Climbing Ecuador

Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Ecuador isn't really known as a climbing haven. Usually we think about the Alp, Himalayas, Andes, and Pyrenees for some challenging big mountain climbs. But Mountain Zone has posted this excellent article that details some excellent climbs in the South American country. It's a really interesting read for someone who is looking for a unique, and less crowded climbing experience.

Ecuador essentially has two mountain ranges, the Cordilleras Oriental and Occidental, which offer some excellent peaks, such as the 20,000 foot Chimborazo, and the 18,000 foot Antisana, amongst others. Climbing season runs from June to September, and again in December, when the country experiences the dry season.

The Mountain Zone article details some nice climbs and is packed with some excellent insights and information.

Nepal: Strike During Climbing Season? is reporting that a rumor is circulating of a general strike to hit Kathmandu by Maoist separatists at the beginning of the Himalayan climbing season. This has prompted climbers to question their travel plans and consider going at a later time.

For those unfamiliar with the politics of Nepal, Maoist separatists having been waging an ongoing rebellion against the government there for nearly a decade. Things heated up last year when the King dissolved the government and assumed direct control of Nepal with the help of the military. He has promised to hold elections in 2007, once things have been stabilized, but many fear that he will maintain control. The Maoist see this as an opportunity to stage a strike during the climbing season, which is typically an economic boon for the small mountain country. Of course, none of this is reported in any of the mainstream press here in the States, so you have to really hunt around for news and information.

It is unlikely that the climbing season will be disrupted to any major extend, as Kathmandu mainly serves as the base of arrivals and departures to the mountain ranges. However, it could put major delays in climbing expeditions, and with often limited weather windows on some of the major peaks, such as Everest and K2, any delay could cost someone an attempt at the summit. Lets hope this gets resolved soon and in a peaceful manner.

Nike Starts AR Season with a Win!

Monday, February 27, 2006
Team Nike, arguably the best American adventure racing team, has announced on their website that they have won the Camdex Adventure Race, conducted over the weekend in Mexico, earning them $25,000 in cash.

The AR season is just starting to gear up here in the Northern Hemisphere, and Nike, one of the most successful racing teams ever, has kicked it off just right. After a bit of a sub-par year last year, at least by their standards, they look to be back, fit and strong this season.

It looks like we can expect an updated website from them soon as well with racing tips, team bios, schedules of races and clinics, and more I'm sure.

McKinley Gets a Climber Cap!

According to this article at, the US Parks Service is going to place a cap on the number of climbers who attempt Mount McKinley each year. Starting in 2007, only 1,500 lucky individuals will get the chance to climb the highest peak in North America. Fear not, however, as the record number of climbers to attempt McKinley was set last year at 1,340, so most people who want to climb, will still get the chance.

I think this is a good idea for a number of reasons. First, the crowds on McKinley, and other mountains such as Everest, have gotten so large that there are often traffic jams in certain sections, making the climbs unsafe as people are left standing out in the elements. On top of that, the mountains are becoming littered with garbage left behind by everyone making their way up to the summit. Everest is a mess, and McKinley could be headed in that direction as well.

Considering the extreme cold on McKinley, much colder than Everest, it's probably an excellent safety measure to insure that people who shouldn't be on the mountain, are not on the mountain.

Most Dangerous Destinations 2006

Friday, February 24, 2006
The always excellent posted about this MSNBC article which names the 15 most dangerous destinations for 2006. It might be worth your time to read this if you are planning a trip abroad sometime this year, although most of them are pretty straight forward, and not really on the tourist map. Places like Iraq, the Sudan, Pakistan, or Afghanistan.

Big Blue Adventure Series 2006 has posted the complete list of events for 2006 Big Blue Adventure Series.

Amongst the events on this years list are an Xterra points race, several adventure races, and triathlons. Surely something for anyone who wants to be active in the outdoors.

Top Ten Ways To Get Up, and Down Everest.

Regular readers will know that is one of my favorite websites. Today they deliver another great article packed with tips on how to get up, and back down, Everest.

