Two Mountain Climbers Die After Making First Winter Ascent Of Broad Peak

Broad Peak in Pakistan's Karakoram Mountain RangeTriumph quickly turned to tragedy in the mountains of Pakistan last week when a team of climbers made the first winter ascent of the massive Broad Peak. The four climbers battled difficult conditions and extremely cold temperatures to reach the summit, but sadly two of the men died on the descent.

Last Tuesday, Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Tomasz Kowalski and Artur Małek, climbing as part of an all-Polish mountaineering squad, reached the top of the 8051-meter (26,414-foot) Broad Peak, the 12th highest mountain on the planet. The four men accomplished that feat after spending weeks on BP building high camps, fixing ropes and acclimatizing to the high altitude and inclement weather. In doing so, they became the first men to summit that incredibly difficult peak during the harshest and most unforgiving season of the year.

But experienced mountaineers will tell you that the summit is only half way to the goal and that climbers still need to safely get back down as well. After spending a short time on top of Broad Peak, the men began the long, slow and exhausting descent back to their highest camp where they could rest before proceeding down to Base Camp the following day. Unfortunately, two of the men would never make it to that point.

In the hours that followed the successful summit, Bielecki and Małek managed to stumble back to camp and climb inside their tents for a much needed rest. But Berbeka and Kowalski were both moving far too slowly to reach high camp that evening. As a result, they were forced to bivouac at 7900 meters (25,918 feet) without a tent, leaving them exposed to the harsh elements overnight.The following day the team leader spoke to Kowalski via satellite phone who told him he was simply too tired to go on. No matter how much he was encouraged or cojoled, the climber didn’t have the strength or energy to get on his feet and so he sat in place, waiting for the inevitable. There was no further contact with him by mid-morning.

As for Berbeka, he was climbing without a satellite phone but was reportedly on the move and attempting to descend the mountain. He was last seen coming down from the site of his overnight bivouac but what became of him after that remains a mystery. It is believed that he was simply so exhausted by the climb and exposure to the elements that he inadvertently slipped into a crevasse while descending.

Over the next couple of days, other members of the team climbed up the mountain to watch for their teammates and lend assistance as needed. Both Bielecki and Małek were able to safely descend back to base camp but their companions were never seen again. A massive storm moved into region over the weekend, effectively closing off all chances of survival.

With the successful summit of Broad Peak, 12 of the 14 8000-meter mountains have now been climbed during the winter. Only Nanga Parbat, which also claimed a life this winter, and the dreaded K2 remain unconquered during the colder months of the year.

[Photo Credit: Adam Bielecki]

Trek To Everest Base Camp To Celebrate The 60th Anniversary Of The First Summit

Experience Everest Bae Camp with the 60th anniversary trekOn May 29, 1953, Edmund Hilliary and Tenzing Norgay became the first men to summit Mt. Everest, the world’s tallest peak. Their daring and historic climb ended a decades-long quest to conquer the 29,029-foot mountain and by accomplishing that task, the two men became instant celebrities across the globe. To celebrate that amazing feat, adventure travel company Ace the Himalaya is organizing a 60th anniversary Everest Base Camp Trek that will allow guests to walk in the footsteps of the two legendary climbers and leave a lasting impact on the mountain at the same time.

The 18-day itinerary starts on May 19 when travelers first begin arriving in Kathmandu. They’ll spend the following week trekking through the beautiful Khumbu Valley, passing snowcapped peaks and tiny villages before eventually arriving in Everest Base Camp on May 28 – exactly one day before the 60th anniversary of Hilliary and Norgay’s climb. After camping overnight in BC, the trekkers will spend May 29 contributing to the environmental cleanup in and around Base Camp by collecting trash that has accumulated there. They’ll then wrap up the day with a special celebratory dinner prepared to honor 60 years of climbing on the world’s most iconic peak. The final days of the trek will be spent descending back down the Khumbu Valley and returning to Kathmandu. The itinerary ends on June 5 when the travelers depart for home. Click here for a detailed look at the full schedule.

