A Fernie resident is in the running to be named National Geographic’s Adventurer of The Year.
Kayaker Jon Turk, who spends winters in Fernie and summers in Montana, was the first paddler, alongside his companion Erik Boomer, to circumnavigate Ellesmere Island.
The journey around the world’s tenth largest island, which took Turk and Boomer 104 days on skis, in kayaks, and on foot, was considered by polar experts to be the last great unattempted polar expedition, so daunting due to its remoteness and dangerous ice conditions. No one had attempted it before this summer.
For Turk, who pioneered big-wall climbs on Baffin Island and engaged in five Siberian expeditions to study shamanic culture, this was his “retirement party,” his last expedition.
The 65-year-old said the trip was a huge test of strength, physical and emotional.
“There was a little bit of, ‘Oh my God, what are we getting ourselves into?’” he said. “Boomer and I were near total strangers, but I think we were both committed to the adventure. It was too much to pass up.
“We got along beyond comprehension immediately. Of course we had some arguments; it would be ridiculous to say we didn’t. But very soon we learned that we had to trust each other’s confidence. That was all we had.”
The pair also had to deal with a real live danger – polar bears.
They discovered this when, during the final week of their 1,485-mile circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island, a polar bear ripped a hole in their tent—while five other bears looked on.
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