Monday, September 26, 2016

Gear Closet: Merrell Capra Venture Hiking Boots

As many of you know, last week I traveled to Bryce Canyon in Utah to test out a bunch of new gear from my friends at REI. I knew that while I was out there we would be backpacking through remote sections of the national park and camping in the wild. I saw that as the perfect opportunity to try out some new hiking boots as well, thinking that a couple of days on the trail would make the perfect testing grounds. Turns out the weather we encountered in Bryce was wild too, ranging from light rain to heavy downpours, followed by hail, gale-force winds, flash floods, tornadoes, and the occasional bout of sunshine. In short, it was exactly the kind of weather you need to see just how good your gear truly is. Thankfully, I made a good decision when it came to footwear.

For this trip, my boot of choice was the new Capra Venture from Merrell. These lightweight and very comfortable boots are a new addition to the company's line-up this fall, and being a big fan of the footwear that Merrell produces, I was eager to see how well they performed on what was expected to be a challenging, but dry, hiking trail in Bryce. It was far from that however, and over the course of two days of backpacking, we encountered conditions that would test the resolve of any boot. Thankfully, the Capra Venture met that challenge nicely, and kept my feet well protected the entire time.

This boot features a couple of new components to the outdoor industry that I was looking forward to putting to the test. Those included the new Gore-Tex Surround materials and the Vibram Megagrip outsole. Gore-Tex Surrounded as been specifically designed to create a more breathable, yet still waterproof, boot that can be worn in warmer environments. That's exactly what I had in mind when I chose it to take with me to Bryce Canyon, but due to heavy rains and cooler temperatures, my Capra Ventures were forced to deal with far more water and moisture than anticipated.

So how did they hold up? Very well for the most part. The shoes kept my feet warm and dry for the bulk of the trip, which included crossing through swollen streams, walking in lots of mud, and hiking in incessant rainstorms. Late in the afternoon on our first day out in Bryce my feed did start to get a little damp, but considering the amount of moisture we were facing on the trail this was more of a case of the boots soaking out, and possibly getting some moisture in over the top from y saturated shell pants, more than anything else. Either way, it wasn't a great deal of water that made its way inside of the boots, but it was worth noting nonetheless.

Couple Completes a Year of Living in the Wilderness

Remember Dave and Amy Freeman? They're the couple that not only were named Nat Geo Adventurers of the Year back in 2014 for their 11,000 mile (17,700 km) journey across North America, but last year they embarked on a 12-month odyssey that saw them living in the wilderness in an attempt to raise awareness of threats to the environment in Voyageurs National Park. I even wrote about the start of that adventure last September. Now, a year later, they have emerged from the wilderness at last, bringing an end to this stage of their project.

Last Friday, September 23, Dave and Amy paddled their canoe up the Kawisihiwi River in Minnesota, finishing their epic 12-month journey near a sulfide-ore copper mining operation, which is exactly the threat they've been battling. Those mines have the potential to spoil the natural environment of the Minnesota Boundary Waters, something they've shared a great deal of information about on their Save the Boundary Waters website.

During their year in the wilderness the Freemans travelled more than 2000 miles (3218 km) by canoe, dogsled, on skis, snowshoes, and by foot. Over that period, they paddled more than 500 lakes and rivers, and called 120 different campsites home. Along the way they faced steamy hot days in the summer, and frigid nights in the winter, when temperatures dropped to -30ºF (-34ºC). Those extremes were to be expected of course with the changing of the seasons, but it was a challenge for them to maintain the correct gear and stay focused nonetheless.

Now, the married couple will begin reintegrating back into normal life, where they'll welcome being home for a while and enjoying the luxuries of civilization. But they weren't completely cut off during their year in the wilderness. They often made blog posts while they were exploring the Boundary Waters, and more than 300 visitors helped to keep them fully supplied or spent a few days traveling with them as well. Still, the return to the daily life will be both welcomed and challenging at the same time.

Of course, their fight against the mining companies is far from over, and the duo are urging government officials to not renew the leases for the Twin Metals company that is operating in the area that the Freemans are trying to protect. To that end, they'll head to Washington, D.C. today to talk with lawmakers, and are already planning both a book and a documentary about their experience. After a year in the wilderness, I'm sure they have some good stories to share.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Bad Weather Delays Summit Bids, Sad News From Manaslu

When last we checked in with the big commercial teams in the Himalaya this fall most were in the process of wrapping up their acclimatization efforts and had started planning their summit bids. Some were even expected to top out on their respective mountains by the end of last week. But as usual, mother nature had other plans, with bad weather hitting the region and delaying any attempts to reach summit on several of the big peaks. But, the forecast calls for improved conditions in the days ahead, and details are starting to emerge on a new schedule.

