2019 was a wild year in the adventure world, with everything from first descents and ascents of the planet’s wildest peaks, to stories of incredible rescue missions in impossibly harsh environments. Each year, National Geographic selects of Adventurers of the Year, people who have accomplished things so out of the ordinary that they deserve higher recognition. Among those who have won this award in the past are Jeremy Jones, Alex Honnold, Kilian Jornet, and Hilaree Nelson, to name a few.
Andrzej Bargiel for his impressively bold first descent of K2 on skis. The planet’s second highest mountain is a formidable opponent to a skier, but Bargiel summited and skied the peak after numerous others had tried and failed over the years. Read more about Bargiel’s descent here.
Maureen Beck for becoming a leader in the adaptive sports world. Beck was born without her left forearm but has proven herself as a world champion para-climber and an advocate for those climbing with disabilities. Read more about Beck’s story here.
Adam Bielecki and Denis Urubko for abandoning their own climb of K2 to facilitate the heroic rescue of a fellow climber on a neighboring peak, Nanga Parbat. Both Bielecki and Urubko are counted among the elite of the high-altitude mountaineering world and were on track to make the first winter ascent of K2 before choosing to save a friend’s life.
Heather Anderson for becoming the first woman to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail in one year. The young American has over 30,000 trail miles under her feet. Basically, she just really loves walking in the woods.
Babsi Zangerl for becoming the first woman to free climb Magic Mushroom, a grade VI 5.14a route on Yosemite’s El Capitan. The young Austrian climber has quietly proven herself as one of the best in the world, but has shied away from media attention. See more from Zangerl here.
The international team of cave divers and rescue personnel that came to the assistance of a Thai boys soccer team trapped inside Thailand’s Tham Luang cave. The rescue operation was a race against the clock, as divers risked their lives to get the team out before the cave was fully flooded with monsoon rains.
I give up. I admit defeat. After twenty-two years I realize that my dream of becoming a pro skier is over. Never will I grace the cover of Powder Mag and you will definitely not see me in a segment of Almost Ablaze. That’s fine—life has other plans for me. As I reflect back on why this happened I have to place the blame on two people: my mom and dad. Not because they didn’t sign me up for ski school or drive me up to the mountains of New England each winter, but because they named me
What started as a few 10-year old Aspen ski racers toying around and causing no good in their little ski gang deemed ‘The Stallions,’ would later evolve into a 15-member crew of ripping skiers. The group's name would change to something more representative of their ideals, a name set in place to pay homage to the late Hunter S. Thompson and his adopted slogan while running for Sheriff of Aspen and Pitkin County–“Freak Power.” While the esteemed journalist would lose the election he
Simply reaching Mount Everest’s 29,035-foot summit once is a lifetime achievement - Kami Rita Sherpa just did it twice in a week. According to NPR, the 49-year-old’s most recent ascent brings his total Everest tally up to 24. That breaks the current world record that he set himself on May 15th. Now he’s looking to give it a go one more time before retiring from a long career on the mountain. RELATED: Rajesh Magar's Quest to Put Nepal on the Map for Mountain Biking A mere three days