Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Video: Dark Skies in Canarias

Dramatic, beautiful, and breathtaking. Those are all words that I would use to describe this video, which is a timelapse shot over the Canary Islands. It is two minutes of pure bliss. Enjoy!

DARK SKY IN CANARIAS from AKETXE on Vimeo.

Video: Heart of Alaska

Filmmaker Bjorn Olson has launched a Kickstarter campaign to make a documentary about an adventurous family that walked and packrafted for three months in the Alaskan wilderness, covering 800 miles (1287 km) in the process. That in and of itself is pretty amazing, but the fact that they did it with two pre-school kids in two is simply incredible.

Below you'll find a trailer for the documentary that Bjorn hopes to make. It gives you a bit of insight into the subjects of his film, and why he is so interested in telling their story. With about nine days to go on the fund raising campaign, he still has a few dollars to bring in so that he can wrap up the project. If this looks like something you'd like to see made, throw a few bucks his way to help him reach his goals.

The Adventure Blog Holiday Shopping Guide

Thanksgiving is always a great time here in the States. Friends and family gather together to catch-up with one another, enjoy some great food, and relax for a few days. But, it also kicks off the frenzy of the holiday shopping season, with millions of consumers heading out to stores in search of the perfect present for their loved ones. If you have an outdoor adventurer on your shopping list this year, then perhaps I can suggest a few items that they might find under the tree. Without further adieu, I present to you the 2014 Adventure Blog holiday shopping guide.

Osprey Rev 12 Pack ($110)
The perfect gift for the trail or ultra runner in your life is, without a doubt, the Rev 12 pack from Osprey. It is lightweight, comfortable to wear, and packed with features. For instance, it comes with with a 2.5L hydration bladder, an innovative media pocket that keeps your phone close at hand at all times, and plenty of pockets and compartments for storage of essential gear. This is simply one of the best packs ever made for trail running, and it is sure to be a hit with your favorite outdoor athlete. The Rev is also available in 1.5 liter, 6, liter, 18 liter, and 24 liter sizes depending on the needs of the runner.

Mountain Hardwear Sereaction Jacket ($600)
Looking for the ultimate high performance jacket to keep your favorite adventurer warm and dry in the mountains? Then look no further than the Sereaction Jacket from Mountain Hardwear. This shell features the company's proprietary Dry.Q Elite fabrics, which were developed for maximum breathability and ventilation during rigorous alpine activities. Designed to allow the wearer to remain comfortable at all times, without restricting movement, this is a jacket that will perform well in nearly any kind of environment and conditions.

Bikes From Cannondale
One of the best presents that anyone can find under the tree on Christmas morning is a new bike. That was true when we were kids, and it remains true to this day. Cannondale always has excellent models to fit every type of rider. The Trail SL 29 ($2060) is a great ride for all-mountain performance, while the Quick CX 1 ($1620) is a fun hybrid for comfortable off-road and city riding. But for the top of the line mountain biking experience, check out the Trigger Carbon Black, Inc. ($10,830), a lightweight, nimble beast that can both climb and descend like no other. This is quite possibly the best mountain bike available today.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Video: 55-Year Old Female Mountain Biker Finds Adventure in Austria

How about a bit of inspiration for your day? Check out this video, which features 55-year old Uta Philipp off on a mountain biking adventure in Austria. She rides like someone half her age, and has a spirit that deserves to be applauded. She couldn't have picked a more beautiful location for her ride either. It looks like a fantastic place to explore on two wheels.

Granny MacAsskick from Summitride on Vimeo.

Video: Katabatic - Episode 2

A few weeks back, EpicTV launched a new video series entitled Katabatic. The series follows explorers Mike Libecki, Freddie Wilkinson, Corey Richards, and Keith Ladzinski as they attempt to circumnavigate the Wolthat Mountain Range in Antarctica. It promises to be a compelling set of videos of a very experienced team visiting some incredibly remote areas of the Antarctic.

In this video, the team discovers just how powerful the forces of nature are in Antarctica. A storm rips through their camp, unleashing a ferocity that is unexpected, even in a part of the world that is known for it's inhospitable weather. Seeing those forces in action on video will give you a new appreciation for what polar explorers endure on their journeys.

Sign-Up for the Inaugural TransArabia Ultramarathon, Get a Discounted Entry into the TransPyrenea 895 Too!

