Felix Baumgartner Named Nat Geo People’s Choice Adventurer Of The Year

Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner has been named the National Geographic People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year following an online poll, which saw more than 55,000 votes cast. Baumgartner edged out nine other Adventurer of the Year candidates that included men and women who have pushed the envelope in terms of exploration and outdoor adventure in the past year.

Baumgartner’s initial inclusion on this list follows his epic skydive from the edge of space last October. The world breathlessly watched on as the 43-year-old rode a specially designed helium balloon to the edge of space, then popped open the hatch and stepped off into nothingness. At that point he was more than 127,000 feet above the Earth’s surface and far higher than any other skydiver had gone before.

During his descent, Baumgartner managed to set several new world’s records, including becoming the first person to break the sound barrier without the use of an aircraft. During his free fall, Felix reached speeds in excess of 844 miles per hour or Mach 1.25. He officially jumped from his balloon at an altitude of 24.2 miles, which is of course a record height as well. He even experienced 25 seconds of weightlessness on the way down, before pulling his ripcord and slowly completing his descent back to Earth.

While Baumgartner was clearly the most well known Adventurer of the Year candidate amongst the general public he still faced stiff competition from a number of outdoor personalities. For instance, ultrarunner Lizzy Hawker isn’t exactly a household name, but she is an absolute legend amongst endurance athletes. Hawker won her fifth Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc trail race, which is grueling 103-mile run through the Alps. Similarly, kayaker Steve Fisher is one of the best paddlers in the world and last year he managed to run the biggest rapids on the planet on the Congo River. Those feats didn’t receive nearly the amount of attention that Baumgartner’s did, but they are impressive nonetheless.

To read Felix’s thoughts on winning this honor, what role adventure has played in his life and much more, check out the Nat Geo interview with the man himself.

[Photo Credit: Red Bull Stratos/Red Bull Content Pool]

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]

National Geographic announces adventurer of the year

Last week National Geographic announced the winner of their 2011 “People’s Choice” Adventurer of the Year, handing the award over to Spanish mountaineer Edurne Pasaban who claimed the most votes in an online poll of Nat Geo readers. The 37-year old Pasaban become the first woman to summit all 14 of the world’s 8000+ meter peaks by successfully climbing both Annapurna (8091 meters/26,545 ft) and Shishapangma (8013 meters/26,289 ft) in a span of just a few weeks.

The full list of honorees was announced back in December and an online poll was conducted to determine the favorite amongst readers. Pasaban, who comes from the Basque region of Spain, beat out a host of other explorers to take home the award. Other nominees included Ed Stafford, who made headlines for walking over 4000 miles along the length of the Amazon River and Jessica Watson, the Australian teen who sailed solo around the world.

Climbing all of the world’s 8000 meter peaks is considered the ultimate challenge in mountaineering. The list includes some of the most difficult and deadly mountains on the planet, including Mt. Everest and the legendary K2. A select few male climbers have achieved the feat, but Pasaban became the first woman to join that very elite group. Korean climber Oh Eun-sun claimed to be the first, reaching the top of her final peak just weeks before Pasaban. But questions remain as to whether or not she actually topped out on one of the mountains, which has put her claim into dispute.

Conquering those peaks and winning this award didn’t come without sacrifice however. Pasaban suffered frostbite and has lost parts of several of her toes. That is but a small price to pay for mountaineering immortality.

[Photo credit: Ferran Latorre]

National Geographic announces Adventurers of the Year

Way back in November we told you how you could help National Geographic Adventure select their Adventurer of the Year for 2009. The list of contenders featured ten of the most amazing athletes, explorers, and scientists from around the globe, each doing exciting and unusual things in their field. Now, after three months of balloting and more than 20,000 votes, the winner has been announced. Well, make that winners, as once the ballot box was closed, and all the votes were tabulated, two names emerged victorious, with explorer Albert Yu-Min Lin and climber Marc Hoffmeister earning the title of Adventurer of the Year.

The two men share an adventurous spirit and a love of challenges, but aside from that, they couldn’t be more different. Yu-Min is working within Mongolia’s “Forbidden Zone”, located in the northern part of the country, in an attempt to find the long lost tomb of Genghis Kahn, the legendary Mongol warlord who terrorized much of Asia and Europe in the 13th century. Hoffmeister, on the other hand, earned his honors on the steep slopes of 20,320 foot tall Denali in Alaska, where he led a team of soldiers up the treacherous West Buttress Route. Many of the soldiers, including Hoffmeister himself, were injured in the war in Iraq, with some of them even missing limbs.
Both men expressed gratitude and humility after being told that they had won the award, and each of them stressed that they were just one small part of a team that made their individual adventures possible. You can read more about Yu-Min and exploration of the remote regions of Mongolia by clicking here, and his reaction to being told that he won here. Similarly, this story details Hoffmeister’s epic climb up Denali, the tallest peak in North America, and his reaction to winning can be found here.

These awards are handed out in the wake of the announcement last December that National Geographic would cease to publish Adventure as a traditional magazine. The organization promised that we would continue to see the Adventure brand being used in a variety of ways however, including future Adventurer of the Year competitions. After a taking a short hiatus, the Adventure blog has also recently returned to life, with regular updates from the world of adventure travel and outdoor activities.

Help Nat. Geo. pick the Adventurer of the Year!

National Geographic Adventure’s annual “Best of Adventure” issue has become an end of the year tradition, highlighting some of the most daring, inspiring, and down right audacious adventures from the previous 12 months. In a magazine that celebrates bold initiatives, this issue, more than any other, salutes those on the cutting edge of exploration.

This year, the magazine is taking a little different approach in their selection process, allowing all of us to have a say in who ultimately wins. The list of nominees has been narrowed down to ten very worthy candidates, each with their own personal profiles that includes photos and videos that explain why they have made the short list. We’re asked to rate each of the adventurers on a scale of one to ten, using our own personal criteria as to how worthy they are of being named Adventurer of the Year.

The list of finalists is a diverse group and includes such nominees as BASE jumper Dean Potter, who leapt off the Eiger earlier this year, sailing safely to the ground in a wing suit, and adventure travelers Stephen Bouey and Steven Shoppman, who racked up 77,000 miles circling the globe, passing through 69 countries in the process. Other potential winners include scientist Katey Walter who is studying global warming in Siberia, and Marc Hoffmeister, who led a team of injured vets to the summit of Denali.

Adventure also took the opportunity to induct Geoff Tabin into its Hall of Fame. Tabin is a doctor and mountaineer who organized the largest eye surgery camp in the history of Africa, and as a result, more than 800 people had their sight restored. The camp was set-up in a remote region of Ethiopia, where malnutrition and poor health care of taken their toll on the people there. Tabin has established similar medical camps in a variety of locations in the Himalaya as well.

And if that wasn’t enough, the magazine also made their selection for must have gear, a list of great new tents, sleeping bags, mountain bikes, and more. All of this drool worthy equipment is perfect for outdoor adventures in your own back yard or the far corners of the globe.

So head on over to the Adventurer of the Year website and weigh in with your own thoughts on who should take home the top honors for 2009.