It’s good to be cold

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May 032011
 
Authors: Jesse Benn

Only a few people will visit the North Pole in their lifetime. And the South Pole isn’t a popular hangout, either. A few thousand people have made it to the top of Mt. Everest, sometimes called the “Third Pole.” But only one person has been to all three in less than one year.

That person, polar explorer and adventurer Eric Larsen, will be sharing tales from his “Save the Poles Expedition,” with students and the public tonight at 7 in the TiLT Building, room 221.

“People who don’t make it to the presentation will miss out on incredible pictures, killer videos, lots of free Sierra Designs gear and a couple of bad jokes,” Larsen said in an email with the Collegian.

The motivation behind Larsen’s expedition is to raise awareness and document the effects of global climate change on these delicate environments.

“The main goals were to complete an expedition to the South Pole, North Pole and summit of Mt. Everest in less than a year,” Larsen said. “In doing so, my ultimate goal would be to tell the story of the last great frozen places left on the
planet and how they are changing, and ultimately what we can do to protect them.”

The first part of Larsen’s goal was accomplished with time to spare. The second part is what tonight’s event is all about.
“I nailed the first one in, I think, 333 days. The second goal –– I’m still working on that as I write this.”

The story of these frozen reaches of the planet told a similar and telling tale, all pointing toward global climate change.
“They (his findings) are the same everywhere I’ve been,” Larsen said. “Freeze ups coming later, thaws earlier, warmer winters, more open water, unusual weather patterns…”

Despite his first-hand experience with these effects, Larsen doesn’t expect his story to change the minds of those who don’t believe in climate change.

“Either you believe in the fundamental principles or you don’t,” Larsen said. “The same process that describes human-caused warming of our planet describes other theories … like gravity.”

Larsen’s journey was plagued with difficulties that required his perseverance –– mentally and physically –– making it hard for him to pick out his most difficult moment.

“Just one?” he asked rhetorically, “Fundraising, staying focused for nearly four years of planning, training, not letting all the nay sayers drag me down, every day on the Arctic Ocean, climbing up to camp three on Everest, whiteouts in Antarctica, Thanksgiving in a cold tent…”

The funnest moment was a little easier for him to identify:

“Sleeping,” he said.

And his most rewarding part of the journey was simple:

“Being in those places and bearing witness to some of the most incredible wildernesses left on the planet,” Larsen said.

Tonight, Larsen will take people along for that journey, minus the cold weather, extreme altitude and other hardships.

Michelle Driscoll, the secretary of the CSU Outdoor Club, the group hosting the event, is excited to have Larsen come to the university.

“The CSU Outdoor Club is very honored to bring Eric Larsen to CSU,” Driscoll said in an email with the Collegian. “We are very excited about his interest in coming to Fort Collins … and in the Fort Collins outdoor community.”

Driscoll also said that like all CSU Outdoor Club presentations, students and community members are welcome to attend the free event.

Larsen hopes the audience will walk away with not only a better understanding of these unique and rapidly changing environments but also with a new bit of inspiration.

“My ultimate hope is to inspire people to achieve big goals in their own lives but mostly to reinforce a basic principle,” Larsen said. “We do have the power to affect positive change. We can make a difference, but we do need to act now. The time for hesitation is over.”

Staff writer Jesse Benn can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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