Arctic Row 2012:  Our team of four will complete a historic challenge by undertaking one of the exploration world’s last great firsts: A non-stop, unsupported crossing of the Arctic Ocean by rowboat in July of 2012. Over the course of 30 days, we will row more than 1,100 miles as we explore some of the most pristine habitats on Earth.

Why Should I Join Your Team?

Physically, the boys can handle the journey.  Mentally and collectively, they need you as co-conspirators.

Our film/book/adventure seeks to explore more than just the Arctic waters.

We’ve got big-time questions that need big-time exploration.

Human beings have made incredible progress in the last 50 years.  Then again, not so much.  For example:

Imagination: We can send people to the moon.  Well, not now but 50 years ago, no problem.
Technology: You can video chat with your buddy in backwoods Mongolia – instantly and for free.  But if you want to visit your crosstown neighbor you’ve got to hop in a vehicle that relies on 130 year-old internal combustion technology.  Weren’t we supposed to have flying cars by now?
Science: Still no cure for cancer?  We are not okay with that.
Health: Never before in history have we been capable of so much and accomplished so little.  Why?  We seem to be racing in the wrong direction, towards a finish line that leaves us tired, sick and unfulfilled.  However, there are plenty of inspiring people and projects our there so what’s the hold up?

Team Arctic Row believes big-time questions need big-time exploration.

Our film/book/adventure will do just that. Realistically we are looking for a small number of people to help and a large number of people to donate.

Which one are you?

Follow us on FacebookDonate what you can.  Share the exploration.

Who Are We?

Rower #1 Paul Ridley: Our calm, capable, team leader and long-distance rowing mad-man. In honor of his mother, Katherine Raub Ridley, 25 year-old Paul rowed for hope across the entire Atlantic ocean in 87 days. He was the youngest American to ever pull off such a feat.

“I’m exhausted. Overwhelmed with all the excitement from my arrival,” Ridley told CNN. “Physically feeling good but will be feeling a lot better when the soreness starts to heal and once that happens I will be back to fundraising because cancer research is still in need of funding, so we still have a lot of work to do.”

Surprisingly, Paul’s motto is not, never give up.  It’s give it all up.  Leave nothing behind.  Spare no reserve of body, mind or spirit in making this world a better place, right here, right now.

Rower #2 Collin West: breathes inspiration, eats adversity and smiles in the face of what others call danger.  (He simply calls it opportunity.) As a national champion adventure racer and Crossfit World Games competitor he fills his leisure time with an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management (same as Paul) and was recently awarded the prestigious Kauffman Fellowship. Later this year, Collin is marrying his soul-mate & sweetheart. His bride-to-be is a fellow brainiac and inspirational tour de force…also a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader & Miss Texas winner.  Enough said.

Rower #3 Neal Mueller: is the closest thing to a real life Bruce Wayne aka Batman that we could find.  We’d love to tell you more but we can’t.  Really, we can’t.  Okay fine: Neal lives on one of the most famous streets in the world (Lombard Street in San Francisco).  Almost as famous as he is.  He works a full-time job yet was the 120th person in the world to climb all of the 7 Summits.  He’s also swam the English Channel, rowed from San Francisco to Sacramento and San Francisco to Petaluma.  He has over 3,000 mentions in the press but not one of them tells you who he really is, how he pulls everything off, or most importantly, where he parks the batmobile.

Rower #4 Scott Mortensen: is an adventure filmmaker, marketing whiz and social entrepreneur who spearheads profitable ventures for stakeholders, people and the planet — the elusive, triple-bottom-line.  He’s worked at orphanages in Russia, shot documentaries in Thailand, built community centers in Fiji, practiced social enterprise in Honduras and joined disaster relief teams in Haiti.

Scott thinks that anyone can climb Mt. Everest, ride a bicycle across the US or paddle across an ocean. “The real challenge is to inspire everyone around you while you do it.  Getting people to ‘think different’ isn’t just a tagline, it’s my life mission.” Scott has only two items left unchecked on his bucket list. One of them is to produce a film/book project that sparks lasting global change.

The time is now.  And this is the project.


Our film/book, Into Thin Ice explores three themes revolving around the Arctic Row.

  1. Push the limits of human imagination: Teamwork & Challenging the Impossible
  2. Inspire a Global Audience: Health, Fitness, & Empowered Living
  3. Collaborate with Experts: The Science of Change

What is the history behind your endeavor? Is it really a first?

Inuit cultures have done heroic rows in and around the Arctic. For thousands of years, the umiaq skin boat was their essential vessel for travel, hunting and exploration. They also invented the kayak, which means “hunter’s boat”. Indigenous Arctic cultures are legendary for their survival skills, ingenuity and exploration prowess.

Furthermore, there is a rich history of sailing in the Arctic Ocean and we’re not just talking about the Norse legends of old.  In 2010, Russian sailor, Captain Daniel Gavrilov and crew sailed the 60-foot, Peter I around Arctic, passing through the Northeast and Northwest Passages during one sailing season with no ice-breaker assistance. The first time ever in seafaring history.

In 2011 the Old Pulteney Row to the Pole led by Jock Wishart went 450 miles to the 1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole at 78°35.7N 104°11.9W / 78.595°N 104.1983°W.

Perhaps, even more impressive, Eugene and Alexander Smurgis (Russian) are credited with rowing from Tiksi, Russia to London, England in 131 days from 1988 – 1993, a coastal route of 3,510 miles.

Smurgis’ exploration was tremendous, however under Ocean Rowing Society guidelines it was not a crossing because it was not unsupported, or non-stop. Coastal landings, resupply and/or support boats are not allowed on ocean row crossings.

However, all four rowers on Team Arctic Row admire the stripped down, bare-knuckled panache that Smurgis demonstrated on his journeys.  What he accomplished was an inspiring tribute to raw determination and the pursuit of passion.

Unfortunately, on the final leg of his journey, he was lost at sea in the Bay of Biscay in November, 1994. His body washed ashore on November 15, 1994 near the town of La Tremblade, France. His boat, Max-4 is still on display at a nautical museum in La Tremblade.

That is why even though we are going unsupported we’re bringing GPS, a life raft and survival suits among other modern-day equipment.

What is an Ocean Row Crossing?

Great question.  Ask professional mountaineers what’s the proper way to climb a mountain and you’ll get a plethora of  different answers.

Same phenomena surrounds ocean row crossings. Our Arctic Ocean Row is a non-stop, unsupported journey from one continent to another over 1,000 miles in distance. These are attributes you will see in all ocean row crossings. For the Arctic, this is the first non-stop and unsupported attempt at an ocean row crossing.

Our team with pioneering mountaineer, Reinhold Messner.

Though people had summited Mt. Everest before him, Messner’s was the first solo ascent without supplemental oxygen.