The Wildest Feats of 2006
Roman Dial: Hiked the Brooks Range, With No Support >>Dee Caffari: Sailed Around the World, the Wrong Way >>
Kay Henry + Rob Center: Blazed a Long-Haul Trail, For Five Years >>Børge Ousland + Mike Horn: Walked to the North Pole, In the Dark >>Dean Potter: Climbed an Arch, Sparked a Dispute >>Sam Thompson: A Run Across the States, In 50 Days >>
Plus: Presenting our 12 Adventurers of the Year >>
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Hiked the Brooks Range, With No Support
Walking 600 miles (966 kilometers) across Alaska tundra and the barren Brooks Range is a huge undertaking, no doubt, but light hiker Roman Dial, along with Ryan Jordan and Jason Geck, did it impressively, obsessively true to form. Sponsored by Jordan's BackpackingLight.com, the trio carried less than eight pounds of ultralight gear per person (no sleeping bags and only one pair of underwear each!) and all their food for the trip (a delightful 47-pound (21-kilogram) mix of dried potatoes, Cream of Wheat, Pringles, and other faves). Trekking up to 40 miles (64 kilometers) a day for 24 days straight in June and July, the team claimed the "first unsupported traverse of America's largest and most remote contiguous wilderness."
Sailed Around the World, the Wrong Way
There's a lot of things you aren't supposed to do against the wind, and one of them is sail, solo and without stopping, around the globe. But that's just what Dee Caffari did. Piloting a 72-foot (22-meter) yacht from Portsmouth, England, the 33-year-old became the first woman to sail the planet east to west, against the prevailing winds and currents. As you would expect, there was solitude, loneliness, and giant, terror-inducing waves. And then there was the "very scrappy challenge," as she puts it, when after only a month at sea, she had to jury-rig her failed autopilot with oven pipes, jubilee clips, and pieces of rubber glove. But it held together, and 178 days after departing she pulled back into Portsmouth (the wrong way, of course).
Kay Henry + Rob Center
Blazed a Long-Haul Trail, For Five Years
When Kay Henry and Rob Center started to lay down the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in 2000, it was already a quest of epic proportions. The 740-mile (1,191-kilometer) route linking obscure waterways through the forests of New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine had 30 years of scouting behind it—but no true trailblazing. So Henry and Center, the former owners of Mad River Canoe, took up the torch. Over five years, they ran down countless dead-end passages, mobilized a small army of volunteers, and this spring put one massive obsession finally and delightfully to bed.
Børge Ousland + Mike Horn
Walked to the North Pole, In the Dark
When Norwegian Børge Ousland, 44, and South African Mike Horn, 40, set out on the first ever self-propelled journey to the North Pole in the pitch-dark of Arctic winter, the trek began inauspiciously: Winds blew the pack ice backward (hindering progress on some days and negating it on others), and a polar bear tried to invade their tent. But they finally found their rhythm, hauling sleds nine hours a day and donning dry suits to swim across open water. Horn suffered frostbite and a full-body infection, but a dose of antibiotics kicked in and two months to the day after leaving, they stood at 90º N. Why commit to such misery? "We have to challenge ourselves," says Ousland. Indeed.
Climbed an Arch, Sparked a Dispute
Renowned climber Dean Potter, 34, usually makes headlines for setting speed records on big walls, but in May he climbed Utah's iconic Delicate Arch and set off a furor the likes of which hasn't been seen in the climbing community in ages. Potter claimed freedom of expression, but critics decried a woeful lack of judgment and mindless self-promotion. (Perhaps Potter's having two cameramen in tow called into question the purity of his intent.) Shortly thereafter, climbing was banned on the arch. Self-expression, it seems, goes only so far.
A Run Across the States, In 50 Days
There's no question that the latest project by ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes—running 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days in 50 states—was huge. It's just too bad that, well, um, Sam Thompson, a 26-year-old church volunteer coordinator, beat him to it. The native Mississippian was inspired to run 50-50-50 to raise money for Hurricane Katrina relief. Traveling with his girlfriend and running most events in a T-shirt that says "I Need a Sponsor," Thompson started in July in Colorado and finished August 19 in his home state. Along the way he raised $15,000 and ended up running 51 marathons (on August 7 he ran two). Only when finished did he finally find a sponsor.
Best of Adventure 2007 Home Page >>
Adventurers of the Year >>
Lifetime Achievement: Biologist George Schaller >>
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