Over on Cho Oyu, the Adventure Consultants report heavy snow over the past few days. But yesterday, the storm finally broke, and it now appears that they will have five solid days of good weather ahead which should serve as summit window. No word on exactly when they'll depart Base Camp, but it would seem that the team is ready to go and may leave as early as today. That means they should reach the summit over the next few days provided the forecast is accurate and the weather holds. The entire squad is rested, acclimatized and ready to go.

On Manaslu, the teams have pretty much wrapped up their acclimatization rotations and are now preparing to summit as well. That includes the Seven Summits Trek squad and the contingent of Himex climbers too. Interestingly enough, it appears that the teams haven't finished fixing ropes to Camp 4 yet, and there is some dispute over how that process is being handled. Typically, the Himex team – which is amongst the most experienced on the mountain – takes the lead, but with Seven Summits becoming more prominent, their Sherpas have played a role too. Unfortunately, they apparently got lost in whiteout conditions last week and installed ropes to the wrong location – something that has annoyed Himex boss Russel Brice. You can read about that here. Otherwise, the teams seem to be well acclimated and ready to go once the weather improves.

Monday, September 19, 2016

On the Road Again - Backpacking Bryce Canyon



It seems I've been home for an all-too-brief stay, but its time to go on the road again. This time, I'm headed for Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah where I'll be backpacking for the rest of the week with the fine folks at REI Adventures. This trip was actually organized by the REI retail team, so over the next few days I'll be joining some other outdoor writers in testing some of the latest and greatest gear from that company.  That means I'll be off the gird for the rest of the week, with no updates to The Adventure Blog in the meantime. But, I should be back at it next week. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to seeing Bryce, a national park I haven't visited yet. I'm sure I'll have a story or two to share from the experience as well.

Video: Meet the World's First All-Female Anti-Poaching Team

The Balule Nature Reserve in South Africa a team of women called the Black Mambas has been training for the past three years to combat illegal poaching in the region. They are the first all-female squad to take on such a mission, with their main goal being to protect the wild elephants that roam the area. In this video, brought to us by National Geographic, we join the Mambas as they go out on patrol, searching for the hunters who are looking to kill the animals in the preserve where they work. The short film is an inspiring look at this team of dedicated and tough women who are looking to make a difference with Africa's wildlife. It is really an interesting story.

Adventure Tech: GoPro Unveils the Karma Drone at Long Last

It seems like we've been waiting a very long time, but today GoPro finally took the wraps off of its highly anticipated Karma drone, giving would-be filmmakers yet another tool to help them create their outdoor and adventure travel masterpiece.

By now, we all know what a drone is, and how it can be used in a variety of ways. Over the past few years, the drone market has matured dramatically, with companies like DJI leading the way. But this is GoPro's first foray into UAV's, and in order for the company to make a dent in the industry – and possibly reverse its flagging fortunes – it knew that had to deliver something different and unique. Was the Karma worth the wait? We'll have to hold on a bit longer to know for sure, but it certainly is intriguing.

The Karma is a small, sleek looking quadcopter with a foldable design that makes it easy to transport. It comes with its own custom built controller, complete with a touchscreen built right in. The controller is said to be very beginner friendly, and the drone has a number of autonomous features that help to make it easy to fly. Still, it doesn't appear to have anything close to the level of independent control as something like the DJI Phantom 4, which is equipped with a host of sensors to allow it to safely navigate on its own without a pilot.

Being a camera company first and foremost, GoPro clearly put a lot of thought into capturing outstanding footage from its other devices. With that in mind, the Karma comes with a specially built 3-axis stabilizer designed to hold an action camera. This stabilizer can also be removed and attached to a new product called the Karma Grip, which can be mounted on a vehicle or held in your hand to get great, super-stable shots as well.

