Manaslu is the eighth tallest peak in the world; (photo Olga Danylenko, Shutterstock)
This week, double amputee Rustam Nabiev summitted Manaslu (8,163m/26,781 ft) in the Himalayas. Manaslu is the eighth tallest peak in the world; (photo/Olga Danylenko, Shutterstock)

Alpine Achievement Awards, 2 High-Risk Ultras, and a Few More Stories to Start Your Week

A short and sweet weekly wrap-up of top news in exploration and adventure. Here’s what you missed, and a few things to look forward to.


This year’s Piolets d’Or, alpine mountaineering’s most prestigious awards, were announced on Friday. French for “ice axes of gold,” the awards honor alpinism’s greatest accomplishments from the previous calendar year.

This year was unique, thanks to the pandemic — the jury opted to recognize two routes instead of just one; altitude was the differentiating factor. The committee also honored Silvia Vidal for her many contributions to solo big wall climbing. ExplorersWeb gives the full 2021 Piolets d’Or report.

Rustam Nabiev, a double amputee, just summitted Manaslu, the world’s eighth-highest peak. Embedded within the Mansiri Himal chain, Manaslu (8,163 m/26,781 feet) is notoriously treacherous, especially this late in the season.

What’s more, Manaslu’s summit is the subject of recent controversy. A persistent sherpa and new drone footage have exposed several groups’ summit claims as false. Mountain authorities have yet to weigh in on whether they’ll revoke summit certificates from those that never actually sent the Himilayan massif but merely reached Manaslu’s lower foresummit.


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Harrowing news from Russia for the skydiving community on Sunday. An L-410 aircraft carrying two dozen skydivers suffered engine failure mid-air. At least 16 skydivers succumbed to injuries. Several surviving passengers remain in critical condition, reports The Guardian. It’s the third L-410 fatality in Russia this year; many are pointing to the country’s loose industry regulations and subpar maintenance protocols.


Big ol’ week in the running world, folks.

In Morocco, the Marathon des Sables returned for the first time in 2.5 years. Described by many as the toughest footrace on earth, the Marathon des Sables is held over 6 days and spans 156 miles (250 km). The sparse, sandy setting is no joke.

As reported by iRunFar, this year’s race witnessed its third fatality in 35 years. Eight-time des Sables winner Rachid El Morabity (MOR) took the first spot in men’s, and first-time winner Aziz Raji (MOR) claimed women’s with an impressive 4-hour lead on the competition.

Scene at 2021 Marathon des Sables by Cimbaly_MDS2021@Foddoux
Scene at 2021 Marathon des Sables; (photo/Cimbaly_MDS2021@Foddoux)

The windy city hosted its classic Chicago Marathon on Saturday. Seifu Tura Abdiwak (ETH) took the men’s race with just 2:06:12 on the clock  — just a few seconds ahead of Galen Rupp (USA) and Eric Kiptanui (KEN).

Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) took women’s with a time of 2:22:31, nearly 2 minutes ahead of second placer Emma Bates (USA) and 4.5 minutes in front of Sara Hall (USA) in third. See the full results here.

Meanwhile in Utah, 87 ultrarunners were caught in a whiteout blizzard during the DC Peaks 50 on Saturday morning. Rescuers dispatched to the Wasatch Mountain Range around 9:30 a.m. in response to the flurry. SAR accounted for all runners by 2:45 p.m. local time. A few participants were subsequently treated for hypothermia but had recovered by Saturday evening.

And it’s Marathon Monday in Boston! Interested in following live coverage of the 125th Boston Marathon? Race organizers provide several viewing options here.


UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup season is officially underway with the Trek CX Cup in Waterloo, Wisc. The premiere event will go down in infamy — torrential conditions led to a slew of wrecks and forced several heavy hitters to drop out.

In the end, Europe dominated both men’s and women’s elite divisions. Belgium’s Eli Iserbyt took Elite Men’s gold, narrowly beating fellow countrymen Michael Vanthourenhout and Quinten Hermans, who took silver and bronze, respectively.

The Netherlands reigned supreme in Elite Women’s, where Marianne Vos clinched first, followed by Lucinda Brand in second, and Denies Betsema in third.


Thursday and Friday were banner days for Stateside conservation. First, President Biden rolled back anticonservation Trump-era policies, reports Austin Beck-Doss for GJ, that reduced ecological and wildlife protections of several major national monuments.

With Biden’s policy changes, protections of Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument near Mass. and Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments in Utah are restored to their previous levels.

cedar mesa bears ears
Cedar Mesa at Bears Ears National Monument; (photo/Shutterstock)

In tandem with Biden’s sweep, the Department of Interior announced its climate adaptation and resilience plan. The plan, released by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, seeks environmental justice for low-income and BIPOC communities, clean energy alternatives, and improved job opportunities in the conservation and climate adaptation sectors.

An Illinois woman found guilty of “willfully remaining, approaching, and photographing” a sow grizzly and two cubs in Yellowstone NP was sentenced to 4 days in jail and fined $2,000. Samantha Dehring, 25, is also banned from Yellowstone for one year. The sentence is in response to Dehring’s behavior, captured in a video that went viral back in May.

“The park is not a zoo where animals can be viewed within the safety of a fenced enclosure. They roam freely in their natural habitat and when threatened will react accordingly,” stated Bob Murray, Wyoming’s acting U.S. attorney.

Celebrations are underway in Africa for a baby elephant boom in Kenya. The first-ever Kenyan National Wildlife Census is in — 2020 was a lot of things, including good for local elephant populations. In addition to a “baby elephant boom” of 200 births in 2020, the Census revealed a 12% increase in the overall ele population, and, over the past 3 years, a 49% increase in the giraffe population. (That’s an additional 34,240 giraffes!)

To celebrate, Magical Kenya and the Kenya Wildlife Service organized an elephant-naming ceremony and fundraiser on Oct. 9, as well as for Amboseli National Park. Financial donors raised a total of $150,000, and each contributor was given the right to name one of the babies. Donors will also receive regular updates about their respective elephants.

Notably, the African Wildlife Foundation stepped up to the donor plate early with a $5,000 contribution. “The goal of the festival is to secure a future for elephants and their habitats in peaceful coexistence with humans,” said park officials.


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Jilli Cluff

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing — and life would never be the same. She now works as a contributor, gear tester, and editor for GearJunkie and other outlets within the AllGear family. She is based out of Atlanta, Georgia where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.