Thursday, January 18, 2018

Video: Mountain Biking Down the Steepest World Cup Ski Course on Earth

What happens when a mountain biker takes on the legendary Hahnenkamm downhill course on the back of his bike? That's what Max Stöckl traveled to Austria to find out. As you'll see in the video below, he got everything he could ask for, even hitting speeds as fast as 106 km/h (65 mph) in the process. This is one fast and wild ride down slopes that average a 27% gradient. Who says mountain bikers can't have fun in the winter?

Video: How to Sharpen Your Crampons

Today's "how to" video from REI will certainly appeal to the mountaineers amongst us. It is a guide for how to best sharpen the teeth on your crampons, which will inevitably get dull over time. But, with a little care and maintenance, they can be made good as new again, and help you hold your footing on ice and snow.

The Adventure Podcast Episode 3 is Now Available

Just a quick note to let readers and listeners know that the latest edition of The Adventure Podcast is now available for download and to listen to online. For those who haven't had a chance to listen in on the show just yet, it is kind of an audio version of this blog, sharing news, gear reviews, and opinions on what is happening in the outdoor and exploration space.

On this week's episode, my cohost Dave Adlard and I discuss a number of big topics, including fallout over Nepal's decision to ban solo and disabled climbers. We also take a look at a 10-month long training course to prepare students to become outdoor guides, which has both of us wishing we were 20 years younger. Our main topic is tips and tricks for cutting weight from your backpack and luggage, and we take a look ahead to Outdoor Retailer next week as well. We wrap up the show by answering another gear question from a listener and share our favorite gear for the week. 

As always, you can listen to the show online, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Google Play Store, and through Stitcher. For those who just want to sample it, I've also embedded the latest episode below. Give it a shot and let us know what you think.

Also, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter, and we welcome any feedback or questions via email too.  Thanks for giving us a shot!

World's Largest Underwater Cave Discovered in Mexico

Scuba divers taking part in an exploratory expedition into the mostly uncharted aquifers under the Yucatan Peninsula have discovered what they believe is the largest underwater cave system in the world. So far, the cave system stretches for at least 347 km (215 miles) and that just might be the tip of the iceberg.

The news was revealed last week when the team found a tunnel that links the 263 km (163 mile) Sac Actun cave system near Tulum with the 83 km (51 mile) Dos Ojos system. Up until now, the largest underwater cave was believed to be the Ox Bel Ha system, which stretches for more than 268 km (167 miles). That series of submerged caverns is also near Tulum.

When explorers find a link between two cave systems, the larger of the two absorbs the other, which means the Dos Ojos system will eventually disappear from maps, with just the Sac Actun remaining. And, these explorers aren't done yet. They plan to continue searching for connecting tunnels to other caves in the area, hopefully linking three more. In total, there are at lest 358 cave systems in the region, covering more than 1400 km (870 miles)

Beyond just setting a record for the longest underwater cave, archaeologists expect to find rich evidence of the Mayan civilization in the aquifers as well. The Mayans believed that many of the cenotes and underground passageways that spiderweb across the Yucatan were sacred places, and often made pilgrimages to those caverns. Many settlements and temples were built over or next to what are now sinkholes, meaning much of what was there likely fell into the water and is waiting to be discovered.

It will probably take years to completely explore these caves and find Mayan artifacts under the water there. But, it is still a fascinating story to read about and ponder. This must be an amazing cave system to see in person. I'd love to catch a documentary about what it entails.

For more information check out this story from Nat Geo.

Records Smashed in 2017 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge

It has been a race for the record books in the 2017 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge where several speed marks have now fallen by the wayside. The annual race across the Atlantic Ocean is considered to be one of the premiere events in enduring rowing, and this year it lived up to that reputation and then some, with teams and individuals putting in impressive performances across the board.

The first of the record setting rows was put in by the team called The Four Oarsman. This squad, consisting of George Bigger, Peter Robinson, Stuart Waits, and Richard Taylor,   not only set a new record for the Talisker race, but redefined what was thought possible out on the water. The four men crossed the Atlantic in an astounding 29 days, 15 hours, destroying the old record fo 35 days and becoming the first to to cover the distance from Lo Gomera in the Canara Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean in under 30 days.

