unreal Tasmanian Winter Traverse

One of the toughest journeys on foot … ever.

Louis-Phillipe Loncke …. This was an epic journey that left him exhausted, pushed to his limits, and 15 kg (33 pounds) lighter than when he set off.

The video below is from a new report aired in Australia that caught up with the Belgian adventurer just as he was crossing the finish line, providing some insights into what this journey was like. …

Adventure Blog

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Zion Narrows Backcountry Trek closed

If there’s one iconic backcountry trip at Zion National Park in Utah that lures visitors from around the world, it’s the 16-mile hike through the Zion Narrows. On Tuesday, however, that trek was put out of reach when a private landowner closed his property as an access point to The Narrows. …

National Parks Traveler

It’s still possible to wade / walk part of the Narrows, but not the traditional route.

Morocco’s Toubkal Circuit – day 5

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | info | video

Most guided hikers departed in the dark as — normally — the peak is clearest in the morning. I decided to wait until first light, instead.

In fact, before dawn there were lightning flashes in the direction of Toubkal. I rolled over thinking I’d not be doing the peak at all.

On waking I enjoyed 2 pots of coffee … and waited about an hour before packing up.

… but weather seemed to be clearing.

It was worth giving it a try. I could always turn back if lightning resumed.

The start of the Toubkal climb is the most challenging part. It’s a scramble.

While I was beginning dozens were descending, many wearing headlamps. That was a bit disconcerting. #late #late #late

Vertical gain is about 960m, but it seemed to go quickly and easily for me. I was well acclimatized for altitude.

There are several false summits. Here was my first glimpse of the top.

Myself and a couple from eastern Europe were the highest humans for at least 2000km. And the views were great. 🙂

I could look back to where I’d come from a couple of days ago.

If anything, weather was still improving.

We were the last people on the mountain … except for one Canadian coming up even later. And a Moroccan couple. They were very late because they’d walked up from Imlil. That’s over 2400m of gain in one day!

The couple had found my PHONE! I’d left it on a boulder on the way up. Whew!

I enthusiastically thanked them and urged them to continue as they’d be getting much better weather than the early morning mob.

… I was way wrong. ☹️

Thunder and lightning returned about an hour later. The Canadian turned back. Last he saw the Moroccan couple were still ascending into the lighting storm. Very dangerous.

Me? I hid in a cramped cave.

Once it finally quit I trudged tiredly down to Imlil.

It’s a pretty town, actually.

I was totally psyched to make it back to Marrakesh same day. I pushed.

But the road near the taxi stand was impassable due to flash flood.

I turned back and had dinner in a crossroads restaurant. A huge, steaming omelette.

A Brit I’d spoken with earlier on the street had recommended their hotel — Les Etoiles de Toubkal.

It was excellent. The best room I’d had in nearly 2 months. It cost me $30 including breakfast.

I took several hot, hot showers and went to sleep early.


Next morning I was up before daylight as almost every other guest was packing up and getting ready to hike up to the Refuge. It was fun having breakfast with an enthusiastic group from the U.K.

They left at 8am just as their mules were arriving. YES they did have mules, not horses.

Their U.K. guide confided to me that getting a large group like this started was like herding cats. But once on the trail, it was easy.

My hotel told me the road might open about noon. That prices for transportation would be higher than normal because of the backlog.

I walked down to check. Road still closed. Big machines still arriving.

But the Atlas Extreme shop was finally open. It is well stocked. Copies of all the english language trekking guidebooks including the one I had wanted – Moroccan Atlas by Alan Palmer. Every kind of camping fuel. Top line gear.

Eventually I noticed that the shop was not actually open. The workers there were doing some renovations.

I met the Canadian who got caught in the storm again.  He had an afternoon bus reservation. We decided to try to walk out past all the road blockages to get the first possible transport.

It was less than a km to reach waiting taxis. He and I outbid others wanting to climb into the first waiting vehicle. I paid 6 times what I’d paid on the way up.

It was worth it.

AND he made it to the bus station in Marrakesh on time. With 10 minutes to spare.

My adventure was a surprising success considering how little information I had on arrival in Imlil five days earlier.

day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | info | video

Morocco’s Toubkal Circuit – day 4

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | info | video

Once again the guided hiking group nearby was up and gone before I’d even woken up.

I started up into a very cool gorge section. It was dark and hazy.

This is Azib Imi n’Ouassif (2841m), a crossroads of several gorges where some people camp.

From here it’s a steep climb to the pass at Tizi n’Ouanoums.

Escapee goats live on these inhospitable cliffs. There’s not much to eat.

It was a bit of a relief to reach the second high pass of the circuit. From here it was all downhill … at least while carrying full pack.

Descending the pass was supposed to be a bit treacherous. As I crossed it wasn’t all that bad.

