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Will Gadd, National Geographic 'Adventurer Of The Year,' Hails From Canmore

01/16/2015 11:38 EST | Updated 01/16/2015 11:59 EST

He has scaled the last of the ice atop Kilimanjaro. He has braved a waterfall with ice that can drop like a "guillotine's blade."

And he has travelled from B.C.'s Robson Valley to the United States border — not by road, but by paragliding across vast landscapes from mountain to mountain, for 35 days.

Canmore's Will Gadd, 47, has done more than enough to earn his "Captain Adventure" moniker. And now National Geographic has recognized the iceclimber/paraglider's feats by naming him one of its "Adventurers of the Year."

The magazine highlighted the paragliding trip as it recognized him and co-glider Gavin McClurg among 10 groups and individuals for their "remarkable achievement in exploration, adventure sports, conservation and humanitarianism."

"They look for things that are groundbreaking or different, and I guess I caught their eye," the Red Bull-sponsored Gadd told The Calgary Herald.

The paragliding trip across the Rocky Mountains began August 1, and saw the athletes fly as far as 50 miles (80.46 kilometres) in a single day when they couldn't find somewhere to land.

"It was absolutely terrifying terrain to fly through," McClurg told the magazine. "We had to break all the rules of cross-country flying to get through huge sections of the route. You just don't fly over terrain where you can't land, and we had to do it continuously."

The trip was just one of Gadd's highlights in 2014.

Early in the year, he scaled B.C.'s Helmcken Falls, a 141-metre ice and rock climb that is considered one of the most difficult in the world, the Herald said.

The falls produce icicles that fall like the blade of a guillotine, described The Globe and Mail, but Gadd managed to keep his head as he climbed it in eight hours.

To cap off an exciting 2014, he also took a November trip to climb receding glaciers on top of Kilimanjaro which, a video pointed out, could disappear due to climate change in the next five years.



Temperatures at that height (6,000 metres) would freeze at night, but go above the freezing level when the sun was up. It meant that Gadd would "literally climb stuff that wouldn't be there the next day."

But what's next for the intrepid climber? Just last weekend he won the elite mixed climbing competition at Colorado's Ouray Ice Festival, and it seems unlikely he'll ramp down his stunts anytime soon.

"These are lifelong sports," he told the Herald. "If a 47-year-old can still win competitions and win awards, it is something you can do your whole life."

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