MELISSA BLOCK, host:
I don't know where you're going for a vacation this year, but chances are you won't have bragging rights over Eric Larsen. He managed to reach the North and South Poles and the summit of Mount Everest all since January.
Larsen is 39 years old. He calls this his tour of the top, bottom, and roof of the world. And he's made the adventure to boost awareness of the impact of climate change.
Well, he got our attention, and we have reached him by Skype at the Yak and the Yeti, that's a hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal. Eric Larsen, congratulations. It must be an amazing feeling.
Mr. ERIC LARSEN: Yeah, thank you very much. Actually, it's more of a relief than anything else.
BLOCK: You're a little tired?
Mr. LARSEN: Yeah, I'm actually quite tired. I've been going constantly for past the month and a half.
BLOCK: And you summitted Everest last Thursday. If I get this right, this is the first time somebody has done all these three things: North and South Pole and the summit of Mount Everest in a single year, right?
Mr. LARSEN: Yes, that is correct.
BLOCK: And why did you decide that that's what you needed to do?
Mr. LARSEN: Well, there's a couple reasons for this expedition. The first one is I really like being outside. I love camping. I love winter. And as someone who has been outside and kind of traveled to some of the more remote places on planet, I've started to see some of the changes due to climate change firsthand. And I wanted to tell the story of what I call the last great frozen places on the planet.
BLOCK: Although I guess the carbon footprint of these adventures would be pretty hefty, right?
Mr. LARSEN: There's definitely quite a bit of travel that goes into this expedition. But the problem of climate change is something that needs bold action, and I felt that this expedition was a bold step forward to get people's attention, hopefully make a bigger difference.
BLOCK: What was the most stunning thing you've seen on these adventures?
Mr. LARSEN: Oh, I can't just name one. There are so many incredible things that I have seen. But probably one of the most stunning things for me was definitely on the summit day of Mount Everest watching the sunrise over the Khumbu Valley was just incredible.
BLOCK: You wrote something in your blog about the day that you summitted, saying that you've been in many remote places and seen amazing night skies, but never have I seen stars below me.
Mr. LARSEN: It was surreal, because looking out across the horizon, it was actually like we were looking down at many of the stars just along the perimeter. And that was an incredible experience for sure.
BLOCK: What were the most dramatic signs that you saw of climate change on these expeditions?
Mr. LARSEN: Again, hard to name just one. In Antarctica, we witnessed nearly two weeks of little or no katabatic winds, which are really important in terms of emptying cool air out of Antarctica.
In the Arctic, thin ice, open water. On the way to the summit of Everest, looking out across the valley, seeing evidence not of where glaciers are, but where they had been.
BLOCK: If you think now about a perfect vacation, what would it be?
Mr. LARSEN: It's hard to say, but I'm definitely looking for some warm weather, you know, a warm beach, an ocean where I don't have to wear three layers of long underwear.
BLOCK: And a shower probably somewhere close by.
Mr. LARSEN: Yes, definitely.
BLOCK: Well, Eric Larsen, I hope you find that. Congratulations.
Mr. LARSEN: Thank you so much.
BLOCK: Eric Larsen will soon be heading home to Grand Moray, Minnesota, from Katmandu. Since January, he reached both the North and South Poles and the summit of Mount Everest. You can find out more about Larsen's trip at npr.org.
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