A guide for most of his adult life, Utah-based kayaker Willie Kern has been all over the map. From the heights of the Himalayas to the heart of American whitewater, he has paddled first descents of some of the world’s most challenging rivers. His legendary expedition to run the Upper Gorges of Tibet’s Tsangpo River was covered by Peter Heller in the June 2004 issue of Outside magazine. Kern is also increasingly known as a voice for environmental conservation, advocacy, and philanthropy. He is currently working with First Descents to offer outdoor adventure therapy for young cancer survivors. We spoke to him in the run-up to Outside in Aspen.