Coast adventurer stops with Alaskan frostbite
A SUNSHINE Coast adventurer's attempt to walk across the Brooks Range in Alaska has come to a dramatic and heartbreaking end.
John Cantor may have failed in his daring attempt, but he said he was far from defeated.
Mr Cantor and fellow adventurer Evan Howard yesterday were safe and well after abandoning their attempt to become the first people to traverse the rugged 1700km range during winter.
They pulled the plug 200km and 10 days into their expedition after Cantor suffered frostbite.
They were plucked to safety by an Inuit local who had travelled 150km along a frozen river on a snow mobile in a daring rescue mission.
After Mr Cantor's frostbite set in, the pair took refuge in a hut on the Noatak River and sent out a call for help.
The Inuit, whom they had met on an earlier leg of their journey, braved sub-zero temperatures, complete darkness and zero visibility to whisk them back to Noatak, a tiny outpost serviced by an airstrip in the north-western Alaskan wilderness.
From there another local flew them to Kotzebue, where they were airlifted to Fairbanks, the second largest city in the state.
Mr Cantor was receiving care from doctors in Fairbanks yesterday and was expected to make a full recovery.
Yesterday the region where they were rescued was lashed by 110kmh winds and had wind chill temperatures of minus 46 degrees.
Had they not been saved when they were, it is likely they would have been stuck for three days.
"Very sorry to disappoint you all, but today we had to pull the plug on the expedition," Mr Cantor posted on Facebook.
"Although we had fantastic clothing, the first few days of the trip the wind was so strong it knocked me off my feet at one point.
"During this weather, my right middle finger became frost-nipped.
"Despite my best efforts to look after it, over the next week it slowly worsened each day to the point of frostbite.
"We spoke to an expert on the sat phone, and it became apparent that staying out there would cause the loss of my finger and put Evan and I in real danger, as well as the people who would have to come and rescue us."
Mr Cantor said while he was disappointed about failing in his quest he accepted he had taken on a seemingly impossible task.
"After a year-and-a-half of work, we are naturally devastated, but it was the seeming impossibility of this trip that first drew me to it," he said. "And as a hardened Alaskan said the day before we started, 'It's the adventures you don't expect to succeed in that are the best'.
"I hope this failure doesn't discourage any of you from trying to achieve your own goals and thanks for the support."
Mr Cantor is expected back home on the Sunshine Coast late next week.
His father Chris, who had communicated with him via text message, said he was in high spirits.