Will Steger is no stranger to traveling in the remote, wild places of our planet. His adventure resume includes leading the first dogsled expedition to the North Pole back in 1986, a 1600-mile (2574 km) south-to-north journey across Greenland, and the first ever dogsled traverse of Antarctica, an epic journey that covered more than 3740 miles (6018 km) in a seven month period from 1989-90. But, the polar legend says that his next expedition may be his toughest yet as he sets out tomorrow to trek through a seldom-visited part of Canada completely on his own.
The 73-year old Steger will set out from northern Saskatchewan on a 1000 mile (1600 km) solo expedition that will take him across a section of Canada simply known as the “Barren Lands.” This remote and rugged place in the Canadian Arctic is said to be a treeless, open expanse filled with snow and ice. And while the calendar will now officially say spring when he set out, he expects to face temperatures in the -40ºF/C range as he embarks on the trip, which he expects will take about 70 days to complete, ending in early June on the shores of Baker Lake near Hudson Bay in the northern Nunavut Territory.
To stay well provisioned out in the wilderness, Steger will pull a custom-built sled/canoe that will be loaded with about 200 pounds (90 kg) of supplies and gear. In the early days of the expedition he’ll manhaul the sled as he would were he skiing to the North or South Pole, but as temperatures warm up he should be able to paddle the canoe at times as well.
In order to complete the journey on schedule, Steger will have to average about 14 miles per day, which is a fair serious pace for hauling so much gear over rugged ground. Fortunately, the Barren Lands are mostly flat, with just a few hills here and there, so he won’t face much in the way of elevation change. His biggest challenges will come from potentially falling into frigid water, so he’ll wear a drysuit for those times when he is crossing frozen lakes and rivers.
The experienced adventurer says that this will be his most challenging expedition to date. While he has spent months at a time out on frozen sections of the planet, this is the longest journey he’s ever undertaken in solo fashion. He says that he doesn’t expect to see another person while traversing the Barren Lands, and may not even see a single tree from the time he starts to the finish in June.
There is no questioning the validity of Steger’s exploration credentials. As I already mentioned, he’s a legend in the polar exploration community. But at the age of 73 to still be undertaking such a journey is wildly impressive. It should be fun to follow along with his progress and learn more about this wild and desolate place in northern Canada. Watch for updates to his Facebook, Twitter, and website.