When to Go: Pre-monsoon (March or April) gives you the rhododendrons in bloom and lots of climber action, but post-monsoon (November) gives you drier weather. Go with guide services that use local Sherpa guides, cooks, and porters—it’s part of the experience.
Arguably the greatest of all high-mountain journeys, this stroll through Nepal’s Khumbu district lets you see three of the highest peaks on Earth (Everest, Lhotse, and Lhotse Sar) in one glance—and dozens more Himalayan giants along the way. A favorite is the view from Thyangboche, called by renowned mountain explorer W.H. Tillman the “greatest view in the world.” But it’s the deep immersion in the Sherpas’ Buddhist culture that will bring you back for the friendly villages, the monasteries, and the polyglot scene of world travelers who come for the high-octane pilgrimage to Everest.
When to Go: Everybody does this hike in September to October or April to May, so go in March or November for a more contemplative experience.
Any walk in the Grand Canyon is going to rate pretty high on the Richter scale of hikes, but this route shows you both rims and the river, offers different trails in and out, and gives you enough time within one of the greatest features on Earth to actually savor the majesty of the natural architecture. Time travel through the multicolored layer cake of the Colorado Plateau for two billion years’ worth of geology, from the Kaibab limestone at the rim to the Vishnu complex at the river, all on good “corridor” trails with known water sources and pleasant camps.
“I just wanted to get a bomb and was really enjoying the ride,” says bodyboarder Chase O’Leary of catching this six-foot wave during the Shark Island Challenge, in June 2011, near Sydney, Australia. “But I didn’t read the wave properly, hence why I got smashed into the reef.” Surfing’s little brother, bodyboarding is a sport that’s growing up. “There’s been a real boom in the younger generation—not just in Australia but around the world,” says O’Leary, 19, who has been bodyboarding for nine years. “People see it as a more functional way of riding a wave than surfing. Once you start to get the hang of it, it becomes addictive.”
“Being in this crack was surprisingly secure—when I was not moving,” says climbing guide John Furneaux of tackling Public Image, a 4-pitch route on the North Wall of the Squamish Chief. “Whenever I tried to make upward progress it felt like I might be spit out into the abyss at any moment.” The tight squeeze afforded amazing views of giant old-growth cedar and douglas fir trees and Squamish, British Columbia, a gateway to world-class climbing, whitewater paddling, wind sports, and mountain biking. “As much as I hate to give away my secret playground,” comments Furneaux, “I have to say that if people are looking for adventure, Squamish is truly the destination they should visit.”
Traveling for more than 10,000 miles over four days, a team of all-star climbers became the first to scale the arid sandstone stacks and sheer walls of the Ennedi desert in Chad. Tackling 1,000-foot-high virgin ascents, Jimmy Chin, Alex Honnold, Renan Ozturk, James Pearson, and a cast of intrepid adventurers made climbing history on this trip. Here Pearson ascends the more than 180-foot Arch of Bishekele.
“The leading rank was at stake, so I was putting every ounce of focus I had on that move,” recalls competitive Brazilian kiteboarder Guilly Brandão of the final heat in the Volkswagen Kite Tour 2010 in Cumbuco, Brazil last November. “I was thinking about nothing, just feeling the board, the kite, and starting to aim for the next move on the wave.” Located in northern Brazil, Cumbuco is a kiteboarder’s paradise with strong winds blowing the entire season, from June to November. Brandão won his fifth wave title during this competition.
On April 17, 2011, Swiss climber Ueli Steck soloed the south face of Tibet’s 8,027-meter Shisha Pangma, the 14th highest mountain in the world, in a jaw-dropping ten-and-a-half hours. The news may have taken the adventure world by storm, but Shisha Pangma is, in fact, only one stage of a multi-mountain, six-month odyssey Steck has dubbed “Project: Himalaya.”
“I had surfed and tow surfed here before,” says big-wave surfer Chuck Patterson about Teahupo’o, a renowned surf spot Tahiti. “But I always wondered what it would feel like to get tubed on my stand up paddle surf board—this is what I came for.” The water is sucked off a shallow, razor sharp reef, making the barrel break below sea level. “This wave is incredibly challenging to paddle into, let alone surf,” notes Patterson. “Any mistakes could be costly.” The photograph was taken by a camera mounted to his board.