Monday, January 16, 2017

Video: Kayaking Through Underground Caves in Mexico

In this video, we join kayakers Rafa Ortiz, Jared Meehan, and Andrew Pollock as they head to southern Mexico to explore a system of underground rivers that pass through an intricate cave system. There aren't any massive waterfalls to drop, or Class V rapids to run, but there is a great sense of exploration and adventure as they paddle through this otherworldly environment. Catch a glimpse of a part of our planet that few ever get a chance to see, and marvel at what these intrepid kayakers find as they drift along.

Video: How to Survive an Unexpected Night in the Backcountry

Despite our best laid plans for outdoor adventure, sometimes things don't go as expected. On occasion, this can lead to being stranded in the backcountry overnight, when you had originally planned to just be out for the day. What should you do in these occasions? The video below – hosted by none other than Timmy O'Neill – can help. At a little more than two minutes in length, this clip if filled with good suggestions on how to comfortably survive the night outdoors, even when you haven't planned for it. Some of the information is just good logic, and probably something that many of you already know. But, there are also some solid pieces of advice that could make a difference should you find yourself in this situation in the future.

Video: Through the Khumbu Icefall on Everest in the Winter

At the moment, Spanish mountaineer Alex Txikon is attempting a winter ascent of Everest – a rare feat to say the least. During this time of the year, the mountain is abandoned, which leaves Alex and his team to do all of the work themselves, including building a path through the dreaded Khumbu Icefall. In this video, we get to see that hard work taking place, as the squad carefully puts a series of ropes and ladders into place that allow them to cross over the dangerous crevasses that are found in the Icefall. As you'll see, this is not work for the faint of heart, but it is necessary if the want to reach the upper flanks of the mountain. Keep in mind, during the spring there is a special team called the "Ice Doctors" who do this work for the hundreds of other climbers that are on the Nepali side of the mountain. But during the winter, there is no such luxury.

The Best New Gear From Winter Outdoor Retailer 2017

Last week, the biggest brands in the outdoor industry descended on Salt Lake City, Utah to show off their latest creations at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. As usual, there were more jackets, boots, backpacks, sleeping bags, and tents than you could ever hope to see in such a short period of time, although those of us in attendance certainly gave it our best try. Over the course of the past week, a number of media outlets have shared their selections for the very best new gear to make its debut at the show, allowing you the consumer to get a sneak peek at some of the great products that will be arriving in our favorite gear shops in the months ahead. Here is just sampling of what earned some of that recognition.

Over at the Gear Institute, we handed out our semi-annual Best New Gear Awards, recognizing 9 new products that we thought were innovative an interesting. Amongst them were a gas-powered generator from Goal Zero and a new way to create custom insoles for our shoes. Similarly, the crew at Outside magazine handed out five awards for their favorite new products, while Popular Mechanics discovered 8 items that their editorial staff found noteworthy too.

Interestingly enough, there isn't a lot of crossover between the items that make all of the lists, which should give you an idea of just how diverse the products on display at OR truly are. The general consensus amongst those attending the show was that there were few products that were truly revolutionary this time out, but a lot of really nice new gear that made strides forward in terms of incremental improvements.

If you're looking for a very comprehensive rundown of some of gear that was on display, Gear Junkie took a first-look at a wide variety of products. Their team went beyond just naming a few award winners, but instead gave a very good overview of a number of interesting products that were unveiled at the show.

As for me, I may well share my favorite items from Winter Outdoor Retailer over the next few days too. I'm still decompressing from the show and getting back on track at home, but I definitely have some thoughts on what stood out as the most interesting to me. I'll have more to come on this topic soon I'm sure.

Winter Climbs 2017: Climbers in Base Camps and Moving Up

Now that the holidays have come and gone, I've managed to move to a new house, and the Winter Outdoor Retailer Show is behind us, we can finally return to some sense of normalcy around here. To do that, we'll get things started with an update from the major winter climbs that are now taking place in various parts of the world, beginning on Everest where Alex Txikon and his team are making solid progress.

