Tuesday, August 25, 2015

On the Road: Heading to South Dakota

The Adventure Blog will see a bit of down time over the next few days as I am headed to South Dakota on assignment. While there, I'll be exploring a state that I already know that I enjoy based on previous visits, but this time out I'll be hiking, mountain biking, and visiting some fantastic national and state parks. It should be a wonderful time in a place that has a lot to offer outdoor adventurers. 

If given the time, I will post updates while on the road, but considering the fact that the schedule looks fairly full, I'm not sure if that will be an option. But make no mistake, I will definitely be posting updates on the trip at some point, as I know that South Dakota is a place that many of you would enjoy visiting yourself. The Badlands and Black Hills are both worth the trip in and of themselves.

This will be a relatively short trip. I'm back home by the weekend. But, I'll once again only be there for a few days. On Wednesday of next week I – along with my lovely new bride – are off to the South Pacific for our honeymoon, and some much needed RnR. That said, I will be posting again to start next week before getting on a plane once again. In the meantime, enjoy some time outdoors, have a few adventures of your own, and spend some time in pursuit of your passions. I'll be back before you know it!

Video: Earth Porn - Forests and Mountains

This video is filled with images of the things we love – namely snowcapped mountains and lush forests. What more do you need to know beyond that? It is two minutes of beautiful landscapes shot in Alberta and Alaska. Now, just sit back and enjoy it.

EARTH PORN // VOL 4 // FORESTS & MOUNTAINS (ALBERTA TO ALASKA) from Christiaan Welzel on Vimeo.

Video: Azerbaijan - The Land of Fire

Azerbaijan is not a country that most people consider visiting when escaping on their holidays. Those people are not adventure travelers however, and judging from the amazing landscapes on display in this video, it is a destination that we should all have on our bucket lists. Remote, wild, and untamed, this video takes us to beautiful places that have to be seen to be believed. Much of the footage was captured by drone, giving us ariel shots of some stunning locations.

Azerbaijan - The Land Of Fire from Iftikhar Shabanov on Vimeo.

Mountaineer Beck Weathers Reflects on Everest

If you've read the book Into Thin Air, or know about the events that took place on Everest back 1996, the name Beck Weathers is one that you're no doubt familiar with. Beck was on the team that was led up the mountain by Rob Hall, the same team that Jon Krakauer was a part of. On the way up the mountain, Beck had difficult seeing, and was told to wait on the Balcony at 27,000 feet (8230 meters) for Hall's return. The guide planned to assist him in descending after he had taken his other clients to the top. Rob ended up losing his life high on the mountain, and Beck was later assisted down by another guide, but as a massive storm descended on Everest, he became disoriented and lost, stumbling off into the night. During that time Beck was exposed to the extreme winds and cold, as he bivouacked alone, high on the mountain. His face and hands were exposed, and as a result he suffered severe frostbite that would later claim parts of right arm, his left hand, and both feet, as well as his nose.

Weather's survival story is well known in mountaineering circles, and he was lucky to get off the mountain alive. He has also become an integral part of the Into Thin Air story, which will of course be told once again in the upcoming feature film Everest, which will be released in theaters in a few weeks time. In that film, Beck will be played by actor Josh Brolin, and judging from the trailer, he will be integral to the plot.

Recently, Beck sat down with Outside magazine to talk about the film, his Everest experience, and where he is at in his life now. In the interview he talks about the movie which he says is impressive and about as good as any mountaineering film can be. He also weighs in on having Brolin play him on the big screen, the challenges of making a good film about Everest, and some issues he has with the way the story is told.

Perhaps more importantly however, Weathers talks a bit about what the film does right. He points out certain areas of the movie that are moving in a very tragic way. Particularly when Rob Hall's wife gets the phone call from him on the mountain, or Beck's own spouse receives a similar call informing her the had died. He says that those personal moments in the film will leave a mark with audiences, and were done very well.

Like Krakauer said recently, Beck carries the physical, emotional, and psychological scars from that fateful day back in May of 1996. They have shaped him into the person he is today. While that incident has had a dramatic impact on his life, he has also found ways to move on and continue with living it to the fullest. He told Outside that the real story is what happens when you get back home, which is something that is seldom told.

