Feb 2016
Jan 2016
Starting Out

  • December 28th
    Mike has moved to Russia, and immediately undertakes some cold weather training in Karelia, in the north of the country.
  • December 25th
    Evgeny met famous Russian polar explorer, Artur Chilingarov, in Moscow.
  • December 19th
    Applications for US visa waivers start.
  • December 11th
    Team training weekend in the Channel Islands with the new kayaks.

    Mike and James hauling one of the new kayaks across the beach. Neil and Victor hauling one of the new kayaks across the beach.
  • December
    Evgeny withdraws from travel to Alaska but will continue to support the permit application process, document translation and other matters in Moscow. James re-plans aspects of the ground support, weather forecasting and emergency extraction.
  • November
    we are pleased to announce three more expedition sponsors - Tentsile, Bering Air and The Calvert Trust.

    Bering Air Tentsile The Calvert Trust
  • November
    Mike meets with Rosie Stancer in London to discuss the expedition. A team meeting is held at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Neil investigating international flights and freighting the kayaks.
  • October 12th
    The new harnesses have been ordered to fit to the new aluminium kayaks. Victor and Mike working tirelessly on grant applications. Neil continues work on adapting the kayaks and tent with sponsor Tentsile. James supporting the team with immense amount of background work on kit and logistics. Evgeny continuing with the permit application process in Moscow.
  • October 9th
    we are pleased to announce our latest sponsor - Raven Russia.

    Raven Russia was founded in 2005 to invest in class A warehouse complexes in Russia and lease to Russian and International tenants. Its Ordinary Shares, Preference Shares and Warrants are listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange. The Company operates out of offices in Guernsey, Moscow and Cyprus and has to date completed a portfolio of circa 1.5 million square metres of Grade "A" warehouses in Moscow, St Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don and Novosibirsk. For further information visit the Company's website at

    Raven Russia
  • October 2nd
    We are glad to welcome our new expedition member Victor Gladyrev. Victor is a mountaineer, kayaker and sailor. He has extensive experience rock and ice climbing in the Caucasus, Pamir and Alps. He has also been part of several white water expeditions in the Caucasus and Kola Peninsula. He has sailed across the Baltic Sea and run several extreme races as well as cycling, skiing and hiking in countries including Alaska and Greenland and Norway.
  • September
    Mike has returned a number of times to Moscow, and meetings are held with renowned British polar explorer Rosie Stancer are held in London. James arranges air transport for the kayaks in Alaska with sponsor Bering Air. Team meeting held in London.
  • August 27th
    Victor Gladyrev joins the expedition team. Welcome aboard!
  • August 26th
    Neil takes ownership of the two aluminium kayaks from sponsor The Calvert Trust.
  • July 21st
    The team have been busy! Neil has an initial discussion with Raven Russia about a sponsorship proposition, and has started investigating the possibility of using two-man, aluminium kayaks for the crossing. These would act as both sleds and to assist with crossing open water leads. Evgeny has been focusing on the permit application process with various governmental departments in Russia. And Victor Gladyrev confirms his interest in joining the expedition team.
  • July 10th
    Mike meets with Mikhail Lamakin of the Arctic & Antarctic Museum in St Petersburg
  • July 6th
    Team meeting in London
  • June 25th
    James identifies a potential new Russian team member via the British Alpine Club - more to follow soon.
  • June 25th
    Mike met with Frederik Paulsen in Switzerland to discuss the expedition.
  • June 19th
    Neil proposed the opportunity to compliment work already undertaken by the Arctic Council on Black Snow as being a credible scientific project that we might undertake.
  • June 25th
    HRH Prince Michael of Kent met with Frederik Paulsen, the Honorary Consul for Russia in Switzerland. Mr Paulsen is also a notable polar explorer, a friend of President Putin and on the Board of the Russian Geographic Society.
  • May 29
    HRH Prince Michael of Kent met with HE Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian Ambassador to the UK, to discuss the expedition.
  • May 26
    Mike met with Lord Clanwilliam to discuss sponsorship opportunities and also with British Polar explorer Ben Saunders to discuss aspects of the expedition.
  • May 16
    The team have been analysing the equipment taken on the recce to determine what worked well and what did not. In particular it was felt that the kayak/sled combination needs to be re-thought.
  • May 5th
    Mike went out to Moscow to meet with Evgeny. They had a very useful meeting with the British Ambassador to Moscow, Tim Barrow, and some of his staff. This was followed by a very positive meeting at the American Embassy. Meetings were also held with a deputy of the eminent Russian explorer Artur Chilingarov as well as Matvey and Dmitri Shparo who succeeded in crossing the Bering Strait on their third attempt. An interview was given to the Moscow Times newspaper.
  • April 15th
    Mike, James and Neil met at the Special Forces Club in London, and were joined (via Skype) by Evgeny in Moscow. The recce was discussed in detail and topics covered included kit, contacts made, approach, weather and what could be done differently or better in 2016.
  • April 2nd

