From the North to the South Pole

From the North to the South Pole

The Swiss writer and adventurer, Oliver Racine, who is known for his sporting achievements and his adventures all over the world, is about to make one of his greatest dreams come true: he's going to travel by boat to the Antarctic. His departure is scheduled for November 18th 2021. Not many people would consider such southerly destinations, close to the South Pole, as their ideal holiday. But Olivier is not like other people - he is motivated by the thrill of exploring the earth's northern and southernmost extremities.  He started travelling round the world 40 years ago and has visited 114 countries, not to mention his athletic accomplishments.

Are there any limits on Earth? And can one man reach them in his lifetime? These questions have always influenced and guided Olivier & driven him to push boundaries. As he says: "Many people dream, but you have to know how to seize an opportunity, be determined and organize your life so that you are free to get up and go". Olivier has been able to pursue this lifestyle thanks to his strong character, physical strength, the ability to react quickly and his precise organisational skills, but also by sacrificing a family life. Of course characteristics like these are important, however adventures of this kind don't pay for themselves, so he has to work in between his trips, be opportunistic and look for new openings. As far as Olivier is concerned, true capital is not what you lock up in a savings account, it's the memories and life experiences that you create when you travel and are adventurous.  Olivier's life is definitely not run of the mill, yet nothing happens without a reason.

Olivier has explored the confines of life in his own way, often pushing his body to its utmost limits. He was the first person to swim across Lake Geneva and back (28km - 15miles) and to descend in a submarine to (-116m, -380ft). Naturally, he didn't stop at merely aquatic experiences. He scaled Mont Blanc (4,810m - 15,700ft) as well as the summit of the Matterhorn (4,478m - 14,700ft) and tried his hand at mountaineering in the Himalayas. In 2012, after a long period of strenuous physical preparation, he managed to climb to the very respectable altitude of 7,300m - 23,950ft on his ascent of Cho Oyu (8,210m - 27,000ft), the 6th highest summit in the world on the border of China and Nepal.

And Olivier's foray to the North Pole with its vast expanses of ice made perfect sense. He had dreamt of kayaking solo along the ice floes and slaloming between icebergs, far from civilisation. The adventurer got the opportunity to make his dream come true in 2009 when he flew from Rejkjavik to Kulusuk, a small, settled outpost in Greenland. So, as Olivier had been to Lapland, in northern Sweden, beyond the Arctic Circle, it was only natural that he would seek new adventures in the South Pole.

The expedition was postponed several times because of Covid 19 restrictions, but it will finally set off on November 18th. Olivier will board the "Commandant Charcot" in Punta Arenas in Chile, only 200km - 124miles from Ushuaia, leaving continental South America bound for the continent of Antarctica. The boat is named after the famous French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot (1867-1936), who was the first to complete a wintering in Antarctica in 1903. The "Commandant Charcot" is a new type of hybrid-electric polar exploration vessel and this will be its inaugural trip to Antarctica. We've heard that researchers from the famous magazine National Geographic will also be part of the expedition. Olivier is extremely excited that they will be taking with them all the instruments and equipment for measuring and analysis inherent to these missions.

Although we don't want to reveal too much in advance, the plan is to travel along the shores of the continent to observe the Antarctic wildlife (seals, penguins, blue whales etc.) and also to go on trekking expeditions onto the ice. The weather should be relatively clement given the season, with temperatures between -20°C (-4°F) and +10°C (50°F), so everything ought to go smoothly. But that is not a given, as, recently, the lowest negative temperature ever recorded in Antarctica was -98°C (-144°F). will provide exclusive details and reports on Olivier's personal experiences throughout his trip. We wish Olivier the best of luck and look forward to sharing his insights, anecdotes and adventures in our upcoming publications.

Author - Boris Hueni

Boris Hueni is a biologist by training and has worked for over 10 years in research and development laboratories. He holds an MBA in business development and currently works as a consultant and entrepreneur in the biotech and agro-food sectors.


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