Festival | Co. Mayo | Irish Adventure Film Festival

I am speaking at the Irish Adventure Film Festival this Saturday. If you're local to County Mayo, please come along!

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Opened my map to start planning where I might explore in Ireland and this was literally the first thing my random zoom led me to. Amazing place!

Climbing4all: the challenging charity fundraiser

The BMC is running a fundraising campaign from the 17-23 March 2018 to help 12 UK based charities that work through the medium of climbing and the outdoors. https://www.thebmc.co.uk/climbing-4-all-charity-fundraiser

Wadi Rum, in Jordan, was one of the most evocative places I visited when cycling round the world. This is a really nice film about Bedouin climbers there: https://vimeo.com/253962268

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Very much looking forward to heading to Ireland this week. This fantastic book is getting me excited.

KYLE DEMPSTER SOLO ADVENTURE AWARD

The inaugural KYLE DEMPSTER SOLO ADVENTURE award is now open for applications. A fitting memorial to a good man and a fine adventurer:

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Sidetracked magazine and a mug of tea. Always a treat.

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#tbt Sunset ✅, Bike ✅, Shiny Red Tent ✅, Ocean View ✅. Yup, think I’ve got the hang of this social media boasting malarkey! 😉 (Taken in the very wonderful Lofoten islands: highly recommended for a bicycle tour.)

Photos from Alastair Humphreys's post

I had never seen such anticipation from passengers on a plane. We have, us lucky few who travel regularly, come to take for granted the extraordinary aerial view of the world that flying offers. But dropping down over the Nevada desert we were all craning our necks and wielding cameraphones. The in your face geology of it all struck me the most: splodges of bright red rock amongst the shades of brown, veins of ancient river tributaries, gashes of canyons. Also the enormity of this continent: I am often beguiled into enjoying a sense of space and wilderness in, say, Yorkshire or the Cairngorms. But Britain is piffling compared to the hours of emptiness you see flying over Greenland, the Arctic Ocean, and now – at a height more computable by our minds – descending over the Nevada Desert.

Perhaps also the anticipation came because we were descending into this desert to Las Vegas.

I travel the world and I explore for many things. Looking for the Spectacular. To be surprised. To stand in wonder and stare at the scale of wonders. For excitement, to be energised, to leave the small and ordinary world behind. The wonders of the world are so limitless, and the range of human nature is so broad, that we can all find these thrills in different ways and in different places.

Las Vegas is not a normal place. At the start of the flight long announcements had cautioned against alcoholic excess on the flight. Now the tannoy reminded us “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

I have no secrets to hide.

It was my first visit to Vegas and I came feeling curious. I was here to give a talk, and that went well. But within 24 hours I was ready to leave. If nothing else, Vegas made me realise that I fall in love with virtually every place I ever visit. But not Vegas. The miles of hotel corridors, the smoky dayless casinos, the sense of compulsory fun (but always at a price) made me yearn for the sky and something real.

And so, at the urgings of an American friend, I set my alarm for 3am and hit the highway, heading east for Utah.

One of my recurring delights of travelling in America is the sense of space and possibility that I feel every time I launch out into the great wide open spaces. Perhaps it is an affectation: too many road movies, too many rite of passage novels, too much Bruce Springsteen. But the enormity and the beauty out here of even motorway driving always does something to me. I cannot help but reflect also on the sheer cussedness of the pioneer culture, just a dozen or so generations back, of those who ventured out beyond the ranges to make their homes out here, the Ayn-Rand epicness of the huge freight trains snaking their way west, a country on the move, and a great admiration for what America has achieved over the past hundred and fifty years.

Being British, of course, admiration cannot be served without a dash of derision too. But enough people criticise the excesses of America, the demonstration of what happens when human excellence and endeavour leads us to a world of ultra-convenience, ultra-sedentary consumption. So I will leave all that aside, except to say how much enjoyment I get from the roadside billboards of America. “InjuredInAHotel.com” shouted one. “WeBuyUglyHouses.com” on another. And of course the eternal American preoccupations of healthcare (“4 wisdom teeth removed just $899. Sedation included!”), litigation (“In a Wreck? Oh my Heck. Call now!”), and religion (“There is Evidence for God. 1-800-TRUTH”).

I left the baubles of Vegas under the light of a full moon. Once the Eiffel Tower, the Sphinx, and the gold Trump Tower were behind me the moon was the only light as the lone and level sands stretched far away. But the moonlight began to disappear. It was my great good fortune that barrelling along the straight, deserted freeway coincided with a total eclipse of the moon. It was, I since learned, a “super blue blood moon” when a total lunar eclipse, a blood Moon, and a supermoon coincide. How lucky I was to keep it company for hour after hour until only the faint rust orange outline remained!

