The title of National Geographic‘s Adventurer of the Year goes to outstanding individuals who wrapped up the year with incredible and inspiring achievements under their belts. The award has been running for six consecutive years with voting for the 2013 People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year runs until January 16. The winner will be announced the following February.
The adventurers and candidates for the People’s Choice Adventurer are:
Artist Renan Ozturk
After spending significant time in Nepal during college, Ozturk returned with his film crew to create a full-length documentary following himself and two other climbers along the ascent of Shark’s Fin on Meru in the Indian Himalayas, a journey that nearly killed the crew, not to mention it made it extremely difficult to film.
“It’s so easy to not point the camera when it gets tough. It’s tough when someone might die, and in cultural situations, but they understand. If you have a pure heart, if your intentions are right, they understand. To be dedicated to storytelling you have to push that boundary. It’s hard to do it respectfully, but you have to try,” Ozturk said in an interview with National Geographic.
B.A.S.E. Jumper Felix Baumgartner
It was hard to miss news of Baumgartner’s incredible record-breaking jump from space over the summer. After years of training and days of unsuccessful attempts, Baumgartner finally pulled off the 128,110-foot (24-mile) jump from the stratosphere to earth, breaking the speed of sound with his body on the way down. Leading up to this point in his life was no small feat, he has had an active career as a B.A.S.E. jumper and skydiver for years.
Climber David Lama
Young Austrian climber David Lama defied a mountain shrouded in contention, the slender granite spike Cerro Torre in Patagonia. Since the 50s, there have only been a handful of climbers to successfully reach the summit, but not without igniting the anger of natural conservationists (for what some call the “destructive” manner of ascension). Twenty-two-year-old Lama was the first to free-climb this behemoth, which is technically more difficult than Everest, after years of attempts and practice.
Explorer Mike Libecki
A series of climbs, snowboarder trips, marathons, and paddling adventures make Mike Libecki a well-rounded adventurer and explorer who frequents “remote, untouched, unexplored mystery” places. Yet, he is a father who plans 22 trips ahead of time, some that have brought him close to death.
Humanitarian Shannon Galpin
A mountain biker and women’s rights advocate in a war-torn Afghanistan, Shannon Galpin, uses photography and art to tug on the life strings of a country engulfed in daily violence. She brings her art to a place that needs it like bread, and not to saturated markets in the West.
“It’s easy to do a gallery show in Paris or London. But the place where [they] need to happen in the world are the places where people don’t have a voice,” she told National Geographic. “The Afghan people don’t have magazines or galleries. They don’t see the myriad of images that are taken of their country by photographers and journalists. I wanted Afghans to see their own culture, their own beauty.”
Kayaker Steve Fisher
Years of planning and setbacks finally saw the descent of the world’s largest and potentially the most deadliest rapids in the world, the Congo River’s Inga Rapids. Documented in a stunning film, Steve Fisher’s name will forever be remembered not as a kayaker, but as the man who “did the Inga.”
Skier Josh Dueck
I bet you’ve never heard of a paraplegic skier landing a backflip? Neither had the rest of the world until Josh Dueck successfully performed the trick on a sit ski.
“We all struggle with our own disabilities, our own challenges, whether they be physical, emotional, or spiritual,” Dueck said. “This was a deeply personal quest. There was a ton of risk involved with the backflip in the sit ski. It had never been done. There was a lot of fear.”
Snowboarder Jeremy Jones
Becoming an Adventurer of the Year doesn’t necessarily have to come with a certain risk to your life, but many of the most extreme adventurers have had their fair brush with death. For his latest film project, Further, Jeremy Jones got caught in an avalanche as part of his exploration of the world’s wildest mountain ranges. He has experienced some of the most beautiful and remote (and nearly deadly) places.
Surfer Ramon Navarro
Ramon Navarro holds the unofficial title of the world’s “best tube ride ever” for a wave he himself didn’t think was ever going to get 15 feet tall. From a distance, it looked as if he would be dragged over the wave and sent crashing to the coral reef just beneath the surface by millions of gallons of water pushing him down. View a video of the ride below.
Ultrarunner Lizzy Hawker
Lizzy Hawker is a running super-human. In 2005, just 10 days before the start of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), a 103-mile race with 31,168 feet of uphill running, Hawker decided to participate as an afterthought following a 10-day climbing vacation. Would you be surprised to hear that she won? Since then, she has participated in the race an unprecedented five times. Around the time of the first race, she was finishing her Ph.D. in physical oceanography and working for the British Antarctic Survey, although she has since chosen a life of mountains and trail running over her conservation work.