Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Video: The Seasons of Norway in Timelapse

We all know that Norway is home to some incredibly beautiful landscapes, but in this amazing timelapse video we get to see some of those places as they are transformed by the passing of the seasons. The timelapse images are incredible to behold, as spring turns to summer, which passes into fall, heralding the arrival of winter not long after. This is one captivating clip to watch unfold, and well worth a few minutes of your day.

 
SEASONS of NORWAY - A Time-Lapse Adventure from Morten Rustad on Vimeo.

Video: Watch a Helicopter Pilot Land on the Summit of Everest

Back in 2005, French helicopter pilot Didier Delsalle did something that most people thought was impossible – he landed a helicopter on the summit of Mt. Everest. And when people questioned if he was actually able to pull of that stunt, he did it again for good measure. In this video, we see one of those landings, in footage that I hadn't ever come across before. Considering the fact that most helicopters won't go much higher than Base Camp, this remains an impressive bit of flying indeed.

The Best Travel Photography of 2016

Few things can inspire us to want to travel to a new destination like a great photo. Those of us who are lucky enough to hit the road on a regular basis for our adventures often have a desire to capture the places we visit in stunning images that we can share with friends and family. In my case, I'm happy if I just don't screw up the shot or inadvertently get my finger in front of the lens. Thankfully, there are others who are far more talented than I am to make up for my lack of skill. 

Some of the most talented of those photographers have submitted their images for the 2017 National Geographic Photo Contest, of which the finalists have recently been revealed. As you can imagine, the images are beautiful – sometimes haunting – with great shots captured at some of the best destinations around the globe, ranging from Botswana and South Africa, to Rio de Janeiro and Northern Ireland. Some of the images are landscapes, some are of the wildlife, and others are candid shots of the people that inhabit these places. All are colorful and mesmerizing. 

For those of us who aspire to be better photographers ourselves, the photos are a good reminder that taking a great shot isn't just about the technical details. It's also about capturing the moment, framing the image properly, and recognizing what is truly interesting about that snapshot of a moment in time. Too often we get caught up in just pointing and shooting with our cameras that we forget to truly take in the moment. But I've found that my best photos over the years have been taken when I slow down, observe the world around me, and look for the right combination of elements. My patience is usually rewarded at some point, and the image is one that means more to me long after I've returned home. 

The winners of the travel photo contest will be officially announced on February 28. To check them all out before that, click here

National Geographic Offers the Best Backcountry Ski Huts in the U.S.

Now that the holidays have come and gone, a new year has started, and winter is in full swing it is definitely time to start thinking about retiring to our favorite outdoor adventures. And to help out with that endeavor, National Geographic is offering a list of the best backcountry ski huts in America. These are places you can stay while out exploring untouched powder along remote trails that are far from the crowded slopes that most people visit. And just because you're in a remote place, that doesn't mean you can't have a cosy place to relax at the end of the day.

In all, ten huts make the list, ranging from places like Baxter State Park in Maine to the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska, with plenty of amazing places in between. Most of the huts are found in the western states, with Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho well represented.

Each entry onto the list offers some insights as to why that particular lodge stands out from the crowd. Those descriptions give skiers an idea of what to expect in terms of the hut itself, but also the trails they'll get to ski while visiting. You'll also learn how to get to these places, some of which aren't exactly just off the parking lot. But of course, that's part of the fun, isn't it? This is backcountry skiing after all.

If you're looking for some amazing places to find fresh powder his winter – and by most accounts there is plenty of it to be had – than this list will give you some ideas of where to go and where to stay. The huts are all impressive places to seek refuge after a hard day of touring, but after a good night's sleep you'll be ready for more in the morning. And since it is only January, there is still plenty of time to plan a winter escape. Perhaps one of these lodges is just what you've been looking for.

Read the full story here.

Antarctica 2016: Wrapping Things Up on the Frozen Continent

It has been an eventful season in the Antarctic, with a number of impressive accomplishments along the way. Way back in November, when things first started to ramp up, the end of the season seemed like a long way off. But now, with just a few more days to go before the team at ALE closes the Union Glacier camp for another year, the final squads are finishing up their expeditions and reaching their goals at long last.