On the list are such great tips as making sure you eat plenty (you burn a lot more calories at high altitude), being familiar with your gear, and how to approach your pre-climb workout. Very good things to consider before considering any high altitude climb.

Patagonia Climbing Expedition News

Patagonia, as I've mentioned in the past, has some of the most remote, and beautiful, landscapes on Earth. It truly is one of the last great frontiers for exploration, climbing, and adventure. In addition to hosting that 10 day long adventure race that I wrote about over the past couple of weeks, it's also been the site of a number of climbing expeditions of late, as climbers scramble to take advantage of the warm Summer weather in the Southern Hemisphere.

First up, there is this story over at National Geographic Adventure that chronicles a climb that took place last fall. The climb was historic for being a first ascent on Cerro Torre, a peak until now that was thought to be unclimbable, but it also proved that a previous expedition did not find the summit as they had claimed. It's an interesting read, and the photos are incredible.

The next article I found over at It tells the story of a young team of Belgians who recently completed a climb of "Riders on the Storm, one of the crown jewels in Patagonia's repertoire of classic climbs." What's really amazing is that the team spent 11 days on the side of the mountain, completing one of the more challenging big wall climbs around.

Explore Antarctica without all that snow and cold

While wandering around the National Geographic site earlier today, came across this interactive map of Antarctica. If you ever wondered what it was like way down under (like further down under than Australia) this is a pretty cool way to explore the continent, and learn about it's history as well.

You'll find information about seals, whales, and penguins of course, as well as information about Scott and Amundsen's race to reach the pole. Interesting stuff, and you can do it from the warmth of your own home.

Thanks Gadling!

Thursday, February 23, 2006
A big thanks goes out to for the kind words in a post earlier today. Gadling is a great travel blog that I visit every day, and have done so for months, so imagine my surprise when I saw my little blog mentioned in this post, which was about the Everest Peace Project which I wrote about last week. Thanks for plug gang, and keep up the great work!

Teens Challenge The Teacups!

I found this very cool article about a group of high school kids who are kayaking through Chile's Seven Teacups, a challenging whitewater section with a number of big water falls. The students opted for six straight days of school over a few weeks so that they could get an extended weekend for their paddling pleasure, and it looks to have paid off. Check out the photographs in this article. The runs look incredible.

2006 Himalayan Climbing Season Set to Begin!

The Everest, and Himalayan in general, climbing season is set to kick begin. And according to there are already nine teams on the mountain's South side, preparing to make their push. On top of that, another 20+ teams are signed up to challenge the North face, with 10 more expeditions planned for other Himalayan peaks, such as K2 or Annapurna.

You can get a complete list of all the expeditions here.

Some of the more interesting climbs include a British Team assaulting the West ridge, in an attempt at a combination of the West ridge-Hornbein Couloir, two skiing attempts, and an 85 year old woman climbing with her dog. Good luck to all the climbers this season. Climb safe!

National Geographic's 2006 Emerging Explorers

Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Each year National Geographic Magazine names new explorers, scientists, and adventurers who are pushing the boundaries of science and exploration. They call this their Emerging Explorers Program, and it often helps to spotlight some amazing work being done by people that often go overlooked.

The 2006 version is now online and features some very interesting personalities. Of particular interest to me are Bobby Model, and adventure photographer, Dr. Losang Rabgey who specialize in Tibetan studies, an area of the world I find fascinating, and Mark Lynas, a journalist and author.

Each of these explorers will have an indepth profile and media section in the coming days, but for now, information is still being added. You can also see the 2004 and 2005 Emerging Explorers, which include some interesting personalities as well.

Buff Espana Wins Patagonia Adventure Race!

Checkpoint Zero is reporting that the Spanish team Buff Espana has one the 2006 Patagonia Expedition Race, which I've been blogging about for the past week and a half.

The team crossed the finish line after 9 days or racing that included some long treks, challenging kayaking stages, and tough mountain biking legs. The Canadian team of Alberta Adventure Racing came in second, about three hours back.

