You think John Muir’s thinking new ways to describe Sierra light? No, he’s thinking how awesome his beard is.
Beards: So hot right now, but so classic. Let’s face it, when mustaches finish out their tenure as the cool/ironic/maybe-not-so-ironic thing to wear on your face, beards will live on in the wilderness. Here are some of our favorites throughout beard history.
Mountaineering: Reinhold Messner Famous for: First ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen; first ascent of all 14 8,000-meter peaks, arguably greatest all-around climber in history. Honorable Mention: Sir Chris Bonington
Climbing: Royal Robbins Famous for: Pioneering big-wall climbing in Yosemite in the 1950s and 1960s; first ascent of the Direct NW Face of Half Dome, Salathe Wall, The Prow on Washington Column. Honorable Mention: Jim Bridwell’s mustache (not a beard)
Outdoor writing: Ernest Hemingway Famous for: “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games,” skiing, fishing, Old Man and the Sea, Snows of Kilimanjaro. Honorable Mention: John Krakauer
Hiking: Colin Fletcher Famous for: Writing The Complete Walker; called “the godfather of backpacking,” often credited with starting the backpacking industry; walked the length of Grand Canyon National Park in 1963. Honorable Mention: Gandalf
Surfing: Keith Malloy Famous for: Appearing in 1 gazillion surf magazine and surf films; 180 South; ditching competition surfing to free surf and big wave riding. Honorable Mention: Dan Malloy, Chris Del Moro
Paddling: John Wesley Powell Famous for: Leading the expedition team on the first descent of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in a wooden boat in 1869; having Lake Powell named after him.
Bicycling: Sheldon Brown Famous for:www.sheldonbrown.com; encyclopedic knowledge of every component in the history of bicycles and mastery of how to maintain and repair those components. Honorable Mention:The WizardPhotography: Ansel Adams Famous for: Most of the incredible black-and-white landscape photographs of the American West you’ve ever seen and said “Wow, I need to go wherever that is”; also the 230,000-acre wilderness in California that bears his name. Honorable mention: Vittorio Sella
General Outdoors: John Muir Famous For: Activism, founding of Sierra Club, having the John Muir Trail named after him; exaltation of wilderness in his voluminous body of writing. Honorable Mention: Red Green
Exploration: Marco Polo Famous for: Traveling throughout Asia; introducing Europeans to central Asia through his writing; inspiring Christopher Columbus; contemporary game played by children in swimming pools Honorable Mention: Francisco Pizarro
Piracy: Edward “Blackbeard” Teach Famous for: 17th- and 18th-century plundering in Europe and the eastern United States; fearsome appearance once described as “such a figure that imagination cannot form an idea of a fury from hell to look more frightful”; black beard Runner-Up: Hayreddin “Redbeard” Barbarossa
Goating: Mountain Goat Famous for: Climbing skills on steep rock and ice at high altitude; penchant for salt in human urine Honorable Mention: Regular Goat
Space exploration: Chewbacca Famous for: Ballsy co-command (along with Han Solo) of spaceship Millennium Falcon; stoic, almost non-communicative presence; heroic transformation from smuggler to upstanding member of Rebel Alliance Honorable Mention: William Riker, Star Trek: The Next Generation