May 7, 2014 — Yesterday at approximately 11pm EDT, inReach athlete Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters reached the geographic North Pole, completing their unsupported and unaided Last North expedition in just 53 days. In doing so, they were the only team attempting a “land to Pole” crossing to reach the North Pole this season, and the only team since 2010 to accomplish this feat. They are only the second American team in history to complete the crossing, following John Huston and Tyler Fish’s 55-day journey in 2009.
Larsen, an accomplished polar adventurer who in 2010 was the first person in history to successfully complete expeditions to the South Pole, North Pole and the summit of Mount Everest in a continuous 365-day period, described it as “one of the most difficult expeditions” he has undertaken. Larsen and Waters travelled across the 480-mile stretch of shifting sea ice using skis, snowshoes, and at times, swimming through open water sections.
“You know an expedition is tough when getting stalked by polar bears — who are known to actively seek humans and attack them when hungry — is the least of your worries,” Larsen said. “While we were excited to reach the pole, it is disheartening to think that this may be the last time that this style of expedition is possible, due to changing ice conditions and a shrinking logistics window.”
The duo did not receive any outside assistance or supplies during their 53-day journey, hauling all of their food and equipment in lightweight Kevlar sleds — which weighed 325 pounds at the start — that were ‘rafted’ together for larger open water crossings. On one occasion, Larsen and Waters were followed by two polar bears that came within 15 feet of their sleds. The team also dealt with unusually thin ice, soft slush-like snow, severe windstorms, pressure ridges, and moving ice that pushed them backwards.