Read the full interview here.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Everest Officially Reopens

Last we received word that Ice Doctors has arrived in Everest Base Camp to begin fixing the route through the Khumbu Icefall ahead of the arrival of fall expedition to the mountain. But this past Sunday, Kripasur Sherpa – Nepal's tourism minister – officially issued a climbing permit to Japanese mountaineer Nobukazu Kuriki and declared the mountain open for business, a significant step in starting the process of luring back travelers and climbers following the April 25 earthquake that killed more than 9000 people there.

The permit was given to Kuriki in a ceremony held in Kathmandu. That ceremony was as much about letting the world know that Everest is accepting teams again as it was to grant the permit to the Japanese climber. An avalanche caused by the earthquake killed 18 people in Base Camp on the mountain, bringing an abrupt end to the climbing season for a second year in a row. In 2014, another avalanche claimed the lives of 16 Nepali's working on the mountain.

Kuriki won't be waiting around long to get his expedition started. He reportedly left Kathmandu via helicopter today for the Khumbu region and will trek into BC to start his climb. He hopes to make a summit bid by mid-September, well ahead of the typical fall climbing schedule. That would also indicate that he has been acclimatizing somewhere else ahead of the start of his expedition.

The Japanese climber is no stranger to Everest. He attempted a solo fall summit a few years back, but was forced to turn back do to bad weather. He ended up getting stranded on the mountain and required the assistance of a team of Sherpas to help him down, and as a result he suffered severe frostbite that eventually cost him nine of his fingers. When he makes this second attempt on the world's tallest peak he'll be doing so without the use of those digits.

We will of course be keeping a close eye on the emerging climbing season in the Himalaya. Not only is this team heading to Everest, but others are on their way to the big mountains as well. There should be a lot to report on in the days ahead, and it will be interesting to see how the tourism sector in Nepal rebounds following the earthquake.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Video: Spaciousness in the Făgăraș Mountains of Romania

Need a little break from the challenges of a tough day? Feeling like you could use an escape to the mountains? If you're unable to actually head out yourself today, than perhaps this video can help. Shot in the Făgăraș Mountains of Romania it features some great timelapse and ariel footage from a spectacular setting that looks rugged and wild. This is five minutes of fantastic imagery from a part of the world that remains largely unknown to those of us in the west. Simply spectacular.

Spaciousness from Fourth Dimension on Vimeo.

Video: Ice Climbing in Montana with Conrad Anker and Kris Erickson

One of the more beautiful and thoughtful climbing videos I've seen in sometime, this short film takes us to the backcountry of Montana where Conrad Anker and Kris Erickson attempt to complete a new route called Nutcracker in the Hyalite Canyon region near Bozeman. The winter ascent follows a path that is mixed rock and ice along a beautiful line amongst stunning scenery. The 12-minute video follows the team as they climb, with some good insights and introspection thrown in along the way. Definitely a great piece of work, and well worth a bit of your time today.

Always Above Us from The North Face on Vimeo.

Movement Afoot to Reclaim Glen Canyon in Utah

Over the past few years there has been a number of successful attempts to remove dams on some of the larger rivers in the American west. The results have generally been improved environments, more natural habitats, and better flows of rivers throughout the region. Now, environmentalists are turning their attention to Glen Canyon Dam in Utah, which could have a similar impact on the Colorado River, and improve conditions further down river, including in Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon itself.

The gist of the story is laid out in an article written by Tim Gibbins on a post to the O.A.R.S. blog. Essentially, the Glen Canyon Dam was built in a time period when a lot of other dams were being built in the west as a way to control the flow of the river as a method to help create environments suitable for farming and provide water to areas that were typically very arid. But when the dam was completed, it also created Lake Powell, which filled in a landscape that is spectacular enough to be considered on the same level as many national parks. The Glen Canyon has sat mostly under water – and unappreciated – ever since.

As Tim points out in his article, Lake Powell reached its hight point back on July 15, 1983. Today, it sits at just 50% capacity, and the dam that created it may be doing more harm than good. Worse yet, climatologists believe that neither Powell, nor Lake Mead, will ever fill to their capacities again.

This has led to a movement to decommission the Glen Canyon Dam, which could help to fill Mead, and restore the Glen Canyon region to its former glory. Beneath all of that water is a natural landscape filled with twisting gorges, rock spires, and other natural wonders just waiting to be rediscovered. Removing the dam would allow that to happen, and would have a positive impact downstream as well.

