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Friday, June 16, 2017

Off to Outdoor Press Camp Next Week

I'll close out the week with a quick note on next week. I leave Monday for Park City, Utah, where I'll be attending the 2017 edition of Outdoor Press Camp. While there, I'll be meeting with some major outdoor brands, learning about a wide range of new gear and products, and connecting with other writers. It is a full, busy week with lots of activities, which means that The Adventure Blog will likely be on hiatus for the entire time. Should any major news break, I'll try to post an update, but I'll likely resume regular stories on Monday, June 26. 

In the meantime, the weekend is here and its time to get outside and have some fun. Where I'm at, its a bit warm and humid at the moment, but that won't be keeping me inside in the air conditioning for too long. I already have a long run planned for today and possibly some mountain biking tomorrow. Hopefully you have some similar ideas on how to enjoy a few days off as well. 

I'll be back soon!

Video: Pro Kayaker Drops 70-Foot Waterfall on an Inflatable Pool Toy

We've seen some pro kayakers make big drops over massive waterfalls before, but we've never seen anything like this. Here, Rafa Ortiz takes an inflatable pool toy over a 70-foot waterfall in Washington State. Before hand, Rafa gives a tongue-in-cheek interview about how he feels this is the future of his sport, before taking the plunge with a bright orange inflatable lobster. Fun stuff for a Friday.

Men's Journal Gives Us 43 Big Adventures for the Summer

Summer doesn't officially begin until the middle of next week, but for most of us it is already in full swing. To take advantage of the season ahead, Men's Journal has posted an article that provides us with 43 big adventures for the summer, offering up some amazing suggestions on where to go, what to do, and how to get there.

MJ's list is long and varied, with options for readers who want to stay close to home in the U.S. or the more adventurous type who is looking to escape to another country. There are suggestions on where to go climbing, hiking, biking, paddling, and more, with plenty of tried and true classic adventures to go along with some interesting new alternatives too.

Half the fun of a list like this is discovering what is on it for yourself. But, a few of the options that caught my attention included fly-in mountain biking in British Columbia, going for a hike in the Tri-Peaks region of Arkansas, and exploring the Skeleton Coast of Namibia, a place that has on my "must-see" list for a very long time.

Some of the other adventures involve setting some new traditions for yourself, like entering a trail run race, going on a long road trip, or taking a camping outing. Others come from suggestions from people like basketball great Kobe Bryant and John Burke, the president of Trek bikes. You'll find trips that are meant to inspire and motivate, and others that are all about relaxation. In short, no matter what you're looking for out of your summer, you'll probably find something that can scratch your adventurous itch on this list.

In the end though, it doesn't really matter where you get your inspiration for an adventure, but rather that you embrace the opportunity and set off on one. A good adventure is great for the body, mind, and soul, and chances are you'll come home refreshed and eager for more.

Read the entire MJ list here and start planning your escape.

Summits on Nanga Parbat to Start Summer Climbing Season

The summer climbing season in Pakistan is barely underway and there is already stunning news from Nanga Parbat. ExWeb is reporting that eight climbers have already summited that mountain this week, a good month ahead of the usual schedule and even a couple of days before our official preview.

According to the story, the team consists of climbers from Iran, China, and Nepal who had come directly from Kathmandu, arriving on May 28 following a full climbing season in Nepal. That meant they were already acclimated to the altitude and could begin the climb almost immediately. The group was led by Dreamers Destination staff, and not long after reaching the mountain they were able to start their ascent. 

With the Sherpa team already acclimated, the squad immediately went to work on fixing ropes. By June 10 there were nine people at Camp 3 on Nanga Parbat, including four Sherpa, four foreign climbers, and one Pakistani high altitude porter. The following day they moved up, recording one of the earliest summit bids ever. They all descending safely to Base Camp, and they have already left the mountain, with some members of the team now proceeding on to K2 as well. 

