CONSERVE SCHOOL AUDITORIUM— Conserve School recently had the honor to host Eric Larsen, a polar adventurer, expedition guide, dog musher, and educator with an array of record-setting expeditions. He is continually pushing the envelope in physical endurance and creativity. More important to Eric however, is his mission to raise awareness of Earth’s most remote places, and in the process, inspire people to be explorers in everyday life.
Eric is a Wisconsin native, and started his career racing dogsleds and leading dogsled tours in Northern Minnesota. Since those early days, he’s traversed the world’s most remote regions so much that he even refers to them as “home”. In 2006, Eric and his team were the first to reach the North Pole in the summertime. In 2010, Eric led an expedition called Save the Poles, in which he became the first person to reach the South Pole, the North Pole, and the summit of Mount Everest in the same year. Save the Poles was a journey that reinterpreted the common notion of exploration as a means of conquest. Instead of going on the adventure because it’s there, Eric explained , we are called to explore “because it may not be there in the future”. With climate change altering Earth’s remote places, Eric brought us the sobering reality that even the most vast, expansive places in the world are fragile, and deserve our appreciation.
During his talk, Eric told epic tales of encountering polar bears, surviving shifting Arctic Ocean ice, facing white-outs, and even attempting to bike to the South Pole. With all of these jaw-dropping experiences however, Eric humbly stressed the fact that he’s an average person. Average people however, can do extraordinary things, especially when working as a team. When facing such behemoth challenges and long expeditions, he taught Conserve School students and staff that an adventure begins with one step. To keep stepping however, one must make decisions. Eric explained how obstacles are constantly present out on the ice, and constantly require decisions to overcome them. In these situations where precious time, food, and warmth are top priority, there may not be a “best” decision, but making a decision is better than no decision at all. This concept actually relates to everyday life, in that we all face decisions to keep our lives moving. Sometimes however, decisions lead to failures. Eric encouraged us to accept our failures, own them, appreciate them, and learn from them. Indeed, a polar adventurer facing Earth’s harshest, challenging conditions gets acquainted with failure at some point.
After the speaking event, Eric joined the students around the Conserve School gathering space fire place for a group photo. The excitement, energy, and ambition filled the atmosphere, fueling conversations and questions as Eric kindly hung out with students for a time. Eric’s arrival seemed to be in perfect timing, because that very night was one of the coldest nights here at Conserve so far this winter (-14, with -25 windchill that night)! But as Eric says, “it’s cool to be cold!” Conserve School is so very grateful for Eric’s time and insight, and we’re inspired to face obstacles and be adventurers here at the close of CS7 and beyond. We wish him all the best in his future adventures, his educational mission, and upcoming documentary!
You can learn more about Eric Larsen through his websites, as well as following him on Facebook:
-Nick Voss, Academic Coordinator Grad Fellow