mike horn south pole

Meet The World’s Greatest Living Explorer

Words: Chris Brinlee Jr.
Photography: Inkwell Media

Explorer Mike Horn embarks solo across Antarctica and the rest of the crew sets sail for the 4,000 mile trek to Perth where they will meet up with Horn on the other side.

Update 5: Antarctica. Mike sets out alone

By the time you are reading this, explorer Mike Horn has already embarked on his epic journey across Antarctica solo and unsupported. Here is our latest correspondance with him, and check out the full update in the video below!

I’m in the tent late tonight. I did 45 km. I’m halfway through the mountains climbing up a steep glacier littered with crevasses and not many solid snow bridges. Taking it very slow now after I broke through one! I feel like a cat with 9 lives. I’m at the altitude of 2045 m. My position is S 71 53 357 E 10 07 742. Took some photos but will send them tomorrow. Just got into the tent, very long day. I’m f*cked from pulling a heavy sled 500 m uphill.

Follow Mike’s journey here!

Update 4: Antarctic Shelf

Mike and the crew have finally broken through hundreds of miles of ice to reach Antarctica! By the time you see this video, Mike will already be traversing the South Pole completely solo. He will average about 25 miles a day, climbing steep glaciers and braving the harsh conditions of one of the most remote places on the planet. Check out the full update below!


Update 3: Nearing Antarctica

Mike Horn describes his 110-foot sailing vessel, the Pangaea, as a 4x4 for the sea. He has used the boat on 12 circumnavigations of the globe to reach incredibly remote, and oftentimes inaccessible, places - including his current Pole 2 Pole expedition to Antarctica.

Antarctica is surrounded and guarded by oceanic ice floes, oftentimes up to 1,000 miles from its continental shelf. Horn uses the Pangaea’s 120 ton mass, its unique aluminum hull and its twin 550 HP Mercedes BlueTec engines to literally force through the ice - allowing him to access the most remote parts of the world, totally unassisted and self-supported.

Watch the full video below for an update from Mike from the middle of the Southern Ocean en route to Antarctica!

Update 2: Middle of the Southern Ocean

Mike Horn and the crew aboard Pangaea, now nearly two weeks into their Southern Ocean crossing from Cape Town to Antarctica, have been settling into a routine on the 110-foot-long expeditionary sailing vessel - a routine that is ever-changing due to the dynamic conditions encountered while traveling to the southernmost continent on a relatively small boat.

The first day at sea was characteristically rough for the region; many of the crewmembers - as well as our photographer - battled seasickness as the boat tossed about in the swell for hours on-end, but eventually the seas planed out and everyone got back on their feet as the open ocean crossing continued.

Fair winds propelled them southward on a course that lay just two degrees east of the Prime Meridian; slowly but surely, they continued carving nautical miles away - up to 240 in a day.  A team of three skippers, three deckhands, and Horn have been sharing duties piloting the boat. Simultaneously, Horn has been making final preparations for his upcoming solo crossing of Antarctica through the South Pole of Inaccessibility. 

antartica, ice, sailing, adventurer

Preparations have included adjusting kite systems (which Horn will use a propulsion while skiing), testing out new camera gear and testing satellite communication systems - which will allow Horn to share live updates during his crossing.

As the team sailed south, they met unseasonable calm weather throughout the “roaring forties” and “furious fifties;” then at about 57-degrees south, they encountered the first of the pack ice, which required a significant change in approach.

Instead of sailing, the Pangaea would remain underway while powered by two 6-cylinder diesel Mercedes BlueTec 550 horsepower engines, which would allow for more precise control over the boat as it navigated—and sometimes broke through—the treacherous and oftentimes unpredictable pack ice.

Navigating through the ice requires adapted responsibilities from the crew, particularly for the deckhands - who, instead of conducting their watch from the deck, are now watching from the top of the Pangaea’s 125-foot mast, allowing them to radio the best course of travel through the frozen maze down to the helmsman. Up on the mast, watchmen are being met with wind-chill dipping below zero degrees Fahrenheit, requiring them to wear cold-weather boots, expedition-warmth mitts and ski goggles in order to combat hypothermia-inducing conditions. 

pangaea, sailor, icebergs

Not coincidentally, reaching the pack ice also corresponded with the presence of longer days, onset by the southern hemisphere’s rapidly-approaching summer. Light began stretching from 4 a.m. until nearly midnight, allowing the Pangaea and crew to stay underway for longer and longer with each passing day.

Those longer days are only advantageous though, if the pack ice is navigable. On at least once occasion, the Pangaea was forced to stop early in the evening when the floe became too thick to break through.

There are currently only a few miles left until the Pangaea and crew reach Antarctica; their journey will surely continue to be an adventure as they head south into the little-known. 


Update 1: Cape Town

No other living person has seen or experienced as much of the world as Mike Horn. He was the first person to circumnavigate the globe along the equator, unaided and with no engine-driven support. Then he circumnavigated the globe around the Arctic Circle - again without motorized transport. 

In 2006, he, along with Norwegian Børge Ousland, were the first people to travel to the North Pole during winter - under complete darkness and completely human-powered. Horn has summited two 26,000-foot peaks without the use of supplemental oxygen; that was while on “break” from his exploratory expeditions. Put simply, The World’s Most Interesting Man aspires to be like Horn.

Currently, Horn is on track to circumnavigate the globe north to south, on a two-year-long expedition that he’s dubbed the “Pole 2 Pole.” The journey began in Monaco on May 6th, 2016; for the last several months, Horn has been working his way south through Africa on his custom-designed 110-foot sailing vessel, the Pangaea.

2 years, 24,000 miles, and 6 continents

Conservation and education are integral aspects of the “Pole 2 Pole” expedition. Horn aims to make a difference through a variety of research programs that are simultaneously being executed aboard the Pangaea. These include shark tagging around Cape Town, collecting and analyzing the travel patterns of oceanic trash and debris, and collecting water and ice samples in Antarctica. 

Now, Horn is about to embark on the next leg of his adventure: sailing from Cape Town to Erskine Bay, Antarctica, where he will then complete a solo crossing of Antarctica through the southern Pole of Inaccessibility, the most difficult to reach point on the world’s most remote continent. Horn expects the crossing to take about four months; the Pangaea will be waiting to pick him up on the other side before continuing north for the second half of his journey.

Let the wind take you where you're meant to go! #Pole2Pole #MikeHorn 📸 @bishopjosh

A post shared by Mike Horn (@mikehornexplorer) on

The Pangaea

The Pangaea is Horn’s custom-built sailing vessel; he describes it as a 4x4 for the ocean. Horn’s vision for the 110-foot boat was for it to be equally adept at navigating shallow tropical rivers as it is breaking ice in the polar seas; thanks to its rugged aluminium hull and retractable rudder, it can handle both with ease.

The boat can host up to 30 people and can go for up to six months in between ports thanks to its high-tech sails, incredibly efficient Mercedes BlueTec engines, and state-of-the-art on-board resource management and recycling systems (including on-board desalination).

Want to follow Horn on his journey?

Follow our Facebook Live updates each week to learn what the crew is up to before bidding farewell to Mike on his solo crossing of the southernmost continent.

We’ve also embedded adventurer and storyteller Chris Brinlee, Jr. on the Pangaea; for the next two months he’ll be documenting their ocean crossing as well as Horn’s preparation for solo travel. 

For live updates of their location, check out: Pangaea Tracking

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11 2016 The Red Bulletin

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