Those two guys who left for the North Pole back in January with nothing but themselves, their skis and sleds carrying two months worth of food got there the other day.

These guys are tough guys in every sense of the expression. They cross-country skied in darkness for 600 miles across a frozen wasteland in impossible weather. You definitely earn your Arctic Survival merit badge for making it out alive.

Maybe I’ve been reading Climb_CA’s posts too long, but something about the hype about this exploit bugs me. Not the trip itself, or the guys who did it. A press release will not get you across that ice, nor will a fat endorsement contract. I used to think it was odd to watch Michael Jordan play basketball — he was the most famous athlete on earth, so it seemed degrading for him to have to get all sweaty shooting hoops with lesser mortals. But the game and the fame when hand in hand. He had to make his perfect fade-away jumpers, and those guys had to make it to the North Pole.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the hype: Accounts of this accomplishment must point out it was an “unsupported” expedition. It’s true they had no dogs, no indigenous peoples to exploit, etc., but “unsupported” is a stretch. They had the best gear their sponsors could provide; somebody knew where they were at all times; they had a helicopter ride back to civilization when they got to the pole. And most of all, perhaps, they were tough-guy adventurer types who knew how to get there and live to tell about it. That’s a lot of support for an “unsupported” mission.

Maybe trafficking in empty adjectives like “unsupported” is necessary to sell a trip like this to potential sponsors. I’d do it too, I suppose, if I wanted to do the trip badly enough. Could be I’m oversensitive: I nitpick over verbiage for a living, and I even have a whole Web site devoted to annoying phrases that I would ban from all news media reports. In any case, I just wish people who write about these kinds of accomplishments stick to what the people really did, what hardships they overcame, what dangers they escaped.

Show, don’t tell, and don’t traffic in sponsor hype. It just seems to raise doubts where no doubts are necessary. Say what it was; if it’s a story worth telling, that should be plenty.