Video: The Miner’s Revenge Mountain Bike Race

If you read my post yesterday about mountain biking on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, you probably saw my mention of a unique mountain bike race held there every year. It’s called, the Miner’s Revenge, and it takes place in and around the Adventure Mining Company on the Keweenaw Peninsula. What makes this race so special is that the course of the race runs not just around and over the mountain, but inside it as well. Racers must negotiate a narrow tunnel left over by the copper mines that once populated the area. It certainly adds a new twist to a race, and as you’ll see in the video below, the tunnel makes for a unique environment. This is a race unlike any other, and only adds to the great riding in the U.P.


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Pakistan 2014: Death on K2, Rescue on Broad Peak

It continues to be a very busy week in Pakistan, where a number of teams are packing up, and preparing to head home following the unprecedented success on K2 this past weekend. As of now, it seems that 35 climbers reached the summit of the “Mountaineer’s Mountain” during a weather window that seems to only come along once every few years. But there is sad news from the Karakoram today, as the mountain has also claimed the life of one climber, bringing a bit of a dark cloud to the celebration that is still taking place there.

Details on the death are just now starting to come in, but Italian climber Tamara Lunger updated her blog to report that Spanish climber Miguel Angel Perez Alnarez has perished in Camp 4 on K2. She says that Miguel, who has 10 8000-meter peaks on his resume, left Base Camp on his own on Sunday, and reached the summit amidst good weather. But he was very slow on his descent, and was forced to bivouac above 8000 meters (26,246 feet) without a tent. Yesterday, the Spaniard was able to descend to Camp 4, but he died there last night.

This news has no doubt sent a shockwave through K2 Base Camp, where the teams were still enjoying their success the past few days. K2 has a reputation for being the “Savage Mountain,” in part because one out of every four climbers who reaches the summit, dies on the way back down. That has not been the case this year of course, but the loss of Miguel is a stark reminder of the dangers that climbers face on that mountain.

My condolences to the friends and family of the fallen climber.

Meanwhile, over on Broad Peak, there is news that the Polish team climbing there have saved the life of a Taiwanese climber who was stranded, and dying in Camp 4. The details on the rescue are a bit fuzzy at the moment, but it seems that he or she was left alone in C4, where the Poles discovered the unnamed climber who was asking for help. The Polish team then called for assistance from other members of the team in Camp 3, and assisted in getting the Taiwanese climber down the mountain. Hopefully the stranded climber is receiving the medical attention they need, and are on the road to recovery. I’m sure we’ll hear more about this story in the days ahead as well.

Finally, while we’re still sifting through all of the successful summits on K2, and across the Karakoram, this past week, there was at least one record set. When our friend Alan Arnette reached the summit of K2 on Sunday morning, he became the oldest person to ever achieve that feat. Alan is 58 years old, and while he took up mountaineering later in life, he has certainly made the most of his time in the mountains. He is also an inspiration to all of us.


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Video: Indonesia By Mountain Bike

Traveling by bike is one of the most rewarding and interesting ways to see a country. In the case of the video below, mountain biker Tito Tomasi shipped his bike with him to Indonesia, and when arrived there, he simply pulled it out of the box, and hit the road. Bringing his own means of transportation allowed him to explore the country like never before, and the video takes us with him to some extremely beautiful and interesting places. What a great way to travel.


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Adventure Tech: Iridium Go! Satellite Hotspot Now Shipping

Back in February of this year, I posted a story about a new product from satellite communications company Iridium called the Iridium Go! At that time, the device was newly announced, and we were just getting an early look at what it could do. The relatively small gadget would allow explorers and outdoor adventurers to stay in contact with the rest of the world while visiting remote places. Acting much like a portable WiFi hotspot, it would provide both data and voice communications, allowing a variety of devices to connect to Iridium’s’ network, with the Go! acting as the bridge. Thus, you could use your iPhone, tablet, or computer to send messages, post social media updates, and make phone calls from just about anywhere on the planet. The Go! promises to revolutionize the way we communicate from the field. Yesterday, Iridium announced that the device has begun shipping, and is available to consumers for the first time.

Designed for use in the remote corners of the planet, the Go! is rugged and durable. Once configured and powered on, it provides a WiFi network with a range of up to 100 feet (30 meters). This can allow users to set the device up in a location that has a clear view of the overhead sky, while they take shelter in a tent or close to natural protection. Their devices can then connect to the Go!, even though it isn’t in the same physical location that they are. This helps to extend the versatility of the device for use in the backcountry. The Go! is even capable of connecting to up to five devices at the same time.