This is some incredibly surprising news. Most of the teams planning to climb in Pakistan this summer are still arriving in the country, with a few en route to Base Camp. Most won't be settled on their respective mountains for another week or two, let alone beginning their acclimatization process. Summit bids are still a long way off, with most taking place in late July or even later. But this team took advantage of the fact that they had already acclimatized in Nepal before arriving, and knocked off the mountain in rapid fashion. 

Amazing work to all that were involved and congratulations to the entire team. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Video: Iceland in 4K

Take a beautiful journey across Iceland in this wonderful video, which captures the stunning landscapes found there in 4K, making them feel in more lifelike than ever before. The clip shows us towering mountains, wild coastlines, incredible waterfalls and so much more. This is one of those clips you simply want to sit back and enjoy. So turn up the music and do just that. And if you have a 4K monitor, even better.

ICELAND 4K from Tomas Aamli on Vimeo.

Video: Speak Out for Your Public Lands

A few days back I shared a video that explained exactly what was meant when discussing "public lands." In the wake of that post, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced that he would recommend to President Trump that the Bears Ears National Monument be reduced in size. This is seen as a bit of a blow to conservation efforts in Utah, and potentially elsewhere, as a number of other national monuments are also under review. This video reminds us that we need to speak out for our public lands and let our thoughts be known on this subject. We have until July 10 to express our opinions, which can be done at UnitedForPublicLands.com.

Elon Musk Outlines Plans for Sending People to Mars

Billionaire tech-wizard Elon Musk has big ambitions for Space X, the company he founded to make commercial space travel a reality. In the past, he has talked openly about the potential for making routine flights into Earth orbit (something Space X is already doing, albeit with unmanned spacecraft), and he has even announced plans to send travelers to the moon as early as next year. Beyond that however, Musk has waxed philosophically about colonizing Mars, which has seemed like a pipe dream for many of us who have longed to see man step foot on another planet. Many have been dismissive of those plans, but now Musk is offering up insights into how he could make such a project a reality.

Musk has published a story in this month's issue of New Space magazine that provides an outline of how he is approaching the potential for a colony on Mars. To do that, he must first bring the cost of space travel down significantly, something that Space X is working on all the time. Musk estimates that by today's standards, a flight to Mars would cost about $10 billion, making it far too expensive of an undertaking. But, he would like to see that cost reduced to about $200,000 and he has a plan for how to make that happen. 

According to Elon, there are several things that need to happen to make a spaceflight to Mars more approachable. First, the entire spacecraft needs to be reusable, including the rockets, second stages, capsule, landing craft and so on. This is a major element to what Space is already doing, and it's helping to make the company's rockets a cost effective way to deliver payloads into space. 

Beyond that however, Musk says that the interplanetary craft used to travel to Mars would need to be refueled in space in order to efficiently make its way towards the Red planet. Next, it would also need to be able to be refueled on Mars as well. To do that, the Billionaire says that methane might be the answer, as it is inexpensive and easy to reproduce. 

Finally, Musk also provides some rough details about the spacecraft itself, describing its design, interior, propulsion system, and so on. He even discusses a timeline for such a project, which is still years away of course, but something that he has clearly put some serious thought into. 

The entire New Space article is based on Elon's presentation entitled "Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species," which you can watch below. While this project is obviously near and dear to his heart, and it is still a long way off, I do applaud his efforts to take us further out into space. It will be interesting to watch this unfold. 


Aleksander Doba Catches Gulf Stream on Attempt to Cross Atlantic by Kayak

When we checked in with Aleksander Doba last week he was struggling to make headway across the Atlantic. The 70-year old Polish adventurer had set out a few weeks back on his third crossing of that ocean, this time going west to east. But, after paddling for days, he still remained within 100 miles (160 km) of the U.S. coastline and the expedition looked like it could be jeopardy. But now, a little more than a week later, things have taken a turn for the positive and he is making progress at long last.

With the winds, currents, and weather working against him, Doba had decided to paddle further south with the hopes of catching the Gulf Stream, a fast Atlantic current that could help push him along. It was a bit of a desperate measure that he hoped would allow him to finally begin making progress towards Europe, his eventual landing space. Fortunately, his efforts have payed off, and Pole is now firmly surrounded by that current, as a result he is picking up speed and finally headed in the right direction.

