Meet The New Amazing Racers!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006
As I mentioned last week, the only reality TV show that I get into is The Amazing Race. I love the fact that they travel to all kinds of interesting places and complete challenges in countries all over the World. As I said before, it's one show that I could see myself trying out for. CBS has finally posted the bios of all the racers participating in the next race. Go over them out. Pick out your early favorites, and start making predictions for the coming season, which kicks off with a Two Hour Premiere on Feb. 28th.

The last Amazing Race was the "Family Edition", which was probably my least favorite of all the Races so far. The teams consisted of four racers, and they never left North America, and barely left the U.S. at all. It's nice to see the Race return to normal, with teams of two and racing around the World again. I'm looking forward to this one starting soon.

Update on Makalu

Yesterday I posted about Jean Christophe Lafaille, the climber who was attempting a solo winter summit of Makalu, but had been missing since last Thursday. has posted an update on the situation.

In a nutshell, a helicopter reached basecamp yesterday, but found only three sherpas who had not heard from Lafaille since last Tuesday when he set off to make his solo climb. The helicopter then proceeded up the slopes where they were able to spot Lafaille's tent still in place at his last campsite.

What does this mean? Well, it's likely that Lafaille set off for this summit attempt as planned, and disappeared in that attempt. The Team has all but given up hope, and with the extreme conditions on the mountain, a rescue attempt is unlikely. We'll probably have no chance of knowing what happened to him until the Spring climbing season, but it's quite possible that it could take years to find him, if he is even found at all.

Lafaille's wife Katia is said to be on her way to Nepal to "Say Goodbye".

Climber Missing On Makalu

Monday, January 30, 2006 is reporting that Jean Christophe Lafaille, who is attempting to climb Makalu, solo and in winter no less, has gone missing. He last reported in via satellite phone to his wife last Thursday, the day before he made his summit bid. At the time, reported that his batteries were failing, but that he was going to attempt the final push to the top the following day. Since then, there has been no word.

A small plane was going to do a fly over of the area sometime today in an attempt to see if Lafaille's tent was still in his last camp site. If it is still there, it's possible that the Frenchman failed in his summit attempt, and perhaps slipped into a crevasse.

Makalu is an 8462 meter peak (27765 feet) located in Himalayan mountain range in Nepal. It is the 5th highest peak in the world, located about 14 miles east of Mount Everest. It is considered an extremely challenging climb, even more so than Everest, despite the fact that it isn't as tall. The Peak is a pyramid shape, with four tough ridges at each corner, adding to the complexity of the ascent.

More Powerful GPS Goes Live!

Thursday, January 26, 2006
According to , the Government has thrown the switch on a new, more powerful, and accurate, GPS signal. This new GPS system will allow for better signals in urban areas, and possibly indoors, and will work in smaller devices, making possible for GPS on your cell phone. Our older GPS devices may be able to use the new signal if your device is upgradable. Check your manufacturer's website to see if their are updates for your device.

The GPS is one very cool piece of technology, and this new signal will hopefully provide a more reliable signal. I love using my device when I'm on training runs to track my mileage, and it's also useful when hiking and camping to keep your bearings, although I have to always remember to back extra batteries. Beside those uses, there is also the growing Geocaching craze.

What's Hot In Adventure Travel?

The Travel Industry Wire posted this article a few days back in which they predict where the major trends in adventure travel will go this year. Among the things to look for include overland travel in Africa via trucks, travel to the untouched-by-tourist areas of Eastern Europe, trips to the jewel of South America, Argentina, and taking a cruise in Thailand.

Of those, traveling to Argentina sounds wonderful. I'd love to spend some time exploring Patagonia. And although I would love to go to Thailand, taking a cruise is not my style. I'd want to visit the hill tribes in the northern part of the country and get a little more often the beaten path.

Into the Night

Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Borge Ousland and Mike Horn, two well known solo explorers, have joined forces and are currently attempting to complete a polar expedition to the North Pole during the Winter, when that area of the World is in complete darkness for 24 hours a day. It'll be the first time that such a trek was successful, should they complete the journey.

