Sometimes I get asked ‘what is the point of your expedition to the Arctic!?’
From a personal point of view there’s the huge physical and mental challenge of walking across one of the most treacherous environments on the planet. I do not say that lightly; in the world of adventure, the quest for the North Pole is still regarded as one of the toughest challenges to complete. In 2014 Ryan Waters and Eric Larsen completed a 53-day trek to the North Pole, the first time an expedition had reached it in 4 years.
I yearn to feel the way that they felt when they reached their elusive goal. That sense of achievement against the odds and wonder at the ice world that they traversed.
There are financial reasons too. As a world-first expedition it offers an investor a great platform to promote themselves to the world and create kudos for their company in aligning with our cause-the stewardship of the planet.
As a would-be adventurer the expedition might make me. My talks and books might sell a little better and I’d be able to help Jim McNeill train others for their own quests as well as future Ice Warrior expeditions.
From a social perspective there will be our stories that highlight the devastating changes that are occurring in this fragile environment due to climate change. Hopefully these stories with move those who hear them to make better choices and become better stewards of the planet. Maybe they will motivate them to take on a challenge of their own design, creating their own story and raising awareness of issues that they care for.
If we listened to the naysayers or the worriers then we’d be nice and cosy at our desks; safe, but at what cost? This life is brief and I for one don’t intend to spend it in front of a computer screen.
I think Mallory said it better than me and deserves the last word. This was his reply when asked the use of climbing Everest:
“It is of no use. There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron… If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.”
― George Mallory, Climbing Everest: The Complete Writings of George Mallory