Despite finding his way into the Gulf Stream, the challenges of the expedition are far from over. High winds are still making it difficult for Doba and his 23-foot ocean kayak. On previous Atlantic crossings he found himself rowing in circles at times, and that could definitely happen again here. Still, he has shown his grit and determination on past long-distance journeys and that should prove useful once again.

If he is successful in this crossing, Aleksander will have covered approximately 5000 miles (8046 km) and likely have spent 4+ months at sea. He will also turn 71 during the crossing as well, proving that for him, age is just number. 

I'll continue to monitor his progress throughout the journey and post updates as the news warrants. 

A 118-Year Old Painting Has Been Found in the Antarctic

Here's an amazing story that is also a bit of a mystery. The New Zealand Antarctic Trust has discovered a 118-year old painting in Antarctica that was painted by Dr. Edward Wilson, a member of the ill-fated Scott Expedition that set out for the South Pole in 1911. Wilson was known for being an artist of natural history paintings and drawings, and there is even a museum in his hometown Cheltenham, England that proudly displays his work. But the discovery of this particular piece of art came as a complete surprise.

The painting was found in a portfolio that was recovered from one of the Antarctic huts that the Trust oversees on Cape Adare in the Antarctic. The portfolio was recovered, along with a number of other artifacts, and taken back to New Zealand for examination. It was reportedly covered in penguin excrement, dust, and mold, but when the Trust's conservator Josefin Bergmark-Jimenez was sifting through the documents contained within the portfolio she came across the work of art.

“I opened it and there was this gorgeous painting… I got such a fright that I jumped and shut the portfolio again. I then took the painting out and couldn’t stop looking at it - the colours, the vibrancy, it is such a beautiful piece of work. I couldn’t believe it was there.”

At first it wasn't clear who the artist was, but it was believed to have been someone from Scott's expedition from 1911 or a Norwegian team that had been at Cape Adare back in 1899. But Bergmark-Jimenez later attended a lecture on Wilson and his work and recognized the art style immediately.

But just how the painting found its way into the hut remain a mystery.

“It’s likely that Wilson painted it while he was recovering from tuberculosis in Europe. Clearly, he could have taken the painting to Antarctica on either of Scott’s expeditions but we think it’s more likely the artwork travelled with him in 1911, and somehow made its way from Cape Evans to Cape Adare.”

We'll probably never know exactly how it got there, and once the Trust is done restoring the huts, all of the artifacts will be returned to it. But, it certainly is another interesting slice of Antarctic history. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Video: Instruments of Adventure in Alaska

In this video we follow five friends as they set off on an epic adventure across southern Alaska, traveling by sea kayak, fat bike, and packraft as they go. Those are their instruments of adventure, which allow them to escape the well-trodden paths that most people take in their travels and instead find and carve their own. We all have these types of instruments at our disposal. What's keeping us from using them more too?

Instruments of Adventure from Bjørn on Vimeo.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Alex Honnold's Free Solo of El Cap

It's been more than a week and a half since Alex Honnold completed his historic ascent of the Freerider route on El Capitan without ropes or any other safety equipment at all. Over that period, we've seen this story go from something the climbing community was buzzing about to a full-fledged mainstream phenomenon that has been reported on by dozens of major news outlets. But, if you haven't quite gotten your fill of Honnold news just yet, might I suggest reading one more story, as Men's Journal  has put together a step-by-step guide of his climb, providing more details on what he had to overcome on his way to the top.

All told, there are 33 pitches to be climbed on Freerider. That is, if you were climbing that route using ropes and the usual climbing gear. MJ breaks those pitches down into four sections and looks at the individual parts of the climb that Alex had to work his way through on his way up. The article also enlists other well-known climbers – like Tommy Caldwell and Pete Whittaker – to help explain what each section and pitch involves. As you can imagine, some are far easier than others, with the most difficult obviously requiring a high degree of skill, strength, and mental toughness to overcome, even if you are using ropes to prevent a catastrophic fall.

