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Eric Larsen

2011-10-18 Interview with Active Junky

Over at Active Junky Eric was asked what his "absolute warmest piece of gear" was. We're not surprised about his answer.

Hard to pick just one. First, would have to be my Terramar baselayer - I use a three layer system: Helix, Thermawool and Geofleece that wicks moisture away from my body and keeps me pretty darn toasty even when it gets to 40 below. My Sierra Designs Fiend down jacket and pants are ridiculously warm, too. I remember huddling below the Hilary Step on Everest and thinking, ‘I've never been so warm.'  Lastly, my MSR XGK stove - the heat generated from this small stove is a lifesaver. I can't even begin to describe the feeling of how amazing that first little bit of warmth is after an intense day on the ice.

Read the rest of the interview here

Eric Larsen

2011-07-22 Last Moments with Ice

I'm nearing the end of my time with Lindblad / National Geographic Expeditions. And as much as I'd like to regale you with stories about enduring innumerable physical hardships but our ship, the National Geographic Explorer, is well fitted and roughly 1,000 times more comfortable than my Sierra Designs polar tunnel tent. (Sorry SD, you make great tents, but this ship is five star).

It has been an incredible two weeks cruising around the island of Spitzbergen dodging ice bergs and arctic terns. To summarize the places we've been and the amazing things we've seen can hardly do them justice, but I have to try.

For starters, we've sighted over 20 polar bears in the last six days! So incredible to see these amazing animals in their natural habitat. Summer is tough time for polar bears and with continually receding ice many remain land locked and hungry. Yesterday, a visit by a particularly lean bear cut short a walk up to a dovkie rookery.

Friendly walrus? Talk to any Inuit hunter in Canada and Greenland and they will tell you simply and direct: Stay away from walrus. They are mean and dangerous. Yet, at one haul out point, several curious walruses (walri?) swam up just a few feet from some of our group.

I don't like to pick favorites, but I have always been partial to the Arctic Tern. Both tenacious and delicate, the arctic tern has always been a symbol of true wilderness for me. It's hard to imagine their lilting flight could be sustained for more than a few miles at a time. Yet, these are the longest migrating animals in the world flying between the Arctic and Antarctic every year - logging well over 10 million miles of flight time by then end of their lives.

For me, being in the Arctic is like coming home. Everything about this places seems to inspire me - its smell, the ice, the sheer vastness of the space... Two days ago, we crossed the 80th parallel - 600 nautical miles to the North Pole. I could almost smell it.

Last week, we hiked to a small trappers cabin. It¹s location at the base of a huge cliff only made its size relative to this place seem even more miniscule. ŒWhat would it be like over winter here,¹ I wondered out loud. There is no question that the work would be never ending ­ finding and cutting firewood (only drift wood as no trees grow here), preparing traps, hunting for food, regularly checking the trap line, bitter cold, polar bears, northern lights that stretch across the sky - the immensity and grandeur of this place your back yard. It is hard not to wonder how about the road not taken.

Image: The view from my new cabin - I wish!