Adventure achievements don’t come much more inspiring than in two of the stories we have this time around. From braving 12m rollers while rowing the Atlantic, to teaming up to beat the freezing wilderness of Alaska in one of the longest and most gruelling races on the planet; we have three people whose bravery will make your jaw drop.
Add to that a big move in favour of the environment from none other than Donald J Trump, a brand-new real reef in Europe and two amazing ultra runs at the end of the world, and there’s lots to talk about in this edition.
Freefalling into LA
There was a UFO over downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday – but it wasn’t long before the fireball was revealed to be a trio of wingsuit fliers from the Red Bull Air Force.
Wearing wingsuits that shape the human body into an airfoil, they leapt from a helicopter 4,000 feet above LA and swooped into downtown at more than 120 mph.
To add a touch of Hollywood glitz, the suits were fitted with LED lights and sparking pyrotechnics that lit up the night sky as the sun set and the supermoon rose.
They pulled their chutes at 1,000ft (305m) – 100ft (30.5m) below the roofline of the hotel InterContinental completing the first ever wingsuit jump into downtown Los Angeles.
Amputee smashes solo Atlantic row record by over a month
The world record for the fastest ever unsupported row across the Atlantic has just been smashed. And it was done by an amputee. Former Royal Marine Lee Spencer took just 60 days to complete the 6,115km challenge, 36 days quicker than the existing record. The Brit had to battle through 12m waves, gastroenteritis and discomfort from 2hrs sleep a day.
“If I can beat a record, an able-bodied record, as a disabled man... that is the reason why I wanted to do this,” he said at the finish.
Dead heat in Iditarod Ultra
This year’s Iditarod Trail Invitational – the infamous human powered race on the same route of the famous dog race – ended in a dead heat after 19 days, 3 hours and 56 minutes of racing. John Logar and Petr Ineman crossed the line together on their bikes after working with each other against the elements for two thirds of the 1,600km race.
The brutal expedition is run over three different distances – 240km, 560km or 1,600km – on bike, foot or ski. Adventure athlete Rebecca Rusch, 50, was also in the field, making her debut over 560km on her bike.
“I’ve lived and preached the rewards of taking calculated risk for decades but I realised this year is it had been a while since I’d taken a really big athletic risk myself,” she said. She was “brought to tears” at the finish.
US Parks get protected
Big news for outdoors fans in America – President Donald J. Trump has just signed off a new law that will protect millions of acres of public land and hundreds of miles of river.
It’s been described as the ‘single most important... public lands legislation since the 1970s’ and will create new wilderness and reauthorize a $900m annual fund that covers everything from hiking trails to wetlands.
It also prevents mining in key areas – including two close to Yellowstone; supports existing National Parks like Death Valley, Mojave, and Joshua Tree; and creates a whole bunch of new parks across the country.
Deep dive discovers Italian reef
Divers rejoice. While many of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs are being bleached and destroyed, a brand new one stretching 2.5km in length has just been discovered near Monopoli in Italy.
The first modern reef off the country’s coast, it could be a vital find for science and conservation experts and may even lead to a Mediterranean reef goldmine.
But don’t get too excited. It’s 35-50m deep down in the Adriatic – so the lack of light means this is made of dull rocky mesophotic coral, not the typical colourful gardens most people want to dive in.
Celebrating Instagram’s most illogical campsites is the tongue in cheek account @youdidnotsleepthere. If you're fed up of seeing strategically placed tents just erected for the 'gram this feed is for you.
Big Event(s): 2-for-1 on Patagonian Ultras
There’s not one but two big ultra events about to take place at the ‘end of the world’ in Patagonia – and both are qualifiers for the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. The Ultra Fjord, in Chile, travels through ‘Lord of the Rings’ style forests, glaciers and fjords in a region known as ‘Last Hope’. Run since 2015, it has a hardcore 100-miler from April 4-6 and includes runners from 22 nations.
Not far away in Ushuaia, a new event for 2019 takes in Argentina’s equivalent. It’s run by UTMB and maxes out at a 130km trail with 7,100 meters of accumulated height gain, which starts on April 6.
New gear: First Aid in your pocket
This newly released tube of ‘hope I don’t need it but glad I’ve got it’ kit is probably one of the smallest but fullest First Aid kits you can get.
The VSSL First Aid anodised aluminium sleeve is just 22cm x 5cm but packs all the things you’ll need to triage a minor medical issues including wipes, antibiotics, bandages, blades, pills, tape and even a whistle and flashlight.
K2 skier hits up top adventure award
The Polish ski mountaineer scaled the world’s second highest mountain – no mean feat itself – then skied off the top, risking rock falls and avalanches on a seven-hour run down 3,600 vertical metres.
“Nothing scares me,” said Bargiel. “I work in a way that such a challenge cuts me off from everything. I might've worried before, during preparation, but when the time comes, I just do it.”
Honnold dons a tux as climbing wins an Oscar
Alex Honnold swapped his climbing gear for a tuxedo and bow tie to pick up the Academy Award for Best Documentary with Free Solo, the film of his nail-biting rope free ascent of Freerider on El Capitan.
The superstar climber and his girlfriend Sanni McCandless joined directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarherlyi and Jimmy Chin and producers Shannon Dill and Evan Hayes on the stage as climbing hit the big time with its first ever Oscar.
“Alex was a kid who was scared to climb with others and went out by himself,” Vasarherlyi said. “This kid...moved through his fears and ultimately free soloed El Cap. It shows why we live our lives.”
World marathon record is smashed
Averaging just under 3h30m for a marathon is pretty good – but doing that over seven days on seven different continents, that’s something special. That’s what Susannah Gill did in the World Marathon Challenge.
The 34-year-old only started running 10 years ago but has completed more than 40 marathons. She trained for five months before this event, which involved 40 competitors, and ended up winning all but one of the races.
4,000-mile US hiking trail takes shape
A new connection of trails that will eventually stretch across the entire US, from Washington DC to Washington State, has been announced and will begin to be pieced together later this year.
The ‘rail to trail’ project, first conceived three decades ago, is already over half complete. Now 125 new trails are planned to connect up all the dots – although don’t panic, it is still likely to take years to complete.
Fancy gawping over some awesome pictures of adventure? Then head to the Clymb for a feed to drool over.
From kayaking in idyllic islands to climbing up towering pillars of ice, the images here will make you want to get out there and see more places for yourself.
New gear: World’s lightest full-feature shell?
For those who travel fast and light, this newly released Bantamweight waterproof from Marmot has you covered – but you’ll hardly even feel it.
On sale at €300 it has a fully taped 7 denier Pertex Shield 2.5 layer stretch fabric weighing just 140g and packs in an adjustable hood, zip hand pockets, internal mesh stuff pocket, draw cord and microscopic laser-drilled arm vents.