Ultrarunners who had been hoping to take part in the 2015 TransPyrenea 895 race, but found themselves missing the cutoff for registration may just have a second chance to get in on the adventure. The race reached its 300 person cap weeks ago, leaving some of the top endurance athletes in the world on the outside looking in. But now, organizers of the TransPyrenea have announced that they will accept the next ten people who enter TransArabia ultramarathon as well, allowing them join the ranks of competitors at their event. And to sweeten the incentive even further, they're willing to provide a €500 (roughly $620) discount off the entry fee as well.

Organizers for these two great events have teamed up to give ultrarunners the ultimate challenge for 2015 – run a stunning course through the deserts of Jordan, and another through the breathtaking Pyrenees of France. The first of those races will take place starting on February 22, when runners will set off from the shores of the Dead Sea on a 300 km (186 mile) race that will take them through ancient villages, past the lost city of Petra, and into the very heart of Wadi Rum. Then, later in the year, they'll also take on the demanding 895 km (556 mile) TransPyrenea route that will test their legs with more than 52,000 meters (170,600 ft) of vertical gain in the Pyrenees. Both races promise to be incredibly demanding, pushing the competitors to their absolute physical limits.

 For someone who had been hoping to run the TransPyrenea but found themselves missing the entry cut-off, this is a bit of a reprieve. These ten entrants will get to race two of the most exciting ultra events on the calendar for 2015, with more to follow. The two race management teams also promise a big announcement that will be coming soon, with a sister race for the TransPyenea being announced for 2016. Those who race in both events in 2015 will be on the fast track for entrance to those races the following year as well.

If you were hoping to run a major ultra race next year, but just haven't gotten around to registering for one yet, this must might be the opportunity you've been looking for. But act fast, as these ten entries are likely to go quickly, particularly since they now involve not one, but two races, and a discount as well.

Good luck to all the runners in both of these amazing events.

Antarctica 2014: Bitterly Cold Temps and More Arrivals on the Ice

The 2014 Antarctic season is in full swing now, with more teams setting off for the South Pole amidst  "brutally cold" temperatures and high winds. Even during the austral summer, conditions on the frozen continent can test a person's resolve. With miles of open expanse in all directions, surface conditions that are incredibly difficult, and visibility often reduced to zero, it can be difficult to continue to forge ahead. But on the other hand, Antarctica is a stunningly beautiful place that is about as remote as any on the planet. All of those things, and more, are running through the minds of the skiers, many of whom have barely begun the long journey to the South Pole.

We'll start today with an update from Are Johansen, the guide who is taking Stéphanie and Jérémie Gicquel to the Pole. He reports that temperatures have dropped below -40ºC/-40ºF, with winds that are making things very challenging. But, the team has also managed to cover an additional 21 km (13 miles) in a little over seven hours of skiing. That's a solid distance for these opening days, especially as they pull themselves up to the polar plateau, gaining altitude as they go.

For their part, Stéphanie and Jérémie seem to be holding up well to the rigors of the trail. They making great progress, and seem well prepared for the journey. In their most recent dispatch they talk about the heavy sleds they are pulling behind them as they travel across the ice. Those sleds are their lifelines, packed full of gear and supplies. But it seems they are already thinking of ways to lighten their load, and are considering dropping some extra items that they feel they may not need such as a computer and possibly solar chargers. It is interesting that they are already looking for ways to go faster, even though they've been out on the ice a fairly short time, and have plenty of season left to go. The sleds themselves will naturally get lighter as they make progress, burning food and fuel along the way. They must feel especially burdened however if they are discussing plans to drop gear so soon.

Meanwhile, Canadian kite-skier Frédéric Dion ran into more problems with his sled over the weekend, and had to make some serious repairs this time. In order to ensure he doesn't run into problems, the explorer actually used a saw to cut the sled in half, then pieced it back together using tools and fasteners that he had on hand. The result is a smaller, more secure sled, that will also see its load lighten over time. Fred is on his way to the Pole of Inaccessibility, and needs his gear to function at a high level. He hopes that this latest round of repairs will allow him to progress without further problems.

Are You Ready To Tackle Everest?


The spring climbing season in the Himalaya may still be a few months away, but the shadow of Everest always looms large over the outdoor adventure community. With that in mind, Winfields Outdoors – a retail chain that sells gear in the U.K. – has put together a fun infographic to check to see if you're ready to take on the tallest mountain on the planet, and as you can imagine, it is filled with helpful links to websites that can prepare you for an expedition to the Big Hill.

