Paddle the Gulf of Alaska in just eight days.
The Cheat: The Home Shore, a 60-foot renovated fishing boat that ferries sea kayakers southeast from Sitka, cherry-picking prime paddling spots from more than 250 miles of rugged coastline.
The Payoff: Open-water paddling without the risk factor; line-caught king salmon for dinner; stop-offs on islands for dips in hot springs, in case you get chilly (from $3,200; homeshore.com).
Climb multiple 11,000-plus-foot peaks in British Columbia's Columbia Mountains in a single weekend.
The Cheat: Bell 212 helicopters, operated by Banff-based Canadian Mountain Holidays, that whisk guests from one of five luxury mountain lodges to rope-up zones on peaks like 12,706-foot Mount Nimbus in five minutes.
The Payoff: No more three-day bushwhacks to the rope-up zone; first ascents by special arrangement; rack of venison, vintage pinot, and massages back at the lodge ($2,260 for three days; trips offered between July and September; canadianmountainholidays.com).
Swim with dolphins and manta rays off the Kona Coast of Hawaii's Big Island.
The Cheat: Torpedo scuba sleds (basically handheld outboard motors) that putter around at two miles per hour.
The Payoff: The cushy cruisers might seem out of a marine geriatric ward, but they let even weak swimmers keep up with resident dolphins and manta rays. "Guests have the stamina for more dives because they use 25 percent less air," says Mike Milligan, the tour company's owner (from $90; torpedotours.com).
Conquer the North Pole.
The Cheat: A 40-minute flight from Ice Camp Barneoa scientists' base located at 89 degrees northon an Mi-8 helicopter with a team led by Russian adventurer Victor Boyarsky.
The Payoff: Two hours of wandering at the pole, one satellite phone call to your buddies, and no chance of flame-broiling a husky as a survival meal (from $15,500; norpolex.com).
Kayak up the Class III rapids of northern Maine's Dead River from brook-trout-heavy Flagstaff Lake.
The Cheat: A jet-propelled Mokai sport boat, which Eustis-based backcountry guide Jeff Hinman started using on guided trips in June. Capable of traveling 12 mph in as little as six inches of water, Hinman's boats cover in a couple of hours what conventional kayaks would in a day.
The Payoff: You can go up the river without a paddleliterally ($50 per hour; 207-246-2277).