Canadian Will Gadd named National Geographic's 'Adventurer of the Year'

All those Canadians who are nestled snugly on their couches just waiting for the end of winter should take a look at Will Gadd, the Alberta-born kayaking/ice climbing/paragliding jack-of-all-thrills who was recently named Adventurer of the Year.

Gadd, the 47-year-old from Canmore, Alta., was declared by National Geographic Magazine to be the greatest adventurer of 2014, alongside American Gavin McClurg after the duo paraglided through the Rocky Mountains.

The 35-day journey from the peaks of the Canadian Rockies south to the U.S. border saw Gadd and McClurg sail nearly 650 kilometres, slipping their paragliders from one thermal pocket to another, camping in the mountains whenever necessary.

“You get some magic sometimes in your life, and as I get older I appreciate those moments,” Gadd told CTV Calgary this week. “You never know when you’re going to get another one.”

Gadd, who has been making extreme headlines for decades, has been compared to a super hero and called the world’s most versatile adventurer. Since earning the honour from National Geographic, he has also won the Ouray Ice Festival – a Colorado-based ice climbing event he previously won in 2006.

And he’s not the only Canadian testing his limits, either. From the X Games athletes to mountaineers and globetrotters, Canadians are finding their way in the ambitious world of extreme sport and adventure.

Maybe it’s something in the air. Maybe it’s our proximity to high mountains, deep waters and wide open spaces, but there’s something about Canada that turns us into adventurers. Or at least gives us the chance.

And as a nation, it seems many have taken up the challenge.

53 per cent of Canadians said they were adventurous vacationers in a recent survey by travel website Expedia. The most common example, however, was eating unusual food.

“Our survey suggests that Canadians have a fairly tame perspective on what they consider adventurous,” Sean Shannon, managing director of Expedia Canada, said at the time.

Not so for Gadd and his ilk, who are out climbing up, skiing through and flying over the mountain ranges the rest of us take for granted.