MODERN ADVENTURE: FROM ANTARCTICA TO MARS, AND EVERYWHERE IN BETWEEN
THE HUFFINGTON POST
by Kathleen Ferraro
Adventure is changing. We're far past the days of literally venturing off the map to uncharted territory or hopping on a raft and floating down the Mississippi. What is modern adventure? And not the profile-picture-of-person-on-mountain-with-the caption-"Wanderlust" modern adventure, but adventure that discovers similarly uncharted territory, be that physical spaces or more abstract concepts, ideas or people.
In the 1890's, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton famously declared that he craved the "opportunity of breaking away from the monotony of method and routine -- from an existence that might eventually strangle his individuality." And break from the monotony he did. Shackleton went on to participate in four British expeditions to the Antarctic, famously delivering his crew to safety after a disastrous ice-induced shipwreck miles from civilization during one expedition. With these accomplishments, Shackleton in many ways defined adventure and laid the foundation for future exploration as he charted the Antarctic.
With Shackleton's exploratory roots in mind, I talked to polar explorer John Huston. Huston has trekked to Greenland, Ellesmere Island, Baffin Island, and the North and South Poles, recreating historical expeditions and even becoming the first American to journey unsupported to the North Pole. Adventurous? Undoubtedly.
MAKE YOUR MARK PODCAST
Within the entrepreneurial community, we love the war stories of being knocked down, getting back up and walking the tight rope of risk and reward. We proudly wear the badge of “entrepreneur” and want everyone to know we’re in the club. We’re the risk takers, the ones pulling all nighters and using war terminology to express how we compete.
There’s a sense of being modern day explorers, the types of people going out into the unknown and risking it all.
It feels good.
I’ve made it known my all time favorite business book is Endurance by Alfred Lansing. If you’ve heard me speak about this remarkable story you’ve heard how I can “relate” to the struggle, the personalities and the endurance displayed on that remarkable voyage. I like to think of my journey as being quite similar.
But it’s not even close. I’m motivated and inspired by these stories and am driven to be better, to persevere and to overcome – but the journey can’t be compared to the select few who actually live and breath authentic exploration.
While our current society glamorizes celebrity and sits in awe over the mental fortitude of the athlete who plays through pain there are guys like John Huston doing the impossible, exploring places few, if any, humans have ever been. They are overcoming obstacles and making life or death decisions, literally. They’re pushing the boundaries of mind over matter and providing a blueprint for successful teams in any endeavor.
Adventurers to iconoclasts, our project looks at the past 110 years to find 110 people in the outdoors world who have made a difference. Take a tour of these “unexpected” heroes, from athletes and artists to conservationists of decades past.
NBC CHICAGO CHANNEL 5
Chicago Voyagers is an organization that is Making A Difference. This non-profit empowers at-risk youth by introducing outdoor activities to them that foster responsible behavior and personal growth. Art Norman reports.
CANADIAN GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE
by Nick Walker
As the world’s polar nations continue to wrangle over boundaries in the Arctic Ocean’s seabed, it can seem as though sovereignty in the North has never been such a hot topic. Back in 1902, though, Norwegian explorer Otto Sverdrup had just spent four years mapping more than 260,000 square kilometres of Canada’s northernmost Arctic islands, and “in the name of the Norwegian King, taken possession” of them.
That colossal territorial claim loomed over diplomatic relations between the nations until 1930, when Norway recognized Canada’s title to the region. Canada did pay Sverdrup $67,000 for the maps, diaries and other documents from his second expedition with the polar ship Fram, and the old explorer died mere weeks later.
To celebrate Sverdrup’s historic polar mission, document scarcely seen lands and advocate for climate-change education, four modern explorers — American John Huston, Canadian Hugh Dale-Harris, Norwegian Tobias Thorleifsson and South African Kyle O’Donoghue — set out in late March 2013 on the 65-day New Land 2013 Expedition. They used powerful Inuit sled dogs to skijor (tow them on skis) nearly 1,000 kilometres across frozen ocean sounds, Axel Heiberg and Ellesmere islands — similar to the way Sverdrup journeyed over the same unyielding land more than a century earlier. “We had modern maps, but mainly used Sverdrup’s book New Land and his personal diaries as our guide,” says Huston. “We didn’t consult any modern explorers about the route, because we wanted Sverdrup’s experience.”
