Friday, May 22, 2015

California Bound!

As we head into a long three-day weekend here in the U.S., I wanted to share a few plans of my own. Tomorrow I'll jet off to California to spend a few days with friends and family before heading off to a whirlwind tour of three national parks. Next week, I'll be spending time in King's Canyon and Sequoia, as well as Yosemite. All three are spectacular outdoor playgrounds, and I'm looking forward to enjoying some time at each location.

While I'm there, I'll also be staying at three different national parks lodges along the way. While in King's Canyon I'll be the guest at the John Muir Lodge, and when I move over to Sequoia the following day I'll be staying at the Wusachi Lodge, both of which look suitably rustic and inviting. Finally. I'll head over to Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite to round out my trip.

I have quite a few activities planned while I'm in the area, and intend to do some hiking, horseback riding, and stargazing. It should be a wonderful little escape to some beautiful natural settings. I am especially excited to be visiting Yosemite in particular.

As a result of my travels, there will likely be no updates next week, pending any major stories breaking. Considering the way things have gone over the past month or so, that seems like it could be a possibility, but lets hope for the best. I'll be back soon, and posting regular updates once again.

Video: Planet Patagonia in 4K

It is often said that Patagonia – the wild region in southern Argentina and Chile – is one of the most spectacularly beautiful landscapes on the planet. It is difficult to argue with that sentiment after watching this clip, which features three-and-a-half minutes of stunning footage from this amazing place. Timelapse images of the Patagonian mountains, rivers, and glaciers show us an almost otherworldly destination that remains as alluring today, as it ever has in the past. To view this lovely clip in its full 4k resolution click here.

Planet Patagonia 4K Time Lapse from HD Nature Video by LoungeV on Vimeo.

Video: Paddling the Jura Mountains on a Rainy Day

Located in the Western Alps, the Jura Mountains are known for being remote and rugged. The region falls into the watershed of both the Rhine and Rhône Rivers, making it an excellent place to go kayaking, particularly on a rainy day. That's exactly what the team of paddlers in this video found when the set out to explore some of the waterways there. The discovered some epic drops – including some beautiful waterfalls – and great whitewater to test their skills. The four-minute video is filled with some excellent action, set in a beautiful location. What more could you ask for?

Just another rainy day in the Jura mountains from No Travel Without Kayak on Vimeo.

Kayakers to Paddle 9000 KM From Canada to Mexico

A trio of adventurers from Canada has embarked on an epic journey that will take them from Montreal to the tip of the Yucatan in Mexico by sea kayak. Along the way, they expect to cover more than 9000 km (5592 miles) as they spend up to a year completing the expedition, which they call the Go Fetch Challenge.

Luc Labelle, Nika De Jocas-McCrae and Julien Granger are preparing to set out on their journey in the next few days as they have now reached the northernmost location of their route. From here, they'll be southward bound, as they paddle along the eastern coasts of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. They'll kayak along the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico, before ultimately reaching their goal at the Yucatan Peninsula. 

The boys say that they are undertaking this expedition at a crucial time in their lives, and it will help set them on a course both personally and professionally as they move forward. This is a journey that is as much about the adventure they find along the way as it is reaching a destination. The three friends have known each other for more than 10 years, and have been planning to undertake a challenge of this scope for some time. Now, they're ready to get underway at last, and it should be fun to see what they discover about themselves along the way.

You'll be able to keep up with their progress at the Go Fetch website, which features GPS positional tracking, a frequently updated blog, and more information about the team, and their goals. They have quite a journey ahead of them, and it will interesting to see it unfold. I wish them luck as they begin paddling south at long last. 

Archaeologists Discover 3 Million Year Old Tools that Pre-Date Man

I love stories that show us that we don't know as much about our planet as we think we do. Earlier this week it was revealed that archaeologists have discovered ancient tools in Kenya that date back more than 3.3 million years. That's amazing of course, but what is even more mind blowing is the fact that these artifacts actually pre-date man, indicating that another species once inhabited the Earth that possessed the knowledge and ability to create and use tools too.

This discovery turns some preconceived notions about early man on its ear. While we have seen apes and monkeys use tools to solve problems and acquire food, it has been widely assumed that one of the things that separated humans – those species designated as Homo Sapiens and Homo Erectus for instance – is our ability to make and use crude tools to our advantage. These latest findings date back to a time before and of those early humans walked the Earth, making us expand our thoughts on what other species were capable of, and change some theories as to why Homo Sapiens grew to be the dominant species on the planet.

