North Pole explorer shares advice with Glenbard West students

 
Updated 4/14/2015 6:34 PM
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  • John Huston, a Glenbard West High School alum, was part of the first unsupported American expedition to reach the North Pole.

      John Huston, a Glenbard West High School alum, was part of the first unsupported American expedition to reach the North Pole. Safiya Merchant | Staff Photographer

When Glenbard West High School alum John Huston journeyed to the North Pole, he had to make sure to keep sliding forward when crossing a patch of ice.

If he stopped, he says, he would have crashed through the icy layer, plunging into the frigid waters below.

Huston says that experience is a great metaphor for what people must do to achieve their dreams.

"The only way you're going to be successful is to keep moving forward toward your goal no matter what," he said.

Huston, who was part of the first unsupported American expedition to reach the North Pole, revisited his roots Monday when he spoke to a crowd of Glenbard West students in Glen Ellyn about how to reach their goals.

As a senior in high school, Huston said he fell in love with outdoor activities. He attended Northwestern University and later went to work at Outward Bound, which offers outdoor leadership programs.

He eventually embarked on an expedition to the North Pole in 2009, accompanied by Tyler Fish. It was an unsupported mission, meaning the two explorers traveled on their own without resupply.

The two encountered several obstacles during their mission, including rough terrain and freezing temperatures. They even had to eat entire sticks of butter every single day in order to boost their calorie intake.

But almost two months into their mission, Fish and Huston could not see how they would make it to the North Pole. They were miles away from their goal, and their impending extraction from the icy edge of the world was hanging over their heads.

But when he called his expedition manager, telling her to inform the world they were going to fail, she told him she would not let them quit and to call her back after they took a nap.

So instead of giving up, the three crafted a plan and they made an all-out dash to the pole. They finally made it six hours before their deadline.

One of Huston's main lessons for the students centered on four tasks they must tackle to find success in their lives: they need to pursue what they are passionate about, commit to their goal, prepare thoroughly to reach it and believe in themselves.

"There's going to be obstacles along the way and you have to keep going forward and never give up on yourself," Huston said.

Ryan Smith, a 15-year-old freshman, said Huston's presentation was inspiring and he picked up some tips about how to reach goals.

"You gotta believe in yourself and be positive constantly," Smith said.

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