I could see some of the Iceland group having lunch at the bottom. By the time I got there they had begun climbing a secondary trail up the other side to the 2nd / 3rd highest peaks in north Africa. Their guide stayed back having hurt his ankle. In fact he sent the group cook as guide in his stead.

I had some lunch too. Then, with plenty of time, followed. Weather looked good.

The scramble to one Ouanoukrim summit — Ras Ouanoukrim (4083m) — in a hail storm turned out to be the highlight of the entire circuit. We had a blast.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I hustled over to another lump of a peak — Timzguida (4089m) — which we later found out to be 5m higher.

In fact my phone had it (wrongly) at 4100m.

I left a Summit Stone.

Once safely down, the others headed off briskly (as they always did) to rejoin their group. One of the men, Dorfi, had once led a 3 week horse trek across Iceland. This weather was nothing to him. He wore a wool sweater under a waterproof poncho on that trip. Never got wet.

In no rush I walked slowly downhill to Toubkal Refuge (3207m).

I’d plan to wild camp again … until I saw the massive complex. It looked intriguing.

As it was raining too I decided to camp at Refuge Mouflon and sign up for the 7pm dinner. It was pretty good.

I charged my batteries in Mouflon after dinner and watched an episode of Better Call Saul on my phone as I waited. Then headed out into the rain to my tent.

day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | info | video

Morocco’s Toubkal Circuit – day 3

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | info | video

I had camped at a site called Azib Likemt with a guided German group.

They were up and gone long before I finished my coffee.

I followed the last of their horsemen up and over a low pass.

From the col you descend to the impressive Berber village of Amsouzert (1797m).

When water is available this mountain range is incredibly lush.

It’s a very interesting place. I could see staying overnight here.

Many homes had satellite dishes.

In fact, I later decided to recommend future hikers start at Amsouzert. It’s on the N10 highway connecting Marrakesh and Ouarzazate. A private taxi is the easiest way to get here.

Not stopping at the many shops and restaurants, I continued up up up to famous Lac d’Ifni back in the National Park.

It’s incredibly rugged with the trail forced high above.

Here I debated whether to stop at the lake. Or continue up towards the gorge climb for the next day.

Pushy shopkeepers decided it for me. I don’t like being harassed while hiking.

So it was out onto the massive spring flooding wash of stones.

Surprisingly, I couldn’t find any water until I reached camp.

Once again I camped near a guided group, this one from Iceland.

I chose my tent site as safest from rockfall.

It was still fairly early in the evening so I did some wandering, mostly laughing at the goats and sheep coming down from the gorge for nightfall.

day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | info | video

my hiking jacket – Columbia OutDry Ex Gold

I’ve was very happy overall with my OutDry layers purchased December 2017. But within a few months the decals on both jackets started flaking off.

After about 7 months the OutDry coating on the down jacket began peeling off.

Columbia was very responsive when I contacted them. They want me to send them the jacket at my expense … then they’ll assess whether it is normal wear-and-tear or whether it’s my fault. That’s too much time, cost and bother for me. Especially if they somehow determine this was my fault.

I’m not sure I want an unreliable replacement.

Instead I’ll warn you here about the OutDry on the down jacket. It’s too sticky, I feel. Don’t buy that product.

The OutDry rain shell I really like. And I’m still using it as my main waterproof layer.

Here’s their email response:

All of our Outerwear and Equipment products benefit from our “Limited Lifetime Warranty”. This covers any manufacturing defects in the material and workmanship but excludes normal wear and tear and does not cover products that have been misused, neglected and the natural breakdown of materials over time. Receipt of purchase may be required. This Limited Lifetime Warranty lasts for the expected lifetime of the product from date of purchase. Coverage ends if you sell or transfer the product.

Shipping Information. Customers are responsible for shipping items to Columbia Sportswear. We will cover the cost of return shipping. We recommend that you ship your product with a reputable carrier that can provide tracking information and proof of delivery, such as Purolator or Canada Post. Customers are responsible for their product until we sign for delivery. Columbia Sportswear cannot be held responsible for packages lost in transit

All warranty claims are subject to evaluation by our warranty department and if your product is deemed out of warranty, it will be returned to you as is. If your product is deemed defective but unrepairable within a reasonable amount of time you will receive a Virtual Merchandise Credit equivalent to the MSRP value. Depending on the season or product, it may take longer to repair certain items. We will discard your product if it is covered under our applicable warranty when we provide you with a Virtual Merchandise Credit. If you would like your original product returned to you, you will not receive a Virtual Merchandise Credit, please check the box on the printable warranty form.

First option when possible is to have it repaired locally and send us the receipt for reimbursement up to $35 plus taxes per repair. All receipts require stamp of retailer/business and a clear description of the product and the repair that was performed.

The second option would be for you to send your item to our warranty department. Please proceed to the brand specific website and follow warranty instructions as it pertains to your item to receive your claim #. Furthermore, we ask that our clients pay for the initial one-way cost of shipping and we will cover the return cost. If product is not repairable a Virtual Merchandise Credit will be emailed to you to shop online, as stated above.

