Last November we introduced you to the 2009 Adventurers of the Year, recognized for their extraordinary achievements in exploration, conservation, actions sports, and humanitarian work.
Their accomplishments ranged from the longest BASE jump ever to educating 10,000 women and girls in war-torn Afghanistan to rocketing 350 miles above the Earth to save a telescope. Then, for our first ever Readers’ Choice Adventurer of the Year Award, we asked you to vote for the person you felt best embodied the spirit of adventure. (See the entire Best of Adventure feature here.)
with nearly 20,000 votes cast, we are thrilled to announce a tie. Both
winners are equally impressive, but in entirely different ways.
Explorer-engineer Albert Yu-Min Lin organized a high-risk
expedition into Mongolia’s “Forbidden Zone” to search for the lost
tomb of Genghis Khan using state-of-the-art mapping technology. Wounded Iraq
war veteran Marc Hoffmeister led a team of soldiers,
many missing limbs, up the dangerous West Buttress route on Denali.
When we delivered the news to each winner, both assured us of one
thing: They could not have done it alone—and their adventures continue.
“For me, it’s about being part of a team that is the Adventurers of the
Year. A whole group of people made a huge effort towards this project,
people from University of California, San Diego, local Mongolians, the
Mongolian Academy of Science,” said Lin, whose team will return to northern Mongolia this
summer to continue their ground-breaking exploration. “The long-term
goal is to create a protection mechanism to preserve the cultural
heritage of Mongolia. The Mongols created a lot of what we know of as
our modern history, and that story hasn’t been told completely.” And
while we were blown away by the technology used in the first phase of this
project—the unmanned aerial vehicle flyovers, the 3-D virtual
environment StarCAVE—Lin's work reminds us that the future of exploration is now.
“We’re trying to strengthen our tool kit to bring the best noninvasive
tools to the field.” Watch a video of Lin accepting the award >>
A similar gratitude was expressed by Hoffmeister, whose transformation on Denali was just the beginning.
“This goes beyond personal recognition. It’s what the team did to get
up the mountain. I’m pretty humbled, let’s just put it that way,” said Hoffmeister, who just returned from a belated honeymoon where he and
his wife Gayle chased their Kilimanjaro summit with a safari in the
Serengeti. Since the article, public interest in future climbs has
been huge. “I am working with a few different organizations to select
and train another team of Wounded Warriors and hopefully complete
another climb upon my return from Iraq, so I have a little time,” he joked. Hoffmeister will be in command of a U.S. Engineer Battalion
working with the Iraqi Army to conduct route clearance operations and
counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs) over the next year. “We’ve
talked about Aconcagua or maybe Denali again or possibly even Everest, should funding and support develop." Watch a video of Hoffmeister accepting the award >>
Thanks to everyone who
voted—we hope you are as inspired as we are. These two adventurers
remind us that the time is now to dream it, plan it, do it. So the
question really is: What’s the adventure of your life, and why aren’t
you doing it now?
Photographs from top left; Michael Hennig; Matt Hage; Erik Jepsen; Marc Hoffmeister
- Nat Geo Expeditions