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Adventure Travel

Mar 22, 2017

The TomTom Adventurer: A Watch That Saved My Life

Good gear can keep you alive in the mountains.

WRITTEN BY

Trivik Verma

I always carry a probe, a shovel, and an avalanche transceiver, but what brought me down to safety was a watch I had never heard of. Adventurer is TomTom’s latest addition to the world of navigation.

I met a group of skiers and boarders who were queueing up at the chairlift despite considerable avalanche danger warnings by the Gulmarg Ski Patrol. The top of Mt. Apharwat—4,200 m (13,780 ft) above sea level—was drifting in and out of sight, hiding behind massive whiteout conditions. I checked my backpack for all the essential life-saving equipment (probe, shovel and a transceiver) including some food and water, and followed the skiers.

TomTom Adventurer's lift detection makes it easier to study past runs
4 days of stormy weather didn’t allow for any warnings. Himraj Soin bent his ski poles on the chairlift when the ground wasn’t visible at all. The Adventurer has a lift detection feature that allows one to see the stats for the last run. Photo: Trivik Verma

I don’t usually go against my better judgement. When Luke Smithwick, Snow Safety Officer at the Gulmarg Avalanche Advisory, explained the snowpack the day before and issued the warning, he also mentioned that it was safe (similar safety norms are practised in the US and EU ski resorts) to be in the confines of the resort.

Following his advice, my analysis, and all of my excitement to be here, I was on my way to Mary’s Shoulder; an exit of the chairlift just below the top of Mt. Apharwat. The group of skiers disappeared just before I took the exit and the visibility reduced to barely a meter. Adding to my rising heart rate, the chairlift stopped. Nobody was on their way up.  

I have never been one to wear a watch. But there I was, standing atop a mountain, lost and scared, wearing the watch that literally saved my life. I boarded down through knee-deep powder but ended up in a bowl full of the previous day’s avalanche debris.  

TomTom Adventurer Data Analytics
A screenshot of the data analytics on the website of TomTom. A drop in the highest speed is where I flipped on my rear edge and ended up in an avalanche debris bowl.

The Adventurer has a trail exploration setting that pointed me straight down to the start of the chairlift. Half my worries were alleviated just knowing which way I had to tumble down to safety. The automatic lift detection feature showed me how much gradient I was looking to snowboard over and the 3D distance that remained between me and my home (as the watch called it). It did give me a boost to see all this, but the danger was real and I didn’t yet realise the elevation I had to descend to get back.

Sitting flat on my butt end, hoping to not hear any resounding noise (that usually only means one thing in such bad weather – an avalanche), I was flicking through the screens of the watch. There is an incredible feature called ‘altitude delta’. I was lost at 3351 meters, and the delta showed that I had started at 3080 meters at Kongdoori, the base of the chairlift. Great, about 200 meters to go.

TomTom's Adventurer has a great GPS system
Checking the compass just before making a descent through the stormy day to assess the location of the bottom of the chairlift. The Adventurer points directly to the starting location marked as home on the dial.

The Adventurer is a new entrant into a market dominated by other giants. It is simple, and frankly, I don’t feel terrible wearing a watch. There is no hassle of wearing a chest strap to get your heartbeat. Mine was translating from my pulse directly into the watch through an inbuilt sensor under the strap.

The watch is not as expensive as the other Garmin or Suunto counterparts and has packed in a new tool called the QuickGPSfix – something you bet a GPS giant like TomTom would have got right. The watch downloads the projected orbit of the satellites for the next 7 days, so it gives a more accurate reading on the GPS even if the signal is weak.

Pros

The TomTom Adventurer tracks all sports activities including skiing and snowboarding using QuickGPSfix. It has got a solid battery life that doesn’t die on you for about 18-20 days of monitoring sleep cycles, counting steps or calories. Unless you are using the GPS; then it is 9-10 hours. Hiking allows for a full day of GPS tracking because the watch sensors slow down to walking pace. The watch is water-resistant. My phone got buried with it in the snow, and only one of those survived. The data can be exported as a generic file that can be used across all sorts of apps that are meant for fitness and tracking. What I love about it is there is no more than 1 button. I keep my gloves on if it’s cold and move the tracker to get things done.

