My short bio: In 2014, Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters reached the geographic North Pole, completing their nearly 500 mile unsupported and unaided Last North expedition in just 53 days. In that time, they traveled 480 miles. 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 December 9 from 9-11 p.m. EST, Animal Planet will air a special, Melting: Last Race to the Pole, that will share exclusive footage of Eric and Ryan's expedition, including the climate change they witnessed and their attempts to escape hungry polar bears that tracked them for miles.

Follow my adventures here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EricLarsenExplore Twitter: @ELexplore (https://twitter.com/ELexplore) Instagram: @ELexplore (https://www.instagram.com/elexplore/) Yonder: @ELexplore (yonder.it) YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ericlarsenexplore Snapchat: @ELExplore Web: www.ericlarsenexplore.com

My Proof: http://postimg.org/image/5jwzgrfwz/f9e3002e/

Comments: 246 • Responses: 97  • Date: 

Hieloun41 karma

How was the food?

GraniteGear84 karma

A big part of our journey was simply planning a comprehensive diet that would sustain our caloric needs, be light enough to not weigh us down, be compact enough that we could fit it in our sleds, prepare easily and not totally freeze. For 53 days I ate the following:

Oatmeal Clif Bar - 2 Probar - 2 Shot bloks - 2 Skratch Labs candy - 3 pc. 50 grams cheese 50 grams salami 100 grams chocolate 30 grams nuts 25 grams soup freeze dried dinner (4 servings) And of course... a lot of butter :) -Eric

DogBoneSalesman2 karma

[deleted]

GraniteGear32 karma

Unfortunately, I didn't weigh myself before/after. I think I lost around 8 pounds. Just an estimate. My goal is to not loose weight but bring the right amount of food. -Eric

deltatangothree7 karma

Any 2 out of those 3 will give you the third.

GraniteGear6 karma

See above :)

disignore29 karma

Which were your "man, I'm here" moments?

GraniteGear47 karma

I mean -- when you KNOW you're the only person in an area roughly one and a half times the size of europe - you're like... HOLY AMAZING! Honestly though, the trip was so HARD that those moments are few and far between -- it's an emotional roller coaster and we're physically drained most of the time so the moments are fleeting, but we definitely try to remember them when they happen! -Eric

Jakeable25 karma

What did you miss most about civilization?

GraniteGear41 karma

Chairs -- Seriously! I also just miss hanging out with friends. I think one of the reasons that I am able to do what I do, is that I can live 'without' good food and creature comforts for a long time :) -Eric

orangejulius22 karma

First - that's incredible. Good job.

What was the coldest temperature you experienced and what did that feel like? Did you have to be active or did you just bundle up in a shelter?

Dd you have sled dogs? Did you use a special breed of sled dog and did you train them up for it yourself or did they come as their own 'north pole' team?

This sounds totally morbid, but I was reading Endurance about Shackleton's trip to the South Pole that went absolutely horribly. At one point they at their dogs and it was a huge blow to moral to the point that the calories might not have been worth it. In survival situations like that, what do you do?

GraniteGear29 karma

So... I actually got my start in expeditions as a dog musher (as well as racing) However, dogs have not been used on the Arctic Ocean for an expedition since 2006. There is just too much open water now.

As far as temperature -- probably the coldest it ever got was around 40 below (in 2010, we had -55F at the start near Cape Discovery). On our 2014 expedition, we were traveling unsupported meaning we were carrying all of our supplies -- 320 pounds of food, fuel and gear for nearly two months. We work very hard and at 40 below, surprisingly, I'm more worried about getting too hot versus too cold. Still, as soon as we stop, we cool down very quickly and therefore have to put on a big down jacket to keep warm. -Eric

lomna18 karma

Hi Eric, thanks for doing this AMA. While I was reading your short bio, a few questions popped up in my brain..

  • Does it ever get boring during the fifty-three days of traveling? What do you do to pass the time?

  • How physically fit does one have to be to attempt this kind of trip?

  • Through what medium were you able to communicate with the outside would during your trek? And if you ran into some kind of serious trouble along the way, how long would it take for some outside authority to come "rescue" you (if this is even possible)?

GraniteGear30 karma

Thanks for the questions!

The best hour on an expedition is one that goes by effortlessly. Unfortunately, that rarely happens and we managing 'time' is a constant effort. It's worse in Antarctica however, because there is less to distract you. Still, I listen to music and podcasts at times which helps. I also think about the blog posts that I will write each evening as well as thinking about photo/video ops.

This type of expedition - unsupported and unaided - our sleds weight 320 pounds at the start. You have to be super fit, but you also have to be able to sustain constant effort. Expedition travel is death by 1,000 cuts. Each day we loose a little bit of energy that we never get back.

