What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?

- Henry David Thoreau



Feb 14, 2017

Alex Txikon Comes Up Short on Everest Summit Attempt

Since late December 2016, Basque climber Alex Txikon has been in Nepal attempting to become the first person to climb Everest without supplemental oxygen entirely in the winter season.


Michael Levy

Despite reaching an altitude of approximately 7,950 meters on his first summit push, poor conditions forced Txikon and his team to retreat.

UPDATE: Take two! After high winds repelled Txikon and company’s first summit attempt, the team traveled to Kathmandu to recover and regroup. Now word has come that they are heading back to Everest for another shot.  On February 16, Txikon reported on Facebook, “Next week we will return to Base Camp, stronger than ever, and with all the experience [acquired] in all these weeks. If you follow your dreams, everything is possible.”

The expedition has taken a toll on Txikon. He noted on Facebook that, since his arrival in Nepal in late December 2016, he has lost 12 kilograms. But he and his climbing partners are still motivated. As he told The Outdoor Journal last month: “We’ll try to do our best as a team, as a group of people. Always trying to smile and stay positive.” Check back here to find out how they fare on the second attempt!

Alex Txikon has abandoned his first—and potentially only—summit bid on Everest for the 2017 winter season.  A small weather window opened earlier this week, allowing him to mount an attempt.

In a Facebook post, Txikon said, “After reaching [Camp 4], the wind hasn’t given a truce and we have just gone down to the [Camp 3] until the storm subsides. Soon, more news.” Camp 4 is located at approximately 7,950 meters.

Warm in his sleeping bag in Camp 3 (approximately 7,050 meters), Txikon offered further reflections on the failed summit bid in another Facebook post: “It has been a hard day fighting against the wind with all our willpower. At times, it has become a tougher battle than the summit attack of last winter [on] Nanga Parbat. […] For the moment, as I have mentioned earlier, we have descended to [Camp 3] (low) and we have not given up for anything in the world. The only thing we have done is to respect the nature that today was not waiting for us up there. At this hour I do not know what we are going to do tomorrow because I really do not know if we will be able to sleep now… but, as always, I will keep you informed of everything. Thank you very much for being up to the challenge.’

Txikon is trying to become the first person to climb Everest wholly in winter without the aid of supplemental oxygen. While Everest was summited without bottled oxygen by Ang Rita Sherpa on December 22, 1987, it has never been climbed without oxygen entirely in calendar winter (December 21 – March 21).

Still unknown is whether or not Txikon and company will have enough time, luck, reserves of energy and drive left to mount another attempt. When The Outdoor Journal spoke with Txikon several weeks ago, the Spaniard said that the expedition’s permit was valid until approximately March 10. If another stretch of clear weather presents itself, another summit bid could occur.

But time is running out. And with a pursuit as unpredictable as high-altitude winter climbing, second chances are far from a given. Compared with the thousands of individuals who have summited at least one of the 14 peaks in the world over 8,000 meters, only 27 people have “stood on the summit of an 8,000-meter peak in winter,” according to Marcello Rossi’s profile on Simone Moro at Climbing.com. Rossi also notes that the success rate for winter expeditions to 8,000-meter peaks is a paltry 15%.

Feature Image © Alex Txikon

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Jul 10, 2018

The 2018 Whitewater Awards: Nouria Newman and Benny Marr take the spoils.

The Whitewater Awards is a gathering of the world’s best kayakers to show off the biggest and best things that have happened in the sport over the past year.



Brooke Hess

 To be considered for an award, athletes, photographers, and filmmakers submit media taken over the past year that they believe showcases the best progression in the sport.  

There are sixteen different categories for submission, including separate male and female categories within the “Best of” kayaking categories. Categories include Photographer of the Year, Film of the Year, Expedition of the Year, Best Trick, Best Line, River Stewardship, Grom of the Year, Rider of the Year, along with several others.  Awards are decided upon by a voting process done by the Association of Whitewater Professionals.

This year’s Whitewater Awards was held in the Egyptian Theater in downtown Boise, Idaho. It was hosted on June 14th, the same weekend as the North Fork Championships, which takes place on the North Fork of the Payette River just outside of Boise.  The North Fork Championship is regarded as one of the hardest kayaking races in the world.

The race takes place on Jacob’s Ladder rapid, which is a rapid so difficult and consequential that most kayakers feel accomplished simply by surviving the rapid, much less racing the rapid. Nouria Newman, a 3-time NFC racer and winner of this year’s Whitewater Awards Female Rider of the Year describes it well,

“The NFC is the hardest race in whitewater kayaking. [Jacob’s Ladder] is a scary, consequential rapid. Running it is challenging, and it only gets harder to race it and make the gates.”

In order to minimize the risk involved in the race, event organizers have developed a strict qualification process for racers. 30 racers will qualify to race Jacob’s Ladder. Ten of them are pre-qualified from placing top ten at the event the year before. Those ten then read numerous athlete applications and vote on the next ten racers who will join them.  The last ten racers are decided through a qualification race on S-Turn rapid, another one of the North Fork’s infamous class V rapids.

Every year on this same weekend in June, kayakers, photographers, and filmmakers from around the world flock to Idaho to celebrate quality whitewater, progression of the sport, and the community that surrounds it. Both the North Fork Championship and the Whitewater Awards had great turnouts of athletes and spectators this year.

John Webster

The finalists of each category in the Whitewater Awards were presented in film format at the Egyptian Theater for the entire audience to view, with the winner being announced live. Winners were presented with an award and expected to give a short speech at the event. The big winners of the night were Nouria Newman and Benny Marr, who were awarded with Line of the Year and Rider of the Year in the female and male categories. Nouria says that voting for the “best” in each category is a challenging process, “…voting is always tricky, (look at both French and U.S. presidents, not too sure if they are really the best available option). And it is also very hard to compare lines and rapids. What’s bigger? What’s harder? I got voted Best Line of the Year with a good line down Parque Jurassic, a long technical rapid, but Rata’s line down Graceland, which is a huge slide, was equally as good, if not better.”

No matter how tricky the voting process can be, Nouria agrees that the Whitewater Awards plays a large role in the progression of the sport, “I think it’s super cool to see what people can do in their kayak, how they push the limit of the sport and how they open new possibilities.”

For more information about the Whitewater Awards, you can visit whitewaterawards.com, you can also follow them on Facebook and on Instagram.

You can follow Nouria on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

You can follow Benny on Facebook and Instagram.

Cover photo courtesy of Ari Walker

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