Where Are They Now?
Over the last ten years we've celebrated a hundred adventurers—some of the world's best and brightest. We caught up with some of our previous Adventurer of the Year honorees to see how they have continued to raise the bar, redefine the limits, and explore places unknown.
Sky Runner Kilian Jornet
Photograph by Kilian Jornet
Kilian Jornet, our 2014 People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year, has continued his streak of outrageous “sky-running” speed records with an ascent and descent of 20,237-foot Mount McKinley (Denali) in 11 hours, 48 minutes. He beat the fastest known time on North America’s highest peak by five hours. Most parties approach the climb as a 17- to 21-day expedition.
Jornet also set a new course record of 22 hours, 41 minutes, and 33 seconds on the Hardrock 100, in which competitors run a hundred miles through Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, climbing and descending 33,992 feet. Next up: Mount Elbrus, Aconcagua, Everest.
Rock Climber Alex Honnold
Photograph by Renan Ozturk
“You always forget the physical discomfort so quickly, you know?” says rock climber Honnold at the end of a video called The Sufferfest. That's what Honnold and climber-filmmaker Cedar Wright called their 2013 endeavor to bike between and free solo all 14,000-foot peaks in California.
Over the last four years, Honnold has become the face of climbing to the public—and done a lot of forgetting. In summer 2014, he and Wright embarked on Sufferfest 2, spending three weeks biking between and climbing 45 desert towers. In addition to breaking the speed record on Yosemite’s Triple Crown (climbing El Cap, Half Dome, and Mount Watkins in less than 19 hours) and free soloing—climbing without a rope—El Sendero Luminoso in El Potrero Chico, Mexico, a route unprecedented in length and sustained difficulty for an unroped ascent, he also established the Honnold Foundation, which offers grants to “organizations that make a positive difference around the world.” He has also been featured in numerous National Geographic magazine articles, with topics such as the superclimbers of Yosemite and deepwater soloing in Oman.
Rider Danny MacAskill
Photograph by Fred Murray/Red Bull Content Pool
In 1985, the dike protecting the town of Epecuén broke, submerging the entire Argentinian outpost beneath 30 feet of saltwater. In 2009, the waters receded, revealing a postapocalyptic landscape that Danny MacAskill converted into a cycling playground for the film Epecuén.
Despite three broken collarbones, two broken feet, a torn meniscus, and a torn disk in his back since he turned pro in '09, MacAskill and his stunts continue to rack up millions of YouTube views. The sets of his most recent films include a knife-edge ridgeline on Scotland’s Isle of Skye and a giant replica of his childhood bedroom, complete with oversize items including rubber balls, playing cards, and a Rubik’s Cube.
Snowboarder Jeremy Jones
Photograph by Teton Gravity Research
“Higher is my story,” says Jeremy Jones of the final film in the trilogy he began with Deeper (2010) and Further (2012). Higher, which premiered in September 2014, focuses on Jones’s life from growing up on Cape Cod and “letting nothing get in the way of snowboarding,” to the struggle he now faces feeling selfish when he leaves his family for the mountains yet wanting his kids to “see people drinking life up as much as possible.”
Jones is the founder and CEO of Protect Our Winters, an organization that rallies the outdoor community around climate change issues.
Humanitarian Shannon Galpin
Photograph by Deni Bechard
In Afghanistan, a woman riding a bicycle can expect to be run off the road. Women’s cycling registers only slightly higher on the morality scale than adultery. Yet bicycles may hold a key to Afghan women’s freedom, symbolically and literally—by providing women with transportation to obtain education and enter the workforce.
In 2013, Shannon Galpin helped launch the Afghan National Women’s Cycling Team with the hope that rallying national support around the team will normalize cycling for Afghan women in the process. Afghan Cycles, a feature-length film on the cycling team, premieres before the end of 2014.
Big-Wave Surfer Greg Long
Photograph by Tony Canadas
Just more than a year after a Coast Guard helicopter lifted a blacked-out Greg Long from Cortes Bank, a huge wave break that forms 100 miles off the coast of California, Long returned to surf the break that nearly took his life. "It was far from being the biggest or the best wave of my life," Long said. "But it felt like this weight had been lifted."