An Everest Base Camp trek is one of the best adventure travel experiences that active travelers could ask for. The Himalaya are simply breathtaking and the hearty people that live in the mountains are friendly and accommodating. Making the trek to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of the mountain would make for an unforgettable journey. But if you’re looking for the complete Everest experience, Ace the Himalaya also offers a full climbing expedition that will take you all the way to the summit. That one takes adventure to an entirely new level.

[Photo Credit: Kraig Becker]

Gadling gear review: First Ascent Hangfire Hoodie

The First Ascent Hangfire HoodieAs travelers and outdoor enthusiasts we all have a piece of gear that we simply can’t leave home without. It could be your favorite hat, backpack, or hiking shoes, but whether you’re headed out of town for a long weekend or jetting out of the country for an extended adventure, it is the one item that you simply can’t leave behind. For me, that piece of gear has become the Hangfire Hoodie from First Ascent, a comfortable and versatile jacket that has already accompanied me on trips to four different continents.

The First Ascent line of gear comes to us from Eddie Bauer, a company that built its reputation on designing great outdoor gear. The new line was launched two years ago with the help of some of the best mountaineering guides in the world, who provided advice and invaluable insights based on their years of experience in the mountains. The result has been a new line of outdoor gear that has already set the bar high for other gear manufacturers to try to match.

While much of the First Ascent gear is designed for high altitude adventures in extreme weather, the Hangfire Hoodie is a jacket that can be used not only on the summit of a mountain but also kicking around town. It has a great looking design that garners attention where ever you go, and I’ve regularly had others stop me to ask about it. No one ever said that your outdoor gear can’t look as good as it performs, and First Ascent has taken that idea to heart.

Made from two-way stretch fleece, the Hangfire is designed to be warm while also wicking moisture away from the skin. That combination makes it a great piece of kit to have with you in nearly all weather conditions. The fabrics are highly water resistant, while still breathing very nicely, which means you need to be caught out in some seriously wet conditions before this jacket will allow its wearer to get wet. I have personally worn the Hangfire in everything from light rains to heavy snows, and it has remained warm and comfortable the whole time, even when temperatures dropped below freezing.The First Ascent Hangfire Hoodie on the summit of a volcano in ChileThe Hangfire’s mountaineering roots are evident in its design as well. The jacket fits snugly, but doesn’t restrict movement in any way, which makes it great for any active outdoor pursuit. The integrated hood wraps warmly around the head, but is still stretchy enough to pull over a climbing helmet, and the three large zip-pockets keep essential gear items close at hand for when you need them. These simple, yet much appreciated, details are part of what separates a merely good piece of gear from a great one.

When the hoodie is integrated into your cold weather layering system, its versatility really begins to show. Pull it over your base layers to protect against the wind, then add an outer shell to turn the Hangfire into the perfect insulating layer as well. A layering system such as this one allows you to stay warmer and dryer while playing outside, and gives you a variety of options for how to best stay comfortable.

That versatility extends the usefulness of the jacket beyond the mountain however, as it means you can wear it in cooler temperatures no matter where you’re at. I like to keep the Hangfire in my carry on bag to be pulled out as needed on long international flights or upon arrival at my destination. It is lightweight, packs small, and is simply my favorite piece of gear to take on my adventures, whether that’s to the top of snow capped peak or down the street to the local pub.

First Ascent has a real winner on their hands with the Hangfire Hoodie, and with an MSRP of just $99, it is a fantastic investment for active travelers who can appreciate everything that it has to offer.

