For most armchair adventurers, Everest is the pinacle of human endurance achievement. Few of us, however, have even heard of the Brooks Range between Canada and Alaska and only six people have attempted a traverse of its inhospitable 1600 kilometers of arctic rock faces and ravines.
Earlier this year John Cantor, a 27 year old from Queensland, became the fifth person to complete a full solo traverse and the first non-American to do so. He also holds the record for the fastest traverse.
One of the most exceptional aspects to John's story is the tenacity he showed over the six years of planning and previous failed attempts. It's frequently said of entreprenuers and successful business people that it's necessary to fail often and fast if you want to succeed. The magnitude of John's previous expedition failures are a part of what makes his story so incredible, but from each he learned invaluable lessons and gained strength and discipline. Unpreparedness halted his first attempt, while physical and mental problems plagued his later expeditions. The anxiety and self doubt became cripplingly acute, yet he carried on.
It has undoubtedly made success all the sweeter, enough so that John is planning a winter traverse of the Brooks range, a feat never before attempted.
On joining Ovations Speaking Bureau, John talked with us about his upcoming winter traverse:
Traversing the Brooks Range in winter will be similar to my summer traverse only in distance and location and this expedition is one that I am not taking lightly. I expect to face temperatures down to minus 100 Celsius including wind chill and initially I will have to endure near complete darkness. The expedition will start in Kotzebue on the West Coast of Alaska deep inside the Arctic Circle. The first 650km will follow the flat and frozen Noatak River and my expedition partner and I will travel on cross-country skis pulling large sleds. At the end of the Noatak, we will be resupplied with food and AT skis so that we will be able to ski down the large mountains we will have to climb over. Route finding will be crucial and we may have to deviate around passes if the snow is too deep. The range will be teeming with hundreds of thousands of caribou, musk oxen, Arctic foxes and many other animals. The northern lights will be out most nights and we will face severe storms.
I want to do this because I initially thought it couldn’t be done. The planning and preparation associated with this expedition will be immense and it is a challenge I will relish. The whole point of my initial dream to traverse the Brooks Range six years ago was to realize what I am capable of. It is now time to take that one step further.