20th Annual Polartec® Challenge Grant Recipients Announced

Funding Awarded to Climbing, Paddling and Mountaineering Expeditions

Lawrence, Mass.) - Polartec is pleased to announce the recipients of its 20th annual Polartec Challenge Grant. Four separate expeditions will receive funding and support from Polartec to 2011: a solo climbing exploration in the remote northern Russian Arctic, a first-time circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island, a women’s climbing first ascent attempt in the Indian Karakoram and a two-man first ascent attempt in the Charakusa Valley of Pakistan.

”Polartec is proud to have supported adventures and exploration around the globe for 20 years now,” states Global Director of Marketing, Nate Simmons. “The 2011 Challenge Grant recipients epitomize all the trips we have supported over the years and exemplify Polartec’s commitment to innovation and expanding our perception of what’s possible.”

The first Polartec Challenge Grant recipient is solo expedition specialist Mike Libecki. Libecki, who has explored many of the last remaining corners of virgin Earth to climb dozens of first ascents, will this time travel to a remote and restricted corner of northern Russia above the Arctic Circle to climb walls that have never been explored before. Libecki will be dropped off by a Russian icebreaker and then have to ski and paddle over 50 miles of sea ice and open ocean on a homemade rig to reach his climbing destination. The trip will be the culmination of over six years of planning and reconnaissance.

The next grant recipient is the team of Jon Turk, Tyler Bradt and Erik Boomer that will together attempt the first complete circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island, one of the closest points of land to the North Pole. The expedition will travel over 1,400 miles across treacherous moving sea ice, glaciers and rocky coastline using kayaks, skis and sleds to complete the journey.

The third Polartec Challenge Grant recipient is a first ascent attempt of a 6,135-meter unnamed peak deep within the Indian Karakoram by an all-star team of female climbers. The team consists of pro climber and Polartec Athlete Advisory Board member Janet Bergman, Chamonix-based mountain guide Zoe Hart and Alaskan guide Kirsten Kremer. The unnamed peak is located on the eastern edge of the ‘Line of Control’ between India and Pakistan and the team plans an alpine style ascent to the summit in one light, fast, free push.

The final grant recipient, Kelly Cordes, actually received the award last year, but had to postpone his expedition because of an injury. Cordes, who is also a member of Polartec’s Athlete Advisory Board, and his climbing partner Kyle Dempster will travel to Pakistan's Charakusa Valley, home to massive technical peaks including K6 and K7, along with scores of unclimbed rock and ice objectives, to attempt the first ascent of an unnamed rock spire. The 6,200-meter spire, near K7, has been attempted several times and its virgin summit remains an objective that requires the rare combination of high-end rock skills, tenacity and high-altitude mixed-climbing.

In addition to the grant money, all of this year’s Polartec® Challenge winners will be fully outfitted with Polartec® garments, designed to keep them warm, comfortable and dry in the harshest of climates.

About the Polartec® Challenge Grant

The annual Polartec® Challenge Grant seeks to assist frugal, low impact teams who respect the local culture and environment and serve as role models to outdoor enthusiasts worldwide. Applications are evaluated on the basis of their vision, commitment and credibility. Past recipients of the Polartec® Challenge Grant include outdoor pioneers and adventurers such as Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, Steve House, Marko Prezelj, Andrew McLean and John Shipton.