The 25 Most Adventurous Women of the Past 25 Years

Sarah McNair-Landry
Erik Boomer1/25

Sarah McNair-Landry

Sarah McNair-Landry is something of a natural-born adventurer. By age 18 she was part of an expedition that skied unsupported to the South Pole. A year later she traveled by dog sled to the North Pole, making her the youngest person to reach both Poles. She has crossed the Greenland ice sheet five times, dog-sledded across Ellesmere Island, and camel trekked across the Sahara. She and her brother, Eric, were first to kite-ski the Northwest Passage. 

In 2016 McNair-Landry led an expedition with world-class kayakers Erik Boomer and Ben Stookesberry to kite-ski across the Greenland ice sheet, traverse deep ice canyons, and paddle a first descent of a wild Arctic river. Their mission was thrown a curve ball early on when a gust of wind threw her 20 feet in the air, and then dropped her on her head, cracking her helmet and knocking her unconscious. It could have meant the end of the expedition, as McNair-Landry was the only team member with the knowledge to find the route through the crevasses and glaciers to reach their objectives. But she persevered through the pain of what turned out to be a cracked vertebra in her back.

Now 30 years old, McNair-Landry has a long history of dispatching news of her expeditions live online to inspire her own generation to get outside. “I feel so fortunate to gave grown up with a team of dogs and the Arctic Ocean in my backyard, and awesome parents who showed me everything I need to know when it comes to traveling in the Arctic,” McNair-Landry said. “I want to inspire [the next generation of] youth to get outside and get active.”

Noteworthy Feats

  • 2005: At 19 became youngest person to reach both Poles.
  • 2011: First traverse of the Northwest Passage by kite-ski, with her brother, Eric.
  • 2015: Crossed Baffin Island in Inuit sea kayaks.
  • 2016: Led expedition to kite-ski across the Greenland ice sheet and paddle the first descent of a wild Arctic river.