Monday, January 22, 2018

Video: The Endless Plains of Tanzania

This video takes us to one of my absolutely favorite places on Earth – the endless plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania. In it you'll find spectacular wildlife in a setting that is a beautiful grassland that has evolved to support a vast array of creatures. It is a fascinating place that belongs on every adventurers bucket list and I can't wait to go back someday.

Endless Plains of Tanzania from Ze Maria M Moura on Vimeo.

Video: Take a Dive Into the World's Largest Underwater Cave

Last week I shared the news that the largest underwater cave system in the world had been found in Mexico. Today, we have video footage from within those caves courtesy of National Geographic. As you'll see, this otherworldly place is quite a spectacular submerged landscape. This cave system isn't entirely new however, as it is the actually two previously unconnected caves that were discovered to be linked via a newly found tunnel. Pretty amazing stuff. Check it out below.

The 50 Best Trails in the U.S.

Men's Journal has returned with yet another impressive list today, this time dealing the 50 best trails in the U.S. As the intro to the story says, trails are a gateway to the wilderness, and it doesn't matter whether you're going by foot, snowshoes, cross-country skis, mountain bike, or some other mode of transportation, a good trail will make you forget about the destination and simply enjoy the journey.

The trails that make the list are ones that provide solitude, scenery, and the chance to commune with nature. They vary in length from just a few miles to hundreds, and they are found all over the country, from Maine to California, and practically every place in between. Making your way through the list, you'll discover great places to go hiking, backpacking, and trail running, not to mention mountain biking too.

Some of the routes that make the cut are famous and well known to anyone who loves the outdoors. Others are a bit more obscure, which only adds to their appeal. In each case, MJ includes a paragraph explaining why this particular trail earned a spot on their list, with a brief description of what makes it unique and appealing.

With 50 total trails to read about it is difficult to spoil too many places that you'll find here. But some of the paths that get the nod include the Hundred Mile Wilderness in Maine, West Maroon Pass in Colorado, and Angels Landing Trail in Zion National Park in Utah. This is just a sample of course, and chances are – no matter where you live – one of these trails is close by.

To see which other routes made the cut check out the whole list here.

Boat Collision Results in Fatality at Volvo Ocean Race

The fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race concluded in Hong Kong over the weekend with the crews arriving in that city for the very first time. It was a record setting win for the first team to arrive as well, although a shadow as cast over the race due to a collision that left one person dead.

A very motivated Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallwag claimed victory in their home country, becoming the very first boat to arrive in Hong Kong last Friday. They were later joined on the podium by Team Dongfeng, which claimed second place, with Team AkzoNobel finishing a strong third on Saturday.

It was quite an exciting leg for the winners, who made a bold tactical move coming out of the doldrums earlier than their competitors with the hopes of finding a stronger wind. That gamble ended up paying off,  and they rocketed up the leaderboard for the win. The final dash to the finish line wasn't without its drama however, as the ship had one of its crew go overboard along the way and had to stop to conduct a rescue. With that operation complete however, they were able to sail on to victory.

On Saturday it was also announced that Team Vestas 11th Hour was involved in a collision with a fishing ship about 30 miles (48 km) out from Hong Kong. None of the crew of the racing vessel were injured, but the ship did issue a Mayday distress call on behalf of the fishing ship. Nine of the crew members of that crew were rescued from the water by a nearby commercial vessel, with a tenth person being airlifted by helicopter to a hospital. He was later pronounced dead.

The details of the collision aren't yet known, but the Vestas crew immediately stopped racing, called in the incident, and helped in rescue operations. Their vessel suffered some damage to the hull but was able to sail into port under its own power. It is unclear if the damage is significant enough to prevent them from continuing nor if the crew even has a desire to press on. We'll have to wait for more information before that is determined. Race officials and the crew are cooperating with the local authorities in the ongoing investigation.