The story helps to put further context to the story of Honnolds awesome, amazing, terrifying, and mind-blowing climb. We all know that it took supreme concentration and athletic effort for him to scale El Cap in this fashion, but this article provides a lot more detail on the more subtle moves he had to make along the way. It is an eye opening read that breaks down which parts of the route were insanely difficult, and which were merely incredibly tough.

Check out the full story here.

Ultrarunner Sets New Speed Record on Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit in Peru

Ultrarunner Darcy Piceu has set a new "fastest known time" on the iconic Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit in Peru for both men and women. She completed the 85-mile (136 km) route, which has an average altitude of around 14,000 ft (4267 meters), in just 29 hours and 15 minutes. This achieves her goal of finishing the entire trail in less than 30 hours.

The Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit cuts through the Andes Mountains in Peru, weaving its way around and over a number of snowcapped peaks. The route meanders past icy rivers, towering glaciers, and alpine forests as it crosses some of the most breathtakingly beautiful scenery in the entire country. The high point of the trail came at Cuyoc Pass, which tops out at 16,404 ft (5000 meters).

Piceu announced her achievement via Instagram where she also shared some images from along the way. Here's what she had to say about the experience:

Expedition to Traverse Antarctic Plateau Planned for 2018

A team of Antarctic explorers is in the process of planning an ambitious exception to the frozen continent that will take them into a remote and largely unexplored region fraught with challenges. ExWeb is reporting that Phil WIckens, Vincent Colliard, and Luc Delriviere will lead a team into the an area known as the Narrow Plateau on the Antarctic Peninsula, where they'll ski along a series of mountains and ridges that are seldom visited by man.

According to the article, the group will travel across a section of the Antarctic that consists of several connected plateaus. They'll begin on the Detroit Plateau, then proceed on to Herbert Plateau, Foster Plateau, Forbidden Plateau, and finally Bruce Plateau. While on the traverse they'll spend most of their time at alludes of 1500 - 1750 meters (4921 - 5741 ft.) as the shuffle along sections that range from several hundred meters across down to just a few meters. They'll also top out on several mountains along the way as well, with views of the nearby Gerlache Strait and Weddell Sea.

Exploring this region on skis has never been done before, and as such it requires quite a bit of planning and preparation. Because of this, the expedition isn't set to launch until the 2018-2019 Antarctic season. Right now, the group is tentatively planning on starting on December 28 of next year with a projected end date of February 8, 2019.

Unlike most expeditions to the Antarctic, the members of this squad won't be flying to Union Glacier either. Instead, they'll gather in Ushuaia, Argentina and board a specially prepared Antarctic yacht called the Icebird. They'll spend approximately three days sailing across the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula, where the journey will truly get underway. Once there, they'll have a full month out on the ice as they traverse the Narrow Plateau. And when they're finished, they'll sail back to Ushuaia.

The start of the expedition is still more than a year and a half away, so hopefully we'll hear more about their plans in the coming months. As usual, I'll be watching the Antarctic season unfold and will share more details as we get them. Sounds like an interesting project in a part of the Antarctic that we seldom hear anyone visiting.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Video: Riding the Super Technical 'Treasure Trail' in Squamish, Canada

The "Treasure Trail" in Squamish, Canada is considered a very technical mountain biking route, and definitely not for beginners. In this video we get a first-person look at what it like to ride this wild trail as we join pro rider Richie Schley and friends as they test their skills on a path that includes big drops and plenty of narrow, twisty singletrack. It looks like a lot of fun, although I'm happy to just watch from the safety of my home at the moment.