Ironically however, the actual first team to cross the finish line was an unofficial team made up of South Africans and Chileans. The team was deemed unofficial due to the fact that other members of their respective teams had to drop out, and as anyone who follows adventure racing knows, the whole team has to finish together. The remaining members of the two teams decided to join forces and work together to finish the race, and as it turns out, the finished ahead of everyone else, but being officially out of the race, means they don't get the actual win. Still, and impressive, and strong showing out of those racers.

Climbing Kilimanjaro

Tuesday, February 21, 2006
I saw this article from MSNBC earlier today while reading the latest posts over at Gadling.

Essentially, it's the story of one man who is planning to climb Kilimanjaro, after watching an IMAX movie. The article offers a little background on the climb, and a day by day synopsis of his trip. For those that don't know, Kili is the tallest mountain in Africa, towering 19,340 feet above sea level. It is not a technical climb, but more of a very challenging hike over several days, but it is challenging none the less, as you pass through every climate zone on Earth on you way to the summit.

On one hand, I applaud the writer's decision to tackle a Kilimanjaro climb. I've seen this IMAX video, and it is excellent, inspiring me to make the same climb, which I fully intend to do in a few years, before the ice caps retreat and the snows of Kilimanjaro are gone forever. On the other hand, I agree with the post over at Gadling that says why don't you write about the climb after you've completed it. It's far more interesting than reading about what you're going to be doing. Lets hope there is a follow-up article with details about how the trip went down in a few months time.

The Goliath Expedition!! (Holy Sh*t!)

Monday, February 20, 2006
Ok, here's an adventure I just heard about, and literally made me go "Holy Shit!". This may be old news to some people, but I just saw this story over at about something called "The Goliath Expedition."

Basically, the Goliath Expedition is one man's quest to "walk around the world with unbroken footsteps." That man is Brit Karl Bushby, who started his quest at the southernmost tip of South America with the intention of walking back home to Britain. Karl is now SEVEN years into the expedition and he has reached the Bearing Strait, which freezes in the winter, and should allow Karl to walk across the body of water and into Asia. No small task with the ice occasionally breaking up and creating huge gaps for him to navigate around.

Obviously Karl has a long way to go yet before he reaches home, and you can stay updated on his progress by reading regular reports on his website.

Simply Amazing. I wish him the best of luck!

Patagonia Adventure Race Continues

The Patagonia Adventure Race that I've blogged about a couple of times already is still under way. This expedition length race got underway last weekend, and the racers are still on the course, which is over 700km in length and is expected to take 10 days to finish. is doing their usual great job of keeping us all informed of what's going on down in South America. Head over to get the latest info. So far, we've seen navigation issues, challenging weather, including strong winds, and several lead changes. One team, FeedTheMachine/IBEX, even trekked for over 50 hours between Wednesday and Friday to cover the distance between checkpoints

At the moment, Alberta Adventure Racing team is in the lead, showing a strong performance on the trekking/navigation sections. If everything goes right, we should have a winner in the next few days. I'll let you know when the race is over!

Snowboard X on NBC Tonight

Thursday, February 16, 2006
Just a quick note to let everyone know that NBC will be airing Snowboard X tonight. It's the first time it's been featured at the Olympics, and if you haven't seen it before, you're in for a treat.

I was surprised at all the comments I heard from friends and co-workers who watched the half-pipe for the first time. Heck! Even my mom watched and commented on it. Shaun White took home the Gold for the US of course, but Snowboard X is a completely different animal. Basically, the sport pits four boarders against one another in a race down the mountain. Often there is some pushing and shoving going on, and the event can be quite heated and frantic. It's amazingly fun to watch.

In the interest of remaining spoiler free, I won't mention who wins. Just sit back, enjoy the show, and take it all in. It should make for fun television.

Everest Peace Project

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 has this article about an interesting climbing team composed of climbers from "seven countries and five religions" with a goal to promote peace and understanding amongst men.

It's called The Everest Peace Project, founded by Lance Trumbul, an American Buddhist, who came up with the idea of creating a team of climbers made of men and women from different countries, cultures, and religions. Lance feels that although these people have cultural and ideological differences, that once they are on the mountain together, they will work together as a team with a common goal.

