Barking sled dogs
Jerry Kubalenko, Elizabeth Arnold
Arctic expedition discussion.
Radio transceiver sounds
Corwin Peterson, Elizabeth Arnold
Arctic expedition discussion.
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
29 Apr 1999
- 74.6841088 -94.9040222
DPA4006 omni mics; Sonosax preamp
Show: North Pole
Log of DAT #: 8
"Back in Resolute #1: Huskies, Jerry Kubalenko, Corky"
ng = not good
ok = okay
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vg = very good
2:10 - 10:20
Just tell me who you are.
And where you're from.
I am a journalist from Toronto.
And how old are you?
And when we ran into you¿well, what have you just done?
Well, I was going to ski around Axel Heiberg Island, which is the island just to the west of Ellesmere, which is the northernmost land in North America.
And what happened?
Well, the snow's a little bit too soft for the sled I was carrying, which was 330 pounds. And so I needed to make 10 miles a day, could only make 7 or 8. I wasn't going to get to the real key area I wanted to look at and I was searching for the remains of a German explorer who disappeared about 70 years ago. And so, there was no point in going on so I turned back.
So that was the basis of your trip?
Yes, I know a lot about the island and its history, so I have, sort of, hit points all along the way I was¿I wanted to look at a site of a murder at the northern end of the island that happened back in 1914, but even that would have been a hard, one month slog, and I had already done the entire route except for that one little murder site, so I figured it wasn't¿it wasn't worth it.
EA 15: 02
How did you know about it?
Just historic research. I've been traveling the island since '86 and so I kind of know a lot the stories that happened there and the interesting thing about the High Arctic is how nothing rots, and so it's the world's most wonderful outside museum and people in the Southwest, I used to explore in the desert and finding little bits of Anasazi pottery. Well, you explore the Arctic and you can find the cans that the explorers used in the 19th century, the stone huts they lived in, the clothing they wore, sometimes buttons still attached. It's very special and I never liked history as a kid and didn't like the academic stuff, but this is living history and it's hard to ignore.
It's basically preserved because of the weather?
That's right. It's in a refrigerator for 11 months of the year and the other month is pretty dry, so it's gonna be around for hundreds of years and I've found notes, notes and bottles that are 50 years old.
Now when you say, traveling around the island, most people think, oh, traveling around the island and driving around. Explain what you mean by "traveling around."
Well, the way you travel up there is either by skiing or walking it at this time of year, which is April and May. And what I do is I haul my gear with me on a little fiberglass sled and I carry enough for however long I'm going for, one month, two months, so you're carrying anywhere between 200 and 330 pounds, depending on how long you're going for. The snow is quite hard, so it's not the soft snow that people are used to down south. The wind packs the snow into something resembling concrete and it makes it very easy to walk on or to pull a sled on, but sometimes even a little dusting, the faintest skiff, can make a huge difference between pulling what feels like a kid's wagon down a sidewalk and pulling a heavy sack of potatoes.
You must make some agonizing decisions when you're trying to decide what to bring and what not to bring.
No, because I've been doing¿I've done 14 of these, and so, it's pretty routine. Every trip you try a little something different, you know, in diet or gear. But no, essentially I have it all and I throw it in the same bags and same sled and do the same sort of thing.
So what, did you try anything different this trip?
What did I try different, let's see. Different model of global positioning system, some different type of shortbread, that sort of thing.
So different shortbread.
Different shortbread, I had different parka and different insulated pants. But really, 90 percent of the gear was the same and the stuff that's different was stuff that I had designed for me and so I was quite familiar with what I wanted.
How do you describe it to someone¿(inaudible)¿when you've been out there, how long have you been out there?
I'd just be out for a couple of weeks. I mean, often I'm out for 6, 7, one month. How would I describe the landscape. Well, the, I mean, parts of the Arctic, the Arctic's as big as Europe, and it's as varied as Europe as well in its own way. And there are islands that are as flat as a pancake and consist of nothing but gravel and there are others that have peaks up to 8500 feet, beautiful glaciers and deep fjords that are full of wildlife, so the Arctic is a very varied place, and I specialize in the most spectacular of areas, which are the Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg island area.
Why do you think they're the most spectacular?
