Andrew Skurka is an accomplished athlete, guide, and writer. The 37-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. Including other shorter trips, in total he has backpacked 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 and guides about 15 trips per year under his company.
Skurka has been named “Adventurer of the Year” by both Outside and National Geographic, 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.”
Skurka was born and raised in Seekonk, Mass., and now resides in Boulder, Colo., with his wife Amanda and feline fur child Oden. He enrolled in Duke University 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.
Most recently, Skurka has developed multiple backpacking high routes, including the Kings Canyon High Basin Route, Wind River High Route, and Pfiffner Traverse. And he has been running competitively. His marathon personal-best is 2:28:24, and he placed 73rd at the 2017 Boston Marathon. He has placed Top 3 at the Leadville 100, Run Rabbit Run 100, Bighorn 100, and Vulcano Ultra Trail 100K; and he has made a double-crossing of the Grand Canyon (from the South Rim to North Rim, and back again) in 8 hours 2 minutes.
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.