Long has also maintained his position among the world’s most decorated big-wave surfers this year, placing fifth in the Mavericks Invitational and taking Ride of the Year at the Billabong XXL Awards. Hell and High Water, a three-episode documentary that follows the lives of Long and four other big-wave surfers, will air on ABC in November.
Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis
Photograph by Brew Davis
During her second and third trimesters of pregnancy, Jennifer Pharr Davis hiked over 600 miles of the GR11 in the Spanish Pyrenees and the Laugavegurinn in Iceland. Giving birth to her daughter, Charlotte, in November 2012 did not appear to slow down the record-breaking Appalachian Trail thru-hiker. She and her husband are now attempting to hike with their daughter in all 50 U.S. states. Davis’s latest book is Called Again: A Story of Love and Triumph.
Rock Climber David Lama
Photograph by Manuel Ferrigato/Red Bull
After the first ascent of Bird of Prey, the 1,500-meter east face of Moose’s Tooth, David Lama admitted that his first climb in Alaska was “certainly bold and a little brash.”
Since his 2012 first free ascent of Cerro Torre (which was made into a feature film called Cerro Torre), Lama has continued to put up bold first ascents on mountains around the globe, including an attempt on the northeast face of Pakistan’s 25,659-foot Masherbrum, considered one of the hardest unclimbed routes left in the world, and the first winter ascent of the inhospitable 10,587-foot Sagwand in the Austrian Alps.
Adventurers Sarah and Eric McNair-Landry
Photograph by Eric McNair-Landry
Since 2007, sibling duo Sarah and Eric McNair-Landry completed the first unsupported kite-buggy crossing of the Gobi desert in Mongolia, were the first to kite-ski the 2,050 miles across the Northwest Passage in winter, and teamed up with Erik Boomer and Katherine Breen to follow traditional hunting routes linking lakes and rivers 620 miles across Canada's Baffin Island—in homemade, traditional Inuit kayaks. The individual expeditions may vary, but the point for McNair-Landry is always the same: to inspire young people to get active outside.
Long-Distance Swimmer Diana Nyad
Photograph by Andrea Mead Cross
“At first blush, competing on Dancing With the Stars would seem a frivolous blip on the radar screen for me,” Diana Nyad wrote in a blog post in April. Since completing her swim from Cuba to Florida in 2013, Nyad has signed a major book deal and met President Obama and Oprah. And even though she and her partner, Henry Byalikov, only made it to the first round on the ABC competition show, performing the foxtrot on Dancing With the Stars marked the completion of a nine-year dream for Nyad. “I didn't ‘win’ on DWTS, but I lived out loud. No regrets.”
Skier Josh Dueck
Photograph by Paul Morrison
Since he became the first person to land a backflip on a sit-ski in 2012, Josh Dueck took home the gold in super combined and the silver in downhill for Team Canada at the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. He’s also gone cat skiing, heli-skiing, and mountain biking, and given a TedEx speech. He serves as the vice president for the Live It! Love It! Foundation, an organization helping to make outdoor recreation accessible and affordable for the disabled. And, on October 15, 2013, he and his wife, Lacey, welcomed their daughter, Nova Autumn, into the world.
Big-Wave Surfer Ramon Navarro
Photograph by Alfredo Escobar
Ramon Navarro and fellow surfer Dan Malloy spent two weeks waiting in frigid weather for safe conditions and massive waves. While they didn’t find any giant swells, they did become the first two people to surf Antarctica.
Navarro also received the 2014 Wave Saver Award for standing up against proposed sewage pipelines and pulp mills threatening the Chilean coast, leading a relief effort for the 2010 earthquake and tsunami that devastated his community, and fighting for long-term legal protection against future development for his home break at Punta de Lobos, Chile.
Rock Climber Dean Potter
Photograph by Jim Hurst
Dean Potter has taken climbing, BASE jumping, and slacklining to the next level—again. He now climbs, BASE jumps, and slacklines with his dog, Whisper, on his back. In the summer of 2013, Whisper and Potter became the first canine-human team to wingsuit off the west face of the Eiger in Switzerland.
In 2013, Potter, his girlfriend, Jen Rapp, and Whisper launched Whisper Productions starting with When Dogs Fly, a 22-minute film documenting Potter and Whisper’s adventures. Potter is now working with NASA scientists to continue to improve the design of his wingsuit, bringing the human body closer to flight.