I have a 2 way satellite communicator, tracking and SOS beacon called a DeLorme inReach. Super awesome device. We also carried a satellite phone. As far as rescue -- we paid a rescue 'fee' ahead of time to cover our extraction (by the company that flew us in and picked us up -- the only one who flys in that location). However, there is no guarantee that the ice is safe to land or weather is good. If we were to trigger our DeLorme inReach the fastest someone could come get us would be two days -- more realistically -- a week. -Eric

GraniteGear15 karma

Thanks everyone for all the questions. Huge thanks to Granite Gear and all my sponsors for the support over the years. Not biased of course :) But if you're looking for a great pack check out http://www.granitegear.com/

Also, please tune into Animal Planet on 12/9 to watch our special 'Melting: Last Race to the Pole' at 9 e/8c.

Watch a trailer here: http://www.tvinsider.com/article/52859/animal-planet-takes-on-climate-change-with-melting-last-race-to-the-pole/

For more information on me, please visit www.ericlarsenexplore.com

Remember, it's cool to be cold. THINK SNOW!

lookingclosely3 karma

what gear did Granite Gear send you with? and what did you think of it?

GraniteGear5 karma

I LOVE GRANITE GEAR... They made our sled harnesses which are modeled off of their back packs. I've used the same one for 10 years. All of our stuff sacks were GG as well as their foam cell containers which we use to put all of our electronics in. For training, I used their Leopard AC pack (filled it with rocks and hiked up mountains in Colorado) Recently, I've been working with GG on a new back pack design - a 75 liter mountaineering pack! -Eric

KingCharles_12 karma

What was the scariest moment of the journey?

GraniteGear25 karma

I feel like nearly every day was scary -- There was always something -- especially when you're outside the range of a timely rescue. Probably the worst moment was when we turned around and two polar bears were stalking us!?!

CaptainDickfingers3 karma

What is your favorite species of Bear?

GraniteGear5 karma

Well, polar bears are pretty amazing!

CaptainDickfingers3 karma

What about Brown bears though?

GraniteGear4 karma

Brown bears are also amazing :) A little grumpier though in my opinion -- I lived in Alaska back in the day and saw a few. Who do you think would win brown bear or polar bear? -Eric

thegreatgazoo12 karma

What is your opinion of the Top Gear North Pole episode?

GraniteGear23 karma

Entertaining... but for starters... they aren't going to the Geographic North Pole, they are trying to reach the magnetic North Pole -- in a very different (safer) location, AND they aren't even going to where the Mag NP is, they go to the 1996 position of the Mag NP so the basic premise of what they are doing is false. I know Matty McNair personally so huge props to what she was able to do with those crazy guys :) -Eric

MaidofOrleans10 karma

Wow, that sounds like an amazing journey! What was the most rewarding part of the experience? What was the most beautiful thing you saw?

GraniteGear16 karma

It is an incredible experience to simply be in that environment - so far removed from the rest of civilization - for nearly two months. There are a lot of rewards - on a basic level, simply getting to the North Pole was a huge success. However, equally important to me is being able to self film our adventure and be able to share our story on Animal Planet (documentary to air 12/9). Overall, the ice is simply amazing - so vast and seemingly pristine. The polar bears were amazing as well; however, it was hard to appreciate them in the moment as they were trying to eat us!?! - Eric

IranianGenius9 karma

What was your favorite thing to do when you returned home? Especially something you might not have appreciated as much before the trek?

GraniteGear10 karma

I think an adventure like this really teaches you what is important in life. For me, my family is a top priority. You realize that every moment is important -- even the low ones where things are necessarily going as you planned. Equally important, however, you realize how little 'stuff' you really need to be comfortable in life!

Ryan and I talked a lot about simple things -- we wanted to have a cook out, relax in chairs and not have to worry about freezing our [email protected]$ off. -Eric

CarlosWeiner8 karma

what did you do for porn?

sorry I had to ask

GraniteGear11 karma

Ha ha - absolutely no mojo on the North Pole expedition -- waaaaaaayyyy tooo tired. -Eric

qwerqwert8 karma

Hi there! I'm a hiker and was wondering what sort of feet issues you ran into along the way. How did you manage your socks and keeping your feet dry, and preventing blisters? What kind of training did you do to prepare yourself? Did you learn any new tricks along the way?

GraniteGear13 karma

Feet issues can become expedition ending injuries! So we have to manage foot care obsessively. Equally hard is that it's so cold that we have to wear several layers as well. I love Wigwam socks -- made in Wisconsin. We also wore vapor barrier liners so moisture wouldn't build up in our boots. In the tent each day we dry our feet out as best we can. Blisters happen and we use moleskin and athletic tape to deal with them. As far as training:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNsWjhFLY4s -Eric

cat_on_tree7 karma

How did you regulate the temperature around your body, i.e. to prevent sweating during high effort and then freezing during breaks? How did you take care of personal hygiene without exposing yourself to freezing temperatures?

