Jean-Louis Etienne, one of the most experienced Arctic and Antarctic explorers

The explorer during his expeditions performs measurements at the Arctic and Antarctic.

Click on Expeditions and then on last one (Pole Nord) and use the <Next expedition option for navigation

Excerpts from - Expeditions are copied below




1st Act of a Trilogy

North Pole

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North Pole | March › April 1986


Jean-Louis Etienne’s objective on this occasion was to reach the geographic North Pole alone, on skis, pulling a sled. (…)
On 6 March Jean-Louis Etienne left
Ward Hunt Island in Canada’s far North and reached the geographic North Pole (the point where the Earth’s rotational axis emerges) on 14 May 1986. In 63 days he had covered more than 1,000 kilometres at an average rate of 20 kilometres per day. 



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Greenland | July › August 1979 and April › May 1988



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North Pole | November 1995-June 1996


This mission involved a trial wintering aboard the sailing vessel Antarctica as preparation for my “Arctic drift”. The plan here was to drift right across the Arctic Ocean aboard a boat trapped in the sea ice and driven by the Transpolar current running from the Bering Strait towards the east coast of Greenland, via the North Pole.


2nd Act of a Trilogy

Mission Banquise

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North Pole | April-July 2002


I ‘set up house’ on the sea ice at the North Pole in April 2002 and began a drift journey that was to take me to the northeast of Greenland.


Total Pole Airship

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Russian Ice Station Barneo, located at 89°N | April 2007


The aim of the Total Pole Airship expedition, which was among the activities organised for the International Polar Year 2007-2008, was to measure the thickness of the sea ice that covers the Arctic Ocean. The plan was to fly across the ocean from one edge to the other, via the North Pole, in a dirigible with a special apparatus (EM-Bird) slung beneath it to measure the thickness of the ice.


Final Act of a Trilogy

Generali Arctic Observer

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final act of a trilogy | April 2010


After reaching the North Pole by pulling his own sled for 63 days (1986), and drifted on the ice pack for four months aboard the Polar Observer (2002), Jean-Louis Etienne decided to embark on a 3500 km balloon journey crossing the Arctic Ocean solo : Spitzbergen, the North Pole, Alaska. By this daring journey, he wants to draw the world’s attention to the global climate chaos that would result from the disappearance of the Arctic ice pack.
April 5, 2010 at 3 am, router Luc Trullemans gave Jean-Louis Etienne the weather go-ahead to take off from Spitzbergen aboard a “rozière”, a helium/hot-air hybrid balloon. When he was in the vicinity of the North Pole, a storm drove the balloon towards Siberia where he would land after 5 days of an exhausting journey filled with mishaps : almost zero visibility, an electrical failure, flying only 200m above the ice pack and risking of running aground, insomnia, fire on a burner and a brain edema at an altitude of 5000m, before he finally reached Siberia !
Even though the wind pushed him out of the way he had set, Jean-Louis Etienne managed to complete the first crossing of the
Arctic Ocean in a balloon.



Images from a facebook community page for Jean-Louis Etienne:

(with the French Foreign Minister)

Cited link (French)


Other Images