48: COLDEST DAY SO FAR...
Fri, 10 Mar 2006 // 21:27
Quote of the Day:
'You would think that the
sledges would slide well when it is cold like this, but in
fact, they don't! The snow becomes dry and it feels like
we are dragging the sledges over sandpaper...'
Latest position : N87°24'25' E90°35'39'
Distance to go: 290km
Temperature: -38°C (without windchill)
Wind: Northwesterly 4m/s (9mph)
Ice drift: Southwards 0.3km/hr
Days of food left: 21
Average daily distance required: 14km
Update from Mike: 'We were once
again in very cold temperatures today. We walked 12 hours
in -38° C (without windchill) and a northwesterly wind
(about 4m/s) blowing right into our faces. My fingers can
only take 8 hours in these conditions and after that they
really start to suffer. They eventually came right once I
got back into the tent and was able to warm them up around
a hot cup of soup. We did well under these conditions as
we managed to advance 23kms even with a southerly drift of
You would think that the sledges would slide well when it
is cold like this, but in fact, they don't! The snow
becomes dry and it feels like we are dragging the sledges
over sandpaper. There was also a very big accumulation of
snow that we had to work our way though. The only
advantage in these cold temperatures is that all the open
water is frozen and it is normally thick enough to walk
Borge is fixing the skins on his skis this evening. They
are wearing out wear the ski in bending.
Hope tomorrow will be a warmer day!'
44: EVENTFUL WEEK ON THE ICE...
Mon, 6 Mar 2006 // 17:32
Quote of the Day:
'We've once again hit the pack
ice - it's impressive, sometimes the ice is up to 5-6
metres high. It's beautiful to see!...'
Latest position : N86°28'59' E94°20'30'
Distance to go: 392km
Conditions: Southeast wind
Days of food left: 25
Average daily distance required: 16km (to complete
Last week was an eventful week for Mike and Borge. With
the days getting lighter and ice conditions improving,
they made good and steady progress in the past week,
covering between 20-28km each day on the ice. After 39
days, they past the halfway mark in terms of distance
covered (500km) towards their goal to be the first men to
walk unassisted to the North Pole in the Arctic Winter;
although it took them almost 40 days to reach this stage,
Mike estimated it would take another 30 days to finish the
Although halfway was a major milestone, there was no time
for celebration after suffering repeated equipment failure
including tents poles and shoe soles which had broken due
to the freezing cold temperatures. They had no choice but
to spend a day inside the their tent making vital repairs
to the equipment, in particular their skis which if
irrepairable would have ended their expedition hopes: 'Usually
this should not happen, it's never happened in any of my
expeditions and it is a bit of a disappointment. It's like
driving a car without a motor.' Mike Horn.
The days that followed bought another added danger to
their expedition - close encounters with curious polar
bears. The bears have come too close for comfort at times,
one time coming within three metres of them, but have not
shown any aggression to the duo which means they must be
feeding well in their own habitat - good news for Mike and
Mike and Borge have been surprised to see so many polar
bears at this latitude (N86°): 'It
is usual to see one or two but never in these quantities.
It must be the global warming that is pushing the bears
further north every year.' (See the 'Did you know?'
section below for more detailed information about how
global warming is affecting the polar bears.)
Whilst the durability of their ski repairs remains their
biggest concern, the extreme cold is an ever-present issue
that can bring devastating results. With temperatures
dropping to -35°C, without taking in to account the wind
chill factor, the risk of frostbite is ever high on the
list of dangers. The latest wind statistics shows they are
experiencing easterly winds of around 5 metres per second,
which is 11mph. With wind chill this equates to around -50°C
posing a huge risk to Mike and Borge - any exposed skin
can be frozen within 30 seconds. Even activities in the
tent are often impossible due to the extreme cold: 'Simple
tasks can be complicated by the extreme cold of metal
surfaces; even talking on the satellite phone is
Their bodies are also feeling the effects of the recent
drop in temperatures, and Mike's fingers are causing him
pain, so they are both taking precautions to protect their
hands and feet which are most affected.
Now on day 44, they have 392km to go with 25 days of food
left, with three extra days of emergency rations just to
survive if they need it. To successfully complete the
expedition, Mike and Borge currently need to average 17km
per day. Mike estimates they will reach the North Pole
around 24-29th March. With their average daily distance
this week not dipping below 20km, things are looking good.
