Friday, August 18, 2017

Off to Tahoe

The Adventure Blog will be back on hiatus for the majority of next week as I travel to Tahoe for a backpacking trip. During that outing, I"ll be learning about and testing new gear from Thermarest, SealLine, and other brands, which of course I'll be reporting on after I get back home.

Tahoe should make a great destination for testing new products in the outdoors. We're going to spend a few days hiking in the Desolation Wilderness along the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail. This will be my first time visiting this part of the country, so I'm looking forward to exploring this fantastic outdoor playground that I've heard so much about. While there, we'll also be taking some time to checkout the eclipse, although I'm moving out of the line of totality, which my hometown falls directly inside.

I'll return home at the end of next week, but there is a chance that updates won't resume until Monday, August 28. Until then, I hope you'll head outside and enjoy the fleeting days of summer, catch the eclipse yourself, and enjoy a few adventures of your won.

Back soon!

The North Face Donates $1 Million to Public Lands, Launches New Global Climbing Camping

The North Face has launched an new global campaign designed to celebrate community and inclusivity in a time where those things seem to be increasingly in short supply. The message behind this new campaign is "Walls Are Meant For Climbing," with the idea of making the sport of climbing more approachable and inclusive, while at the same time shifting our perceptions of walls.

In a message posted on the "Walls" webpage, TNF had this to say:
"We’ve spent 50 years searching for walls to climb because, to us, they offer both challenge and opportunity and they fan the flames of our curiosity. Climbing has taught us to trust, to work together, to create safety in partnership and meaning out of hardship. We see walls as a place to unite our community, so we’re building walls that reflect the world we want to see."
To help press this message home even further, the gear company is donating $1 million to The Trust for Public Land and is sponsoring a free global day of climbing tomorrow, August 19. In doing so, The North Face has partnered with climbing gyms from around the world to offer participants free climbing opportunities. On top of that, TNF is also donating $5 for every person who participates to Paradox Sports, an organization that focuses on making adaptive climbing more of reality for those with physical disabilities.

You can find out more about the opportunities to climb as part of this initiative by reading the Facebook page for the event. There, you'll find a list of gyms that are taking part in the global day of climbing, with opportunities not only in the U.S. and Canada, but also Europe, Asia, and Mexico too.

For more information on the Walls are Meant For Climbing campaign, visit the official website. Then, join in on this important and inspiring movement.

Video: Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

The Half Dome hike in Yosemite National Park is one of the most iconic in all of the world. This video takes us on that trek, with some impressive views along the way. Viewers will catch a glimpse of both Vernal and Nevada Falls, as well as some outstanding shots down into Yosemite Valley. It is a beautiful short film that will remind you why this is considered one of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet.

Video: Why Next Week's Total Eclipse Will Be Amazing

We're building to a major celestial event next week when the first total solar eclipse will take place in North America since 1979. Between now and then, expect eclipse overload as everyone prepares for the event, which will unfold over the course of several hours on Monday, August 21. In this video, we find out more about what causes the eclipse and why this one should be especially spectacular.

9 of the World's Most Extreme Adventures According to Nat Geo

National Geographic is back with yet another list today, this time offering up 9 extreme adventures to far flung corners of the globe. The list is filled with a wide variety of great options for adventure travelers, with activities ranging from mountain biking to mountaineering to kayaking, with plenty of other sports mixed in as well.

Some of the big adventures that make the list include mountain biking Porter Trail in Utah, a route that is well known for being very challenging and technical, and climbing Denali, in Alaska. While that mountain isn't nearly as tall as giants found in the Himalaya, it's fickle weather, massive prominence, and high latitude do indeed make it a significant undertaking. Hikers will also find the famous Snowman Trek in Bhutan has made the list, as has running Inga Rapids in the Congo, which has only been accomplished once or twice ever to my knowledge.

While I won't give away the rest of the list, I will say there are options for extreme skiing, scuba diving, spelunking, and much more. In fact, Nat Geo has covered just about every outdoor sport in this run-down, including surfing and highlining too.

The title for this article is a bit sensationalists. Don't get me wrong, each of the entires onto the list is indeed an epic adventure with some big challenges to overcome. But to call these options the "most extreme" on the planet is a bit misleading. For instance, there are more challenging mountain biking routes than the Porter Trail and while Denali is an impressive undertaking, there are certainly mountains more difficult, dangerous, and demanding. Still, it is an interesting list to read for anyone looking for ideas on their next major outdoor undertaking.

