The Most Impressive Adventures Of 2015

Over the course of the past year, we witnessed some of the most impressive adventures in recent memory. From speed records to first ascents to daring expeditions, there is a seemingly endless list of crazy adventures that people took on. Outside Magazine recently wrote a piece highlighting some of the most incredible accomplishments over the past 12 months. Below are five of my favorite adventures from the past year.

Dawn Wall Free Climb – Caldwell and Jorgeson

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As the sun set in Yosemite on January 14th, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson completed what may be the most difficult ascent in the history of rock climbing. They remained on the Dawn Wall of El Capitan for 19 days, climbing 3,000 vertical feet along widely spaced, razor thin granite holds. The prize for their accomplishment: the first people to complete a free ascent (using only ropes to catch falls) of the route. Months later, Jorgeson spoke on the difficulty of the climb: “I climbed brick façades as a kid. You’d kind of stick your fingers in there. But sink in those bricks so they barely stick out from the wall. That’s what you’re dealing with.”

The First Ski-Mo Attempt on Makalu

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A team of five elite climbers and skiers joined together in September to attempt the first ski descent of Makalu. Located on the border of Nepal and China, Makalu is the world’s fifth-highest peak (at 27,776 feet). The team made it higher than 25,000 feet before setting off a series of avalanches that caused them to turn around. The decision to retreat was a tough decision for the group to make. Expedition leader Adrian Ballinger wrote at the time: “Deciding to climb and ski a peak like Makalu always meant we would have to accept a level of risk. What level is ‘acceptable’ is deeply personal. Each of us has a different tolerance.”

Lonnie Dupre Solo Summit of Denali in Winter

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This was the fourth attempt to summit Denali by the 53-year-old polar explorer, and his persistence finally paid off. In January, after 25 days of climbing and camping in subzero conditions, Dupre became the first person to make it up North America’s highest peak (20,237 feet) in the dead of winter. During the winter, the snow is deep, the air is frozen, and the storms are treacherous. Tucker Chenoweth, Denali’s mountaineering ranger, compared Dupre’s ascent to “heading out onto the moon by yourself.”

Unsupported Run of the Appalachian Trail – Heather Anderson

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Heather Anderson, a 34-year-old personal trainer from Michigan, set the speed record last fall for running the 2,168-mile Appalachian Trail, without any assistance, in just 54 days. In case it is difficult to comprehend these numbers, consider this to the 46 days it took famed ultrarunner, Scott Jurek, to complete the trail, with assistance. His team provided hot meals, medical supplies, and a bed at the end of every day. Anderson now holds the unassisted speed records of both the UT and the Pacific Crest Trail and is the first women to do so.

Niagara Falls Ice Climb – Will Gadd

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The Canadian ice climber, Will Gadd, has done some pretty impressive stuff in his life. But scaling a frozen shoulder of Niagara Falls last January was absolutely incredible. Gadd climbed the ice while six million cubic feet of water ripped down the falls each second right next to him. The 47-year-old adventurer kept his poise and clawed his way 167 feet to the top. Looking back on it days later, he described the feeling of this climb to Outside: “Normally on an ice climb, if you fall in the first 20 feet you might land in the snow and walk away. Here, if you fall, you go into the world’s most savage mixing bowl. And it is going to fuck you up.”