Nat Geo announces People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year

This past November, National Geographic announced their selection for the 2012 Adventurers of the Year, bestowing the honor on a group of 12 very worthy men and women from across the globe. That list included the likes of long distance hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis, who set a new speed record on the Appalachian Trail, and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, the first woman to climb the highest mountain on the planet without the use of supplemental oxygen. At the time of the announcement, National Geographic also launched a website that allowed the general public to cast their votes for their favorite adventurer. Now, more than 72,000 votes later we have a winner in the People’s Choice category.

The 2012 People’s Choice Adventurers of the Year are Sano Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa, who gained worldwide attention last May when they climbed to the top of Mt. Everest and paraglided off of the summit. Their 42-minute flight down the Khumbu Valley was simply the beginning of their adventure, however, as they continued their expedition on sea level. The duo rode bikes to the nearest navigable river, then kayaked across the border into India where they eventually paddled onto the Ganges River, leading them all the way to the Indian Ocean.

Along the way, the two men displayed a true sense of adventure. Not only was this a grassroots expedition that didn’t have a sponsor, but also, the travelers were forced to borrow gear from friends just so they could set out on their journey. As if that wasn’t enough, Lakpa had never even set foot in a kayak before and still doesn’t know how to swim, while Babu had no experience as a climber. Not many people complete their first major ascent on the tallest mountain on the planet, yet he was still able to follow his friend to the summit.

You can read more about their amazing story as well as the other Adventurers of the Year by clicking here.

[Photo courtesy of Sano Babu Sunuwar]