Friday, January 20, 2017

Video: Exit Glacier in Alaska - A Tale of Shifting Fortunes

Located in the Kenai Fjords of Alaska, Exit Glacier has been a beautiful fixture for adventurers for decades. But, the glacier is now in full retreat, and as you'll see in this video it is doing so at an alarming rate. What once took years to accomplish now takes just months, and the changing nature of the surrounding area is having a profound impact of the environment there. At this rate, Exit will shrink to a mere fraction of its former size well within our lifetime, and there doesn't seem to be much we can do about it.

This video seems appropriate for Inauguration Day, when a President who isn't exactly committed to stopping climate change is taking office.

GLACIER EXIT from Raphael Rogers on Vimeo.

Video: Under an Arctic Sky - Surfing Iceland in Winter

When you think of great surf spots, Iceland is not a place that typically comes to mind. But, when a team of adventurers – led by photographer Chris Burkard and filmmaker Ben Weiland – traveled to that beautiful and wild country, they discovered that there was indeed some terrific waves to ride along the north coast. This was especially true when one of the most brutal storms of the past 25 years made landfall there, creating a surreal environment for an arctic adventure. As you'll see in this video, they got everything they were looking for, and more.

Under An Arctic Sky - Official Trailer #1 from Chris Burkard on Vimeo.

Gear Closet: ECOXGEAR EcoBoulder Bluetooth Speaker

In recent year, I've been fortunate enough to test a number of small, compact, and amazing sounding Bluetooth speakers designed to carry with you on your travels. I want to start this review by saying that the EcoBoulder from ECOXGEAR is not one of them. Don't get me wrong, the EcoBoulder does sound amazing, but it is anything but compact and lightweight. However, what it sacrifices in mobility it more than makes up for in other ways.

Somewhat resembling a carry-on suitcase, both in shape and size, the EcoBoulder includes a set of durable wheels and a telescoping handle that help to make it easier to move about. This large, wireless speaker features 100 watts of total power, which allows it to crank out impressive levels of sound. When used indoors, it can fill a large room or even a house with music, while outdoors it easily overpowers any ambient sounds that might be in the area. And with a massive battery to go along with its massive size, the EcoBoulder can keep the party rocking for up to ten hours without needing a recharge.

Often times with large Bluetooth speakers, you're forced to sacrifice audio quality in favor of higher levels of volume. That isn't the case here however, as the Boulder does a fine job of not just recreating impressive sounding bass, but also showing off its ability to share mid- and high notes too. The result is excellent sounding music, even when the volume is cranked up incredibly high. I have yet to hear distortion of any kind, and at the full audio spectrum comes through very cleanly.

As with all of ECOXGEAR's products, the EcoBoulder is built for use in the outdoors. It features an IP67 rating, which makes it completely waterproof and dust proof, as well as ruggedized against accidental drops. In deed, this speaker is built like a tank and could certainly take a lot of punishment if it had to. It can even float in water, which allows it to be used in environments where other speakers wouldn't dare to go.

2016 Was The Hottest Year on Record

Stop me if you've heard this one before...

According to NASA and NOAA, 2016 was the hottest year on record, breaking the previous mark for the third consecutive year. And if that wasn't sobering enough news, the latest report on climate change also indicates that 16 of the 17 hottest years ever have taken place since 2000.

Studies indicate that the average temperature across the planet increased by 1.1ºC (1.98ºF) last year, which may not sound like much but it is enough to have a dramatic impact on large sections of the globe – especially in the polar regions. It also means that we're already well on our way towards surpassing the 1.5ºC goal set by the Paris Climate Agreement from 2015.

The cause for the increased temperature remains the same as it has for the past two decades, or longer. The burning of fossil fuels increases carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, and the continued deforestation of rainforests – often referred to as the "lungs" of our planet. These harmful processes seem to be continuing to accelerate, despite efforts to reverse their effects.

Historical records of temperatures have been kept as far back as the 1880's, which means we have more than 130 years of data to compare the current trends to. It is also becoming increasingly more difficult to deny the impact of humans on the environment. As part of the report, Michael Mann, the director of the Earth Science Center at Pennsylvania State University,  said "The effect of human activity on our climate is no longer subtle. It's plain as day, as are the impacts -- in the form of record floods, droughts, superstorms and wildfires -- that it is having on us and our planet."

