SA daredevil's race across ice to cheat death

24 January 2020 - 11:55
'Dream of a Lifetime' is a stirring story of overcoming adversity through sheer willpower.
'Dream of a Lifetime' is a stirring story of overcoming adversity through sheer willpower.
Image: Supplied

‘Before long I was nothing but a block of petrified flesh in an upright position. The wind was blowing into my mask and my cheeks started to freeze. My nose and lips were cracked with scabs. My hands and arms, which were constantly raised to the sky to control my sail, no longer received any blood. My circulation had stopped functioning properly. As I made my way over the ice, a layer of fine powdery snow rose into the air, only to settle in my boots in an icy drizzle.’

Explorer Mike Horn has had one dream since childhood: to cross Antarctica. Growing up in SA during the 1960s and 70s, he relocated to Switzerland almost 30 years ago.

Today, he is a world-renowned adventurer, tour guide and coach, having made a name for himself as one of the world’s leading explorers, travelling to some of the most isolated destinations on the planet.

In December 2016, Mike finally made his childhood dream come true. He crossed the South Pole unassisted, journeying across this immense, white desert by kite-ski and sled alone. He was determined to follow an unexplored path, the longest and most challenging route imaginable: 5,100km straight ahead.

To make it to the other side, he not only had to scale Dome Charlie – one of the highest summits on the Antarctic Ice Sheet – but also had to break all existing speed records to stave off being consumed by a terrible Antarctic winter. It would turn out to be a hellish race against death.

His story is one of many shocking setbacks – but also of overcoming adversity through sheer willpower. A daredevil’s first-hand account of realising a crazy dream, this book shows what is possible when one is fuelled by the love and support of family and friends.

Mike Horn is a world-renowned explorer, TV personality and coach and has been described as France’s Bear Grylls. He was born in SA in 1966 and after serving in the South African Special Forces, he relocated to Switzerland. In 1991, he embarked on his first adventure, exploring the Peruvian Andes, rafting and paragliding. In 2015, he lost his wife, Cathy, to cancer: this event inspired him to realise his childhood dream of crossing the Antarctic unassisted. He and his daughters live in Switzerland.