When Wilderness Center board member Jerry Stenger first met Will Steger face to face, Steger was a little preoccupied. He was at the Minneapolis airport loading the cargo plane that was transporting him and his expedition team to the International Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1989.

At the time, Stenger was supervisor for the University of St. Thomas television studio and had taken an interest in Steger’s expedition. Knowing that Steger was a St. Thomas alum, he contacted Steger out of the blue just prior to the expedition and asked for an interview. Steger politely declined, but encouraged Stenger to contact him when he returned.

Seven months later, Stenger got his half hour video interview. Steger later invited him to the Wilderness Center where Stenger shot video profiles for a week. Eventually, he photographed several training expeditions in the early 1990s.

“Then I just sort of became [Will’s] expedition videographer for every expedition from 1990 on,” Stenger said.

Not only was he on the front lines of expedition adventures, Stenger became a founding member of the Will Steger Foundation, now called Climate Generation, in 2005. He served on its board for six years. As the Wilderness Center developed, Stenger became a founder, too.

From a board member perspective, Stenger said he wants to see the Center fully operational. He hopes it will attract small groups of leadership-level organizations, which afford the decision-makers a transformative experience, something that allows them to stop work sessions and spend time in the wilderness.

Having observed Steger’s leadership style and vision on several expeditions, Stenger also emphasized the importance of indefinitely sustaining the Center’s focus.

“One of my biggest concerns is that the place and the environment stays [aligned] with Will’s vision, so it doesn’t become a corporate facility… Really keep the close-to-nature wilderness perspective,” he said.

Stenger, 55, lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. He owns In Tandem Inc., a media production firm where he is a television producer, photographer and editor.

This is an excerpt from:
Anderson: Steger, 72, embarks on latest solo canoe/sled adventure

By BRIAN PETERSON, Star Tribune on 03/24/17

For the full article, click below:

Anderson: Steger, 72, embarks on latest solo canoe/sled adventure
Thirty-one years have passed since Will Steger led the world’s first unsupported trek to the North Pole by dogsled. Up next he’s headed from Ely to Burchell Lake, Ontario.
March 24, 2017 — 5:35am

Thirty-one years have passed since Will Steger led the world’s first unsupported trek to the North Pole by dogsled. Up next he’s headed from Ely to Burchell Lake, Ontario.

Thursday morning while trains, planes and automobiles toted Twin Cities residents to their stations of labor, Will Steger began a commute of his own, from Ely to Burchell Lake, Ontario.

But rather than carrying a briefcase or a lunch bucket, Steger loaded his vehicle with a 12-foot-long canoe-sled, two paddles, a single-burner stove and enough oatmeal, butter, cheese, rice and pork to sustain him for a few weeks, or 150 miles through the bush, whichever comes first.

“I’ll be traveling alone in part because it’s safer being alone this time of year,” Steger said. “During spring breakup, when you travel on ice and water, or both, you often have to make decisions really fast, which is easier if you’re alone.”

Thirty-one years have passed since Steger led the world’s first unsupported trek to the North Pole by dogsled. He’s also crossed Greenland by dogsled, the longest such unsupported expedition in history at the time, in 1988, following which in 1995 at age 50, he spearheaded the first and only dogsled crossing of the Arctic Ocean, Russia to Canada’s Ellesmere Island.

Now Steger is 72 and from his encampment outside Ely, he longs still to move on…Read More

The departure point of this year’s solo will be 150 travel-miles northeast of Ely, Minnesota, in northwestern Ontario. I’ll start at Burchell Lake, the headwaters of the Waweag River. It features small creeks and streams that gradually increase in volume as the Waweag flows into Kawnipi Lake in the northeast sector of Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park.

I chose this route because it offers the greatest challenge and the best opportunity to build new skills. The spring thaw appears to be under way in the North, which makes these rivers quite dangerous. They present a combination of thin, unpredictable ice with flowing current underneath. I expect the first part of the expedition to be slow and tedious.

Once on Kawnipi, my route will take me over rivers and lakes as they begin break-up. I expect to return to my cabin north of Ely around April 10th.

You can follow this year’s adventure with me at this link. Each night, I’ll transmit reports via satellite phone and share my present location on Google maps. There will be a lot of unknowns along the way. I look forward to checking in with you.