To make matters worse, the Arctic seems to be warming at a faster rate than the rest of the planet, with temperatures now climbing to 3ºC (5.4ºF) higher than they were a decade ago. That means an increased rate of melting of the ice caps, which in turn leads to raising sea levels around the world. That will have a big impact on coastlines, eventually putting areas that are now inhabited potentially under water.

But, there is cause for some hope. Scientists believe that 2017 won't be warmer than the previous years thanks to El Nino keeping things a bit cooler. This is probably a temporary state of affairs however, even if it does buy us a brief respite.

How anyone can continue to deny climate change is beyond me. Whether or not humans are having an impact doesn't matter any longer. It's happening, and we need to do whatever we can to halt it. It's not too late, but time is running out.

Winter Climbs 2017: Txikon and Company in Camp 2 on Everest

With Lonnie Dupre abandoning his attempt to summit Mt. Hunter in Alaska this winter, we have one less expedition to follow this season. Still, there are major climbs taking place on Everest and Manaslu that should keep us occupied over the next two months, which is exactly the amount of time remaining until winter comes to an end. That may seem like a long time, but with winter weather often keeping teams stuck in Base Camp for extended periods, those days and weeks can disappear in a hurry. But for now, at least one team is making good progress towards their goal.

It has been about a week since we last had an update from Elisabeth Revol regarding her winter expedition to Manaslu. At the time, she had just arrived in Base Camp and was reporting heavy snow falling on the mountain, with 2.5 meters (8.2 ft) of snow falling in the first half of January alone. But since then there has been no further updates on her team's progress, so we can only presume that things are proceeding, but how well the expedition is unfolding remains a bit of a mystery for now. Hopefully we'll hear something soon.

On the other hand, Alex Txikon has done a good job of keeping us up to date on the progress of his small team on Everest. After completing a route through the Khumbu Icefall last week, the group made its way up to Camp 1 for an acclimatization rotation. After securing a campsite there, and depositing some gear, Alex and his climbing partners – Carlos Rubio and Nurbu Sherpa – descended back to BC for a rest.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Video: Walking the Roads of Argentina

In 2016, a pair of travelers visited Argentina, exploring both the Salta Region in the north, and Patagonia in the south. Along the way, they shot some very dramatic video footage, which has now been assembled into this beautiful clip which not only reveals the roads of Argentina, but plenty of other breathtaking images of landscapes and people too. This well crafted short film is a joy to watch, and will get your wanderlust going as well.

 
ROADS OF ARGENTINA from Guillaume JUIN on Vimeo.

Video: Up to Camp 1 on Everest in Winter

One of the expeditions we're following closely at the moment is Alex Txikon's attempt to summit Everest during the winter without the use of supplemental oxygen. The team has been making good progress so far, and having reached Camp 1, are now back in BC resting. In this video, we join Alex, and his partners Carlos Rubio and Nurbu Sherpa as they pass through the dangerous Khumbu Icefall and up to C1 – a path that the Spaniard calls "the Runner of Death." The footage in this short clip is dramatic and wild, but it gives you a great look at what these climbers are dealing with right now on the highest mountain on the planet.

Backpacker Maps America's Best Long Distance Hiking Trails

Everyone knows about the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and even the Continental Divide Trail, but did you know there are a number of other great long-distance hiking routes in the U.S.? In fact, there are numerous other options for those who like to trek for days on end, covering hundreds – if not thousands – of miles in the process. And now, thanks to Backpacker magazine, we have a comprehensive map of the very best of them.

The map, which you can view in its larger format by clicking here, shows dozens of different trails scattered across the entire U.S., many of which most of us probably aren't all that aware of. For instance, did you know that there is a Centennial Trail that stretches for 111 miles (178 km) through South Dakota? Or that the Buckeye Trail covers 1445 miles (2325 km) on a circuit through Ohio? Heck, there is even a Florida Trail that stretches for 1400 miles (2253 km) across the entire length of the state, including the panhandle.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of course, as there are plenty more interesting long-distance hiking routes all over the U.S., stretching from one coast to the other. That includes the American Discovery Trail, which literally does just that, covering some 6800 miles (10,943 km) in the process. The point is, no matter where you live, chances are there is an epic trek to be had somewhere near by, and Backpacker wants to help you find it. This map is a great place to start.

