Les explorateurs Mike Horn et Borge Ousland ni en péril, ni en danger de mort sur la banquise de l’océan Arctique

Crédits photo : Compte Instagram Mike Horn

On lit dans la presse depuis 24h que les explorateurs Mike Horn et Borge Ousland seraient en grand danger sur la banquise arctique, voire en péril ou même en danger de mort et qu’un plan d’urgence pourrait être déclenché pour les secourir.

Rappelons les faits

Le 11 septembre 2019, le Norvégien de 57 ans, Borge Ousland, et le Sud-Africain de 53 ans, Mike Horn, ont débuté une expédition dans le but de traverser l’océan Arctique en passant par le pôle Nord jusqu’à Svalbard (on en parle ici).

Borge Ousland et Mike Horn se sont donnés 2 mois et demi pour achever leur expédition et ont l’intention de terminer avant que l’hiver polaire ne s’installe vraiment. Ils ont embarqué avec eux près de 75 jours de nourriture, avec des rations quotidiennes de 6 000 kcal (1,1 kg par jour). Leurs traîneaux pesaient au début de leur expédition entre 160 et 170 kg chacun.

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#NorthPoleCrossing // Back in the tent after a day battling with big leads. All of them have a thin ice cover that makes paddling difficult. So far we have managed to cross by paddling one guy fist with rope and then dragging sleds across, but we only have 100 meters of rope do for bigger leads we must go all together one making a channel in the ice the other with all sleds on a tight leash behind his boat. As long as it's a straight channel it is fine, but we struggle to make a channel on thicker ice. Let's hope we won't have too many leads that wide. Good glide today, but the many leads ate up much of our time again so grateful for the northerly winds. It will be calm for some days now, but then the northerly wind is predicted back. Gives us days in the bank. Photos with @MikeHornExplorer on our North Pole Crossing 2019 @Norrona @Helsport @DevoldofNorway @IceLegacyProject #NorthPole #BorgeOusland #Arctic #Explorers #Explore #IceLegacyProject #IceLegacy #DevoldPioneers #Helsport #Norrona

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Déjà 2 mois sur la banquise

Cela fait donc plus de 2 mois que les 2 explorateurs sont sur la banquise. Le pole Nord avait été atteint le 17 octobre. Mais depuis, ce sont les 2 filles de Mike Horn, Annika et Jessica, qui ont tiré la sonnette d’alarme.

La carte de la progression de l’expédition

« Son moral est au plus bas. Je ne l’ai jamais vu comme ça, dans un état de fatigue physique extrême. Il est en train de perdre la sensation de ses extrémités, c’est inquiétant. Avec ma sœur Jessica, on veut qu’il rentre vite à la maison », a confié Annika Horn, 26 ans, la fille de Mike Horn.

« La traversée devenait un cauchemar », a-t-elle continué. « Parmi les différentes options pour le secourir, on est en train de voir s’il y a des brise-glace dans la région ou si on peut envoyer un hélicoptère. »

Il semble aussi, qu’à cause de la glace très fine et fragilisée par le réchauffement climatique, Borge Ousland et Mike Horn seraient tombés tous les 2 dans l’eau glacée jusqu’au bassin.

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Expedition Update 31: Licking our wounds tonight after spending the whole day walking first to the south towards our goal, then towards the east to compensate for the western drift, and finally towards the north to make our way around a huge open lead…so basically, it is as if we walked in a big circle today, ending up not too far from the position we left from in the morning…this is a painful process for the mind. In this photo, we can see @BorgeOusland’s hands. We are both suffering from some swelling and open wounds due to the cold. As you can imagine, it is essential for us to take care of these small sores in order to avoid them getting worse or even infected, even though like the toes, this meticulous process is quite painful. No matter how well we try to protect ourselves from the cold, salt, the ice and the wind, the unavoidable exposure to these elements eventually takes its toll. For me, my weaker spots are my thumbs and nose. Those parts are slowly becoming black but it is nothing to worry about yet…Although the pain it causes is starting to get quite uncomfortable, I try my best to keep thinking of more pleasant feelings. After being stopped by this massive open water lead, we first decided to try and cross it…The frozen ice that covered the lead was extremely thin, we could see the dark water through it. It was definitely too thin for us to attempt crossing, but we decided that we had no choice but to go for it. Some of the ice blocks we were walking on moved around like an inflatable mattress floating on water. As we pulled our heavy sleds, they were making an indent in the ice behind us. Each step we took was nerve-racking, we were just waiting for the ice to give in beneath us…So we stopped and put on our dry suits to test the condition of the ice ahead (without our sleds) before deciding to continue walking in this minefield. Although we had already made our way across half of the open lead, we concluded that it was too dangerous to continue and turned back…So back we went and set up camp for the night with hopes of the ice freezing more overnight. I guess there are bad days, good days and even worse days… #NorthPoleCrossing #Pole2Pole

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« Un état de fatigue physique extrême » mais pas d’évacuation pour le moment

Le porte-parole de l’expédition, Lars Ebbesen, se voit plus rassurant. Voici ce qu’il a confié à l’AFP.

