Thursday, 13 March 2014

Nanook Expedition all over

Thurday, Mars 12th: Wednesday 11th, I had to call for an emergency rescue. My toes were badly frostbitten, some hard as wood. During that first week, I endured a 3 day blizzard and very windy days as cold as -35. Every day, I was able to make some progression, and thought I was doing well, before Tuesday night. I spent so many years and money for that journey, it's a great disappointment to end up that way. I feel like I let down every one, friends and partners, who helped and supported the expedition. I'm very sorry.

Friday, May 30th: All my toes are well healed. And it's decided that I'll re-attempt a crossing of the Arctic by ski. I'm fascinated by this region and this challenge obsess me. If I give up that dream, I'll regret it all my life. I can't give a date for the next attempt, first I have to get back to work to pay a $14000 debt... And then save enough money to finance the journey.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Day 7

Vincent sent his first GPS coordinates yesterday after one week of travel.

March 9, 2014: 69.25042 latitude, -91.06644 longitude

Monday, 3 March 2014

Day 1

On March 3 2014, Vincent officially began his expedition! We'll keep you posted with his GPS coordinates as we receive them. Join us for updates and news about Vincent's journey and the film about his expedition, Into the Midnight Sun, on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The expedition is started!

    After a good week of delay due to the airline, I finally got my stuff! So I'm officially starting the journey tomorrow, Monday 03th March. During the week spent in Kugaaruk, filmmaker Tavi Parusel and I went out hunting and fishing with my Inuit friends, a good way for me to learn about living in the Arctic, and an opportunity for Tavi to add contents to the film about the modern life of the Canadian Inuits.
   Filmmaker Josephine Anderson will update that blog every weeks, giving my latest GPS coordinates that I'll send to her with a SPOT Finder.
   As for me, I should get back in the blog at the end of the journey, in 80 days!


Sunday, 16 February 2014

Breaking news! Nanook Polar Expedition going for the longest unassisted unsupported polar journey

    To experience more intensely what early explorers must have endure, I decided to attempt to complet my journey without any resupplies. My itinerary is therefore slightly changed, avoiding the commuauties of Taloyoak, Resolute and Grise Fjord. I'm in my base camp in Yellowknife for a couple of week now, training to pull an heavy sled, as I'll leave with 80 days of food. It's going well, convincing me that I can do it.
     The current record for the longest unassisted (no sled-dogs, no wind-kite, non motorized) unsupported (no resupplies) polar journey has been established in 2011 on a return trip to the South Pole, at 2275 km. I'm going to try to beat it by about a 100 km.
     The project of filming the Inuits life still holds. I'll film in Kugaaruk, my starting point, and in Qaanaaq, the arrival. And of course, the whole journey. I'm very impatient to explore that part of the Arctic and following the foot steps of explorers like Sverdrup, Franklin, Greely or Ross.

   Training on the Great Slave Lake: because of the weight of the sled, I had to switch from skis to snow-shoes, offering me better grip.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Partners of the Nanook Expedition


Arctic Farmer , from Canada. The largest nursery and landscaping company in Yellowknife, capital of the Northwest Territories. I met the owners, Darwin Rudkevitch and Carine Pattin, in 2007. They were my employers before becoming my friends. Without their help, this expedition would not be. I owe them a lot, a BIG thank you!

Gold partners:
Steger Designs , from USA, are giving me a pair of Arctic Mukluks, the best winter boots available! Made in mooses hide and canvas.One of the very rare winter boots that breathe and so keeps you dry.

Carinthia‎ , from Austria, are giving me 2 sleepings bags filled of G-Loft: a Lite 1300 and a Lite ES. They will be used in a 2 in 1 system. Having used Carinthia synthetic sleepings bags for all my previous adventures, I considere them to be THE best synthetic sleeping bags on the market. I prefer the use of synthetic over down for their performance even when wet.