The handy guide to preparing for Everest begins by first taking a look at the skills and gear you'll need for the climb, as well as providing some insights into how altitude could effect the expedition. Some of the links in this section include a list of the best mountains for beginners, a run-down of ten items you'll need to take to Everest, and tips for how to acclimatize to the high altitude.

From there, we move on to look at the level of fitness required for a Himalayan climb, with insights on how to get Everest fit, as well as preparing for the mental rigors of dealing with such a demanding environment. There is even a section that breaks down the costs of an expedition to Everest, with a link to our friend Alan Arnette's annual guide for that very subject.

The infographic doesn't end there however, as it also addresses the topic of finding the proper guide, complete with an official guide directory, which route to take to the top, and information on how to secure your climbing permit. There is even tips for how to descend properly following a successful summit.

In case you couldn't tell already, this infographic has enough links and information to keep you busy for awhile. So whether you're an old pro at Everest expeditions, or just starting to lear, you'll probably find something of value here. Check it out for yourself by clicking here. Just don't plan on doing anything else for awhile, as you'll probably be kind of busy.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Video: Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point in the Grand Canyon

Here's a beautiful short video that is even more impressive when you realize the entire thing was shot using just an iPhone 6 Plus. It features some amazing footage from the Grand Canyon, where filmmaker Dan Carter hiked Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point, capturing video as he went. It is incredible to think that we now have such great cameras, and video editing tools, right in our pockets. Filmmaking has never been so accessible as it is today, and as a result, we're getting some very cool videos. Enjoy!

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point (iPhone 6 Plus) from Dan Carter on Vimeo.

Video: Teaser Trailer for Nolan's 14

There is a little known challenge in the ultrarunning world known as Nolan's 14. That challenge involves running a 100 mile (160 km) route through the mountains of Colorado, while bagging all 14 individual 14,000 ft (4267 meter) peaks that make up Sawatch Range. The runners who take on this challenge are free to follow any route they choose, so long as they manage to get all 14 peaks in under 60 hours. Only 15% of those who try are actually able to do it.

Now, a new documentary about Nolan's 14 has been released, and it looks fantastic. The teaser trailer for the film can be found below, and it serves as a good introduction to this grueling undertaking. You'll recognize some of the biggest names in ultrarunning in the clip, which also gives viewers a glimpse of just how difficult this challenge truly is. The final quote in the trailer sums it up well. "There's running. There's ultrarunning. Then there's Nolan's 14."

If you like what you see, you can rent or buy the full documentary on Vimeo as well.

Nolan's 14 - Trailer from Pheonix and Ash Productions on Vimeo.

Gear Closet: 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 Backpack

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, a few weeks back – just before I left for Ecuador – my friends at 5.11 Tactical were kind enough to ship me a box filled with all kinds of goodies. Amongst them were the Stryke Pants, which I took with me to South America and put to good use in the field. But also in the box was a wonderful daypack that I think many people will find is a great addition to their own gear closets. It is the Rush 12 pack, a versatile, durable, and well built bag that can be used in a variety of situations from the backcountry to the boardroom.

As with all of 5.11 Tactical's gear, the Rush 12 takes a lot of its design cues from military and law enforcement gear. This looks like a pack you would expect to find on the backs of soldiers deployed in just about any theater of operations around the globe. It is incredibly well built, and designed to last, and as such it resists abrasions, tears, and scuffs very well. This is the kind of pack that you'll be able to abuse for years, and still continue to put to good use while hiking, hunting, or carrying your urban gear around town.

The designers of the Rush 12 put a lot of thought into this bag, and have managed to put in a surprising number of features. For instance, there are 16 different compartments, stow pockets, and storage chambers on the pack, giving you plenty of options for keeping all of your important items in just the right place. Those compartments include a fleece-lined pocket that is perfect for sunglasses or a smartphone, with the soft lining ensuring that lenses or screens don't get scratched. There is also a 60oz (1.77 liter) hydration sleeve, a pocket with built-in organizational slots, and large main storage area that can swallow up plenty of gear as well.

Antarctica 2014: More Skiers Hit the Ice, Slow Progress Elsewhere

It has been a few difficult days in the Antarctica, where the season is ramping up nicely. More South Pole skiers arrived on the frozen continent on Saturday, after suffering a one day delay in getting out of Punta Arenas due to poor weather. Meanwhile, others continue to battle hight winds and the dreaded sastrugi – ice ridges that form on the surface, creating obstacles that slow progress. All of this is pretty much standard operating procedure in the Antarctic however, and is all part of traveling in the highest, coldest, driest place on the planet.

