Melting: Last Race to the Pole is a grueling, 500-mile journey over the frozen Arctic ocean. Starkly beautiful in the best of conditions, the scenery can turn ugly in seconds when vicious winds whip up the snow, blinding anyone who happens to be caught out in the open. However, there are some who crave that type of challenge including two of the world’s most experienced explorers, Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters.
Why travel to one of the most desolate, lonely and unforgiving environments in the world? Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters shared with CBS Denver that even though Larsen made the trip twice before, this trip will most likely be their last one. Eric and Ryan believe that climate change is mostly to blame for the rapidly melting ice pack. “The amount of open water just keeps getting bigger,” Waters said. Eric and Ryan plan to ski, snowshoe and even swim all the way to the North Pole if they have to, with no outside support of any kind.
Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters undertook this endeavor in the spring of 2014, leaving from Ellesmere Island in Canada with the plan to make it to the pole in less than 49 days, if possible. For the duration of the journey, Eric and Ryan pulled sleds with approximately 325 pounds worth of supplies behind them. Careful planning was essential, if Eric or Ryan forgot anything important, it could easily jeopardize their attempt to reach the pole.
According to TV Insider, shooting their own footage made the trip for Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters even more difficult and perilous. Running into thinning ice that fell away beneath their feet, deep trenches, and encountering a lot of open water, Larsen and Waters tell the subtle story of what they believe is the result of global warming through their footage.
“Telling the story of the North Pole and a melting Arctic Oceans has been the primary mission in my life for over 10 years… Partnering with Animal Planet is an incredible opportunity to bring this message to a global audience.”
Deteriorating conditions, gale-force winds, and 60-below temperatures aren’t the only worries Larsen and Waters face. More than once, Eric and Ryan encounter polar bears, and in a preview clip, one of them says, “Polar bear tracks, this is how it ends for us. Get eaten by a polar bear.” Then one of the men fires what appears to be a warning shot toward a bear that looks as though it is moving in their direction.
If any two men could accomplish such a dangerous endeavor, it would be Larsen and Waters. Eric Larsen’s website describes him as an adventurer, expedition guide, dog musher, and educator. Larsen has traveled to both the North and South poles, and has the distinction of becoming the first person to send out tweets from the North Pole and from the top of Mt. Everest. Eric Larsen seems to always be on the move and has also reached the summit of Mt. McKinley, ridden his bike across the United States, served as a ranger in Alaska and, in Colorado, Eric was a white water canoe guide.
Ryan Waters’ website states that he was a geologist before beginning a career as an outdoor educator and mountain guide. His original passion for the Andes Range of South America expanded to include an interest in the polar regions. In January, 2010, Ryan and Cecilie Skog traveled from Berkner Island in the Ronne/Filchner Sea to the South Pole. They then continued to the Ross Sea, setting a new record as the first to traverse Antarctica without being resupplied or using kites in order to travel faster. They accomplished this feat over a period of 70 days. Both Eric and Ryan seem to never slow down, and plan to do even more treks together.
Do you think Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters will successfully complete their journey? Will melting ice or other issues force them to stop? Leave your comments, thoughts and opinions below. The two-hour special of Melting: Last Race to the Pole premieres on Wednesday, December 9, at 9 p.m. ET on Animal Planet.
[Image via Eric Larsen/Twitter, resized and cropped]