We are a long way from the dam being dismantled, but there is at least a conversation brewing about the positive side effects it could bring. As more people pick up on this story, it could gain enough momentum to being the process at long last.

Two Climbers Die in Fall Inside Grand Teton National Park

Two female climbers fell to their death while climbing inside Grand Teton National Park over the weekend as a strange, and tragic, summer season continues throughout the U.S. national park system.

Tyler Strandberg and Catherine Nix, both of Jackson, Wyoming, fell 200 feet while attempting to climb to the summit of Teewinot Mountain on Saturday. They were taking what is described as the standard route to the top along the East Face of that mountain when the accident occurred. The two women, along with a third climbing partner named Rebecca Anderson, were ascending a steep section without ropes when Strandberg and Nix fell. Anderson was the person who placed a 911 call to authorities to report the incident.

Teewinot is a 12,326-foot (3756 meter) peak that is generally climbed without the use of ropes. It is a mostly non-techcnal ascent, although there is a challenging Class 4.0 scramble to the summit near the end. The route up the East Face is also unmarked and requires good pathfinding skills to stay on course. The three women wandered off course on their way up the mountain, which led them into a much more challenging section that was very steep and rocky. Those conditions eventually contributed to the death of Strandberg and Nix, and also stranded Anderson who had to be airlifted off the mountain by helicopter.

My condolences to the friends and family of the two women who lost their lives. It is a sad story that reminds us of the dangers of climbing and the need to be extra cautious, particularly on a route that isn't well known.

Columbia Sportswear Wants to Pay You to Test Gear

Do you love being outdoors? Do you enjoy trying out new gear? If so, than Columbia just might be looking for you. The gear company is looking for two Directors of Toughness to put their latest and greatest outdoor clothing to the test, and they're willing to pay handsomely for the right candidates. 

The job requires a six-month commitment out of the two hires, although they will be paid $26,000 as compensation. On top of that, whoever gets the job will also be sent off on several exciting expeditions to some of the most iconic places in North America, and other parts of the world. Benefits include health insurance and paid housing in Portland, Oregon as well. And of course, the Directors of Toughness will also be outfitted with all of the gear that they could ever hope for to help them survive their adventure too.

Where exactly these gear testers will go has yet to be determined, but the plan is for them to follow the weather. In other words, those who are hired for these positions will probably be spending a lot of time in places that are less than ideal in terms of the conditions. That is to be expected of course, as the best way to see if a piece of gear performs well is to take it to places that are cold and difficult.

Applications for the DoT positions are being accepted through the end of August. If you think you have what it takes to join the Columbia team, click here to fill out the application. And good luck!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Video: Beautiful Azores in 4K

Want to end the week with a beautiful escape to someplace lovely? Than this short video ought to do the trick. It features timelapse imagery from the Azores that is simply too stunning for words. These beautiful islands located off the coast of Portugal are well known for their beauty, but this clip gives us a first-hand look at just how spectacular a destination the Azores truly are. Enjoy.

Açores 4K from Lukas Unterholzner on Vimeo.

Swiss Mountain Runner Bags Five Peaks in Record Time

Swiss mountain runner Andreas Steindl has set an impressive new record in the Alps. A few days back, the 26-year old endurance athlete and mountaineer managed to bag the summit of five different 4000 meter (13,123 ft) peaks on his way from Zermatt to Saas-Fee in a stunning time of just 7 hours and 45 minutes.

Steindl's quest began in the church square in Zermatt and ended the church square in Saas-Fee. In-between he ran a route that crossed the summits of Alphubel (4206 m/13,799 ft), Täschhorn (4491m/14,734 ft), Dom (4545 m/14,911 ft), Lenzspitze (4294 m/14,087 ft), and Nadelhorn (4327m/14,196 ft). His sub-8 hour time ended up being 77 minutes faster than his previous record along this route.

The video below captures the run and gives you an idea of what Andreas was up against. This was no easy run in the mountains by any means, requiring speed, strength, and sure footing to achieve his goal. Watching these mountain runners go about their business never gets old, as they are indeed some of the best athletes in the world today.