Hilltrek , from Scotland, are giving me an excellent Cotton Analogy Smock jacket: the Liathach Cotton Analogy Extreme Smock. Hilltrek is a very small company and can't afford to sponsor expeditions. I'm very privileged and I thank them a lot! They produce clothes made of Cotton Ventile, a tough, breathable, waterproof and natural product. Hilltrek designed a new concept of waterproof outdoor clothing with the Cotton Analogy. It utilises a robust Ventile® outer and a Directional Nikwax Analogy® Pump Liner. It keeps you totally dry even by heavy rain and breathe very well.
     Having used cotton jacket in winter time before, it was the kind of product I wanted for the Nanook Expedition. Unlike Gore-Tex and other similar fabrics that stop breathing when it gets too cold, cotton keeps breathing, and it's a very good wind-breaker. Cotton Ventile is a special cotton, waterproof and tougher than normal cotton. Among the few companies that are still making cotton ventile garnements, I truly believe that Hilltrek make the best of them.

Taïga Works , from Canada, are giving me a prototype of the new ELLESMERE Dry Down Parka. A goose-down filled parka, water-resistant and breathable, and fully baffled for servere cold. A very well engineered "weapon" to help me fight the extreme cold! They are also offering me a Regular Down Pants and the excellent Avalanche pants.


Hilleberg‎ , from Sueden, is offering me a discount on one of their tent: the Nammatj 2. We don't need to present Hilleberg anymore, they are the world leader in expedition tents.
     They make the highest quality tents that have been used in some of the harshest conditions: in polar and mountaineering expeditions. The Hilleberg tents quickly became THE reference in expedition tents. They're receiving a lot of sponsoring request, and can't help everyones, so I'm very lucky!

Falières Nutrition , from France, are offering me a discount over their freeze-dried meals. Food is very important in a polar expedition. I calculated my daily food ration to be near 6000 Kcal for a weight of 1 kg. To be able to do that, the (partial) use freeze-dried food was a must.

MX3 , from France, are offering me a discount over their energy bars. When in polar expedition, we can't afford to stop for too long for lunch. Eating energy bars, chocolats and nuts during the day is the solution to get the energy needed without having to stop to cook a meal.

Eric Philips‎ , from Australia, is offering me a discount over a pair of his ski bindings: the North Pole Flexi. Eric Philips is an explorer and polar guide from Australia who designed and manufactured products for polar ski expeditions. To find a strong and reliable ski bindings accepting soft boots is difficult. The bindings made by Eric Philips are the solution.

Ethic Etapes Côté Lac Evian , situated in the French Alps, on the shore of lake Geneva, is a residential center welcoming groups and individuals on holidays in the area. It has been my residence during the 4 months stay in France, preparing the Nanook Expedition. Willing to help me on the project, they offered me free stay for the last month.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Nanook project

Resume of the project:

     In the course of February 2014,me, Vincent Cochin, will start the most difficult of my adventures: a solo skis crossing of the Canadian Arctic. Departing from Kugaaruk, a small Inuit community on the Northern coast of Canada, I will travel by skis, pulling a sledge loaded of equipments and food, going from village to village, until reaching the Greenland community of Qaanaaq,2300 km (1400 miles) further, on Greenland's Northwest coast.
      Avid to share this fabulous adventure with the General public, to inspire them, to make them dream and discover the Arctic such as I will see it, I joined with the production company Moosestash‎- based in Vancouver, and created by the talented film-makers Joséphine Anderson and Brittany Baxter to make a20 mn documentary film about the real-life adventure. It will be realized in English and French version, and proposed in many Adventure Film Festivals around the world.

