Late fall is one of my least favorite times of year. The leaves have fallen, the colors are gone, and that slight chill in the air has turned downright cold. The water has become too chilly for swimming or surfing, and rock, like the handlebar grips on my bicycle, is just too cold to hold. In the Northeast anyway, it starts to rain and a dreary overcast hangs in the sky. Snow makes it first appearance in the mountains, signaling the official end of the climbing season. This is the time of year (at least at this latitude) when the opportunities for travel and adventure are most limited, either by the uncooperative weather, by circumstance, or by financial obligation. For most, the lazy indulgence of summer is over. With the kids back in school, and credit card balances out of sorts, it's time to focus on work. But it is also a great opportunity to plan, and planning can be a healthy and rewarding exercise all by itself. I've been working for some time now trying to compile a list of the world's greatest adventures, at least as it relates to my own interests, and I think I've finally come up with something in the last few days. I originally intended to keep the list at the nice round (and slightly more manageable) number of fifty. But, given the wide range of possibilities available around the globe, that quickly became an impossibility. So I've settled on 60. I'm sure that I've left some good ones out, and a few might be considered less deserving to some, but they are mine. Of course, the curse of travel, if there is one, is that it leads to further discovery, so it is inevitable that the list will grow. But here it is, in its first iteration anyway. I hope it will serve to motivate and inspire you in the same way it has for me.
Note: As I to put this thing together, I realized, in the context of experience, health, age, and opportunity, how short one's life can be, and how truly precious it is. I also became more aware of the rapid environmental changes that are occurring in many of these places, mostly because of commerce, pollution and global warming, but also as a result of increased mobility and tourism (this information is intended only for family and friends, so please don't share!) There are many great places in the world that remain unspoiled, but there are fewer of them every year; there isn't much time to visit them in their current state. Of course, if you're anywhere close to my age, there isn't much time left anyway. If you have an inclination to visit these places, or any other, you should plan, you should budget, you should arrange for time off from work...call me, if you need a partner. But whatever and wherever you choose, don't wait any longer. Go now!
Two weeks ago I attended a photography workshop in Jackson, Wyoming organized by Rich Clarkson and Associates out of Boulder, Colorado and sponsored by National Geographic magazine, Nikon cameras, and The North Face. The workshop was attended by some thirty amateur and professional photographers looking both to hone their skills and network with some of the most important people in the business. The faculty consisted of some of the leading adventure photographers in the world, including the senior photo editor of National Geographic and National Geographic Adventure magazines, a marketing executive for The North Face, and technical assistants from Nikon and Rich Clarkson. Photographers Lucas Gilman (whitewater), Chris Burkard (surfing), Keith Ladzinski (climbing), and Corey Rich (adventure) represented a range of genres, and contributed unique perspectives on technique, methodology, and publishing tips. Each faculty member delivered a presentation to the class, offered critiques, and led demonstrations in the field. We hiked up to the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort's downhill bike course to photograph competitive mountain bikers, rafted the Snake River to shoot a group of local kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders, hung from ropes to capture Exum mountain guides climbing the big walls of Corbet's Couloir at the top of the Tram, and camped under the stars to document running, fishing, and outdoor lifestyle in the Grand Teton National Park. The workshop also enlisted some of the most accomplished athletes in the world to serve as models, including legendary climber and photographer Jimmy Chin, who holds the speed record for a free solo of the Grand Traverse in the Tetons (among many other feats); champion freeskier Lynsey Dyer, the first female ever to grace the cover of Freeskier magazine; and Kit Deslauriers, the first person in history to ski all Seven Summits (one of only a handful of women to have even climbed them in the first place). Photographing these guys required some athleticism of our own, as it was a challenge just to keep pace with them. It was an incredible week of instruction, adventure, and camaraderie. Here is a selection of some of the best shots of the week (you will have to guess which ones are mine):