"Google Earth reveals nothing," says Libecki. "All it confirms is that you have to go explore it yourself." And explore he has: Since the 1990s, Libecki has notched more than 200 first ascents in places like Afghanistan, Borneo, and Greenland on an unwavering quest for what he calls "virgin Earth" — places on the planet no man has touched.
What's more, the 44-year-old often goes solo: It's a far riskier proposition when even a broken ankle can be fatal. "Once he decides to go somewhere, he's going whether anyone else is coming or not," says one of Libecki's few partners, climber Ethan Pringle. "Mike is never chasing the highest or hardest — it's always the most remote." In the jungles of the Marquesas Islands, he used ice crampons, which gripped a moss-covered wall better than anything else, to reach a 3,200-foot tower. On a recent trip to Greenland, he found himself standup paddle-boarding alongside a polar bear. And he films or otherwise documents it all. "This life of adventure is a selfish and personal pursuit," he says, "so sharing the magic and beauty is my passion." True to his words, Libecki says his most important expedition is the one he took with his 11-year-old daughter to Antarctica in 2014. Perhaps not surprisingly, she is the youngest person ever to have ski-toured that continent and explored all seven.