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A Chilling Interview with Arctic Explorer Matty McNair…

She loves a good challenge.

Matty McNair is an American explorer who relocated to the Canadian Arctic for her love of the wilderness and dog sledding.

Here expeditions and records are endless…

  • The first Canadian woman to ski to both the North and South Poles.
  • Led the first women’s expedition to the Geographic North Pole.
  • Led an expedition across Ellesmere Island.
  • Led four ski expeditions to the South Pole.
  • Kite-skied and dog sled across the Greenland Ice Cap with her children Sarah and Eric.
  • Led a ski expedition to the South Pole with her children Sarah and Eric – who now hold the record for the youngest to ski to the South Pole.
  • Holds the world record for the fastest to the North Pole, using dogs and skiis, in 36 days; proving that Peary could also reached the North Pole in 1909.

But her true passion is sharing her love of the Arctic through her company NorthWinds – that specializes in Polar Training, Dog Sledding and Polar Expedition.

But don’t take my word for it…

Experience life in the Arctic wilderness through Matty McNair in this interview…

Interview with Matty McNair

Where does your passion for the outdoors (especially the Arctic) stem from?

My Arctic passions have grown out of my love of Arctic radiant light and intense beauty.

What was your experience like leading the first ever all-female expedition to the North Pole?

I felt that I was way out there…on thin ice…as one might say.

There had just been a number of adventure client deaths on Everest, and there was heaps of media criticism regarding taking clients with little experience into extreme environments.

On Thin Ice is the name of my book.

Can you tells us a little about your company NorthWinds?

NorthWinds is one of the top polar guiding companies in the world.

We offer expeditions across the Greenland Ice cap, to the South Pole and the North Pole; by ski, dog sled or kite skiing. We also offer polar consulting and training for those who wish to go on their own.

What is something every woman should know about the Canadian wilderness?

Don’t get lost!

The Canadian Wilderness is enormous, extending clear across northern Canada with wild white-water rivers flowing north to tundra and ice.

And learn to pee fast!

In the summer the mosquitoes will feast on your haunches, in winter the cold will bit your butt.

You currently live on Baffin Island. What three things would you recommend doing there?

  1. Run a dog team of 10 – 16 Canadian Inuit Dogs, fan hitch (each dog on their own line so they can all go different directions), through rough sea ice, and over the frozen tundra.
  2. Paddle the Soper River – a Canadian Heritage River – who’s clear waters wind through Katannalik Park with many water falls.
  3. Lie on the tundra and explore the tundra flowers with a hand lenses.

How has working and travelling with your children Sarah and Eric changed you?

I’d bring more chocolate.

What has been the most memorable moment on your adventures?

My most memorable moment was skiing 52 days, un-resupplied, with Eric (age 20) and Sarah (age 18) to reach the South Pole.

They became the youngest to ski the full 745 miles (1,200 km) to the South Pole. Then knowing the return was all downhill with tail winds; which we kite-skied in 17 days, a world record that held for a few years.

What was your biggest culture shock on your expeditions?

For me, culture shocks don’t happen for on expeditions…they happen when I return.

What are the greatest lessons you’ve learned on your travels?

  1. No whining
  2. Treat yourself and others with respect
  3. Have fun

What one piece of advice would you give for women travelers?

Do your homework and don’t depend on others; pack your food, learn to navigate, and haul your load.

What are the three things you always pack no matter where you travel?

  1. Toothbrush
  2. Washcloth
  3. Sense of humor

Where do you want to be in the next five years?

Still kite-skiing, dog sledding and making art.

What advice would you give women to be happier, resilient, and empowered?

I don’t believe it is easy to be happy, resilient and empowered; it takes hard work.

I try to balance my life every day by:

  1. Doing something for myself; take a long hot shower, get a message, put on a nice blouse, make myself a special meal, buy myself flowers.
  2. Doing something creative: such as painting, print making, felting, pottery.
  3. Doing something social; get together for coffee or dinner with friends, go Salsa dancing, fiddle up some good Scottish tunes with the fiddle group, go for a ski-jour with a friend.
  4. Doing some “Space Clearing”; clean out accumulated junk, fix something that’s be broken for a while, take a load of clothes that don’t fit to the thrift shop, deal with a glitch that I have been avoiding.
  5. Something physical: jog, hike, ski, dog sled, kite-ski, yoga, shovel dog shit.

Do you have any upcoming trips? If so, where to?

Yes, a trans-Antarctica expedition with Massey Ferguson tractors.

Any other thoughts or advice for our women readers?

Quit whining and making excuses for why you are stuck where you are. Throw away your TV, kick your ass and bite into a big juicy challenge.

Thank you Matty for participating in this interview.

For more info on Matty McNair and guided expeditions, please visit

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