Perhaps ever more impressive was the solo performance put in by Dutchman Mark Slats, who finished just 17 hours behind The Four Oarsmen. To accomplish that feat, he rowed for 20 hours a day for 30 days, sleeping for just 20 minutes at a time before heading back to the oars. In the process, he set a new solo record as well, finishing in 30 days, 7 hours, and 49 minutes.

Finally, a team of Chinese women not only became the first from their country to row an ocean at all, they set a record too. Team Kung Fu Cha Cha completed their Atlantic crossing in 34 days, smashing the old record by 6 whole days in the process. This four-person squad consisted of Tina Liang Mintian, Cloris Chen Yuli, Amber Li Xiaobing, and Sarah Meng Yajie. And just to show they're as tough as nails too, the ladies rested just two hours a time for their entire month at sea.

You an find out more about this unique competition and the teams that took part – some of which are still out on the water – at the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge website.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Video: 130 Years of National Geographic Covers in Under 2 Minutes

Many of us who have a thirst for outdoor adventure and exploration can trace the origins of that curiosity back to National Geographic magazine, which has been an iconic part of our lives for more than a century. The monthly periodical with is broad yellow border and astounding photographs has stirred the imagination of generations of readers. In this video, we take a 130-year tour of magazine, watching its covers evolve and change over time. For many years, the cover didn't vary much from month to month, but later its now-famous imagery came onto the scene. As you watch this two-minute clip, you're almost certainly going to see a few that your recognize along the way. Take a walk down memory lane and enjoy this fantastic video.

Video: How to Replace the Shock Cord in Your Tent Pole

REI"s ongoing video series with tips and tricks for maintaining our gear has provided a lot of useful information over the past few weeks, but today's clip may be one of the most useful of all. It helps walk us through the process of replacing a shock cord in a tent pole, which can become frayed or broken over time. Rather than just going out to replace the poles themselves – or worse yet the entire tent – perhaps his video can help get you up and running again.

Gear Closet: Night Trek 270 Tactical Shoe Lights Review

As a frequent runner, I look forward to putting in some miles on an almost daily basis, rain or shine; hot or cold. But, if there is one thing I don't like, its heading out for a run after dark, mostly because I worry a bit about whether or not I'm visible enough for passing cars to see. I've had so many close calls over the years, that I do a pretty good job of staying aware of my surroundings and avoiding serious mishaps. Still, even while wearing a headlamp and reflective clothing, I've nearly been hit more times than I can count. But over the past couple of months I've been testing a pair of Night Trek 270 Tactical Shoe Lights, and I can honestly say they've helped significantly.

The Night Trek 270 are a pair of bright lights that attach to your shoes or boots, not only helping you to stay more visible, but allowing you to see more of your surroundings too. They have three different settings – high, low, and flash – and they even have red sidelights that can help them pop out of the darkness just a little more.

The lights feature a clip that slides under and over your shoelaces to secure them in place. Once there, they shouldn't move around much, projecting as much as 150 lumens of light in a 270º pattern in front of you as you walk and run. I say the shouldn't move around too much, but in my testing I found that they work better on some shoes as opposed to others. For instance, I tried them on three different pairs of running shoes and on two of them they stayed firmly in place and never came off. On the third pair however, they would occasionally come loose and fly from the shoe while I ran.

On one occasion I had to backtrack for nearly a mile to retrieve it, which is testament to how lightweight these lights actually are. I didn't even notice that it had dropped of my shoe for quite some time, which made retrieving it a bit of a pain, but it was easy to spot laying upside down on a sidewalk with the light still blasting away.

Nat Geo Gives Us the 15 Skills Every Adventurer Needs

Have you ever thought about all of the skills that an explorer or adventurer needs in order to survive on a challenging expedition? If so, then I have just the article for you. National Geographic published a story a few weeks back detailing the 15 skills that every adventurer needs, with some insights as to why each of them is important.

