Star Power

Let the pros be your guides

Mar 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

Follow the leader: take to the legendary peak on its 50th (climbing) anniversary in Sir Edmund's company    Photo: Abrahm Lustgarten

What's better than watching this year's 100th anniversary of the Tour de France? Riding it, just hours ahead of the peloton. You'll pave the way for a certain Texan vying for his fifth straight victory, pedaling 10- to 80-mile sections of the race route through villages packed with expectant fans, and over some of the toughest mountain stages in the Pyrenees and Alps. At day's end, ditch your bike for luxury digs in villages like Taillores, on Lake Annecy, and the Basque hamlet of St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port. OUTFITTER: Trek Travel, 866-464-8735, WHEN TO GO: July. PRICE: $3,575. DIFFICULTY: moderate to strenuous.

This May, commemorate the 50th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's historic climb to the summit of Everest by spending more than a month trekking and mountaineering in Nepal. Starting in Tumlingtar, you'll hike beneath Himalayan giants like 27,824-foot Makalu, and strap on crampons to climb the 20,000-foot East and West Cols, and cross 19,008-foot Amphu Laptsa pass into the Everest region. At trek's end in Thyangboche, Hillary's son, Peter, will preside over a ceremonial banquet, while the man himself (now 83) will join in by sat phone from Kathmandu. OUTFITTER: World Expeditions, 888-464-8735, WHEN TO GO: April-June. PRICE: $3,690. DIFFICULTY: strenuous. CRUISING THE SEA OF CORTEZ [MEXICO]
To celebrate 25 years in the adventure business, Wilderness Travel has called on Ÿber-mountaineer Reinhold Messner and Amazon explorer Joe Kane to headline a weeklong cruise in the Sea of Cortez. When you're not on the shallow-draft, 70-passenger Sea Bird, you'll snorkel with naturalists as they track sea lions off Isla Los Islotes and spot gray whales in Bah'a Magdalena. Sea-kayak around uninhabited islands and hike desert arroyos, then spend evenings swapping expedition tales with Messner and Kane. OUTFITTER: Wilderness Travel, 800-368-2794, WHEN TO GO: March. PRICE: $4,595. DIFFICULTY: easy.

Might want to add another front chainring to your bike before embarking on this hard-charging eight-day affair in Toscana, birthplace of cycle touring. Thanks to the expertise of former Giro d'Italia winner Andy Hampsten, this 400-mile route is designed for riders who are as serious about their Brunello as they are about their hills. From coastal Maremma, you'll pedal little-trafficked backroads past farmhouses and monasteries, resting your climbing legs and dining like a Medici at wine estates and 12th-century hamlets. Four nights will be spent at a vineyard for a thorough indoctrination in winemaking (and tasting). OUTFITTER: Cinghiale Tours, 206-524-6010, WHEN TO GO: September. PRICE: $3,000. DIFFICULTY: strenuous.

Drop into Craten's Hole with freestyle-kayaking phenom Ben Selznick. Bozeman local and winner of the Gallatin Rodeo 2002, Selznick is your guide on a seven-day tour of Montana's most famous whitewater. After warming up on the Gallatin River's Class II-III waves, you'll graduate to the steep creeks off the Yellowstone, ranging from Class II to V. At night, ease your sore shoulders poolside and fireside at the Chico Hot Springs and Rock Creek resorts. OUTFITTER: GowithaPro, 415-383-3907, WHEN TO GO: July. PRICE: $4,500. DIFFICULTY: moderate.