For now, all of the ships will remain in Hong Kong for some in-port activities over the coming days. The next leg of the race is scheduled to start on February 1 and is a short 100 nautical mile jaunt to nearby Guangzhou which should only take a day or so to complete. The teams will then conduct more in-port races before returning to Hong Kong ahead of the start of the sixth leg, which will be a 6100 nautical mile (7019 mile/11,297 km) race to Auckland, New Zealand. That stage will begin on February 7 and should take about three weeks or so to complete.

To find out more, visit the official Volvo Ocean Race website.

Winter Climbs 2018: Summit Schedule Set on Nanga Parbat, Success on Pumori

Once again the news from the winter climbing expedition continues to come fast and furiously. The weekend had plenty more information to share as all of the teams on 8000-meter peaks posted updates on their progress.

We'll start once again on Nanga Parbat where Polis climber Tomek Mackiewicz and his French climbing partner Elisabeth Revol have set off up the mountain with an eye on reaching the summit later this week. They are currently stuck in Camp 3 where they report that the winds are howling at 100 km/h (62 mph), which is far too dangerous to proceed upwards in. They expect conditions to improve tomorrow however, with the hopes of reaching C4. The weather forecast predicts much calmer conditions on Thursday, January 25, so the currently plan is to launch their summit bid late on the 24th and top out on that morning.

Apparently this will be the duo's one and only attempt at the summit. If they aren't successful this time out, they are now prepared to come home. Keep in mind, this is Tomek's seventh attempt at a winter summit on Nanga Parbat, which has become somewhat of an obsession for him. Hopefully they'll get up and down safely.

Meanwhile, last Friday we posted that Alex Txikon and Muhammad Ali Sadapara had left Everest to make an acclimatization climb on nearby Pumori. At the time, we weren't sure if they had planned to just go up as high as Camp 2 or if they would actually make an attempt on the summit, as the mountain can be quite treacherous in the winter due to avalanches. It turns out, the duo – along with two Sherpa guides – made short order of the 7161 meter (24,494 ft) peak, reaching the summit this past weekend. The ascent was reportedly very technical and windy, but they were able to safely complete it and return to Base Camp without any issues. They'll now head back to Everest and continue their winter expedition there.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Video: Nat Geo Releases Archival Footage From Very First Film

The video below shares footage from the very first National Geographic film that was created way back in 1902. That adventure documentary depicted the ill-fated Ziegler Polar Expedition, which was an early attempt to reach the North Pole. The journey ended in disaster with the team getting stuck in the Arctic ice for nearly two years before eventually being rescued. The footage marks Nat Geo's first foray into filmmaking, which would later become a hallmark of the organization. Check it out below.

Video: How to Fix a Sleeping Bag Zipper

Here's a "how to" video that we can all appreciate. This time, the good folks at REI explain how to fix a sleeping bag zipper, which is probably something we've all had to deal with at some point. There are few things more frustrating than wanting to climb into a warm bag at the end of a long day, only to discover the zipper isn't working properly. This video will help you sort out those issues and get your sleeping bag performing at a top level again.

Gear Closet: Suaoki S270 Portable Solar Generator Review

Portable battery packs designed to keep our smartphones charged while on the go have become too good that it is almost criminal to not have one at your disposal these days. Small, lightweight, and compact chargers can be found for not much money and they generally fit the needs of most day-to-day users. But what about those of us who have power requirements that go beyond the basics, but don't want to sacrifice portability either. Thankfully, we now have some good options to choose from as well, including the Suaoki S270 Portable Solar Generator, an awesome little power pack that is perfect for charging just about anything while on the go.

Lightweight and compact, the S270 never the less delivers on its promise of plenty of portable power. It is equipped with a 150 watt-hour battery and is capable of a sustained 100 watt output with a peak of up to 150 watts if necessary. That means it won't just charge your smartphone and tablet, but can also power laptops, drone batteries, headlamps, cameras, or just about anything else you plug into it. It can even power small appliances in a pinch.

