Editor’s Letter | The Remote Issue

This month’s issue is all about getting out there

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Reading some adventure stories, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the aim of the game is to get to the remotest location possible – as far away from other people as you can. For the most part however, that’s not been my experience.

Although there is undoubtedly something powerful about being ‘out there’ by yourself (just ask Sarah Outen, featured in this month’s Big Interview) all of my most enjoyable adventures have been ones that I’ve shared. I don’t just mean by posting pictures of it and waiting for your friends to hit the heart button either. Sorry Zuckerberg, that’s just not the same.

“It’s always the people who make the story worth telling.”

Of course, you don’t want every man and his dog along for the ride. No-one likes big crowds of tourists (there’s a reason James Renhard’s story this month is about leaving Las Vegas). But even surfers, those most secretive of creatures, would have to admit that taking a select crew of the right people can make a remote location infinitely more enjoyable.

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Franck Buisson, guardian of the remote refuge we stayed in in France last spring – and maker of particularly strong moonshine. Photo: Tristan

It’s an effect I experienced first hand this time last year, when I headed off to explore the quiet slopes of the Maurienne Valley, one of the few remaining places in France where you can enjoy powder without having to queue at the crack of dawn.

The lack of crowds made the riding great, but it was the people I was with that made the trip truly memorable (despite the lobotomising effects of the local genepi).

The same is true in even more remote places. This month issue tells the story of two Englishmen (or are they mad dogs?) who spent weeks living in the Amazon Rainforest’s “Intangible Zone” – the secluded area set aside for communities who chose to minimise their contact with the outside world.

It was a gruelling experience at times – Benjamin Sadd describes “weeks of runny poo and a multitude of biting insects and giant spiders” – but both the story he wrote and the film they made about it are hilarious, chiefly because they’re so obviously entertained by each other’s company.

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It takes two to tango. Canoeing in the Amazon’s “Intangible Zone” wouldn’t have been the same alone. Photo: Benjamin Sadd

Of course this issue isn’t just about going to wild places. There’s contributing editor Sam Haddad’s incredible (if slightly disturbing) investigation of the subculture of biohacking, which involves people implanting remote sensors or microchips under their skin, adding sixth and even seventh senses to the range of human experience.

There’s also Stuart Kenny’s fascinating piece about one ski resort’s battle to remain independent, and ensure that they’re not overwhelmed by too many tourists.

But what struck me about the majority of this month’s stories was that even if you’re travelling to the world’s remotest places, and travelling alone (like this month’s featured photographer Joshua Cunningham) it’s always the people who make the story worth telling.

On to pastures new. Hiking in Swedish Lapland last summer - read the full story in this month's issue.

On to pastures new. Hiking in Swedish Lapland last summer – read the full story in this month’s issue.

This is, I’m sorry to say, my last month at Mpora. And (if you’ll forgive me the horrible cliché) it’s the people that I’ll miss more than anything.

It’s been my absolute pleasure to share adventures, and stories of adventure, with some incredible folk over the past four years – my brilliant colleagues (who I have no doubt, will do an excellent job of taking over the helm), our amazing contributors, and of course all of you lot reading this.

All that’s left to say is thank you to you for reading, for getting involved, for contributing, for sending us your photos, videos, stories and comments; for liking, for sharing; for occasionally insulting, and always inspiring me. It’s been a trip.

Keep enjoying the adventure.
– Tristan, Editor-in-Chief

Read more of this month’s Remote Issue here. 

You May Also Like:

Leaving Las Vegas | Going From Neon To Nature In The American West

The Fjällräven Classic | Conquering the King’s Trail in Sweden

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Editor’s Letter | The Olympic Issue – February 2018

This month we’re focussing on South Korea

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A few weeks before Christmas, I did something spectacularly stupid. Or at least, that’s the way it felt as I was flying through the air 20 feet off the ground, my arms flapping wildly and my body twitching like a freshly-landed fish.

I’d been out in Italy checking out the British Olympic ski & snowboard team’s secret weapon – a giant airbag set up on the landing of a jump to reduce the risks when they’re trying new tricks. Like an idiot, I’d allowed myself to be talked into having a go at hitting their absolute beast of a kicker.

“It served as a sobering reminder of the difference in skill level between Olympic athletes and us mere mortals.”

Thankfully, the airbag did its stuff, so when I crash-landed I came to no harm. But the sheer size of the whole thing came as quite a shock. The speed needed to clear it, the height it kicked you up in the air, the distance you travelled. It was all so much bigger than anything I’d ever hit before, and it served as sobering reminder of the difference in skill level between Olympic athletes and us mere mortals.

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Matt McCormick sending it over the British Olympic team’s airbag in Mottolino, Italy. Photo: Tristan

If you watch enough top-level skiing or snowboarding, you can become desensitised to just how crazy it is. Riders like Billy Morgan and skiers like Katie Summerhayes make it all look so easy that you can almost start imagining that it is.

