English subtitles available on YouTube
« Therm-ic Stories is our new format that takes you to the edge of what's possible and the planisphere, immersing you in extraordinary adventures where sport becomes a real feat. »
For this first story, we are with Loury Lag on his new (almost) impossible mission: to kite-ski across the Arctic Ocean's 2175 miles of ice field from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This crazy endeavour is one that only the 36-year-old "professional adventurer", who "prefers to survive than to exist", would attempt. To succeed in crossing the legendary "Northwest Passage" alone at -40°C, the man who many consider to be Mike Horn's successor will have to push past his limits once again. The limits of his body, mind and equipment. To prepare for this adventure and train in realistic conditions, Loury Lag travelled to Norway. We went to meet him, buffeted by icy winds, in the heart of an unspoilt cold and white paradise that stretches as far as the eye can see. One thing is certain: the man is determined. Winter is coming, and so is the Arctic Mission.
« I would rather survive than exist! »
Loury Lag is about to undertake one of his most ambitious projects yet. He plans to kite-ski to the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic, starting in Greenland and arriving in Alaska, by crossing the Arctic Ocean, which becomes an ice field during the winter. This is a 2175-mile journey, which our adventurer hopes to complete in less than a month and a half to beat the record of 87 days held by Mike Horn since 2019.
A few days before the big departure scheduled for February 2023, Loury Lag confided in us about the origins of this mission: the "why" behind this attempt to cross the iconic "Northwest Passage". "In 2020, I accompanied Mathieu Bélanger, an adventurer friend, on this particular segment of his ICARUS project, which consisted of climbing the Seven Summits, i.e. the highest point on each continent, without any motorised transport. One morning, the Rangers stopped us. They forbid us to continue as a virus was spreading across the whole planet and a global health crisis was looming. They told us to go home! Although we weren't directly responsible for having to stop, I consider that expedition a failure. A failure that frustrates me!" How about that for determined, or even stubborn?!
Crédit photo: Benjamin Faure
« To kite-ski to the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic by crossing the Arctic Ocean, which becomes an ice field during the winter. »
Middle-distance specialists often head to Kenya to fine-tune their form in preparation for an Olympic event. Cyclists tackle the steepest slopes in France to get into shape ahead of the Tour de France. Loury Lag, who is "committed to a performance approach similar to that of high-level athletes in order to maximise his chances of success", chose Norway and its infinite plains, where snow, cold and silence reign, as a place to make the final preparations for his expedition and test his equipment in realistic conditions. Or rather in extreme conditions. In "-30°C which becomes -45°C" once the kite is up and Loury Lag gets going. And there is over 60 cm of freshly fallen powder, which slows down each step but only strengthens the will of the man who "never feels as alive as when he is experiencing difficulty".
"Norway, with its vast expanses and frozen lakes, is a paradise for kite-skiing!" It's a superb playground for preparing for exactly what awaits him on the ice field in terms of biotope, but also an opportunity to rediscover the sensations and techniques associated with a sport that has a real technical dimension. "As long as there is wind!" Wind is a precious commodity that Loury Lag was deprived of during his first three days in situ. He had to deal with frustration, accept solitude and demonstrate "resourcefulness", a skill that he has turned into an art form. And while in Europe we tend to enjoy sunshine after the rain, further north, his lull was followed by strong wind: "I was then able to train like never before. Actually no, it wasn't even training anymore! I just loved it; I whizzed along! It's extremely important to be able to get to grips with your equipment beforehand: it helps you gain confidence."
« -30°C which becomes -45°C' once the kite is up and Loury Lag gets going! »
One of the main challenges that Loury Lag will face during his 90-day crossing, and the one that will partly determine his success, is managing the cold. This is the main reason why the partnership with Therm-ic makes sense. We provide him with the best in terms of thermoregulation, and he responds with his thirst for open spaces and his equipment requirements. Where the smallest detail becomes the biggest difference. Where we no longer speak of life but of survival. Loury Lag always pushes our technologies to the limit and encourages our R&D team to do their best. The native of Bordeaux, who now lives in Biarritz, defines himself as an "explorer 2.0, who likes to use technology to set up and succeed in his projects". He continues: "I am passionate about developing specific equipment upstream and catalysing innovation." Luckily, so are we!
So, for Arctic Mission, we worked together for many months to design the equipment that would enable Loury Lag to complete his mission. His kit includes heated mittens, heated socks, heated jackets and a full heated suit similar to the one worn by Nimsdai during his exploits at very high altitudes.
The adventurer, who already has extensive experience of survival in extreme environments, also shares some fascinating tips on "learning to deal with the cold". First, "you have to condition your body to ingest 6000 to 9000 calories a day", as opposed to the 2000 to 3000 usually recommended, since the body needs a lot of energy to warm up. Loury Lag explains: "I had no choice but to plan, with my nutritionist, to gain 15 kilos in order to build up the reserves that would allow me to go all the way!" Impressive. Captivating. Also, "it's a question of being aware of your effort, being as thrifty as possible with all you do, and avoiding anything superfluous, with a view to sweating as little as possible". Why? "Because sweat is the worst enemy of comfort in the extreme cold! It turns into moisture that quickly freezes you."
« Loury Lag always pushes our technologies to the limit and encourages our R&D team to do their best. »
« I had no choice but to plan, with my nutritionist, to gain 15 kilos in order to build up the reserves that would allow me to go all the way! »
Consistent, meticulous and never giving up, Loury Lag has been acclimatising to double-digit negative temperatures since last winter. In February 2022, in tandem with Mathieu Blanchard, the ultra-trail runner who finished 2nd in the last UTMB, the explorer of the possible completed the tour of the "eye of Quebec", Lake Manicouagan, a crater formed by a meteorite over 200 million years ago. This expedition was on cross-country skis, and they pulled their sled with the sweet name "pulka" which contained all the equipment and food necessary for their survival for more than 150 miles and 10 days.
Discovering oneself to explore the other. Or the other way round. Exploring oneself to discover the other. For adventure is as much a means as an end. This meeting with the Innu people is a moving example of this extraordinary sporting challenge, documented in a film: Uapapunan. May the wind be with you, Loury!
« This expedition was on cross-country skis, and they pulled their sled with the sweet name "pulka" for more than 150 miles and 10 days. »
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