Will Steger, Peter Breslow
Polar expedition discussion.
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
1 Apr 1997
MinnesotaSt. Louis County
- Steger Homestead
- 48.0875897 -91.7262268
NPR/NGS RADIO EXPEDITIONS log of interview with Will Steger DAT 5 ELY, MN
resuming pulling the sled -at top of 3rd pass in DOUBLE OMNI
00:48-2:41 ambi -waiting for WS to come back over the hill
G 3:15-4:08 ambi can hear WS come over the hill pulling the sled -passes from one side to another
G 4:25-10:21 Flawn in the canoe
G 12:06 -ambi twin lavs on WS as he pulls canoe (Flawn's note on DAT case -only left is usable) -good -WS walking and breathing hard as he walks through wet snow -@ 15:00 recording no longer good -something wrong with the lavs? through 18:24
18:45 back at the cabin -mixing up a drink -protein supplement -WS talks about the drink -and things that make it possible for him to do the trip his gear and his high protein diet ....ambi ¬in bg while he talks about the drink of WS mixing the drink, pouring water intot he substance .... 500 calories in the drink
21:41 -WS talks about the diet on his trip -high carbs ... 55% carbs, info on carbs vs. fat diet
23:41 -WS -hopes to ingest 5 or 6 thousands -2.4 ounces of food a day... 24:40 -WS talking about the sponsors of the trip ¬NGS and Shakley....overall budget for trip is about 450,000, 2/3 is education and telecommunications ... logistics are much more simple than past trips -no dogs ...
OK 27:45 -looking through NG magazine -WS describing the
struggles going over ridges and open water while PB looks at
photos -with a canoe sled water won't be the same
obstacle/barrier -it will be an asset
30:19 PB -odds that you will fall into water?
WS -there are odds ....probably fall through a couple of times
30:16 WS -reading journal from '86 NG -you have all of these obstacles but thesses are very real -just like life -esp. when you are thinking too many steps ahead -you learn to live withe moment -it saves a lot of energy -WS reads more ...
G 33:57 -WS -i think about those who died and loneliness in
polar regions ... i need to be among sparkling red hearts 34:21 ¬
WS reads this again -GOOD -about human heart ....
34:56 -PB -his thoughts on the tragedy on mt.everest -has thought every crossed his mind of perishing out there by himself
WS -can't take the same type of risks -but i think a few times as i am hauling the wood that i want to be around next yr to enjoy the heat from this wood and i want to be really cautious this summer 36:06 -i am always cautious, but i need to be super cautious -and as i get older i enjoy life so much and i just want to keep enjoying it as long as i can. i don't want to waist it on an expedition...something about the polar region -it is not a place you want to die, in that type of isolation, there is no type of human heart around it is just -it's harsh ....
PB -will yo utake the same route you took on this trip?
WS -actually i will take the same route in reverse ¬
WS goes to get map
**VG 37:32 -rolls out map -looking at map of the arctic ocean WS -10,000 feet deep, like a cereal bowl, ice on surface is thin.... it moves mainly with the prevailing winds ... transpolar drift -(talking about current and how he will be pulled) want to head down the 70th meridian ...the drift will work against me -i will loose ground with it...basically 500 miles from north pole to elsemere island...ward hunt island -plane with wheels will come and pick me up ...will find my location with gps but the day...... i will navigate through what is called the global positioning system....
*** 41:59 PB -so how are you going to navigate
* G WS -through the global positioning system..... (explanation) ...navigation of what direction i use the sun, if sun is not available i can use wind direction or the compass in a white out. keep in mind in a white out situation there isn't a reference point to travel to .....
43:00 PB -will it be sunny most of the time?
WS -no, i am expecting the sun to shine prob. about 50% of the time -if i am lucky -i am expecting about 30% of the time to be white out, cloudy, foggy, rain, conditions thatyou can't see very well, and then hopefully some clear weather
PB -and you aren't going to see anyone are you?
WS -.. it would be really strange to see someone ...no i don't
expect to see anybody, and i hope not to see any bears
44:00 PB -are there any indigenous people that travel these areas?
