John Cantor

Record-breaking adventurer

In 2012 adventurer John Cantor achieved a six-year dream of traversing the Brooks Range solo, a 1,600 km expedition across Arctic Alaska and considered one of the toughest solo expeditions on earth. Almost completely devoid of human presence, this environment is full of grizzly bears, wolves and countless other animals.

With no previous experience and only blind self-belief, this young surfer from Noosa Heads, Queensland, had set himself a near- impossible goal. There were only four documented solo traverses of the range prior to this, all of whom were Americans.

After failing on three successive attempts in three consecutive years, John realised he was banging his head against a brick wall, so took 2011 off and adopted a completely different approach to the expedition. He broke it down into little battles and worked on perfecting each element. John finally completed the expedition in 31-and-a-half days, setting a speed record for the traverse.

During this time John also battled with chronic knee and back injuries, severe anxiety, and huge financial costs working up to three jobs at a time.

John’s expedition was featured on the ABC’s Australian Story and was the most downloaded episode for 2012. His book about his journey will be turned into a feature length documentary using the footage he shot over the six years.

For his next expedition, the Winter Traverse, John and his expedition partner, fellow adventurer Evan Howard, flew to Alaska in January 2014 but had to pull the plug on the 10th day due to John developing frostbite. They had been smashed by severe weather on the first three days, not allowing them any time to acclimatise. John battled on through agonising pain in his fingers for another week before making the hard decision to end the trip and saved his fingers from permanent damage.

Although not the result John had hoped for, he took solace from knowing this time his preparation and execution had been near flawless. However, these experiences have only made him stronger and his next trip is already in the making. In June 2014 John will return to Alaska to climb Denali, North America’s highest mountain.

John Cantor has inspired companies, sports teams, organisations and schools with his adventures and the lessons he has learned from them. His presentations focus on determination, resilience, turning failure into a positive, goal setting, overcoming adversity, positive self-belief, earning the desire to achieve something remarkable and understanding fear and anxiety. He is also a Beyondblue ambassador and speaks about his own bouts of anxiety and depression.

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