Cons

None except the app is still coming up to par with what other devices offer.

Price: $349.99 (INR 25,999)
There is a limited offer at RunningHub.in – Use promo code: TTOJ5, get up to 20% off! Click here to know more.

The Outdoor Journal + TomTom

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Adventure Travel

Jul 31, 2018

Kayaking’s Elite Return to India at the Malabar River Festival

During the week of July 18th to 22nd, the Malabar River Festival returned to Kerala, India with one of the biggest cash prizes in whitewater kayaking in the world.

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WRITTEN BY

Brooke Hess

A $20,000 purse attracted some of the world’s best kayakers to the region for an epic week battling it out on some of India’s best whitewater.

The kayaking events at Malabar River Festival were held on the Kuttiyadi River, Chalippuzha River, and the Iruvajippuzha River, in South India on the Malabar Coast. The festival was founded and organized by Manik Taneja and Jacopo Nordera of GoodWave Adventures, the first whitewater kayaking school in South India.

Photo: Akash Sharma

“Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there”

One of the goals of the festival is to promote whitewater kayaking in the state of Kerala and encourage locals to get into the sport. One of the event organizers, Vaijayanthi Bhat, feels that the festival plays a large part in promoting the sport within the community.  “The kayak community is building up through the Malabar Festival. Quite a few people are picking up kayaking… It starts with people watching the event and getting curious.  GoodWave Adventures are teaching the locals.”

Photo: Akash Sharma

Vaijayanthi is not lying when she says the kayak community is starting to build up.  In addition to the pro category, this year’s Malabar Festival hosted an intermediate competition specifically designed for local kayakers. The intermediate competition saw a huge turnout of 22 competitors in the men’s category and 9 competitors in the women’s category. Even the professional kayakers who traveled across the world to compete at the festival were impressed with the talent shown by the local kayakers. Mike Dawson of New Zealand, and the winner of the men’s pro competition had nothing but good things to say about the local kayakers. “I have so much respect for the local kayakers. I was stoked to see huge improvements from these guys since I met them in 2015. It was cool to see them ripping up the rivers and also just trying to hang out and ask as many questions about how to improve their paddling. It was awesome to watch them racing and making it through the rounds. Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there.”

Photo: Akash Sharma

 

“It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake”

Vaijayanthi says the festival has future goals of being named a world championship.  In order to do this, they have to attract world class kayakers to the event.  With names like Dane Jackson, Nouria Newman, Nicole Mansfield, Mike Dawson, and Gerd Serrasolses coming out for the pro competition, it already seems like they are doing a good job of working toward that goal! The pro competition was composed of four different kayaking events- boatercross, freestyle, slalom, and a superfinal race down a technical rapid. “The Finals of the extreme racing held on the Malabar Express was the favourite event for me. It was an epic rapid to race down. 90 seconds of continuous whitewater with a decent flow. It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake.” says Dawson.

Photo: Akash Sharma

The impressive amount of prize money wasn’t the only thing that lured these big name kayakers to Kerala for the festival. Many of the kayakers have stayed in South India after the event ended to explore the rivers in the region. With numerous unexplored jungle rivers, the possibilities for exploratory kayaking are seemingly endless. Dawson knows the exploratory nature of the region well.  “I’ve been to the Malabar River Fest in 2015. I loved it then, and that’s why I’ve been so keen to come back. Kerala is an amazing region for kayaking. In the rainy season there is so much water, and because the state has tons of mountains close to the sea it means that there’s a lot of exploring and sections that are around. It’s a unique kind of paddling, with the rivers taking you through some really jungly inaccessible terrain. Looking forward to coming back to Kerala and also exploring the other regions of India in the future.”

 

For more information on the festival, visit: http://www.malabarfest.com/

Subscribe here: https://www.outdoorjournal.com/in/subscribe/

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