A 23-year-old Iqaluit woman is poised to become one of the youngest people ever to lead an expedition to the North Pole.
Sarah McNair-Landry is scheduled to leave Iqaluit next week to guide an Australian couple to the pole on skis. They will fly to the northern tip of Ellesmere Island on Feb. 25, then start skiing from there.
"I'm pretty lucky to be doing what I'm doing," McNair-Landry told CBC News while she prepared for the trek this week with her clients, Linda Beilharz and Rob Rigato.
The daughter of two longtime polar adventurers, Matty McNair and Paul Landry, McNair-Landry is already an experienced adventurer who has skied and driven sled-dog teams for most of her life. Today, she works as a guide with her mother's polar expedition company, NorthWinds.
McNair-Landry said she is probably the youngest person to lead a North Pole trek, which usually lasts 60 days, but that does not faze her. She skied at the South Pole last year and kite-skied on the Greenland icecap — achievements that most people will not do in a lifetime, let alone by age 23.
Beilharz and her husband, both experienced adventurers in their own right, have been training with McNair-Landry in Iqaluit for the past two weeks.
Beilharz said she wanted a woman to be their expedition leader and is not at all concerned about McNair-Landry's age.
"I think she is very young but so experienced and so knowledgeable," she said. "We're really looking forward to having Sarah lead us north."
McNair-Landry has been taking her clients on four-day trips and preparing them for the possibility of moving Arctic sea ice.
"Water will be our biggest challenge — how to cross it and to make sure nobody falls in, because falling into water at –40 C is not good," she said.
Both Beilharz and her husband will celebrate birthdays during the polar trip: Beilharz will be turning 50, and Rigato will turn 59.
Such expeditions generally cost $150,000 per person, according to the NorthWinds website.