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Into The Cold - A Journey of the Soul: DVD release

Posted: Apr 22, 2011 07:41 pm EDT

(Press release / Sebastian Copeland) Into the Cold retraces Sebastian Copeland and Keith Hegers ski expedition to the North Pole one of the toughest and most magnificent environments in the world and also one that is rapidly vanishing. In two months, 400+ miles, and -50°F temperatures, the film is as much about adventure and advocacy as it is a deeply personal journey by foot to the top of the world; as never before seen on camera.

Rapidly melting environment

In March 2009, noted photographer, polar traveler and environmental advocate Sebastian Copeland embarked on a most ambitious expedition: a crossing of the Arctic ice cap on foot to commemorate Peary and Hensons historical reach of the North Pole in 1909. In Pearys day, the ice near the pole was about twelve feet in depth. A hundred years later, the icecap is less than six feet deep on average, and scientist predict that the Arctic summer ice could be all but gone by as early as 2013.

Given the rapidly melting environment, it is widely accepted that this centennial marks the last such commemorative. Indeed, there will be no bicentennial expedition to the North Pole. The ice by then will be too fragile, or worse yet: non-existent. Future generations will be robbed of the opportunity to follow in Pearys footsteps.

In fact, within just a few years, conditions there will prevent explorers from engaging in this historical expedition, considered by experts to be the toughest on Earth. With a seventy percent failure rate, less than a hundred and fifty people have trekked such distance to reach the North Pole on foot since 1909.

Journey of endurance and commitment

Into The Cold -- A Journey of the Soul retraces Copeland and partner Keith Hegers dramatic expedition to the North Pole, facing crippling sub-zero temperatures and covering more than 400 miles (or 700 kilometers) on foot.

A personal and harrowing journey of endurance and commitment, Into The Cold documents the physical and mental steps associated with this type of challenge, delving into the depth of the soul for resources, and set against the vast and magnificent backdrop of the Great North.

Training and preparation

The film follows Copeland through training in Minnesota and Los Angeles before embarking on the two months trip on the frozen ice cap. Copeland, known for his advocacy work on the poles, is interviewed by Larry King and followed through his training routine of weights, yoga, hiking with a hundred pound vest, as well as testing his systems and pulling a two hundred pound sledge in the frigid January conditions of Minnesotas Boundary Waters area. Training there includes skiing on lakes and trails cut through frozen marshes, and dropping into a hole in the ice for survival tests.

Following last minute preparations and personal reflections, Into The Cold travels from Minnesota to Los Angeles; Ottawa to Iqualuit and on to Resolute where the Arctic greets the two men with air so cold, it stings like a fistful of needles.

Send-off by the Inuit elders

Like modern day gladiators, Copeland and Heger are given a powerful send-off by the Inuit elders who bless their trip. Inuit culture is the first line of casualty at the hands of climate change. After careful and multiple checks of food and survival equipment, the men head in solemn contemplation to meet their destiny on the ice, boarding the twin prop plane that takes them further north to the planets northernmost bastion of civilization: the Eureka Station. Weather forces an overnight stay before they are finally given a green light and take off to their drop off point at latitude N85°00.000.

After a harrowing landing on the Arctic sea ice, the story shifts as the men find themselves alone within millions of square miles, in temperatures exceeding negative 50F degrees, armed with only their courage and determination.

Within the first day, reality sets in: there will be no breaks, no time-outs in the white starkness of this frigid, lunar environment, where frostbites must be carefully monitored at the risk of losing a digit! Pulling the heavy sledges over pressure ridges and open leads of water, the men fastidiously gain ground, one hard earned yard after the other, slowly and inexorably moving closer to their iconic goal. Vast, refrozen leads looking like salt lakes, remind us of the summers large melt areas when ice is becoming a rare commodity.

Mans communion with nature

The film gives an insight into the mind of an explorer faced with only one option: to move forward, drawing the viewer into the meditative, quasi-monastic existence of these long distance journeymen. While the music and the Zen of void celebrates Mans communion with nature, it also underlies one poignant message: if the Great North goes, so does humanity

Filmed by Copeland and Heger, the film has a first person point of view that brings the audience right in the middle of the action. Whether tying the two sledges together into a makeshift raft to precariously cross an openor wetlead; prying a sleeping bag out of its frosty grip; or spending the night in a tent that looks and feels like the deep freeze, the film gives a unique glimpse into the day to day reality of Arctic winter travel.

A highlight is the rarely filmed closing of an open lead as two pans of ice slowly collide and crumple into a newly formed pressure ridge!

For obvious reasons, filming in this environment is extremely challenging. The last comprehensive film on a North Pole expedition was done in 1986 by a team of Russians

After thirty-five days of arduous travel in virtual meditation, facing the unrelenting lashes of Arctic winds that cut like razor blades, and a drift that pulls the two men backwards even while they stubbornly push forward (literally like walking on a treadmill, and adding an estimated 100 nautical miles to their journey!) the men finally reach their goal, one of two places on Earth where the globe rotates below your feet, and where walking in a circle is tantamount to crossing every time zone on the planet.

Adventure, advocacy, search for the self

An adventure film, with unique, arresting photography of this rarely visited frozen realm, Into The Cold - A Journey Of The Soul is also a call to action onto our need to develop sustainably. But ultimately this trek, as with most extreme exploration, Copeland notes, is as much about adventure and advocacy as it is a search for the self.

Pondering what type of man goes to such extent to find insights about themselves, Copeland notes that answers come easier in these parts, perhaps because there arent as many places to hide.

Into The Cold - A Journey Of The Soul runs 85 minutes and features music by Great Northern, Meiko, The Besnard Lakes, Nickodemus, Mia Maestro and a score by Didier Lockwood.

Written, directed and produced by Sebastian Copeland.
Watch the trailer here
Order DVD here
Sebastian Copeland and Keith Hegers expedition was organized by PolarExplorers.


Sebastian Copelands award winning film now available on DVD.
courtesy Sebastian Copeland, SOURCE