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Crossing The Arctic Ocean

In August 2019, Mike will finally be undertaking the second and last chapter of his Pole2Pole expedition! After the successful traverse of Antarctica via the South Pole completed in February 2017, Mike is now embarking on his next big adventure to close the circle of his circumnavigation of the globe via both poles!

On the 20thof August, Mike will leave from Nome Alaska after having sailed his exploration vessel Pangaea from Hokkaido in Japan, where it has been on standby during Mike’s K2 expedition in Pakistan.

The small town of Nome located in Alaska, will be the starting point for Mike’s next big challenge: The crossing of the Arctic Ocean via the North Pole. This traverse will be the last leg before Mike makes his way back to Monaco in December of this year to celebrate the end of his Pole2Pole expedition which began in May 2016 in Monaco.

For this upcoming polar crossing, Mike will be accompanied by his good friend and famous Norwegian polar explorer: Borge Ousland, with whom he has already partnered to rally the North Pole during the winter and by night in early 2006.

The Route

In comparison to their previous Arctic adventure, this expedition will be different in many ways. This time, Mike and Borge will venture during the end of the northern hemisphere’s 2019 summer season. They will leave Alaska onboard Pangaea with the hopes of reaching as far as the 85°N latitude before being dropped off on the sea ice to start their traverse on foot and skis. By leaving at this period of the year, the pair of explorers are strategically relying on the fact that the ice will have melted sufficiently after the warm summer, in order to be dropped off at a close enough distance to the Pole. In these conditions, every degree counts. If Pangaea can’t make it as far as 85°N, it will undoubtedly have repercussions on the success of the expedition because it means that the explorers will have to travel a larger distance and as a result, run out of food rations sooner. Time will thus be at the essence for the duo of explorers. They are giving themselves a period of maximum 3 months to undertake the traverse of the frozen Arctic Ocean via the North Pole. Once the crossover completed, Pangaea and its crew will pick them up at the point where the open water meets the sea ice in the region of northern Norway, which should be approximately at the 80°N latitude at that time of the year.

If all goes according to plan and that Pangaea can be sailed as far as 85°N from Alaska, Mike and Borge will jump off the boat and start their expedition. They will have to cover 900 nautical miles on foot and skis (approx. 1666km), across the frozen ocean passing via the North Pole. This distance is calculated without taking into account the unavoidable ice drift, which could double or even triple the overall distance the duo will have to cover to reach the other side.

While Mike and Borge make steady progress across the sea ice, Pangaea and its crew will simultaneously undertake its own adventure. Once the two explorers are dropped off on the ice, Pangaea will make a U-turn and sail around the floating sea ice via the North East Passage (NEP) along the northern Russian coastline until they reach northern Norway. Once in Norway the boat and its crew will be on standby and wait for Mike and Borge to finish their traverse. Once finished, Pangaea will pick the pair up where the sea ice ends, at approximately at 80°N above the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. Again, this maneuver will only be possible if the ice has sufficiently melted, otherwise Mike and Borge will have to rely on another solution to return to civilization, such as jumping onboard a polar ice breaker.

Mike and Børge

Mike during this expedition will be accompanied with Børge Ousland. Børge is a Norwegian polar explorer, photographer and writer. He was the first person in the world to do a solo crossing of the Antarctic. On 22 January 2006, together with Mike Horn he began a journey to the North Pole in full Arctic night, successfully concluded on 23 March. In September 2010, Ousland’s team aboard “The Northern Passage” completed the circumnavigation of the North Pole. A Russian team aboard the “Peter I” achieved the same feat in that season. These were the first recorded instances of the circumnavigation of the North Pole without an icebreaker. In December 2011 he traversed Antarctica to the South Pole for the centennial celebration of the first expedition to reach the Pole.

NORTH POLE 2006

This expedition can be remembered and compared to as one of the greatest moments in Arctic history. In 1909, Robert Edwin Peary was the first man to travel from Ellesmere Island to the North Pole in the spring with the aid of dogs and Eskimos. Now in 2006, Mike Horn and Borge Ousland have created new history in polar exploring. On the 23rdof March ‘06, they successfully completed an expedition traveling 60days and 5 hours on skis in the dark Arctic winter from Russia to the North Pole. Never before has an expedition like this been attempted nor has it ever entered into the minds of Arctic explorers because of the many dangers and obstacles it represents. Virtually everyday during their trek, Mike and Borge were faced with challenges such as open water or leads, extremely poor visibility in 24hr darkness, harsh arctic  temperatures of –30°C to – 50°C, southerly ice drift and many encounters with polar bears. The experience and knowledge of these two great Arctic explorers and the combination of complicity and will-power, made Mike and Borge an excellent team which lead to the success of this expedition.