Until now, the oldest stone tools found have dated back about 2.6 million years. Those artifacts were also found in Kenya, and included axes made out of volcanic stone that were used for hunting. But this new find predates those instruments by as much as 700,000 years.

Just who made these tools remains a bit of a mystery. There are some researchers who believe that they were made by an as-yet unknown species that we haven't discovered yet. Others are attributing them to a species early man known as Kenyanthropus. Back in 1999, a skull belonging to this species was discovered not far from the site where these tools were uncovered. It too dated back 3.3 million years.

The Live Science article that I linked to above has more information about how these tools were discovered, and what the region of Kenya was like back when those who made them still lived there. The instruments were found in the badlands located in the northeast section of the country, which is now very dry and arid. That helps to preserve the artifacts found there. But when those tools were being used, it was a forested area with plenty of shrub plants, making it a good place for animals to live and graze too.

This is fascinating stuff, and I love that we're still continuing to uncover these discoveries.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Video: Nat Geo Drone Footage of Nubian Pyramids

You'll have to forgive me for being a bit Egypt-obsessed at the moment. Since returning from the country a few weeks back, I've been thinking about it a lot, and writing about my experiences there. This video of course caught my attention, as it features footage of Nubian pyramids in Sudan, that were captured by a drone operated by National Geographic engineer Alan Turchick. It is a great way to view these ancient monuments, which have a certain grandeur that is best when taken in from a bird's eye view.

Update: It has been pointed out that the sites in this video are actually in Sudan, and not Egypt. Sudan was actually a part of Egypt for hundreds of years, and the Nubians were a people that lived in that part of the world. It is important to make that distinction, so I thought I'd clarify the text some.

Video: Mountain Biking Squamish

Located in the heart of British Columbia, Squamish is well known for being a spectacular outdoor playground that happens to get a fair amount of rain each year. In fact, it can get as much as 238 cm (94 inches) of rainfall, which can make for sloppy conditions at times. Those conditions are prominently on display in this video, which features mountain biker James Doerfling bombing down a wet trail near Squamish. The slick conditions add a level of challenge to the ride, which is through a spectacular forest worthy of exploration. If you want to check-out the world class mountain biking that is available in the region, give this clip a look. It is both beautiful and inspiring.

Fairweather - James Doerfling from OneUp Components on Vimeo.

Everest Guide Dave Hahn Shares His Thoughts on the Nepal Earthquake

As the days go by, and the incessant news cycle pushes the stories about the Nepal earthquake further off the radar, it is easy to lose sight of the ongoing struggle that is currently taking place in the Himalayan country. After all, it is only natural for us to turn our attention elsewhere, even though the real work to rebuild has only just begun. A few days back, Rainier Mountain Guide Dave Hahn – who has 15 successful summits of Everest on his resume – wrote a blog post that shared his experiences on the mountain this spring, and the aftermath of the tragedy that occurred there. His words are a sharp reminder of the human loss, and the far reaching impact of this natural disaster.

Dave says that his RMI team was one of the first into Everest Base Camp this spring, after spending 10 days hiking up the Khumbu Valley. He reports that their acclimatization efforts were going well, and everything was proceeding as expected, even though snowstorms had disrupted the schedule some. On April 23, the group moved up the mountain to Camp 1 as they started an acclimatization rotation. Two days later – the day of the earthquake – they had ascended to Camp 2. That is where they were when the ground started rumbling, causing the earth to move under their feet, and shaking snow, ice, and rocks off of the mountains that surrounded them.

When things had calmed down, the team discovered that BC has been hit, and that numerous camps had been flattened. Their Sherpa and support staff in Base Camp immediately went to work helping those who were injured and searching for the missing. Ultimately the avalanche that swept through that part of the mountain would claim the lives of 19 climbers, and send a shockwave through the entire mountaineering community. 

Two Ocean Rowers to Attempt Record Crossing of the Indian Ocean

Two British adventurers are about to attempt a speed record for rowing across the Indian Ocean. The duo – James Ketchell and Ashley Wilson – plan to set out from Perth, Australia next week with the intention of rowing to Mauritius in just 85 days, covering approximately 3600 miles (5793 km) in the process.

