This holiday season, many of us will be traveling to see family and loved ones. Perhaps you're heading to a warmer locale, where you can thaw out for a bit, or maybe you're going north to enjoy a white Christmas. Either way, these holiday travels can turn into unexpected, er, adventures. As you prepare for your own expeditions, draw some inspiration from these fearless explorers and survivalists.
Sir Edmund Hillary
On May 29, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The expedition was certainly not Hillary's first extreme adventure: he'd made his first major climb in 1939 when he was only 20 years old. On that trip, he reached the summit of Mount Ollivier. Then Hillary served as a navigator in the Royal New Zealand Army during World War II. He'd scaled Everest a first time as part of a reconnaissance mission with the Army. In 1952, Hillary was part of an unsuccessful expedition to climb Cho Oyu. Though Hillary is probably best known for his Everest expedition, he didn't stop here. The adventurer climbed ten more peaks in the Himalayas and traveled to both the North and South Poles.
Nando ParradoWhen Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed in the Andes, the situation seemed hopeless. The survivors were trapped in the mountains with no supplies and no way to call for help. Among this group of 16 was Nando Parrado. After two months of being trapped in the mountains, the group decided that they'd have to go for help. Parrado and Roberto Canessa spent the next ten days traveling through the Andes searching for salvation. His bold decision certainly saved both his own life and those of his fellow passengers.
Bestselling author Jon Krakauer began mountaineering at the ripe old age of eight, thanks to his father. Right after graduating college in 1977, Krakauer went on his first big adventure: a three-week solo trek through the Stikine Icecap region of Alaska. Krakauer climbed a new route to the Devil's Thumb during the expedition. Krakauer built up his reputation as an outdoorsman-journalist over the next decades. In 1992, Krakauer climbed Cerro Torre, in the Andes. The peak is considered one of the most difficult to climb in the world. Yet Krakauer is better known for his participation in the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, which he documented in Into Thin Air.
Along with Louis Lachenal, Maurice Herzog reached the summit of the Himalayan peak Annapurna, the 10th highest mountain in the world. The pair's accomplishment, on June 3, 1950, was all the more incredible because of the speed with which they prepared for the attempt. They also climbed without using any supplemental oxygen. No one successfully climbed Annapurna again until 1970, and the ascent was the most well known feat of mountaineering until it was eclipsed by Hillary and Hunt's 1953 Everest expedition.