Gear Closet: Osprey Manta AG 28 Daypack

If you're a regular reader of my "Gear Closet" stories here at The Adventure Blog, you probably already know the I have a habit of going on at great length about the product that I'm writing a review for. That is likely to be the case with the Manta AG 28 from Osprey as well, but for those of you who would rather get to the bottom line on this bag, I thought I would save you some time. So, for those folks wondering whether or not this pack will get a good review, let me just tell you now. It is amazing. Go buy one. Thank me later.

For those of you who are still around, we can now get into the details.

The Manta line of packs have been a part of the Osprey catalog for some time. But this pack, which was released this past spring, adds a nice new dimension that truly helps to separate it from the crowd. The "AG" in the bag's title stands for "Anti-Gravity" which is the name given to Osprey's innovative suspension that not only helps the pack to sit more comfortably and naturally on your body, but it can effectively carry more weight over a longer distance too.

The Anti-Gravity suspension was first introduced on Osprey's Atmos series, which is designed for backpacking and adventure travel. But now, it has trickled down to these daypacks as well. The suspension really does make a noticeable difference, and the integration of the mesh backpanel plays a big role in keeping you cooler and drier while hiking.

I have to say that I was a bit skeptical that the AG system would have as big of an impact on a daypack as it does on the larger backpacking models. But, after putting this bag to the test in the field, I can honestly say that my doubts were unfounded. The suspension is remarkable, and I think you'll find yourself coming off the trail at the end of the day feeling much better than you would with a traditional daypack without AG integration.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Manaslu the Most Popular Peak of the Season

The numbers are in for the fall climbing season in Nepal, and Manaslu is far and away the most popular peak in the country. Over the weekend, the Nepali Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation released some statistics for the number of permits issued to foreign climbers, and as usual those numbers share some interesting insights.

According to The Himalayan Times, Nepal has issued 277 climbing permits for the fall. Those permits are spread out over 19 different peaks within the country. Of those 277 climbers, 151 have are attempting Manaslu, the 8th highest mountain in the world at 8163 meters (26,781 ft). For some, it will be a testing ground before moving on to Everest in the future, while others are there to add an 8000-meter peak to their resume. In all, there are 16 teams heading to the mountain this fall.

Sherpa teams have finished installed the fixed ropes up to Camp 3 on Manaslu over the past few days, which means the teams on that mountain – including Seven Summit Treks and Himex – will be wrapping up their acclimatization efforts there soon and will begin thinking about summit bids. That could happen as early as next week. Traditionally, the summit push comes in the final week of September or early October, depending on weather conditions.

The Himalayan Times also reports that Amadablam, Saribung and the Putha Hiuchuli are some of the other peaks that have been issued permits this year as climbers look for other challenges in the region that aren't 8000-meters or taller in height. For instance, 39 climbers have obtained permits for Himlung Himal as well, a peak that is 7126 meters (23,379 ft) in height, and a good introduction to Himalayan climbing.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Video: A Highliner Talks About Fear While Suspended 2800 Meters Up

This short, but beautiful video, takes us up to 2800 meters (9186 ft) as we join highliner Hayley Ashbury as she walks a thin rope across two spires on Torri del Vajolet, a peak located in the Italian Dolomites. While doing so, Hayley shares a quote from the book Dune by Frank Herbert about controlling her fear, something that seems very fitting considering where she is at in the clip. This is 90 seconds of pure terror wrapped up in an incredibly well shot video.

Highlining 2800m in winter.'Hayley'- 90 seconds about fear. (Dir. Stian Smestad Music by Nils Frahm) from Stian Smestad on Vimeo.

Video: Kilian Jornet's Everest Summit Dreams Live On

Yesterday the news broke that Kilian Jornet has abandoned his plans to make a speed attempt on Mt. Everest due to very poor weather conditions on the mountain. Deep snow made him cancel that attempt, but while his dream of a speed ascent may have been postponed, they are no over. Clearly he will return again in the future to have another go at the world's highest peak.

In this video we get a bit of a recap of what Kilian has been up to over the past couple of years. It is a review of his Summits of My Life project to date, with a bit of inspiration to help us all move forward. It is a nice tribute to one of the greatest mountain athletes on the planet today, and definitely worth a look for those who follow his exploits.

Colorado Adventures: Fly Fishing in Crested Butte

Earlier in the week I shared a post on my recent trip to Crested Butte, Colorado where I had an amazing time exploring the mountain biking trails there. If you read that piece, you already know that CB is considered one of the birth places of mountain biking, and as such there are plenty of trails to ride. In fact, there are more than 750 miles of trail, spread out over 150 different routes. That's enough to keep even the most dedicated rider busy for awhile.