Check out everything that Nat Geo recommends here.

Colorado 14er Sold for $105 Million

Remember that privately owned Colorado 14er that was up for sale that I told you about last week? If you'd been considering purchasing the plot of land that it was on, I've got some bad news. According to Gear Junkie, it was sold this week for a cool $105 million, taking it off the market for those who were saving their pennies.

According to reports, the 83,368-acre Cielo Vista Ranch was sold early this week, along with all of the natural resources that are found on the premises. That includes Culebra Peak, at 14,053 ft (4283 meter) mountain this is amongst Colorado's 53 "14ers." The land also features 18 other mountains that stand above 13,000 feet (3962 meters), and comes with "thousands of elk," a herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn, and more than 100 miles (160 km) of trout streams.

The property has been for sale since 2015, but it seems at long last a buyer has been found. The identity of that buyer has not been revealed, although Gear Junkie quotes listing broker Jeff Hubbard as saying the buyer was “absolutely ideal.” Hubbard went on to add, "He is one who is a true conservationist and is deeply committed to preserving this national treasure and extraordinary resource.”

What the future plans for the land are remains to be seen. Whether it will stay a relatively closed site, or if it will be opened for commercial development as some have speculated, is still being determined. For now however, access to Culebra Peak is limited as the site for reserving permits lists all reservation dates as closed. Considering the number of hikers and climbers who have set the goal of bagging all of the 14ers that the state has to offer, there will be some who will be disappointed if access isn't restored.

We're sure that the new owner has a lot on his mind at the moment. After all, moving into a new place is always a lot of work.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Video: Hello, Iceland - A Solo Journey Through One of the Most Beautiful Countries on Earth

In the past, we've shared quite a few videos from Iceland here on The Adventure Blog, but this one ranks among the best. It was shot in that country this past May, as traveler/filmmaker Jesse Yang made a solo journey along the Ring Road and into the interior of the place. The landscapes and images captured along the way are nothing short of spectacular, reminding us of why Iceland is such a special place. Check it out below.

Hello, Iceland from Jesse Yang on Vimeo.

Video: Solar Eclipse 101 by National Geographic

As excitement builds for next week's total solar eclipse here in North America, we're likely to see a number of articles and videos explaining what to expect and why it is happening. This is clip, which comes our way from National Geographic, is one of the best I've seen so far, breaking down why an eclipse occurs and what it will be like while it is happening. In a few days we'll all get to experience it for ourselves, but until then, this video will have to do.

Nat Geo Offers 8 Tips Your Kilimanjaro Guide Forgot to Tell You

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa is on every adventure traveler's bucket list. The tallest peak on the continent, and the highest free-standing mountain in the world, is an impressive accomplishment on any adventure resume. It also provides spectacular views of the surrounding landscape throughout the climb and from the summit. But, not everyone is as prepared as they should be before they go, which is why Nat Geo has put together a list of 8 things your guide probably forgot to tell you.

Anyone who has ever climbed the mountain (I've been there twice) will likely get a chuckle out of some of the things that made the cut. We can probably relate to more than a few of these, with some of the tips bringing back fond memories while others might make you cringe. For those still planning a trip to Kili, this article will actually offer some insightful suggestions on what to expect and how to make the most out of the experience.

A few of the suggestions include how to handle the toilet situation on the mountain, ways of staying hydrated, and how to enjoy the time at camp a bit more. Staying relaxed and focused are two keys to a successful climb, but that isn't always easy with the uncertainty that comes with the physical challenges and the thinning air as you go higher. The article also talks about how to prepare for the ascent and how to deal with chilly temperatures, not only for yourself, but your valuable electronics. 

There are a thousand and one tips I could share with someone who is climbing Kilimanjaro for the very first time. Everything from how to train for the mountain to how to celebrate when the expedition is over. This article shares some of the advice that I would provide as well, and while it doesn't cover the really big, over-arching questions that many have, it does touch on some smaller topics that not everyone thinks about when preparing for such a big adventure. For that alone it is worth a look. 

Check it out here.