There’s a BBC trailer for the Winter Olympics currently running on the radio that describes a double cork 1260, and then says: “For them, it’s just another day in the office”. If their office is a top-storey executive suite, then my sketchy backside 180 attempt was the equivalent of tripping over the doormat downstairs.

It’s worth remembering this while the Winter Olympics is on, because it’s easy to be cynical about the whole thing. Unfortunately, organised sport at the highest level is often a byword for corruption. There are the doping scandals, the dodgy judging calls, and the whole ludicrously expensive legacy issue for host nations (which Mpora’s Stuart Kenny investigates brilliantly in this month’s issue).

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When Abi Butcher shot this several years before the games Pyeongchang was already getting excited. But what will the legacy look like? Photo: Abi Butcher

On top of all that, for fans of freestyle skiing and snowboarding, there’s the question of whether these sports should be in the Olympics at all. Is the competitive side of snowboarding or free-skiing a true reflection of the sport?

Do quote-unquote “contest jocks” deserve to be put on a pedestal? Should snowboarding be run by the people behind alpine skiing, with its lycra-loving, gym-bunny culture? Two decades on, the reasons behind Terje Haakonsen’s famous boycott of snowboarding’s first games have not gone away.

“The reasons behind Terje Haakonsen’s boycott of snowboarding’s first games have not gone away.”

The counter-arguments are of course equally well-trodden. There’s little doubt that exposure of the magnitude that only the Olympics can deliver boosts these sports.

It inspires new kids who may never have come across them otherwise, and can act as a gateway drug to all the other, supposedly more purist ways of sliding on snow. And at the very least the meritocratic method of Olympic qualification provides a refreshing antidote to the inexplicable alchemy used to select participants in the X Games, which always seems to prioritise marketability over actual ability.

Naturally in between these two extremes there’s room for plenty of shades of grey. But whichever side of the debate you gravitate towards, the one thing you should never dispute is the sheer ballsiness and insane skill levels of the riders and skiers who take part.

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Katie Ormerod, who features as this month’s Big Interview, will sadly no longer compete at the games because of an injury in practise days before the Olympics kicked off. Photo: Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool

I’m writing this on the plane out to Pyeongchang, where news has just come through that Team GB’s Katie Ormerod has broken her heel, ruling her out of the games. The fact that Britain’s best female rider has just smashed herself up on a course that’s been universally praised as excellent tells you everything you need to know about how scary these sports can be.

Regardless of what you think of the double, triple or quadruple corks, the people who pit themselves against those odds in the name of progression deserve our respect. And however sick you are of the corporate sponsorship, the doping scandals or the kleptocrats who seem to run international sport, the riders at the centre of it all are still utterly badass. Which is why we’ve dedicated this entire* issue to them, and to the Winter Olympics.

We hope you like it, and come away feeling as inspired as we have while writing it.

Enjoy the adventure,
– Tristan, Editor-in-Chief

*Not quite the entire issue. For those who don’t like winter sports, there are still a couple of stories that have nothing to do with what’s happening in South Korea.

Read the rest of Mpora’s Olympic Issue here.

You May Also Like:

From Underdogs to Overachievers | The Secret Story Behind Britain’s Winter Olympians

My Life in Pictures | Mike Weyerhauser’s Favourite Historic Photos From the Olympics

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Editor’s Letter | The Family Issue – December-January 17/18

This month is all about adventures for the whole family

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A couple of days ago I met a friend’s 6-month-old son for the first time. Amid the chat about the sleepless nights and the screaming sessions (which quite frankly didn’t sound like a lot of fun) my interest was peaked when talk turned to his first Christmas (which definitely did).

I spend the festive season with my extended family most years, but it’s been a long time since there were any little people around our tree, and I realised how much I’d missed it. My friend’s son may be too young to appreciate it fully this time around, but for the next few years he’s going to be as excitable as, well, a kid at Christmas.

“Wendy Fisher was expressing breast milk for her first child between runs at the US Extreme Skiing Championships.”

While this time of the year might be made for talking about families, at first glance adventure sports might seem an odd way to do it. After all they usually involve an element of danger, which for many parents would put them a long way down the list of preferred activities. But there are just as many people who view adventure not just as child-friendly, but an essential part of raising healthy, well-adjusted kids, and rightly so.

Take Wendy Fisher for example, who Abi Butcher spoke to for this month’s Big Interview. An “utterly badass” free-skier, she was expressing breast milk for her first child between runs at the US Extreme Skiing Championships, and now regularly takes both her young sons out on the hill.