Gear suggestions for holiday weekend trips outdoors

patagonia lightweight travel pack outdoor gear gadlingSummer is in full-swing and with the Independence Day weekend right around the corner, people are planningfor trips to the great outdoors. From hiking to camping, getting into nature is a great way to enjoy the holiday and unplug from your everyday life. However, if you’re going to do it right, you need to have the proper gear. Last year, we set you up with the ultimate camping gear guide. All of those great products are still staples in our collections, but we’ve discovered some new accessories that will make your outdoor adventures more enjoyable. Whether you’re spending July 4th in a tent, on the trail or simply on a picnic in the park, you’ll want to check out our latest outdoor gear suggestions.Packs

If you’ve packed many of your supplies in your daypack, it makes it heavy when it comes time to use it on a hike. Rather than unpack all of your gear and risk losing or forgetting it, it’s easier to have a second pack with you that you can take with you out on the trail. The Patagonia Lightweight Travel Pack folds into itself when you’re not using it and carries plenty of provisions when you’re ready for a day away from camp. It’s a bit pricey at $79, but it’s durable, sturdier than other packable bags and holds 26L when you’re ready to attack the day.

If all you need is the bare essentials when you go for a hike or a mountain bike ride, then the Black Diamond Flash Pack is perfect for keeping things light. It holds only 9L but it’s hydration compatible, has enough pockets to keep you organized and its low profile will prevent you from snagging a strap on a tree as you barrel through the bush.

Tools

outdoor gear gerber metolius clip folder knife gadlingWhen you need a knife larger than anything on your multitool, you’ll want the Gerber Metolious Clip Folder. It’s big enough to handle tough jobs but small enough to fit in your pocket or clip to your belt while not scaring away anybody you might encounter in the wild. Whether you need to cut some rope or field dress a fresh kill, this knife is a reasonably-priced option for outdoorsmen of any experience level.

We mentioned the Black Diamond Apollo Lantern in last year’s gear guide, but they’ve supersized things with the new Titan Lantern. It’s 250-lumen LED system will illuminate your entire campsite, making cooking a breeze long after the sun has set. Never underestimate the importance of a strong, reliable light.

Apparel

Venturing outdoors requires you to pack layers. If you’re like me, you hate carrying that extra weight in your pack. Thankfully, when it comes to preparing for rain, at least, you can now pack a jacket and not even notice it. The Eddie Bauer First Ascent Sirocco Wind Shell Jacket is the lightest jacket we’ve ever encountered, yet still manages to be durable, well-made and have strong seals around all of the zippers. It might not pack into one of its own pockets like some other lightweight jackets, but it packs easily and does the job of coats five times its weight.

outdoor gear keen kanyon gadlingShould you pack hiking shoes or sandals? Why choose (or deal with lugging them both around) when you can have two in one with the Keen Kanyon? They dry quickly, are ultralight and provide a closed toe for optimal protection when you’re using them as hikers. The bungee lacing allows for an optimal fit without having laces dangling off of your shoes when you’re out on the trail.

If you prefer a more closed shoe, then the Teva Churn is a must. The breathable mesh still allows you to fully submerge them in water when dragging your canoe onto shore, but you can trust that they’ll dry quicker than most hiking shoes. The fold-down heel also allows you to wear the Churn as a slip-on when you’re back in camp.

No matter what you’re getting into this weekend – and the rest of the summer, for that matter – make sure that your gear is in good shape. If not, replace it with our suggestions and you’ll be set for a holiday away from work and immersed in nature.

What’s your favorite outdoor gear? Share your suggestions in the comments.

Gadling’s cold weather gift guide

Patagonia Wanaka jacket coat cold weather gift guide winter Gadling gadlingChristmas is less than two weeks away (and Hanukkah wishes are now being expressed belatedly), and that’s still plenty of time to shop for all of your favorite people. We’ve already covered the best gifts for outdoor travelers and the top luxury travel gifts, so this time around we’re focusing on people who embrace winter.

You know the type: the adventurers who see snow and can’t wait to get outside to enjoy the season. OK, these gifts are also for people who barely tolerate a cool breeze and just need some gear to help them survive the next three months.