The team will set off soon to attempt to summit Everest by way of the North Col. They intend to use supplemental oxygen and will be supported by traditional Sherpa guides. They are still looking to add a female Muslim climber from Pakistan to the team. No anyone interested? Drop Lance a line over at their website.

I wish them luck on their climb and their other, much larger goal, of promoting peace and understanding.

Belize Challenge Postponed due to "Armed Smugglers!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Yesterday I mentioned that The Belize Challenge was set to get underway. Well, it turns out that the start of the race had to be postponed thanks to an encounter with armed smugglers It's a short delay however, only 24 hours. Things should be underway today. Now that's what I call Adventure Racing!

New GoLite Catalog

Yesterday, when I checked my mailbox, along with the assorted pre-approved credit card applications and coupon flyers, I was happy to see the new Spring/Summer 06 GoLite Catalog had arrived. For anyone who doesn't know, GoLite is a great company who makes some excellent outdoor gear, all of which subscribes to the "go light, go fast" mantra of the companies' founder.

I own several articles of clothing including a great pullover wind jacket that gets daily use. Here in Texas, it's what passes for a Winter jacket. At least for me, a transplanted mid-westerner. Anyway, there gear is well made, versatile, and super light, including their backpacks, tents, and clothing.

However, I'm no shill for the company, they just happen to make gear that I like. But I do love their catalog not just because of all the great stuff inside. Each GoLite catalog also has several interesting stories/articles about real people who get outside and go on all kinds of adventures. This catalog is no different, offering up nice little stories from trail runners, an ultramarathoner, arctic explorer, and world traveler alike.

If you get the chance, order the catalog online, you'll find some really great gear, and a nice dose of adventure in every issue.

Belize Challenge Jungle Race Underway

Monday, February 13, 2006
The Belize Challenge got underway today, as it seems the adventure racing season for 2006 is well underway. This race is a mix of paddling, navigation, and jungle survival. has posted a nice introductory article to help readers get up to speed. Of particular interest to me is the "12 hour canoe over rapids and crocodile infested waters." Sounds like a blast!

The Belize Challenge website will have regular updates on the four teams competing.

Fossett Gets His Record!

A quick update on a story I was blogging about last week. Millionaire Adventurer Steve Fossett broke the worlds record for longest continuous flight over the weekend, although it didn't go completely as he expected. Fossett was forced to make an emergency landing just miles from his target location. Still, he managed to travel 26,389.3 miles over 76 hours and 45 minutes.

You can read the whole story over at Congrats Steve!

Patagonia Adventure Race Updates

The Patagonia Adventure Race kicked off this weekend, as I reported it would last week. The expedition length race is expected to last about 10 days and cover more than 795km in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

You can get updates on the race's official website, or you can head on over to for their on going, and always excellent coverage.

Checkpoint Zero has several good articles up already, including one on the "Big Picture" of the race as a whole, and an update after Day 1, that has Team Buff Espana in the lead. The race updates, filed by Lisa de Speville, are always interesting to read, offer good insights, and excellent quotes from the racers themselves. Lisa has a knack for covering these races and I always enjoy her updates.

More as the race develops over the week.

Weekend Adventure: Government Canyon, Texas

So, I had a chance to get outside over the weekend and experience a little exploration and adventure of my own. I headed out to Government Canyon State Natural Area near San Antonio, Texas. The park has only been open since October, and offers plenty of nice trails for hiking and mountain biking alike.

The weather was cool, and windy, with overcast skies when I got to Government Canyon. Being a recent transplant to Texas from the Mid-west though, 50 degrees in February sounded pretty nice to me. After paying my entry fee, and filling out a record of which trails I would be using, I headed out to explore the area. The ranger station requires you to mark the trails you intend to use just in case someone gets lost or injured, they know where to go looking for them. As this was my first time there, I checked off a few trails in a nice loop, and proceeded on my way. I was probably only a mile or so onto the trail before I had already veered off my choosen course though. Yeah, I like to live dangerously. ;)

I spent about four hours in Government Canyon, and managed to walk about 12 of it's 40+ miles of trails. Not bad for my first visit. The trails range from easy, wide paths, to moderately challenging, single track. There is not much in the way of elevation gain, and few water crossing, made even easier with the ongoing drought here in Texas. Everything is clearly marked, and the handy map I was given at the entrance made it simple to find my way and explore the region.

