Archives for March, 2016

Hunting ‘Gators’ in Antarctica

3 p.m. local time, March 15, 2016, Post #4 Our Zodiac glides past chunks of floating ice, through water as smooth and still as glass. Ari Friedlaender stands in back, steering the boat with one hand, his crossbow stowed conveniently at his feet. We’re cruising through Andvord Bay, a fjord on the west side of…

Skiing Ja-Pow: Chasing Winter in Remote Japan

Our headlights ignite a furious vortex of snowflakes that races toward the windshield of our little Toyota HI eight-passenger van as we speed into the night and the thickening storm ahead. The road beyond the falling snow is barely distinguishable from the massive banks of white on either side of it, carved from the landscape…

Penguins’ Not-So-Adorable Contribution to Life in Antarctica

9 a.m. local time, March 14, 2016, Post #3 A flurry of snowflakes swirls past in the cold morning air—at least they look like snow—but I soon realize they’re actually penguin feathers, lofted by wind from the colony of stinky birds nesting a few yards away. It is late summer on Danco Island, a small…

A Year in the Wilderness: Navigating Blizzards – Week 25, Post 11

On our 176th day in the wilderness, we found ourselves staring into a blank, white canvas. From our position in the middle of frozen Snowbank Lake, no land was visible. Traveling inside a ping pong ball, our senses were heightened. The wind against our faces and the angle of the snow blowing across our skis were…

14 Year Old Achieves Hardest Boulder Climb Ever Done by a Woman

A week before her 15th birthday, Ashima Shiraishi, the unlikely climbing prodigy from New York City, got an early present. During a spring-break trip to Japan, she climbed a boulder problem with a difficulty rating of V15—essentially, at the current limit of climbing difficulty. This makes Shiraishi not only the first woman to climb a…

How I Crossed One of the World’s Roughest Seas

4 p.m. local time, March 11, 2016, Post #2  I woke this morning to the dizzy feeling of rocking—as if my bed were swinging from a hammock. The walls, ceiling, and floor creaked with each swing. The room was dark. I stumbled out of bed in search of the light switch. Our ship, the Ortelius,…

What Will Climate Change Mean for Whales? These Scientists Hope to Find Out.

2 p.m. local time, March 10, 2016, Post #1 On a blustery autumn day in Ushuaia, Argentina, 54 degrees south of the equator near the shredded, mountainous tip of South America, final preparations are under way on the M.V. Ortelius, a vessel strengthened for navigation in polar sea ice. This evening, tugboats will nudge her into…

Himalaya Scribe: ‘I Frighten a Lot of People’

The most intimidating person in Himalayan mountaineering is a 92-year-old American woman with a walker. Elizabeth Hawley (most often addressed as Miss Hawley) has lived in Kathmandu for nearly as long as Nepal has been open to foreigners. She was the first to keep good records of Himalayan expeditions and soon became the de facto…

Yurts, Yogis, and Cowboys: Skiing Away From the Modern World

It’s still dark, but I can hear him wrestling with the fire. I struggle, halfway between dreams and consciousness. It’s a late night, spent envisioning the wolf outside sniffing our yurt. We haven’t seen any wolves or any of their traces, but I can’t help my imagination—at night, it finds the wolf. In the morning…

What Was Tommy Caldwell’s Scariest Climbing Moment? Dodging Bullets in a Portaledge

You probably know Tommy Caldwell from when he and Kevin Jorgeson completed the first free climb of the Dawn Wall route in Yosemite—considered the hardest rock climb in the world. Or, you might know he was the first person to receive one of our Adventurer of the Year awards two years in a row. But did…