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Dave Hahn Recounts the Shackleton Traverse — Part Three
Posted on April 9, 2013

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For some reason, we could sit back with a beverage and listen to Eddie Bauer guide Dave Hahn talk about his experiences on Everest, Denali, and Vinson for hours on end. Hahn just has that combination of engaging, understated demeanor and incredible life experience that lends itself to great storytelling. But the story he’s been telling us—and writing about in our Spring Outfitter Book—about repeating the Shackleton Traverse on South Georgia Island is one for the books. In the concluding crescendo that is part three of our barstool interview with the well-traveled guide, Hahn calls Shackleton the grandfather of expeditionists and sums up what missions might be next on his adventure tick list. -LYA Editor

Images courtesy of Jake Norton and Dave Hahn

So, you travel a ton throughout the course of the year.  Do you have any idea how many miles you travel, or miles you fly in a standard year?

I don’t really.  I think I counted it up once or twice when I was more caught up with the idea of how frequently I was flying. And I think I counted 50 takeoffs, 50 landings.

Luckily they matched up in a given year. And I certainly get a lot of frequent flyer miles, but like a lot of people who travel, when I get a vacation I kind of like coming home.

So back to the Shackleton trip. If you had to rate that in your top three Trips of a Lifetime, what would the other two be that you’ve done from an adventure travel standpoint? Or is it hard to narrow it down to just three? 

Ha! It’s hard on the spur of the moment, I’ll admit.

Anything else that had that feel and same connection of environment and history and adventure, and that feeling of just being way out there? 

Well, sure. The trips that we did finding George Mallory, from the north side of Everest, trying to track down those early British Everest expeditions Granted, that’s not conventionally viewed tourism but that trip satisfied a lot of those same kind of itches for me that it’s not too distant a history. Yeah, that for me at least, was the trip of a lifetime.  You bet!

But, then again, it’s a little hard for me to say.  I’m so repetitive with these trips that I would call Denali a trip of a lifetime, except I’ve done it 29 times now or been there 29 times, so is that a trip of 29 lifetimes?

But if you looked at trips that you look forward to potentially doing someday that have an adventure travel component to them, what do you think would be on the top of your hit list?

I’ve always thought it would be interesting to see Mount Elbrus and climb that, the big volcano on the other side of Antarctica that Sir Douglas Mawson was the first to climb. It’s not all that technically difficult, but logistically and historically significant.

No linkup of South Georgia and Mount Elbrus?

Yeah, that’d be cool.  Or even climbing the Beardmore Glacier in Antarctica, which figures so prominently in Shackleton’s furthest south expedition and the expedition that killed Robert Falcon Scott. It would be interesting to me to go up the Beardmore that takes you from the Ross Ice Shelf up to the polar plateau. I guess that would interest me. Reading again the histories of exploration in Alaska and Denali, that would be a very rugged expedition, but going at it the way that the pioneering expeditions did, I think that’d be enough on your plate.

Or getting to St. Elias, the way it was accessed originally and a bit of a longer approach on that one.

So more potential Trips of the Year for Outside Magazine? What year did they pick your Shackleton Traverse as Trip of the Year?

I’m foggy on which year that was. But yeah, they did.  And I went to Chicago to pick up an award that Geographic Expeditions got for that.

Isn’t there some sort of re-enactment going on this year with that trip, as well?

Outside interviewed me about somebody else doing it, claiming that it was a first,  that they were going to do it in exactly the clothing and conditions like Shackleton and crew. I kind of rained on that parade a little bit when I said “Well, I’ve done it five times.”

I just said “Well, you can’t do it exactly like Shackleton.” I don’t care if you go down there naked and try to replicate it.  It’s still not the situation that those guys were in.  And as much as you proclaim that you’re cut off from the world, you aren’t cut off from the world in the way that those guys were in 1914 to 1916. But it’s all in the grand tradition of self-hype.

That’s kind of appropriate because Shackleton, when you look into it, when you read up on them, he was like the of this game that we’re all playing, trying to go do these things but also, at the same time, trying to promote ourselves so that we can get the next trip in.

It’s a vicious cycle there. 

Yeah, I mean that while Shackleton was having this great adventure, there’s no question that he was keeping track of how this great adventure was going to be portrayed.

And a century later we’re still telling the story?

You bet. They’re not going to be telling the story of Dave Hahn in a hundred years

You never know, though.  Right? 

Well, I’m pretty sure.

 

Author: - Tuesday, April 9th, 2013
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