Will Steger

Follow the expedition, click here for live updates: https://www.stegerwildernesscenter.org/expeditions/solo-2017/


Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, interviews polar explorer and environmental activist, Will Steger, on “A Closer Look With Arthur Levitt.”

producer: Arthur Levitt +1-212-617-5560 or acloserlook@bloomberg.net

Running time 30:05


The micro-grid in the middle of nowhere has generated more than electricity for the Steger Wilderness Center. Phase 1 of the Center’s island-mode power project received worldwide recognition through the annual “Environmental Challenge Award” from Cummins Power Generation. Will Steger said the prestigious award is an affirmation that the Center is on the right track.

Energy Team

The Phase 1 energy team.

“Our mission is being recognized as sustainable and as a demonstration model. We’re doing what we say we’re doing. Plus, it’s early on. We’re just beginning and we’re drawing this sort of attention. It reflects the importance of the Center,” he said.

Cummins is the largest manufacturer of diesel engines in the world and among the top three in generator production. Wissam Balshe, from Cummins in Minneapolis, Minn., explained that the Environmental Challenge competition is open to Cummins employees. It’s an incentive for them to develop new ideas that will reduce carbon footprint, encourage environmental sustainability and assist community partners with technical and funding components that turn ideas into realities.

Of the 88 projects that competed globally for the award, Balshe said the ideas took many forms. Along with the micro-grid at the Wilderness Center, examples included: wood recycling in Brazil; lake cleanup in Indiana; environmental sustainability and climate change education for students in India; and beautification projects in remote towns that suffer from an abundance of garbage and pollution. Each project is awarded points at progressively larger regional levels. Phase 1 of the micro-grid project continued to win and ultimately topped all others at the global level.

According to Balshe, one of the biggest challenges for the Wilderness Center was succeeding with a project that had never been attempted. It was a hybrid power system that tied a mix of energy sources together so they worked seamlessly as one integrated system, not as separate components. The innovative brainpower required to pull off this lofty goal gave birth to the micro-grid concept.


The structure for the solar array and the generator building were aerodynamically situated to protect the panels from strong winds. The design prevented wind damage during the blowdown that swept through the Center last July.

The project began by assembling a diverse energy team of industry experts. Balshe and his colleague Sha Mohammed led the Phase 1 energy team of engineers from Cummins. He also networked with energy team members, companies and schools, including Jon Kramer from Sundial Building Performance who spearheaded Phase 1 of the project.

University of St. Thomas professor Greg Mowry was another energy team member. Early in Phase 1 of the project, his students from St. Thomas contributed to the design phase. The design work and feasibility analysis took place in summer 2014 and was implemented in 2015.

Generator Room

The generator building (right) houses the batteries that store 10 kilowatts of solar power at the Steger Wilderness Center.

Primary Phase 1 components included a generator donated by Cummins; insulation and an inverter from Sundial; batteries provided by BAE; and solar panels from Ten K Solar. Though the new generator is much cleaner than previous generators at the Center, Balshe said the team goals went even farther. They wanted to exceed EPA requirements and educate the community on the benefits of integrated energy sources.

“We don’t think that there’s one technology that’s going to be the best technology. It will be a mix of different technologies. That’s how we envision the future of energy,” he said.

Lodge & Panels

The solar array is positioned to provide 10 kilowatts of power to the lodge and workshop (foreground), and other buildings in the compound.

Innovation was a significant criterion for judging the competition and the strongest area for the Center’s energy team. Their engineering capabilities earned points for the “most innovative and technically complex project of 2015.” But high scores were also awarded for the project’s ability to serve as a model.

“You get a lot of points if you actually educate others on how to do this,” Balshe said.

He later emphasized the impact of the Center’s energy education for everyone.

“[The Steger Wilderness Center] is very important because you have a lot of students, sometimes community leaders, policy makers visiting the Center to… participate in environmental sustainability and climate change discussions. So, we wanted to have an energy solution, a power plan, that’s actually reflective of the mission of the Center,” he said. “We had to think of ways to use renewable energy without sacrificing reliability or availability.”


Todd Yurk (left) from Sundial Building Performance fields questions about the new generator donated by Cummins Power Generation.

Steger expressed his gratitude to Cummins for more than just the award. Their engineers were important advisors on the project.

“They gave us their expertise. We had their technicians working right beside us on the project. It was hands-on for them,” he said.

In looking to the future, Steger said Phase 2 of the energy project will incorporate wind power, increase the Center’s use of solar energy and bring in a director. “Our newest board member, Craig Tarr, will be the Wilderness Center’s ‘energy czar.’ He will coordinate all energy systems, which include electrical and heat.”