Birth of the project: 

      I don't remember very well at which age I was taken by the virus of the Far North. Probably by the middle of the adolescence, when I began to read the tales of Nicolas Vanier's adventure, nicknamed the " French Jack London ". This immense territory, wild, rough, icy, pure and authentic drew my attention. The stories of trappers, Indians, woodmen, sled-dogs, wolves and bears fascinated me and ignited in me a flame that did not stop growing up. I gave up my projects to become a farmer and signed up in the army, at the French Mountain Soldiers. My attraction of the mountain doubtless came from part of its resemblance with the Far North. I thought that the army would quench my thirst of adventure
and action. It did not.
      During a trek across Lapland, I met Gilles Elkaim, a French polar explorer who spent 4 years crossing Siberia. His book had captivated me. He proposed me to work with him on the Camp Arktika, his new " Polar Adventure School", based in Finland. A dream job for a young man fascinated by the Far North. After 2 yearc with the Mountain Soldiers, I therefore left the army and spent a winter with Gilles. He teached me enormously on the art of travelling by dog-sled and polar camping. I was a talented apprentice, and the intensive reading of numerous adventure-tales of other explorers more or less known widen again my polar knowledge. I was then capable of guiding groups of tourists on several days, in the polar wilderness, by temperatures down to - 40 ". All returned with their 10 fingers...
     Gilles was an enthusiast of the Arctic, this part of the Far North situated beyond the tree line, where the sea ice never totally melt, where the Native lndians did not dare to venture, undisputed territory of polar bears and Inuits. He passed his passion on to me. At the end of the winter, I felt that it was time for me to leave fending for myself. I left for Canada. My objective: crossing the country from South up to the extreme North, and by using traditional means of transportation: the canoe and the dog-sled. I thought I could realize it in one year, error of beginner. The length of the distances to be covered, my inexperience in canoe and the short summer allowed me to cover only a third of the journey during the first summer (2007 ), that is 2300 km (1400 miles).
     This first great adventure was a revelation. It's still difficult for me to find the right words to describe what I can feel when I travel alone, for weeks or months, with the slow rythm of a canoe, a kayak, by foot, by skis or by dog sled, in the middle of a Nature so wild and inviolate. Feelings of freedom, of reconnexion with myself, becoming again an animal among animals, facing my fears and placing my life in my own hands. An enriching, growing experience. And the meetings with peoples, even if they are not very numerous, are so often
printed by kindness and respect that they would reconcile any rebel with the society. Because of the renewal of visa, I had to wait for the summer 2009 to continue my joumey and complete the 2ndpart by canoe. After 1800 km (1100 miles) of extreme solitude and real dangers, including paddling down the entire lenght of the Back River, the most dangerous Arctic river in Canada (80 rapids!). 
      I reached the Arctic coast and arrived at the small Inuit community of Kugaaruk. The Inuits, these ice-men who fascinated me so much. I was quickly adopted by the village. In spite of the fact that I am a "kablouna", a White man, I earned their respect because of the journey which I had just achieved. I made friends with two brothers of my age and was welcomed in their home. I lived with them and shared their everyday life, rythmed by the hunting and fishing. It was an enriching experience, nevertheless, I noticed that our civilization had profoundly modified their customs. They still depended partly on the hunting, but they moved by power-driven boat and by snowmobile, and few of them knew how to build an igloo. The young people could not even speak their original language, the Inuktitut. I understood that if I wanted to see Inuits moving by dog sled, harpooning seals and walruses from their kayaks, spending nights under an igloo and speaking their own language, it was necessary to go still further north. I had to reach the district of Qaanaaq, in Northwestern Greenland. I ended up my stay in Kugaaruk to return to work, to be able to finance the 3rd part of my Trans-Canadian adventure: the crossing of the Arctic. And as sled-dogs had become very rare in this part of the Arctic, I will therefore have to do it by skis.
     Three years had passed by since my arrival to Canada, and a failure to do this 3rd part during the winter / spring 2010, due to the lack of financial mean, got me profoundly disappointed. I needed a break, to step back. Australia proposed some working/holiday visas for 2 years, I then left for the South.
      2 years of adventures and new experiences later, I came back for the summer in Canada, realizing another journey by canoe and a difficult hike through the mountains of the Far North. My wish to cross the Arctic and to discover the culture of Qaanaaq was still here, and strong. I had time to prepare its planning, trying to think of the slightest details. And I returned to Europe to find the funds to make this dream happen.
      All my previous adventures can be seen (in French) in my blog‎

