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Dispatches : Adventure

French Mountaineer Maurice Herzog Dies

2224343822_c8528c15d7_bAnnapurna. Photo: BrewBooks/Flickr

French mountaineer Maurice Herzog, who led the first documented summit of an 8,000-meter peak, died in his sleep early on Friday, December 14. He was 93.

On June 3, 1950, Herzog and countryman Louis Lachenal reached the top of 26,545-foot Annapurna. The team climbed the world's 10th highest mountain, located in Nepal, without supplemental oxygen. On the way down, things did not go well. There was an avalanche and the climbers suffered frostbite. Lachenal lost his toes. Herzog lost all of his fingers and some toes. He dictated a book which has been placed at the top of at least one major adventure book top 10 list. His story, Annapurna, became the most popular climbing book of all time, selling more than 11 million copies, though later his telling of the climb was criticized. Before the expedition, he barred his three climbing companions—two others did not make the summit—from publishing about the attempt for five years. After Lachenal's death, Herzog edited his companion's expedition journal so that it jived with his telling of the tale.

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Picture of the Week: Stroller Camping!

Photo 4Photo: Sam Moulton

When my colleague and friend, Outside’s executive editor Sam Moulton, emailed this photo to me, I was pretty sure I was looking at the birth of a new adventure sport: sidecountry stroller camping! Like backpacking with kids—only less lugging, more rolling. Sam and two pals—Outside editor Chris Keyes and architectural designer Jonah Stanford—wheeled off with six kids, a pile of gear, and two strollers into the Sangre de Cristo mountains above Santa Fe. Here’s the story, in his words:

It was early September, and we wanted to take the kids camping. Our initial idea was car camping, but Jonah’s kids are older [eight and five] and they have their own packs. My son, Beck, was 14 months at the time and Lily was 3 1/2, so I wasn’t sure how far I’d get carrying them and all our gear. That's when we started talking—what if we loaded up the strollers and went somewhere flat and pioneered a kind of sidecountry stroller camping?

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Expedition Watch: Snowboarding Antarctica

During expeditions to the world's most remote mountains, athletes often leave out the details about getting there. Not so with Xavier de Le Rue and the team from Mission Antarctic, who are on a month-long quest to snowboard new lines in Antarctica.

After flying from Santiago, Chile, to the Falkland Islands, the athletes set sail through the often turbulent Drake Passage to get to the White Continent. Unfortunately, their 64-foot, steel-hulled ship, The Golden Fleece, cut right into a storm, and many of them got seasick.

Glacier, Washington-based snowboarder Lucas Debari wrote a vivid enough post about sailing through the choppy waters:

It was only about a half hour or so before we emerged from the protection of the bay and were in the open ocean. Within 20 minutes of that our entire crew was lying down using every bit of mental focus to not vomit or fall out of our beds in the turbulent seas.

The next 72 hours were possibly the most miserable three days of my life. I think I left my little nest of a bed for a total of an hour during this time. I managed to put down a bowl of ramen on day two, and a few crackers here and there. Renan is in the bunk across from me, and keeps going on about how this is just like suffering on the big-wall portaledge during his epic expedition on Meru the year before.

Simple tasks like unscrewing a water bottle for a drink seemed to be just as difficult as they were for me at 17 thousand feet on Denali. Overall, I was completely over it at this point, the thought of snowboarding on this trip seemed unfathomable, and that wasn't just me. You should have seen Xavier during this time. He looked like a ghost, vomiting after every bite and barely able to open his eyes. I never saw him move once from his bed. The storm that had granted us an extra day in the Falklands was now pushing us to our very limits of sanity.

If you have a strong stomach, you can watch a video below of de Le Rue on the boat. It's not pretty, and involves retching.

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Protected Bike Lanes in Cities to Nearly Double in 2013

8265901844_073b12f188_hDowntown Chicago. Photo: Transitized/Flickr

Late at night on Friday November 30, Chicago's Department of Transportation began construction on the city's first protected two-way bike path with dedicated bike signals. They started on Dearborn Street in the heart of downtown, and not all motorists took kindly to the construction and loss of a lane for car traffic. Mayor Rahm Emanuel didn't budge after the complaints began. “I made a pledge that we were gonna do 25 miles of protected bike lanes throughout the city each year, so we could [reach] 100 miles by the time my term was done," the mayor said in the Chicago Sun Times. "And we’re on course to achieving that.”

Emanuel is adding the lanes in hopes that the city can attract more high-tech and start-up businesses. The Windy City isn't alone in making changes favorable to bike commuters. This past Saturday, the Green Lane Project released a preliminary report of protected bike lanes in the United States—they call them "green lanes." The organization said that U.S. cities had only 62 green lanes in 2011. By the end of 2012, they predict 102 green lanes will be completed in 32 U.S. cities. The Green Lane Project said more than 80 percent of the increase comes in eight cities: Austin, Texas, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York City. By the end of 2013, the organization predicts there will be 200 protected bike lanes in U.S. cities.

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The 10 Best Ethical Travel Destinations for 2013

Kayakers-palauKayaking in Palau. Photo: Mark Downey

Since 2006, Berkeley-based non-profit Ethical Traveler has compiled an annual list of the 10 best ethical vacation destinations for the coming year, and it just released its 2013 list this week.

"We try to encourage travelers to vote with their wings by going to places where travel and tourism benefits local people, where the government has an eye on the environment and supports human rights," Jeff Greenwald, Ethical Traveler's executive director, told a packed house at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club on Monday evening.

Greenwald's group focuses on developing nations, with an eye toward encouraging travelers to put economic power into these nascent tourism economies. In 2011, international tourism receipts exceeded $1 trillion for the first time, and this year the number of international tourists in the world is expected to hit one billion, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

The list is offered in alphabetical order, so they're all equally weighted within the top 10. Each nation is judged based on its social welfare programs, its efforts to protect its environment, and its human rights records. In the list below I've focused mostly on environmental protection and recreation.

Chosen for its proactive environmental programs—including its 2012 Green Economy Scoping study—and its transparency, Barbados also offers some of the best surfing (and rum) in the Caribbean.

This island nation on Africa's east coast boasts a program to achieve 100 percent renewable energy. "We're always wary about commodification of culture," said travel expert Malai Everette at the event on Monday, but she feels Cape Verde has maintained its rich culture without cheapening it.

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