The Center’s new dining hall is also being designed in partnership with architecture students at Dunwoody College of Technology. The facility will be another model of energy use and conservation.

Story by Scott Stowell

Photos by John Ratzloff


Youth Undergrowth

When the gales of this summer’s big storm blew beyond the Steger Wilderness Center, it
seemed to have trailered in its own recovery crew. A team from Summer Youth Corps (SYC)
rode in just days later to help wrangle the aftermath.


The Summer Youth Corps with Will Steger: (back row, L to R) Laura Pratt, Will Steger, Sam Lancaster, Kristi Yang, Hannah Weiss, Charlie Reber; (front row, L to R) June Roettger and Yang (James) Deng.

SYC is a youth development program of Conservation Corps Minnesota (CCM) geared toward high school age students. It provides hands-on work and personal growth experiences in natural resource fields, among others. For many of those youth, the opportunity is their first paying job.

Crew leader Hannah Weiss is a senior at the University of Vermont where she’s studying environmental science. She described the SYC work as physically demanding. It started with basic training at base camp in St. Croix State Park along the St. Croix River. Afterward, the crew departed on what CCM calls “spikes,” a variety of environmental projects often involving manual labor. The crew was on the move, traveling to projects that typically lasted from one to three weeks.

Weiss said the crew at the Wilderness Center focused primarily on cleanup from the July 21 blowdown. They hauled trees, brush and lumber, stacked wood and lopped branches. They also cut saplings from the hillside adjacent to the lake to encourage pine growth and expose the underlying greenstone.


SYC member Kristi Yang clears branches and brush as part of the cleanup at the Wilderness Center.

Kristi Yang, 17, lives in Brooklyn Park, Minn. She said she’s lived in a city environment all her life. But she heard stories from two friends who had participated in SYC and she decided to sign up. Other than helping her grandparents cart vegetables to a farmers’ market, she hadn’t had much exposure to manual labor. Previously, she was a cashier at a supermarket. Though the work for SYC was far different, she discovered something about herself.

“I really like it. I feel I was born to do this,” she said.

Charlie Reber, 16, is from St. Joseph, Minn. Four of his brothers have worked for SYC and one of them is currently on the staff at CCM. He said his brothers always told good stories of their experiences and he wanted to be part of it. Now that he’s had an intensive chance, he appreciates the work ethic he learned.


SYC members Charlie Reber (left) and Yang (James) Deng haul lumber at the center.

“The hardest part for me, was the [physical] work…[But] being here is not about the work. You don’t have to be physically able to perform on the job site…Just keep a steady pace. Keep quality over quantity,” he said.

According to Weiss, the crew normally resided at campgrounds, lived in tents and used camp stoves for cooking. But she said they were living in the lap of luxury at the Wilderness Center with kitchen facilities and sleeping accommodations—with beds—in the guest house.

“They love this place. They really enjoy having access to a full kitchen because that is an incredibly unique privilege,” she said.

Weiss also explained that the SYC hiring process mindfully selects a broad range of students with diverse personalities and backgrounds. She said this particular crew really stepped up and had few complaints. “I’m very proud of them. It’s not always the case with crews.”


The entire Summer Youth Corps crew spent hours lopping branches and cutting away saplings on the ledge wall beside the lake to encourage pine growth and expose the greenstone.

Samantha “Sam” Lancaster, 17, is from Somerset, Wis. She said she’s not a particularly social person, but intentionally joined SYC to leave her comfort zone. She didn’t know any of the other students and was nervous at base camp. She didn’t talk much at the time, but opened up afterward and she loved the work. She said the lopping sessions and time in the field allowed them to talk, get to know each other and become closer.

The Wilderness Center complex and the philosophy behind it also made an impression on the crew. Lancaster indicated an historical and physical appreciation for the setting.


“I like to think that I’m a little bit a part of that now, the hillside and clearing the brush,” she
said. Then she added, “I actually really like that it’s far away. You can see the stars at night.”

For Reber, the wilderness location and opportunity to work in it were second to none. “I’ve heard some spikes are weeding parking lots. Can you imagine that? So I think we’re really lucky,” he stated.


Evening offers a chance to rest and sing around the campfire.

Each crew member noted they had stand-out moments. Reber said he was amazed at how he learned to interact well with people who were from such different places. “Everyone’s got a different story. That’s what I think I can use the most. It’s being able to work with all different types of kids and everyone’s got a different personality.”