Well, they have the mountains, they have the wildlife, and here in Resolute for example, it's very often cold, it's, even in the summer it never quite feels very warm. But there are parts of Ellesmere where it's T-shirt weather for half a dozen days at least, sometimes a couple of weeks in the summertime. And they call them polar oases, and you can sit around in a T-shirt, it feels, it just feels great, and there are flowers everywhere, where they're like meadows. Relatively rich, it's not as rich as you'd get down south, but considering that you're 500 miles from the North Pole, it's surprisingly, there's surprisingly abundant wildlife and plant life.
What draws you to the Arctic?
Well, I don't know, I began, it's an evolving interest. I began doing hard expeditions, where I'd go and push myself as hard as I could and it was, it began as a beautiful gymnasium. And then I evolved an interest in photography and went to places like Ellesmere to photograph the scenery and the wildlife so it became a beautiful photo studio. And then eventually it evolved into what is now a beautiful outdoor museum where I go and look for the remains of old explorers or notes they left behind or pieces of the history that haven't been put together yet.
Something's obviously pulling you back
Well, partly as well, the more you know a place, the more intimate you become with it. So rather than just look at this landscape and seeing whiteness or nice hills, pretty hills, I look at it and say, "Well, there was the place that the Greeley expedition starved and here was the place where the Norwegian explorer Sverdrip had an incident with a polar bear and over here." You can build this sort of chain of events almost everywhere you go, so it becomes quite a rich place. And more than that, because so few people have walked in this region, it's so difficult to get to, and the walking is, it's not easy, you feel a direct connection with the explorers in a way that you don't in areas elsewhere. There are parts of these islands where I know the exact lineage of who has been there before and sometimes I know personally the people who've preceded me. And so, on the Western side of Axel Heiberg, for example, I know there have been six people that have walked that coast, and I know two of them personally. So when there are that few people to walk what is an area the size of Ireland, you feel, it's very special, there's a deep connection. And it's the connection, I think, that keeps me coming back.
You know, you were just talking about maybe 5, 6 people who have come before you. You must turn over in your mind¿(inaudible)¿the whole notion of expeditions and what drives you.
Well, sure, and different expeditions have different motives. Some go as, as stunts essentially, they're projects designed to draw attention to the organizers or participants. There are others that are there as hard travel, you might say, where the idea is to go as hard as possible. And then there are the theme expeditions, where you've got, either you're going for culture or for a cause or, and there are many thousands of different types of theme expeditions, so yeah, I think of the different expeditions that preceded, and all these different types of expeditions, nothing new. I mean, in the 19th century, they had the angles on their expeditions as well.
How do you feel about that? Is there sort of a hierarchy or do you think there's just sort of something that links them all together?
I prefer, I think hard travel is quite interesting, because there's a lot of human interest involved. When the going gets tough, you get to know a lot about people in a very short time. But for me, I've done a lot of hard travel, and the trips I do are still, most people would consider them relatively hard, but they're not as hard as what I've done, and I find the culture more interesting now, and the discoveries, the cultural discoveries and the wildlife behavior that you discover as you're out there.
So your trips have really evolved, although I'd say that what you're still doing now, what you're doing now considered by most people would be extraordinarily hard.
Well, it's hard in some ways and it's not hard in others. If you're always, if you've always been active, then walking 10 miles a day. You know, I do 500 mile trips. Well, that sounds like a terrific amount, but if you realize that a 500 mile trip just means walking 10 miles a day for 50 days, well, a lot of people can walk 10 miles a day.
Pulling a sled?
Pulling a sled, okay, well, pulling a sled in the right snow. You have to choose your snow because it can either be a grim ordeal where you're working like a draft horse, or it can be almost like walking on a sidewalk. On the hard snow that you get up there sometimes, I can pull a 150 pound sled, I'm dancing on the ice. It's hopping along behind me as if it had no weight at all, it's like I'm on the moon.
Did you, in this most recent trip did you encounter any obstacles or, what would you call difficulty?