A big Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft had been scheduled to shuttle more explorers to the camp at Union Glacier last Friday, but that flight was scrubbed due to bad weather. Fortunately, it was only delayed by a day, and as a result, South Pole skier Newall Hunter is now on his way towards 90ºS. He spent part of yesterday skiing away from his drop-off point, and has been testing his gear to insure everything works properly. If all goes according to plan, he should hit the trail today and start the long journey from Patriot Hill to the Pole. Over the coming weeks, we'll be following his progress closely as he makes his way across the frozen expanse.

Presumably Ian Evans is also out on the ice, although he has not updated his blog just yet to indicate his current whereabouts. He has been scheduled to fly out on last Friday's flight as well, so it is logical to assume he was on the re-scheduled flight on Saturday instead. He could be at Union Glacier, and preparing to get underway, but until his website is updated, we'll just have to wait to find out where he is exactly.

Nepal Backtracks on Everest Permits, 2014 Climbers No Longer Need to Return as a Group

What a difference a week can make. Last Monday I posted a story about how Nepal was honoring the cancelled permits from the 2014 Everest climbing season, but had put a stipulation on their use that would cause many to be unable to climb on the permit that they actually paid for. But now, the Himalaya country has backtracked on those restrictions and is providing better opportunities for the climbers who saw their dreams of scaling Everest dashed this past spring.

As I'm sure most of you know by now, the spring climbing season on Everest was cancelled following a massive avalanche that left 16 Sherpas dead. It was the worst accident in the history of the tallest mountain on the planet, and the aftermath left many of the men and women who work on the mountain angry, confused, and demanding better compensation. At the time, the Nepali government made the decision to close things down, while they looked for ways to defuse the situation. That decision sent hundreds of foreign climbers home, unsure of their future on Everest.

Eventually Nepal's Ministry of Tourism announced that it would honor the climbing permits for five years, giving most of the mountaineers an opportunity to return to Everest, and attempt to climb the mountain once again. But the preliminary announcement indicated that all the climbers listed on a permit would need to return together in order to take advantage of this plan. Those that were unable to come back with their teammates would see their opportunity forfeit, and would have to pay for another permit on future attempts. This meant that if a single member of a team went back to Everest, and used his or her 2014 permit, all the other climbers listed on that document would no longer be able to use that permit themselves.

This was of course a confounding stipulation, as it would be almost impossible for a full team to reassemble to try Everest once again. Fortunately, someone in Nepal saw this as a problem, and was successful in changing the rules. Now, any climber who was on a cancelled permit from the spring 2014 climbing season can use that permit at any time over the course of the next five year. They no longer have to return with their previous team, and they can sign on to any expedition they choose.

I applaud the Nepali government for making this change to the regulations that will give climbers on 2014 permits more freedom to choose when they'll return. This is how the system should have worked in the first place of course, but it is good to see that someone saw the injustice in the previous plan, and made a move to adjust it. Hopefully now, more climbers will have an opportunity to go back to Everest over the next five years, and attempt to climb the mountain.

The spring 2015 season is still months away of course, and yet we continue to find plenty of things to talk about in regards to Everest. I have a feeling the run up to the start of the next climbing season is going to be an interesting one.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Video: Two Lands - Greenland and Iceland

This short video gives viewers a glimpse of two of the most iconic, adventurous, destinations on the planet - Greenland and Iceland. The timelapse images depicted here are beautiful and awe inspiring, providing us with some insight into why these two cold, challenging, places hold such an allure with adventure travelers and explorers the world over.

Two Lands - Greenland | Iceland from SCIENTIFANTASTIC on Vimeo.

Video: The Ridge

Shot in Denali National Park this past spring, this video gives us a dramatic look at a long, and treacherous, mountain ridge. The slow, meandering pace of the clip gives the mountains an almost sinister quality, as if it is daring viewers to just try to traverse its difficult route. But the images are also beautiful and inspiring, reminding us that the dangerous places of our planet are also worth the effort to explore. Sit back, and soak this one in. It says a lot, without saying anything at all.

THE RIDGE from Forge Motion Pictures on Vimeo.

Video: New Documentary to Take Viewers on Epic Traverse of Remote Canadian Mountain Range

This video is a teaser trailer for a new documentary entitled Colours of Edziza. The film follows a diverse team of friends and adventurers as they trek through a remote mountain range in the Tahitian First Nation region of British Columbia in Canada. This part of the world remains largely untouched by outside influences, and the team discovered a land that is as rugged, as it is beautiful. Along the way, they also discovered how to work together to overcome the challenges they faced on their traverse of two different mountain ranges.