Likewise, Yang said the teamwork will stick in her memory. But she also won’t forget the
surroundings. “I’ll take time to appreciate the little nature we have in the Cities. People [there] don’t really pay attention to it.”

Lancaster said SYC was instrumental in helping her learn about working in environmental fields. She’d like to return to the Wilderness Center for one of the summer apprenticeships. “I really like how [Will] is so forward about the environment.”

For more information on Conservation Corps Minnesota, visit online at conservationcorps.org
or call 651-209- 9900.

Story by Scott Stowell

Photos by John Ratzloff

A pilot program that began two years ago at the Steger Wilderness Center has become a foundation and training ground for carpentry education, self-reliance and community. A crew of adult construction students from Summit Academy arrived at the center in July and a second team came in August for hands-on experience as part of their 20-week curriculum.


The construction crew takes a lighthearted breather: (standing, L to R) Hassan As-Sidiq, Bronson Sjolie, Terrance Neal and Gabe Corbesi; (sitting, L to R) Mike DeBoer, Will Steger, Courtney Harris and Beth Halverson.

Summit Academy instructor Beth Halverson led the week-long training programs for both crews. She explained the original program began as a collaboration between Will Steger and Summit Academy President Louis King. The first project involved constructing a cabin at the Wilderness Center. When it was completed, she and Steger liked the result so much they continued the program.

But rather than build more cabins, students now engage in a variety of maintenance projects to upgrade the grounds and refine carpentry skills. Projects included roofing, decking, woodshop work and detailing railings. The hands-on component of their curriculum had only begun two weeks before they arrived at the Wilderness Center. Halverson said some students had used carpentry tools before their schooling at Summit Academy, while others didn’t have a lick of practice.


Live at Hobo Village—Gabe Corbesi on guitar.

She noted that the overall experience teaches students a different way of working with raw materials and offers a better appreciation of carpentry itself. It’s on-the- job training like a typical day at a job site. Plus, working in a natural setting creates awareness of waste within the ecosystem.

Toward the end of their classroom education, students are also taught how to write resumes and cover letters. What’s more, Summit Academy brings in contractors to conduct mock interviews with the students.

All of the students participating in projects this summer live in the Twin Cities area. Some had never experienced outdoor life. Halverson called that opportunity a fantastic bridge between
urban and rural. It ran the gamut from the beauty of pristine wilderness to a violent wind storm. She’s found that when students return to the city and other Summit Academy students ask about the Wilderness Center, those who participated don’t hold back.

“Chests were pumped out,” she said. “They couldn’t talk enough about it.”


Rainey Lott detailed railing spindles in the woodshop.

Loretta “Rainey” Lott, 38, is originally from the south side of Chicago and now lives in St. Paul. Until she enrolled at Summit Academy, she had no construction experience. Until she arrived at the Wilderness Center, she had never been camping, fished or used an outhouse other than in a public park. Table saws, routers and recycled two-by- fours were on her to-do list at the Wilderness Center. She fashioned replacement spindles for railings at the center.

“Bringing that wood back to life, that was amazing to me,” she said. “Being able to see my work, I’m proud of that.”

She also knew very little about Will Steger. According to Lott, she was used to a fast life, living in the city, not even subconsciously caring about environmental concerns and her impact on it. Since her time at the Wilderness Center, she’s questioned herself. “What could I do as an individual to at least be part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem?”


Eric Woods (left) and Carlos Hernandez align cedar shakes on the rooftop.

Gabe Corbesia, 35, lives in Minneapolis. His only prior experience in construction came when he was a kid and helped his dad who was a carpenter. But he said he didn’t remember much of what he learned. He’s also camped a little, but not like at the Wilderness Center. That alone has been a bonding experience with his classmates.

“Working with them and having to take a bath in a lake… they haven’t done it either. That brought us closer,” he said.

According to Halverson, exposure to teamwork and instilling a work ethic is perhaps the biggest benefit students derive from the Wilderness Center. It’s another bridge with far-reaching effects.


Terrance Neal works on the deck railing outside the center.

“It leads to their families. It leads to their friends,” she said. “There’s some beauty that’s
happening with people working together as one, as opposed to separating themselves.”

Lott described the experience as one big family. “I love that feel of it… Everybody is
approachable,” she said and added, “I can’t learn enough here. I need more time. I have to come back.”