    We are delighted and honoured to announce that following the recce undertaken in March 2015 to the Bering Strait and subsequent meetings at Kensington Palace in London, His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent GCVO has agreed to be the expeditionís Patron.
  • March 23rd
    At a recent meeting at the Russian Embassy in London we were informed that we would be supported in our attempt by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that we would be allowed to legally land in Chukotka. We are grateful to his Excellency Alexander Yakovenko for assisting us with this.
  • March 19th
    Mike and James make an appearance in the Nome Nugget - Click to read
  • March 19th
    A report from the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) states that Arctic sea ice has hit a record low for its maximum extent in winter, which scientists said was a result of climate change and abnormal weather patterns. At its peak the ice covered just over 14.5m sq km of the northern seas. This was 130,000 sq km smaller than the previous lowest maximum in 2011.

    Read more at the Guardian.
  • March 15th
    Mike and James returned to the UK after a successful recce. Jamesí frostbite and Mikeís wrist injury are both fully mended. Progress is being made on how to refine some of the kit and in general itís looking good for 2016.
  • March 7th
    Update from Mike and James: Ice was impassable unfortunately. Gave it a good go but there was no way through and no nowhere to camp. Ice was too thin to walk on and we constantly broke through into the frigid waters. There was hardly any open water to kayak through and most was covered in a half-inch of soft ice. It wouldn't hold your weight but neither could we kayak through. Otherwise progress very slow with massive blocks, all churned up and busted. James has suffered some frostbite to fingers but think it should recover OK. It's a very harsh environment to operate. We camped out last night and made our way back to the school this morning. We'll get the first helicopter to Nome. While we didn't make it across this time the recce has proven very useful and we've learnt a lot which we can take forward for next year."

    Training on the ice off Little Diomede. Training on the ice off Little Diomede.
  • March 5th
    The tracker beacon has been activated and Mike and James have left the settlement of Diomede, heading out on the ice and making their way to the north of Little Diomede before turning southeasterly towards mainland Alaska. The crossing is underway!
  • March 5th
    Update from James and Mike: "Unless the weather deteriorates we are heading onto the ice tomorrow morning and will do our best to make it back to Wales. The ice conditions aren't perfect but we are prepared for sections of open water if necessary. Hopefully our tracker will work but we'll also update via our UK base camp and sat phone. Thanks for following us on this slightly mad journey."

    Training on the ice off Little Diomede. Training on the ice off Little Diomede.

    We have been in Nome now for two days. It's been really useful time and we have been out on the sea ice to put all the theory to the test. We are really pleased with the kit and being in the dry suits. They function really well and the special insulating body suits are keeping us toasty warm. The pump action gun is a really special piece of kit and has quite a kick to it, and we are both now familiar with it. We have refined the kit down to just what we need when out on the ice, keeping us lighter. We are both really fired up for the challenge ahead.
  • March 4th
    we are pleased to announce our latest sponsor - Erickson Aviation.

    Erickson Aviation
  • March 4th
    Mike and James have arrived on Little Diomede Island. They are discussing plans for the next stage but ice conditions look good enough to go.

    Update: We have decided to stay another night on Little Diomede Island before heading off. So subject to weather and ice conditions we will set off on Thursday morning local time. We have provisions for 5 days. The local community and staff at the school have been fantastic and made us feel very welcome. Also the guys at Erickson Helicopters have been great!
  • March 2nd
    We are told that the helicopter is not flying today because of 50mph winds close to Diomede Island. Forecast is good for tomorrow, so we are hoping to fly out to Little Diomede then. Fingers crossed! It all depends on a good weather window.

    Testing the kit out on the sea ice. Familiarising ourselves with the shotgun.

    We have been in Nome now for two days. It's been really useful time and we have been out on the sea ice to put all the theory to the test. We are really pleased with the kit and being in the dry suits. They function really well and the special insulating body suits are keeping us toasty warm. The pump action gun is a really special piece of kit and has quite a kick to it, and we are both now familiar with it. We have refined the kit down to just what we need when out on the ice, keeping us lighter. We are both really fired up for the challenge ahead.
  • March 1st
    Mike and James arrive in Nome, Alaska. The good news is that the helicopter service to Little Diomede should be back in action after more than a month undergoing repairs and maintenance. The plan is coming together!