Iridium has created two free apps for use on smartphones and tablets. They include the Iridium Go! app, which is used for placing satellite phone calls, while the Iridium Mail & Web app serves as a portal for getting email, surfing the web, and connecting to social media. Additionally, Iridium has released an SDK for the platform, with other companies signing on to develop apps for the Go! as well.

The Go! carries an MSRP of $895, although there are already a few early adopter discounts being offered. Considering the amount of versatility it brings to our satellite communications from remote places, I’d say that is a reasonable price to ask. The fact that it allows you to use your existing devices, such as an iPhone or iPad, means that you can carry less gear into the field, and use a single device no matter where you go. Iridium as even future-proofed it, as the Go! is already compatible with their next generation of higher speed satellites that will begin coming online next year.

If you’ve been waiting for the Go! to arrive, now’s your chance to pick one up, and put it to use in the field. It looks like a great little device, and I can’t wait to hear how it performs.


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Pakistan 2014: Historic Weekend on K2

It was a very busy, and successful, weekend on the world’s toughest mountain. As predicted, a good weather window stayed open through yesterday, allowing numerous teams to reach the summit of the mountain on both days, and it doesn’t seem that that window has closed just yet, as other climbers are still on the move.

Yesterday, a team of international climbers that included Alan Arnette topped out on schedule. The team set out from Camp 4 at 10:40 PM Saturday evening, and reached the summit around 5:45 AM on Sunday morning. Joining Alan on the top of K2 were Matthew Dupuy, Garrett Madison, Kami Rita Sherpa, Fur Kancha Sherpa, and Kami Tshering Sherpa. There hasn’t been a dispatch following the news of the successful summit, although I would expect one soon. Alan did follow up on Twitter however, simply saying “K2 summit unbelievable hard.”

Alan did release an audio dispatch while he was on the summit, and you can tell from the sound of his voice that it was an incredibly moving and personal moment for him to reach the top. He has been using his various mountaineering expeditions over the past few years to raise money for the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund – a cause that is very near, and dear, to his heart – and this climb was a culmination of all of those efforts. I expect that we’ll get another dispatch from Alan soon that will share the details of his climb.

Meanwhile, a host of other climbers also reached the top on Saturday, including Adrian Hayes and Al Hancock. In an audio dispatch, Al noted that it was a 15 hour roundtrip for the climbers who summited on Saturday, with most of them all topping out within a short time with one another. Adrian and Al are already back in BC, and it sounds like the descent was just as challenging as the climb. But, it seems that climbers are getting up down the mountain safely this season, which isn’t always the case on K2.

Also reaching the summit of K2 was Chris Jensen Burke, who now has some decisions to be made about what her next move is. You may recall that she, along with Lakpa Sherpa, acclimatized on Broad Peak before moving over to K2 for the summit bid. While on BP, the conditions were not right for a summit, so they never topped out on that mountain. Chris and Lakpa are now discussing returning to Broad Peak to have a go at the summit there. Since they left, rope fixing has been completed, several teams have topped out, and things are much more settled there. If they have the energy, I would assume that they’ll head back to give it another go.

ExWeb has posted a complete list of K2 summiteers as we know them so far. The names of all the mountaineers who topped out this weekend are still coming in, but in addition to those mentioned above, the following climbers also reached the summit this weekend:

  • Tamara Lunger (Italy)
  • Nikolaus Gruber (Italy)
  • Radek Jaros (Czech)
  • Travnicek Jan (Czech)
  • Hassan Jan (Pakistan)
  • Ali Durani (Pakistan)
  • Rahmat Ullah Baig (Pakistan)
  • Ghulam Mehdi (Pakistan)
  • Ali (Pakistan)
  • Muhammad Sadiq (Pakistan)
  • Michele Cucchi (Italy)
  • Dawa Yangzum Sherpa (Nepal)
  • Pasang Lhamu Sherpa (Nepal)
  • Maya Sherpa (Nepal)
  • Giuseppe Pompili (Italy)
  • Amin Baig (Pakistan)
  • Ferran Latorre (Spain)
  • Tsering Sherpa(Nepal)
All told, there were 28 confirmed summits so far, but that number is expected to go up. When everything is confirmed, there is a chance that this will go down as the most successful couple of days on K2 ever. 
As mentioned however, the season isn’t over just yet. ExWeb is also reporting that the Polish squad training for a potential winter K2 expedition will have a go at the summit this week, and will set off from BC today. Joining them on the mountain will be Bulgarian Boyan Petrov who already topped out on Broad Peak a few days back. If all goes according to plan, this third wave of climbers hope to summit on Friday, August 1. Stay tuned for updates on their progress.
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone who reached the summit this weekend. Climbing K2 is no small feat, and they should all be proud of their accomplishments. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the various expeditions in the days ahead. 


