In 2004, Ben Saunders became the youngest person ever to ski solo to the North Pole. In 2013, he’ll set out on another record-breaking expedition, this time to be the first to walk from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, and back again.
Although most of the planet's surface was mapped long ago, there's still a place for explorers in the modern world. And Ben Saunders' stories of arctic exploration -- as impressive for their technical ingenuity as their derring-do -- are decidedly modern. In 2004, at age 26, he skied solo to the North Pole, updating his blog each day of the trip. Humble and self-effacing, Saunders is an explorer of limits, whether it's how far a human can be pushed physically and psychologically, or how technology works hundreds of miles from civilization. His message is one of inspiration, empowerment and boundless potential.
He urges audiences to consider carefully how to spend the “tiny amount of time we each have on this planet.” Saunders is also a powerful advocate for the natural world. He's seen first-hand the effects of climate change, and his expeditions are raising awareness for sustainable solutions.
Being the youngest person to ski solo to the North Pole did not satiate Saunders' urge to explore and push the boundaries. In 2008, he attempted to break the speed record for a solo walk to the North Pole; however, his journey was ended abruptly both in 2008 and again in 2010 due to equipment failure. This trek is planned to resume once again in the spring of 2011, a 478-mile expedition from Ward Hunt Island, Canada to the North Pole. Also in his adventure cue is SOUTH, an unprecedented trek across Antarctica and back. At 1,800 miles, it will be the longest unsupported polar journey of all time (think 69 back-to-back marathons).
“For me, [the North Pole] is about exploring human limits, about exploring the limits of physiology, of psychology and of technology. They're the things that excite me.”
“To experience, to engage, to endeavor, rather than to watch and to wonder — that's where the real meat of life is to be found.”
“Inspiration and growth only come from adversity and from challenge — from stepping away from what's comfortable and familiar and stepping out into the unknown.”