Video: Escape – Why We Climb

Here’s a beautiful and inspiring short film that I think you’ll love. It’s entitled Escape and it features a rock climber who shares his thoughts on why he loves to climb. It isn’t for glory or recognition. It is to escape the trapping of daily life, and find some time to commune with nature. The cinematography on this 4+ minute video is stunning, and I’m sure there is a little something that we can all relate to here.

Escape from Nikolic Nikola on Vimeo.


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Video: Scary POV Downhill Mountain Bike Video

For those of us who don’t have the skills, or guts, to ride those really challenging downhill mountain bike courses, this video will have to suffice. Clearly shot while wearing a GoPro, or similar action camera, the clip gives us a point-of-view perspective of a rider as he zips down an incredibly narrow, and scary, course. It’s only two minutes long, but it is enough to give you a sense of just how tough and demanding some of these competition courses actually are.



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North Pole 2014: Bad Weather And Negative Drift

While any expedition to the North Pole is fraught with challenges, the past few days have been especially trying for the teams heading to the top of the world. Bad weather kept them tent bound for longer than they would have liked, and that resulted in negative drift pushing them in the wrong direction. It can be frustrating to run the polar treadmill, but sometimes that is the task at hand. Still, they are picking up speed and making solid progress. The question now is whether or not there is enough time still on the clock for them to complete their journeys.

A few days back, Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters were praying for some wind to help harden the newly fallen snow. The fresh powder was making it hard for them to pick up speed, and they found themselves working very hard to gain traction. The winds arrived with a vengeance however, blowing in at around 45 mph (72 km/h). At that speed, it is tough to just stand up on skis, let alone push forward. At one point, they covered just 100 meters in an hour of travel, which should give you an indication of just how trying the conditions actually were. Things have improved somewhat since then, and Ryan and Eric have managed to hit their best distance yet, covering 11.5 nautical miles (21.3 km).

Unfortunately, negative drift has begun to impact the expedition, due in no small part to the winds. One night while they slept in their tent, they drifted 5 miles (8 km) to the north-northeast, which is not the direction they want to be moving. They’ll have to make up that distance on their way to the Pole, and I’m sure they are happy that they weren’t drifting south. For those who don’t know about negative drift, it is the phenomenon in which polar ice, floating on the Arctic Ocean, moves due to currents and the wind. Generally it is away from the North Pole, which can cause explorers to lose ground while they rest. It is not uncommon for instance, for skiers to cover 10 miles in a day, only to lose 3 or 4 miles while sleeping at night. The further north they travel, the more stable the ice gets however, so hopefully it’ll be non-factor in the days ahead.

Eric and Ryan crossed 85ºN last week, and in the process they came across the tracks of another polar explorer, Japanese solo-skier Yasu Ogita. According to ExWeb, Yasu continues to press forward on his own, and is in good physical condition, although the long days out on the ice have occasionally taken their toll on his spirits. To help lighten his load, Yasu has abandoned this kayak, which he had brought along to help cross open leads, but had little cause to use it over the course of his more than five weeks out on the ice. The hope was that he could pick up speed by dropping the excess weight, and so far that has proven to be true, as he is routinely hitting about 20 km (12.4 miles) per day. But negative drift has had an impact on his travels as well. While stuck in his tent during a blizzard, Yasu actually gave up 22 km (13.6 miles), while he waited to get underway once again.

The Expedition Hope team is traveling in the opposite direction of Ryan, Eric and Yasu. They began their journey at the North Pole and are skiing south to Cape Discovery in Canada. While that will be an easier route to take, it is still incredibly tough and demanding. The three-person squad consists of Eric Philips, Bernice Notenboom and  Martin Hartley, all polar veterans with past experience in the Arctic. They have experienced negative drift as well, causing them to veer substantially off their intended course, and giving up some mileage as they float to the northeast too. But so far, they are making solid progress, particularly now that the winds have died down some, and the blizzard has passed.

Jumping over to Greenland, where the weather improved just long enough for Dixie Dansercoer and Eric McNair-Landry to hop a flight out to the starting point of their attempt to circumnavigate that country by kite-ski. Since they got underway late last week, things have not exactly gone their way. A succession of storms have kept them tent bound for more days than they’d like, although when they have been able to use their kites, they’ve made solid progress. In five days they have managed to cover 206.9 km (128.5 miles), which will give you an indication of just how different it is to use a kite, versus just skiing on your own. Still, with more than 5000 km (3106 miles) to go on this expedition, they’d rather be skiing, than sitting in a tent waiting out the weather. Unfortunately, another bad storm was due to hit their region today, so they are likely back in the tent, waiting for things to improve.

