Meet the 2012 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year

On Monday of this week, National Geographic announced their list of the 2012 Adventurers of the Year, bestowing the honor on eleven men and women who have pushed the envelope in their particular fields over the past 12 months. This year’s group includes mountaineers, a professional surfer, a long distance hiker, a mountain biker, and more.

Several of the names on the list will certainly be familiar to Gadling readers. For instance, we told you about Jennifer Pharr Davis when she set her new speed record on the Appalachian Trail a few months back and we took note of climber Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner when she summited K2 in August, ending her quest to become the first woman to climb the highest peaks in the world without the use of supplemental oxygen. We even told you about Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa and Sano Babu Sunuwar, the two men who paraglided off the summit of Everest last spring. Others earning Adventurer of the Year status include mountaineer Cory Richards, who became the first person to climb Gasherbrum II in the winter and snowboarder Travis Rice, who rode some of the toughest mountains in the world, in style no less. To view the entire list of winners and read more about their exploits, click here.

With the announcement of these recipients, Nat Geo has also opened an online poll that allows you and I to weigh in on who we think deserves the most recognition for their accomplishments this past year. Readers are encouraged to vote everyday until the poll closes on January 18, 2012. Then, in February, they’ll announce the winner of the 2012 People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year Award as well. Click here to cast your vote for your favorite adventurer.

Finally, to catch these men and women in action, check out the online photo gallery that National Geographic has put together to highlight their selections. Not only are they fantastic photos, they also capture the winners in their natural habitats, namely mountains, oceans, forests, and so on.

Congratulations to all the winners.

[Photo courtesy of Cory Richards]

National Geographic jumps into the adventure travel arena

The very name National Geographic evokes images of adventure and thoughts of exciting journeys to far away places. The iconic Society has probably done more to inspire travel than any other single entity ever. Several generations have grown up gazing at breathtaking images in the organization’s popular magazine and reading about daring explorers on those beautiful, glossy pages. Now, in what seems like a long over due move, Nat Geo is throwing its hat into the adventure travel ring, announcing 11 unique trips that will offer a compelling mix of cultural and physical activity with some of the most stunning scenery on the planet as the backdrop.

The aptly named National Geographic Adventures have itineraries that are sure to appeal to any adventure traveler. For instance, they offer a 15-day trek through the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan that takes you to the 23,997-foot Chomo Lhari – the most sacred mountain in the country. If you prefer your trips keep you closer to sea level however, then perhaps the 9-day Alaska excursion would be more to your liking. That trip features sea kayaking and whale watching in Glacier Bay National Park. Meanwhile, backpackers will likely be enthralled with the 14-day hike through Chile’s stunningly beautiful Patagonia region. Other itineraries take travelers to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, on safari in Tanzania, and across Mongolia on horseback.

Each of the itineraries has been specifically crafted with the help of a National Geographic expert, who has applied their knowledge of the various regions to create a series of trips that are unlike any other. Those trips come with an activity level rating, with easy, moderate, strenuous, and “ultimate challenge” options available. Accommodations range from luxury tents to quaint mountain lodges and inns, and the group size is capped at just 16 to ensure the best travel experience possible.

To find out more about these new adventure travel options, click here, and for the full line up of trips from Nat Geo, check out the National Geographic Expeditions website as well.

National Geographic names Gear of the Year for 2010

If you’re looking for advice on the best outdoor and travel gear available today, you might as well get it from National Geographic Adventure.To that end, the organization has posted its selection for their annual Gear of the Year awards, pointing a spotlight on a host of new and innovative products that are sure to make your next trip a more enjoyable one.

The list contains 32 great items ranging from gloves to jackets to sleeping bags and just about everything in between. There are suggestions for hot new cameras, a couple of pairs of boots, skis, and even an electric motorcycle that is both fun to ride and environmentally friendly.

While the list of products may be very diverse, they all share a few things in common, namely great design and good use of modern technology. Some of the products that earn the “Gear of the Year” honors include the DeLorme Earthmate, a device that combines a hand held GPS system with a specially designed SPOT Satellite Messenger, that allows you to send text and Twitter messages, not to mention update your Facebook status, while traveling through some of the most remote places on Earth. Gerber earns a nod for their Ultimate Knife, endorsed by Bear Grylls himself, while Patagonia offers up an incredibly warm down-filled sweater that weighs just 10 ounces. How’s that for traveling light?

Travelers looking to upgrade their cameras will want to check out the Canon Powershot S95, which now seems to be the point and shoot camera to beat and the new Nikon D3100 which is getting rave reviews in the budget DSLR arena. And if you’re looking for a new way to carry all of your gear, you might want to check out the Exchange 26 duffel bag courtesy of Briggs & Riley. Nat Geo gives it high marks for being lightweight but still able to carry more than other luggage, while still maintaining a high level of quality and good looks.

As a self confessed gear hound, I can’t help but love these kinds of lists. They not only help me to select the gear I’ll be traveling with in the near future, but they keep me abreast of trends in the industry as well. The problem is, I sometimes get severe gear lust, prompting me to want everything on display.

So, what has National Geographic just added to your wish list?

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.