WS -no -people never travel out onto the arctic ocean . ... . they will seldom go out any distance at all on the sea ice ...there isn't a lot of game out there and there is no reason to be out there
44:28 -PB -ice there vs. ice of antarctica
WS -antarctica is a continent, the arctic is a giant basin ...it is almost like a giant pushed it's thumb on the top of the earth making a huge depression of 10,000 feet deep and on the other side that depression came out which is the antarctic continent ¬antarctic itself is average 10,000 feet high -the opposite and at the south pole ..... .
PB -which do you prefer?
45:20 -WS -i definitely prefer the arctic .... it's a lot more hostile there ...never really warms up -very brutal ...the arctic regions you have culture around the coastlines, wildlife .. . to me the arctic is like my backyard -if i go 2000 miles north of here i am in the arctic regions ...actually the road you traveled on is one of the last roads you would find if you would travel from here to the polar sea. you would cross the trans canadian hwy and you wouldn't hit another road until you went over to russia -in a way it's not that far away. our water here flows to the arctic ocean ...
WS -talking about the currents -effecting florida, etc -trans¬bounding pollution? in the arctic regions pollution goes directly into the food chain... it is slowing breaking down the immune systems ....ozone problem 50:15 -biggest one of all is global warming and global change ...51:50 we are inter-related very closely to the arctic ...
52:30 -...antarctica doesn't have the trans-pollution problem bc protected by southern ocean ....pollution in india ends up in the arctic
54:20 will on a wireless lav and peter on a wireless byeron 58 ¬left and right respectively
54:54 PB -come on! what is taking you! l have no prob walking here!
PB -how closely do these conditions mirror your trip?
G WS -the 1st week or 10 days might be like this ...these are the worst .....
PB -what is your routine ...
G WS -pull 15 mins rest 10, 4 sessions like that ... sleep for 1 1/2 hours .......call it a day after 8 or 9 hrs ......eventually will eliminate the noon break ....
57:00 PB sometimes you will take a day off?
WS -yes. generally every week .... that may vary....go with the flow if weather is good go longer ....i will be heading from the north pole, heading south from canada so i will travel -i have my choice bc it is 24 hour light -i will travel on central time, basically where i will be traveling into the sun. the reason i travel into the sun is bc i need to sun to navigate on ....the disadvantage is that you have the sun on your face during the clear weather which is really difficult. the ultra violet up there is really quite intense ....
58:24 PB -I realize that you are pulling 250 lbs and youreally aren't breathing much harder than i am so i guess you are in pretty good shape ¬
WS -not yet! i am not confident yet ... i am getting there ....but next week taking 150 mile trip down from canada to ely ... that will give me the confidence ... i have to continue this physical regime until the day i leave here ....my life really depends on being in shape ...another reason i took on this project is i will be 53 this summer and i wanted a really good physical goal ...at 53 -the goal there is to be really in top shape ....when you get older you need to set person goals -take on a project where you have to exert yourself ... it's imp. to push your limits physically and mentally.....
PB -i like to work out a lot myself, but this really does not
look like very much fun
1:00:44 WS -well, i am starting to feel good... towards the end of the day i have a hard time stopping...the reason i have the sauna n now is that if i over exert a little bit it will relax my muscles ... it takes that initial ....
PB -can you get a rhythm going?
WS -yeah -50 mins on 10 mins rest ...you go by the clock
basically...pacing is really essential ....got to get good
thoughts in your mind -i designed that bldg there -the retreat
center when i crossed antarctica .... that makes the time pass
fast .... if you get into heavy thinking the time goes slow, but
good thoughts -time passes fast and you really enjoy the day
1:03:20 -WS ... i am planning 50 days, i am hoping i can do it quicker than 50 .... if it turns 50 or more it is going to turn out to be an epic adventure ...the imp. thing is to relax ... worrying is a waste of energy...
PB -how much will you sleep?
1:04:40 -ws -hopefully 8 hrs ... (talks about sleeping)
PB -will it be easier if you come to open water and haul the canoe?
1:05:15 WS -it is easier to haul the canoe .... the whole strategy i have depends on good ice. if you have good ice you can pull a 250 lb canoe w/one finger ...
1:05:49 pb -and you are wearing spiked shoes as opposed to skiis
WS -spiked shoes give me the grip ....pulling this amount of weight ... if it was a snowing situation i would want skis but bc is icy.. it is really quite clumsy in these conditions
PB -if you do have to take a day off you just hang out in your tent?
