Andrew Skurka is an accomplished adventure athlete, speaker, guide, and writer. The 31-year-old is most well known for his solo long-distance backpacking trips, notably the 4,700-mile 6-month Alaska-Yukon Expedition, the 6,875-mile 7-month Great Western Loop, and the 7,775-mile 11-month Sea-to-Sea Route. In total, he has backpacked, skied, and packrafted 30,000+ miles through many of the world’s most prized backcountry and wilderness areas—the equivalent of traveling 1.2 times around Earth’s equator! He is the author of The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools & Tips to Hit the Trail.
Skurka has been named “Adventurer of the Year” by both Outside and National Geographic Adventure, as well as “Person of the Year” by Backpacker. National Geographic described him as “a superman among trekkers” and “one of the best traveled and fastest hikers on the planet.” He has been featured by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News Channel, National Public Radio and dozens of local media outlets.
Skurka was born and raised in Seekonk, MA, and now resides in Boulder, CO. He enrolled in Duke University in 1999 with plans of a lucrative Wall Street career but made a mid-course correction after working at a high-adventure summer camp and hiking the Appalachian Trail. Today, he’s fortunate to have made his adventurous lifestyle into an occupation.
In the process of trying to travel mega distances over rugged terrain in relatively short periods of time, and also trying to somehow enjoy that experience, Skurka helped to define light-and-fast backcountry travel. His typical 3-season pack cumulatively weighs between 8 and 10 pounds, sans food and water; and he regularly logs 30+ miles per day, even off-trail.
When not in the field, Skurka occasionally dabbles in ultra-running. In his first and only 100-mile run, the prestigious Leadville Trail 100 in 2008, he placed second in 18 hrs 17 min. His PR for the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, which is 42 miles long and features 21,420 feet of elevation gain & loss, is 8 hrs 2 min.
While his trips and PR’s are quantitatively noteworthy, Skurka finds much more motivation in the qualitative experience. It’s not about covering miles, being the first, or conquering Nature — rather, for Skurka it’s about stepping outside his comfort zone, and learning about himself and the lands through which he travels. At times the experiences are uncomfortable, stressful, and even frightening—but the resulting personal growth is ultimately worthwhile.
Media Highlights & Accolades
National Geographic, March 2011. Circling Alaska in 176 Days.
Outside, April 2011. Adventurers of the Year.
National Geographic Adventure, December 2007. Adventurer of the Year.
Backpacker, August 2005. Person of the Year.
Men’s Journal, December 2005. Adventurer Hall of Fame.
Interview with Skurka, from National Geographic