Top Ten Adventures


1. Go on a multi-day sea kayak trip and try to live off the sea. The Caribbean offers warm water snorkeling and the North West US offers tons of sea life and great fishing.

2. Ski Jackson Hole and jump into Corbet’s Couloir. This world class mountain offers hundreds of challenging runs, but Corbet’s is a true classic and is actually quite reasonable on a big powder day.

3. Learn to surf.  Surfing is a very challenging sport, but the rewards are worth the effort.

4. Go canyoneering in the great Southwestern desert.  The hundreds of pristine slot canyons in Southern Utah offer exciting journeys into another world that are impossible to describe.

5. Climb and ski a big mountain. One of my favorite thrills is to climb to the top of a mountain and ski back down. The many great mountain ranges of the world offer a huge spectrum of summits and descents and Wild Snow by Lou Dawson is a great guidebook. Mount Shasta in California is highly recommended.

6. Spend at least one winter in a ski town and join a town race league. You’ll meet some very interesting people, enjoy an incredible thrill and really improve your skiing techniques. Extra points for the Aspen Town Downhill. The Masters League is another alternative which doesn’t require moving to a ski town.

7. Kayak the Colca or Cotahuasi Canyons in Peru or climb one of the many great mountains. The Colca offers a truly surrealistic journey through the deepest canyon in the world and the Cotahuasi flows through a spectacular desert canyon filled with the ruins of an ancient Inca civilization. A few brave companies offer commercial raft trips. Peru is also famous for big surf, ancient Inca villages and pristine jungles filled with exotic birds.

8. Kayak and climb or hike in Nepal. This mountain paradise is home to some of the best whitewater on earth. The vistas are stunning and the locals are very friendly. Don’t forget to ride an elephant.

9. Take a climbing trip to Thailand or SE Asia. The weather is a great, the food is awesome and a wide variety of bolted routes provide a climbing mecca.

10. Climb a desert spire. The great Southwestern desert of the US is home to some great sandstone spires and they offer a wide range of thrilling challenges. Layton Korr said that a spire was worth 3 big wall climbs and I tend to agree. Extra points for “Moses” in Canyon Lands, Utah.


Top Ten Non-Extreme Adventures

Link to Buy Adventure Books 

A Summer in the Needles of South Dakota

If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.”   — Henry David Thoreau


Fast food in the seventies

Fast food in the seventies

“Wow! That was really good for my psyche!” exclaimed Pete Delannoy, as I caught him after a 50 foot lead fall.

It was the longest fall that I had ever witnessed, and I caught him just a few feet from the ground with a running belay. It was good for his psyche because he was afraid that he might have hit the ground.  Pete was trying to climb a classic Needles route called “Hairy Pin” and his fall had been stopped by one old quarter-inch bolt. After a brief rest, he tried again, with the same result.

Pete Delannoy on the 1st ascent of The Crack of Earthly Delights.

Pete Delannoy on the 1st ascent of The Crack of Earthly Delights.

“Thanks for a great belay! I think I have the move figured out now,” he said, and immediately went up for a third try.  The third try was the charm, and I had a chance to follow with a tight rope. I also fell, but my fall was only a few inches, and I managed to make the moves on the second try.

The South Dakota Needles were the closest climbing area to my home state, and I had the luxury of hanging out with some top “rope guns” for the better part of a summer in the mid-1970’s.

I had met Bob Archbold at the Devil’s Tower, and he invited me to join him at his deluxe camp. Bob and his friend Jim Black had started a climbing school at Sylvan Lake and had set up very luxurious accommodations.

The camp site they had chosen was in a beautiful, remote setting and had a large rock overhang to provide shelter. A few pitons provided anchors for a deluxe racking system, and we also had a picnic table and a large hammock.  Most of the local climbers called it the “sex cave,” but it was really just an overhanging rock.

The guiding business wasn’t very good, but some beautiful Midwestern gals were very impressed by the manly climbers, and the cave family grew.  The warm summer days were spent climbing and hiking, and the evenings were spent socializing around a warm fire.  We discovered a variety of mint plants, that made some very tasty tea that complemented the simple gourmet meals that we enjoyed in our wilderness paradise.

There were only a handful of climbers in the Needles that summer, but Bob seemed to know them all and it was a very friendly family. Many new routes were being established, and I had some great opportunities to try them.  I was somewhat of a fledgling climber, but it was a wonderful experience to hang out with all the heroes, and my skills gradually increased. The many spectacular spires offered some incredible summit vistas, and the lush meadows between them provided a maze-like setting with hundreds of secret places.

One of Bob’s best friends was a legendary old climber named Paul Muell, who had served the U.S. Military in a special forces unit.  He was also an explosives expert and was working on the Crazy Horse Monument in it’s early days of construction.  Paul was an excellent climber with a very cool head and bravely led the Needles classics, which were considered very dangerous leads in most of the climbing circles.

Climbing in the Needles has a very interesting history, which centers on Herb and Jan Conn. They started climbing in the Needles in 1949 with only tennis shoes and a sixty-foot rope, and they managed to summit more than 200 spires.

