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Everest to the Indian Ocean: Duo Named Adventurers of The Year

Screeshot of the Everest webcam. (Image credit: Ev-K2-CNR.)

A mountain climbing, paragliding, kayaking duo has won National Geographic's top prize for daring adventures.

The team became the first in the world to complete the journey from the summit of Mount Everest to the Indian Ocean. The daring duo climbed Mount Everest, paraglided down and then kayaked the rest of the way. For their trek, explorers Sano Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa won the popular vote for National Geographic Adventurers of The Year for 2012.

In April 2011, the pair began their ascent of Everest. Once at the top, on May 21, they became the third party to launch a paraglider from the summit. Their flight set a new world record for free flight at 30,000 feet (8,865 meters).

Once at the base of the mountain, the duo then kayaked the Kosi River's Class V rapids. The trip almost turned tragic as Babu got caught in a massive whirlpool in their two-man kayak, while Lakpa floated down river. But they eventually made it to the Ganges — only to be robbed at knifepoint and forced to live off fruit trees to survive.

But they survived, and on June 27, they became the first people to complete the descent from Everest's summit to the Indian Ocean — 538 miles (850 kilometers) — when they arrived at the Bay of Bengal.

Other adventurers of the year honorees include hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis, who was honored for hiking the Appalachian Trail in record- breaking speed. She completed the 2,181 miles (3,510 km) in 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes — 26 hours faster than the previous record.

Kayakers Jon Turk and Erik Boomer completed what was considered the last great unattempted polar expedition — a 1,485-mile (2,389-km) circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island, the world's tenth largest.

You can follow OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel on Twitter: @btisrael. Follow OurAmazingPlanet for the latest in Earth science and exploration news on Twitter @OAPlanet and on Facebook.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.