Skier Greg Hill
Photograph by Bruno Long/Suunto
In 2005, Greg Hill redefined the notion of what’s possible when he hiked and skied a million vertical feet in one year. In 2010, Hill doubled that to hike and ski two million vertical feet, climbing 71 mountains and skiing 1,039 runs in four countries. He also claims to have planted over a million trees.
Alpinist Ed Viesturs
Photograph by Kyle Deleu
Nine years after Ed Viesturs summitted Annapurna in 2005, he still holds the title of the only American to summit all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks. Unable to stay out of the mountains, Viesturs has since made his seventh ascent of Everest, climbed Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica, and summitted Mount Rainier for his 208th time. When he’s not climbing, he does motivational speeches and serves on the board of directors for Big City Mountaineers, a wilderness mentoring program for at-risk youth. He has written four books about his time in the mountains.
Adventurer Alastair Humphreys
Photograph by Alastair Humphreys
In 2013, Alastair Humphreys and Leon McCarron crossed 1,000 miles of the world’s largest sand desert, the Empty Quarter in the Arabian Peninsula, while dragging a 700-pound homemade cart full of supplies. The duo loosely traced the route of British explorer Wilfred Thesiger. Their film Into the Empty Quarter traces their journey.
In 2014, Humphreys returned his focus to inspiring others to get out. He took a step beyond his microadventure concept, which garnered him an Adventurer of the Year honor in 2012, and launched Adventure1000. The premise: Put away $20 a week all year while, with Humphreys’ guidance, you plan a $1,000 adventure.
Free Soloist Michael Reardon
Photograph by Damon Corso
On Friday, June 13, 2007, a rogue wave swept Michael Reardon off his feet and took his life. The legendary free soloist was standing just feet above the water at the base of a hundred-foot cliff he had just climbed off the coast of Ireland.
Up until his death, Reardon continued to redefine the boundaries of ropeless climbing. He free soloed Equinox, a stout 12c in Joshua Tree National Park, climbed 280 routes in a single day, and completed California’s Palisade Traverse—a route that often takes parties four days—in 22 hours. He is survived by his beloved wife, Marci, and daughter, Nikki.
Explorer Sarah Marquis
Photograph by Sarah Marquis
Sarah Marquis is spending a year at home recovering from her three-year walk from Siberia to Australia by eating chocolates and getting massages—or so she told National Geographic’s Boyd Matson. Her book, Wild by Nature, was released in 2014.
Expedition Kayaker Erik Boomer
Photograph by Sarah McNair-Landry
After Erik Boomer—along with Jon Turk—became the first to circumnavigate Canada's Ellesmere Island in 2011, he kept busy. Christmas 2012 found him living as a homeless person in the streets and shelters of Washington, D.C., for the week, as part of a photography project on personal change. Within the year, he teamed up with Sarah Landry-McNair, Eric Landry-McNair, and Katherine Breen and followed traditional hunting routes 620 miles across Baffin Island on skis and in traditional Inuit-style kayaks they built themselves. Then Boomer traveled south to Mexico to round off 2013, where he was featured in Cascada, a short film about extreme jungle waterfall kayaking.
In 2014, he helped to plan and participate in a portion of an expedition with kayakers Ben Marr, Ben Stookesberry, and Chris Korbulic to the wildly remote, previously un-descended Navchak River in northeastern Quebec’s Torngat Mountains. He left the trip to recover from a knee surgery and make a rafting descent across Baffin Island to help with fisheries research.
Hiker Andrew Skurka
Photograph by Andrew Skurka
Beginning in March 2010 and shouldering a pack weighing as little as six pounds, Andrew Skurka embarked on his Alaska-Yukon Expedition, a massive, 4,700-mile, mostly off-trail loop chronicled in National Geographic magazine.
Over the last seven years, Skurka has also hiked a 195-mile loop in the Sierra, a 550-mile traverse of Iceland and Laugavegur, 800 miles across the Colorado Plateau, 800 miles through four Alaska mountain ranges, and three weeks in South Africa.
He has delved into the realm of faster endurance objectives as well, such as the Leadville Trail 100, in which he placed second, the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, the 48-mile Zion National Park Traverse ultrarun, and the three-day, 180-mile Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic adventure race. He offers guided trips and shares his packing lists on his website.