Well, the only obstacle was really the snow conditions, because I had, I was equipped for two months, and that's a lot. It means I had 160 pounds of food and lots of fuel and other gear and camera gear and all my notes for the historic areas, so the snow needed to be absolutely rock hard, hard as ice, which it usually is in that area. And just an inch of snow can make a huge difference, and that's in fact what happened. It turned into nothing but hard travel, there was no culture. I was working from dusk¿from, well, dawn to dusk, there's no dawn and no dusk, but¿
From round to round, I guess¿
From round to round. All day, no breaks, just go, collapse, sleep, let my legs recover for 9 hours, go again, and I was only, I was making less than I needed to make. So there was all pain and no gain.
Your cheeks look pink.
Well, my cheeks are a little frostbitten, but that's more a function of the trips I've done in the past than this one. When you get frostbitten once, it's easier to get it again. And now, pretty well every trip I go out on, the same cheeks get frostbitten and it's just, it's nothing. It's a little injury, it goes away, it doesn't bother me at all. But it's from other trips, and if you look at me cross-eyed, I get frostbite now on my cheeks.
Well, it's a tattoo of having been there, I guess.
That's right. Very impressive for the first few days, and then it gets to look like normal and you're back to your city mode.
Now have you been to the Pole?
No, never did, and that's a whole different shtick. You know, it's, people who go to the Pole either have very deep pockets or they're organizers who don't mind spending three years of their lives fundraising to do this. Because of the logistics, the airplane logistics involved, it's extremely expensive to get there or even to get to the starting point to go there. And I've never wanted to invest that time in what's really not a very interesting area to my mind. The Arctic Ocean has its challenges, it's definitely hard travel. But there's a sameness to it, there's little wildlife, and while there's a history, you don't really see any evidence of the history apart from the ice itself, whereas, I go up every year. I go up sort of lean and mean and fast and cheap, and I don't have to spend years of my life fundraising. I just, I go on my own ticket. I'm able to travel and I think I have a better time.
But there seems to be a current culture up here in the Arctic, the Pole expeditions, but also expeditions around in this whole area. You know, we ran into the Italians and the Spaniards, and then you run into people at the airport, Brits and Aussies and Paul's group and all that.
But they were all going to the Pole, you know. The Pole is a magnet, like Everest. The Pole is the northern Everest. And Everest and the North Pole are kind of the two sexy adventure destinations in the world. And so you get a lot of people drawn by the mystique of the Pole, even though, you know I would say Everest had a mystique. The North Pole, too, I suppose, but only if you don't know what's there. If you know what's there, there's, I don't find there's much of a mystique there.
Do you run into people and think, "Oh, he's so ill-put to be doing this."
Oh, you see a lot of that. I mean, there are some people. You know, different nationalities have different styles. The French are very sophisticated and almost, they have to do things in an elegant way or look to make things more difficult for themselves. The British often tend to go off half-cocked in order to test themselves. They are, in the Arctic, they are and have always been "gentleman amateurs," where it's not quite cricket to know too much or to be too well-equipped, because then it's not a true test of character. And the Norwegians have always been very, very cool and calculating and efficient and they've always been awesome as polar explorers but a little bit dull in their accounts because nothing ever happens to them because they're so competent.
And the Americans?
Americans have a mixed record. They've done some really good stuff, and nowadays, the Americans are very competent, but they've also had some spectacular disasters in this area and Ellesmere is one of them. The second most spectacular, or greatest disaster in Arctic history was the Greeley expedition, which took place on the east coast of Ellesmere and 19 of 25 died, mainly from starvation, under the walls of this little makeshift hut that they'd built. And it's a great tragedy and it's probably the most haunted place I've seen on the island. You go there and you can see the ghosts of these thin men waiting for help that never came. And their clothing is still there. The sheet that they draped over their hut is still there. The cans that they apportioned minutely to the sixteenth of an ounce are still there. Everything is still there.
The whole culture of expeditions has been changing rapidly, hasn't it? First we had the advent of GPS and now we have the iridium phones and the iridium pagers.
Well, the GPS is useful because it can confirm that you've been to the North Pole, because historically there was always the question. Unlike the top of a mountain peak where you can get to the top of a peak and you can photograph your view in every direction and that's your proof that you've been there and you haven't just said you have. Whereas the North Pole, every place looks the same on the frozen Arctic Ocean and so, how do you tell you've been there? Well, there are ways of navigating, but there are also ways of fudging that navigation to say you've been there. Whereas with the GPS, the global positioning system that uses satellites to show precisely where you are, you can't make a mistake, and what most people do is they photograph the GPS saying they are at the North Pole. So there's no error there, either, you see? No error possible.
