March - June 2004 :
The Serco TransArctic Expedition.
On 5th March 2004, Ben Saunders set out from the edge of the Arctic ice-pack with the aim of making the first ever solo and unsupported ski crossing of the Arctic Ocean. This 1 240 mile (1 996km) journey had never been completed solo without resupply. After terrible weather and ice conditions, and 72 days, he reaches NP on May 11th and proceed beyond that limit to try the entire crossing. But 4 days later, the ice conditions become too dangerous and Ben calls for an airlift. Kenn Borek Air Twin Otter lands on the ice on May 15th. Our coverage.
March - June 2003 : The Arbord North Pole Expedition.
In April 2003, Ben skied a solo round trip to the North Geographic Pole from 89°N, skiing 120 nautical miles (222km) in two weeks. The expedition was planned as a training exercise and a 'shakedown' for longer solo projects in the future, but it turned out to be an epic trip in its own right - bears on the way and falls into the Arctic ocean.
March - April 2001 : The Polar Orchid Challenge.
In spring 2001, Ben, aged then 23, (along with fellow Briton and polar guide Pen Hadow) set out to ski unsupported from Russia (Cape Arctichewskiy) to the North Geographic Pole. The expedition raised funds and awareness for The Orchid Cancer Appeal (hence the name). After having reached 86°43' and corvered 574 km, they're forced to halt the expedition - they had to face the coldest arctic winter since 1987. Our coverage.
Ben Saunders is a record-breaking long-distance skier, with three North Pole expeditions under his belt. He is the youngest person ever to ski solo to the North Pole and holds the record for the longest solo Arctic journey by a Briton. Between 2001 and 2004, Ben has skied more than 2 000km (1 250 miles) in the high Arctic. Not one to rest on his laurels, Ben has another groundbreaking polar project lined up for 2005.
Born in 1977, Ben grew up in Devon, was educated at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and currently lives in London. He is passionate about the great outdoors and spent four months walking and climbing in the Nepalese Himalayas aged 19, going on to work as an instructor at the John Ridgway School of Adventure in the Scottish Highlands (once billed as 'the UK's toughest management training school'). John was (and is) a role model and mentor of the highest calibre - in 1966 he and Chay Blyth rowed the Atlantic in an open boat, and John went on to break records in non-stop round the world sailing.
John's wife, Marie-Christine, remembers a nineteen year-old Ben asking her to photocopy the 'Antarctica' pages of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. ' That's where it all started ', says Ben, ' I blame it all on John '.
Ben is a keen athlete - after an unpromising start (' I was the podgy kid at school that was always picked last for the football team ') he discovered mountain biking in his teens and went on to race bikes on and off-road at national level. He has run several marathons (New York is his favourite course & 3:32 3:02 is his best time to date), two ultramarathons, and aims to start competing in Ironman-distance triathlons before too long.
When he's not pulling a sledge, Ben is probably either planning his next expedition, keeping fit , cross-country skiing in Norway, or earning a crust as one of the UK's leading motivational speakers .