As the magazine also points out, these trails wouldn't exist if it weren't for the tireless efforts of dedicated volunteers and conservation advocates all over the country. We get to reap the benefits of their hard work, and we all owe them a debt of gratitude. Hopefully in the years to come, there will be even more impressive trails to add to this map.

Aussie Woman to Attempt Solo Sailing Circumnavigation of Antarctica

Aussie sailor Lisa Blair is about to set out on a very difficult sailing expedition. So much so, that no woman has ever accomplished it solo before. Next week, she will attempt to become the first female – and only third person ever – to sail solo and unassisted around Antarctica, navigating the challenging Southern Ocean, which remains treacherous even in the 21st century.

The journey is expected to take about three months to complete. She'll first depart from Albany in Western Australia, and will head south into the waters off the coast of the Antarctic. In order to maintain her solo and unassisted status, she'll need to spend the entire voyage onboard her ship, without making land stops of any kind, nor having personal contact with another person. She'll also have to sail completely without assistance.

In order to write her name in the history books, Blair must keep her ship below 45ºS latitude at all times. She'll also have to pass three of the most treacherous spots of land on Earth in the form of Cape Leeuwin, Cape Horn, and Cape Agulhas. Along the way, she hopes to set a new speed record for the Antarctic circumnavigation, besting the time set by Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov back in 2008. He managed to sail around the frozen continent in 102 days, 56 minutes, 50 seconds, covering some 16,400 miles (26,393 km) in the process.

Blair had intended to set out by now, but weather and upgrades to her ship have caused a few delays to the start of the expedition. The countdown clock on her website indicates that she will now get underway on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, provided there are no more unexpected interruptions. When she does depart, she'll also be taking part in the Antarctica Cup Ocean Race as the lone competitor. The race is actually between Lisa and the clock, although she will try to stay in one of three electronically mapped "lanes," each of which have 18 individual "gates" that she'll pass through along the course.

Hopefully all will go according to plan, and Blair will start her epic voyage next week. You'll be able to follow Lisa's progress on her website as she makes her way through this wild and uncharted part of the world. It should be an amazing trip.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes Pulls Plug on Aconcagua Summit Attempt

It looks like Sir Ranulph Fiennes will have to wait a little bit longer to complete his attempt to complete the Adventurers Grand Slam. According to the BBC, the 72-year old British explorer has had to abandon his attempt to summit Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in South America, after experiencing severe back pain during the final stages of the expedition. Fiennes says that he is "very frustrated" by the situation.

The climb was part of Fiennes – who has been called "the world's greatest living explorer" – attempt to join the elite club of men and women who have reached both the North and South Poles, as well as topped out on the Seven Summits. He has undertaken this challenge to raise funds for the Marie Curie Foundation, which has been a frequent recipient of his charity work over the years. To date, he has summited Everest, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, and Vinson. That would leave him with Denali and Carstensz Pyramid, in addition to Aconcagua.

According to reports, Sir Ran was within just a few hours of the 6961-meter (22,841 ft) summit of Aconcagua, which is not only the highest peak in South America, but the tallest outside of the Himalaya too. But, the explorer was in too much pain to continue upwards, and had to be assisted back down the mountain instead. He was then air lifted to Mendoza, Argentina, where he is reportedly in good condition. He'll now head home to the U.K. to consult with his doctor before proceeding any further with his plans.

In embarking on this challenge, Fiennes hoped to become the first person to traverse both polar ice caps and complete the Seven Summits. You may recall that he earned his stripes as an explorer by visiting the coldest places on the planet on multiple occasions. He has come to mountaineering a bit late in life, not summiting Everest until 2009 at the age of 66. Later he would add summits of Kilimanjaro and Everest, before embarking on what he calls the Global Reach Challenge in 2016. Whether or not he'll continue with those efforts remains to be seen, but considering his resume, I would assume that unless this is a very serious injury, he'll be back at it as soon as possible.