So what do people do now to confirm?
What most people do is when they're at the North Pole, they will photograph their GPS showing them at 90 degrees north, so now there is no room for error, just like photographing the panoramic view from the top of a mountain peak is confirmation that they've actually made the summit.
So if Peary and Henson had had a GPS and a camera¿
There'd be no question, sure.
What do you think about these iridium phones and pagers?
Well, I¿coming as someone who's never used a radio and I mainly relied on myself and that means you have to be very conservative. All your decisions have to be much more conservative than if you have a radio, and if you¿because then if something goes wrong, you just call for help, you call for an airplane, you get out. Whereas if you're traveling without a radio, then you've got to be very cautious because it's the real thing. Two-way radios have been used by expeditions here for years, but they've been 15 pounds, and sort of big, bulky things that you have to set up and string an aerial up every night and so on. For the past few years, people have been using satellite phones as well, but they don't work very well. And most of the satellite phones, because of the configuration of the satellites, don't work north of about 79 or 80 degrees. That makes them useless going to the Pole. So what some people did, is different systems have different pluses and minuses, and there were some systems that let you send like a small number of characters rather than actual voice communication, but with the new phone system, it's gonna change the whole nature of wilderness travel because no matter where you are in the world, you can simply phone home and say hi to ma. If you're at the top of Everest or paddling in the middle of the, middle of a lake, or anywhere at all, it's the cell phone for the wilderness.
You know, earlier you were talking about finding bottles with messages in them. I was listening to this man call his wife from the North Pole and say, he was saying, "Save this tape." He got an answering machine, so he said, "Save this taped message because it," it's basically his letter from the Pole except it's on an answering machine someplace in Cincinnati.
That's right. Well, technology is changing a lot, but there are certain basic realities that don't change. The wind is still cold, the air is still cold, there are still things that you have to deal with out there, you still have to be thinking. So that can't change. You can still get in trouble, it's just easier to get out of it now.
The sense of perspective that you get, that can't possibly change.
No, although having a lifeline to civilization does affect how you think and how you behave.
Is that why you choose not to have one?
Yes, that's one of the reasons. And another is simply practicality, a certain amount of the gear that you're bringing is insurance in case something goes wrong. You bring a gun because, even though I'm not a hunter, I've never hunted anything, anyone who travels here need protection against polar bears.
You were just mentioning polar bears and I'm sure you get this question all the time, but what about polar bears?
Well, bears are the wild card out there. The Arctic is really quite a safe environment and unlike the mountains there's not really any avalanches to harm you and you don't get high altitude sickness, but bears are a bit of wild card and some people have had incidents with bears and I've had one, ten years ago. But, as a rule, they leave you alone and they're so, they're so rare anyway that you know, you see, they move by, you know, once every week or something and most of them leave you alone.
Do you ever have moments when you're out there, when it's getting particularly difficult or whatever, or the wind hasn't stopped blowing and it's a whiteout or whatever, and you say, "Jerry! My God, man, what am I doing out here?"
Not "what am I doing?", but "I don't want to be here now." But I know that if I don't want to be here now, I'll want to be there tomorrow or next year or next month.
Is that how you get through those moments?
Sure, sure. Because these trips are not enjoyable in the way that going to a movie or the simple pleasures back home that of course everyone enjoys are enjoyable. These trips are delayed gratification, where the hard work and the discomfort, and there is hard work and there is discomfort, pay off later when you look back on it. That's where the really enjoyment comes. It's the looking back on it. And that's really what adventure is. It's discomfort or danger recollected in tranquillity, as some recently said.
That's lovely. So do you think you'll keep doing it?
Oh, sure. I'll be doing this when I'm 60.
Damn, I'm cold.
How do you describe the landscape?
I can describe it in a million words or a few. It's austere, for sure. It's a pure, that's a word that I find myself coming back to. It's a pure landscape, especially at this time of year, when the hills are just all white. And sometimes the only difference, it looks like, between the ground and the hill and the sky is just a very graceful curve, just a white line, just drawn in the sky. It's just a very pure landscape.