But, Crested Butte isn't just a great mountain biking destination, as it has a lot to offer other visitors too. For instance, in the winter it has excellent skiing both at the Crested Butte Mountain Resort and backcountry options for the more adventurous. There is also plenty of great snowshoeing and nordic skiing too, if you prefer your winter adventures with a bit less adrenaline-fueled downhill action. During the warmer months, the hiking and trail running routes are spectacular, and the most of the mountain bike trails can be done on horseback too. This being Colorado, there also plenty of options for camping, climbing, and paddling as well, with even some good whitewater to run.

While I didn't have the chance to try each of those activities while I was in town, I did get the chance to do a little fly fishing. And while I'm mostly a beginner at that sport, I found it to be a relaxing, yet still engaging, way to explore the local culture.

For my fly-fishing experience we drove about 20 minutes outside of Crested Butte to reach the Three Rivers Resort, located in the small town of Almont. Three Rivers not only has a some wonderful rooms, cabins, and houses for visitors to rent, it also offers some active day-trips for those looking for some adventure. In addition to guiding rafting and kayaking excursions, travelers can also book stand-up paddleboard sessions, and skiing and snowboarding outings during the winter months. They also have a knowledgable and friendly staff in a well-stocked tackle shop for local and visiting anglers, as well a guide service that can get you out on the water and reeling in fish in no time.

Are You the 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year?

Listen up all aspiring photographers out there. National Geographic has begun accepting entries into this year's Nature Photographer of the Year contest, and is giving away some great prizes to winners. If you've taken an outstanding photo of nature in 2016, they want to see it. And it could send you off on an impressive adventure of your own.

The contest website says "We’re looking for photos that showcase the awe-inspiring and diverse natural world around us. That could be a powerful wildlife shot, a stunning landscape, or a look at a complicated environmental issue—whatever nature means to you." In other words, there is a pretty broad interoperation out there of what exactly Nat Geo means by "nature." I'm sure more than a few have you have captured some great images over the past 12 months that you can submit to the contest. Entries are begin accepted until November 4, after which a panel of judges will decide which photos are worthy of making the cut.

Of course, there are some great prizes for those who win the contest. Each of the categories – Landscapes, Animals, Action and Environmental – will have three winners. First place will be awarded $2500 in case, while second place will get $750 and a signed National Geographic book. The third place winner goes home with $500.  But best of all, the Grand Prize finisher will receive a 10-day trip for two to the Galapagos Islands courtesy of Natural Habitat Adventures. I can't think of a better place to take more photos of nature than that destination.

As you would expect, competition is sure to be tough in this contest, but you just might have the wining photo sitting on your hard drive right now. Pick out your best and submit them for consideration. Who knows, you just might be on your way to the Galapagos in the near future.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Commercial Teams Planning Summit Attempts, Nobu Alone on Everest

With Kilian Jornet announcing his departure from Everest yesterday, I felt it was time to take a look around at the other expeditions currently going on in the Himalaya to check the status of their progress. In some cases, teams are already starting to look ahead to summit bids, which could come as early as late next week in some cases.

First off, now that Jornet has left Everest, Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki is the only one on that mountain this fall. He reports that he has now climbed up to 7000 meters (22,965 ft) and his acclimatization process is moving along about as well as can be expected. From the reports we've heard from the mountain, that won't be the challenge for him this year. Instead, it will be the deep snow that seems to be piling up on Tibet's North Side. Kilian mentioned the heavy snows as the main reason for his departure from the mountain, but for Nobu it is just another challenge to overcome as he attempts to climb solo, unsupported, and in alpine style without oxygen. For now, he'll just have to continue acclimating and waiting for his opportunity to push higher.

Alan Arnette is reporting that two climbers are taking an interesting approach to attempting a summit on Cho Oyu. Adrian Ballinger, who owns Alpenglow Expeditions, and his partner Emily Harrington are currently training in Tahoe, and are sleeping in altitude tents as they acclimatize as much as possible before they head to the Himalaya. Once they've wrapped up their preparation, they'll head to Tibet and try to climb the mountain in just two weeks total time. This holds true with the company's philosophy for climbing faster by preparing more ahead of time, which is used on other peaks too. A strategy that has come under fire from mountaineering purists from time to time.