National Geographic has an excellent article laying out the background of the story. It's a great read to get you up to speed about these two men and what they are trying to do. Ousland and Horn began their adventure on January 15th, and have had slow progress since, due to finding thin ice, forcing them to backtrack, and find alternate routes.

You can follow the progress of the expedition on Ousland's website, Horn's website, or at The

Gear: How Many Packs Do I Need?

I was prepping my daypack last night for a possible weekend excursion, and I got to thinking about all the different packs I own.. I recently bought a new daypack as the one I was using was getting to be a bit too small. Currently, I have four backpacks, each with it's own, distinct, purpose.

One of my packs I use on my everyday commutes. It's a Burton Snowboard pack that is designed to be used on the slopes, but makes an excellent all purpose daypack. It has plenty of room inside, and allows me to comfortably carry my laptop, lunch, important documents, and my PSP from time to time. It also has clever little pockets for cell phone storage, a place to hold pens, and even an MP3 player, with a built in headphone port. It's a great bag, comfortable to wear, and I've even taken it with me on a few trips outside of the country. It's only down side is that it's not a hydration pack, which makes it nice for urban adventures, but leaves it lacking a bit when heading out into the field.

My second pack, is a medium sized hydration pack that I picked up on the cheap . It serves it's purpose very well, which is to accompany me on training runs, mountain bike rides, or on short, fast hikes. It's got a decent amount of room inside, providing enough space to carry sunglasses, keys, a GPS, power bars, and 2 liters of water. It also has the all important MP3 player pocket and headphone port, which comes in very handy when hitting the trail for a run. It's not the most comfortable pack I've had on, although it's not awful either, but for the price, it's been a good little companion.

Next comes my newest pack, which I've only had a few weeks. It's a North Face Megamouth . I upgraded to this larger pack to provide more space for daytrips. It's a very versatile pack, useful for trail runs and mountain biking as well as a day hike, or an adventure race. It comes equipped with a very nice, and large (3 liter) hydration bladder, and plenty of pockets for organizing your gear. I love it because it's not only comfortable, but can carry a lot of stuff. I can fit lunch and trail snacks, my camera, GPS, sunglasses, and even a few extra layers of clothes, should they become necessary, all with room to spare. I've only had this pack out a few times so far, but I already know that it's a nice addition to my collection.

Finally, I've got the Big Fellow. This is the pack I use for everything from extended weekends to whole weeks on the trail. It carries everything. And I mean everything, including my tent, sleeping bag, food, change of clothes, you name it. It's cavernous inside, which is what you want when your on an extended trip. It's also hydration ready, so you can slip a hydration bladder in, and you're ready to go. It's a comfortable, well designed back, allowing you to get to the gear you want, and need, at any time. Very nice pack.

So, there you have it. My current collection of packs. I'm sure I'll probably add another sometime in the future, most likely replacing the small hydration pack, but for now, I'm pretty set. As a gear hound, I love to get new stuff, as I'm sure many of you do as well. As I add new gear to the collection, I'll be sure to post my thoughts and mini-reviews here.

Last Desert Ultramarathon Begins Tomorrow!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Tomorrow, Jan. 24, 2006 marks the start of the Last Desert Ultramarathon, which takes place in Antarctica and is part of the Four Deserts series of Ultras held around the Globe each year. The 250 km course is still being finalized, probably due to shifting weather at the South Pole, but this Ultra is a stage race that will take place over several days and will push the competitors to their limit. There are only 15 competitors in what is sure to be a grueling event, even if it is "Summer" in Antarctica this time of year.

You can follow the whole event, as it unfolds over the next few days over at Racing The Planet's website. Live updates will be made available when ever possible.

For the record, the other events in the Four Deserts, which will take place later in the year, include: The Gobi March (May 28th), The Atacama Crossing (June 23rd), and The Sahara Race (Oct. 29th). Each of these, obviously takes place in a grueling, desert environment.

While you're over at the Racing The Planet website, be sure to check out this article, which looks at balancing life and ultramarathons and the lessons that can be learned from applying ultra training to your career. Interesting read, and some nice insights into what it takes to run the Four Deserts.

Amazing Race Travel Tips!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Ok, I have to admit, I'm not much of a fan of Reality TV. Never got into Survivor or The Apprentice, and don't even get me started with Dancing With The Stars. However, there is one Reality TV show that I never miss, The Amazing Race.

