- 13 Feb 2017
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Explorer Mike Horn Has Made It
On skis and using a kite to harness the wind, Mike pulled a heavy sled carrying all his survival gear and food for 5 100km, making the north-south crossing in record time.
Mike is at a container camp on the coast, waiting for the yacht Pangaea to collect him to continue with his #Pole2pole expedition – a circumnavigation of the Earth over land and sea via the North and South poles. While Pangaea carries him on the oceans, his land vessel is a rugged Mercedes-Benz G-Class.
‘I'm recovering from all the frost nip, eating well but cannot get used to sleeping in a bed yet,’ he wrote from the coast. ‘Strangely, I miss my tent, my sleeping bag and the sound of the howling wind blowing over the tent. I miss the hardship, the feeling of fragility, the mission and drive that becomes your reason to live and that runs through your veins as a source of life.’
The entire expedition had dramatic moments, kicking off right from the start when one of his skis broke. Near the end his kite ripped in half, leaving Mike stitching the 4.5m tear by hand. At one stage he had to drill a hole in his toe-nail to relieve pressure.
With just four days to go, he was almost left stranded on the ice with none of his equipment.
‘It started with the kite taking off [in the wind] with my sled, and me standing there looking at all my equipment I need to survive take off. The kite went into that propeller movement that you cannot stop! I managed to dive onto the sled and it was like a rodeo ride over the sastrugi [hard, treacherously ridged snow] with the kite going full speed. I removed my mittens and grabbed the knife out of my pocket, opened the blade while the sled was trying to get rid of me, bucking like a horse! I cut the lines that attached the kite to the sled, now with cold hands, and saved the sled but gone was the kite.
‘Luckily there was a lot of sastrugi around and the kite’s lines caught. Kite downwind, skis upwind and my mittens somewhere in between and me sitting there in the howling wind on my sled! Very happy to have stopped this potentially dangerous situation.’ It was two hours before he could move on again.
The satrugi was responsible for plenty of rock and rolling, as Mike was either dragged by the kite or overrun by the heavy sled he was pulling.
‘At the end of the day it feels like you have been hit by a train over and over again, but it is important is to stand up each time. You are defined by how fast you rise after a fall,’ he said.
‘At stages it was nearly impossible to find a way through with skis, it's good to adopt the philosophy of just go straight and see what happens. More often in life we must stop thinking of what can go wrong but think about what can go right.’
Now, looking ahead to warmer conditions as Pangaea heads north again, he’s ready for the second half of the expedition.
‘While you recover from all your little wounds, aches and pains, looking at the maps and GPS position you wonder how you actually managed to pull it off. It is certainly something you can only do once in a lifetime. The difference between a dream and reality is 5100km in 57 days. Now on to the next!’
* Mike Horn has completed first ever solo, unsupported north-to-south traverse of Antarctica from the Princess Astrid Coast (lat -70.1015 lon 9.8249) to the Dumont D'urville Station (lat -66.6833 lon 139.9167) via the South Pole. Total distance of 5100km using kites and skis in 57 days.
* Discover more about the legendary Mercedes-Benz G-Classtoday!
Images by Dmitry Sharomov.