Bergans of Norway athlete Ryan Waters, along with polar explorer Eric Larsen, on Wednesday May 7 became the second American team ever to complete an unsupported and unaided land traverse to the North Pole. In doing so, Waters also became the first American to complete an unsupported “Explorers Grand Slam.”
The Last North Expedition covered the 480-mile distance from Northern Ellesmere Island to the geographic North Pole in 53 days. Waters and Larsen transported all of their equipment, which weighed 325 pounds at the onset of the expedition, on lightweight Kevlar sleds that had to be pushed, pulled and sometimes floated, across the arctic terrain. The pair encountered shifting sea ice, slush-like snow, severe windstorms and a couple of curious polar bears that came within 15 feet of their equipment at one point.
To earn the Explorers Grand Slam, Waters summited the highest mountain peaks on each of the seven continents, known as the Seven Summits, and reached both the North and South Poles. Waters joins the ranks of only 38 other individuals to ever complete the Explorers Grand Slam.
“It feels incredible to first off finish this North Pole expedition, a huge challenge and a long project,” said Waters. “The grand slam is cool to complete and started over 13 years ago not as a goal then, but a long road of many adventures with incredible memories around the world.”
Waters grew up exploring the hills of the Appalachian Mountains in the southeastern United States. At the age of 18 he discovered climbing and a passion for travel that would eventually lead him to the great mountain ranges of the world.
A 2003 trip to climb 7,200-meter Puma Ri in Nepal led to extensive climbing and guide work in the Himalayas of Nepal and Tibet, as well as the Karakoram Range in Pakistan. Waters is a veteran of fourteen 8000-meter peak expeditions, including three expeditions to Mt. Everest. He has also led expeditions to Cho Oyu, Manaslu, Lhotse, K2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum 2, and Dhaulagiri.
Additionally, Waters has led over 35 expeditions in the mountains of Chile, Argentina and Ecuador. Waters spent extensive time in the backcountry of South America working as a mountaineering instructor for Patagonia Outward Bound.
In January 2010, Waters and fellow Bergans athlete, Cecilie Skog, completed a “nice long ski tour” in Antarctica. The team skied 1,117 miles (1,800 kilometers) over 70 days from Berkner Island in the Ronne/Filchner Sea to the South Pole, then continued to the Ross Sea. Along the way the duo set a new record by completing the first ski traverse of Antarctica without resupplies or the use of kites.
“Ryan embodies the Bergans philosophy; a world-class athlete with a humble, down-to-earth personality,” states Keith Patterson, Bergans USA VP of sales and marketing. “The entire Bergans family is very proud of what Ryan has accomplished and we are glad we could support him through his adventures.”
Bergans and its products have a longstanding reputation with history-making expeditions, and Waters joins adventurers such as first conqueror of the South Pole, Roald Amundsen who traveled with Bergans equipment and Mount Everest pioneer Sir Edmund Hillary who used the Bergans carrying frame for transporting oxygen bottles; and Cecilie Skog, the first woman in the world to both successfully top the “The Seven Summits”, “The Three Poles”, and to cross Antarctica unassisted and unsupported.
Other modern day Bergans athletes include polar explorer John Huston, jibber and X Games Freeride competitor Anders Backe, and 2013 Freeride World Qualifier Tour winner Lorraine Huber.
To learn more about the 2014 Last North Expedition, go to www.ericlarsenexplore.com/expedition/lastnorth.
Logo courtesy Bergans of Norway