On his latest expedition in February 2004, Ben set out from Cape Arktichevsky in Northern Siberia in an attempt to be the first person in the world to make a complete crossing of the frozen Arctic Ocean in a 1,240-mile journey ending in Canada, solo and unsupported. The expedition was a traumatic one: out of the four solo attempts, Ben was the only one to reach the North Pole. A Finnish woman died within 24 hours of being on the Arctic Ocean, a French Marine fell through thin ice and was rescued with severe frostbite and an American was airlifted out with frostbite and a broken ankle. Ben holds the record for the longest solo arctic trek by a Brit, and became the youngest person ever to reach the North Pole on May 11th 2004. After experiencing first hand conditions described by NASA and Environment Canada as 'the worst on record', Ben has raised international awareness regarding the extent to which climate change is affecting the Arctic. He noticed conditions that were up to 15 degrees warmer than in 2000, and had to negotiate vast, unprecedented areas of thinning ice and open water.
In April 2003, 25 year old Ben Saunders made a round trip to the North Pole from the Russian 'Ice Station Borneo', skiing solo over 140 miles in just two weeks. He used pioneering technology to send the first ever real-time video footage from the Pole and to update the award-winning northpole2003.com live from the ice. Not only did Ben achieve a world first, but the expedition raised over ï¿½10,000 as well as vital awareness for The Orchid Cancer Appeal, a leading male cancer charity.
During the previous spring of 2001, Ben became the youngest person ever (at 23) to attempt an unsupported 'all the way' North Pole expedition, along with fellow Briton Pen Hadow -- a challenge described by Reinhold Messner as 'ten times as hard as Everest.' The worst conditions in 17 years forced the pair to stop just days from the Pole, after surviving polar bear attacks, frostbite and enduring 8 weeks of skiing nearly 400 miles through icy headwinds and temperatures below -40ï¿½C.
Facilitation graphics by Peter Durand of Alphachimp Studio
Renee Blodgett's blog
David Weinberger's blog
This presentation is one of many from the IT Conversations archives of Pop!Tech 2004 held in Camden, Maine, October 21-23, 2004.