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    North Pole adventurer, Ralph Plaisted, dies at 80

    Posted by AmSnow
    on Thursday, September 11, 2008

    From an article by the Associated Press 

    Ralph Plaisted died Monday, Sept. 8, 2008, of natural causes at his home in Wyoming, Minn., north of St. Paul, his family said. Ralph was an insurance salesman turned explorer who led the first expedition in 1968 to the North Pole over the ice, traveling by snowmobile.

    Plaisted and three other men reached the North Pole on April 19, 1968. An Air Force weather plane verified their position a day later and gave them a lift back.

    The 1909 attempt to reach the North Pole by explorer Robert Peary, long credited as the first to make it there, was never validated by anyone outside Peary's party.

    Along the way, the Plaisted expedition encountered cliffs of ice 40 ft. high, days of waiting for a 2-mile-wide stretch of water to freeze, occasionally falling through the ice and temperatures reaching 65 below zero.

    His expedition, 474 miles as the crow flies from the starting point at Ward Hunt Island, Canada, took a little over 43 days. Because of the dangers, Plaisted said in 1988, he "wouldn't go back there if you put a million dollars on my desk right now."

    The four-member team included navigators Jerry Pitzl and Walt Pederson and scout Jean-Luc Bombardier, a nephew of Joseph-Armand Bombardier, a key developer of the snowmobile. The team used 16-horsepower Ski-Doos, made by the Bombardier company.

    When the expedition reached the pole, which Plaisted called "one mass of jumbled ice not any different from anywhere else up there," the group spent the night waiting for the U.S. Air Force plane to fly over and document their achievement.

    He is survived by three daughters, a son, a brother and two grandchildren.

    Friday, September 12, 2008
    1:30 pm until 3:00 pm
    First Lutheran Church
    4000 Linden
    White Bear Lake, Minn. 55110

    Friday, September 12, 2008
    3:00 pm
    First Lutheran Church
    4000 Linden
    White Bear Lake, Minn. 55110

    Johnson-Peterson Funeral Home
    White Bear Lake, 651-429-7661

    More info:,0,6631967.story or

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