Friday, February 13, 2015

The Adventure Blog on Hiatus, Heading to Kilimanjaro!

Just a quick note to round out the week to let everyone know that The Adventure Blog will be going on hiatus for a couple of weeks. Tomorrow I'll catch a flight to Tanzania, where I'll be returning to Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa at 5895 meters (19,341 ft). As you can probably imagine, I'm looking forward to being back in Africa – always one of my favorite places to visit – and taking a hike up Kili. It should be an amazing trip to an amazing part of the world.

This time out, I'll be climbing the mountain with Tusker Trail as part of their Climb for Valor. This very special climb is being conducted to raise funds and awareness of the Duskin & Stephens Foundation, an organization dedicated to support the families of fallen members of the U.S. special forces. The team that I'll be trekking with has worked hard to raise more than $100,000 for this cause,    and now they'll celebrate by going on one of the toughest, yet very rewarding, hikes in the entire world.

I am very fortunate to be a part of this group, and when I return I'll be sharing stories from the climb, as well my own personal experiences on Kili. I am familiar with the mountain from a previous visit, but I am looking forward to going back and taking on the challenge once again.

For those not familiar with Tusker, they are one of the trekking companies in the world, and have been leading groups up Kilimanjaro for nearly 40 years. I'll actually be climbing with Tusker's founder, Eddie Frank, who has more than 50 Kili summits on his resume. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to climb to the Roof of Africa, and I can't wait to share the experience with readers once I get back. You can be assured that I'll have plenty to say about the trip upon my return.

In the meantime, I hope everyone gets outside and has a few adventures of their own in my absence. I'll be back before you know it, and with plenty of stories to tell I'm sure.

While I'm gone, I'll be turning off comments on this blog. It never fails that while I'm away someone ends up posting hundreds of spam comments that I have a difficult time tracking down when I return. To avoid that, I'll switch off the ability to comment on posts for the time being, but will turn them back on once I'm home.

Take care, and talk to you all soon!

Video: Day+Dream Nepal

Ever wonder what a day spent trekking the Himalaya of Nepal is like? Than this video is definitely for you. It encapsulates that experience very nicely, boiling it down to a two-and-a-half minute clip that captures the essence of a hike in the big mountains oh so well. Shot in the Khumbu Valley on the trek to Everest Base Camp, this is a wonderful little slice of life from that region of the world.

day+dream (NEPAL) from Brian Lewis on Vimeo.

Video: Valentine Wingsuiting in the Alps of France

To celebrate Valentine's Day a bit early, professional wingsuit pilots Sam Hardy and Nate Jones scaled a 2525 meter (8284 ft) peak at the Brevent in Chamonix, France. They then proceeded to leap off the cliff, and sailed back down the mountain in grand style. This video is the record of that flight, which includes some fantastic views of the surrounding countryside covered in winter snow. It is a beautiful part of the world, and it is understandable why Chamonix is so popular with BASE jumpers and wingsuiters.

Controversy Brewing Over Alleged South Pole Speed Record

There seems to be some controversy brewing over an alleged speed record for skiing to the South Pole. ExWeb is reporting that adventurer Martin Szwed has made claims to various media outlets saying that he broke the speed record for skiing solo across Antarctica. Apparently, Szwed is saying that he not only beat the current record held by Christian Eide, but that he did so by nearly ten days. The problem is, there doesn't seem to be any record of this amazing feat.

According to recent claims by Szwed, he was in the Antarctic this past season to climb Mt. Vinson and ski to the South Pole. His summit of Mt. Vinson has been confirmed to ExWeb by officials at ANI/ALE, who supported him on that venture. But after he finished climbing, Szwed says that he then launched his ski expedition – presumably from the Russian Novo station – which he was then able to complete in 14 days, 18 hours, and 43 minutes. Eide's amazing record, which was set back in 2011, is an impressive 24 days, 1 hour, and 13 minutes.

To further cast doubt on his expedition, Szwed has told various media outlets that he skied 1192 km, 1280 km, and 1300 km. Those varying distances have further helped to call his story into question. He also claims to have used three supply depots along the way, which as ExWeb points out would invalidate his "solo" claim to any speed record.

