Extreme Explorer Eric Larsen

    Photo: Eric Larsen

In November, explorer Eric Larsen, of Grand Marais, Minnesota, sets off for Antarctica, beginning his attempt to become the first person to reach earth's three most extreme points—both poles and Mount Everest—in one year. The logistics of squeezing three dangerous, highly weather-dependent expeditions into one year is hard enough, but pulling them off during a recession is brutal.

Outside: How are the plans coming along?
LARSEN: Fundraising is difficult right now, but I got a lucky break. I'll be leading a commercial trip to the South Pole, and my Canadian partner is shipping all our equipment on military flights to the Arctic.

What about Everest?
I'll worry about that when I get back from the North Pole, in April.

What's going to be the hardest leg?
I'm primarily a polar explorer. I've never been above 8,000 meters, so Everest is still an unknown.

Ever get worried out there?
There are lots of things that could happen: falling through the ice, getting attacked by a polar bear, altitude sickness, rockfall, falling in a crevasse, freezing to death...I try not to focus on those things.

What's up with all the equivocal "firsts" these days?
There's definitely a push to do bigger and crazier things. I don't consider myself part of that. I'm more of a storyteller. I hope this expedition will inspire people to do something about climate change. But there's a hard reality: It has to be a record or a first for people to listen.

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