2016 Was Officially the Hottest Year on Record

More sobering news this week from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The organization has released it annual State of the Climate report, and it includes some not so surprising data. Spanning more than 298 pages, the document indicates what a lot of us probably knew already: 2016 is the warmest year on record over the course of the 137 years that such data has been tracked.

The biggest take away from the report, which is peer-reviewed for accuracy, is that carbon dioxide levels in the Earth's atmosphere were measured at 402.9 parts per million. That is also the highest on record, but perhaps most startling of all is that it is the first time in 800,000 years that CO2 levels have risen above the 400 parts per million mark.

El Nino played a significant role in driving surface temperatures higher, but there were a number of other records set as well. According to the report, the global average for sea surface temperature, sea level, and the temperature of the lower atmosphere all reached record highs. Meanwhile the Antarctic sea-ice extent dropped to record lows as the impact of our warming planet took its toll on the ice.

The news of the record warm temperatures for 2016 follows two successive record breaking years in 2014 and 2015 as well. While that is not enough scientific data to indicate a trend as of yet, it also seems like more than a coincidence too. Our planet is, without a doubt, warming. It doesn't matter whether it is manmade or a natural phenomenon at this point. Debate on that topic has long ago set sail. Now, we just need to start doing more to help reverse this tide of increasing heat and start looking at ways that we can protect ourselves against the changes it will bring.

Read more about the state of our climate here.

Pacrafting Through the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska

Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is big. Really big. It covers more than 30,115 sq. miles (78,000 sq. km), covering a massive and remote wilderness in the northeastern section of the state. Just getting to the refuge, which is home to a massive herd of caribou, not to mention dell sheep, wolves black, brown, and polar bears, can be quite an adventure. Visitors are few and far between, and most discover a vast country that remains mostly untouched by man.

Recently, a team of adventurers – led by experienced mountain guide Bob Carpenter – traveled to this wild place to explore it on foot and packraft. There story is told in an interesting blog post on the Hyperlite Mountain Gear website, a company that makes the perfect gear for just such a trip. In order to save time, the men few into the refuge, landing on the south side of the Brooks Range. From there, they hiked up and over the continental divide, used their packrafts to travel down three different rivers, crossed over the coastal plain, and ended their expedition far to the north at the Arctic Ocean. All told, they covered 160 miles (257 km) across this expansive wilderness in about 14 days.

The blog post is accompanied by some spectacular photos from the journey as well, giving readers a chance to see just how beautiful this place actually is. The landscapes range from sprawling and wide open, to mountainous and demanding. Conditions in this part of the world can be challenging, even at the height of summer, and the remote nature of the refuge means that visitors must be experienced and self-sufficient while there. But, from the sounds of things, it is more than worth the effort to get the chance to explore this amazing place.

Using pacrafts is a somewhat new way to explore the backcountry and it has proven to be quite popular in Alaska, where there are plenty of rivers to run. These small, inflatable rafts can be carried just about anywhere, and while they aren't designed for use on serious whitewater, they can help adventurers float their way through some seriously remote places. In this case, it seemed the rafts came in handy for the team, who used them on multiple rivers, paddling right down to the Arctic Ocean itself. Quite a way to travel.

To read their full story, click here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Video: A Piuma - Crossing Corsica on Foot and By Paraglider

The island of Corsica is home to the GR20, which is considered one of the most famous and challenging hiking trails in all of Europe. In this video, we travel to that place to follow two adventures as they take on that trail for themselves. But rather than just walk it on foot as most other trekkers do, the decide to instead use paragliders to cover the distance. The result is one wild adventure that has to be seen to be believed.

Video: Zac Efron and Brother Dylan Apply to be Gear Testers with Columbia Sportswear

Looking for a good chuckle to get you through the day? Then check out this video from Columbia Sportswear which starts brothers Zac and Dylan Efron. The two men meet with Columbia's legendary  chairman Gert Boyle, and if you remember Gert from previous ad campaigns, you know she's tough. Apparently we'll see more of the Efron's in videos later this year and this one will give you an idea of what to expect. So far, so good.

