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

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Photo: Ueli Steck Eiskletern, Khumbu Glacier (ca. 5000m), Everest Gebiet, Nepal
Ueli Steck climbs the Khumbu Glacier on Mount Everest, the tallest of the 14 8,000-meter peaks.

Photograph by Robert Bösch

Ueli Steck

Speed Alpinist

Ueli Steck is fixated on a goal that is perhaps more difficult than a summit: testing his personal limits. This is not so simple when it comes to the Swiss Machine, whose limits are preposterously extreme. It has led him to set his sights on scaling 8,000-meter summits—at top speeds.

“You know, 8,000 meters, they’re the highest peaks,” says Steck. “It’s the thinnest air and it’s the biggest challenge.” Steck, naturally, doesn’t want to walk up them—“I’m a bad hiker,” he says. Steck is aiming for the mountains’ bold, highly technical routes, such as the south face of 26,545-foot Annapurna. He already stood on the top of Cho Oyu (with mountaineer Don Bowie) and Shishapangma (in 10.5 hours) in 2011. Perhaps Everest isn’t so far-fetched.

Next: See Ueli Steck's Must-Do Trip: Climb the Swiss Alps

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Explorer Bio

Photo: Alpinist Ueli Steck on the Supercouloir, Mont Blanc du Tacul, Chamonix, France.
Ueli Steck

Speed Alpinist

Ueli Steck, also known as the Swiss Machine, has scaled rock walls from El Capitan to 8,000-meter peaks in the Himalaya. He is best known for his audacious free-solo speed climbs up peaks in the Alps and Canadian Rockies, like the Matterhorn (1 hour, 56 minutes) and the Eiger (2 hours, 47 minutes). He’s now taking on the Himalaya.