Friday, July 01, 2016

Video: Why We Love the Tour de France

It is tough to explain exactly why I – and other cycling fans – love the Tour de France to someone who has no interest. But this video, from Specialized Bikes, goes a long way to explaining it. It is three weeks of intense competition with some of the best back drops anyone could possibly ask for. It is a challenge that requires both mental strength and physical endurance, and it is perhaps the toughest bike race in the world. You'll discover all of this and more in the clip below, which serves as a good introduction to Le Tour to newcomers, but a wonderful reminder to those of us who already love it as to to why it is such a special event each year.

Gear Closet: Vivitar Air Defender X Camera Drone

If you're like me, you've probably been intrigued with the potential of drones over the past few years, but put off by the steep price of entry to buying one. While the prices of drones have continued to come down, and their sophistication and functionality have gone up, it can still be a bit intimidating to think about purchasing one and learning to fly it. Fortunately, there are some new options that make it easier to buy in, and discover what it is like to actually use one of these things in the field. For instance, the Vivitar Air Defender X Camera Drone is an affordable and fun UAV that has a lot of the same options as other drones, but at a fraction of the price.

Okay, before I go too far into my thoughts on the Air Defender, lets be clear what this drone is and is not. For example, it is not a competitor to the DJI Phantom line of drones, which are larger, more powerful and definitely more pricey. Instead, this is a lightweight, easy to fly, and very affordable entry-level drone that you'll probably have a lot of fun with.

Checking out the specs on the Air Defender you'll discover that it has a lot of options for the price. For instance, it comes equipped with 16.1 MP camera that is capable of streaming video and images to your smartphone when it connects to the drone via WiFi. It also has a range of about 200 meters, and a flight time of about 20 minutes when using the two supplied batteries. It is also wrapped in 64 individual LED lights, which makes it easy to spot even in dark conditions. This also gives it a fun, unique look that helps in navigation too.

The 2016 Tour de France Begins Tomorrow!

July is here, and that can mean only one thing for cycling fans – the 2016 Tour de France can't be far off. In fact, the most famous and popular bike race int he world gets underway tomorrow, with some very familiar names expected to battle it out for the win.

The race will officially begin with a 188 km (116 mile) stage that runs from Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. This is unusual for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is its length. Typically, the first stage of the race is a short time trial that helps to establish who will ride int he famed Yellow Jersey for the early stages of the race. This long, opening day ride is part of the Tour's attempt to shake things up however, with some changes to the format designed to inject some energy into the early days of the race.

Expect the day to belong to the sprinters. None of the eventual contenders are likely to vie for the stage win, or put themselves in jeopardy in the early days of the race. There are sprint and climbing points to be earned however, so those looking to go after the Green or Polka Dot Jerseys will be in the hunt early on.

And just who can we expect to be in the Yellow Jersey heading towards Paris in three weeks? Two-time winner Chris Froome is the odds on favorite, although the course does favor Nairo Quintana as well. If both men can stay healthy, we can expect some epic duels in the mountains in the later stages of the race. Should they falter or face injury, the race opens up to dramatically, giving a new rider the chance to take center stage.

As long-time readers know, I'm a big fan of Le Tour, and usually cover it extensively throughout the month of July. I know that there are some of you who don't appreciate the race as much as I do however, and simply tolerate my TdF updates. For those folks, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I won't be following the race nearly as closely as I have in the past, so there won't be daily updates on the event. The bad news is, I'm leaving the country to a remote region next week, so there won't be any updates at all for awhile. Personally, I'm bummed I won't be able to watch the race on a daily basis, but duty calls and other adventures await.

Fans of the race will be able to get all the news and information they need at the official Tour de France website. Good luck to all the riders.

Karakoram 2016: Climbers in C2 on K2, Sherpa's Record Bid Denied by Pakistani Government

It is early in the summer climbing season in the Karakoram, but already the teams are on the move as they look to take advantage of good weather in the region. While teams are still getting settled elsewhere in Pakistan, on K2 the acclimatization rotations have begun. Climbers have already gone up to Camp 2 on that mountain, even as Sherpa teams work to install ropes to higher altitudes. 

