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: Expedition members in Fenriskjeften Queen Maud Land Antarctica
Expedition members ski past the peaks of Fenriskjeften, Queen Maud Land, Antarctica.

Photograph by Gordon Wiltsie, National Geographic

Ed Viesturs

Mountaineer

No matter their era or interest, the world’s legendary explorers have one thing in common: an insatiable curiosity about the forgotten corners of the world. Nowadays, few places hold their allure like the literal ends of the Earth—the Poles.

“Something that has always intrigued me is a ski trip from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole,” says Ed Viesturs. His strategy would be simple: With one or two partners, he’d take up to 50 days to glide more than 600 miles across the Antarctic, braving blow-you-over winds to reach the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, where the average temperature is -18ºF in the austral summer. A purist who negotiates the planet’s extreme places on his own terms, Viesturs would carry all of his own gear by sled with no support team or resupply drops. “I think the intrigue for me is the simplicity of the daily routine, combined with the demanding physical and mental endurance needed to do this.”

Next: See Ed Viesturs's Must-Do Trip: Climb Mount Rainier

See the Ultimate Adventure Bucket List 2011

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Explorer Bio

Photo: Portrait of Ed Viesturs
Ed Viesturs

Mountaineer

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.