Some of the items on the list come from simple common sense, while others a bit more surprising. For instance, Nat Geo says that any adventurer worth his salt will know how to avoid getting lost and can properly pack a backpack. Those may seem like simple, straight forward skills, but it is actually amazing to discover how many people don't even possess those basic abilities. I'm continually surprised by the people I meet who can't work a compass or read a map properly.

On the other hand, some of the skills that make the list are not so intuitive. For instance, the story mentions learning to eat for fuel, meaning having the proper foods to power your adventure. Polar explorers can never get enough calories for instance as the extreme cold forces their bodies to work hard to stay warm. Nat Geo says that today's adventurers need to be tech savvy too, which is something that wasn't much of a concern in the past.

There are a number of other useful skills on the list, including how to stay mentally tough, how to make a fire, and how to be environmentally responsible. But, perhaps the most important one of all, is knowing when to quit. You can push your body to the limit and plan everything down to the last detail, but sometimes things are outside of your control, so it is important to know when to say you're done. After all, coming home safely and in one piece is an important aspect to any outdoor adventure.

Check out the entire list here.

Winter Climbs 2018: Camp 2 on Everest, Stalled Out on K2

The major mountaineering expeditions that we're following this winter seem to have updates on an almost daily basis at the moment. That's a bit unusual considering the weather can often cause them to stall out for extended periods of time. But, there is news on several fronts with progress being made.

On K2, the Polish team reports that two of the members of the team have now gone up to 5900 meters (19,356 ft) and returned safely to Base Camp. Their jaunt up the mountain was meant to scout the route, and they discovered that there was little protection from the elements to be had in their intended spot for Camp 1, so instead they will set things up at 6200 meters (20,341 ft) instead.

The plan is to start shuttling gear to that spot in the coming days, but high winds are expected to hit the mountain soon, which will leave them tentbound in BC while they wait for things to improve. After that, they'll continue their acclimatization and gear shuttling efforts.

While the Poles sit and wait for the weather to improve, Alex Txikon continues to make good progress over on Everest. After spending the night at Camp 1 on Sunday, the following day he and one of the Sherpas made their first foray up to Camp 2 at 6500 meters (21,325 ft). Right now, the expedition is running well ahead of schedule, shaving off several days from the timetable that was used last year.

Alex, climbing partner Ali Sadpara, and the Sherpa support team have taken advantage of a good weather window to get plenty of work done on the mountain, including shuttling 600 meters of rope up to C2. They are currently back in Base Camp and resting up, with the Basque mountaineer reporting that high winds hit Everest while they were on their descent, so it could be a few days before they head back up again.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Video: Whack Jobs - The Story of Winter Fat Biking in Michigan

This great video comes our way courtesy of our friends over at Gear Junkie. It takes us up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where we meet a group of "whack jobs" who love riding their bikes in the snow all winter long. Some don't understand their passion for riding in frigid temperatures, but it looks like a lot of fun to me. Check it out in the clip below.

Video: How to Waterproof Your Tent

More maintenance and repair tips courtesy of REI today, this time with a focus back on taking care of our tents. The video below offers advice on how to best waterproof your camp shelter, ensuring that it continues to protect you from the elements as it ages. This is, once again, a great reminder that a little upkeep and care can go a long way towards keeping our expensive outdoor gear functioning at a high level.

More Travel Destinations for 2018

With the start of the new year, many of us are looking ahead at 2018 to decide where we want to go and what we want to do. After all, its a long 12 months ahead and there is plenty to accomplish before the year is through. Yesterday, I shared The New York Times selection of 52 places to go in 2018, and today I have a few more suggestions from two other publications worth looking at.

First up, Luxury Travel Magazine has produced its list of recommendation destinations for the New Year as well, and while most of them don't fall under the "adventure" category, they do have a top ten list dedicated specifically to our favorite type of travel. In fact, the editors have picked 10 Adventure Experiences You Can't Miss in 2018, with some very nice options for those looking to do something a little different this year.

