Eric Larsen Heads for North Pole on ‘Last North’ Expedition

On Saturday, polar explorer Eric Larsen departed Northern Ellesmere Island and began skiing across Arctic ice on what could be the world’s last unsupported ground expedition to the geographic North Pole. Eric and expedition partner, Ryan Waters, are attempting to break the 2006 expedition speed record. To do so, they’ll need to cover 500 miles of ice in less than 49 days, traversing by skis, snowshoes, and at times swimming through semi-frozen slush. Because they’re not receiving outside help, the pair is pulling all of their food and equipment—nearly 350 lbs—in sleds, which also serve as rafts. They’ll have to eat an incredible amount of calories per day, avoid polar bears and navigate dangerous shifting ice. Eric is a veteran to extreme expeditions. In 2010, he became the first person in history to…

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Terrible Skiing: An Ode

Photos and Story By Evelyn Spence Over my three and a half decades as a skier, I’ve witnessed a lot of things and been to a lot of places, from Alyeska to Vermont, from heli to hut. But before I stepped off the bus at Mongolia’s Sky Resort one January, I’d never seen a man skiing in pink swim goggles. I’d never seen a woman tucking with a Louis Vuitton crossbody purse flying behind her. I’d never seen a group of kids passing around a bottle of vodka while standing in the middle of a groomed run, nor a teenage boy plucking his eyebrows while waiting in line for a rifle range that’s inside of a ski lodge. I’d never seen a girl walk through a building with her skis…

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Off-Belay Americas: Home is Where You Park it

Among outdoor adventurers, rarely is one’s vehicle simply a form of transportation. Instead, it often doubles as a storage unit and can even moonlight as a mobile hotel. For our overland adventure from Seattle to Patagonia, our 1987 Toyota Land Cruiser needed to be ready to go in all three of these categories. Thus, we were forced to make a few modifications to “Beckey” that dramatically increased both her gear capacity and level of comfort when trying to grab a bit of shut eye. Storage If you hit the fabrication blogs you’ll discover one thing real quick—the two tiered system is king. A two tiered storage system eliminates the need to unpack and repack all your gear when you want to access some of it. It allows you to isolate…

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Off-Belay Americas: Climbing in Joshua Tree

As climbers, our path has led us from one crag to the next while we continue to push south to Patagonia. Two weeks in our route brought us to the community of Joshua Tree, California. I say “community” because Joshua is not simply a National Park or popular crag, but a winter season gathering place for dirt-baggers, weekend climbers, and nature enthusiasts alike. Eleven months had passed since our first visit to the lunar landscape of granite mounds in this unique place and we were stoked to be back.

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Off-Belay Americas: From Seattle to Patagonia and Everything In Between

Belay: verb – fix (a running rope) around a cleat, pin, rock, or other object, to secure it. A rope and harness are essential pieces of equipment for any climber on a belay team. They offer assurance and security while crossing glaciers or when scaling a sheer face. Comparisons are often drawn between climbing and the journey we all embark on in life. Both offer peaks, valleys, treacherous crevasses and points at which the hand holds just seem to run out. A year ago we asked ourselves if this life journey we are on is at its fullest when navigated “on-belay.” Honestly, it’s an answer we don’t have, but a question we are dying to ask. Over the past two years we’ve had the ability to see one side of the equation. We enjoyed established…

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Cariboo Mountain Hut Adventure

Story and photos by Riley Leboe This past December, I made the 7-hour journey north from the coastal town of  Squamish, British Columbia to the tiny northern interior town of Quesnel, BC. It was my cousin Josh’s 30th birthday and we’d decided to celebrate it with a few days of skiing fresh tracks and living in the mountains. The following morning, we loaded up our trucks and headed out to the Cariboo Mountain Hut—a small touring hut at the foothills of the Cariboo Mountain Range. There was an incredible arctic outflow moving over British Columbia that weekend. The temperature was at that magic number of -40 where Celsius and Fahrenheit meet. Still, it was a clear and dry day, so we weren’t overly concerned about the frigid temps. We felt confident we could stay warm providing we were conscious and diligent about regulating…

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Multi-day Ski Mountaineering: Tips from New Zealand

Story by Kate Hourihan In early October, American skiers Nick Webb and Beau Fredlund met up in Christchurch to catch the tail end of the New Zealand winter. Arriving just after the ski resorts closed, and the flocks of winter tourists departed, they aimed to take advantage of the milder weather, longer days and more stable snow of the New Zealand spring. While the snow was still plentiful at high elevations, it was not easy to reach. And while they made several long day tours, Nick and Beau focused on multi-day trips to take advantage of the terrain above the long, tiring approaches. Their longest trip, totaling ten days, was spent exploring the upper Tasman Saddle in the Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park. After walking two full days up the Tasman…

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One Punch Higher: Ski Mountaineering on Mexico’s Volcanoes

Story by Holly Walker / Photos by Zebulon Blais Maderno was flooded with ghouls, vampires and comic book characters.  It isn’t unusual for this pedestrian street to be bustling, but this strange cast had packed themselves into the street like sardines for the Saturday before Dia de Muertos (a Mexican holiday celebrating passed family and friends). I was in the thick of Mexican culture. Known for surfing, spicy food, tequila and Mariachi music, Mexico is an unlikely destination for a ski adventure. But, where there is snow, there can be skiing, and Mexico is home to some very high, snow-capped volcanoes. Still, as I took in the scene of one of the biggest cities in the world, I wondered how I had gotten here. A month earlier, I was having…

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A Beginner’s Guide to Packrafting

Story by Heather Balogh Prior to arriving in Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska, my packrafting expertise solely relied on a 45-minute escapade at a neighboring lake back home in Colorado. Sure, floating around the pond gave me a sense of confidence in the buoyancy of the rafts, but that was about all I walked away with in terms of packrafting knowledge. Since packrafting is an up-and-coming sport, I’d like to save other beginners from the trouble we encountered while becoming familiarized with the boats on the Alatna River. Not everyone should suffer as we did! What is packrafting? In short, a packraft is an inflatable individual raft that can pack down to such a small size that it can fit inside a pack while backpacking. Once hikers…

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