Venture capitalist tests himself with outdoor adventures
September 01, 2008 2:01 AM

by Lee Graves


Taking a helicopter to remote mountaintops, skiing down virgin slopes perilously close to jagged outcroppings, gulping down a big adrenalin cocktail of fear and fun — they’re all in a day’s work for Dendy Young.

Well, not exactly. His McLean office isn’t quite so rugged, but the juices that fuel his success as a CEO are the same ones that propel him to the extremes of outdoor adventure. “You need to get out and test yourself,” Young says. “And you’re either testing yourself by climbing or hiking or skiing or sailing, or you’re fighting the next battle trying to sell your concept to a customer.”

At present, Young’s concept takes shape as McLean Capital LLC. He founded the private venture capital firm and serves as its managing partner. The business focuses on aiding spin-outs and “special situations”— firms emerging from bankruptcy, needing capital or otherwise in critical need. Before starting McLean Capital, Young was president and CEO of GTSI Corp., a high-tech government services provider.

His outdoor ventures aren’t always hair-raising challenges. Skiing trips to non-daredevil locations have been a family staple, and he and his wife, Andrea, sail and hike together. Sailing took them to Tahiti in September, hiking to Bhutan in March.

The Himalayan country, a neighbor to India and China, was holding its first general election in a transition away from an absolute monarchy. “It was a historic moment,” Young says.

The hiking, though beautiful and pleasant, wasn’t nearly as exciting. The Youngs were in a group of about 20 people who traversed elevations ranging from 4,000 to 12,000 feet, in a country of peaks twice that height. “It was designed to accommodate the least able among us,” Young says. “I would have liked to be hiking six or seven hours a day and being totally exhausted and dead at the end.”
A native of Zimbabwe, Young came to the U.S. in the mid-1960s and studied computer science at MIT and business at Harvard. Fraternity brothers introduced him to skiing.  “I’d never seen snow until my first winter at the age of 19,” says Young, now 60. “And on my first try I ended up in plaster.”

Knee injuries didn’t daunt him, though. He took lessons the next season, “and I’ve been an avid skier ever since.”

Avid meaning pedal to the metal. Or chopper to the top of a peak in British Columbia. But for all his pursuit of challenges, Young is not Mr. Macho. “If there’s a mountain to be hiked, I’ll hike it, but I’m not going to hang by my fingers from a cliff wall. I leave that to my kids.” 


Getting a grip on the adventure travel industry can be as challenging as skiing through a copse of trees on a steep Canadian slope.
“Much of that is because it’s hard to define adventure travel,” says Tamar Lowell, vice president for marketing and sales with Access Trips in Berkeley, Calif. According to a 2006 report by the Adventure Travel Trade Association, women constitute 52 percent of adventure travelers, South America is the hottest destination and the most active age group is 41- to 60-year-olds. In terms of dollars, industry estimates range as high as $165 billion spent annually on adventure and experiential travel.
Multisporting — combining activities — is a big trend, and companies such as Access Trips, Backroads and Adventure Women Inc. offer varied mixes in exotic locations. One Backroads package, for example, combines biking, hiking, sailing and kayaking in Vietnam.
Access Trips’ most popular sport at the moment is surfing, with Mexico, El Salvador and Morocco being top destinations. A seven-day surfing outing to El Salvador runs from $1,695 to $1,775, depending on the season. At the other end of the spectrum, consider a skiing/snowboarding trip to Japan that includes sightings of snow monkeys and relaxing in hot springs — price TBA.


September: Basic rock climbing in Northern Virginia. Various weekends, including some women’s-only dates.
Adventure Travel Trade Association: Established in 1990, the Seattle-based association has members around the world and serves as a central location for linking with adventure travel providers.

Access Adventure Travel: Based in Berkeley, Calif., Access specializes in providing instruction for people who want to try new sports or improve their skills.

Reader Comments

Really Adventures it will,A seven-day surfing outing to El Salvador runs from $1,695 to $1,775, depending on the season. At the other end of the spectrum, consider a skiing/snowboarding trip to Japan that includes sightings of snow monkeys and relaxing in hot springs.i love to join.

Sportswear of New York
Nov. 3, 2008 at 08:41 AM

Excellent post.Very interesting to read.Thanks!

narrowboat holidays
Nov. 17, 2008 at 08:31 AM

Very interesting post, I really enjoyed reading it. Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

Computer Security of United States
Jan. 2, 2009 at 07:22 PM

I appreciate professional challenges and risk taking as much as the next guy, but when it comes to the outdoors, I’ll stick to the bunny hill, thanks.

Seattle personal injury lawyer
Jan. 16, 2009 at 08:19 PM

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