« A cause du changement climatique, la glace est plus fine que d’habitude et plus encline à dériver », a-t-il expliqué.

« Mais les vents poussent la glace vers le Groenland et ils ont reculé de trois à cinq kilomètres par jour », a-t-il poursuivi.

Selon Lars Ebbesen, « il n’y a pas de danger, pas de grand drame. Mais c’est serré, une course effrénée pour atteindre l’objectif ».

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Expedition Update 33: Last night was our coldest night so far. @BorgeOusland and I didn't manage to sleep much, the cold kept on waking us up. So we got up, out of the tent and started skiing at -40C in a beautiful clear night with the moonlight reflecting on the snow. This was the first clear night since we left the North Pole. Although the moonlight offered us a beautiful setting to walk in, today was another close-disaster day; but thanks to the good reflexes we have acquired over time, the situation turned out to be manageable. As we were walking Borge’s sled got caught up on some ice, so he started tugging at it to release it but the pressure of the tug caused the ice below him to give way. It was only at that moment that we realised we were walking over very thin snow-covered ice. Half of his body fell in this slush icy water, but he immediately rolled himself back and managed to get back on the more solid ice. He was wet from the waist-down on the outside of his clothing but luckily the moisture hadn’t made its way through the layers to the skin. As soon as he was out, he rolled himself in the snow to absorb a max amount of moisture. We call this method freeze drying: the moisture is absorbed and frozen by the dry snow, which can then be brushed off the exterior layer of our waterproof clothing. In these situations, the other person feels completely useless. There is nothing you can really do except assist with the detaching of the sled and potentially already setting up the tent urgently if clothing needs to be removed, changed and the body dried. We are slowly approaching the latitude of 85 degrees north on the Norwegian side, which for reminder is the same latitude where we got dropped off by Pangaea on the Alaskan side. But in the meantime we covered over 1000km of terrain passing by the North Pole. Our goal now is to power our way through to 84 or 83 degrees north with the remaining food we have, which slowly but surely starting to run out. But we are well prepared and have explored all possible alternatives, with just over 10 days of food left, it is finally time for us to go back home to our loved ones! #NorthPoleCrossing #Pole2Pole #MikeHorn

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On voit donc bien que la fragilité inhabituelle de la couche de glace en raison du changement climatique rallonge de façon inattendue leur expédition et réduit par la même occasion de façon drastique leurs rations de nourriture.

« Si cela prend plus longtemps, nous réfléchissons à la manière de leur apporter plus de nourriture », a ajouté Lars Ebbesen.

« Les deux hommes n’ont pas demandé à être évacués et sont dans une condition étonnamment bonne en accomplissant un tel exploit, ils ont quelques engelures mais c’est tout à fait normal », a dit à l’AFP un porte-parole du Centre de coordination des sauvetages en Norvège du Nord, Bard Mortensen.

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As we continue to make slow progress towards our goal (Pangaea), to our surprise, we are still making use of our rafts to cross open water leads. Although it is a massive hassle and a great risk to cross open water, we always feel rewarded once we have successfully reached the other side without falling into the water. Rafting also breaks the monotonous rhythm we quickly get into when we walk in a straight line hours on end…I guess this is a way of looking at the bright side of something we really dislike doing. On average we make about 15km progress a day, but this is without taking into account the negative progress we make when we drift back from where we came from. Being here in these conditions makes me think about my trip across Antarctica almost 3 years ago. Back then, I thought that expedition would be toughest challenge I would ever embark on but now that I find myself with @BorgeOusland on this forever moving platform, I am starting to reconsider what I thought…After all, there are a lot more unpredictable and ever-changing factors in the Arctic, without even taking into account the complete darkness we currently find ourselves in. Oh well, every experience is different, and that’s the beauty of a life filled with unknown and adventure! #NorthPoleCrossing #Pole2Pole #MikeHorn

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« Des sauveteurs étudient à ce stade des plans par précaution au cas où une évacuation deviendrait nécessaire, par hélicoptère ou par bateau », a poursuivi M. Mortensen, « mais aucune évacuation n’est en cours (…), ils sont déterminés actuellement à y arriver tout seuls ».

Ce 23 novembre, il leur restait encore 500 kilomètres à parcourir jusqu’au Svalbard mais seulement que 10 jours de nourritures. On voit bien que c’est une vraie course contrer la montre qui s’est déclenché pour atteindre leur objectif. Les 2 explorateurs jugent quand même possible que l’objectif pourrait être atteint d’ici dix à douze jours.

