I frequently receive emails asking for help with expeditions. It’s what I started my website for. However, after the first year of fielding such emails, I realised that people were often asking the same questions. The most popular of which was some permutation of “How do I pay for my trip?“. As a result, I tailored the articles that I wrote for my website to give pre-emptive answers to those questions and provide an online resource for future visitors.
After funding questions, another common area of questions were around what I call “classic expeditions”. Things like skiing to the South Pole, rowing an ocean or climbing an unclimbed mountain.
I had never considered myself an expert on any of these things, and still don’t, but it quickly became apparent that even a small amount of knowledge puts you in the priviliged position of being able to help others. I’ve never been to Antarctica but I know how much it costs to fly there and the difference between setting off from Hercules Inlet and the Messner Start. My climbing skills may not be technical but I know how I identified potential unclimbed mountains ahead of my trips to the Tien-Shan, Andes and Altai.
I found that I could answer these questions in detail and it made me think that I should get this knowledge onto paper too. I wrote a couple of short articles for my own website: How to Get to the North Pole and How to Climb an Unclimbed Mountain. They’re two of my most popular pieces and have been published in a couple of magazines since. From there, a book was a natural next step.
I had all of this information in my head and a unique vantage point. I have been on quite a few expeditions and worked in the industry for some years. But I am a jack of all trades before I am a specialist. I’ve climbed remote mountains, crossed a little desert, dragged a pulk through snow in the Arctic and been on cycle tours. I’ve also worked to support South Pole and ocean rowing expeditions, and spent a lot of time surrounded by more experienced expeditioners.
As such, I felt I was able to distill the reams of complicated information from the experts, filter out the chaff and opinions, and provide a meaningful translation for the newcomer.
I picked the following seven topics:
- How to Cross a Desert
- How to Get to the North Pole
- How to Row an Ocean
- How to Cycle Around the World
- How to Sail the Seven Seas
- How to Get to the South Pole
- How to Climb an Unclimbed Mountain
It was a long and painful process of writing. For every sentence that I wrote I had to check and double check that what I was saying was true, accurate, free from bias and opinion, and conveyed as simply as possible without assuming any prior knowledge. As such, I could spend an hour or two on just a few words. But I am pleased with the result.
It is, of course, filled with practical information for anyone considering undertaking one of the iconic adventures. But I also tried to write it with the armchair adventurer in mind, littering the chapters with anecdotes and stories from adventures past, and answering common questions like how you go to the loo on a rowing boat and where you sleep at night.
Above all, the aim of the book, as with everything else I do, is to to get more people outside, living a little more adventurously.
(This article was written in response to a question from Mikael Strandberg and originally appeared on his website)