The pursuit of outdoor activity hit fever pitch during COVID, with even the most devout urbanites seeking out mountain towns and mossy paths. Where else could people feel safe, isolated, free? Little did these indoor cats know: They would get hooked on all that fresh air and want to stretch their legs beyond their hometowns. But how do you turn a love of, say, flaneuring into more serious hiking in a different state? Or go from bouldering to rock climbing? It’s simple: Get a guide.
So say the founders of 57Hours, an outdoor adventure platform that connects travelers with certified guides around the world who can lead you into the wild, be it a one-on-one backcountry skiing session in the Tetons or a small-group, all-women climbing camp in Moab. “We love to learn from people with more experience and we learned that the hard way,” say Perica Levatic and Viktor Marohnic, the Croatian cofounders who walk the walk, leading epic climbs on their annual company retreats and ascending Grand Teton mountains with their kids at their side. “Great mentors and guides keep us safe, teach us everything from ethics to skills, but also help us achieve our goals sooner.”
The company goals started simply: Three years ago, Levatic and Marohnic wanted to create a mobile app to connect people to trained outdoor adventure professionals. “Hiring a guide can be a problem,” says Levatic in a recent Zoom call, noting that you could send a dozen emails over weeks (true story!) just to coordinate a date that works for the guide and group. “We just want to bring people closer to outdoor adventure.” The app launched and hundreds of guides signed up, abiding by the rules that they all carry proper permitting and be certified by organizations such as the American Mountain Guides Association and the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides.
57Hours has since grown from a booking platform to a content site, with offices in Croatia and New York (staffed predominantly by women). As a COVID pivot, 57Hours started offering free webinars hosted by guides in 2020 that drew anywhere from 200 to 600 attendees. “We want to offer in-depth adventure reviews by guides,” says Levatic, “authentic content written by people in the field.” Interested in discovering the “(Truly) Hidden Trails of the Icelandic Highlands” or meeting like-minded “Women Who Send” to learn about weekend climbing camps for women? Just check back on 57hours.com.
Don’t miss Sardinia: A Journey to the Best Climbing By the Sea, a free hour-long webinar on sailing and rock climbing in Italy (co-presented by AFAR), on August 5. Registration is open!
Why 57 hours, by the way? What can you accomplish in that time? As their story goes: “There are 57 hours from 3 p.m., Friday, to midnight, Sunday. For years, we maximized those hours, skipping out on work on Friday, packing the car with gear, driving off to climb, hike, ski, run, or sail, and returning late Sunday, tired, happy, and fully recharged. Just like you, our lives got busy with work and families, but we still wanted to chase adventure. We started asking ourselves: How do we get the most out of our weekends?”
Perhaps with some beginner kiteboarding lessons on Long Island. Or a guided hike in Big Sur. And as the world slowly, cautiously begins to reopen, perhaps it will be a farther-flung adventure to the Faroe Islands or Patagonia. Being outside isn’t just a trend—it’s a lifestyle.
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