Get well soon Sir Fiennes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Video: Explore the Underwater Kaleidoscope of Cortes Banks

Located 100 miles off the coast of San Diego, Cortes Banks has become a refuge for a stunning array of wildlife. In this video, we travel to that place, and dive with underwater explorer Brian Skerry, who takes us into this amazing place of vibrant colors and beautiful sea creatures. It is an extraordinary spot that few people ever get the chance to see, but you can spend three minutes there with his video.

Video: The Battle for Birthday Mountain - Giving Finland it's Highest Peak

Finland is approaching the 100th anniversary of its independence, and neighboring Norway has come up with an idea for a unique birthday present – a mountain. Yep, that's right. Norway wants to give Finland Halti Peak – a 1365 meter (4478 ft) mountain that would become the Fins' highest point. But how exactly does one country give another a mountain? In this amazing short film, we'll explore that very idea. This is an amazing story to say the least.

Battle for Birthday Mountain from MEL Films on Vimeo.

TrailFoody is a Monthly Subscription Box That Keeps You Fed on the Trail

Subscription box services become all the rage over the past couple of years, with options ranging from geeky gifts for your favorite nerd to high fashion options. Heck, we've even seen some made for outdoor enthusiasts, including Cairn and BivySak. But now, a new subscription box is on the scene, and it wants to send you healthy, nutritious snacks to take with you on all of your outdoor adventures.

TrailFoody is a recent start-up that hopes to take the drudgery out of picking food to take with you on your hikes, mountain bike rides, paddling excursions, and camp outings. Each month, the service will send you a box filled with energy bars, dried fruits, nuts, trail mix, energy drinks, and more. Those treats come from such partners as Tanka, Justin's, and Epic Provisions, and everything is stored in a nice little compression sack that makes it all very easy to pack and carry. Best of all, the items that are sent to you in the box are specifically selected to provide energy for active pursuits, and most avoid artificial preservatives of any kind, nor are they genetically modified in any way. Many are completely organic too.

The subscription service offers three tiers starting with "The Wanderer," which offers enough goodies for 1-2 outings at a price of $21.95. That box includes 1 trail lunch and the equivalent of 4 energy bars. The second tier is dubbed "The Pathfinder" and offers enough food for 3 outings, including 3 trail lunches and 6 energy bars for $43.95, while "The Intrepid" level provides 4 trail lunches and 8 energy bars each month at a cost of $53.95.

Recently I received a sampling of the TrailFoody offering, and I have to be honest. Prior to getting my own box, I thought that the prices were pretty steep for products that we all probably keep around the house anyway. But, after sifting through the package that was sent my way, I have to admit that I'm pretty impressed. My TrailFoody box was filled with more goodies than I expected, and I've been happily munching away on them for awhile now. Sure, spending $22 a month to have energy bars and other assorted snacks sent to your door is a bit lavish, but if you lead a busy lifestyle, and don't have time to shop for these items yourself, you'll probably really appreciate it the next time you're heading out to the trail.

If this sounds like something you'd be interested in trying, TrailFoody is giving Adventure Blog readers half off their first month. Simply enter the promo code: ADVENTUREBLOG in at checkout to receive the discount.

Happy trail and happy snacking!

Whitewater Rafting Team Narrowly Misses Grand Canyon Record

A team of eight whitewater rafters missed setting a new speed record for rowing down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon this week when their raft was punctured in the attempt. The group spent nearly 40 hours out on the water, but came up short in their epic attempt to cover the 277 mile distance as quickly as possible.

The 8-person squad, which includes the 6-man U.S. Whitewater Rafting team had been planning the Grand Canyon run for years, but received new incentive in 2016 when a new speed record was set. For years, the time to beat had been 36 hours, 38 minutes held by Kenton Grua, Rudi Putsches and Steve Reynolds since 1983. But last year, solo kayaker Ben Orkin set a new record by running the entire stretch in just 34 hours and two minutes.

Unfortunately for this team, the final time was 39 hours, 24 minutes, but they were slowed down greatly in their efforts thanks to the punctured raft, which couldn't be fixed properly while on the water. That left one of the raft's tubes almost completely deflated, causing way too much drag to overcome. A strong headwind didn't help their efforts either.