Corbesia explained he’s made significant changes to turn his life around. His past included unproductive time mired in drugs. But he’s cleaned up and said the hands-on training at the Wilderness Center will help him attain his goals of union work in construction, and peace and stability in his personal life.

Lott said she never envisioned herself going into the construction field. However, her reasons for attending Summit Academy extend beyond carpentry. She’s started the “Bigger than You” foundation. It’s an advocacy nonprofit against gun violence with a focus on misled teens. Her proposed court divergence program includes teaching the construction trade to troubled youth. Eventually she hopes to purchase property as a site for their hands-on training like she’s received at the Wilderness Center. She’s closely observing Summit Academy as a curriculum model.


Bronson Sjolie (left), Hassan As-Sidiq (center) and Gabriel Corbesi secure roof panels.

Summit Academy President Louis King said the school’s mission is to help people get the skills, education and social networks they need to enter the economic mainstream. The partnership with the Steger Wilderness Center gets students out of the “concrete jungle,” helps the environment and allows them to practice their craft.

“We believe the best social services program in the world is a job,” King said.

For more information on Summit Academy visit online at saoic.org.

Story by Scott Stowell

Photos by John Ratzloff

Three decades after their greatest triumph, Paul Schurke and Will Steger still have the itch to explore.
Both marked the 30th anniversary of their famed trek to the North Pole this week by launching new adventures, albeit a bit closer to home.
Schurke, who still operates a dogsled adventure business near Ely, left Tuesday morning with one of the original 1986 sleds for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, where he was to meet up with adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman – who are in the midst of their own yearlong trek in the BWCAW.

Meanwhile Steger, who has become a leading and persistent voice in raising awareness about climate change, set off the same day on his own 30-day trek that will take him from Ontario’s Wabakimi Wilderness, across the Quetico Provincial Park and into the BWCAW, finishing at his Steger Wilderness Center off of the Fernberg Road.
The current adventures come 30 years after the Ely duo, together with fellow Minnesotan Ann Bancroft and five others, made history with a 1,000-mile ski and dog sled quest across the Arctic Ocean to the North Pole.
It was the first confirmed trek to the top of the world without resupply, the subject of a National Geographic cover story, a television special and best-selling book, and an adventure that even caught the attention of the White House.

They may not have known it at the time, as they prepared for a 1,000-mile mission in temperatures that at times exceeded minus-70, but their North Pole triumph would set the stage for careers in adventure.
“The North Pole trip defined my life and livelihood,” Schurke remembered in a written submission to the Echo. “Our home and businesses evolved around the skills, resources and adventure passions we gained from that expedition… Tackling a monumental challenge was fearful for all of us. But our success is now the quiet voice I hear every time I face new challenges that says ‘yea, you can pull this off too.’”
Schurke has traveled to the Arctic every year since the initial trek and together with his wife Sue, launched both the clothing business that is now Wintergreen Northern Wear as well as Ely’s Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge.
Just four years after the North Pole triumph, Schurke led the Bering Bridge Expedition from Siberia to Alaska, hailed as a diplomatic venture that helped reopen the US-Soviet border and reunited native people on both continents.
In addition to operating his businesses, Schurke has focused on wildlands preservation and received the Environmental Hero award from the national Wilderness Society for his efforts.
It’s an evolution that began with the North Pole venture, one that Schurke looks back on with affinity, even with the extreme cold temperatures.
“I never remember being cold – we were working so hard that we were often too warm and worried about sweating out of our clothing systems,” he said.
It also was a trip that relied on dogsledding systems and navigation techniques that were decidedly traditional.
“They were much like those Robert Peary used starting with his first expedition in 1886, exactly 100 years before ours,” said Schurke. “All expeditions since ours have relied on high-tech superlight gear and electronic navigation.”
Like Schurke, Steger was only beginning his adventures when trekking to the North Pole, and he too has spent 30 years making an impact both in exploration and environmental advocacy.
In 1990, Steger completed a dogsled and ski traverse of Antarctica.
Other adventures have taken him across Greenland, as well as the Arctic Ocean from Russia to Canada by doglsed.
Steger has received National Geographic’s Oliver LaGorce Medal and is a leading spokesperson on climate change through the nonprofit Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy.
According to Steger, “lots” has changed about the North Pole in 30 years. The polar ice pack is 30 percent smaller and thinner and the team’s launch site is gone.
“Climate change has disintegrated our staging base, which was Coastal Canada’s Ward Hunt Ice Shelf,” said Steger. “It’s no longer possible to depart from there for the Pole. Arctic ice, which helps stabilize global weather systems, is rapidly diminishing.”


