Belgian explorer Louis-Philippe Loncke set out on Saturday for Iceland where he will attempt to become the first person to walk solo, and unsupported, from the country’s extreme latitudes, going north to south. The expedition will also serve as training for a return trip in the winter, when the same journey will present some very different challenges.
Lou-Phi says that the route will be approximately 370 km (230 miles) if it were done “as the crow flies”, but he expects to cover closer to 560 km (348 miles) when he actually has to wind his way across lava fields, over glacial rivers, and possibly up and over volcanoes as well. He’s also set an ambitious schedule for the expedition as well, as he hopes to travel light and fast, covering 30 km (18.6 miles) per day, wrapping up the entire journey in 19 days time.
Obviously Lou-Phi is no stranger to long, unsupported treks through hostile environments. After all, he did cross the Simpson Desert back in 2008 all by himself. This journey will be a challenging one for sure, but it is as much of a scouting trip as anything else, as the real challenge will be when he returns in the winter to make the journey a second time.
According to his blog, he also hopes to use the trek to do some research that could lend itself to future expeditions to Mars as well. Lou-Phi says that he’ll conduct “cognitive tests under intense stress in extreme environment and possibly other studies on the effect of darkness while exploring new ground.” That research could possibly aid NASA in the future as they prepare to send astronauts on the long and isolated voyage to the red planet. He also points out that Iceland is where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin trained before going to the moon, and that the country has also served as the testing ground for the Mars rovers as well.
The expedition is set to begin next Monday, and we can expect updates from the field on Lou-Phi’s blog as he goes. Trekking in Iceland sounds like a pretty great way to spend the summer. Good luck my friend!
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