Video: Adventure in Real Life

Most of the time when someone makes a video of their travels it only shows the glorious landscapes and amazing fun that they had while on the road. Those short films don't show the downtime that we all have to deal with in airports and on busses, but instead give the impression that everything always goes as planned and the results are perfect. Not so here. In this clip we join a group of travelers on their way to Patagonia in South America. Along the way the discover that things can get very challenging, and not everything goes as expected. But, that's also when the true adventure begins, allowing us to appreciate our normal lives just a bit more. This is a wonderful four minute film that serves as a good reminder of why we love adventure so, and why we need it in our lives, even when things go off the rails a bit along the way.

Gear Closet: Endeavor Exceed Run Short 2.0 and Edge Hoody

If you're in the market for some excellent new exercise gear to keep you comfortable during your workouts, take a look at what Endeavor Athletic has to offer. I was recently introduced to the brand and have had the chance to check out a couple of their pieces and have come away thoroughly impressed. Here's what I've been testing, along with some thoughts on each item.

Endeavor Exceed Run Short 2.0
I'm a runner. I run almost everyday. On the road and on the trail, running is my favorite form of exercise and it is a good stress reliever after a long day. That's why it is important to me to stay comfortable during my workouts, and that starts with a good pair of running shorts. For me, those shorts need to fit snugly, but not in a way that constricts movement. They also need to provide some level of moisture management, as I can get pretty sweaty when running hard. It doesn't hurt if those same shorts can be versatile enough to be used in other activities too. 

That's exactly what I got out of Endeavor's Exceed Run Short 2.0. I've spent more than month testing these shorts in a variety of conditions ranging from mild and comfortable to hot and steamy, and they have performed well in all cases. I've even run with them in the rain and they performed well in those conditions too. This gives me a lot of confidence in knowing that when I set out on a run, the shorts that I'm wearing will work well, even if the weather shifts somewhere along the way. 

The Exceed Run Short come with two zippered pockets that are surprisingly large and deep. This makes them a nice option for securely stowing a smartphone, keys, a few energy gels, or other small items. Endeavor has even managed to sneak in a couple of reflective logos to help the shorts stand out in low light conditions, along with a small interior pocket as well.

Summer Climbing Season in Pakistan Begins

ExWeb has posted an update to the start of the summer 2017 climbing season in Pakistan, where things are going about as well as expected so far as teams begin to trickle into the country. In fact, some of the early arrivals have already reached Base Camp as they prepare for some big challenges ahead.

Nanga Parbat is open for business again this year and will welcome a couple of different teams. Alberto Zerain and Mariano Galvan headed to Pakistan from Nepal, and hope to take advantage of the fact that they have already acclimatized on Annapurna and Lhotse respectively. They're on their way to the mountain already where they hope to take on the very difficult Mazeno Ridge route, which includes eight peaks above 6000 meters (19,685 ft).

Over on the Diamir Face two teams will be attempting Nanga Parbat as well. The Dreamers Destination squad has already reached BC and are getting settled there, while a Korean team is currently in Islamabad and preparing to depart for the mountains in the next few days.

A team of international climbers that includes Grace McDonald is already en route to Broad Peak. The team is trekking in the Concordia region now and are expected to have a rest day today before proceeding on tomorrow. They'll soon be joined by a number of other teams as the month goes on, as BP serves as an acclimatization mountain for nearby K2, with some alpinists looking for the double-header this summer by first warming up on Broad Peak then moving over to the technically much more difficult K2.

Climbers Confirm the Hillary Step has Been Altered

One of the big stories to come out of this past climbing season on Everest was the current state of the Hillary Step, a famous landmark located on the South Side of the mountain just below the summit that was the final hurdle that needed to be overcome before reaching the top. Not long after the ropes were fixed to the summit this year we received word that the Hillary Step was gone from the mountain, possibly due to the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Later, Nepalese officials tried to reassure us that it was indeed still in place, but simply covered in snow, causing a bit of uncertainty and doubt over its current status. Now, we get further word on the condition of this iconic point on the climb, and it sounds like the initial reports were true after all.

