Polar Explorer Eric Larsen
The Cost of Passion
overcast and 25 degrees F
20 February 2014
It snowed last night in Boulder and I was glad to see a return to below freezing temperatures on the front range. In my transition (for the past 4 years) from northern Minnesota man to Colorado 'front ranger', it has been difficult at times, to not have a 'real' winter.

Don't get me wrong, I love Colorado and my life here, but I also like the cold and snow that accompanies a REAL winter. After all, I put my base layer on in October and I take it off at the end of April. Actually I realized the other day, I like all kinds of bad weather and the challenges of trying to be comfortable (relatively) at the 'edges'. Staying comfortable in those conditions require more effort, attention to details, constant assessment, perseverance, and quite honestly, a positive attitude. If I think I'm going to be uncomfortable, most likely... I'll be uncomfortable.

Needless to say, I've been following the 'news' of the great lakes freezing over daily and photos (#IcePhoto) from friends and the web have been amazing! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a 100% ice coverage!

I feel that winter and other types of 'bad' weather are getting a bad wrap. Sure, it makes driving more difficult and several other things. But come on, aren't a lot of things in life difficult? Too often, we are not willing to put in extra effort and I understand why. Our lives our busy. We need to pay bills.

Lately, I've been thinking about the costs of our upcoming North Pole expedition - not in actual dollars and cents costs but in the actual toll that it takes on my life, family and even my physical well being. This will be my third expedition on the Arctic Ocean and in my darker moments I wonder why I'm going back.

At some point in the past 20 years, I was lucky enough to discover my passion: polar expeditions (and mountaineering). For better or worse, I seem to like everything about these adventures to the exclusion of nearly everything else (except my bikes and pasta).

Recently however, I have tried to live a more balanced life, dedicating substantially more time to Merritt and Maria (as if it were ever a question), but still, I'll be gone for two months during this expedition. Merritt will be a different person when I return. For the past two weeks, I have been getting 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night while I prepare. I'm physically exhausted all the time from pulling tires or carrying my Granite Gear pack of rocks up nearby Mt. Sanitas. The stress of finding financial support and sponsorships gives me heart burn. Trying to stay on top of the millions of details that will affect the outcome of our expedition is dizzying on a good day. And to top if off..

Our dry suits leaked. Yesterday, we drove over to test the suits at a nearby reservoir. Right away, water started seeping in anywhere there was a seam. Were this to happen on the Arctic Ocean, the ramifications would disastrous (hypothermia, frost bite, or... ).

But these are the costs of passion. I am going into this endeavor willingly. I accept the difficult aspects of what I'm doing. Trying to accomplish things that have never been done before are inherently hard. There are hundreds of set backs every day. Every day I want to give up (and we haven't even gotten to the start line yet), but I don't.

I add another layer of clothing. Regroup. Lean in. Yes, skiing, snowshoeing and swimming to the North Pole is difficult... and really uncomfortable... and scary.. and lonely. But it is also amazing. And to be able to bring back the story of this place - the Arctic Ocean - to you, before it is gone is a price I will pay over willingly without question, forever.

@WindowsPhone Image: Ryan epoxying the bottom of our kevlar sleds after a long day.
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