A few of the items that make the cut include sailing on an Arctic safari, trekking through the hidden valleys of Dolpa in Nepal, and exploring the Atacama Desert in Chile, which happens to be amongst my favorite destinations. Other items include visits to a rhino sanctuary and staying in a lodge in the Amazon Basin.

Not to be outdone, Men's Journal has also produced a list of recommended destinations for 2018, and while it is a bit more modest in size, it offers some great options nevertheless. The five places that earned a mention with the magazine include Malta, the Republic of Georgia, Zambia, Kalimantan (in Indonesia), and The Arctic. Each of which would make a fine place to go on an adventure.

It is interesting to see the Arctic pop up on these lists. As climate change makes these places more accessible, more and more adventure travel companies are offering opportunities to go there. I've been sharing it on similar list that I've written for the past few years, but in my case it was usually last-degree ski journeys to the North Pole or something similar. But, the Arctic is opening up for more tourists, for good or ill, and that will no doubt have an impact on the region to some degree.

So, after reading all of these suggestions in recent days, have you started making your travel plans yet?

French Explorer Sets Sights on Northwest Passage

Last week I shared a story about an adventurous family that will sail the Northwest Passage this summer, but unsurprisingly they won't be alone up there in the Arctic. We've also learned that French explorer Alban Michon will also head to that mythical waterway with plans to help raise awareness of what is happening in that part of the world as climate change alters it forever.

As we've mentioned before on The Adventure Blog, the Northwest Passage is a section of the Arctic Ocean that remained largely frozen shut for centuries due to permanent pack ice. For hundreds of years, explorers searched for a safe way through, in the process creating a faster trade route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This wasn't possible until recently, when increasing temperatures due to climate change have melted the ice and made the Passage navigable my ships for several months each year. It is now believed that by 2050, the route will be almost completely ice free, creating the trade route long sought, but bringing a number of other challenges along with it.

Michon plans to cross the Northwest Passage on skis, pulling an 180 kg (396 lbs.) sled behind him with gear, supplies, and equipment. When the weather permits, he'll use a kite to propel him along across the ice. He'll embark on the journey in March of this year, and expects it to take about two months for him to travel from Resolute Bay in Canada to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, covering some 1240 miles (1995 km) along the way. He'll be following the same route pioneered by Roald Amundsen, who was the first to complete this crossing back in 1906. It took him and his team three years to make the journey.

Along the way, the French explorer will take video and photos of the fragile Arctic environment in its current state. This will document the impact of warming temperatures on the Northwest Passage. He'll also take samples of the ground, measure the level of aerosols in the atmosphere, and study his own brain activity while traveling in an extreme environment. He'll also analyze plankton living in the area to register the impact of changing conditions on them as well. Michon will even dive into the Arctic water to get a look at the passage from underneath the sea too.

You'll be able to follow Michon's expedition when he gets underway in early March on his websiteFacebook page, and Twitter. It should certainly be an interesting adventure to watch unfold.

Antarctica 2017: The End is in Sight for More Antarctic Teams

The Antarctic expedition season is nearing its end with just a few short weeks to go until the frozen continent is shut off to the outside world once again. But, there are still a number of teams that are working their way towards the finish line as the days slowly tick by.

We'll start with an update on Rob and Barney Swan, the father and son team that has been out on the ice for nearly two months now. The duo undertook this expedition as a way to raise awareness of clean energy with a focus on creating a 7-year goal to clean up 326 million tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in accordance to the Paris Accords. They have even used nothing be clean energy sources to power their adventure, using solar energy to keep all of their devices going.

Yesterday, the two men – along with a group of skiers who joined them for the final degree – reached the South Pole. It took them 56 days to compete the journey, covering roughly 600 nautical miles (690 miles/1112 km) in the process. Rob has been here before and knew what to expect, but was still impressive in his efforts at the age of 61. For Barney, it was his first polar journey at the age of 23. Congratulations to both of them.

