Will Gadd will be one of the highlights of the Golden Mountain Festival this year.

Will Gadd presenting at mountain fest May 16

National Geographic's Adventurer of the Year will highlight the Golden Mountain Festival.

For Will Gadd, a life of adventure came naturally, and from an early age.

“I’ve pretty much been a mountain guy since before I could walk,” he said.

Growing up in both Calgary and Jasper, Gadd and his family would make frequent trips through the rocky mountains, which fostered his love of adventure. His love of sport was apparent too, playing nearly everything in his youth and getting into kayaking at the age of 14.

“Jasper was a really good paddling town so I was able to paddle with people a lot,” he recalled.

Gadd got into climbing in high school and he soon realized that he wanted to have a job that involved sports and the outdoors.

That led him towards journalism. After earning his degree he wrote for and published a pair of magazines out of Golden, Colorado titled Gravity and Rocky Mountain Sports and Fitness.

“I struggled between careers, trying to be a writer, magazine publisher and to do all these sports and eventually sports just won,” Gadd said.

And his sports resume is rather impressive. Gadd has won the Canadian National Sport-Climbing Championships four times, set the world distance record for paragliding twice, and won the US and Canadian Paragliding Nationals.

His adventures have led him to host the documentary series Fearless Planet and immediately after being interviewed for this story, Gadd was to board a flight to L.A. to discuss a new series about climate change.

“(It’s) about places in the world that are changing radically and documenting that before they are gone so I’m working on that pretty hard right now…that’s what’s taking up most of my time,” Gadd said.

Gadd also plans to do some work in Greenland this fall.

“We’re going to do some work on the ice cap and getting farther down below the Greenland ice cap than anybody’s ever gotten,” he said.

The trip will involve research into the growing melt water lakes that have begun to form on the ice cap.

“You’re getting kilometre sized lakes up there in the summer…nobody’s really sure what that water is doing to the ice caps and I’m going to work with a glaciologist and hopefully answer some of his questions using my skills,” he said.

His latest, and perhaps one of his most noteworthy accomplishments, was becoming the first climber to ascend a wall of spray ice at the edge of Niagara Falls.

The climb came after Gadd was named National Geographic’s adventurer of the year for 2015.

Despite all of those incredible experiences, he doesn’t appear to be desensitized to the next adventure. Instead, Gadd recognizes how lucky he is to be able to dedicate his life to exploration.

“I like doing this stuff or I wouldn’t do it,” Gadd laughed.

“This is pretty much the coolest thing I could think of doing. I’m lucky in that I get to wake up most days and think ‘okay, what’s the coolest thing I could do’ and go do it,” he added.

Golden offers a lot of his favourite activities and Gadd has spent considerable time in the area skiing, paragliding and kayaking.

Locals will get a chance to hear first hand about Gadd’s various accomplishments and adventures when he delivers a presentation on May 16 as part of the Golden Mountain Festival.

Tickets for the Civic Centre show are on sale at the Art Gallery of Golden.