When they do set off on this ocean crossing it will be their second attempt. A few days back they launched their rowboat but experienced technical difficulties with their navigation system and had to be towed back to shore just one day into their speed attempt. That issue has apparently been resolved now, and they hope to return to the water and restart sometime next week, although no specific date for the relaunch has been given just yet.

For Ketchell, this will be his second go at rowing an ocean. He successfully crossed the Atlantic back in 2010, and has a successful summit of Everest in 2011 on his resume as well. In 2013 he also made an unsupported round-the-world cycling journey, covering more than 18,000 miles (28,968 km) along the way.

Wilson, on the other hand, is not quite as an experienced adventurer. He does, however, suffer from epilepsy and is hoping to use this row as a platform to help spread better understanding of the affliction, and inspire others with the same disability to chase their dreams and do great things.

This journey isn't just about the speed record of course. James and Ashely are hoping to raise £100,000 ($156,000) that will be spread amongst three different charities. Those charities include Young Epilepsy, an organization that supports children with the conditions, the Scout Association, which is an outdoor group for kids, and the Elifar Foundation – a nonprofit dedicated to helping people with severe learning disabilities. All worthy causes for sure.

The current record for an Indian Ocean crossing is 85 days, 2 hours, and 5 minutes. Kettle and Wilson will take shifts at the oars for 24 hours per day while out on the water in the hopes of besting that time. Along the way, they'll face unpredictable weather, potentially large storms, and swells that could exceed 4 meters. They are of course hoping for calm conditions to aid them on the crossing, but as always with an ocean rowing journey, their fate is in the hands of nature.

You can follow their progress at the expedition's official website.

Outside Profiles Graham Hunt - Dean Potter's BASE Jump Partner

The headlines this week have been filled with stories about Dean Potter, the climbing legend who lost his life in a fatal wingsuit accident in Yosemite National Park last Saturday. A number of those stories offered only a passing mention of Graham Hunt, Potter's companion on the ill-fated BASE jump. But Outside Online looks to rectify that by posting an article that profiles the Other Man in this tragic story.

The 29-year old Hunt is described as someone who was known within the BASE jumping community, but not so much outside of it. He had very little online presence, and did almost nothing to promote the dangerous stunts that he was gaining a reputation for. That meant that when news of his death broke, there was little information that would come up in a Google search. That helped the narrative of the story to become "Dean Potter died, and there was someone else with him."

But Outside says that those who knew Hunt well describe him as a man who had a lot of confidence in his own skills, which were considerable to say the least. He was known for being incredibly calm and reliable on the walls, and someone that other climbers wanted to have with them, particularly in Yosemite. That probably shouldn't come as a surprise considering he was climbing and jumping with Potter, who was known to be selective of the company he kept on his own adventures. The pair made an epic jump of the Eiger back in 2013, although Dean was the one who made headlines, while his partner remained characteristically in the background.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Video: Patagonia Dreamin' - Climbing the Torre Massif

This short film takes us to Argentina with climbers Jason Kruk and Marc-Andre Leclerc as they take on the legendary Torre Massif in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The 8-minute documentary feature some fantastic climbing, as they two talented individuals show off their skills in amazing locations. The video is actually about a year old, but I hadn't come across it before. It is so good, I felt that it was definitely worth sharing. Fans of climbing films will certainly find a lot to love here.

Video: Extreme Athletes Ski and Climb Seven 4000 Meter Peaks in 24 Hours

Speed skiing is a sport that is gaining in popularity, particularly in the Alps in Europe. Recently a pair of extreme athletes – Beni Hug and Tony Sbalbi – decided to test their skills by speed climbing and skiing seven 4000 meter peaks in a single day, setting a new record in the process. Over the course of the day, they climbed an amazing 7000 meters (22,965 ft), as they chained together a route that passed over ten total mountains, including the famous Moench and Jungrau peaks in Switzerland. The video below gives us a brief look at what turned out to be a very long day. As you'll see, it was exhausting work.

Video: Trailer for The Great Shark Hunt - Climbing in Greenland

Last August, a trio of climbers – Matteo Della Bordella, Silvan Schüpbach and Christian Ledergerber  – traveled to Greenland to attempt a new route on a peak called the Shark Tooth. Prior to their expedition, the 900 meter (2952 ft) rock face had only been climbed one other time, and this team hoped to do it in alpine style without fixed ropes. On August 18 they managed to reach the top of a route that they named "The Great Shark Hunt."