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Video: Wingsuits Over New York City

Often times when we get a video of wingsuit pilots flying through the air, they are doing so in some lovely, remote mountain locations. That certainly isn’t the case here, as a team of wingsuiters zip over New York City, before attempting to land on a barge floating in the Hudson River. This may have been filmed in an urban setting, but the sport still looks exhilarating none the less.


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Video: Turkey in Timelapse

Sitting at the juncture of three continents, Turkey is a country that is rich in history and culture. This video serves as a lovely travelogue of that nation, sharing images of the people and places that make it such a special place. Intermixed with those shots are some amazing timelapse scenes that are as beautiful as any we have seen. This excellent five-minute video seems like a wonderful way to end the week. Enjoy!

In Turkey – 2014 from Vincent Urban on Vimeo.


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Pakistan 2014: Success on Broad Peak and Gasherbrum II, Progress on K2

It has been a busy couple of days in the Himalaya and Karakoram of Pakistan, where multiple teams launched summit bids on several mountains across the region. While those summit bids are still on going on K2, climbers have found success on other peaks, including Gasherbrum II and Broad Peak.

We’ll start on BP, where most teams set out from Base Camp on Monday, with the promise of good weather, and a wide window. Those forecasts proved to be true, and teams report great summit conditions as they approached the top yesterday and today. Amongst those summiting were Romanian climber Alex Gavin, who topped out along, with climbing partners Boyan Petrov and Ivan Tomov, both of Bulgaria. They completed their climb yesterday, and have already begun their descent back to BC.

The second round of summit pushes are underway today, and ExWeb has indicated that Spanish climber Jesus Morales also topped out at 6:15 AM local time. He is the first of a large group of climbers heading up today, and we should expect to hear about more successful summits shortly.

Not everyone found success on Broad Peak however. Oscar Cadiach, climbing with Anna Pujol and Jean Marc Flores, was headed for the summit this morning as well, but was forced to turn back just 22 meters (72 feet) from the top. Cadiach’s home team reports that Oriol Ribas continued up alone, but it is unclear if he reached the summit or not. Oscar, Anna, and Jean will retreat to Camp 3 for now, and reevaluate the situation. The good weather window is expected to last through the weekend, and they may have another go at the summit before they leave the mountain.

Similarly, ExWeb is reporting that the Polish team climbing Broad Peak turned back 100 meters (328 feet) below the summit as well, and have retreated back down the mountain. They were attempting the BP Middle, while a group of their countrymen will have a go at the main summit today. No word yet on their success.

Over on Gasherbrum II, Turkish climber Tunç Findik has successfully topped out as well. Tunç topped out at 10 AM local time as part of a team of international climbers. ExWeb says this is his 11 8000-meter peak, leaving him just three to go before he has climbed them all.

On K2, things will start to get interesting tomorrow, when the first teams should be approaching the summit, or at the very least, in position to make their summit bids over the next few days. Alan Arnette checked in from Camp 2 this morning, and reports that all is going well. After feeling a bit under the weather yesterday, Alan has rebounded today, and indicated that he enjoyed the very technical climbing up the slopes of the mountain this morning. He said that falling rocks have made things a bit treacherous, and a large rock struck one of the Sherpas, drawing blood in the process. But he is doing well, and the injury was treated at C2.

In an audio dispatch, Alan says that his squad is on track to summit on Sunday, but there are several teams above them on the mountain who have plans to top out tomorrow or Saturday. Weather conditions remain quite good, and this may be the longest, and best, weather window to appear on K2 in several years. But this is K2, the “Savage Mountain,” and things can change very quickly. On top of that, the severe weather is just one part of the challenge, and the mountain has other obstacles to throw at the climbers yet. Hopefully, everyone will get up and down safely, and we’ll see at least a few climbers standing on the summit.