Meanwhile, Norwegian skiers Astrid Furholt and Jan Sverre Sivertsen are closing in on the Pole as well. The duo were amongst the first to hit the ice way back in November, and have been following the original Amundsen route to 90ºS. If all goes as planned, they should arrive their as early as tomorrow, but their updates indicate they are exhausted, pushing hard against headwinds, and struggling to cover the full distances they need. Still, they are currently within striking distance of the South Pole station and should get there soon.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Video: Skiing the High Points of the American West

This beautiful short film takes us on a quest with skier Drew Petersen, who set out to ski the highest peaks in all 11 of the states that make up the Western U.S. They include Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, and Montana. In order to achieve his goal, Drew had to go to some great lengths, but as you'll see, those efforts were incredibly rewarding in so many ways.

Video: How to Clean a Climbing Rope

Today's "how to" video from REI is a short and simple one, but a good reminder none the less. It shows us how to clean a clean a climbing rope to keep it performing at a high level and to prevent premature wear. Just like the rest of our gear, ropes can be costly. But a little bit of maintenance will keep them in top notch condition for far longer.

The New York Times Presents 52 Places to Go in 2018

If you're still thinking about your travel plans for 2018, why not let the "paper of record" help out? The New York Times has created a list of 52 places to go in 2018, and it is filled with some wonderful suggestions on place to travel throughout the next year.

As you can imagine with a list of this size, the destinations vary greatly in type and location. For instance, the first few entires on the list include New Orleans, Colombia, and Basilicata in Italy. The recommendations vary in size from a single, small location, to an entire region, such as the Caribbean. All of the suggestions come with a description of what makes it a compelling place to visit, along with links to where you can find out more about the place.

The Times has done a nice job of curating a list of unique destinations to visit in 2018 and they have gone to great lengths to use multimedia assets to bring those places to life as you read about them. But, the slick website they've used to deliver the information is also a but cumbersome and overly produced, which can cause some slowdowns and pauses while scrolling through. I found myself having to wait for animated images and text to load from time to time, which is more annoying than anything else. The end result is a pretty nifty list of places to go and things to do that should keep most travelers busy for a lifetime.

Check out the entire list/multimedia experience here.

Disabled Climber Delays Attempt on Everest in Wake of Nepal Climbing Ban

This past fall I shared the inspiring story of Hari Budha Magar, a former Ghurka soldier who lost both of his legs in combat in Afghanistan. Determined to not let that stop him from pursuing his goals however, Magar not only summited Mera Peak a few months back, he also set his sights on attempting Everest this spring too. Now, thanks to the strict new climbing rules passed by the Nepali government, he is being forced to postpone his expedition.

According to the Himalayan Times, Magar and his team have decided to delay their attempt on Everest until 2019. This shift in date will allow them to better organize the climb, give Hari more of a chance to hone his mountaineering skills, and plan the climb more fully. They also hope to petition the Nepali government to give the former Ghurka a permit to attempt the mountain.

In December, the Nepali Council of Ministers voted to ban blind climbers, double-amputees, and those deemed "medically unfit" from climbing on the South Side of the mountain. Those same regulations also now forbid solo climbs as well. These new guidelines have been met with sharp criticism as they seem to be aimed at a very small subset of climbers that don't really need protection. The fatality rate amongst disabled mountaineers is extremely low, in large part because they are well supervised throughout every phase of their climb.

In a statement announcing the postponement of his climb, Magar and his squad say that they agree with the government's efforts to make Everest safer, but those efforts should be aimed at those who are not properly prepared to be on the mountain. They argue that it shouldn't matter whether they are able bodied or disabled in any way, it should instead come down to their level of skill, experience, and preparation.

It is quite possible that Magar and his team will leave the South Side of Everest and head to the North Side instead. So far, the Chinese officials that oversee climbing operations in Tibet have not indicated that they will institute a similar ban on disabled climbers there. It is possible that Hari and his team will try to first resolve this issue with Nepal, but if those efforts fail, they'll head north instead.

This seems to be a story that continues to evolve at a steady pace right now. I'm sure we haven't heard the last of it.