To put this in perspective, in order to cover the distance that Szwed is claiming, he would have to cover more than 86 km (53 miles) each and every day in tough conditions, while pulling a heavy sled. That would be an incredibly difficult task for sure. ExWeb calls it "herculean," which seems fitting.

Winter Climbs 2015: Nanga Teams Retreat to BC, Moro Departs for Nepal

There is more news from Nanga Parbat today, where the combined international team of Alex Txikon, Daniele Nardi, local climbers Muhammad Ali "Sadpara" and Muhammad Kahn, along with the Iranian squad, have retreated back to Base Camp after establishing Camp 3 on the mountain. The group had been working for five straight days to establish the route and shuttle gear, and are now ready to rest and regain some strength before heading up again.

According to reports, C3 was installed at 6700 meters (21,981 ft) where at least three of the climbers spent the night as part of their acclimatization. They then fixed ropes above that point, but were unable to reach Camp 4 before deciding it was time to descend. The entire squad is still working on acclimating to the altitude, with the exception of Nardi who has been on Nanga for more than a month now.

Dispatches indicate that Txikon and the other late arrivals are in need of some rest, so they'll spend at least a few days in BC now to let their bodies recover. The forecasts indicate that the weather should be good through the weekend, with storms arriving on the mountain on Sunday. That means that there is no weather window for the next few days, which will limit their efforts. In fact, the forecast calls for poor weather for most of next week, with possibly a meter of snow being dropped on the slopes of Nanga Parbat. For now, the teams will just have to wait to see if and when they'll get another chance.

Meanwhile, Italian climber Simone Moro is preparing to set out for Nepal. He'll leave tomorrow to begin his winter expedition in the Himalaya. He will be joined on the climb by talented alpinist Tamara Lunger, who summited K2 without oxygen this past summer.

The duo have set their sighs on the 8163 meter (26,781 ft) Manaslu, which they hope to link with Manaslu East, a peak that is an impressive 7992 meters (26,220 ft) in height. The hope is to complete the climb before the end of winter, which means they'll have roughly 35 days to top out. Both are said to have already been acclimatizing prior to their departure, with the plan of eventually making an alpine style attempt on the two summits once they have scouted the route.

Finally, there have been no updates yet from Andy Kirkpatrick, who had intended to set off for Denali to complete a solo summit of that mountain in February. The latest updates to the Brit's Facebook and Twitter pages indicate that he was heading off on an expedition, but there has been radio silence for the past eight days. Hopefully he is now in Alaska and prepping for the climb, but at this point it is unclear what his plans are.

That's all for today. It looks like things will be kind of quiet for the next few days at least as the weather on Nanga sorts itself out, and Simone and Tamara make their way to the mountain. We'll have more updates soon as the news warrants.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Video: Mountain Biking the Blue Derby Trail in Tasmania

If this video is any indication, the sleepy little town of Derby – located in Tasmania, Australia – is about to see an influx of visitors. In recent months, trail builders have been working hard to complete the first set of mountain biking trails in the area, and the results look spectacular. The new Blue Derby Trails are already world-class routes, and are only going to get better from here. The short clip below will give you an indication of just how good they are, and will leave you planning a trip to visit Derby yourself.

Video: A 10k Timelapse Demo

Remember when we all use to get excited about 1080p HD video? Now, while everyone is busy talking about 4k resolutions, the filmmakers behind this demo have made the leap to 10k. Shot with a camera that is capable of collecting 80 megapixel images that provide a stunning resolution of 10327x7760 pixels. In the short film we get a glimpse of what this looks like with some fantastic timelapse images shot in and around Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. The sense of scale is very impressive, with details that will blow you away. If this is the future of video, I can't wait for it to get here.

10328x7760 - A 10K Timelapse Demo from SCIENTIFANTASTIC on Vimeo.

Video: 50 Great Things About Northwest Rivers From a Kid's Perspective

A few days back American Rivers, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the waterways of the U.S., released this great video. It features a young man by the name of Parker who shares his 50 favorite things about the rivers of the Northwest. It is filled with fun images that I'm sure many of us can relate to, and for some of us the outdoors still make us feel like children from time to time. That is a special feeling indeed.

