ExWeb interview with Japanese solo NP skier Yasu Ogita: after 11 years the ultimate

Posted: Feb 28, 2012 04:35 pm EST

(Correne Coetzer) "I'm in Iqaluit, Matty's place. I am getting ready for my expedition. I will go to Resolute tomorrow flight. These are answers: 1. I am nervous now. Thinking a lot of the situation. 2. 800 km is not so long distance for me, but Arctic Ocean is really different place, specially moving ice, and open leads."

Last week Yasunaga Ogita was preparing his food and gear in Iqaluit at Matty McNair’s where ExplorersWeb caught up with him.

Since 2000 Yasu has been doing expeditions in the Arctic; only in the Arctic, nowhere else, the Japanese solo skier told ExplorersWeb. Although nervous about the ultimate North Pole challenge he go solo because then he is free and can go his way, says Yasu.

Eleven years later, he will attempt a solo ski, no resupplies or kites, from Canada to the Geographic North Pole (90°N).

The uncertainty of the Arctic Ocean

For this expedition he is nervous admitted Yasu, and he is thinking a lot about “the situation”.

Compared to the expeditions he has done, 800 km is not so long distance for him, he said, “but the Arctic Ocean is really a different place, especially moving ice, and open leads. They are all uncertain, unpredictable things.”


At home he experimented with food and made some of it himself. Being Japanese there is rice on the menu. Apart from the freeze dried food he has pemmican, sausage, butter, nuts, chocolate and cookies. The weight of his daily food rations average 1.1 kg and contains 6000 kcal.

Learning from predecessors

Last year he and team mate Yusuke Kakuhata had done a 103-day sledge-hauling and backpacking expedition in the high Arctic, retracing John Franklin’s doomed Northwest Passage route and thereafter trekking beyond. What did he learn there that he will apply on this expedition?

“Our predecessors were great. They had no GPS, no maps, no high technology gear, no freeze dried foods. But they were traveling this harsh climate country. Now, are we degenerating? Compared with them, they went there fully aware that it might cost them their lives. Then it really happened; they did die.”

“We have lots of information and technology; much more than past explorers. I learned about their preparation during last year’s expedition. I want to apply that preparedness like them; but I don't want to die, of course.”

Below: Yasu preparing gear and vitamins for his solo NP expedition:

Yasunaga Ogita has spent many years in the Arctic preparing himself for this ultimate expedition to the Geographic North Pole; he has done expeditions “only in the Arctic and in no other place”, he stated.

- 2000 Resolute Bay to 1996 position of the North Magnetic Pole, 700 km skiing, 35 days, with a group.
- 2001 training in Resolute Bay for one month.
- 2002 Resolute to Grise Fiord, 500 km skiing solo, 24days.
- 2003 Victoria Island trip, around Cambridge Bay.
- 2004 Crossing Greenland ice cap by dog team with a friend; Siorapaluk to Ammasallik, 2000 km, 50 days.
- 2007 Resolute Bay to Cambridge Bay, 1000 km skiing solo.
- 2010 Resolute to 1996 North Magnetic Pole, 700 km skiing solo.
- 2011 Chasing Franklin expedition 1600 km, 103 days, Resolute - Gjoa Haven - Baker Lake.

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Yasunaga Ogita preparing his food in Iqaluit.
courtesy Yasunaga Ogita
Yasu preparing super calorie filled chocolates at home in Japan.
Image by Yasunaga Ogita

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