Once in that flat light I fell off a six foot cliff and didn't know it was there and had to dive out of the way as the sled kind of came hurtling down on me. And after that, I got really careful and later in that day, I was skiing along, and I noticed that the snow ahead was just slightly discolored, just ever so slightly darker than the snow at my feet, so I said, well, better be careful, 'cause the light is so strange today, so I bent down. I made a snowball and I lobbed it where the dark snow was. I didn't see it touch bottom, and three feet ahead there was a 20 foot cliff. You just didn't see it all.
And that's just because everything is¿
Because everything is white and there's no shadows. When there's no shadows, there's no relief. You know up from down, but you can't see a three foot mound of white snow against it when everything is white and there's no shadows. Shadows tell us where we are. And it's a light you don't get down south. It's very particular to the Arctic on overcast days.
Now that's different from the concept of a whiteout.
Yeah, the whiteout happens when it's blowing so hard, and I had a whiteout last year, where there's not only, you're not only surrounded by white, but the blowing snow obliterates the sky, and there's no difference between up and down, and you get disoriented, and I just had to stop. Just stay in place and wait until this little brief squall was over and then I could go on again. But the whiteout is when you can't tell up from down, but that's quite rare. You've got to have a good strong wind in blowing snow and the right lighting conditions. But the flat light happens all the time, and sometimes it's more impressive than others. But it happens¿every overcast day you get a certain amount of flat light.
In the springtime, I mean I know there are birds, but in terms of mammals, we're only talking about musk oxen, and what, arctic hares.
Well, there are 7 mammals in the High Arctic. 7 land mammals, yeah. There's the ermine, which is a kind of weasel. There's the lemming. There's musk ox , perry caribou, Arctic wolf, polar bear, and Arctic hare. And that's it, that's the entire roster.
And the occasional expeditioner.
Yes, it's funny sometimes, being the only person on an island the size of Ireland. It's quite an experience at the turn of the millennium.
Then it must be nice to see other mammals, when you're thinking in that way.
Even two-legged ones. Yeah, that's¿just like, I mean the, depriving yourself of a certain amount of comfort now and then really appreciates, really enhances your appreciation of the comfort when you get back home. I never enjoy a bowl of hot popcorn as much as when I've come back from two months in the wilderness. It has almost exquisite taste.
And that's really only a window of time when you can do a lot of travel, isn't there? But I'm sure there's extremes in terms of like what you saw and what you experienced just in the last couple of weeks and if you came up, say a month from now. This'll be a completely different world.
Oh, sure. A month from now most of the snow will be gone and the sea ice will still be frozen, but it'll be melting, and they'll be ponds all over the place. You have to use different type of travel. In a month, you'd have to use, well, you could still use a sled if you're traveling on the sea ice, but it'd be very wet. And what I would do is use a combination of a kayak and a sled. And then in late June, early July, you get into the hiking season, or the kayaking season, where you can find little bits of open water or you can hike and get around that way. But the reason the spring is so popular despite the cold is that sledding lets you carry a month's worth of food fairly easily. And you can't do that with a backpack, or you can, but it's a grim experience.
Is there anything that I haven't asked you about that's important for people to know or that you'd like to share about this time that you've spent here?
No, a lot of people. Well, a lot of people dismiss the Arctic as just a frozen wasteland, and it's certainly not for everyone, but a lot of people come up here and find more than they expected. And a lot of people come here and find a lot meaning. And there is meaning in the Arctic, and there's beauty, and it appeals to a lot of people. And so, I think there are a lot of people who would enjoy it up here, just because it's so big and so magnificent and untamed and subtle, in some ways.
That meaning would be different for every individual.
Yeah, that's right. And people, different people would find their own meaning here. And as you know, some of these tour groups come north, and I have to hand it to them. When I was doing these hard expeditions, I felt that some of these tour groups that came, that did their little thing were kidding themselves, this was wilderness with hand rails. They had a guide to show them around, they skied a little bit and then got flown out, and they didn't do any planning themselves. They were basically led around. And as I've come to know some of these people and to take part in some of these group tours as well as the things that I do, I've come to respect them a lot because they come up for the right reasons, a lot of them. They love the Arctic in the same way, and maybe they're not quite as obsessed with it as I am, but they go back home and they dream about it and it makes them really excited about the books of exploration that they read and really that's why I come up here too. So there is a connection, much more than I thought so at the beginning.