DAY 44 UPDATE: FATIGUE KICKING IN AFTER LONG 10 HOUR
'We headed off this morning with
a covered sky and calmer easterly winds. It's was a great
relief to find that the temperatures had risen to -30
degrees. We had put on all our extra clothing as we were
expecting the worst, but found that the conditions were
not so bad after all. Later in the day the winds actually
turned to SE and died down considerably. It's always a lot
more comfortable to have the winds in our backs.
It was wonderful today as we didn't need to use our
headlights at all. Having visibility makes things so much
easier and it means progression - it's like seeing the
light at the end of the tunnel - very encouraging!
We followed many frozen leads today. They're mostly
running north-south. We move more quickly and easily on
this nice, even ice. It now seems we've put the leads
behind us as we've once again hit the pack ice. It's
impressive - sometimes the ice is up to 5-6 metres high.
It's beautiful to see!
It seems that we have left the polar bears as well. We
haven't seen any bears or even tracks today. I guess they
finally understood that we didn't want them around after
we fired the last signal flare last night. Thank goodness
for that - we'll be able to sleep more comfortably
We're starting to feel fatigue after these long days. When
we walk 10 hours, there is hardly time for anything at the
end of the day, other than to set up camp, brush the snow
and frost from our clothing and equipment, cook up water,
eat dinner and go to bed. That fills up the entire day.
Forecasts predict that the winds may come from the north
for the next few days. This is not so good for us as it
will mean that we'll once again have a southwards drift
and winds in the face.
392 kms to go!! Our goal is getting closer!
DID YOU KNOW?
Experts believe global warming is causing the ice pack to
melt much faster than compared to twenty years ago. When
the ice disappears early, so do the seals, which are the
polar bears main source of food. From April until summer
when the ice pack breaks up the seals disappear into open
water, so polar bears spend their time on the ice in the
Arctic winter storing up enough energy for the summer and
autumn when there is little food available. With the ice
melting at an increasingly quicker rate, the seals time on
the ice is becoming shorter, resulting in less time for
the polar bears to store up the necessary reserves. For
female polar bears with offspring there is even greater
risk - without enough food she will stop producing milk
and her cubs will inevitably die.
Polar Bear Tracker
43: BEARS EVERYWHERE!
Sun, 5 Mar 2006 // 20:25
Quote of the Day:
'These bears are beautiful,
healthy beasts and are obviously not hungry, just
inquisitive which is perfectly normal....'
Latest position : N86°14' E95°09'
Distance to go: 420km
Temperature: Extremely cold, -35°C
Conditions: Very strong easterly winds
Days of food left: 26
Update from Mike: 'It was
another exciting day for us and probably one of the most
difficult yet! We advanced 25kms with very strong easterly
winds. The temperature has once again dropped. It's very,
very cold and we are taking precautions to protect or
hands and feet. I am taking a vasodilators and aspirin for
my aching fingers. My thumb is alright, or at least it is
not getting any worst at this stage, but these
temperatures certainly are not helping it to improve.
The bears were everywhere today. Our friend from yesterday
came to greet us in the morning and once again ripped the
cover of my sledge. At one stage he was only about 3
metres away. We fired a flare to tell him politely that he
was just a little too close for our liking. This made him
leave. Later on, a mother with her two cubs came to visit.
The cubs, being curious, came very close while she stood
by watching. No aggression has been shown yet and we don't
think we will be harmed in any way. These bears are
beautiful, healthy beasts and are obviously not hungry,
just inquisitive which is perfectly normal.
We followed a lead for two and a half hours today. It was
perfectly flat and the ice was solid enough to walk on. We
came across open patches of water, which are where the
bears are also heading to by the looks of the numerous
tracks that we passed. It amazing to see that there are so
many bears at this latitude. It is usual to see one or two
but never in these quantities. It must be the global
warming that is pushing the bears further north every
We hope that the temperatures will rise again. It is
virtually impossible to do anything in this extreme cold
and the presence of the polar bears is not helping us at
We are going well. The food rations should be enough to
get us to the end of our trip. Our only big worry at this
stage, are the skis. Lets hope they'll hold out!!
Bye for now!'
here to view a photo Mike took of one curious polar
bear, just metres away.
42: TROUBLE WITH A PLAYFUL POLAR BEAR
Sat, 4 Mar 2006 // 19:35
Quote of the Day:
'The two of us were ready to go
outside when something tugged hard at the tent - it had to
be an unexpected visitor, and there are not so many
possibilities...a polar bear was standing right
Latest position : N86°00'42' E96°
Distance to go: 445km
Days of food left: 27
After another good day, Mike and Borge have now reached
the 86th degree of latitude, advancing 23km in ten hours
(2km thanks to the drift) with ski repairs holding well.