Still, the team wasn't feeling sorry for themselves. They seemed to enjoy the adventure, even though they didn't set a new record along the way. After all, traveling through the Grand Canyon is always an amazing experience, and for some it was the first go at the Colorado River. There is no word yet on if they'll return to try for the record a second time, but something tells me we haven't heard the last of this crew.

Read the entire story about their rafting expedition here. It has a lot of great moments and some big challenges that they faced along the way.

Antarctica 2016: More Updates From the Ice

Yesterday I mentioned that the 2016-2017 Antarctic season is quickly coming to an end, and that updates would probably be few and far between moving forward. But, it turns out there is still more to tell, and although the end is indeed in sight, things aren't quite done yet. I have a couple of stories to share from the frozen continent, as well as a few corrections form my previous post too.

We'll start with an update on the Halley VI research station, which you might recall I wrote about back in early December. At the time, it was revealed that the station would have to be relocated due to a massive ice crack opening across the surface. That crack was forcing a large section of ice along the surface of the continent to shift towards the sea, and Halley VI found itself on the wrong side of the equation.

The original plan was to wait until this season was over, then close the base in preparation for moving it to a new – safer – location. Now, it has been announced that the research station has been shut down early as a precautionary measure, as another crack has been discovered near by that could expedite the shifting of the ice even further. Halley VI is in the process of being relocated however, so hopefully it will be repositioned in a safer location soon. The entire station was designed to be mobile, and is now being transferred to a spot some 23 km (14 miles) away from its current location.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Video: Meet The Snow Guardian

Meet billy barr (yes, that's how he spells it!), a man who has lived alone in a cabin near Gothic, Colorado for 40 years. Over that time, he has been keeping meticulous records of the weather, how much snow has fallen, what the temperature on any given day is, and so on. Those records are now proving invaluable to climate scientists, who view billy as an invaluable resource. This is his story, as told by National Geographic.

Video: Kite Skiing in Alaska

If you've read my updates on the progress of the explorers in Antarctica this season, you've no doubt seen a few mentions of kite skiers out on the ice. What is kite skiing actually? It is the use of a large kite to catch the wind, and pull you along across the snow and ice. If wind speeds are good, it can provide a lot of speed, allowing skiers to cover surprising distances in a short amount of time.

In this video we travel to another frozen landscape, as we follow skier Damien Leroy to Alaska where he does some kite-skiing of his own. In the two-minute clip you'll get a chance to see how kite-skiing works, and just how fast it can propel someone along. The results just might surprise you.

The 20 Most Important Products From Winter Outdoor Retailer Ranked

If you haven't quite had your fill of gear news just yet, I have yet another article sharing the best new gear from the Outdoor Retailer show, held last week in Salt Lake City. This time, the list comes to us courtesy of Men's Journal, which ranks the most important new products that were revealed at the conference.

All told, there are 20 different pieces of gear that earn a spot on the MJ list, and while I didn't have a chance to see all of these, I did see more than a few of them. Some of the products that make the cut include updated running shoes from both Hoka One One and Altra, a sweet new down jacket from Montane, and a non-technical crampon from Yaktrax. You'll also find a variety of new products that are on the cutting edge in terms of technology and design that helps these items stand out from the crowd and do some truly innovative things in helping us to stay outdoors longer and enjoy our time there more fully.

While I don't necessarily agree that these are the 20 most important products on display at Outdoor Retailer, I definitely feel that most of the gear on this list are impressive updates for sure. Depending on your own personal outdoor passions, you'll find a lot to love here, with some new equipment that will definitely spark your attention. In fact, there are even a few items on the list that may get you interested in an activity that you hadn't considered before. This is definitely the case with the number one item on this countdown, which I won't reveal here. Needless to say however, I have seen this product personally, and think that it is going to be a lot of fun to use next winter.

Most of the gear that Men's Journal shares here won't be available for months yet. In fact, the vast majority of the items I saw at the show are not slated to begin shipping until Fall/Winter 2017-2018. That's the problem with attending a show like OR. It gets you very excited for new gear, but than makes you wait for months before you can get your hands on it. Still, most of this stuff is going to be worth the wait. Trust me!

