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Ely man and teammate make it to North Pole

John Huston and Tyler Fish on the Shores of Lake Superior before departing on the Victorinox North Pole '09 Expedition. (Photo by Heather Brown)

Ely's Tyler Fish and Chicago's John Huston arrived at the North Pole on Saturday and became the first Ameri cans to get there unsupported and self-powered.

The self-powered journey by way of skiing, snowshoeing and even swimming took 54 days and was in danger of being called off because of decaying ice conditions. The

duo commenced their 440-nautical-mile journey from the northern tip of Elles mere Island in Canada on March 2.

Fish and Huston were racing against a deadline today when support from a Russian research base was going to pick them up regardless of completing the expedition. Fish and Huston carried all their own gear, food and fuel for the adventure -- more than 650 pounds of stuff. The men figured they had just enough food and cooking fuel to last until this morning. Each man lost about 30 pounds on the trek, as reported on

"We want everybody to know that we are well," Fish wrote Thursday on their blog. "We will, for sure, be very, very tired and sleep deprived and thinking strange things and a bit giddy at times for sure, but we are going to do our absolute best to make it."

In recent days the pair's progress had been hindered when strong winds caused the sea ice on which they're traveling to drift away from the pole. But as of Friday morning, the wind had calmed, and the two men struck off on a final push to reach their destination before time ran out. The game plan was to ski 12 hours, rest for two and then repeat the cycle until they either reach the pole or their flight out arrived.

Norwegians Borge Ousland and Erling Kagge skied unsupported to the North Pole in 1990. Canadian Richard Weber and Russian Mikhail Malakhov took it one step further in 1995, skiing unsupported to the pole and back from Canada.

Ely's Will Steger and Paul Schurke led an unsupported dogsled trip to the North Pole in 1986.

Meanwhile, Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen of Grand Marais made the first summer ski trek to the North Pole in 2006, but they were resupplied along the way.

Huston and Fish's expedition aims to raise awareness and funds for CaringBridge, a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization that provides online community support for people facing serious health challenges.