Steger calls a halt to mushy Arctic trek
Surrounded by fog and thin blue ice, an exhausted Will Steger has decided that he won’t walk from the North Pole to Canada this year.
Veteran Arctic explorer Will Steger has decided that it’s now too dangerous for him to continue his bid for what appeared to be the world’s first ice-hopping championship.
Steger, well-know to many Nunavut residents for his 1986 dog-team expedition to the North Pole, had been attempting to walk alone from the North Pole to Ward Hunt Island.
But fog, dangerous ice, and exhaustion have persuaded him that now is not the time to do what no one has ever done before.
“The reality I faced was that because of the present situation (impenetrable fog and dangerous ice) it was too risky to continue,” Steger wrote in a dispatch posted on the Internet July 22.
“If I took the risk… I could easily get myself into a situation requiring a very difficult rescue that would endanger others trying to find me. I could risk my own well-being, but I would not risk others in my adventures.”
Steger had been dropped at the Pole by the Russian icebreaker Sovetskiy Soyuz on July 12.
From there, his plan was to walk alone to Ward Hunt Island, a 500-mile trip that he estimated would take 50 days.
He also planned on pulling about 300 pounds of supplies loaded on a sled tied to his waist.
Most of his food was supplied by the Shaklee Corporation, one of Steger’s corporate sponsors.
Shaklee, a producer of health foods, had designed Steger’s diet. Steger was supposed to have acted as a live guinea pig for the corporation’s scientists, who were using him to test the Shaklee Corporation’s food.
Another of Steger’s corporate sponsors, the National Geographic Society, had set up an elaborate site on the World Wide Web that contained written messages transmitted by Steger.
In turn, Internet users were able to post messages for Steger in a special message forum.
For now, Steger will continue to send daily dispatches detailing conditions at the Pole until he’s picked up by the Sovetskiy Soyuz on July 25.
“The conditions are sobering. there is always moisture and an eternal silence that I have never heard,” Steger said.
In one earlier dispatch, Steger said that he hardly slept during the vessel’s 10-day voyage to the North Pole, one reason he was too exhausted to continue.
In 1994, Richard Weber and Misha Malakov attempted a similar trek, after successfully completing the northward leg of a planned round-trip trek to the Pole.
But deteriorating summer ice conditions forced them to abandon the return portion of their trip.