From Monaco to Namibia aboard Pangaea
It was cloudy and unseasonably cool this past Sunday, May 8, 2016, when South African-born Swiss pioneer globetrotter Mike Horn, set sail from the dock in front of the Yacht Club of Monaco (YCM) onboard his 35m-long ice breaker named Pangaea. His lovely daughters Annika and Jessica, who took up the responsibility of preparing and managing this epic project, filling the place left by their mother Cathy Horn who sadly passed away in 2015, came to support their father on the start of his latest Pole2Pole expedition.
Annika and Jessica love exploration and went to Antartic with their father in 2008 when they were only 14 and 15 years old. They were the youngest to travers 500km in the North Pole at 11 and 12 years old. In spite of their accomplishment, Mike affirmed: “I do not want them to become adventurers because it is too risky!”
The daring challenge by this 49 year-old sportsman, famous for his extreme adventures, is to circumvent the world via the two poles, going from South to North in just two years, alternating sailing, skiing, kayaking and driving an off-road 4×4, with the inestimable on land support of his two daughters, loyal partners like experienced sailor Steve Ravussin and sponsor Mercedes-Benz, with a budget of approximately € 800,000 per year. “Everything I undertake is a challenge,” acknowledges this conqueror of the impossible admitting of being a man like any other. “But even when I have doubts, I am surrounded by people who support and believe in me, particularly my two daughters, Annika and Jessica. When you’re afraid of losing, that’s when you’re most likely to succeed.”
Prince Albert gave Mike Horn a royal send off
A couple of days earlier on Friday 6th of May, Mike Horn presented his latest expedition to the press at the Yacht Club of Monaco. He was welcomed by Pierre Casiraghi, Vice-President of the YCM, and Bernard D’Alessandri, General Secretary. Later on his friend HSH Prince Albert II, with whom he had completed his Antarctica crossing in 2009 with two days of hiking on skis in extreme weather conditions, came aboard Pangaea to congratulate him and wish him well.
Mike Horn lives between Switzerland and Monaco and he chose to depart from YCM thanks to the help of Prince Albert, where the explorer is always surrounded by a warm and amicable atmosphere, that makes him feel at home in Monaco. The Principality through Prince Albert supports and encourages cutting edge projects that have global implication, scientific exploration, protection of the environment and sustainability development.
“Four years after my round the world tour on Pangaea, it is a real pleasure for me to be starting out again from Monaco. I would like to sincerely thank His Serene Highness Prince Albert II for being here with us today. I know he is deeply committed to protecting our planet. An accomplished sportsman, His Highness honoured me by joining me in the Antarctic in 2009 to assess the impact global warming is having on the continent, and we spent two days hiking on skis in extreme weather conditions,” said Mike Horn, who paid tribute to his two daughters, Annika (23) and Jessica (22) who have actively participated in the preparation of this project.
A two-year long treacherous itinerary for a better world
In his presentation at the YCM, Mike Horn explained that the purpose of his expeditions is to explore the culture and nature of remote regions, sharing his experiences and discoveries with people all over the world, learn more about our planet and how to preserve our ecosystem. “When you fly over a country you can’t claim to know it. But when you cross it by car or on skis, or sail along its coastline you can discover so many new things, enjoy the beauty of nature and understand the lives of those who live there,” an enthusiastic Mike Horn told the journalists and guests.
With 25 years of extreme adventures behind him, the explorer has one motto: discipline. And to cover the 42,000km of terrestrial adventure ahead of him, supported by Pangaea for the ocean legs, he’s going to need it in spades. Leaving Monaco he is sailing down to Namibia in Southern Africa, then starts his crossing of the world’s oldest desert in a 4×4 before following in the wake of elephants on foot (“they know where the water is”), the African stage finishing in Cape Town where he was born.
From there, Pangaea will take him to Antarctica, where if all goes well he will be the first man to traverse this continent’s 7,000km solo on skis aided by a kite when the wind allows it pulling a 200kg sled of supplies. This leg he estimates will take him four months, before sailing across the Pacific and Oceania, exploring selected regions in New Zealand and Australia. Once in Asia, another all terrain expedition will take him across the Kamchatka tundra, before heading for the North Pole. He will continue his journey on skis and by kayak as far as Greenland where he will board Pangaea again and complete the loop with a sailing leg to Europe, back to his departure point, the Principality of Monaco expecting to arrive exactly on May 6, 2018.
Mike Horn affirms that during his never done before Pole2Pole quest, he will be all alone during different parts of the treacherous itinerary and will possibly encounter difficulties without counting on somebody coming to his rescue. That’s why he says he cannot allow himself any mistakes. In his line of work, he said: “I do not lose money. I risk loosing my life.”
Follow Mike Horn’s expedition: www.mikehorn.com and hashtag #Pole2Pole on his social networks Instagram: @MikeHornExplorer, Twitter: @ExploreMikeHorn, Facebook: Mike Horn.
“If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.” Mike Horn