By now I noticed the first greying of the dawn and the silhouettes of mountains. I flicked through the channels on my radio. This is another of my favourite things to do in America. I love the commercials on local radio stations, the bursts of Spanish chatter and Mexican mariachi music, and the comfortingly formulaic themes, lyrics and rhythms of Country music. I snaked up the Virgin River Canyon in the company of a very angry man, a pastor lambasting me furiously for my sins with a torrent of angry platitudes. I enjoyed it very much.

In this company, appropriately perhaps, I arrived in Zion. And lo, I was awestruck and overcome by the glories and wonders of the Earth. Zion National Park was truly magnificent and a privilege to see for myself. To my British eyes, the scale of the canyons and vertical walls was overwhelming. Peering down at the hundreds of metres of vertical drop on either side of the Angel’s Landing lookout horrified and mesmerised me. Any under-estimations I may have had at Alex Honnold’s free ascent of El Capitan disappeared. I held, very tightly, to a pine tree, gnarled and curved and reassuringly solid, and thought with astonishment about someone climbing a vertical wall much higher than this without any ropes! With my knees sufficiently wobbly for one day I made my way gingerly back to safer ground and hiked up to the canyon’s west rim to camp for the night.

Had Prince and I swapped lives (rather an unlikely thought, I accept), he would surely have written a song about his Little Red Tent. ‘Tent’ doesn’t fit the scansion as nicely as ‘Corvette’, and I don’t suppose it would have sold quite so well, but I reckon Prince would have enjoyed it up there as much as I did. I camped on a wide expanse of pale slick rock dotted with stunted pine trees. The canyon fell away beneath me. When the moon rose the night was so bright I had to pull my woolly hat down over my eyes to get to sleep. The steep walls behind gleamed in the moonlight and I felt the immensity of a night alone in a massive landscape.

All this, all of this, for the price of a backcountry permit. The money helps protect this wilderness so would be worth giving even if I received nothing in return. But what I did receive so exceeded the small fee that the payment was almost risible. What price could I put on such beauty, such quiet, such permanence, such austere simplicity? Every wall “full of slower, longer thoughts than mind can have.” I did not need more than this. No flashing lights, no ostentatious cries for attention, dancing water fountains or VIP-only access. That this undiluted wonder is accessible to any person with a humble little tent made it even more regal.

To move from nighttime in Vegas to nighttime atop the Zion Canyon felt comical. Whilst Vegas made me despair for humans in the 21st Century, Zion left me assured that the planet is perfectly safe. Not in the next century or two, perhaps, or for however long we hang around. But in a billion years or so everything here will be just fine, just like this, just perfect.

The equation for fun out here in the wilderness isn’t quite as simple as Vegas’ bright lights and excitement (turn up, spend money). There’s the price of cold nights, rocks in your back, a stinky jacket bundled for a pillow, wind rattling, thoughts of bears. There’s the tiring aching trudge of hiking, the adrenaline fear of precarious perches and scary drops. In fact, it’s not always fun! But that’s part of the fun. It’s an experience, a change from normality, a chance for perspective. That in itself is enough for me. The fact that fun occasionally shows up too is a bonus.

I travel and I explore for many things. Looking for the spectacular. To be surprised. To stand in wonder and stare at the scale of wonders. For excitement, to be energised, to leave the small and ordinary world behind. I found all that here, thanks to my little red tent. This is the moment, I sang to myself. This is exactly where I was born to be. This is what I do, and this is what I am.

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I never regret making the effort to wake up to views like this.

Six Nations rugby.
Fish and Chips.
Night in a Bothy.

Britain's Next Megaproject: A Coast-to-Coast Forest

Britain's Next Megaproject: A Coast-to-Coast Forest. I have filed this project in two folders - "I'll believe it when I see it" and "This would be brilliant". https://buff.ly/2nSz0VZ

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Interesting to compare the impact of four different approaches to Social Media.

1- An honest insight into my real life, with self-deprecating humour.

2- Using the audience I have on a platform to collate knowledge and be helpful.

3- Nice photography, interesting story-telling, plus a link for people to go to more similar content.

4- Showing off about my awesome (online) life with a carefully chosen photo. (No mention here of my uncomfy sleep, running out of water, forgetting my spoon etc.)

There is a time and a place for each category. But it is interesting to see from the likes, comments, and Retweets which ones resonate most with audiences…

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The equation for fun out here in the wilderness isn’t quite as simple as Vegas’ bright lights and excitement (turn up, spend money). There’s the price of cold nights, rocks in your back, a stinky jacket bundled for a pillow, wind rattling, thoughts of bears. There’s the tiring aching trudge of hiking, the adrenaline fear of precarious perches and scary drops. In fact, it’s not always fun! But that’s part of the fun. It’s an experience, a change from normality, a chance for perspective. That in itself is enough for me. The fact that fun occasionally shows up too is a bonus.⠀

I travel and I explore for many things. Looking for the spectacular. To be surprised. To stand in wonder and stare at the scale of wonders. For excitement, to be energised, to leave the small and ordinary world behind. I found all that here, thanks to my little red tent. This is the moment, I sang to myself (mangling Leonard Cohen). This is exactly where I was born to be. This is what I do, and this is what I am.

