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Himalayan Climbers Make History, Fugitive Eludes Authorities & More Stories to Start Your Week

himalayaPrayer flags at Makalu Base Camp, Nepali Himalaya; (photo/Daniel Prudek via Shutterstock)
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From the inspiring to the tragic, this is GearJunkie’s wrap on exploration and adventure news of the week. Here’s what you missed and a few things to look forward to.

Presented by: Toyota Tundra text with the Toyota Tundra logo


In high-altitude climbing, the world’s 14 8,000m (26,200-foot) peaks tower above all others. Rarely can any alpinist knock out multiple 8,000m ascents quickly.

Nirmal “Nims” Purja may be king of the world’s tallest mountains, but three climbers recently captured one of the Nepalese mountaineer’s world records.

Norway’s Kristin Harila and Nepal’s Dawa Wongchu Sherpa and Pasdawa Sherpa summited Nepal’s Makalu (27,838 feet) on May 27 for their sixth “8,000er” in 29 days.


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Purja held the previous speed record for that many 8,000m summits at 31 days.

Climbers need to channel not only massive stamina, but also logistical acuity to quickly repeat ascents at that altitude. Now, Harila will proceed to Pakistan to take on the Karakoram’s five 8,000ers. Not only will the 36-year-old face less stable weather patterns and higher technical difficulty there, but also negotiate travel that tends to be both more expensive and more abrasive.

When Purja set the speed record for all 14 peaks in 2019, he might as well have set it on the moon. His time of 6 months and 6 days broke the previous benchmark by over 7 years.

Speaking of climbing fast, that’s what Poland’s Aleksandra Miroslaw and Indonesia’s Kiromal Katibin did in Salt Lake City last week. Each athlete broke an International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) world record in speed climbing at the Utah event.

In IFSC speed climbing, two climbers race up identical, standardized 15m (about 49-foot) routes on top rope.

Katibin, 21, broke his own one-month-old record in qualifying on May 21. When he tapped the pad, the clock read 5.10 seconds, or 0.07 faster than his last fastest run in Seoul, South Korea, on May 6.

Miroslaw, 28, should be getting used to “world’s fastest” status by now.

Miroslaw sets the standard; (photo/Daniel Gadja for IFSC)

Her 6.53-second qualifying run on May 27 broke her standing mark of 6.64, also set in Seoul. Before that, no woman had set a new record since Miroslaw did it in August 2021 at 6.84.

Miroslaw won the women’s event, but Katibin missed the podium due to a miscue in the quarterfinals.

The next IFSC Speed Climbing World Cup competitions will take place June 30-July 2 in Villars, Switzerland.

An Austin, Texas, news outlet reported the suspect wanted for cyclist Moriah “Mo” Wilson’s murder boarded a flight to New York just days after a friend found Wilson fatally shot.

A police affidavit said the woman found Wilson, 25, shot multiple times and bleeding in an Austin home on May 11. Per the affidavit, a doctor pronounced the cyclist dead 14 minutes after police received the woman’s 911 call.

Police charged Kaitlin Marie Armstrong with murder on May 19 after searching the residence the day before. The U.S. Marshals Service involved itself in what it called a “fugitive investigation” on May 20.


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On May 25, Austin’s KXAN reported U.S. Marshals said Armstrong fled to New York just 3 days after the crime. According to authorities, Armstrong, 34, boarded a series of Southwest flights headed to La Guardia Airport from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on May 14.

Colin Strickland, a male cyclist who admitted he’d engaged in romantic relationships with both Armstrong and Wilson, lost his sponsors in the wake of the incident.

The United States’ largest adventure race returned last weekend, and a sold-out field of 500 athletes of all ages showed up for it.

The Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge course forced off-trail navigation, mountain biking, and paddling on a swollen spring river. A field of 500 racers flocked to the race in northern Wisconsin, where deep woods and undulating topography promised a true challenge across 57 checkpoints starting on May 28.

Race maps revealed checkpoint locations on the 80+ mile course. Teams in the elite division planned their routes and strategies Friday evening before an 11 p.m. start. They had until 5 p.m. the next day to complete the point-to-point route.

In the end, Team Toyota Tundra, which comprised Justin Bakken, Mari Chandler, and Stephen Regenold, managed to take first place after finding all checkpoints and crossing the finish line at 13 hours, 3 minutes. It was the team’s fourth win on the season.

Team Toyota Tundra crossing the finish line; (photo/Leslie Johnson)

Congratulations to our very own Team GearJunkie, where racers Kyle Nossaman and Ryan Braski managed third place overall after 14 hours, 46 minutes on the course.

Bike as many laps as you can in 24 hours. That is the premise of the WEMBO World Solo 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championships, held May 27-29 in Italy.

A GearJunkie contributing writer, Chelsey Magness, came to represent the U.S. Over the course of the day she slowly rose in the ranks. After 24 hours, Magness had passed all women in the field, mountain biking for 180 miles and taking first place as the World Champion of the sport.

Magness on the podium; (photo/Jason Archer)

“It was a burly and engaging course,” said Magness, who lives in Bend, Ore. She is the mother of two young boys and an endurance athlete who owns and operates multiple businesses.

WEMBO, which stands for World Endurance Mountain Bike Organisation, created a looped course for the Italy event that included thousands of feet of elevation gain per lap. “I felt great much of the race, even though it was very hot,” Magness said.

The cyclist said she spent Sunday recovering after the victory. She reported she can’t use her hands or bend over after the output for 24 hours straight. Congrats to Chelsey Magness, and we wish her a speedy recovery this week after an amazing effort on the World Solo course!

Last weekend in France, Gran Fondo New York (GFNY) pedaled back to the 19th century with a European Championship road race based in a historic cycling city.

Villard de Lans, perched in the country’s southeastern mountains 3,444 feet above sea level, hosted the event on May 29. In it, cyclists tackled a brutal 13,000+ feet of elevation change along a 101.5-mile course.

Riders whipped through tight mountainside turns on narrow 19th-century roads at Le Balcon de Villards. Major climbs like the Col de la Croix Perrin and the final hill to Villard de Lans have featured in previous Tours de France.

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This article is sponsored by Toyota. Find out more about the 2022 Toyota Tundra here

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