GraniteGear17 karma

Not sweating is a HUGE part of what I focus on every moment. At 30 or 40 below, I'm only wearing a 3 layers of Helly Hansen base layer and a shell -- however, as I heat up, I lower my hood, unzipp, etc. As I cool off I do the opposite. You have to be hyper sensitive to everything.

As far as personal hygiene -- not a lot in that department - I use a natural wipe called an 'Action Wipe' to clean my nether regions every week or so and I'm a huge fan of the snow chunk bidet :)

thrakkerzog7 karma

Would you do it again?

GraniteGear13 karma

I've completed 3 full land to pole expeditions -- the first in 2006 - first ever (and only) summer expedition to the North Pole, the second, 2010 as part of my South Pole, North Pole and Mt Everest expedition and then our 2014 Last North expedition. So I have a pretty good understanding of the Arctic Ocean. That said, it's easily one of the hardest expeditions on the planet -- way harder than climbing Everest. There is a unique challenge in trying to reach the pole -- the environment literally destroys gear. Just the camping alone is a huge effort. That said, I'm doubtful if anyone will ever be able to reach the North Pole again as the logistic company ceased flying operations last year. - Eric

Syrupsniper7 karma

Wow, I've always dreamt of going on such a journey, that sounds so adventurous! Do you know the total cost of your entire journey? Was it hard to finance this?

GraniteGear10 karma

We had to borrow money to fund fully. Total budget around $200,000. South Pole way cheaper :). If you're interested I teach a polar training course on Lake Winnipeg -

http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/adventures/polar

Not sure if another North Pole expedition will be possible in the future.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/05/150525-north-pole-expeditions-arctic-climate-change/

KarmaNeutrino6 karma

Did you ever consider giving up?

GraniteGear13 karma

We considered giving up nearly every day. The trip is CRAZY HARD. It never seemed like we would make it. After 40 days, we were over 200 miles away from the pole and only had 10 days of food left. Bottom line, we just kept trying... setting small goals and modifying our plan accordingly. -Eric

mtfx6 karma

What were the day/night cycles like? How many hours of day light did you have vs night? Also, thanks for doing this. I think what you did is amazing.

GraniteGear6 karma

In the beginning of March the sun is just coming above the horizon at Cape Discovery on Ellesmere Island (the northern most point of land in North America) We started on March 15 and had roughly 4 hours or so of direct sunlight and another 6 of twilight. However, we're basically gaining around 15 minutes of daylight each day so eventually we were traveling in 24 hour day light - which became important later on when our food / time was running out b/c we were traveling around the clock!?! -Eric

Quantum_Burkowski5 karma

So in 10 years, can you perceive a warming-induced difference on the ground? Or is that kind of thing only clear from large scale surveys/ imaging? Also, do you have a Teddy Bear named 'Shackelton'?

GraniteGear6 karma

From my first trip in 2006 to 2014, yes, you can see a definite change in the character and nature of sea ice.... The surface just looks 'different' and the flat sections are smaller. Obviously, the larger scale surveys provide a more 'scientific' picture of what's going on.

Not a teddy bear but I did name my blankie Shackleton :) -Eric

syntaxvorlon5 karma

Pretty sure this is actually a polar bear that has gotten access to reddit. Don't be fooled into going on any 'arctic expeditions' over PMs.

Are you, Mr. Larsen, in fact a polar bear? Clearly you were simply avoiding your fans in your story. :D

(In seriousness, this is certainly amazing. Good job.)

Also, did you find any cheezy doodles?

GraniteGear6 karma

Ha ha -- Can polar bears type? Saw Alexander Gamme's video a while back. Hilarious!

Check out my series... Between Two Ice Bergs!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IzVQONH3lQ -Eric

Syppii5 karma

What motivated you to do such a thing?

GraniteGear2 karma

I keep asking myself that same question :) Seriously though, a big part of it is trying to connect people to the last great frozen places on the planet and let tell them how they are changing. Another part of it... this is just how I was built. I look at expeditions as a form of self expression -- just like painting picture.

Syppii3 karma

I am thinking of climbing everest in 10 years or so, any advice?

GraniteGear3 karma

Start small, take your time. Gain experience. Take a medical training course. Everest is pretty straight forward, but the objective hazards are great. Where are you at right now in terms of skills and training?

Syppii2 karma

Well I am in my late teens, I do rock climbing and I train 6 days a week, (weights and running), I am trying to create a base on which I can work on in the future. Do you think it is irrational to attempt it in the next 10 years and should I start climbing smaller mountains to work my way up.

GraniteGear6 karma

I think 10 years is a completely realistic timeline! I think you're very smart to plan that far ahead. You may want to consider taking a few mountaineering courses as primers, then move on to bigger mountains. Once you gain experience, I would emphasize planning some of your own adventures (without guides) so that you learn consequences, self care and confidence in your decision making. Good luck and keep me posted! -Eric

Syppii2 karma

Cheers for the help!

GraniteGear2 karma

No probs. Thank for tuning in!

Afrizuri5 karma

Hi Eric, massive congratulations first of all on this incredible achievement.

