Ousland and Horn Dig Deep, 150Km to Finish

Despite poor ice, Borge Ousland and Mike Horn are continuing their final dash toward Svalbard.

“Borge and Mike have done extremely well in the last days, exceeding our wildest hopes,” said Lars Ebbesen. “They have increased their ski hours a few days early, to use the [improved] conditions.”

The former research ship Lance, which left Tromso earlier this week, has docked in Longyearbyen, Svalbard while its crew of polar veterans finalize their plans. “She [the Lance] was drafted for this project, because we feared for the safety of the Pangaea [in the polar ice],” said Ebbeson. “The plan is for her to go hopefully to 82°N…for a safe pickup.”

If the pack ice is impassable, Bengt Rotmo and Alekasander Gamme could head north on foot to deliver additional food.

Ousland’s and Horn’s route has taken them southwest from 85°N on November 20 to 83°N today — about 240km in eight days, or 30km a day.

Today, Horn wrote on social media of his surprise at their recent success: “Just one week ago, we never even imagined we would be making 30km in a day. The body is full of surprises. When you think you have reached your limits, something inside you makes you push them further.”

However, a big weather system currently hanging over Svalbard has brought a headwind and northerly ice drift, which could severely hamper their progress.

Just now, Mike Horn posted this on social media:

“Another couple of intense days on the ice. The temperatures are dropping day by day and have now reached as low as -40°C. Extra reason for us to wrap up this expedition and head back home. The positive drift has slowed down, but the winds from the north are still helping us progress a couple of kilometres a day, which at this stage is extremely helpful.

Right now we have two different options to finish this expedition:
1. Get down south as quickly as possible with the food that we have left, if we want to fulfill our hopes of being picked up by boat as we had originally planned.
2. If we do not make sufficient progress, a helicopter will have to be called in…but right now, we are ruling out this option in order to fully focus our remaining energy on the final sprint…

One thing is sure, we want to leave the Arctic the way we arrived, that is, by boat. But we must also take into account the risks that this endeavour involves…due to the cold temperatures, we spend a lot of time checking the condition of our frostbites. As soon as we think we are losing sensation in our extremities, we stop, set up the tent and warm ourselves up until we are ready to head out again.

Now, we currently find ourselves at 83°41’, which means we still need to cover over 150km to where the boat has its best chance of picking us up.

One more week of the expedition to go…Wish us luck!”