More updates to come soon. The main summit season is underway in Pakistan now, and will likely last for a few more days. Climbers will be taking advantage of it while they can.


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Adaptive Ocean Rower Completes Pacific Crossing

Ocean rowers Tara Remington and Angela Madsen wrapped up an impressive crossing of the Pacific Ocean a few days back, completing a 4000 km (2485 mile) journey that began in Los Angeles and ended in Waikiki, Hawaii. The two women were out on the water for 60 days, facing rough seas, high winds, and treacherous storms in the process.

Traveling in their 6 meter (19.6 foot) long row boat, dubbed The Spirit of Orlando, the duo set out to not only cross an ocean, but to raise funds for worthy causes in the process. Remington, who hails from New Zealand, was attempting to raise money to send a young girl to a special summer camp for amputees, while American Madsen rowed to support the California Adaptive Rowing Program, an organization that holds special meaning for her.

Throughout the voyage, the two women took turns manning the oars, making slow, but steady progress across the northern Pacific. The rough seas made for tough going at times, and exhaustion from 60 days of rowing certainly took their toll. But the scariest moment came when they were ten days from reaching the finish line. A big wave struck the boat, nearly sending Remington overboard. Fortunately, she was able to stay on the Spirit, and avoid what would have been a life-threatening situation.

Both women are accomplished rowers and athletes, each having rowed across the Atlantic in the past, amongst other great adventures. But in this case, Angela has other physical challenges that makes her accomplishment standout even more. The former U.S. Marine suffered a back injury while on active duty, and a botched surgery left her paralyzed from the waist down. Madsen hasn’t let that slow her down much however, as she has rowed oceans, and competed in sporting events, despite lacking the use of her legs.

With this successful crossing of this leg of the Pacific, Angela has become the first adaptive rower to complete a section of that ocean. Clearly she has not allowed her physical challenges to prevent her from chasing after her dreams, and that should serve as an inspiration to all of us.

Congratulations to both Tara and Angela on completing this amazing feat.

Thanks to TA Loeffler for sharing this story.


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Ever Wonder What a $20,000 Bike Looks Like?

With the Tour de France in its final stages, and the riders turning towards Paris at last, I’m sure there are more than a few of us who are climbing aboard are road bikes, and dreaming of riding on the Champs Élysées in the Yellow Jersey. While that is an impossible dream for most of us, that doesn’t mean we can’t at least ride a bike that is fitting for the toughest cycling event on the planet. Outside magazine has posted a profile of five of the most advanced bikes that are currently in Le Tour, including a $20,000 ride that is unlike any other.

If you’re in the market for a new bike, or the TdF has inspired you to get into cycling, than any one of these five bikes will make for an impressive ride. While the high end models have been built specifically for the best riders in the world, there are consumer models designed for you and me that are more than adequate fore our needs, not to mention much easier on our wallets.

Amongst the bikes that Outside spotlights are the Trek Émonda, which is the lightest production bike at the planet, tipping the scales at just 10.25 pounds (4.6 kg), a full 4 pounds (1.81 kg) lighter than the minimum requirements for the Tour de France. The top end version of Émonda will set you back $15,750, but the entry level model costs just $1650, although it isn’t quite so svelte.

Other bikes on the list include Pinarello Dogma F8, which defending Tour champ Chris Froome was riding before he crashed out of the race, and the Lapierre Aircode, which is being ridden by rising star Thibaut Pinot, who is currently riding in third place at this year’s race. The Fuji Transonic also puts in an appearance on the Outside list. Its claim to fame is that it is extremely efficient out on the road, shaving watts off the rider’s effort, which translates to better times, particularly when time trialing.

Perhaps the most intriguing ride in the bunch is the Specialized S-Works McLaren Tarmac, a bike that was designed in conjunction with the McLaren super-car company. It has been built for speed and performance, and comes with a price tag to match. The bike, which is shown in the photo above, costs $20,000, and only 250 of them have been made. Two riders in the Tour are aboard this bike – Jacob Fuglsang and Nicolas Roche – and it is truly a thing of beauty to behold.

Of course, most of us can’t afford the high end modes of these bikes, nor would we see the performance gains out of them that would make them worth our while. But like a high performance sports car, it is fun to dream about them none the less. The consumer models of these bikes are still fantastic rides however, and certainly well worth considering if you’re in the market for a new bike.


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