The filmmakers for this amazing looking documentary are hoping to complete their project, and have launched an Indegogo campaign to raise the funds they need to finish the film. As I write this, they have raised about $10,000 CAD for the project, and are looking to get to $25,000 CAD. I think after watching the trailer, you'll see that this is an interesting adventure doc that deserves to be seen. If you agree, perhaps you can help out a bit with their goal.

Ultra-running Team Sets New Mark on New Zealand's Great Walks

A few weeks back I posted about the New Zealand 9 expedition, an attempt by a trio of ultrarunners/adventurers to set a new speed record for completing all nine of New Zealand's Great Walks in just nine days. While I was off galavanting around Ecuador the past few weeks, this team of endurance athletes launched their ambitious effort as well. While not everything went according to plan, they were able to successfully complete eight of the Great Walks, and a portion of the ninth, while in the process, setting a new record along the way.

Ben Southall, Luke Edwards, and Patrick Kinsella faced grueling trail conditions, sleep deprivation, logistical challenges, and the wrath of Mother Nature as they ran – and paddled – their way along the Great Walks. The three men pushed themselves to their physical limits, often running distances greater than a marathon on back-to-back, successive days, on dirt trails no less. In the end, it was circumstances beyond their control that prevented them from achieving the nine walks in nine days, although they did manage to complete eight of the journeys in record time.

For those who don't know, the nine "Great Walks" consist of the following: The Rakiura Track (32km/19.8 miles), Kepler Track (60km/37.2 miles), Milford Track (54km/33.5 miles), Routeburn Track (32km/19.8 miles), Heaphy Track (78km/48.5 miles), Abel Tasman Coastal Track (51km/31.6 miles), Whanganui Journey (145 km/90 miles), Tongariro Northern Circuit (43km/26.7 miles), Lake Waikaremoana Track (46km/28.5 miles).

When the team completed the Routeburn Track, they immediately set out for the Heaphy Track to continue their expedition. Unfortunately, extended driving times between the trailheads forced them to run the 78km (48.5 mile) route at night, which presented plenty of challenges in and of itself. They were able to complete that route however, and that wasn't where they faced a roadblock that couldn't be overcome.

Winter Mountaineering 2014: Lonnie Dupre to Return to Denali

Although we will be closely following the efforts of climbers on both K2 and Nanga Parbat this winter, not all of the major climbing expeditions will be taking place in the Himalaya. Polar explorer and mountaineer Lonnie Dupre will be heading back to Alaska in a few weeks, where he'll once again attempt a solo summit of Denali in January, something that has never been accomplished before.

This isn't the first time Lonnie has attempted this climb. In fact, for three straight years we followed his efforts, during which he often flirted with the summit, only to have his efforts thwarted by poor weather. He skipped an attempt this past January to concentrate on other efforts, but is now planning to return more focused than ever.

According to ExWeb, Dupre will begin the expedition on December 15, when he is expected to fly to the Kahiltna Glacier at the foot of Denali, where he'll prepare for the actual climb itself. As in the past, he won't launch any efforts to go up the mountain until at least January 1, the start of the coldest, windiest, and darkest month of the year in Alaska. Whether or not he'll be able to stick to that date remains to be seen. A weather window will need to open for Dupre that will grant him – and the bush pilot who flies him out to the glacier – access to the region.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Video: Nosunvalley - Mountain Biking in Slovenia

I don't know much about the Soča Valley in Slovenia, but judging from what is shown in this video, it looks like a beautiful outdoor destination, with some great mountain biking trails to ride. This short film takes us on a journey through this intriguing landscape on a mountain bike, giving us a glimpse of the amazing mountains, valleys, and meadows that exist there. It looks spectacular to say the least.

Nosunvalley [MOVIE] from Twisted Chick Production on Vimeo.

Video: The North Face - Your Land

This video is a promo clip from The North Face, with a number of scenes of outdoor athletes doing their favorite activities, while strains of the song This Land is Your Land plays in the background. While that song has a decidedly American slant to it, the theme of the video is universal, as are the images that it evokes with outdoor lovers. This land belongs to you and me.

