The Adrenalist

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Best Modern Daredevils



Last month we introduced you to the best daredevils of all time: men whose blood-pumping feats have inspired much of what we consider high-powered adventure today. Who, however, are the  21st century individuals following in their footsteps?

Meet some of the best modern daredevils. Contemporary Houdini’s who defy obstacles like gravity, oxygen starvation and snake venom, just to name just a few.

Bear Grylls

Perhaps nobody epitomizes the term “daredevil” more than British survivalist Bear Grylls. When it comes to adventure, this famed Adrenalist has done practically everything. His exploits include leading the first team to circumnavigate Britain on a personal watercraft or jetski, paramotoring (motor-powered paragliding) over Angel Falls and the Himalayas, crossing the North Atlantic Arctic Ocean and the Northwest Passage on a rigid-inflatable boat and paragliding over Mount Everest. Another notable accomplishment was climbing Everest and entering The Guinness Book of World Records as one of the giant’s youngest ever summiteers. He was 23.

Furthermore, the 90-day ascent subjected Grylls to explosive weather, limited sleep and oxygen starvation deep inside the “death zone” (above 26,000 feet). Coming down from his first reconnaissance climb, he almost died in a crevasse at 19,000 feet. The ice split, the ground caved beneath him and he was knocked out. He dangled on the end of his rope for a bit before coming to and carrying on.

Nik Wallenda

Holding six Guiness World Records for remarkable acrobatic achievements, this Florida-born high-wire artist’s best work can be seen in our Nik Wallenda’s Best Stunts feature. Wallenda describes himself as “King of the Wire.” On June 15, 2012, Wallenda became the first person to walk a tightrope strung across Niagara Falls. For the walk, which was aired around the globe, he had to wear a safety harness for the first time in his daredevil career. Wallenda’s next endeavor, scheduled for August 9, is to walk 450 meters some 30 metres above an Atlantic City, New Jersey beach in under 30 minutes. This time, without the harness.

The daredevil comes from a high-flying family of circus performers who have wowed spectators around the world with their acrobatics. At least three have perished in the process, making Wallenda’s bravery even more epic.

Donald Schultz

Almost everyone is at least a little bit scared of snakes. South African extreme adventurer Donald Schultz, on the other hand, routinely tracks down and handles some of the world’s most venomous snakes. In an indicator of his zest for excellence and risk, Schultz was certified the youngest Class II commercial diver in Africa. Now, on the Discovery Channel series Wild Recon, Schultz wanders the planet gathering venom and rare animal DNA crucial to research. One day, his work may save myriad lives. His exploits range from harvesting Mozambique black mamba venom to felling a 600-pound lion for a blood sample in South Africa.

If you need proof Schultz likes to live a little, check out the video above showcasing his 10-day stint living in glass box with 100 snakes.

Jeb Corliss

Professional BASE jumper and skydiver and New Mexico native Jeb Corliss has won fame through gravity-busting jumps from global landmarks including the Eiffel Tower, the Seattle Space Needle and Malaysia’s Petronas Twin Towers.  The unrepentant showman is always trying to up the ante. On September 25, 2011 he jumped from a helicopter at 6,000 feet and soared through a 100-ft wide archway in Tianmen Mountain, located in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China. He landed with a parachute on a bridge. Though he badly injured himself while proximity flying off Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa in January 2012, he has bounced back and plans to return to life as “usual.”

Kenton Cool

British mountaineer Kenton Cool has climbed Everest not once, not twice, but 10 times. Just to rub it in, in May 2007 Cool summitted the Rooftop of the World twice in one week. He is so ice-cool about climbing the world’s most daunting mountain that on May 6, last year, he Tweeted from it.

Cool first got curious about mountaineering at Scouts where he read about the first attack on Mount Everest in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. At university, he developed a fixation with rock climbing. In 1996, he toppled off a rock face, smashing both heel bones. He recovered, however, and in 2006, became the first Brit to do a ski descent of an 8,000 meter peak, the world’s sixth highest mountain, Nepal’s Cho Oyu. In March 2007, he led polar explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes on a triumphant attempt on the Eiger’s north face. Cool now works as a guide and expedition leader in the Alps and Greater Ranges of the Himalaya.

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