Speaking of Cho Oyu, that continue to be a popular mountain this fall. There are currently no less than six commercial teams there, Base Camp has been a bit crowded this season. Most of those squads have now wrapped up their first round of rotations, with the next coming in a few days when they'll move up the slope to Camp 2.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Video: The Last Rhinos - Would Legalizing the Sale of Their Horns Save Them?

Here's an intriguing video to say the least. It follows the efforts of John Hume, a man living in South Africa who happens to own five percent of the world's rhino population. Hume sued the government in South Africa to legalize the sale of rhino horns, arguing that if you sold them on the open market, it would bring the number of rhinos killed by illegal poachers down dramatically. It seems that when removed safely and properly, the horns will grow back, and the animal won't be killed. Could this be the answer to saving Earth's engendered rhino species?

National Geographic - The Last Rhinos from Brian Dawson on Vimeo.

Video: 72-Year Old Ultrarunner Completes Western States 100

And now for your daily dose of inspiration. In this amazing video, we meet 72-year old ultrarunner Wally Hesseltine, who set out to not only run a 100-mile (160 km) race, but perhaps the best known ultramarathon of them all – the famed Western States 100. He managed to finish that epic run in 30 hours, but that isn't the entire story. Watch the short film below and then go put on your running shoes. Amazing.

Thirty Hours from alex on Vimeo.

168 Years After Sinking in the Arctic the HMS Terror has Been Found

After years of searching in the Arctic, the missing ship of explorer Sir John Franklin has been found at long last. Earlier this week it was announced that the HMS Terror, a vessel that Franklin was using to explore the icy waters of the Northwest Passage, had been found after 168 years.

Franklin and his crew had been exploring the Arctic Ocean north of Canada back in 1848 when they ran into thick pack ice that prevented them from continuing their voyage. Both the Terror and its sister-ship, the HMS Erebus became trapped, forcing everyone onboard to abandon the two vessels. Eventually, all 129 members of the crew perished in the Arctic, and what became of the ships remained a mystery.

A few years back the Erebus was discovered by a search crew, but the location of the Terror remained a mystery. Now, thanks to a tip from a local Inuit tribesman, that mystery has been solved. The Terror  was found in – of all places – Terror Bay, where its mast was spotted sticking out of the ice by passing hunters a few years back. That tip led to an archeological team going to the site to check out the area, only to discover the very vessel they had been searching for.

According to early reports, it seems that the ship is in relatively good condition, and may contain most of the things that were left onboard when it was abandoned by Franklin and his crew. In comparison, the Erebus has suffered hull damage, and Arctic currents had spread out its contents over a wide area. It'll be some time before salvage crews can truly get a look at the Terror however, so just what might be on the ship remains a mystery.

As for Franklin and his men, it seems that after they abandoned their ships, they began a long and perilous march across the Arctic with the hopes of reaching the Hudson Bay Company – a fur trading outpost far to the south. None of the men made it to the safety of that place however, vanishing in desolate white expanse of the north. Inuit oral histories talk about the foreigners passing through their area, but their ultimate fate has never been fully told.

The disaster that beset the Franklin crew is one of the worst in British naval history. It was quite a blow to that country, which ruled the seas and was pushing the boundaries of exploration at the time. Now, after more than a century and a half, at least part of the mystery has been solved.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Kilian Jornet Cancels Everest Speed Attempt

One of the current Himalayan expeditions that we've been watching closely has come to an end before it ever even had a chance to really get started. It was announced earlier today that Spanish ultrarunner Kilian Jornet has pulled the plug on his attempt at a speed record on Everest due to poor weather on the North Side of the mountain.

In a quote that was sent out via a press release a few hours ago, Jornet says “During the first few weeks we were acclimatising well and the conditions were good. However, when we were getting ready to prepare the attempt the weather began to change. There were some heavy snow storms and a large accumulation of snow. As a result, although we were in good physical shape, there was a high risk of avalanches and in the absence of good safety conditions it was impossible to climb.”

Apparently, the expedition was actually nearing its conclusion when the decision was made to go home instead. There hasn't been a lot of news from Kilian or his team, but it seems acclimatization was going very well, and he was extremely happy with his progress. Unfortunately, heavy snow has been falling on the mountain over the past couple of weeks, and that was making the route much more dangerous. So much so that they made the wise choice of cancelling the summit attempt and going home instead.

