Top ‘Durable Person’ Chosen (Wins Trip With GearJunkie Crew!)

Our “Durable Person” project with CORDURA® Brand asked readers to submit a photo of an individual “doing something durable” (read: wild, tough, crazy, admirable, or extreme). We received hundreds of submissions and highlighted the top images in two posts last month.

After sorting through the entries and vetting photos our judge panel made the tough decision to pick the four individuals below.

Grand Prize: One entry floated to the top. Christian Franken of St. Paul submitted the durable selfie (above), taken on New Years Day, in below-zero air after a 20K ski near Lake Superior. “It was a perfect still winter morning,” he said. “I was skiing and looking for fox tracks in the new snow.”

He was also pushing himself, training and honing his classic skiing skills for the races on his circuit each season. His ice beard and undeniably “durable” demeanor in the photo are a common look after a hard session.

Wisconsin winter woods, below-zero day (above), and Franken pounding out some Ks

Franken, a native of Belgium who moved to the U.S. 25 years ago, has a background in mountaineering. He has climbed major peaks like Mount Blanc, Kilimanjaro, and Mount Kenya.

Now 52, and with two sons, he focuses in XC skiing, canoeing, orienteering, and other endurance sports. “I love to go out and explore anywhere,” he said.

Franken picked the Bend, Ore., destination for his GearJunkie trip. He hopes to climb peaks and will hang out with our staff in Bend for a full weekend of adventure in April. He’s going to bring one of his sons with, ages 17 and 20. “They are going to have to do a little competition to see who can come!”

The grand prize winner (Franken) gets to choose from one of three GearJunkie destination on the map above. The three runner-ups win gear, including a GoPro HERO3 Silver Edition camera, a Suunto Core All Black Watch, and a Granite Gear Blaze AC 60.

First runner-up; Photo by Chris Lang
Winter ascent, Mount Marcy, NY (high point in state)

Lang told us about his experience on this climb: The image was taken on the summit of Mt. Marcy on January 4th. It’s at 5,344 feet, and it was a very windy day. We were barely able to stand up not to mention that it was only about 15 degrees F without the windchill. Here I am bracing myself against some rocks to buffet the wind and snap a few pictures.

Second runner-up. Bonnie Moebeck pictured in the Arrowhead 135 race. Photo by: Adrian Danciu

Wrote Moebeck of her experience above, This photo was taken near Lake Vermillion, Minnesota, as I prepared to start the Arrowhead 135 Ultra. The temperatures just a few days before the race were nestled at -25F, quite normal for late January. I was excited to experience the brilliance of attempting to ride 135 miles fully self-supported over tough, yet breathtaking terrain. Having been born and raised in California, it took determination to overcome my feelings of apprehension in relation to the cold, even though Minnesota has been my home for over 10 years. I am so glad I did. The adventure delivered everything I hoped for, even in spite of the 10” of snow that blanketed heavily upon us that night.

Third runner-up; Photo by Suzanne Schefcik
Zion National Park, slot canyon descent

Schefcik described the trip and this photo above: Taken in Keyhole Canyon in Zion National Park, the group is just getting into the slot and starting to wade through the frigid late-March runoff. This was the first canyon on my first canyoneering trip. I was nervous, anxious, excited and super stoked, one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. Sand, water and cool temps make canyoneering very challenging for photography. Good gear, very patient friends and a little “durability” is what you need to take good photos in these incredible beautiful canyons.

—Thanks to all who entered, as well as thanks to the CORDURA® Brand for sponsoring the project. Congrats to the winners, four “durable” individuals who deserve a prize!

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.