The day I arrived to the small Siberian settlement of Kolymskaya was the happiest moment of my exploring life. It was the end of the most demanding part of my Expedition along the Kolyma River, one of the coldest inhabited places on earth. I had, together with my assistant Johan, spent most of the past 5 months hauling 660 pounds of necessities, mainly in utter darkness, experiencing a terrifying cold with average temperatures around -50°F, day and night. A reality which made sleep almost impossible, giving us plenty of frostbites on both fingers and cheeks and it ruined most metal parts in our equipment. Like our ski bindings, and therefore, we arrived walking, not skiing, to the village. It seemed like every inhabitant were there to greet us with customary warmth, joy and most of them were dressed in their colourful traditional dress. We saw Chukchis, Even, Yakuts, Yugahirs and Russians. After the traditional welcoming offerings to the spirits, we were brought into the local museum, where more cheerful and hugging villagers awaited us, around a table full of local delicacies. After having survived mainly on moose meat and raw, frozen fish during most of the winter, we nearly cried when we came across big plates of fried reindeer brain and cooked bone marrow. At that stage, I suddenly realized, after spending 20 years of exploring extreme parts of our world and trying to understand the meaning of life, from now on, I’ll stop thinking about the big worrisome issues and simply concentrate on the uncomplicated ones. Like the thought of some more cooked bone marrow.
I was brought up in a working class environment, where the basic values of life was hard physical work, loyalty to your employer, never forget where one came from and stick to your own kind. For this reason, we only had two books at home, The Sea Wolf and White Fang by Jack London. My father had them on loan indefinitely from the local library, for the simple reason to show our neighbours that our family had ambitions beyond the village limit. I wouldn’t have touched those books if I hadn’t caught the measles as a bored ten year old and with plenty of time to kill, I started reading them. I just couldn’t stop. Once finished, I knew I had discovered an unknown, very exiting and important world. That discovery, in combination with a mother who loved me above all, gave me a self-confidence and a sense of uniqueness, to know that my future lay beyond the limits of the village.
Consequently, as quick as I turned 16, after spending most of my time avoiding the utterly boring knowledge taught in school, I set off for India, prepared to spend a year studying Mahayana Buddhism. Those studies only gave me diarrhoea and gut pains. Instead, I ended up hiking, reading and travelling around. When my money eventually ran out, I returned home with a wish to build bridges of understanding between people by writing, lecturing, filming and through photography. I met a total lack of interest. At that moment I realized, that I had to do something that nobody else had done before. So over the next 7.5 years I cycled from Chile to Alaska, from Norway to South Africa and from New Zealand to Cairo. I pedalled a total distance of 90000 kilometres passing through difficult terrain as the Sahara Desert and the Darien Gap. Since then, I’ve been privileged to live a dream.
The true explorer is unselfish, curious and ready to sacrifice his life in the quest of discovering unknown areas and human limits. An explorers life is a mission to make this earth of ours a better one to live in. For everybody.