THE ADVENTIVE PERSPECTIVE
by Magda Romanska
Before 69˚S. (The Shackleton Project) comes to the Paramount Center Mainstage FEB 7-12, Emerson College Professor Magda Romanska talks to polar explorer John Huston. John and his expedition partner Tyler Fish are the first two—and so far the only—Americans to travel unsupported from land to the North Pole. This 55-day, 475-mile journey has been accomplished by only 11 other expeditions and has been called the “toughest expedition on the planet.”
Magda Romanska: In your recently published book on your expedition, Forward,you write about the gorgeous landscapes you encountered while on your way to the North Pole. You included many pictures of stunning sunsets, the glorious aurora borealis, and vast, desolate and forbidding frozen landscapes that often look like Dali’s surrealist paintings. This trip was a trial of your will and endurance, but it also became an aesthetic experience. What was the most haunting moment of your trip?
John Huston: The challenge of reaching the North Pole from land while traveling unsupported was the main source of attraction to the expedition. At the same time, living in the otherworldly surroundings of the Arctic Ocean for 55 days gave our expedition a very special quality—total immersion in nature on nature’s terms.
FIRST UNSUPPORTED AMERICANS TO THE NORTH POLE: INTERVIEW WITH "FORWARD" AUTHORS JOHN HUSTON AND TYLER FISH
by James Paulson
It was the first American unsupported and unsupplied trip to the North Pole. Writing about it felt like another whole expedition, they said. John Huston and Tyler Fish just released their book Forward and the book (available for purchase at $40.00 on the expedition website) is already acclaimed by readers. Jim Paulson interviewed the skiers/authors for ExplorersWeb.
Jim: It's been two years since the North Pole. What have you been doing since?
Tyler: I’ve focused on my most important jobs: being a father and husband, and staffing director for Outward Bound, and local ski coach.
John: Writing the book, speaking, guiding, consulting, and working part time in real estate.
Jim: Talk about the process of writing the book? Any challenges?
John: It took us more than six months to feel ready to start writing. Right after the expedition we were too close to the experience and needed to let it breathe a bit. The entire writing process was much more involved and time consuming than we anticipated. It felt like another whole expedition, only without the singleness of focus that comes with being on the ice. It took a lot of whittling down and tweaking to get the narrative to the final product. All in all the process provided perfect closure to the whole expedition experience. We’re closer than ever and we’re happy that we put our experience on paper.
by Stephen Regenold
Polar treks can teach Nasa what to look for in Mars astronauts.
On a stark morning last April at latitude 88 degrees north, John Huston and Tyler Fish were crossing the Arctic ice cap in a bid to become the first confirmed Americans to ski unsupported to the North Pole. The two men, both in their mid-30s, wore backpacks and harnesses attached to sleds laden with hundreds of kilograms of gear. At 10 am, the ice opened beneath Huston’s skis, and he plunged from light into the darkness of the near-freezing water below.
Huston and Fish may as well have been on the Moon. Rescue was thousands of kilometres away, days distant. The Arctic environment – minus 23 degrees, snow swirling across a white void – was inhospitably numbing. Even unearthly.
In fact, desolate polar regions have long been seen as analogous to outer space. From Siberia, where Soviet cosmonauts braved teeth-cracking cold, to the Canadian Arctic, where Nasa still funds field research for Mars exploration, the remote reaches of Earth offer a parallel to what it might be like to endure the alien environment of a moon or planet far away.
“Imagine two or more people leaving the safety of a space habitat and going on to the Mars surface,” says Gloria Leon, who studies the polar–space analogy at the University of Minnesota. “That environment will be similar in many ways to what polar explorers face on Earth.”