A few tips for anyone visiting Government Canyon, and if you're in the area, I'd recommend that you do. First, the area is scenic, but it's hard to get good pictures due to all the trees and undergrowth. Head to the Overlook Trail to get some decent views of the valley. Secondly, the Joe Johnson Trail is the superhighway of Government Canyon. 95% of the traffic I saw in the park was on this trail. If you're looking for a little peace and quiet, and maybe some solitude, head out on Wildcat Canyon or Fear Reaches trails. Also, don't let the paperwork that you fill out at the ranger station fool you. It's simple to navigate through the park, the routes are well marked, and you'd have to be fairly inept to get lost here. Finally, there is certainly plenty to see and miles of trail to hike, but I think the park would be even more fun on a mountain bike. Trails ranged from easy, to a nice technical challenge for the few mountain bikers I encountered on my hike. Oh, and don't forget to bring plenty of water. You won't find any in the backcountry.

All in all, it was a nice escape for the afternoon. By the time I left to return to Austin, the sun was shining and it was comfortably warm, despite the breeze. The rocky trails made for a nice challenging walk, and the backcountry area was quiet and beautiful. If you live in central Texas and you're looking for a new place to explore, you could do worse than Government Canyon.

Off Trail Navigation Primer

Friday, February 10, 2006
While surfing around over at I came across this old, but very interesting and useful article. Basically, it's a beginner's guide to getting off the trail and navigating cross country. Useful for anyone who is heading out into the backcountry for sure.

It offers up some nice tips, such as doing your homework before heading out, using mapping software, and a GPS. It also has some nice, basic tips for reading contours, and looking for alternate routes. While it's not a long article by any means, it certainly offers some sound advice for someone wanting to get off the trail for the first time.

Personally, I still think it's a good idea to learn to navigate with a compass and looking for landmarks. Don't get me wrong, I love my GPS, but should the batteries fail, or you get under dense tree cover, it doesn't prove to be all that useful. I keep mine in my pack at all times, just in case, but it's a good idea to know how to navigate through other means as well.

Patagonia Adventure Race Kicks off this Weekend!

Just a reminder, the Patagonia Adventure Race that I mentioned in a recent post kicks off this weekend. It's one of the first expedition races of the year, and should prove to be another long, arduous race once again.

You can follow the race and get updates at the link posted above, or by checking in with who I'm sure will have their normally excellent updates posted regularly over the next few days.

Fossett Halfway Home!

A few days ago I wrote about millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett, who is currently attempting to set a world record for the longest non-stop flight. Well today, Yahoo News provides us with an update.

It seems that Fossett is halfway to his goal, having reached that mark over Japan late last night. He is now said to be somewhere over the Pacific, gliding in the jet streams. In the first half of his quest, Fossett has faced severe turbulence over India, a fuel leak, and weaker than expected tailwinds, which means he's going to need some things to go his way if he's actually going to be successful.

If everything goes according to plans, he'll touchdown sometime tomorrow outside of London. He'll have circumnavigated the globe and crossed the Atlantic a second time, having departed from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Antarctica By Kayak

Thursday, February 9, 2006
I've posted a few entries over the past few weeks regarding some arctic and Antarctic expeditions to cross the poles on foot. Here's one about a team of Aussies who are exploring Antarctica via Kayak along the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The three men will paddle for 40 days, and over 1000km, unsupported. The team is currently in a holding position off the Trinity Peninsula, waiting for a weather window to open. You can get updates on their journey on the expedition's website.

I've taken up kayaking over the past few years, and have come to really enjoy it. It's a great workout, and it's so nice being out on the water. Very tranquil at times. I have yet to do a kayak-camping trip, but I'd love to try that sometime. An expedition like this one sounds extremely demanding, not to mention cold! ;)

Stone Age Tribe Kills Fishermen!