Last week, the small group of climbers, support staff, and documentarians arrived in Base Camp on Everest, and immediately went to work establishing a base of operations there. It did't take them long to get ready however, and within a few days they were already moving up the mountain to begin their acclimatization efforts. The team then spent four days building a route through the treacherous Khumbu Icefall, before they were then presented with favorable weather conditions that allowed them to move up further.

Taking advantage of these good conditions, the climbers moved through the Icefall and up to 5870 meters (19,258 ft), where they spent the night at a provisional location. The following morning, they continued up to 6050 meters (19,849 ft), where they established Camp 1. Since then, they have climbed a bit higher as they scout the route, install ropes, and work to reach Camp 2 further up the slopes.

Reportedly, the climbing is even more difficult and demanding than they had thought, but things are proceeding according to plan. They should return to BC for rest shortly, but are continuing to try to make progress while the weather cooperates. For now, they are happy with how things are going, and the idea of a winter ascent of Everest remains a very high possibility.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Heading to Outdoor Retailer!

I know we've only just returned from the holiday break, and just started getting back to normal around here, but it is already time for me to head off once again. I'll be spending most of next week in Salt Lake City attending Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, where I'll spend several days getting a sneak peek at the latest outdoor gear and apparel. When I return, I'll write a couple of post sharing my thoughts on the show, and the best new items that I saw there. But, if you'd like to get a sense of what's happening while the show is going on, follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page. I'll be posting updates throughout the event with thoughts on the things that catch my eye. 

Today and tomorrow I'll also be spending my time relocating The Adventure Blog world headquarters to its new, permanent location. While I'm getting my office set up and running once again, there may be some temporary disruptions in posting. But, I hope to be ready to get back on a regular schedule after I get back from OR at the end of next week. 

Thanks for being patient while we work through these busy couple of weeks. With the holidays now behind us, and Outdoor Retailer just about to start, 2017 is about to get rolling. Stay tuned for lots of great adventures and inspiring stories to come. It should be a great year.

Video: The 10 Deadliest Mountains in the World

Lets face it, mountaineering comes with some inherent risks, no matter when and where you're climbing. But, thanks to technical difficulties, unpredictable weather, and unique terrain, some mountains are obviously more dangerous than others. In this video we explore the 10 deadliest mountains in the world, giving us a look at some truly scary places, but ones that are also incredibly alluring too. If you've ever wondered which peaks make even the best alpinists in the world take pause, these are the ones. Make sure you know what you're doing before setting out to an expedition to one of these peaks.

Video: Nordic Skiing in Norway with Karoline

Meet Karoline. She isn't a world-class athlete with a bushel of sponsors. She's simply a woman who loves the outdoors, particularly when she is cross-country skiing in her home country of Norway. In this video, we join her out on the trail in one of the most beautiful winter landscape you could ever hope to see. If you've never thought about Nordic skiing before, this clip will certainly leave you intrigued and wanting to try it yourself. Enjoy.

Antarctica 2016: Two More Skiers Close in on the Pole

With time starting to run short at the bottom of the world, the teams skiing to the South Pole this season – and possibly beyond – are starting to feel the pinch. Most still have plenty of time to reach their final destination, but some are now altering their plans. With just three weeks to go until the season wraps up, it is crunch time on the Frozen Continent, and we should expect more arrivals at 90ºS shortly. In fact, two of the explorers should be at that point today.

First up, Emma Kelty expected to arrive at the Pole either yesterday or today, but she hasn't posted an update on where she is at just yet. She was closing in on her destination a few days back, but elected to slow down and savor her final days on the ice instead. Now, she should be at the Amundsen-Scott Research Station, although we're still awaiting word confirming that arrival.

