kottke.org posts about northpole

Ben Saunders, NorthMar 24 2008

My pal Ben Saunders is headed North, in an attempt to set a new world record for the fastest trip to the North Pole.

The current record was set in 2005 by a guided team using dog sleds and numerous re-supplies in a time of 36 days 22 hours. Ben's expedition will be solo and unsupported and on foot. This route has only ever been completed once solo and unsupported, by Pen Hadow in 2003. Ben aims to halve his time and complete it in 30 days. More than geographic exploration, Ben is exploring the limits of his own human potential.

Unsupported means that Ben will carry everything he needs to make the trip with him from the beginning. Check out the gear he's bringing with him, including the tech he'll use to update his journal along the way. Good luck, Ben!

Detailed satellite photo of the northern polarSep 18 2007

Detailed satellite photo of the northern polar ice cap showing that for the first time in recorded history, the Northwest passage (the orange line) is open to sea traffic. The passage was a subject of intense interest to the European powers from the late 1400s, who wanted to find a way to Asia by boat that didn't involve sailing around Africa. (via ben)

Heading to the South Pole and back...on skisJul 21 2005

I'm supporting SOUTHBen Saunders is a little bit crazy. He does stuff like ski solo from Russia to Canada via the North Pole just for the heck of it. When I was last in London, I called him up to make dinner plans and he apologized if he seemed a "little" tired because he'd been out for a "bit" of a run this morning. That short run turned out to be 20 miles. (At dinner that evening, Ben and his training partner, Tony, ate everything on the table short of the cutlery.)

Ben's latest endeavor is his upcoming expedition across Antarctica to the South Pole, dubbed SOUTH:

Here's the plan. The first return journey to the South Pole on foot and the longest unsupported polar journey in history. In October next year, Tony Haile and I will set out from Scott's hut, on the shores of McMurdo Sound on a 1,800-mile, four-month round trip, from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back. No dogs, no vehicles, no kites, no resupplies. We're calling it SOUTH.

The great Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen made the only return journey, using dogs, 93 years ago. His rival Captain Scott died on his return from the Pole just 11 miles from the relative safety of his largest depot. Since then every expedition has either been flown out from the Pole or used dogs, kites or vehicles. Many people have blamed Scott's failure on his reliance on human power, and many experts still believe an entirely human-powered journey of this magnitude to be impossible. We think otherwise.

Expeditions of this sort are generally funded by large corporations who give money in exchange for advertising and sponsorship opportunities. On his last expedition to the North Pole, Ben blogged (and photoblogged) daily using a PDA & satellite phone and was cheered along by the thousands who read and commented on the journey. So for SOUTH, Ben and Tony are doing something a little different...they are seeking financial support from private individuals (and companies/groups/etc.). For a donation of $100, you can "own a mile" of the expedition, which means you get a listing on the site, a listing on the front page when your mile of the expedition is completed, your name enscribed on one of the expedition sleds, and your name on a flag planted at the South Pole. Ben and Tony are great guys and I would love to see them succeed, so give them a hand if you can.

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