It’s been a couple of weeks since we checked in with Mike Horn and Borge Ousland as they continue on their difficult expedition to cross the polar icecap in the Arctic. The two men set out from Nome, Alaska back in September, sailing as far north as they could on Horn’s ship the Pangaea before leaving the vessel behind and proceeding on foot to the North Pole. Now, with that invisible landmark behind them, they have been making their way back south on the opposite side of the planet, where they eventually hope to reach Pangaea on the edge of the ice once again. But as the journey continues to unfold, it also gets increasingly more difficult, as evidenced in their most recent dispatch.
Earlier today, Horn shared an update from the ice, their 30th since getting underway. In it, he provides details of their daily existence while they press on through the Arctic. Apparently, he and Ousland have faced incredibly bad weather throughout the journey and it is not only slowing them down, but exhausting their bodies and minds too. Mike says that they know that dealing with the poor conditions was something that they signed up for when they decided to undertake this mission, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t hoping for things to improve. Better weather won’t just mean that they can pick up the pace some, but it would also be good for their spirts too.
To make matters worse, the two polar legends now find themselves racing the clock. They had originally hoped to wrap up the expedition by December 1, which is just about two weeks away at this point. Right now, they’re running a bit behind schedule and are growing somewhat concerned about their food supply. The situation is a bit exasperated by the fact that they have to take occasional rest days to let their bodies heal and recovery, but that also means not making an progress or possibly losing some miles due to negative drift. Those rest days have become increasingly important however, as they allow them to also repair gear, treat wounds, and get some much needed sleep. In the dispatch, Horn notes that following a rest day, he and Ousland are much more eager and energized to resume their travels.
In all of the years that I’ve been following Mike Horn’s expeditions, the current dispatches seem the least upbeat and optimistic of any that I can recall. Yes, he’s staying as focused as always on completing the expedition, but you can almost read the weariness and exhaustion in his words. I have no doubt that he and Borge will find a way to press on to the finish line, but following along from afar, it seems that this journey is one that is most definitely taking its toll.
We’ll continue to keep a close eye on their progress and post updates when we get them. Fingers crossed, they’ll still make their December 1 deadline and get off the ice safely.