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Active Volcano Diving

Sound extreme? It is. Just watch this modern-day, Russian Superman

When you're sitting in a tiny airplane about to jump into the gaping crater of a live volcano, what do you think goes through your mind? Apparently not second thoughts for Valery Rozov, the 44-year-old Russian who showed no hesitation before diving headfirst into Russia's active Mutnovsky Volcano.

After hurtling out of the plane, Rozov had to make a dicey landing onto a narrow shelf of ice. Deviating a few feet could have meant certain death—he was surrounded by too-thin ice sheets and smoking hot lava.

We have to admit, even though it does seem pretty stupid, it's also just so cool. If Clark Kent had been a Nascar driver instead of a reporter, his Superman suit probably would have looked something like this:



You conquer that volcano, Red Bull man. Our entertainment depends on it.

—Morgan Keys

Russian Superman jumps into volcano (Daily Telegraph)

Read Full Story...
Thursday, April 23, 2009 in: News & Events, Weird & Funny, Video & Media
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iPhone Apps Hit the Trail

On your next trek, forget the compass—there's an app for that

If we had to bet on the world's next emerging superpower, we'd put all our money on Apple—and we'd probably place the bet with the help of an iPhone application. In their quest to control the (technological?) world, Apple is rolling out a slew of new apps geared towards the techno savvy outdoor enthusiast.

In a new 30-second spot, the familiar hands demonstrate apps to replace a compass, identify bird species, and spot poison ivy.  Add those apps to the already impressive list including the Google Earth and GPS systems and you've got a handheld, do-just-about-anything, outdoor genius machine. They've definitely proved their point: There's an app for just about anything. Read Full Story...
Wednesday, April 08, 2009 in: News & Events, Video & Media
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Morning Wake-Up: BASE Jumping

The best part of waking up is hurling yourself off a cliff

Waking up is hard to do. Some groggy peeps use coffee, others tea, and still others won't truly slough off the chains of sleep until they get a hot shower. (Me, I'm typing this right now while taking a nap. Shhhh.)

But if you're still in need of a morning jolt to get you going, we'd like to humbly submit this compilation of BASE jumping videos. With myriad shots of crazy, adrenalized freaks leaping, skiing, somersaulting, and even parallel-bar-dismounting into the void, it's seven minutes of teeth-gritting thrills.

In fact, if you're still yawning by the end, you might want to check yourself for a pulse.



(Need a few trail-based thrills? Check out BACKPACKER's Most Dangerous Hikes. No BASE jumping, but still.)

—Ted Alvarez

Via The Goat
Read Full Story...
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 in: Video & Media
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All Dressed Up and Marching Towards Destruction

Possibility of extinction looms over Emperor Penguin

They're cute, (presumably) cuddly, and we've all confessed to wanting one after watching March of the Penguins.  But new research suggests that the Emperor Penguin may be facing future extinction as a result of--big surprise--climate change.

A study by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution researchers discovered that if the present rate of sea ice melting continues, our tuxedo-wearing friends might be in big trouble. Researchers are estimating that in about 100 years, the large colony of Emperor Penguins in Terre Adelie, Antarctica, will shrink from 3,000 breeding pairs to only 400.

This research comes on the heels of a study published January 21 indicating that global warming has hit Antarctica despite previous thoughts to the contrary. The continent is the stomping (and huddling) ground for the entire wild species of Emperor Penguins, and even the slightest increase in annual temperature can have huge effects on the ice under their egg-cradling feet.

Some researchers have high hopes that the penguins will learn to adapt to the changing climate--but paper co-author Stephanie Jenouvrier is doubtful, saying, “Unlike some other Antarctic bird species that have altered their life cycles, penguins don’t catch on so quickly.”

Penguins may not be the smartest species, but they could be the cutest (just try no to "awwww..." when checking this out):



If that didn't convince you to go green for the penguins, then I guess nothing can melt your frozen heart.

--Morgan Keys

Emperor Penguins March Towards Extinction? (Science Daily)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 in: Nature & Wildlife, Video & Media
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Bike-packing?

German bicycle-in-a-pack offers opportunity for faster descents, more broken bones



If you’re like us, you spend a lot of your weekend adventure-planning— and even more time trying to figure out whether you should spend it hammering out miles on foot or by pedal power. (We know. It’s a migraine-inducing decision-making process.)

Now, thanks to German engineering, you might have the chance to do both on the same outing: The Bergmönch merges a daypack with a downhill bike in one bright-orange, 20-pound package.

Besides injecting a little Lance-like adrenaline into your normally steep and grueling descent, this real-life Transformer boasts other benefits like 12 liters of storage space, a helmet holder, and a pack-to-bike assembly speed of about two minutes (or so says the brochure).

Check out subtitled footage of the Bergmönch in action (but don’t expect to learn much about why they call it “mountain monk”—don’t worry, we’re looking into it):


Bergmönch from Thomas Kaiser on Vimeo

Wheelie-popping monks aside, there seem to be a few major drawbacks: No pedals means the Bergmönch can only function as a downhill bike; even brief inclines on variable trails will force you to get off and push.  The tiny amount of storage space makes long tours out of the question, and since it lacks a seat, standing or kneeling while rattling down the mountain won’t really save your knees or back.

