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Across the Arctic Ocean

Original Photographs from the Last Great Polar Journey

Sir Wally Herbert, Huw Lewis-Jones

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A photographic celebration of one of the 20th century’s greatest feats of exploration and geographic achievement: the 1968–69 surface crossing of the Arctic Ocean

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On 21 February 1968, Wally Herbert and his team of three companions and forty huskies set out from Point Barrow, Alaska, embarking on a journey that no one had ever attempted. Sixteen hard months later they finally set foot once more on solid land in Spitsbergen, having attained the North Pole and crossed the frozen Arctic Ocean for the first time. Travelling and living on ice that was in continual motion, sometimes buckling and breaking beneath them, they had endured extreme cold and months of winter darkness, and faced frequent encounters with polar bears. It stands today as one of the greatest expeditions of all time.

The book is illustrated with unpublished photographs and other personal materials from the Wally Herbert archive, as well as rare items from public and private collections. An impressive team of experts – polar travellers, explorers and scientists – contribute their reflections on the Arctic wilderness and their appreciation of this remarkable feat of heroism, epic endeavour and scientific enterprise.

Wally Herbert wrote that trying to fix the position of The Geographic North Pole was as difficult as stepping on the shadow of a bird flying overhead. Now the Arctic Ocean as a whole is the subject of headlines worldwide because of global warming, the shrinking ice cap, the opening up of new northerly trade routes and competition for potentially vast untapped mineral resources. Across the Arctic Ocean is thus a timely account of the last great frontier in a rapidly changing world, and will appeal to all those interested in exploration, polar science, the great outdoors, and the spirit of adventure.

'What compels a man to risk everything on a dream? Why would anyone put themselves through hell and back all for the sake of walking across a frozen ocean? In these pages you’ll discover why and how something as formidable as this challenge was achieved for the very first time. Sir Wally Herbert was the man who did it and rightly earned his place in history. It’s an elemental story of men chasing their ambitions over the polar horizon and travelling into the unknown. These were true explorers.' – Sir Ranulph Fiennes


'A wonderful record … Sir Wally's greatness lives on in this book'

'A stunning compilation'
The Field

'Sumptuous … a treasure trove of memory and celebration'
Times Literary Supplement

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 27.0 x 22.0 cm

Extent: 240 pp

Illustrations: 157

Publication date: 24 August 2015

ISBN: 9780500252147

Contents List

Prologue: In the Shadow of the Moon, Huw Lewis-Jones • Introduction: True Exploration, Sir Ranulph Fiennes • Chapter 1. Keen Young Men • Chapter 2. The Frozen Sea • Chapter 3. A Pioneer Journey • Chapter 4. Reflections by Peter Otway, Dmitry Shparo, Børge Ousland, Victor Boyarsky, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Martin Hartley, Cecilie Skog, Erling Kagge and Geoff Renner • Epilogue: My Father, Kari Herbert.

About the Author

Dr Huw Lewis-Jones is a historian of exploration with a PhD from the University of Cambridge. He was formerly Curator at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, and the National Maritime Museum, London. His books include The Conquest of Everest (winner of the History Award at the Banff Mountain Festival), The Crossing of Antarctica and Across the Arctic Ocean. He is the author, with Kari Herbert, of the bestseller Explorers’ Sketchbooks.

Sir Wally Herbert was a pioneering polar explorer as well as an award-winning writer and artist, most famously remembered as the leader of the first expedition to cross the Arctic Ocean. Formerly Curator at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, and the National Maritime Museum, London. He died in 2007.

List of Contributors

Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Victor Boyarsky, Martin Hartley, Kari Herbert, Erling Kagge, Peter Otway, Børge Ousland, Geoff Renner, Dmitry Shparo, Cecile Skog

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