The video below is a trailer for an upcoming documentary of that expedition. As you'll see, the men had to travel on foot, and by kayak, just to reach the mountain itself. Then, they faced a challenging climb on a sheer face that required skill, strength, and daring to overcome. The views along the way are spectacular, the climbing phenomenal, and the outcome inspirational. Everything you'd want out of a good adventure film.

Adventures in Egypt: Into the White Desert

This is the latest post in a series I've been doing about my recent journey through Egypt. If you're interested in reading the other stories I've shared from that experience, you'll find them here: Part 1 - Quiet and Calm in Cairo, Part 2 - The Great Pyramid of Giza, Part 3 -Abu Simbel, Aswan, and Luxor – the Other Ancient Wonders, and Part 4 - The Valley of the Kings and Queens – By Donkey!

As always, thanks to G Adventures for sponsoring this trip. If you find that you'd like to follow in my footsteps and do the same things that I did in Egypt, you can join their Absolute Egypt tour and experience it all yourself.

Over the first week or so of the journey through Egypt I visited a lot of ancient monuments, many of which I had seen the first time I visited the country more than a decade ago. Those monuments, which includes the Pyramids and Sphinx, the Temples of Luxor and Karnak, and the amazing Abu Simbel, are certainly awe inspiring and amazing to behold. So, even though I had visited most of them in the past, it was refreshing to see them once again, particularly since crowds were nonexistent, providing a different experience. But, as the trip wore on, I was eager to see a side of Egypt that I hadn't had a chance to experience just yet. That came when at long last we left the well-worn tourist route, and made our way out into the desert. Here, we would see very few other travelers, but Egypt's ancient wonders gave way to its natural beauty, which is fantastic in its own right.

The journey into the Sahara began by setting out bright and early from the city of Luxor to the small town of Dakhla Oasis. It is a long day on the road, broken up by a number of military checkpoints that stopped our vehicle often to check passports, search bags, and have a look at the travelers. These checkpoints turn a long drive into a real slog, but they are necessary to maintain peace and security throughout the country. This leg of the journey was nothing compared to what would come later however, as the trip from Bahariya to Siwa would take nine hours to complete, with 34 checkpoints to pass along the way.

Adventurers Complete First Circumnavigation of Lake Baikal in Winter by Motorbike

Awhile back, two adventurers complete a journey through one of the coldest environments on Earth when they circumnavigated Lake Baikal in Siberia by motorbike in the dead of winter. The expedition was undertaken as an exploratory mission for a potential new extreme trip sponsored by The Adventurists, but also to raise funds for charity, and to prove that it could be done.

Matt Prior, Dennis Malone, and a team of other crazy travelers embarked on the 2000 km (1242 mile) journey around the frozen lake beginning and ending in Irkutsk, Russia. It didn't take them long to discover what they were in for, as they faced temperatures that plunged below -30ºC/-22ºF, as they battled winds that approached 80 mph (128 km/h). That would be challenging enough under any circumstances, but to do it on a motorcycle is unthinkable.

Located deep in Siberia, Baikal is the largest and deepest lake on the planet. It covers more than 31,000 square kilometers (12,248 sq. mi), and plunges to a depth of 1642 meters (5387 ft). It is also know for its extreme weather, which is owed much to its location. The lake was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site back in 1996 due to its value as a natural resource.

Despite the harsh conditions, it was actually an unseasonably warm winter along the lake, which made ice conditions challenging at times. Matt and Dennis had to cautiously move forward at points, as certain sections weren't even safe for walking, let alone driving a motorcycle. At one point, one of the bikes even broke down, forcing major repair work to be done in the field in order to keep moving forward. It didn't help much that the motorcycle was a vintage Russian Ural with a sidecar that was left over from World War II.

Despite the challenges, the expedition – which was sponsored by GoPro, Klim, and Powertraveller – was a success in more ways than one. The duo managed to raise funds for some important charities, including Help for Heroes, Soldier On, Plan UK, and Cool Earth.

If the name Matt Prior sounds familiar, it's because I've written about his initiative to launch the Adventure Academy in the past. That is his brilliant idea of providing would-be adventurers with the skills they need to launch their own expeditions by taking them on a journey that is equal parts learning experience and cultural immersion. You can learn more about the concept in the video below.