Madison Mountaineering checked in yesterday with the news that their squad has arrived in C1 after a tough climb up 70º slopes. Today, they'll proceed up to C2, where they'll spend a night or two before returning to Base Camp. By all accounts, the entire team is doing well and proceeding according to plan. 

Also still in C2 is the international team that includes Vanessa O'Brien. They reached that point on the mountain yesterday as well, and will remain a couple of nights before descending. This allows their bodies to get use to the thinner oxygen ahead of an eventual summit attempt in about a months time. 

In other news from K2, The Himalayan Times is reporting that a Sherpa's record-setting bid was thwarted by the Pakistani government after he was sent home upon arriving in Islamabad. 25-year old Lakpa Sherpa had hoped to become the youngest person to scale K2 three times, but he was sent back to Kathmandu a day after arriving in Pakistan. 

Lakpa said that he passed through immigration without incident, but a day after his arrival he was contact by a government official and told he had to go home without any further explanation. Despite not being told why he was being shipped back to Nepal, the feeling is that the move was purely a political one. Pakistan has long hoped to generate a mountaineering infrastructure like that found in Nepal to help bolster its economy and employ more local climbers. But as K2 and other mountains continue to become commercialized, guiding companies are increasingly bringing more and more Sherpas into the country to assist and even lead those expeditions. The young climber, who has already summited Everest four times, believes that he won't be allowed back into Pakistan in the future as well, although he isn't sure exactly why.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Video: Morocco - Gateway to Africa

With this video we travel to Morocco to get a good look at the people, culture, history, and landscapes that exist there. Located in North Africa, the country has been at the crossroads of that continent for centuries, and that lasting influence can be seen in many places found there. This short documentary film takes us to the bustling streets of its most famous cities, to the top of the High Atlas Mountains, to the Sahara Desert, and beyond. If you're in need for a travel escape today, this film will help satiate your wanderlust. Enjoy.

Morocco: Gateway to Africa from Freeze Tag Media on Vimeo.

Video: Walmart Mountain Bike Tested on a Real Trail

Those of us who ride bikes regularly tend to be a bit snobby about the brands we ride. After all, we want a bike that can stand up to our demands. In this video, pro mountain biker Phil Kmetz goes to Walmart to buy a Huffy Carnage and then takes it down a "real" mountain biking trail to see just how well it performs. Would the $179 bike be able to compete with the rides that he is accustomed to? You'll have to watch the video to find out. I will tell you though, just watching his descent was enough to make me fear for his life.

Video: GoPro's Best Bike Line Contest Returns

Last year, GoPro and Pinkbike got together to sponsor a contest in which cyclists and mountain bikers were invited to film and submit their best line. Some of the entries were truly amazing, and as a result over $25,000 in prize money was given away. The same contest returns in 2016, and this video gives us a preview of what to expect. It is filled with some great clips that were part of last year's contest, with some truly jaw-dropping rides. Even if you don't plan to enter the contest, this video is worth a look. It'll leave you awe struck at the places that people will take a bike.

Cold War Politics at the North Pole

If you read this blog regularly, you probably saw my coverage of the North Pole exploration season this past spring. While there were no full-distance expeditions to the North Pole from either the Canadian or Russian side of the ice as there has been in years past, there was still plenty of drama to be had. That's because Norway and Russian got into a bit of a showdown over who gets access to the Arctic. The pissing match between those two countries turned into a bit of a political and logistical nightmare that resulted in some polar explorers, adventurers, and researchers being left in the lurch while attempting to travel to and from the Arctic this spring. And the fallout from this exchange could have long-lasting repercussions for the future.

I reported several times on the fact that flights to the Barneo Ice Camp – the temporary base built at 89ºN each year – were delayed coming out of Longyearbyen, in Svalbard, Norway because of security issues. Those flights are for massive Russian supply planes, which are used to shuttle gear and personnel too and from the Arctic. The aircraft typically fly from Russia to Norway, where they pick up passengers and supplies before proceeding on to Barneo. But this year, this procedure caused a stir when the transport planes carried a team of Chechen soldier who were on their way to the Arctic to conduct training exercises. Norwegian officials say that the Russians didn't inform them that these commandos would passing through their country, and in retaliation they revoked all of the flight permits, and changed the procedure for how the Russian jets come and go.