What sets this show apart from the others you ask? Well, for one thing, they actually go places. Like, around the World! And for another, it doesn't seems so contrived, as some of the other shows do. It's actually one show I can see myself trying to get on.

The new season is still several weeks away but Phil Keoghan, the host of the The Amazing Race is offering up Twelve Travel Tips for anyone interested in being on the show, or just plans on traveling abroad.

Performance in Adventure Races

Thursday, January 19, 2006
Checkpoint Zero has a really interesting article about what are the most important elements to consider when preparing for an Adventure Race. Basically, the article suggests that we focus too much on the conditioning aspects of preparing for a race, and forget about some other elements that are very crucial to successfully completing a race. For instance, navigation skills, working with a teammate, and general AR experience are all critical ingredients that can make or break a race.

I found this to be a thought provoking article. A racer can train and prepare all he or she wants, but we all know you can't survive in an expedition length race (or even 24-48 hour races) without your teammates, and having the skills necessary to paddle, peddle, or navigate your way through the course. Conditioning is only one part of the puzzle when it comes to making it to the finish line, but it's still a very important piece of that puzzle.

When training for an Adventure Race, you need to think about your conditioning while building those skills. You can have a great training session on the mountain bike, which not only provides a good cardio workout, but teaches you how to ride faster and more securely over rugged terrain. You can spend hours in the kayak and gain both much needed paddling skills, and endurance on the water. We don't often think about those things going hand in hand, but they do, and perhaps if we are more cognizant of that while we are training, we'll see how the elements mesh more.

Learning to navigate and work well with your team are two things that can only come through experience. If at all possible, train with your team whenever you can. You'll build a rapport, and soon find out if you are compatible or not. Head out to the woods for a navigation exercise in which all teammates participate, and learn to work together, find out who is a strong navigator, and who is better in other areas, and more importantly learn to trust one another. It'll save you a lot of headaches in the field later on, and will make for a more pleasureable racing experience for everyone involved.

Which brings me to the next point the article makes, experience. There is only one way to get experience in adventure racing, and this is by adventure racing. Do a few races. Start with the shorter sprints. Work your way up to the 24 hour, or longer, races. If things feel good, and you find yourself on a team that you get along well with, and one that consistently finishes these shorter races, then perhaps you are ready for a longer, expedition length race, such as Primal Quest.

It seems like this is the first of a series of articles aimed at preparing for a longer race, that will be coming over the next few weeks. I look forward to what the future installments will add, as this piece was thought provoking and insightful. With 2006 here, and a new Primal Quest coming in a few months, it's never to early to start preparing.

Explore the World From Your Desktop!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm a complete tech geek. I love gadgets, gizmos, and gear of all kinds. I do IT for a living, and I'm always on the look out for some new gadget. As such, I'll be making entries here from time to time about some great new piece of technology that may have slipped under the radar. Today, I have one such item and it's called Google Earth.

Google Earth is a great program that has been floating around on the Internet for awhile, but has only gotten attention in geek circles or amongst geography nerds who want to explore the planet from their desktop. It uses streaming technology to downloaded the latest satellite imagery allowing you to zoom in on nearly any place on Earth and see a detailed picture of what that place looks like. The software will also provide a variety of information on various other locations in the area, including restaurants, parks, hotels, and even places to get a WiFi connection. You can even use it to get driving directions, and Google Earth will show you a map of the route.

On top of that, a large, active community has sprung up around this piece of software. Members of that community are able to place markers on the map to provide more information about an area, or to mark items of interest. You'll find all kinds of wonderful landmarks from around the globe already listed on the maps. Want to see the Eiffel Tower? It's marked. The Great Wall? Yep, it's there too. You can even create mini-tours to various places to show off to your friends. All of this is included in the program, and it's free for download.

As if that wasn't enough, for $20 you can get a version of Google Earth that integrates with your GPS system, allowing you to mark points on the map, and then download the coordinates to your device as you head out for the day, making it even easier to arrive at your destination. There is even a Professional version of Google Earth ($400) that can be used for commercial use and includes even more detailed images and information.