    Mike and James land at Nome, Alaska Visiting the helicopter service to Little Diomede
  • February 28th
    The time difference meant a slightly disrupted sleep. Entirely expected! We made the most out of that though and got up early and had a fabulous breakfast. We are definitely going to make the most of things today. James has already collected the sat phone and is setting up all sorts of techy stuff for phoning and texting to allow us to blog when out on the ice. We have tested and discussed various pieces of kit. We will do a final kit check in Nome tomorrow. I have also been doing some filming. Later today we are heading out to collect ammunition, food supplies and some last minute items from outdoors shops. We hope that we can find time to relax a bit before heading up to Nome tomorrow.

    The temperature has been unusually warm here this winter. We have had a look at the weather forecasts for the next few days. We may encounter head winds on the first one or two days but by Wednesday it looks like it will swing to a tail wind and we are already very excited about this as it could really help us. The prediction is that it could drop to -21C which is also perfect for us. We hope it will firm up the sea ice a bit more which will be great for skiing. After 4 years of planning it's finally happening! We are both really up for it.
  • February 27th
    Mike and James depart from London Heathrow for Alaska and the initial expedition is underway. Updates will appear on this website and our Facebook and Twitter pages as they are received from the Strait. The trip gets off to a good start as Delta Airlines waive all excess luggage fees!

    Update: Two long but very good flights with Delta. Peering out of the airplane windows we looked down on the vast expanse of snow and ice below and tried to imagine the challenges and fun times that lie ahead for us. We've got amazing kit and have done a huge amount of planning and kit testing. Now we are just looking forward to getting up to Little Diomede and out onto the ice.

    We are pleased to say that all of our kit got safely with us to Anchorage. Both James and I have been here before, for very different trips. It's an exciting city but we were too tired to go out tonight. We settled in to a very nice room at the Sheraton and had a chat and a drink in the hotel bar before heading off for an early night.
  • February 20th
    We received news that the helicopter that should be taking us on the final leg of our journey to Little Diomede had been out of operation for three weeks. After it was fixed it managed one flight before one of its engines failed so it is now stuck on the side of the runway in Wales. There is another helicopter being flown up to provide cover but we really do need to realise that not everything in this region ever goes as planned. We need to be ready for anything!

    Mike and James set off for Alaska a week today!
  • February 19th
    James gets news that we have just got the approval from the Tribal Coordinator to land on Diomede. At the same time we have been told that there is a lot of open water between the island and the mainland. This is something that we had to be ready for.
  • February 18th
    we are pleased to announce three more expedition sponsors - Typhoon International, Fourth Element and Daniamant.

    Typhoon International Fourth Element Daniamant
  • February 11th
    News from Alaska..... Little Diomede approaches 3 weeks without food or mail as the only aircraft regularly flying to the island has been out of action undergoing maintenance. read full article on Alaska Dispatch News

    We have identified a potential problem with the Typhoon drysuit. It's certainly not a design fault of the suit but more the fact that we are wanting it to do things that it was never designed to do. Through wearing it for periods of time and walking in the Zapos boots I have noticed that the rubber booties are getting worn. So the easiest thing for me to do will be to reinforce them with gaffer tape. For the 2016 expedition we can think about either thicker rubber or an alternative material choice.
  • February 2nd
    we are pleased to announce our first official sponsor - LifeSigns Group.

    Life Signs Group
  • February 1st
    Now only 26 days to go before Mike and James depart for Alaska to attempt the partial crossing from Little Diomede to the coast of Alaska.
  • January 27th
    Mike speaks to Michael Dukes live on Radio AM-700 KBYR in Alaska about the Bering Crossing. (Reduced sound quality - Mike was speaking via Skype)
  • January 22nd
    Mike and James now have just five weeks until they leave for Alaska.
  • January 21st
    Mike's re-ordered hood from 4th Element arrived. It's marvellous. Amazing kit.
  • January 20th
    Mike has spoken with HRH Prince Michael's Personal Secretary about the meeting planned at Kensington Palace.
  • January 18th
    Mike approached some newspapers and radio for coverage in Alaska with positive outcomes.
  • January 14th
    James and Mike had conversations about various articles of clothing and kit that they are going to buy. Mike has been to see another potential sponsor.
  • January 9th
    Mike, James and Evgeny met at Gatwick and flew up to the Cairngorms for a couple of nights camping out in the mountains. There was plenty of snow, temperatures had fallen to around -10C and with wind chill a bit lower than that as the winds were gusting over 140 km/h. The tent held out, the team did too. The kayaking went well too until Mike purposefully capsized but overlooked the fact that he now had additional zips in his dry-suit and forgot to close them all. The suit wasn't so dry after that so it was a quick yomp back to the main road to get the car.

    Mike Laird testing the new inflatable kayaks in the Cairngorms Mike and Evgeny in the Cairngorms
  • January 4th
    James puts in an order for kayaking mitts and some more bits of kit.
  • January 3rd
    The sleds are available and have been paid for. Cost £225.39 each.

    The Bering Strait Challenge 2017
    Expedition Patron: His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent GCVO