Wednesday, February 8, 2006
Hot on the heels of yesterday's story about scientists discovering "The Lost World" comes todays interesting story. The Sydney Morning Herald is running an incredible story about two fishermen who were killed by an ancient tribe when their boat drifted ashore on a desert island.

The Sentinelese are believed to be the last "pre-Neolithic tribe" in the world. They live on a small island in the Indian Ocean, where they are said to have migrated to some 60,000 years ago from Africa. The tribe is believed to number between 50=200 people, and they have shunned all contact with the outside world, reigning down arrows and spears on any who venture to near. There were some fears that they may have been wiped out in the tsunami last year, but seem to have remarkably survived.

Yesterday I remarked that it was amazing that a place like the "Lost World' still existed, untouched by man. Today, we learn that this tribe remains mostly untouched by the outside world. It just goes to show how much we still have to learn about our own planet, and the dark corners we haven't explored yet. Very interesting news indeed.

If you'd like to learn more about the Sentinelese click here.

Edit: After reading more of the "learn more" article I posted above, I decided I have to stress even more to give it a read. It's a very interesting article about one man's adventure that lead him around the world to go visit the Sentinelese himself. It's very engaging, and well written. Exciting stuff. Do yourself a favor and read it!

Insights On Everest

A couple of quick notes for anyone interested in climbing, especially the big alpine climbers. First up, has this article about a young man who is a mild mannered accountant who has become an accomplished mountain climber. Scott McNaughton will be attempting his most challenging climb to date in a few weeks however when he goes after his first 8000 meter peak in none other than Everest itself. The interview is an interesting read as you get some insight into the training and dedication that is necessary for such an ascent.

The second nugget I have is about a new TV show on The Travel Channel called Ultimate Survival: Everest. The website doesn't have too much info on the show, but from what I could gather from the previews, it looks like it focuses on following a team that is attempting to summit the tallest mountain on Earth. Tonights episode, which airs at 8 EST/7 CST is the second in the series, so I'm a little bummed that I missed the first. I intend to check it out tonight though, and already have the Tivo set.

Get Certified for Primal Quest

Camp Xstream is offering a three day crash course in adventure racing to get you certified for the 2006 Primal Quest. The training camp will focus on all the skills you'll need to compete in the expedition length race, including navigation, ropes skills, and water training.

If you want to take part you'll have to hurry though. The course is filling up, and registration closes on Feb. 10th. Camp Xtreme will hold the seminar on March 10th-12th in Moab, UT, which is certainly a place to indulge in some outdoor adventure.

For those that aren't familiar with Primal Quest, it's a 10-day long, 800km expedition length adventure race that is making a return after a one year hiatus. The race will run from June 25th through July 4th with co-ed teams of four. Traditionally it has been one of the most demanding races of the season. This year it will be held in the "Mountain States Region", the course has not been announced yet, and will push participants to the limit of their trekking, mountain biking, kayaking, and navigational skills. Rates The Top 100

Tuesday, February 7, 2006 ,an online database of North American outdoor routes, has released their annual list of Top 100 Trails. This excellent list has been compiled by analyzing over 10 million "votes" on the website over the past year. The site contains over 30,000 entries, making it a great one-stop resource for finding a trail near you.

Some of the highlights of the list include: Breakneck Ridge Trail in Hudson Highlands State Park, NY, which came in at number 1 on the list, Glacier Gorge in Colorado coming in 3rd, Mount Whitney, CA at 5th, along with a number of routes along the Appalachian Trail. Most of the trails on the list are designated as hiking trails, but there are several mountain biking, road biking (which are new to this list), and walking trails as well.

If you're looking for a good hike this weekend, give the list a look. You're bound to find something close to home.

The "Lost World" Is Found!

Wow! Every once in awhile a story comes along that boggles the mind, and inspires thoughts of adventure and exploration. This is one of those stories.

