Weekend (Not So) Warm-Up: Exit the North Pole

In 2019, two arctic explorers battled across the arctic ocean with skis and heavy sleds in a bold attempt to pull off a grueling expedition by relying on time-tested methods.

Borge Ousland and Mike Horn set out for the North Pole from the 85th parallel on Sept. 2. Imitating the minimalist style used in the 1800s by Ousland’s heroes, Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen, the team’s sleds each weighed over 180 kg. In all, they faced 1,300km of skiing to reach their exit point just north of Svalbard, Norway.

Ousland and Horn arrive in Nome, Alaska to begin their epic voyage. Photo: Mike Horn



National Geographic called the expedition “the boldest polar expedition of modern times.” Watch the drama play out over an hour in Exit the North Pole, a stunning feature available for free on Vimeo. I won’t spoil the ending for you. But if you do want to read an in-depth account of the trip, ExWeb reported on it as our top expedition of 2019.

We can’t embed the film as we usually do, but you can watch it here on Vimeo.

The struggle to Exit the North Pole

For those who prefer to “warm up” this weekend with a white-knuckle story that’s equal parts sufferfest and near-death experiences, Exit the North Pole is an ideal film.

The action revolves around the protagonists’ stoic persistence as they traverse the shifting ice, then deliver grim reports in their torch-lit tents. The light leaves the story early, as the men begin to churn through the 24-hour darkness. Broken equipment and teeth, bloodied faces, and the lurking danger of camping in polar bear hunting grounds paint a picture that’s often bleak.

Borge Ousland during the expedition. Photo: Mike Horn


There’s also no shortage of disaster or near-disaster incidents which often invoke the existential ramifications of such an out-there project

The struggle the film documents isn’t just limited to the foot travelers. It also follows the ship chartered by Ousland as it navigates a labyrinth of polar ice to pick up the duo on the far side of the Arctic Ocean. Challenges in communication and decision-making wrack both teams as they struggle to make contact with one another and, indeed, Exit the North Pole.