Skip to Content

Click on a label to read posts from that part of the world.

Map of the world

Talking travel with author of Rough Guide's Ultimate Adventures

Gregory Witt is author of Ultimate Adventures: A Rough Guide to Adventure Travel, which is out in bookstores today. This is a guy who has done pretty much everything when it comes to extreme adventures, so I'm definitely picking up my copy. He happens to be a skilled mountaineer guide, having led summit trips to Mt. Rainier, Matterhorn, and Peru's Pisco. He's also summited Colorado's three highest peaks back-to-back in three days.

You've said that the "unattainable" destinations were weeded out. I love a challenge. What were some of the top ones?


I intentionally excluded some adventures like climbing Mt. Everest. It's an exceptional challenge and adventure, to be sure. Instead, I explore uncommon adventures for the common man. These are adventures that most anyone, with proper training, preparation, and a healthy dose of tenacity can achieve. Some of the more physically and emotionally demanding adventures include climbing Yosemite's El Capitan, hiking the length of the Pacific Crest Trail, or climbing Mt. McKinley.

You're an experienced adventure guide. How does someone get that sort of job? What kind of training did you have to do?

Fortunately, I've never thought of it as a "job." It's just doing what I love to do-and isn't it cool that someone actually pays me to do it! It requires a varied skill set, some of which can be learned, like wilderness emergency medicine, field geology, or wildlife identification. Other skills, like wilderness navigation, leadership, and managing the personal and group dynamics of clients in stressful or challenging situations is best learned on the spot and after years of experience in similar circumstances.

You've said that the "unattainable" destinations were weeded out. I love a challenge. What were some of the top ones?

I intentionally excluded some adventures like climbing Mt. Everest. It's an exceptional challenge and adventure, to be sure. Instead, I explore uncommon adventures for the common man. These are adventures that most anyone, with proper training, preparation, and a healthy dose of tenacity can achieve. Some of the more physically and emotionally demanding adventures include climbing Yosemite's El Capitan, hiking the length of the Pacific Crest Trail, or climbing Mt. McKinley.

You're an experienced adventure guide. How does someone get that sort of job? What kind of training did you have to do?

Fortunately, I've never thought of it as a "job." It's just doing what I love to do-and isn't it cool that someone actually pays me to do it! It requires a varied skill set, some of which can be learned, like wilderness emergency medicine, field geology, or wildlife identification. Other skills, like wilderness navigation, leadership, and managing the personal and group dynamics of clients in stressful or challenging situations is best learned on the spot and after years of experience in similar circumstances.

What percent of the trips in this book do you have under your belt? How'd you get the scoop on the places you've never visited yourself?

There's no one on the planet who has done all of these adventures. I've done the great majority of them. But if there is any "hero" in Ultimate Adventures, it's the guides, outfitters, instructors, and on-site tour operators who know these destinations and adventures inside and out. In every chapter I made thorough use of these local experts. For example, in my chapter on climbing Mount Rainier, one of my resources was George Dunn, a guide who has summited the peak a record 489 times. And even though I've climbed Rainer, no one in the world knows that mountain better than George. The contributions of people like him-over 300 of them-were invaluable. The result is an authoritative, hands-on guidebook, packed with insider information. But Ultimate Adventures isn't about armchair exploration. It demands action-it's a lifelist for doers.

How did you select what destinations and adventures made it into this book?

In my travels, the goal has always been to discover the greatest outdoor adventures the world has to offer. Adventure should put you face to face with the power of nature. It's human flesh in harmony with earth, wind, and water. Adventure may cause you to squirm, sweat, shake, or do all three simultaneously. And at some point along the way you may ask yourself: "What on earth was I thinking?" Ultimate Adventures introduces readers to 170 life-shaping and unforgettable experiences.

Favorite five trips from the book?

I have a personal love affair with mountains and rivers. I also love wildlife, scenery, and great photo ops. So here goes:

1. Tracking mountain gorillas in Rwanda
2. Running the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in a dory
3. Hiking in the Swiss Alps (and climbing the Matterhorn or Mt. Blanc as part of the trip)
4. Hiking New Zealand's Milford Track
5. Rafting the Pacuare in Costa Rica (great river and wildlife viewing in one day)

Someone who loves the ocean might choose diving the Great Barrier Reef or surfing Oahu's North Shore. If you're looking for family adventures it may be wildlife viewing in Galapagos or rock climbing in Joshua Tree. Everyone will find something to tantalize their adventurous spirit. And don't ask me this same question next week-you may get a totally different answer. My top picks depend on my mood at the time. Right now, after the blistering heat of summer, any cool climate adventure sounds appealing.

I'm about to climb Mt. Fuji in a couple weeks. What insider's tips do you have for me?


Climbing Fuji-san makes you part of a thousand-year-old procession of humanity, which during climbing season can consist of up to 3000 people a day. The day-hike up this national icon is more a cultural experience than an mountaineering challenge, but it's well worth the time. If you want to avoid the peak season crowds, but still climb in fair weather, try the first two weeks of July, before school vacations begin. One interesting fact: The summit of Mt. Fuji-in fact, all of the land above the 8th station (3000m)-is a part of a Shinto shrine, and as such, is the world's most prominent privately owned natural feature.

What about New Zealand. It's one of the greatest playgrounds for the outdoorsman. What's the perfect itinerary for a 2-week trip?


No doubt, New Zealand is spectacular. For hikers, the Milford Track lays claim to being "the finest walk in the world," and it may also be the wettest walk in the world, so bring raingear for this 4-day hike. And don't overlook the Routeburn Track, a similarly spectacular 3-day tramp that straddles two national parks on the South Island. If mountaineering is in your blood, a guided climb of Aoroki/Mount Cook can take you to the summit of a legendary peak, where Edmund Hillary got his start. For world-class whitewater, put on your helmet and hit the Karamea River. Anytime a whitewater rafting trip requires a helicopter ride up a granite gorge to access the put in, you know you're in for a great descent on a wild river, and these Class V rapids won't disappoint.

Filed under: Talking Travel

Find Your Hotel

City name or airport
POWERED BY
City name or airport
City name or airport
POWERED BY
City name or airport
City name or airport
POWERED BY
City name or airport code
If different
POWERED BY
POWERED BY

Search Travel Deals

Reader Comments (Page 1 of 1)

Gadling Features


Most Popular

Categories

Become our Fan on Facebook!

Featured Galleries (view all)

Berlin's Abandoned Tempelhof Airport
The Junk Cars of Cleveland, New Mexico
United Airlines 787 Inaugural Flight
Ghosts of War: France
New Mexico's International Symposium Of Electronic Arts
Valley of Roses, Morocco
The Southern Road
United Dreamliner Interior
United Dreamliner Exterior

Our Writers

Don George

Features Editor

RSS Feed

View more Writers

Weird News

DailyFinance

FOXNews Travel

Engadget

Sherman's Travel

Lonely Planet

New York Times Travel

Joystiq