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The Best of Adventure: Timeless Exploration
Three awe-inspiring explorers and their plans to reach new heights in 2005. By Mike Benoist and Sean Leslie

Photo: Alison Gannett
Dressed as Marie Paradis—a Chamonix peasant who was the first woman to climb Mont Blanc in 1808—world-class skier Alison Gannett traced Paradis's experience on the mountain's powder in April 2004.
Alison Gannett, 39, Crested Butte, Colorado

On April 27th, Alison Gannett and a team of five women summited France's Mount Blanc to bring overdue recognition to the first women who climbed and skied the mountain from 1808 to 1929. "I wanted to experience the difficulties that these pioneer women faced while climbing in 30-pound (13.6-kilogram) outfits and long dresses," says Gannett. "If these women could accomplish so much back then wearing cumbersome dresses and without any of the perks of modern life, what excuse do we have for not following our dreams?" Next fall, a costumed Gannett will continue her tribute to expeditions of old with a climb (and first descent) of Nepal's 22,000-foot (6,707-meter) Gyaglen Peak—the site of the first all-woman expedition to the Himalaya 50 years ago.

Photo: Norman Vaughan
Norman Vaughan, at age 88, just before his ascent of Antarctica's Mount Vaughan, named for him in 1929 by Richard Byrd.
Norman Vaughan, 99, Anchorage, Alaska

In December 2005, Norman Vaughan will celebrate his 100th birthday atop Antarctica's 10,302-foot (3,140-meter) Mount Vaughan—a peak that Admiral Richard E. Byrd named in his honor for the work he did as a dog driver on the first American expedition to the South Pole in 1928. A man whose life story rivals that of Forrest Gump, Vaughan has made such legendary accomplishments as representing the U.S. in dog sledding at the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid, traveling solo to a Greenland ice sheet to recover a top secret Norden Bomb Sight from a downed American bomber in 1942, and giving Pope John Paul II mushing lessons in 1981. In December, at the top of his mountain, he'll add to an extraordinary list of firsts. "He's never had a drink in his life, but once he gets to the top he's going to have his first," says his wife, Carolyn Muegge-Vaughan. Vaughan's drink of choice? Champagne.

Photo: Mark Oleson
Athletic shoe designer Mark Oleson poses with his progeny, a smart sneaker that adjusts to your foot, thanks to a tiny computer processor.
Mark Oleson, 30, Portland, Oregon

The Adidas 1 running shoe, due out this spring ($250), features onboard computer processors that measure the biomechanics of your stride thousands of times per second, adjusting the cushioning of the shoe to best suit your gait. "It also detects surface conditions as well as running styles, whether or not you're fatiguing during the run, and things like that," said Mark Oleson, one of the shoe's designers and a pioneer of shoe technology. "[With the Adidas 1] you're really going to get an optimal cushioning level over the course of your run," said Oleson, whose workday often includes project research and data collection, i.e. running. Oleson melds his research with his training for long-distance events. "With this much testing and running, it seems kind of silly not to be training for a marathon while I'm doing it," he said. "It's the best job in the world. I can't believe I get paid for this. It's just fun."

Photography Credits:
Courtesy of V.V. Tutt Pyk (top), Gordon Wiltsie (middle), Sam Barcroft/Barcroft Media Ltd (bottom)

To find out what everyone will be talking about in 2005—from the coolest places, people, and paraphernalia in the world of adventure—pick up the December 2004/January 2005 print issue.

Additional Excerpts
From the print edition, December 2004/January 2005

The Best of Adventure: Three awe-inspiring explorers' plans for 2005

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December 2004/January 2005

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