CEOs, veterans, hockey players and me: Trekking the arctic on the largest expedition ever

The Globe and Mail recently published an article by Sophie Cousineau about a recent trek I was part of to the North Pole – the following is an exert. You can read the complete article by following the link at the bottom of the blog:

Our plane has just landed on King Christian Island, part of Nunavut’s Sverdrup Islands archipelago, 415 kilometres northwest of Resolute Bay, but we are too busy and frenzied to take in the scenery.

First, we unload the cross-country skis, backpacks and polar-expedition sleds from the Basler, the old, retrofitted DC-3 that flew us here from Resolute—Canada’s northernmost community, after the Nunavut hamlet of Grise Fiord. Then we clumsily set up our tents to shield ourselves from the Arctic wind. And then we wait for the last of the 52 trekkers in our party to be dropped off.

But just as the orange Basler—our last link to civilization—takes off into the immaculate blue sky, the sheer beauty and utter madness of our endeavour hits us like a snowball in the face. We are at the edge of the world, on an endless sea of snow and ice. There is nothing else in sight. And before anyone will fly us out of the ungodly cold that freezes everything it brushes within mere minutes, we will have to tough it out for an entire week.

What were we thinking? No one dares say it aloud—not Power Corp. chairman and co-CEO Paul Desmarais Jr. or former Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan head Jim Leech, not Transcontinental president and CEO François Olivier or veteran financier Tim Hodgson—but the question hangs over our heads like a speech bubble in a comic strip.

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Lakehead University Alumni Achievement Award

Lakehead-Award-225x300Lakehead University was a turning point for me. Up until that point I had very little focus, direction or motivation in my life. Once I got to Lakehead a whole new world opened up for me and I started to thrive. I chronicle some of this in my book “Learning In Thin Air”.

Lakehead was a launching point from which I went on to accomplish many great things including; staring several guiding and team building businesses, completing my Masters in Leadership at royal Roads University, teaching EMBA and MBA classes, being voted Professor of the Year twice and receiving other teaching awards, becoming one of the few Canadians to climb Mount Everest, becoming one of less than 300 people worldwide to climb the 7 Summits, guiding expeditions around the world including the True Patriot Love Himalayas and North Pole expeditions.

I did not do any of this for the recognition, but just for the love of doing it. It was rewarding however, to be recognized by Lakehead University for these accomplishments. In June I was awarded the 2014 Alumni Achievement Award. I am not done now however. I’m not sure what my next adventure will be, but I will continue to explore and to help other accomplish their goals.

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Revisiting The Peak of Kilimanjaro

Kilamanjaro-300x223Veteran mountain-climber Scott Kress is planning an adventure 19,000 ft up Africa’s highest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro. He made the journey before in 2004 and 2011, and is looking for fit, determined individuals to join him again. One member of his 2011 team was Irene Feddema, a 49-year-old who never believed she could climb a mountain.

 

 

 

KilimanjaroUnlike other summits, Kilimanjaro does not require the skill of a professional mountaineer, but it is still a grueling journey. Feddema, a hiking enthusiast from Hamilton, had never climbed a mountain before. She feared the strain of multi-day journey and the dangerous effect of altitude, and much of her training was devoted to acclimatizing her body to the unique stresses of scaling a mountain. In addition to the physical challenge, Kress wanted to mentally train the group for their journey, and team-building exercises played a big part of preparing the group for their trip. He believes that a team that knows how to work together is the greatest safety net.

The journey to the summit takes six days, and what begins as a hike through a rainforest soon becomes a grueling climb through a rocky landscape many have compared to the surface of the moon. Feddema describes the third day of the journey as the most taxing. The altitude began to take its toll on the travelers, who were experiencing headaches and nausea and the weather turned from rain into hail. The route was carefully planned to guide the team to a high altitude first before continuing the next leg of journey laterally around the mountain to give them more time to acclimatize to the altitude and travel at an easier pace on the second half of the expedition. On the night of the fifth day the team made to final push to the peak of the mountain. The trail was dark and she recalls Kress tucking frozen water packs into his shirt to help them thaw, but by dawn the group had reached their destination.

On the way up the mountain the team had made the decision that they would approach the summit together. Feddema recounts the moment when the team stood together at the top of Kilimanjaro, “I felt this huge rush of energy. I could feel my feet and hands again. It was real elation. Everyone kissed and hugged.”

Two years later she treasures not only the memory, but the sense of achievement she felt on that day. In the face of day-to-day challenges, she always reminds herself “You climbed Kilimanjaro. You can do this.”

Click to Read Feddema’s How I unlocked My Inner Adventure

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Go Kin Packs Power Adventure

b830adf7b9ca4783e0213ea327fe3b09_large-300x168Any adventurer can tell you that a journey to the North Pole is a serious exercise in strength, determination and physical and mental power, but did you know that a trip like this can also be used to create electric power? Bill Ostrom, a creator of high performance backpacks and long-time supporter of Polar adventurers has developed the Go Kin Pack, a new technology that harnesses the energy from walking to generate electric power. A prototype is in the field and the project is collecting pledges on Kickstarter to get the product on the market.

Ostrom was proud to support a recent expedition this spring, outfitting The True Patriot Love team with the packs they took to the North Pole. The team included 12 armed forces veterans, mountaineer/entrepreneur Scott Kress and was led by Richard Weber, the only explorer know to have completed an unsupported journey to the North Pole. The journey was completed on skis, so the team was unable to try out Ostrom’s Go Kin Pack, but in the future it might be a possibility. Ostrom is thrilled to see his backpacks being part of such an incredible journey and looks forward to a day when his Go Kin Packs will used to help more Canadians explore the wilds of their country.

 

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