Trip Map

The North Pole, the stuff of legend has always held a fascination for me. Like Shangri-La or El Dorado it has always been a kind of mythical place and indeed Neil Armstrong had already walked on the Moon before a man had trekked solo and unsupported to the Geographic North Pole.

In the mid 90’s the Russians established a Drifting Ice Base at 89 degrees north. This base exists for just 4 weeks each year and provides logistics for scientists, explorers and adventurers. It has made possible scores of expeditions that would otherwise be difficult or impossible and it has opened up the possibility of exploration and adventure for ‘mere mortals’. For me, for 5 years I had flirted with the idea of going to the North Pole. For 3 years I actively planned it and for 2 of those years I have trained for it on and off (a back injury meant I had to postpone in 2008). There are a number of Expedition and Arctic Outfitters organising trips to the Pole and I chose Børge Ousland, a Norwegian, whose exploits in the annals of Polar Exploration are legend – first to trek solo and unsupported to the North Pole, first transit of the North Pole crossing from Siberia to Canada, fastest transit of Antarctica...

My plan was to ski to the pole from 89 degrees north, a distance of 100-110k. This would take between 5 to 8 days depending on ice drift, skiing for 8 to 10 hours each day, pulling a 50 Kg sled and needing to cover about 20-25 kilometres daily. All expeditions start and finish in Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen, the largest of the islands in the Svalbard archipelago, located some 1,100 kilometres north of Norway, in the Arctic Ocean. This expedition took place over 9 days between April 5th – 13th 2009. In March 2009, ‘Slot’ contention issues on the ice with the Russian Logistics company meant that skiing from 89 degrees would now require a full 14 days on the ice. With commitments already in place this made it a practical impossibility for me as it meant the full expedition would as a result take almost a month! There were now two options:- postpone (again) or find an alternative. Replanning we were able to organise a drop from Barneo Ice Base in the Mi-8 helicopter closer to 90 degrees from which we could sprint to the pole and spend 4-5 days at the North Pole itself, skiing for 8-10 hours a day and completing a number of circumnavigations.

In all we skied to the Pole on 3 occasions! On one particular night, our last night, myself and Børge were the only two people at the North Pole with the entire world beneath us as we slept – a truly awesome experience! Our team was small and tight knit – just three of us, myself, Børge and an Italian, Salvatore Leonardi.

The Team

Myself, Stephen Sherry
Salvatore Leonardi from Italy
Borge Ousland from Norway

Highlights of Borge’s Expeditions

1994 North Pole

Alone and unsupported to the North Pole. Started from Cape Arctichesky in Siberia 2nd of March. Duration 52 days. Distance 1000 km . First person to ski alone and unsupported to The North Pole.

1996-97 Antarctica

Alone and unsupported across Antarctica . Started from the Weddel Sea 15 th of November, via the South Pole, to Scott Base in the Ross Sea . Duration 64 days. Distance 2845 km . At the time the longest ski expedition in history in distance covered. First person to ski alone and unsupported across Antarctica .

2001 Arctic Ocean

Alone across the Arctic Ocean . From Siberia to Canada via the North Pole. Started from Cape Arctichesky in Siberia 03 March. Reached Ward Hunt Island in Canada 23 rd of May. Duration 82 days. Distance 1800. km . First person to ski alone across both poles.