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Skurka looking for expedition ideas
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Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: re the next big trip on 01/09/2008 21:16:50 MST Print View

Jack -

Your insight is good.

I think anyone who has followed my trips can see clearly that I'm passionate about the outdoors and genuine in my beliefs. But I'd be dishonest to say that there is no business side to what I do -- like a famed explorer recently told me in an email, "over 50% of exploring and adventure is the business side, raising money, gaining and maintaining contacts etc and professionalism holds true both on the streets and in the field."

The tail does not wag the dog (e.g. I approached GoLite about sponsoring me to do the Great Western Loop, not the other way around) but there is definitely preference -- actually, a need, unless you're a fat cat -- for trips that echo the messages that an organization with resources also attempts to project, because then they are willing to fund it.

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: 14ers on 01/09/2008 21:20:38 MST Print View

This 14er idea has potential. Most people would falsely believe the challenge will be the 14ers themselves, when actually it will be crossing the Basin States (UT and NV) in the middle of the summer (assuming you wanted to take the shortest route: CO>CA>WA.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: 14ers on 01/09/2008 23:13:22 MST Print View

You would probably get to know these names like they were your own children by the time you were done.

In descending order:

Mt. Whitney Calif. 14,4941
Mt. Elbert Colo. 14,433
Mt. Massive Colo. 14,421
Mt. Harvard Colo. 14,420
Mt. Rainier Wash. 14,410
Mt. Williamson Calif. 14,370
La Plata Peak Colo. 14,361
Blanca Peak Colo. 14,345
Uncompahgre Pk Colo. 14,309
Crestone Peak Colo. 14,294
Mt. Lincoln Colo. 14,286
Grays Peak Colo. 14,270
Mt. Antero Colo. 14,269
Torreys Peak Colo. 14,267
Castle Peak Colo. 14,265
Quandary Peak Colo. 14,265
Mt. Evans Colo. 14,264
Longs Peak Colo. 14,255
Mt. Wilson Colo. 14,246
White Mtn. Calif. 14,246
North Palisade Calif. 14,242
Mt. Cameron Colo. 14,238
Mt. Shavano Colo. 14,229
Crestone Needle Colo. 14,197
Mt. Belford Colo. 14,197
Mt. Princeton Colo. 14,197
Mt. Yale Colo. 14,196
Mt. Bross Colo. 14,172
Kit Carson Mtn. Colo. 14,165
Mt. Sill Calif. 14,162
Mt. Shasta Calif. 14,162
El Diente Peak Colo. 14,159
Point Success Wash. 14,158
Maroon Peak Colo. 14,156
Tabeguache Mtn. Colo. 14,155
Mt. Oxford Colo. 14,153
Mt. Sneffels Colo. 14,150
Mt. Democrat Colo. 14,148
Capitol Peak Colo. 14,130
Liberty Cap Wash. 14,112
Pikes Peak Colo. 14,110
Snowmass Mtn. Colo. 14,092
Mt. Russell Calif. 14,088
Mt. Eolus Colo. 14,083
Windom Peak Colo. 14,082
Mt. Columbia Colo. 14,073
Missouri Mtn. Colo. 14,067
Humboldt Peak Colo. 14,064
Mt. Bierstadt Colo. 14,060
Sunlight Peak Colo. 14,059
Split Mtn. Calif. 14,058
Handies Peak Colo. 14,048
Culebra Peak Colo. 14,047
Mt. Lindsey Colo. 14,042
Ellingwood Pt. Colo. 14,042
Middle Palisade Calif. 14,040
Little Bear Pk Colo. 14,037
Mt. Sherman Colo. 14,036
Redcloud Peak Colo. 14,034
Mt. Langley Calif. 14,027
Conundrum Peak Colo. 14,022
Mt. Tyndall Calif. 14,019
Pyramid Peak Colo. 14,018
Wilson Peak Colo. 14,017
Wetterhorn Peak Colo. 14,015
North Maroon Pk Colo. 14,014
San Luis Peak Colo. 14,014
Middle Palisade Calif. 14,012
Mt. Muir Calif. 14,012
Mt of Holy CrossColo. 14,005
Huron Peak Colo. 14,003
Thunderbolt Pk. Calif. 14,003
Sunshine Peak Colo. 14,001

Jeremy Cleaveland
(jeremy11) - F

Locale: Exploring San Juan talus
14ers on 01/11/2008 10:02:44 MST Print View

you could instead climb the highest 100 in Colorado in a single trip, which would get rid of the massive distances between CO, Cali, and Washington, there would be no glacier travel, more peaks off the beaten path, and more bits of technical rock (ie Jagged Mountain). and hiking between each area would be more efficient since each "approach" would get you to more mountains on the list. Plus, a lot of the 13,800-13,999 peaks are more remote and challenging than the 14ers. Either trip would be insane and a first.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: 14ers on 01/11/2008 11:00:04 MST Print View

Jeremy's trip sounds cool, the "Colorado 100".

