Across the Arctic Ocean

“What compels a man to risk everything on a dream?” Sir Ranulph Fiennes asks in his introduction to Across the Arctic Ocean, “Why would anyone put themselves through hell and back all for the sake of walking across a frozen ocean?” The new, beautifully illustrated coffee table book from Thames and Hudson strives not only to demonstrate why, but also how in 1968 Sir Wally Herbert made the harrowing journey across the Arctic Ocean on foot in pursuit of his dreams.

Hailed as one of the greatest explorers of his time, Herbert undertook to walk across the North Pole and the frozen expanse of the Arctic Ocean via its longest axis with three companions, forty huskies and much courage. The team left Point Barrow, Alaska on February 21, 1968 and did not set foot on solid land until sixteen months later, when they arrived in Spitsbergen at the culmination of their long and arduous journey. In between those points the men and dogs struggled to survive on ice that was in continual motion, often threatening to buckle beneath them. They endured extreme cold, months of darkness without respite, and, of course, the occasional polar bear.

Herbert’s journey is one that is not likely to be repeated as global warming, a drastically shrinking ice cap and new trade routes are irrevocably changing the Arctic frontier. Alongside expert commentary, the book’s 157 photographs (87 in color) preserve his contribution to Arctic exploration against a sublime backdrop of frozen ice, crisp blue skies and sweeping vistas of endless ice. These awesome, rapidly altering landscapes together with Herbert's spirit of adventure are bound to spark the reader's next expedition.