Meet the 2008 Adventures of the Year

Last Thursday, ADVENTURE magazine held the third annual Best of Adventure awards ceremony at the National Geographic Society headquarters, sponsored by South Africa Tourism. The event honored the achievements and gear featured in the December 2008/January 2009 issue (on newsstands now). Rob Gauntlett and James Hooper, the 21-year-olds who skied, sailed, and cycled from geomagnetic pole-to-pole, were named this year's Adventurers of the Year. Hall of Fame awardee Rick Ridgeway captivated the audience with a presentation on his latest project, Freedom to Roam, which aims to open up wildlife migration corridors.

Nearly all the honorees were present, from Olympic silver medal snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler to humanitarian aid worker Ash Clements (whose next assignment will take him to the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Andes thru-hikers Deia Schlosberg and Gregg Treinish. K2 hero Pemba Gyalje Sherpa made his way all the way from Kathmandu to accept his reward. Speed rider Francois Bon, who was honored for successfully flying from the summit of Aconcagua, had a slight limp as he crossed the stage due to an injury sustained during an Everest attempt cut short by an avalanche. Source-to-sea Amazon rowers Sam Stime and Maroy Correa Estenos pushed through the last grueling miles to make it to the ocean, just in time for the event. Modern-day abolitionist Ben Skinner, author of the book A Crime So Monstrous, followed up his night with meetings on the Hill.

“Professional” backpacker Andrew Skurka, last year’s Adventurer of the Year, was openly ambivalent about passing on his title, though he managed to graciously welcome Rob and James to join the ranks of Ed Viesturs and Colin and Julie Angus.

We’ll have photos from the event, as well as videos of each awardees achievements posted soon. Stay tuned.