The route:

     Departing from the community of Kugaaruk, on the Northern coast of Canada, I will travel by skis, pulling a sledge loaded of my stuff. I will cover 2300 km, sometimes on the sea-ice, sometimes through lands, passing by 3 Canadian Inuits communities, and will finish in Northwestern Greenland, in Qaanaaq.
The journey is divided in 4 stages:

  1. Kugaaruk - Taloyoak  : 200 km; Time:   8 days (25km/d)
  2. Taloyoak - Resolute    : 750 km; Time: 26 days (28km/d)
  3. Resolute - Grise Fjord : 520 km; Time: 17 days (30km/d)
  4. Grise Fjord - Qaanaaq: 830 km; Time: 26 days (32km/d)

The documentary film:

      Avid to share this extreme adventure with the General public, to give some inspiration by the determination, and pushed by friends who followed each of my adventures, I wanted to make a film of it. Luckily, I met Joséphine Anderson and Brittany Baxter, 2 young talented Canadian film-makers, creators of the production company " Moosestash Films " ( / moosestashfilms ). They were quickly very interested by the project.
      Together, we decided on a 20mn documentary, or even 40 mn according to the quality of the images which I shall bring back. It will be made in 2 versions, one in French, one in English, what will be an asset to present it in adventure film festivals in France and international. I think of that of Val D'Isère, Grenoble, Chamonix, La Rochelle, Dijon, but also Banff ( Canada) and Boulder (USA). Although they are taking care to find funds for the editing of the movie, I also try to collect some funds, knowing that the editing of the movie would cost between 10.000 and 15.000 Euros. If financial means allow it, we would like that Tavi Parusel, a young and talented film-maker, come to join me in Kugaaruk, for the departure, in Resolute, an Inuit community on my route, 950 km of the starting point and in Qaanaaq, for the arrival. He could then complete the filming and spend some time to film the peoples in their everyday life.
      With this movie, I would like to share the human adventure and the General public to see the enjo¡rments and the difficulties of a polar adventure, showing the diversity of the Arctic, the contemporary life of the Inuits of Canada and Inughuit of Northwestern Greenland, and their adaptations about the global warming.
      To Film under extreme cold temperatures represents a challenge in itself. To
manipulate the camera can only be done with thin gloves, which presents a high risk of frostbite. Stopping for filming is uncomfortable, because we do not get anymore the advantage of the heat produced when skiing. And to maintain the camcorder, and the camera, frost free was for a long time a problem for me. Below -20 ", even if the battery was warm, the camera was so cold that it refused to start. But I discovered pocket-size heater manufactured by ZIPPO. These stoves produces wramth during l2 hours with a refill. Reloaded every moming and every evening, and placed in insulated bags, they will hold the
camera and camcorder frost free. Furthermore they work with the same fuel as my cooking stove (white gasoline, or naphta). From part the difference of temperature between the inside of the bags and the outside, some condensation will form on the cameras. To protect them, they will be covered with a plastic film.

The risks:

      The major risk during this adventure will be the polar bears. They are formidable predators and consider humans as potential prey. I will carry a rifle and bear-bangers. But in this season, the bears will be on the sea-ice actively hunting the seals, their favorite food. I would thus be only a prey of secong choice... And I chose a route passing often inlands, where the chance to meet a bear will be very slim, and I shall have the opportunity to see wolves, caribous, musk oxen, Arctic hares and great snowy owl).
      Then there is the ice. I consider it almost as dangerous as the bears. It will be necessary for me to remain attentive as for the change of its appearance (for example, if it's white, it's thin and if it's black, it's thick) and in the potentially dangerous zones, around islands or in the mouth rivers, where the current could eat away the ice from underneath. Fortunately the sea ice possesses a certain elasticit¡ contrary to that of the fresh water, and can forgive small mistakes... As long as I cannot pierce it by planting my ski sticks in it, it's considered thick enough to support the weight of a skier.
      Then there is the cold. I know that one well. I already froze 10 fingers, ears, nose, chin, cheeks... And I held the lessons. Never underestimate it1' below -30 o, froztbites comes very fast, especially if it's windy. And the most exposed zone is the face, difficult to protect. To choose the right clothes will be essential.
      Snow blindness is also another big risk.

