Trekkers in deep freeze

Adventurers Evan Howard and John Cantor test their new down suits and sleeping bags in a freezer.
Adventurers Evan Howard and John Cantor test their new down suits and sleeping bags in a freezer. Contributed

HOW does a Sunshine Coaster prepare for a sub-zero Alaskan adventure? Spend a day at -27 degrees in an industrial freezer, of course.

Sunshine Beach adventurer John Cantor and fellow trekker Evan Howard, of Sydney, have done just that to test new down suits and sleeping bags that they will take on their trek.

They also survived the day on freeze-dried meals.

The two will set off on Friday for a two-week practice visit to the Brookes Ranges in Alaska to prepare for the more gruelling 1800km trek just before Christmas.

John endured severe health issues, swollen ankles and extreme loneliness to trek solo across 1600km in the Brookes Range in Alaska last June and July.

The adventure included a 1000km walk across the mountains and then a 600km raft down the Noatak River into Kotzebue Sound.

He became just the fifth documented person in history to complete the journey.

As if the 31-day summer quest was not challenging enough, John will return to the Ranges with Evan for a winter crossing in the reverse direction.

They will trek on skis instead of hiking boots and will drag sleds loaded with supplies. No rafting will be attempted this time as temperatures as low as -50 (not including the wind chill factor) mean the Noatak River will be frozen solid.

Much of the journey will be completed in the Northern Hemisphere's winter darkness. The extreme cold, the rugged countryside, and the long hours of darkness mean that a rescue in an extreme emergency would be almost impossible.

There will be some saving graces, though, including the breathtaking colours of the Northern Lights.

Follow the practice trip from Friday on Facebook by searching for "John Cantor".


Duration: Two weeks

Temperatures: Down to -50 degrees C (with wind-chill -90 degrees)

Supplies: 40kg on each sled (will be more for December trip)

Start: Anuktuvak Pass (pop. 361)

John's 6th time to Alaska, Evan's first trip to Alaska.

March is the best month to witness the Northern Lights.

Topics:  adventure travel

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