Monday, September 7, 2009

South African Adventurers - Mike Horn

South African Mike Horn is acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest modern adventurer-explorers. He has undertaken exceptional feats of endurance, determination and courage which have extended the boundaries of human achievement.

Born in Johannesburg, he studied Human Movement Science at Stellenbosch University before moving to Switzerland where he became an instructor for an outdoor company offering extreme activities such as abseiling, hydrospeed, canyoning and rafting. There he developed a taste for outlandish challenges and shortly afterwards descended on hydrospeed the Mont Blanc glacier finishing at the French Riviera.
Mike Horn’s first expedition of long duration was in 1997 and was called the AmazonExpedition. This was a solo, un-motorized traverse of the South American continent. Mike Horn left from the west coast of South America on

foot, climbing from the Pacific Ocean up in altitude to the summit of Mt Mismi, the source of the Amazon River. Mike Horn followed the entire length of the river, hunting and living in autonomy along the river banks in the evenings , and swimming down the river with a hydrospeed during the day . Mike Horn left the Amazon river and swam into the salty Atlantic Ocean 6 months later.

In 1999, Mike Horn left a new challenge called Latitude Zero, the circumvolution of the world around the equator. On June 2nd, he waved goodbye to his family and traversed the Atlantic Ocean from Gabon, on the west coast of Africa, to Brazil, on a 28ft trimaran. Brazil to Ecuador, he crossed on foot, bicycle and canoe, traversing the Amazon jungle and the high altitudes of the Andes. Afterwards he crossed the Pacific Ocean to Indonesia, passing the Galapagos Islands. Journeying through Borneo and Sumatra on foot, through the jungles, and sailing with his trimaran, he then continued across the Indian Ocean. The last leg of the expedition took Mike Horn across the African continent on foot, through the drug zone areas of the Congo, and through to Gabon, where he arrived at his starting point on October 28, 2000 - 18 months later.

Mike Horn became a worldwide personality in 2000 after completing this solo journey around the equator without motor transport.

Mike Horn achieved yet another staggering feat of human endurance in October 2004 when he completed a two-year, 3 month solo circumnavigation of the Arctic Circle - by boat, kayak, ski kite and on foot. Starting and finishing at North Cape in Norway, he became the first man to travel the Arctic Circle without motorized transport, completing an unimaginable 20,000km journey through Greenland, Canada, Alaska, the Bering Strait and Russia's Siberia, pulling a kevlar sledge piled with 180kg of equipment and food. This Arctic adventure called Arktos earned him nomination for the ‘2005 Laureus World Alternative Sportsperson of the Year Award’.

In 2006, Mike Horn and Norwegian explorer Borge Ousland, became the first men to travel without dog or motorized transport to the North Pole during the permanent darkness of the Arctic months, reaching their goal on March 23, 2006 after 60 days and 5 hours. The men started from Cape Artichesky in Russia, using skis, pulling sleds and swimming frequently in the freezing Arctic Ocean.

2007 presented a new opportunity for Mike Horn, the Himaliya Expedition. He was asked to accompany three experienced Swiss climbers on an expedition in Pakistan. Wanting to gain more experience in mountaineering Mike Horn found it hard to refuse. After two months Mike Horn successfully reached the summit of two peaks higher than 8’000m - Gasherbrum I (8035m) and Gasherbrum II (8068m) without the use of any additional oxygen.

Mike Horn has ventured twice on expedition with his family. The first expedition was in 2005, when they crossed Bylot Island on ski and the second expedition was on ski from Barneo base to the North Pole. Thanks to the experience of this remarkable explorer, Mike Horn’s two daughters, Annika and Jessica (born ’93, ’94) are now the two youngest children to ever ski to the North Pole in temperatures of around -35°C.

Mike Horn is unique. His experience of the oceans, rivers, mountains, swamplands, tundra, ice, jungles, deserts, make him stand out above any other modern day explorer. With this experience behind him, he is now ready to start a new chapter in his life - to share and pass on his knowledge to the younger generation, to share his experiences and to educate the youth about the beauty of our planet and how we can preserve it.

Mike Horn has a simple philosophy to explain his extraordinary challenges:"The impossible exists only until we find a way to make it possible."

1 comment:

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