All of this was further compounded by the fact that the Barneo station had one of its most challenging years ever. Each year, a team of Russian engineers parachutes out onto the ice to build a temporary base that includes a 4000-foot (1220 meter) runway. That camp is then used to facilitate travel throughout the Arctic for a month or so. But this year, the landing strip had all kinds of issues, having to be rebuilt on multiple occasions and even forcing the relocation of the base at one point.

As you can imagine, all of this led to a tumultuous season at the North Pole this year, and will dramatically impact operations moving forward. Just exactly what happened, and how it will change travel in the Arctic in the future, is detailed in this article from Outside magazine. The story goes to great lengths to lay out the facts of what happened and the dispute that it has created between the Russians and the Norwegians. If you followed the events as they unfolded this past spring, or know the logistics of Arctic travel, you'll find it to be a good read.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out in the future. At the end of the Arctic season, the team that operates Barneo said that they would shift their logistical base back to Russia and travel through Franz Josef Land starting next year. That will work of course, but it means more hassle for the people coming and going from Barneo. Whether or not that has a real impact on travel at the top of the world remains to be seen.

Karakoram Summer 2016: The Arduous Task of Climbing K2 Begins

The summer climbing season is Pakistan is now officially underway. Most of the teams have now arrived in their respective Base Camps, with some already starting their first acclimatization rotations. It'll be a good month or more before they even consider taking a crack at the summit, but the foundation for those ascents is now being put into place.

Most of the focus this summer will fall squarely on K2, where commercial operations have ramped up significantly in the past couple of years. More than 100 climbers have registered for permits on the second tallest mountain in the world in 2016, where the weather usually dictates who actually has a chance of topping out. Traditionally speaking, summit bids won't begin until the last week of July or the first week of August, but for now the climbers are taking advantage of good weather and are preparing for the challenging ascent ahead.

The Madison Mountaineering team climbed up to Advanced Base Camp yesterday, and plan to proceed to Camp 1 at 6096 meters (20,000 ft) today. Once there, they'll spend at least one night before dropping back to BC for a rest. This starts the long process of getting their bodies accustomed to the higher altitudes that will eventually culminate with a summit push. That is still a long way off at this point, but this is the first of many steps in the right direction.

Meanwhile, the International team led by Vanessa O'Brien has already moved up to Camp 2, as her squad continues to make solid progress. O'Brien is looking to become the first American woman to summit K2, and so far everything is going according to plan.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Video: Daredevils Climb the Eiffel Tower

It's been awhile since we've seen a good urban climbing video, but this one emerged yesterday. It features a couple of daredevils climbing the Eiffel Tower, and capturing some impressive footage along the way. Of course, this is extremely dangerous – not to mention highly illegal – but it sure makes for an intriguing video. Definitely don't try this at home for a wide variety of reasons. Instead, sit back and let these guys do it instead.

Video: Kilian Jornet Runs Alaska's Mt. Marathon

This video takes us to Seward, Alaska to witness one of the most unique races on the planet. Seward is home to Mt. Marathon, which is described as "one of the oldest, fastest, hardest, toughest… and shortest mountain races in the world." The race is held each July 4, and last year world-class runners Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg were on hand to take place in the event, bringing their own unique skills along with them. You'll get a first hand look at Seward, the race, and these great athletes below. It is something to behold.

On a side note, I was in Seward last year on the day of the race. To say it was an electric atmosphere would be an understatement. I enjoyed reliving it through this clip. I hope you like it oo.

Share Your Inspiring Outdoor Story with Outside TV, Win Big Prizes!

Do you have an inspiring story to share? Looking for a good outlet to do just that? The Climb to the Summit contest from Outside TV just might be what you're looking for. Not only does it give you a platform to tell your tale, you'll also get a chance to appear on the television network, not to mention some great prizes that include a trip to Whistler and a $5000 gear shopping spree.

