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Outside magazine named Missoula kayaker Doug Ammons one of its top 10 adventurers since 1900. Ammons’ solo run of British Columbia’s Grand Canyon of the Stikine has never been repeated, the magazine noted. Photo by MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian

Missoula kayaker Doug Ammons has been named by Outside magazine as one of the top 10 adventurers since 1900.

Ammons, an adventure kayaker who put up first ascents of rivers all over the world, is in extremely heady company on the magazine's list, which is topped by polar explorer Roald Amundsen and high-altitude mountaineer Reinhold Messner.

In an e-mail Tuesday, Ammons professed amazement at the honor. He'd previously been notified that he'd made some sort of list Outside was putting together, but thought it would be a list of kayakers. The adventurer list took him by surprise, and Ammons said he was particularly moved by the comparison to Messner.

Here's what the magazine had to say about Ammons, who with his wife Robin has raised five children in Missoula while working as an editor of scientific journals:

WHAT HE DID: In 1990, Ammons snagged the second descent of British Columbia's Grand Canyon of the Stikine, a roiling, 60-mile Class V canyon that's the pinnacle of expedition kayaking. Two years later, he came back to do it solo-a feat that's never been repeated.

LEGACY: What Reinhold Messner (see No. 2) did for alpinism, Ammons did for paddling. The Montanan's solo on the Stikine still stands as the sport's ultimate test of commitment and perseverance. "I tried to do the hardest thing I could conceive of, in the purest style possible," Ammons later wrote.

CLOSING ARGUMENT: Piotr Chmielinski, hero of Joe Kane's "Running the Amazon," shepherded the author down the first full descent of the world's longest river, in 1986, after seven of the 11 expedition members had given up and gone home. But there were still four of them.

Ammons is proud of the Stikine run, but in a story about him that ran in the Missoulian two weeks ago, he tried to put adventure sports in a greater context.

"These sports like climbing and kayaking, they have this patina of greatness about them because, frankly, most people can't do them at the highest levels," he said. "But they are no greater than what others have done. They don't cure cancer. They don't feed hungry people. They don't provide clean water."

That's true, but Outside recognized something else in Ammons' body of work on the water - commitment and perseverance.

Here is the magazine's full list:

10. Loic Jean-Albert

9. Robyn Davidson

8. Greg Noll

7. Doug Ammons

6. Yvon Chouinard

5. Lynn Hill

4. Thor Heyerdahl

3. Beryl Markham

2. Reinhold Messner

1. Roald Amundsen

Reporter Michael Moore can be reached at 523-5252 or by e-mail at mmoore@missoulian.com.

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