The software has been available for Windows PC's for some time, but has just recently been released for Mac's as well. Download it, install it, and then lose hours while you explore the world. I use it all the time, sometimes just for getting directions, and sometimes just to find cool stuff all over the maps. What cool stuff have you found??

National Geographic's Top 25 Adventure Travel Trips!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I just found this article over at the National Geographic websitewhich lists their Top 25 Adventure Travel Trips. There are tons of great trips on the list, and pretty much something for everyone who has an adventurous heart. The list is in no particular order, and is broken down by region.

The highlights for me would be:

1. Kayaking Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
What's not to like about this trip? Kayaking in the Southeast Asian backcountry, that takes you past giant falls, rare dolphins, and ends in the Angkor Wat temple complex. Wow!

2. Climbing the Karakoram Range, Pakistan
This trip takes you into an area that is largely unexplored, and about as remote as any place on Earth. If you have to ask why, than this wouldn't be a trip for you.

5. Trekking with Kazakh Eagle Hunters, Mongolia
Experience life amongst the Mongolian tribes in another very remote area. Explore a mountain range inhabited by the snow leopard, and nomads. A truly great trip to get away from it all.

8. Overland Sahara Desert Crossing
A 30 day epic trip spanning the width of the Sahara. I've been to the Sahara, and it is beautiful in it's stark openness. Clear, night skies, dotted with millions of stars, and bright, hot days in one of the largest deserts on Earth. An amazing place.

11. Diving Madagascar
Madagascar is just now starting to emerge as a destination for adventure travelers, and this trip will take you to dive spots that are as of yet unknown to most outside the country. Clear warm water, teeming with marine life. This one is sure to delight experienced and novice divers alike.

25. Orbiting Earth
Perhaps the last great adventure!

Mystery on Nanga Parbat

Reinhold Messner is considered a legend in the climbing community. Many consider him to be the greatest mountain climber ever, and his resume is indeed impressive. He was the first man to climb all fourteen 8000 meter peaks, and he did it without the use of supplemental oxygen. He is known as a bold, aggressive climber who is fearless on the mountain.

But Messner is also at the center of a controversy that has been brewing for more than 35 years. In 1970, Reinhold, and his brother Gunther, were part of a team of climbers who traveled to Nanga Parbat, a 26,660 foot peak in the Western Himalayas of Pakistan. During that expedition, Reinhold and Gunther successfully completed an assault on the summit, via a route that had never been taken before. However, something went horribly wrong on the descent, and only Reinhold made it back alive.

What actually happened on Nanga Parbat has been a mystery ever since. Reinhold claims his brother was suffering from altitude sickness, and that the two were separated, with Gunther never to be seen again. Other members of the team have accused Reinhold of being too ambitious, saying that he left his own brother on the mountain to further his own climbing career and to seek glory for himself.

In July of last year, Gunther's body was at long last found on the slopes of Nanga Parbat, but does it hold any clues to where or how the younger Messner brother died? Has it quieted the debate surrounding the tragedy? No, not really. But Outside Magazine has posted an excellent article on the entire story. Click here to read the latest news on the Messner Saga.

Welcome To My Blog!

How many of us have always dreamed about leading An Adventurous Life? Dreamed of traveling to the far corners of the world to experience a completely new culture? Exploring a vast, untamed area, or even just discovering what lies just around the corner on the path ahead?

That's what leading an adventurous life is all about. Giving into your curiosity and overcoming your fears to explore this wonderful, huge world of ours. Adventure really is around every corner, if you care to look, and it can be something as simple as taking a day hike to the closest state or national park, or as challenging and complex as scaling a mountain in the Himalayas.

A few years ago I had a life altering event that shook me to the core. Something unseen, and completely unexpected. It took me some time to get back on my feet, but when I did, I vowed to live my life the way I had always wanted. A life that was more adventurous. One with more risks, but also more rewards. It is my intentions, with this blog, to share some of my day to day adventures with you, but also provide you with stories from around the globe about adventures that are taking place even now. I'll offer my thoughts and comments on these things, while hopefully showing you that even in the 21st century, there is still plenty of adventure to be had.

Remember, all who wander are not lost!! :)