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Riding the Ice Wind: By Kite and Sledge Across Antarctica

Riding the Ice Wind: By Kite and Sledge Across Antarctica
Alastair Vere Nicoll

Foreword by: Bear Grylls

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Adrift in a life without risk or surprise and with a burning desire to make some sense of his place in the world, Alastair Vere Nicoll dived into the unknown. Leaving the security of friends, work and a wife, he joined a team of young men to harness the katabatic winds and haul and kite-surf across Antarctica: the coldest, windiest, most violent continent on earth. For Alastair, Antarctica was a land of legend and mystery, the ultimate test of strength, endurance and bravery; a place where he might feed his restlessness and find meaning in the emptiness. Not since Shackleton had nearly perished attempting the same thing in his Endurance expedition had such a crossing been attempted. This is the story of the first West to East traverse of the continent of Antarctica and of a race against time as Alastair fought to get home for the birth of his first child. Told with honesty and wisdom and adorned with some bewitching descriptions of Antarctica, "Riding the Ice Wind" is a compelling and subtly important book for our times.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Bear Grylls
Chapter 1: Beginnings
Chapter 2: Flaubert’s Parrot
Chapter 3: A New Life
Chapter 4: Altered Reality
Chapter 5: Constructing the Creature
Chapter 6: There but still Nowhere
Chapter 7: Family Matters
Chapter 8: Fly on my Wind
Chapter 9: A New Horizon
Chapter 10: The Icefall
Chapter 11: The Layer Cake
Chapter 12: Down and Out
Chapter 13: Silence Valley
Chapter 14: The Sword of Damocles
Chapter 15: Difficult Decisions
Chapter 16: It’s all in the Mind
Chapter 17: Uncontactable
Chapter 18: Divide and Rule
Chapter 19: Heat Miser
Chapter 20: Travelling without Moving
Chapter 21: The South Pole
Chapter 22: Leaving the End of the Earth
Chapter 23: North
Chapter 24: The Winds of Change
Chapter 25: Touching the Void
Chapter 26: Mutability
Chapter 27: The Final Burst
Chapter 28: An End and a Beginning

Author Info

Alastair Vere Nicoll runs a renewable energy business and lives in London with his wife and two children. This is his first book.


A remarkable journey in the footsteps of Roald Amundsen, the first man to the South Pole. Riding the Ice Wind is a thoroughly engaging and personal story that makes the mental landscape of a polar expedition relevant to the myriad decisions and struggles we face in real life and from which we often wish to escape.
– Sir Ranulph Fiennes

This is a heart-led account of one of the longest, hardest polar journeys of recent years. It is a testament that enduring hardship isn't about bravado but about a quiet, at times faltering, daily decision to endure.
– Bear Grylls, Born Survivor

It's extremely heartening to discover, through a text that is beautifully and powerfully written, that a younger generation of adventurers has got what it takes and more. They prove themselves worthy successors to their heroes, Amundsen, Shackleton and Scott.
– John Hare, author of The Lost Camels of Tartary

An original and compelling book that really gets into the psyche of adventure and the conflict between the call of responsibility and the desire for freedom. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
– Jonny Bealby, Wild Frontiers

In turns funny, touching, inspiring, and painful, it was a wonderful story that only got better with a second reading...Full of humor and wisdom, yearning and disillusionment, victory and failure, it is a wonderful book and a worthy read for anyone.

...fresh as a daisy...challenging, intelligent and thoughtful. Riding the Ice Wind reminds us that decent writing about tough adventure need not be a thing of the past. A hundred years ago there was a great explorer with a literary soul and the ability to write well. Alastair Vere Nicoll may not be Ernest Shackleton, but he’s living proof that while the literary explorer may be an endangered species, there are still a few out there, if you know where to look.
– Nick Smith, for Bookdealer

...lovely descriptions of the wilderness. The real voyage at the heart of the book, though, is the attempt to discover meaning in a life the writer had found increasingly mediocre.
– Clove Stroud, Sunday Telegraph

Contemporary explorer Nicoll achieved a novel west–east traverse of Antarctica, following substantially in the footsteps of Roald Amundsen. With three teammates, he used kites rather than dogs, where winds prevailed. This just-published volume is a superbly engaging account of an impossibly hard trip. Its originality, however, lies in its sensitivity to the purpose of such expeditions to the have-it-all generation. In light of the dieselly American airbase that Nicoll stumbles into right at the South Pole, with palpable disappointment, one is tempted to recommend Kellogg's Three Questions as a companion volume. Kellogg suggests that "we live in a post-Wittgenstein age with Platonic longings." This also describes Nicoll.
– Dr Richard Lofthouse, Oxford Today



Explore the book in more detail with images, videos and links on the Riding the Ice Wind website

You can also watch videos from the expedition that Riding the Ice Wind recounts below.

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781848853065
Publication Date: 29 Jun 2010
Number of Pages: 272
Height: 216
Width: 134
Illustrations: 16 colour illustrations in 8pp 4/4 plate section, 1 map

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