National Geographic’s adventurer of the year for 2012, Erik Boomer, was in Iqaluit last week to help run a polar survival course.
Last year, he and his partner John Turk became the first to circumnavigate Ellesmere Island in Nunavut by foot, skis and kayak. The pair had to avoid shifting ice, strong winds and one aggressive walrus.
Boomer said he was looking at the walrus pack from what seemed to be a safe distance.
"And I didn’t even try to take pictures because they were really big animals and their tusks were large as well," he said.
"And there was about 15 seconds of terror that happened when all of a sudden, a walrus came up out of the water literally right underneath and beside me."
Turk watched it happen. The huge wake of water nearly flipped his boat.
The walrus was beside Boomer and climbing higher onto the kayak, with its tusks right above Boomer’s head.
"I saw the walrus's face and it was pushing me and I was getting spun around, and I planted my paddle right between his eyes and held my distance and kept pushing off and kind of whacking him," said Boomer.
Boomer had to fight the animal off once more before it left.
"And within moments, we were in complete silence and surrounded by icebergs and the remote Ellesmere Island landscape."
Boomer’s lesson for future Arctic adventurers? Danger comes swiftly, even if you think you're far enough away.