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10 Most Insane Hispanic Explorers


Sanctum– the 3D film produced by James Cameron (you know, that guy who did Avatar)– opens this Friday. The movie (watch the trailer!) is an action-thriller about a group of explorers who get trapped inside underwater caves after a storm collapses the entrance. In honor of the film’s premiere, we’ve compiled this list of ten insane Hispanic adventurers who have accomplished tasks too insane for us to even attempt. Remember, kids, don’t try this at home. Unless, of course, you want to die. If that’s the case, go right ahead.

Amyr Klink

The Brazilian born sailor and explorer Amyr Klink is a God amongst sea men. In 1998, he traveled around Antartica in just 79 days. “Whatevs. That’s child play,” you say? Maybe you’ll be impressed by the fact that he crossed the Atlantic (from Africa to Brazil) in a 100 days by rowing a small boat using nothing but his hands? Still nothing? How about the fact that he sailed from Antartica to the Arctic Pole back in 1989–a trip that took him 642 days– and wrote a book about it called Between Two Poles? That do anything for ya? Thought so.

Jordan Romero

When we were 13-year-old, we were preoccupied with girls, riding our bikes, and comics. What was Jordan Romero doing at that age? Climbing Mount Everest, that’s what. On May 22, 2010, Romero– whose paternal grandfather immigrated to the United States from Mexico– became the youngest person to ever climb Everest. His next goal is to climb Antartica’s Mt. Vinson Massif. Way to make us feel like unaccomplished idiots, kid.

Candido Rondon

Brazilian Candido Rondon was an explorer through and through. In the early 1900s, Rondon discovered several rivers, including the Juruena and the River of Doubt. He also made contact with the Nambikwara tribe, which is impressive, because up until that point, they had killed every single Westerner they encountered. Clearly, the Nambikwara were in awe of the sheer awesomeness emanating from him. Best of all, however, was Rondon’s 1914 expedition with Teddy Roosevelt– the epitome of American badassery– to explore the River of Doubt, which was eventually renamed Rio Roosevelt.

Juan Oiarzabal

Make no mistake about it. Juan Oiarzabal is a badass. Not content with being the sixth person to join the eight-thousander club, he became the first person to climb the three highest peaks (Everest, K2, and Kangchenjunga) twice, losing all of his toes in the process of summiting  K2.That’s okay though. When you’re that beastly awesome, you don’t need no stinking toes. He’s not done being insanely awesome, either. Despite being 54, Juanito is working on climbing those fourteen mountains again. Why? Because eff it, why not?

Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez

In 1980, Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez (pictured left) became the first Cuban to be launched into space. He was also the first non-American westerner, first Hispanic, and first black person to be in orbit. With so many “firsts,” it’s safe to say that is a bit of an overachiever. We are impressed, however, that Tamayo Mendez was able to get a ’57 Chevy into orbit.

Antonio Delgado

As one of the most experienced mountaineers in South America, Jose Antonio “El Indio” Delgado climbed the five highest peaks in the world. He was also a record-setting paragliding, becoming the first person to jump from Pico Humboldt, Pico Bolivar, and Roraima. Unfortunately for our insane explorer, Delgado died trying to descend from Nanga Parbat mountain in Pakistan, where he was found 120 feet away from his tent. Ouch.

Eugenio de Bellard Pietri

Scientist, cave explorer, Communist ploy spoiler. The Venezuelan speleologist was all these things. Some notable highlights include discovering that Venezuela’s Cueva del Guacharo– a world monument– was eight kilometers deeper than expected (that’s five miles!), finding never-before-seen plant and wildlife in the Amazon, and cluing in the U.S. government that Cuba was hiding their missiles in caves. We’d all be wearing matching military uniforms and speaking Russian if it weren’t for this guy, so be thankful, you bunch of ingrates!

Ivan Vallejo

Ecuadorian Ivan Vallejo is famous for one thing, and one thing only: climbing to the top of all 14 mountains whose altitude is higher than 8,000 meters. As if that rare task wasn’t enough (only  18 other climbers in history have been able to do that), he did it without any supplemental oxygen. To explain the level of difficulty of such feat, imagine trying to seduce Sofia Vergara looking like you do and missing all your limbs, and then succeeding.

Edurne Pasaban

Just like our previous explorer, Edurne Pasaban– a 37-year-old from Basque Spain– has conquered the fourteen highest peaks in the planet. Oh yeah, and she was the first woman in history to do so. No biggie. This last fact became a huge controversy in the mountain climbing world when a Korean climber by the name of Oh Eun-Sun claimed she had completed the feat before Pasaban. Eun-Sun later admitted that she hadn’t actually reached the summit of Kangchenjunga because of bad weather conditions, making Pasaban the clear winner.

Juan Ponce De Leon

We’re almost hesitant to include a Spanish conquistador on this list (you know, because of that whole killing the Natives and what not), but we’re willing to make an exception for Juan Ponce De Leon. What sets Ponce De Leon apart from the rest of the conquistadores was his crazy search for the Fountain of Youth. Legend has it that De Leon explored the Caribbean in search of the mythical, rejuvenating water but found Florida instead, which is like looking for true love and ending up with herpes.

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