If you've been following Emma's expedition you may be asking yourself why these are her "final days" on the ice. That's because she has decided to pull the plug on her efforts to ski back to Hercules Inlet. Because of a late start to the season – mostly due to weather delays – she simply doesn't have enough time to cover the 1285 km (700 miles) to get back to her starting point. On top of that, she has been battling a lung infection, which she has recovered from now, but it also served to slow her down some. Add in the fact that her supplies are dwindling too, and you can understand why she has given up on the idea of the return trip. Hopefully she is resting comfortably at the Pole right now, and awaiting a return flight to Union Glacier.

Emma isn't the only skier who is closing in on the South Pole. Mike Horn has made short work of his kite-ski journey, finding favorable winds over the past few days. Yesterday he covered 170 km (105 miles) alone, and is now within the last degree. That means that if he has any kind of wind today, he should arrive at the Pole in short order. Of course, this is just the midway point of his expedition, as he'll continue on to the coast where his shim – the Pangea – will be waiting to pick him up. Unlike most of the other skiers, Mike isn't working on a set timeline because he has his own lift off the continent. That said, if he continues at his current pace, it won't take him long to reach the coast again and continue on his Pole 2 Pole journey.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Video: A Surreal Dive into a Frozen Lake

Free diving is always a fascinating activity to me, but it is taken to an entirely new level with this video, which follows Canadian diver Matthew Villegas as he plunges into the icy depths of Morrison Quarry in Quebec with his trusty GoPro camera in hand. The footage that he captures there is nothing short of eerie and surreal as you'll see in the clip below. Just looking at this makes me cold, but it is beautiful.

Video: Lonnie Dupre Approches Base Camp on Mt. Hunter

One of the winter climbs that we'll be following closely in the days ahead is Lonnie Dupre's attempt to summit Mt. Hunter in Alaska. Yesterday, he arrived in Base Camp, having been delivered there by bush plane. He also posted this video of the approach so you can get an idea of what he'll be facing in the days ahead. Hunter is a technically difficult mountain to climb, and as you can see there is plenty of snow to contend with too. This isn't going to be easy, but that's why he's doing it. More updates to come soon.

Travel Tip: LeftOverCurrency.com

Frequent travelers take note; I've got a website that you're going to want to bookmark for future use. It's called LeftOverCurrency.com, and it gives us the ability to take all of that extra cash that we bring home with us from our adventures, and convert it back into money we can use. The site accepts a wide range of currencies, and offers very good exchange rates to ensure that you're getting the most value for the foreign money that you probably just have sitting around in a drawer somewhere anyway.

As someone who travels to foreign destinations on a regular basis, I always seem to come home with a few bank notes or coins in my pocket. Most of that cash ends up going into a box, along with other money that I've collected on my journeys. I currently have everything from Egyptian pounds to Nepali rupees, to Mongolia tögrögs rolling around in there, plus a few others too. But with LeftOverCurrency.com, I can get that money converted back into something I can use.

Here's how it works. Simply go to the website, select the currencies you want to exchange, and add them to your online wallet. After you've done this for all of the various types of money you want to swap out, you click on the wallet to see your current balance. Then, push the "Proceed to Exchange" button and fill out the information in the form to create your account. Doing this will lock in your exchange rate for 14 days, which allows you the time necessary to send your foreign currency in to be verified. After that, the website will either send you a check, or direct deposit your money into a bank or PayPal account.

The process works for wide array of currency types, including bank notes and coins that are even out of circulation. It is a quick, easy, and efficient way to get some real cash for the foreign money that you have left over, and your local bank won't accept. You can find out more by visiting the website and starting the process yourself.


105-Year Old Cyclist Sets New World Record

If you're looking for a dose of inspiration to get your new year off to a good start, look no further than    Robert Marchand. Yesterday, the Frenchman rode a total of 14 miles in one hour, setting a new world's record in the process. Now, I know what you're thinking. 14 miles in an hour isn't particularly very far and that you could probably cover that same distance in less time. But, here's the real meat to this story: Robert is 105 years old.