We'll start with an update on the British Military Team, which consists of Lou Rudd, Oliver Stoten, Chris Brooke, Alex Brazier, and James Facer-Childs. We've been following the five men all season long as they spent 67 days out on the ice, first skiing to the South Pole and then continuing on back to the coast. Last Saturday – January 21 – they reached that goal at long last, covering some 1100 miles (1770 km) along the way.

Yesterday, the team posted an update to its blog, reporting that they had arrived back at Union Glacier on Sunday, where they received a warm welcome indeed. They are scheduled to fly back to Punta Arenas on Thursday of this week, so for now they get to relax and enjoy being in the Antarctic for a few more days. Once they arrive in Chile, it'll be on to the U.K., where there friends and family await. By the time the get home, it will have been nearly three months since they've seen them.

From all reports, it seems the entire group is in good health and good spirits. It has been a long and grueling expedition, but they always worked well together and the companionship they shared helped to get them through some very tough days out on the ice. Especially near the end, when poor weather and surface conditions made the final few days more difficult than anticipated. Now, they are relaxing, regaining some strength, and preparing to go home.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Video: Thru-Hiking the Grand Canyon - A 650-Mile Challenge (Part 1)

Throughout 2015 and 2016, photographer Pete McBride and journalist Kevin Fedarko set off to make a sectional thru-hike of the Grand Canyon in an effort to document the threats that that National Park now faces. Along the way, they faced more challenges than they had anticipated, as the journey was more difficult and dangerous than they had ever impinged. This video takes us along with them into the canyon, to experience much of what they saw while they were there. It is Part 1 of a 3 part series, which promises to be an amazing adventure with some important revelations to be had along the way.

Video: Ultralight Camping - How to Minimize Your Pack Weight

Want to know how to shed some weight from your pack before setting out on your next outdoor adventure? Why not let professional skier and mountaineer Hilaree O'Neill help? In this video, she shares some great tips for how to pack smartly for any trip into the backcountry, conserving weight by bringing items that can be used for multiple purposes and just examining more closely the things that you take with you. Even if you have a fairly light pack already, chances are you can still learn a thing or two from Hilaree's tips and tricks. And while not all of us want to go completely ultralight on our adventures, it never heard to trim some extra ounces from our gear.

South African Adventurer Crossing the Atlantic on a SUP Board

This story was sent my way by a reader a couple of weeks back (Thanks Brian!), but it got lost in my inbox while I was at Outdoor Retailer. Still, it is such an amazing adventure that I just had to share.

Back on December 6, South African adventurer Chris Bertish set out on what promises to be one of the most challenging and wild waterborne expeditions of all time. That's when he hit the water in Agadar, Morocco on his attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a stand-up paddleboard, an undertaking that he has embarked upon to raise funds for charity.

Now, more than a month and a half into the voyage, Bertish has now paddled past the Canary Islands, and is making his way into the open ocean on his way to Antigua in the Caribbean. He is covering about 25 miles (40 km) each and every day, and at that pace he expects the journey to take roughly 120 days to complete, covering a total of 4500 miles (7500 km) in the process. Once he arrives in Antigua, weather permitting, Chris hopes to continue northward across the Caribbean Sea to end his adventure on the coast of Florida.

Of course, Bertish isn't paddling a typical stand-up paddleboard. He has a custom-built model that was designed for use on the open water and has a small, but comfortable cabin for him to take refuge in when he needs a rest. The vessel has four water-tight storage containers for keeping all of his gear, food, and other supplies protected from the elements. It also has a tank for storing 50 liters of water too, and is equipped with a para-anchor, which is a specially developed parachute that is deployed under the SUP board to hold it in place. The craft is about 20 feet (6 meters) in length, and reportedly weighs about 1335 pounds (600 kilos) too. Chris' SUP board also comes equipped with solar panels to help power his radios and satellite communications equipment, which allows him to stay in touch with those of us following along back home.

