17. Göran Kropp


Age: 33 Specs: 6-foot-2, 216 pounds
Home: Stockholm, Sweden

THE CASE: Expert skier, accomplished mountaineer, expedition cyclist, former paratrooper, and open-ocean sailor-in-training. Impressive all, but Kropp is best known for whipping up said disciplines in a witches' brew of outrageously harebrained adventure—and then seeing his concoction through in the purest way possible. To date: While pedaling the 8,580 miles from his native Sweden to Nepal to climb Everest in 1996, one thought dogged him. How could he go so far, so self-sufficiently, and then justify using the fixed ladders through the peak's treacherous Khumbu Icefall? His answer: He hacked his own route up the 3,000 vertical feet of shifting ice blocks. "I wanted to prove I could get to Everest and climb it without support," says Kropp. "A lot of people are better, but I'm hard-minded to reach my goal."

SECOND OPINION: "Göran has a dreamer's glint in his eye, and he absolutely refuses to give up," says Everest veteran and filmmaker David Breashears, who was there in 1996 when Kropp summited. "He's also funny as hell. At Base Camp, we called him the six-foot-two Don Rickles."

MOST HARROWING MOMENT: Thirty days into a trek between Siberia and the North Pole last February, a polar bear began stalking Kropp. He eventually had to shoot it.

WHAT'S NEXT: Sailing solo 8,000 nautical miles from Sweden to Antarctica in 2003, and then skiing to the South Pole.

Filed To: Athletes
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