Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Video: Whack Jobs - The Story of Winter Fat Biking in Michigan

This great video comes our way courtesy of our friends over at Gear Junkie. It takes us up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where we meet a group of "whack jobs" who love riding their bikes in the snow all winter long. Some don't understand their passion for riding in frigid temperatures, but it looks like a lot of fun to me. Check it out in the clip below.

Video: How to Waterproof Your Tent

More maintenance and repair tips courtesy of REI today, this time with a focus back on taking care of our tents. The video below offers advice on how to best waterproof your camp shelter, ensuring that it continues to protect you from the elements as it ages. This is, once again, a great reminder that a little upkeep and care can go a long way towards keeping our expensive outdoor gear functioning at a high level.

More Travel Destinations for 2018

With the start of the new year, many of us are looking ahead at 2018 to decide where we want to go and what we want to do. After all, its a long 12 months ahead and there is plenty to accomplish before the year is through. Yesterday, I shared The New York Times selection of 52 places to go in 2018, and today I have a few more suggestions from two other publications worth looking at.

First up, Luxury Travel Magazine has produced its list of recommendation destinations for the New Year as well, and while most of them don't fall under the "adventure" category, they do have a top ten list dedicated specifically to our favorite type of travel. In fact, the editors have picked 10 Adventure Experiences You Can't Miss in 2018, with some very nice options for those looking to do something a little different this year.

A few of the items that make the cut include sailing on an Arctic safari, trekking through the hidden valleys of Dolpa in Nepal, and exploring the Atacama Desert in Chile, which happens to be amongst my favorite destinations. Other items include visits to a rhino sanctuary and staying in a lodge in the Amazon Basin.

Not to be outdone, Men's Journal has also produced a list of recommended destinations for 2018, and while it is a bit more modest in size, it offers some great options nevertheless. The five places that earned a mention with the magazine include Malta, the Republic of Georgia, Zambia, Kalimantan (in Indonesia), and The Arctic. Each of which would make a fine place to go on an adventure.

It is interesting to see the Arctic pop up on these lists. As climate change makes these places more accessible, more and more adventure travel companies are offering opportunities to go there. I've been sharing it on similar list that I've written for the past few years, but in my case it was usually last-degree ski journeys to the North Pole or something similar. But, the Arctic is opening up for more tourists, for good or ill, and that will no doubt have an impact on the region to some degree.

So, after reading all of these suggestions in recent days, have you started making your travel plans yet?

French Explorer Sets Sights on Northwest Passage

Last week I shared a story about an adventurous family that will sail the Northwest Passage this summer, but unsurprisingly they won't be alone up there in the Arctic. We've also learned that French explorer Alban Michon will also head to that mythical waterway with plans to help raise awareness of what is happening in that part of the world as climate change alters it forever.

As we've mentioned before on The Adventure Blog, the Northwest Passage is a section of the Arctic Ocean that remained largely frozen shut for centuries due to permanent pack ice. For hundreds of years, explorers searched for a safe way through, in the process creating a faster trade route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This wasn't possible until recently, when increasing temperatures due to climate change have melted the ice and made the Passage navigable my ships for several months each year. It is now believed that by 2050, the route will be almost completely ice free, creating the trade route long sought, but bringing a number of other challenges along with it.

Michon plans to cross the Northwest Passage on skis, pulling an 180 kg (396 lbs.) sled behind him with gear, supplies, and equipment. When the weather permits, he'll use a kite to propel him along across the ice. He'll embark on the journey in March of this year, and expects it to take about two months for him to travel from Resolute Bay in Canada to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, covering some 1240 miles (1995 km) along the way. He'll be following the same route pioneered by Roald Amundsen, who was the first to complete this crossing back in 1906. It took him and his team three years to make the journey.

Along the way, the French explorer will take video and photos of the fragile Arctic environment in its current state. This will document the impact of warming temperatures on the Northwest Passage. He'll also take samples of the ground, measure the level of aerosols in the atmosphere, and study his own brain activity while traveling in an extreme environment. He'll also analyze plankton living in the area to register the impact of changing conditions on them as well. Michon will even dive into the Arctic water to get a look at the passage from underneath the sea too.