Winter Climbs 2018: Teams Reach Camp 1 on Everest and K2

Despite the fact that the winter climbing season is really just getting underway in the Himalaya and Karakoram, good progress is already being made by the teams on both Everest and K2. The squads on those mountains have taken advantage of good conditions and have spent little time in Base Camp before heading up to Camp 1.

Alex Txikon, Ali Sadpara, and their support team have already been very busy on Everest. Not only did they shuttle their first gear loads up to C1 by Thursday of last week but today they'll be spending the night at that spot as they truly begin their acclimatization process. It took the team just four days to finish the route through the Khumbu Icefall, which is a pretty impressive accomplishment to say the least. Remember, during the spring climbing season on Everest, there is a whole team of Sherpas who handle those duties.

So far, Alex and his crew are ahead of last year's schedule. It has taken a lot of work for each man to carry loads as heavy as 35 kilos (77 pounds) up the slopes to the C1 campsite, but as of now they have finished that process bout five days faster than they did last year. There is obviously still a lot of work to be done for the Basque mountaineer to claim his no-oxygen winter ascent, but things are definitely off to a good start.

Meanwhile, the Poles are also making good headway in their efforts on K2. As of today, they have not only established Base Camp on that mountain, but they have also set up their communications systems to share progress with the rest of the world too. Apparently they haven't been resting on their laurels since arriving in BC last week either, as they have already climbed as high as 5700 meters (18,700 ft) while scouting the route and acclimatizing. Tomorrow they will make their first foray up to 5900 meters (19,356 ft) to begin shuttle gear to create Camp 1 at that point as well.

Finally, Lonnie Dupre and climbing partner Pascale Marceau have delayed the start of their climb on Mt. Lucania in Canada after the weather took a turn for the worse. The mountain is currently experiencing temperatures that are hovering around -40ºC/F with the windchill and windspeed in the 45+ km/h (27 mph) range. Those speeds are down from as much as 110 km/h (68 mph) over the weekend, but things should improve further over the next few days. They hope to get a good window for their flight to the mountain where they can finally get underway.

Stay tuned for more updates as the season continues to unfold.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Video: The Last Hill (Until the Next One)

This fantastic short documentary comes our way courtesy of the folks at Patagonia, and it follows a team of skiers and snowboarders who set out from Reno, Nevada on bicycles. Carrying their skies and other gear with them, they set out for Mt. Whitney, exploring some epic backcountry along the way. The only problem is, they are definitely better skiers and snowboarders than they are cyclists.

Video: How to Patch a Bike Tube

Today's "how to" video from REI is aimed at the cyclists and mountain bikers amongst us. It shows us how to quickly and easily patch a bike tube, which is certainly a handy skill to have in your arsenal. If you ride with any regularity, chances are you've had a flat tire at some point. This will show you how to fix the tube and get back on the road ASAP.

American Alpine Club Announces 2018 Climbing Award Winners

Yesterday the American Alpine Club announced the winners of its 2018 Climbing Awards, and as you might expect, there are some well known names on the list. The awards are given out each year by the AAC to recognize outstanding achievements not just in climbing, but also conversation and service to the community as well.

This year's winners include the following:

Honorary Membership Award:  John Roskelley takes home this award, which is given out to "those who had a lasting and highly significant impact on the advancement of the climbing craft." Roskelley earned the honor by putting up multiple first ascents in North America, the Himalaya, and the Karakoram, including a new route on the Northwest Face of Nanda Devi and the first ascent of the Great Trango Tower. He also has summits of K2, Makalu, and numerous other peaks to his name.

The Robert and Miriam Underhill Award: This award is given out to the person who has displayed the "greatest skill in the mountaineering arts and who, through the application of this skill, courage, and perseverance, has achieved outstanding success in various fields of mountaineering." For 2018, that person happens to be Alex Honnold, who has a long and distinguished list of accomplishments, not the least of which was the first free solo climb of El Capitan in 2017.

Heilprin Citation: Each year, the Angelo Heilprin Citation is given to the person that has shown outstanding service to the AAC. This year, that award will be given to Ellen Lapham who has chaired the club's Conversation Committee and was instrumental in developing a five-year plan for the organization.