July Was the Hottest Month Ever According to Researchers

There was disturbing news for environmentalists earlier this week as a new report indicates that July was the hottest month ever recorded. According to research conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the average temperature across the planet in July was 16.6ºC/61.9ºF, which .08 degrees higher than previous marks, and has been deemed a "significant" margin in terms of weather.

Scientists are blaming global climate change and the El Nino phenomenon for the spike in temperatures, and sadly July wasn't the only month to see a bump. In fact, the seven previous months for 2015 have also set records for the warmest period recorded as well, with official records dating back to 1880.

Jake Crouch, a scientist at NOAA, says "Now that we are fairly certain that 2015 will be the warmest year on record, it is time to start looking at what are the impacts of that? What does that mean for people on the ground?"

In other words, there is definitely a trend forming, and it is not a good one. The Earth is getting warmer and it will have consequences for how we live within our lifetimes. As the polar caps melt, and the oceans rise, coastlines will be altered dramatically. Droughts will become more frequent and severe, and powerful storms are likely to become more common in their ferocity and duration. Looking around, it is easy to see some of these things already starting to happen, and chances are it is only going to get worse.

Primal Quest Adventure Race Underway in Tahoe

A legendary adventure race has risen from the ashes, and is currently underway near Lake Tahoe in California. The 2015 edition of Primal Quest began yesterday, with 11 coed teams of four setting off on a 400+ mile (643 km) expedition-length course that is expected to take up to seven days to complete. The start of the race marks the return of one of the truly epic brands in the sport.

If there are two races that have epitomized adventure racing in the past, it is the Eco-Challenge and Primal Quest. Both were considered the toughest, most grueling races on the planet back in the day. Eco-Challenge – which was created by TV mogul Mark Burnett – was the event that brought adventure racing to a world stage, making a much larger audience aware of the sport for the very first time. It drew millions of viewers who mesmerized by the amazing athletes who spent days racing through some of the most challenging environments on the planet. But the race folded up shop back in 2002 and passed the torch on to its spiritual successor – Primal Quest. That even ran from 2002 to 2009 with some truly epic courses of its own. 

Despite a few rumblings of a possible return over the years, PQ remained off the AR schedule for a long time. It has returned at last however, with a new race management team that hopes to rebuild the brand back to its original status. 

Right now, the teams taking part in the race are into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where over the next few days they'll be running, mountain biking, paddling, and climbing their way along the route. As I write this, the lead teams are through the early checkpoints and are well into the competition. Team Bones from the U.S. is running in first place through CP 8, while Team GodZone of New Zealand is currently in second through CP 6. They're being chased by the Team Too Much Fun Club, who are in third through CP 6 as well. Considering there are 31 total checkpoints in the event however, there is a lot of racing yet to come. 

As someone who served on the staff of the previous two Primal Quest races, I'm glad to see PQ back on the schedule. Hopefully it continues to be a successful event in years to come. Good luck to all the teams racing this week as well. Have fun and stay safe. 

Controversy Brews Over Nolan's 14 Run

Yesterday I posted the news that two women – Anna Frost and Missy Gosney – became the first female ultrarunners to complete the grueling Nolan's 14 challenge. This very difficult endeavor requires athletes to cover more than 100 miles, and bag 14 different 14,000 foot (4267 meter) peaks in Colorado's Sawatch Range in under 60 hours. The duo had apparently completed that task on Tuesday of this week, but now there is some controversy brewing as to whether or not they finished at the proper location in the time required.

Outside Online has the scoop on this story, but essentially there is debate in the ultrarunning community over just where Nolan's 14 ends. Some say it is at the final summit, while others say it is at the trailhead. Frost and Gosney reached their final summit on Mt. Shavano in 57 hours and 55 minutes, and then took time to celebrate at the top. By the time they actually descended down to the trailhead, the 60 hour time limit had expired.

Matt Mahoney is the unofficial record keeper for Nolan's 14, and his site indicates that the run ends on the final summit. But most other ultrarunners who have attempted the challenge have listed their times from trailhead to trailhead. It is also argued that the intent for the original creators of the event were for it to go from trailhead to trailhead as well, beginning and ending at the Fish Hatchery near Leadville or Blank Cabin near Salida, depending on which direction you are traveling.

