Video: Mountain Biking An Abandoned Railway In Argentina

Here’s a mountain biking video that straddles the line with looking incredibly fun, and incredibly crazy at the same time. It follows a team of riders as they explore an old railway that has been abandoned for nearly 20 years. They follow it for about 100 km (62 miles) through remote Argentine deserts, crossing rickety looking old bridges, and sketchy trails in the process. It looks like it would make a great trail, if someone bothered to clean everything up. But for these guys, it presents a few challenges.



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Everest 2014: Adventure Consultants Cancel Expedition, Will Others Follow?

Climbing operations on the South Side of Everest have been shut down since the tragic accident that claimed the lives of 16 Sherpa last Friday. During that period, the mountaineering community there has been mourning the loss of their friends and teammates, while attempting exactly how to proceed from here. The death of those men has touched every team, and every climber, in some way, and at the moment, the fate of the entire season is hanging in the balance. That is no longer true for one team however, as they have made the difficult decision to end their expedition. 

Earlier today, the Adventure Consultants sent the following dispatch from Base Camp:

The past few days at Everest Base Camp since Friday have been a very difficult time for all on the AC team as we grieve for the Sherpas who have been lost. Our three dear friends were integral to our operation and our Sherpa, Guides and staff know most of the other thirteen Sherpa and Nepalese who have died. After much discussion and consideration of all aspects the tough decision has been made to cancel the 2014 expedition this season.

Our team members have empathy for the Sherpa community and we wish for everyone to be able to mourn their lost family and friends in peace.
We thank you for all your support and condolences, which mean so much as we try to recover from the enormity of this tragedy.

The Adventure Consultants Everest Expedition 2014 Team

The AC squad is the first team to publicly announce that they are going home, and understandably so. Three of the Sherpas that were killed were on their squad, and the loss of those men has surely underscored the dangers of climbing the mountain. With heavy hearts, they will now begin the long journey back home.

I suspect that this won’t be the only team that makes the decision to pull the plug on their expedition over the next few days. Indications are that there is a lot of uncertainty and doubt on the South Side at the moment, and the climbers are unsure how to pick up the pieces and continue on after the single deadliest day in Everest history. The decision could be made for them however, as the Sherpas themselves have asked for a seven day moratorium on climbing so that they could mourn the loss of their friends. At the end of that period, the entire group could call in an end to the season, particularly if the Nepali government doesn’t respond to their list of demands.

We’ll know a lot more in a few days, but for now, things continue to be quiet, while the everyone tries to sort out their options.

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67-Year Old Kayaker Completes Atlantic Crossing

Polish kayaker Aleksander “Olek” Doba completed an epic paddling expedition this weekend when he reached the coastline of Florida. The 67-year old Doba wrapped up a 6000-mile (9656 km) long journey that carried him solo across the Atlantic Ocean in a specially modified sea kayak.

Doba set out from Lisbon, Portugal on October 5 of last year, with the intention of kayaking the Atlantic at its widest point. That meant arriving at Cape Canaveral, which he did on Friday. But his ultimate destination was New Smyrna Beach, where friends were waiting to greet him Saturday. By the time he stepped ashore, he had spent 195 days alone at sea, and paddled an estimated 6700 miles (10,782 km) in total.

The journey was not without its challenges. Back in February, bad weather damaged the rudder on the kayak, forcing Aleksander to stop in Bermuda to make repairs. That same bad weather knocked him hundreds of miles off course, so once repairs were complete, he caught a ride aboard a ship, which returned him to his original position, so he could resume the journey where he had left off. That was on March 23. Less than a month later, he was crossing the finish line in Florida.

In staying true to the nature of his solo expedition across the Atlantic, Doba did not restock his boat with food and other supplies when he stopped for repair in the Bermuda. Instead, he continued to use the items he brought with him when he set out from Portugal back in October.

This is a pretty impressive accomplishment at any age, and I respect Aleksander for sticking to the “rules” of the challenge that he set down for himself. Inspiring stuff to say the least.

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Himalaya 2014: Progress Reports From Other Mountains

While hearts are heavy with the news from Everest today, climbers on other peaks have been checking in with progress reports as well. Much like the teams on the Big Hill, they are mostly just getting underway, and starting their acclimatization process. But with the season starting to roll, there will be more things to report soon.

Denis Urubko and his team, which includes, Artem Brown, Adam Bielecki, and Alex Txikon, are on their way to Kangchenjunga where they will soon begin their attempt of a new route on the North Face of that mountain. At 8586 meters (28,169 feet) in height, it is the third tallest peak in the world, behind only K2 and Everest. It is also a considerable challenge to climb no matter which route you choose. After acclimatizing in the region, Denis and company will attempt an alpine style ascent, without Sherpa support at altitude. They should arrive in Base Camp this weekend.

Mike Horn and Fred Roux are now in BC on Makalu, where they’ll be attempting an alpine style ascent as well. They’ll also being going up without Sherpa support, and sans bottled oxygen. They are just starting to get settled into place, and haven’t posted too many updates just yet, but expect to hear more from them soon. Makalu is the fifth tallest mountain in the world, standing 8481 meters (27,825 ft) in height.

Aussie climber Chris Jensen Burke has her sights set squarely on Makalu this spring as well, and should arrive in Base Camp today. She reports heavy snow on the trail, but BC is said to have no powder at the moment. This will serve as a warm-up for other things to come. This summer, Chris will head to Pakistan to attempt K2.

Finally, Mike and Matt Moniz are on Cho Oyu, where they are acclimatizing for their first 8000 meter peak of the year. The father and son team (Matt is just 16 years old), are attempting to put together a Himalayan triple-header this spring. Once they wrap up their climb in Tibet, they’ll jump back across the border to Nepal, where they’ll attempt Everest and Lhotse as well. They report that things are going great so far, and their first rotations have been successful ones.



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Video: Alaska In Full Technicolor

We’ll round out the week with this beautiful video, which is a timelapse taken in Alaska, and capturing the night sky in all of its glory. Simple, beautiful, and breathtaking.

Technicolour Alaska from Alexis Coram on Vimeo.


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Video: The Green Mansions Of The Amazon

The Amazon is an amazing place that few of us ever get the opportunity to see. It is an incredibly diverse biosphere unlike any on our planet, and quite frankly it is an awe inspiring place that I’ve been fortunate enough to visit. The video below takes us on location to that visually striking place, offering up a glimpse of the Amazon from Colombia, Peru and Brazil.

GREEN MANSIONS from Gātha on Vimeo.


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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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