there have been dreamers who saw themselves skiing to the top of the Earth. Very few have done so, of course, because it's hard going - and because only in the past decade have travel companies offered would-be Arctic explorers the kind of expedition they could manage. The company that pioneered such trips, The Northwest Passage, is planning its fifth trek to the geographic North Pole starting in early February with a six-day training session on Baffin Island.
In April a party of 8-15 will fly charter aircraft from Resolute Bay, Nunavut to within 150 miles of the Pole. Then, under a 24 hr. Polar sun, in often subzero temperatures, the group will follow Peary's route from 88 degrees to ninety degrees North, climbing over walls of ice, crossing expanses of open water on ice blocks bound by rope, skiing through clouds of drifting snow.
Burton Meyer of Downers Grove, IL, a retired toy designer, first crossed the North Pole with The Northwest Passage at 69. Among his companions: a 16 year old schoolgirl, one of only three women ever to reach the Pole on foot. Meyer remembers everything about his trip, the second of 12 he's made with the company: "We traveled 13 miles a day with 2 dog teams, breaking camp in the morning and setting it up at the end of the day, struggling through blizzards, trying to find a way across the open water."
He was thrilled by the Arctic,"one of the most unusual places in the world - the beautiful blue colors of the ice, the sparkle of the sun." Travelers of any age are welcome but must be in very good physical shape and willing to spend $25,000, the cost of the trip. Northwest Passage also offers less expensive ways to realize a Polar dream, including a $6,000 ski and dogsled trek across Ellesmere, Canada's northernmost island. Adventurers travel through an expanse of mountains, fjords and giant icebergs, observing polar bears, musk oxen, caribou and the island's celebrated Arctic wolves. Not for the fainthearted.