Friday, May 27, 2011

Steger North Pole Expedition 25 Years Later: Where Are They Now?

For the first time in 25 years, the eight-person Steger North Pole Expedition team reunited in St. Paul for a two-day reunion slash lovefest attended by hundreds of Minnesota fans. Held at the Minnesota History Center, the May 17 event included displays of the famed Polar Capsule, on loan from The Explorers Club; an original sled and clothing; and vintage copies of the September 1986 National Geographic magazine that featured what is recognized as history’s first confirmed and unsupported dog sled expedition to the North Pole.

Steger credited Paul Schurke’s knowledge of the sextant with navigating the team in an era before GPS. He also revealed that 1909 photos of Cmdr. Robert Peary ferrying his teams on blocks of ice over open leads provided the 1986 team with the idea of doing the same. “Now you can’t make the pole by dog team because of the open water caused by global warming,” Steger told a capacity audience of 330.

Added Richard Weber, “Today you can’t use a sextant because it’s too warm and there is less sun to shoot. It’s unbelievable how thin the Arctic ice is now.”

Later Weber said, “If someone says climate change doesn’t exist they should take a trip to the Arctic because it’s really, really scary up there.”

As one might expect from such a dedicated, athletic group, the years have treated each kindly. While perhaps a bit heavier and grayer, some saddled with reading glasses, the Steger team has continued to follow their passions for exploration:

Will Steger, Ely & St. Paul, Minnesota – In 1989-90, he led the first dogsled traverse of Antarctica with a team of seven from seven countries, another milestone in his 45-year career of leading some of the most significant polar expeditions in history. He has become a formidable voice on Arctic climate change and a global environmental leader through his "Global Warming 101" website and Will Steger Foundation. For over 22 years he’s been building a five-story conference center on an isolated lake outside Ely that he hopes will someday become a center for leadership in environmental policy and industry. It is funded not with sponsorship, but the old fashion way through sweat from lecturing, writing and photography, and clothing design.

On a personal note, Steger can stretch a dollar until it’s screaming for mercy. He picked us up in a 1992 Camry with 258,000 miles on it, purchased for $1,400 over 100,000 miles ago. There was dust on the dashboard, a year’s supply of expedition gear in the back, spare tires all the way around, and some sticky, food-like substance between the seats. This guy knows how to save a buck in addition to saving the planet.

(For more information:

Paul Schurke, Ely, Minnesota – In 1989 he co-led the Bering Bridge Expedition from Siberia to Alaska, a journey that Presidents Bush and Gorbachev credited with hastening the opening of the U.S.-Soviet border following the 40-year Cold War. He and his wife Sue operate Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge and founded Wintergreen Northern Wear, an outdoor apparel business based upon designs Sue developed for the 1986 North Pole trek. They live on a beautiful lake outside Ely with 70 sled dogs, three house dogs who think they rule the place, and an endearing pet rat named “Chevy” who comes running when called. (For more information:

Ann Bancroft, Scandia, Minn. – In 2001, Bancroft and fellow explorer Liv Arnesen skied to the South Pole, securing Ann's place in history as the first woman to trek to both ends of the earth. Her Ann Bancroft Foundation promotes the potential and achievements of women and girls. Ann is planning another expedition to Antarctica in 2012. (For more information:

Geoff Carroll, Pt. Barrow, Alaska – A wildlife biologist living in the northernmost community of the U.S., Carroll is an expert on arctic ecosystems and sea ice and maintains a dog team to enjoy life on the land.

Richard Weber, Alcove, Quebec – Canada's top polar explorer, he has lead over 50 arctic expeditions. In 1995, he completed the first and only trek from Canada to the North Pole and back with no outside assistance, and with his wife, Josee, operates an eco-lodge on Lancaster Sound in the Canadian High Arctic. (For more information:

Brent Boddy, Cambridge Bay, Nunavut – Granted the Order of Canada award for his polar endeavors, Boddy continues his love of arctic adventuring in his retirement from overseeing public works for a native village in Canada's western arctic.

Bob McKerrow, New Zealand – A mountain climber and polar explorer who was a member of one of his country's first teams to winter in Antarctica, he works with the International Red Cross. Since the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, McKerrow has been coordinating relief efforts and public health projects in India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia. An avid blogger, you can read about his reunion trip at

Bob Mantell, Albuquerque – "Ironman Bob," as he was called for his dogged perseverance and legendary stamina on the 1986 expedition, is a former employee of Outward Bound who now works installing cell towers.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Explorers and adventurers are nothing if not organized, what with all the gadgets and gizmos we take into the field. Brother, makers of P-touch labelers, wants to lend a hand with its durable, laminated TZ series label tape.

This month Brother is launching the P-touch Test Team and is looking to provide monetary and in-kind sponsorship to a select number of projects in all kinds of environments – cold, hot, windy, sunny, dry – most of the places we often find ourselves in.