The designers of S270 gave it plenty of outlets so you can plug multiple devices in at once. Along one side it has four USB ports (three standard and one quick-charging), while the other side features four DC charging ports as well. The system even ships with a female DC adapter (read: car port) for charging devices designed for that type of output. The result is a handy portable power station that you can carry with you just about everywhere.

But, that isn't all. The S270 also features two AC wall outlets as well, which expands its versatility even further. When items are plugged into these ports, they charge as quickly and easily as they do at home, extending the life of your gadgets for a lot longer.

Other nice design choices include a set of flip-up handles that make it easy to carry the power bank and a set of built-in emergency lights. Those lights can even be set to flash an SOS signal if necessary as well. The entire product is built into a rugged, durable case that feels right at home in the outdoors.   That said, the generator is only "splash proof" so you won't want to leave it out in the rain.

Men's Journal Presents the 25 Most Adventurous Men of the Past 25 Years

Men's Journal has released another interesting article that is sure to spur some heated conversation. This time out, the magazine has posted its selection for the 25 most adventurous men of the past 25 years, making their picks based not only on the amazing feats that these men managed to pull off, but also their "consistency and commitment" for taking on big adventures. Also, as the name of the article implies, these gentleman have been mostly active over the past two-and-a-half decades, which has led to some big names potentially being left of the list. Even still, while those that made the cut are obviously deserving of some serious recognition, I can think of at least one or two names that didn't make the cut that would certainly have been on my own personal list.

As usual, I'll leave the bulk of the list for you to discover on your own, but will mention a few of the more familiar names that you'll find there. Not only did Conrad Anker earn a place amongst the top 25, his buddy Jimmy Chin is on the list too. Their joined by the likes of Alex Honnold, Eric Larsen, and Erik Weihenmayer as well. 

All of the entries on the list include a profile of the individual with a few paragraphs explaining why they deserved a mention. In some cases there is a break down of their defining expeditions and moments, while for others it is an overview of their entire career. All told, the article serves as a good introduction for these men, most of whom are still very active today. 

It is obviously very difficult to break down a list such as this one and select just 25 people to put on it. I'm sure there was a group of explorers and adventurers who didn't make the cut that are impressive in their own right. But, I was surprised to not find Ueli Steck on the list, as he redefined what was possible in the mountains over the length of his career. Kilian Jornet didn't make the cut either, nor did Simone Moro, who has four first winter ascents of 8000-meter peaks on his resume. Of course there isn't room for everyone in the top 25, but Ueli's omission is puzzling in particular. 

Still, it is hard to argue with the guys who are on MJ's list. They are all inspirational men who have pushed boundaries in their respective areas. To find out who did earn a spot in the rundown, click here

Winter Climbs 2018: Summit Bid on Nanga Parbat, Updates From K2 and Everest

More new from the major winter climbing expeditions this season with progress on just about every front. Lets get into the latest updates from all over.

We'll start today on Nagna Parbat, where it appears that Tomek Mackiewicz and Elisbeth Revol are preparing to make an attempt on the summit. The duo arrived on the mountain just after Christmas, and have been acclimatizing there ever since, but for the past two weeks they've been bogged down with high winds. Yesterday, those winds subsided at last, and they now report good conditions. After making a gear deposit at 6700 meters (21,981 ft), they now report that they are going for the summit.

If they launched that bid yesterday, and everything goes exactly right, they may top out as early as Sunday or Monday of this coming week. It is a tough ascent, and snow and ice don't make it any easier, but it is definitely possible for them to complete the climb in that time frame depending on the conditions. In winter however, deep snow could slow their progress. For now, we'll just have to wait and hope that the weather window stays open long enough for them to reach the summit.

Over on K2, the winds have died down as well. The Polish Ice Warrior team had expected conditions to be bad for several more days at the least, but the weather has improved dramatically. This has allowed them to begin sending gear up to their first campsite, which will actually be in what is traditionally C2, located at 6200 meters (20,341 ft).

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.