Five Extrodianary Adventures

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1. Reinhold Messner


Extraordinary Adventure: Considered the best young climbers in Europe, Reinhold and his brother Günther were drafted up to join a 1970 attempt to climb Nanga Parbat. Nanga Parbat is a 8126m peak, the ninth highest in the world, located in Pakistan. The climb was only the third successful ascent of the mountain and also the first ascent of the enormous Rupal Face. This cliff face is 4600m from its base and is the highest in the world. They found themselves unable to descent by the same route and, in an epic fight for their own survival, traversed the mountian and tried to go down the Diamir Face. Günther was killed in an avalanche and Reinhold lost 6 toes to frostbite.
Then what?
Disillusioned by the seige tactics used in climbing high mountains, he pioneered a fast and light alpine style. With this in mind he returned to climb Nanga Parbat again, in 1978, this time alone. This was the first solo of an 8000m peak. In the same year he made the first ascent of Everest without bottled oxygen (saying "by fair means or not at all") and then the first solo ascent in 1980. By 1986 he had climbed all the mountians in the world over 8000m, the first person ever to do so. In later life he has crossed the arctic, greenland and travelled 2000 miles in the Gobi Desert. His latest project is to establish a series of museums about mountains.

2. Oskar Speck

Extraordinary Adventure: Oskar canoed from Germany to Australia from 1932 to 1939. At the beginning of his journey Oskar was off to find work in Cyprus. He paddled down the Danube. Then he changed his mind and decided he wanted to travel and see the world. He arrived seven years later in Australia and, after taking one look at the swastika on his kayak, the Aussies threw him into an internment camp.
And then?Whilst in the internment camp, Oskar developed a way to polish opals which would later make him a wealthy man.

3. Mike Horn

Extraordinary Adventure: Mike crossed the South American continent in 1997. Climbing from the Pacific Ocean to the source of the amazon, high in the Andes. He then decended the full length of the amazon (over 7000km) by hydrospeed. At one point an indian tribe saw him floating by and asumed he was the river devil that had been eating their children. Perhaps it was his sunburnt face? They had him in the pot ready to boil him alive but he was rescued at the last minute by Brazillian Army helicopters. They had been alerted by the emergency beacon that the natives had unwittingly set off.
And then?
He got interested in sailing, breaking all kinds of records, and then set off on a circumnavigation following the equator. He then became interested in polar travel and got to the North Pole in Winter.

4. Heinrich Harrer


Extraordinary Adventure: Already a champion skier Heinrich, aged 26, was a member of the 4 man team that successfully climbed the North Face of the Eiger for the first time. Perhaps even more impressive is his journey in Tibet. Following his escape from an internment camp in India he and his friend Peter Aufschnaiter crossed Tibet to reach Lhasa. In Lhasa he became the tutor of the Dalai Lama when he was 11 years old.
And then?
He wrote many books. The White Spider details the climbing history of the North Face of the Eiger and Seven Years In Tibet details his travels in that country. He also continued to climb mountains all around the world. In his later years he became a champion golfer.

5. Karl Bushby

Extraordinary Adventure: In 1998 Karl set out to walk around the world in one unbroken route. He began in Ushuaia and walked the entire length of the Americas. This included being disguised a tramp and floating down a river to get through the extremely dangerous jungle of the Darien Gap. From Alaska he crossed the frozen Bearing Straights with Dimitri Kieffer. The 90km crossing took them 15 days. They were arrested for not entering Russia at a border control.
Where is he now?
With the economic down turn Karl is short of funding. He is now languishing in Mexico trying to find sponsors to fund his crossing of Siberia and onwards journey across Asia back to the UK. He also hopes to be alowed to walk through the Channel Tunnel and return to the UK by 2014. His website explains more.

I wrote this post during my bike trip in South America in 2010.
I now offer guided walks and walking holidays in the UK in Northumberland, the Pennines, the Lake District, Scotland and further afield.

I'm always keen for outdoor adventures to help people learn the skills to explore! My particular focus is mountain skills such as navigating with a map and compass and wild camping for expeditions.

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