Mountaineer and polar explorer Eric Larsen has made a career out of visiting the coldest places on the planet. The man who once visited both the North and South Pole, and climbed Mt. Everest – all in the same year – has announced plans to return to the South Pole once again.
But what makes this journey such a unique one will be his method of travel. Larsen says that he intends to make the entire journey on a specially designed mountain bike built specifically for polar travel.
In December, Larsen will launch his latest expedition, which he has aptly named “Cycle South.” He intends to set out for the South Pole from Hercules Inlet, a popular starting point for explorers traveling to the bottom of the world from the Antarctic coastline. His journey will cover approximately 750 miles (1207 km) along the way and if weather and time permits, he hopes to turn around and ride back to where he started, potentially doubling the distance.
Any polar journey requires great gear and equipment to be successful and this one will be no different. Thermal layers, warm boots, thick gloves and a warm parka will all come in handy of course, but Larsen’s bike is undoubtably his most important piece of gear. He’ll ride to the South Pole on a Moonlander bike from Surly that features five-inch wide tires that are designed to float over ice and snow. Cycling in winter conditions is never easy, but this bike has been built to deal with the demanding weather that Antarctica will throw at him, including sub-zero temperatures, high winds and dangerous whiteouts.
Eric hopes to accomplish a number of firsts on this expedition, including the first full bike ride to the South Pole. But he also plans to produce a documentary film of his journey and engage with a large audience while he is on this adventure. Larsen says he’ll update his website, Facebook page and Twitter feed with text and audio updates, as well as videos, on a daily basis, allowing us to closely follow his progress and share in the experience. He’ll also carry a DeLorme inReach satellite communicator, which will provide up to the minute tracking data too.
This journey isn’t just about cycling to the South Pole however, as Larsen has some important charitable goals as well. He hopes to raise funds and awareness for several advocacy groups such as the Davis Phinney Foundation, Winter Wildlands Alliance and WorldBike.
Larsen will spend the next few weeks organizing his gear and preparing for the challenging expedition ahead. In December he’ll officially get underway with what is sure to be quite the adventure.
By Kraig Becker
[Photo credit: Eric Larsen]