If you’ve been reading my updates from the Antarctic so far this season, you’ve probably seen me mention Swiss explorer Mike Horn on more than one occasion. That’s because not only does he have an impeccable adventure resume ( climbed four 8000-meter peaks without oxygen, explored the Arctic during the winter, swam the length of the Amazon), but he is also about to embark on one of the most ambitious expeditions of all time.
Horn is attempting to become the first person to circumnavigate the globe north-south (rather than east-west), passing through both Poles along the way. And soon, he’ll launch the first critical phase of that journey, which will see him traverse Antarctica on foot.
Currently, Mike is aboard his ship the Pangea just off the Antarctic coast. According to his dispatches, he and his crew are slowly making their way through the ice to his drop-off point on the Antarctic continent. Remember, most of South Pole skiers are dropped off at Union Glacier, prior to flying to their starting points at Hercules Inlet, by the professional crew at ALE. In Mike’s case however, he’s sailing independently as part of his round-the-world journey.
The Pole 2 Pole expedition – as Mike calls it – has been a long time coming. I first told you about his plans back in 2014, but it has taken two years to get this adventure truly underway and off the ground. The journey began when the South African-born explorer set out from Monaco back in May, and began sailing out of the Mediterranean Sea and down the coast of Africa.
Along the way, he spent some time exploring the Namib Desert and visiting the Okavango Delta, before traveling overland to Cape Town, where he dove with sharks and conducted research on those ocean-going predators. Now, he has ventured across the Southern Ocean on his way to the Antarctic. Once there, he’ll don a pair of skis and pull a sled across the frozen expanse just like all the other skiers heading to the South Pole. But after he reaches 90ºS, he’ll continue on to the coast once again (possibly to Hercules Inlet) where Pangea will be waiting to pick him up.
The expedition hardly ends there however. As tough as his Antarctic crossing will be, it is nothing compared to what lies ahead. After he finishes at the bottom of the world, he’ll set sail for the top. Heading north through the Pacific Ocean, where he’ll first spend some time traveling in New Zealand and Australia, before continuing on into Asia. After that, Horn will continue heading north, where he’ll then set his sights on traversing the Arctic on foot as well, an endeavor that is far more difficult and dangerous than crossing the Antarctic.
If he succeeds with that plan – one that has become increasingly more difficult in recent years – he’ll then move south once again, traversing Greenland on foot, before sailing back to Europe and ending his expedition back in Monaco where it began.
Obviously there is a lot to accomplish before he is done, but it certainly will be interesting to follow along. I’m particularly interested in Horn’s attempt at crossing the Arctic, which we’ve seen many people try and fail at in recent years. He has all the credentials, and I’d never bet against him, but the Arctic has become an unforgiving place with little margin for error, and it will probably be the toughest expedition of his life skiing to the North Pole and onward.
For now though, Antarctic awaits. If things go according to plan, he should hit the ice in the next couple of days. And then that stage of his adventure will truly begin. I’ll be posting updates throughout the season on his progress. It should be interesting to follow for sure.
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