Young Explorers Prepare for Ellesmere

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This week, legendary polar explorer Will Steger (our Lifetime Achievement award recipient, along with Richard Branson) brought news of his upcoming Ellesmere Island emerging leaders expedition to the New York City ADVENTURE editorial office. In tow were teammates Sam Branson, 22, the down-to-Earth son of Sir Richard, and champion Norwegian musher Sigrid Ekran, 27.

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In March, while retracing the footsteps of Robert Peary, Matthew Henson, and Otto Sverdrup, Steger’s team of six young leaders (no one is over 28) will be dogsledding 1,400 miles over 60 days to document the sorry state of ice in the Arctic. As they cross fjords, mountain ranges, ice shelves, and sea ice, they will be sending in daily dispatches to Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace networks via Globalwarming101.com. "It all has to do with social engagement. We don’t have ten years to take action against global warming," said Steger, who hopes his hand-picked team (which includes Nat Geo Young Explorer grantees Ben Horton, 24, and Sarah McNair-Landry, 21) can bring the message to a new audience. "My bets are on the 17- to 24-year-olds making the necessary lifestyle changes."

Young Branson, who joined Steger and his dad on last year’s Global Warming 101 Baffin Island expedition, spoke about wanting to bring this message to his generation. "It would be a shame to win people’s minds only to find out that it was too late," he noted at the Explorer’s Club on Wednesday night. Branson, no stranger to the media circus surrounding pops, commented on how his time on the Baffin expedition, without cell phones, TVs, or other distractions, brought a clarity of mind missing from daily life.

For Ekran, who lives without running water or electricity in the company of her dog team in the Alaskan outback, the Ellesmere lifestyle will be familiar territory. "I spend 90 percent of my time with my dogs, which is probably why I am not so good at talking to people." Chatterbox skills aside, her expert mushing will be an invaluable addition to the team.

Stay tuned for more on this expedition.