The means of rescue:

      If, in spite of my experience and all my precautions, misfortune arrived to me, I have a satellite transmitter known under the name of SPOT, which not only can serve to send my GPS coordinates regularly to those wishing to follow me, but also and especially to send a distress message, speciÿing my GPS position. An insurance covering up to 100.000 Euros is included in the package.


      I count on a budget of 10.700 Euro for the realization of the expedition. In here is the details:
-Clothes and equipments: 5000 Euros (approximative)
-Air flight Paris - Kugaaruk: 1966,38 Euros
-Air Flight Qaanaaq - Paris: 1196,31 Euros
-Food: 2500 Euros (freeze-dried food very energetic)

My previous adventures:

  • Solo canoe trip ascending the Snare River (500 km)                                           06-08/2013  following by a hike through the Mackenzie Mountains                                                          down the Canol Heritage Trail with 2 friends (355 km)                                                       Northwest Territories, Canada
  • Sailing trip along the Northern coast of Australia                                                      08/2011 aboard the Duyfken, a 16th century replica boat                                                                        Sailed from Darwin to Port Hedland (1000 nmi)
  • Solo sea-kayak trip                                                                                       12/2011-02/2012 circumnavigating Tasmania (1400km)                                                                                Australia
  • Camel trip in the Simpson Desert (180 km)                                                               08/2011  Assisting guide for Outback Camel Company                                                                   Northern Territories, Australia
  • Solo canoe trip across the barren-lands (1800 km)                                               06-08/2010 From the Northwest Territories to Nunavut, Canada
  • Sled-dog trip on the Great Slave Lake, with a friend (750 km)                                  03/2010  Northwest Territories, Canada
  • Solo sea-kayak around Kodiak archipelago (1000 km)                                         08-09/2008  Alaska
  • Solo skis trip across Great Slave Lake (200 km)                                                         03/2008  Northwest Territories, Canada
  • Solo canoe trip through the boreal forest (2300 km)                                               06-08 2007   From British Columbia to the Northwest Territories, Canada
  • Sled-dog guide in Ivalo, Lapland                                                                   Winter2006-2007 Arktika Camp, with polar explorer Gilles Elkaim, Finland
  • Solo hike through Lapland (500 km)                                                                             08/2006   From Vadso (Norway) to Ivalo (Finland)
  • Canoe trip in Québec, with a guide and my brother (200 km)                                      07/2005  Canada
  • 4 months mission in Ivory Coast                                                                               01-04/2005   Operation Licome with the French Army, Africa

Why to help the project:

      If you like the wilderness, the discovery, the culture, if you like meeting challenges and want to see the movie of an outstanding adventure, if you support the determination and the pursuit of our dreams, then help me to concretize this project by donations or loan of equipments and/or by donations of money. The Nanook project is on the crowd-funding website Ulule
      I'm alone, I have no team which helps me to look for sponsors, to collect equipments and phone to possible partners and sponsors. I work 5 days/week in landscaping, in the French Alps, to try to gather by my own a part of the required amount. But without help, I could not realíze this dream. I know that sponsors want a return on their investments and I would be glad to talk about it to find an arangement. The names of the sponsors and partners will be cited in each article of newspapers and magazines dedicated to the expedition, and will appear at the end of the movie.
      Do not hesitate to contact me for more informations, thank you for your attention.