You'll be able to follow Michon's expedition when he gets underway in early March on his websiteFacebook page, and Twitter. It should certainly be an interesting adventure to watch unfold.

Antarctica 2017: The End is in Sight for More Antarctic Teams

The Antarctic expedition season is nearing its end with just a few short weeks to go until the frozen continent is shut off to the outside world once again. But, there are still a number of teams that are working their way towards the finish line as the days slowly tick by.

We'll start with an update on Rob and Barney Swan, the father and son team that has been out on the ice for nearly two months now. The duo undertook this expedition as a way to raise awareness of clean energy with a focus on creating a 7-year goal to clean up 326 million tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in accordance to the Paris Accords. They have even used nothing be clean energy sources to power their adventure, using solar energy to keep all of their devices going.

Yesterday, the two men – along with a group of skiers who joined them for the final degree – reached the South Pole. It took them 56 days to compete the journey, covering roughly 600 nautical miles (690 miles/1112 km) in the process. Rob has been here before and knew what to expect, but was still impressive in his efforts at the age of 61. For Barney, it was his first polar journey at the age of 23. Congratulations to both of them.

Meanwhile, Norwegian skiers Astrid Furholt and Jan Sverre Sivertsen are closing in on the Pole as well. The duo were amongst the first to hit the ice way back in November, and have been following the original Amundsen route to 90ºS. If all goes as planned, they should arrive their as early as tomorrow, but their updates indicate they are exhausted, pushing hard against headwinds, and struggling to cover the full distances they need. Still, they are currently within striking distance of the South Pole station and should get there soon.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Video: Skiing the High Points of the American West

This beautiful short film takes us on a quest with skier Drew Petersen, who set out to ski the highest peaks in all 11 of the states that make up the Western U.S. They include Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, and Montana. In order to achieve his goal, Drew had to go to some great lengths, but as you'll see, those efforts were incredibly rewarding in so many ways.

Video: How to Clean a Climbing Rope

Today's "how to" video from REI is a short and simple one, but a good reminder none the less. It shows us how to clean a clean a climbing rope to keep it performing at a high level and to prevent premature wear. Just like the rest of our gear, ropes can be costly. But a little bit of maintenance will keep them in top notch condition for far longer.

The New York Times Presents 52 Places to Go in 2018

If you're still thinking about your travel plans for 2018, why not let the "paper of record" help out? The New York Times has created a list of 52 places to go in 2018, and it is filled with some wonderful suggestions on place to travel throughout the next year.

As you can imagine with a list of this size, the destinations vary greatly in type and location. For instance, the first few entires on the list include New Orleans, Colombia, and Basilicata in Italy. The recommendations vary in size from a single, small location, to an entire region, such as the Caribbean. All of the suggestions come with a description of what makes it a compelling place to visit, along with links to where you can find out more about the place.

The Times has done a nice job of curating a list of unique destinations to visit in 2018 and they have gone to great lengths to use multimedia assets to bring those places to life as you read about them. But, the slick website they've used to deliver the information is also a but cumbersome and overly produced, which can cause some slowdowns and pauses while scrolling through. I found myself having to wait for animated images and text to load from time to time, which is more annoying than anything else. The end result is a pretty nifty list of places to go and things to do that should keep most travelers busy for a lifetime.

Check out the entire list/multimedia experience here.

Disabled Climber Delays Attempt on Everest in Wake of Nepal Climbing Ban

This past fall I shared the inspiring story of Hari Budha Magar, a former Ghurka soldier who lost both of his legs in combat in Afghanistan. Determined to not let that stop him from pursuing his goals however, Magar not only summited Mera Peak a few months back, he also set his sights on attempting Everest this spring too. Now, thanks to the strict new climbing rules passed by the Nepali government, he is being forced to postpone his expedition.