All our inspections are taking approximately 4-6 weeks from the received date.
Please note: Your products must be cleaned prior to shipment according to its care instructions. Products received that are deemed insufficiently cleaned will be returned to the customer unprocessed.

 

____ Original post from May 2018:

GearJunkie posted a sponsored ad from Columbia. This is the opposite of transparency in advertising. I’m disappointed. ☹️

The article, at first glance, looks a legit review.

Here’s my legit review. Columbia paid me nothing.

Top layer is the new Columbia Men’s OutDry Ex Gold Interchange Jacket

It’s fairly heavy with the removable Omni-Heat Reflective inner layer. For most hikes, I’ll leave that liner at home carrying only the 2 layer shell.

I tested it in the rain while cycling. With seam tape it feels entirely waterproof. And it’s reasonably light.

It has no pit zips.  Breathability is not nearly as good as Columbia claims. In fact, I’d say breathability is LOUSY.

I paired it with the new Columbia OutDry EX Gold Down Hooded Jacket

For most hikes I will bring this along, replacing my usual down hooded parka.

The most compelling reason I decided to go this direction is the OutDry™ EX outer layer. It seems obvious to me that down jackets should be waterproof. The down is not hydrophobic, but doesn’t need to be as it won’t get wet.

I’m confident I’ll never be wet nor cold with this system. The hoods are excellent.

Some feel the fit is boxy. I’d agree. But I like the extra room for more layers underneath.

For warm hikes I also picked up the Frogg Toggs Men’s Ultra Lite Rain Jacket as an alternative.

This is what the cool thru-hikers wear. It’s not breathable at all. But at US $14.22 you can’t lose.

All in all I’m very happy with my new OutDry system. It has got some bad reviews, however.

Gortex` wets out. Starts to fail after a few years. It’s the fabric of deceit. I’ve never trusted it.

Here’s how Outdry is supposed to work. Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

 

Harder Ridge, Switzerland – best day hike on Earth?

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

  • dangerous
  • 10 hours
  • at least 18km on sharply defined ridge
  • should absolutely never be attempted when wet
  • plenty of exposure on both sides
  • frequent scrambling required
  • Brienz to Interlaken with rail assistance getting up to and descending from the ridge

Don’t hike the other direction. Logistics are easier starting in Brienz. And it’s safer as the last 2 hours (when your legs are tired) is on easier trails. 

I got up early in Interlaken, ready for my free hostel breakfast starting 7am.

Every half hour a train runs from Interlaken to Brienz for 8.20 francs (2018).

Happily I made the first steam train 8:36am — from Brienz to Brienzer Rothorn Station. It’s been making this run since 1891.

Price is reduced to 28 francs for the first train (2018) to encourage folks to get as early a start as possible on their hike.

At 9km / hour it takes an hour to get to the top of the ridge 2351m.

If clear, you can enjoy distant views over to Jungfrau highest peaks; the Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, Schreckhorn, Finsteraarhorn.

I climbed up to the viewpoint. This is as far as most tourists hike.

Looking down on Brienzer Rothorn Station.

At 10am I started to walk back to Interlaken. I would have about 11.5 hours to make the last teleferico down from Harder Kulm Restaurant. Otherwise I’d have to walk down in the dark.

You can’t really get lost. Follow the ridge no matter what.

The weather was perfect.

You have Brienz lake on one side …

… and Swiss foothills on the other.

I loved it instantly.

Most of the time the ridge is not all that intimidating.

It often looks worse than it turns out to be.

I’d heard everyone who comes up here sees ibex. … Are these ibex?

This adventure is more popular with trail runners than with hikers as they can easily make it in less than 10 hours.

I took very few breaks. Other than checking the GPS on my phone, I had no idea whether I was moving quickly enough to finish in time.

Each time I’d climb a high point on the ridge, even higher points would come into view.

I don’t think I saw another person over the first 5 hours.

Sadly I seemed to be a lot closer to Brienz than Interlaken.

There are sections with stairs, cable and chain assistance. These would be most useful when down climbing in wet conditions.

Hmm … I might finally be past half way.

I tried to quicken my pace on the easiest sections.

There are many more day hikers on the Interlaken end of the ridge. They assured me I’d make it on time.

Interlaken

The last 2 hours stays on the ridge, but you are mostly in the trees. It was the least interesting section … but I was pleased to have less exposure as my legs got tired.

Here it is at last. Harder Kulm Restaurant.

The last funicular descends at 9:10pm. If it’s busy they may run until 9:40pm.

I gladly paid 16 francs and found the short trip down very interesting.

It was dark by the time we arrived Interlaken.

And I was quite dehydrated. I’d brought only 1.5 litres with me. I could have used about 3 litres.

When I got back to the hostel I announced it was the best day hike of my life.

Click PLAY or see if I look happy on YouTube.