Yep, that's right. At the age of 105, Marchand set a new mark for the longest distance ridden in an hour by someone in his age group. And, he says he could have gone faster had he not missed a sign telling him that he had 10 minutes left in his ride. While conserving his energy for the final push, he failed to see the notification, which meant the didn't give it his all when he was in the final stage of the event.

Robert says that he picked up cycling at the ripe-young age of 68, when he rode from Paris to Moscow back in 1992. He also leads a healthy lifestyle and doesn't smoke, rarely drinks, and recently gave up eating meat after learning about how unethically some animals are treated. He lives in a small apartment in Paris, where he rides a stationary bike every day.

If a man who is more than a century old can lead this kind of active and energetic life, why can't the rest of us? Think about that the next time you're climbing on your own bike or lacing up your running shoes.

Congratulations to Robert for setting this record. You're an inspiration to us all.

Three Female Nepali Climbers Announce Kangchenjunga Expedition for Spring

Three of the most famous women climbers from Nepal have announced their next big expedition, and true to form they're going after one of the highest mountains on the planet. Back in 2014, Maya Sherpa, Dawa Yangzum Sherpa, and Pasang Lhamu Sherpa drew accolades from the mountaineering community when they summited K2, which was an impressive addition to their resume which already included an Everest climb in 2007. Now, with the two highest mountains in the world already under their belt, they'll turn their attention to the third tallest - Kangchenjunga.

The expedition is set to take place this spring, with the goal of reaching the summit in April or May. The ladies are hoping to become the first Nepali women's expedition to scale that mountain, which to date has seen just nine female ascents, all made by foreigners.

Kangchenjunga, which sees very little traffic in general, has only been summited a total of 344 times since it was first climbed on May 25, 1955. It is a technically challenging ascent that is usually made all the more difficult due to unpredictable weather conditions.

The ladies say they are climbing the mountain not to just establish a new record for Nepali women, but also to raise awareness of climate change and demonstrate that the mountains in their home country are safe. Since the earthquake back in 2015, tourism and climbing expeditions have been down, impacting the economy there. That is expected to change this year as climbers begin to return in larger numbers, and trekkers make their way back into the Himalaya as well.

It should be fun to follow this trio come spring, when the big mountains in Nepal will be very busy with some interesting expeditions. We're still three months away from the start of the spring climbing season, but it is already shaping up to be a good one. For now though, we'll continue to keep an eye on the developing winter climbs, which are mostly just getting underway.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Video: Drones Over Peru

The stunning and diverse landscapes of Peru are on display in this video, which was shot using a drone to get some of the best vantage points possible. In the short clip you'll see mountain, canyons, deserts, and other spectacular vistas. If you're needing an escape from the daily grind today, sit back and enjoy this clip. It is four minutes of bliss.

High Above Peru from Andreas Giesen on Vimeo.

Video: A Man Amongst Wolves in Yellowstone

We have another beautiful video today courtesy of National Geographic. This time we travel to Yellowstone National Park with photographer Ronan Donovan, who has gone to that place to capture images of the wolf population that lives there. If you know anything about the recent history of Yellowstone, you know that the reintroduction of the wolves back in the mid-90's was highly controversial, but has also brought a balance to the ecosystem there, making it much more healthy all around. Of course, this being Yellowstone, Ronan doesn't just capture images of the wolves, as some of the park's other amazing inhabitants put in an appearance as well. A beautiful video of one of my favorite places on the planet.

Himalayan Stove Project Offers Good Karma Through Carbon Credits

If you've read my blog for awhile now you've probably heard me mention the Himalayan Stove Project on more than one occasion. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to improving the lives of poor families living in Nepal by replacing their old, inefficient, and dangerous cookstoves with new, clean burning versions that are much better for their health and welfare. What I've always loved about the HSP is that while some organizations talk a good game, this one has been making a world of difference for the people that it helps, delivering more than 3500 stoves to those in need.