According to the Himalayan Times, Magar and his team have decided to delay their attempt on Everest until 2019. This shift in date will allow them to better organize the climb, give Hari more of a chance to hone his mountaineering skills, and plan the climb more fully. They also hope to petition the Nepali government to give the former Ghurka a permit to attempt the mountain.

In December, the Nepali Council of Ministers voted to ban blind climbers, double-amputees, and those deemed "medically unfit" from climbing on the South Side of the mountain. Those same regulations also now forbid solo climbs as well. These new guidelines have been met with sharp criticism as they seem to be aimed at a very small subset of climbers that don't really need protection. The fatality rate amongst disabled mountaineers is extremely low, in large part because they are well supervised throughout every phase of their climb.

In a statement announcing the postponement of his climb, Magar and his squad say that they agree with the government's efforts to make Everest safer, but those efforts should be aimed at those who are not properly prepared to be on the mountain. They argue that it shouldn't matter whether they are able bodied or disabled in any way, it should instead come down to their level of skill, experience, and preparation.

It is quite possible that Magar and his team will leave the South Side of Everest and head to the North Side instead. So far, the Chinese officials that oversee climbing operations in Tibet have not indicated that they will institute a similar ban on disabled climbers there. It is possible that Hari and his team will try to first resolve this issue with Nepal, but if those efforts fail, they'll head north instead.

This seems to be a story that continues to evolve at a steady pace right now. I'm sure we haven't heard the last of it.

Winter Climbs 2018: Teams Reach Camp 1 on Everest and K2

Despite the fact that the winter climbing season is really just getting underway in the Himalaya and Karakoram, good progress is already being made by the teams on both Everest and K2. The squads on those mountains have taken advantage of good conditions and have spent little time in Base Camp before heading up to Camp 1.

Alex Txikon, Ali Sadpara, and their support team have already been very busy on Everest. Not only did they shuttle their first gear loads up to C1 by Thursday of last week but today they'll be spending the night at that spot as they truly begin their acclimatization process. It took the team just four days to finish the route through the Khumbu Icefall, which is a pretty impressive accomplishment to say the least. Remember, during the spring climbing season on Everest, there is a whole team of Sherpas who handle those duties.

So far, Alex and his crew are ahead of last year's schedule. It has taken a lot of work for each man to carry loads as heavy as 35 kilos (77 pounds) up the slopes to the C1 campsite, but as of now they have finished that process bout five days faster than they did last year. There is obviously still a lot of work to be done for the Basque mountaineer to claim his no-oxygen winter ascent, but things are definitely off to a good start.

Meanwhile, the Poles are also making good headway in their efforts on K2. As of today, they have not only established Base Camp on that mountain, but they have also set up their communications systems to share progress with the rest of the world too. Apparently they haven't been resting on their laurels since arriving in BC last week either, as they have already climbed as high as 5700 meters (18,700 ft) while scouting the route and acclimatizing. Tomorrow they will make their first foray up to 5900 meters (19,356 ft) to begin shuttle gear to create Camp 1 at that point as well.

Finally, Lonnie Dupre and climbing partner Pascale Marceau have delayed the start of their climb on Mt. Lucania in Canada after the weather took a turn for the worse. The mountain is currently experiencing temperatures that are hovering around -40ºC/F with the windchill and windspeed in the 45+ km/h (27 mph) range. Those speeds are down from as much as 110 km/h (68 mph) over the weekend, but things should improve further over the next few days. They hope to get a good window for their flight to the mountain where they can finally get underway.

Stay tuned for more updates as the season continues to unfold.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Video: The Last Hill (Until the Next One)

This fantastic short documentary comes our way courtesy of the folks at Patagonia, and it follows a team of skiers and snowboarders who set out from Reno, Nevada on bicycles. Carrying their skies and other gear with them, they set out for Mt. Whitney, exploring some epic backcountry along the way. The only problem is, they are definitely better skiers and snowboarders than they are cyclists.