Mountaineers Garrett Madison and Ben Jones tell Outside magazine that at the very least, the Hillary Step has been severely altered. Originally, the Step consisted of several large boulders stacked on top of one another, with smaller rocks wedged in around them. This created a near vertical rock wall 39 feet (11.8 meters) in height that had to be scaled before proceeding to the summit. Now, it appears that the largest of those boulders has come off the top of the landmark, bringing quite a bit of debris down with it.

Madison tells Outside “The boulder formally know as the Hillary Step is gone. It’s pretty obvious that the boulder fell off and has been replaced by snow. You can see some of the rocks below it that were there before, but the gigantic boulder is missing now.”

The top of the Hilary Step is now covered in deep snow, which helped to hide the fact that it had been altered, even though there were reports during the 2016 season that it was damaged. The snow remained this year as well, but the damage done to the mountain was more evident as climbers approached.

So how will this alter the ascent along the South Col route? Madison says it has made it easier, as climbers no longer have to scale the vertical rock face. Instead they can go up a series of snow steps that are easier to navigate. He also thinks the removal of the giant boulder will help alleviate traffic jams coming and going from the summit, something that was common in the past but wasn't much of an issue this year.

Others aren't sure that the loss of the Hillary Step will make things easier, particularly if there isn't any snow. But, as noted in the Outside article, the biggest disappointment is that an iconic monument of the mountain – named for Edmund Hillary – is now gone. That is something that simply can't be replaced.

Read more here.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Video: Outside Explains What the Term "Public Lands" Means and Why it is Important

Federally owned (aka "public") lands have been in the news a lot recently thanks to President Trump's decision to review many of the protected areas that have been designated at national monuments from the three presidents that held office prior to him. Some of those areas could see their protected status go away, potentially opening them up to commercial development. So what exactly does this mean for us? What are public lands exactly? In this vide Outside magazine explains what defines these places and why we as outdoor enthusiasts should take an interest in what is happening with those spaces right now. If you're not aware of this situation this video will help explain it further.

Video: Meet the First American to Explore Africa

Today we get a little history lesson courtesy of National Geographic. This video takes us to the furthest reaches of the African continent along with American explorer William Stamps, who traveled deep into the heart of the Congo back in 1889. He spent eight years there, making first contact with three different tribes and bringing back knowledge of the place, which up until then had remained mostly a blank spot on the map. Truly an interesting character. Enjoy.

Oru Kayaks to Attempt First Solo Crossing From Cuba to Key West by Kayak

The team at Oru Kayaks is getting ready for an epic paddling adventure. In July, the company will test its unique, origami-inspired kayaks on a record setting attempt at the first solo crossing from Cuba to Florida, overcoming some significant challenges along the way. That crossing has been done on stand-up paddleboards and tandem kayaks, but it has yet to be completed by solo paddlers in their own individual boats. 

The journey is expected to begin in Havana and end in Key West, covering some 103-miles in between. The solo paddlers are expected to take roughly 30-40 hours to cross that distance, spending the entire time in the cockpit of their boats. Along the way they'll be facing potentially poor weather, rough seas, sharks, and unpredictable currents, as well as other hazards.

The team will attempt the crossing in Oru's new Coast XT, a 16' (4.8 meter) long expedition boat built for use out on the ocean. The Coast can carry up to 400 pounds, offers 180 liters of storage, and is designed to be stable enough for open water crossings. But, just like every other Oru boat, this kayak comes apart, and folds up into a relatively small and easy to carry box too. 

A few weeks back I had a chance to travel to Oregon to take an Oru kayak (the Bay ST) on a test paddle down the John Day River. (Read my thoughts here.) These boats are certainly intriguing, and are versatile enough to be used in a variety of situation. I happen to love their ability to be packed away in a closet and carried in the trunk of a car, only to be unfolded and up and on the water in a matter of minutes. This crossing from Cuba to Florida will be a great test of their abilities and will demonstrate just how well made these boats truly are. This won't be a walk in the park however, so it should be interesting to see how the expedition unfolds. 

I'll keep an eye on the team's progress in July as they get started. It should be a fun trip to follow along with. Good luck to the entire team!

