Journey To The Top Of World

Bowen North Pole Vacation story, people skiing
It's one of the most famous addresses in the world: the North Pole, and, as CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen reports, it's getting crowded. People are arriving by helicopters and skis.

American adventurer Wave Vidmar tried to do it the really hard way. By skiing 600 miles all the way from Russia without any help, pulling a sled loaded with supplies and hoping he didn't become polar bear food - something which nearly happened.

"I had my ski poles in my hands, then I placed them on top of my head so I would be very tall," says Vidmar.

All of a sudden, the bear backed away.

And why do people come so far to stand at the North Pole? It's a sense of accomplishment for those who really worked to get here. But for most it comes down to a matter of bragging rights.

That's what lured Alison Levine from San Francisco. Levine is a former deputy campaign finance director for Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. She's climbed Mt. Everest. Now she can put a check by the North Pole, having put down $23,000 to join a British tour group that skied the last 60 miles to reach it.

"It's one of the Number One vacation destinations," says Levine before laughing. "No, I just wanted to go because its one of the most difficult destinations on the planet."

Difficult is an understatement if you ask Boston real estate agent Carol Post-Pfaelzer.

Among her first impressions: "Vast, vast, and 'What am I doing here?'"

Post-Pfaelzer was convinced to take the Champagne Special, a Russian helicopter ride to the Pole, by her husband who stayed behind in Norway.

"He owes me a big one," says Post-Pfaelzer.

That meant staying in a tent at the Russian ice station known as Camp Borneo, about as far from tropical and comfortable as she's ever been. But she will go home with bragging rights.

"Come do it, but make sure you have warm clothes, and bring a little food," says Post-Pfaelzer.

And a sense of humor helps too. Especially when your spouse says, "Honey, have I got a trip for you."