Freya Hoffmeister Reaches Rio in South American Circumnavigation Kayak Expedition

It has been far too long since we last checked in on the progress of Freya Hoffmeister, the German paddler who has spent the better part of the past four years kayaking around South America. A few days ago Freya reached a major milestone on her quest to circle her second continent when she reached Rio De Janeiro in Brazil. She is now ready to start the final leg of the journey, which will return her to her starting point in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Freya reached Rio on February 8 and has already returned to the water as she continues her slow, methodical march towards the finish line. So far she has spent 775 days on this expedition, of which roughly 550 have been spent out on the water. To date she has covered approximately 24,400 km (15,160 miles), averaging roughly 45 km (28 miles) per day. It has of course been grueling at times, with plenty of unique challenges, but the latest leg of the journey has seen improved conditions. She now finds herself with beautiful beaches to camp on most nights, and the heat and humidity has dropped in recent days as well. 

You may recall that Freya became the first woman to kayak around Australia a few years back, completing that expedition in record time no less. She was able to complete that voyage in 322 days, of which 245 were spent paddling. That journey included a 575 km (371 mile) open water crossing across the Gulf of Carpentaria that managed to shave days and kilometers off of her time. The only other person to have completed a circumnavigation of Australia is New Zealander Paul Caffyn, who did it 361 days.

After wrapping up that impressive expedition, Freya took some time off before deciding what she wanted to do next. She didn't stay at home for too long however, and in August of 2011 she set out on her attempt to circumnavigate South America. The journey first took her south along the Atlantic Coast, where she eventually rounded the treacherous Cape Horn. From there, she passed into the Pacific and turned north, eventually passing through the Panama Canal. She has since been making her way back along the Atlantic side of the continent as she pushes towards Buenos Aires once again.

At this point, she is approximately 2300 km (1430 miles) from the finish line. If she maintains her average speed, she should return to her starting point in early April. We will of course keep an eye on her progress as she nears the end of what is turning out to be yet another impressive padding expedition. 

Nat Geo Names Aleksander Doba 2015 People's Choice Adventurer of the Year

The votes are in and the results have been tabulated. Yesterday, National Geographic announced that Polish kayaker Aleksander Doba has been named the 2015 People's Choice Adventurer of the Year. The 67-year old earned international acclaim after he spent 6 months alone in a kayak paddling from Lisbon, Portugal to New Smyrna Beach in Florida, covering some 7700 miles (12,390 km) in the process). In doing so, he became the only person to kayak across complete a fully journey by kayak across the Atlantic completely alone and unassisted.

Doba was one of 14 people who earned the honor of being named National Geographic Adventurers of the Year. Other honorees for 2015 include mountaineer Ueli Steck, skier Kit DesLauriers, and rock climber Tommy Caldwell, who recently was a part of the team that made the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall in Yosemite. Others include blind kayakers Erik Weihenmayer and Lonnie Bedwell, as well as long distance swimmer Lewis Pugh.

The 2015 class of Adventurers of the Year were announced back in December, when an online poll was placed on the National Geographic Adventure website asking readers to weigh in with their thoughts on who should get the People's Choice Award. Since then, more 521,000 votes have been cast, Doba receiving the most of any of the nominees.

The Polish paddler started kayaking at the age of 34, and has already completed one crossing of the Atlantic. Back in 2010-2011 he traveled from South Africa to South America by kayak as well. This time out his intended course was expected to cover 5400 miles (8690 km). But severe storms and equipment failure pushed him off course, extended the journey further than he had expected.

Congratulations to Aleksander on earning this honor. His story is a good one, and I can see why it appeals to so many people. All of the nominees were very worthy of being called Adventurers of the Year, but he was able to rise above the competition and take home the People's Choice Award.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Video: Ingress - Transitions in Joshua Tree

This short, but very beautiful, video was shot in Joshua Tree National Park and features some stunning transitions from various time periods throughout the day. The movement of shadows and light across the landscapes are wonderfully displayed in timelapse, giving viewers a nice sense of the place. If you have never been to Joshua Tree, it should be on your list of National Parks to get to at some point. It is a lovely place filled with opportunities for adventure.

