Bering Strait Crossing in winter

inclined to agree
As a former winter mountaineering instructor and experienced open water boater, I have to say that the gear displayed on the expedition website looks woefully inadequate for the venture. Rubber boots with buckle slab ski bindings (as one would put on a small child) on narrow touring skis, little rubber rafts, no apparent PFD’s (or paddles, for that matter), etc. In spite of the expedition members impressive CV’s, I see little in the way of ski mountaineering cred and only one experienced kayaker. I would not want to enter an environment of jagged pressure ridges of refrozen breakup, stretches of thin ice and freezing open water, severe temps and high winds with the set of gear spread out on that gym floor.

Good luck, fellows. You are going to need it.

Site updates?

– Last Updated: Jan-25-16 12:57 PM EST –

I find it odd that there have been no updates on the expedition's website since last October, when they abruptly cease, yet they are going ahead with it in slightly more than 3 weeks.

Reading back over their reports on recon outings last year, the group honestly seems more than a little over their heads. They were planning on using Alpacka rafts (in Arctic waters??), and managed more than once to capsize them just paddling rivers around England.

Some other troubling posts on their blog:

"The drysuits coped incredibly well and even though wearing jeans and rugby tops underneath the guys were barely sweating."

(cotton street clothes???)

"There was plenty of snow, temperatures had fallen to around -10C and with wind chill a bit lower than that as the winds were gusting over 140 km/h......The kayaking went well too until Mike purposefully capsized but overlooked the fact that he now had additional zips in his dry-suit and forgot to close them all."


"Mike capsized his raft at one point and submerged his supposedly waterproof rucksack. Not at all impressed! It filled with water. Thankfully both phone and camera had been put into zip-lock bags so they survived. Phew!!"

(here's a tip: don't test bags for waterproofness with your electronics inside.)

"James believes that the US Coastguard would assist us for no charge if we needed to call them in. This wouldn't help us though if we drifted into Russian waters and needed extraction."

"Perhaps of greater concern than this though is the fact that the Tribal Committee on Little Diomede has initially refused us permission to visit their island. They have expressed various concerns (generally around the Ebola outbreak in Africa) and James will be having phone conversations to provide any assurance they need that we are not a risk to them."

(this begins to sound like an SNL skit...)

I continue to fear that these guys are a few bricks shy of a pallet in both their mental and gear preparation for this trip. They might make it without death or fearsome amputations, but it will be by sheer dumb luck and not expertise and the best kit.

Good grief
I hope they didn’t take my advice and use the sleds I mentioned, I don’t think I want anything to do with this slow-motion train wreck.

no updates
Hi Carl,

I suspect that the timer is just counting down, has nothing to do with them leaving or not.

Bad idea from the start.

Bill H.

I smell a troll

Don’t think it’s a troll

– Last Updated: Jan-26-16 3:03 PM EST –

If the expedition site is a troll, they put considerable effort into it.

They do have photos posted on the blog of prior recon attempts (which ended rather just sort of disastrously, it appears). Also have some sponsors including an aged member of the UK Royals.

Does seem bizarre overall. Brits in general seem to organize expeditions much more efficiently and conscientiously than this lot has so far. I used to sort of obsessively read the books that came out about Himalayan mountaineering expeditions, mostly British, back in the 1970's and 80's and the extensive chapters enumerating the planning, gear and supplies were sometimes excruciatingly detailed. Even crazy seat-of-the-pants adventures like Eric Newby's in "A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush" were better prepared than this Bering trek.

Being boldly confident is not enough for such conditions, even if you are a considerable athlete in other endeavors. Machismo is no substitute for wisdom, judgement and experience.

I would hope if they contacted the US Coast Guard prior to setting out that that generally wise and practical agency would scrutinize their kit and talk them out of it.

that all makes me think
it’s some sort of hoax. The lack of seriousness with which they’re taking about everything.

Ernst Shackleton
This talk of sledging boats over ice reminds me of the epic story of explorer Ernest Shackleton. His ship, The Endeavor, got frozen in the Antarctic ice and he had to sail/drag a small dory 600 miles to be rescued.

Isn’t the Bering Strait home to Williwaws?

I hope these guys make it … they certainly have more brass in their balls than I do. I hope they have the skills and equipment to match.

one post
You do realize there has been exactly one post on this thread by the original person?

I suspect they visited this forum one time and never came back.

Bill H.

that’s pretty common

– Last Updated: Jan-27-16 3:18 AM EST –

I bet if I had a dollar for every OP who posts and then never responds to the subsequent string, I could buy a pretty nice new boat.

Saving my airfare
Sounds interesting but even if invited, I’d save my airfare. Last weekend in Washington DC, the Bering Strait came to us!

Rescued in the Strait
Feature story in today’s Paddle News [page 2] finds the duo in need of rescue.

Bering Strait Rescue Described - Alaska Dispatch News (AK) - March 5: Two British explorers were rescued from the icy waters of the Bering Strait Friday afternoon. The men were attempting to cross the trait when they began to drift north into the open ocean. Neil Laughton and James Bangham started their journey on foot from the village of Wales Wednesday morning. They planned to walk over ice and paddle in open water in the hopes of reaching the island of Little Diomede. Bingham said they fell victim to changing ice conditions in the Bering Strait.


That looks cold.

Seriously though, sounds like a miserable ordeal and most of all I’m glad they’re ok. From the sounds of it these are not inexperienced adventurers.