Friday, March 24, 2006

Sixty Days, Five Hours, Ninety Degrees North

Thu, 23 Mar 2006 // 16:28

After 60 days and 5 hours Mike and Borge have become the first men ever to walk to the North Pole completely unassisted in the Arctic winter.

On January 22nd, Mike Horn and Borge Ousland set off on the first ever attempt to walk to the North Pole in the sunless Arctic winter, unassisted by machines or dogs. Today at 1600hrs GMT Mike and Borge finally accomplished what they set out to achieve. They arrived at the North Pole very tired but elated.

Mike calls from the 90th latitude: 'It's great to finally be standing on the North Pole. This mystical place is all that it is made out to be. It's incredible out here!! Borge and I have walked far and the conditions have been extremely tough - but we've made it! I can't tell you how happy we are feeling! We are alone out here, standing on the very top of the world.'

It was an eventful trip. We had to walk days and days on end in complete darkness, had several encounters with polar bears, problems with equipment, and swam many times across open leads, all this in extremely cold temperatures getting as low as -50°C. We certainly have a lot to tell you about when we get back.

Borge and I worked well together, both of us with a lot of experience to offer. Not all moments were easy but we bought our knowledge and experience together and always managed to pull through in the end. It's quite a trip we have done together and I am thrilled to have be able to share it with him.'

For 61 days, Mike and Borge have been walking 10-12 hours a day pulling their 160kg sledges in the extreme Arctic temperatures and in 24 hours of complete darkness for the majority of the expedition, catching only a glimmer of sunlight on the horizon some days for a few hours. Mike and Borge's bodies are now feeling the strain. Having had only two days break until now they are in need of a good rest. They are suffering from minor frostbite, which needs to be attended to and they need to replenish their bodies of fluids and vitamins.

'We've decided to camp on the Pole for a few more days. We've worked hard to get here and now we can really sit back and enjoy our accomplishment.'

The Russians will come with helicopters in a few days time to pick up Borge and I, and take us back to the floating airstrip called the Barneo Base which is situated about 100kms away from the Pole. We will need to wait another week in the company of the Russians until the first commercial flight will be able to fly in. This flight will be filled with our family, friends, journalists and sponsors. We'll have a great celebration on the ice before heading back to Europe.

Our thanks go out to everybody that supported Borge and I throughout the expedition, to all the people that wrote mails, to our sponsors and of course, our families!'


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