Mike Horn,
Conquering the Impossible: My 12,000-Mile Journey Around the Arctic Circle
(St. Martin's Griffin, 2008)

Far North adventurer Mike Horn has written a testament to the physical and mental strength of the human spirit when tested with impossible challenges. For 27 months, Horn circumnavigated the Arctic Circle in a 12,000-mile solo journey. Without the aid of motorized transportation, Horn traipsed through Greenland, Canada and Siberia. He faced challenges both natural and political, from fire and frostbite to a polar bear encounter to challenges with the Russian government. The very terrain under his feet consisted of dynamic, shifting ice sheets, which throughout the course of the journey required several detours and cost the explorer days and weeks of time.

Horn may have been on the journey alone, and he no doubt demonstrated awe-inspiring physical and mental endurance, but he had an army of support, from a gourmet chef who packed his meals to medical and athletic experts who could fly to meet him at a moment's notice. Throughout the book, the reader cannot forget that money was not an object on Mike Horn's journey, and a rescue by the cavalry could have been staged if needed.

I thoroughly enjoyed Horn's adventure tale, which was educational as well as adrenaline-pumping. The reader will learn a great deal about the chemical behavior of different substances in extreme cold (down to -70 degrees Celsius). Mucus, in fact, can be put to use under extreme conditions as a valuable moisturizer. I was also inspired by the skill and kindness demonstrated by the Inuit, Canadian and Russian citizens Horn encountered.

Fourteen months after Horn conquered the impossible, he made a two-month journey to the North Pole in absolute winter darkness without the aid of any motorized transportation. I'll stay tuned for the volume on that adventure.

review by
Jessica Lux-Baumann

14 March 2009

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