19 Great Places to View Next Week's Solar Eclipse

If you live in North America, it's hard to not be caught up in eclipse fever at the moment. Next week marks the first total solar eclipse to hit the continent in more than 38 years, and as such there is a lot off excitement surrounding the event. So much so, that thousands of Americans are expected to travel to witness the eclipse in all its glory, with hotels and campsites booked solid in anticipation of the celestial show. If you haven't figured out where you'll be watching the eclipse unfold, Men's Journal is here to help. The magazine has compiled its own list of the 19 best places to watch, with some surprisingly good options even for the last minute traveler.
Topping the list is my current city of residence, Nashville, TN. Nashville it he largest urban area that falls within the path of totality, plus it is home to good music, great food, and plenty of other activities to take part in as well. Naturally, this has made it a popular destination for eclipse viewers, and my advice is this is: if you haven't already booked a place to stay or know someone who has a room to share, don't bother coming. There are already warning signs about traffic and the entire city is expected to be crazy through the weekend and into early next week. Personally, I had planned to just take a lawn chair and sit out in my front yard, but now I'm headed to Tahoe for a backpacking trip instead. I'll miss the totality from that vantage point, but I'll be away from the craziness too. On top of that, the current weather reports look spotty for next Monday, meaning the skies may not be as clear as one would hope.

Other locations that make the list include Greenville, South Carolina; Jackson, Wyoming and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you're planning to go to the Smokies though, be sure to head towards the southwestern part of the park to catch the totality. Other sections will offer good views as well, but they won't be in the perfect area to see the most spectacular part of the eclipse. And for the record, Grand Teton National Park is also in the in the line of totality as well.

The Men's Journal article not only lists the location, but also gives readers reasons why that place is particular special. It also lists the author's pick for the best places to watch and stay while in the area. Finding a place to stay at this point will be the real challenge, unless you have plenty of money to spend or can find a place to camp.

Either way, it should be quite an experience.

New Theory Emerges on the Demise of the Franklin Expedition Through the Northwest Passage

One of the great enduring mysteries of exploration is what exactly happened to an expedition through the Northwest Passage led by Sir John Franklin back in 1845. Franklin took two British naval ships – the HMS Terror and Erebus – into the passage in search of the passage into the Pacific Ocean beyond.  But none of the 129 men who were with him survived the journey, and exactly what happened to them has remained shrouded in legend and conjecture ever since.

It is widely believed that the two ships became stuck in the ice above Canada while attempting to traverse the Northwest Passage. Those ships were discovered by archaeologists last year, renewing interest in the story and the eventual cause of death of the crew. Obviously chief amongst those causes was likely exposure to the elements, although lead poisoning, scurvy, starvation and tuberculosis have all been speculated as well. Now, one researcher has put forth a possible new explanation.

In a scholarly journal published by the Arctic Institute of North America, University of Michigan dentistry professor Russell Taichman has postulated that a rare conditions called Addison’s disease may have contributed to the death of the crew. The disease is caused by a weakened immune system or from tuberculosis, which autopsies show was afflicting the sailors. The disease makes it difficult for anyone afflicted to maintain weight – even when eating regularly –or stay hydrated, both of which would be deadly in the Arctic.

An examination of the bodies recovered with the ships indicates that many of the crew had lead poisoning and scurvy. The lead poisoning is believed to have come from the canned food that they were eating over a prolonged period of time, as well as lead pipes that were used to create drinking water. The scurvy was due to a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets. While these were obviously serious concerns for the stranded men, Taichman believes that they only masked the possibility of Addison's disease running rampant through the crew.

In reality, it was likely a combination of all of these things, and possibly more. The local Inuit tribes still share tales of the crew setting up camps on King William Island, and staying there for some time. That would indicate that the crew survived the sinking of their ships. But what happened next is difficult to say. One thing is certain however, it wasn't a pleasant place to be, and the death of the crew – no matter how it happened – was probably agonizing.

A Team of Norwegian Rowers Have Crossed the Arctic Ocean

A team of Norwegian rowers may have become the first ever to complete a row across the Arctic Ocean from south to north. But, this impressive achievement is just one small step in their plans, which include covering more than 2000 km (1242 miles) of open ocean.

The aptly named Polar Row got underway last month from Tromso, Norway with the intention of first rowing to the archipelago of Svalbard before eventually turning back south and rowing to Iceland. The crew consists of 9 men, led by skipper Fian Paul, who has already rowed across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indiana Oceans. They completed the first leg of that journey last week, arriving in Svalbard for a short break. After that, they returned to the ocean to continue along their way. They even continued further north to reach a milestone before pointing their boat towards the finish line in Iceland.

