All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

- JRR Tolkien



Feb 14, 2017

Mike Horn Completes Solo Traverse of Antarctica

On 7th February, Mike Horn, the legendary explorer, reached the end of Antarctica, completing a solo, unsupported 57-day trek across the great white continent.


Michael Levy

The first crossing of Antarctica by Dr. Vivian Fuchs in 1957-1958 was a mammoth operation. After years of planning, the expedition required a team of a dozen men, hulking cold-weather vehicles and 99 days of effort. Nearly 60 years later, modern day explorer Mike Horn has repeated the feat in a fashion unfathomable in Fuchs’ day. On 7th February, he finished an unsupported, solo, ski traverse of Antarctica. And it took him just 57 days.

Horn’s feat, impressive in its own right, is part of a project far grander in scale titled Pole2Pole. Over the course of two years, the plan is to circumnavigate the Earth, crossing both Poles and covering 24,000 miles over six continents, by foot, ski, car and boat.

At 50 years old, Horn is an adventurer in the same vein as Sir Edmund Hillary, Ernest Shackleton and other legendary explorers of the last century. He conceives of the biggest projects imaginable and has the wherewithal to see them through. Past expeditions include 18 months circumnavigating the Earth along the Equator without motorized vehicles; summiting Makalu and Broad Peak, two of the 14 peaks in the world over 8,000 meters high; and becoming the first person to reach the North Pole in winter using only human powered transport.

The Antarctic crossing was always bound to be one of the most dangerous and trying legs of the Pole2Pole Expedition. Horn set out on his skis from Novolazarevskaya, a Russian Antarctic Station, trailing a sled weighing approximately 200 kilograms — all the supplies and sustenance that he would need for the continental traverse.  In a blog post on his website, Horn was quoted as saying about his planned route: “It [has] never been done before! But the aim of this traverse is not to beat any world records. The aim is to draw attention to the fragile environment, and as an explorer, to extend my knowledge and discover the limits of human capabilities.”

During his 57 days on Antarctica, Horn endured temperatures as low as -40˚C and winds as high as 300 kilometers per hour. (The winds however had their upside: he was at times able to use specially designed snow kites to move faster than he could have otherwise.) In all, he traveled some 5,100 kilometers from Novolazarevskaya to reach the other side of the continent.

The next stages of Pole2Pole will take Horn through various Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea, among other locations. At some point, he’ll find himself at the diametric opposite of the South Pole in the Arctic North. And, finally, at some indeterminate date in the future, he will arrive back in Monaco, the place where he set sail to start his trip.

But that’s a ways away. Mike said about his project, “The aim should not be to reach the summit or the pole” — or even just Monaco, perhaps, — “these should simply be my halfway marks.” The consummate explorer that he is, for Horn it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Feature Image taken from Mike Horn’s Facebook page, when he had another 330km to go to complete his journey. Photo © Mike Horn

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Jul 10, 2018

The 2018 Whitewater Awards: Nouria Newman and Benny Marr take the spoils.

The Whitewater Awards is a gathering of the world’s best kayakers to show off the biggest and best things that have happened in the sport over the past year.



Brooke Hess

 To be considered for an award, athletes, photographers, and filmmakers submit media taken over the past year that they believe showcases the best progression in the sport.  

There are sixteen different categories for submission, including separate male and female categories within the “Best of” kayaking categories. Categories include Photographer of the Year, Film of the Year, Expedition of the Year, Best Trick, Best Line, River Stewardship, Grom of the Year, Rider of the Year, along with several others.  Awards are decided upon by a voting process done by the Association of Whitewater Professionals.

This year’s Whitewater Awards was held in the Egyptian Theater in downtown Boise, Idaho. It was hosted on June 14th, the same weekend as the North Fork Championships, which takes place on the North Fork of the Payette River just outside of Boise.  The North Fork Championship is regarded as one of the hardest kayaking races in the world.

The race takes place on Jacob’s Ladder rapid, which is a rapid so difficult and consequential that most kayakers feel accomplished simply by surviving the rapid, much less racing the rapid. Nouria Newman, a 3-time NFC racer and winner of this year’s Whitewater Awards Female Rider of the Year describes it well,

“The NFC is the hardest race in whitewater kayaking. [Jacob’s Ladder] is a scary, consequential rapid. Running it is challenging, and it only gets harder to race it and make the gates.”

In order to minimize the risk involved in the race, event organizers have developed a strict qualification process for racers. 30 racers will qualify to race Jacob’s Ladder. Ten of them are pre-qualified from placing top ten at the event the year before. Those ten then read numerous athlete applications and vote on the next ten racers who will join them.  The last ten racers are decided through a qualification race on S-Turn rapid, another one of the North Fork’s infamous class V rapids.

Every year on this same weekend in June, kayakers, photographers, and filmmakers from around the world flock to Idaho to celebrate quality whitewater, progression of the sport, and the community that surrounds it. Both the North Fork Championship and the Whitewater Awards had great turnouts of athletes and spectators this year.

John Webster

The finalists of each category in the Whitewater Awards were presented in film format at the Egyptian Theater for the entire audience to view, with the winner being announced live. Winners were presented with an award and expected to give a short speech at the event. The big winners of the night were Nouria Newman and Benny Marr, who were awarded with Line of the Year and Rider of the Year in the female and male categories. Nouria says that voting for the “best” in each category is a challenging process, “…voting is always tricky, (look at both French and U.S. presidents, not too sure if they are really the best available option). And it is also very hard to compare lines and rapids. What’s bigger? What’s harder? I got voted Best Line of the Year with a good line down Parque Jurassic, a long technical rapid, but Rata’s line down Graceland, which is a huge slide, was equally as good, if not better.”

No matter how tricky the voting process can be, Nouria agrees that the Whitewater Awards plays a large role in the progression of the sport, “I think it’s super cool to see what people can do in their kayak, how they push the limit of the sport and how they open new possibilities.”

For more information about the Whitewater Awards, you can visit whitewaterawards.com, you can also follow them on Facebook and on Instagram.

You can follow Nouria on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

You can follow Benny on Facebook and Instagram.

Cover photo courtesy of Ari Walker

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