Frost told Outside that she and Gosney were perfectly happy with their effort, and that they felt they had completed the run according to the rules. The ladies would have had enough time to descend to the trailhead had they departed from the summit of Shavano more quickly, but instead they elected to stay on top and celebrate with their support team. In her mind, they completed Nolan's 14 according to the official rules.

Mahoney's website doesn't have Frost and Gosney's run listed just yet, although past attempts are recorded on the site. Each of those includes the number of peaks that a runner notched in the time allowed as the indicator of how much of the run they managed to complete. So, for instance, a runner may have bagged 8 peaks in their attempt at the challenge before they ran out of time or retired from the chase. If this method of recording the run holds true, than Frost and Gosney will be credited with achieving 14 summits, which should equate to success. But, it seems there will always be those who question their effort since they didn't reach the trailhead in the specified time.

Either way, it was a fine effort on what has become one of the truly great challenges in ultrarunning.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Video: Life Lessons From a Seven-Thousand Mile Long Bike Ride

Jedidiah Jenkins rode his bike from Oregon to the southernmost tip of South America. Along the way, he learned a lot about himself and the world. His friend, filmmaker Kenny Laubbacher joined him for part of the journey to find out why he would embark on such a ride. This video shares some of his answers, and may provide not only a bit of insight as to why someone would ride their bike 7000 miles (11,265 km), but perhaps a bit of inspiration for seeking your own adventures too. Beautifully filmed and thoughtfully put together, this is one clip you should not skip.

Video: Down to Nothing - Climbing a Remote Peak in Myanmar

Last week I posted a video from National Geographic that followed a team of climbers into a remote region of Myanmar to attempt to summit Hkakabo Razi, potentially the highest peak in southeast Asia at 5881 meters (19,295 ft). That expedition pushed the team to their absolute physical and mental limits as they struggled with all manner of challenges. This video comes our way from the expedition's co-sponsor The North Face, and it offers us a different perspective on the events that took place. If you want to see an up close account of a team of explorers in a remote corner of the planet, than spend 25 minutes with this film. You'll come away with a new appreciation for this team's efforts, and what goes into making an expedition like this one work.

Down To Nothing from The North Face on Vimeo.

Outside Gives Us an Inside Look at Everest

We're still several weeks off from the release of the major motion picture Everest, but already the hype-train is leaving the station. Over the next few weeks I'm sure we'll see a steady stream of press events, interviews, and sneak previews all leading up to the film's arrival in theaters on September 18.  Outside magazine is already leading the charge however with an interview with cast and crew members from the blockbuster movie that could redefine mountaineering films to come.

The article takes us behind the scenes to get a look at the production of Everest, which reportedly cost $55 million to make. That is relatively small change in Hollywood these days, particularly when you consider the cast of the film. Josh Brolin portrays one of the climbers, with Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kiera Knightly, Robin Wright, and a host of other notables on playbill.

The film is based upon the 1996 climbing season on Everest, famously chronicled in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. It has been nearly two decades since those events took place, and considering the last two seasons on Everest have been tragic in their own right, it will be interesting to see how the events unfold on the big screen. But the producers spared no expense in filming the movie, with such luminaries as David Breashears, Guy Cotter, and David Morton onboard to provide video footage and advice. They even traveled to Nepal to film some of scenes, although much of the principle photography was done in the Italian Dolomites, which stood in for the Himalaya.

It has taken years to get this film into theaters, and the story of that production is a fascinating one. Outside takes us through the early efforts to convince Hollywood to make the movie, and what it took to get a director, cast, and crew onboard. Those deeply involved with making Everest also share their insights into the characters from the story, challenges of filming on location and much more.

If you're interested in Everest, the 1996 season, or big Hollywood films, this is an interesting article to read to say the least. While I am personally trying to be cautiously optimistic about the film, I am eager to see it for myself and see how it turns out. Considering the talent that is involved with the movie, and the heritage of those who helped produce it, I suspect it could be one of the most realistic mountaineering films we've seen in a long time, if not ever. Judging from the trailer, the scenery alone will probably be worth the price of admission.

We have to wait another month before we know for sure, and advance reviews will probably give us some hints of what to expect. But hopefully the film will be entertaining and insightful. If it educates a larger audience about what happens on Everest each spring, all the better.

