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North Pole success: Ryan Waters and Eric Larsen arrived at the 90ºN!

Posted: May 06, 2014 08:09 pm EDT


(By Correne Coetzer/AdventureStats, story edited May 7, 04:29 EDT to reflect correction of a statistic. Edited May 28, 16:52 EDT to clarify a statistic) The American duo, Ryan Waters and Eric Larsen, arrived at the Geographic North Pole on May 6, 7.49 pm Pacific time. They left the coast of Canada at Cape Discovery, Ellesmere Island (83ºN), 53 days ago on March 15, with hardly any sun to warm them. 


The two men were unassisted (no resupplies) and unsupported (no kite, dog or vehicle support). Ryan and Eric are the first skiers since 2010 to complete a successful expedition from Land to the  Geographic North Pole. 


Right from the start at the coast the team encountered endless fields of pressure ice. Their fully loaded, 144 kg / 317 pound sleds with food, fuel and gear for 55 days were too heavy for one person to pull across the high ridges and required relaying. Route finding and navigation were a nightmare. It took them 21 days to complete their first degree of latitude. 


Although they had their fare share of open water (leads) this year, it seems as if pressured ice or rubble were more of an issue most of the way than the leads. Unstable ice blocks also posed a danger. Yesterday though, a very emotional and tired Eric sent a voice dispatch, reporting about lots of open water and thin ice hampering their progress in the final miles to the Pole. Even up to the end the Arctic threw its best at the men, requiring them to swim, raft and crawl in flat light. 


During the expedition several blizzards pushed the men in a northeast direction, which required them to correct their navigation. The last few days Ryan and Eric decided to divide their ski days in 6 hour-long shifts around the clock, with food and rest breaks in their tent in between.     


Tracker: 06 May 2014 22:15 GMT

Latitude: 89.967 | Longitude: 78.712

Dist To Pole: 2 Nautical Miles / 2.3 Miles / 3.6 Kilometers


Ryan Waters and Eric Larsen polar facts
as per


First unsupported unsupplied (and skiing overall) North Pole in 4 years. 


Less than 200 people have skied from land to the North Pole. Less than 50 did it without resupplies.


Ryan is the first American to do the North Pole and South Pole unassisted and the first American to do the "Three Poles" with the South Pole and North Pole unassisted unsupported [Editor's note May 7, 04:29 EDT, not “Three Poles" unsupported unassisted as previously reported.]


In 2010 Ryan, with Norwegian Cecilie Skog, was the first to do an unsupported unassisted crossing of Antarctica.


Ryan is a veteran of 14 mountaineering expeditions on 8000 m peaks and has climbed Everest from both Tibet and Nepal. [Editor's note May 28, 16:52 EDT, not 10 x 8000m as previously reported and Ryan clarified: "I have been on 14 expeditions to 8000 meter peaks, I missed the summit on a few of those but that is part of big mountain climbing. Several of the trips were to the same peak because I have guided on a lot of those. It seems important to clarify that since that magic 14 number happens to be special in the 8000 meter world..."


 Eric has done two expeditions to the South Pole and two previous expeditions to the North Pole. This was Eric's first unsupported unassisted polar expedition.


In 2010 Eric summited Everest with a small team of Sherpas during the autumn season.


In a straight line, Ryan and Eric covered a distance of 770 km. What is not added to this distance are all the detours around high ridges, the ice blocks, the rubble and leads (open water). Also not added are the negative and sidewards drift and relaying of the sleds. 



Teams Starting from Geographic North Pole (90ºN) to Canada


Trudy Wohlleben at Canadian Ice Service sent out a blizzard warning to solo Bengt Rotmo and Eric Philips’ team, with an ice drift to the north and east (they are skiing south), as well as new and changing lead patterns due to the ice movement.


Unassisted, Unsupported

Bengt Rotmo, NO (solo)

(started April 21 at 90ºN)


Position on May 4:

88.49N,  72.13W 


Assisted, Unsupported

Eric Philips, AU, Bernice Notenboom, NL/CA, Martin Hartley, UK

(Start April 4 at 90ºN)


After slow going, 3 km, in pressure ice, the team is tent-bounded in the blizzard, which is forecast to last till May 9.


Position May 6: 

85.0N,  79.0W  (May 06) 





Ryan Waters, Eric Larsen and a Polar Bear closing in on the North Pole


ExWeb interview with Ryan Waters, "an unwritten and unexplainable mental edge” (pre-expedition)


ExWeb interview with Eric Larsen, "a mix of poetry and hell to the North Pole” (pre-expedition)


The Hunger Game: Yasu Ogita recaps his North Pole attempt


Sean Chapple's insights: Laying the Foundations for Success



AdventureStats successful expeditions:


Land to Geographic North Pole 

2013: 1x car team from Russia (did a crossing)

2010: 1x unassisted ski team from Canada

         3x assisted ski teams from CA

2009: 1x unassisted ski team from CA

         1x assisted ski team from CA

2008: 1x assisted ski team from Russia (winter exped)

2007: 1x assisted ski team from CA


Geographic North Pole to Land

2013: 1x assisted dog team to CA

2012: 1x unassisted ski and kayak team to Svalbard

2011: 2x assisted ski teams to CA

2009: 1x unassisted ski team to Greenland

2007: 1x unassisted ski and kayak team to Franz 

         Josef Land

         1x assisted ski team to Greenland


assisted = resupplied



A note on the North Pole daily ski distances: They are calculated in a straight line from where the skiers start in the mornings and end in the evenings. What is not added, are all the detours around high ridges, ice blocks, rubble or leads (open water). Also not added are the negative drift and relaying sleds.


