Aspen’s centennial skiers honored among Adventurers of the Year |

Aspen’s centennial skiers honored among Adventurers of the Year

Christy Mahon (left) and Chris Davenport climb to the summit of Jagged Mountain while completing the last of the Centennial Peaks in May.
Ted Mahon/Courtesy photo |

Aspen’s Centennial Skiers are among the 10 individuals or groups honored as the National Geographic Adventurers of the Year 2016.

Ski mountaineers Chris Davenport and Ted and Christy Mahon are in the running for a National Geographic People’s Choice award that will be determined through online voting that runs through Jan. 31.

“It’s an honor just to be nominated,” Ted Mahon said. “It’s kind of elite company, for sure.”

The Mahons, who are husband and wife, and Davenport earned their lofty status by climbing up and skiing down the 100 highest peaks in Colorado. They accomplished their feat May 27 when they tackled Jagged Mountain, an appropriately named peak in the San Juan Range. They considered Jagged Mountain to be one of the toughest among the 100.

The trio climbed and skied 53 peaks higher than 14,000 feet in elevation and the 47 tallest peaks above 13,000 feet. (The official roster of the Centennial Peaks identifies a different number of 14ers than other climbing forums.)

Davenport, a professional freeskier, became the second person to climb and ski all the 14ers and the first to do so in less than a year, in 2007. Ted became the third person to ski all the big peaks, in 2008. Christy was the first woman to do so, in 2010. In April 2013, they started their effort to climb and ski the highest of the 13,000-foot peaks.

National Geographic Adventure did an interesting profile and interview with the Aspen ski mountaineers as well as the other parties who are honorees as Adventurers of the Year 2016.

It’s an impressive list that includes climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, who garnered international attention when they completed the first free climb of Yosemite’s Dawn Wall in January.

The interesting quality of the Adventurers of the Year list is the honorees aren’t just risk-takers, pro athletes and people undertaking commercial endeavors, Christy said. “I like that they highlighted a bunch of different people,” she said.

The recognition has made her reflect on the meaning of “adventure” and the people who seek it. She said she doesn’t have a lot in common with some of the honorees, except they strive for adventure. Some found it in international expeditions. Others, like the Mahons and Davenport, found it in their backyard, she noted.

“It could definitely get people looking into what they can do in their own backyard,” Christy said.

Adventurers Arthur Middleton and Joe Riis were selected as Wilderness Heroes for combining science and imagery to bring attention to the needs of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Steve Boyes was picked as a Wilderness Protector for his efforts to preserve the wildest place in Africa.

The Afghan women’s cycling team is profiled as Boundary Breakers.

The adventurers in the spotlight also include exploratory kayakers, a long-distance kayaker, a mountaineer, a trail runner and solar pilots.

“On the one hand, it’s flattering (to be selected), and on the other hand, it’s intimidating,” Ted said.

With the passage of time since they completed the Centennial Peaks, Ted said he was beginning to forget how difficult it was, so the recognition and reflection is good.

They had to do meticulous planning to figure out the best way up the peaks. There wasn’t any information, in many cases, about winter routes up or down. They had to camp in frigid conditions, get up early to hike or skin on skis through deep snow and, in some cases, rappel up rock bands to the summit of the peaks.

“None of this came easy,” Ted Mahon said.

Christy said the National Geographic Adventure profile didn’t touch on one part of their experience that she enjoyed the most. When skiing some of the 13ers together, the Mahons and Davenport traveled around in an RV, met the locals in small mountain towns and learned more than they otherwise would have about the people and places of Colorado.

They outlined their experience on their website,

The Aspen ski mountaineers were told in September they were under consideration as Adventurers of the Year. They were urged to submit photographs and video to help tell their story.

National Geographic Adventure released the list of the 10 adventurers Friday. The Mahons and Davenport have let their friends know about the People’s Choice voting. This is the 11th year the magazine has selected Adventurers of the Year.

Ted said the selection of the People’s Choice is a crap shoot because people can vote as often as they want, using different devices. That’s why his expectations are limited, and he’s considering it such an honor just to be in the running.

The Adventurers of the Year feature and a link for the voting can be found online at

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