Great. Thank you so much.
voices (masked in static)
Tell me your name.
I'm Corwin Peterson.
And where are you from?
And I'm from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
And how old are you?
69 years old.
And what have you just done?
I have dog sledded and skied to the North Pole and as, I hate to use the word stunt, but I guess I will. As a stunt, I skied the last 69 miles, statute miles from the 89th parallel to the North Pole in under 69 minutes. A mile a year, a year a mile.
How do you feel saying that?
I feel no different, actually. In fact, I feel no different as far as the entire trip goes than any other people on the trip. Calendar makes no difference. Elizabeth, I feel euphoric. Just a sense of personal accomplishment, not public accomplishment. I mean we haven't done anything really public, that's for sure, just private. And I'm sure that's the way, or I'd like to think that's the way the others feel.
I meant, how do you feel being able to say, "I skied to the North Pole"?
A sense of inner pride.
When you say that, how does that make you feel?
Well, a sense of private accomplishment. I say private because they are certainly no public, no social, that I am immediately aware of. It's a private sense of accomplishment, kind of an inner peace. However, there is something I hope I can do with this. And that's to inspire or at least encourage other people in their 60s, 70s, and maybe even 80s, if they're in good health, to continue to pursue their dreams that they had when they were much younger. If not children, at least middle age. Continue to pursue that. There is no reason that they should have to stop just because the calendar says they're retirement age.
What was the trip like? I mean, how would you describe it to someone?
It was physically demanding and mentally demanding. Probably the most physical thing I have ever done for that period of time, for an extended period of time. It was tough. It pushed me certainly to my limits, so now I know what my limits are.
What was the, was it in terms of obstacles, was it the mental obstacles, oh my God, what am I doing out here, it's so cold, or was it the physical obstacles that were the toughest?
The first day it was a mental obstacle, and I think that was true with all of us. We got off the plane, the plane took off, and we all asked ourselves, "My God, what have I done?" It was cold, it was windy, we didn't know what we were doing. We're all amateurs. And we got going and stumbled over each other and our equipment. Knew we had 150 miles to go, yet it was a mental downer, but we got better as each day went by. And I would say the last 5 or 6 days we were making good time. We were certainly making more than 10 nautical miles a day, which isn't too bad for amateurs, I guess. Over some very rough terrain.
Were you after inner peace? What did you think you were out there for?
Well, Elizabeth, ever since I was a very small boy. I told somebody else, I sat in a classroom, I suppose, in elementary school, and they always had globes, and probably daydreamed and looked at the globe and wondered what was underneath the spindle.
Start over- what did you think you were doing? What did you think you were after out there?
Oh, that when I was a very little boy, probably in an elementary classroom, where they always have globes, that I possibly sat there and daydreamed and looked at that globe and wondered what was underneath the spindle. And that's been with me ever since. Also, as I grew older, in later years, my geography teacher I can remember clearly rigging up a flashlight and setting the globe and darkening the room and setting the globe in such a way of explaining the seasons and how this part of the world had only one sunrise, one sunset. And that sort of thing has fascinated me ever since. Now I've experienced it.
How do you feel about the Arctic?
Well, I think it's a beautiful place. It's beautiful, it has a cruel beauty. A mistake is gonna be a permanent one. It's very silent. I suppose, poetically, the silence is deafening. The beauty is cruel. The sun is cold.
It's a land of contrasts.
It's a land of contrasts. And right there, the word "land," it's not land. It's sea, yet we walk on it. So it's, everything about it is a contrast.
You've got a lot of time to think about it.
Oh, we have plenty of time, plenty of time. I also thought about my first meal home.
You know, I've been having a hard time describing it to people that I've, you know, coming up with really lame things like lemon meringue crust and you know, the sea sort of frozen in time. How would you describe that landscape out there?
It struck me as if I were to conjure up an image of another planet, this might be what it would look like. I don't know how I would describe it in earthly terms. Meringue, lemon meringue, or whipping, whipped cream or something, no, I think it's crueler than that. More like an alien world.
How did you feel about the trip overall and how other folks did and Paul's leadership?