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Wendy Fisher, who enjoys a career as a professional freeride skier, as well as being a hands-on mother to her two boys. Photo: Dave Kozlowski

She’s more aware than most of the sport’s dangers too – horrifically, she watched her older brother die in a skiing accident when she herself was just a child. “Even though my brother died, this sport is awesome,” she explains, and she wants her kids to enjoy it as she has.

It’s not like kids need slow you down either. Fisher’s two boys now often beat her down the slopes, and in fact, children can be the catalyst for their parents taking on new challenges. This was certainly the case for Jordan Romero’s family who climbed together and then, at Jordan’s instigation, summited Everest when he was just 13 years old – making him the youngest person ever to do so.

The achievement (and the family’s subsequent ascent of the rest of the Seven Summits) didn’t just put Jordan’s name in the record books, it made him closer to his father and surrogate mother, who he misses climbing with to this day.

Of course, taking a teenager up the world’s highest mountain isn’t for everyone, but you can enjoy a similar sense of collective endeavour and achievement closer to home too. This month saw features editor Sam Haddad and a friend taking their kids trekking round the bothies of the South Downs, an experience she documents amusingly for our Great British Adventures series.

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Kiwi brothers Jake & Theo, who feature in mountain bike videos together. Photo: @jaketheobike

As she found out, there’s something about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone – whether that’s camping with kids in an English winter or climbing the world’s highest peaks – that brings people together. And while you don’t have to be related to each other to appreciate this (Hugh Francis Anderson had an incredible time at the inaugural IGO Morocco this month with a friend), but it definitely helps. After all, if you’re going to be huddling in a tent in subzero temperatures, or pushing yourself to the extremes of physical exhaustion, it helps to know your companions inside out before you start.

Of course, everyone has family members they’d rather not spend any more time with than is strictly necessary. The stereotypical drunken uncle or borderline racist grandmother are festive-season staples for example. But for all they can infuriate you, it’s worth remembering that the best companions for any adventure you might choose to embark on are often the ones closest to you. So it’s perhaps no wonder that my friend can’t wait until his boy’s old enough to get a snowboard for Christmas.

Here’s hoping this month’s stories inspire you to get outside with your family this festive season.

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year from all of us at Mpora.
– Tristan, Editor-in-chief

To read Mpora’s December / January Family issue, head here.

You may also like:

Adventure-gram | Theo and Jake, Mountain Bikers
Wendy Fisher Interview | How To Be An Extreme Skier & An Awesome Parent

The post Editor’s Letter | The Family Issue – December-January 17/18 appeared first on Mpora.

Dougie Lampkin | Watch a Legendary Trials Rider Take on an Abandoned Theme Park

There’s no way an abandoned attraction that’s 22-metres high won’t worry you…”

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Photo: Daniel Deak Bardos / Red Bull Content Pool

Love roller coasters? No. Why not? Because UK-based theme parks have had a plethora of terrifying nightmare situations in the last years? Oh. Yeah. Fair enough.

The thing about most accidents on a roller coaster though, is that they’re actually caused by the carriages rather than the rails. So if you just found a reliable carriage of your own – say a trials motocross bike – then you could ride around the roller coaster track no problem. Though you’d have to make sure that you know your way around a motorbike.

Luckily, few people know their way around a bike better than legendary trials rider Dougie Lampkin, who won five consecutive World Indoor titles, seven consecutive World Outdoor Championships and got an MBE for his efforts in 2001.

Photo: Daniel Deak Bardos / Red Bull Content Pool

Photo: Daniel Deak Bardos / Red Bull Content Pool

So, what does a dude with an MBE for his services to motorcycle trials do after he’s done winning medals? He hunts out ridiculous settings for sick trials videos of course.

Dougie is no stranger to a viral video. His trials jaunt around a giant igloo on the Tundra trail in Finland is still one of the best watches around:

He also only went and pulled a 60.725km – 37.73 mile – wheelie around the Isle of Man TT course last year, the equivalent of wheelie-ing up and down a regulation-size football pitch 754 times.

…and for his latest trick, Dougie headed back overseas to an abandoned theme park 30km north of Milan. The end result was this awesome video:

GreenLand has been lying baron for years, and Dougie had to not only pick his lines and think up the shots but ensure each of the structures would be sturdy and safe enough for riding. Imagine riding a 22m-high roller coaster with zero guarantees over the overall condition of the structure?

Photo: Daniel Deak Bardos / Red Bull Content Pool

Photo: Daniel Deak Bardos / Red Bull Content Pool

The 41-year-old told Red Bull, who sponsor his riding: “What matters is being able to find new places, ones that are more and more interesting and challenging. If the place isn’t open to the public, we can trace out a circuit and then work it.

Photo: Daniel Deak Bardos / Red Bull Content Pool

Photo: Daniel Deak Bardos / Red Bull Content Pool

“It’s not the obstacles or extreme conditions that make a video spectacular, it’s the ability of the entire team to make the most of the location for filming.