Ingress – Beginning of a Transit from kai.gradert@gmail.com on Vimeo.

Video: Bouldering in Swaziland

South Africa is an amazing country for climbers, and over the past decade or so has become well known for its bouldering too. Apparently that reputation extends into nearby Swaziland as well, as this video takes us there to show us its amazing potential. The video was shot in the summer of 2014, when climbers Nalle Hukkataival and Jimmy Webb went to Swaziland to explore its climbing options for themselves. What they found was very impressive indeed.

Video: I Lived in Aconcagua

While back I posted a video from filmmaker Guido Patrignani in which he trekked through the Himalaya while Counting Stars. Now, he's back with another fun video, this time taking us on a hike up Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in South America. As in his previous video, Guido is singing all the way, while the fantastic scenery of Argentina is revealed around him. Check out his latest fun clip below and get a sense of what it is like on one of the Seven Summits.


I Lived in Aconcagua by guidopat

Prominent Mountaineers Making Plans For Spring Himalayan Expeditions

The winter climbing season is still in full swing, but already some of the more prominent mountaineers are looking ahead to the spring season in the Himalaya, which will once again be a busy one. Everest will of course be at the epicenter of those efforts, but there will be plenty of action to follow on other major peaks as well. While many climbers have yet to reveal their plans just yet, here are a few that we know about already.

Last week it was revealed that 76-year old Carlos Soria will attempt a double-header in the Himalaya this spring. In fact, he will actually depart for Nepal this Saturday so that he can get started on his acclimatization well ahead of his climbs. Carlos hopes to make an early attempt on Annapurna (8091 m/26,545 ft) and then jump over to Dhaulagiri (8167 m/26,794 ft) afterwards. If all goes according to plan, he'll add two more major peaks to his already impressive resume. As he prepares to depart, the Spaniard says that he is feeling good and looking forward to the challenge ahead.

Despite having been to Everest on six previous occasions, Ralf Dujmovits isn't quite done with the mountain just yet. He tells Stefen Nestler that he plans to return to the Big Hill this spring to attempt to summit without oxygen. Ralf has climbed all of the 8000 meters peaks, and with the exception of Everest back in 1992, he has done so without the use of supplemental oxygen. He aims to return this year and remedy what he now sees as a blemish on his climbing record.

Ralf will be climbing from the North Side this time out, and he is saying that this will definitely be his last expedition to Everest. He is far from finished climbing or pursuing other adventures, but at the age of 53 he is now seeking challenges elsewhere.

Of course, the other major event to take place on Everest this spring will be Kilian Jornet's attempt at a speed record. After setting impressive new marks on both Denali and Aconcagua in 2014, he'll have his work cut out for him on Everest. There is no question that Jornet is an impressive athlete, and I suspect he'll put in an impressive show on the tallest mountain on Earth. But he has never operated at an altitude like he one he'll experience on Everest. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain the level of performance that we've seen out of him in the past when he gets above 8000 meters (26,246 ft).

There will of course be plenty of other expeditions to follow in the weeks ahead. We're about six weeks off from the start of the spring season, and it is already shaping up to be an interesting one.

Winter Climbs 2015: Nanga Parbat Teams Unite at Last, Simone Moro Reveals Plans

There is more news from Nanga Parbat today, where the climbers have started to make some progress once again after being stalled out by the weather. Better yet, it seems that all of the remaining teams have now joined forces, and are working together to try to reach the summit for the first time in winter.

Earlier in the week, Italian climber Daniele Nardi had gone as high as 6100 meters (20,013 ft) on the Mummery Rib. He had hoped to solo that section of the climb and potentially make a summit bid. But unstable conditions on the mountain made it unsafe to continue up out of fear of avalanches. This forced Daniele to return to Base Camp to rethink his strategy, although he didn't stay there for long.

Apparently Daniele has decided to abandon his own plans and join the other teams that are currently on the mountain. In fact, he has already gone back up to Camp 2 with Spanish mountaineer Alex Txikon. They were joined by Pakistani climbers Muhammad Ali "Sadpara" and Muhammad Kahn, and together the team was able to establish Camp 2 on the Kinshofer Route at 6100 meters. The entire squad is hoping to continue up to Camp 3 today as they continue to fix ropes and shuttle gear.