Congrats to Matt and Dennis on completing this Siberian odyssey.

Matt Prior Adventure Academy Main Promo from Matt Prior Adventure Academy on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Video: A Journey Through Nepal

Earlier today I made a post about the lack of a climbing season on Everest once again this year, and the challenges that Nepal faces on its road to recovery. In that post I remarked about how it is difficult to not fall in love with the Himalayan country, whose natural beauty and welcoming people are just so inspiring. This video will give you a first hand look at those aspects of Nepal. It is an hour-long documentary that takes you through the streets of Kathmandu, into the Chitwan National Park, and on the entire trek to Everest Base Camp. If you've never been to Nepal, this film will inspire you to want to go. If you've already been there, it will be a reminder of that beautiful place, and some of the things that were lost as a result of the earthquake. Either way, this is a video that you should get comfortable for, as it is a wonderful journey through Nepal without ever leaving your home.

Video: Clouds Over Kilimanjaro

Whether you're looking up, or looking down, the views from Kilimanjaro are always spectacular. Case in point, this brief – but oh so sweet – timelapse of clouds passing before the mountain. It was shot from Moir Camp by friends at Tusker Trail, who for my money are the absolute best guides on Kili. The one-minute clip doesn't wow you with the fantastic views from the summit, but instead gives you a sense of what it is like to look up toward the peak as you make your approach. It is a beautiful sight, and one that every adventure traveler should experience. 

Clouds Racing over Kilimanjaro from Tusker Trail on Vimeo.

The State of Outdoor Participation in the U.S.

The Outdoor Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor enthusiasts, has released its annual report examining the level of participation in outdoor activities witin the U.S. That report has both some encouraging and disappointing findings in terms of how engaged people are with the outdoors, and what the outlook is amongst young people today.

During their research the Outdoor Foundation discovered that nearly half of all Americans claim to have taken part in some outdoor activity in the past year. That number is 48.4% to be specific. While that sounds like a reasonably high  number on the surface, the fact that respondents only needed to take part in a single activity over that 12-month span indicates to me that most people aren't engaging with the outdoors in a meaningful way on a regular basis.

A deeper look at the numbers tells a similar tale. According to a press release from the Foundation, these numbers are down .8% from 2013, which doesn't sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things. But, this is also the lowest level of outdoor participation since the organization began tracking the data back in 2006. In other words, fewer people are getting outside and taking part in these activities.

The report says that there are some bright spots however, particularly in waterspouts. Stand-up paddleboarding continues to grow substantially, up 38% in 2014 over the previous year. Snow sports are also doing well with telemarking, snowshoeing, freestyle skiing and cross-country skiing all showing significant gains.

Sadly however, both running and cycling saw a drop in numbers. As the report says, these are often "gateway" activities that lead people to engage with the outdoors more fully, but both saw fewer participating. Well, that is, less people were doing them outside. Research indicates that more people were running on treadmills and stationary bikes inside however. Poor weather and shifting climate conditions was blamed for this drop.

The complete report isn't due out until later this summer, and it should have more details about outdoor participation as a whole. But obviously it is disappointing to hear that fewer people are heading outside. I'm not sure what can help reverse this trend, but hopefully something will come along that can do that soon. I can't imagine not going for a daily run outside, hiking some trails. paddling a river, or camping under the stars. Finding ways for others to fall in love with those experiences is one of the goals of this blog, and so I am a bit disheartened to say the least.

Dean Potter Remembered

The loss of climbing and BASE jumping legend Dean Potter has obviously hit the outdoor and adventure community very hard. His death in Yosemite over the weekend while BASE jumping with Graham Hunt has left many stunned and in mourning. As the news spread across the Internet there has been an impressive number of tributes, profiles, and articles written about Dean, who was at times a controversial figure both in life and death. Here is a round-up of some of the stories.

As you'll see as you read through these articles there are some very common threads. First, Dean was widely admired and respected for his climbing abilities and adventurous spirit. But beyond that, he was also much loved because he was a genuinely good human being. Yes, from time to time he did some things that caused a stir both in and out of the climbing community, but his good natured enthusiasm, and boyish love of life, made him a hard man not to like. That is why there has been such an amazing response online to his death, and why he will be missed greatly.

Once again, my condolences to Dean and Graham's friends and family on this loss.