That’s all for today. I’ll keep a close eye on these expeditions as they proceed. The teams heading to the North Pole are starting to run low on days, so it’ll be very interesting to see if they can actually reach 90ºN before they call for extraction. It is going to be an incredibly tough challenge to do that.

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Video: Drone Captures Epic Footage Of Mountain Biking In New Zealand

Adventure filmmakers continue to put drones, and other technology, to good use in their craft. Case in point, this beautiful looking mountain bike film that was shot in New Zealand and features, some amazing footage that was captured using a personal drone. It is fantastic to look at, and a great example of what these types of tools can do. Oh yeah, and New Zealand looks amazing as well, but that mostly goes without saying.



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Video: This Is Iceland!

More beautiful timelapse images from Iceland. What more do I have to say? The country is simply one of the most breathtaking places on the planet, and these videos continue to hammer that point home. The Northern Lights look particularly lovely in this clip. Enjoy!

This Is Iceland from O Z Z O Photography on Vimeo.


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Explorer Mike Horn Climbing Makalu, Before Going Pole-To-Pole

South African explorer Mike Horn has a busy schedule planned for 2014. He is currently in Nepal, where he, and his climbing partner Fred Roux, are preparing to take on the fifth highest peak in the world, Makalu, which stands 8463 meters (27,766 ft) in height. They’ll attempt that climb in alpine style, without the use of supplemental oxygen or Sherpa support. While that sounds ambitious enough, it is only the tip of the iceberg for Mike’s adventurous plans later in the year.

In September, Mike will launch what he has dubbed as his Pole2Pole 360º expedition. Setting out from Gibraltar, he’ll set sail south aboard his boat Pangaea for Cape Town. After that, he’ll cross the Southern Ocean to Antarctica, which he’ll then traverse on skis. When he has completed that epic undertaking, he’ll return to his ship and start sailing north until he reaches the Arctic. Once that leg of the journey is done, he’ll then don his skis once again as he heads for the North Pole. But even then, he won’t quite be finished, as Mike intends to head back south on foot and kayak, crossing Greenland along the way, before sailing back to his starting point in Gibraltar.

As with many of Mike’s past expeditions, the 110-foot Pangaea  will serve as a mobile base station. While he is busy traversing the Antarctic and Arctic on foot, the ship will be sailing with all speed to his extraction points. The ship will carry a crew of as many as 30 people, who will be helping to document the journey and share Mike’s adventure with the world.

Horn, who has a history of long, extended journeys, feels that this will be one of the greater expeditions of the 21st century, and it is difficult to argue against him. As we all know by now, a journey to the North Pole on foot is one of the greatest challenges in the world of adventure at the moment, and a traverse of the Antarctic remains incredibly difficult as well. It will be quite interesting to follow along with Mike on this excursion, which promises to be as challenging as anything he – or anyone else – has ever done.

Watch for more updates in the weeks ahead. And thanks to ExWeb for the tip!



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FlightNetwork Travel Stories

As I’ve noted in the past, one of the websites that I contribute more mainstream travel stories to is the “Lets Roll” Blog over at FlightNetwork.com. On that site we offer travel tips, suggestions on where to go, and news of interest from the travel industry. Here is a sample of some of the things that have appeared there in recent days.



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Video: Kayaking California

California has a reputation for being one of the best kayaking destinations in the world, and rightfully so. It’s diverse landscapes and granite bedrock in the Sierra Nevada range make for an excellent paddling playground. Recently, a team kayaker took on the East Kaweah and South Silver Rivers, and filmed their California adventure for us all to share. The result is a great looking kayaking film that will get you excited to see more of what the state has to offer.



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Video: Fly Fishing In New Zealand

I’m not much of a fisherman, but this short film was too beautiful not to share. It centers around a trip to New Zealand for fly fishing, which is a graceful art that requires patience and skill. The video is as much a love letter to the landscapes of New Zealand as it is to fishing. It is quite a treat, even for someone who doesn’t stand in hip-deep water on a regular basis.

A Fly Fishing Trip – New Zealand from AF Fly Fishing on Vimeo.


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Video: The World Beyond The World

This three-and-a-half-minute video is as beautiful and mesmerizing as anything that I’ve seen recently. It features narration based on the words of Robert Marshall’s “Alaska Wilderness: Exploring the Brooks Range” from 1939, with unbelievable photos taken from an expedition into that region from 2013. It is a very creative and wonderful clip that will inspire you to get out and explore. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The World Beyond the World from Paxson Woelber on Vimeo.


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