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Winners of the Inaugural Kyle Dempster Solo Adventure Award Announced

Three winners receive grants for adventures around the globe.

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On Tuesday, March 27—what would have been the late American alpinist Kyle Dempster’s 35th birthday—the three winners of the first Kyle Dempster Solo Adventure Awards were announced in Salt Lake City.

The Award, set up in memory of Dempster who disappeared on the north face of Ogre II (6980m) in Pakistan with Scott Adamson in August 2016, aims to encourage others to continue his legacy of embarking on adventurous, solo expeditions—be they climbing or otherwise—around the globe.

Kyle Dempster on day one of Foolz Tour, riding his bike along the Honaker Trail to Grand Gulch, San Juan River, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, UT. Photo by Andrew Burr.

The winning line-up covers a range of sporting disciplines and wilderness environments, very much in the spirit of adventure:

Anthony Marra, from Salt Lake City, Utah, will receive $2,000 to undertake a four-month trip biking across the north and south islands of New Zealand. He plans to climb and ski nine major summits on his journey and tow all his gear in a bike trailer. Last year, as training, Marra cycled from Canada to Mexico over three months, climbing and skiing 26 peaks in the Cascades and the Sierra.

Jessica Kelley, from Seattle, Washington, will receive $1,000 towards her project “Where the River Meets the Road.” Kelley, an endurance athlete and coach, plans to complete 1,350 mile bike-rafting loop through the Last Frontier, incorporating paved and gravel roads and sections of the Yukon, Tanana and Susitna rivers. She will also be raising money for Anchorage GRIT, bike mentoring program for middle-school girls.

Finally, Alex Gaber, an experienced long-distance hiker from Auburn, California, will receive $1,000 to thru-hik a 1,000-mile loop within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. His planned journey, much of which is off-trail, will take him through 10 different wilderness areas, the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks and 58 named summits. Gaber has hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and from Mexico to Canada.

Dempster in the Shuangqiao Valley, Siguiang Shan Mountains, Sichuan, China. Photo by Andrew Burr.

According to the award committee press release, the three winners “proposed exciting and challenging trips that embody Kyle’s creative spirit and his desire to explore wild places, and they demonstrated a willingness to push their personal limits and a passion for storytelling that will inspire future adventurers.”


Watch one of Dempster’s incredible adventures:

Kyle Dempster in The Road to Karakol