Paul's leadership I cannot say enough positive about. This man, how he can take a diverse group of people from across the country, with a variety of skills, and take them into a hostile environment, I mean seriously hostile, and take the responsibility of leading them 150 miles to a goal and making it work. He deserves praise that's beyond words.
Now, a number of folks got frostbitten, and probably, maybe bit of more than they realized they could chew. Does that reflect badly on Paul or what is that?
Not as far as I'm concerned. I think there was ample warning on what to wear and what to do. We were all adults. A little frostbite, we all get that anyway.
It seems to me, you know, he could just be sort of an adventurer and be out there by himself, like Jerry or some of these other folks. It seems to me he almost seems to find a challenge in leading folks.
Yes, it's, I agree. And that is a mystery to me. It is not something I would enjoy doing, but he seems to. He seems to really get a kick out of taking a group of people just like us and achieving a goal with us.
What did you think about the sort of cultured folks who were up there? It was kind of fun when we skied up to the Spanish camp and¿
Well, isn't it though. Wasn't it though. That was fun. I guess it shows that people are the same the world over. There's adventurers in Spain and we never did get to see the Italians, but they were out there somewhere.
But isn't it funny that there's all these people up at the North Pole? Did you ever think that there'd be a¿.
Well, I've read enough books that yes, I was not surprised at that. I told Craig that, facetiously, you get in trouble up there, head for the Pole and someone will come along. And after all, this is the window of opportunity to go to the Pole. In another month or so, I suppose, or maybe less than that, the ice will be breaking up. It'll be impossible.
Do you feel like you're drawn somehow to the Arctic?
What's that all about?
I wouldn't want to muse publicly with anyone on that. I really don't know. But I am drawn to it, much more so that those who want to go to the jungles, for example, down to the Amazon or something. I have no particular desire to do that.
One silly question on another question entirely. These iridium phones and these iridium pagers- what do you think about this technology?
Oh, that's pretty neat. And I have nothing against it. I mean, that was great. It got us to the Pole within feet of where we should be. I took along my plastic sexton as you may know, just to play with it, as a toy, as fun. I couldn't come within a couple miles of the place.
You would have come all this way and you would have missed it. But what about the phone and the pagers, does that seem a little strange?
Well, it did to me. I made a big mistake there in not getting a pager of my own. I wish I had.
Oh, it'd be fun to get some greetings from some folks. I did get, Doug did work it out so that my daughter, anyway, could page me, send messages using Dave's pager. So I got a few messages. It would have been interesting to see who might have reacted to a 69 year old on this kind of a trip. That was a mistake on my part.
Well, you'll get that reaction, it'll just be, it just won't be instantaneous.
Well, I may get it at home on my e-mail. Maybe there'll be something there, we'll see.
And I did listen in to a phone call you made from close to the Pole to your wife. So you were ale to make a call from the Pole.
Incredible. And it was just like she was next door. Just unbelievable.
Is there anything I haven't touched on that you might want to say?
Well, we talked on Paul's leadership and I just can't say enough positive about him and what he's doing and I'm grateful to him for taking me along and taking the chance to take me along, 'cause I'm running out of years to do it.
I'm sure we'll catch up to you doing something else pretty soon.
You know what, I forgot to ask you about pulling Doug out of the drink. What happened?
Oh, we were crossing one of many leads and I got across at one point and Doug began to cross, oh maybe 5 yards to my right, and stuck his ski pole across the open water and tested the ice on the other side. It seemed solid, he took a jump, and the ice gave way. We heard the splash and we looked and he was up to his neck, really immersed. I, by that time, was on the other side of the lead with Doug, the same side that he had kind of splashed across to and he was splashing all over. I walked out on the shelf, the remaining ice shelf, and just assisted him up on the ice. If he had lost his strength or slipped or something and gone back in, I don't know how many chances you get. He would have got up. I did not save his life, make no mistake of that. I assisted him out. If he had slipped once more, then it would have been worse. Then we had him roll in the snow, and that was a lot of fun. I wish we had gotten, got a picture of that. But the emergency was more important, the urgency of the situation was more important.
So you didn't even really get a thought when you were doing it.
Well, hey, we're from Minnesota. I've seen ice before. It looked safe. It really does.
End of interview
1:27:38 - 1:29:00
wind with beep