Fire + Ice: Simpson & North Pole

The Last Great March – North Pole 2017

In February 2017, Sebastian and partner Mark George will undertake what could be the last unsupported mission from land to the North Pole. Dubbed The Last Great Marchthe expedition could be set a historical low point as the window for such mission closes due to the accelerated melting of the sea ice leading to a suspension of air support and search and rescue operations since 2014.

Often referred to as the “most difficult expedition on earth”, for Sebastian and Mark preparation has meant training in the Arctic in March 2016, and a crossing of the Simpson desert on foot and without support in August 2016. The latter resulted in a new world record. But the heavy lifting comes from late February to early May, when the team will confront the furious Arctic winter: temperatures starting at -60C degrees; each sled weighing 350 pounds at the start; broken, mangled fields of ice boulders the size of trucks as far as the eye can see; pressure ridges and open leads of water requiring dry suit swimming; and the rapid movement of the ice’s negative drift (or the treadmill effect). Not to speak of the threat of polar bears and the rapid onset of the spring thaw, which could challenge pick up, and rescue operations. In truth, a North Pole mission has been made exponentially more difficult from a warming climate. Failure rate is expected near 80%.

The team has re-engineered their air support, enlisting the skills of Canadian ace pilot “Super Dave” Mathieson who will monitor progress and be on standby in Resolute, Canada in the high Arctic for the duration of the projected  49-55 days operation.  This will be Sebastian’s second walk to the North Pole: his first in 2009 led to the critically acclaimed self shot documentary Into The Cold: A Journey of the Soul (2011).

You can lend psychological support and follow the expedition’s daily blog on