“It bothers me even in the slightest light,” says Mike Horn, who spent four months in the Arctic winter and is now co-pilot of Despres.

Despres (left) and Horn, last Saturday in Jeddah.

Among the 571 participants who took the exit of the Dakar, there is one who arrived directly from the North Pole, from where he was able to escape after being stuck in the ice for a month while crossing a ski in the middle of the darkness. This is Mike Horn, an inveterate adventurer whose last mischief was about to leave the pentacampen on motorcycles Cyril Despres, his great friend, with whom he had committed himself to be his co-pilot in a UTV (light buggy).

In the weeks before the start of the rally, it is surprising not to see the list of registered Despres, who has run the Dakar on 18 occasions, 14 of them by motorcycle and four in cars. Only less than 48 hours from the first stage in Jeddah, the organization confirmed the participation of the Frenchman, who had waited until his last companion adventure.

“We can't go out. I had to wait until there was a full moon and the temperature rose to break the ice. Sail straight to Troms, in Norway, and from there I took a plane to Jeddah,” Horn confirms. The frozen tip of his fingers confirms the harsh conditions of four months of winter at the North Pole.

Nine months without a bed

“With so much time in the dark now it bothers me to the lightest light. I have not seen a sunbeam in more than five months, with temperatures up to -40C, winds of up to 40 knots per hour and on an ice shelf that it's constantly moving, “described Horn, born in Johannesburg 53 years ago.

On the two nights I spent in Jeddah before departure, Horn tried to eat and sleep as much as he could to recover the form. “On the expedition I eat 7,000 calories a day. That's like three or four times more than what a normal person ingests. Now I am trying to return my stomach to its size,” he said.

The night that landed in Jeddah was the first where he could sleep in a bed after nine months, because before crossing the North Pole he had been in the Himalayas climbing the K2. “That first night I had a very bad time, I felt very uncomfortable and in the end I lay on the floor to sleep,” he said. “What was most valuable was being able to sit on a toilet and have water. It's those little details that ultimately matter,” he said.

“I like learning”

The Swiss also recognized that he has no experience as a co-pilot, but that he can help his friend with motivation, as he also gives workshops to groups such as the German soccer team and the Indian cricket team.

“I am a person who likes to learn. If I am going to climb peaks of 8,000 meters, I try to surround myself with very good climbers who know more than me. When I go to the jungle, I do it with the special forces of Brazil, who know more than me “, zanj.

Horn argued that his life “is surrounded by experiences” because his philosophy is just the opposite of those who think we should rest. “There will be time when I die,” he said. “I appreciate life. We only have one and many times we do not live it with its full potential. We only have 30,000 days and there is no excuse to live them fully,” he concluded.

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