Minn. explorer says he's first to hit both poles, Everest in same year

Explorer Erik Larsen
Explorer Erik Larsen during one of his many expeditions.
Photo Credit: Ryan Waters

A 39-year-old Grand Marais man said he's the first person ever to cross both the north and south poles and summit Mt. Everest in the same year.

Eric Larsen is climbing down from the mountain after summiting the world's tallest peak on Sunday with a group of Nepali Sherpas.

Speaking from the base of Mt. Everest this morning, Larsen said he's visiting the planet's extremes as part of an effort he calls "Save the Poles."

"It's to tell a story of what I call the last great frozen places before they're gone," Larsen said. "Snow and ice are amazing just in the physical sense, but they're also important in the way that they help regulate the world's climate."

Erik Larsen
Explorer Erik Larsen lives in Grand Marais, Minn., when he's not climbing mountains or trekking to the south pole.
Photo by Erik Larsen

Larsen said he saw the effects of climate change in person.

In Antarctica, he said, winds that help cool the rest of the planet virtually stopped blowing for nearly two weeks while he was there.

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En route to the North Pole, he said he found the ice thinner and rougher than previous trips, because it breaks up more easily.

And in Nepal, he said, even the occasional visitor can see the scope of change at the foot of the Himalayas: "I'm not a scientist. I'm not an expert. But it's something that even a lay person can see and notice, especially here in the Khumbu Valley of Everest. Everywhere I looked I could see several glaciers, but more than glaciers and ice and snow, I could see evidence of where glaciers had been."

Larsen said he took pictures and video to document the trip and tell people about the need to preserve some of the world's coldest places. He pointed out that hundreds of thousands of people, for example, count on Himalayan glaciers for drinking water.

"So many people, maybe not in Minnesota, but in other places in the U.S., kind of look at a warming planet as not such a bad thing," Larsen said. "I wanted to show people how incredible these places are and how unique they are first and foremost."

Larsen is one of a group of widely-traveled Minnesota explorers. He's previously made a summer crossing of the Arctic Ocean to the North Pole and climbed Mt. McKinley and guided other adventurers to the South Pole.

You can see his account of his travels in the last year at website. He's also on Facebook at Polar Explorer Eric Larsen.