the chunk of ice will collapse, sending it into the ocean. For the researchers studying the changing area, this isn't a matter of "if" this will happen, but "when." It seems to be only a matter of time at this point, particularly since the crack has only continued to get wider and longer since the survey was there last year.

As mentioned in the article I posted last week, the collapse of the ice shelf itself won't lead to increased sea levels since they are already displaying massive amounts of water. But the removal of this ridge will clear the way for other sheets of ice on the Antarctic continent to flow into the Southern Ocean, which will cause water levels to rise globally. In this case, a sheet of ice roughly the size of Scotland is behind the Larsen C Ice Shelf. That entire section of ice will then become vulnerable and start melting into the sea.

This section of Antarctica has seen both air and water temperatures rise in recent years, which is of course having an impact on the ice there. The alarming thing in these photos isn't necessarily the size of the rift, but how quickly it is growing. Climate change seems to be out-pacing some of the predictions and models that we've seen in the past, at least in this area of the world. What that means for the future remains to be seen, but it is sobering to say the least.

Antarctica 2016: Skiers Find Their Rhythm

As we start another week here at The Adventure Blog, it is once again time to check in with the Antarctic skiers and see how they are progressing. The first wave of explorers have now been out on the ice for nearly three weeks, and have really started to find a rhythm on their way to the South Pole, with more than a few already putting up impressive distances on a daily basis.

We'll start with an update on the six-man British military squad, who are now nearly halfway to the Pole, having reached 84.5ºS. But, that's only about a third of their total journey as they will turn back towards the coast once they have hit the very bottom of the world. They've now been out on the ice for 20 days, and have started to feel their sleds lighten as they consume food, fuel, and other items along the way. As a result, they're now averaging more than 30 km (18.6 miles) per day, which is a solid pace for this stage of the expedition.

Likewise, solo-skier Johanna Davidsson has really found her stride as well, which is even more impressive since she's going it alone. She's also hitting the 30 km/day mark at this point, as she looks to ski to the Pole then kite back to her starting point at Hercules. On day 19, with visibility low, Johanna decided to take a half-day of rest, change her socks and underwear, and refresh her self some. As a result, she's ready to hit the ice with some renewed strength and vigor today.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Video: Alive in the Himalaya

To wrap up the week, take a three-and-a-half minute journey to the Himalaya in northern India courtesy of this video, which captures the amazing landscapes of that part of the world in spectacular fashion. Shot during a three-week journey from Himachal Pradesh to Kashmir, the clip gives us a glimpse of the towering mountain peaks, the lush forests, and remote valleys that are found there. But more than that, it shows us the people and culture that exist there, not to mention one adorable pup. I'm not particularly wild about the narration at the beginning, but once it gets going, the video is mesmerizing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Alive from Alessandro Rovere on Vimeo.

Video: Yab Yum - Searching the Mayan Underworld (Part 3)

Today we have the third, and final, installment of a series of videos we've been sharing all week long that take us into the Yucatan in Mexico in search of some of the world's deepest caves. The series has followed explorer Robbie Schmittner and his team as cave dive into some amazing settings, where they discover remnants of the Mayan civilization that occupied the area centuries ago. In this episode, the crew descends into Yab Yum, a giant sinkhole where they make discoveries that date back to the last ice age.
(Note: If you've missed the first two parts of this excellent series, you'll find them here and here.)

Gear Closet: Char-Broil Portable Grill2Go X200

One of the biggest challenges for any camping trip is creating tasty meals while on the go. This can be especially difficult if you're backpacking into remote backcountry, where you're looking to travel fast and light. But, if you're car camping instead, and weight is not an issue, your options open up tremendously, giving you the ability to cook tasty meals no matter where you go. That is exactly the case with the new Char-Boril Portable Grill2Go X200, which is a surprisingly great cooking option for camping, overlanding, tailgating, or even just the backyard.

