Ely man races to the South Pole
Journey back in time with an Ely man to a moment that will live on in the history of exploration -- the 1911 race to the south pole. For months, John Huston, 30, of Ely lived off small slices of chocolate, powdered milk, seal meat, hardtack biscu...
Journey back in time with an Ely man to a moment that will live on in the history of exploration -- the 1911 race to the south pole.
For months, John Huston, 30, of Ely lived off small slices of chocolate, powdered milk, seal meat, hardtack biscuits and what looked like vomit in a bag. The food was pemmican -- a mixture of lard, salami, honey, dried peas and raisins.
"It tasted worse than it sounds," he said.
As he and his teammates recreated the epic race to the pole, Huston slept in reindeer-fur sleeping bags and pushed along on wooden skis. He navigated with compasses and sextants.
"It was a unique trip," said Huston, a former instructor at the Outward Bound Wilderness School in Ely. "Not your typical expedition."
The 1911 race between Norway's Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott of Britain put a sharp lens on leadership styles, modes of transportation and how to approach a challenge. Amundsen's team, using dog sleds and cross-country skis, came safely home. Scott and his men, who primarily hauled their own equipment, died of starvation, dehydration and exhaustion. To this day, the expedition remains steeped in controversy.
The History Channel recreated the epic 1,400-mile race in 2005. Five-member teams were pitted against each other in an actual race using only the materials and foods available in 1911. There was no role playing, no acting. The tragedies, triumphs and hardships of the two teams will be broadcast in a two-part series, "Race to the South Pole," starting at 8-10 p.m. tonight and ending with a 7-9 p.m. installment Dec. 9.
John Huston was the only North American chosen to participate in the project. He joined the Norwegian team as a dog musher. In addition, he helped the team communicate with the filmmakers.
There was one big change for this race. It was relocated to Arctic Canada, according to the History Channel, because animals are prohibited in Antarctica.
Huston said that the journey left him with great respect for the Norwegian team of 1911. Their expedition paved the way for all future explorers, he said.
The Ely man has participated in other polar trips in Hudson Bay and is planning an unsupported two-man 2009 expedition to the North Pole with fellow Ely resident Tyler Fish. He is also working with polar explorer Will Steger on a dog sled expedition targeted at students in grades K-12 that will explore Inuit towns and the effects of global warming. More information can be found online at www.forwardexpeditions.com and www.golbalwarming101.com .