Entry into the contest is easy and straight forward. Simply visit the Climb to the Summit website, fill out the entry form, and upload a video that is 30 seconds to two minutes in length, that tells your personal story. Then, share your entry on social media, getting your friends and family to vote for your short film. Those votes will count towards the final tally, which will also include a panel of judges who will score the entries based on creativity and storytelling.

The contest runs from June 22 to August 16, after which the winners will be chosen. The grand prize for the contest includes a 4 day/3 night VIP skiing experience in Whistler, British Columbia, as well as a $5000 shopping spree courtesy of Mountain Hardwear. That seems like something worth going for.

Find out more, and enter the contest, by clicking here. And checkout the video below for some insights. Good luck!

13 Pieces of Gear Every All-Around Adventurer Should Own

This article is nearly a year old, but it recently came to my attention when Alastair Humphreys shared it on Facebook. It comes our way from the website Semi-Rad and it provides us with a list of 13 pieces of gear that every all-around adventurer should have in their arsenal. Consider this an inventory of items that all outdoor enthusiasts should have at their disposal.

The list is a comprehensive one, although most of the items are exactly what you would expect. In fact, I suspect that many of you reading this already have a good portion of these pieces of gear. Still, it is a good reminder of the things we should have at our disposal before setting out on an adventure, and as I read through the article, I was also doing a mental inventory of my own gear to make sure I had each of these things on hand.

Some of the items that make the list include a two-person backpacking tent, 30- and 60-liter backpacks, a rain shell, and a down jacket. Author Brendan Leonard also shares his picks for a proper sleeping bag, a headlamp, water bottles, and a variety of other gear as well. If you're looking to build a collection of solid gear to keep you safe and comfortable in the backcountry, this is a good place to start.

So, what do you think of the list? Did Brendan leave anything out? Do you have anything that you would add? Personally, I know I never leave home without a Buff or two, and I think a good watch – such as the Suunto Ambit – is an important piece of gear to have with you as well.

Find out what else made Semi-Rad's list by clicking here.

Did This Indian Couple Fake Their Everest Summit?

By most accounts, the 2016 Everest climbing season was one for the record books. After two years of cancellations, and several years of unusual activity on the mountain, this was about as close to a "normal" year as we've seen in some time. Of course, that doesn't mean that everything went exactly by the book, as we're now discovering. Reports now indicated that one Indian couple may have faked their summit photos, calling into question the validity of their claims.

This story broke on Buzzfeed yesterday, where the captivating story of Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod has been called into question. The couple said that they had reached the summit of Everest back on May 23, realizing a lifelong dream that both had shared. The duo were married back in 2008, and reportedly delayed starting a family until after they topped out on the tallest mountain on the planet. Their story, which includes both serving as police officers back home, garnered headlines across the planet. 

Now, just a few weeks later, cracks have started to appear in their story. The photos that were used to document their summit appear to be doctored, faked, or stolen. One image that was used to show their approach to the summit appears to have been taken directly from the International Mountain Guides website, while others seem to have been obviously photoshopped. As if that wasn't enough, the clothes that the couple are seen wearing on their way up the mountain are different from the outfits that they have on in the summit photos. Anyone who follows Everest closely knows that you don't change your clothing during a summit push.

Even more curious, even though Dinesh and Tarkeshwari claimed to have summited on May 23, they didn't declare their success until June 5. They also reportedly did not arrive in Base Camp until May 4. That isn't nearly enough time to acclimatize and prepare for a summit push, unless they had already done so on another major peak in the area. That doesn't appear to be the case here.

Apparently, there are even indications that the couple have faked summits in the past too, which the Buzzfeed article goes into as well. This all seems to point at yet another Everest fraud, indicating that things have indeed gotten back to normal. 


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Video: Living Alone at the End of the World

This video brings us the unique story of Heraldo Riel, a gaucho who has lived alone in Chile's Patagonia region for more than 70 years. He has a simple life, but one that is rewarding in its own way. Surrounded by one of the last great wild places on the planet, he has carved out an existence that is connected to nature in some unique and wonderful ways. This is a beautiful video that you shouldn't miss.

