On May 6, 2014 at 9 p.m. MDT, MSR-sponsored athlete Eric Larsen reached the geographic North Pole with expedition partner, Ryan Waters, completing their unsupported and unaided Last North expedition in just 53 days.
The pair became the first team since 2010 to accomplish a ‘land to Pole’ crossing—and the second American team in history to complete the crossing, following John Huston and Tyler Fish's 55-day journey in 2009.
Larsen is a longtime MSR athlete and an accomplished polar adventurer who in 2010 became 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.
For the Last North, Larsen and Waters travelled across the 480-mile stretch of shifting sea ice using skis, MSR snowshoes and poles, and at times, swimming through open water sections. Given the challenging terrain and temperatures, the pair looked to MSR, the engineers behind some of the world’s most reliable, high-quality gear, for tailor-made equipment to take on the Arctic.
Larsen by way of an Iridium satellite phone texted MSR just minutes after reaching the Pole, writing: “Hello From the North Pole! Please send a huge thanks to all at MSR – stoves, snowshoes, shovel, pots, poles and all performed amazingly!”
In order to pull their supplies—some 350 pounds of food and gear—in Kevlar sleds, Larsen and Waters relied on MSR’s lightweight Lightning Ascent™ snowshoes for sure-footed, aggressive traction when they hit terrain too unstable and challenging for skis. They also depended on MSR’s Flight™ poles, featuring innovative SureLock™ push-button technology, for stability and zero-slip performance throughout their traverse.
One of Larsen and Waters’ biggest challenges in the arctic was maintaining adequate hydration and energy levels. The pair turned to MSR’s legendary, extreme-condition XGK-EX™ stove to rapidly melt snow, boil water and cook meals. Trusted on expeditions in remote corners of the world for more than 35 years, the XGK-EX stove offers unrivaled performance, dependability and better multi-fuel burning capabilities than any other stove on the market.
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.
With six major polar expeditions under his belt, Larsen’s overall mission is to connect people to the planet’s last great frozen places and to raise awareness around the environmental issues that are impacting them. Expedition followers around the world were able to follow the team’s progress on Larsen’s website, Eric Larsen Explore, and MSR’s blog, The Summit Register, as Larsen and Waters used real-time GPS tracking and two-way messaging via DeLorme's inReach SE satellite communicator.
“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,” said Larsen. "Over the past seven years, the Arctic Ocean has seen a steady and significant reduction of sea ice and is becoming significantly less stable with each passing year.”
About MSR® (Mountain Safety Research®)
Seattle-based MSR has been engineering standard-setting high-performance outdoor equipment since 1969. A commitment to quality manufacturing and innovation ensures customers are outfitted with the finest, most reliable gear available for outdoor adventures. MSR product lines include: stoves, fuel, cookware, water treatment and hydration systems, shelters, trekking poles, snowshoes, snow tools, and backcountry poles. The majority of MSR products are made in the company’s Seattle, U.S.A. and Cork, Ireland manufacturing facilities. For more information, visit www.msrgear.com.
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