Video: How to Patch a Bike Tube

Today's "how to" video from REI is aimed at the cyclists and mountain bikers amongst us. It shows us how to quickly and easily patch a bike tube, which is certainly a handy skill to have in your arsenal. If you ride with any regularity, chances are you've had a flat tire at some point. This will show you how to fix the tube and get back on the road ASAP.

American Alpine Club Announces 2018 Climbing Award Winners

Yesterday the American Alpine Club announced the winners of its 2018 Climbing Awards, and as you might expect, there are some well known names on the list. The awards are given out each year by the AAC to recognize outstanding achievements not just in climbing, but also conversation and service to the community as well.

This year's winners include the following:

Honorary Membership Award:  John Roskelley takes home this award, which is given out to "those who had a lasting and highly significant impact on the advancement of the climbing craft." Roskelley earned the honor by putting up multiple first ascents in North America, the Himalaya, and the Karakoram, including a new route on the Northwest Face of Nanda Devi and the first ascent of the Great Trango Tower. He also has summits of K2, Makalu, and numerous other peaks to his name.

The Robert and Miriam Underhill Award: This award is given out to the person who has displayed the "greatest skill in the mountaineering arts and who, through the application of this skill, courage, and perseverance, has achieved outstanding success in various fields of mountaineering." For 2018, that person happens to be Alex Honnold, who has a long and distinguished list of accomplishments, not the least of which was the first free solo climb of El Capitan in 2017.

Heilprin Citation: Each year, the Angelo Heilprin Citation is given to the person that has shown outstanding service to the AAC. This year, that award will be given to Ellen Lapham who has chaired the club's Conversation Committee and was instrumental in developing a five-year plan for the organization.

Adventurous Family Will Sail the Northwest Passage in 2018

One adventurous family has quite a journey scheduled for 2018. On June 1, Graeme and Janna Esarey, along with their daughters Talia and Savai, will set out from Seattle on a sailing expedition that will take them through the Canadian Arctic as they travel the Northwest Passage.

Graeme and Janna are experienced sailors who spent their honeymoon crossing the Pacific Ocean. They say that the plan has always been to sail with their children when it was age appropriate, and now they are ready to begin those adventures. The plan is to navigate through the Northwest Passage and continue on to Europe, making a journey that few have been fortunate enough to undertake until this century.

The fabled Northwest Passage was long sought by sailors and explorers looking to travel faster from the Atlantic and the Pacific. But due to thick ice and inhospitable conditions, it was closed for centuries. Modern ice breakers made it a more viable option, but the cost of operating those ships is prohibitively expensive. Now, climate change has made sailing the route a real option as it is typically completely navigable by August of each year.

Graeme says the idea for making this sailing expedition came about after speaking to polar explorer Eric Larsen at Outdoor Retailer. The father of two has served as the CEO of gear manufacturer Industrial Revolution since 2011, and Larsen has been a brand ambassador for the company. After speaking to Eric, Graeme headed home with the germ of an idea for taking his family on a major adventure, which they'll undertake on a ship called the Dogbark – a 60-foot racing vessel with plenty of room to spread out, including separate cabins for each of the girls.

Currently the Esarey family is in planning and preparation mode prior to the start of the voyage in June. You can read all about their plans, and why they are undertaking this adventure, on their website saildogbark.com. The site is being updated regularly with blog posts about their progress and should be a great way to follow along with their journey once they embark in a few months.

Everest Guide Adrian Ballinger Shares His Thoughts On Nepal's New Climbing Rules

The controversial new climbing rules from Nepal continue to be a source of much debate amongst mountaineers. As you'll recall, the Council of Ministers there closed out 2017 by adopting a series of new regulations that banned solo expeditions, blind climbers, double amputees, and those deemed "medically unfit" from Everest. This has of course been met with much criticism within the mountaineering community, as the rules do very little to make anyone safer and seem to have been conceived arbitrarily. Now, a well known Everest guide has weight in on the topic, and he has quite a bit to say to the Nepali government.