The Last Colonizer | DJI World from Brent Foster on Vimeo.

Video: Nat Geo Takes Us to to the World's Most Magical Places

In this video we travel the world with National Geographic to visit some of the most magical places imaginable. These places might not be what you expect however, although they all hold an undeniable allure. These are all destinations that have a natural phenomenon that is unlike anything found elsewhere on the planet, making them unique and wonderful for travelers.

Gear Closet: Dakine's Oakridge Flannel and Dropout Jersey Cycling Shirts

Summer's here and if you're not spending time on the back of a bike, you're not making the most of the season. Of course, the clothes we wear on our rides can have a significant impact on our comfort, which is why the right apparel can make a huge difference in how much we enjoy those outings. Fortunately, we live in an era where outdoor gear is the best it has ever been, and that extends to cycling and mountain biking too.

Dakine makes plenty of great gear to help you get the most out of your rides, including some great cycling shirts that perform well but don't necessarily look like they are meant for the bike crowd. Recently, I had the chance to test out a couple of items from their line-up, and think they'll both make a good addition to your wardrobe as well.

Oakridge Flannel Shirt ($80)
Searching for a good looking, durable shirt to wear both the trail and off? Dakine's Oakridge Flannel looks like something you could wear just about anywhere, but includes some nice features that mountain bikers are sure to appreciate.

For instance, the shirt is made of durable fabrics that provide plenty of coverage, which anyone who has ever had a mishap out on the trail knows can be extremely useful. If you ride often enough, sooner or later you're going to crash, but this shirt can survive those incidences and help protect your arms at the same time.

Made from quick-drying polyester materials, the Oakridge features Dakine's very own Polygenie Odor Control Technology, which is designed to fight off the funk that comes with getting heated up on the trail. The shirt breathes very well, and can wick moisture too. Still, I found it to be a bit warm for my summer rides, as the flannel material is thicker than I'd like in the heat and humidity of my home trails. That said however, I can't wait to wear it in the fall, when things cool off a bit, and the crispness returns to the air.

One of my favorite things about this shirt is that it looks like just about any other flannel shirt you might find someone wearing while just wandering around town. It has a stylish, athletic cut that is form fitting without being overly restrictive, and it there is very little about it that indicates that it is a piece of performance gear designed for mountain biking. That makes it easy to transition from the trail to the pub after a ride, or just wearing it when you want better performance from a flannel shirt. With its classic good looks, the Oakridge doesn't feel like it would be out of place in just about any environment, which is the kind of versatility that I particularly appreciate.

Priced at $80, the Oakridge Flannel is a great option for cool weather rides, hikes, or just running errands on your day off. It is comfortable to wear, looks fantastic, and offers solid performance. I know that come fall, this will be one of my go-to shirts for the days that I want to hit the trail.

Dropout Bike Jersey ($40)
Dakine's Dropout Bike Jersey is a more traditional looking shirt made specifically with mountain bikers in mind. It uses similar materials as the Oakridge flannel, using 100% polyester fabrics that are quick drying, wicking, and very breathable. The shirt also includes the same Polygenie Odor Control Technology that keeps it smelling fresh even after a tough day on the trail. That comes in handy when you grab a beer after your ride, but don't want to drive away the other patrons at the bar.

The Dropout has relaxed fit that makes it a good choice for a wide range of riders. It also features raglan sleeves and a built-in soft sunglass wipe for keeping your shades clean while out on the trail.

This is the type of shirt that is more appropriate for a warm summer ride. With its quick-drying and wicking performance, you'll stay cool and comfortable even while working hard as you climb hills and bomb down the other side. It even pairs well with a hydration pack to keep you comfortable throughout your ride, allowing you to go further and faster, while staying out for extended periods of time.

The Dropout is a bargain at just $40. At that price, you might want to add two or three of them to your wardrobe, because it is likely to become your new favorite mountain biking shirt. This kind of performance shouldn't come at such a low cost, but you'll definitely be glad that it does.

Find out more about both of these shirts and the full line of Dakine products at Dakine.com.