Timeline Photos

Had Prince and I swapped lives (rather an unlikely thought, I know), he would surely have written a song about his Little Red Tent. ‘Tent’ doesn’t fit the scansion as nicely as ‘Corvette’, and I don’t suppose it would have sold quite so well, but I reckon Prince would have enjoyed it up here on the canyon rim as much as I did. I camped on a wide expanse of pale slick rock dotted with stunted pine trees. The canyon fell away beneath me. When the moon rose the night was so bright I had to pull my woolly hat down over my eyes to get to sleep. The steep walls behind gleamed in the moonlight and I felt the immensity of a night alone in a massive landscape.⠀

All this, all of this, for the price of a backcountry permit. The money helps protect this wilderness so would be worth giving even if I received nothing in return. But what I did receive so exceeded the small fee that the payment was almost risible. What price could I put on such beauty, such quiet, such permanence, such austere simplicity? I did not need more than this. No flashing lights, no ostentatious cries for attention, dancing water fountains or VIP-only access. That this undiluted wonder is accessible to any person with a humble little tent made it even more regal.⠀

To move from nighttime in Vegas to nighttime atop the Zion Canyon felt comical. Whilst Vegas made me despair for humans in the 21st Century, Zion left me assured that the planet is perfectly safe. Not in the next century or two, perhaps, or for however long we hang around. But in a billion years or so everything here will be just fine, just like this, just perfect.

Timeline Photos

By the light of a super full moon: a spectacular night in Zion National Park last week.

Timeline Photos

Peering down at the hundreds of metres of vertical drop on either side of the Angel’s Landing lookout horrified and mesmerised me. Any under-estimations I may have had at Alex Honnold’s free ascent of El Capitan disappeared. I held, very tightly, to a pine tree, gnarled and curved and reassuringly solid, and thought with astonishment about someone climbing a vertical wall much higher than this without any ropes! With my knees sufficiently wobbly for one day I made my way gingerly back to safer ground and hiked up to the canyon’s west rim to camp for the night. #zion #utah #hiking #landscape

Learn more about Books | Bill Gates

I like this: Bill Gates writes a blog about books he has read (thus ending any of our claims that we are too busy to read or blog!): https://buff.ly/2nFMc0e

Shouting from my Shed - Volume 1 - Alastair Humphreys

Shouting from my Shed - Volume 1 - if you haven't signed up for my email newsletter, here's what you're missing (but actually not missing as here it is.)

Timeline Photos

Flicking through the channels on my car radio is one of my favourite things to do in America. I love the commercials on local radio stations, the bursts of Spanish chatter and Mexican mariachi music, and the comfortingly formulaic themes, lyrics and rhythms of Country music. I snaked up the Virgin River Canyon in the company of a very angry man, a pastor lambasting me furiously for my sins with a torrent of angry platitudes. I enjoyed it very much.⠀

In this company, appropriately perhaps, I arrived in Zion. And lo, I was awestruck and overcome by the glories and wonders of the Earth. Zion National Park was truly magnificent and a privilege to see for myself. To my British eyes, the scale of the canyons and vertical walls was overwhelming.

Instravel - A Photogenic Mass Tourism Experience

Instravel - A Photogenic Mass Tourism Experience, and a caveat for any of us thinking we might be expressing our individuality via our travel experiences and creative photography...!

Pow Surf 101

A lovely antidote to the usual thrusting adventure adrenaline films: https://buff.ly/2E1U3LM (h/t @kottke)

‪ I’m proud to be an ambassador for the Youth Adventure Trust (please follow them). Tonight I’m interviewing Ed Stafford at the Houses of Parliament for them. The only time either of us are likely to be allowed in there!

I'm speaking at the Irish Adventure Film Festival , Feb 24-25th. Westport, Ireland. This FB Live is a general natter at the suggestion of the film festival organisers. Ask me anything!

I'm going to be doing a Facebook Live Q&A at noon today. Pop over to Facebook if you fancy asking me anything.
I'm also speaking at the Irish Adventure Film Festival , Feb 24-25th. Westport, Ireland. Please come along if you're in that neck of the woods! And follow the nice chaps at Irish Adventure Film Festival & Tour...