Now, the Himalayan Stove Project has launched a new intuitive, giving donors the chance to purchase carbon offset credits to help both the environment and future recipients of their stoves at the same time. A new website called CarbonKarma.guru is now selling the credits for just $20, giving individuals and companies the chance to reduce their carbon footprint dramatically, with much of the proceeds going to help the HSP continue its great work in Nepal.

The stoves that the project distributes are made by a company called Envirofit and are said to be 90% more efficient than an open cook fire, which is a common method for preparing meals in many parts of the world. In addition to that, the stoves also use 75% less biomass fuel, which means they are better for our health and the environment in general. Envirofit is the organization that is supplying the Gold Standard carbon credits, which are recognized by more than 80 NGO's operating in 70 countries around the world.

Purchasing carbon credits is a real way to make a difference for the environment, and doing so through CarbonKarma.guru will help the Himalayan Stove Project too. But, if you just want to donate to the HSP, you can do that simply by clicking here. It is a great organization that is doing great things in Nepal, and every bit of assistance helps.

Himalayan Stove Project founder George Basch has set an ambitious goal of donating enough stoves that if they were stacked on top of one another they would reach from Everest Base Camp to the summit of the mountain. At the moment, the organization is about a third of the way towards that goal. To reach the top, the HSP will have to install 10,856 stoves, so more work has yet to be done. Let's help them get there!


Himalayan Stove Project - Help Us Reach the Summit in 2017! from George Basch on Vimeo.

Sean Burch Shares His Side Of Nepal Permit Story

Remember the story I posted back in November about an American mountaineer named Sean Burch who found himself in hot water after climbing a number of peaks in Nepal without the proper permits? Well, Burch recently sat down with Explorers Web to explain his side of the story, and clear up some of the details that have been making the rounds. And, as it turns out, he may not be in the wrong here, despite reports that he could face large fines and a ban from climbing in the country.

In the interview with ExWeb, Burch says that it is his understanding that permits are not needed to climb any mountains under 5800 meters (19,028 feet). In fact, these mountains are categorized as "trekking peaks" so as to avoid a lot of unnecessary paperwork for travelers who come to Nepal and just want to hike in the Himalaya for a few weeks. Back in October, the American adventurer summited 31 different mountains there over the course of a three week period. But, according to him, all of them were under the 5800 meter mark, which meant he didn't need to obtain permits for his expedition. 

To add further fuel to the fire, Burch also says that the reporter who wrote the initial story for The Himalayan Times didn't get all of the facts right. It was first reported that he had climbed above 6500 meters (21,325 ft), which is the altitude at which a liaison officer is required. The original story also said that he claimed to have summited three mountains – Kangnun Himal, Chandi Himal, and Changla Himal – none of which he actually climbed. Burch says the highest altitude that he reached during his expedition was 5793 meters (19,006 ft), and that everything he did followed the rules and regulations. The initial story even says that he lives and works in Nepal, which apparently isn't true either. 

It is difficult to say exactly where these stories started, but if it is true that Burch never ventured above 5800 meters, than he is correct in saying that he didn't need a permit. It seems likely that all of this will be sorted out by the Nepali government in good time, but it has made for splashy headlines in the mountaineering community in recent weeks. The American isn't the only to fall into this category either, as a team of Spanish climbers has also been accused of not having the proper permits as well. 

At this point, the stories seems to have been blown well out of proportion, and it appears that Burch hasn't done anything wrong. Hopefully this will all get sorted out and blow over soon. 

Winter Climbs 2017: Expeditions Now Underway

Winter is here, and that means we'll have some interesting expeditions to follow closely over the next few months. A few weeks back it seemed like there would be little winter action this year, but there are a couple of good stories to watch unfold, including some in the Himalaya, including the first winter expedition to Everest in quite some time. Let's start there. 