Gear Closet: 5.11 Tactical Stryke Pants

Just a few days before I set out for Ecuador, a box was unexpectedly delivered to my door. Since I wasn't really expecting anything, I wasn't sure what was inside. I opened it up to discover several excellent pieces of gear from 5.11 Tactical, a company that makes great clothing and other items for outdoor enthusiasts, military personnel, and law enforcement agents. While not all of it was appropriate for my trip to South America, I did immediately add their Stryke Pants to my backpack, as I though Ecuador would a perfect place to test them. It didn't take long for me to realize that they were a great addition to my pack, and a vital piece of equipment for my trip.

Made from Flex-TAC ripstop fabrics, the Stryke Pant features a cut that fits the body nicely, without inhibiting motion in any way. Comfortable to wear, even for extended periods of time, these pants allow you to move as necessary over rough terrain, and in difficult conditions. On top of that, they are treated with a Teflon coasting, that provides protection from stains and dirt, as well as a measure of moisture resistance as well. This is a nice benefit for travelers who like to travel light, as it allows you to carry fewer items with you when you go. In my case, I brought only two pairs of pants on my trip to Ecuador, with the Stryke Pant getting the bulk of the use during active pursuits.

Tactical 5.11 knows their customers well, and when designing these pants they incorporated plenty of pockets and stash points to store all of your important items. In addition to the traditional pockets on the front and back, there are also cargo pockets conveniently located on each leg. Inside those two pockets, you'll find organizational compartments as well, which are perfect for a cell phone, digital camera, a pocket knife, or what ever other items you want to keep close at hand. Both the cargo and rear pockets also feature velcro flaps to ensure a level of security too. Those flaps stay solidly in place, and are nearly impossible to open without drawing the attention of the wearer. This is also a nice feature for travelers, who want to keep their wallet, and other valuables, safe while on the road, although they also come in handy for making sure nothing falls out while you're scrambling up a mountain, or hiking a difficult trail.

Antarctica 2014: Trouble on the Way to the POI

The 2014 Antarctic expedition season is well underway now, with teams of skiers making their way towards the South Pole, and other destinations across the frozen continent. While travel in Antarctica has become somewhat common place in recent years, it is still a very difficult, and in hospitable place, which one explorer found out yesterday. Meanwhile, the next flight to Union Glacier is still on track for tomorrow, as yet more expeditions prepare to get underway.

Canadian kite-skier Frédéric Dion ran into a bit of trouble yesterday, and it could put his entire expedition in jeopardy. Dion set off from the Russian Novo station back on November 11 with the intention of kiting to the Pole of Inaccessibility, which is defined as a point that is located furthest from any coastline on the Antarctic continent. Using his large kites to catch the wind, Fréd has been zipping along quite nicely, covering more than 500 km (310 miles) in a relatively short period of time. With him he has a specially designed sled that can best be described as a kayak on skis, which carries all of his gear and supplies. It is essentially his lifeline while out on the ice, and it is the one piece of equipment that needs to function properly in order for him to successfully reach the POI.

Yesterday, when he contacted his home team, it was with the grim news that the kayak had suffered a 30 cm (11.8 inch) crack, this making it very difficult to continue. Dion immediately initiated an attempt to repair the crack, but it took 5 hours to do so, and he made no progress at all yesterday. He will attempt to continue today, although we'll all have to wait to see if the sled will be able to stand-up to the rigors of the Antarctic.

Winter Mountaineering 2014: K2 and Nanga Parbat Take Center Stage

Earlier this week we turned out the light on the 2014 fall Himalayan climbing season by wrapping up the last couple of expeditions that were still ongoing. Now, there will be a bit of a respite on the big mountains, while most of the attention turns to the spring climbing season on Everest. But before that occurs, the winter climbing season awaits, and in just over a month's time, teams will begin heading to some of the most difficult peaks on the planet in an attempt to summit during the coldest, most demanding season of all.

As of now, there are just two 8000 meter peaks that remain unclimbed in winter, They are K2 and Nanga Parbat. This winter, teams have targeted both peaks in an attempt to knock off one, or both, of these incredibly difficult mountains.

While most of the winter climbing expeditions are heading to Nanga, the team that we'll be watching the closest will no doubt be on K2. As previously announced, a team consisting of climbing all-stars Denis Urubko, Adam Bielecki and Alex Txikon, who will be joined by Artiom Braun and Dmitry Siniew, has set its sights on a new route on the toughest mountain on the planet. The team will climb from the Chinese side of K2, up the North Face, along the Northeast Ridge. According to ExWeb, the squad will depart for the Karakoram on December 16.