The purpose of this blog is to provide a little more information for family, friends and interested others on an expedition to the Arctic that I’m going on in a few week’s time. From the few people I’ve told about this trip I’ve had many interesting questions about where I’m going, what I will wear, what I will eat, and where I will sleep and perform toilet duties! Hopefully in time I might also be able to share details of future trips, gear reviews, and other ‘outdoorsy’ things on here.

The seed germinated in Summer 2015 when my girlfriend gave me a book aptly titled ‘Alone on the Ice – The greatest survival story in the history of exploration‘. The book tells the rather epic tale of Sir Douglas Mawson’s harrowing adventure on the 1913 Australasian Antarctic Expedition – following the death of his teammates Mawson staggered for 20 days or so to safety, solo and for most of the way without food and on the very edge of existence. The seed was however sown much earlier in my life. As a child I had read many tales on the exploits of the great mountaineers and explorers of the 20th century. In the intervening years I’ve walked, scrambled, climbed, kayaked and cycled in the moorlands, rivers and mountains, but have never been on a cold environment expedition.

Wanting to learn how to travel in the polar regions I’ve joined an introductory arctic trip. Ten days in Norway crossing the high arctic Finnmark mountain plateau, travelling on skis and pulling a basic expedition sled. The emphasis is on training and a positive life experience, but it will be cold (0 to -35 c), remote and unforgiving. Our eyes won’t totally be filled with a pale white vista, if we’re lucky we might catch a peek of the aurora borealis – the northern lights- which can be seen over West Finnmark in the photo belowLeading two other gents and I will be Mike, a veteran of many north and south pole expeditions (


Over the next few weeks I’ll aim to paint a picture of the preparation and equipment required for the trip, as well as where we are going. Throughout the trip I’ll keep a pen and paper diary, take photos and videos, which when I’m back I hope will bring some of the sights and sounds of the Arctic to life. As I type this in my study surrounded by a sledge, food rations and hefty looking clothing I leave you with the thoughts of British polar explorer Ben Saunders.

If I’ve learned anything in nearly 12 years now of dragging heavy things around cold places, it is that true, real inspiration and growth only comes from adversity and from challenge, from stepping away from what’s comfortable and familiar and stepping out into the unknown… I certainly would implore you to open the door just a little bit and take a look at what’s outside.

Ben Saunders

About the Author Ash Routen

I’m a postdoctoral exercise scientist by day, and cold expedition adventurer (for want of a better term) and outdoors and health writer by night. I’m based in Leicester in the UK, but I also spend considerable time in Cambridge where my partner lives. To find out more about me, visit my about page or take a look at my published writing.

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