Himalaya Spring 2015: Another Lost Season on Everest

This is the time of year when I should be posting about summit bids on Everest and other big Himalayan peaks. Historically speaking, this week is one in which all of the variables come together to allow the climbers on the world's tallest mountain to go to the top at long last. But for the second straight year we're left contemplating a tragic event that has brought a halt to those proceedings, although this year it is on a much grander scale than we could have ever imagined.

The Nepal earthquake continues to have far reaching consequences on a country that struggled to provide reliable services and good infrastructure even in the best of times. Now, it is a nation in ruins, and many people are without homes, jobs, food, or water. The road to recovery is going to be a long one, and it is surely going to be made all the more challenging thanks to the Nepali government's track record of internal corruption and a history of making dubious decisions.

Obviously my heart goes out to the people of Nepal in their time of need and suffering. But I also can't help but lament the fact that we have another lost season on Everest too. This is a time when exhausted – but overjoyed – alpinists should be returning to Base Camp having completed a climb that they have spent years dreaming about, months planning for, and weeks preparing to finish.

At this point in the season, most would have been on the mountain for about six weeks, and after days spent acclimatizing and waiting patiently, they would get their shot at the summit at long last. Instead, most of those climbers have long since left for home, their dreams shattered along with the Nepali countryside. Some remain in the country however, working hard to lend assistance where they can. Most people who visit Nepal – either as climbers or trekkers – feel a deep connection with the place, and the people who live there, which is part of the reason there has been such an impressive outpouring of support from the outdoor community. It is a very special place, where adventure, nature, and spirituality all come together in a perfect union that is hard to explain if you haven't experienced it for yourself. But when you do, it is something that you never can forget.

2014 will be remembered as a year when the Sherpa people mourned the loss of their brethren on the slopes of Everest. 2015 will be remembered as the year that we all morned the loss of our brothers and sisters in Nepal. It is hard to think about mountaineering expeditions when you consider all of the challenges that lie ahead for that country, but believe it or not climbing will help heal the people there. The return of climbers and trekkers will be a sign that things are returning to normal, and it will bring a much needed influx of cash to the economy. Those days are still a long way off at this point, but I think we are all eager for them to arrive.

Perhaps next year we'll see climbers make their way to the summit once again. It will be a sign that stability has returned at long last. But the Nepal will never be the same again, no matter how many people summit Everest.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Video: The Northern Lights Over Iceland

March of 2015 brought one of the greatest displays of the Aurora Borealis – AKA the Northern Lights – ever seen over the country of Iceland. That light show is captured in stunning fashion in this video, which features six minutes of mesmerizing still and timelapse photos of the skies ablaze with brilliant colors. The Northern Lights remain one of the greatest natural phenomenon found anywhere on the planet, and it never ceases to inspire a sense of awe and wonder. Enjoy.

Litríkur Stormur from Stephane Vetter on Vimeo.

Video: A Profile of Dean Potter

You're likely to see a lot of videos featuring Dean Potter in the days ahead. His tragic death is going to leave the climbing community in state of mourning for some time. This video is a profile of Dean, and his desire to push the envelope to achieve bigger and better things. It shows not only his climbing ability, but adventurous spirit, which will be missed greatly. If you're not aware of Dean's contributions to that community, this clip will help to put it into perspective.

New Endurance Boat Race Challenges Competitors to Race to Alaska

We cover a lot of endurance events here on The Adventure Blog, with most of them focusing around running, cycling, or mountain biking along remote trails in beautiful locations. But this summer a completely new, and unique event, will take place in the Pacific Northwest, as the inaugural Race to Alaska prepares to get underway. In this event, competitors won't be traveling on foot or bike however, as they'll instead be challenged to sail, row, or paddle their way along the route.

This 750 mile (1190 km) long event will get underway from Townsend, Washington – located not far from Seattle – on June 4. Participants will proceed up the coast, with the eventual finish line located in Ketchikan, Alaska. Along the way, competitors will face fierce winds, cold conditions, potentially large storms, and turbulent waves. How they deal with those conditions, and exactly which route they take along the way, is completely up to them, as navigational choices will certainly play a role in determining the eventual winner.

There are ten classes of boats that are allowed to compete in the Race to Alaska, none of which are motorized. Those boats include multi-hull sail boats and row boats, kayaks, and even stand-up paddleboards. Exactly which means of transportation will be the best choice remains to be seen, as the sailboats have an edge when the wind is blowing, but if the winds are calm, other vessels may have an opportunity to steal the win.