Rowing 12 hours per day and in 90 minute shifts, the team managed to make history when they reached the Polar Ice Shelf at 78ºN latitude. It is believed that in doing so, they became the first people to actually row across the Arctic Ocean, dodging icebergs, shifting weather patterns, and high winds as they go. Their eventual goal was to touch 80ºN before turning back. After that, it was nearly impossible to continue to make progress in such a small boat.

Now, they're on their way to Iceland and expect to arrive there in early September. You can follow their progress on the team's Facebook and tracking page.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Video: Wonderful Tanzania

This video is a colorful and memorizing love letter to one of my favorite places – Tanzania. It celebrates the landscapes, wildlife, and people that make it such an amazing place to visit. For those of us who have already been there, it will be a striking reminder of why we went in the first place, possibly inspiring us to return. For those viewers who have not yet gone, you'll understand why it should be on your list of "must see" places.


Video: How the Wilderness Can Help Us Heal

Anyone who spends quality time in the outdoors can probably attest to the healing power or nature. Spending time in wild places has been proven to be good for our minds and bodies. This is a concept that is explored in this video, which comes our way courtesy of Osprey packs, who know a thing or two about helping us get outdoors. The clip was shot in the amazing landscapes of Yosemite, which if you're going to choose an outdoor environment to help the healing process, you could do a lot worse. Enjoy. 

Voyage to the Falklands and South Georgia Part 5: Return to the Falkland Islands

This part 5 in an ongoing series I'm writing about my recent travels to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia with Lindblad Expeditions earlier this year. If you haven't read the first three parts, and would like to, you can find them here, herehere, and here.

In our last installment of this series I wrote about my experiences hiking on South Georgia and following in the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton, who once trekked across the rugged interior of that island in a desperate search to find help. I also talked about my visit to Grytviken, the only village there that still has a few inhabitants. After departing that place, we continued to explore more of the coastline, including approaching calving glaciers in zodiacs. But, the weather forecast took a turn for the worse, and conditions began to deteriorate rapidly. It was clear the austral winter would be arriving soon, and it was time for us to turn for home. 

On our third day in the waters off South Georgia the winds began to pick up and the waves began to grow. The already chilly temperature took a plunge and the skies turned menacing. It was clear that there was a change coming, so our crew decided it might be time to bug out early. We were scheduled to stay another full day, but if we did, we probably wouldn't be able to go ashore anyway. Storms were definitely closing in, and our window of opportunity was closing rapidly, so we turned the ship back north and started once again for the Falkland Islands.

Before we left however, we did go ashore one more time and went on another short hike up to a mountain lake. The weather conditions had already started to change, and as we walked we were battered by winds of up to 45 knots (51 mph/83 km/h), which pushed us too and fro as we trudged up to a high ridge. Snow and rain began to fall, with tiny ice pellets blasting our face too. Needless to say, it was hardly a day fit to be outside, and yet those of us who went on that hike still wanted to see as much of South Georgia as we could before we left it behind. 

Researchers Discover 91 Previously Unknown Volcanoes Under Antarctica

There was more big news out of the Antarctic this week when it was revealed that scientists have discovered the largest concentration of volcanoes on the planet hidden under the ice on the frozen continent. A research team out of Edinburgh University announced that they had found 91 new volcanoes so far, and are now trying to determine just how active they are over fears of further environmental disasters.

The research project found that most of the volcanoes were located close to large ice shelf that covers western Antarctica. The fear is that if these volcanoes are active and could potentially erupt, it would have a devastating effect on the ice, causing much of it to melt in rapid succession. That could lead to a very fast increase in ocean levels around the world, which would rise at a rate that would be far more alarming than that caused by climate change. At the moment, there is no indication that such an eruption is imminent, but the team from Edinburgh University wants to study the volcanoes more closely to determine just how active or dormant they actually are.

The research project began with a simple question. Geologists knew that Antarctica had 47 volcanoes sticking out of its ice, but no one had thought to look for more hidden under the massive ice shelf. Just how many were still left to be discovered? Researchers set about finding the answer to that question by analyzing data collected by other projects that had used ground penetrating radar to look below the surface. They began counting the volcanic cones that were evident in that data and could identify at least 91 more hidden from view.