Kilian says that he has learned a lot from the experience and will now return to Spain where he'll evaluate how this expedition went, and decide from there how to proceed. He has already indicated that next time around he'll do a few things differently both in preparation and acclimatization once on the mountain. He had spent three weeks training at 6500 meters (21,325 ft) which will give him a better understanding of the Everest environment the next time around.

Honestly, an attempt in the spring would probably provide more stable weather conditions, but Kilian would then have to contend with a lot more people on the mountain. For most of the time that he was there, he had Base Camp all to himself. We do know that Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki is also there for a solo bid on the mountain, but he didn't arrive until last week. It is unclear whether or not the heavy snow will impact his attempt to summit Everest, which will be his sixth time trying to accomplish that feat.

For now, we'll have to wait to see how Kilian does on Everest. Remember, he's never climbed an 8000 meter peak before. Hopefully he'll get another crack at it in the future. It will be interesting to see what an athlete of his caliber can accomplish there.

Arctic Explorers Bring Bad News After Sailing Northwest and Northeast Passages

One of the most ambitious and interesting adventures of the summer has been the Polar Ocean Challenge. Led by famed explorer David Hempleman-Adams, the objective of the expedition was to sail both the Northeast and Northwest passages in a single year, circumnavigating the North Pole and taking stock of the arctic sea ice along the way. A few days back the crew of adventurers, sailors, and researchers completed a major milestone of their journey, and they brought back some sobering news about the state of ice in the Arctic Ocean.

The sailing ship Northabout set sail from Bristol, in the U.K. back June, making way for Norway before proceeding on to Russia to the start of the Northeast Passage. The ship ran into a delay at that point due to pack ice still blocking the route. That isn't too uncommon in the early part of summer, as it generally takes a few weeks before the passage clears. From there, they navigated on through the icy waters of the Arctic before exiting into the Northern Pacific and crossing over to Alaska. The next stage of the journey was through the Northwest Passage above Canada, which is the section that was just completed. Now, the plan is to sail on to Greenland, and then back home to Bristol.

By successfully navigating through the both the Northwest and Northeast passages, the crew proved that those once mythical routes are now fully open, and accessible. They also became the first ship to make such a journey in a single season, although they certainly won't be the last. Climatologists now predict that both passages will see increasing numbers of commercial traffic before the middle of the century, even by ships that are not hardened against ice.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Video: Wings of Kilimanjaro 2016 Expedition

Next week, 29 climbers will set out for the "Roof of Africa" as part of the Wings of Kilimanjaro initiative. The team, which is being led by my friends over at Tusker Trail, will attempt to trek to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa, where they will then paraglide off the mountain. But the group isn't there just to have an amazing adventure. They'll also be raising funds to support a number of projects that are improving the lives of people living in Tanzania. Those projects include installing pumps to deliver clean water, teaching local farmers to grow crops in a sustainable fashion, and improving the education of the children that live there. In the video below, you'll learn a bit more about the program, but you'll also see some amazing shots of their previous climbs up Kili, and the epic flights they've taken from the summit. It looks like a great way to see an already impressive mountain, and its all for a good cause.


Video: Unclimbed Reaching the Summit in the Himalaya (Episode 2)

Yesterday I posted the first video in a new series that follows mountaineers Gabriel Filippi, Elia Saikaly, and Pasang Kaji Sherpa as they prepare to take on two unclimbed peaks (Tenzing and Hillary Peaks) in Nepal. Today, we have the second video of the series, this time we head out with the team as they go ice climbing as part of their process of getting ready for the challenges ahead. If you've ever wondered about the training that goes into prepping for the Himalaya, this video will give you an idea.

If you're a fan of mountaineering or climbing in the big mountains, you'll very much enjoy this series. We'll also be following Gabriel, Elia, and Pasang Kaji as they go for these two first ascents this fall.

Colorado Adventures: Mountain Biking Crested Butte

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Crested Butte, Colorado – a place I had heard about for a long time, but had never had the chance to see for myself before. As an adventure destination, CB's reputation proceeded it, as I had long heard that it was a great place to go mountain biking. As it turns out, the town easily exceeded my expectations, delivering great opportunities for riders of all skill levels.