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Skurka looking for expedition ideas on 01/11/2008 11:15:20 MST Print View

>>> But I'd be dishonest to say that there is no business side to what I do

After a few more big ones from now, what will remain for you?

Are additional adventures increasing your value to sponsors?

Are you just trying to make enough from sponsors to continue your life as walker...

Or is your walking going to take you beyond your present passion?

The world needs smart, passionate people to work on environmental research. Through advanced formal education, some will directly make a difference.

The world also needs smart, passionate people to financially contribute to those involved in environmental research. With money from businesses, others will indirectly make a difference.

My recommendation for your next expedition is for you to either go back to school or go to work.

You've proven that you can do the seemingly impossible through your walks. Now put your effort into making a difference.

Maybe you can do a few more big ones, but then you have to get a real job! : )

Andrew Richard
(fairweather8588) - F

Locale: The Desert
Ideas on 01/13/2008 07:55:16 MST Print View

After chatting about our disappointments of the trail conditions of the AZT even with it's close location to towns like Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, perhaps something to raise awareness or donations for trail maintenance of some of the trails across the nation? I realize trails like the Appalachian Trail are well enough taken care of, but there are plenty of trails that could use the help. I'm sure a difference could be made if attention was shifted to being able to improve long distance trails to make it easier for those to get out and enjoy them. To add a long distance trip spin to it, perhaps get people to pledge for what you acheive? A penny per mile, a dollar a day etc.

Edited by fairweather8588 on 01/13/2008 07:56:52 MST.

Kevin Clayton
(kclayton) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Ideas on 01/13/2008 12:43:08 MST Print View

I like andrew's idea above. You could consider working on a trail crew for a long distance trail like the CDT. It is a great experience. or you could help bring awareness to the fact that we are starting to loose trails in many forest districts because of lack of funding. In some districts in Montana there are 2 people maintaining 800-1,200 miles of trail.

Andrew Richard
(fairweather8588) - F

Locale: The Desert
Re: Re: Ideas on 01/13/2008 13:30:32 MST Print View

"In some districts in Montana there are 2 people maintaining 800-1,200 miles of trail"

That's pretty sad, and with some fundraising and donations hopefully that can be changed

Greyson Howard

Locale: Sierra Nevada
Re: Re: Skurka looking for expedition ideas on 01/13/2008 21:00:23 MST Print View

Get a real job???
Andrew is one of the lucky few who does what he loves for work, rather than tolerating work and saving up to occasionally do what he loves.
Andrew, keep doing this as long as you can, but maybe take away from George's comments that it should mean something, contribute to the world in some way.
In the Great Western Loop, you tried to raise awareness about global warming and western wildlands, but how many people did you reach, and were you preaching to the choir?
You take pictures and video, I think taking that further and becoming something of a documentarian could expose your message to more people.
So I haven't contributed any ideas for your next trip, but I would suggest exposing it to more people; your long trips have the potential to show a lot of land, and why it's important to protect it.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Skurka looking for expedition ideas on 01/15/2008 17:15:11 MST Print View

I think this was mentioned before in this thread, but i know you have hiked N. america width wise. and I think It would be possible to follow north america`s continental divide from mexico, all the way up into alaska.

this map exited me.


there are good trails in US obviously on the CDT. also in canada along the GDT 1200km from the U.S. border to Kakwa Lake. that leaves you mexico, a little more than half the miles and canada, and alaska off well esablished trails

if possible.. definatly on the edge, thats what you are looking for

Edited by ryanf on 01/15/2008 17:19:11 MST.

John Manning
(pctjohnbadger) - F - M

Locale: Stainforth
The TGO Challenge/UK coastline hike etc on 01/16/2008 04:47:21 MST Print View

Ah, Andy, you already know what I think about the TGO Challenge!

That said, it's a short hike in your terms - about 200 miles usually, over two weeks, and 200 very sociable miles at that.

