Three recipients for the inaugural Kyle Dempster Solo Adventure Award were announced on what would have been the revered alpinist’s 35th birthday, March 27.
Dempster’s family, friends and sponsors created the grant to honor his legacy after he disappeared on the north face of Ogre II (6980m) in Pakistan with Scott Adamson in August 2016.
“We had over 50 applicants, and we’re excited to see and hear the stories that come out of these trips,” said Andy Anderson, a close friend of Dempster and a member of the grant committee.
The storytelling is a big part of receiving the grant, as Dempster was a talented writer–a contributor to Alpinist–known for his eloquent ability to share deeper perspectives from his travels.
The descriptions of the recipients and their planned adventures below have been slightly abridged from a press release sent out by the award committee:
Anthony Marra of Salt Lake City, Utah, is receiving $2,000 for a four-month trip across the north and south islands of New Zealand. He will bike, climb and ski nine major summits along the way. He will tow a bike trailer with all the necessary equipment as well as a surfboard, which he’ll use when he heads to the coast for some celebratory beach time after each peak. To prepare for this trip, in the summer of 2017, Anthony spent three months biking from the Canadian border to Mexico, climbing and skiing 26 peaks in the Cascades and Sierra.
Jessica Kelley of Seattle, Washington, is receiving $1,000 for a 1,350-mile bike-rafting loop through Alaska that she is calling “Where the River Meets the Road.” Jessica will begin riding her bike from Anchorage, and will combine paved and gravel roads with sections of the Yukon, Tanana and Susitna rivers to loop through the state. Before and during the trip, Jessica will also raise funds for Anchorage GRIT, a bike mentorship program for middle-school girls, to “make the adventure even more meaningful, and give me that extra boost to keep going on the toughest days.” Jessica is an endurance athlete and coach, and has competed in numerous bike and foot races across the country, including the White Mountains 100 and the Iditasport 200, as well as a number of backcountry challenges including a traverse of the North Cascades and the FKT (fastest known time) of the Press Traverse in Olympic National Park.
Alex Gaber of Auburn, California, is receiving $1,000 for a summer thru-hike of a 1,000-mile loop he has envisioned in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, traveling through 10 different wilderness areas, as well as Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Alex’s planned route travels over 58 named summits and much of it is completely off-trail. He’ll attempt to stay along ridgelines and avoid roads as much as possible. Alex is an experienced long-distance hiker who has completed the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, as well as an innovative route from Mexico to Canada that combined the Arizona Trail, the Hayduke Trail, and a self-mapped route from Arches to Glacier National Parks.
These recipients will also receive a free one-year subscription to Alpinist and have their trip reports appear on Alpinist.com.
The Dempster Award website reads:
Each year, the Kyle Dempster Solo Adventure Award will be given to an American solo adventurer embarking on a journey that embodies Kyle’s passionate spirit and love of exploration, with an emphasis on storytelling and leave-no-trace ethics. The recipients are by no means limited to climbers, and the trips awarded by no means must involve the big mountains Kyle loved–on the contrary, we encourage applications for human-powered solo adventures of all kinds–big or small, remote or urban, cold and icy or hot and sunny….
One of America’s great young alpinists best known for first ascents of big remote peaks around the globe, Kyle Dempster was a passionate climber, adventurer and friend who fully lived his 33 years….
Though Kyle loved climbing, traveling and going on adventures with friends, many of his most memorable and creative trips were done alone, traversing wild corners of the world by himself and under his own power. From kiteskiing hundreds of miles across Baffin Island, to his now legendary biking and climbing trip across Kygryzstan that was made famous in the short film The Road from Karakol, Kyle found a deep sense of meaning and joy in exploring the world on his own.