Boulder explorer Eric Larsen says there were times during his recent expedition to the North Pole when he thought he might not make it.

There were lots of setbacks. At one point, Larsen and his partner Ryan Waters saw a couple of polar bears. Toward the end of the trip, the shifting sea ice they were traveling on began to drift away from their destination, setting them back several miles.

Larsen and Waters completed the 500-mile expedition from northern Canada to the North Pole in early May.  Larsen also completed the trip in 2010, which until now, was also the last year any team successfully made it to the North Pole.  He says seeing the polar bears during the early part of the trip took he and Waters by surprise.

“There were two polar bears. Walking straight towards us. Right in our tracks,” Larsen says.

To get to their destination, Larsen and Waters had to ski, snowshoe and even swim through large areas of open water while pulling a heavy, floatable sled. They traveled through changing terrain, including thin ice, slushy snow and giant impassable walls created by blocks of ice crashing against each other. But Larsen says it was a bit of a let-down once they reached the destination.

“Getting to the North Pole is probably the biggest moment of anti-climax that I’ve ever had. There’s no land there. There’s no marker."

Larsen says the trip is getting increasingly difficult because of the effects of global warming. For example, going to the North Pole used to mean traveling over a big surface of thick, unbroken ice, but it now involves traveling through large bodies of open water.
 

Larsen spoke about the trip with Ryan Warner.