My question is, undertaking such an epic task is naturally both physically and mentally difficult for any individual. What would you say where the toughest aspects in both areas? (Toughest mental struggles and most physically taxing part of it all)

Thanks again!!

GraniteGear7 karma

Everything about the North Pole expedition is tough. First of all, we're dealing with huge logistics fees so trying to get the money together is a huge hurtle. (Thanks Granite Gear for the help!) We're arranging all the logistics ourselves while trying to train, modify gear, plan, prepare , etc... Writing this out just stresses me out again :) Still the hardest part for us was never catching a break -- we were constantly running up against overwhelming odds while totally busting our butts and being physically exhausted. For example, in the first three weeks, we made roughly 79 miles - that means we averaged 2.75 miles per day!?! If we were able to continue at that pace it would have taken us 129 days to reach the pole -- we only had 50 days of food and fuel. -Eric

PeepsWithJeeps4 karma

What was the scariest thing that happened on your journey?

GraniteGear15 karma

Falling through the ice, not being able to get out of an open water lead while swimming across it and getting stalked by polar bears top the list! -Eric

PeepsWithJeeps3 karma

oh my god thats terrifying

GraniteGear6 karma

Watch our Animal Planet show on 12/9! On the scary scale it was definitely a 10 - but for whatever reason, I'm laughing when Ryan is recording me (after we scared away the bears).

http://www.tvinsider.com/article/52859/animal-planet-takes-on-climate-change-with-melting-last-race-to-the-pole/

EqualToHeaven4 karma

Have you read Devil in the White City? Were you dissapointed to learn that the White City didn't refer to Artic?

GraniteGear3 karma

I haven't read that book. But the author has a good name -- even if it's spelled in correctly :)

Uine4 karma

What kind of a tent do you use/recommend for arctic exploration? Do you find an extra smaller abside to be worth the extra weight? Most Norwegian explorers that I know seem to go for a one-absided tunnel, whereas the Finnish Kari "Vaiska" Vainio recommends a two-absided version where you can cook on the smaller abside. What are the most important qualities in a tent?

Also, do you have spesific favourities in terms of gear? :) Something that you know you can trust in and go for every time?

GraniteGear6 karma

Gear wise -- here is a pretty complete list. I definitely prefer tunnel tents for polar travel. As far as tent qualities - it really depends on what you are doing -- light and breathable for hiking, strong and sturdy for mountaineering... for polar expeditions, I want a tent that can be set up and taken down in a matter of minutes and that the inner tent hangs from the fly. Also, I want good head room. Again, I only use tunnel tents for polar travel. As far as absided (vestibules), it depends on where we are. In Antarctica, we cook in the vestibule, in the arctic we actually cook inside the tent but need a larger vestibule simply to get dressed and undressed.

Here is a gear list: http://www.elevationoutdoors.com/polar-explorer-eric-larsen/

DomenicoPiscopo2224 karma

Where there any times where you would have "Near Death" experiences or times you would thought you might die? Also how many Polar Bears did you see?

GraniteGear6 karma

Ryan fell through the ice really badly and it was definitely a 'close call'. We both had moments of fall through thin ice with one foot or leg. Ultimately, it wouldn't take much to tip the scales not in our favor. We saw two polar bears- a mother and cub but saw some tracks near the North Pole. -Eric

frapawhack1 karma

a polar bear and her cub at the north pole.

GraniteGear2 karma

Polar bear and cub were on Day 5 I believe. The tracks we saw near the North Pole were from a very, very large male. -Eric

KingEuronIIIGreyjoy4 karma

Did you see Santa?

GraniteGear11 karma

Yes I did and he told me your behavior needs to improve!

KingEuronIIIGreyjoy7 karma

I'm Jewish. Not too concerned about getting coal.

GraniteGear9 karma

But yet you are still curious about Santa's whereabouts :)

KingEuronIIIGreyjoy5 karma

Hey, if he needs a good financier, the Jews are there for him, especially if we get to play with the reindeer.

GraniteGear4 karma

ha haha! Thanks for good humor. Love it!

Roldylane3 karma

Do you have a favorite explorer from history?

GraniteGear13 karma

Millions! I love all those old accounts and read each one of them in preparing for my expeditions -- what went well, what (often) didn't. Obviously, I'm a HUGE fan of Shackleton, but Fritjolf Nansen is a big hero of mine. In contemporary times, Will Steger is my idol! -Eric

Roldylane1 karma

Thanks! I can't wait to see the film you guys made!

GraniteGear6 karma

Thank you! I'm really proud of what we were able to accomplish - filming wasn't easy and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Animal Planet for taking a chance on us. I think the film paints an honest and sincere look at what this journey was actually like. Here's the trailer:

http://www.tvinsider.com/article/52859/animal-planet-takes-on-climate-change-with-melting-last-race-to-the-pole/

orangejulius1 karma

Shackleton's south pole expedition is an absolutely wild survival story.

