Legendary Polar Explorer Set to Complete Traverse of Northern Patagonia Ice Field

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There are few people today – or in history - who can compare with Borge Ousland. National Geographic has called him “the most accomplished polar explorer alive.” The track record for this 47-year-old, Norwegian-born adventurer speaks volumes: the first to ski across both the North and South Poles alone and without outside support (1994 and 1995); the first person ever to ski across the entire Antarctica continent alone and without outside support, crossing over nearly 2845 kilometers in 64 days (1996); the first to cross the Arctic alone, from Siberia to Canada via the North Pole (2001); and the first to reach the geographical North Pole during winter.

In 2003, with mountain climber and photographer Thomas Ulrich, Ousland crossed the Southern Patagonia Ice Field, the third-largest sheet of ice in the world after Antarctica and Greenland, by kayak and skis. They started out by kayak at the coastal village Caleta Tortel, located at the mouth of the Baker River in southern Aysen, skied 54 days across the ice, before finally returning by kayak to Puerto Natales. They wrote about this amazing expedition for National Geographic in 2004. Below a video of the pair on the expedition rappelling down Cerro Mayo with their kayaks:




This month, Ousland is back in Patagonia, this time with two others on a ski expedition across the Northern Patagonia Ice Field. They began their journey on November 10 at the bottom of the San Rafael glacier, climbing 1000 meters up to reach the ice. Most likely, weather permitting, they will complete the crossing this Wednesday or Thursday. Patagon Journal aims to get an exclusive interview with Ousland, stay tuned. Meantime, here’s an excerpt from the latest daily trip report at Ousland’s blog:

“The wind has died down considerably, but still with total white-out and some snow. There are no chance to even contemplate trying the pass. But, today we at least got some exercise. We have gotten a frightening 2 meters of snow and the tent was as good as buried. So at noon we all got out and started digging. It took us some 4 hours to clear the tent, and move it ten meters.”

“Now we are back on our backs. Here on the inside our living space has doubled, outside it is still light snow, and we just relax, have a good time and are eagerly awaiting tomorrow. Will we get the break?”

- Jimmy Langman

Photos courtesy Ousland.com