Two Ultrarunners Become First Women to Complete Nolan's 14

Ultrarunner's Anna Frost and Missy Gosney completed one of the toughest challenges in endurance sports on Tuesday when they became the first women to complete the notorious Nolan's 14. The ladies wrapped up their grueling endeavor in a time of 57 hours and 55 minutes, bagging 14 different 14,000-foot (4267 meter) peaks in the process. 

Frost and Gosney set out on their journey on Sunday, hitting the trail near Leadville, Colorado. Their first summit came on Mt. Massive, but that was just the beginning. On Tuesday, they wrapped up their record-setting attempt by descending from their final peak, Mt. Shavano. 

For those not familiar with Nolan's 14, it is a unique ultrarunning challenge that requires athletes to summit 14 different mountains beginning or ending with either Massive or Shavano. They can go travel either north or south, and the route they take to nab the other 12 peaks is entirely up to the athlete attempting the feat. In order to successfully complete the challenge, runners must also finish within 60 hours. 

The two endurance athletes tell Nat Geo that along the way they got lost on the trail, faced some scary storms, and were constantly nauseated while above 13,000 feet (3962 meters), which is about 25% of the entire course. They even experienced the "sleep monsters," which are hallucinations brought on by sleep deprivation. At times, Frost said she saw elephants and giraffes, as well as a black koala and Mickey Mouse, while out on the trail. Fortunately, the did not suffer any injuries however, and aside from some issues with their feet – which is to be expected on a 100-mile (160 km) run, they came off of Nolan's 14 in relatively good health.

Congratulations to both Anna and Missy on a job well done. You two are an inspiration to adventure runners everywhere! 

Summer Climbs 2015: Czechs Abandon Attempt on Gasherbrum I

Bad weather in the big mountains of Pakistan have once again brought a halt to climbing there, and possibly finally shut down the summer climbing season for good. ExWeb has posted the news that the Czech climbing team of Marek Holecek and Tomas Petrecek have returned to Base Camp on Gasherbrum I after having their summit bid thwarted by heavy snow and high winds. It is unclear at this time just how close they got to the summit, or whether or not they'll try again.

The two men spent nearly two weeks on GI, even though when they set out from BC on their summit push they took fuel and supplies for just seven days. We do know that they managed to climb as high as 7300 meters (23,950 ft), although according to reports it seems they got a lot higher than that before turning back. The expedition's sponsor says that they got "really close" to the top, but simply couldn't continue all the way up.

Te team's chosen route of ascent was a direct line up GI's southwest face, which Marek has attempted on two other occasions in the past. From the sounds of things, his third attempt along this new route was more successful than previous expeditions, but conditions simply weren't right to finish off the climb.

Marek and Tomas returned to BC this afternoon local time, where they are reportedly resting and regaining their strength. It isn't known if they will give Gasherbrum I another go, but that seems very unlikely. It is now late in the summer climbing season, and the weather has not been cooperative for weeks. It seems far more likely at this point that they'll pack up camp and head home. But until we have confirmation of their departure, there remains a chance that they'll consider another summit bid. At this point, that will be determined by the amount of supplies they have left over, and the weather forecast. Their physical conditioning will also play a role as well.

In all likelihood we have seen the end of a very long summer climbing season at last. It has not been a very successful one, as K2 turned back all challengers and Broad Peak allowed just two summits all season long. But, fortunately where were very few accidents, and aside from a couple of incidents, everyone got up and down safely. The mountains will be there next year, ready to welcome teams once again.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Video: Mountains of the South Wind

This beautiful video takes us back to New Zealand once again, where we get some great shots of the mountains that cover the landscape there. The timelapse shots of these beautiful places are a good reminder of how amazing our planet actually is. This is three minutes of pure bliss. Sit back and enjoy.

Mountains of the South Wind 4K from Bevan Percival on Vimeo.

Video: Trekking and Packrafting Across Iceland

Want to go on a great adventure without leaving the comfort of your home? Than checkout this video which takes us on a journey across Iceland on foot and packraft. Shot over 13 days in June, the filmmakers managed to capture some spectacular landscapes as they traversed the country south to north. Along the way, they managed to visit some truly spectacular and wild places.

Crossing Iceland, South to North. Hiking & Packrafting. from EduMB on Vimeo.