Photo: Daniel Deak Bardos / Red Bull Content Pool

Photo: Daniel Deak Bardos / Red Bull Content Pool

“I did need a bit [of training] to prepare for the roller coaster video. There’s no way an abandoned attraction that’s 22-metres high can’t worry you, but the team and I made it as safe as we could – even though the risk factor was extremely high.”

You May Also Like

This Trials Legend Just Nailed Some Ridiculous Moto Stunts… Deep In The Arctic Circle

How To Get Ticket for The Nitro Circus 2018 Tour

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Editor’s Letter | The Search Issue – November 2017

This month’s features are about the search for adventure

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Lead image by Chris Burkard

Adventures, almost by definition, start with a search. In days gone by this would have meant digging out an atlas, leafing through back issues of surf or bike magazines, or drooling over the descriptions in a guide book. These days, it’s more likely to mean typing a few keywords into Google’s search box.

There’s no doubt technology has removed some of the romance from the process – when the whole world’s information is literally at your fingertips, searching is no longer a skill in itself. And there’s no denying the idea of dusting off an old map sounds more appealing than pinching and zooming.

“The idea of dusting off an old map sounds more appealing than pinching and zooming.”

But as anyone who’s booked a trip recently knows, the end result – poring over contours, or working out the time it’ll take to travel between strangely-named cities – is still just as exciting, regardless of whether the map is on an old scroll or an iPhone screen.

Just ask Chris Burkard, who we interviewed for our My Life in Pictures series this month. The photographer cut his teeth at the tail end of the analogue era shooting for print magazines, before becoming one of the first surf snappers to realise the potential of Instagram. He’s since amassed a frankly incredible 2.8 million followers, and a quick read of his comments show that he inspires thousands to go on their own trips with every shot.

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Simeulue, where we headed in search of empty waves. Photo: Matt Carr

Regular contributor Matt Carr is also no stranger to using the latest digital tools in the search for adventure – especially the modern, accurate surf forecasts that the web can provide. This month he travelled to the outer reaches of the Indonesian archipelago because he’d spotted a consistent-looking wave there that, reports said, wasn’t overrun with “hordes of white dreadlocked Australians”. Getting there took some doing, but it was more than worth it.

Perhaps ironically, given the way he’d found out about Simeulue, the island itself turned out to be something of a digital black spot. But that only added to his sense that this was “what Bali was like back in the 70s”.

Closer to home, Judy Armstrong headed to the Isle of Mull, deliberately searching for that sort of digital detox after a hectic few months. As part of our Great British Adventures series, she spent a long weekend sea-kayaking around its secluded coves and eating “seafood as it was meant to be. Fresh, simple, with just the slosh of wavelets as a soundtrack.”

Deserted, storm-washed beach near Uisken

Sea kayaks drawn up on a deserted, storm-washed beach near Uisken on the Isle of Mull. Photo: Judy Armstrong

Her quest for peace and quiet is something Erling Kagge, who we spoke to for this month’s Big Interview, would certainly relate to. After all, he’s literally written the book on it. Now an international bestseller, Silence: In the Age of Noise includes the tale of how the explorer and author once spent 50 days hiking to the South Pole alone and unsupported. Not only did he find the complete silence he craved, he also discovered things he didn’t expect – about the landscape he was passing through, about the ice beneath his feet and most importantly, about himself.

This of course is the whole point of adventure. If you only ever found what you expected to find, travelling would be a pretty boring experience. What turns a trip or an expedition into an adventure is the unexpected, those things you never even dreamed you’d come across when you started your search.

Remote mountain peaks, of the sort actively sought by explorer Erling Kagge. Photo: Erling Kagge

Remote mountain peaks, of the sort actively sought by explorer Erling Kagge. Photo: Erling Kagge

Has technology made this easier? Kagge, would probably argue not. An avowed technophobe, he deliberately threw away the batteries in his radio when walking across the polar ice cap to make sure he had no outside distractions. But as Chris Burkard and Matt Carr’s stories show, new ways of searching can help inspire new adventures. Using the web might help you pinpoint exactly what you’re after more easily than an atlas, but it also makes it far easier to stumble across something you’d never expect to find.

Here’s hoping you find something unexpected in this month’s issue, which inspires you to further searches of your own.

Enjoy the adventure.
– Tristan, Editor-in-chief

To read this month’s Search Issue, have a look here.

You May Also Like:

Searching for Silence | Norwegian Explorer, Erling Kagge, On Trying to Clear Your Head in a Hectic World

Surfing Simeulue | Searching for Empty Waves in a Remote Corner of Indonesia

The post Editor’s Letter | The Search Issue – November 2017 appeared first on Mpora.