Nearly 72,000 people voted for National Geographic Adventure's People's Choice Adventurer of The Year for 2012. The winners are Sano Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa, who with second-hand equipment, a tiny budget and no corporate sponsors, climbed Everest, descended with paragliders and paddled to the sea — an adventure they called “The Ultimate Descent.”
Some other finalists are familiar to Mountainfilm in Telluride audiences: Nick Waggoner of Sweetgrass Films with Solitaire, bike rider Danny MacAskill from Way Back Home and Cory Richards from the Charlie Fowler Award-winning film Cold.
Two other nominees — Jon Turk and Erik Boomer — are a pair of odd-couple explorers who will present their adventure this May at Mountainfilm in Telluride, which entailed a circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island in Canada. Boomer, a 27-year-old professional kayaker, and Turk, a 66-year-old writer and Arctic explorer, barely knew each other when they set out for the 104-day, 1,485-mile expedition of the world’s tenth largest island.
Using skis, kayaks and their feet, the two men completed the massive task. Turk considered this trip his “retirement party,” while for Boomer, it was the first of what he hopes will be many adventures in the Great North. The pair risked unstable ice floes, hostile polar bears and most precipitously, dangerous winds that could sandwich the kayaks (and men) between enormous chunks of sea ice and the steep cliffs of the island. As Turk texted during the voyage, “Bears scare us. We scare bears. The wind scares us. We don’t scare the wind.”