The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Exploration

Circumnavigating Ellesmere Island

ICEWALK

Canada’s Ellesmere Island, a 75,000-square-mile chunk of ice and rock off Greenland’s southwest coast, has never been circumnavigated. Two men hope to change that fact. Three days ago, 26-year-old photographer Erik Boomer and 65-year-old writer John Turk kicked off a planned 1,485-mile expedition. Over the next 96 days, they'll attempt to drag, sail, and paddle their kayaks across the ice and ice flows that form Ellesmere’s perimeter. It's a hard expedition. Polar bears far outnumber the island’s 137 residents, and the diaries of early explorers like Robert Peary, which often serve as guidebooks for repeat (or partial repeat) polar expeditions, have been rendered useless by climate change and melting ice.

“Essentially, we’ll be the first people to go into this environment in its current state,” Turk told Canoe & Kayak magazine. “So we’re kind of winging it as we go.”

The expedition originally included whitewater paddler Tyler Bradt, but he dropped out in March after breaking his back kayaking a 100-foot waterfall in Oregon. Turk and Boomer, who had met only a few times through Bradt, decided to carry on without him. We’ll be following their updates with Q&As and podcasts every few weeks for the next three months. In this first dispatch, Turk talks about the seasons of ice, combating exhaustion, and the expedition’s first crux.

How do you plan to travel everyday for three months?
We’ll be moving 15 hours a day, every day. This time of year the ice is hard and travel is fast. We’ll slow down for a month during slush season, and we’re hoping to have open water toward the end of the expedition so we can paddle and knock out the last thousand miles.

How do you pick your lines through the ice? Just paddle and pray it works out?
It’s like a first ascent rock climb, you just pick a crack in the ice and follow it. The important thing is that we’re guaranteed to make wrong decisions. We have to keep our sense of humor and our faith in each other. If we start arguing, it uses up energy, and we don’t have energy to waste.

Do you know Boomer well?
No. We hardly know each other at all. But we’re getting to know each other really well now. Not having Tyler along is tough emotionally. We miss his laugh and big smile. Can we pull it off without him? I don’t know. We just have to take it one step at a time, but if I thought it was suicidal I’d turn back now.

Later this week, you’ll paddle around the island's southwest corner, one of the expedition's first cruxes. Tell us about it.
We’ve got Hellsgate coming up; that’s a pretty scary place. It’s open water and there are whirlpools, swirling ice, and really fast currents. It’s a crapshoot out there. We don’t know exactly how we’re going to deal with it.

Call us in a week when you’re past it?
Yeah, as soon as it makes sense.

--Kyle Dickman

Read More

Steck and Bowie Summit Cho Oyu

4435471332_a642ed2868

Alpinists Ueli Steck and Don Bowie of the Himalaya Speed project have summited the world's sixth-highest peak, according to Bowie's ground team. Bowie reported in a satellite phone dispatch that he and Steck made it to the top of Cho Oyu (8,201 m) on May 5th.

The pair's success comes just 18 days after Steck soloed Shishapangma (8,013 m) in just 10.5 hours. Two-week-long window of bad weather afterwards gave Bowie, who wasn't properly acclimatized to take part in the first climb, ample time to prepare for Cho Oyu.

Next on Steck and Bowie's tick list is Mt. Everest; according to ExWeb, the pair plans to attempt the north side of the peak.

--Adam Roy

Photo: Cho Oyu by McKay Savage

Read More

Richard Branson Unveils Single-Cockpit Submarine

 

Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has brought a new toy to the realm of high-price adventure: a single-person submarine capable of diving six-miles under water. The 18-foot carbon-fiber and titanium craft, dubbed the Virgin Oceanic, resembles a single cockpit plane and is the latest addition to Branson's personal exploration crafts, a line that includes the commercial space flight, and crafts for high-speed oceanic travel.

"If someone says something is impossible, we like to prove it's possible," Branson told the Mercury News. "I love learning and I'm just very fortunate to participate in these kinds of adventures."

According explorer Chris Welsh, slated to pilot the Oceanic's first dive, the dives will be dangerous--requiring pilots to spend large periods of time in the dark, cold depths of the ocean with little communication to the outside world, and no hope for rescue.