Borge explains: 'It feels great!
We had an astonishing start today. The two of us were
ready to go outside when something tugged hard at the
tent. Mike insisted that it wasn't him - so it had to be
an unexpected visitor, and there are not so many
A polar bear was standing right outside. It had torn apart
the cover on Mike's sled. You see, we fastened the sleds
to the tent to anchor it last night, as well as to warn us
if a bear tried to steal our food. Well, our system
obviously worked perfectly this morning.
The bear withdrew a little, but soon came back. Finally I
had to shoot it right in the chest from 5 metres range,
with my signal gun. Only then did it retreat. It must have
been a shock to be hit with great force by a flaming
projectile, but it's not harmful to the bear. Evidently it
wasn't bothered that much, because it kept an eye on us
from a few hundred metres away.
We broke camp, packed our sleds and continued our journey
northwards. I suspect we got a visitor because we camped
close to a lead. Polar bears apparently follow these leads
of water when they hunt.
After only 15 minutes or so, the bear came back, heading
straight toward us. This time Mike shot it with the signal
gun, hitting it in the back from ten twelve metres. Once
again it ran off.
As if that wasn't enough, he returned to stalk us in the
middle of the day, this time keeping a safer distance. He
seemed more curious and playful than threatening, rolling
around in the snow - but he kept following us. When he
disappeared, it was evening, two hours before we called it
a day. We haven't seen him after that and hope he doesn't
return. Polar bears destroy equipment and they can be
There are many small leads in this area. Clearly a lot of
movement in the ice. We have seen seals come up to breathe
in the open leads, which of course explains why the bears
are here. Probably many of them. We saw the fresh tracks
of a small bear and a female, as well as faeces. There are
also lots of older tracks strongly indicating that we're
right in the middle of one of their favoured territories.
Unfortunately we left the pepper spray behind after Mike
gave us a dose in the tent a week ago. But we do have the
signal gun, and a revolver as a last resort. We're hoping
the polar bear that stalked us has had enough, that he's
found food, and that he finds no reason to come looking
for us again. Actually he didn't seem very aggressive. It
was a young bear, perhaps three or four years old, with
beautiful pale golden bur. Beautiful to look at - but even
so I prefer to keep him at a distance. Hopefully he is
more than happy to hunt seals at the edge of the ice
floes. We feel safer now that we've moved away from the
More news tomorrow!'
Borge and Mike
41: ON THE MOVE AGAIN!
Fri, 3 Mar 2006 // 16:38
Quote of the Day:
'Simple tasks can be complicated
by the extreme cold of metal surfaces; even talking on the
satellite phone is difficult...'
Latest position : N85°47'34' E92°
Distance to go: 469km
Days of food left: 28
Average daily distance required: 17km (to complete
After spending the whole of yesterday in their tent making
vital repairs, Mike and Borge were pleased to be back out
walking on the ice today and making good progress: 'Now
we're on the move again! We've reached N85°47'34"
E92°, after a day with good ice conditions. We walked 23
km. We encountered a couple of open leads today, but
managed to cross them without having to swim. I'm thankful
for that, because temperatures have dropped to -35°C. I
can promise you that you really notice the difference
between 30 and 35 below - not so much when we're out
walking, but when we're trying to do things inside the
tent. Simple tasks can be complicated by the extreme cold
of metal surfaces; even talking on the satellite phone is
Our ski repairs seem to be holding up pretty well...'
Borge and Mike
here to view an image of Mike pulling his seldges
around some pack ice.
For latest news on Mike and Borge go to: www.mikehornnorthpole.com
Sign up for updates on Mike's progress on his North Pole
Winter Expedition at www.mikehornnorthpole.com
here to view Mike & Borge's latest position on
Google Earth. To download Google Earth click
here ( PC and Mac OS X 10.4 only).
For further information on Mike Horn contact:
T: +44 (0)870 063 0210
MIKE HORN PERSONAL DETAILS
Nationality: South African resides Switzerland
Status: Married to Cathy, two children aged 11 and 12
MIKE HORN'S PHILOSOPHY:
'The drive to go beyond our physical, mental and
spiritual limits is an internal attitude that transcends
global borders. It tests our personal limits and opens
the way for new levels of achievement in all aspects of
life. This philosophy is the driving force behind every
Although I find myself in the most extreme
circumstances, I always use caution. My philosophical
approach is to live the endeavour as an expression of my
being. Alone, immersed in nature, with no creature
comforts, to surpass the limits imposed by man and
nature itself. With faith and determination, one can
embody the purest expression of this philosophy.'
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