However, don’t have to simply survive winter. You can enjoy it – and look good – with the right gear. So, bundle up, pour some hot cocoa into your favorite travel mug (we’ll get to that shortly) and head outside. We rallied the Gadling troops and put together a list of our favorite winter gear. This is Gadling’s cold weather gift guide.

Mike Barish

I love the Patagonia Wanaka down jacket (pictured above). There’s nothing I hate more than someone in a fashionable pea coat complaining about the cold. Maybe if they dressed properly, they’d be comfortable. On the flip side, so many warm coats are just plain ugly. Unlike all the bubble jackets you’ll see everyone wearing every winter, the Wanaka is a down jacket that actually looks good. It manages to combine fashion and function by looking sleek while packing 600-fill down inside. ($349 at Patagonia)

I also never leave the house without my Dale of Norway knit cap. Dale of Norway gear is beyond warm and I could probably wear nothing but their knit cap and still be comfortable outside. I haven’t been able to find my exact hat online (my girlfriend picked it up while she was in Norway) but you can shop for their gear at high-end sporting goods stores and sites such as Amazon and Zappos. ($49 on Amazon)

If you like to take coffee (or, if you’re like me, hot chocolate) with you, then you’re going to want to carry it in Klean Kanteen’s insulated bottle. It will keep your beverages hot for an astonishingly long time. (Starting at $22.95 at Klean Kanteen)

Grant Martin

icebreaker realfleece aspiring hood winter gear gift guide GadlingOur well-traveled editor is a big fan of the Icebreaker 320 RealFleece Aspiring Hood. He’s sung its praises previously and continues to enjoy Icebreaker equipment. The merino wool keeps you warm and doesn’t absorb odor. Great for when you’re breaking a sweat on the slopes, chopping wood or just building a snowman. ($200 at Icebreaker)

Darren Murph

Leave it to our favorite Engadget Associate Editor to recommend the Recon-Zeal Transcend goggles with built-in GPS. As he noted on Engadget, these goggles are “equipped with a Zeal Optics’ frame design with a micro LCD display, which appears to hang approximately six feet in front of the user. That head-mounted display provides real-time feedback to the wearer, including speed, latitude / longitude, altitude, vertical distance traveled, total distance traveled, a chrono / stopwatch mode, a run-counter, temperature and time.” Wow. ($399 or $499 depending on model at Zeal Optics)

Scott Carmichael

For someone who lives in Chicago, Scott sure does hate winter. Maybe that’s why he recommended Zippo’s new hand warmer. It might look like a classic Zippo lighter, but you won’t see any flame coming out of this hand warmer. It uses Zippo lighter fluid to provide hunters, skiiers and Chicago commuters with portable warmth when their fingers start to go numb. ($19.95 at Zippo)

Kent Wien

gadling gear guide winter arc'teryxGadling’s resident pilot loves Arc’teryx gear (so much so that he let us use a picture of his lovely wife, Linda, modeling some of her favorite pieces). Linda highly recommended her Beta AR jacket and Strato fleece. According to Kent, “You’ll be drawn in by the colors and schemes, and hooked when you see the functionality (pockets everywhere). And then you’ll likely take a step back when you see the price. But if you take the plunge, you’ll probably be hooked on their products for life.” ($450 and $175, respectively, at Arc’teryx or much cheaper on Amazon)

Alex Robertson Textor

Alex loves Fox River Socks’ Red Heel Monkey Socks. According to Alex, “Fox River Socks manufactures the original Rockford Red Heel monkey sock, and apparently every pack of socks from Fox River comes with monkey sock instructions. I love these socks for their warmth and feel during winter.” ($12 at Fox River Socks)

