Scotsman completes epic ride from Anchorage to Ushuaia

Scotsman Mark Beaumont completed his Cycling The America’s expedition yesterday, reaching Ushuaia, Argentina 268 days after he set out from Anchorage, Alaska. Mark crossed through 12 countries on his journey, racking up 13,080 miles, and climbing two major mountains, in the process.

While this would seem like an incredibly long ride for just about anyone else, for Mark it’s only his second longest ride. Back in 2008, almost two years ago to the day, he finished circumnavigating the globe on his bike, a journey that took him just 195 days to complete, which was a record at that time.

To spice things up on his latest adventure, the Scotsman decided to throw a couple of new challenges into the mix. Not only did he climb the 20,320 foot tall Mt. McKinley, in Alaska, he also reached the summit of Aconcagua, which stands at 22,841 feet and is located in the Andes mountains of Argentina. The two peaks are the tallest in North and South America respectively.

While he peddled away the past eight months, Mark has also been blogging his experiences extensively, and it has made for an interesting travelogue. He clearly enjoys spending his time on the road, exploring the countries he passes through, and getting fully immersed in the local cultures. For their part, many of locals that he met along the trail thought that he was a little crazy for making such an epic journey on just his bicycle, but Mark was often touched by the kindness of strangers, who were usually curious about his expedition.

For certain sections of the ride, Beaumont was accompanied by a camera crew, but he also carried his own camera, and filmed much of it himself as well. All of the footage will be edited together to make a BBC documentary that will air in the U.K. later this year. No doubt it will be a fascinating adventure to watch unfold.

17-year old climber nabs Seven Summits

17-year old mountaineer Johnny Collinson of Snowbird, Utah has become the youngest person to climb all the Seven Summits by topping out on Mt. Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica. The teenager reached the summit, which stands at 16,067 feet, on Monday, completing a quest to reach the top of the highest peaks on all seven continents.

Collinson is still in Antarctica and hasn’t posted to his website yet, but he was climbing with a team led by guide service Mountain Madness who updated their own blog with the news of the team’s success. Johnny was joined on the summit by three other climbers as well as well known guide Willie Benegas. And as if reaching the summit wasn’t enough, the young man elected to ski back down the mountain to their campsite.

The Seven Summits have become one of the top goals for climbers and adventurers around the planet. Besides Vinson, the peaks consist of Kilimanjaro in Africa (19,340 feet), Elbrus in Europe (18,510 feet), Denali in North America (20,320 feet), Aconcagua in South America (22,841 feet), Carstenz Pyramid in Oceana (16,023 feet), and of course Everest in Asia (29,029 feet). That tallest mountain in Australia is Kosciusko, but that peak is just 7310 feet in height and is a simple walk-up, so the list was expanded to include the taller and more technically challenging Carstenz Pyramid, located in Indonesia. Most of the climbers who complete the Seven Summits actually go for all eight peaks just to cover their bases.

Collinson may not hold on to this record for long. 13-year old Jordan Romero will be going to Everest this spring to make his bid on that mountain, and if successful there, he’ll head to Vinson in the fall as well. If he nabs both summits, he’ll be just 14-years old when he is done.

World’s longest bike race gets underway on Sunday

As that little bike race in France comes to an end this weekend on the Champs Elysees, an ocean away, another one will begin, as the inaugural Vuelta Sudamericana gets underway from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The “expedition race”, as it is billed, is 134 days in length, making it the longest stage-race in the world.

The Vuelta is brought to us by the same deviously adventurous minds behind the Tour d’Afrique and the recently launched DreamTours, which lets you build your own cycling adventure. The organizers of the race have years of experience handling these types of events, and they allow the riders to focus on the journey while they take care of all the logistics.