All of their routes were climbed free, and they used a very minimal amount of fixed protection, which was always placed by the leader. This standard has survived the test of time and has left a paradise of pristine rocks that are uncluttered with bolts and webbing. Drilling a hole in granite with a hammer while standing on a small crystal with a twenty-foot run-out is quite a bold task, so the few bolts that exist are very well placed.

“The protection is adequate, and you don’t need a big rack,” remarked Paul, as he reached into his tobacco can for some ground up rock dust.  He didn’t use chalk, and he often climbed in the Conn style, with some old tennis shoes that he called K-Martos. But, when the going got really tough, he would put on his PA’s and would occasionally reach into his back pocket for the tobacco can.

Climbing with Paul and Bob was a real joy, and I had the privilege of experiencing the summits of many of the classic routes.

The Needles is still one of my favorite places on the planet, and I have very fond memories of our little cave family and the magical summer that I spent there.

My Top Ten Non-Extreme Travel List

Visit Pushkar, India just before the camel festivaltopten3

Take a Taxi or bus ride from Manali to Ladak India and save some time to trek

Harvest Moon Festival at Tikse Gompa in Ladak.

Harvest Moon Festival at Tikse Gompa in Ladak.


Raft or kayak the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon of the Colorado River

The Grand Canyon of the Colorado River











Ski or hike the Haute Route in Europe

Go on an African Safari

Waiting for food

Waiting for food

King of the Masai Mara

King of the Masai Mara

Hippo in Kenya

Hippo in Kenya


















Visit the Lofoten Islands in Norway

Visit Machu Picchu, hike the Inca trail, & climb a mountain. topten7

Hike in an Araocaria forest in the Lake district of Chile, and explore some of the many rivers and mountains.

Walking through a majestic Arocaria forest while climbing Callaqui. Kevin Padden photo.

Walking through a majestic Arocaria forest while climbing Callaqui. Kevin Padden photo.











Blue Footed Boobies in Galapagos, Equador,
Blue Footed Boobies in Galapagos, Equador,


Take a boat trip in the Galapagos Islands

Adventure Travel in Turkey

The Ancient city of Ephesus

The southern coast of Turkey was once part of the great Greek and Roman empires, and shares the same history and spectacular sea. Antalya is a very pleasant city with a great museum, beautiful beaches, extensive parks and an ancient city that has been well preserved. The old buildings have been turned into shops and pleasant hostels, and the seaside restaurants are excellent. This zone is almost free of cars, and provides a great environment for walking and admiring the ancient architecture and beautiful coast. Many great mountains rise directly from the sea and provide a stunning vista that is often covered with snow.

Rock Climbing on Limestone Cliffs

Limestone is the main component of many of the surrounding mountains, and sport climbing is rapidly gaining popularity. Antalya is becoming a center for rock climbing and the small community of Olympos provides a variety of bolted routes on good quality rock. It is also the home of some very interesting hostels including a classic group of very funky tree houses. The water is very pleasant for swimming and diving, and the ancient Roman ruins provide great hiking in a non-crowded environment. It is also the home of a natural eternal flame which was probably used to light the original Olympic torches. The flames provide a warm, natural campfire, and it’s fun to show up at sunset with hotdogs and marsh mellows.

The Giant Greek Ruins of Mount Nemrud

Ancient Greek statues on Mount Nemrud

The ancient Greeks chose this lofty mountain to build a great monument, and the remnants are often considered the eighth wonder of the ancient world. The huge statues of the ancient Gods are truly stunning, and the region is filled with many other wonders. The culture of eastern Turkey varies greatly from that of Antalya, and is a thrilling part of this Turkish adventure. The locals are very friendly and traveling by bus is

King Antiochos greets Hercules

easy. The oil boom town of Kahta offers comfortable accommodations and is the best place to find a tour bus or taxi. The road is steep and often icy so winter travel is not advised.

The Fairy Tale Village of Gorume, Capadocia 

The Fairy Tale Valleys of Capadocia

This stunning land of volcanic towers and cave houses is a highlight of any Turkish vacation. Great trails wonder through pristine valleys with incredible vistas, and a truly magical environment. The towers have been formed by a soft volcanic ash which is very easy to excavate, so ancient cultures turned many of them into homes. The pleasant village of Gorume is filled with tourist amenities and provides a great base camp for hiking in this region. There are some very grand cave homes and cathedrals, and many of the hostels have rooms that have been carved out of the spires.

Wandering the Ancient Streets of Istanbul

The old Constantinople is one of the most remarkable cities in the world and provides dozens of premier sight-seeing activities. Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest ancient churches, and has a history that spans almost two thousand years. The Blue Mosque is also stunning, and there is a famous monument on almost every corner of the old walled city. A trip to the Black Sea along the Bhosporus is a thrilling way to see the many great monuments of this ancient trade route, and the old city is filled with restaurants and comfortable hotels.

The Republic of Turkey provides a diverse and thrilling landscape for adventure travelers of all types, and the prices are very reasonable.

Dancing on the Edge of an Endangered Planet