No image error here! "Pitch black" is how the North Pole looked in the last image captured by NOAA's webcam, on September 30th, 2005 - and this is how it still looks today. The Sun won't shine again until March. Image taken from USGGC Healy Ice Breaker, courtesy of NOAA-Arctic (click to enlarge).
Although open water channels may be less frequent (due to extreme cold), navigation in pitch-black Arctic winter will be a real challenge for the explorers. Image of one of Ousland's guided trips to the NP, courtesy of Borge Ousland (click to enlarge).
"I like the feeling of being in the front line and doing great things," Ousland told ExplorersWeb. The often solo explorer is teaming up with South African Mike Horn this time. "I promised my son not to go on a big polar solo anymore. Besides, I feel it is about time to do expeditions with others again!," said Borge. Self portrait of Borge Ousland during a NP trip courtesy of Borge (click to enlarge).
South African - currently residing in Switzerland - Mike Horn hopes they will reach the North Pole in 67 days, right in time to see the sun rising over the ice. File Image of Mike courtesy of his website.
ExWeb inteview - Borge Ousland: "No need for sunscreen!"
Posted: Jan 09, 2006 06:19 pm EST
(ThePoles.com) Norwegian Borge Ousland and South African Mike Horn have joined forces for a bold North Pole expedition. Yesterday, both explorers left their respective homes for Siberia, the starting point of their challenge which they will undertake in the pitch black Arctic winter.
Goal: To watch the Sunrise at the Pole
We will try to do the entire trip during the dark period, and arrive before the 23rd of March, which is the first day of Spring and when the sun begins to appear above the horizon at the North Pole, Ousland told ExplorersWeb.
The pair is meeting up today in Moscow to finalize the details of their expedition. They hope to start skiing before the end of this month. Should Ousland and Horn succeed, they would be the first to arrive at the NP in winter - and in time to see the sun rising over the ice.
Norwegian Ousland is one of the foremost polar explorers in the world, together with names such as Gjeldnes, Weber and Malakov. South African Mike Horn finished an Arctic adventure in 2004, travelling around the Arctic, just within the Arctic Circle, by boat, kayak, ski sail and on foot. A support team provided him with resupplies and various means of travel along the trip.
Just before taking off, ExWeb caught up with Borge for some last minutes questions on the upcoming expedition.
ExWeb: You are a veteran polar explorer while Mike is pretty new to skiing in the Arctic. How come you guys hooked up?
Borge: I have known Mike for ten years; we were in the No Limits Team together. Mike has lots of experience, having already achieved a North Pole trip and travelled alone around the Arctic circle across Siberia, Canada, Alaska, and Greenland. (Ed note: Mike Horn is not listed in AdventureStats list for North Pole expeditions. The adventurer might have accomplished a shorter ski trip to the pole.)
ExWeb: You commonly travel solo, why are you partnering up this time?
Borge: I promised my son not to go on a big polar solo any more. Besides, I feel it is about time to do expeditions with others again!
ExWeb: Going in the dark season should be pretty cool. What made you choose that period?
Borge: Because of the unknown! I like the feeling of being in the front line and doing great things.
ExWeb: With the shrinking ice - do you think it will become common for polar skiers to start out earlier?
Borge: Only for complete crossings. Ice is at its maximun in April/May.
ExWeb: You introduced the swimming suit - any new inventions up your sleeve for this trip?
Borge: We will be hauling two small sleds instead of one big one each. In addition, we will use a double layer of clothing to remove ice from the underwear. None of these is really new, but it is not commonly used in NP expeditions.
ExWeb: What do you think will be the hardest thing about going in the dark?
Borge: Cold will be hard indeed, and so will the moisture. In addition, it will be difficult to find our way, so we plan to go straight North most of the time. Finding snow on new salty ice could also be a problem in the beginning, since we need to melt that snow for drinking water.
ExWeb: And the major advantage?
Borge: No need for sunglasses and suncream :).
ExWeb: Any major worries right now?
Borge: Not really.
ExWeb: What is the exact route and who will you use for logistics?
Borge: We will go from Cape Arctichevsky to the Pole, the normal way. We go with Centre Polus, who I also work with at Borneo base. They will start Borneo one week earlier than usual in order to pick us up.
Norwegian Borge Ousland is a remarkable polar explorer. He was the first to do an unsupported expedition from Russia to the North Pole in 1994. Borge was solo and fast, and beat the second runner up team of 8 Russian skiers by two weeks. Among his feats are a solo kite crossing of Antarctica from Berkner Island to McMurdo in 96/97 and a solo Arctic kite traverse in 2001 (March 3 to April 23, Russia-Canada, one resupply).
He has also attempted Everest and done an unsupplied, kite-supported crossing of the Patagonian Ice Cap: Borge and Thomas Ulrich completed that expedition at top speed (49 days), but at an earlier exit point than the Chilean pioneers on the route it is thus not considered a complete crossing.
South African Mike Horn, traveled around the equator in 2000. In August 2002 he launched Arktos expedition, a multi-disciplinary voyage around the Arctic Circle. The adventure was covered by professional photographers and an extensive support team. Mike completed the circumnavigation by the end of October, 2004, after a number of legs accomplished by boat, kayak, ski sail, bicycle and on foot. Starting and Finishing point was North Cape, Norway.