Much of it would be off trail (as much as you like as you plan your own route - check your inbox in that regard within the next few hours...) and the weather - well, over the years we've had everything from two-week-long heat waves that had folk collapsing from dehydration, to two-week downpours. Usually it's a good mix of wet, damp, sunshine, rain and some whisky.

What some folk here - only a very few in fact - have done is combine the TGOC with a hike from the southerly tip of Britain to the most northerly (or vice versa), usually taking in the Pennine Way, West Highland Way, Cape Wrath Trail etc etc along the way. That makes for a much more adventurous, satisfying hike and enables you to experience different kinds of rain along the way. You've just to get the timing right so your walk coincides with the Challenge at the right time and right place.

One thing that no-one's done is to combine the Challenge with a hike around the coast of mainland Britain, ie, use it to make the hike a figure of eight. That would be pretty unique and much longer than any of the US Triple Crown hikes.

And being on the coast you get tremendous variety - cliffs, dunes, estuaries etc etc etc - as well as getting to see UK girls posing on the beach - just like California but here they wear in wellington boots and oilskins instead of bikinis.

It'd make for a very long hike but one that would need less planning in some departments, especially on the English and Welsh sections, as resupply is available at pretty regular intervals. There'd be some access and navigational issues - our military practice-bomb a few stretches of coast, and some private landowners and nuclear power stations aren't keen on ramblers (as we call them) so there'd be a few inland detours.

Any such detours, I should stress, are pretty much few and far between - a UK coastline walk would on the whole be a superb dip into our landscape and culture.

Anyone interested in the TGO Challenge can find more at www.tgochallenge Feel free to ask any questions...

Very best,


John Manning
(pctjohnbadger) - F - M

Locale: Stainforth
Re: Cape wrath on 01/16/2008 05:02:34 MST Print View

The Cape Wrath Trail site by the way isn't Cameron's, it's run by my pal Tom Forrest, who's done several TGO Challenges himself and lives in the Highlands, occasionally providing accommodation to those on the Cape Wrath Trail.

Cameron's a great friend of mine - his CWT article appeared in a Scottish newspaper a while back and now appears, retyped, on Tom's website.

Robert Ellinwood
Trans-Canada Trail on 01/16/2008 07:50:15 MST Print View

Andy, Hasn't there been a Trans-Canada Trail in development for decades. Don't know the status, but that would be a "first" I believe.

Chase Ankeny
(Ankeny) - F

Locale: Vagabond
Just another thought... on 01/16/2008 09:09:43 MST Print View

The Trans-Canada trail seams, at least to me, to be too similar to the c2c, the same thing just moved a bit north. But then again I myself walked from Mexico to Canada one summer and then the next did pretty much the same thing again, just a bit moved to the east….. If you are interested in the spine of South America there are a pair of people who are hiking it right now. They have a web site with a very interesting journal at that is well worth checking out. And there is always the Te Araroa ( which runs the length of New Zealand. You could look at how the Rangeland techniques such as grass farming (fascinating subject, very similar to another approach known as holistic management that uses grazing animals to stimulate and rebuild the land) differ from those used in the increasingly desolate rangelands and all the slightly less then pleasant cows to be found in such places along the CDT. And why not a thought about kayaking the Artic Ocean to see first hand what global warming has done to the ice?


Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Getting a real job on 01/16/2008 10:18:30 MST Print View

George -

With all do respect, are you kidding? The advice to get a "real job" makes no sense to me -- not only am I doing exactly what I want to be doing right now, but I'd like to think that I'm having a much greater impact than I would be if I had taken up residence in an office cube, which has been done by so many of my friends, classmates, and former teammates -- who interestingly are telling me to keep on doing what I am doing.

Environmental research -- and research, in general -- is a very worthwhile and admirable occupation, as is being an educator or serving in public office. But we all need to determine for ourselves what we are most passionate about and how we can help best achieve the greater good. The way I look at it, there are many qualified individuals (including myself) who can take on some of the roles listed above -- but there are very few who are able to do what I'm doing, namely sharing my outdoor experiences in the hopes of educating and inspiring people to develop their own connection with the outdoors, which I think we can agree is an admirable cause itself.