Timeline Photos

I travel the world and I explore for many things. Looking for the Spectacular. To be surprised. To stand in wonder and stare at the scale of wonders. For excitement, to be energised, to leave the small and ordinary world behind. The wonders of the world are so limitless, and the range of human nature is so broad, that we can all find these thrills in different ways and in different places.⠀

Las Vegas is not a normal place. At the start of the flight long announcements had cautioned against alcoholic excess on the flight. Now the tannoy reminded us “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”⠀

I have no secrets to hide.⠀

It was my first visit to Vegas and I came feeling curious. I was here to give a talk, and that went well. But within 24 hours I was ready to leave. If nothing else, Vegas made me realise that I fall in love with virtually every place I ever visit. But not Vegas. The miles of hotel corridors, the smoky dayless casinos, the sense of compulsory fun (but always at a price) made me yearn for the sky and something real.⠀

And so, at the urgings of an American friend, I set my alarm for 3am and hit the highway, heading east for Utah.

If you have no friends at work to share lunch with, let me help! Join me at noon on Monday for a Facebook Live chat. You can ask me anything!
Bonus points for any questions that make me laugh, cry, cringe, or blush...

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If you forget your spoon a compass makes a good substitution. (Pro tip: the reverse does not apply.) Fear not, I’m not eating maggots. I leave that to @ed_stafford. Mr Ben’s finest rice for me. Cold. Half price. Living the dream...

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Last week’s supermoon about to eclipse Las Vegas by, erm, eclipsing. A wonderful thing to see.

Seeking the Lost Art of Growing Old with Intention and Purpose

I enjoyed this article very much. It is about many things: nature, running, growing old, simplicity, living with purpose...

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I have just sent out my latest newsletter. If you haven’t received it, please check your spam folder. (It’s titled “Shouting from my Shed”.) Thank you!

‪I’d like to clarify my earlier post about Sheffield Council. I have nothing against the fabulous outdoor community of Sheffield nor excellent events such as Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF) . I just wanted to use a small moment to highlight Sheffield Council’s tree-culling, ostrich-in-sand obstinacy.‬

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Sheffield City Council have invited me to participate in their Outdoor City Weekender event. Dubbing themselves @theoutdoorcity, I thought this sounded incongruous with a city busily chopping down all its trees for cash. Here is my reply to @SheffCouncil:

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#tbt Using an abandoned shopping trolley to lug our gear on part of our M25 “expedition” is one of my most amusing memories of that (suprisingly tough) walk.

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And all the Galaxy quakes with fear.

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Here's why you should definitely sign up for my brilliant newsletter. Resounding feedback!⠀
http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/subscribe⠀

“Prat!!! Do you really think people have time to read such crap?⠀
God knows who you could motivate, having read that⠀
Unsubscribed”

Rotting cabins, closed trails: why we're shining a light on US national parks

“This Land is Your Land: Rotting cabins, closed trails: why we're shining a light on US national parks”

Teen girl explorer serves trolls who told her to make them a sandwich in epic South Pole burn

I have my reservations about very young people being taken on very expensive trips. BUT I love that this 16 year old girl served a sandwich at the South Pole in response to internet trolls who told her that was what women were supposed to do in life! https://buff.ly/2EkCpUm

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It ain’t “can we?”⠀
It’s “will we?”

Amazon Search

Just seen that all The Boy Who Biked the World books on the Kindle are just 99p:

Draw radius circles on a map

Draw radius circles on a map: this is a brilliant tool for learning to see your local area with fresh eyes, to realise how much there is to explore even in places that you may dismiss as overly familiar. Have you walked every street within a mile?

Don't ask.

Don't ask.

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Most questions can be boiled down https://buff.ly/2EfQN0t

If you have signed up to my newsletter, please will you search your Spam folder for an email titled "Shouting from my Shed: Volume 1". I sent it today, but it seems to have been condemned to Spam. Grrrr!!!
Please let me know if you received it! I'm trying to solve the mystery.

A Paratrooper's prayer - Alastair Humphreys

When I feel myself growing soft and spoiled, I return to A Paratrooper's prayer:

From Nazi Germany to Australia: The Incredible True Story of History’s Longest Kayak Journey

“The Incredible True Story of History’s Longest Kayak Journey”

Intense Living Becomes a Compulsion - Alastair Humphreys

“Sport (Adventure?) is about the human need to live intensely. To live with ardour. We tend to believe that what we want out of life is comfort , security and absence of stress, but that is only half right. We also want to experience heightened emotions.”

‪Left to my own devices before recording an interview with @BBCRadio4. Enjoying buffooning around in a builder’s helmet I found... ‬

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Went through the entire manuscript of my new book, colour coding every paragraph according to theme. Then shrink the whole book to minute font size to get an overview of the ebb and flow of themes. Nerdy editing phase! Lots still to do... #editing #writing #writingcommunity

‘You could say I’m reluctantly retired from writing books': travel writer Dervla Murphy

‘You could say I’m reluctantly retired from writing books': travel writer Dervla Murphy talks about a lifetime of adventure, and acknowledges her mortality:

Totally Tranquil