Nepali Liaison Officer Dies of Altitude Sickness Near Everest

Sad news from the Himalaya today, where it was revealed that a liaison officer working with the only winter expedition to Mt. Everest has passed away due to altitude sickness. The government official was airlifted to Lukla via an emergency helicopter flight, but all efforts too save him proved fruitless.

According to The Himalayan Times, Padam Jung Rai was the liaison officer assigned to support Alex Txikon and Carlos Rubio in their efforts to summit Everest this winter. As required by law, Rai traveled with the climbers to the Khumbu region of Nepal to monitor the team's progress on the mountain and facilitate communications between them and government officials back in Kathmandu. But, the LO took ill while in Lobouche, and was assisted by a group of Sherpas in his descent down to Tukla at 4000 meters (13,123 ft) where it was hoped that his symptoms would subside. When he took a turn for the worse, a helicopter was dispatched to retrieve Rai, who was flown to Lukla for emergency treatment, which was ineffective.

As part of the climbing requirements on the higher mountains in Nepal, teams are required to pay a $3000 fee to cover the expenses of having a liaison officer with them in Base Camp. That officer's job is to ensure that climbers follow all of the rules and regulations set down by the Nepali government, and to facilitate any needs that might arise. The LO's are often criticized for never leaving Kathmandu however, which has caused some issues in recent years.

Rai was sent to Everest to work with Txikon and Rubio, the first winter expedition to that mountain in years. Conditions are of course more demanding during that harsh season, although it is unclear if that played a role in his death.

Meanwhile, the two Spanish climbers are back in Base Camp after having climbed as high as Camp 2 on the mountain. They are resting comfortably, regaining their strength and preparing for their next rotation up the mountain. Txikon is hoping to summit Everest during the winter without the uses of supplemental oxygen, something that has only been done very rarely in the past. So far, the expedition is proceeding well, although weather conditions will ultimately dictate success or failure.

My condolences go out to the friends and family of Padam Jung Rai. Hopefully, the rest of the expedition will proceed safely.

Antarctica 2016: The End in Sight

Update: It seems the information I received on Emma Kelty's condition was incorrect. While she did go to the hospital as reported, it was to receive a round of antibiotics and not for other reasons stated below. She was also out on the ice for 50.5 days as well.

It has been more than a week and a half since we last posted an update on the progress of the various Antarctic skiers. Over that time, a lot has happened, with several comings and goings from the South Pole, arrivals back at the coast, and other happenings – both good and bad. Now, as the end of the season is in sight, there is much to tell.

We'll start with Johanna Davidsson, the solo female skier who reached the Pole in record time a few weeks back. After setting that impressive mark, Johanna wasn't content to just get on a plane and fly back to Union Glacier, but instead kite-skied back to the coast. She completed that trip quickly as well, wrapping up her return trip on January 10. It has been a very productive season for her to say the least.

The other female skier that we watched closely this season was Brit Emma Kelty, who spent 52 days out on the ice skiing from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole. She reached that point back on January 5, and was then flown back to Union Glacier having abandoned her attempt at a return trip after running out of time. A few days later she flew to Punta Arenas, Chile as well where she was immediately hospitalized  for dehydration, a lung infection, and a bad case of polar thigh. That last ailment strikes the upper legs in very cold conditions, and is caused by the friction of fabric and skin when rubbed together over a long period of time. It can cause extreme irritation and even a nasty infection, which can be very painful if left untreated. Unfortunately, Emma wasn't able to do much about it until after she was off the ice, which had made for a painful wound. Thankfully, she was released from the hospital last week, and flew home to the U.K. on Friday the 13th.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Video: Kayaking Through Underground Caves in Mexico

In this video, we join kayakers Rafa Ortiz, Jared Meehan, and Andrew Pollock as they head to southern Mexico to explore a system of underground rivers that pass through an intricate cave system. There aren't any massive waterfalls to drop, or Class V rapids to run, but there is a great sense of exploration and adventure as they paddle through this otherworldly environment. Catch a glimpse of a part of our planet that few ever get a chance to see, and marvel at what these intrepid kayakers find as they drift along.