My long-distance trips were initially motivated by personal experience and challenge (e.g. AT 2002 and even C2C 2004-05), but they have taken on a much bigger purpose now, as I've looked around and developed growing concern with the world today: unsustainable and inappropriate use of natural resources, immoral neglect of wildlife and vegetation, and emerging cultures (both here in the US (i.e. the youth) and internationally) that prefer exploitation over conservation, and that have a decreasing appreciation/respect for and connection with the natural world.

The reality is that you can pour ridiculous amounts of money into environmental research, but unless you have a constituency (the general public, a bureaucracy, and lawmakers) who actually care about the environment, the research is worthless, except to further depress those who aren't ignorant to it. I think a great example of this would be the tag-team between Al Gore and the IPCC: it was not until Al Gore took the climate change message to the public via a film that the IPCC's work really gained any traction, especially here in the US.

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Arizona Trail on 01/16/2008 10:27:37 MST Print View

Poor trail maintenance is a result of there not being enough interest in hiking and the backcountry. Even if your lobbying efforts to get the AZT on par with the AT were successful, that doesn't necessarily mean that "if you build it they will come," though certainly it would lead to a small uptick because the AZT in some places is so bad that it prevents people entirely from hiking it (e.g. the Matzatzal's).

Work on the source of the problem: that people generally and decreasingly aren't interested in hiking or the backcountry. How? Give presentations at schools (you don't need to be a hiking stud to do this -- kids will worship anyone who has seen a rattlesnake in the wild or pooped in the woods on more than one occasion). Offer skill-based clinics at local outdoor retailers. Foster partnerships between for-profit companies and the AZT association, so that there are ample people available for work groups and for membership dues. And get the AZ hiking community behind the effort -- you guys have lots of web groups, but I don't get the impression that the community ever steps outside of itself.

Andrew - The AZT is a grassroots AZ-based issue.

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
A map that excites me on 01/16/2008 10:31:41 MST Print View

Ryan -

That map excites me too, especially that red line that spans the continent north-south. I'd thought about this trip before but I never got excited about doing the entire CDT over again -- but that's unjustified, since the CDT constitutes only about 25 percent of the entire trip.

Boy, that's a mother of a trip. What's the recommended timing? Some of the northern sections will have to be in the winter -- there's no way you can hike from the San Juan's to the Seward Peninsula between the months of May and October.

John Manning
(pctjohnbadger) - F - M

Locale: Stainforth
Re: Re: Skurka looking for expedition ideas on 01/16/2008 11:51:36 MST Print View

Agree with Andy - he's living the life I'd give my eye teeth to live. And he's come closer to making it a job than most. AND he's look at ways he could be making a difference while doing so.

What is it with gear companies, by the way, that they fall over themselves to make yet another climber their sponsored "athlete", when the greater bulk of their sales are to hikers - who are far better represented by Andy than by a climber who would probably baulk at the thought of having to walk more than a mile from his car to the foot of a climb!

Full marks to GoLite for backing Andy, fuller marks to Andy for raising the profile of hiking and those who hike. All power to him; I wish gear companies would see the light and make sure there were a few more like him!

Now, about the TGO Challenge...

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Gear companies and where I'm going on 01/16/2008 12:36:21 MST Print View

A few thoughts:

1- Gear companies and sponsorships. I've been fortunate to have had the backing of some wonderful companies that have allowed me to do what I've done, and I certainly thank them for their support. But the reason that the resources (and impact) is limited is because the companies themselves are very small. It's hard for us to believe because we live and breathe outdoor sports, but even the largest companies in the outdoor industry (e.g. North Face) is tiny compared to more mass-market companies like Nike. (In 2007 Nike's sales are $10+ billion while VHF Corp's Outdoor group, which includes TNF, Jansport, Vans, and Reef, was $1.5 billion.)

The other thing to factor in is "image." Mountaineering, climbing, and extreme skiing are easily romanticized, while backpacking is ho-hum in most people's view...boring. However, what the other sports do not offer is backpacking's biggest advantage: accessibility. Nearly everyone can go for a walk in nature without having to drive far or buy any gear.

2- There's been a little bit of talk about my "impact," and how I can have the biggest one. I'll be the first one to admit that my impact has not been as big as I have wanted it to be (but I think everyone can say that -- Wouldn't the world be perfect if you were God?). But let's also remember that I'm just 26 and that I graduated college 4 years ago as an absolute nobody. I would hope that my impact will continue on the same trajectory it's been on (that is, up) over the next 4 years and beyond, perhaps even at a quick rate since I have way more opportunities right now than I did 4 years ago.