Ellesmere Island Expedition Team

Sam BransonSam Branson – Age 21, Great Britain

Sam Branson had his first taste of an Arctic expedition in 2007 when he joined Will Steger for the Baffin Island Expedition. Sam took quite the liking to all things Arctic and at age 22 is one of the youngest members of the Ellesmere Island Expedition team.

The son of Virgin mogul Sir Richard Branson, Sam grew up splitting his time between England and the Caribbean and has a great respect for nature and the elements. Sam has encountered all corners of the world – on a surf board, motocross bike and dog sled, to name a few – and enjoys finding unique ways to traverse the world and feed his love for extreme sports.

Trained as a chef at Le Cordon Bleu, Sam also holds a diploma in music. Between jamming on his guitar, private business ventures and gearing up for the Ellesmere Island Expedition, one thing is clear: Sam’s sense of adventure knows no bounds.


  • Released in the Winter of 2007, Sam’s book Arctic Diary journals his experience on the 2007 Global Warming 101 Expedition to Baffin Island, Nunavut Canada. Check it out.


Ben Horton, Age 24, United States

Recipient of the National Geographic Society’s first Young Explorer award for research he recently completed on Cocos Island involving shark poachers, Ben is a budding photographer and adventurer. Ben is motivated by travel and extreme sports with a yearning to make a difference for his generation. At 17, he traveled around the world with his brother, visiting numerous countries and living the adventures they had dreamed of. Ben splits his time between Colorado and the rest of the world.


Sarah Sarah McNair-Landry, Age 21, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada

No stranger to cold weather, Sarah grew up in Iqaluit from age three. Shortly after turning 17 she went on her first extended expedition, crossing the Greenland ice cap with her parents and older brother Eric. A year later she traveled to the South Pole on a 71 day kite-ski expedition with her mother and brother. In 2005 she traveled by kite-ski again joining her father and brother in setting the speed record for crossing the Greenland Ice Cap, east to west. In 2006, Sarah traveled to the North Pole on a 100-day dogsled expedition with her father and two British explorers. Most recently, Sarah and her brother Eric returned to Greenland to cross the Ice Cap vertically by kite-ski, traveling 1429 miles/ 2300 km over the course of 2 months! When she’s not off chasing the winds across the Arctic, Sarah is busy chasing her dreams of becoming a filmmaker. After graduating from high school in Quebec, she took courses at the New York Film Academy studying digital filmmaking in New York City.


  • Video interview – Steger Homestead, Ely, MN – October 2007
  • In 2007, Sarah, along with brother Eric and friend Curtis, crossed Greenland north to south using kites. The expedition website can be found here.

Eric Eric McNair-Landry, Age 23, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada

Eric spent most of his childhood in Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Nunavut where he was raised in a family of adventurers. Eric graduated with a degree in engineering from Acadia University and is considering continuing in architecture. In 2004-5 he took a year off of school to join the family Kites on Ice Expedition and became the first American/Canadian to haul un-resupplied to the South Pole. Eric has spent his time instructing kiting, guiding sea kayaking trips, working on film projects and at the Nunavut Visitors Center. He also holds the silver in the Canadian Ski Marathon. Needless to say, Eric is passionate about kiting. When there is no wind, he spends his time teaching himself computer graphics and website design.


Sigrid Sigrid Ekran, Age 28, Norway

Born in Norway, Sigrid is completing her MA in Northern Studies from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. She placed 20th in the 2007 Iditarod, receiving such notable awards including Rookie of the Year and Best Female Musher; in the same year she received 4th place in the Klondike 300 race. Outside of her dogsledding awards, Sigrid’s passion and inspiration has come from the Norwegian school of explorers. Sigrid is committed to combining a career in conservation management and dogsled mushing.


Toby Thorleif Tobias Thorleifsson (Toby), Age 28, Norway

Toby has spent the better part of his education dividing his time between Norway and Canada. Toby spent two years as a student at United World College of the Atlantic, followed by a year-long tenure as a conscript in the Norwegian Navy. He then went on to earn a Masters of Arts in polar history and politics at Simon Fraser University in the fall of 2006. He wrote his master thesis on the Sverdrup Islands and is an avid polar historian. He has since worked as a writer, lecturer and mountain guide focusing on environmental issues. His writings and lectures over the past year have focused on the political consequences of global warming in the Arctic and the politics associated with sovereignty over the Arctic Ocean and North Pole.

In February 2007, he assisted the opening of the world’s first education base in Antarctica. As a team leader for Robert Swan’s 2041 project, Toby was responsible for organizing all activities for the 65 expedition members on land and ice. Toby has circumnavigated most of the North Atlantic by sailboat and last summer he sailed to Franz Josef Land in the Russian Arctic. When Toby is not traveling he splits his time between the city of Oslo and Finse in the Norwegian mountains.



Will, Steger – Expedition Leader

A formidable voice calling for understanding and the preservation of the Arctic and the Earth, Will Steger is best known for his legendary polar explorations. He has traveled tens of thousands of miles by kayak and dogsled over 40 years, leading teams on some of the most significant polar expeditions in history.

Steger led the first confirmed dogsled journey to the North Pole without re-supply (1986), the 1,600-mile south-north traverse of Greenland (the longest unsupported dogsled expedition in history in 1988), the first dogsled traverse of Antarctica (the historic seven month, 3,471-mile International Trans-Antarctica Expedition in 1989-90), and the first and only dogsled traverse of the Arctic Ocean from Russia to Ellesmere Island in Canada (1995).

Steger received his B.S. in Geology and M.A. in Education at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, and taught science for three years at the secondary level. In 1970, he moved from his birthplace in suburban Minneapolis to the wilderness north of Ely, Minnesota. There he founded a winter school and developed innovative wilderness programs for 10 years. In 1991, Steger received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters; University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN and Honorary Doctorate of Science; Westminster College, Salt Lake City, UT. His unique ability to blend extreme exploration with cutting-edge technology, have allowed him to reach millions of people around the world, under some of the most hostile conditions on the planet and be a pioneer in online education. Over 20 million students followed the 1995 International Arctic Project via on-line daily journal entries and the first-ever transmission of a digital photograph from the North Pole.

Steger joins Amelia Earhart, Robert Peary, Roald Amundsen and Jacques-Yves Cousteau in receiving the National Geographic Society’s prestigious John Oliver La Gorce Medal for “accomplishments in geographic exploration, in the sciences, and for public service to advance international understanding” in 1995. In 1996 he became the National Geographic Society’s first Explorer-in-Residence and received the Explorers Club’s Finn Ronne Memorial Award in 1997. In 2006 Steger joined Neil Armstrong, Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Harrison Ford, in receiving the Lindbergh Award for “numerous polar expeditions, deep understanding of the environment and efforts to raise awareness of current environmental threats, especially climate change.”

Steger is the author of four books: Over the Top of the World, Crossing Antarctica, North to the Pole and Saving the Earth. Read Will Steger’s past expedition journals at www.willsteger.com


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