1:06:25 WS -yeah ... (talks about what he does ... )
1:07:02 PB -so you are going to be there out by yourself in a tent -are you worried about the ice breaking up in the middle of the night?
WS -a little bit -you don't have to worry, but you need to be prepared for the ice to break up or a bear to come in ...there fore you have to have everything packed up ...emergency planned out ...you have to be prepared -instant notice ...you preconceive what you are going to do ... so all of the sudden if you are woken up in the middle of the night you can react real promptly in the direction you want to go ...
PB -yet you can relax being in this automatic pilot mode of emergency that is waiting to erupt, but there is another part of you that can totally relax?
1:08:19 WS -totally relax... that is the problem i have with sleeping in civilization -every sound i hear i am up ready to go and then i can't go back to sleep ... i live in that kind of mode out there, it is very comfortable, but any sound -anything that breaks the rhythm .....
PB -it seems like your boy is in this quasi state of alert
1:09:02 WS -you sleep with your ears open. you sleep listening...that is a survival reflex of our civilization...you get in tune with the harmony around and that is very soothing ...when i am walking on the ice ...a way of being alert ...
1:10:39 PB -are you in some way closer to being an animal in that state....
WS -youa re closer being a human being -bc a human being is
highly instinctual if it is developed properly and highly
intellectual so you are developing your instincts ...you are more
human -you are allowing the human animal side -which is us ¬
1:12:09 -1:12:36 ambi of place of convo
~1.:13:57 -1:16:22 will and peter walking down hill (with sled, ~ut it is empty)
1:16:59 -will loading wood -in the distance
1:18:39 WS -6:30! wow!
PB -it is late for you , huh?
PB -no it is not too bad i wusually quit at 7
1:19:25 PB -so, will could you describe right now what youa re doing?
1:19:30 WS -i am pulling up deep wet snow a 300 lb load in the canoe ...TALK abut the regime .....doing it since -basically a pull ike this every other day -it is pretty strenuous ...2 sets of 6, haul wood ...crescendo of the day when i haul like this
... talk about test run from canada ...getting tuned up .... PB -you are going to do something like this for 50 days?
1:21:25 WS yeah -50 days, 8 hrs a day in the beginning -prob 14-16 hrs a day at the end ...
PB -closely does this mirror what youare going to do?
WS-to tell you the truth i hope it is not going to be this tough ...1:22:27 -part of the key to this is proper footing ... that is why i wear spiked boots .. the traction is part of the job here ....
PB -what happens if i blowout a knee ...
WS -it is a big problem ...
PB -how can you be rescued?
WS-it is so isolated i don't know if the americans or the canadians have a helicopter that can cover that distance ... i know the russians do -it is $$$ a min. of $100,000 .... talk about his daily schedule (hauling wood in the canoe) the rhythm like in
mountain climbing is very imp .... 1 will extend my hours ¬hopefully to go for 10 hours
1:25:23 PB -so about a month and a half out what do you find that you miss?
WS-oh boy i miss the fine things like the smell of elan -grass, flowers, your wife, parents, loved ones ...you miss life -just life ... i think about sleeping in a bed that is really dry ¬sitting at a table ... i miss sushi .... i never take for granted a dry bed ....
1:27:03 PB -so being connected to email must take some of the edge loneliness
WS -some of it ...writing in my journal to hundreds of people -i don't get too much 2 way... 1:28:59 i am doing this trip for basically 2 reasons. one pure and simple it is a personal best ....that to me is great, i am glad to be challenged that way. the second part of it is the educational part of it. the ability to communicate out ... if it wasn't for the telecommunications i doubt i would do the trip. it is not enough incentive ... the feedback we get from students is very rewarding
1:30:26 PB -what kind of dog is he?
WS -he is a polar breed -an eskimo dog -a combo of husky, a little bit of wolf (and others ... )he is a lot like his great
1:41:48 -outside ambi
G 1:42:25 door of sauna slams, will walks out of sauna, 1:42:44 -WILL GOES INTO WATER, dunks in...1:43:19 -PB: brisk? WS ¬yeah. it is cool!
1:47:03 wolves in distance
1:47:22 end of dat