GraniteGear5 karma

Totally amazing agree! Two other stories for you to read:

Farthest North -- Fritjolf Nansen Shackleton's Forgotten Men -- by Lennard Bickel

orangejulius1 karma

Thanks for the recommendation! I'll definitely pick those up over the holidays. :)

GraniteGear3 karma

Definitely let me know what you think. There are more great reads too so hit me up when you've gotten through both of those. Also... I'll have my book ready in last spring called 'ON THIN ICE' about our expedition! -Eric

orangejulius1 karma

That's really cool. What has the writing process been like for your own book? /r/books also has some great AMAs if you're considering another one when your book comes out.

are you already done writing it?

GraniteGear2 karma

Still writing -- ugh. Process hard for me... Just want to go on another expedition. I have a good publisher - Globe Pequot - who has been super supportive! Thanks for the AMA recommendation. -Eric

tinyraccoon2 karma

What was the most interesting animal you saw?

GraniteGear3 karma

Polar Bears were the only animals we saw in 55 days! We saw two on Day 5. They came within 15 feet of our sled. -Eric

Tryhardasfuck2 karma

But why though?

GraniteGear4 karma

Why which part why?

PM_Me_A_PSN_Code3 karma

Why not?

GraniteGear4 karma

Excellent question and the one that got me to the Arctic Ocean in the first place. -Eric

Italianfreshness2 karma

Was it cold?

GraniteGear1 karma

Starting out it was roughly -30F... in 2010 when I was there it was -55F at Cape Discovery -- so not as cold, but still a lot to deal with over the course of nearly two months. -Eric

goldpill2 karma

  • were you able to see your compass suddenly point backwards when you reached the exact centre of the earth?

  • how did the compass behave when you stood at the dead centre?

  • did you feel any sort of mythical energy flowing through your body?

Lastly, would you cross the south pole someday? there's a lot of folks who say earth is disc shaped and south pole is like a circular boundary and no one can cross it....

thankyou for braving the ice, your have certainly lived upto the name your parents gave you

GraniteGear4 karma

Our compass always points toward the Magnetic North Pole -- which is in a different location than the geographic North Pole. The differences between the two positions is called declination. Your declination changes depending on where you are on the planet. During our North Pole expedition our compass needle veered 'west' toward the Magnetic North Pole. As we made our way North, the declination changed slightly. By the time we got to the north pole, all we wanted to do was go to sleep so no energy flowing through us.

As far as the South Pole, it is also a singular point -- although imaginary as it is at the end of the earth's axis. However, if there were no marker there (or base) you wouldn't be able to distinguish the pole from any other snow and ice in the area. I've skied to the South Pole two times on full expeditions and one partial expedition. Thanks for the questions! -Eric

goldpill2 karma

thankyou so much for the answer.

GraniteGear2 karma

No problem! Thanks for asking!

Sidepie2 karma

Tell us more about the bears. How did you manage to avoid them if they were so hungry?

GraniteGear6 karma

We got lucky as we were both pulling one sled and just happened to turn around and saw a mother and cub walking straight toward us. I shot off a small flare but they kept coming. Ryan shot off a flare and shouted and they still kept coming. Luckily we were pulling the sled that had our shotgun in it and I was able to grab it and shoot a louder bear scare off --which scared them off! -Eric

Don_Anon1 karma

Did you have any of those Ranulph Fiennes "Where am I going to bury my friend?" moments?

And did you see any crynoid pickle-barrel shaped leathery things with starfishes for heads, or is that the wrong pole?

GraniteGear1 karma

Ha ha ha -- You do think a lot about what happens if one of us get's injured or dies. For better or worse, there would be no burying on the Arctic Ocean. Just become an ice cube and call it good.

Didn't see any crynoid pickle-barrel shaped leathery things with starfishes for heads - the ocean is 14,000 feet deep so in the crack in the ice we don't see much. -Eric

up9rade1 karma

Hey Eric!

Can you post your social media in the description so we can all follow?

For everyone joining, please check out

He's an amazing storyteller and photographer!

Thank you!

GraniteGear2 karma

Sure -- Thanks for asking!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EricLarsenExplore Twitter: @ELexplore (https://twitter.com/ELexplore) Instagram: @ELexplore (https://www.instagram.com/elexplore/) Yonder: @ELexplore (yonder.it) YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ericlarsenexplore Snapchat: @ELExplore Web: www.ericlarsenexplore.com

GraniteGear1 karma

Oops -- sorry just posted in description. Thanks for the help on that :)

sanderson221 karma

is there any chance that some random human species is living there? like living off polar bears and seals in the area?

GraniteGear2 karma

No chance whatsoever. It's all ice floating on water. -Eric

shayes6101 karma

Where do I sign up?

bret_the_baer1 karma

Do you know of Geoff Carroll? He is a good friend who made the same expedition a while back with dogsled.

