Twenty of the world's top athletes and explorers share their wildest dream trips—a dazzling list of never attempted feats daunting to even these world-class competitors. For the rest of us, consider their must-do adventures—and start planning. —Kate Siber
Photograph by Gabe Rogel, Aurora
Ever since mountaineers first spotted Mount Rainier rearing out of western Washington’s thick forests, it’s been a rite of passage. “Hands down I would recommend climbing Mount Rainier,” says Ed Viesturs. “At 14,411 feet it gives climbers and [mountaineering] beginners a true taste of altitude.”
Though it’s popular with beginner mountaineers, Rainier has tempestuous moods and should be approached with care. Storms blind and disorient climbers and crevasses lurk beneath the snow, but the two- or three-day climb—much of it roped—to the top is an introduction to the humbling challenge and mind-bending rewards of ascending the world’s lofty peaks. “It is a true mountaineering experience,” says Viesturs. If all goes according to plan and you have a stroke of luck, he says, you might glimpse the sun poking over the horizon just as you reach the summit.
RMI Expeditions offers four-day Rainier trips that include two days of basic mountaineering skills clinics and a two-day guided summit climb ($970). Ed Viesturs guides for the company.
Next: See Ed Viesturs's Dream Trip: Ski to the South Pole
In 2005, mountaineer Ed Viesturs was the first U.S. citizen to climb all of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks—and he did so without the use of supplemental oxygen. He has summited Everest seven times and is the author of several books, including the national bestseller No Shortcut to the Top.