Adrian Ballinger, owner of Alpenglow Expeditions climbed Everest without oxygen this past spring and has summited that mountain a total of six times. In other words, he knows a thing or two about climbing in the Himalaya. In an interview that was posted to the Internet yesterday, Ballinger offers his thoughts on this current dust-up, basically saying that he expects the rules to not be enforced. He also chastises Nepali officials for creating what he calls a "Wild West" environment on the South Side of the mountain.

For years Ballinger guided clients from the Nepali side of Everest, but three years ago he made the jump to the North Side in Tibet instead. He says that he was tired of the knee-jerk reaction by the government in Nepal to trends on the world's highest peak. If an accident occurred that claimed several lives, they made wild proclamations about how they were going to make the mountain safer. If an extremely old or young climber was on Everest, they'd blow hot air about creating age limits. But while those kinds of regulations aren't necessarily bad, the problem is that they are almost never enforced.

In the article above, Adrian is quoted as saying, “So far, Nepal hasn’t had a single government official above base camp, so no rules they impose are followed.” That's a far cry from the Chinese side of Everest where the government installs the camps all the way up to C2 and fixes the ropes to the summit as well. On the South Side, that work is done by a collaboration of commercial climbing teams instead.

Ballinger goes on to offer his thoughts on what should be done to make climbing Everest safer, including imposing some standards in terms of training and experience, as well as protecting guides and Sherpas more fully. He also says that solo climbers should be allowed provided they aren't putting anyone else's life in danger. He goes on to point out that in the early 2000's there were only about a dozen companies operating on the mountain, now that number has climbed to more than 50.

It's an interesting look at what is happening in Nepal from a guy who knows the area well. Read the entire article here.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Video: Riding a Cruise Ship Through the 'Bomb Cyclone'

Normally we don't think about a Caribbean cruise as being much of an adventure, but it can turn into quite the experience when your cruise line – in this case Norwegian – decides to ignore weather warnings and sail directly into the so-called "Bomb Cyclone" that hit the east coast of the U.S. last week. The video below gives you an indication of what this was like for the 4000 passengers onboard, and I can honestly say that I don't think I experienced conditions like this even when on the Southern Ocean last year. Crazy stuff, with rooms and hallways flooding, the ship lurching violently, and passengers struggling to stand and walk. A smaller ship wouldn't have fared well at all in these conditions.

Video: How to Patch a Sleeping Pad

We'll continue our "How to" videos from REI today with some more great tips for maintaining and repairing our gear. This time out it is how to patch a sleeping pad, which is something we can all probably appreciate knowing a bit more about. There is nothing worse than being on a long trip and discovering your pad won't hold air. Fortunately it is fairly easy to fix as you'll see in the clip below.

The Adventure Podcast Episode 2 is Now Available

Just a quick note to let everyone know that Episode 2 of The Adventure Podcast was released yesterday. In this episode, my co-host Dave Adlard and I talk about the latest adventure news with a look at some Antarctic expeditions, climbing teams heading to Everest and K2 this winter, and more. As usual, we also talk about useful gear and share some items that we've both been using in the field.

Our main topic this week is the 10 Essentials of Hiking, with discussion on whether or not they are still viable in the 21st century (Hint: They Are!) and out take on how the list has changed and evolved over the years. Throughout this segment we continue to talk about important gear and share some ideas on things that you can take with you into the backcountry.

For thos who are interested in checking out this latest project of mine here's how you can listen in:

  • If you just want to listen on your computer then click here to get a web version of the show, complete with an audio player, episode description, and so on. It works great, it just isn't quite so portable. 
  • iOS users (iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc.) can subscribe to the show in iTunes by searching for "The Adventure Podcast," but it can still be hard to find. Here's a direct link
  • Android users can find us in the Google Play Store by again searching for the title of the show. But, to save time, here's another direct link
  • If you use Stitcher to listen to your podcasts on any platform, we're also available there. If search doesn't work, here's the direct link for Stitcher users.
You can also follow the show on Facebook and Twitter. Comments, suggestions, and questions can be emailed to theadventurepod@gmail.com. In fact, we're looking for questions to answer on the air, and had our first one just this week. 

