Top adventurers of 2011

Posted Dec. 30, 2011, at 10:28 p.m.

The best adventures of the year, of course, are your own.

Alas, when we compile our favorite Adventurers of the Year, we don’t have room for everybody. Still, looking back at 2011, there were a few adventurers who stood out. We’ll showcase a few of those people here:

Tyler Ceccanti

Tyler Ceccanti has been a fixture in Crystal Mountain’s backcountry in recent years, but in 2011 his extreme skiing career reached new heights when he was asked to play a prominent role in the Warren Miller Entertainment ski movie “Like There’s No Tomorrow.”

It was Ceccanti’s second appearance in a Warren Miller Entertainment movie, but the first when he wasn’t skiing on his home mountain.

Ceccanti was paired with his friend Andy Mahre of Naches for eight days of skiing in British Columbia’s Monashee Range.

“He is fearless,” Mahre said.

Ceccanti, the 2007 Junior U.S. Extreme Skiing Champ, called the experience one of the highlights of his blossoming career.

“I remember going to watch the [Warren Miller Entertainment] movies when I was a kid,” Ceccanti said. “I always wanted to be in one. Now I’ve been in two. I’m happy, but I’m not satisfied. I will always push for what’s next.”

According to his K2 Factory ski team bio, he plans to shoot films with several companies in 2012, including another movie with Warren Miller Entertainment.

Elwha Dam removal

The list of people involved in this project are too numerous too count. They range from tribal members to congressmen, Olympic National Park staffers to city and county workers, contractors to volunteers. No matter their affiliation, their efforts will result in the largest dam removal project in U.S. history. Once completed in 2014, the work will reopen more than 70 miles of spawning and rearing habitat in the Elwha River and its tributaries. Salmon populations are predicted to swell from 3,000 to an estimated 300,000 as all five species of Pacific salmon return to one of the Northwest’s most productive salmon streams.

The actual work to remove the 108-foot high Elwha Dam and 210-foot high Glines Canyon Dam began in September. The three-year contract for the removal effort is $26.9 million. The total cost of the project is estimated at $325 million.

“This restoration project is a testament to what can happen when diverse groups find a way to work together and achieve shared goals of restoration for a river, a people, an ecosystem, and a national park,” National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said at the ceremony marking the start of the removal effort.

The Mortimers

Bob Mortimer does more with one arm than most people do with four limbs.

Over the summer, Mortimer, who lost an arm and both legs in a car accident in 1976, used a special bike to crank his way from California to Florida in 2011. His wife, Darla, 19-year-old son, Grant, and 13-year-old daughter, Chanel, pedaled alongside him.

The purpose of their journey was to share their message: “Put your hope in Christ and have the courage to use that hope to face the challenges of your life,” Mortimer said.

The family dipped their rear wheels in the Pacific Ocean on April 25 and their front wheels in the Atlantic on Aug. 5.

They drove home across the northern United States visiting friends they made when they pedaled across the country in 2008.

In 2011, Mortimer also finished his book, “Hope and Courage Across America,” ($20, hcjourney.org) about the first trip.

In 2012, the Mortimers’ bikes won’t see as much action, but they plan to continue their adventures in inspiration. They’re heading to Ecuador where they’ll partner with a missionary from their church, Fox Island Alliance, to share their ministry at various locations including prisons.

Dave Betz and Don Paradise

In 2011, Dave Betz and Don Paradise took the idea of “extreme couponing” to a new level. Their wives purchased them a coupon online good for a guided California hiking trip called the Trans-Sierra Xtreme Challenge.

Betz, a Lakewood resident, is pretty sure his wife, Linda, didn’t read the fine print: 75 miles, more than 21,000 vertical feet in six days and just 1,600 calories per days.

“We are almost 70,” Betz said. “I don’t know what the heck they were thinking. I’m sure they tripled our life insurance before we left.”

Hiking guide Chris Casado said Betz and Paradise, both 69, were the oldest clients they’ve had on the trip that’s highlighted with a climb up 14,505-foot Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States. The other six people in their hiking party were at least 30 years their junior.

The hike is a one-way trek across Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. The participants carry packs that weigh 40 pounds or more.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve done,” said Betz, who has been friends with Paradise for more than 25 years. “It is gorgeous country and it was a great sense of accomplishment when we finished.”

Their guide was impressed.

“They were some of the most remarkable individuals we have ever had on our trek,” Casado said. “… A testament to [their] friendship, longevity and love of the outdoors.”

Betz and Paradise turn 70 in April and plan to celebrate with a 42-mile hike in Central Oregon next summer.

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