A North Pole expedition covers the full distance between land and the Pole (90ºN).

The Cape Discovery route (Canada) to the Geographic North Pole is 780 km. 

Ward Hunt Island (Canada) start point calculates at 775 km.

A Degree of Latitude is 60 nm / 110 km. 


Geographic North Pole is at 90ºN

1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole: 

78° 35'42.00"N, 104° 11’54.00”W 

Resolute Bay: 74° 41.808N, 094° 49.402W



Ski Teams starting from Cape Discovery, Ellesmere Island, to the Geographic North Pole (90ºN)


Unassisted, Unsupported:

Team Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters

Last North Expedition:

(Start March 15 at 83.043627N, 077.374263W)


Ryan Waters, USA



Mountain Professionals

Mountain Professionals Facebook


Eric Larsen, USA








Starting from Geographic North Pole (90ºN) to Canada

Unassisted, Unsupported

Bengt Rotmo

(started April 21)





Starting from Geographic North Pole (90ºN) to Canada

Assisted, Unsupported

(Start April 4)

Eric Philips, Australia

Bernice Notenboom, The Netherlands / Canada

Martin Hartley, UK






Kite ski circumnavigation:


Eric McNair-Landry (CA) and Dix”e Dansercoer (BE)

Blog Greenland Ice Expedition


Facebook (Polar Circles) 

Twitter (Polar Circles)

Facebook (Pittarak Expeditions)


Michael Chavarin (FR) and Cornelius Strohm (DE)



Yuri Klaver (USA to Greenland via CA)

Website 1

Website 2


Spot Location




Follow blog posts (with RSS feeds) in the live News Stream on ExplorersWeb.






Sean Chapple's insights: Laying the Foundations for Success


North Pole: Irish team injured and evacuated - update: Norwegians also off


North Pole Norwegians and Americans flying to Cape Discovery - updated landed and skiing


NASA: Warm Rivers Play Role in Arctic Sea Ice Melt


Norwegian North Pole team talking to ExWeb from the high Canadian Arctic


North Pole 2014: first skiers flying to their start point


Dmitry Shparo's Top 5 North Pole Tips


Irish North Pole team checking in at ExWeb from Resolute Bay


The cost of Arctic travel: Jerry Kobalenko talks to ExWeb


Yasunaga Ogita talking to ExWeb from the high Canadian Arctic


North Pole 2014 full route ski expedition list


ExWeb interview with Ryan Waters, "an unwritten and unexplainable mental edge”


ExWeb interview with Eric Larsen, "a mix of poetry and hell to the North Pole”


ExWeb interview with Bernice Notenboom, the Arctic and the world’s climate


Dixie Dansercoer and Eric McNair-Landry to kite-ski 5000+ km around Greenland




Ray Zahab and team Baffin Island run 2014



Weather links:


Canadian Ice Service


The Arctic Weather products link on the Canadian Ice Service IPY Legacy page


Two-day sea ice drifts for the whole Arctic Ocean on the Danish DMI website


ENVISAT ASAR images on the Polarview website


Canada Weather Office satellite image


NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory


University of Illinois cryosphere images


Wayne Davidson’s Extremely High Horizon Refraction


Wayne Davidson’s EH2R blog 



#polar #northpole2014  #ryanwaters #ericlarsen #northpolesuccess








"We are always up and down mentally here since it is a hard place," Ryan Waters said during the trek. "Now throw in the literal ups and downs of trying to ski across ice in a whiteout over the peaks and valleys of the countless wind features, which you can't see until you already into the side of one or over. This has a tendency to shift your mood into that downward spiral.” Image: Ryan crawling forward.
courtesy Eric Larsen, SOURCE
Ryan Waters and Eric Larsen's route from Cape Discovery to the Geographic North Pole (click to enlarge)
Cape Discovery route to the Geographic North Pole.
courtesy Arctic Ice Drift Maps 2013 : Image from http://www.arctic.noaa.gov / Mike O Shea and Clare O Leary, SOURCE
Bernice Notenboom: "It took us all morning to find a safe route over the pressure ridge and it took the three of us to pull the sleds across a mountain of ice and slide it off to the other side." (click to enlarge)
Eric Philips: "[...] both Martin and I fell into on different occasions. Some narrow leads are also almost completely hidden and the snow pack inside collapses when skiing over them." Image, swimming a newly frozen lead. (click to enlarge)
courtesy Martin Hartley, SOURCE