Thanks for listening. I hope you'll check us out and enjoy the topics. 

10-Month Long Outdoor Instructor Course Sends Students on World-Spanning Adventure

If you've always wanted to be an outdoor guide or instructor, I have some news that you might find interesting. Sharks Lodge, a Portugal-based adventure travel company, is launching a new program that will train students to work in the outdoor and travel industry in a 10-month long course designed to give them all of the skills they need, while sending them off on a global adventure.

The new program is scheduled to get underway on March 1, 2018 in Portugal. That course has been specifically built to prepare those who take part both mentally and physically for the challenges they face while working in the outdoor industry. It also has been padded with plenty of time to allow entrants to learn a moderate, but steady, pace while working in a group environment.

Completion of the course will offer official qualifications in a wide variety of areas, including canoe and kayak safety and rescue, mountain training, mountain bike guiding, first aid skills, lifeguard skills, surf instructor, VHF Radio Operator, and much more.

According to an email I received announcing this course, students will work on their skills (See below) for five months, with a break coming in August. At that time, they can choose to take a holiday or do a month-long internship. In September, they'll then work on earning their certifications in preparation for the big adventure to come. From October to December the enrollees will put their new-found skills and knowledge to the test by organizing expeditions and adventure travel itineraries across the globe, with the Shark Lodge staff helping to get them organized and off the ground.

Winter Climbs 2018: Into the Icefall on Everest, Poles in BC, and a Death on Lobuche

The winter climbing season is starting to pick up steam as the climbers continue to get settled on their respective mountains and prepare for the challenges ahead. But while two major expeditions start to take shape, we get the tragic news of a death on Lobuche East as well.

We'll start with an update from Alex Txikon on posted news on Facebook a few days back that he and his team have started their foray into the Khumbu Icefall on Everest. As many of you know, this is one of the most treacherous segments of the climb from the South Side, requiring patience, stamina, and a nerves of steel. In the video below, you'll see why this is such a dramatic section as we watch Alex work his way across open crevasses while dragging a large duffel bag and having a ladder strapped to his back. Those ladders are place over the crevasses in order to form makeshift bridges that the climbers will walk across on their way up to Camp 1. It is all a bit unsettling, but just another day at the office on Everest.

After working hard in the icefall on Tuesday, the team took yesterday off, and will resume their work today. Alex has vowed to not push it too hard in the early days of the expedition however, learning from last year that it is best to save your strength for the work yet to come.

Meanwhile, the Polish Ice Warriors team that has set its sights on K2 this winter has also shared an update with the news that they have now arrived in Base Camp. According to a blog post to the team's website, they reached BC at 5000 meters (16,404 ft) on Tuesday afternoon and have been getting settled there ever since. They hope to begin actual climbing operations within the next few days.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Video: How to Train Like Kilian Jornet

Want to know how to train like the best mountain runner in the world? This video can help! It gives us an intimate look at how Kilian Jornet trains for the events and expeditions that he takes part in, providing some insights into how he is able to accomplish the things he does. As Kilian himself says at the beginning of the clip, he is 30 years old and has essentially been training for 30 years. That's because he was born in the mountains and they have always been his playground. Still, there is plenty of dedication, determination, and hard work that goes into his preparation and planning too. Find out more below.

Video: How to Clean a Sleeping Bag

The Care and Repair series of videos from REI continues today, this time with tips on how to clean your sleeping bag. This is probably something we could all use some help with, as far too often we forget to take good care of our bags after coming home from a trip. But, a little cleaning and maintenance will keep them performing – not to mention smelling – better for a lot longer.

Outside Magazine Presents the 2018 Bucket List

If you're still making plans for travels and potential outdoor adventures this year, allow Outside magazine to help. The publication just released its 2018 Bucket List, providing readers with a host of suggestions on where to go and what to do in the year ahead.