Spanish climber Alex Txikon and climbing partner Carlos Rubio, along with a small support team, spent the New Year in Nepal, where they are currently trekking to Everest Base Camp. They plan to climb the highest mountain on the planet during the toughest season of them all. Alex and his team arrived in the Khumbu Valley on December 29, and have slowly been making their way towards Everest ever since. The trek is the start of the acclimatization process, but they should reach Base Camp later this week. Once there, they'll likely spend a day or two getting settled and surveying the landscape before they start the process of moving through the Khumbu Icefall and traveling up to Camp 1 as the climb truly begins.

Meanwhile, Elisabeth Revol has set her sights on climbing Manaslu during the winter. She trekked to BC on that mountain last week, and arrived there on December 28. Since that time, she's been focused on acclimatizing and getting settled in preparation for her first rotation up the mountain, which should come soon. Elisabeth says that conditions are cold and windy, as you would expect in the Himalaya during the winter months. 

Solo climber Lonnie Dupre is preparing to depart on his winter expedition as well. Dubbed Cold Hunter One, he plans to climb the 4441 meter (14,573 ft) Mt. Hunter in Alaska, which is a cold, remote, and technically difficult mountain in just about any season, let alone winter. You may recall that Lonnie made a solo summit of Denali in January a couple of years back, and he expects this expedition to be just as challenging, despite the big difference in altitude. He is preparing to depart for Base Camp today, weather permitting. As usual, he'll catch a bush plane out to this starting point when conditions allow.

Finally, ExWeb is reporting that a pair of climbers have launched a winter expedition in the Karakoram as well. Qudrat Ali and Samiya Rafiq first planned to take on an unclimbed 6200 meter (20,341 ft) peak in the region near Khurdopin Pass. The two climbers will then push on up through that pass as well, which is the highest in the mountain range at 5790 meters (18,996 ft). Conditions are expected to be brutal with temperatures dropping as low as -30ºC/-22ºF, with high winds and heavy snow likely. The expedition began back on December 24, and is set to wrap up on January 12, so it is a brief but tough excursion into the mountains. 

That's it for today. Expect more updates on these expeditions as the season unfolds. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Video: A Look at the Newest U.S. National Monument – Bears Ears

One of the big stories that occurred while we were away celebrating the holidays was that President Obama declared a new national monument in the form of Bears Ears in Utah. Stretching out over 1.3 million acres, the landscape there is utterly beautiful, and contains not only great opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, but is rich in culture and history for the Native Americans that once lived there. In this oh-so short, but wonderful, video we get a glimpse at this newly protected region, which is already on my list of places to visit.

Video: Essential Gear and Skills for an Adventure Photographer

Now that a new year is upon us, I'm sure more than a few of us are already planning some adventures for the upcoming months. Part of those adventures is always capturing great photos to share with friends and family back home. In this video from National Geographic, we get some great tips for doing just that from pro photographer Keith Ladzinski, who talks about some of the kit that he always takes with him in the field. Want to improve your photo game? Keith can help.

Gear Closet: Dynafit Cho Oyu Down Jacket

If there is one piece of gear that every outdoor enthusiast needs to have in their closet for winter, it is probably a good down jacket. This is the insulating layer that keeps us warm when the temperature starts to plummet, and it plays a vital role in allowing us to play outdoors longer, even when the weather is less than favorable.

Over the past couple of weeks – as the temperature has been on a roller coaster ride where I live – I've had the chance to test out a new down jacket from Dynafit that I've found to be exceptionally warm and comfortable. In fact, I'd say that the Cho Oyu Jacket is easily amongst the best that I've ever worn, and if you're in the market for something new in this category you'll want to have it on your list.

Made with a durable ripstop fabric covered in a DWR finish, and insulated with DownTek hydrophobic down, this jacket is built for use in a wide variety of conditions. In fact, I've worn in cold temperatures, freezing rain, freezing fog, drizzle, flurries, and even outright downpours, and it has performed fantastically in all cases. The water-resistant down never loses its loft, and continues to perform well even as the jacket gets wet, although the DWR coating also plays a big role in ensuring that you stay warm and dry no matter what's happening around you. 