In a nutshell, scientists and explorers have found a hidden area of New Guinea, previously untouched by man, that is the home to a dizzying array of new species, including Birds of Paradise, Tree Kangaroos, Anteaters, and many new plants. The animals are said to be unafraid of man, showing that their contact with us has been greatly limited.

Access to this area can only be obtained through a helicopter, as it is very remote and over grown. The scientists who discovered this region have called it a "Garden of Eden". Of course, they want to take great steps to insure that it remains untouched, as it will be a spot for incredible scientific finds and observations.

Can you imagine finding a place like this? How incredible would it be to explore a place that no other person has ever seen? It would be amazing to know that you were the first human beings to step food in that land, and it's even more amazing, that in this day and age, we can still find spots like this on Earth.

Fossett Goes For Another World Record!

Outside Magazine has posted this article about Steve Fossett's attempt to set a new world record for longest continues flight in aviation history.

Fossett already holds 109 world records, but the millionaire isn't content to stop there. The 26,120 mile flight is expected to take about 80 hours and will break the record set by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones in 1999. Their 25,361 mile flight was set in the Breitling Orbiter Balloon.

Fossett set off this morning and is going solo on his journey. I'll keep my eyes posted on his progress and post updates as I find them. Wish him luck!

Patagonia Expedition Adventure Race

Monday, February 6, 2006 has posted a preview of the upcoming Patagonia Expedition Race, set to start on Feb. 10th in Chile. The preview is a over a week old now (posted Jan. 31st), but still offers some great insight into this event, and a little history.

This year's course has yet to be revealed, but last year's race was an intense mix of mountain biking, trekking, and sea kayaking, over a 660km route that lasted 10-days. I'm sure this years event will be no less grueling for the 10 to 15 teams that are expected to take part.

For those that don't know, Patagonia is an incredible area in South America that is as wild and untamed as any place on the planet. It's known for wicked weather, challenging environments, and some of the most remote areas on the planet. Not to mention the stunning scenery and stark beauty of the mountains there.

You'll be able to get updates from the race as it happens from the intrepid Lisa de Speville, who handles a lot of these events for Checkpoint Zero. And you can find even more information about the event at the Patagonia Expedition Race website. This truly is "The Adventure at the End of the World."

Thoughts on Grizzly Man

So, I finally had a chance to watch Grizzly Man over the weekend. You might recall that it's the critically acclaimed documentary by Warner Herzog, that has gotten a lot of press over the past year or so. The film, which is nominated for an Oscar, tells the true story of Timothy Treadwell, the man who dedicated 13 years of his life to living with grizzly bears in Alaska, before he, along with his girlfriend, was brutally killed and eaten by a bear in 2003.

The movie uses video footage that Treadwell shot himself as he lived amongst the bears for 4 months out of the year. That footage shows a man who is dedicated to his cause, namely protecting the bears and educating the public about the animals. You can tell that Treadwell loved the creatures, and developed a bond with them, at least in his own mind. He also was adopted by a fox too, that followed him around like a dog would his master. Some of the footage is stunning, as Treadwell was able to get very close to the bears, and other wildlife, surrounded in the amazing scenery of Alaska's Katmei National Park.

Treadwell's video footage showed a different side of the man as well. A darker, more detached side. He often talked to the bears like they were children, telling them he loved them. He often spoke of wishing he could become a bear and spoke of himself as a "kind warrior", One scene even shows him going off on a rant about the park rangers and society in general, that demonstrated that he was a bit unbalanced at times as well.

Overall, I thought it was a well done film. Treadwell was an interesting character who knew the dangers of what he was doing, and spoke of it regularly, although you also got the sense that he thought the bears were his friends, and that they wouldn't hurt him. He was a bit simplistic in his approach to life, and came across as a bit of a whack job, although I wouldn't go so far as to say he was crazy or had a deathwish. Herzog does an excellent job of showing us what Treadwell's life was like as he lived in the Alaskan wilderness and by the end of the film you have a portrait of the man. However, I couldn't help but wonder why Treadwell had decided to head out into the wilderness to be with the bears. We never see the point in his life where he becomes consumed with helping them, nor do we get any insights into what drove him out there. Furthermore, Treadwell talks about "protecting" the bears, and doing "his work", but we never clearly see him protecting the bears from anything, despite the talk of poachers in the area. We also never really get a sense of what his "work" is. He claims to be studying the bears, but he's not a biologist of any kind, nor does he have any training in research and observation in the field. After 13 years living with the bears, you would think that he had stacks and stacks of notebooks and research information, but aside from his video and still photographs, we don't get any insight into this research

