Monday, February 7, 2011

Morton Grove Resident Treks "Into the Cold" of the North Pole

Explorer Keith Heger tells Morton Grove Public Library patrons what it's like to lead an expedition to the North Pole.

By Mary Fran Byrne

A Morton Grove resident and modern-day explorer consumed 7,000 calories per day, made friends with Inuit elders, and filmed a documentary -- all during expeditions to the North and South Poles. 
Keith Heger showed slides from his travels and discussed his adventures during a lecture at theMorton Grove Public Library over the weekend. 
Heger’s Background
Heger grew up on the north side of Chicago. Although he never was a Boy Scout, he fell in love with the outdoors and earned a bachelors degree in marine biology.
After college, Heger worked at the National Outdoor Leadership School in Wyoming.  For five years, Heger led ski and mountain expeditions in the western United States.
In 2002, Heger moved back to Illinois and joined The Northwest Passage, an adventure travel company in Wilmette. Two years later, Heger bought his home in Morton Grove where he lives with his wife and two children.
An Adventure to the North Pole
To celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Admiral Peary reaching the North Pole, Heger and photographer and environmental advocate, Sebastian Copeland traveled to the North Pole. They made a documentary about their trip called "Into the Cold."
Their journey began in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada. Heger and Copeland had dinner with a group of Inuit elders whose ancestors first settled in the Arctic Circle in 1000 A.D.  The elders told Heger and Copeland that they were the first explorers who had asked to meet the locals.
Heger hired a pilot to take them about 400 miles from the North Pole. Heger said, “It takes a very skilled pilot to land on an ice float as both the sky and the terrain are blue and white.”
Each man pulled a sled that contained their tent, sleeping bags, clothes, provisions, a gas stove, cameras and laptops. The sleds weighed 195 pounds each at the start of the trip.
When Heger and Copeland reached the edge of each ice float they used their sleds as boats and paddled to the next float.
Heger's group was not spared from the common dangers, as Copeland found himself overboard in subzero waters. “It was something we had prepared for," Heger said. "I pulled him out of the water and got his sleeping bag so he could stand on it. I went through his gear and got out dry clothes. Within ten minutes, I had helped Sebastian change and we were ready to go.”
It was necessary to consume 7,000 calories and drink three gallons of water per day in order to ski an average of eight–12 hours a day. Heger lost 35 pounds on the journey. Fortunately, he said he had gained weight in the months prior to the trip.
Copeland screened "Into the Cold" at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. He and Heger hope a cable channel will purchase the film so it reaches a wider audience. 
You can watch the film's trailer here

Into the Cold

TFF2010.gif TFFV
(Into the Cold)


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[INTOC] | 2010 | 86 min | Feature Documentary
Directed by: Sebastian Copeland
World Premiere
Interests: Adventure,  Documentary,  Sports

Cast & Credits

Primary Cast: Sebastian Copeland, Keith Heger
Director: Sebastian Copeland
Screenwriter: Sebastian Copeland
Producer: Sebastian Copeland
Editor: Matthew Booth
Director of Photography: Sebastian Copeland
Composer: Didier Lockwood
Assistant Editor, Graphics: Matthew Dean
Executive Directors: Mikhail Lapushner, Aber Whitcomb 

Program Notes

The absolute top of the earth is a place few try to reach on foot. Even fewer succeed. With the vast arctic ice vanishing rapidly, photographer and environmental advocate Sebastian Copeland sets out with fellow extreme adventurer Keith Heger to reach the North Pole. Their journey is timed to mark the centennial of Robert Peary and Matthew Henson accomplishing the same remarkable feat. "There won't be a bicentennial," Copeland warns. Climate change, he says, is thinning the winter ice that covers the Arctic Ocean, threatening all the life around it.

This inspiring documentary follows Copeland and Heger's incredible two-month trek—not just through deadly cold and merciless terrain, but straight into the depths of the soul. We watch as they endure grueling preparations, but the real power of Into the Coldcomes when the duo sets off on the ice. The quality of sound and cinematography puts us right there with them on the 47-below landscape. Snow groans under their 200-pound sledges. Their breath is heavy. Ice rubble spreads out forever in all directions like a giant frozen crumble cake. "What type of man are you to think that you will succeed at this?" Copeland asks himself.
--Genna Terranova

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