Video: How to Survive an Unexpected Night in the Backcountry

Despite our best laid plans for outdoor adventure, sometimes things don't go as expected. On occasion, this can lead to being stranded in the backcountry overnight, when you had originally planned to just be out for the day. What should you do in these occasions? The video below – hosted by none other than Timmy O'Neill – can help. At a little more than two minutes in length, this clip if filled with good suggestions on how to comfortably survive the night outdoors, even when you haven't planned for it. Some of the information is just good logic, and probably something that many of you already know. But, there are also some solid pieces of advice that could make a difference should you find yourself in this situation in the future.

Video: Through the Khumbu Icefall on Everest in the Winter

At the moment, Spanish mountaineer Alex Txikon is attempting a winter ascent of Everest – a rare feat to say the least. During this time of the year, the mountain is abandoned, which leaves Alex and his team to do all of the work themselves, including building a path through the dreaded Khumbu Icefall. In this video, we get to see that hard work taking place, as the squad carefully puts a series of ropes and ladders into place that allow them to cross over the dangerous crevasses that are found in the Icefall. As you'll see, this is not work for the faint of heart, but it is necessary if the want to reach the upper flanks of the mountain. Keep in mind, during the spring there is a special team called the "Ice Doctors" who do this work for the hundreds of other climbers that are on the Nepali side of the mountain. But during the winter, there is no such luxury.

The Best New Gear From Winter Outdoor Retailer 2017

Last week, the biggest brands in the outdoor industry descended on Salt Lake City, Utah to show off their latest creations at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. As usual, there were more jackets, boots, backpacks, sleeping bags, and tents than you could ever hope to see in such a short period of time, although those of us in attendance certainly gave it our best try. Over the course of the past week, a number of media outlets have shared their selections for the very best new gear to make its debut at the show, allowing you the consumer to get a sneak peek at some of the great products that will be arriving in our favorite gear shops in the months ahead. Here is just sampling of what earned some of that recognition.

Over at the Gear Institute, we handed out our semi-annual Best New Gear Awards, recognizing 9 new products that we thought were innovative an interesting. Amongst them were a gas-powered generator from Goal Zero and a new way to create custom insoles for our shoes. Similarly, the crew at Outside magazine handed out five awards for their favorite new products, while Popular Mechanics discovered 8 items that their editorial staff found noteworthy too.

Interestingly enough, there isn't a lot of crossover between the items that make all of the lists, which should give you an idea of just how diverse the products on display at OR truly are. The general consensus amongst those attending the show was that there were few products that were truly revolutionary this time out, but a lot of really nice new gear that made strides forward in terms of incremental improvements.

If you're looking for a very comprehensive rundown of some of gear that was on display, Gear Junkie took a first-look at a wide variety of products. Their team went beyond just naming a few award winners, but instead gave a very good overview of a number of interesting products that were unveiled at the show.

As for me, I may well share my favorite items from Winter Outdoor Retailer over the next few days too. I'm still decompressing from the show and getting back on track at home, but I definitely have some thoughts on what stood out as the most interesting to me. I'll have more to come on this topic soon I'm sure.

Winter Climbs 2017: Climbers in Base Camps and Moving Up

Now that the holidays have come and gone, I've managed to move to a new house, and the Winter Outdoor Retailer Show is behind us, we can finally return to some sense of normalcy around here. To do that, we'll get things started with an update from the major winter climbs that are now taking place in various parts of the world, beginning on Everest where Alex Txikon and his team are making solid progress.

Last week, the small group of climbers, support staff, and documentarians arrived in Base Camp on Everest, and immediately went to work establishing a base of operations there. It did't take them long to get ready however, and within a few days they were already moving up the mountain to begin their acclimatization efforts. The team then spent four days building a route through the treacherous Khumbu Icefall, before they were then presented with favorable weather conditions that allowed them to move up further.

Taking advantage of these good conditions, the climbers moved through the Icefall and up to 5870 meters (19,258 ft), where they spent the night at a provisional location. The following morning, they continued up to 6050 meters (19,849 ft), where they established Camp 1. Since then, they have climbed a bit higher as they scout the route, install ropes, and work to reach Camp 2 further up the slopes.

Reportedly, the climbing is even more difficult and demanding than they had thought, but things are proceeding according to plan. They should return to BC for rest shortly, but are continuing to try to make progress while the weather cooperates. For now, they are happy with how things are going, and the idea of a winter ascent of Everest remains a very high possibility.