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Im Gespräch Andrew Skurka

18. November 2009

Heute gibt es mal keine Ausrüstungsmanufaktur im Interview. Ich konnte den „Hiking Hero“ und „Adventurer of the Year“ Andrew Skurka für ein Interview gewinnen. Trotz seiner sehr zeitintensiven Planung für sein nächstes Projekt, hat er mir bereitwillig ein paar Fragen beantwortet. Here we go!!

Hello Andrew, could you tell a little bit about yourself for those who don’t know you?

I am a 28-year-old outdoor adventurer who since 2002 has trekked over 23,000 miles. My early hikes utilized the US’ extensive long-distance trails system – I became the first to complete the 6,875-mile Great Western Loop and the 7,778-mile Sea-to-Sea Route, the former of which earned me the „Adventurer of the Year“ distinction from National Geographic Adventure.  More recently I have been pursuing more adventurous trips in premier wilderness like Alaska, Utah, Iceland, and the High Sierra of California.

How did you come to hiking and when did you start to go lightweight?

My first true backpacking experience was the Appalachian Trail in 2002.  I became a lightweight convert after my first day – my body and my morale were getting brushed by the weight of my pack and I knew if I was going to finish the trip – and enjoy myself – that I would need to lighten up.

Do you have a philosophy, if you go hiking?

Far, fast, and light.

You walked about 23000 miles in the last few years on great trails. Have you ever been in great danger on your trips?

Certainly, but no particular event in which I thought I was going to die – just a few times where I knew I was going to be really uncomfortable for a while.

Your next project will guide you through Alaska and Canada. How long does it take for planning such a trip?

Preparing for an expedition is like writing thesis paper – it’s not done until the due date.  Specifically, I’ll be planning now until the day I leave.  It’s a really good feeling when you take that first step – no more planning, just doing.

Could you tell my readers something about your new project and the difficulties that await you?

This is my first expedition that I was describe as a “long-distance adventure.”  I’ve done long and fast hikes before, and I’ve done some adventurous trips, but until now I never combined the two respective skill set and bodies of knowledge.  The trip is about 4,500 miles long and it will take me 6-7 months to complete.  It’s a gigantic loop around Alaska and Canada’s Yukon territory.  More info can be found here.

Are you planning other hikes after this one?

Yes, I expect to continue adventuring.  I don’t have my sights on another specific expedition right now – I think it would probably be a little cocky to think this next one wasn’t going to take every ounce of my energy.

Andrew you have done your hobby to career. What kind of advice would you give to someone who wants to do the same?

It’s not that hard – you just need to decide to do it, and make sure that all your other decisions allow you to do it.  I decided that I wanted to adventure for a living, not get a conventional job.  But then I needed to decide that I wouldn’t have a dog, that I wouldn’t tie myself into a mortgage, that I wouldn’t spend money I don’t have, that I wouldn’t have long-lasting relationships with women, etc.

Let’s speak a little bit about ultralight gear. In which direction will ultralight gear develop?  Even lighter and more stable?

I think UL designs will continue to get smarter, but not necessarily lighter.  In fact, I would say most of the weight gains have already been realized – we’re already using the best materials that exist (e.g. carbon fiber, Titanium, 800-fill down, etc) and big weight improvements in them aren’t likely.  The improvements we’ll see will be in a product’s durability, functionality, and environmental impact.

Meanwhile, many manufacturers produce lighter gear. Do you think that this is a trend which ends in some years or will ultralight gear conquer the marketplace?

I think the lightweight industry is here to stay, but I don’t see it conquering the marketplace.  When I meet casual backpackers – like at a National Park or when I give a lightweight clinic to a university – I am appalled by the size of the packs that people still carry.  The lightweight ethos has probably penetrated the US market on the order of 5 percent, yet we’ve been screaming from the rooftops about lightweight gear for the last 10 years.  The reality is that the vast majority of dedicated backpackers and backcountry users (e.g. mountaineers, rock climbers, backcountry skiers, etc.) have all realized the importance of pack weight and have learned to lighten up.  But these hardcore users are a small fraction of the overall market – most people are casual backcountry users, and they haven’t figured it out yet and/or are not told about by retail stores when they go to buy equipment.  There is a lot of work to do to educate people about the benefits and techniques of lightweight travel.

Andrew, I thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there something you would like to say?

Thanks for the interview request.  If anybody wants to learn more about my hikes, my gear, or my next big trip, they visit my website.

2 Kommentare leave one →
  1. 20. November 2009 15:21

    Wieder einfach mal stark, was Andrew Skurka da aus dem Hut zaubert.

    Und sein Organisationsstab mit Roman Dial und Ryan Jordan (Arctic1000) sowie Erinn Mc Kittrick und Brettwood Higman und Chris Townsend ist natürlich auch imposant, wenn man die Leute kennt.

    Der Kerl ist mir einfach sympathisch.



  2. hrxxl permalink*
    22. November 2009 15:53

    ja ich aber auch gestaunt, als ich gelesen habe, wer alles mitorganisiert. Aber ohne fachkundige gute Hilfe ist sowas auch nur sehr schwer durchführbar denke ich

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