ExWeb interview with Tyler Fish: "Bad judgment is born of too much pressure"

Posted: Feb 25, 2009 02:35 am EST

(ThePoles.com) In the beginning of March, Americans John Huston and Tyler Fish will attempt an unsupported ski expedition from Ward Hunt Island to the North Pole. They are busy with their last preparations at Matty McNairs house and workshop on Baffin Island. ExWebs Correne Coetzer caught up with them; here goes the interview with Tyler. <cutoff>

<i><b>ExplorersWeb:</b> What is your Polar/expedition/outdoor background?</i>

<b>Tyler:</b> Is Northern Minnesota part of a polar region? Just kidding. I have no experience at the poles themselves, but I have many years of experience on expeditions, personally and professionally, in a lot of uncomfortable environments, including winter expeditoins on Hudson Bay and Baffin Island. Outward Bound has been my one of my passions for 13 years, so I am very familiar with expedition mentality and team dynamics.

<i><b>ExplorersWeb:</b> Why have you decided to do this expedition?</i>

<b>Tyler:</b> I grow when Im challenged and I am a sucker for the feelings that come from being completely engaged by something, whether its a ski race, a wilderness expedition or a good conversation.

<i><b>ExplorersWeb:</b> What physical training do you do for the NP?</i>

<b>Tyler:</b> I use a lot of variety in my workouts. I pull tires, but I also lift, rollerski, run and bike. I believe training needs to be interesting if its ultimately going to be effective.

<i><b>ExplorersWeb:</b> How did you prepare psychologically for the North Pole?</i>

<b>Tyler:</b> In my work at Outward Bound I spend a lot of time focusing on helping others be optimistic, proactive and effective risk-takers. You cant do this without believing in it yourself, and I continually explore how others do these things, applying the relevant pieces to my life.

<i><b>ExplorersWeb:</b> What is your biggest fear for this NP expedition?</i>

<b>Tyler:</b> Im not much of a worrier, but Im going to say navigation/route finding. With a dynamic environment like the Arctic Ocean and such a long, strenuous endeavor, it would be easy to be overwhelmed. I think we have to be patient and not get overly stressed. Bad judgment is born of too much pressure.

<i><b>ExplorersWeb:</b> What will keep you going when things get tough?</i>

<b>Tyler:</b> Many things, because I dont like to have all eggs in one basket: inspirational thoughts, family and friends, mantras, the stability of routines, a meditative state that comes from the work, memories, singing to myself (certainly), Johns collaboration, commitment to sponsors, and the deep feeling of personal privilege that I have for this opportunity.

<i><b>ExplorersWeb:</b> How do you feel at the moment?</i>

<b>Tyler:</b> A combination of ugh, more details to work through, calm and a bit of pre-expedition anticipation.

<i><b>ExplorersWeb:</b> Do you have a favourite explorer?</i>

<b>Tyler:</b> This is hard for me, because I know that any one persons amazing ability probably has another side to it that is a weakness, so I dont put people on too high a pedestal. That being said, Im constantly amazed by the hardships that historical explorers overcame and even sought out considering how little they knew of their world. There are plenty of inspirational contemporary achievers as wellI think that Rune Gjeldnes and Torry Larsens unsupported Arctic Ocean crossing in 2000 is one of the most optimistic endeavors that I know of.

(Ed note: In the Spring of 2000 Rune Gjeldnes and Torry Larsen made a gruelling, unsupported, unassisted crossing of the Arctic ocean in 109 days and covered 1725 km (from Cape Arktichesky to Cape Discovery)

<i><b>ExplorersWeb:</b> What is your expedition game plan; do you still have some preparation; when do you plan to start and finish (weather/ice permitting) ?</i>

<b>Tyler:</b> There are always more preparations that can be done, and we have a few little things left. The question is, when are we at the threshold prepared enough? You dont want to work <i>too</i> hard before the real work begins.

<i>Tyler Fish, 35, born in 1973, lives in Ely, Minnesota, about 10 miles from Canada. For work he spends most of his time with Outward Bound and coaching cross country skiing. Tyler said his wife is very understanding of his outdoor adventure interests, "as she is a canoeist and veteren of a 100-day dogsled expedition across Arctic Canada. My five-month old son doesnt have a clue what Im up to, but he will. I miss him already. Hobbiesof all my outdoor pursuits I reserve telemark skiing as a purely pleasurable pastime, not linked to work or expeditions in any way. As for music, I enjoy a variety of it, and the more I can sing with it the better. I can never remember the last good book or moviebut I know I saw or read something that felt good.</i>
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Tyler counting, weighing and packing food. Im not much of a worrier, but Im going to say navigation/route finding [is my biggest fear for the NP]. With a dynamic environment like the Arctic Ocean and such a long, strenuous endeavor, it would be easy to be overwhelmed. I think we have to be patient and not get overly stressed. Bad judgment is born of too much pressure. Image courtesy of John Huston/Forward Expeditions/ forwardexpeditions.com (click to enlarge)

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