For those that don't know, Crested Butte is considered one of the birthplaces of mountain biking. As far back as 1976 local riders were heading out across mountain passes on single-speed bikes that were hardly made for the conditions. In the 80's the sport really started to gain traction as riders took part in a number of grueling races and group rides, including the Pearl Pass Tour, which has been around for nearly four decades. CB is even home to the oldest mountain bike association in the world, something that they are rightfully proud of.

Located about 4.5 hours southwest of Denver by car (or a short hop to the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport), Crested Butte is a quintessential mountain town, complete with plenty of outdoor activities and surrounded by breathtaking scenery. With just 1500 permanent residents, you would expect it to be a sleepy little place, but the opposite is actually true. Not only is CB home to an interesting and eclectic blend of locals, it has plenty of visitors who come to partake in its outdoor playground pretty much any time of the year.

During the winter, the town is a wonderful ski destination, with Crested Butte Mountain Resort just minutes away. With more than 120 ski runs, and an average snowfall of about 300" (7.6 meters) each year, it has plenty to offer snowboarders and skiers alike. And for the more adventurous amongst us, the area also has outstanding backcountry opportunities as well, giving visitors a chance to shred untouched powder on a regular basis.

My visit came just after the end of the summer rush, but still prior to the start of the fall season, when the local aspen trees begin to take on their legendary golden hues. At some of the higher elevations that was already starting to happen, giving me a hint of what was to come. But while I was there summer was still in full swing, with cool mornings but warm afternoons that were perfect for hitting the trail.

Did Amelia Earhart Survive Her Crash in the Pacific?

One of the most compelling missing person's stories of the 20th century may have just gotten even more interesting. A member of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) now claims that aviator Amelia Earhart not only survived her crash in South Pacific back in 1937, but she lived for days on a remote island, where she continuously called for help from her aircraft's radio, with those calls being picked up by amateur radio operators all over the world at the time. 

In recent years, TIGHAR has put considerable effort into searching for the remains of Earhart, her navigator Fred Noonan, and their aircraft. The group has made several expeditions to islands in the Pacific searching for evidence of what may have happened to her. They have found some compelling clues, but nothing that definitively says whether or not she or Noonan survived the crash, or even made it to one of the sites they have examined at all. 

But according to Ric Gillespie, a member of TIGHAR, Earhart's calls for help were heard by a woman in Melbourne, Australia; a housewife in Texas who claims to have recognized her voice, and perhaps most intriguing of all – a teenager in Florida. 

What makes the Florida teen's story so fascinating is that she scribbled notes based on what she was hearing, transcribing what was allegedly Earhart's broadcast. The teen wrote several times "New York, New York," seemingly referencing the city. But Gillespie believes that Earhart was actually saying "SS Norwich City," which was a ship that was abandoned on Nikumaroro island in 1929, the place that  TIGHAR believes the aviator set down. 

Polar Bears Trap Russian Research Team Inside Arctic Base

Think your job is rough? Consider the challenges that a team of five Russian scientists have been facing as they conduct weather research on the remote island of Troynoy in the Arctic Ocean. According to a report from TASS the group had become trapped inside its meteorological observation center by a group of ten polar bears who have taken up residence just outside the base.

Normally, in order to keep the bears at bay, the scientists use flares and have dogs at the base to scare off the animals. But, the team had run out of flares, and according to Mashable the bears even killed one of the dogs. Because of this aggressive nature, the researchers have had to abandon some of their projects, and had been instructed to only leave the base when absolutely necessary.

It was originally reported that it would take weeks to deliver new flares and dogs to the station, but apparently relief came earlier today when a passing research vessel made a detour to lend a hand. The ship resupplied the team with flares, which were used immediately to scare off the bears. The next resupply ship wasn't scheduled to arrive for another month, but this should help buy the team some time.

Apparently, the bears gather near the base to wait for the Arctic Ocean to freeze. That typically occurs in late October or early November, at which time they'll depart the area and head north. Considering the current state of the arctic sea ice, it may take longer than usual before the bears begin their migration, and it is possible that they'll return to that location again in the days ahead.

In the past only about 4-6 bears have spent their summers on Troynoy, but apparently this year there are at least 10, including some large female with small cubs as well. One of the females has even been spending her nights just below one of the windows of the weather station, making it even more difficult for the team to sneak outside to record readings for their research.

Hopefully there will be some relief for these scientists soon. While watching polar bears up close sounds like an amazing experience, being locked inside and unable to go out doesn't seem like a lot of fun.