While the race does run 134 days in length, only 110 of those are actual riding stages, with 23 rest days and 1 travel day built into the schedule as well. At the moment, 23 riders from all over the planet are set to embark on the ride, which begins on Sunday and will cover nearly 7500 miles, passing through Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru before ending in Quito, Ecuador four months from now. Along the the route they’ll peddle through steamy jungles, across arid deserts, and over mountain passes, climbing as high as 13,780 feet in the Andes.

The riders won’t be at a loss for interesting scenery either. Along the course they’ll pass by Iguazu Falls, Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in South America, the Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth, Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable body of water in the world, and the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. All in all, a fairly great tour of the continent.

Of course, not all of us have four months to go cycling around South America, so the entire ride is also broken down into nine smaller sections allowing cyclists who can’t do the entire distance to join and leave at a variety of points along the way.

To learn more about the Vuelta Sudamericana, check out the official website, where you’ll find updates from the riders starting soon. There is also more info on the route, profiles of the riders, an F.A.Q. and a detailed look at the event. This seems like a great adventure for anyone who is into long distance cycling, and makes the Tour de France seem like a short ride in the countryside.

12-Year-Old Climber Sets Sights on Seven Summits

The Seven Summits are the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents, and climbing them all is considered one of the premiere achievements for climbers and adventurers the world over. The concept originated with a man named Dick Bass who was the first to successfully gain this achievement back in 1985, and since then, dozens of other climbers have followed in his footsteps.

Currently, the youngest person to have climbed the Seven Summits is Samantha Larson, who accomplished the feat at the age of 18 when she topped out on Mt. Everest back in 2007. But there is another young climber looking to snatch that record, as 12-year-old Jordan Romero closes in on the mark.
Jordan, who was recently interviewed by Outside Online, caught the climbing bug when he reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, at the age of 10. After that, he made it a goal to go after the remaining summits as well, and has now successfully reached the top of Elbrus (Europe), Aconcagua (South America), Denali (North America), and Kosciuszko (Australia). That leaves Mt. Vinson in Antarctica, and Everest in Asia, as the two remaining mountains in the traditional Seven Summits. This summer, Romero will climb a mountain called Carstensz Pyramid in Papua New Guinea. Carstensz is considered the tallest mountain in Oceania, often replacing Kosciusko as the seventh summit. Jordan’s covering all his bases and climbing both, making this a Seven Summits plus One.

If everything goes as planned, the young climber will be on Everest by the time he’s 16, and finishing off his quest. Jordan says that the most difficult challenge is actually fund raising, and he estimates he’ll need roughly $180,000 to complete the Seven Summits, the bulk of which will be used on Everest and Vinson. Good luck Jordan!

Summiting Aconcagua

A good friend of mine just achieved one of the
top items on my own personal "lifelist", that is, the list of things I’d most like to do in my life. This
item sits there at about number 21, after many diving adventures, paddling Greenland and a host of others. But it is
there, nonetheless, and I am psyched he pulled it off. He also wanted me to mention hs guiding outfit, which he says
did a superb job getting his small group to the top. The company is called South American Climbing.

What did he do, you ask? Well, he
summited Aconcagua, the 22,841-ft behemoth of a mountain in
the South of Argentina, that also happens to be the tallest mountain in the Southern and Western Hemispheres. Now, never
mind the fact that we have labeled this number one
on OUR Gadling Lifelist series. That was
just a matter of circumstance. I’d just read something about it and so posted the piece. We’ll be doing many more
Lifelist pieces in the near future, by the way.

So it took my friend Erik Riegler some three weeks to get
acclimated and to reach the summit, and as you can see by this
series of photos
on Kodak (which I hope you CAN see), Aconcagua looks both brutally hard, and surprisingly barren.
But despite its enormous height, it is not THAT hard to climb, at least it’s not if yo ukeep yourself to the easiest
route up. Technically, I understand it can be done by relative novices. The key is to acclimatize so you don’t end up
with cerebral or pulmonary edema. So, here’s raising a glass to Erik and his effort. Nice job, dude.