The confirmation of this discovery makes this section of Antarctica the home to the highest concentration of volcanoes on the planet, surpassing the volcanic ridge in east Africa. The report also indicates that the tallest of these mountains is nearly 4000 meters (13,123 ft) in height as well, putting it on par with the Eiger in Switzerland.

One of the biggest fears now is that the reduction of ice in west Antarctica could reduce pressure on the volcanoes, possibly making them active again. In other words, climate change is causing the region to warm, and as it does, the ice will disappear. This will allow pent up volcanic pressure to potentially explode, making the region a hot bed of seismic activity and further melting the ice. At the moment, that seems like a possibility for the future, but as we've seen in recent months, things can and do change quickly in the Antarctic.

Read more about this discovery here.

Alan Arnette Interviews Super Sherpa Mingma Gyalje Following Success on K2

If you followed the climbing season in the Karakoram this year the name Mingma Gyalie Sherpa is probably a familiar one by now. He's the founder and head guide of Dreamers Destination, a company that organizes expeditions to 8000 meter peaks and treks through the Himalaya. Mingma has been an incredibly strong and tough climber for some time now, having already summited Everest on several occasions and topping out on K2 back in 2014. But this year, he put his stamp on the mountaineering world by knocking off 4 big mountains and nearly a 5th, with perhaps more to come.

Recently, Alan Arnette had the chance to interview Mingma on his accomplishments so far in 2017 and what he has planned next. He also talked about how his teams have been so successful this year, including reaching the top on K2 when everyone else turned back and headed for home.

In the interview, Mingma G touches on a host of interesting topics, including how climbing in Pakistan is improving dramatically, the impact of the fast changing weather on the team's plans to climb K2, and team dynamics for expeditions to 8000-meter peaks. He also discusses his approach to weighing the risks of a climb, what it was like when the team launched their summit bid, and much, much more.

This is a good read for anyone who follows the climbing scene closely and is interested in the logistics that go into an expedition. There are lots of details revealed here, including what it was like to make the treacherous descent down K2 after a long climb to the summit. Mingma also talks about his next projects, which will come in the fall post-monsoon in Nepal. He says that he is already planning an expedition to Manaslu in September, but also has another 8000-meter project in the works that he isn't quite ready to discuss yet. If he summits Manaslu, that will give him successful climbs on 5 8000-metere peaks this year (Dhaulagiri, Makalu, Broad Peak, and K2), as well as one near miss on Nanga Parbat too. That's quite a year for anyone.

Read the full interview here.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Video: Take a Tour of Wild Antarctica

To many people, Antarctica is a cold, desolate spot that they have no interest in visiting for themselves. But those in the know understand that is is actually a beautiful destination, filled with life and endless possibilities for adventure. In this video, we travel to the frozen continent and take a four-minute tour of some of the wonders that it has to offer. You'll see seals, whales, and other wildlife, as well as stunning images of glaciers and pristine coastline that stretches for thousands of miles. It is a great clip that will leave those of us wanting to visit this place for ourselves even more convinced that we need to go.

Video: Check Out the Longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge in the World

Randa, Switzerland is the home of the longest suspension bridge in the world. This impressive feat of engineering spans more than 1620 feet (493 meters) in length and is 279 feet (85 meters) high at its tallest point. The bridge just opened a couple of weeks back, and in this clip we get a chance to see exactly what it looks like for ourselves. Who's ready to go take a walk over this thing with me?

Voyage to the Falklands and South Georgia Part 4: Walking in the Footsteps of Shackleton

This part 4 in an ongoing series I'm writing about my recent travels to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia with Lindblad Expeditions earlier this year. If you haven't read the first three parts, and would like to, you can find them herehere, and here

In my last installment of my travelogue for this trip, I wrote about the arrival of our ship – the National Geographic Explorer – at South Georgia, and our first encounters with the amazing wildlife that we found there. That includes tens of thousands of penguins and seals, as well as the occasional dolphin and whale too. 

But, South Georgia isn't just a place to spot vast amounts of animals. Anyone who knows about the island, probably also know that it played a crucial role in one of the greatest survival stories in the history of exploration and adventure. It was the destination that Ernest Shackleton and his team desperately tried to reach after being stranded in the Antarctic for months back in 1915 and 1916. I won't recount that tale here, as there are several great books to read on the subject, and I myself wrote an extensive article about the story for Popular Mechanics a few months back. 

