Tuesday, April 27, 2004


"At the end of February 2004, Ben Saunders set out to ski solo more than 1,200 miles across the Arctic from Siberia to Canada via the Geographic North Pole. Traversing the Arctic alone without kites or dogs remains one of the very few genuine world firsts that have yet to be achieved - in setting out on this, Ben aims to 'reset the polar standard'."

Ben is also setting some impressive technological standards. His daily blog (complete with photo), is uploaded via a Motorola 9505 Iridium satellite phone from an iPAQ running Contact 2.0 software. He's using a Garmin GPS to keep track of where he is and where he needs to go, and he listens to music on 3 512mb MP3 players (on shuffle) as he slogs his way north. In addition to having to deal with the cold, Ben also has to drag everything he needs to survive in a single sledge, so weight is a huge factor. So much so that on March 13, "In a desperate bid to save weight, I threw away the stylus for my iPAQ. I now write these updates using a matchstick. What a plonker."

In true geek fashion, Ben has also managed to both break and fix his iPAQ charger, as he relates in his entry from 3/18: "I am SO proud - not of my skiing, the mileage I've covered, or the fact that I've been out here two weeks, but of the repair job I've just carried out on the charger for the iPAQ I write these updates on. I use Energizer lithium batteries to power the iPAQ, my phone, camera and GPS. The charger for the iPAQ looks like the kind of thing you'd plug into a cigarette lighter and has a little red light to tell you it's working. This evening I realised it wasn't working. No red light. No power. No spare charger. No more updates. With nothing to lose, I opened it up with my Leatherman, thinking there might be a lose connection. Only there's a whole bloomin' circuit board in there. Yikes.

Well, what can I say... It's amazing to see someone even attempting to do this. I will certainly be following Ben's journey to the North Pole... and I wish him all the luck in the world and pray for his safety.

You can track Ben's journey here...


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