Life's a Wild Trip

The Red Planet: California's Death Valley     Photo: Corel

1. Follow in the Footsteps of Greatness
Tibet / Mallory and Irvine's Everest

It's everything but the disappearing act: Follow the route of doomed explorers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine from Lhasa to Rongbuk Monastery, the sacred gateway to Mount Everest. You'll camp and hike in the spectacular Rongbuk Valley, with jaw-dropping views of the world's highest peak, before trekking to 17,900-foot Advanced Base Camp, from which the intrepid mountaineers launched their fatal summit attempt in 1924. OUTFITTER: Geographic Expeditions, 800-777-8183, www.geoex.com WHEN TO GO: May, June, October PRICE: $4,945 DIFFICULTY: Moderate

USA / Idaho / Biking the Lewis and Clark Trail
(NEW TRIP) Retrace a portion of Lewis and Clark's historic route as you pedal 85 miles on the Forest Service roads of the Lolo Trail, which winds through Idaho's remote Bitterroot Mountains. But what took the explorers eight days in 1805, and drove them to eat three of their horses, will take you only five: You'll bike 20 miles per day, and you'll dine on grilled salmon, chicken diablo, and chocolate fondue. At night around the campfire, your guides will double as history professors, discussing Lewis and Clark's journey and their interactions with Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce. OUTFITTER: Western Spirit Cycling, 800-845-2453, www.westernspirit.com WHEN TO GO: July-September PRICE: $895 DIFFICULTY: Moderate

South Pacific / In the Wake of the Bounty
Your 22-day cruise won't involve a reenactment of Fletcher Christian's legendary 1789 mutiny, but you will meet his family. After three days exploring the mysterious stone ruins of Easter Island, you'll board a 168-passenger expedition cruise ship and motor 1,200 miles west to the tiny Pitcairn Islands, to which Christian eventually piloted the Bounty and where the 48 residents boast mutineer DNA. Continue with visits to a dozen more exotic Pacific islands: You'll snorkel in the Marquesas, look for crested terns with the onboard ornithologist in the Tuamotus, and follow a dolphin escort into Bora Bora's lagoon. OUTFITTER: Wilderness Travel, 800-368-2794, www.wildernesstravel.com WHEN TO GO: March, April, October, November PRICE: $7,665 DIFFICULTY: Easy

TRIP ENHANCER
Apple iPod MP3 Player

The sleekest, best-designed, and priciest MP3 player going. Apple's iPod ($399; www.apple.com) quickly stores up to three decades' worth of greatest hits (1,000 tunes) and can play them for nearly ten hours straight. Sufficient entertainment even for the longest transpacific flight.

2. Make a First Ascent
China / Into the Kax Tax

(New Trip) Last year, Colorado mountaineer Jon Meisler used a century-old map to rediscover a hidden rift valley in western China's Xinjiang province that provided access to some 30 nameless peaks in the Kax Tax range. Most of the mountains allow for four- or five-day assaults over nontechnical terrain to 20,000-foot summits. This year's monthlong guided trips include an acclimatization hike into valleys inhabited by wild yaks, blue sheep, and Tibetan brown bears. OUTFITTER: High Asia Exploratory Mountain Travel Company, 800-809-0034, www.highasia.com WHEN TO GO: June, August PRICE: from $5,000 DIFFICULTY: Strenuous

Greenland / Gunnbjørn Fjeld and Beyond
Pioneer a route up a 10,000-foot peak on your 14-day expedition to eastern Greenland's Watson Range. A Twin Otter loaded with ropes, skis, and frozen chicken will fly you to base camp about 225 miles south of Ittoqqortoormiit, on the eastern fringes of Greenland's icecap. After warming up on a four-day climb to the summit of 12,139-foot Mount Gunnbjørn Fjeld, your group will decide which of the 50-odd surrounding mountains to climb. OUTFITTER: Alpine Ascents International, 206-378-1927, www.alpineascents.com WHEN TO GO: June PRICE: $9,500 DIFFICULTY: Strenuous

Bolivia / Exploring Apolobamba
Spend ten to 13 days in northern Bolivia's Apolobamba range, tackling the unclimbed south face of 18,553-foot Cuchillo or a virgin peak in the Katantica group. You'll trek on llama trails beneath glacier-cloaked peaks and watch condors soar over your base camp before you start the dirty work of picking a peak and route to fit your abilities. OUTFITTER: The Adventure Climbing and Trekking Company of South America, 719-530-9053, www.adventureco.com WHEN TO GO: June PRICE: $1,600-$2,575 DIFFICULTY: Strenuous

3. Get Lost in Your Own Backyard
USA / Minnesota / Paddling the Voyageur International Route

In the 60 miles between your put-in and take-out in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, you'll find little more than a chain of pine-fringed lakes connected by muddy portages—so stopping to buy Advil is not an option. But the untouched land-scape on this ten-day canoe trip, which follows an 18th-century fur-trading route on the Canada/Minnesota border, from Saganaga Lake to Crane Lake, will keep your mind off your aching shoulders. At nightly lakeshore camps, look for bald eagles and timber wolves, and listen for the call of the loon. OUTFITTER: Wilderness Outfitters, 800-777-8572, www.wildernessoutfitters.com WHEN TO GO: May PRICE: $1,649 DIFFICULTY: Moderate

USA / Alaska / Rafting the Nigu River
(New Trip) Paddle a four-man raft for 70 miles and ten days down the lonely Nigu, and it's likely you won't see another two-legged soul. A plane will drop you in the middle of the Brooks Range, where you'll paddle the Class II water through rolling carpets of rhododendrons and lupines. From your riverbank camps, watch vermilion skies as they illuminate bears, wolves, and herds of migrating caribou. OUTFITTER: Arctic Treks, 907-455-6502, www.arctictreksadventures.com WHEN TO GO: August PRICE: $3,150 (includes flights between the Brooks Range and Fairbanks) DIFFICULTY: Moderate

USA / California / Death Valley Hike
Step out of the daily grind and into the empty moonscape of Death Valley National Park. You'll hike four to ten miles a day through serpentine slot canyons and over 100-foot-high sand dunes and white borax-crystal flats, camping out under surprisingly serene skies. Yellow panamint daisies, magenta beavertail cactus blossoms, soaring peregrine falcons, and red-tailed hawks will convince you that the area is far from dead. OUTFITTER: REI Adventures, 800-622-2236, www.rei.com/travel WHEN TO GO: March, April PRICE: $895 DIFFICULTY: Moderate

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