We’re all for biking as much as possible, but I’m not sure that means we should turn every return hike into the X-Games.

Or maybe I’m wrong: Should we preserve the tradition of a hiker’s descent sans wheels? 

Tell us if you think the Bergmönch is ridiculous or revolutionary in the comments section below.

--Morgan Keys

The Bergmönch
Monday, January 19, 2009 in: Weird & Funny, Video & Media
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At Least You're Not in Antarctica

No matter where you live, your winter can't match this

It's cold outside in most places in the United States (except here in Colorado, where we're experiencing spring-like weather in the high 50s). But even if you're getting hammered by snow and wind, it's nothing compared to Antarctica.

This vid is a little old, but is showcases Condition 1 weather in Antarctica, which means winds are faster than 50 mph and temperatures are somewhere between -75 and -100 F. If anything, it should remind you how good you have it, and maybe inspire you to take a trip outside this weekend.


Will you be heading outdoors this weekend? Tell us where you'll go and the weather conditions in the comments section below.

—Ted Alvarez

Via Adventure Junkie
Friday, January 16, 2009 in: Video & Media
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Yosemite Panorama Largest Ever

New York-based photographer releases 17-gigapixel image made from over 2,000 photos

When New York photographer Gerard Maynard set out to create the largest panoramic photo, he chose a grand subject—the Glacier Point view in Yosemite National Park. Stitched together from over 2,000 individual photos, the 17-gigapixel image could be the largest ultra-high-resolution composite photo ever created.

To get a sense of the humongous scale of the picture, visitors to Maynard's site can click on select points in the 96.5-gigabyte image, zooming in on cool details like multi-colored climbers moving up pitches on El Cap, hikers reaching the top of Half Dome, and unaware tourists caught taking photos of their family.

We're thankful Maynard included clickable points of interest; otherwise, searching for those cool details would be like working on the hardest "Where's Waldo" ever.

Big picture giving you a hankering to head out to Yosemite? Get all the details you need for your perfect trip right here.

—Ted Alvarez

Yosemite 17 Gigapixels (Gerard Maynard)

Via WIRED
Friday, November 14, 2008 in: News & Events, Video & Media
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Why walk when you can...walk

Treadmobile lets fitness weirdos move while standing still

Whoever invented the Treadmobile is either completely insane or in touch with a higher power that clues him in on what humans need before we even know we need it. I'd go into deeper description about this human-powered treadmill-car-thingie, but why waste words when you can watch it in action, set to a stylin' 80s soundtrack? To wit:



I like walking as much as the next guy, but whatever happened to riding a bike? Besides, the idea of using stationary walking/running to power a moving machine strikes me as so paradoxical that it sort of melts my brain. I guess we're just lucky they're not using it on trails, though.

The concept of employing two people on the treadmill to get more speed makes sense, I guess, but I still think I can run faster than the Treadmobile. They're not fooling anyone with that last shot of a Treadmobile racing alongside a practically idling Porsche.

—Ted Alvarez

Thanks, Tim
Friday, November 14, 2008 in: Weird & Funny, Health & Fitness, Video & Media
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'Survivorman' Sneak Peek: Season 3

Watch Les Stroud attempt to survive the Colorado Rockies in this exclusive preview clip from tomorrow's new episode

By now we all know Les Stroud won't be coming back as Survivorman next year, but at least he's leaving us with quite the going-away present: The popular survival show's third and final season will feature Stroud struggling against nature and the elements in wild locales like Papua-New Guinea and BACKPACKER's backyard, the Colorado Rockies.

In the meantime, whet your survival appetite with this exclusive clip from tomorrow night's episode of Survivorman, which airs at 9 p.m. EST on the Discovery Channel. In this scene, Les shows you how to boil water in a hydration bladder:



Yeah, boyeeee! I'm going to miss seeing Stroud suffer for my edification and enjoyment, but I'm sure his upcoming project, which follows him tracing the paths of famous explorers, will feature plenty of punishment. I don't think Shackleton had it that easy.

—Ted Alvarez
Thursday, November 13, 2008 in: Survival, News & Events, Video & Media
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Fall Camping Tips with BACKPACKER's Gear Editor

Watch Kristin Hostetter on CBS' Early Show

On Saturday, BACKPACKER's Gear Editor Kristin Hostetter went to New York to share autumn camping tips on the CBS Early Show. So how'd our print superstar fare on TV? I'd say she crushed:


Watch CBS Videos Online

Nice! Not even the hokey asides from the well-meaning but under-informed hosts could keep Super Kristin from getting off her game. Hostetter, you've got massive onscreen potential—but that doesn't mean I want to see you standing next to Ryan Seacrest next week. We still need you 'round BACKPACKER way.

—Ted Alvarez

Backpacking & Camping In Style (CBS)
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 in: News & Events, Gear, Video & Media
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