I arrived at South Georgia knowing Shackleton's ordeal all too well, and I was excited to see the place that placed such a crucial role in the eventual rescue not only of the British explorer, but all of his men. I also knew that several years later Shackleton lost his life while on a return visit to South Georgia on his way to the Antarctic once again. I knew that his grave could be found there and at one point we would visit it. That was yet to come however, and we had several more adventures ahead of us before that would happen. 

While visiting the island we made several more stops at places like Right Whale Bay, Rosita Harbor, and Prion Island. Each of those stops provided more encounters with wildlife, including several different species of penguins and albatross. At that point, seeing these creatures, along with hundreds of fur seals, and become common place, although it was no less magical. The wildlife that inhabits South Georgia is truly spectacular, hence the nickname "the Serengeti of the Southern Ocean."

How to Become an Adventure Filmmaker

Aspiring adventure photographers and filmmakers listen up – we have an article/interview that you'll want to read. Outside magazine has published a profile of adventure filmmaker Aidan Haley in which he shares lots of great insights and tips on what it takes to do his job and become a professional in that field.

Haley is the cousin of American mountaineer Colin Haley, and the duo often climbed together when they were younger. But, Aidan realized early on that he wasn't going to become a professional climber like Colin, so he looked for other ways to mix his passion for the outdoor and adventure into his life. He started taking photos while climbing and discovered that he had a love for doing that as well. 

Despite having very little formal training, that turned into a career after college as he went knocking on doors in Paris looking for a job. Eventually, Aidan made his way to Los Angeles where he learned the craft of filmmaking as well, serving as a production assistant on a variety of shoots. Now, at the age of 30 he is working on projects with the likes of The North Face, Patagonia, and National Geographic

In the Outside profile Haley talks about his career path, how persistence allowed him to keep working towards his goals, and his early fears of working freelance. He also talks about overcoming creative stagnation, the importance of scheduling playtime for yourself, and not allowing your career to define who you are.

As someone who is a freelancer himself, I found the section on"What People Don't Realize" to be especially fitting. Here's what Aidan has to say on that subject: 
“My peers with nine-to-five jobs often think I don’t work very much or very hard, which is completely wrong. Often, my job is nine-to-nine. If you want to be a freelance filmmaker, think about the last time you worked 24 hours straight, then imagine doing that for an entire month. Growing up, I took a lot of shortcuts on my homework—you can’t do that and be any good at filmmaking. Editing is a meticulous job, so if you screw up one tiny step at the end of a five-hour process, you gotta go back and repeat the whole thing again.”
That's definitely something I can relate to at times. To read the entire article, click here. And to check out Aidan's work visit his website at

Team Seagate Wins Adventure Racing World Championships Again

This past weekend a new world champion was crowned in the Adventure Racing World Series. Or should we say, a familiar team was named champion once again. New Zealand's Team Seagate once again showed why they are the best team in the world, dominating all of the competition at this year's championship race to claim their fourth straight title and fifth overall.

This year's world championship was hosted by the Cowboy Tough race in Wyoming, bringing the competition to the U.S. for the very first time. The event featured all of the usual adventure racing disciplines, including trekking, trail running, mountain biking, paddling, climbing, navigation, and so on. As usual, the course was a tough one, covering some 450 miles (724 km) over six days. It took Seagate – which consists of Joanna Williams, Bob Mclachlan, Stuart Lynch, and Chris Forne – just 79 hours, 13 minutes, and 30 seconds to cover that distance.

As of this writing, six total teams have completed the race with Team Haglofs/Silva of Sweden taking second place 4.5 hours behind senate, and American squad Team Adventure Medical Kits claiming third another half hour back. That leaves the majority of the teams to still cross the finish line, with most having about three more days to wrap up the race. With the winners now declared, the remaining squads are racing against their own goals and expectations, and for the pride of knowing that they completed one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet.

With the world championships wrapped up in August this year, the rest of the AR schedule looks fairly quiet throughout the remainder of the year. That means the teams and race organizers will begin looking ahead to 2018, which will be filled with a number of great races once again. With qualifying races held on six continents, there should be plenty of action to follow. And next year's race will be held on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, which should be a beautiful and difficult destination indeed.

Congrats to Seagate on another successful season and to all the teams that raced in the AR World Series this year.