Obviously there have been portable grills around for quite some time, and many of them bring a lot to the table (pun intended!) in terms of how they perform. But what helps set the X200 apart from the crowd is that it is a portable infrared grill, which is something I hadn't come across before. For those who don't know, infrared grills use metal and ceramic pieces to allow them to heat up much faster and cook at higher temperature levels. This means the grill is ready to go much more quickly, and food prep doesn't take nearly as long.

In this case, the Grill2Go is powered by small canisters of propane fuel, which are of course a breeze to fire up and get cooking, even in colder temperatures and windy environments. It is quick, fairly efficient, and makes grilling a simple affair, which is usually what you want when you sit down to make a meal outdoors.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Evacuated From the South Pole

The legendary Buzz Aldrin is reportedly resting comfortably and recovering in a New Zealand hospital today after being evacuated from the South Pole yesterday for medical reasons. The 86-year old former astronaut and second man to walk on the moon, had been visiting Antarctica as a tourist when he took ill.

Aldrin was traveling with White Desert luxury tours and had hoped to visit the South Pole research station while in the Antarctic. Fortunately, he did make it to 90ºS before he became ill. Doctors say that he began collecting fluid in his lungs, which prompted the evacuation. While he is being kept in the hospital for observation, he is said to be doing fine and should have a full recovery.

Despite his age, Aldrin continues to be very active, and is a tireless advocate for exploration – particularly in space. He has been a major supporter of plans to go to Mars, and has spoken frequently about the importance of continuing to push boundaries beyond our own planet. He recently visited NASA for the unveiling of a new astronaut exhibit at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, before he left for Cape Town, South Africa to join the White Desert tour.

On November 28, Buzz and the rest of the group he was traveling with set out for the frozen continent on an itinerary that was expected to last about a week. But Aldrin took ill during the journey, with his condition getting worse as he reached the Pole. Once there, the decision was made to evacuate the moonwalker, and a specially equipped LC-130 aircraft was dispatched to fly him back to the coast where he caught another flight to New Zealand where he is now recovering.

I've always been a big admirer of Buzz Aldrin. Sure, Neil Armstrong got all the credit for being the first man to walk on the moon, but Buzz was only a couple of steps behind him. On top of that, Armstrong retreated from public life, seldom making appearances in his later years before passing away in 2012. But Buzz has always been a larger than life figure who isn't afraid to speak his mind or tell you his thoughts on any subject. He has used his position in the public eye to promote science and education, and has remained a staunch supporter of exploration in all its forms. Even now, at the age of 86, when most people are looking to slow down, he's still traveling to remote places on our planet. I hope that when I reach his age, I'm still half as active and vital as he is.

Get well soon Buzz. We're not ready to say goodbye to you for a very long time yet.

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Video: Ethereal - Iceland by Drone

This beautiful video was shot over some of the most spectacular landscapes in Iceland. You'll see snowcapped peaks, tranquil rivers, flowing waterfalls, and much more. But, what was most striking to me was the incredible skies that can be seen over the various shots. There are colors in the clouds that are rare and fleeting in most places, but here they are natural and breathtaking. Sit back and enjoy this three-minute clip, which features some of the best footage I've seen in some time.

Ethereal: Aerial Motion Timelapse in 4K60 from Henry Jun Wah Lee / Evosia on Vimeo.

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

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

Adventures in the Caribbean: Opportunities Abound on Nevis

Yesterday I shared my experiences hiking and biking on Nevis as part of a series of posts based around my recent visit to the Caribbean island, which is extremely accessible both on foot and bike. But those opportunities for adventure were just the tip of the iceberg, as there are still plenty of other things to do there for those who prefer to be a bit more active while visiting this little slice of paradise. In fact, I think you'll find a surprising number of adventurous things to keep you busy.

This being the the Caribbean, both snorkeling and diving are certainly two great choices for keeping you occupied. In fact, the island has a five-star PADI certified dive center located near Oualie Beach, and there are plenty of great spots to hit the water located not far from shore. In fact, their are abundance of dive sites that sit within a 5 mile radius of Nevis, which means it doesn't take long to reach them, and they usually aren't very crowded.