GraniteGear1 karma

With Will Steger in 1986! Incredible story!! Never met Geoff but another icon of polar travel for sure!

bluemoosy1 karma

I work in the woods of Maine, blazing trails. I have read books by Jack London, and am thinking particularly of short stories titled "To Build a Fire" and "The Love of Life".

For some time now, I have had the desire to get into an occupation that makes long treks through the wilderness. How can I get paid doing that frontier-type explorer stuff in a time full of satellite imagery and Google Earth?

GraniteGear2 karma

Love Jack London! I think a good way to start getting paid for doing trips is to start out as a guide or a back country ranger of some sort. Of course, you need to build up your skills resume and experience level first. For me, it was a long, long process and I'm still trying to figure out how to get paid for it. So if you find out let me know :) -Eric

sweetsweettubesteak1 karma

What were your thoughts like out there? I mean were you constantly focused on the task at hand or did your mind wander? I imagine the mental part of your trip could be tiring enough?

GraniteGear3 karma

The expedition is hard. Physically it's insane -- but the mental aspects are even more difficult. It's a mind game really. We're focused on the task but trying not to think too much about the task. Trying to think of home. Trying not to think of home. Managing overwhelming odds. Dealing with fear and potential failure. The list goes on and on... Still there were moments when, skiing/snowshoeing in second position where you can relax for a while. -Eric

EinsteinReplica1 karma

Would you rather fight 100 duck sized polar bears, or one polar bear sized polar bear? :D

GraniteGear2 karma

100 duck sized polar bears of course! You have to make these questions harder :) -Eric

EinsteinReplica2 karma

1000 duck sized polar bears vs. one polar bear sized polar bear, then? <3

GraniteGear1 karma

1000 duck sized polar bears one at a time? -Eric

senari1 karma

Thanks for the AMA! Can I recommend you Elizabeth Bradfield's "Approaching Ice" as a fireside read this winter? It's a poetry book about polar exploration; I read it for a course I'm finishing up, and I'm actually in disbelief that you're doing an AMA just as I'm writing a paper about polar exploration. :)

Is there anything in particular that draws you to the polar landscape, rather than other 'wild' places of the earth? Considering all the physical and mental hardships you go through while on these journeys, what makes you go back and do it all over again?

GraniteGear3 karma

I will look up Approaching Ice -- Sounds awesome! So cool that you are writing about polar exploration! Lot of snow and ice to cover there :)

I like polar travel because there is a thoughtfulness that you need in order to survive. I am also drawn to stark environments where few people have been before. I also like taking pictures of snow and ice! -Eric

boxofplaydoh1 karma

Wow. Congrats, that is amazing. I will definitely be tuning in!

Not sure if this was asked - can you speak generally regarding your return journey? length, difficulty, etc?

GraniteGear1 karma

Awesome. Glad you will be watching. We are very excited. Our trip was a one way journey. We arranged for a pick up by twin otter ski plane at the North Pole. To return would have meant that we would be outside the possibility of rescue. -Eric

stats11 karma

Whats one of your hobbies outside going to the arctic?

GraniteGear4 karma

Honestly, I LOVE camping -- in any, way shape or form. So I'm generally trying to get out for an overnight or a couple of days. I'm a huge fan of biking as well and I do a lot of my training on bikes - road, mountain and snow bikes. If I have anything that I would consider a hobby, it's photography!

Here are a few shots: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150587323661697.384144.87935556696&type=3 -Eric

stats11 karma

Those are insanely cool photos!

GraniteGear1 karma

Thanks! I love taking pictures. I'm heading to Antarctica at the end of December and should have a bunch more!

stats11 karma

I'll keep a look out for them for sure. What camera do you use when you go out to hostile environments.

GraniteGear2 karma

Depends on where I'm going. If possible, I bring a pro quality DSLR, but I use Sony Action Cams (pov) as well as Sony Mirrorless camera -- I'm trying to get my hands on the Sony a7r. For our North Pole documentary, we also brought a Sony VG30.

Johnnyfiftyfive1 karma

Did you plant a flag ?

GraniteGear3 karma

No, I did not plant a flag -- I did take a picture of a flag that I carry with on all my expeditions, however. -Eric

Spoooooooooooooky1 karma

IN what year will the North Pole become a tourist destination? I want to go there in comfort

GraniteGear1 karma

It already is a tourist destination. You can fly to the North Pole through a Russian Company or you can take an icebreaker there in the summer. A much different journey of course. :)

demtubez1 karma

What were your best and worst moments on the whole trip?

Also, do you happen to have any pictures from your journey?

GraniteGear2 karma

Best moments? Sleeping and when we reached the pole. There were a lot of small victories as well. Worst? Getting to within 19 miles from the pole and having the conditions completely devolve into chaos. -Eric

Lots of pictures -- not all posted yet. Here are some mixd in... https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150587323661697.384144.87935556696&type=3

squipped1 karma

the trailer for yall's film looks amazing! i was wondering how many camera men there were and how they dealt with the cold/adventure. i saw a lot of the shots were POV but for some there must have been at least a third person with you. how did that affect the dynamic?

