The Polar skier and the blind man: Another river paddle

Posted: Jun 15, 2012 09:09 pm EDT

(Newsdesk) Polar skier, Howard Fairbank, and his friend Imtiaz (Imi) Moosa, who went totally blind six years ago, are on another adventure in their canoe. Almost a year since their successful Yukon River adventure, the team is in the huge Quetico Park just west of Lake Superior, a canoeing wilderness in Ontario, Canada, for a 13-day remote, exploring expedition.

The title of their expedition, Vision Quest, deliberately references the connotations around the search for the ‘Meaning in Life’ in the traditional North American Indian cultures, says the team. “Team work will be critical, and with potentially difficult terrain underfoot Imi will be particularly challenged by these portages, and the unit will need to adjust to the specific challenges to each portage.”


“The Park has more than 550 lakes of which 292 are named, and herein lies its attraction for wilderness canoeists,” the team stated on their website. “The lakes are mostly linked by rivers flowing east to west, all merging into the Namakan River west of the park, which then finally joins other rivers, ending in Hudson Bay. This helps to make it, along with the adjacent Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the most popular canoe area in the world.”

“We will be spending 12 to 14 days out on our own, unsupported, immersed and living in this wilderness. Starting at Stanton Bay, taking a tortuous route involving canoeing more than 200 miles, and more than 15 lengthy and challenging portages, as we travel roughly from east to west across the park, ending at Nym lake.”

“The route will take us past all the best waterfalls in the Quetico and we will be exposed to the potential dangers of black bears, moose and other local wildlife... including the dreaded mosquitoes and black flies!”

They added, “Rather than our very well defined ‘A to B’ Yukon river trip, this expedition will be more of a wilderness exploration, requiring navigation skills and deep sense of being one with nature and the environment. Unlike the Yukon, there will be little help from the natural river flow, with each day will involve hard paddling, and sometimes rough windblown open water conditions, interspersed with unknown portages.”

“Team work will be critical, and with potentially difficult terrain underfoot Imi will be particularly challenged by these portages, and the unit will need to adjust to the specific challenges to each portage. All this makes for a true, Fun, Challenging, and Rewarding, adventure.”

Imtiaz Moosa
Imi’s parents are originally from India and Pakistan, while he was born in Tanzania – so, like Howard, he is an African by birth. At the age of 17, he immigrated with his parents to Toronto, Canada, taking up citizenship, and also obtaining a PhD in Philosophy from University of Toronto. He more recently moved to the USA, where he now lives in River Falls, Wisconsin, and is the Professor of Philosophy at the University.

After years of deteriorating eyesight linked to a retinal disease, Imi went totally blind six years ago, but thanks to technology and his fighting spirit, he can still continue to teach and do research without many problems. Imi loves the outdoors, solo hiking and adventure trips and did many canoe trips, including the Yukon, during his twenties. However in the past decade his sight disability has largely prevented him from pursuing this passion, but meeting with Howard in 2010 has changed that, bringing these wonderful, true adventure, canoeing opportunities for both guys.

Howard Fairbank
True to his ‘Life as a Series of Adventures’ philosophy, Howard, a former successful South African/Australian business executive and entrepreneur, has been living his dream of full time adventurer and wanderer, and has now turned to helping others achieve their adventure dreams.
In 2004, in search of real meaning, he opted for a simple adventure life, combining sailing, cycling and sea kayaking, all in a solo context, to explore the world and its diverse inhabitants. The adventures enabled him to continuously push the limits of endurance, personal risk, and self sufficiency to deliver the ultimate nature appreciation and personal growth experience.

Since then he has sailed and sea kayaked extensively all the oceans of the world, including 14,000 miles of solo open ocean voyages, including two Atlantic crossings, aboard his 45ft yacht. In between his ocean pursuits, he has trekked and cycled more than 25,000km, including an Africa transcontinental expedition, Patagonia, North America, the UK, Europe, and Australia. In 2010 he became the oldest person and the first South African to have trekked without dogs from Canada to the North Pole, and in 2011 one of less than 15 people, and the only South African, to have skied solo, and unsupported to the South Pole.


A blind man's adventure, "What inspires and encourages humans is consciousness of one’s power"

ExWeb interview with Amy Freeman, “the best way to reach the big goal is to set smaller goals”

ExWeb interview with Dave Freeman: husband-and-wife team on 11,700 mile journey

7 rivers 7 continents: Mark Kalch second source to sea paddle

Stealth Amazon paddle: done

North Pole by ski and canoe/kayak: Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen recall

Alan Lock: As far as the mind can reach - blind man for the pole

Antarctica wrap: Holidays on Ice, Hello Lenin, Basques lose unsupplied status? (Fairbank reaches South Pole solo 2011)

First team at the North Pole (Fairbank reached North Pole 2010)

This expedition (and other expeditions with RSS feeds) can be followed in the Dispatches stream at the Pythom app and at ExplorersWeb

ExplorersWeb Expedition List

#Oceans #Medical

Howard's view on their previous paddle.
Howard and Imi.
courtesy Vision Quest, SOURCE

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