Branson, who founded the Virgin Group including Virgin Records and Virgin Airlines, will be partnering with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing Research Labs, and other scientific foundations to study the tectonic plates and fauna found at extreme depths. "Scientists believe something like 90 percent of species on Earth have not been discovered," Branson said. The sub's first dive will explore the depths of the Mariana Trench, and is scheduled for later this year.

The craft is also the beginning of an oceanic-tourism line offering jaunts in the oceans' depths for an undisclosed amount.

--Ali Taylor Lange

Read More

Richard Branson Unveils Single-Cockpit Submarine

 

Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has brought a new toy to the realm of high-price adventure: a single-person submarine capable of diving six-miles under water. The 18-foot carbon-fiber and titanium craft, dubbed the Virgin Oceanic, resembles a single cockpit plane and is the latest addition to Branson's personal exploration crafts, a line that includes the commercial space flight, and crafts for high-speed oceanic travel.

"If someone says something is impossible, we like to prove it's possible," Branson told the Mercury News. "I love learning and I'm just very fortunate to participate in these kinds of adventures."

According explorer Chris Welsh, slated to pilot the Oceanic's first dive, the dives will be dangerous--requiring pilots to spend large periods of time in the dark, cold depths of the ocean with little communication to the outside world, and no hope for rescue.

Branson, who founded the Virgin Group including Virgin Records and Virgin Airlines, will be partnering with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing Research Labs, and other scientific foundations to study the tectonic plates and fauna found at extreme depths. "Scientists believe something like 90 percent of species on Earth have not been discovered," Branson said. The sub's first dive will explore the depths of the Mariana Trench, and is scheduled for later this year.

The craft is also the beginning of an oceanic-tourism line offering jaunts in the oceans' depths for an undisclosed amount.

--Ali Taylor Lange

Read More

Youngest Explorer to Ski to North Pole

 

Video from Parker's training in Longyearbyen before his March 2010 North Pole attempt

Sixteen-year-old Parker Liautaud, who was born in California but now lives in London, has already done some hardcore adventuring, such as climbing the Rockies and coming within 15 miles of the North Pole. This failed attempt to the North Pole occurred last March when Liautaud and his fellow polar explorer, Doug Stoup, had to stop because of bad weather, southward drift, and warming temperatures.

The duo just set out for their second attempt, the One Young World North Pole expedition. If they succeed, Parker will become the youngest person in history to ski to the North Pole. Part of the reason Parker is exploring the North Pole is to draw attention to global climate changes. During Parker's first attempt, he started The Last Degree, an organization to educated young adults about the environmental issues of the polar regions.

The journey is about 70 miles long and Parker will be pulling a 115 pound sled the entire way. During the expedition, Parker and Stoup will collect snow thickness measurements for the University of Alberta. During the journey, Parker will be updating his blog.

Other teenagers who are exploring the world include Jordan Romero and Abby Sunderland.

--Mattie Schuler

Read More

Free Newsletters

Dispatch This week's featured articles, reviews, and videos. Sent twice weekly.
News From the Field The most important breaking news from around the Web. Sent daily.
Outside GOOur hottest adventure-travel tips and trips. Sent occasionally.
Outside Partners Outside-approved deals and special offers from select partners. Sent occasionally.

Subscribe
to Outside
Save Over
70%

Magazine Cover

iPad Outside+ App Access Now Included!

Categories

Authors

News

Apr 17, 2014

Previous Posts

2014

2013

2012

Blog Roll

Recent Comments

  1. John Morris commented on

    The Top Five Tips on...

    Thank you very good and a healthy...

  2. CJ commented on

    The Top Five Tips on...

    This is great information, although I...

  3. Pedro commented on

    Hydrate or Cry: Make...

    Is this a 6% drink like Gatorade? How...

Current Issue Outside Magazine

Subscribe and get a great deal! Two free Buyer's Guides plus a free GoLite Sport Bottle. Monthly delivery of Outside—your ultimate resource for today's active lifestyle. All that and big savings!

Free Newsletters

Dispatch This week's featured articles, reviews, and videos. Sent twice weekly.
News From the Field The most important breaking news from around the Web. Sent daily.
Gear of the Day The latest products, reviews, and editors' picks. Coming soon.
Outside Partners Outside-approved deals and special offers from select partners. Sent occasionally.

Ask a Question

Our gear experts await your outdoor-gear-related questions. Go ahead, ask them anything.

* We might edit your question for length or clarity. If it's not about gear, we'll just ignore it.