30th Anniversary of North Pole triumph marked with new adventures (Hometown Focus – Virginia, MN)

Thirty years ago this March 7, an 8-member team that included Minnesotans Will Steger, Paul Schurke and Ann Bancroft launched a 2-month expedition that was hailed by National Geographic as “a landmark in polar exploration.” In temps that exceeded minus 70F, they left the northern tip of our continent to travel 1,000 miles by ski & dogsled across the Arctic Ocean to reach the North Pole. Their accomplishment, the first confirmed trek to the top of the world without resupply, was featured in a National Geographic cover story, a television special and a best-selling book.

This 30th anniversary will be marked by adventures closer to home. On Monday, Mar. 7, Steger sets out on a month-long solo trek from northwestern Ontario’s Wabakimi Wilderness to travel across Quetico and the Boundary Waters. He will finish at his Steger Wilderness Center near Ely. As a witness to climate change, he’ll share the impacts he observes in posts to the Steger Wilderness Center and Climate Generation websites.

Also on Mar. 7, Schurke departs by dogsled and ski across the Boundary Waters (with one of the original 1986 North Pole sleds) to join up with Dave and Amy Freeman, who are National Geographic “Adventurers of the Year.” Their current “Year in the Wilderness” expedition is focused on preserving the watershed of Minnesota’s canoe country.

The 1986 trek, which gained the team White House commendations by President Reagan, set the stage for adventuring careers for the three Minnesotans:

• In 1990, Steger completed a dogsled and ski traverse of Antarctica. He also traversed both Greenland and the Arctic Ocean from Russia to Canada by
dogsled. He received National Geographic’s Oliver LaGorce Medal and is a leading spokesperson on climate change through the nonprofit Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy

• In 1993, Bancroft skied to the South Pole (and across Antarctica in 2000), becoming the first woman to trek to both poles and gained a place in the
National Women’s Hall of Fame. Her current Access Water project (www.yourexpedition.com) involves treks on all seven continents to highlight global
water issues. Her team recently boated the Ganges River.

• In 1990, Schurke led the Bering Bridge Expedition from Siberia to Alaska, a diplomatic venture which helped reopen the U.S.–Soviet border and reunited native peoples on both
continents. He has since focused on global wildlands preservation and received the Environmental Hero award from The Wilderness Society for his efforts.

– See more at: http://m.hometownfocus.us/news/2016-03-04/Today’s_News/30th_anniversary_of_North_Pole_triumph_marked_with.html#.Vt-sWRjWMyN

The 30th anniversary events align with recent book releases associated with the men’s polar expeditions. These include the new book “Think South, How We Got Six Men and Forty Dogs Across Antarctica,” by Cathy de Moll, executive director of Steger’s trans-Antarctica expedition, and an updated legacy edition “North to the Pole,” the best-selling book by Steger and Schurke. Both books are published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. “North to the Pole” includes updates on the adventures of all eight team members since the 1986 expedition.

In the wake of the 1986 expedition, the Will Steger Foundation took shape, which led to Climate Generation and www.StegerWildernessCenter.org, as well as the www.annbancroftfoundation.org and its annual Dream Maker Awards to empower young woman. It also fostered winter programming for www.WildernessInquiry.org, the non-profit adventure travel program for people with disabilities that Schurke cofounded.

The expedition also helped launch three of Ely, Minnesota’s iconic businesses: Steger Mukluks which employs 34 people and produces over 10,000 pairs of footwear per year; Susan Schurke’s Wintergreen Northern Wear, which employs 20 people and produces anoraks and other activewear in Ely; and Paul Schurke’s Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge which hosts over 500 adventurers each season.

What has changed at the North Pole in 30 years? Lots, says Steger. The polar ice pack is 30 percent smaller and thinner, and the team’s launch site is gone. “Climate change has disintegrated our staging base which was coastal Canada’s Ward Hunt Ice Shelf,” he said. “It’s no longer possible to depart from there for the pole. Arctic ice, which helps stabilize global weather systems, is rapidly diminishing.”

– See more at: http://m.hometownfocus.us/news/2016-03-04/Today’s_News/30th_anniversary_of_North_Pole_triumph_marked_with.html#.VuBrdxjWMyO