Outside Presents the 2016 Summer Gear Buyers Guide

Just in case you still need some help selecting the best gear for your summer outdoor adventures, Outside magazine has released its 2016 Summer Buyers Guide, outlining 369 items that will keep you safe, comfortable, and happy while pursuing your favorite activities.

The Buyer's Guide is broken down into multiple categories, including Float, Hike, Bike, Run, Fitness, and Travel. Each of those listings is further divided into subcategories that include lists of great gear that is applicable to the activity. For instance, under hiking you'll find the best tents for 2016, as well as the best hiking shoes. Meanwhile, under the bike category you'll discover the best mountain bikes and accessories for a summer ride.

Naturally, with this many items to explore, it can take you quite a long time to sift through all of the options. But, if you're in the market for a new sleeping bag, kayak, camera, or other equipment, the experts at Outside can help you find exactly what you're looking for. There are some really great products to check out here, each of which has been curated by testers who have put these items through their paces over the past few months.

Check out the full list of items on the Outside Online website by clicking here.

Tour de France to Use Thermal Cameras to Thwart Mechanical Doping

Just as the 2016 Tour de France is set to get underway, officials at the world's most famous bike race have announced new plans to thwart potential cheaters in this year's event. Along with the battery of drug tests that they'll be given, riders will also face an array of high tech gear – including thermal cameras – that will be on the look out for "mechanical doping" as well.

In recent years there have been some allegations that certain riders – including two-time TdF winner Chris Froome and world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara – have been competing with a hidden motor in their bikes. The accusations come following impressive individual performances by those riders, although there has been no proof so far that anyone on the pro cycling circuit is actually using such a device.

Earlier this year, Belgian cyclist Femke Van den Driessche was caught using such a motor at the cyclocross world championships. The 19-year old looked to have a promising career, but she now faces a six-year ban from the sport. Now, the Tour is looking to avoid a similar scandal while also trying to dodge another major black mark on a sport that has had so many controversies over the years, including countless doping scandals.

The thermal imaging cameras will allow judges to look for heat signatures on the bikes of competitors. A hidden motor will generate plenty of heat, which should stick out like a sore thumb on these special cameras, making it obvious who is using such a device.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Video: Blue Whales Off Iceland

This short, but sweet, video takes us off the coast of Iceland where we get the opportunity to spot one of the rarest and most elusive animals on the planet – the blue whale. At almost 30 meters (98 feet) in length, and weighing over 150 tons, this is the largest creature ever known to inhabit the Earth. Seeing one is a rare treat indeed, but we get to watch one thanks to this clip. Enjoy!

The blue whale of Iceland from Arnaud Muller on Vimeo.

Video: 61 Wingsuit Pilots Take Flight Together

Recently, 61 wingsuit pilots took flight over Perris, California to set a world record for the most people in such a formation. This video captured that moment in beautiful fashion, as these men and women drifted effortlessly through the air. Quite an impressive sight to see indeed.

Risky Antarctic Rescue Mission Completed Successfully

Before I left for Utah last week, one of the stories that we were watching closely was a daring and risky evacuation flight to the South Pole. At the time, all we knew was that a staff member at the Amundsen-Scott research facility had taken ill, and the situation was so desperate that two Twin Otter Aircraft has been scrambled from Kenn Borek Air in Canada to evacuate them. While it took some time to complete, that rescue operation did go off successfully, with everyone involved making it back safely.

Due to the fact that it is currently winter in the Southern Hemisphere, the flight was an incredibly risk one. Weather conditions are unpredictable and very dangerous in that part of the world this time of year, making it risky to come and go from the South Pole. Typically that means that anyone at the South Pole research station has to stay there until spring arrives in November. But in this case, the medical situation was so dire that it was deemed necessary to take the risk to bring out the patient.

That's exactly what happened last week, with the flight carrying not one, but two, South Pole staffers arrived back in Punta Arenas, Chile on Wednesday. That successful return followed several very long day, during which the pilots flew from Canada to South America, than crossed the Southern Ocean to reach the British Rothera Research Station, than continued on to the South Pole, and back again.

