Born and raised in coastal Alaska, Solan works as a kayak ranger and guide, a boat builder, and volunteers as a marine mammal emergency responder. At university he received a degree in Philosophy which led him directly to a career in the Polar Regions. Now, as a kayak guide he divides his time between various remote and cold regions of the earth.
His specialty is multi-day sea kayak trips. A highlight of his career, Solan was the co-leader of one of the first commercially guided overnight sea kayak expeditions in Antarctica. In his other lives Solan can be found making movies, and collecting bones, books, and vinyl records. When Solan first visited Antarctica he worked at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station as an ironworker, the challenges of that job were mostly about exposure. I’d wake up in the morning and think to myself, this is structural steel work at sub-zero temperatures in high winds, enjoy!
What skills do you bring to the job?
"There are hard skills like rope work, firearms maintenance and small boat handling. Soft skills include confidence and the ability to lead small groups and act as a Zodiac captain."
What keeps you returning season after season?
"To place my body in proximity to the wildest places I can find, over and over again."
If you could time travel, which historic expedition would you join, and why?
"Cook, Vancouver, Fridtjof Nansen, Knud Rassmussen - but of all the expeditions, I think I would like to have been with Vitus Bergin and the great naturalist George Stellar, when they first traveled to Alaska from Russia's Far East. I would have loved to assist Stellar during the few minutes that Bering allowed him ashore in the unknown land of Alaska."
Solan's advice to Polar Travelers
"If you want to experience the polar regions, go and do it!"