Skiing the North Pole

In April, after 55 days on a mostly frozen Arctic Ocean, John Huston, 32, and Tyler Fish, 36, became the first Americans to ski unsupported to the North Pole. The duo dragged 300-pound sleds, donned drysuits to swim across open water, and consumed roughly 8,000 calories a day—mostly in the form of pemmican. In the end, they made a 66-hour dash to reach their scheduled rendezvous with a Russian cargo plane.

March of the Americans

OUTSIDE: Sounds like it was a close call at the finish.
HUSTON:
We made it with ten hours to spare.

What happened?
H: We were ahead of schedule until the last 120 miles, and then the ice starting drifting south. We were basically on the wrong end of the treadmill.

How cold did it get?
H: During the first week of the expedition, it didn't get above minus 60, but we were able to deal with it because we were fattened up. At the end, we had a harder time staying warm. We were just worn out.

And you had to swim, too?
FISH: Yeah, probably 15 times, for short 20-to-30-meter breaks in the ice. We had special suits. But it's not as cold as it seems. The water can be 60 degrees warmer than the air.

What did you guys talk about out there?
H: Mostly about skiing or family. We had conversations for five hours on one topic. We'd introduce an idea in one sentence and then think about it for 30 minutes. Then a few more words, and another 30 minutes would pass.
F: I can't decide if they're the shortest conversations, in terms of words, or longest, because they happened over miles and miles.

What was the hardest part?
H: The last 66 hours of the expedition. We only slept three hours, in three separate one-hour naps. And finding the North Pole with GPS. It's not like there's a stake in the ground. It's constantly moving. You're there for one second and then the ice moves.

How did you celebrate?
F: We didn't. We were just happy to stop moving.

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