Bertish is paddling across the Atlantic to raise funds for the Signature of Hope Trust, Operation Smile, and The Lunchbox Fund, all of which are nonprofits that work to improve lives of the underprivileged in various ways. In this case, Chris is hoping to build schools, provide medical attention, and food for children in need. So far, he has raised nearly 5 million South African Rand, which is about $370,000.

We may be a month and a half into the SUP crossing, but there is still plenty of distance to be traveled before Chris is done. You can follow his progress at TheSUPCrossing.com, where you'll find live tracking and daily updates.

Good luck Chris.


Nat Geo Gives Us the World's Best Via Ferrata Hikes

We've all seen videos purporting to be of the "world's most dangerous hike." More often then not, those clips usually show us a terrifying via ferrata – or "iron way" – which has been built onto the side of a mountain somewhere, often in some state of disrepair. But most via ferratas are completely safe and offer unique experiences to hikers looking to visit some beautiful destinations. These paths usually find their way up climbing routes, where fixed ladders, cables, chains, suspension bridges, and other manmade structures offer access to a place that would otherwise be unreachable by all but the best rock climbers. They can be thrilling, exhilarating hikes to say the least, and aren't often for the faint of heart.

Now, National Geographic has compiled its own list of the 10 best via ferrata routes in the world, with locations such as the Italian Dolomites, the Canyon Des Étroits in France, and Catalonia, Spain all represented. Each is accompanied by an equally impressive photo and description of what makes these places so special as well.

Having done a few via ferratas in my travels, I can attest to how they are both scary and exhilarating. Of the few that I've done – none of which are on this list – they have all been more physically challenging that a traditional hike, but had amazing payoffs in the way of outstanding views and a sense of a rewarding accomplishment at the end. That makes them completely unique from any other more traditional hike I've ever done.

If you've always wanted to try a via ferrata for yourself, give this list a look. These are some of the very best in the entire world. I know I want to give several of these a go now.

Winter Climbs 2017: Carlos Rubio Leaves Everest, Elisabeth Revol Departs Manaslu

The list of winter mountaineering expeditions continues to get smaller and smaller this year, as one team has completely abandoned its attempt to summit a Himalayan giant, while another loses one of its climbers due to illness.

We'll begin with an update from Elisabeth Revol, who had been hoping to summit Manaslu this winter. The last we heard from Revol and her teammate Ludovic Giambiasi they had arrived in Base Camp on that mountain, where heavy snow had been falling for the better part of the month of January. It turns out, that snow didn't let up much, and high winds only made the experience worse. According to The Himalayan Times, the duo were able to climb as high as 7300 meters (23,950 ft) as part of their acclimatization efforts, but the weather simply didn't cooperate enough to allow them to continue past that point. Worse yet, the long term forecasts indicate the rest of the winter could very well maintain the current weather pattern, making their attempts fruitless. Revol and Giambiasi have already depart the mountain and are on their way home.

Meanwhile, over on Everest, the team of Alex Txikon and Carlos Rubio have had their own brand of drama. Yesterday, Rubio had to be evacuated from Everest Base Camp due to a severe lung infection. The young ski-mountaineer shared a video update from a hospital in Kathmandu where he assures everyone following the expedition that all is well and that the issue isn't serious. Still, it was bad enough that he did have to seek treatment and abandon his attempt to climb and ski Everest this winter.

While the news of Rubio's departure is a sad one for the team, Txikon has continued climbing at a regular and steady pace. On Sunday, he reached Camp 3 at 7400 meters (24,278 ft) on the mountain, and is acclimatizing nicely so far. Unlike on Manaslu, Everest has been relatively calm thus far, with manageable winds and snowfalls. Txikon is hoping to summit the mountain without the use of supplemental oxygen and so far things are progressing about as well as could be expected. 

With Revol's withdraw from Manaslu and Lonnie Dupre's departure from Mt. Hunter in Alaska, Txikon's Everest expedition is the last major winter climb that we're following this season. Hopefully it will continue to unfold in a safe manner, otherwise we'll be waiting for the spring season for any significant news from the Himalaya. 

Good luck to Alex and the remainder of his support team as the continue to press forward on the Big Hill. 

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.