Laurel Miller

Laurel gushed about her Western Mountaineering Hooded Flash Jacket. “It’s microlight (9 oz.), compresses to the size of a softball, 850 plus fill power goosedown, and it’s gotten me through a winter in Telluride (including skiing, which I usually won’t do in down), and mountaineering in a blizzard on the world’s highest active volcano in Ecuador. I wore a waterproof shell over it in that instance. I’ve slept in it on camping trips, and have generally abused the hell out of it and it’s still maintaining it’s loft, and is in perfect condition (albeit a bit grubby). I got caught in a Seattle rainstorm yesterday wearing it, and it still didn’t soak through. It’s the ultimate traveler’s/backpackers jacket, and great for women like me who are perpetually cold, but don’t want to wear a bulky jacket or loads of layers.” ($260 on Amazon)

Kraig Becker

Perhaps no one at Gadling knows more about outdoor gear than Kraig. When he recommends products, we all listen. He’s a big fan of the Outdoor Research Alti Gloves. “A good layering system is only part of the answer for staying warm. You’ll also want something to keep your hands and head warm too. For the hands, I recommend a pair of Alti Gloves from Outdoor Research, which are designed for technical climbing in extreme conditions, which means they’ll also keep you warm on the slopes, during a winter hike, or any other winter outdoor activity.” ($150 at Outdoor Research)

Kraig also recommends layering in the winter, including starting with PolarMax Base Layers. “These base layers come in three varieties; warm, warmer, and warmest. Most Gadling readers will probably be very happy with the “Travel Weight” option, which is light weight, but still very warm. For colder weather outdoor adventures, such as backcountry skiing or snowshoeing, jump up to the “Mountain Skins,” which are high performance gear for the active cold weather traveler.” (Starting at $19.99 at Sport Chalet and other sporting goods retailers)

Lastly, Kraig loves the Eddie Bauer First Ascent Hangfire Hoodie. “Their Hangfire Hoodie is an amazing piece of gear that works great as an outer layer jacket in cool weather and an insulating layer in under a shell in cold weather. It is form fitting, but designed to move, making it easy to be very active while not limiting motion. It also looks great and is just as comfortable for use around town as it is in the backcountry. I highly recommend this one!” ($99 at Eddie Bauer)

Annie Scott

Annie loves the feel of cashmere and recommends White + Warren for all of your cashmere needs. That said, when it’s time to be practical with a pair of gloves that keep you warm and let you use your iPhone, she has other ideas. “Tec Touch gloves let you use your iPhone and other devices with your gloves on.” (Starting at $20 at 180s)

McLean Roberts

I recently invested in a pair of Pajar Davos boots. They’re the perfect winter weather wear – not so much gear as they are a fashion statement that actually keeps you both warm and comfortable … Think more apres ski in Telluride or Aspen than anything else. Made of real fur and lined with sheep, these sturdy and comfortable boots are both waterproof and durable, boasting a sturdy rubber liner at the bottom that prevents slipping. Oh, and they aren’t Uggs, so people won’t make fun of you. Okay, they might…I look like I’m wearing a small animal on my foot, but at least I’m warm.” ($350 at Jildor Shoes)

Melanie Nayer

gadling winter gear guide stanley flaskWe’ll wrap things up with the wise words of one of our editors:

I love winter. The idea of bundling up in warm sweaters, cozy scarfs and mittens and cuddling by the fire after snowshoeing through the mountains is a perfect way to celebrate the season, in my opinion. But when it comes to the best winter gear, I simply have no idea. I take whatever is warmest from my closet and layer it on, but when Mike asked us to submit our favorites I couldn’t ignore his request.

A good flask and a little whiskey go a long way. I couldn’t tell you what brand my snow boots are or what layer of warmth my ski pants are tagged, but I can assure you a little Johnny Walker Black can warm you up nicely on a cold winter’s day.

So very true. Melanie didn’t recommend a specific flask, but we’ve long had our eyes on this handsome model from Stanley. It holds eight ounces of your favorite warming liquid and you’ll never lose the cap. ($20 at Stanley)