Adventurous Family Will Sail the Northwest Passage in 2018

One adventurous family has quite a journey scheduled for 2018. On June 1, Graeme and Janna Esarey, along with their daughters Talia and Savai, will set out from Seattle on a sailing expedition that will take them through the Canadian Arctic as they travel the Northwest Passage.

Graeme and Janna are experienced sailors who spent their honeymoon crossing the Pacific Ocean. They say that the plan has always been to sail with their children when it was age appropriate, and now they are ready to begin those adventures. The plan is to navigate through the Northwest Passage and continue on to Europe, making a journey that few have been fortunate enough to undertake until this century.

The fabled Northwest Passage was long sought by sailors and explorers looking to travel faster from the Atlantic and the Pacific. But due to thick ice and inhospitable conditions, it was closed for centuries. Modern ice breakers made it a more viable option, but the cost of operating those ships is prohibitively expensive. Now, climate change has made sailing the route a real option as it is typically completely navigable by August of each year.

Graeme says the idea for making this sailing expedition came about after speaking to polar explorer Eric Larsen at Outdoor Retailer. The father of two has served as the CEO of gear manufacturer Industrial Revolution since 2011, and Larsen has been a brand ambassador for the company. After speaking to Eric, Graeme headed home with the germ of an idea for taking his family on a major adventure, which they'll undertake on a ship called the Dogbark – a 60-foot racing vessel with plenty of room to spread out, including separate cabins for each of the girls.

Currently the Esarey family is in planning and preparation mode prior to the start of the voyage in June. You can read all about their plans, and why they are undertaking this adventure, on their website The site is being updated regularly with blog posts about their progress and should be a great way to follow along with their journey once they embark in a few months.

Everest Guide Adrian Ballinger Shares His Thoughts On Nepal's New Climbing Rules

The controversial new climbing rules from Nepal continue to be a source of much debate amongst mountaineers. As you'll recall, the Council of Ministers there closed out 2017 by adopting a series of new regulations that banned solo expeditions, blind climbers, double amputees, and those deemed "medically unfit" from Everest. This has of course been met with much criticism within the mountaineering community, as the rules do very little to make anyone safer and seem to have been conceived arbitrarily. Now, a well known Everest guide has weight in on the topic, and he has quite a bit to say to the Nepali government.

Adrian Ballinger, owner of Alpenglow Expeditions climbed Everest without oxygen this past spring and has summited that mountain a total of six times. In other words, he knows a thing or two about climbing in the Himalaya. In an interview that was posted to the Internet yesterday, Ballinger offers his thoughts on this current dust-up, basically saying that he expects the rules to not be enforced. He also chastises Nepali officials for creating what he calls a "Wild West" environment on the South Side of the mountain.

For years Ballinger guided clients from the Nepali side of Everest, but three years ago he made the jump to the North Side in Tibet instead. He says that he was tired of the knee-jerk reaction by the government in Nepal to trends on the world's highest peak. If an accident occurred that claimed several lives, they made wild proclamations about how they were going to make the mountain safer. If an extremely old or young climber was on Everest, they'd blow hot air about creating age limits. But while those kinds of regulations aren't necessarily bad, the problem is that they are almost never enforced.

In the article above, Adrian is quoted as saying, “So far, Nepal hasn’t had a single government official above base camp, so no rules they impose are followed.” That's a far cry from the Chinese side of Everest where the government installs the camps all the way up to C2 and fixes the ropes to the summit as well. On the South Side, that work is done by a collaboration of commercial climbing teams instead.

Ballinger goes on to offer his thoughts on what should be done to make climbing Everest safer, including imposing some standards in terms of training and experience, as well as protecting guides and Sherpas more fully. He also says that solo climbers should be allowed provided they aren't putting anyone else's life in danger. He goes on to point out that in the early 2000's there were only about a dozen companies operating on the mountain, now that number has climbed to more than 50.

It's an interesting look at what is happening in Nepal from a guy who knows the area well. Read the entire article here.