Conrad Anker Shares Thoughts on Ueli Steck's Final Climb

As successful as the 2017 climbing season in the Himalaya was, there will always be a dark cloud that hangs over the proceeding there. That's because on April 30, the mountaineering community lost one of its most well known and accomplished members when Swiss climber Ueli Steck fell to his death while training on Nuptse. To say that Steck was a pioneer in the world of alpinism would be an understatement. He changed the game in a lot of ways when it came to conditioning, training, and moving fast and light in the mountains. He showed us that there were unique, new ways to do things on big peaks and he continuously opened our minds to what was possible.

Now, a month and a half after his death, many of us are still wondering what happened to him as he climbed alone in the Himalaya that day. To help us sort it all out, another esteemed and accomplished mountaineer has penned a story for Men's Journal. The article is written by Conrad Anker and it looks to provide readers not only with insights into Ueli as a person, but the expedition he was hoping to complete this year as well.

It is important to note that Nuptse was simply a training mountain for Ueli. He was there to work on his acclimatization prior to launching what would be his real challenge. The plan was for Steck to summit Everest along the West Ridge, an incredibly difficult route that was first completed back in 1963 and has never been done again since. After reaching the top of Everest, Ueli would have traversed a narrow ridge over to Lhotse, topping out on that peak as well, all without coming down from altitude. It would have been an incredibly bold, daring, and dangerous project, which unfortunately we'll never know how it would have turned out.

In the article, Anker shares stories of when he and Ueli crossed paths over the years, finding themselves on the same mountains from time to time. He also lays out Steck's impressive climbing resume, putting those efforts into better perspective for us mere mortals. The story is one of both life and death, and is part of the grieving process that the mountaineering community is still going through. This is one mater climber discussing another, and it is a fascinating story about risk, reward, and the all consuming obsession of exploring the mountains.

Read the entire story here.

2017 Turned Out to be a Mixture of Success and Failure on Everest

The Nepali Department of Tourism has released its final numbers for the 2017 spring climbing season, and the numbers are mixed bag to say the least. At the start of the season is was expected to be a record setting one, with perhaps the highest summit total in the history of the mountain. But, now that the dust has settled, it seems that while there were plenty of successful summits, there were also quite a few that never reached the top as well.

According to The Himalayan Times, a minimum of 449 climbers reached the summit of the mountain this year, with most of those being local climbers and guides. Of that number, 190 were foreign alpinists, with most climbing as part of one of the  42 teams that was issued permits for climbing this spring. According to the article, this brings the total number of summits of Everest to 5328 since 1953 when it was first scaled by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

While those numbers are solid and represent a healthy year on Everest, perhaps most interesting is that of all the permits that were issued for this season, 164 people failed to reach the top of the mountain. That is a fairly high number of people that weren't able to summit at some point during the season. The Times indicates that the dicey weather conditions, and short summit windows are mostly to blame. DOT officials say that overall, it was another successful season, but high winds above Camp 4 during the final weeks of May created an abbreviated weather window that helped teams avoid traffic jams, but kept some squads from ever making a legitimate push to the top.

Sadly, the official numbers also say that six people perished while attempting to climb Everest this spring. They included Roland Yearwood, Vladimir Strba, Ravi Kumar, Min Bahadur Sherchan, Goth Kuber Rai and Ueli Steck. While every death on Everest is a tragic loss, that is a fairly modest number as well considering the large number of people that were on both the North and South Sides of the mountain.

Elsewhere in Nepal it was a healthy climbing season as well. Officials say that in total, there were 109 expeditions with 840 climbers who were issued permits for climbing this past spring. Aside from Everest, the next most popular peak was Lhotse (113 permits), followed by Dhaulagiri (77) and Makalu (45). Annapurna received an additional 14 permits as well.

With the monsoon now descending on Nepal we won't see any significant expeditions until the fall at the earliest. And while the spring season may not have ended up being quite as successful as everyone had hoped, it was another good season overall. That should set the stage for big things in 2018 and beyond.