There are numerous amazing adventures that were selected to be a part of this list, all chosen by travel experts who contribute to Outside. Their suggestions include everything from staying in eco-friendly cabins in New Zealand to going Gorilla spotting in Uganda. The list includes options to hike, bike, paddle, and surf in some of the most breathtaking places in the world. There are options to go fishing, camping, and commune with nature, and there is even one trip that will send you off to a completely unknown destination.

Of course, I won't spoil everything that Outside recommends, as discovering what suggestions made the cut is part of the fun. Needless to say, pretty much every type of traveler will find something intriguing here, with some completely new options that you may not have even considered before.

All of the entires on the bucket list include a paragraph that describes why this is an amazing excursion. There is also information on how to do the individual trips that offers links to a tour provider and a price. Some of the itineraries are very affordable, while others will require a bit larger budget, but all of them are very approachable.

Check out the entire 2018 Outside Bucket List here.

Volvo Ocean Race Team Witnesses Rare Whale Encounter on Stage 4

We've been following the Volvo Ocean Race closely since it first started back in October, and currently the ships are en route to Hong Kong on the 4th stage of the round-the-world race. Currently, the teams are locked in a tight formation with just 12 miles separating them as they pass through the doldrums on the Indian Ocean on their way to the next stage finish. That's a far cry from the difficulties they faced in the Southern Ocean just a few short weeks back.

But perhaps the most interesting and exciting news isn't about the competition at all – at least not directly. A few days back, Team Vestas 11 Hour Racing had quite an encounter at sea, and they managed to capture it on the video you'll find below.

The clip was shot by Amory Ross, a reporter who is currently embedded with the crew. Using a drone, he was able to capture footage of a whale feeding frenzy just off the coast of the Solomon Islands. The sight is so rare, that whale researchers have already contacted Vestas to see if they can study the footage for future research. If you look closely, you'll even be able to spot sharks in the water too.

This is a good reminder that while the VOR is a competition that spans the globe, the teams also have some amazing encounters along the way. To check out this rare site, watch the video below.

Blind Climber Banned From Everest Weighs in On New Regulations

A lot has been made of the new regulations put in place by the Nepali government for climbers heading to Mt. Everest. As you may recall, last month the Council of Ministers there voted to ban solo climbs, double amputees, and blind mountaineers from the mountain. But one climber impacted by the new regulations isn't giving up on his dream to climb Everest a second time, even though he now banned from making such an attempt from Nepal.

Australian climber Andy Holzer, who became just the second blind person to summit Everest last year, has weighed in on the new regulations and isn't very happy about them. He is quick to point out that statistically speaking, few disabled climbers have died on Everest and that these rules are being put in place to address a problem that doesn't exist. He also feels, as many of us do, that some of the new policies are about money. Holzer says that solo climbers were likely banned for instance because they don't put much cash into Nepal's coffers, climbing independently and without support. The new rules also require all climbers on the South Side to have a guide with them at all times, which would employ more locals while bringing larger crowds to Everest too.

While Holzer made his climb in 2017 from the North Side of the mountain in Tibet, he still holds a permit to climb from the South Side that is good through 2019. He had hoped to return to the Himalaya and make an ascent from the Nepal side of Everest as well. Now, that looks like it could be out of the question, although he believes that the North Side will remain open to such possibilities, sending more climbers that direction.

The Aussie mountaineer, who has reached the top of all of the 7 Summits, initially attempted Everest back in 2014. That season was cut short after a serac collapsed above Base Camp, claiming the lives of 16 porters. Later, Nepal announced that they would honor the permits for an additional 5 years, allowing Holzer to return if he wanted to give it another go. Instead, he chose to travel to the North Side for his climb last year. In the interview he says that feels the Chinese side of the mountain is a more challenging climb, but doesn't have the dangers that come with the Khumbu Icefall, which is why he went there.

Andy hasn't ruled out the possibility of returning next year to climb from the South Side however, and says that he has contacted his agency in Kathmandu to find out if his permit is still valid. Whether or not Nepali officials will still allow him to climb remains to be seen.