GraniteGear2 karma

Camera men? We filmed everything ourselves! There was no physical way for more than two people to travel in that environment safely. So anytime you see both of us in a scene that's us skiing up ahead, setting up the camera, skiing through the scene, then going back to pick up the camera. It was A LOT of work! -Eric

yahumno1 karma

Did you stop in at CFS Alert at all?

GraniteGear1 karma

No -- Cape Discovery is just east of Alert. Would like to visit.

yahumno1 karma

The food is awesome and the people are great. I spent six months there.

They have this guy's sled on the wall of the Station, after he was rescued http://www.rcinet.ca/eye-on-the-arctic/2010/04/16/australian-adventurer-rescued-by-canadian-forces-in-alert-nunavut/

GraniteGear1 karma

I've heard it's incredible. Tom was trying to get to the North Pole in 2010. The guy is huge. His arms were bigger than my legs. Unfortunately, he didn't make it! -Eric

fxuk1 karma

Tell me about Santa!!!???

GraniteGear1 karma

He's not as Jolly as people think :) -Eric

ProfThadBach1 karma

Briefs support pretty well unless you are really moving around a lot then I would go with a jock. I bet it was a little chilly not wearing underwear. Why did you do that?

GraniteGear1 karma

I wear boxer briefs (http://www.exofficio.com/products/mens/underwear) then two pairs of helly hansen base layer. Good underwear is critical. OF course, I wore one pair the entire time-- 53 days! -Eric

ubidaru1 karma

How did you start doing this kinds of trip ?

GraniteGear1 karma

I started very small over 20 years ago -- doing my own canoe trips and winter camping trips with friends. Then I got a job as a dog musher and worked as a guide and eventually was able to go on several dog sled expeditions and even raced. I slowly learned and refined my skills over the years and had several mentors along the way! -Eric

chrome-spokes1 karma

Having only read of being in the coldest temps, questions are concerning to bodily functions, to keep it, uh, clean?

I've heard; even breathing in super-cold air can freeze ones lungs; urinating can freeze before hitting the ground, etc.

Ok, so how about going #2? Is inside a warmed up tent required or just more comfortable?

BM are moist, so does it freeze before you can even wipe?

Do you burn the used tissue paper, bury it in the snow, or both?

Any other examples of personal hygiene, from brushing your teeth on downwards that you can tell us about? It all seems quite a chore in itself in such extreme cold.

GraniteGear2 karma

Everything is difficult on the Arctic Ocean, but the idea of it is more difficult than the reality. You have to be 'on your game' 100% of the time as little injuries/sores can compound and become expedition ending injuries. Sometimes, I'll build a snow wall when going to the bathroom but for the most part, I can cover most of my body (with one notable exception) with my clothes. You learn to go fast. I like a little 'snow bidet' to keep clean but also use some natural wipes called 'Action Wipes'. On the Arctic Ocean we bury it in the snow as Minimum impact practices for ocean travel dictate. Our hygiene isn't great but we are able get by.

We do run a small MSR camp stove inside the tent for warmth while we are cooking but not while sleeping. -Eric

chrome-spokes1 karma

Great, thanks. There are some personal subjects that aren't covered at all, or glossed over at best with extreme travel depictions. Which really is a large factor in day-to-day.

Back in the day of being an avid backpacker, Action Wipes would been the cats meow, (never heard of before, just now googled). Don't believe any disinfecting wipes were on the market then? Anyhow, burn & bury is for such things that did not fall in too well of category of pack it in/pack it out.

Thank you again for sharing with us!

GraniteGear1 karma

Thank you!

Onlynatalie1 karma

Have any close encounters with wildlife?

GraniteGear1 karma

Two polar bears came within 15 feet of us. We were able to scare them off luckily! -Eric

Onlynatalie1 karma

Yikes! was it difficult? How did you do it?

GraniteGear1 karma

We carry small pencil flares that we were able to shoot off. After that, I had to get our gun out and shoot off a larger bear scare. -Eric

empire5191 karma

do you find it hard to go into the wild knowing there are dangers out there such as wild animals or personal injury and the fact that you have a family? since having children i find it hard to go out into the wild.. i worry about putting them at risk or even putting myself at risk and not making it home.. do you ever worry about these things?

GraniteGear2 karma

Having a family and putting yourself in life threatening situations is very, very difficult and it's a constant worry. This fall Ryan and I were in Nepal attempting a first ascent on a peak and I was climbing this knife edge ridge and I thought to myself. 'This is completely stupid,' I'm a dad. Still expeditions and adventure are a part of who I am as a person. To stay home would be equally as troubling.

