Eric Larsen on Dog Sledding, the Team Dynamic & Running with Your Best Friends

By Eric Larsen In the fall of 1994, I was living in a remote cabin in northern Minnesota and working odd jobs. I stopped in a local lodge looking for work and was hired as a dog musher on the spot. At the time, I had never even seen a sled dog let alone driven an entire team of them. I dropped everything I was doing, drove 10 hours back to my parent’s home and grabbed as many base layers as I could find. For good measure, I rented the Disney movie Iron Will to glean a few pointers before my job started.

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Eric Larsen’s North Pole Expedition Through Photos

By Eric Larsen On May 6th 2014, I reached the Geographic North Pole after what I can only describe as the most difficult 53 days of my life. Sitting in my chair now, with the perspective of time and distance, I am amazed that I was able to persevere long enough to be successful. After all, no one had completed a North Pole expedition since 2010 and comparatively few over the span of polar history. In 1995, Reinhold Messner, easily the most accomplished mountaineer of all time, called his unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole, the horizontal Everest. While over 6,000 people have summited Everest only 250 people have traversed the Arctic Ocean from land to the Geographic North Pole—less than 50 of those traveling unaided and un-resupplied (meaning…

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The MSR Gear that Got Eric Larsen to the North Pole

By Eric Larsen On May 6th, my expedition partner Ryan Waters and I reached the geographic North Pole after 53 grueling days. To reach the North Pole from land is a journey of 480 miles in a straight line, but the route is anything but direct. With sea ice moving and shifting due to winds, tides and ocean currents, the surface is constantly in flux. Huge pans of ice collide and crack in a screeching chug, chug, chug sound. There is an overall drift to the ice, too. The entire mass moves slowly from the pole toward Canada, the U.S. and Greenland. In fact, waking up each morning, we were usually quite distraught after checking our GPS—losing up to 3 miles of forward progress while we slept.

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Eric Larsen Reaches the North Pole!

MSR ambassador Eric Larsen and expedition teammate, Ryan Waters, reached the geographic North Pole last night, successfully completing their Last North Expedition! The pair has spent the last 53 grueling days traversing 480 miles of frozen Arctic Ocean via snowshoes and skis, becoming only the second American team in history to complete the crossing. The team reports that while they’re exhausted, they’re overjoyed to have achieved the end. At MSR, we’re proud of Eric’s and Ryan’s accomplishment and congratulate them on the extraordinary feat. The last 19 miles of their journey posed the greatest challenges, as fractured ice required them to put on dry suits to swim from one small frozen peninsula to the next, all through near-whiteout conditions. Today, they’ll be picked up and flown back to Resolute, Canada,…

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Eric Larsen’s Last North Expedition (Day 47): Bears, Mental Struggle, and the Fierce Beauty of the Arctic

 “I couldn’t decide if the Arctic Ocean was trying to swallow us whole or create the worst road block in history. It’s frustrating, scary and overwhelming all wrapped up into one big polar mess of emotions… Still there are few moments when I am not completely in awe of the beauty and power of this place.” –Eric (Day 32) Eric Larsen and expedition partner Ryan Waters have reached day 47 of their Last North expedition, an attempt to break the unsupported ground speed record to the North Pole. Last week they crossed the 87th parallel, marking a distance milestone that sends them into the final stretch of the 500-mile journey. They have 102 miles to go. The duo is finally making decent distance each day, sometimes reaching 17 miles via skis…

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Eric Larsen: Thoughts on Staying Warm in the Most Extreme Cold

By Eric Larsen People assume that because I spend much of my time in polar regions that I must enjoy being cold. The truth couldn’t be any further from the fact. I like being warm, just like everyone else. The only difference: I like being warm in really cold places. But there’s also a catch, I don’t like being hot in cold places either. I’m kind of like the polar version of Goldilocks: not too hot, not too cold, but just right. To achieve the perfect arctic equilibrium while traveling is no easy task and it requires careful diligence and following a few simple rules. 1. Be the onion.  Back in the day, we would throw on a huge down jacket, go outside and call it good. Sure we were…

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Eric Larsen Heads for North Pole on ‘Last North’ Expedition

On Saturday, polar explorer Eric Larsen departed Northern Ellesmere Island and began skiing across Arctic ice on what could be the world’s last unsupported ground expedition to the geographic North Pole. Eric and expedition partner, Ryan Waters, are attempting to break the 2006 expedition speed record. To do so, they’ll need to cover 500 miles of ice in less than 49 days, traversing by skis, snowshoes, and at times swimming through semi-frozen slush. Because they’re not receiving outside help, the pair is pulling all of their food and equipment—nearly 350 lbs—in sleds, which also serve as rafts. They’ll have to eat an incredible amount of calories per day, avoid polar bears and navigate dangerous shifting ice. Eric is a veteran to extreme expeditions. In 2010, he became the first person in history to…

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Off-Belay Americas: Home is Where You Park it

Among outdoor adventurers, rarely is one’s vehicle simply a form of transportation. Instead, it often doubles as a storage unit and can even moonlight as a mobile hotel. For our overland adventure from Seattle to Patagonia, our 1987 Toyota Land Cruiser needed to be ready to go in all three of these categories. Thus, we were forced to make a few modifications to “Beckey” that dramatically increased both her gear capacity and level of comfort when trying to grab a bit of shut eye. Storage If you hit the fabrication blogs you’ll discover one thing real quick—the two tiered system is king. A two tiered storage system eliminates the need to unpack and repack all your gear when you want to access some of it. It allows you to isolate…

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