Unlike the South Pole, which lies on the landmass of Antarctica, the geographic North Pole is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. The water plunges to nearly 14,000 feet but remains frozen across the top—a constantly shifting sea of ice that makes it impossible for any permanent station or marker. Polar explorer Børge Ousland was the first to travel solo, unsupported, to this inhospitable landmark in 1994. “This was the first time I was solo, and it is still my biggest mental leap,” he says.
Ousland started from Cape Arktichesky off northern Siberia on skis. He spent 52 days navigating unpredictable ice surfaces and freezing water. He traveled alone, totally self-supported, without even a resupply. “I started on something that had never been attempted before, and that was quite scary,” says Ousland. “On that trip I learned to overcome my own fears.”
One of the world’s greatest living polar explorers, Norwegian Børge Ousland has been embarking on game-changing expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica for more than 20 years. He was the first and only person to complete a solo expedition to the North Pole without a resupply, as well as the first to cross the Antarctic continent alone. His team was the first to reach the North Pole during winter, an expedition previously thought impossible due to constant darkness and extreme cold. Read his Adventurers of the Year profile.
Børge Ousland's Gear Pick: Nalgene Bottle
“I think my most appreciated piece of gear is my pee bottle. Without it, these long cold trips would be difficult—can you imagine getting out of your sleeping bag at night in minus 40? You only want to do that once, and that is when you wake up.” Ousland prefers a lightweight-plastic Nalgene bottle."