As you would expect, these dive sites offer visitors a chance to spot hundreds of different tropical fish, as well as sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, and other aquatic animals. There are a number of large coral reefs in the region as well, which provides some excellent opportunities to explore those ecosystems as well. There are even several ship wrecks not far off the Nevis coast, which are always interesting and attract a lot of sea creatures as well. One such dive includes a tug boat that is submerged in just 20 feet of water, which makes it very easy to reach and swim around as well.

In addition to good hiking and biking on Nevis, you can also choose to explore the landscapes there on horseback. Travelers can elect to take a ride along historic trails that wander through some of the villages on the island, while passing by the remnants of plantations that date back to the 17th century. And for a romantic end to then day, considering taking a ride on the beach at sunset. The views are spectacular and sublime.

Examining Adam Ondra's Dawn Wall Climb

It has now been a week and a half since Czech climber Adam Ondra made history by completing the second free ascent of the Dawn Wall in Yosemite. While his expedition didn't get nearly as much media attention as Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson's first ascent back in 2015, Ondra's climb was certainly followed closely by the outdoor and adventure crowd. Now, we're already starting to look back on his accomplishment and trying to give it its fair place in history.

National Geographic Adventure has an interesting article up entitled "How Adam Ondra Crushed Yosemite's Hardest Rock Climb." This story tries to put things into perspective by comparing Ondra's ascent to that of Caldwell and Joregeson, who spent 7 years scouting the wall and 19 days trying to link all of the pieces together to get to the top. In contrast, Ondra was able to do it in just 8 days, although he himself says that he benefited greatly from following in his processors footsteps.

That said however, it should be noted that Caldwell and Jorgeson had years of experience climbing in Yosemite Valley. For Ondra, this was his first visit to that iconic place, and yet he was able to adapt to it fairly quickly. In a little over a month he went from never touching rock in Yosemite, to scaling its most difficult face. Along the way, he also became the first person to lead each of the 32 pitches on the Dawn Wall as well. Tommy and Kevin took turns doing that, while Adam mostly went it alone. He was joined by climbing partner Pavel Blazek, but he was only there to belay Ondra.

In the Nat Geo article Ondra is quoted as saying “What Tommy and Kevin did was even much more impressive than what I did." He goes on to add, “I arrived with all the information, they told me the beta, and all I had to do was climb.”

A Mysterious Expedition with a Telepathic Tribe in the Amazon

Looking for a really interesting story to read this morning? Then look no further than this article from National Geographic. It tells the tale of a famed explorer by the name of Loren McIntyre, who worked with Nat Geo in the past on various projects. He was known to be a dedicated, hardworking guy who could "surmount all obstacles with ease," according to one editor. He journeys took him all over the world and sent him on many adventures. But one such expedition turned out to be stranger than most.

McIntyre spent a lot of time in the Amazon region of Peru, exploring its many mysteries and plumbing deep into its depths. In fact, he was the man who discovered the headwaters of the mighty Amazon River, which begins as snow melt in the Andes, that then pools into a small lake – now called Laguna McIntyre – before spilling down the slopes of the mountain to begin what eventually forms the largest, longest, and most powerful river in the world.

That expedition was a significant one of course, but it isn't the subject of Nat Geo's article. Instead, the story focuses on an expedition that McIntyre made back in the 1960's. One that he seldom talked about. It seems that at one point, the explorer set out to reach an uncontacted tribe living in the rainforest called the Mayoruna. He began the journey by being dropped off on a Amazon riverbank, and following the tribe into the jungle. But, along the way he became lost and couldn't find his way back to his pick-up point. He ended up living with the tribe for two months, and he says that during that time his companions were able to communicate with him telepathically.

As it turns out, neither McIntyre nor the members of the tribe spoke any common languages, which would typically lead to some problems, particularly over a two-month span. But the explorer claimed that the elders of the tribe were known amongst its members to be able to speak what they called "other language." McIntyre himself would later call it "beaming."