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Swiss adventurer embarks on polar expedition

Georges Baumann, in training.

(NOA)

Georges Baumann, an accomplished athlete and nature lover, is about to attempt a feat that no other adventurer before him has managed.

The Swiss karate master has set himself the challenge of crossing the North Pole from Siberia to Canada in the middle of winter - on his own and without assistance. His epic journey begins on Wednesday when he departs Zurich for Russia.

In all, 2,000 kilometres separate Cape Articheski in Russia and Ward Hunt in Canada's frozen arctic wasteland.

Baumann's ambitious plan is to make the trek by foot across the ice pack, pulling a sledge loaded with tents and provisions. All being well, he should arrive in Canada approximately 100 days after setting off from Siberia.

The route across the North Pole has been attempted many times in the past, but no one has yet succeeded.

Last remaining challenge

But for Baumann the goal is not just to overcome one of the last remaining challenges on earth but to raise awareness of two charities close to his heart – one fighting crimes against children, the other supporting sufferers of leucodystrophy, a genetic disease that destroys the central nervous system.

The expedition has been several years in the planning and Baumann – who comes from the ski resort of Gstaad – believes he is ready for the challenge and has a good chance of success.

"I've been in training my whole life," he told swissinfo.

"I believe in myself and I am well prepared. I have the right body mass, the right attitude, and I will give my all to reach the other side."

Baumann says technological strides in the past few years mean the equipment needed for the trip is now far more robust and reliable than that used on previous expeditions.

But the adventurer recognises that no amount of preparation can prevent things going wrong.

"For this trip you also need luck."

Baumann says he is travelling light, and will do his own repairs to his tent if the need arises.

"I want to reach the other side, so I only take what I really need... I haven't even got many clothes. I want to walk and sleep and not have a holiday."

Although Baumann has no backup team accompanying him, satellite technology will link him to rescue services in the event of an emergency.

swissinfo, Morven McLean

Key facts

The distance between Cape Arktichesky and Ward Hunt via the North Pole is approximately 2,000 kilometres.
The estimated cost of the trip is SFr500,000, which includes materials, flights, rescue, and publicity.
Two charities will benefit from the expedition: Innocence in Danger and the ELA association.

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