A conversation with Borge Ousland

Patagon Journal has posted a Q&A with Borge Ousland, a Norwegian polar explorer, photographer and writer. In the Q&A, done following a expedition across the Patagonian ice cap in 2009, Ousland discusses the reasons behind his polar journeys. Currently he is taking part in another adventure in Patagonia, follow along on his blog or Facebook.

The most interesting answer was in response to the question asking what it is like to be out there alone:

The South Pole can be quite sterile in a way. The animal life is coast to coast and when you get inside its just a huge expanse of snow. But what is interesting about that, especially solo trips, is that its not just traveling from point A to B, rather its also very much a mental trip. When you don’t have anyone one else to relate to, you relate more toward nature and also toward yourself — you reach levels inside of you that you didn’t know existed. As well, you also have an entirely different interaction with nature when you are by yourself. For me, it’s extremely exciting to do it solo, my trips alone are some of the most rewarding I have done. But I mostly do the trips with other people because its too beautiful to do it alone and I want to have someone to share it with.  

I saw Ousland speak at a National Geographic Live event more than a decade ago. I found him inspiring, and I have enjoyed following his adventures since then. His ability to travel solo, to persevere in incredibly harsh conditions, to adapt to adversity make him one of this era’s top explorers.

Here is a video National Geographic posted following an event earlier this year:


Could this sticker defeat mosquitoes?

Kite Patch from SPARKHOUSE on Vimeo.

The Kite Patch is designed to emit a mix of chemicals that makes us (humans) invisible to them (mosquitoes). Designed as an alternative to the sprays and lotions containing DEET and other compounds, the Kite Patch is meant to be worn on a piece of clothing and to provide 48 hours of protection.

From Wired.com:

Olfactor’s non-toxic compounds work against mosquitoes’ long-range abilities to detect humans through CO2, as well as dampening the insect’s short-range ability to sense us from our basic human odors. These chemicals, which give off a “faint pleasant smell,” will be applied to a small sticker, which [Grey] Frandsen [vice president at ieCrowd] notes is the cheapest, easiest, and most adaptable way to design a spatial insect repellant. The patches will then be shipped off to Uganda for field testing, which should begin before the end of the year. “Really, what we’re doing is creating a rapid scientific development process, a rapid prototyping process and then a very aggressive go to market strategy,” Frandsen says of ieCrowd’s method.

If this patch is successful in the real world, it will have a tremendous effect on the continuing fight against malaria. According to the World Health Organization, in 2010 there were approximately 660,000 malaria deaths worldwide and about half of the world’s population is at risk from the disease.

The patch sounds like it could become a great option for those of us who love the outdoors, too.

You can donate to the Kite Patch campaign on Indiegogo for a few more days.


Can you actually outrun a mosquito? Outside Magazine has the answer.

Have you ever wondered what it looked like on the inside when a mosquito gets you? A French study used a microscope to see how mosquitos feeds on blood. Let’s just say they have a very long and very determined snout.

Follow @mountainscallme on Twitter.

More than just ice in Iceland

I visited Iceland back in November of 2001. It was a wonderful solo journey filled with glaciers, waterfalls, hot springs and geysers. It was also the first place I ever saw the Northern Lights. Don’t worry too much about the complexity of the language. As one Icelander explained to me, “If you don’t know just how to say something, say it faster and faster. It is how we do it.”

(A photo essay about Iceland from Wander The Map.)

I highly recommend a trip there if you ever get a chance.

* Yeah, sorry for that headline … At least I didn’t so some sort of fire and ice thing…