After watching the film, I was glad that I had taken the time to see it. It was a well crafted movie from start to finish, and it deserves the critical acclaim that it has gotten. However, I can't help but wish for a little more insight into Treadwell's character, learning more about what compelled him to live with these animals, and drove him to return year after year. Clearly he had demons, and was looking to escape from life at times, but he was also a smart, driven man who loved the creatures that ultimately were his demise.

The DVD is available for purchase or rent, or watch for it on the Discovery Channel, who I'm sure will be replaying it to death over the coming weeks.

Xterra World Championship on CBS!

Friday, February 3, 2006

On Sunday, CBS will be airing a championship athletic event, and no, it isn't the Super Bowl. (ABC will be carrying that!) At 12 PM EST/11 AM CST CBS will be showing the Xterra World Championship, a grueling, physically and mentally demanding triathlon held each year in Hawaii.

Tune in to check out the beautiful scenery, of both Hawaii and the wonderfully fit athletes, and watch the drama unfold. I've been watching the Xterra World Championship for the past few years, and CBS does a great job of covering the event. They highlight the important competitors, and catch some amazing footage of the event as it unfolds. You'll have a new appreciation of triathletes after watching this one.

For more info on the Xterra series of triathlons, check out

Going Solo in the Antarctic

Polar exploration site is reporting that Rune Gjeldnes, a Norwegian explorer has completed a solo crossing of Antarctica, making him the first man to complete both polar crossing unsupplied. What does that mean exactly? Well, that means Rune managed to navigate across both the poles with only the gear that he took with him. Quite an impressive feat.

You can read more about the expedition at Rune's own website. Lots of interesting stuff and good insights into what it takes to successfully complete this type of expedition.

Lonely Planet: Most Remote Places on Earth

Thursday, February 2, 2006

This is a little old, but still worth taking a look at. Lonely Planet has posted an excellent list of the Most Remote Places on Earth for the person who truly wants to get away from it all.

Places of interest on the list for me include:

Antarctica - Probably the most desolate place on the planet, but far easier to get to know than it use to be, provided you have the cash. My goal is to eventually visit all seven continents, so I pretty much have to go here!

Barrow, Alaska - The northern most city in the United States. I actually had a friend who accepted a job to teach here several years back. She only lasted about two weeks before she quit and moved back home. Very remote, and cold, with long weeks with no sunlight.

Death Valley - One of the driest and hottest places on Earth. Some day I hope to be able to run the Bad Water.

Last Desert Ultramarathon Is Over!

Wednesday, February 1, 2006
The Last Desert Ultramarathon that I posted about last week is finally done, following a few weather delays, which is to be expected considering the race is run at the South Pole. The stage race kicked off this years Four Deserts series of Ultras in an impressive fashion, with stages as long as 100 miles in the cold polar conditions.

First place goes to Scott Smith of the USA, Second to Chuck Walker, also of the USA, and coming in third was Kevin Lin of Taiwan. For more information about the race, check out the Last Desert page over at the Racing The Planet webpage.

Lafaille Profile at

If you've been reading my blog this past week, you've seen my posts regarding the missing climber, Jean Christophe Lafaille, on Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world. Lafaille went missing after he attempted a solo ascent in Winter, probably the hardest way to attack a mountain. has posted an excellent profile of this French climbing legend that is worth a read. It gives insight into the man, and his accomplishments.

While most have given up hope of finding him alive, the article does point out that Lafaille went missing on a mountain in the past and turned up alive. The climber struggled on Annapurna, even losing his companion, and although thought to be dead, he wandered into Base Camp five days later. Lets hope Lafaille has another miracle in his bag.