Two aircraft were required to complete the rescue with one making the full fight to the Pole, while the other stood by to lend a hand if needed. Fortunately, the entire mission came off without a significant hitch, and the two sick workers are now receiving medical attention. Their names and afflictions haven't been announced.

I'd love to hear more about this story and find out all the details behind it. Hopefully someone will do an in-depth article about what this adventure was like for the pilots. I'm sure there is quite a story to be told.

Karakoram Summer 2016: Teams Arrive in Base Camp, Moving Up Soon

When let we checked in on the teams looking to climb in the high mountains of Pakistan this summer they were mostly still gathering in Islamabad and preparing to fly out to Skardu to begin their journey to the various Base Camps spread out across the region. Now, more than a week later, those teams are now settling into BC and preparing to go higher.

Madison Mountaineering has checked in from K2, where the team has reportedly settled into Base Camp and is now preparing for its first rotation up the mountain. The weather is reportedly very good at the moment, and the Sherpa teams are already busy establishing ABC further up the mountain. The forecast looks good into this week, so it looks like the team will be on the move for a few days to take advantage of the situation. 

Similarly, the international team led by Vanessa O'Brien arrived in BC late last week. They've spent the weekend getting settled on the mountain and will likely be taking advantage of the current weather window to start their acclimatization as well. 

The Kobler & Partner expedition team also arrived in Base Camp last Thursday. That squad, which is made of very experienced 8000-meter climbers – quickly went to work getting settled as well, and are now looking upwards towards ABC and their first rotation up the mountain. 

Over on Broad Peak, the Mountain Professionals team has already finished their work to get settled and have now begun their first acclimation rotations as well. They're headed up to Camp 1 today where they'll spend two nights to allow their bodies to start to get use to the altitude. As of now, they are the only team on the mountain, although they have noted the steady stream of climbers making their way to BC on K2. It is unclear if any other teams will come to Broad Peak, so as a safety precaution the guides have ordered more rope and other climbing gear from Skardu just in case they have to go it alone. 

Finally, on Nanga Parbat the teams have started to gather as well. Spaniards Fernando Fernandez Vivancos and Jose Saldana Rodriguez have been on the mountain for several weeks now, and have had a good start to their acclimatization process. Other groups are still trickling in however, and will officially begin their climbs soon. 

The Karakoram climbing season is now officially underway, and over the next 4-6 weeks we'll be watching events unfold in the mountains of Pakistan. It looks like it will be one of the most interesting seasons in recent memory, with more teams on K2 than ever before. How that impacts the climb remains to be seen, but the notoriously difficult peak won't give up its summit easily. It should be fun to watch how things unfold. 



Ultrarunner Robert Young Abandons Attempt at Speed Record for U.S. Crossing

It was a busy time while I was away in Utah attending PressCamp last week, with one of the big stories coming from the world of long distance running. Over the past month or so, we've been following British ultrarunner Robert Young as he attempted to set a new speed record for crossing the U.S. on foot. But last week, the grind of that endeavor finally caught up with the endurance athlete, forcing him to withdraw from the attempt 2000 miles (3218 km) into the run.

Young launched his bid at the speed record – which was set back in 1980 and still stands at 46 days, 8 hours, 36 minutes – back on May 14. He set out from Huntington Beach in California with the hope of reaching Times Square in the fastest time possible. In order to break that 36 year old record, Young would need to cover more than 60 miles per day, each and every day, for a month and a half.

Last week, the grind of that challenge finally caught up to him. While heading into Indianapolis, the British runner developed soreness in one of the toes of his right foot. X-rays confirmed that he had developed an infection and a fracture. Young was treated by medical professionals, and attempted to use ice to lessen the pain, but in the end, he decided it was best to pull the plug altogether.

The move comes after Young began to fall off the pace needed to cross the U.S. in record time. The toll of the run seemed to wear on him in recent days, even as some questions arose about whether or not he was actually running all the miles he claimed to be. That question is now moot, as the speed crossing attempt is now over.

Covering 2000 miles on foot is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Young was able to cross California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, and part of Indiana before he was forced to withdraw. That's pretty impressive, even if he did come up a bit short in the speed attempt.