Meanwhile, the Iranian team that is on the same route attempted to take a more direct route to C2 but were unable to complete that section of the climb. ExWeb reports that they were forced to turn back and ended up in Base Camp. Presumably they will attempt to go back up to C2 as well as they continue their acclimatization efforts.

This newly combined team is now as strong as any that we've seen on Nanga Parbat this year, and could potentially lead to the first winter ascent. We'll have to wait to see if they'll be able to work together to reach the top, but there is a great deal of experience and skill in place. There is no question that this group can summit, provided the weather cooperates and allows them to. Like the climbers themselves, we'll have to wait to see if that happens.

Finally, Italian climber Simone Moro has revealed his Himalayan climbing plans at last. After teasing us for the past couple of months, Moro has revealed that he and Tamara Lunger will be attempting to summit Manaslu. ExWeb says that more details will be forthcoming but the plan is to apparently link Manaslu East (7992 meter/26,220 ft) with the Main Summit at 8163 meters (26,781 ft). He is expected to hold a press conference today to share further details.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Video: Explore the North - A Journey Through Norway

Last year, filmmaker Theo Gove-Humphries spent some time traveling through Norway, documenting the landscapes that he found there. Along the way, he captures some of the incredible places that he discovered using timelapse photography. The result of his hard work is this 2+ minute clip that is amongst the most beautiful that I have ever seen. It is a visual postcard for what Norway has to offer, and makes a case for why we should all go visit. Simply spectacular. Don't miss this one.

Norway - Explore North from Theo Gove-Humphries on Vimeo.

Video: Snowskater Has Close Encounter with Avalanche

A rider zipping down Vail Pass recently had a close call with an avalanche, and it was all caught on video. The clip below shows him dropping off the ridge and heading downhill, only to have the snow begin to give way around him. Fortunately he was moving at a good speed, and the avalanche wasn't a major one, so he managed to avoid any kind of injury. Still, it is fascinating to see these experiences take place and watch the wall of snow start to move under him. Just glad he is safe.

Pow-Snowskater Out Runs Avalanche from Sk8parkmark on Vimeo.

Video: African Desert in Timelapse Courtesy of Nat Geo

I share timelapse videos with regularity here on The Adventure Blog, but it isn't very often that we get one from National Geographic. In this case, our friends over at Nat Geo take us into the heart of Namibia, where we get an incredible look of the beautiful desert there. The short clip was created by filmmaker Matthew Hood, who seamlessly blends daytime shots into the night with stunning starscapes rising behind untouched wilderness.

Man Makes First Trip Abroad, Spends 80 Days Traveling Around the World

Here's an inspiring story for anyone out there who dreams of traveling the world, but simply can't get themselves to take that first major step out the door. Chris Sypolt was just that kind of person, but at the age of 44 he was finally compelled to leave the U.S. for the first time, and he did it in style. On his first trip out of the country he spent 80 days circling the globe.

Chris tells Gizmodo in an interview that there were a number of barriers to him starting to travel, not the least of which was a job that kept required him to be in constant contact at all times. He also says that while he loves to fly, he hates airplanes and anything longer than 4 hours on plane makes him antsy. That isn't great when you're traveling anywhere internationally. Finally, he says that he is also an extremely picky eater, which is also a barrier to traveling to foreign lands.

But in 2012, Sypolt says he had an incredibly rough year. His best friend died of colon cancer and his job requirements amped up even further. To escape some of the pressure, he took off for Hawaii for a little rest and relaxation and to get away from the hectic pace. He found that he liked it so much that he decided to continue traveling. From there, it was off to New Zealand, then Australia, and then on to Japan.