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Expedition Update 32: After fighting our way across this massive open water lead that has been haunting us for the past couple of days, we finally managed to make get to the other side. It is really tough when obstacles like these swallow up so much of our precious time. As the days go by, our food rations are decreasing and as it stands, at this progress rate we are not sure we will be able to reach the pickup point where Pangaea will be waiting for us at the latitude of approximately 82 degrees North. But we are also happy to know that soon this challenging expedition will be coming to an end and that although we were physically and mentally prepared, nature and the changes going on in the climate will always have the first word. In this photo, we can see @BorgeOusland eating breakfast. You will notice that he sleeps in a plastic bag, which we call vapor barrier liners. We use these to prevent the humidity of our bodies to travel into the sleeping back which would consequently cause the bag to freeze given the extreme cold temperatures. This isn’t optimal comfort, but after a while, you get used to it. The lack of sunlight is really starting to have an effect on our progression and our mindset. Although I have already travelled through constant darkness, I never realized as much as I do now, how essential light is for everything. The air is pure and clean up here, which is great for our physical health, but the lack of natural light is taking its toll on our mental health…It really is about finding that balance required to live a healthy and happy life. As humans we are designed to adapt and excel in different environments, but this doesn’t mean we are meant to survive in those environments. I love being in a situation where I can push my limits to come to these conclusions. It is only when you will be completely deprived from a fundamental human need, that you will understand the real worth of the gift that is life, and that the key to living it to the fullest usually lies in our very own hands. Still no sight of a single polar bear, Borge and I are really starting to wonder where they are all hiding?! #NorthPoleCrossing #Pole2Pole #MikeHorn

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L’expédition est en jeu mais pas d’inquiétudes pour les explorateurs

Malgré les températures très froides de la nuit polaire, Borge Ousland avait précisé qu’il s’attendait à beaucoup d’étendues d’eau libre. Les 2 explorateurs avaient donc prévus de se mettre dans l’eau glacée régulièrement. Pour cela, avec son ingéniosité habituelle en matière d’équipement, le norvégien avait même conçu un harnais combinant flottabilité.

Rappelons que les 2 explorateurs ne sont pas des novices. Mike Horn est un aventurier de l’extrême et un grand spécialiste de la survie. Il a fait plusieurs tours du monde, une traversée du Groenland en 15 jours et différentes expéditions au pôle Nord dans des conditions extrêmes (voir tous ces exploits ici).

On peut rappeler que pendant son expédition ARKTOS, la tente de Mike Horn avais pris feu avec tout son matériel à l’intérieur. Pour s’en sortir, il avait déclenché sa balise de secours. Il avait alors fabriqué un igloo et était resté dedans en attendant l’assitance.

Mike Horn lors de son expédition ARKTOS

En particulier, en 2006, Mike Horn avait déjà réalisé avec son ami Børge Ousland une grande première. Le duo d’explorateurs avait rejoint le pole Nord en deux mois, au bout d’un périple de 1 000 km, presque totalement dans l’obscurité, sur des plaques de glace mobiles, sans aucun ravitaillement, ni assistance.

Borge Ousland et Mike Horn sur l’océan Arctique en 2006. Photo : Borge Ousland

Pour toutes ces raisons, nous pensons que pour l’instant, il n’y a aucune raison de s’inquiéter pour nos 2 explorateurs. Etre en difficultés dans ce genre d’endroit, c’est out a fait normal. Ce sont des professionnels et ils savent gérer ce genre de situation.

S’ils sont vraiment en danger alors ils déclencheront leur balise et les secours viendront. Au pire, on leur larguera de la nourriture et du matériel de survie. On ne va quand même pas laisser tomber les 2 meilleurs explorateurs au monde ! L’expédition est donc en effet en jeu mais pas leur vie.

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Hard to believe that we've been on the ice for almost 2 months now. Since @BorgeOusland and I started our expedition mid-September, we have travelled just over 1000km in a straight line. In this same amount of time, 3 years ago now, I crossed the entire length of Antarctica, 5100km in a straight line. Obviously conditions are different between the Arctic and Antarctic, but this little comparison does help to put things into perspective. In Antarctica, I used the power of the wind to kite over large distances in very short times, and in constant daylight because I went during the summer season. Being on a continent contrarily to an ocean meant that I was not affected by ice drifts the way Borge and I are today. In many ways, today’s expedition is a lot more challenging than my Antarctica crossing in 2016, but each adventure has their own challenges and one can never prepare for obstacles until they are faced with them. Although climate change is affecting both the South and North Poles, the changes are a lot more noticeable for us here in the Arctic. The Arctic sea is not only shrinking in size, but it has also becoming younger and thinner over recent years. This causes the ice to break up and move a lot faster than it used to, which are two of the biggest challenges we have been encountering so far on our adventure. It is sad for me to admit, but in all my years as a professional explorer, I have never been so affected by climate change. Sometimes I wish I was rather in Antarctica and not here pushing ourselves to the max for only minor progress, but then I remember my own philosophies…Never wish to be elsewhere than where yo are right now. There is something positive to retrieve from even the most uncomfortable situations. Do not let challenges bring you down, may the effort you invest in tackling these challenges help you become stronger and stronger. And above all, do not forget that sometimes it takes two steps back to make one step forward…What counts is that you keep your goal in sight and work hard to move towards it at the pace that you have defined is best for you and not for the others watching you. #NorthPoleCrossing #Pole2Pole #MikeHorn

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Fondateur du site Un Monde d'Aventures, je suis un passionné des grands espaces sauvages et des mondes polaires. J'ai réalisé plusieurs raids autonomes au Groenland et en Laponie. J'aime partager ma passion à travers ce site. Voir tous les articles écrits par François - En savoir plus sur François