If you’re planning to go into the field with a newsworthy expedition or adventure that could use an efficient labeling system, explain your project in a short e-mail of no more than 200-300 words. Attach a photo if you’d like.

The labelers, powered by six AAA batteries, use laminated TZ series tapes ranging from ¼ to 1” in. wide for indoor and outdoor use. These are tougher labels than you may think – they are heat-, UV-, cold-, and water-resistant – perfect for the trail, the mountaintop, or out at sea. (For more information:

Tell us where you’re going (or where you’re already at), when you plan to leave and return, the significance of the project, and how you’d intend to use the P-touch labeler.

P-touch Test Team members selected for this program will receive a P-touch labeler, plenty of TZ laminated tape, and instructions on their use. They will be asked to submit field reports in the form of 6-8 blog or Facebook posts throughout the project and a final report within 30 days of its conclusion (a template for posts and final report will be provided). Posts and final reports should include as many photos as possible to illustrate the conditions and terrain in which you are testing the product.

A small payment will be made when you leave, then upon the presentation of the final report. Brother will ask for the rights to use your name in publicity (which could also help promote your project), and requests rights to two images for editorial purposes. Any advertising use will be negotiated separately.

Interested? Tell Brother what you have in mind by e-mailing Jeff Blumenfeld at Deadline: June 1, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Apa Sherpa Summits Everest for Record 21st Time

Apa Sherpa, Climbing Leader of Eco Everest Expedition 2011 reached the summit of Mt. Everest for the 21st time on May 11 - a new world record. Apa said he is committed to supporting the efforts of Dawa Steven Sherpa, leader of the Eco Everest Expedition to bring awareness to the world community about Climate Change and to help remove old garbage from the slopes of Mt. Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest).

Dawa Steven Sherpa said that “This Expedition is focused on climbing in an Eco-sensitive manner to keep Everest clean and collect garbage, debris and waste left by past expedition groups. The collected garbage will be brought down to the Base Camp by members of the clean up team for proper disposal. The Eco Expedition used alternative energy solutions such as parabolic solar cookers, solar lights, ultraviolet light pens for water purification, and portable toilets called CMC (Clean Mountain Can).

In addition wreckage parts of the Italian Army helicopter were also recovered from the edge of the Khumbu Icefall. The helicopter crashed at 6100 to 6500m during the Italian Everest Expedition in 1973 (thus demonstrating the movement of the Khumbu Icefall 1.3 km over the past 36 years. Also more than 400 kilos of human waste produced by Eco Everest Expedition was removed, along with four dead bodies brought down from the mountain for a dignified burial.

The sponsors of this year's Eco Everest Expedition 2011 "Cash for Trash" garbage collection program are Asian Trekking Pvt. Ltd and The North Face.

Dawa Steven Sherpa and his Eco Everest Expedition team are continuing this initiative to create awareness among the local people and among the climbers to help keep Mt. Everest and the Himalayan Mountains clean.

Monday, May 2, 2011


A furniture maker and endurance cyclist from London has hatched an audacious plan to build a boat made of discarded New York City constructions materials, tow the boat behind his bicycle 300 miles to the source of the Hudson River in the Adirondacks, then paddle back downriver. Not as wild as you’d think – the adventurer, James Bowthorpe, 33, has done it before on the Thames River in London, traveling 130 miles. And oh yeah, in 2009 he completed an 18,000-mile bike ride across 20 countries in less than six months, beating the world record by 20 days.

Bowthorpe met us in a coffee shop near the Explorers Club in New York to explain his plan. With fiery red hair and beard that makes him look like a modern day Viking, we shared tea while he explained how he planned to MacGyver a craft together this September, then sail from Lake Tear in the Clouds to the Atlantic.

Bowthorpe plans to scour the streets of New York for metal, timber and anything else of use he can load onto a bicycle trailer and pedal to a Manhattan workshop he has yet to secure. A combination of welding and carpentry will create a one-man, 12-ft. paddleboat that’s strong and reliable enough to withstand the bicycle ride north, an eight-mile portage to the river’s source, then a descent of thousands of feet during an eight-week journey downriver. A documentary of the Hudson River Project will be videotaped by a crew following along in a motorhome.

“I hope to encourage people that adventure should be a day-to-day activity – you don’t have to climb Everest to find adventure,” he said in a dry monotone not unlike Karl Pilkington on popular Ricky Gervais podcasts.

As he left the coffee shop, it was trash day on the Upper East Side and Bowthorpe couldn’t help but gaze longingly at a metal filing cabinet someone had discarded. It seemed like a good gunwale to us, but it’s a little too early for this Englishman in New York to start scrounging just yet.

(For more information:, Antony Crook, 917 803 1026,