It turned out Chris discovered he was enjoying his time abroad, but he was still incredibly wary of the extremely long flight back home to Seattle. After thinking about what he wanted to do, he eventually found  first class ticket on a flight from Osaka to London that included a bar right on the plane. He decided that would make the flight a bit easier, so he took the leap and went for it. That eventually took him on to parts of Europe and Iceland, before crossing the pond back to the U.S., where he spent a little time on the East Coast, then visited Pittsburgh, before returning home. In the end, his full itinerary looked like this: Seattle - Kaanapali - Waikoloa - Waikiki - Auckland - Brisbane - Cairns - Melbourne - Canberra - Sydney - Tokyo - Osaka - London - Paris - Amsterdam - Reykjavik - Boston - NYC - Philadelphia - DC - Pittsburgh - Seattle.

No surprisingly, Chris says the trip changed him forever. He says when he left he was angry and bitter, but by the time he returned home, he was grateful for his adventures. He tells Gizmodo that it only took three days to realize that he was on a life-altering journey, and now that he's back home he has a much better perspective about life and the things that are the most important.

While he wasn't off on some death-defying adventure into the Himalaya or the Amazon, I truly enjoyed reading about Chris' travels. In part, because I am a bit of a traveler myself, but also because I really enjoy hearing about someone moving out of their comfort zone and discovering a true adventure, whatever that means to them personally. That is the case with this journey, which took him around the globe, but further than he ever imagined. Inspiring stuff for sure.

Dutch Adventurer to Ski 1200 Miles Across Canada

Over the past three years, Dutch adventurer Yuri Klaver has been working on an epic project that he calls his Arctic Venture. The idea of this expedition it to travel under his own power from Nome, Alaska to Greenland on foot, skis, and by kayak. When he finishes, he hopes to have covered more than 6000 miles (9656 km), crossing through some of the most remote areas of Alaska and Canada – not to mention the North Atlantic – in the process.

Early next week Yuri will set off on the third stage of that journey – a 1200 mile (1931 km) expedition across Northern Canada on skis. Over the coming months he hopes to travel from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska to Resolute Bay in Canada. He'll start by retrieving his trusty kayak from storage and filling it with supplies. It will serve as his sledge as he pulls it along behind him across the Canadian arctic, with all of his food, fuel, and other gear with him.

According to Yuri, he expects the trip to take approximately 6 months to complete. He hopes to arrive in Resolute sometime in September. In the meantime, he is preparing for the unexpected while traveling above the Arctic circle. He has been training with how to deal with polar bears, poor weather conditions, and fragmenting of the ice. He'll use a large caliber handgun to keep the bears at bay and has developed an alert system to help protect his tent at night. His kayak/sledge will also help him to continue to make progress even when the frozen surface conditions begin to break up, and paddling will be the only option.

Klaver is no stranger to remote expeditions. Back in 2012 he attempted to cross the Bering Sea from Russia to the United States. That journey ended prematurely when he was rescued by Russian border guards a week into the trip. His 2013 phase of Arctic Venture was more successful however, as he paddled for two months along the Bering Sea before going upriver at the Noatak River in the wild and remote Brooks Range of Alaska. Last year he returned to that spot, as he traversed the Brooks Range on skis, and paddled down the Colville River. In 2015, he'll now continue this massive undertaking by pressing on towards Resolute Bay.

On Monday, Yuri will depart from the Netherlands for Alaska where he will organize his gear and travel back to his ending point from last year before hitting the trail in early March. You'll be able to follow his progress on his website where he posts regular updates from his adventures.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Video: The Wild Northern Rockies

Shot in British Columbia, this amazing short film captures the breathtaking landscapes and vistas of that region – and it's numerous national parks – in spectacular fashion. The wonderful scenery has to be seen to be believed, and the exceptional shots of the local wildlife only add to the allure of this video. The Northern Rockies are wild indeed, and that can be easily seen in every shot of this wonderful film. Enjoy!

The Wild Northern Rockies from Marty Mellway on Vimeo.

Video: Framed III - Mountain Biking in Italy

We don't always get great mountain biking videos at this time of the year, as much of the attention of the adventure filmmaking world has turned to skiing and snowboarding instead. But this is a fantastic five-minute film of rider Mario Feil recapping his season, as well as taking us on a wonderful ride through the mountains of Italy. This is a beautifully shot short film that demonstrates very clearly the difference between a professionally made adventure sports video and those of us who simply slap a GoPro on our helmets. Really impressive stuff to be sure. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Framed III from Mario Feil on Vimeo.

