The seven second summits: a tougher challenge

seven second summits k2 - 1

The seven second summits are considered to be a much harder mountaineering challenge than the more popular seven summits

Previously, I’ve written about my dream of climbing the seven summits and laid out a realistic if not deeply challenging and expensive program of how to achieve that goal.

This week I look at the seven second summits; the second-highest mountains on each continent. The highest summits are a dream of mine, but I draw the line at the second-highest – they’re simply too scary for an amateur enthusiast like me!

The travel that changed me: Vaseem Khan

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and Gateway of India in Mumbai, IndiaAiko3p/Shutterstock

Award-winning writer Vaseem Khan tells us how India’s ‘city of dreams’ turned him into an author

There’s no denying it: Vaseem Khan is an overachiever. Born and raised in Newham (one of the UK’s most deprived areas), Vaseem went on to study at the London School of Economics, one of the best universities in the world. 

Ranked: most peaceful countries in the world 2021

map of the most peaceful countries in the world 2021Vision of Humanity

The most peaceful countries in the world have been updated for 2021. Read our insights from the study and browse the rankings below

Iceland is once again the most peaceful country in the world followed by New Zealand, Denmark, Portugal, and Slovenia.

However, the world is a less peaceful place as civil unrest and political instability has increased due to the global pandemic according to the latest Global Peace Index (GPI) report.

30 most beautiful mountains in the world

Ama Dablam is a thing of beautyDaniel Prudek/Shutterstock

The most beautiful mountains in the world have captivated climbers for centuries. Here, we examine their lethal appeal

“You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you,” said John Muir, the renowned naturalist, author and environmental philosopher.

If our resident seven-summit hopeful is anything to go by, Muir makes a valid point. Those who spend time in the mountains seem to be driven by a deeper force.

Ranked: happiest countries in the world 2021

happiest countries in the world 2021 mapCreated with Datawrapper

Finland tops the rankings of the happiest countries in the world for the fourth year running

Happiness is a nebulous thing; hard to grasp and harder to hold onto. Scientists, economists and philosophers have defined it through the ages as a combination of different things, among them health, wealth, companionship and security.

Cold shoulder: 10 dramatic climbing controversies

From dubious first ascents to tense clashes at high altitude, we chart 10 dramatic climbing controversies – some resolved and others less so

There was a time when climbing controversies were sportingly confined to the slopes. The petty trivialities, the robust exchanges and the heated clashes were just part of the cut and thrust of the mountaineering world. 

The travel that changed me: Amit Patel

interview with amit patelRiyas.net/Shutterstock

Author Amit Patel tells us about his favourite trip, what remains on his bucket list and how travel changed for him after his sight loss

Amit Patel was born to be a boy racer. In his teens, he nearly rode himself (and two of his friends) into a pond on a clapped-out motorbike. Around the same time, he joined his local squadron of the Air Training Corps and took to the skies every chance he got. When he finished his GCSEs, he celebrated by jumping out of a plane at 13,000 feet.

The travel that changed me: Nadine Matheson

Jorge Argazkiak/Shutterstock

Crime author Nadine Matheson tells us why a last-minute trip to Portugal changed her life forever

Nadine Matheson is the author of The Jigsaw Man, a deliciously dark cat-and-mouse thriller that pits the best new detective in fiction against a truly menacing killer. Described as a ‘macabre love letter to South London’, the novel has a noirish, nightmarish quality redolent of hardboiled fiction recast for a contemporary audience. 

Adventure travel books 2021: our top 10 picks

We share the best adventure travel books 2021 and explain why each should be on your reading list

From a cross-country road trip in a hostile America to boundless sand dunes in remote China, our crop of adventure travel books 2021 have one thing in common: their journeys are more than just physical. 

World’s most powerful passports 2021

japan has the most powerful passport

As Japan tops the list for the third year running, we take a look at the latest ranking of the world’s most powerful passports

It feels a little masochistic to look at the world’s most powerful passports after a year of recurring lockdowns. However, as we’ve said before, we remain hopeful about the future of travel. We believe that exploration is a human instinct and that as soon as it is safe, people will return to the road.

Unknown treks in Asia: 10 offbeat trails

From remote corners of Bhutan to the lofty heights of Nepal, we profile some of the best unknown treks in Asia

When it comes to exploration, ‘too late for the seas, too soon for the stars’ may best describe our current times. Legendary explorers like Drake and Magellan charted the seas long ago while Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen and their like did the same for remote lands. 

Best hikes in South Korea: 8 stunning trails

Naejangsan in autumn is one of the best hikes in South Korea NaejangsanTRAVEL TAKE PHOTOS/Shutterstock

The best hikes in South Korea offer a portrait of idyllic countryside as well as 5,000 years of distinctive culture and history

Mountain culture runs deep through the history of South Korea. Thousands of years before modern religion made its way onto the peninsula, Koreans worshipped mountain spirits known as Sansin. Today, much of the population remains strongly connected to mountains, albeit in a different way.

The travel that changed me: Roz Watkins

Dal Lake in KashmirTappasan Phurisamrit/Shutterstock

From trekking in the hills of Kashmir to evading a rhino in India, author Roz Watkins tells us about the travel that changed her

Roz Watkins is the author of the critically-acclaimed DI Meg Dalton crime series. Set in the Peak District, her novels are known for their extraordinary sense of place. Think moody moors, gnarled forests and creepy local lore. Her protagonist is spirited and sensitive, but what draws me most strongly to Roz’s work is her willingness to venture into the darker corners of society. 

Concrete jungles: the world’s most urban countries

world's most urban countries lead

We take a look at the world’s most urban countries and why they go hand in hand with the most stressed

City life is stressful. It presses on our weary bones, wafts through windows on pungent fumes and boxes up our personal space.

17 megadiverse countries of the world

A tiger lazes in Ranthambore in IndiaOndrej Prosicky/Shutterstock

We profile the world’s megadiverse countries, from obvious contenders like Ecuador and Brazil to one or two surprise entries

It should be comforting to know that a mere 17 countries hold more than 70% of the world’s species. It should be easy to rally this small group of ‘megadiverse countries’ to protect the planet’s extraordinary biodiversity. Alas, some of these countries are also the world’s biggest consumers and polluters. 

10 Hikes through the cleanest air in the world

Iceland is one of our Hikes in the cleanest air in the worldDreamstime

From Canada’s wild backcountry to the jungles of Brunei, we share some fantastic hikes through the cleanest air in the world

A few months after we moved to the country, some friends from London came up to visit. Stepping from the car, one commented that ‘it feels like mountain air up here’. I laughed and said, ‘it’s not that cold.’ He shook his head and said, ‘I don’t mean the temperature. I mean the quality.’

13 stunning natural phenomena

Gregory B Cuvelier/Shutterstock

From the famous northern lights to the lesser known sea of stars, we share the world’s most stunning natural phenomena

As Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken made history this week as the first astronauts to launch to orbit on a private spaceship, the world took pause to watch. Given the turmoil of our times, one observer quipped, ‘Congratulations to the Astronauts that left Earth today. Good choice.’

International borders: 10 remarkable frontiers

International borders Mexico-USA on Pacific CoastROSARITO TV/SHUTTERSTOCK

From mountains to libraries, we take a look at some of the most extraordinary international borders to be found across the globe

Over the last few years, we’ve seen an impressive collection of new websites, blogs and social media accounts dedicated to ‘travel porn’. They’re filled with big, sweeping images of fairytale lands and precarious precipices.