ANTARCTICA, A LIFETIME DREAM
(Éditions XO, 286 pages, 2018)
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On February 7, 2017, South African explorer Mike Horn reached the end of Antarctica, completing the first solo, unsupported, 57-day trek north-to-south crossing of the continent. Antarctica: A Lifetime Dream is the extraordinary tale of this achievement.
Mike Horn sailed for twenty-five days through one of the worlds’ most dangerous seas from Cape Town, South Africa, to Novolazarevskaya, a Russian Antarctic research station. At fifty years old, Horn set out on his skis towing a 440-pound sled behind him. Over the course of 57 days, he endured temperatures as low as –40 degrees Fahrenheit and winds as high as 187 miles per hour, traveled 3,169 miles, and lost 36 pounds. No one had ever traversed most of his route.
Horn’s days consisted of sleeping for five hours, cooking and eating for five hours, and traveling the remaining hours. On some days, using kites to harness the winds, he was able to complete 120 miles, while on other days, he had no other option than to hunker down in his tent. He dealt with equipment failure and injury, such as breaking his shoulder and opening his big toe with a screwdriver to facilitate blood flow in his half-frozen foot. The worst part was when he lost his cook stove, cooking pot, and spoon. By following the rules of survival, he adapted. Horn had no choice but to keep climbing toward the pole; it was either that or die.
Through his perilous journey, he stayed in contact with his team and his two daughters via satellite phone. In the hardest times, he listened to the playlist his deceased wife, Cathy, had made for his expeditions. He found solace, strength, and wisdom in remembering his childhood and life with his shining star, remembering her telling him before she died: “The most beautiful gift you could give me is to continue to live for me. Like before, like always, tomorrow even stronger than yesterday.”
In Antarctica: A Lifetime Dream, Mike Horn shares with us the attainment of his dream. Through his story, we discover the resilience of the human body and mind against extremes.
Mike Horn is a South African–born Swiss professional explorer, and has his own TV show in France. He has written several books (totaling one million copies sold), and is currently undertaking his latest expedition, Pole2Pole, a two-year circumnavigation of the globe by way of the north and south poles.