Sebastian Copeland talks "Into the Cold"

Updated: April 26, 2010, 11:30 AM ET
By Page 2 | Tribeca ESPN Sports Film Festival

After a two-month trek filled with unimaginable challenges, it becomes a challenge in itself to define the greatest one.

Sebastian Copeland fell through the ice into Arctic waters and had to fend off hypothermia by removing his clothes in 50-below temperatures. He lugged hundreds of pounds of food and gear in a sledge over jagged, painfully unforgiving terrain. He traveled for a month with camera batteries in his armpits to prevent the cold from stealing their power.

All of that, though, paled in comparison with the struggle in his mind.

"The challenge on long walks and expeditions is far more mental than physical," Copeland says. "Eighty percent of the training is mental. You're faced with the hardship of the same day over and over again, a 'Groundhog Day' mentality."

Copeland prepared for the laboriously monotonous polar trek with yoga and meditation and by calling on his own Buddhist beliefs. He hiked up the hills surrounding Los Angeles wearing a 100-pound vest just to test his resolve.

"You wonder if you really need to do it," he says. "But through long mental preparation, you become more and more connected to the trip."

In the end he found a certain spirituality in the white emptiness of the Arctic, where every day brought an identical landscape. The polar landscape, although maddeningly unvarying on Copeland's journey, is ironically in danger of changing forever. Drawing awareness to this danger was one of his main motivations.

"What stayed with me the entire time was that this was a fleeting environment," Copeland says. "While this was a childhood dream for me, reaching the North Pole, it won't be afforded to kids growing up today."