With its athletic cut, the Cho Oyu – named for the 8000 meter peak – hugs the wearers body snugly, which helps in keeping warm air trapped inside. But, at the same time, the jacket doesn't impede movement in any way, allowing you to stay fully in control on the slopes or on the trail in the backcountry. I personally hate feeling like my layers are restricting my motion in any way, but with this jacket I don't have to worry about that. In fact, aside from perhaps the new Mountain Hardwear StretchDown puffy, this might be the best jacket I've worn in terms of not getting in the way of your natural athletic motion. 

This Cyclist Want to Ride His Bike in Every Country in the World

Over the years, there have been a number of cyclists who have quite literally ridden around the world on their bikes, circumnavigating the globe under their own power. We've even followed a few of them on their adventures here on this blog. But, German rider Patrick Schroeder is setting an entirely new bar for others to follow, by attempting to ride his bike through every country in the world. All 195 of them.

Over the holiday break, the team over at Gear Junkie posted a story about Patrick, sharing his goals to pedal his way across the globe. Ten years ago, he set out from his home country at the age of 19 to see where he could go on his bike. At the time, he didn't really have any goals for his ride, nor did he have a plan. But over time, and as the years, passed, he decided that he wanted to pursue his goal of cycling through every country on Earth.

Patrick says that after he completed school and military service, he spent a year traveling around the world. After that, he got into bike touring, with his first big adventure being a ride from Germany to South Africa. He also rode from Germany to China – and back – as well as Argentina to Canada. Along the way, he has now ridden his bike in 141 countries, leaving him 54 more to go.

In the Gear Junkie article, Patrick talks about the equipment that he takes with him, his current bike (a custom MyBoo Densu), as well as ones he has used in the past, his favorite pieces of gear, and more. He also talks about the things he's learned on his bike journeys, the hardest place he's traveled through, the extraordinary things he has seen during his travels, and the things he hasn't done yet that he would still like to do.

Perhaps most interesting is his list of gear that he has taken with him, both on his 2008 bike expedition and on his 2016 journey. As you can imagine, things continue to evolve over time, with new and better gear being released regularly. For instance, on his 2008 list he has an iPod Nano, but now he uses a smartphone instead. His gear has been reduced in weight nicely too. In 2008, his kit weight about 55 pounds. Today, it's down to 26 pounds. That's some impressive gains to say the least.

If you're interested in long-distance bike travel, this is a story that you'll want to read. But beyond that, it is just really interesting to see what Patrick is doing. No word on where he is headed next, or how he'll knock off those remaining countries, but follow him on hit Facebook page to stay updated.

Antarctica 2016: More Arrivals at the Pole

While the rest of us have been enjoying an extended holiday break, the skiers at the bottom of the world have been continuing their push towards various goals. The calendar may have now turned to 2017, but there are still several weeks left in the 2016 Antarctic season, and the explorers there are making the most of it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Swedish solo-skier Johanna Davidsson arrived at the Pole on Christmas Eve, and in record time. Now, she's started her return journey back to Hercules Inlet by kite-ski. The winds haven't been all that favorable so far, so she has had to ski some days, but when they are blowing in her favor she's making good time. But, she admits she isn't rushing all that much and is enjoying "taking it easy" for the return trip. Going back to Hercules is usually easier and faster since much of it is down hill. Plus, when the winds are blowing it is possible to cover further distances. For instance, yesterday she managed to knock off 73 km (45.3 miles), which is equal to about 2-3 days of skiing towards the Pole.

Meanwhile, the Six-man British Military squad that we've been following all season reached the South Pole back on Christmas Day, and while they enjoyed a little down time there, they've already set off on the next leg of their expedition too. Now, they're looking to traverse the Shackleton Glacier on their return trip to the coast as well. They are currently traversing the tough Titan Dome, where conditions are very challenging, including -36ºC (-32.8ºF) temperatures. The team is tired, but in good sports and health, so they are pressing onwards.