CRESTED BUTTE — Behind every great adventurer, there are usually people who love them cheering them on. In Eric Larsen's case, he has a 6-year-old son, a 3 and a half-year-old daughter, and his wife, Maria Hennessey.
At the Hennessy and Larsen home in Crested Butte, every night is a bit of an adventure.
Six-year-old Merritt climbs to the tallest counters, and later, his three-year-old sister, Ellie, sits on him.
Mom handles it all without a hint of frustration, as she picks Merritt off the countertop, and calls for Ellie to get off her brother. Usually, her husband helps her, but he's not exactly close by.
"So Ellie where's your dad? Do you remember where your dad is," asked Maria.
"Antarctica," Ellie whispers.
Their dad, Eric Larsen, is on an adventure very different from the one Maria tries to control at home.
The 47-year-old is skiing 700 miles to the South Pole, trying to break the 24-day world record.
“My husband, he is in some ways a polar explorer," said Hennessy. "That means he does big expeditions and big trips primarily to the polar regions."
Larsen has hiked Mount Everest, crossed the Arctic Ocean to the North Pole, and ridden his bike 175 miles in Antarctica.
He's made it to the South Pole several times before, but this expedition is pushing the limits on what's possible.
He's alone, with a 145 pound pack in a sled, and white as far as the eye can see.
“So yeah he’s trying to do it in 22 days," said Hennessey. "I know his progress has been a lot slower than he would have liked right now because I think the conditions have just been brutal so think he’s just trying to make up enough time as he can, and see how far he can get."
The first week, Larsen wrote on his blog, he couldn't see anything but his arms in front of him, and he needed to crane his neck constantly to look at his compass.
“This is just in his blood and it’s what he’s done and what he wants to do," said Hennessey. "So it’s kind of like I’ve accepted that even though I don’t personally relate to it necessarily, not trips like this.”
But even Larsen says trips like this are getting tougher. When the white is all he can see, his mind wanders to missing moments with his kids.
“I’m not doing any more big trips," Larsen said over the phone to his wife on his 11th day.
“I don’t think it’s realistic to think you’re going to have the same perspective on this trip as you will when you get home," Hennessey replied.
Hennessey fell in love with his adventurous spirit and knows he will one day bring the kids on expeditions.
Before he left, Larsen built a "mission control" for the kids with a clock set to the same time as Antarctica.
"We can play it to look at where dad is," said Merritt.
“I sometimes feel conflicted sharing a lot because I know he’s bummed to be missing a lot of these things," said Hennessey.
If all goes according to plan, Larsen will be home five days before Christmas.
“I think he can do it and I miss him and I really really love him," said Merritt.