Here is a Sony Action cam video of the ridge line. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Da76a3bh1c&feature=youtu.be -eric

empire5191 karma

too awesome! btw my daughters name is Ryen

GraniteGear1 karma

Ha -- I'll let Ryan Waters know!

jfwdragon1 karma

Damn, are you even human? No ordinary mortal could accomplish such a feat.

GraniteGear2 karma

Well, I grew up in Wisconsin -- pretty average in every single way... However, I do feel that I have above average motivation and equally important, would not have been able to make it without Ryan. We were a good team! -Eric

chronorunner1 karma

Is there a giant hole over the pole?

GraniteGear2 karma

No.

bestfomert1 karma

[deleted]

GraniteGear1 karma

  1. We melted snow.
  2. I like being warm in the cold weather.
  3. There are a million lessons -- both personal and about the Arctic Ocean.
  4. I've lead two full expeditions to the South Pole and one partial last degree trip. I am guiding a partial, last degree trip again this year.
  5. The sea ice is melting! -Eric

Dr_Lobster1 karma

ERIC!!! I saw your film at the Banff Film Festival a few years ago. I am majorly impressed. As someone who loves the outdoors, how does one get into doing expeditions like the ones you do?

GraniteGear1 karma

Not sure if that was my film, but I've been doing polar expeditions for nearly 15 years now. My advice is to start small and work up. I do teach a polar training course every year in Canada

http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/adventures/polar

Zeta-X1 karma

Have all the haters started supporting you now that you did it?

GraniteGear2 karma

There will always be people who say you can't do something. However, I still think people view polar expeditions as something simple and easy. I hope our Animal Planet documentary sheds light into how epic this journey really is! -Eric

Karpathos811 karma

How cold was it once you reached the North Pole?

GraniteGear1 karma

Good question! After a certain point, we just stopped checking our thermometer and adjust layers depending on the wind. I'm guessing it was around 25 below but it was windy so maybe 40 below with the wind chill. -Eric

drummer43231 karma

Do you know a fellow Arctic explorer named Dixie Dansercoer? He's a Belgian and has done many trips similar to yours. I've heard the polar exploring community was somewhat tight knit.

GraniteGear2 karma

There aren't too many of us out there. I've never met Dixie but we've emailed. He's done a lot of really great trips in excellent style. I'm a huge fan! -Eric

drummer43231 karma

He's an incredibly friendly guy, I hope you get the chance to meet him someday. My family is developing interest in polar exploring and he took us around Svalbard for a while. It was fascinating!

GraniteGear1 karma

That's awesome! I've done some training in Svalbard as well. I teach a polar training course on Lake Winnipeg that you might want to check out:

http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/adventures/polar

Here are some pictures from last year:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152618829556697.1073741849.87935556696&type=3

Tucana661 karma

When did you first get the idea to do this adventure?

How did you train for it?

Did anyone mentor you? Self-research?

GraniteGear2 karma

I've done three NP expeditions but I really wanted to do an unaided, unassisted journey as well as create a compelling film of our adventure.

Lots of work over many many years, mentors, learning on my own and making mistakes.

Training? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNsWjhFLY4s

The_Grue1 karma

Amazing to hear such a feat. Would you do it again?

In other words....

You walked 500 miles, and would you walk 500 more?

PM_Me_A_PSN_Code1 karma

If you had ran out of water would you have drank your own urine?

GraniteGear2 karma

We are able to melt snow for drinking water -- so no urine drinking for us. We were running dangerously low on fuel which would have been a very bad situation for us! -Eric

thetruekiller1 karma

How were your sleeping conditions?

GraniteGear2 karma

Sleeping conditions are tough. There is a lot of moisture even though its so cold. To prevent huge ice chunks forming in our outer bags, we slept in a three-layer 'system'. First, a vapor barrier bag to prevent moisture getting into the other bags, then a -40 down bag and on top of that a +40 F synthetic bag. -Eric

scipup40001 karma

Technically, arent you over international waters the whole time? What does it feel like to be basically outside the law, in some sense?

GraniteGear2 karma

Total pirates. We had the flag and everything-- just kidding. Actually, we don't really think about that much. For most of the trip, we felt like we were in a pitched battle against the ice, weather conditions and overall time constraints (pick up date) that we were focused on simply moving forward. -Eric

BoredSausage1 karma

How bad was the temperature?

GraniteGear1 karma

By bad do you mean good? I LOVE cold weather. :) In 2014 we started on March 15... at Cape Discovery it was -30F. I never really checked the thermometer much after that.

In 2010 as part of my three poles expedition, we started on March 3rd and the temperature was -55F. -Eric

BoredSausage1 karma

Fair enough, I can imagine you like cold weather but are the temperatures you mentioned not too extreme?

I mean I like warm weather but if the temperature goes over the 100F mark I will much rather just stay inside.

GraniteGear2 karma

No those temperatures unto themselves are fairly tolerable, but when you add wind, ice conditions, hauling heavy loads and more and the severity increases exponentially. -Eric