Video: Alex Puccio Climbs Jade (V14) in Rocky Mountain National Park

Professional climber Alex Puccio travled to Rocky Mountain National Park to try her hand at climbing one of the more iconic routes in the park. She went to test her skills on Jade, which holds a rating of V14 (read: very tough!). This video follows her climb, which was incredibly difficult for a number of reasons. The clip gives us a great look at one of the best climbers in the world doing her thing though, and it is amazing to watch her go to work despite the difficult conditions. 

Legislation Introduced to Officially Rename Mt. McKinley to Denali

Two U.S. Senators from the state of Alaska have introduced legislation that would permanently change the name of Mt. McKinley back to its native name of Denali. This marks the latest attempt to get the mountain, which is officially named after William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, renamed. Previous attempts to change the mountain's moniker have been denied, although the bill will likely receive more support in the newly elected Republican Congress.

The legislation was introduced by U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, who argue that the mountain first received its name thousands of years ago by the Athabascan tribe, who called it "Denali," which means the "the Great One" or "the High One" in their language. It wasn't officially renamed to Mt. McKinley until 1917, although it has been referred to by that name for nearly 20 years prior to that by local prospectors and settlers.

At 20,237 feet (6168 meters) in height, McKinley is the tallest mountain in North America, and a significant climb amongst mountaineers. While the general public most commonly knows the peak it by its officially designated name, it has been referred to it as Denali for years in mountaineering circles. Regardless of the outcome of this legislation, that isn't likely to change anytime soon.

While there will be more Republican support for a name change this time out, it won't be without some opposition. Ohio Representative Bob Gibbs, who is a Republican as well, has introduced counter-legistiaiton aimed at blocking efforts to rename the mountain. President McKinley was from Ohio, and many people there still take pride in the fact that the mountain bears his name.

As you can imagine, in Alaska the sentiment is quite different. There, the indigenous people and others feel it is time to give the mountain its original name back. Denali is used commonly there to name streets, businesses, and even children. There has been a groundswell of support for the name change there for years, although most locals already refer to it by its Athabascan name anyway.

There is no word yet on when the vote on the bill will come to congress, and while it may seem like a rather trivial piece of legislation, it could get bogged down in committees to try to stall it out. Still, later this year, it is possible that Mt. McKinley will be no more, and everyone will refer to the mountain as Denali.

Winter Climbs 2015: Teams Back in BC, Simone Moro Set to Begin

All of the teams on Nanga Parbat are back in Base Camp today after spending time on the upper flanks of the mountain at the end of last week. The weather remains dicey at the moment, and the climbers are all taking advantage of the poor forecast to rest and recuperate before heading back up once again.

Alex Txikon and company returned to BC on Friday, and have been there all weekend. Before heading back down to rest, the team managed to go as high as Camp 2, where they shuttled gear and supplies, while also fixing ropes up the Diamir Face. Alex reports that as they went higher, the snow began to disappear and was replaced with blue ice instead. That, combined with more difficult terrain and the combined fatigue of climbing for several days, slowed progress. After dropping supplies in C2, they elected to descend to rest and let their bodies acclimatize further.

Alex is joined on his expedition by two local climbers – Muhammad Ali "Sadpara" and Muhammad Kahn. Their group has also joined forces with an Iranian squad consisting of Reza Bahadorani, Iraj Maani and Mahmood Hashemi. The combined team now expects to spend much of this week in Base Camp as they wait for a long enough weather window to climb up to Camp 3 or possibly go for the summit. Currently the forecast doesn't indicate that that will happen anytime soon, so they will try to wait patiently.

Meanwhile, ExWeb is reporting  that Italian climber Daniele Nardi has also retreated to Base Camp after attempting to climb up along the Mummery Rib. He had hoped to make a summit bid this weekend, but his home team reports that he has descended even though Daniele has not posted an update to his website just yet. Reportedly just 15 minutes after he set out from Camp 3 an avalanche struck the campsite, destroying his tent in the process. With no tent to provide shelter on his way up and down, Nardi wisely elected to head back down. Where his expedition stands at the moment remains to be seen.