The first stage of the race, which runs from Townsend to Victoria, Vancouver in Canada, serves as qualifier of sorts. All of the racers must cover that 40 mile distance in 36 hours or less, or they will be disqualified. If they complete this initial challenge however, they'll be allowed to continue on to Ketchikan. There are currently 23 boats competing in the race, which is an impressive turnout for the first running of an event of this type. It'll be interesting to see how the competition unfolds, and who ends up taking home the victory.

I heard about this really unique event from Steve Price, who is one of the competitors on Team Angus. He, along with teammate Colin Angus, will be taking to the water in a specially designed rowboat. Their plan is to take turns at the oars, going 24-hours a day in 2 hour shifts. Since calm weather is expected, the team duo feels like it has a real shot to win the race, even over the sailboats.

We're just a couple of weeks away from the start of this race, and it should certainly be interesting. Good luck to all the competitors, and enjoy the journey.

Outside Picks the Best Gear of Summer 2015

It's that time of year again. Time for Outside magazine's annual look at the very best gear for the summer ahead. As usual, the 2015 Summers Buyer's Guide includes some of the best new equipment available for hiking, biking, running, and travel. If you're in the market for a new tent, pack, camera, or other gear, you might want to take a look at the products that Outside is recommending before plunking down your hard earned cash.

Amongst the new gear that made the list are an amazingly comfortable new jacket from The North Face, an impressive all-mountain bike from Giant, and an innovative new tent from Big Agnes. Hikers will love the new lightweight boots from Chaco, while the Osprey Atmos 65 continues to lead the way in backpacks. The Nikon 1 V3 gets the nod as one of the best new cameras available, while fans of waterspouts will find a list of the best paddleboards and kayaks available as well.

As usual, Outside isn't ignoring the ladies either. The magazine has dedicated an entire section to women's gear, with suggestions ranging from the best running shoes to the essential gear that every woman should take with her when she travel. There are even female-specific selections for biking, hiking, and SUP-ing as well.

Whether you're shopping for some new gear for yourself, or just want to keep up on the latest trends, be sure to drop by Outside Online to see what gear is coming highly recommend. I'm personally about to purchase a new tent, and their reviews and suggestions helped me to pick the one that I am going to go with. There are more than 365 products listed in the guide, so chances are you'll find something you'll want/need, even if you didn't know it yet.

Climbing Legend Dean Potter Dies in Yosemite

There was incredibly sad news in the climbing world this past weekend as the story broke that climbing legend Dean Potter died in a BASE jumping accident in Yosemite National Park. The 43-year old Potter was known as much for his free spirit and sense of adventure, as he was his incredible climbing and athletic skills.

The details of what exactly happened still aren't clear, but on Saturday evening Potter was making a BASE jump with with Graham Hunt from Taft Point in Yosemite. Hunt was killed int he accident as well, and when neither of the two men showed up at a rendezvous point following the jump, their ground support crew didn't panic. It was thought that they might have made their way out along a different route, or may have been arrested. BASE jumping is illegal in Yosemite, but the two men had made hundreds of jumps in the past, and were very experienced in the sport.

By Sunday, friends and family began to worry about the Potter and Hunt's whereabouts, and a search and rescue operation was mounted in the national park. Their two bodies were discovered later in the day. Both men had fallen to their deaths without opening their parachutes, which only deepens the mystery.

Potter was a well known figure in the climbing and BASE jumping community. Back in 2006 he made a controversial climb up Delicate Arch in Arches National Park which drew the ire of many. He also raised eyebrows when he made a video of a wingsuit flight with his dog – Whisper – last year. But he was incredibly well respected for his fantastic climbing ability that allowed him to free solo some of the toughest routes in the world, and his athletic prowess was displayed only recently when he set a new speed record on Half Dome.

It is impossible to overstate just how much of a luminary Dean was in the adventure sports community. He has been a fixture in the Yosemite climbing scene for decades, and was known for pushing the boundaries of the activities that he loved, which included slacklining as well. To say that he will be missed will be an understatement, and my condolences go out to his friends and family. Dean's ability to follow his own path, pursue his own dreams, and accomplish great things along the way was unmatched. We may never see the likes of Dean Potter again, and the climbing community has lost one of its brightest stars.
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