Video: Climbing the Shark Fin on Meru with Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk

This past weekend the film Meru finally made its debut in theaters across the U.S. It has not gone into wide release just yet however, so I'm sure that like me, most of you haven't seen it just yet. This video  serves as an introduction to the film, giving you an understanding not just of what it is about, but what climbers Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk accomplished on their 2008 ascent of the Shark Fin on Mt. Meru. This was one of the boldest and most dangerous climbs in recent history, and it is great that their story is finally being told. Check out the video below to get you even more excited for seeing the documentary in the theater.

Climbing the Shark’s Fin from The New York Times - Video on Vimeo.

Interview With Explorer Planning to Walk the Zambezi River

The Zambezi River stretches for nearly 1600 miles (2574 km) across central and east Africa, meandering its way through Zambia and Angola, as well as along the borders of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, before flowing into Mozambique on its way to the Indian Ocean. Its route passes through thick forests, pastoral grasslands, and dense swamps that are at times nearly impassable. Along the way, the river features numerous rapids with intense whitewater, and more than a few waterfalls – including the absolutely massive Victoria Falls, often referred to locally as the "Smoke that Thunders." In other words, the Zambezi follows a route that is remote and difficult, which is exactly why one explorer wants to trek it.

Starting in November of this year, British adventurer Chaz Powell will set out to walk the entire length of the river, source to sea. He'll undertake this major expedition not just for the challenge and adventure, but to raise awareness of the rising amount of wildlife crime taking place in Africa and other parts of the world, where poaching has become a serious issue.

Recently, Powell sat down with my friends over at CheapTents.com to talk about his expedition. In that interview, he discusses what inspired him to become an adventurer, his biggest expedition to date, and his motivations for wanting to walk the Zambezi. He also talks about some of the logistics of the walk, the challenges he'll face along the way, and some of the animals he expects to encounter in the wilderness. Those include lions, elephants, hippos, rhinos, crocs, and a host of others.

When asked about his experience in the field, Chaz admits that he has done some overloading in Africa, and campervaning in Australia, but he has never undertaken a journey like this before. That could prove dangerous out in the wild, where traveling on foot is quite different than anything else he's done.

The expedition is expected to take about six months to complete, and Powell says he plans on wrapping it up around April of next year. You can follow his progress both on Facebook and Twitter, as he ramps up his preparation and gets ready for his November departure. This should be another interesting journey to follow in the weeks ahead.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Icefall Doctors Fixing Route for Autumn Everest Expedition

We haven't even officially closed the book on the summer climbing season in Pakistan just yet, and already the fall season in the Himalaya is starting to get underway. According to a story in the Himalayan Times, the Icefall Doctors have reported for duty at Everest Base Camp, where they have started to build a route through the Khumbu Icefall. They hope to have established a stable path by the time a Japanese team arrives for a fall attempt on the mountain.

That team will consist of climbers Nobukazu Kuriki and Masaru Kadotani, who hope to summit the world's tallest mountain during the fall. They are expected to arrive in BC around the time of the autumnal equinox on September 21. According to the story, there will be five teams climbing in the Khumbu region in the weeks ahead, with expeditions set to take place on both Everest and Manaslu. 

There was a time when the fall climbing season was a busy one on Everest, but there have been few expeditions to the mountain during the post-monsoon season in recent years. In fact, as Stefan Nestler points out, there has been only one fall summit in the past five years, and that was accomplished by explorer Eric Larsen on his three poles project five years ago. Since then, there have been no summits and very few attempts, as most teams have preferred to stay focused on the more popular spring climbing season instead. 

The next few weeks and months will be interesting ones for Nepal. Traditionally, as the monsoon subsides for another year, travelers return to trek and climb in the mountains there. But after the April earthquake, some areas are still recovering. Whether or not that will have an impact on the travel season, and the economy of the country, remains to be seen. Most experts believe that tourism will be key to rebuilding the shattered infrastructure in Nepal, but if visitors are slow to return, it could mean that it will take even longer for the country to get back on track. 

Either way, it looks like we'll have an Everest expedition to follow in the weeks ahead. It is not uncommon for commercial teams to attempt Manaslu in the fall as a warm-up to the spring climbing season, but an Everest climb at this time of the year will be a rare treat indeed. 

Stay tuned for more news about the emerging fall season and the teams that will be taking part. It will be good to see some action back in the Himalaya once again.