National Geographic : 2009 Jan
equipment, while they didn t know for sure where they were. eir old map wasn t correct at all." e land Ulrich had spotted was the distant coast of Eva-Liv Island, named by Nansen a er his wife and daughter. But just because Ulrich and Ousland could see the island didn t mean they could reach it. When Nansen and Johansen rst glimpsed Eva-Liv, they gured it would take them only a day or two to get there. In the end it took 13, and they barely made it to land. In June 2007 Ulrich and Ousland faced the same obstacles. e smooth sea ice they d raced over for days, pulling their rugged plastic kay- aks lled with food and gear, had given way to a chaos of icy rubble that looked "as if some giant had hurled down enormous blocks pell-mell," as Nansen described the same scene. Even worse, the whole jumble was dri ing northwest, away from Eva-Liv, one oe grinding against another as currents shoved them from below. With no choice but to forge ahead, the adven- turers took their chances in the drifting ice. Still nearly ten miles from land, they jumped from floe to floe, pulling their heavy kayaks behind them with 40-foot ropes. It was exhaust- ing and nerve-racking. Ousland had already fallen through the ice, weeks earlier, sinking to his waist in the frigid water. Now Ulrich was having ashbacks to a terrifying experience in 2006, when a storm had trapped him on a dis- integrating oe o Siberia s Cape Arkticheskiy (see National Geographic, January 2007). Find- ing himself again at the mercy of unstable ice, he said, "I have to tell you, I was scared." At night they struggled to sleep as the ice shi ed beneath them, "like someone kicking you in the back," Ousland said. The strange thing was the silence. In winter, sea ice makes a terrible racket as it cracks and grinds together, but in the mild spring weather, approaching 32°F, oes as thick as three feet crushed together soundlessly. At four o clock one morning, Ulrich Top, left to right: Leaving the North Pole behind, Ousland pulls a kayak over rough ice using his skis as extra poles. To speed the 600-mile journey to Franz Josef Land, he and Ulrich sometimes hooked themselves to ski sails. Ousland's copy of With Nansen at 86° 14' was the one his father read to him as a boy. Using a kayak as a bridge, Ulrich crawls over thin ice.  Peter Miller is a senior editor for the magazine. In 1994 and 1995 Børge Ousland became the rst to make unsupported solo treks to both the North and South Poles. In 2003 omas Ulrich teamed with him to cross Patagonia s Southern Ice Field.