Colin and Julie Angus
Credit: Angus Adventures
According to Colin Angus, the peak years of modern adventure took place in the 1970s and 1980s, when plum prizes were still waiting to be plucked, such as the first ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen or a solo ski traverse to the South Pole. But though Angus claims this is the sunset age of true adventure, you’d never know it from his own adventurous resumé.

The 40-year-old has set a torrid pace since first being inspired as a boy by the book Dove, which recounts the travels of a young Californian sailing the globe solo. In 1992, at the age of 20, Angus set out with a friend to do some sailing himself, and he ended up travelling 20,000 kilometres over the next five years, three of them solo. Then in 1999, Angus and two others faced months of sweltering subtropical heat while paddling the mighty 6,600-kilometre Amazon River. And in 2001, he and three teammates successfully completed the first-ever descent of the 5,500-kilometre Yenisey River, the world’s fifth longest. During that expedition, Angus became separated from his companions for 12 days in the wilds of Mongolia.

But it was in 2004 that Angus launched his most audacious adventure—to circumnavigate the globe using only human power. The expedition took nearly two years, during which Angus covered 43,000 kilometres. The toughest part was undoubtedly the five-month row across the Atlantic, which he completed with his then fiancée and now wife, Julie.

Since that trip, Colin and 37-year-old Julie have become an adventure team, and though the hard-core physical grind still inspires the couple, so too does intellectual curiosity. In 2008, they rowed and cycled 7,000 kilometres on a personal pilgrimage from Scotland (Colin’s ancestral homeland) to Syria (where Julie’s father was born). Then last fall, with their 15-month-old toddler Leif in tow, the couple sailed from Spain to Palestine, tracing the ancient routes and traditions of the olive oil trade.

Also last year, before heading off for the Mediterranean, Colin managed to sneak in one other adventure: He rowed solo around Vancouver Island in only 15 and a half days. It was, of course, a new record.

This profile is part of our top adventurers feature, The Elite, from our Spring 2012 issue.