They are young, they are wild, and they do not as we say but as we do. We've covered them solo sailing the world and climbing the biggest peaks. But what about teenagers in the polar areas?
Last spring, at age 20, Tessum Weber became the youngest person to ski to the North Pole (all the way that is, starting from land); an insane difficult trip he told ExWebs Correne Coetzer. Tessums father, veteran polar skier Richard Weber, was team guide. What parents try so hard to teach their kids, Tessum learned in an instant: "No matter how bad, you just had to keep hacking away at it," he said.
In the following interview, Tessum talks about the relationship between him and his dad on the Arctic ice and the role his mother played at home. Also, what he would say to a teenager who comes to him for advice about whether to ski to the North Pole or not.
ExplorersWeb: How was it to be on such an extreme expedition with your father?
Tessum: An amazing experience. We worked well together, and helped each other out. We were efficient and quick. Nothing can prepare you for a North Pole expedition - no matter the training, and physical conditioning.
To have my dad coaching me along was great. He knew what I was feeling, how I was coping. He could relate to the experience from my perspective.
I would also like to point out that it is an insanely difficult trip, and it was amazing to watch my dad go at it - incredibly tough, always positive and awesome to watch. His navigation, feel, and techniques for traveling are incredibly sharpened and perfected. A real pro.
ExplorersWeb: What did you get to know about him that you didnt know before?
Tessum: Its not really what I learnt that was new, just reinforced what I already knew. He was super positive, incredibly tough and precise about everything. His limits of endurance and perseverance were virtually non-existent.
He would never give up, no matter how bad it got.
There were times that were insanely difficult, times where anyone else would have given up; he kept a positive and rational approach to it all. No matter how bad, you just had to keep hacking away at it. One foot at a time, one pressure ridge at a time.
One great thing was he knew when to relax and when to work hard - you should have seen our 2 resupply days that we took to relax. Venison roast, canned fruit, candies, fresh bread, cheeses.
ExplorersWeb: Your mother is also an accomplished adventurer. What role did she play in your expedition?
Tessum: She was key support - home base. She was always there to catch a phone call and kept things down to earth. My girlfriend and her kept things positive and were great morale boosters.
ExplorersWeb: Your father said to ExplorersWeb a trek from land to the North Pole is the toughest, hardest trek on the planet. Were there times that you felt like giving up?
Tessum: Haha, yes there were numerous times I felt like giving up.
Looking back, giving up wasnt an option. A great way to stop negative thoughts was to just relax with my team; I was not the only one having a hard time. My teammates were there to help with a few jokes, keeping things light hearted (even when they were not!). Working together was extremely important.
We got stuck on an island at one point during the expedition. The only way to get off it was to crawl across some ice that resembled to porridge. I tried quickly skiing across but fell in and got really stuck, similar to quick sand. Although I was wearing a dry suit, the ice then began to shift; creating a potentially dangerous situation. The best antidote was to laugh. We all laughed; laugh, take a deep breath, and find a way out.
ExplorersWeb: What gave you inspiration every day?
Tessum: Many things. My iPod was really good. It allowed me to wander through my thoughts and relax. I enjoyed the conversations we had during the expedition. There is a magical attraction to being out on the ice. Life is a lot simpler. Regular phone calls were also great - hearing from the outside world and loved ones kept things low key and positive.
ExplorersWeb: At 20 you became the youngest person to ski All the Way from land to the North Pole. Lately several teenagers climbed high mountains and sailed the oceans. If 16-year-old would come to you, saying he/she wants to ski to the North Pole, what would you say to the teen?
Tessum: Haha, I would say think twice and go with the best. Its one of the hardest things youll ever do - however one of the most rewarding. Make sure you prepare incredibly well and do not take anything for granted. You cannot compare it to any other expedition. It is so unique.
ExplorersWeb: What didnt you like about the NP expedition?
Tessum: The worst parts were also the best parts. They are awful at the time, however when you look back at the experience, you feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment and personal growth.
The hardest/worst part was the beginning of the expedition. The rough ice near Ellesmere Island, the sheer cold and the slow progression was quite grueling at times.
ExplorersWeb: What did you miss during the expedition?
Tessum: Loved ones - near the end of the expedition. A positive side was that it made us travel faster. We did a pretty insane sprint in the end, sleeping about 11 hours over the course of the 6 days or so.
ExplorersWeb: And what did you like about skiing to the NP?
Tessum: The simplicity of the expedition. Being happy because you are warm. Enjoying a little music from your iPod on a sunny day. The smile we all had during our resupply day and the arrival of April - it got warm! haha.
On a more personal level, it made me insanely tougher. Im a better person as a result of it. Events that were once challenges are now somewhat trivial.
ExplorersWeb: Would you do it again? Why? Perhaps the SP?
Tessum: Im not sure if Id do a full length North Pole expedition anytime soon, however I will back out there at one point in the future. Id like to go to the South Pole next.
ExplorersWeb: Future plans?
Tessum: Finish my degree in Finance at the University of Ottawa. Yes! Its a great program. I enjoy learning how the financial world operates. The program is quite intensive, however I believe it will be rewarding.
Ski to the South Pole.
Continue exploring the Arctic; working at Arctic Watch Wilderness lodge and through shorter expeditions in the Canadian Arctic.
Im guiding a great trip this spring through the Pangnirtung Pass on Baffin Island. Ten days of gorgeous skiing surrounded by mountains and glaciers. Im really looking forward to seeing Mount Asgard. My Grandfather was the first to climb it (with a Swiss team in 1953). Its a stunning site.
ExplorersWeb: Anything else?
Tessum: To all you potential adventurers out there! If youve got a crazy idea, or a great adventure youve wanted to do - then do it! Be wild, and dont forget to have a blast.
Born May 9, 1989, Canadian Tessum Weber became the youngest to ski to the North Pole. His father, Richard Weber, guided him, Howard Fairbank(South Africa) and David Pierce-Jones (Switzerland) from Canada all the way on the frozen sea ice to the Geographic North Pole in the Spring of 2010. The team received one resupply.
When not sitting in front of his books studying, Tessum is staying in shape with cross country skiing, running, lifting weights, biking, and exploring the Arctic. He likes to spend time at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, one of the most magical places on earth.
As for music he is into pretty much any music. He doesnt like like heavy metal, and anything with a good beat keeps him happy.
Tessum says he loves good food. My family comes from a background where food is very important. It is where people gather and share experiences - an important part of life. Its sort of a motto in our family; no matter where we are, we always have exceptional food. My mum is an exceptional cook and I do enjoy cooking at times.
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