Polartec Challenge Grant Recipients Jon Turk and Erik Boomer Named "Adventurers of the Year" by National Geographic

On the first attempted and completed circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island, Jon Turk and Erik Boomer dragged their kayaks for 800 miles across the sea ice, past glacial icebergs and North Pole pressure ridges, before reaching open water. The expedition took 104 days to complete.
On the first attempted and completed circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island, Jon Turk and Erik Boomer dragged their kayaks for 800 miles across the sea ice, past glacial icebergs and North Pole pressure ridges, before reaching open water. The expedition took 104 days to complete.
  • On the first attempted and completed circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island, Jon Turk and Erik Boomer dragged their kayaks for 800 miles across the sea ice, past glacial icebergs and North Pole pressure ridges, before reaching open water. The expedition took 104 days to complete.
    On the first attempted and completed circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island, Jon Turk and Erik Boomer dragged their kayaks for 800 miles across the sea ice, past glacial icebergs and North Pole pressure ridges, before reaching open water. The expedition took 104 days to complete.
    On the first attempted and completed circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island, Jon Turk and Erik Boomer dragged their kayaks for 800 miles across the sea ice, past glacial icebergs and North Pole pressure ridges, before reaching open water. The expedition took 104 days to complete.
    On the first attempted and completed circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island, Jon Turk and Erik Boomer dragged their kayaks for 800 miles across the sea ice, past glacial icebergs and North Pole pressure ridges, before reaching open water. The expedition took 104 days to complete.
  • For Ellesmere explorers Jon Turk and Erik Boomer, hot tea, soup, and rest were necessary tonics to the rigors of dragging kayaks across the sea ice. They completed the 1,485-day circumnavigation by kayak, skis, and foot on August 19, 2011.
    For Ellesmere explorers Jon Turk and Erik Boomer, hot tea, soup, and rest were necessary tonics to the rigors of dragging kayaks across the sea ice. They completed the 1,485-day circumnavigation by kayak, skis, and foot on August 19, 2011.
    For Ellesmere explorers Jon Turk and Erik Boomer, hot tea, soup, and rest were necessary tonics to the rigors of dragging kayaks across the sea ice. They completed the 1,485-day circumnavigation by kayak, skis, and foot on August 19, 2011.
    For Ellesmere explorers Jon Turk and Erik Boomer, hot tea, soup, and rest were necessary tonics to the rigors of dragging kayaks across the sea ice. They completed the 1,485-day circumnavigation by kayak, skis, and foot on August 19, 2011.
  • Pro kayaker Erik Boomer kayaks near glaciers on the east coast of Ellesmere Island. In this world of ice, Turk and Boomer paddled past hundreds of miles of tidewater glaciers. The stark beauty of the ice cliffs was offset by the danger that there were few places to land should a storm develop.
    Pro kayaker Erik Boomer kayaks near glaciers on the east coast of Ellesmere Island. In this world of ice, Turk and Boomer paddled past hundreds of miles of tidewater glaciers. The stark beauty of the ice cliffs was offset by the danger that there were few places to land should a storm develop.
    Pro kayaker Erik Boomer kayaks near glaciers on the east coast of Ellesmere Island. In this world of ice, Turk and Boomer paddled past hundreds of miles of tidewater glaciers. The stark beauty of the ice cliffs was offset by the danger that there were few places to land should a storm develop.
    Pro kayaker Erik Boomer kayaks near glaciers on the east coast of Ellesmere Island. In this world of ice, Turk and Boomer paddled past hundreds of miles of tidewater glaciers. The stark beauty of the ice cliffs was offset by the danger that there were few places to land should a storm develop.
  • Crossing glacier ice
    Crossing glacier ice
    Crossing glacier ice
    Crossing glacier ice
  • Polartec Challenge Grant
    Polartec Challenge Grant
    Polartec Challenge Grant
    Polartec Challenge Grant

(Lawrence, Mass.)  National Geographic has named Polartec Challenge Grant recipients Jon Turk and Erik Boomer as 2012 "Adventurers of the Year” for completing the first circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island. In all, National Geographic recognized 10 teams and individuals for their remarkable achievements last year. Now through January 18, 2012, the public is invited to vote online for their favorite adventurer and a People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year will be announced in February 2012.

Jon Turk (65), a renowned international explorer and professional kayaker Erik Boomer (26), skied, trekked and sea kayaked over 1,400 miles along the rugged coastline of Ellesmere, facing treacherous moving ice, imposing glaciers and vast rock cliffs to complete the circumnavigation.

“When you’re out there on the ice, one step and one paddle stroke at a time; 104 days, 1,485 miles, you think about the tides, the winds, the polar bears,” said Turk. “You watch and listen, try to stay alive. But now that we’re back home, in the loving embrace of family and friends, with so many memories swirling around, Erik and I are honored beyond words to be nominated by National Geographic as Adventurers of the Year.”

Despite a few frightening encounters with local wildlife, it was the day-to-day work of navigating the continuously changing paths of the floating ice fields that presented the most danger for Turk and Boomer. Many times only inches separated their boats from massive ice glaciers. Both men had to regularly jump out of their kayaks and pull their boats up on the ice in order to avoid a collision, which could have damaged their only means of transportation.

In addition to the Polartec Challenge Grant, Turk and Boomer received support from Eddie Bauer First Ascent. They were outfitted in First Ascent apparel through First Ascent’s BeFirst program, which awards individuals who are taking part in “first ever” expeditions. They were also sponsored by Wilderness Systems and AT Paddles.

Click here to vote online for the National Geographic Peoples Choice Adventurer of the Year award.


About the Polartec® Challenge Grant
Over the past twenty years, Polartec has supported hundreds of expeditions around the world through the Polartec® Challenge, an international grant program encouraging outdoor adventure. The Polartec® Challenge seeks to assist low impact teams who respect the local culture and environment and serve as role models to outdoor enthusiasts worldwide.