Mike Libecki is not typical in any way. The veteran adventurer has a goal to do 100 expeditions by his 100th birthday—and, at 41 years old, he is more than halfway there. This is a guy who truly loves to suffer—the colder, harder, longer, more remote, less known, and more challenging the better. He recently went climbing in Siberia … in winter! Libecki was named an Adventurer of the Year and an Expeditions Council grantee for a recent expedition to climb in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica, that was featured in National Geographic magazine.
The Salt Lake City-based explorer is also a very devoted dad to his 10-year-old daughter Lilliana. When in the field, he records video messages for Lilliana and checks in with her—by satellite phone—at school. Now Mike and Lilliana are training for her first expedition sailing and skiing the Antarctic Peninsula this fall.
Adventure: What if Lilliana Libecki follows in her dad’s footsteps and wants to be an explorer?
Mike Libecki: I would be supportive and proud of her no matter what she does, my goal is to show her and teach her that she can live her dreams, no matter what they are, that 100 percent you can make anything happen.
A: What does she want to be when she grows up right now?
ML: I just asked her: A musician (banjo and piano, she plays both), work with animals/sanctuary/veterinarian, soccer player.
A: She is only ten now, but would you let her push the extreme side of adventure, like you do, if she wanted to?
ML: Absolutely, if that is her true passion, I will be there for her as her rock, her dad, her supporter, and maybe belayer! Haha!
That being said, she chooses the things she loves, and we could not be more proud. She will have my support in every way.
A: When you are out far, far away, cold, alone, and suffering, do you ever want to give up the exploring and just focus on the fathering? Be a full time dad and animal caregiver?
ML: No, not quite yet. I have many expeditions to do on my goal of 100 expeditions by 100 years old. I have a feeling a lot of these will be with my daughter.
I also hope I can continue to show and teach my daughter the value of pursuing passion and living our dreams, she inspires me to inspire her…
A: What’s your favorite duty of being a dad?
ML: Every single part. Just being her father brings me infinite joy. Though, some highlights are skiing together, hearing her play music, seeing her achieve goals and how proud she becomes of herself—whether learning a new song, or skiing more difficult terrain, or acing a math test, or crushing at soccer. My proudest moments are seeing her push the edges of her potential and seeing her proud of herself for giving everything she has.
A: Thirty days of skiing in Antarctica is a long time. How did Lillianna explain it to her teachers? She is the luckiest kid in the school!
ML: We will be skiing about 2.5 weeks. Her teachers know me pretty well; I know the school staff and teachers well from volunteering there and also calling there on my satellite phone to talk to her when on expeditions. Also, I send her flowers and notes EVERY week when on expeditions, they are delivered to her class, so they all about my lifestyle. Her school is very supportive about her going to Antarctica. Last year she took time off school to ski in France and help me with presentations in Russia and Poland.
A: Where will you be skiing and what makes this part of Antarctica ideal?
ML: We will be with other skiers, but it will just be Lilliana and me and a couple others
as a team to make it safe. We will be in very safe areas of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The skiing on the Antarctica Peninsula is amazing! Last time I was there it was sweet powder skiing!